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Posted: 13 July 2007 03:59 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 16 ]
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Though the question was adressed to narwhol , I am stressing my point that “the mind is an emerging thing from the brain” and “thoughts are material process” are two contradictory ideas. Either thoughts emerge from material processes either they are identical with them. A cannot emerge from B and be identical to it at the same time. You have to chose.

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Posted: 13 July 2007 04:02 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 17 ]
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On the matter of neural networks, our brains are similarly logic circuits, but since they are living we can reroute them. We can also bathe the tissue in chemicals called hormones that cause certain cells to transmit more than others because of the similarity of the hormones to their neurotransmitter analogues.  This means we have feelings and moods.  We can’t do that with computer circuits because if we bathed them in chemicals they would short and blow up.  The thoughts produced in this way are exactly that.  They are neither the electricity passing through the dendrons and axons of the nervous tissue (which is energy, and electrostatic force based rather than material), nor are they the squidgy little cells which also form part of the process of forming them.  They are thoughts.  And thoughts exist.  If you talk about that thing I came up with earlier, you are expressly saying that a thought is a thing.  Thoughts are things.  But you can’t touch one because they are not made of matter.

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Posted: 13 July 2007 04:10 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 18 ]
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[quote author=“wandering”]How would you define supernatural, in this context?

To me, supernatural pertains to any existence outside the domain of Physicalism. (Physicalism being “whatever is described by physics — not just matter but energy, space, time, physical forces, structure, physical processes, information, state, etc.”)  But please don’t let my definition and positioning keep you from advancing a non-biological view of consciousness.  Provide your own definitions and context if you wish.

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Posted: 13 July 2007 04:26 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 19 ]
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Thanks, apeman. I appreciate it.

I really do not know how to define “supernatural”. It is some kind of a word that people use when they want you to stop inquiring into their topic. It is a combination of a word and a stop sign to the intellect.

I think of “natural” as of “exists, and can be proven to exist”.

I think that anything if it exists, has to be proven to exists. If god will be proven to exist, then he will be natural. We will be able to measure the speed with which he is able to create things. Will the time be dependent on their atomic structure? Who knows.

Slightly off-topic : Is there anyone here who thinks that consciousness \ mind does not exist?
It seems that the logical conlusion from it is that there is nothing wrong about murder. (Because the only difference I see between living and non-living beings is that living are beings-that-have-a-consciousness, and non-living are beings-that-don’t.) I would like to talk to someone who thinks consciousness doesn’t exist.

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Posted: 13 July 2007 04:31 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 20 ]
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wandering - 13 July 2007 03:59 PM

Though the question was adressed to narwhol , I am stressing my point that “the mind is an emerging thing from the brain” and “thoughts are material process” are two contradictory ideas. Either thoughts emerge from material processes either they are identical with them. A cannot emerge from B and be identical to it at the same time. You have to chose.

They are not identical, they belongs to the same category taking into account one of the almost infinite possible way of classify things.

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Posted: 13 July 2007 04:37 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 21 ]
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narwhol - 13 July 2007 04:02 PM

If you talk about that thing I came up with earlier, you are expressly saying that a thought is a thing.  Thoughts are things.  But you can’t touch one because they are not made of matter.

I dont see any contradiction here. They are not ‘made’ of matter, they are certain state (or better, certain state sequence) of a physical system.

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Posted: 13 July 2007 04:38 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 22 ]
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There is something wrong about murder, but that is subjective.  Whilst non-living and living things is a man-made distinction and whilst our feelings arise from chemical and electrical stuff, they are real.  My feelings are real.  And if mine are real so are yours.  Try and prove your feelings to be non-existant - try this over a long period of time.  I value my feelings.  I value yours too.  I feel bad if I see someone or some animal in pain.  Have you ever stood and watched as someone killed an animal.  You feel pretty bad about it.  And that’s wrong.  Wrong is also real.  It’s also an abstract concept.  It therefore belongs in the wider set of things.

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Posted: 13 July 2007 04:45 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 23 ]
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wandering - 13 July 2007 04:26 PM

I think of “natural” as of “exists, and can be proven to exist”.

I think that anything if it exists, has to be proven to exists. If god will be proven to exist, then he will be natural. We will be able to measure the speed with which he is able to create things. Will the time be dependent on their atomic structure? Who knows.

Should we agree on what is proof?  To me, proof is an arbitrarily large degree of coherence.  How do you propose we establish proof?

Slightly off-topic : Is there anyone here who thinks that consciousness \ mind does not exist?
It seems that the logical conlusion from it is that there is nothing wrong about murder. (Because the only difference I see between living and non-living beings is that living are beings-that-have-a-consciousness, and non-living are beings-that-don’t.) I would like to talk to someone who thinks consciousness doesn’t exist.

Would it help if we were to identify a creature or object about whose consciousness we disagree?  Where do you see the boundaries of having consciousness?  A tree maybe?

[ Edited: 13 July 2007 04:51 PM by the PC apeman ]
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Posted: 13 July 2007 05:00 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 24 ]
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the PC apeman - 13 July 2007 04:45 PM
wandering - 13 July 2007 04:26 PM

I think of “natural” as of “exists, and can be proven to exist”.

I think that anything if it exists, has to be proven to exists. If god will be proven to exist, then he will be natural. We will be able to measure the speed with which he is able to create things. Will the time be dependent on their atomic structure? Who knows.

Should we agree on what is proof?  To me, proof is an arbitrarily large degree of coherence.  How do you propose we establish proof?

Slightly off-topic : Is there anyone here who thinks that consciousness \ mind does not exist?
It seems that the logical conlusion from it is that there is nothing wrong about murder. (Because the only difference I see between living and non-living beings is that living are beings-that-have-a-consciousness, and non-living are beings-that-don’t.) I would like to talk to someone who thinks consciousness doesn’t exist.

Would it help if we were to identify a creature or object about whose consciousness we disagree?  Where do you see the boundaries of having consciousness?

With regards to proof, I don’t feel like going into all these formal concepts. I think that practically, if not conceptually, we would agree to what a “proof” is, and what is not. For example, it is “proven” that G.W. Bush exists (unfortunately), and it is not proven that unicorns exist.    With regards to feelings, emotions, dreams, I would say that it is “proven” that they exist -  we know we have them from first-hand-experience, and based upon the behaviour of other people, it is a good hypothesis that they also have them.


I think that a creature that has consciousness is a creature that “has”  certain qualities that are not physical.  The simplest distinguishment between what is conscious and what is not is the subjectivity factor. My thoughts are “private” things - only I can experience them. Everyone can see my brain, including me, but only I can know my thoughts. The same goes for dreams and feelings. The same goes also for perceptions. Only I can know the way I see a computer. If only one woman existed on earth, only that one woman would know how is it like to have a female orgasm, right? Males could imagine how it feels like, but they wouldn’t know the feeling itself. So even physical perceptions are actually consciousnesses - they are impossible to be shared. No one can feel Your pain, they can only imagine what is it like.

So a “living creature” is a creature who has such “private” experiences. I do not know if flies have thoughts or feelings, but they can see (I assume this ) - so they are alive. Robots cannot see - they imitate seeing, which is different. If a fly sees a building - we humans can never have access to this sight. We can imagine it, based upon neurology - but we do not have an immediate perception of it. (When we someone shouts AAH, we can know that he has pain, we can imagine his feeling, but we cannot feel it). Same with animal perception.


Did that answer your question as to the boundaries of having consciousness?

[ Edited: 13 July 2007 05:04 PM by wandering ]
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Posted: 13 July 2007 05:15 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 25 ]
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Okay, let’s tie this up a little into a neater array than this mess I’m hearing.  Firstly does this better state system or what ever exist and is it the thought that you came up with?  If so it is still a thing - it’s not an object but objects are just a subset of things.  If it exists, regardless of what you are calling it, it is still an abstract concept - it requires a sentient physical being to come up with it or to remember it, but it still exists and is an abstract concept.  The noun “thought” only refers to that idea, not the physical thing that came up with it or the places where it is currently residing.

Next one: on this murder thing - to say that it is not wrong is to say that in the absence of anything to have a value system and a concept of wrong, it is not objectively wrong in a way that you could measure that on a wrongometer.  It is not wrong to the physical universe - the physical universe doesn’t care and it will not miss one more human.  To say that that means it is not wrong is to take science as the only important field in which one can be a philosopher.  It is not.  Coming up with something new and testing it using a suitable method and drawing a logical conclusion from that is philosophy.  Philososphy is not a subject, it is an activity.  I came up with something new in the field of physics - physics is the subject matter, the activity I performed to do that is called philosophy -  that is why I’m a PhD (Doctor of Philosophy).  There are numerous other subjects in which one can obtain a PhD - science is not the be all and end all.  New truths can be ascertained by philosophy in other logical disciplines such as maths, sociology, history - why place the result from science regarding murder as the correct one, given that the concepts of right and wrong are not things that can be tested in that field.  Science simply tells us what things are made of, how they work and what causes them to behave in the ways they do.  Ethics is another logical subject in which one can philosophise (come up with a premise hypothesise possible outcomes, test, and draw conclusions about.  Why not use that subject instead - right and wrong are its domain.  Just because science says there is no evidence that chemicals or waves or the universe say that it is wrong to murder does not mean that it isn’t.

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Posted: 13 July 2007 05:17 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 26 ]
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[quote author=“wandering”]Did that answer your question as to the boundaries of having consciousness?

Sure.  I’m willing to view your answer in that context.  Now, am I mistaken in thinking you had non-biological explanation for consciousness in mind?  I would like to hear it if you do.

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Posted: 13 July 2007 05:30 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 27 ]
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PC apeman :

“biological explanation” is a bit vague. What does it really mean to “explain” something? To explain a phenomenon and to explain its causes are two different things. Biology MIGHT explain the causes, but the phenomenon itself is non-physical.


I think that consciousness itself is a non-material phenomenon for the reasons I explained. So it cannot be explained in terms of atoms, electricity and so on. Nevertheless, it might be that atoms electricity and so on CAUSE consiousness which is non-material by itself.  This is simply a scientific problem.

If this problem is ever solved, scientists have to stop throwing big words like complexity to explain consciousness, and become concrete. How much atoms of which kind, in which order do you need to produce a memory? How much neurons of which kind do you need to produce a dream? I think that is simply unknown so far. Morever, the question of the “first moment of consciousness” needs to be answered. I assume sperm does not have consciousness. So, when exactly does the embrion have the first conscious experience, whether a dream, or a feeling? When the system stops being a “totally objective one” and a subjective element appears?

Because there is such a big gap between the only-material and that-which-has-consciousness, and there is no big gap in physical terms (There is no relationship between having subjective states, and between being complex) Dharmakirti (buddhist philosopher) argued for rebirth on this basis. “Mental states cannot be caused by physical causes. Therefore, they come from another “mental place”...

Did I answer your question? What do you think about Dharmakirti’s answer?

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Posted: 13 July 2007 05:34 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 28 ]
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narwhol : I dont think I am confusing ethics with science. My point is that if there is no mind, no consciousness, no mental states, then from an ethical point of view, there is no problem with murder.  If complexity is the only difference between live and not-live beings, I fail to see why ruining a complex system is immoral.

Where am I mixing ethics and science?

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Posted: 13 July 2007 06:05 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 29 ]
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wandering - 13 July 2007 05:30 PM

Did I answer your question? What do you think about Dharmakirti’s answer?

I regret to say no, I don’t think that you have.  It may be that we’re too far apart in our terminology.  As to Dharmakirti’s answer, “mental states cannot be caused by physical causes” is an unconvincing assertion given the absence of a more coherent proposal.

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Posted: 13 July 2007 06:12 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 30 ]
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I am not sure if consciousness is something that has to be “explained”.

With matter, you go deeper and deeper, until you have the smallest material particle. There is no “explanation” needed for this last particle. It just is. Consciousness is like the smallest material particle that we have. It just is. There is no need to “explain” it.

What science should do is to explore the way consciousness causes physical entities to change (none has been discovered so far) and the way that physical entites cause consciousness to change \ how it creates it. The question is how two different existing things interact (or how one of them creates the other), not about explaining one in terms of the other.

If that didn’t answer I would be glad to know what is missing.

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