Solving consciousness

spiderbaby

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Solving consciousness. The 3 fundamental problems of consciousness:

1)The generation / hard problem. How do material configurations or processes produce conscious experience?

2)The problem of self. i) The Aristotelian, the psyche and the body 'form a unity'. ii) The Platonist, the psyche and body are separate entities ( and whence Decarte's 'I think therefore I am'). iii) Hume's, the self is a fiction of the imagination 'synthesized in the act of reflexive self-reference'. iv) None of those...

3)The problem of agency. Who is the agent of conscious volitional acts and how to reconcile our sense of freewill with that same agent being subject to the laws of physics?

Thoughts?
Any and all differing perspectives....philosophical, religious, scientific, way out beyond the horizon and accelerating... are most welcome and received with grateful interest.
 
Hi Spiderbaby - Welcome to the forums :)

1)The generation / hard problem. How do material configurations or processes produce conscious experience?

Maybe they don't. Maybe consciousness is not a product of material processes.

2)The problem of self. i) The Aristotelian, the psyche and the body 'form a unity'. ii) The Platonist, the psyche and body are separate entities ( and whence Decarte's 'I think therefore I am'). iii) Hume's, the self is a fiction of the imagination 'synthesized in the act of reflexive self-reference'. iv) None of those...

I am not my hand - I am the user of the hand,
I am not my leg - I am the user of my leg,
I am not my eye - I am the see-er,
I am not the body, but the driver therof

3)The problem of agency. Who is the agent of conscious volitional acts and how to reconcile our sense of freewill with that same agent being subject to the laws of physics?

There are several factors determining every action - one of them being our own limited independence (or free-will). The laws of nature act upon our body and effect our free-will as the laws of the road effect our driving.

Thats my two-penneth worth for today anyhow...


... Neemai :)
 
Perhaps part of the problem is our method of inquiry, the intent and form of how we penetrate the mists that appear before us. When I am asked "what is the meaning of life?" I think in my own little way, "what then, is the meaning of a tree?" both questions seem to make the same kind of inquiry nicht wahr?
 
Although my German is poor (he won’t go to the doctors) I think I’m with Paladin here. And also, I think of this:

“Our body and mind are not two and not one. If you think your body and mind are two, that is wrong; if you think that they are one, that is also wrong. Our body and mind are both two and one.”

- Shunryu Suzuki.
s.
 
Consciousness: The ground of being (original,self-contained,and constitutive of all things) that manifests as the subject that chooses, and experiences what it chooses, as it self-referentially collapses the quantum wave function in the presence of brain-mind awareness.

Amit Goswami, The Self Aware Universe

Chris
 
Hi, Spiderbaby,

Let me try to offer a more extensive answer than those yet posted. This is not in any way a final answer, but a beginning of a dialog.

1)The generation / hard problem. How do material configurations or processes produce conscious experience?

The question "How" is open to a variety of kinds of answers. I'm going to respond to the evolutionary interpretation: how do material objects come to be conscious? My answer to that question is the same as that to Neemai in another post:
... consciousness is absolutely necessary for the animation of the body, but what is this consciousness?

I think it is inaccurate to say that consciousness is necessary for the animation of the body. I suspect that consciousness emerged fairly high up the animate trunk of life.

Consciousness is not necessary for life. Plants do quite well without it (at least in a form we probably all agree we're familiar with). Bacteria and viruses are almost certainly not conscious, any more than a calculator is conscious.

Doug Hofstadter, in his excellent book I Am a Strange Loop, doubts that mosquitoes are conscious. I'm not sure.

I think that for a clue to what consciousness is, we need to meditate on Dumbledore's remark to Harry that it is not our capabilities that make us what we are, but our choices.

Whatever consciousness is, whatever choice is, they go together.

Bacteria and mosquitoes react to their environment. They behave in certain predictable, and sometimes deadly ways when confronted with certain situations. But they don't choose that behavior any more than a calculator "chooses" to display 4 when you enter 2, plus and 2.

In order to survive animals have to procreate, sustain themselves, and avoid threats. Plants and lower animals have to do the same of course, but their fitness for survival seems to depend entirely on statistical probabilities. Individual plants "lucky" enough that their seeds fall on fertile soil that doesn't lie in the path of a migrating dinosaur herd or wildfire will have descendants; those that don't won't.

Animals of higher orders (and where the line is between higher and lower is certainly a matter of debate) choose because they have as individuals a measure of control of their individual fate and that of their descendants (i.e., whether they have any). If eating, breeding, fighting and fleeing were unrelated activities that normally had no effect on one another, they could have been managed by simple, unconscious reflex mechanisms. But they are not. The environmental and internal factors that determine the probable impact of those behaviors on survival are complex and subtle. Nature never discovered a working algorithm for simple reflex action governing all of those behaviors in complex animals. Instead nature gave higher animals the power to choose whether to eat, breed, fight or flee. Those that chose well survived more than those that didn't. Millennia of evolution refined that capability in some animals to the ability to choose between an iPod and a Trea.

In order to choose well, animals needed an integrated model of everything they could learn about all the factors affecting their choices. Consciousness is that model. It is by consciousness that an animal is aware that an object in its field of vision is at one and the same time a potential food source, a potential competitor for a food source, a potential mate, and a potential threat. Only by recognizing that one and the same object is in the condition-set for many different behaviors can the animal learn to decide among those behaviors.

Just as heat or smoke are symptoms of fire, so is consciousness a symptom of the soul? Is it in fact, consciousness, that proves that the soul is present?

The above evolutionary explanation of consciousness only explains why animals, and by extension people, are conscious. If by "soul" you mean to imply something "inside" the animal or "inside" the person, this argument will not help.

Conscious behavior, is just that: behavior. It is process, not thing. And the participants in that process involve not just the brain but every part of the body.

Indeed, I think the dichotomy between body and mind or between body and soul is a false one. The body is not mere inert matter to be acted upon by mind; some bodies (yours and mine, certainly) are active and conscious. Minds and souls are not pure spirit, but the activity of bodies that have evolved in the right way.

Moreover, I think there's very good reason to believe that the way my mind (soul) works is very closely tuned to the detail of the way my body works. Without my body, I wouldn't be me.

Thus endeth my answer to Neemai.

2)The problem of self. i) The Aristotelian, the psyche and the body 'form a unity'. ii) The Platonist, the psyche and body are separate entities ( and whence Decarte's 'I think therefore I am'). iii) Hume's, the self is a fiction of the imagination 'synthesized in the act of reflexive self-reference'. iv) None of those...

Given my above answer, I have to opt for alternative i, the unity of body and mind.

3)The problem of agency. Who is the agent of conscious volitional acts and how to reconcile our sense of freewill with that same agent being subject to the laws of physics?

This question is key to this topic. One way to put the argument is the following dilemma: If the laws of nature and prior conditions completely determine our behavior, then what we do is not in our control and we are not responsible for what happens. If they do not completely determine our behavior, then to the extent that more than one thing could happen, it is a matter of chance what happens, and again we are not in control and are not responsible. (A much more sophisticated version of this argument can be found in an article by Roderick Chisholm in an excellent anthology called Determinism and Freedom in the Age of Modern Science, edited by Sydney Hook.)

Chisholm thought that the solution to this dilemma was essential to a meaningful system of ethics. He went on to propose that the solution was to be found "between the horns". What he suggested was that people were responsible for their actions when it was they, not prior conditions that caused it.

For people indoctrinated in the religion of reductionism, that sounds absurd. But there is more to it than that. In the first place, we are better able to predict what a person will do when we take into account what he (or she) intends, expects, believes, hopes, etc., i.e., when we include in our evidence what Chisholm called intensional (with an 's') attributes of that person. Reductionistic neuropsychology has never explained how these intension attributes arise as configurations of neural behavior. Thus, the theory that intending, believing, hoping people make their behavior happen is a more predictive theory than reductionistic neuropsychology.

Doug Hofstadter's book mentioned above is a good discussion of this issue.

Moreover, the evolutionary argument above explains why choice as an emergent behavior of complex systems is likely to arise in evolving systems.

Anyway, that's the outline of my position. Anyone want to dialog?

Namiste.
 
Why would anyone want to solve consciousness? Since when did consciousness become a problem?

The current administration has noticed that it has become a problem. Consciousness in people spurs them to begin thinking and asking questions. They originally thought they had the problem solved by introducing Fox News and characters like Ann Coulter. For a long time this sent out a frequency that reduced most grey matter useless. Then, suprisingly people began thinking again and began to ask questions.
My favorite is to ask anyone expounding an idea, anyone that wants to tell you how the universe really works is: "Yeah but how do you know? "
 
Kindest Regards, Spiderbaby and DrFree, and welcome to CR! Great series of questions! Kindest Regards to everyone else as well!

Spiderbaby said:
1)The generation / hard problem. How do material configurations or processes produce conscious experience?
I defer to DrFree on this, I think “he” posted a splendid standard explanation even if I do find some issues with it.

Spiderbaby said:
2)The problem of self. i) The Aristotelian, the psyche and the body 'form a unity'. ii) The Platonist, the psyche and body are separate entities ( and whence Decarte's 'I think therefore I am'). iii) Hume's, the self is a fiction of the imagination 'synthesized in the act of reflexive self-reference'. iv) None of those...
I suppose a great deal depends on whom one asks, surely a Buddhist would refute the notion of “self.” Personally, I think the body is subject to the mind, and in turn the mind is subject to the spirit.

Spiderbaby said:
3)The problem of agency. Who is the agent of conscious volitional acts and how to reconcile our sense of freewill with that same agent being subject to the laws of physics?
Spooky action at a distance and neutrinos are two examples I can think of in physics that indicate how “spirit” can influence mind-body and can aid in reconciling how the two co-operate.

Neemai said:
Maybe consciousness is not a product of material processes. I am not my hand - I am the user of the hand,
I am not my leg - I am the user of my leg,
I am not my eye - I am the see-er,
I am not the body, but the driver therof.
I think this is a crucial point…what exactly is it we deem consciousness? What distinguishes consciousness from, say pre-consciousness, sub-conciousness or unconsciousness, or conscience, or intuitition / instinct?
Neemai said:
There are several factors determining every action - one of them being our own limited independence (or free-will). The laws of nature act upon our body and effect our free-will as the laws of the road effect our driving.
I do think there are more than biological components involved in every action, that we are not merely slaves to our biology.

DrFree said:
I'm going to respond to the evolutionary interpretation: how do material objects come to be conscious? I think it is inaccurate to say that consciousness is necessary for the animation of the body. I suspect that consciousness emerged fairly high up the animate trunk of life. Consciousness is not necessary for life. Plants do quite well without it (at least in a form we probably all agree we're familiar with). Bacteria and viruses are almost certainly not conscious, any more than a calculator is conscious…is not our capabilities that make us what we are, but our choices.
At this particular stage I am supposing that you view consciousness and reasoning (as distinct from "choice") as quite different. Perhaps you see consciousness as self-awareness? Reasoning being the process to arrive at a conclusion, choice being the conclusion.
DrFree said:
*Whatever consciousness is, whatever choice is*, they go together.
:D Let's look and see.

DrFree said:
Bacteria and mosquitoes react to their environment… In order to survive animals have to procreate, sustain themselves, and avoid threats... Animals of higher orders (and where the line is between higher and lower is certainly a matter of debate) choose because they have as individuals a measure of control of their individual fate… Instead nature gave higher animals the power to choose whether to eat, breed, fight or flee. In order to choose well, animals needed an integrated model of everything they could learn about all the factors affecting their choices. Consciousness is that model.
I want to be certain I am following correctly…is what you are calling consciousness here also considered experiential learning? Where does instinct and intuition factor in among say migrating, herding and pack animals?
DrFree said:
It is by consciousness that an animal is aware that an object in its field of vision is at one and the same time a potential food source, a potential competitor for a food source, a potential mate, and a potential threat. Only by recognizing that one and the same object is in the condition-set for many different behaviors can the animal learn to decide among those behaviors.
So then experiential learning and self-awareness are the same? Or perhaps you mean different aspects of the same mechanism?
DrFree said:
Conscious behavior, is just that: behavior.
True, but is consciousness behavior? What drives the conscious process? Are we merely slaves to our biological chemistry? Or does our mind supercede and override our natural propensities if we “consciously” take control of our actions.
Indeed, I think the dichotomy between body and mind or between body and soul is a false one. The body is not mere inert matter to be acted upon by mind; some bodies (yours and mine, certainly) are active and conscious. Minds and souls are not pure spirit, but the activity of bodies that have evolved in the right way.
So that I may better understand, then we are no more than the collective sum of our chemical elements? We are slaves to our bodies?
If I may use a brief example: alcoholism. One body may not respond to alcohol in the same way another body might, OK, I can grant that, even though the presumption is that alcohol will affect all bodies in some way. Now, let us for a moment suppose that I am born with a natural propensity towards alcoholism, my body really, really likes the stuff. If I am to understand this argument, I have absolutely no choice then but to be an alcoholic. Therefore consciousness is not equal to choice, because I can will not to drink alcohol, in spite of my body’s propensity to do so. In fact, depending on training / teaching / indoctrination, I may actually be a tea-totaller and prohibitionist in spite of my body’s propensity to drink. Perhaps I watched a beloved family member die a horrible death of liver cancer, I can choose to quit *if I so desire* in defiance of my body chemistry. So I am going to have to disagree that consciousness and choice are synonymous. I do think choice arises out of consciousness, but that consciousness comprises a great deal more.

DrFree said:
Moreover, I think there's very good reason to believe that the way my mind (soul) works is very closely tuned to the detail of the way my body works. Without my body, I wouldn't be me.
I really do disagree that the mind and the soul are the same thing. The mind may or may not end at death, the thought process may or may not end when the biochemicals cease, but the animating spirit (ruach, breath of life) is another (anti-) matter altogether.

I am pressed for time so I will need to continue another day. Thanks for now. :D
 
Hi, juantoo3,

You raise some interesting issues. I'll try to respond at least to those that indicate that I did not make my position clear.

I want to be certain I am following correctly…is what you are calling consciousness here also considered experiential learning? Where does instinct and intuition factor in among say migrating, herding and pack animals?

Consciousness is not the same as experiential learning, although it requires it. I think that even animals without consciousness have some level of experiential learning.

Let me try an analogy. You have on your computer several programs, a browser, a word processor, maybe a spreadsheet, an address book, a calendar. Each of these programs functions independently. You can give each of these programs data, and teach it, i.e., program it, to respond in certain ways to conditions within that data. I see no reason to characterize that programmed behavior as conscious. But it is behavior; the program actively responds to the conditions it knows about. But your word processor won't change your documents based on conditions recognized by your browser. If you want your documents to reflect those conditions, you must program your word processor to respond to them.

The same is true of reflex behavior. The various behaviors of lower animals are independent of one another. When food is available it eats, when a threat is imminent it flees, when a mate is available it breeds. There is likely a prioritization of reflexes that makes flight take precedence over eating, but even that is not necessary. But there is no process that the animal goes through for assessing the relative importance of the food, threat and mate in the current environment.

Unlike your personal computer (I should say, unlike most personal computers), complex computing systems share their data in a common database. What is learned by any subsystem is available to all of them. To achieve that requires the data to be organized into an integrated model that makes sense not only to each of the individual subsystems, but to the system as a whole. With such complexity, not only can the individual subsystems continue to provide the same functionality, but it is easy to develop relationships among them that prioritize certain behaviors based on an assessment of complex combinations of information.

Consciousness is very much like a complex computing system like this. When any of its subsystems learn something about the environment, that information not only affects the behavior of that subsystem, it is available to all of the other subsystems, sometimes fast enough to inhibit the "natural" behavior of the original subsystem.

What this means is that consciousness is the integrated comprehension of the animal's environment, or the knowledge system, for short, which becomes a subsystem of its own to broker the flow of information about conditions among the behavioral subsystems.

So then experiential learning and self-awareness are the same? Or perhaps you mean different aspects of the same mechanism?

I never mentioned "self-consciousness" or "self-awareness". I thought that the notion of self, like the notion of soul, carries too much philosophical baggage to be introduced into the conversation before laying down some foundations for a discussion of consciousness.

Surely self-consciousness emerges much higher on the evolutionary tree of complexity than "simple" consciousness. We can speculate on how that happened, but I'm not sure it would be to the point.

True, but is consciousness behavior? What drives the conscious process? Are we merely slaves to our biological chemistry? Or does our mind supercede and override our natural propensities if we “consciously” take control of our actions.
...
So that I may better understand, then we are no more than the collective sum of our chemical elements? We are slaves to our bodies?

I'm not sure how you could possibly infer from what I said any form of reduction of our behavior to mere chemical processes. There are, and I think never will be, any adequate theories of human behavior that don't involve recognition of the person as a thinking, choosing individual. That rules out pure physics or pure chemistry or pure biology as adequate theories.

Everything we do does involve physical/chemical/biological processes, but human behavior is much more than that. But it is not more by the addition of souls or minds or selves as objects in the middle of the process that constitutes the behavior. (I'm reminded of the cartoon in which one scientist tells another that more detail is needed in the box labeled "A miracle happens here".) Whatever the self or the soul is, it is not something inside us.

A much more useful approach is to think of the self as the whole person, or the person as a whole. This is to reject any total reduction of the behavior of systems to a mere sum of the behaviors of the components of the system.

Note that reductionism is rejected by chaos/complexity theory, both of which recognize that lower level details are too complex to ever enable prediction of the system. Hofstadter points out that with regard to conscious behavior, in many cases the details of the lower level are virtually irrelevant to understanding the system.

So whatever sins I have committed, reductionism is not one of them.

If I may use a brief example: alcoholism. One body may not respond to alcohol in the same way another body might, OK, I can grant that, even though the presumption is that alcohol will affect all bodies in some way. Now, let us for a moment suppose that I am born with a natural propensity towards alcoholism, my body really, really likes the stuff. If I am to understand this argument, I have absolutely no choice then but to be an alcoholic. Therefore consciousness is not equal to choice, because I can will not to drink alcohol, in spite of my body’s propensity to do so. In fact, depending on training / teaching / indoctrination, I may actually be a tea-totaller and prohibitionist in spite of my body’s propensity to drink. Perhaps I watched a beloved family member die a horrible death of liver cancer, I can choose to quit *if I so desire* in defiance of my body chemistry. So I am going to have to disagree that consciousness and choice are synonymous. I do think choice arises out of consciousness, but that consciousness comprises a great deal more.

Absolutely. But that does not mean that you are competing with your body. You have one set of behaviors that predispose you toward alcohol; you have another that objects to alcoholism. There are many examples of competing desires. But both sets of behaviors are part of you. They both involve your body, your feelings and your consciousness. The body is not a monolith that you have to struggle with. A person is a complex, conscious and physical system of systems that simultaneously compete and cooperate.

I really do disagree that the mind and the soul are the same thing. The mind may or may not end at death, the thought process may or may not end when the biochemicals cease, but the animating spirit (ruach, breath of life) is another (anti-) matter altogether.

You still haven't presented your evidence for that claim. I'm waiting. ;)

Namiste.
 
1)The generation / hard problem. How do material configurations or processes produce conscious experience?

Greetings,
The laws of physics contradict the facts of biology. How does matter ever become aware of itself? What is the law of physics that predicts this?

Consciousness precedes matter and can exist without it.

-Br.Bruce
 
Kindest Regards, DrFree!

I continued working on a response last night which here follows. Time and use constraints limit my ability to respond more timely, but I do think this is a very important philosophical issue. Please bear with me, I will respond to your most current post shortly.

I see now that you are directly refuting what you call a reductionist position, I'm afraid I was not altogether clear on that when I composed this post last night. I still had the echoes of a recent discussion in mind wherein I did discuss with a reductionist. Since I feel it is important I would like to post it as written.

DrFree said:
(Who is the agent of conscious volitional acts and how to reconcile our sense of freewill with that same agent being subject to the laws of physics? -Spiderbaby) This question is key to this topic. One way to put the argument is the following dilemma: If the laws of nature and prior conditions completely determine our behavior, then what we do is not in our control and we are not responsible for what happens. If they do not completely determine our behavior, then to the extent that more than one thing could happen, it is a matter of chance what happens, and again we are not in control and are not responsible.

Since we are on the philosophy board, I would like to carry this thought a bit further. If we are not in control of our thoughts and by extension our actions, then there is no "right" or "wrong", no good or bad, no evil or noble behaviors. In order for the argument to be valid, it must be valid across the board, (or else special exceptions must show specific and valid reasons why they are exceptional). The presumption of biochemical subjugation would equate all behaviors as inevitable consequences; there would be no behaviors we currently class as criminal or philanthropic. There would be no villains and no saints. There would be no victims or heroes. All would be surrendered solely to fate and circumstance. There would be no "lifting oneself up by one's bootstraps." The entire concept of responsibility, personal all the way up to governmental and even global, would be erased. Anarchy in the grossest sense seems to me the inevitable consequence, eugenics to the nth degree: brute force and procreative ability would survive, all else would fall as prey and weakness.

This would negate the foundation of modern civilization; there would be no need for law or justice as there would be no "wrong" or "bad" behaviors. Since there are no "wrong" behaviors, there would be no need for religion in any form, and certainly if all were merely the happenstance of chance biology then there seems to me pretty obviously no need for a G-d in any form. Sorry charlie, what you get is what you've got, you can't help your genetics…

The abrogation of responsibility means there is no choice, you are gonna do what your biology makes you do. That's all there is to it. You have no mind of your own to choose, your body chemistry has already made your fate. If you are "lucky," you will be born with a shrewd and calculating mind adept at theft and a suitable body by which you will amass great wealth; and if you are less fortunate, you will remain a hostage to your circumstances from which you cannot arise until your lineage suffers extinction.

While I can concede that civilization has its dark moments with government and institutional religion, it is difficult to deny the overwhelming evolutionary benefit these have provided our species. The crux is rational thought, the hinge is responsibility. Responsibility is the choice to behave in a manner best befitting not only oneself and family, but by extension one's community. Social animals behave in the manner best suited to survival of the community. Conscious thought is what distinguishes humans from all other animals in that among other things we have codified and sanctified a set of communal standards, ostensibly with equity, across the community for the benefit of the community. By conscious thought we can convey those communal standards by means (writing and education) that transcend the merely experiential as other animals do. Unless one resides in a formally stratified society, there is the hope if only illusory of fair play and justice. The community then exercises "veto power" of a sort upon those individuals who trespass against those sanctified and codified communal standards. In a perfect world, institutional religion plays the role of indoctrination; government plays the role of compulsion as the ideal of the communal standards.

I realize mine is a slippery slope argument, but I have done what I could in such a short space to flesh out the reasoning behind it. Either we are ultimately responsible for our behavior in spite of our biological tendencies, or civilization has collectively been laboring under more than ten thousand years of delusional hopes and fantasies. And the biological argument still has yet to account for the spiritual quest endemic throughout in prehistory, was that an accident of biology too? Were the likes of cave paintings and Venus carvings delusional accidents of biochemistry?

DrFree said:
Chisholm thought that the solution to this dilemma was essential to a meaningful system of ethics. He went on to propose that the solution was to be found "between the horns". What he suggested was that people were responsible for their actions when it was they, not prior conditions that caused it.

I am not familiar with this article or with what is intended by "between the horns." My biology might make me think about doing something we generally now consider heinous, perhaps using a bazooka to eliminate the butthead driver that almost ran me off the road. Or perhaps I should say my biology sways me to want to eliminate the butthead who can't help himself from being a butthead. But I choose not to because of the communal standards (and their consequences) instilled in me by my society. I own my responsibility to myself, family, and community, and by owning my responsibility I make what I consider (by conscious thought) to be wise decisions. Even those behaviors that I might partake in that carry a detriment, I am responsible and will bear the burden of my choices (even if I seem to "get away with them"). Life is a series of choices, we choose to get out of bed in the morning and to go to bed at night and a litany of choices in between every day. When we die, our life will be the cumulative account of our choices along with an occasional biological health glitch like cancer, diabetes, sickle cell anemia or cystic fibrosis, some of which are caused by our choices, others of which are exacerbated (or minimized) by our choices, and some of which we simply have no conscious control over.

DrFree said:
For people indoctrinated in the religion of reductionism, that sounds absurd. But there is more to it than that. In the first place, we are better able to predict what a person will do when we take into account what he (or she) intends, expects, believes, hopes, etc., i.e., when we include in our evidence what Chisholm called intensional (with an 's') attributes of that person. Reductionistic neuropsychology has never explained how these intension attributes arise as configurations of neural behavior. Thus, the theory that intending, believing, hoping people make their behavior happen is a more predictive theory than reductionistic neuropsychology.

I would add to this list a person's socio-economic status from which s/he comes, along with the socio-economic status at the time they are interviewed. It seems easy to me to see how one trapped in the bottom rungs of society may well feel helpless, but to interview one who has climbed the socio-economic ladder to some relative rung of success the notion of surrender to biological fate seems silly. As a philosophy to guide one's life by, I fail to see how a biological imperative surpasses personal responsibility.

DrFree said:
the evolutionary argument above explains why choice as an emergent behavior of complex systems is likely to arise in evolving systems.

There is good to be said about what you have presented, in that I think there is a basis that can be better fleshed out. A lot of my reservations have to do with certain underlying presumptions and whether or not they merit validity. I do not think choice and consciousness equate. There is a distinction to be made between instinctive behavior and consciously chosen behavior. At this point I see a great gap in not considering prehistoric social settings of say 10 to 100 thousand years ago, or the development of modern civilization from around 10 to 4 thousand years ago and how these can be adequately accounted for. What role does emotion play? What role does addictive behavior play? What role does conscience and guilt (and mothers) play? :D

DrFree said:
Anyway, that's the outline of my position. Anyone want to dialog?
Certainly, and I do hope my response will be received with the respect with which it is sent. :)
 
I don't understand why people stand around debating stupid shi- like this when half the world is starving and has no running water. We should turn everyone in University philosophy departments out on the street and have them beg for bread and live out of shopping carts for a decade at least, that's what I think.

:D
 
I don't understand why people stand around debating stupid shi- like this when half the world is starving and has no running water. We should turn everyone in University philosophy departments out on the street and have them beg for bread and live out of shopping carts for a decade at least, that's what I think.

:D

I respect the person who helps others, and I also respect the person who asks why (in the greater sense, of why are we here)? Maybe one of those might figure a way to help thousands of homeless people in a better way?

... Ok, off to the streets I go ;)

Neemai
 
Kindest Regards, Pathless!
I don't understand why people stand around debating stupid shi- like this...

Well, it's not in my power to solve world hunger, but it is in my power to consider the value of various philosophies.

Besides, if one doesn't understand why others take part in a particular discussion, there is no requirement to comment, simply look elsewhere. :)
 
I respect the person who helps others, and I also respect the person who asks why (in the greater sense, of why are we here)? Maybe one of those might figure a way to help thousands of homeless people in a better way?

... Ok, off to the streets I go ;)

Neemai

Too often they end up sidetracked somewhere in an ivory tower, Neemai, eating Brie and wearing starched linen, tweed jackets with little patches over the elbows. The men grow beards and look sophisticated, but their spectacles cannot hide their arrogance from me! HAHA!! HAW! HAW!!

And let someone try to call me arrogant! I'm not listening!! :mad: :rolleyes: :mad: :cool: :mad: :D

Excuse me, I'm in a mood this morning.

Off I go to brew coffee and read Race Traitor.
 
Kindest Regards, Pathless!


Well, it's not in my power to solve world hunger, but it is in my power to consider the value of various philosophies.

Sure, can't argue with that. ;)

juantoo3 said:
Besides, if one doesn't understand why others take part in a particular discussion, there is no requirement to comment, simply look elsewhere. :)

Gosh Juan I know, yet sometimes I have this little prankster boy in me that can't resist darting into a thread and pantsing everyone while they stand around the water cooler.

:D :D :p :p

Kindest Regards,
Pathless
 
Kindest Regards, Pathless!
Gosh Juan I know, yet sometimes I have this little prankster boy in me that can't resist darting into a thread and pantsing everyone while they stand around the water cooler.Pathless
:D Then I will consider myself duly pantsed. :eek:

BTW, love the new avatar, I always did like the Cheshire Cat.
 
If the laws of nature and prior conditions completely determine our behavior, then what we do is not in our control and we are not responsible for what happens. If they do not completely determine our behavior, then to the extent that more than one thing could happen, it is a matter of chance what happens, and again we are not in control and are not responsible.
Neither of these alternatives is true. The laws of physics do not DETERMINE what happens next, they only delimit a set of alternatives. Which alternative ensues is "random" in the technical mathematical sense: that is, completely uncorrelated with the spatiotemporal distribution of the material particles. That does not mean that there is no cause for what happens, or that the causal mechanism is some kind of "Casino Royale" where angels throw dice or spin roulette wheels to generate random numbers. It just means that the cause is something separate from the material laws, and not subject to investigation by such means. I believe that every electron which could or could not jump from one orbital to the next, within the bounds of the options left open by the physical laws, "chooses" or "decides" which thing to do. Our consciousness is a larger-scale manifestation of this non-material side to the laws governing the universe.
 
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