Re: [asa] Brain and Determinism (fwd)

From: David Clounch <david.clounch@gmail.com>
Date: Fri Oct 02 2009 - 13:09:38 EDT

All,
One other thing. JP&NB talk about "dualistic monism" and their view. Then
they say there are more than two aspects to their monism. I'd suggest this
gives multiplistic monism, although I don't know qhuite what that really
means.

Anyway, dualistic monism has implications for ideas of:

1) The soul operating only in a body and not dis-embodied.

2) Non-biological evolution of the mind. I see that as a co-evolutionary
prospect. Biological evolution of the body as a co-evolution of the mind.
This could explain how the loss of capability at the fall (ie, sin) is
transmitted through all descendants of Adam EVEN THOUGH SIN IS A PURELY
MENTAL PROCESS. Sorry about the capitals, I just wanted to be clear while
terse.

A mental system of:

A) awareness of God and rebellion against God

is related to but totally distinct from:

B) A mental system of morality where worrying about right and wrong is built
in but does not originate from the human mind. (ref CS Lewis).

Neither of these phenomena emerges from genetics (and biological evolution)
yet they are transmitted from generation to generation. One explanation is
"Original Flaw" where capability was removed from the original perfection
of the mind.

So the real question becomes "how naturalistic/materialistic are these
mental phenomena?"

Thanks,
Dave C

On Fri, Oct 2, 2009 at 11:34 AM, David Clounch <david.clounch@gmail.com>wrote:

> Bill,
>
> JP&NB p 131:
>
> "We begin to see a picture...of how it is true that the brain obeys the
> laws of physics AND ALSO provides the ability to escape from physical
> determinism in precisely the circumstances -- finely balanced decisions
> taken in regions with highly connected neurons -- that are required to
> support our fundamental experience of true free will.
>
> They mention Nobel prize winning physical chemist Ilya Prigogine:
> http://www.amazon.com/End-Certainty-Ilya-Prigogine/dp/0684837056
>
> And they mention philosopher of science Jeremy Butterfield who claims "if a
> theory is formulated mathematically in the way that is generally used by
> differential equations, the the same theory can have BOTH deterministic AND
> nondeterministic solutions.
>
> They then go into evolution aspects of non-deterministic brain function. I
> think this may be some of the leading TE material on the subject. They say:
> "This is of course why the idea of genetic determinism of the brain is so
> absurd -- there is not nearly enough information in the genome to specify
> such connections".
>
> On page 135 in THE FALLACY OF MIND/BRAIN IDENTIFICATION they say mind and
> brain are intimately connected but one cannot be reduced to the other. They
> talk about mental events that have no correspondence with brain events
> whatsoever.
>
> Where is all this going? If you look at the whole I think they are making
> a sound theistic argument. I think they argue against, for example,
> Bernie's position that the human mind emerged via biological evolution.
> The way I'd phrase that is the biological evolution was necessary but not
> sufficient (but I wouldn't want to put words in their mouth. Not without
> showing each individual piece of that argument and showing the whole road
> map). In appendix C they speak against making a secular religion out of
> evolution.
>
> So my suspicion is this "emergence of the mind concept" we are hearing
> on the list is an oversimplified atheist fantasy. What is important here
> is to accurately describe and understand various theistic theories to se eif
> they are viable.
>
> When someone wants to build a case against theism (or Christianity) they
> have pre-judged the question, not evaluated it.
>
> Thanks,
> Dave C
>
>
>
>
>
>
>
>
>
> On Thu, Oct 1, 2009 at 6:46 PM, Bill Powers <wjp@swcp.com> wrote:
>
>> David:
>>
>> It may be new to me, which is why I want to understand it. JP&NB
>> apparently, by using macrophysics, want to persuade us that the randomness
>> in QM is really already present in our "observable" or comprehensible world.
>>
>> bill
>>
>>
>> On Thu, 1 Oct 2009, David Clounch wrote:
>>
>> Just briefly because I am on the run today, JP&NB seem to be making an
>>> argument based on classical physics, not QM. They indicate classical
>>> physics shows some things are non-deterministic.
>>>
>>> Where is this going and why should we care? Minds, being based on
>>> brains,
>>> brains being based on hypercomplex analog processes, exhibit
>>> non-deterministic characteristics. This is new to me, having never
>>> thought
>>> about it before.
>>>
>>>
>>>
>>> Thanks,
>>> Dave C
>>>
>>>
>>> On Thu, Oct 1, 2009 at 4:03 PM, Bill Powers <wjp@swcp.com> wrote:
>>>
>>> Forwarded to ASA on behalf of Merv:
>>>>
>>>>
>>>> I will happily reply here as best I can, exposing my own ignorance when
>>>> it
>>>> comes
>>>> to Planck lengths or quantum uncertainties -- and hoping that then some
>>>> of
>>>> the
>>>> real physicists can step in and clarify for both of us. Here goes...
>>>>
>>>> Regarding ontological vs. epistemological uncertainties first: I think
>>>> I
>>>> understand your confusion on this since it is the same confusion I am
>>>> emerging
>>>> from. I used to think that the Heisenberg uncertainty principle was no
>>>> more
>>>> than a statement of a limitation on what we could find out about a small
>>>> particle. I.e. Any instrument will affect what it is measuring -- a
>>>> thermometer slightly changes the temperature of a liquid, a volt-meter
>>>> will
>>>> slightly alter the circuit in which it is connected to get its voltage
>>>> reading,
>>>> etc. So that's easy! (I used to think.) The electron can still be in a
>>>> precise
>>>> place, have its simultaneously precise velocity and all, and we just
>>>> aren't
>>>> able
>>>> to measure those things since any instrument would massively affect the
>>>> particle. So I was able to preserve my notion of ontological
>>>> determinism
>>>> by
>>>> thinking "*In principle* the electron does have a precise location and
>>>> velocity
>>>> --even if we can never know both with infinite precision." (and come to
>>>> think
>>>> of it, we could never know anything with infinite precision anyway.)
>>>> But
>>>> our
>>>> lack of knowledge doesn't make it not so any more than my lack of
>>>> knowledge
>>>> about where you are right now would make your location be indeterminate.
>>>> But
>>>> physicists come along and tell me "not so fast!" Actually, the
>>>> uncertainty
>>>> principle runs deeper and informs us that the electron's simultaneous
>>>> position
>>>> and velocity are indeterminate *even in reality*. I.e. there are no
>>>> simultaneously precise values to known *even in principle*! Not even by
>>>> God.
>>>> This is what apparently defeats the notion of ontological determinism
>>>> even
>>>> though I can't wrap my mind around it. It is philosophically a much
>>>> different
>>>> and more bizarre ball game than merely saying "we can't know it."
>>>>
>>>>
>>>> Regarding Planck lengths, I too would love to know more about this. But
>>>> from
>>>> what I've gathered it represents a "smallest possible" increment in
>>>> space
>>>> that
>>>> would be astronomically smaller than a proton. (Probably having to do
>>>> with
>>>> how
>>>> far light could travel in a Planck instant). It is apparently the
>>>> smallest
>>>> "unit?" of length anything could actually have. To my already fried
>>>> imagination, this has the effect of "digitizing" space. Just as we can
>>>> recognize the digitized and pixelated graphics of an object "moving"
>>>> across
>>>> a
>>>> computer screen, now I imagine a pixelated space where things "lurch
>>>> along"
>>>> from
>>>> one Planck length to the next without being able to exist in between.
>>>> How
>>>> this
>>>> fits with classical Newtonian notions of momentum or inertia I would
>>>> love
>>>> for
>>>> somebody else to explain to me. A digitized motion where something is
>>>> pausing
>>>> at a new quantized location on your screen for 1/30 of a second before
>>>> it
>>>> is
>>>> instantaneously relocated to the next position is not at all the same as
>>>> "continuous" motion where inertia is preserved. But if Planck lengths
>>>> and
>>>> times
>>>> are ontologically accurate descriptions of reality, maybe there is no
>>>> such
>>>> thing
>>>> as "continuous" motion? George, ... somebody? ..... help!
>>>>
>>>> --Merv
>>>>
>>>>
>>>>
>>>> Quoting Bill Powers <wjp@swcp.com>:
>>>>
>>>> Merv & David:
>>>>
>>>>>
>>>>> A few comments.
>>>>>
>>>>> First, I don't understand the seemingly discontinuous comment about the
>>>>> Planck length.
>>>>>
>>>>> Second, I don't follow the argument. It seems to me that from
>>>>> beginning
>>>>> to end they are discussing epistemological uncertainty and not
>>>>> ontological uncertainty. In fact, it seems to me that the Heisenberg
>>>>> uncertainty can be similarly interpreted.
>>>>>
>>>>> Since I don't consider the Heisenberg uncertainty to really get at the
>>>>> matter (it can be viewed as merely the result of not attempting to
>>>>> measure an eigenvalue), consider instead something like the decay of a
>>>>> radioactive nucleus.
>>>>>
>>>>> We are told that if one were to ask why this particular nucleus decayed
>>>>> at this instance that the "appropriate" answer is that there is no
>>>>> reason. Yet, we are also told that the statistical decay of a host of
>>>>> such atoms has such a small variance that we can make extremely
>>>>> accurate
>>>>> atomic clocks from them.
>>>>>
>>>>> The situation is analogous to tossing an honest penny. If one were to
>>>>> try to predict whether this penny on this toss would be a head or a
>>>>> tail, our knowledge would be completely uncertain. All we could say is
>>>>> that it will be either a head or a tail. And this is why we in
>>>>> Bayesian
>>>>> fashion say that the result is 50-50, a measure of complete ignorance.
>>>>> Yet, were we to toss 10^23 such coins we could predict with
>>>>> extraordinary accuracy the fraction of coins that are heads and the
>>>>> fraction that are tails.
>>>>>
>>>>> In this analogical story would we say that there was no reason that the
>>>>> flip of a single coin came up heads? I don't think so. Such a story
>>>>> was well known long befor QM came along, and no one was led to argue
>>>>> that we live in a random universe. Well, maybe not no one. It was
>>>>> probably a common belief prior to the advent of modern science.
>>>>>
>>>>> I know that what I'm suggesting seems to lead to hidden variables.
>>>>> I've
>>>>> just never quite understood the claim that we live in a random
>>>>> universe,
>>>>> which appears to imply what?
>>>>>
>>>>> Is a random universe that is unpredictable? That's epistemological.
>>>>> Ontologically, it must mean something like events occur for no reason
>>>>> whatsoever, and yet they are statistically deterministic. This appears
>>>>> to me, at least, to be a paradox. Does ontological randomness entail
>>>>> that events occur without any antecedent conditions, not just
>>>>> unobservable, but none whatsoever. Even with the pennies there are
>>>>> antecedent condtions: the penny must be tossed.
>>>>>
>>>>> In summary, I don't get Polkinghorne's argument. Please, explain.
>>>>>
>>>>> thanks,
>>>>>
>>>>> bill
>>>>>
>>>>> On Thu,
>>>>> 1 Oct 2009,
>>>>> mrb22667@kansas.net wrote:
>>>>>
>>>>> My comments injected below...
>>>>>
>>>>>>
>>>>>> Quoting David Clounch <david.clounch@gmail.com>:
>>>>>>
>>>>>>
>>>>>> Polkinghorne and Beale write about determinism and the
>>>>>>> brain1<#sdfootnote1sym>
>>>>>>>
>>>>>>>
>>>>>>> Consider a single nitrogen molecule in the air you are now
>>>>>>> breathing.
>>>>>>> On
>>>>>>> average it is traveling 450 m/s and bounces off about 7 billion other
>>>>>>> air
>>>>>>> molecules every second, thus 7,000 every microsecond. Suppose you
>>>>>>> knew
>>>>>>>
>>>>>>> the
>>>>>>
>>>>>
>>>>> exact position and momentum of every one of these particles (even
>>>>>> though
>>>>>>
>>>>>>> this is impossible by Heisenberg's uncertainty principle), then
>>>>>>> perhaps
>>>>>>>
>>>>>>> you
>>>>>>
>>>>>
>>>>> could, at least in principle, predict exactly where that nitrogen
>>>>>>
>>>>>>>
>>>>>>> molecule
>>>>>>
>>>>>
>>>>> would be one microsecond later. Of course there are all kinds of
>>>>>>
>>>>>>> complications, such as electrostatic forces, angular momentum, and so
>>>>>>> on,
>>>>>>> but lets make it simple and pretend that these were all perfect
>>>>>>> spheres
>>>>>>>
>>>>>>> and
>>>>>>
>>>>>
>>>>> Newton's laws exactly applied – the kind of eighteenth-century
>>>>>>
>>>>>>>
>>>>>>> worldview
>>>>>>
>>>>>
>>>>> that shaped the Enlightenment and still influences much of our
>>>>>> thinking.
>>>>>>
>>>>>>>
>>>>>>> But
>>>>>>
>>>>>
>>>>> suppose a tiny error is introduced in the angle at which this air
>>>>>>
>>>>>>>
>>>>>>> molecule
>>>>>>
>>>>>
>>>>> is traveling, for any reason at all. A little bit of uncertainty about
>>>>>>
>>>>>>>
>>>>>>> the
>>>>>>
>>>>>
>>>>> position of an electron, say. Call this error (epsilon). After one
>>>>>>
>>>>>>> collision, the error is 2 ; after two collisions 4 , and so
>>>>>>> forth.
>>>>>>> Each
>>>>>>> microsecond this error will increase by 2^7000, or roughly 10^2100.
>>>>>>> The
>>>>>>> situation is clearly hopeless even if the initial error corresponds
>>>>>>> to a
>>>>>>> Planck length (1.6 x 10 ^ -35 m – the smallest possible length, at
>>>>>>>
>>>>>>> which
>>>>>>
>>>>>
>>>>> conventional physics breaks down) per meter, after just 97 collisions
>>>>>> the
>>>>>>
>>>>>>> uncertainty will be enough for the position of the molecule to be out
>>>>>>> by
>>>>>>> more than the diameter of a nitrogen molecule (6.2 x 10^-10m), which
>>>>>>>
>>>>>>> means
>>>>>>
>>>>>
>>>>> it will miss the 98th target. This will happen in less than a 70th of
>>>>>> a
>>>>>>
>>>>>>> microsecond. And making the error one Planck length in the size of
>>>>>>> the
>>>>>>> observable universe (about 3 x 10 ^23 m) just means it will miss the
>>>>>>> 176thmolecule. So even with the unrealistic assumptions of a perfect
>>>>>>> Newtonian
>>>>>>> world elsewhere, exact determinism is dead.
>>>>>>>
>>>>>>>
>>>>>> It isn't the error amplification (chaos theory) that kills
>>>>>> determinism.
>>>>>>
>>>>>> Because
>>>>>
>>>>> the original 18th century thought assumed up front that such knowledge
>>>>>> was
>>>>>> impossible anyway, they had already premised their speculation as
>>>>>> being
>>>>>> so
>>>>>>
>>>>>> *in
>>>>>
>>>>> principle* since they knew nobody could know all this. And that
>>>>>> caveat
>>>>>>
>>>>>> allows
>>>>>
>>>>> them (and us now even with Chaos theory) to reduce the initial state
>>>>>> error
>>>>>>
>>>>>> *in
>>>>>
>>>>> principle* to zero (infinitely smaller than a Planck length). So it
>>>>>> is
>>>>>>
>>>>>> only the
>>>>>
>>>>> Heisenberg uncertainty as mentioned below that actually drives the
>>>>>> real
>>>>>>
>>>>>> stake
>>>>>
>>>>> into the heart of determinism. Yet for all this, it doesn't prevent
>>>>>> some
>>>>>>
>>>>>> from
>>>>>
>>>>> still thinking deterministically about the universe as a strictly
>>>>>> causal
>>>>>>
>>>>>> domain.
>>>>>
>>>>> Since my mind can't fully fathom the nature of our ontological
>>>>>> uncertainty,
>>>>>>
>>>>>> I
>>>>>
>>>>> find myself in this deterministically minded camp at least every other
>>>>>>
>>>>>> Thursday.
>>>>>
>>>>> Maybe the atoms in my brain will happen to bounce that way today.
>>>>>>
>>>>>> --Merv
>>>>>>
>>>>>> In fact, of course, we use
>>>>>>
>>>>>>> statistical mechanics to describe the behavior of gases and liquids
>>>>>>> and
>>>>>>>
>>>>>>> do
>>>>>>
>>>>>
>>>>> not try to predict the behavior of individual small molecules. But
>>>>>> many
>>>>>>
>>>>>>> people think of the indeterminacy in statistical mechanics as simply
>>>>>>> a
>>>>>>> limitation on our knowledge rather than a reflection of real
>>>>>>>
>>>>>>> indeterminacy
>>>>>>
>>>>>
>>>>> as in the quantum world. This kind of argument strongly suggests, to
>>>>>> our
>>>>>>
>>>>>>> satisfaction at least, that in cases like the movement of molecules
>>>>>>> in
>>>>>>>
>>>>>>> air
>>>>>>
>>>>>
>>>>> the indeterminacy is real.
>>>>>>
>>>>>>>
>>>>>>>
>>>>>>> They go on to describe calcium ions in te synapses in the brain, and
>>>>>>> use
>>>>>>>
>>>>>>> a
>>>>>>
>>>>>
>>>>> similar analysis. They conclude:
>>>>>>
>>>>>>>
>>>>>>>
>>>>>>> We will see later that this entirely destroys the idea that the
>>>>>>> brain
>>>>>>> is
>>>>>>>
>>>>>>> a
>>>>>>
>>>>>
>>>>> fully deterministic system.
>>>>>>
>>>>>>>
>>>>>>>
>>>>>>>
>>>>>>> 1 <#sdfootnote1anc>Questions of Truth, pp. 126-127
>>>>>>>
>>>>>>>
>>>>>>>
>>>>>>
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>>>>>> "unsubscribe asa" (no quotes) as the body of the message.
>>>>>>
>>>>>>
>>>>>>
>>>>
>

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Received on Fri Oct 2 13:10:40 2009

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