Evolution - A Conversation with Alex Williams

by cofty 60 Replies latest watchtower beliefs

  • LV101
    LV101

    Great topic -- Hang on Alex and take advantage of learning from Cofty (our resident science genius) who is taking his valuable time and sharing knowledge to educate -- as well as others onboard who contribute and make excellent posts. Try to consider options (not always easy) and you'll come out the other side happier - the truth (reality) will set you free and makes sense vs. the 'feel good' emotions religion provides at times.

    TD - thanks for the photo/analysis.

  • peacefulpete
    peacefulpete

    How does materialism end up making such daft claims as “consciousness is an illusion”

    I'm not, nor are anyone I know, 'materialist' as you are seemingly defining it. Most folks would regard me as rather compassionate and empathetic, spiritual, if you will. Such personality traits are completely compatible with my acceptance that my brain is a chemical machine. Mind is a product of the brain, but it doesn't mean the mind is necessarily machine-like. Emergent properties are those that result from a set of ingredients but result in more than the sum of the ingredients. Music for example is nothing more than a repetition of 7 frequencies of vibrations in air striking a membrane in my ear, but it is more than that to those inspired or calmed by it. If I break all the science of music down it starts sounding reductionist to a fine musician or lover of the arts. It is in a way, but not in a disparaging way. My understanding the science of music may in fact improve it or might make it possible for those with impairments to appreciate it.

    As far as the "illusion of consciousness", In everyday life we give little (if any) thought to the chemical components of our thought process. That's just fine, we don't need to unless our chemistry is altered or changes. Who we are is chemistry. The ability to be self aware and appreciate that what is true of me is true of others is what I call 'mind'. It's a big pill for some to accept that even this most basic aspect of being alive is chemistry, yet it has been born out in experiment after experiment and many many case studies. Calling it an illusion simply means that the processes involved are invisible to us and so we assume, perhaps out of necessity, that the narrative we 'hear' in our heads is something separate, an essence beyond the chemistry. It's sort of like how we somewhat naturally project upon inanimate things as possessing mind. The sea was angry, the car was a good friend, except in a more intimate way.

    As a related topic,new research suggests there are specific regions of the brain that produce consciousness:

    https://www.sciencealert.com/harvard-scientists-think-they-ve-pinpointed-the-neural-source-of-consciousness

  • LV101
    LV101

    Always great when snare&racket drops in and have a doctor on board - we aren't honored with many posts from you these days but know you're very busy.

  • sir82
  • LV101
    LV101

    Doonesbury - EXACTLY!

  • slimboyfat
    slimboyfat

    Sorry Pete I meant materialist in the sense of adopting the philosophical position that everything that exists is composed of material and has a material cause. I meant no judgement on your empathy or compassion.

    Once again I find it really interesting how a materialist finds it very difficult to use language that is not self-contradictory.

    Calling it an illusion simply means that the processes involved are invisible to us and so we assume, perhaps out of necessity, that the narrative we 'hear' in our heads is something separate, an essence beyond the chemistry. It's sort of like how we somewhat naturally project upon inanimate things as possessing mind. The sea was angry, the car was a good friend, except in a more intimate way.

    Who is the “we” who hears something in our heads? The statement assumes the very thing it seeks to deny: that there is a fundamental conscioness to begin with. And clearly it is not the same as attributing agency to the sea or to a car. A proper analogy would be if the sea or a car attributed agency to itself! If somehow the sea or a car deluded itself into thinking it had consciousness. Which they cannot do, of course, because they are not conscious. Back to square one. Daniel Dennet has tried extremely hard to find a form of language that reduces consciousness to the physical events in the brain without contradicting himself in this way. Even such a prominent proponent of reductionism cannot manage to do so.

    The inconvenient situation for materilists is that the mental world exists and is not the same as the material world. It is very true that mental phenomena correlate to chemical and material processes in the brain and body, but this does not mean they are identical to those material things. A thought exists just as much as the chemicals exist in the brain that coincide with the thought, and one cannot be reduced to the other, no more than, to use the music analogy, the notes on a page are identical to the musical sound produced by an orchestra. There is certainly a close like between the two. Yet it would be odd to deny that musical notes on a page and music from an orchestra are two different things and that both are “real” and not simply misunderstanding one for another.

    Similarly thoughts are real and chemicals in the brain are real. They are both real. Materialists say only the chemicals really exist and idealists say that only thoughts really exist. Both are wrong. Of course the reason why materialists are so resistant to the idea that things can exist that are not made of material, is that if you allow that thoughts and consciouness are real, but not material, then where do you draw the line? Can things have non material causes? Can beings exist without material bodies? It’s more difficult to rule these things out if you don’t hold to reductionist materialism. Which is why some atheists such as Dennett tie themselves in knots defending materialism even beyond logic or common sense experience.

    Good discussion about emergence and reductionism:

    https://youtu.be/FN9lT8Vc8kk

  • cofty
    cofty

    Any chance of respecting the topic SBF?

    Every time I say 'science' you say 'consciousness therefore god'.

  • peacefulpete
    peacefulpete

    Personally I don't feel any "resistance" to the idea you propose, actually my ego encourages me to agree, However it is just unnecessary.

    My saying I am self aware is not self contradictory. My mind-formed concept of self is aware of the conclusions my brain has drawn through 'invisible' processes and my language center is utilized to narrate the conclusion. Thoughts do not exist apart from the apparatus that forms and expresses.

    My music analogy holds. The notes that compose music are in fact select vibrations/frequencies in an appealing order, nothing more. Yet the wonder of music upon our brain is a new sensation that is more than the notes themselves. That does not suggest music is something apart from the notes. it is the frequencies and the unexpected way they tickle the brain's language center. Your introducing how we notate those frequencies on paper is a distraction. .

  • peacefulpete
    peacefulpete

    Sorry Cofty. The thread is yours.

  • cofty
    cofty

    No problem Pete, your comments have been spot-on.

    My objection is to the way SBF constantly hijacks threads with 'consciousness therefore god'. Apparently rocks are conscious (or is it aware - he won't tell me the difference)

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