• Wayfarer
    11.9k
    We should expect to see some movement or other in the brain that has no detectable cause (because it was caused by the mind). This is an empirical claim not a philosophical one.khaled

    So what would you expect to see? How would you test for it?
  • khaled
    2.6k
    So what would you expect to see? How would you test for it?Wayfarer

    We would look at the an act. Say, raising your arm. And check whatever neuron results in the raising. Then you’d ask a participant to freely choose to raise their arm at any point in time.

    If the mind is causing the excitation of those neurons, you’d expect them to fire without any physical causes. They didn’t fire because of some chemical chain reaction or anything, no, they just went off suddenly. They got energy out of nowhere, seemingly.

    Then we can attribute that to the mind of the participant doing something.

    Otherwise, the mind isn’t really part of the causal chain is it? This is what top down action would imply. It would imply some movement in the brain that we cannot detect a cause for (since it was caused by the mind)
  • Wayfarer
    11.9k
    Then you’d ask a participant to freely choose to raise their arm at any point in time.khaled

    Suppose there was a scenario whereby a subject is undergoing brain surgery while conscious. This is possible as the brain is insensitive to pain. The operating surgeon is able to elicit sensations and recollections, as well as movements, by stimulating areas within the brain. You would think that if this process was mechanical then the subject wouldn’t be able to tell if these were a consequence of the surgeon’s activities. But if the subject could tell that these movements were being triggered by the surgeon, what would that say?

    Say, raising your arm. And check whatever neuron results in the raising.khaled

    Neurons don’t do anything. Attributing voluntary actions to cells or brains or other metabolic systems is called ‘the mereological fallacy.’
  • khaled
    2.6k
    You would think that if this process was mechanical then the subject wouldn’t be able to tell if these were a consequence of the surgeon’s activities.Wayfarer

    What is “this process” that is mechanical? I don’t understand.

    I’ll suppose you mean the movements and sensations the surgeon is triggering.

    If so we actually have evidence that, yes, they wouldn’t be able to tell. Provided they can’t literally see themselves being operated on and even then it’s dubious. Split brain patients for example, express different answers to questions when asked to write the answer vs say the answer, because a different half is responsible for each.

    When asked to explain this inconsistency they never say “because my brain is split, so one part answered the first question and another answered the second”. No, they always come up with some random explanation. Like “Oh, I changed my mind”. And they are not lying they genuinely think this.

    But if the subject could tell that these movements were being triggered by the surgeon, what would that say?Wayfarer

    That the brain causes the movements. I’m not sure what you’re getting at here. It seems to be an argument for my position.

    Heck, if the mind can alter the brain top down, you’d expect this surgeon to be met with some resistance if he tries to make you do something you don’t want to do. So for example, if he tried to stimulate your arm to rise, and you don’t want it to, he should physically experience some pushback caused by your mind during the operation. I highly doubt that will happen. Do you think it will? And don’t you think it should?

    Neurons don’t do anything. Attributing voluntary actions to cells or brains or other metabolic systems is called ‘the mereological fallacy.’Wayfarer

    I said “the neuron that results in raising”. As in the one that, when fired, results in raising the arm. The one the surgeons tempers with. I know it’s not one neuron I’m simplifying.

    I didn’t say anything about neurons voluntarily doing anything.
  • Wayfarer
    11.9k
    If you can’t see how the hypothetical I provided constitutes the kind of observational evidence you say is necessary, then there’s no point in proceeding.
  • khaled
    2.6k
    I edited the comment.

    And no I don’t see what the hypothetical is supposed to provide because I don’t understand it.

    Do you mean to say that the subjects will definitely be able to tell that the surgeon is manipulating them? If so you might wanna read the edits. I don’t think it’s obvious at all that the subject would be able to tell.
  • khaled
    2.6k
    But regardless, even if they were able to tell. What would that prove? I don’t see how it contradicts my model at all. How does it prove that minds cause anything? What has the mind been found to cause in this case?
  • Wayfarer
    11.9k
    What it implies is, yes, the surgeon can identify the areas associated with movement by stimulating it. In such cases the subject would always able to say, ‘you’re doing that’. But he could not discover an area associated with a subjects’ own voluntary movement, and the subject was always able to differentiate self-initiated action from that which was brought about by the surgeon.

    What is “this process” that is mechanical? I don’t understand.khaled

    Mechanical means explication in terms of cellular actions; as distinct from voluntary.
  • khaled
    2.6k
    and the subject was always able to differentiate self-initiated action from that which was brought about by the surgeonWayfarer

    Do you know this or are you assuming it is what will happen?

    Because I gave an example where the exact opposite happens above. I think the patients would only be able to tell if the arm muscles were the ones being stimulated directly. But if you go up in the causal chain all the way to the brain, they wouldn’t be able to tell eventually.

    But more importantly, ok let’s say the subject can, in fact differentiate (though I’m still interested if they actually will or if you are assuming they will), what does that prove?

    In my model I could just say that the brain can “know” when these areas are tempered with. As in, when these areas are stimulated despite the preceding chemical chain not occurring, and when you hold in memory that you are being operated on, you logically process this and say that the surgeon did it.

    In short: There is a physical difference between the surgeon tampering with a neuron and the same neuron firing naturally. And that difference can account for how the subject can tell. So it doesn’t contradict my position.

    But, again, the mind has not been shown to be causing anything here. If this was proof of anything it would be the mind being immaterial. I don’t disagree there.

    But he could not discover an area associated with a subjects’ own voluntary movementWayfarer

    What does this mean?

    Mechanical means explication in terms of cellular actions; as distinct from voluntary.Wayfarer

    Is the claim here that voluntary action somehow changes the course of cellular action? That the mind breaks physics and chemistry?
  • Wayfarer
    11.9k
    It’s a big topic. Suffice to say, if you’re asking for empirical evidence, then this work exists. I can’t do it justice in forum posts but I think it makes the case. Wilder Penfield, mystery of mind.
  • khaled
    2.6k
    I'll check it out but I'm not sure if I trust a book published in 1975 is the best source for this. That's half a century ago now. Any other recommendations? Bonus points if their audiobooks are available.
  • baker
    1k
    All this being said, there might be something in the subjects of philosophy that irrates people.Olivier5
    The words "philosophy" and "to philosophize" also have distinctly negative connotations.

    When the opportunity presents itself, I poke around a little when people become irate in reference to philosophy in some way.
    So far, I've discovered that they experience philosophy as a breach of their personal boundaries, as disrespect to their persons.

    This probably has to do with people's tendency to strongly identify with their thoughts, their beliefs, to see them as parts of their person. So that when someone in any way steps on the metaphorical toes of those beliefs (such as by discussing them, less or more philosophically), people feel like someone actually physically stepped on their toes, or worse.
  • Wayfarer
    11.9k
    Is the claim here that voluntary action somehow changes the course of cellular action? That the mind breaks physics and chemistry?khaled

    The non-reductionist claim is that mind is not reducible to physical principles. It doesn’t ‘break’ those laws but says that their scope is limited - which is what materialism can’t abide. As far as it is concerned physical laws are the only kind, everything else is reducible to them. If that is not true, then materialism is false.

    As regards Penfield - read the synopses, there’s a lot of commentary out there. There are those who say his work is out-dated or obviously flawed but he was a very careful and meticulous operator and his work is based on a lifetime of up-close observation. He can’t be accused of armchair speculation.
  • Isaac
    4.3k
    You would think that if this process was mechanical then the subject wouldn’t be able to tell if these were a consequence of the surgeon’s activities.Wayfarer

    Why would you think that? What has physical detection of the origin of a signal got to do with it?

    Scenario 1 - some set of neurons fire which causes two neural events, one the firing of sensorimotor neurons leading to the movement of the arm, two a trace of the initiating process through hippocampus.

    Scenario 2 - the surgeon's stimuli causes the firing of the sensorimotor neurons, but not the trace of that initiation through the hippocampus.

    On recollecting the two scenarios, they're different because one has a trace of the initiating event and the other doesn't

    What do you not understand about that?
  • Wayfarer
    11.9k
    I believe that Penfield, as a practicing neurosurgeon, would have an answer to that objection, but I’m not well enough acquainted with the details to provide it. In fact that point might be a misunderstanding on my part.

    Do you think his ideas have been discredited?
  • khaled
    2.6k
    The non-reductionist claim is that mind is not reducible to physical principles.Wayfarer

    Sure and I agree with that. What I'm disagreeing with is that the mind causes any physical changes "top down". Which is what I understand you claimed.

    If the book you cited simply wants to claim that mind is not reducible to brain then I don't think there is much value in me reading it, since I already agree.

    It doesn’t ‘break’ those laws but says that their scope is limitedWayfarer

    Their scope is limited only to explaining how material things interact with each other.

    However the brain is a material thing.

    A "top down" interference would imply breaking physics. It would imply the mind changing the brain. A non-physical thing messing with a physical system. That's nothing short of telekinesis.
  • TheMadFool
    9.2k
    It's possible all these alleged transgressions you mention fall on my blindspot but I seem to have failed to notice them.

    However, as they say, no smoke without fire and given we're all human, equally virtuous as equally depraved, I'm not in the least bit surprised by your pronouncements on this and perhaps other forums. To be frank, I've seen my fair share of hate but allow for the fact that "hate" maybe too strong a word in this context.

    Anyway, my own experience informs me that when people attack and demolish some of my cherished beliefs it hits where it hurts the most because, as it appears to me, these cherished ideas form a framework of sorts that allows me to make sense of my experiences and when someone proves/insists sans proof that I've been holding the wrong end of the stick all this while, it's quite unbearable. I liken the experience to a physicist taking his beloved equations and applying it to a blackhole - you know what happens, right? The equations, those very tools that explain the rest of the universe, crash into a pile of absolute incomprehensibility. When that happens, chaos and you know what that leads to right? Pandemonium of emotions, I fly off the handle and in the heat of the moment, the tongue/fingers seems to have a life of its own, spitting/jotting out/down words that are a series of invectives/put-downs/insults/expletives designed for one and only one thing - derail the discussion to prevent any further damage to ideas dear to my heart.

    This, of course, is not the full story.

    My two cents.
  • Isaac
    4.3k
    Do you think his ideas have been discredited?Wayfarer

    Yes. Without doubt. Since the discovery of how the memory forms traces of neural events the idea of someone directly interfering at any point, unnoticed, has been discredited. We know what's going on in our brains because the activity leaves traces which we then (fallibly) interpret in recollection.

    Early neurosurgeons were very like garden machinery mechanics sent to work on a space rocket. Whatever neural events you imagine happen when a particular mental or physiological event occurs, multiply that by several thousand and you may just be close to what is actually happening.

    It's difficult to even estimate, but we're probably talking about several billion firings a second. so every second several billion pathways of neural chains are being started. Are we surprised when the surgeon intercepts just one, that the others are nonetheless related to the rest of the brain's perceptions?
  • Wayfarer
    11.9k
    However the brain is a material thing.khaled

    I dispute that. The brain is an embodied organ.

    Early neurosurgeons were very like garden machinery mechanics sent to work on a space rocket.Isaac

    I think that is rather condescending in respect to Penfield. He didn’t live in Elizabethan England. But I will commit to reading the whole book before commenting further.
  • khaled
    2.6k
    I dispute that. The brain is an embodied organ.Wayfarer

    What does that mean? What does the "Embodied" serve to add there? Does it mean "Physics breaks there"?

    Far as I can tell the brain strictly falls within the list of things that are material. You can hold it, see it, everything. It's not even like a "Quantum probability wave" or electron where things start to get iffy (because you can't see or touch them).
  • Wayfarer
    11.9k
    Far as I can tell the brain strictly falls within the list of things that are material. You can hold it, see it, everything.khaled

    If you drop it it will fall at the rate of any other material object, that’s for sure. But being able to hold it or see it or weigh it tells you nothing about what it does.

    The reference to ‘embodied’ is with respect to ‘embodied cognition’. And the point of that perspective is that ‘the brain’ in itself, is an inert collection of stuff. Only when it is situated in a body, in a nervous system, and in an environment, is its power realised.
  • Olivier5
    2k
    This probably has to do with people's tendency to strongly identify with their thoughts, their beliefs, to see them as parts of their person. So that when someone in any way steps on the metaphorical toes of those beliefs (such as by discussing them, less or more philosophically), people feel like someone actually physically stepped on their toes, or worse.baker

    Yes, something like that. The fear of discovering that there’s no firm conceptual ground under their certitudes.
  • khaled
    2.6k
    But being able to hold it or see it or weigh it tells you nothing about what it does.Wayfarer

    Well it should tell me that energy is conserved there. That momentum is conserved there. Unless the brain is somehow magical and telekinesis is just a common occurrence within for some reason (despite not being detected anywhere else in the outside world).

    But if not, then there really is no role for the mind to interfere. The brain, embodied, is a physical system. Physical laws should hold there. Where can the mind come in? If it ever does, and causes some movement, we'd have movement with no detectable cause. That would mean energy or momentum is not being conserved.

    The reference to ‘embodied’ is with respect to ‘embodied cognition’. And the point of that perspective is that ‘the brain’ in itself, is an inert collection of stuff. Only when it is situated in a body, in a nervous system, and in an environment, is its power realised.Wayfarer

    Sure no one is disputing that.

    And no one is disputing that the mind is a result of this embodied brain.

    What is being disputed is that the mind affects the brain or body "top down".
  • Olivier5
    2k
    What is being disputed is that the mind affects the brain or body "top down".khaled

    If the body can affect the mind, then it logically follows that the mind can affect the body.
  • khaled
    2.6k
    If the body can affect the mind, then it logically follows that the mind can affect the body.Olivier5

    No it doesn't? What's the logical principle there?

    The weather can affect me but I can't affect the weather.
  • Olivier5
    2k
    To all action, a reaction.
  • khaled
    2.6k
    That's not a logical principle.

    The weather can affect me but I can't affect the weather.

    And what would the mind affecting the body look like, exactly? How do you square it with conservation of momentum and energy?
  • Wayfarer
    11.9k
    Where can the mind come in?khaled

    In determining meaning, which determines course of action. That involves more than physics although obviously physics is a factor.
  • khaled
    2.6k
    In determining meaning, which determines course of action.Wayfarer

    What exactly do you mean here? How does determining the meaning change the course of action?

    If, say you want to raise your arm. Does your mind telekinetically fire certain neurons?

    What is the mechanism by which determining meaning leads to a course of action?
  • baker
    1k
    The fear of discovering that there’s no firm conceptual ground under their certitudes.Olivier5
    I suppose the more neurotic types have such a fear. But most probably just feel offended, righteously indignant, with no further thought given as to how come.
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