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Intolerant_Liberal • 4 months ago

Are we free to be slaves, or are we slaves to freedom?

Steve Moxon • 4 months ago

No. 'Consciousness' is no reservoir of free will as Baggini idiotically claims. We have no "executive control". There is no control centre: 'systems biology' shows us this. Baggini is resurrecting 'the little man within the man' to dodge explaining the brain; the homunculus. It's long been shown that we become aware AFTER we make decisions, not before. Consciousness is an epiphenomenon of the integration of neural processing.
Daniel Dennett tried to argue similarly to Baggini here, that 'Freedom Evolves' (the title of a book of his), but he's wrong. What evolved is the flexibility to ever better express our 'motivational set' ... to ever better actualise our biology, genes, as it were. A quite different thing to any genuine 'free will'. Call himself a philosopher? Baggini is in the philosophy kindergarten judging by this foolishness here. [See my new book, 'Sex Difference Explained' and my paper for Politics & Society journal, 'Culture IS Biology -- Why We Cannot 'Transcend' Our Genes — Or Ourselves'. http://stevemoxon.co.uk/cul...

paradise 33 • 4 months ago

On the contrary, Steve, neural processing is an epiphenomenon of consciousness.

Consciousness is not something which can be understood through conceptual thought or scientific experiment - which is why neuroscientists (and systems-biologists :) do not, and will never, understand it.

Steve Moxon • 4 months ago

Idiocy. Neural processing is easily investigated scientifically and is no epiphenomenon. All that you claim here is scientific and philosophical illiteracy.
Your line stems from the usual Christianity-residual ideology that is humanism (human-worshipping): the bunkum of 'human exceptionalism', when in fact humans are not exceptional (other than in degree) in any respect, consciousness not excluded. Other animals are bound to experience an endless feedback looping of the workings of their own central nervous system, just as we do. It won't be as seemingly complex as our experience, obviously, but the difference is not fundamental.

bigterguy • 3 months ago

At its most fundamental, reality is governed by uncertainty and probability. Thus, determinism can never be more than a probability. Free will is the product of many probabilities, none of which can be predicted beforehand due to the uncertainties involved. Is it a man in the mind? No, but it isn't a clockwork universe either. I have yet to read a discussion that properly accounts for this.

Steve Roberts • 3 months ago

Your last sentence does express a real difficulty in explaining free will, one of a number of issues that are specifically human traits which in an open minded debate tend to be understood between the participants and yet we struggle to find the words and concept to explain definitively.
Opponents, shall we say determinists, of all hues then grasp at the straw of stating if it cannot be proven it doesn't exist and those who claim otherwise are tending towards religiosity.
That is how absurd it can become, that those expressing the importance of free will and human agency are accused of supporting a supernatural position.
The flip side of that is that some attempt to dismiss conscious will by "proving" it is in fact determined by biological, natural, et al, see the posts below as an example and various attempts by neuroscience etc.
You do tend to restate the situation by denying there is a man in the mind, Why? and yet also agree it isn't a clockwork universe either.
I do tend to agree that reality is affected by uncertainty - not governed by -
to deny that would deny the past the present, but is it not then logical that what turns uncertainty into a certain action/decision is the effect that will has in determining the final outcome, probability is just one degree of possibility.
Determinism by its definition is the defining if not overwhelming factor and excludes almost entirely if not completely conscious will.
Makes you wonder how we built our complex world that no other species has ever achieved doesn't it.

bigterguy • 3 months ago

My rejection of the 'man in the mind' is a rejection of the supernatural, i.e. anything that is not part of the physical universe - a spirit or god. There is just no evidence for anything beyond the universe. On the other hand, determinism that says the future is predetermined in every facet doesn't fit with quantum mechanics or the Heisenberg Uncertainty principle, i.e. not only can we NOT determine things with certainty, they CANNOT be defined with certainty.at all by any means.

The human brain is the most complex thing known so maybe at some level it takes into account quantum effects. I just don't know and have never heard a convincing argument about how things can be determined. Why is it my dog seems to have almost as much free will as i do?

Intolerant_Liberal • 3 months ago

Does your dog have no nose?

Steve Roberts • 3 months ago

Sorry I misunderstood, I thought when you rejected the man in the mind you were rejecting conscious will, the human agency, perhaps you do as well as rejecting the supernatural.
The point is that if we reject determinism in all its forms, and the supernatural, then logically something is affecting the brain that results in
human beings making and acting upon the world we live in in a conscious manner, we are not simply instinctive like animals.
Unless it is something else in the ether, conscious will is where it all seems to lead to, as I said the evidence of our actions manifests itself in the world we have created.
Until - if we ever can - prove this it seems we have two choices, deny it and accept the miserable misanthropic consequences of our future been out of our hands effectively - I am positive the defenders of the status quo and regressives will enjoy that - or keep going forward as humanity has continually done so in our making and of our choosing, despite the mistakes we make.
Your dog will never do that.

whatever name • 3 months ago

Quantum probability still continues to manifest on the level of physics as determinism. The laws of cause and effect are still fully applicable to us, as to everything, in a mechanical universe. All objects exist on a quantum level but we would not argue that maybe "they" all have free will regardless of the observable laws of physics and chemistry.

Steve Moxon • 3 months ago

Yes. Probability, 'butterfly effect' trajectories, and competing aspects of the motivational set: all combine to make notions of determinism as usually envisaged a caricature. If these were appreciated, then we'd hear less knee-jerk retorts of 'determinism'

Richard • 3 months ago

Human beings ARE exceptional. It is not a matter of degree that separates us from animals it is qualitative. Feel free to name the great animal philosophers.

It is the inability of to explain the miraculous nature of humans that gives rise to religion.

The superstition of religion is probably better than modern neurobollox, and tea-leaf reading MRI scanner results and the like.

Intolerant_Liberal • 3 months ago

I am no philosopher, and some of these very erudite arguments I'm struggling to fully comprehend, but let's just say for arguments sake we boil it down to the obvious components, i.e. we either have full free will, or we have no free will. So, let's say we accept, just for the moment, there are only two answers. If that is the case, what are the base arguments for free will, and vice versa?

Steve Moxon • 3 months ago

Evidently you have no understanding of biology.
I strongly suggest you go get some.
As for 'great' philosophers: there are no human examples. Fatal flaws in reasoning afflict every one of them, and to get to first-base in philosophy is to understand that the 'big questions' are forever beyond human conception; hence the popularity of religion among scientists.
Religiosity certainly did not spring from a need to "explain the miraculous nature of humans": universally humans ancestrally saw all creation as miraculous, with humans no exception within it.
Your dismissal of neuroscience says it all; you've not even an interest in having an idea about anything, let alone having one.

Arthur Foxake • 3 months ago

I readily admit to having little understanding of how human brains work but I can dismiss neuroscience because I have an in depth understanding of how the scanners used to generate data work. When the atoms in different types of tissue are excited they generate different outputs (this is not confined to animal tissue, it applys to inanimate substances too.)

The Fournier transformation turns these output frequencies into data that computers turn into pictures. So the neuroscientists subjectivity plays an important role in drawing conclusions from the data. Which is why a few years ago a rather tongue in cheek neuroscience research project identified meaningful brain activity in dead salmon.
https://blogs.scientificame...

To put it in simple form, from your brain scan a skilled user could produce almost any picture they chose.

Steve Moxon • 3 months ago

More fool you. Neuroscience is one discipline among several pertinent to investigating the brain; imaging is but one methodology; and there are several very different forms of imaging re the brain, measuring very different things -- such as blood flow. That's even if your bald claim had any truth, which obviously it does not, given the great array of practical applications of neuro-imaging; not least aiding rather than (if you were right) killing patients.

Arthur Foxake • 3 months ago

You're obviously a believer Steve so there is no more to be gained by trying to convince you of your folly than there is of arguing with a doorstep evangelist. In defending your position you refer to more of the idiotic beliefs of the Church of Sciencology's Neuroscience sect, the idea that measuring blood flow can tell us something about what is going on in parts of the brain for example. In reality it tells us there is more blood flowing through a certain part of the brain. Anything else is just guesswork and assumptions. Read the link I gave you, it is from a scientific journal and describes in detail and with links how researchers obtained data that showed meaningful brain activity in a dead fish.
Then come back and tell us all what kind of meaningful brain activity can be going on in a dead fish (because your comments here are too precious to be left languishing in a comment thread so I will give them a wider audience).

Oh sorry, that's blasphemy isn't it. You science fans never look at evidence that might contradict your beliefs do you?

Here's a dummies guide to how the Fournier Transform formulae work and can be applied, it should help you understand the technology.
http://www.cs.otago.ac.nz/c...

Steve Moxon • 3 months ago

Wow, you really are an arrogant one-trick pony.
Read my reply and then write one that takes it into account!
Here it is again:
More fool you. Neuroscience is one discipline among several pertinent to investigating the brain; imaging is but one methodology; and there are several very different forms of imaging re the brain, measuring very different things -- such as blood flow. That's even if your bald claim had any truth, which obviously it does not, given the great array of practical applications of neuro-imaging; not least aiding rather than (if you were right) killing patients.

TT • 3 months ago

Arrogant one-trick pony? Talking about yourself again Polly?

Steve Moxon • 3 months ago

Minister for Misinfo, the fascist-Leftard bigot, the TiT, 'projecting' own uber-dumb hate-mongering massive 'cognitive dissonance' on to those who point it out!
Sacked from a call centre and facing a fraud and embezzlement court case, he’s left with nothing to do but cyber-stalk with his bast*rdised Marxist twaddle: boomerang rigor-mortis-dead jibes of meezodgenanny and rayceaszum.!
Being subject to such persistent lame malicious communication is of course validation that I must be doing something very right to so annoy the hilarious thick fool!

TT • 3 months ago

Polly Moron, master of ad hom (and feck all else).5

Steve Moxon • 3 months ago

Minister for Misinfo, the fascist-Leftard bigot, the TiT, 'projecting' own uber-dumb hate-mongering massive 'cognitive dissonance' on to those who point it out!
Sacked from a call centre and facing a fraud and embezzlement court case, he’s left with nothing to do but cyber-stalk with his bastardised Marxist twaddle: boomerang rigor-mortis-dead jibes of meezodgenanny and rayceaszum.
Being subject to such persistent lame malicious communication is of course validation that I must be doing something very right to so annoy the hilarious thick fool.

Arthur Foxake • 3 months ago

I did read your reply Steve, it wasted my time. You just insisted you are right and that proves everyone who differs is wrong. But you offer no evidence to back up your claims, only your belief that the gods of science are infallible. The thing is of course if you did offer evidence I or many others in the thread who challenged you, could easily refute it.
I notice you did not take up my challenge to explain how meaningful brain activity can be monitored in a dead fish.
And yes I am arrogant. One trick pony, no. I'm an extremely trick human being who is smarter than you. Not that that is anything to be arrogant about, fortunately I have many other strings to my bow. Now toddle of back to your little safe space on a campus somewhere where everybody worships your gods and no one will ever say anything that makes you risk thinking.

Steve Moxon • 3 months ago

No, you didn't read it. Try reading: it's good for you, and actually allows debate.
So here it is again, and with guideposts for you:
Neuroscience is one discipline among several pertinent to investigating the brain [FIRST POINT: you've no reply to it]; imaging is but one methodology [SECOND POINT: you've no reply to it]; and there are several very different forms of imaging re the brain, measuring very different things [THIRD POINT: you've no reply to it] -- blood flow being but one facet of brain activity that is measurable. That's even if your bald claim had any truth, which obviously it does not, given the great array of practical applications of neuro-imaging; not least aiding rather than (if you were right) killing patients [FOURTH POINT: you've no reply to it].
[And I reside on no campus, and have no gods of any sort, religious quasi-religious, political, or otherwise.]

Arthur Foxake • 3 months ago

I'm starting to feel sorry for you Steve, you obviously think neurology and neuroscience are the same thing. They're not, there is a vast difference (alike Astronomy and Astrology). In neurology MR imaging is an important tool in studying the brain as a physical organ and thus in diagnosing problems such as tumors. aneurisms, atrophy and developmental defects (some of which ARE KILLING PEOPLE).
Neuroscience is a pseudo-science the practitioners of which claim they interpret electrical emissions outtput by the brain and draw meaningful conclusions about the likely behaviour of the person being scanned. It is more closely related to psychology (another bollocks science) that medicine. Neuroscience does not stop diseases killing people, in theory it may stop people killing themselves, but there are few if any recorded successes Here's some more good stuff that I know you will not read because your mind is closed to diverse opinions (the definition of a bigot BTW).
https://www.theguardian.com...
Here's a book, written by an eminent doctor you can buy and study so in future you will have some idea what you are talking about:
https://books.google.com.au...
And here's an article by a former colleague of mine which explains things in layman's terms.
https://www.scribd.com/docu...
Your point that you claim I have not answered, the stuff about blood flow for example, do not actually refer to neuroscience, they refer to neurology. Talk to a brain surgeon if you want answers to them, my speciality is digital technology.
I do find it rather irritating that in your irrational rants you keep claiming I have not read your comments. I have, all I learned is that as already stated above, you are way off topic. You on the other hand have not read the links I gave you, had you done so you would have stopped making a fool of yourself several comments ago because you would have known by now that neuroscience and neurology are not the same.

BTW for someone who obviously thinks he's intelligent, you've been remarkably slow to guess that I'm a wind up merchant. The clue is in the name.

Steve Moxon • 3 months ago

You utter berk: neuroscience and neurology ARE the same thing; differing re investigation v application. They both entail study of the central nervous system; one the pure science, the other applying it to try to effect diagnosis of clinical conditions.
Go waste your own time.
Go forth and multiply, you facetious idiot.

Arthur Foxake • 3 months ago

Read the links I gave you and learn.

Steve Moxon • 3 months ago

From you?! YMBJ.
You utter berk: neuroscience and neurology are the same thing; differing re investigation v application. They both entail study of the central nervous system; one the pure science, the other applying it to try to effect diagnosis of clinical conditions.
Neuroscience is one discipline among several pertinent to investigating the brain [FIRST POINT: you've no reply to it]; imaging is but one methodology [SECOND POINT: you've no reply to it]; and there are several very different forms of imaging re the brain, measuring very different things [THIRD POINT: you've no reply to it] -- blood flow being but one facet of brain activity that is measurable. That's even if your bald claim had any truth, which obviously it does not, given the great array of practical applications of neuro-imaging; not least aiding rather than (if you were right) killing patients [FOURTH POINT: you've no reply to it].

Arthur Foxake • 3 months ago

And now you show your real self at last, although it was apparent from the top of the thread. But who is the real idiot when I have had facts to back me up? I didn't make you reply to any of my comments, in the comments before I entered the thread you were so convinced of your superiority over people who actually understood something of what they were talking about, I thought you deserved the Arthur Foxake treatment. I hope I play you at poker one day.

Steve Moxon • 3 months ago

What a total fraud you are.
You understand not a smidgen of anything re psychology, neuroscience or anything else; nor do you seem to know nor much care to distinguish between fact, interpretation and your own blather.
Go waste your own time.

TT • 3 months ago

OMG Pot, Polly, Pot.

Steve Moxon • 3 months ago

Minister for Misinfo, the fascist-Leftard bigot, the TiT, 'projecting' own uber-dumb hate-mongering massive 'cognitive dissonance' on to those who point it out!
Sacked from a call centre and facing a fraud and embezzlement court case, he’s left with nothing to do but cyber-stalk with his bast*rdised Marxist twaddle: boomerang rigor-mortis-dead jibes of meezodgenanny and rayceaszum.
Being subject to such persistent lame malicious communication is of course validation that I must be doing something very right to so annoy the hilarious thick fool!

Arthur Foxake • 3 months ago

I could say the same to you as you have simply been calling people idiots throughout the thread because they have challenged the flws in your sujective interpretation (and made yourself look a total pillock in the pocess).
Instead I will simply say MISSION ACCOMPLISHED. ;-)

Steve Moxon • 3 months ago

Deluded fatuous numptie.
"Subjective"?! The very opposite to my position. You'e the fool trying to invoke and elevate subjectivity; so you're the "pillock" as you charge.

Arthur Foxake • 3 months ago

Oh dear, you are completely out of your depth in an open debate with intelligent people aren't you. How many people in this thread have you tried and failed to insult because they pointed out flaws in your arguments. That fragile ego will be your undoing one day.
Reading down the reviews of your book on Amazon, I see quite a lot of commenters say much the same as I of your intellectual ability.
Were I a kind and compassionate person I would stay in the thread and try to help you, but I'm not (I'm not even a real person) and so because your monomaniacal and vainglorious ravings are boring me I'll take my leave.
(Go on, you can have the last word, try to make it a little less witless and ill tempered than your others in this dialogue.)

Steve Moxon • 3 months ago

Me?! Ha! Talk about 'projection' of own inadequacies!
The deluded fatuous numptie, OhFFS, even misrepresents reviews of my book (as if customer opinions on Amazon would mean much anyway).
Dumb personal attack, or what?
As I said: "subjective"?! The very opposite to my position. You'e the fool trying to invoke and elevate subjectivity; so you're the "pillock" as you charge

TT • 3 months ago

I suspect they are referencing the original set of reviews which you attempted to suppress by unpublishing and republishing the books in question. Unfortunately for you, they still exist in the ether and are gradually creeping back onto the listings. And the results you attempted to suppress in Google results? They're just being republished and relisted as the suppression is reported. You can't escape the truth Polly, your books are unadulterated rubbish.

Steve Moxon • 3 months ago

Minister for Misinfo, the fascist-Leftard bigot, the TiT, 'projecting' own uber-dumb hate-mongering massive 'cognitive dissonance' on to those who point it out!
Sacked from a call centre and facing a fraud and embezzlement court case, he’s left with nothing to do but cyber-stalk with his bast*rdised Marxist twaddle: boomerang rigor-mortis-dead jibes of meezodgenanny and rayceaszum.
Being subject to such persistent lame malicious communication is of course validation that I must be doing something very right to so annoy the hilarious thick fool

TT • 3 months ago

Polly Moron, master of ad hom (and feck all else).8

Steve Moxon • 3 months ago

Minister for Misinfo, the fascist-Leftard bigot, the TiT, 'projecting' own uber-dumb hate-mongering massive 'cognitive dissonance' on to those who point it out!
Sacked from a call centre and facing a fraud and embezzlement court case, he’s left with nothing to do but cyber-stalk with his bastardised Marxist twaddle: boomerang rigor-mortis-dead jibes of meezodgenanny and rayceaszum..
Being subject to such persistent lame malicious communication is of course validation that I must be doing something very right to so annoy the hilarious thick fool.

paradise 33 • 3 months ago

“Idiocy.” Cheers, it’s always salutary to be reminded on one’s foolishness :)

Neural processing may well be “easily investigated scientifically” but that tells us nothing about consciousness, does it? And neither does scientific literacy. Science has no means by which to explain how sentience is magically conjured out of non-sentient matter.

You’re making the basic materialist error, it seems to me, of assuming that consciousness derives from neural activity, that it is a by-product of the brain. Wiser people than you or I have been aware for more than two millennia that the opposite is the case.

And while it’s true that humanism may be, as John Gray has persuasively argued, merely a vestige of Christian values, those values themselves, while skewed by temporal self-interest and political expediency, didn’t arise in a vacuum. They're largely those comprising the thread of the so-called perennial philosophy which is woven through recorded human history.

The philosophy of the West really lost its way at the time of the amusingly named “Enlightenment”. Theory has become divorced from practice and the hegemony of scientific “rationalism” prevents us from seeing the wood from the proverbial trees. But the eye will never see itself, the knife will never cut itself.

(In the field nascent field of neurophenomenology I believe attempts have been made to square the findings of systems biology with, for example, the deconstruction of human cognition in Buddhist metaphysics. I don’t know how fruitful this will be, but science over-conditioned by materialism always risks the danger of straying into scientism - a type of quasi-religious faith that holds scientific knowledge as the only viable knowledge.)

I’m halfway through reading your, ‘The Women Racket’ by the
way. Interesting…

Steve Moxon • 3 months ago

Hi Mr Paradise.
Well, we're all idiotic at times, not least myself; so it's not personal!
[Re books: my new one is much better re the science: the one you're reading is more a polemic; glad you find it interesting.]
There is nothing that is somehow not material. To posit such is simply to state that there is not only nature but also 'super-nature'. That's an anti-science, quasi-religious assertion, isn't it? That a phenomenon is difficult to understand does not mean it's not understandable. That's not to say that there aren't what are for us likely perennial imponderables -- like 'how can there be an edge to the universe?' 'How can there be a point before time?'
Good you've read and appreciated John N Gray, but, as he pointedly remarks, what he identifies in Christianity is not common to philosophy across the world. In place of an understanding that all in essence is cyclical, and that things can slip back, Christianity envisages a relentless and teleological progress.

Pat Davers • 3 months ago

In using value-loaded terms such as "idiotic " and "foolish" you are implicitly acknowledging that Baggini is a free moral agent capable of making the choice between the right and the wrong path - why would you admonish him thus, if he could do no other than what he did? That's the thing about free-will: even for those who would deny it, it is impossible to have any kind of discourse, or simply to behave, without the underlying assumption that it exists.

Steve Moxon • 3 months ago

What?! Baggini's common-animal sort of frailities lead him to such idiocy and foolishness despite philosophy training which should explicitly put him on his guard against committing such faux pas.
You make an assertion so groundless that no limit to silliness might be unexpected from you; and, I assure you, that is anything but testament to anything remotely like 'free will' in your possession!

Mozzy • 3 months ago

Is it not true in our everyday lives, that we believe ourselves to have free will, outside of philosophical or scientific claims. We act as if we have it. Even slaves may feel they have some limited agency. The debate on it's actual existence is another matter. Otherwise we fall into the fatalism of islam for instance where all is pre ordained - inshallah. Regards

Steve Moxon • 3 months ago

As is often said: we are free in the only meaningful sense of this. We have flexibility within bounds.

Evan • 3 months ago

A couple of points/queries to add:

1) I haven't read about this for some time, but isn't the reliability of experiments that demonstrate consciousness occurring after processing disputed?

2) It is worth remembering that the word "epiphenomenon" doesn't actually provide a physical explanation of events (hence "phenomenon"); it is at best a placeholder for a hoped-for physical explanation.

Steve Moxon • 3 months ago

Hi Evan.
Re your first point: not that I'm aware, and it's a position well-researched and long held.
There is nothing inherently intangible about an epi-phenomenon: it is a phenomenon around a different phenomenon which it had been mistaken to be.
For example a male dominance hierarchy is an epiphenomenon of the processing of 'winner' / 'loser' effects by an evolved piece of neural kit coded for crucially by the SRY gene of the Y chromosome.
'Consciousness' is a term for how we describe a brain in reflexive feedback looping of its own output.

Evan • 3 months ago

No, not intangible, just unresolved in terms of physics. You can, for example, experience the phenomenon of sunlight and theorise about its nature without knowing about photons.

Steve Moxon • 3 months ago

Indeed so.