getting past emergentism
rsnorman at mediaone.net
Sat Apr 7 09:36:12 EST 2001
"Xander Marion" <xandermarion at home.com> wrote on Sat, 07 Apr 2001:
> I'm banging my head against the wall trying to figure out
> how to get past the theory that conciousness is an emergent
> property of the brain. Anyone have any thoughts on how this
> might be better understood while still focusing on a
> neuroscience perspective?
What is the problem with emergent properties? All complex
systems made of a hierarchy of levels of organization show
emergent properties. No individual component of a negative
feedback circuit "knows" how to regulate, yet a negative
feedback system can result in regulation.
The brain is made of cells which are made of molecules which
are made of .... But certainly consciousness is not a property
of cells or molecules.
A computer is (or can be) made of logic circuits. But the
notion of "a computer running Microsoft Outlook Express
to display this email message" is not a property of those
logic circuits. It depends on a particular configuration of
circuits plus the particular configuration of data.
So why couldn't the notion of consciousness be an
emergent property of the neurophysiological properties
of neurons (plus glia) plus the particular configuration of
synapses and chemicals and cell signaling machinery
plus the particular configuration of cell metabolic process?
The existence of emergent properties does not mean that
neuroscience does not explain the machinery of the
mind. It is just that knowing how the machinery works
is not enough for a full explanation of what the machinery
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