why study neurology?

mat mats_trash at hotmail.com
Wed Jan 16 16:37:37 EST 2002

> Right- an irreducible piece of knowledge or experience- as I have been
> arguing. This doesn't mean it doesn't exist.
Hang on don't try and conflate my ideas into yours! Just knowledge
thanks, not experience :)

> Actually I disagree- on this point at least I am more pro-science than
> you! I would suggest that the functions of the motor cortex for example
> have been pretty well described with reference to their manifestations in
> the outside world. Cognition and emotion are different matters.

well I suppose we have homunculi mapped etc, but any description at a
level below brain regions are at smallest cortical columns is beyond
us. I suppose my test of any theory would be if we could make testable
asserations on a neuronal/network level, and I don't think we can yet

> Yes, albeit with reservations about Chalmers' idea of "proto-
> panpsychism" if I remember his terminology correctly. But in the sense
> that he sees conscious experience as a fundamentally irreducible
> phenomenon, I'm with Chalmers.
> >  Dualism. 
> Except I don't see it as dualism. If consciousness is viewed as an
> emergent property, it can be irreducible *without* appeals to dualism or
> any special "mind stuff" (cf your comment below).
> To use another example that one of my tutors was fond of (sorry I don't
> know it's original provenance):
> Consider a motorbike- it's made up of various material components that
> act together in a certain way. From the action of these components
> emerges a property: motion. This motion in turn has various properties-
> velocity, acceleration, deceleration etc. So various levels of property
> emerge, *without* having to postulate any magic "motion stuff"  (cf
> "mind stuff"). To say that the motion is in fact the same as the concerted
> actions of the brakes, engine, fuel etc. doesn't seem like "common sense"
> (to borrow your term) to me. It is derived from them but not the same as
> them.  

But there is one big problem with that line of argument.  Everything
you describe as emergent is an objective property.  The motion of the
bike only occurs relative to you (lets not get into physics here!). 
Similarly, emergent properties are objective, someone has to look and
'see' an emergent property, the system cannot do it itself.  What or
who 'sees' the emergent properties of the brain in your theory?  It
can't be the brain itself (in a 'tangled hierarchy notion like
Hoftstader's) since that would require it to be at a higher level than
the emergent property which obviously leads to a contradiction. 
However, your comments about how the brain cannot be viewed outside of
society I do have some agreement with (!) becuase part of my ideas
depend on the fact that we all accept commonalities (e.g. language) as
having meaning.  You could theorize I suppose that the objectivity
required for emergent properties is provided by society.

>> I have, and I subscribe to the view that it would have been more
> appropriately titled "Consciousness Explained Away".

:) just as an aside it quite interesting to note the dichotomy of
views on his book. No one thinks its ok or reasonably interesting just
either prophetic truth or travesty.  I actually don't agree with his
ideas on the structure of the mind, but do on the bit about qualia in
general sense

> >  Which
> >if it isn't physical is dualistic. What is the other level you talk
> >about? 
> The level of subjective experience.
This is where I will never even begin to understand... I can't see how
'the level of subjective experience' can sit comfortably.  What is
this level? is it physical? mystical or what?  I keep on asking this
at the end of a post and you say you;ve answered above, but I can
never see the explicit answer (becuase I don;t think there is one)or
do you have a worldview that there just *is* a level of subjective
experience? The problem is that if you cannot define or formulate it
as more than that then you can't make any testable hypotheses and then
I find it difficult to accept.

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