getting past emergentism

Glen M. Sizemore gmsizemore at triad.rr.com
Sun Apr 8 14:49:25 EST 2001


RN: 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?

GS: There is no reason and, indeed, it would be
nonsense to claim that "the brain," "parts of the
brain" etc. "are conscious" (though it is common for
this to be asserted - anytime a "brain part" is said to
"do" anything that a whole organism is said to "do,"
we witness this nonsense) "know," "think" etc.

RN: 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
does.

GS: But the problem (exemplified nicely by the
above statement) is that the notion of "emergent
properties" does not, in itself, suggest how we are to
evaluate the cogency of the concepts involved. The
alleged "mind," for example, may be totally lame.
Thus, how could we provide a reductionistic
account of a scientifically useless term?





"Richard Norman" <rsnorman at mediaone.net> wrote in message
news:wBFz6.3064$uh5.86367 at typhoon.mw.mediaone.net...
> "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
> does.
>
>
>
>





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