Recovery Board  : RfM
Recovery from Mormonism (RfM) discussion forum. 
Go to Topic: PreviousNext
Go to: Forum ListMessage ListNew TopicSearchLog In
Posted by: Jesus Smith ( )
Date: April 30, 2012 02:03PM

The podcast is here:

http://mormonmatters.org/2012/03/07/77-78-recognizing-the-spirit/


It's about how to differentiate between emotion and promptings of the spirit.


Summary: They spend almost two hours discussing brain and behavior, cognitive biases, etc. It is interesting to hear mormons discuss the science, and then in Part 2 conclude some things that have no bases in what they were discussing.

The question they're after is If the holy ghast is infallible, then how can one know infallibly when we have its promptings? They conclude that you just can't know until it happens. You just have to leap and see what happens. If it plays out to confirm your promptings, then you can conclude post-dict that it was the spirit. If not, it was just your silly emotions. They agree that at least we get negative feelings to ward off bad directions. That following your heart, whether it is just you or some spirit, is still probabilistically your best bet.

In other words, they haven't a ####### clue.



Part 1:

Discussion of biological side of spirituality

The host and guests Scott Holley & Kristine Haglund are probably NOMs. Michael Ferguson started out vague about his TBMness. I would guess he's a closet exmo.

Michael Ferguson, a PhD candidate at UofU in bioengineering with specialty in functional imaging of the brain/social neuroscience/development of the brain. He's also a gay mormon and is going to host a podcast about gay mormons soon.

Michael's points of discussion are really the most interesting, and I'll list some of them now.

- dualism vs monism

- essentialism vs. constructionalism (Michael defines essentialism a little different than I'm used to: His essentialism is not dualism nor does it contradict naturalism. To him essentialism religious experience & belief elicits unique brain processing while at the same time it does not legitimize god as existing objectively.)

- It seems his essentialism means that the spiritual presence/experience cannot be used as evidence to support the truth of god.

- Michael believes the relationship of humans & spirituality has influenced evolution

- studies of belief in supernatural affects morality (invisible judge, etc)

- research into brain systems that encompass religious/spiritual processing (a 'god network' in the brain)

- Dunbar's hypothesis that portion of the cerebral cortex is related to the level of social interaction, which is big in humans. This region is a highly complex, developed, energy hungry processing portion of the brain

- Same region involved in social interaction seems to also have play in religiosity

- Michael wonders if evolution of social interaction and supernatural beliefs aren't the reason we anthropomorphize the universe, god and other mystical elements.

- He also wonders why processing the of the big questions: god, universe, meaning; uses the social interaction portion of the brain.

- mention of Jonathan Haidt's moral elevation (the burning of the bosom probably caused by oxytocin release)

- Michael still believes that just because science is explaining "spiritual" experience through biology, it does not rule out essentialism/dualism. (later he uses an analogy of the study of the piano strings (brain biology) without seeing who or what is playing the piano (essence/spirit).)

- Michael separates them as "sensory experience" & "attribution". The former being the biology, the latter being how we psychologically interpret the meaning & source of the experience.

- Scott Holley talks about the spirit promptings as a "feeling of knowing & comprehension" and "elevation/burning"

- Michael discusses three "touchstones" of the biology of spirituality. (1) Geschwind syndrome (e.g., hyper-religiosity presented in epilepsy), (2) God helmet -- has been debunked as more about suggestivity than about actual neurological event, (3) Marsh-Chapel experiment (Harvard Psilocybin Project, which users claim having a life-changing spiritual experience after using drug)

- Generally neuroscientists do not attempt to assign all religiosity to brain pathology/damage.

- discussion of upwards causation (spiritual meaning comes inside from individual) and downward causation (spirituality from external sources--god, own spirit, etc).

- Despite the others insisting that spirituality is more than biology, Michael seems to carefully avoid agreeing outright with them. He plows on in the biological basis discussion.

- Differences between Eastern & Western mystical practices with regard to how they respond to power structures.

- Michael: The cross-culture experiences we assign to religious/spirituality show us that they exist in the biology (this statement sounds supportive, but it actually isn't), but, he says, they don't seem to have been explored thoroughly through the scientific lens.

- Psilocybin shuts down the "Default network" which seems very related to spirituality and meaning.

- They charge Michael with constructionalism. Michael responds that he's bringing all this up as a reference point. (doesn't deny it exactly, even though he put himself in essentialism category earlier.)

- Kristine Haglund discusses "scientism" and how it stops humans from believing in something beyond science. She uses as an example, art. We can break the process and physcial components of art into a study of science (paints, culture, psychology), but the actual artwork is more than what science can express.

- Michael or Scott (I couldn't tell who's voice) disagrees, that science doesn't claim to know everything. It claims that for now, it is the best method we have to learn about our world.

- Scott discusses issues of mistaking emotion with spiritual presence. He thinks biases can explain the problem. (1) We uses language that assigns cognition to our heart, even tho it has none. Feeling always attached to thought, and thought always attached to feeling. (2) Metaknowledge arises involuntarily--we're not truly in control of what we think about or even decide/intend especially since conscious thought is a small percent of all thinking/processing. (3) How much of our processing is conscious versus subconscious depends on all kinds of factors (e.g., fasting) (4) none of these rule out a metaphysical component -- subconscious thought being biological does not mean that there is no downward causation. The subcon could have contact with something else.

- Scott: Religions are not the only practices that claim to bring downward cause or to consciously influence the subcon.

- Scott: we can only think about what we have experienced. Sensory input is needed for our subcon and conscious thoughts.

- Scott: Cognitive Bias--Primacy effect: preferentially biased toward what we have heard & seen as children, less so to what we learn later. Childhood learning is a hook and a filter of most things that come later.

- Scott: Cognitive Bias--confirmation bias: Our current world-view filters out views that are contrary to it. Given the brain has to filter the overwhelming amount of info, it tends to ignore input that has little reference/association with experience.

- Scott: Cognitive Bias--Loss aversion: playing not to lose, where hanging on costs more than the gain because we've already invested so much into something. Many people will accept a lot of cog diss in order to hold on to their personal myths/history and sense of meaning.

- Scott: simplicity bias--a bias towards Occam's Razor.

- Scott: there is no brain circuitry to process objectively and in certainty regarding meaning. We feel certain but it is subjective.

- The host & scott agree that the way to distinguish between truth and subjectivity, even the internal biases we have, is through the holy ghast. They posit this without a single ounce of evidence, of course.

- They assert that the cognitive experience representing the holy ghast should be and ought to be attributed to a message from god. (**The leap here from biases to acceptance of a bias is astounding**)

- Scott has quotes from apostles declaring the holy ghast as infallible. *Ug*






Part 2:

Discussion of spiritual side of the cognitive equation

- Scott: different kinds of problems and different kinds of answers. The more serious the problems, the more often the (appearance of) revelation. When and how we get revelation is circumstantial and varying. Nothing is assured and nothing is consistent.

Scott (and Kristine & host) drones on and on about moism. Not making notes. Blech. Generally they are discussing the confusion between emotional and spiritual answers are difficult to differentiate. The podcast was supposed to answer how to do this.

- Scott finally addresses the main question (around 25 minutes into Part 2): If the holy ghast is infallible, then knowing when it is the spirit should be nearly as infallible. Mentions a book he bought in Deseret book which concludes that something is true and you get a spirit confirmation, then if true it will come to pass (fall in place as predicted). In other words, you won't know until it happens. You just have to leap. *This is the same bullshit as always*

- Scott concludes here that at least we get negative feelings to ward off bad directions. Scott uses the lottery as an example of how someone does hit it, always, and the spirit is kinda like that. (*unbelievable*)

- Michael finally pipes in here: he's been misguided by feelings. Reconciling the difference between emotions and something else: He sees a comparison to evolution vs creationalism. The flow is toward a scientific explanation. (implied here is that perhaps all of religion is a naturalistic process.) That if something feels good, regardless of source, it is more likely to be a good decision (the subconscious mind deciding is as accurate as whatever else it might be).


- Host asks each of them to give a testimony.

- Scott's testimony: spirituality is just being comfortable. Doesn't need an explanation. But he still believes in personal revelation. Think harder about the questions. He stays in the church because he feels it.

- Michael's testimony: he believes in the co-evolution of biology and religion such that there must be an essential aspect of spirituality in our biology. (*that sounds like a version of constructionalism to me*). He feels religion and it enlivens him. The book of mormon musical actually helped him reconcile his own differences of being a gay mormon. He sees the gospel/church teaching metaphor and not literal.

- Kristine's testimony: she rambles on and in the end says that she believes for complex reasons. I half-listened here.

Options: ReplyQuote
Posted by: Henry Bemis ( )
Date: May 01, 2012 12:06PM

Hi Jesus:

I hate to let this post go to waste, however I understand why a reader would not want to commit the extensive time required to listen to the linked podcasts. I will note at the outset that I too was unwilling to commit such time, and did not listen to them. Nonetheless, I am familiar with the issues, so will try to comment on selective items in your list. Perhaps you can focus the discussion on one or two particularly issues and provide your own commentary.

“The question they're after is If the holy ghast is infallible, then how can one know infallibly when we have its promptings? They conclude that you just can't know until it happens. You just have to leap and see what happens. If it plays out to confirm your promptings, then you can conclude post-dict that it was the spirit. If not, it was just your silly emotions. They agree that at least we get negative feelings to ward off bad directions. That following your heart, whether it is just you or some spirit, is still probabilistically your best bet.”

One might respond that knowing whether a prompting was from the HG or not must wait the results, is not very useful as a practical matter. Moreover, obviously the problem runs much deeper. It is uncontroversial that any such prompting is instantiated by an idea in the mind, and the question is the source of the idea, not the idea itself. Presumably, Ferguson would agree that a good, creative, and problem solving ideas could be instantiated without divine intervention. I think he would also agree that both have neural correlates, however different they might be; and that a study (fMRI) of the correlates would not be sufficient to make a definitive determination as to the source. What is left as a differentiating factor? Clearly, how the idea turns out cannot be indicative of the source of the idea, since ideas often turn out quite well without any indication of divine intervention. Thus, it turns out that divine inspiration v. personal inspiration is entirely intractable, even assuming one believes in divine revelation. As such, how can it possibly be meaningful for purposes of religious faith?

“dualism vs monism”

Mormonism, and any religious doctrine that encompasses the idea of an “immaterial” soul, is dualist. I personally have sympathy for this view based upon consideration of both science and paranormal studies. But the point here is that dualism is still a long way from justifying divine revelation, or for that matter belief in God. Although it does, in my view, leave the door open for further discussion, whereas materialism slams it shut.

“essentialism vs. constructionalism (Michael defines essentialism a little different than I'm used to: His essentialism is not dualism nor does it contradict naturalism. To him essentialism religious experience & belief elicits unique brain processing while at the same time it does not legitimize god as existing objectively.)”

Whether religious experience reveals unique brain processing is certainly debateable within neuroscience. I would be interested in the data that supports this conclusion. My understanding based upon the relevant literature, is that brain function during religious experiences is similar to brain function in other contexts, for example, meditation, or drug induced experiences.

Essentialism in its classical, philosophical, sense relates to the nature of properties. It makes a distinction between properties that are essential, or have ontological status, as opposed to properties that exist accidentally or contingently, i.e. are non-essential. I suppose his use of the term merely serves to emphasize his view that the mind or soul has ontological status separate and apart from the properties of the brain. If that is his point, I agree.

“It seems his essentialism means that the spiritual presence/experience cannot be used as evidence to support the truth of god.”

Yes. And more strongly, for reasons stated above, essentialism as applied to mind, of itself, cannot be used to support any particular interpretation of phenomenal experience. It is simply a metaphysical position related to the mind-body problem.

“Michael believes the relationship of humans & spirituality has influenced evolution.”

This is a heavy statement that needs much unpacking. Normally, he has it backwards. Biological evolution is what likely influenced human properties, including spirituality. However, it is probably true that the spiritual and religious nature of human beings--arguably a product of biological evolution-- influenced the evolution of culture.

“- research into brain systems that encompass religious/spiritual processing (a 'god network' in the brain)”

There is no “God particle” or “God Spot” or “God Network.” Especially if one thinks that such brain states evolved by natural selection. Belief in God is NOT adaptive.

“- Dunbar's hypothesis that portion of the cerebral cortex is related to the level of social interaction, which is big in humans. This region is a highly complex, developed, energy hungry processing portion of the brain.”

“- Same region involved in social interaction seems to also have play in religiosity.”

So what? What does this show, even if true? The idea of brain “region” is very vague, and certainly does NOT equate with the idea that both involve the same neural processes and thus they are connected in a way as to either undermine or support religious belief.

“ Michael still believes that just because science is explaining "spiritual" experience through biology, it does not rule out essentialism/dualism. (later he uses an analogy of the study of the piano strings (brain biology) without seeing who or what is playing the piano (essence/spirit).)”

I agree. (Without the analogy) Brain science does NOT explain spiritual experiences; including either the underlying psychology or the ultimate source. The brain is a physical system. By that definition it is limited as a source of explanation of mental phenomena.

“- Despite the others insisting that spirituality is more than biology, Michael seems to carefully avoid agreeing outright with them. He plows on in the biological basis discussion.”

Spiritually is in fact more than biology. Consciousness, the mind, and phenomenal experience is more than biology. The fact that biology plays a role in these concepts does not entail that they are essentially biology, or that biology fully explains spiritual experiences.

“- Kristine Haglund discusses "scientism" and how it stops humans from believing in something beyond science. She uses as an example, art. We can break the process and physcial components of art into a study of science (paints, culture, psychology), but the actual artwork is more than what science can express.”

Science does not deny aesthetic experiences induced by art. Moreover, science does not deny phenomenal “spiritual” experiences, or mind in general. Science in its classic sense is materialist by definition. The problem is not that science prevents metaphysical beliefs, it simply points out the difficulty in establishing such beliefs through scientific principles. I agree, however, that many make the false inference that if something is not scientifically established it is not worthy of belief per se. That is bad logic.

- Scott discusses issues of mistaking emotion with spiritual presence. He thinks biases can explain the problem. (1) We uses language that assigns cognition to our heart, even tho it has none. Feeling always attached to thought, and thought always attached to feeling. (2) Metaknowledge arises involuntarily--we're not truly in control of what we think about or even decide/intend especially since conscious thought is a small percent of all thinking/processing. (3) How much of our processing is conscious versus subconscious depends on all kinds of factors (e.g., fasting) (4) none of these rule out a metaphysical component -- subconscious thought being biological does not mean that there is no downward causation. The subcon could have contact with something else.

“- They assert that the cognitive experience representing the holy ghast should be and ought to be attributed to a message from god. (**The leap here from biases to acceptance of a bias is astounding**)”

Yea. Since our cognitive faculties are imperfect, God must be speaking to us. Doesn't it make more sense to assume that when we think God is speaking to us, our cognitive faculties are exhibiting such imperfections? After all, they are not perfect.

That’s all I have for now.

HB

Options: ReplyQuote
Posted by: Jesus Smith ( )
Date: May 01, 2012 05:05PM

Hi Henry. Note, I listened to these on double speed (player speed x2) so it was more bearable. Actually I enjoyed listening to part 1. Part 2 was grueling.


Your comments in >>""

>> "... and that a study (fMRI) of the correlates would not be sufficient to make a definitive determination as to the source. What is left as a differentiating factor? "

There are some studies about casuality in decision/intent formation. I bet you're familiar with most or all of these references (pasted in at the end so not to distract).


>>" Thus, it turns out that divine inspiration v. personal inspiration is entirely intractable, even assuming one believes in divine revelation. As such, how can it possibly be meaningful for purposes of religious faith? "

I agree. The correlation is even suspect, so the causation is completely intractable.

Question to you: is there any measured evidence of dualism? I've never seen it.

>>" This is a heavy statement that needs much unpacking. Normally, he has it backwards. Biological evolution is what likely influenced human properties, including spirituality. However, it is probably true that the spiritual and religious nature of human beings--arguably a product of biological evolution-- influenced the evolution of culture. "

If memory serves, I believe his point was that religion gave cultures a significant selective advantage and those cultures without religion probably did not suceed to modern times. Hence it influenced evolution in which cultures succeeded. That's probably debatable, but it isn't complete nonsense.


>> " Spiritually is in fact more than biology."

I think you're making a claim without actual evidence. I can (and do) argue that spirituality is a conscious experience and as such, it is measured by the same tools and methods neuroscience uses to measure other conscious experience. I've not seen any indication that science has no ability to sense a particular experience. Of course, not all experiences have been attempted at measurement.


Lastly, I would like to hear your view on free will (whether you are a determinist, libertarian or compatibalist). Note, I am not a philosophy expert but I do enjoy learning about it.


Refs
I. Fried, R. Mukamel, & G. Kreiman, 2011. Internally generated preactivation of single neurons in human medial frontal cortex predicts volition. Neuron, 69: 548– 562

S. Dehaene, L. Naccache, L. Cohen, D. Le Bihan, J. F. Mangin, J. B. Poline, et al., 2001. Cerebral mechanisms of word masking and unconscious repetition priming. Nat. Neurosci. 4[7]: 752–758

S. Dehaene, L. Naccache, H. G. Le Clec, E. Koechlin, M. Mueller, G. Dehaene-Lambertz, et al., 1998. Imaging unconscious semantic priming. Nature 395[6702]: 597–600

H. Aarts, R. Custers, & H. Marien, 2008. Preparing and motivating behavior outside of awareness. Science 319[5870]: 1639

P. Haggard, 2011. Decision time for free will. Neuron, 69: 404–406.

J. D. Haynes, 2011. Decoding and predicting intentions. Ann. NY Acad. Sci. 1224(1): 9–21.

R. Custers & H. Aarts, 2010. The unconscious will: How the pursuit of goals operates outside of conscious awareness. Science 329 [5987]: 47–50

R. Gaillard, A. Del Cul, L. Naccache, F. Vinckier, L. Cohen, & S. Dehaene, 2006. Nonconscious semantic processing of emotional words modulates conscious access. Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. USA 103[19]: 7524–7529.

M. T. Diaz & G. McCarthy, 2007. Unconscious word processing engages a distributed network of brain regions. J. Cogn. Neurosci. 19[11]: 1768–1775

M. Pessiglione, L. Schmidt, B. Draganski, R. Kalisch, H. Lau, R. J. Dolan, et al., 2007. How the brain translates money into force: A neuroimaging study of subliminal motivation. Science 316[5826]: 904–906

P. J. Whalen, S. L. Rauch, N. L. Etcoff, S. C. McInerney, M. B. Lee, & M. A. Jenike, 1998. Masked presentations of emotional facial expressions modulate amygdala activity without explicit knowledge. J. Neurosci. 18[1]: 411–418

L. Naccache, R. Gaillard, C. Adam, D. Hasboun, S. Clemenceau, M. Baulac, et al., 2005. A direct intracranial record of emotions evoked by subliminal words. Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. USA 102[21]: 7713–7717

F. Crick & C. Koch, 2003. A framework for consciousness. Nat. Neurosci. 6[2]: 119–126

B. J. Baars & S. Franklin, 2003. How conscious experience and working memory interact. Trends Cogn. Sci. 7(4): 166–172



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 05/01/2012 05:11PM by Jesus Smith.

Options: ReplyQuote
Posted by: Raptor Jesus ( )
Date: May 01, 2012 05:15PM

Is this a reference to spirituality being also psychology, sociology, and the humanities?

I would agree with that statement in that context - Although my definition of "spirituality" would be one more of metaphor and colloquialism.

Options: ReplyQuote
Posted by: Jesus Smith ( )
Date: May 01, 2012 05:27PM

Raptor Jesus Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> Is this a reference to spirituality being also
> psychology, sociology, and the humanities?
>
> I would agree with that statement in that context
> - Although my definition of "spirituality" would
> be one more of metaphor and colloquialism.


RJ, wouldn't you agree that even if it is a study within psychology, sociology, the humanities, the arts, even philosophy, it is still a study of human experience which happens at its basic level in the consciousness?

And if that's the case, most of us would then argue it is in the biology.



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 05/01/2012 05:27PM by Jesus Smith.

Options: ReplyQuote
Posted by: Raptor Jesus ( )
Date: May 01, 2012 05:36PM

Is art more than the placement of different oils on a blank canvass?

Or the simple strokes of a purple crayon on a "table cloth" at the Macaroni grill?

I mean, seriously, they give you like one goddamn crayon so every woodland critter having a tea party is purple.

That's not real life! We all know that tea party attending critters are different colors.

Options: ReplyQuote
Posted by: Naomi ( )
Date: May 01, 2012 09:34PM

Especially if the critters at the tea party were dinosaurs, and especially if one of them was a southclaw with adamantium blades and all the other dinos ended up as a side dish. Conclusive evidence that spirituality, particularly Raptor worship, falls under the biology of the food chain.

Options: ReplyQuote
Posted by: Henry Bemis ( )
Date: May 01, 2012 07:04PM

>
> There are some studies about casuality in
> decision/intent formation. I bet you're familiar
> with most or all of these references (pasted in at
> the end so not to distract).

Yes, generally, but not in a lot of detail. Perhaps most famously the Benjamin Libet studies. But what I was getting at was that there does not seem to be any imaging studies that can distinguish the source of spiritual experiences, such as to support an inference of either an external or internal source. People used to assume that such experiences bypassed the brain somehow. Then, when people like Andrew Newberg showed that there was a brain correlation with meditation experiences, and other brain-spiritual correlations were established, some people thought (and still think) that this somehow refutes any metaphysical source for the experience. I don't think either conclusion works. A conclusion that the experience originated from a divine source is not undermined by neuroscience simply because of a correlation. But, on the other hand, if brain science cannot at least in principle differentiate between a an external divine source and an internal mundane source, how can any such differenctiation take place, other than by the subject guessing, or assuming that God was, or was not, involved? Isn't this the very question that the panelist were addressing?

>
> >>" Thus, it turns out that divine inspiration v.
> personal inspiration is entirely intractable, even
> assuming one believes in divine revelation. As
> such, how can it possibly be meaningful for
> purposes of religious faith? "
>
> I agree. The correlation is even suspect, so the
> causation is completely intractable.

Yes. Correlations are not refined to the level where one can say, look there is a spiritual experience, as opposed to saying, look that is pure emotion, or whatever. Moreover, how does the brain register the subject's interpretation of a phenomenal experience, as either spiritual or mundane. Presumably, that has a correlation too. Might not these correlations further confuse the issue.
>
> Question to you: is there any measured evidence of
> dualism? I've never seen it.

Not that I know of. But scientific conclusions, in the form of "what is the best explanation" can emerge without measurement. Remember, a scientific worldview must take into account all credible phenomena, including phenomena that cannot be measured or explained. The fact that a phenomenon cannot be explained is not justification for an assumption that it is illusory, or non-existent after all. Dualism is suggested first, in my view, by the intractable nature of consciousness. Again, the fact that we do not understand it does not imply that it must be reducable to the physical, especially when strong intuition suggests otherwise. Dualism is also suggested by quantum mechanics, where mind plays a role in the collapse of the wave function (Obviously, there are other interpretations). Dualism is also suggested by credible paranormal studies, particularly NDEs and past lives of children research. Of course, all of these need to be spelled out more carefully, but a scientific worldview must take all of this into account. And I see no reason to assume that the physical world (classically speaking) is all that there is, given mind and consciousness. However, don't confuse this view with belief in the supernatural. I believe there is a natural explanation for all phenomena, including mind and consciousness. But mind and consciousness require explanatory facts that go beyond what is currently known about the physical world and the nature of reality.

> If memory serves, I believe his point was that
> religion gave cultures a significant selective
> advantage and those cultures without religion
> probably did not suceed to modern times. Hence it
> influenced evolution in which cultures succeeded.
> That's probably debatable, but it isn't complete
> nonsense.
>
First, there is an important distinction between biological selection as affecting culture, and merely cultural selection evolving merely from religious ideas. In either case, especially in the case of biology, I am hard-pressed to see how religious belief provides any kind of selection advantage. Biologically, how would belief in supernatural agency, or life after death, promote survival? It seems to me it would have the opposite effect. Even viewed as cultural evolution, why would a society who engaged in supernatural thinking have a cultural advantage. I know there are arguments, but they seem to me to be basically flawed. They are ad hoc attempts to explain why religion has flourished. There certainly must be an explanation, but I cannot see an evolutionary explanation that makes sense to me.
>
> >> " Spiritually is in fact more than biology."
>
> I think you're making a claim without actual
> evidence. I can (and do) argue that spirituality
> is a conscious experience and as such, it is
> measured by the same tools and methods
> neuroscience uses to measure other conscious
> experience. I've not seen any indication that
> science has no ability to sense a particular
> experience. Of course, not all experiences have
> been attempted at measurement.

Well, it seems we have gone around this before. First, I am not suggesting that the "more" is necessarily metaphysical, in the sense of some divine source. I do not believe that. I would say that phenomenal experience, of any sort, i.e. the mental, or consciousness, and all that goes with it, cannot all be explained by appealing to the brain. That would require not only reductionism but identity. You would have to say that consciousness and the mental just is the brain. Otherwise, you are left with properties, I would say essential properties, that are left unexplained, for example subjectivity, and perspectivity. In this sense you have to distinguish between measurement of the brain, the physical system, from measurement of phenomenal experiences associated with it. If I am plugged into an fMRI machine, you can measure my neuronal activity to some extent, and you can quiz me about the correlated phenomenal experiences, but what are you really measuring? Obviously, it seems to me, you are measuring the physical system, and not any conscious properties.

>
> Lastly, I would like to hear your view on free
> will (whether you are a determinist, libertarian
> or compatibalist). Note, I am not a philosophy
> expert but I do enjoy learning about it.

I believe in free will, which belief is probably part of my dualistic leanings. I do not have a convincing argument. Free will intuitions are just so strong that I think it places a heavy burden on deterministic theories. Moreover, we know that determinism, as a metaphysical view, is false. QM as shown beyond question that there are at least random processes in nature. I am sympathetic to Henry Stapp's general ideas about the relationship between QM and free will, but not without reservation. I reject compatiblism, however. I will note in passing the relevance to this issue of the volition studies you mentioned at the beginning of this discussion. However, I do not think that they are conclusion on this issue.
>
Thanks,
HB

Options: ReplyQuote
Go to Topic: PreviousNext
Go to: Forum ListMessage ListNew TopicSearchLog In


Screen Name: 
Subject: 
Spam prevention:
Please, enter the code that you see below in the input field. This is for blocking bots that try to post this form automatically.
 ********   **      **  ********        **  **    ** 
 **     **  **  **  **     **           **  ***   ** 
 **     **  **  **  **     **           **  ****  ** 
 ********   **  **  **     **           **  ** ** ** 
 **     **  **  **  **     **     **    **  **  **** 
 **     **  **  **  **     **     **    **  **   *** 
 ********    ***  ***      **      ******   **    **