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Thread: Origin of the Mind/Mental States

  1. #11
    tWebber Chrawnus's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Sparko View Post
    computer software can run by itself and come up with solutions to problems without any one watching it or interpreting it. The software is just electrical patterns run on the chips, just like thoughts are electrical impulses run on neurons.
    I think we're looking at it from completely different abstraction levels. I'm saying that whatever is shown on the computer monitor as a result of a program being run doesn't mean anything by itself, it only has significance when interpreted through a human mind. It's the same with a book, those weird squiggles on the paper doesn't actually mean anything on their own, it's only when we put them in an interpretive pattern that they acquire any sort of meaning.

    So yes, the software can run by itself, and it will result in an output of specific patterns of pixels on the screen, but there needs to be a mind to interpret those patterns, otherwise it's just meaningless noise.

    When it comes thoughts being electrical impulses run on neurons I think it's pretty obvious that they are not the same. If the electrical impulses run on neurons are equal to our thoughts, it would have to follow that they had exactly the same qualities and attributes that our thoughts does, and a simple analysis of both the electrical impulses and our thoughts shows that they have hardly anything in common. If we take only two attributes of both electrical impulses and thoughts and compare them (and showing that they are different in only one aspect would be enough to demonstrate that they are not the same), we can see for example, that while thoughts have intentionality (they are about something), electrical impulses are not about anything at all. Similarly, thoughts are subjective, they cannot be accessed or experienced by anyone else but the person having them, while the electrical impulses in the brain can be measured and observed by anyone with the proper equipment.

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    Troll Magnet Sparko's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Chrawnus View Post
    I think we're looking at it from completely different abstraction levels. I'm saying that whatever is shown on the computer monitor as a result of a program being run doesn't mean anything by itself, it only has significance when interpreted through a human mind. It's the same with a book, those weird squiggles on the paper doesn't actually mean anything on their own, it's only when we put them in an interpretive pattern that they acquire any sort of meaning.
    I am talking from an information standpoint. The software is data and information that is not physical in nature that runs on a physical device. You were asking how something not physical could emerge from something physical. I gave you an analogy. A computer program is not physical while running. Just electrical patterns running on electronic circuits. The mind could be the same thing. The mind is the software of the brain, so to speak. If you damage the brain, you damage the mind. Or maybe the mind is entirely spiritual and the brain is some sort of conduit to connect the mind to the physical world.

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    tWebber Roy's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Chrawnus View Post
    I think we're looking at it from completely different abstraction levels. I'm saying that whatever is shown on the computer monitor as a result of a program being run doesn't mean anything by itself, it only has significance when interpreted through a human mind.
    Unfortunately you're also implying that whatever happens to the {monorail car/rocket/wind-turbine blade/oil pipeline} as a result of the program being run only has significance when interpreted through a human mind, regardless of how many {buildings are damaged/asteroid orbits are affected/bird are killed/trees die from spilt pollution from overpressure}.

    When a tree dies in a forest and no-one sees it, does it have significance?
    Jorge: Functional Complex Information is INFORMATION that is complex and functional.

    mikewhitney: What if the speed of light changed when light is passing through water? ... I have 3 semesters of college Physics.

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    tWebber Chrawnus's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Sparko View Post
    I am talking from an information standpoint. The software is data and information that is not physical in nature that runs on a physical device. You were asking how something not physical could emerge from something physical. I gave you an analogy. A computer program is not physical while running. Just electrical patterns running on electronic circuits. The mind could be the same thing. The mind is the software of the brain, so to speak. If you damage the brain, you damage the mind. Or maybe the mind is entirely spiritual and the brain is some sort of conduit to connect the mind to the physical world.
    I don't think software is non-physical. Or at least not immaterial in the same sense that a thought, or consciousness is. At no point between the CPU doing it's operations to information being shown on the screen is anything other happening than energy and matter interacting with each other. I don't really see how the relationship between electrical patterns running on electronic circuits and software is similar to the relationship between electrical impulses run on neurons and thoughts, mainly because I don't see how thoughts could have any similarity to software at all. I also don't think the patterns in the electronic circuit relate to software in the same way the electrical impulses relate to our thoughts.

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    Troll Magnet Sparko's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Chrawnus View Post
    I don't think software is non-physical. Or at least not immaterial in the same sense that a thought, or consciousness is. At no point between the CPU doing it's operations to information being shown on the screen is anything other happening than energy and matter interacting with each other. I don't really see how the relationship between electrical patterns running on electronic circuits and software is similar to the relationship between electrical impulses run on neurons and thoughts, mainly because I don't see how thoughts could have any similarity to software at all. I also don't think the patterns in the electronic circuit relate to software in the same way the electrical impulses relate to our thoughts.
    think of a computer running a 3D model of a bat hitting a ball. Neither the ball nor the bat exist in physical reality, nor do they exist in the various circuits of the computer, nor in the software itself. yet the software can model the bat and ball, even computing where the ball and bat intersect, the trajectory of the ball, etc. the software is basically nothing but transistors turning on and off in the CPU in varying sequences. Yet we have a model of a ball and bat that don't exist physically and can be acted upon by other parts of the software. It doesn't depend on you seeing it or interpreting it. It runs regardless. Forget the screen. The screen is just a display of what the computer is modelling. No different than you writing out your thoughts for someone else to read.

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    tWebber Chrawnus's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Roy View Post
    Unfortunately you're also implying that whatever happens to the {monorail car/rocket/wind-turbine blade/oil pipeline} as a result of the program being run only has significance when interpreted through a human mind, regardless of how many {buildings are damaged/asteroid orbits are affected/bird are killed/trees die from spilt pollution from overpressure}.

    When a tree dies in a forest and no-one sees it, does it have significance?
    Well, I don't believe any of those things have significance, unless there exists persons out there who are affected by them. Significance is ultimately a subjective judgement (in the sense that it's subjects who assign significance to things/events, significance isn't an inherent attribute of things/events themselves)

    But I have a feeling you're misunderstanding what I'm saying when I say that a "program being run only has significance when interpreted through a human mind". I'm not saying that the consequences of running the software/program doesn't have any significance (provided that these consequences actually affect anyone). I'm saying that the instructions carried out by the CPU as a result of the software doesn't mean anything by themselves, it's only when you know what the programmer's intentions behind the combination of instructions that make up the software were that the software actually starts to become meaningful. It's the programmer's, or end-user's intentions with the software that gives it significance, not anything inherent to the software itself.

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    tWebber Chrawnus's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Sparko View Post
    think of a computer running a 3D model of a bat hitting a ball. Neither the ball nor the bat exist in physical reality, nor do they exist in the various circuits of the computer, nor in the software itself. yet the software can model the bat and ball, even computing where the ball and bat intersect, the trajectory of the ball, etc. the software is basically nothing but transistors turning on and off in the CPU in varying sequences. Yet we have a model of a ball and bat that don't exist physically and can be acted upon by other parts of the software. It doesn't depend on you seeing it or interpreting it. It runs regardless. Forget the screen. The screen is just a display of what the computer is modelling. No different than you writing out your thoughts for someone else to read.
    Well, I think that's where our main disagreement lies. I don't think the computer is actually modelling the bat and the ball at all. Nor is it calculating the intersection or
    the trajectory. It's simply manipulating the state of the transistors to either on or off, which then get's interpreted by us humans on the lowest level of abstraction as symbolizing 0's and 1's, on a slightly higher abstraction level as the computer doing mathematical operations on variables and constants, and on the highest level of abstraction we say that these variables, constants and algorithms symbolize, or model, physical objects and physical laws. But the objects that are being modelled don't actually exist anywhere in the computer, they exist in the mind of the user of the software. We're the ones who look at the data that the computer spits out and decide what it represents.

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    Troll Magnet Sparko's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Chrawnus View Post
    Well, I think that's where our main disagreement lies. I don't think the computer is actually modelling the bat and the ball at all. Nor is it calculating the intersection or
    the trajectory. It's simply manipulating the state of the transistors to either on or off, which then get's interpreted by us humans on the lowest level of abstraction as symbolizing 0's and 1's, on a slightly higher abstraction level as the computer doing mathematical operations on variables and constants, and on the highest level of abstraction we say that these variables, constants and algorithms symbolize, or model, physical objects and physical laws. But the objects that are being modelled don't actually exist anywhere in the computer, they exist in the mind of the user of the software. We're the ones who look at the data that the computer spits out and decide what it represents.
    considering we can work with the data and correspond it with the real world, then yes the modeling is actually happening in the software. It isn't just some random flipping of transistors that we just interpret. It is an actual model. They exist in the software and NOT in the mind of the user of the software. There doesn't even have to be a user. The modelled results can be used in other programs. Or in controlling a robot.

  9. Amen Leonhard amen'd this post.
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    tWebber
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    Quote Originally Posted by Chrawnus View Post
    Well, I think that's where our main disagreement lies. I don't think the computer is actually modelling the bat and the ball at all. Nor is it calculating the intersection or
    the trajectory. It's simply manipulating the state of the transistors to either on or off, which then get's interpreted by us humans on the lowest level of abstraction as symbolizing 0's and 1's, on a slightly higher abstraction level as the computer doing mathematical operations on variables and constants, and on the highest level of abstraction we say that these variables, constants and algorithms symbolize, or model, physical objects and physical laws. But the objects that are being modelled don't actually exist anywhere in the computer, they exist in the mind of the user of the software. We're the ones who look at the data that the computer spits out and decide what it represents.
    The computer manipulates binary numbers, but those binary numbers have to be manipulated and configured in a certain way so that the user can see certain things on the screen such as a bat and a ball.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Hornet View Post
    Are there any good arguments in favor of the view that our minds or mental states are not physical entities and cannot come from something that is physical? I'm asking just out of curiosity.
    I think if there were any such good argument, you'd have heard it by now. Memories are stored in the physical brain and are brought to consciousness through physical stimulation. Afaik there is no evidence whatsoever that mental states exist apart from the physical brain. There is the idea, derived of quantum mechanics, that perhaps it is the mind that is the only thing that actully exists, that it is the pysical world, including the brain, which is all just an illusion, but I'm not aware of a good argument in favor of that view.

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