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Law of Conservation of Energy and What it Implies for the Efficacy of p-Consciousness

  1. Dec 5, 2004 #1


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    I was just thinking about this last night. Granted, I'm not pretending to answer any questions as to whether or not p-consciousness is efficacious or whether or not it has a non-physical origin. I am attempting only to eliminate one possibility. My proposition is that if p-consciousness were non-physical, then it could not be efficacious. In addition, if p-consciousness is efficacious, then it cannot be non-physical. Here is how I reached this conclusion:

    I started from the law of conservation of energy, that says energy can be neither created nor destroyed. Another way of stating this is that all energy must have an origin in the physical world. This includes the energy necessary to carry out physical functions in the human body, as well as the energy to initiate neural processes that lead to physical action. If p-consciousness is efficacious, then it is capable of initiating these neural processes. Because neural processes require energy, they must be initiated by a physical source. Let me see if I can construct a formal proof for this. I will assume for the purposes of this proof that p-consciousness is efficacious.

    If p-consciousness is efficacious, then neural processes are initiated.
    If neural processes are initiated, then energy must have been used.
    Therefore, if p-consciousness is efficacious, energy must have been used.
    If energy is used, then it must have a physical source.
    Therefore, if p-consciousness if efficacious, it must have a physical source.
    P-consciousness is efficacious.
    Therefore, p-consciousness must have a physical source.

    Edit: I can't get LaTeX to separate my lines, so you'll need to accept this series of syllogisms as a formal proof. Two hypothetical syllogisms and a modus ponens are used.
    Last edited: Dec 5, 2004
  2. jcsd
  3. Dec 5, 2004 #2
    All physical objects need a energy source to put them in motion. Is energy physical until it becomes matter?
  4. Dec 5, 2004 #3


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    That's probably an important semantic issue that will need to be addressed, but since matter and energy are interchangeable, I'm still considering energy to be of material origin. It has no origin outside of the physical universe, as a dualist model would place the origin of consciousness.

    To paraphrase Les' definition of "physical," a definition that I really like, anything is physical if it is constrained by material laws of cause and effect.
  5. Dec 5, 2004 #4


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    I've been going through some of the threads that flourished while I was away, and noticed a lot of the comments about Rosenberg's theory that hypnagogue was talking about. I'd just like to chime in here that the impression I get (I've ordered the book and will get a more complete impression once I've read it) is that this new theory introduces nothing non-physical. hypnagogue himself has said that it is not a form of dualism. It seems like Rosenberg is attempting to complete physicalist theory by getting at the fundamental nature of what exactly it is that nature is made of. He notes, correctly, that physics and other natural sciences describe quite well the interactions of objects without saying what these objects are. In fact, all of science can in theory be broken down into an accounting of interactions between fundamental particles (if we ever discover the graviton) without any mention of what the particles themselves are made of. While it seems to me that it might be difficult, likely impossible, to ever know this because of the unimaginably small size of these particles, nothing about his theory prima facie precludes physical description, but rather only functional description. In fact, it seems to complement it, almost as the logical end of reductionism.
  6. Dec 6, 2004 #5
    I have the book and will read it in a short, I think a few others have decided to buy and read it. Maybe after the new year it can be discussed.
  7. Dec 6, 2004 #6
    But then again maybe the dualism we're referring to here is none other than the relationship between matter and energy? Obviously in order for dualism to exist, there has to be a relationship between two "opposing" conditions, both of which have to reside within the same overall parameters (of a shared reality), except at opposing extremes. Otherwise there would be no means by which they can have an effect and/or interact with each other. In which case I would suggest that matter is the consolidation or, outside configuration of what energy is the internal aspect and/or courses through everything. Or, if this wasn't the case, and consciousness did originate outside of the physical universe, the only way it could possibly interact with the physical dimension (I believe) would be through its connection with energy which, is why I believe the two are conceivably one and the same. Certainly intelligence/information can be broadcast via a radio signal and then picked up remotely and broadcast via a loudspeaker.
  8. Dec 6, 2004 #7
    In fact, all of science can in theory be broken down into an accounting of interactions between fundamental particles (if we ever discover the graviton) without any mention of what the particles themselves are made of. While it seems to me that it might be difficult, likely impossible, to ever know this because of the unimaginably small size of these particles,

    Rothie M:
    The size of the particles doesn't matter.Even if we can "see " the particles with
    detectors, we still won't know what particles are made of - we will
    just be able to say that particle X is the same as particle Y or particle X
    differs from particle Y.I think relative descriptions are as far as we can go.

    Consciousness probably does have a physical source.
    But if this is the case, then we need to find out
    why our brains instinctively tell us otherwise i.e
    why can't we reduce a feeling to a physical description?
    There must be something unusual about the physics of
    consciousness - if such a thing exists.
    Last edited: Dec 6, 2004
  9. Dec 6, 2004 #8

    Les Sleeth

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    I don't think this premise (in blue) will hold water, unless you were willing to make a small adjustment to it. The law of conservation of energy refers to thermodynamics and closed systems (and right now it looks like the universe is not a closed system). It cannot be interpreted to mean energy, whatever that is (and indeed no one has ever observed it), is not ever created and cannot ever be destroyed. We in fact don't know what happens to energy once it's disappears from systems. It is gone, poof! It just might be destroyed, if not now, possibly a zillion years in the future.

    Also, saying energy is of material origin doesn't solve the problem of the origin for energy. What's the origin of matter? Where did all that energy come from to create this universe that apparently didn't exist before the Big Bang?

    However, if you were willing to stipulate that when energy is made available for work in this universe, its origin is the matter of this universe, then I could see that. But without knowing the origin and fate of everything, I don't see how you can state with certainty about what goes on beyond what we can observe.

    I wanted to answer this instead of your syllogisms because I think I can put a dent in your argument using your assumption about dualism. I want to dispute that it is necessarily dualistic to consider consciousness originating outside the universe. Is it dualist to recognize H20 can exist as a solid, liquid and gas? All three are the exact same substance, but their characteristics are determined by conditions.

    Similarly, matter and energy could be the manifestation of something even more basic, of which consciousness is a manifestation of as well. In such a case, they all would have been given their unique characteristics by distinct sets of conditions, not because they actually have essentially different natures.

    I realize some people do argue in favor of dualism. My objection here is your assumption that a proposition must be dualistic if it suggests consciousness has its origin outside the universe. Once we recognize that matter, energy and consciousness might be made of the same "stuff," your argument seems to teeter.

    The issue then becomes what is most basic. Is matter and energy most basic? Or is there something yet more basic where consciousness first developed, and out of which matter and energy appeared as well? If consciousness is in the more basic condition of existence, then it might well be able to interact and control the energy condition of existence, which in turn moves the matter condition of existence. :smile:
    Last edited: Dec 6, 2004
  10. Dec 6, 2004 #9


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    Phew, you just saved me some work. :smile: Your original post was a good analysis of why traditional interactionist dualism cannot work (or at least, why it is inconsistent with modern physical theory). But there are subtler notions of causation than the straightforward notion of effective causation, as in "Event A occurred as a result of Event B." The role of P-consciousness in Rosenberg's framework is more akin to Aristotle's notion of 'material causation' than effective causation, which is why it can assign a causal role to P-consciousness without violating conservation of energy or other well-established physical principles.

    This is another somewhat subtle issue, and Rosenberg addresses it early on in his book. This comes down to whether you consider physicalism to be object based (o-physicalism) or theory based (t-physicalism). I'm not sure I have a complete handle on these terms, but I believe o-physicalism includes the intrinsic natures of physical objects whereas t-physicalism is restricted to the extrinsic relationships between objects, such as are described in any physical theory.

    It appears as if you are taking physicalism to be o-physicalism, which would account for why you see Rosenberg's framework as physicalistic, or at least not incompatible with physicalism. But it is arguable if o-physicalism really should count as a type of physicalism at all, since anytime we venture into the realm of intrinsic properties we are necessarily stepping outside of the realm of purely scientific inquiry. (That which is intrinsic by definition does not interact with other things in the manner of effective causation, or else it would be extrinsic; and if a phenomenon does not interact in such a way, it is impossible to detect in the traditional way via measuring devices, even in principle. This problem of interaction is what is ostensibly makes knowing intrinsic natures so hard (if not impossible) to know, rather than issues of size of fundamental particles or the like.)

    Rosenberg takes physicalism to mean t-physicalism; that is, only that which is detectable in principle via measuring devices, or knowable in principle via theoretical deduction from observed phenomena, is taken to be physical. This automatically precludes intrinsic phenomena such as P-consciousness or the question of what an electron is aside from what it does, and so on. T-physicalism amounts to a kind of functionalism, but with apparently nothing to be carrying out the functions. Thus Rosenberg's framework is not physicalistic by t-physicalism standards.
  11. Dec 6, 2004 #10


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    Would anyone be interested in a mutual reading/discussion thread? We could devote a week or two to each of the chapters and go through them one by one. I believe this has been done on philosophyforums.com with Dennett's "Consciousness Explained" with good effect. Any interest here?

    edit: Please see https://www.physicsforums.com/showthread.php?t=55766 if you are interested.
    Last edited: Dec 7, 2004
  12. Dec 6, 2004 #11


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    That may be the case, but I'm really just assuming for the purposes of this argument that each human nervous system in concert with whatever constitutes the individual phenomenal consciousness associated with each nervous system, is a closed system with respect to any causative role it may play in human action (in this case, the action can be either organismic or mental). I simply question whether the energy used to initiate these actions can come from any source outside of the cellular processes carried out by the CNS and PNS. According to the law of conservation of energy, they cannot. To sum it up, the assumption I'm making is that each conscious moment in which an action takes place constitutes a closed system.

    It is entirely possible that the thermodynamics involved in incorrect, but I highly doubt it, because it has been confirmed in every chemical reaction in which confirmation was sought. The great thing about this point of contention is that it is testable in principle. Nothing precludes scientific endeavor from measuring the energy input and output of the CNS and PNS to see that they match. On a neuronal basis, they certainly do.

    Thanks for bringing out the assumption, though. It didn't previously occur to me that I was making it.

    Well, I cannot state what goes on outside of this universe, but I can say unequivocally that, within this universe, energy can be neither created nor destroyed. It can only be converted to different forms, each of which can be reduced in essence to the potential or kinetic energy of fundamental particles.

    I don't know the ultimate origin of all matter/energy in the universe, but I'm not sure that a cosmological question like that needs to be answered here. I'd need further convincing of its relevance.

    I cannot see what point you are making with the water. Whether it be liquid, gas, or solid, it always exists within the same spatio-temporal continuum.

    Edit: Actually, I do see your point now. I've elaborated below.

    Perhaps it is the case that matter and energy are only two forms of a more fundamental agent that can take on a third form we have previously been unable to detect. However, I cannot see any reason to believe this third form would be anything other than physical. In the case of matter and energy, the functional necessity of these two forms is clear. One form (energy) is needed to perform work, and the other form (matter) is needed to be worked upon. What would be the function of the third form? Assuming the third form to be the source of p-consciousness and assuming that it is physically efficacious, then it would also exist to perform work upon the form of matter. Given that energy already performs this function, any model containing this third form is not parsimonious.

    This isn't to say the model is to be discounted, but a function separate from that of performing work would need to be attributed to your third form.

    Oh, I don't argue that the model of three forms is dualist - given that all three forms conform to the definition given of physical; that is, that they are contrained by material laws of cause and effect. The only qualm I would have with the above statement with respect to this model is that there is no reason given to suspect that the third form exists in a universe separate from that of the other two. Given the definition of a universe as a single spatio-temporal continuum, any agent that can be the cause of an effect on a second agent exists in the same universe as that second agent.

    Okay, the model breaks down a bit here. To control energy, it would be necessary to perform work upon it. But energy is defined as the capacity to perform work. If the third form is postulated as "that which controls energy," we can reformulate the postulation definitionally first as "that which performs work upon energy" and second as "that which performs work upon the capacity to perform work." The lack of syntactical coherence in this description of the third form makes the model difficult to evaluate.
    Last edited: Dec 6, 2004
  13. Dec 6, 2004 #12


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    I had actually thought about this. Aristotle's notion of material cause (bronze is the cause of the chalice) does not seem to me to constitute a cause in any sense that is still recognized. His notion of formal cause is dubious at best. The type of causation I'm referring to here is akin to efficient causation, although I had considered that efficacious phenomenal consciousness could be considered under the heading of final cause in an Aristotelian framework. Even so, it seems to me that work must be performed. The best definition of "cause" I can give to work with in this thread would be "any agent performing work upon a second agent resulting in any change to that second agent." This would encompass efficient and final causation, as well as formal causation. The thing to be considered here is that if p-consciousness is to be thought of as material cause rather than final cause, it would not perform work. In fact, a material cause can do nothing to alter the mechanical course of events brought about through the more traditional notion of causation. It would dictate the course itself, but in an equally mechanical fashion. Modeling subjective consciousness in this way seems to me to make it epiphenomenal and not efficacious.

    Yes, I was considering intrinsic properties as a part of physicalism. This is pretty much what I meant by saying it seemed to me that Rosenberg was "completing" physicalism.

    The only problem I would have with this assessment is that if Rosenberg models consciousness as an intrinsic property of physical objects, he has then rendered detectable an intrinsic property, even if it is not detectable in a third-person sense.

    Either way. So long as we can develop a common understanding of terms. For my purposes in this thread, I'm defining o-physicalism, at least with respect to modeling consciousness as an intrinsic property of physical things, as a form of physicalism.
  14. Dec 6, 2004 #13

    Les Sleeth

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    Yes, but it seems you are assuming consciousness is energy. Why should we assume that consciousness is energy?

    You are also wrong to suggest that anything whatsoever about biology constitutes a closed system. As a biology guy, I think you must know this already (it even contradicts your own model). Biology is very much an open system. It takes in, it metabolizes, it moves, it loses heat. There is no possible way to prevent that. That’s about as “open” as a system gets. And as I pointed out, biology is also within a universe which itself appears open.

    You are mixing apples and oranges. No one is doubting that energy is preserved through physical processes. Don’t you see, you are assuming a priori what you are arguing? Of course if you look at physical processes and measure energy, you are going to find it all adding up. We already know that! It doesn’t prove whether a state of existence which is not energy, and cannot be measured, is capable of triggering physical actions (or, whether or not that triggering function, even if it does expend energy, uses a measurable amount of energy to do so).

    Hmmmmmm. How can you say that if you can’t observe what happens to energy once it leaves a system? No one on Earth seems to know anything about what the nature of energy is, or what happens to energy once we cannot observe what it does (i.e., we recognize the presence of energy by movement or heat, but no one has actually observed energy itself).

    If there is one thing that’s been driven into my thick head since I’ve been here it’s that energy has not been assigned any existential qualities (Tom recently reminded me of that). Energy is nothing more than a way of measuring movement power and heat. Yet you are talking about energy like it’s actually “something.”

    Why is that? The only reason I can see is that you have assumed a priori that physicalness is the basis of all. I thought that was what we were trying to decide.

    LOL!!! There is a wonderful example of an a priori conclusion. You look at the physical, you only acknowledge physical contributions, and then you conclude anything not physical doesn’t exist.

    The “third form” is what physical processes have not been shown capable of achieving. Demonstrate progressive organization with physicalness. Demonstrate subjectivity with physicalness.

    Why? Energy does the work, consciousness determines what and how work is done. That’s two totally different realms of qualities. Energy has never been proven that it can do anything but fuel things. It is dumb, mindless power. Why do you think it can decide, be creative, make decisions, learn?

    Right, that’s what I’ve been suggesting.
    Last edited: Dec 6, 2004
  15. Dec 6, 2004 #14
    How is it that consciousness can be emulated through the energy which is modulated on a televison screen? How do we know for a fact that consciousness isn't some form of modulated energy signal?
  16. Dec 6, 2004 #15

    Les Sleeth

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    ? I don't understand what you are seeing . . . can you explain how consciousness is emulated by a TV screen?
  17. Dec 6, 2004 #16


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    You are correct to note that if P-consciousness is more of a material cause, then it doesn't perform work, as in efficient causation. But assuming we take epiphenomenal to mean 'having no causal relevance,' P-consciousness would still not be epiphenomenal, because it would still play a definite role in the causal dynamics of the world. P-consciousness winds up having causal relevance in Rosenberg's framework, just not in the way we may have expected.

    Aristotle's notion of material causation seem antiquated, but if you accept the conceptual need for some sort of intrinsic qualities to underpin or instantiate relational phenomena, then you are accepting the conceptual need for material causation, as I'm using the term here. Saying that P-consciousness supports material causation is just the same thing as saying that it provides the fundamental, intrinsic 'stuff' that enters into the system of relationships that we call physics. Without this intrinsic base, physical relationships could not exist anymore than a game of chess could exist without a chessboard and tokens (or a computer's hard drive, or whatever) to instantiate the abstract structure of the game.

    When I said detectable, I meant in the 3rd person sense. For something to be detectable in this sense, some sort of efficient causation is required. The sense in which P-consciousness, or 1st person data, is detectable in Rosenberg's framework is entirely different.
  18. Dec 7, 2004 #17
    Well, I was sitting at the dinner table this evening, and I could hear the newscaster on TV in the other room, and I couldn't help but believe there was a live person talking in the other room. I mean if I didn't know better, I couldn't help but believe that there was someone actually there. While the same thing goes for talking to someone over the phone. Why even bother to talk if you didn't believe there was a live person on the other side of it? So at least in that sense you've emulated the trappings of consciousness, or else there would be no comprehension of it whatsoever. Does this make the TV or the telephone conscious? No. And yet both become the means (through modulated energy) by which to extend and/or articulate it. So perhaps the key word here is information? I think this much (which belies intelligence) can be modulated over the air waves.
    Last edited: Dec 7, 2004
  19. Dec 7, 2004 #18


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    Well, let me make an attempt at clarification here. I'm assuming that if consciousness is to be causally efficacious (in the sense of efficient or final causation - a point I'll get into further below), then it must perform work. Because energy is defined as the capacity to perform work, then in order for consciousness (or any other causal factor, for that matter) to perform work, it must use energy. That isn't to say that it must be energy.

    This is another point where I'm probably being unclear, so I'll try a little harder. The thing I was trying to say is that all energy used in a biological system can be accounted for. Some is dissipated as heat, some stored as free energy (usually in the form of ATP), and some is taken in through catabolic processes. But this is all done in accordance with the law of conservation of energy. The amount taken in exactly equals the amount used minus the amount stored and the amount dissipated as heat.

    Yes, but dualism itself mixes apples and oranges by the principle of interactionism. Even if consciousness is non-physical, in order to be causally efficacious to the CNS, it must be physically efficacious due to the physical nature of the CNS. My point about the possibility of accounting for energy used in brain processes is that, if consciousness is to be causally efficacious (in the traditional sense of efficient or final causation, which again, I will get into further below), then it must use energy, because it must perform work, and energy is defined as the capacity to perform work. Any function capable of triggering a physical action uses measurable energy, again, according to the laws and definitions being used here. This isn't to say it is entirely impossible that contra-causal triggering functions exist that attain their capacity to perform physical work from some outside source, but if these functions do exist, they are inconsistent with the laws and definitions used by modern physics. Either one or the other must go. Remember again that I am not attempting to prove or disprove any one system, I'm only proving the inconsistency of a system with the known laws of physics. I stated this at the outset. Yes, I do make assumptions. Every argument does. I am fully aware that the argument can only produce a true conclusion if my assumptions are correct.

    Energy has no existence outside of what it does. [Edit: Actually, I shouldn't be so strong with my wording. My true position (or lack of position, if you prefer) is clarified better in the next paragraph below.] Energy is defined simply as the capacity to do things, to perform work. If by "nature" you refer to intrinsin properties, then yes, no one knows what intrinsic properties, if any, energy has. But for the purposes of thermodynamics, energy is simply the ability to perform work, which can be restated as the ability to be a cause of a physical effect. Perhaps given that formulation, you can now see my concern.

    I'm actually trying very hard not to. I would like to stress that energy, thus defined, is itself a property of physical things - again, the capacity of those things to perform work. Whether it is itself a separate thing, or only a property, is not entirely clear (though Einstein's equivalence formula seems to suggest prima facie that it might have some form of autonomous existence). For our purposes here, I would need to be convinced that it makes a difference.

    Well, I stated only that I have no reason to believe that a third form would be non-physical. Remember the definition of physical here as "constrained by material laws of cause and effect." If the two known forms of the fundamental existent (which is the name I will heretofore use to refer to the "more fundamental" aspect of matter, energy, and consciousness you are postulating) are physical, then meer chance seem to suggest that a third form, and indeed the fundamental existent itself are also physical. I'm not assuming this is necessarily the case, but as all known things are so far physical, the default value for any unknown (at least any causally efficacious unknown, due to the definition of "physical" given) should also be physical until good reason is given to think otherwise. There is no exclusion principle in place here. Both possibilities remain possibilities. This is only a preliminary working hypothesis based on the available evidence.

    I'm not entirely certain why you think a question I asked (What would be the function of the third form?) constitutes a conclusion, but go ahead and laugh.

    Well, this is where we run into a problem. I am aware of your concerns with several explanatory gaps in physicalist theory. I just don't see how non-physicalist theory has any fewer gaps. Demonstrate progressive organization with non-physicalness. Demonstrate subjectivity with non-physicalness. The thing about this is, if life and the subjective experiences of living organisms are the only examples available of progressive organization and subjectivity, then life and the subjective experiences of organisms are the only demonstrations that can be given. Obviously, this will not satisfy you, but it gives no reason in and of itself to believe that any alternative explanation can fill the gap.

    I promise I will be getting to the matter of material causation and the "third form" below.

    Okay, here we go.

    First, another brief clarification. Energy is being defined as the capacity to perform work. It is actually matter that performs the work itself, on another piece of matter. Perhaps it will do us well to imagine that matter is the carpenter and the nail, whereas energy is the hammer. Working from this metaphor, we can see that it is the carpenter that thus controls the actions of the hammer, and thus it is matter that determines what kind of work energy will be used to perform. If an organizational principle beyond the known laws of physics must be inserted to explain certain capacities of the work being performed, it will be an organizational principle of matter, not of energy. This can probably clear up the syntactical concerns I had in my earlier post.

    Now getting to the issue of material causation. Let's work from hypnagogue's metaphor of the checker board. Without the checker board, there can be no doubt that the game cannot be carried out. However, the game of checkers as described by a third-party observer incapable of seeing the board or the pieces would be fully explained in terms of the rules of the game. That is the dilemma we face with respect to intrinsic properties. Even if they play an important role in the nature of causation itself, the process of cause and effect can be explained without ever invoking these intrinsic properties, sort of QED reduced to functionalism. Rosenberg seemingly is invoking these intrinsic properties as necessary to explain the nature of subjective experience, whereas you seem to prefer the invoking of a third form of the fundamental existent, while continuing to leave out any mention of the intrinsic properties of this existent or of its three forms. Where your respective approaches overlap is that both are being invoked as an organizing principle, so to speak, capable of explaining why matter and energy behave the way they do. I will contend here that his approach is parsimonious with respect to yours, and functionally equal, but that isn't to say that either is any more or less correct at this point. It might very well be necessary to invoke both a fundamental existent and its intrinsic properties to flesh out a complete explanation.

    Your primary qualm with my assessment seems to be with my use of the term "physical." You see it as some kind of dirty word to be avoided when discussing matters of subjective experience. But I again must be clear in the way I am using the term. Physical means simply "constrained by material laws of cause and effect." If the third form you are invoking somehow enacts an organizing principle by which the behavior of matter/energy is to be explained, it would still be physical according to my definition provided it is constrained by material laws of cause and effect. In fact, I've seen nothing from you to suggest that it doesn't. If it doesn't, then there are serious issues of contracausality that will need to be addressed with respect to interactionism. The violation of the law of conservation of energy is only one of these issues.

    Now lastly, I just want to stress that I am not attempting to either prove or disprove the truth of any one model. I am only discussing the relevant implications of these models, bringing up impediments to their acceptance. Any discussion of how these impediments can be overcome is more than welcome. Simply bashing traditional physicalism, however, is a bit like the ID technique of pushing their agenda, not by arguing for it, but by harping on about the flaws in evolutionary theory, all of which are based on simple mischaracterizations. That isn't what I want to see here from either side.
    Last edited: Dec 7, 2004
  20. Dec 8, 2004 #19
    I have read your last post but I will answer here. All physical systems require a third fundamental agent in order for work to be accomplished. Matter and energy do no just exchange partners as if they were on a dance floor. Information has to be injected into the system or you can not even test the thermodynamics of the system. Even simple systems like molecule interaction must have the information. Yes on a small scale you could brush that off for electromagnetic covalent bonding that occurs at random but how would you explain this when you get to complex systems like humans? And of course its not parsimonious, the complexity of humans is anything but that.

    So assuming information to be the third form, to be the source of p-consciousness or at least a property of it, causing physical systems to be physically efficacious.

    We now have three fundamental agents if you be, energy matter and information and none easy to define, all seem necessary to evolve a system.
  21. Dec 8, 2004 #20
    Nonetheless, if consciousness can be modulated/emulated through an energy source, it must be more closely related to energy. We also have to ask if information alone comprises intelligence? It no doubt comprises structure, but like you say, as in the case with matter and energy alone, is there something else which utilizes that structure?
  22. Dec 8, 2004 #21
    Information is a mechanical word, that if you switch the name to something else, it has a meaning in another context. I think us humans can answer affirmative to the fact, we are the end result so far.

    Thats a theory of a ghost in the machine.
  23. Dec 8, 2004 #22
    And yet if there were such a thing, what it would be besides an energy pattern? ... Albeit one would have to assume there was something even more essential than that in order for energy to assume a specific form. Perhaps this is what consciousness entails? Or, maybe consciousness is just a highly modified aspect of energy?
    Last edited: Dec 8, 2004
  24. Dec 8, 2004 #23

    Les Sleeth

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    Part One

    My answer takes two posts to fit. Geez we philosopher types can be windy eh?

    It must be as you say.

    Right again, except what does it mean to “use” energy? (More below).

    My complaint is that you are using for assumptions what your argument is trying to prove is true. When I laughed, it wasn’t to ridicule, it was because of running into you taking that circular route several times.

    If I understand your meaning, this is an example of using for a premise what you are trying to prove. You cannot assume that if consciousness “uses energy” it must itself expend energy (as if it’s in possession of energy and needs to burn it to act). That is a physical requirement, not necessarily a consciousness requirement.

    Consciousness might be able to “use” energy external to it because its nature might be that it is in permanent possession of power which is never depleted. This power, however, needn’t be all that much. The body and energy provided by metabolism seem all set up, sort of “at the ready,” to be kicked into motion by triggering. It’s like comparing the effort a man must make to flip a switch in a huge crane, and the work done by the crane. In between the switch and the movement of the crane is a very large force potential.

    For the sake of argument, let’s assume some bit of energy is burned by consciousness itself when it uses the brain (I don’t think it is, however). Using the crane analogy again, if you had only been familiar with the level of power involved of a crane doing work, and maybe that found in its circuits, you might not have any devices capable of detecting the energy required to achieve something so subtle as flipping a switch.

    Yet you say, “I stated only that I have no reason to believe that a third form would be non-physical.” It seems to me you do have a reason, if not to believe, to suspect it.

    But that’s exactly what non-physicalists have been saying. Are you trying to make our case for us? :smile: Besides, the progressive development needed for chemical abiogenesis and the subjectivity of consciousness are two qualities that are presently “inconsistent” with the known laws of physics, but physicalists nonetheless insist progressive development and subjectivity must be physical in nature.

    I just don’t see how yours is a necessary conclusion if we rely on the concept of what you labeled the “fundamental existent.” I’ll explain as I go along.

    That’s right, but “material” cause and effect might not be the only kinds of cause and effect. You assumption seems to be that it is.

    How does such an inference of “chance” avoid a non sequitur classification? You lost me on that one. :confused:

    How do you know all things known are physical? All things known through the physicalist methods of empiricism are physical, all things capable of objectification seem physical. This is more circular argument because you continue to imply if physicalness can’t define it or detect it, then it isn’t real or known. Here you do the same thing again, “the default value for any unknown . . . should also be physical until good reason is given to think otherwise.” For someone who has already assumed the position of physicalism, yes. Physicalists are the ones saying all they experience and know is the physical, there are others who say differently.

    I don’t think that is a good assessment of what’s going on, not with me anyway. I don’t know what the truth is going to be, I simply recognize that right now physicalist theory ain’t got all the answers, yet plenty of physicalists claim their theory can, or will, explain it all.

    If you read my models, I do at least completely and totally accept the physical side of things. Yet I also have certain personal experiences which seem non-physical; I have studied as well the history of such experiences in others. When I talk to physicalists, they seem completely ignorant of either the nature or the history of the inner experience. What am I supposed to conclude but they are only looking at physicalness, and they then conclude that’s all there is. Well, duuuuuuuhhhh I say. Why do you think one can’t detect the presence of the color blue with a microphone? :rolleyes:

    I propose models, but I don’t think they are proof. If you can find something not accounted for by any model I propose, or which contradicts known facts, then you should definitely point that out. You don’t have to offer up an alternative perfect model to find logic/factual fallacies in mine, and all it takes is one to put a model at risk. Progressive organization and subjectivity are two phenomena unaccounted for by physicalism.

    Keep in mind, my call is for objectivity. I say if a theory doesn’t work, one has to stay open to other possibilities. Too often I hear talk from physicalists like “oh no, it can’t be any other way than physical.” To me that indicates a priori assumptions are in place, and that the mind is anything but objective.

    (continued . . . )
  25. Dec 8, 2004 #24
    There is no physical reason to believe consciousness is energy since the laws of physics demonstrate E=mc2 and brains can not account for subjective experience. When I am conscious information energy and matter are all working together in its presence.
  26. Dec 8, 2004 #25

    Les Sleeth

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    Part Two

    (. . . continued from previous post)

    Physical is most definitely not a dirty word. But I don’t think you completely grasp the implications of the “fundamental existent” model. Let me try once more to explain, not to convince you it is true, but so you don’t think I am anti-physical or dualist.

    I’ll rely on the analogy of gas, liquid, and solid forms of water to elucidate. Let’s say water vapor is the fundamental existent; that is, water vapor is extended infinitely in every direction, so we’ll call it the vapor continuum. It was never created, it can never be destroyed, it can only change form. How might it change form? Part of the dynamics of the vapor continuum are temperature fluctuations. Every great once in while a spot in the continuum cools enough for the vapor to turn to liquid water. Let’s say in even a greater once in a while, cooling and warming happens over and over again at one exact spot, so that that spot becomes conditioned, acquires traits, and actually “learns” to change itself back and forth between vapor and liquid; and then later it learns to cool itself even more and create solid ice.

    The “knowledge” of this is most realized in the vapor condition, because that is what defines fundamental existence. Interestingly, because “knowing” is present in the vapor, when it uses itself to form water, that water has a bit of “knowing” built into it too, though dulled by density; the same is true of the solid condition, except the knowing is even more dulled (because it’s more dense). Now, if a being were made up of vapor (consciousness) water (energy) and ice (matter), they all share a existential relationship (i.e., they are all made up of the same substance), and all share the “knowledge” that is built into them, but at different levels of knowing.

    Because in this case “physical” is defined as when the fundamental stuff acquires structure, we call ice (matter) physical, and we also call water (energy) physical because (viewing from our physical perspective) it appears to be derived from ice (matter) as it “melts”; and because the vapor (spirit?) has no structure, we call it non-physical. Now, as for how vapor (as conscious fundamental existent stuff) could trigger energy to move matter, since the vapor naturally and always exists at a higher temp, when it “touches” ice, that causes a release of water. The vapor itself doesn’t give up water (energy) because that’s not the condition vapor is in. But the natural “warm” way it is will cause energy to flow. Since (returning to the reality of biology) there are huge neural networks set up to channel the flow of energy, all the “warm” consciousness has to do is touch the stored energy spots in the right place to trigger release and action.

    The bigger point is, there is really no essential difference in all the absolute essence and its forms, there are just different conditions determining how they are experienced from our perspective living here in the “frozen” universe. If that’s the case, then you cannot classify the fundamental existent as physical. All that’s physical are forms of the fundamental existent, the fundamental existent is not a form of the physical.

    No one is bashing physicalism, but since you brought up pushing an agenda, I can tell you I first started posting arguments against physicalism after hearing one too many scientists on TV science specials or in text/pop science books claim life “most likely” came about accidentally in the ocean’s chemistry, or that consciousness can be fully explained by brain functions. There are plenty of physicalists acting like their theory is all but established fact, and pushing it from the bully pulpit that universities (in courses taught by physicalist professors) and TV provide.

    I don’t agree with ID only because they usually are trying to somehow make the Bible be true. To me that’s silly since the creation story there is a myth taken from ancient tribal story-telling and/or conjecture. But I don’t see anything wrong with looking for fatal flaws in a theory. That is a great way to either prove it wrong, or to indicate where a change needs to be made.
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