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Old 23rd December 2012, 12:15 PM   #241
shuttlt
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Originally Posted by PixyMisa View Post
No-one actually said that, though tsig's post could have been better worded.

I'll let this rest for now, since we clearly agree that there are such limits, from both mathematics and physics.

(Though if these limits are raised as relevant to the discussion, I will ask that the relevance be established, not simply asserted or handwaved.)
It wasn't tsig that asked the original question. It was SusanB-M1. She said:

"There may be a limit to our ability to experience, but not, I think, to research and knowledge about things."

You and I both agree that she is wrong and I said so. That is how limits on knowledge came into the discussion.

These limits certainly aren't the basis of anything I've said. I only mentioned them because the issue had been raised. For all I know they are significant in other peoples thinking.
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Old 23rd December 2012, 12:49 PM   #242
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Originally Posted by PixyMisa View Post
That's a good question, and I'll see if I can dig it out. I think the problems involved visual perception.
Thanks. I thought the general shape of the GW model was very promising. I'll be surprised if there isn't something along those lines going on.
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Old 23rd December 2012, 01:11 PM   #243
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Originally Posted by shuttlt View Post
I don't see that it is impossible that the behaviour of the brain and hence the mind is to some degree chaotic. Hence there would be limits on what we can know.
Originally Posted by shuttlt View Post
... I don't see that it is impossible that the behaviour of the brain and hence the mind is to some degree chaotic. Hence there would be limits on what we can know.
There are definitely chaotic features at the neuronal level, and good reason to believe it is involved in the distribution of neural activity across the brain at certain times. However, where there is chaos there will be a reason for it (e.g. use of chaotic attractors, low level signal detection, etc). In an expensive organ like the brain, there's no place for pointless waste.

This suggests that as long as we can determine how chaotic activity is being used, i.e. the part it plays, the shape of the attractors, etc., we don't need to know the chaotic details. IOW, it shouldn't prevent us from understanding what's going on.
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Old 23rd December 2012, 01:15 PM   #244
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Originally Posted by PixyMisa View Post
Seriously? How is that evidence for the claim?
Do you think neurons and neurochemicals are the same thing? Do you think you can just throw a lump of neurons together and get a working brain?

Neurons are necessary for consciousness, they are not sufficient, which was Frank's point.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Necessity_and_sufficiency
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Old 23rd December 2012, 01:17 PM   #245
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Originally Posted by PixyMisa View Post
"Qualia" is defined in philosophy as what is left of subjective experience when everything merely physical has been addressed.
Source?
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Old 23rd December 2012, 01:24 PM   #246
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Originally Posted by PixyMisa View Post
The claim. It's false. Hence "No".
The claim that we assume we're conscious is false? Ridiculous.

assume
: to take as granted or true :

http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/assume

this is the science forum, not R&P. We all assume everyone else is conscious, esp. ourselves. You're not a P-zombie.

Is your position that you don't know you're conscious? I would like to know now so I can determine whether to put you on ignore or not.

This was the original exchange:

Originally Posted by PixyMisa
Originally Posted by Frank Merton View Post
We assume we are conscious beings
No.
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Old 23rd December 2012, 01:32 PM   #247
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no.
yes.
maybe.

I have reasons to stay in the middle of the debate.
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Old 23rd December 2012, 01:36 PM   #248
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Wow I make the single most salient post, with the single most salient reference in the entire thread, and it is skipped over by everyone who prefers to just flame each other.

Let me repeat: http://www.doc.ic.ac.uk/~mpsha/ShanahanAISB05.pdf

Try learning something for a change, everyone.
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Old 23rd December 2012, 01:45 PM   #249
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Originally Posted by Fudbucker View Post
Do you think neurons and neurochemicals are the same thing? Do you think you can just throw a lump of neurons together and get a working brain?

Neurons are necessary for consciousness, they are not sufficient, which was Frank's point.
Was it?

As I read it, the context was causality and consciousness (Frank had said "the issue is deeply disturbing: to the point of bringing the entire scientific enterprise, or at least the assumption of universal cause and effect, into some doubt"), and when challenged by shuttlt on causality in neural interactions, he appeared to be suggesting that causality was not sufficient, because neurons talking to each other "in a highly causal way ... doesn't create subjective sensations in our mind".

Perhaps Frank could clarify...
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Old 23rd December 2012, 02:11 PM   #250
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Originally Posted by rocketdodger View Post
Wow I make the single most salient post, with the single most salient reference in the entire thread, and it is skipped over by everyone who prefers to just flame each other.

Let me repeat: http://www.doc.ic.ac.uk/~mpsha/ShanahanAISB05.pdf

Try learning something for a change, everyone.
I've seen this before and it's very interesting, Global Workspace theory (and associated gubbins) can make a functional model - of consciousness? possibly, but I don't think their limited model has really established that. But it seems to have considerable potential.

On the the hand, pixy has suggested GW theory may be in doubt (awaiting references for this).
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Old 23rd December 2012, 03:21 PM   #251
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Originally Posted by dlorde View Post
Was it?

As I read it, the context was causality and consciousness (Frank had said "the issue is deeply disturbing: to the point of bringing the entire scientific enterprise, or at least the assumption of universal cause and effect, into some doubt"), and when challenged by shuttlt on causality in neural interactions, he appeared to be suggesting that causality was not sufficient, because neurons talking to each other "in a highly causal way ... doesn't create subjective sensations in our mind".

Perhaps Frank could clarify...
Sure, but if Frank's not making the point, then I will:

Neurons are a necessary condition, not a sufficient one, for consciousness.
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Old 23rd December 2012, 05:31 PM   #252
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Originally Posted by Fudbucker View Post
Neurons are a necessary condition, not a sufficient one, for consciousness.
Yes; you need neurotransmitters, glial cells, blood supply, hormones, etc., etc. A healthy active brain, preferably with a healthy body. This is usually taken as read when discussing neurons & consciousness.
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Old 23rd December 2012, 05:57 PM   #253
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Originally Posted by dlorde View Post
Yes; you need neurotransmitters, glial cells, blood supply, hormones, etc., etc. A healthy active brain, preferably with a healthy body. This is usually taken as read when discussing neurons & consciousness.
Yes, it's an obviously true point, but it seemed that Pixy was challenging it. I'll let him/her respond.
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Old 23rd December 2012, 06:23 PM   #254
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Originally Posted by shuttlt View Post
It wasn't tsig that asked the original question. It was SusanB-M1. She said:

"There may be a limit to our ability to experience, but not, I think, to research and knowledge about things."
Oh. Apologies, then. I missed the latter part of that sentence.
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Old 23rd December 2012, 06:28 PM   #255
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Originally Posted by Fudbucker View Post
Do you think neurons and neurochemicals are the same thing? Do you think you can just throw a lump of neurons together and get a working brain?
So broadly, it's a question of neurons and their arrangement and interaction? Well, sure, agreed; that almost goes without saying, because that's true of anything except fundamental particles. (Almost without saying because there's so much nonsense written about this that you have to be a pedant.)

Quote:
Neurons are necessary for consciousness, they are not sufficient, which was Frank's point.
It doesn't seem that Frank considers a functioning brain sufficient, either.
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Old 23rd December 2012, 06:35 PM   #256
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Originally Posted by Fudbucker View Post
Source?
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Qualia#Definitions

Jackson says it explicitly, but if you wade through what Lewis said originally, you end up in the same place.
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Old 23rd December 2012, 06:37 PM   #257
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Originally Posted by Frank Merton View Post
We all know that stuff; you disagreeing just to disagree?
You brought up gradualism not me.
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Old 23rd December 2012, 06:38 PM   #258
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Originally Posted by Fudbucker View Post
The claim that we assume we're conscious is false?
Obviously. Read Descartes.

Quote:
Is your position that you don't know you're conscious?
My position is precisely what I said: We don't assume we're conscious.
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Old 23rd December 2012, 06:38 PM   #259
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Originally Posted by Frank Merton View Post
Goedel's Incompleteness Theorems come to mind. These are mathematical limits.

It has occurred to me a few times that something similar may be the issue here -- that the physical universe contains phenomena that are not predicted from within itself. That wouldn't make them mystical, but only "unexplainable" in physical terms.
When you have some, please explain.
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Old 23rd December 2012, 06:41 PM   #260
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Originally Posted by Frank Merton View Post
By analogy. Theorems (phenomena) exist in a system that are not provable (explainable) within the system.
Sure, the possible acausal nature of QM is a possible one, however it is being investigated.

For now the 'outside the universe' is definitely unknowable. However I see no reason to say that consciousness is so.
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Old 23rd December 2012, 06:43 PM   #261
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Originally Posted by Frank Merton View Post
For a moment there you were being reasonable. Now you are back to bald assertions. I'm going to bed (it's after midnight here).
But an elephant tap dancing is like consciousness!



Well except consciousness is a reification of a set of actions.
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Old 23rd December 2012, 07:41 PM   #262
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I'm keeping my stupid opinions to myself.
This in no way implies that I agree with the status quo here.
I don't.

Nor do I think this belongs in science.
It isn't.
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Old 23rd December 2012, 07:59 PM   #263
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Originally Posted by PixyMisa View Post
So broadly, it's a question of neurons and their arrangement and interaction? Well, sure, agreed; that almost goes without saying, because that's true of anything except fundamental particles. (Almost without saying because there's so much nonsense written about this that you have to be a pedant.)


It doesn't seem that Frank considers a functioning brain sufficient, either.
Chalk it up to miscommunication then.

A functioning brain would seem to be necessary and sufficient for mind/consciousness. It's possible something besides just a brain is necessary (e.g., experiments might show that brains not attached to some kind of body, if we culd keep them alive, quickly become "non-operational"), but if so, the "something" will turn out to be something biological in nature.

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Old 23rd December 2012, 08:00 PM   #264
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Originally Posted by PixyMisa View Post
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Qualia#Definitions

Jackson says it explicitly, but if you wade through what Lewis said originally, you end up in the same place.
You're right, those are confusing definitions.
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Old 23rd December 2012, 08:02 PM   #265
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Originally Posted by PixyMisa View Post
Obviously. Read Descartes.


My position is precisely what I said: We don't assume we're conscious.
I think you're playing a semantics game. Let me guess: you KNOW you're conscious? (in the Cartesian sense?)
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Old 23rd December 2012, 08:53 PM   #266
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Originally Posted by Fudbucker View Post
Chalk it up to miscommunication then.
Yep, sorry.

Quote:
A functioning brain would seem to be necessary and sufficient for mind/consciousness. It's possible something besides just a brain is necessary (e.g., experiments might show that brains not attached to some kind of body, if we culd keep them alive, quickly become "non-operational"), but if so, the "something" will turn out to be something biological in nature.
Yes. You do seem to need sensory stimuli to remain aware - c.f. what happens with people in sensory deprivation chambers; they quickly slip into a dreamlike state.

Originally Posted by Fudbucker View Post
You're right, those are confusing definitions.
Yeah, that's why I don't like the term. It has a lot of dualist philosophical baggage attached.

Originally Posted by Fudbucker View Post
I think you're playing a semantics game. Let me guess: you KNOW you're conscious? (in the Cartesian sense?)
Yep, that was the point. If you can frame the question "Am I conscious?", the answer is necessarily yes.
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Old 24th December 2012, 12:10 AM   #267
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Originally Posted by PixyMisa View Post
I made no assertion. I simply pointed out that you have not made an argument.
I begin to doubt that you are aware of what you do. I would suggest that you ask yourself how your curt statements will be read. Your reader is not privy to the foundations you have in your mind for what you say, and only sees what seems like an inability or unwillingness to clarify.
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Old 24th December 2012, 12:13 AM   #268
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Originally Posted by Fudbucker View Post
A functioning brain would seem to be necessary and sufficient for mind/consciousness. It's possible something besides just a brain is necessary (e.g., experiments might show that brains not attached to some kind of body, if we culd keep them alive, quickly become "non-operational"), but if so, the "something" will turn out to be something biological in nature.
That sounds fascinating -- I would like to know more.

Maybe the biological "something" is brain cells elsewhere in the body -- they have been found all over the place.
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Old 24th December 2012, 12:21 AM   #269
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Originally Posted by quarky View Post
Nor do I think this belongs in science.
It isn't.
I think I said this in an earlier post, but I don't care if it is "science" or not. It's interesting, and that's all I need.

I would say, though, that if one takes the limited definition of what can be "science" and follows the positivists in saying that whatever falls outside that definition is pointless, then one destroys the very foundation of science. The scientific method itself is outside. What test could we use to possibly invalidate induction?
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Old 24th December 2012, 12:30 AM   #270
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A comment about my speculation linking Goedel's Incompleteness Theorems and the subject of this thread. I can't find the messages involved, so I will just repeat.

Goedel showed that in any sufficiently complex system there will necessarily be theorems that are true in the system but cannot be proved. The vocabulary here is that of mathematics ("theorem," "proof").

It hit me in the talk about whether or not there are limits to what science might possibly reach, that this theorem might apply.

Is the physical universe a "sufficiently complex system," and, if so, are there in it "theorems" (phenomena) that are true (exist) in the system but cannot be proved (explained)?

The phenomenon of experiential existence that we sometimes call consciousness certainly might be such a thing.

At the time I referred to it as an analogy. Analogies prove nothing, but are helpful anyway. They sometimes break through the box of people's thinking.
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Old 24th December 2012, 01:54 AM   #271
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Originally Posted by Frank Merton View Post
Is the physical universe a "sufficiently complex system," and, if so, are there in it "theorems" (phenomena) that are true (exist) in the system but cannot be proved (explained)?
No. That's a misunderstanding of pretty much everything there is to misunderstand.
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Old 24th December 2012, 01:55 AM   #272
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Originally Posted by Frank Merton View Post
I begin to doubt that you are aware of what you do. I would suggest that you ask yourself how your curt statements will be read.
They are read as cutting short the nonsense. Except, of course, by those posting nonsense.

Quote:
Your reader is not privy to the foundations you have in your mind for what you say, and only sees what seems like an inability or unwillingness to clarify.
Don't post nonsense then.
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Old 24th December 2012, 01:59 AM   #273
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Originally Posted by PixyMisa View Post
They are read as cutting short the nonsense. Except, of course, by those posting nonsense.


Don't post nonsense then.
What can I say? Your arrogance seems only exceeded by your incomprehension of what is being discussed.
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Old 24th December 2012, 02:01 AM   #274
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Originally Posted by Frank Merton View Post
What can I say? Your arrogance seems only exceeded by your incomprehension of what is being discussed.
You could try making a coherent argument and supporting it with evidence, and see how that works for you.
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Old 24th December 2012, 02:19 AM   #275
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Originally Posted by shuttlt View Post
It wasn't tsig that asked the original question. It was SusanB-M1. She said:

"There may be a limit to our ability to experience, but not, I think, to research and knowledge about things."

You and I both agree that she is wrong
Surely in Science, when someone thinks that is the end of research and knowledge into a subject, someone else will come along to try to, andmaybe succeed in, pushing that knowledge just a little bit further?


ETA for Frank Merton: When you've been reading PixyMisa's posts for as long as I have, I hope you will come to regard them as constantly clear and reliable.
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Old 24th December 2012, 02:35 AM   #276
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Originally Posted by SusanB-M1 View Post
Surely in Science, when someone thinks that is the end of research and knowledge into a subject, someone else will come along to try to, andmaybe succeed in, pushing that knowledge just a little bit further?
Certainly, but there are things that it is firmly established that we can't know.

These come both from mathematics and from physics.

Godel's Incompleteness Theorems are a famous example. The first theorem proved (rather cleverly) that any sufficiently complex mathematical system - such as arithmetic - contains theorems that are true but cannot be proven. We describe such systems as being incomplete.

The second theorem proves a fascinating corollary: That any such system contains proof of its own logical consistency only if it is logically inconsistent.

The leading example from physics is Heisenberg's Uncertainty Principle. This tells us that the position and momentum of an object are intertwined in a surprising way: The more precisely we determine an object's position, the less precisely we can determine its momentum, and vice-versa. This is undetectable at everyday scales, but at the scale of individual atoms it is very significant. And this uncertainty is fundamental to the way physics works; we can never get around it with better measurement techniques or other clever tricks.

We can always add to our knowledge, but there are some questions - valid and reasonable questions - that cannot be answered.
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Old 24th December 2012, 03:01 AM   #277
SusanB-M1
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Originally Posted by PixyMisa View Post
Certainly, but there are things that it is firmly established that we can't know.

---
We can always add to our knowledge, but there are some questions - valid and reasonable questions - that cannot be answered.
Very interesting, as always. Thank you.

I've read it again, with the screen reader speed slowed down!
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Last edited by SusanB-M1; 24th December 2012 at 03:04 AM.
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Old 24th December 2012, 04:28 AM   #278
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Originally Posted by PixyMisa View Post
You could try making a coherent argument and supporting it with evidence, and see how that works for you.
I dare say I don't think it would succeed. I once had views much like yours, although I never was so bull-headed about them. All I can imagine is that you just simply do not get it about qualia. It does take a shift in perspective to realize what people here are talking about, and it seems to me in your unbelievable self-confidence you are not even willing to entertain that as a possibility.
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Old 24th December 2012, 04:36 AM   #279
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Originally Posted by Frank Merton View Post
I dare say I don't think it would succeed.
How do you know if you refuse to try?

Quote:
I once had views much like yours, although I never was so bull-headed about them.
That's nice.

Quote:
All I can imagine is that you just simply do not get it about qualia.
This thing you claim exists but cannot define or describe? What is there to get?
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Old 24th December 2012, 04:51 AM   #280
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Originally Posted by Fudbucker View Post
Do you think neurons and neurochemicals are the same thing? Do you think you can just throw a lump of neurons together and get a working brain?

Neurons are necessary for consciousness, they are not sufficient, which was Frank's point.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Necessity_and_sufficiency
And that does not a case or argument make, there has been no reason for insufficiency given.
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