Monday, August 14, 2017

How does a psychological event occur?

SP: -You passed over the nature of the psychological event. How does a psychological event occur? A psychological event is a brain process, which is dependent upon brain structure, which is altered by learning. Given an observed fact set X the brain will output Y prior to learning principles of sound reasoning and will output Z after learning principles of sound reasoning.

VR: I am afraid not. If physicalism is true, then the physical state of the world is determined by the prior physical state of the world, which contains nothing about learning (or by quantum chance, which provides nothing rational). And, given the weakest form of physicalism, the supervenience-determination thesis, the mental state is fully and completely determined by the physical state. The complete explanation for the mental state is fully given without referenced to anything like learning or any other form of mental causation. You can call it learning if you want to, but the process is completely nonrational.


Legion of Logic said...

Learning would create new neural pathways in the brain, which would change the physical structure. Unless I am misunderstanding the point being made.

Edward T. Babinski said...

Vic wrote:

"the mental state is fully and completely determined by the physical state"

Now Vic, fully unpack for us what "the physical state" refers to, because I think you are presupposing it only refers solely to quantum states and individual atoms imposing their irrational wills on mental states. But that is a false assumption. The "physical state" includes the sum total, the whole panoply of sensations and experiences of the total human brain-mind-body enmeshed in a society of humans for years, i.e., it involves a lifetime of brain-body-nervous system-mind feedback and interactivity and not just on an individual basis but enmeshed in a world of individuals interacting with individuals, such feedback and interactivity involve other people, language, social systems.

Edward T. Babinski said...

Vic, Have you considered the view of atheists that higher more complex holistic laws, forces or behaviors can exist in nature that supersede lower ones without being supernatural?

For instance, the position of individual atoms in relation to one another inside a molecule are dictated by laws of molecular constitution moreso than by laws of atomic constitution.

And the individual atoms inside any two molecules that interact with one another in nature are being being moved around due to inter-molecular laws of motion, not atomic ones.

Higher up we see how individual molecules are driven around inside the cell by chain reactions of which such molecules are a part, and the chain reactions depend on what the cell or parts of the cell are doing or reacting to, in feedback loops.

And the cell is reacting to what other cells in its vicinity are doing and they react to what the tissue is doing, and tissues react to what the organ is doing, and organs function as organ systems that influence one another. And the living organism as a whole has its own dynamic drives, to reach out and seek food, a mate, a territory that is acceptable or appealing, and an instinct or desire to take in data, to learn about its environment and living things in that environment.

And higher up still, inside the brain and nervous system we see dynamics that involve electro-chemical impulses traveling at speeds faster than any others inside the body and over a trillion interconnections between neurons.

And animals with a brain-nervous system-sensory organs take in huge vistas of their surrounding environment (rather than focusing on individual atoms or molecules). The brain and nervous system (especially of large-brained mammals like elephants, cetacea, great apes and humans) incorporate wide vistas of knowledge on higher levels, memories of which form and change over decades from fetus to adult via incessant feedback.

And each individual human is part of a far wider and larger cultural web of human interactions, experiences and learning.

So there are higher level forces at work that supersede mere atomic forces, and that led to our species being able to recognize the world at large and make informed choices, and yet none of those higher level forces need be supernatural in order to be the movers of things on the lower levels.

So once one notes differences in levels of organization, and new laws that apply at wider more all encompassing levels, and how new things can and do emerge out of simpler ones, what problem exists for naturalism as a philosophy? There are questions as to how individual things in nature and the brain-mind function, but as a philosophical worldview it appears as coherent within itself as other worldviews.

Edward T. Babinski said...

Emergence, two propositions:

1) Thoughts appear to require sensory apparatus and sensory input. How many thoughts does an embryo have and what quality are they when compared with the thoughts of someone at a more developed stage of brain-nervous system-sensory apparatus, and after having been raised, socialized and educated? A person left in a sensory deprivation tank soon beings to hallucinated and might even conceivably deteriorate and/or go mad if deprived of sensations for a long enough period. And infants left in cribs all day at overcrowded orphanages who experience little daily human contact experience great learning difficulties later in life, sometimes such difficulties are impossible to overcome because too many neurons and neuronal connections that should have been forged during sensory interactions while young never developed but were pruned away at a young age.

2) The brain-mind system does not focus on and react to individual atoms so much as notice and react to wide vistas relayed via sensory organs, and making sense of such wide vistas takes time and experience. The brain's neurons are constantly reacting, growing, dying, with a trillion inter-neuronal connections constantly altering via use and even altering during dreamless sleep, based on encounters during each day with wide vistas of input from the senses, present and past experiences. So it makes sense to view the brain-mind-body system making sense of the world at large, not merely at the whim of individual movements of atoms, but interacting with wide vistas of sensations, experiences, human knowledge interacting with human knowledge.

Edward T. Babinski said...

Nobel Prize-winning Neurobiologist/Neuropsychologist, Roger Sperry, does a good job providing explaining a naturalist emergentist view of the brain-mind:

“Recall that a molecule in many respects is the master of its inner atoms and electrons. The latter are hauled and forced about in chemical interactions by the over-all configurational properties of the whole molecule. At the same time, if our given molecule is itself part of a single-celled organism such as a paramecium, it in turn is obliged, with all its parts and its partners, to follow along a trail of events in time and space determined largely by the extrinsic over-all dynamics of that paramecium. When it comes to brains, remember that the simpler electric, atomic, molecular, and cellular forces and laws, though still present and operating, have been superseded by the configurational forces of higher-level mechanisms. At the top, in the human brain, these include the powers of perception, cognition, reason, judgment, and the like, the operational, causal effects and forces of which are equally or more potent in brain dynamics than are the outclassed inner chemical forces…”

“We deal instead with a sequence of conscious or subconscious processes that have their own higher laws and dynamics…that move their neuronal details in much the way different program images on a TV receiver determine the pattern of electron flow on the screen…”

“And the molecules of higher living things are… flown… galloped… swung… propelled… mostly by specific holistic, and also mental properties—aims, wants, needs—possessed by the organisms in question. Once evolved, the higher laws and forces exert a downward control over the lower.”

“Evolution keeps complicating the universe by adding new phenomena that have new properties and new forces that are regulated by new scientific principles and new scientific laws—all for future scientists in their respective disciplines to discover and formulate. Note also that the old simple laws and primeval forces of the hydrogen age never get lost or canceled in the process of compounding the compounds. They do, however, get superseded, overwhelmed, and outclassed by the higher-level forces as these successively appear at the atomic, the molecular and the cellular and higher levels.”

Edward T. Babinski said...

Sperry (continued from above) concludes:

“This does not mean these (higher forces) are supernatural. Those who conceived of vital forces in supernatural terms were just as wrong as those who denied the existence of such forces. In any living or nonliving thing, the spacing and timing of the material elements of which it is composed make all the difference in determining what a thing is. As an example, take a population of copper molecules. You can shape them into a sphere, a pyramid, a long wire, a statue, whatever. All these very different things still reduce to the same material elements, the same identical population of copper molecules. Science has specific laws for the molecules but no such laws for all the differential spacing and timing factors, the nonmaterial pattern or form factors that are crucial in determining what things are and what laws they obey. These nonmaterial space-time components tend to be thrown out and lost in the reduction process as science aims toward ever more elementary levels of explanation.”

One might add that taking simple elements found in rocks and arranging them into just the right configurations can lead to the production of not just another rock, but a computer (perhaps even a ‘quantum computer’ one day).

“In determinism, humans are not free from the higher forces in their own decision-making machinery. In particular, our model does not free a person from the combined effects of his own thought, his own impulses, his own reasoning, feeling, beliefs, ideals, and hopes, nor does it free him from his inherited makeup or his lifetime memories. All these and more, including unconscious desires, exert their due causal influence upon any mental decision, and the combined resultant determines an inevitable but nevertheless self-determined, highly special, and highly personal outcome. Thus the question: Do we really want free will, in the indeterministic sense, if it means gaining freedom from our own minds? There may be worse fates, perhaps, than causal determinism. Maybe after all it is better to be an integral part of the causal flow of cosmic forces than to be out of contact with these—free-floating, as it were, with behavioral possibilities that have no antecedent cause, and hence no reason nor any reliability relative to future plans, predictions, or promises. If one were assigned the task of trying to design and build the perfect free-will model, consider the possibility that the aim might be not so much to free the machinery from causal contact as the opposite, that is, to try to incorporate into the model the potential value of universal causal contact. In other words, contact with all related information in proper proportion—past, present, and future.”

“At any rate it is clear that the human brain has come a long way in evolution in exactly this direction [from determinism to free will], when you consider the amount and the kind of causal factors that this multidimensional, intracranial vortex draws into itself, scans, and brings to bear in turning out one of its preordained decisions; potentially included, through memory, are the events and wisdom of most of a human lifetime. Potentially included, also, with a visit to the library, is the accumulated knowledge of all recorded history. And we can add, thanks to reason and logic, much of the forecast and predictive value extractable from all these data as well as creative insights newly conceived. Maybe the total falls a bit short of universal causal contact; maybe it is not even up to the kind of thing evolution has going for it over on galaxy nine; and maybe, in spite of all, any decision that comes out is still predetermined. Nevertheless it certainly represents a very long jump in the direction of freedom from the primeval slime mold, the Pleistocene sand dollar, or even the latest model orangutan.”

Victor Reppert said...

What you are advocating is is simply not physicalism. If higher levels of organization introduce radically new physical laws, which is, in the last analysis what you and Sperry are suggesting, then this is going to be rejected by card-carrying philosophical naturalists. Higher-order properties, for people like Sperry, introduce causal powers not accounted for by the laws of physics.

If new laws come in at different levels, this makes an extremely good case for intelligent design, which is why positions like these are criticized by materialists. Why do the laws of physics change at convenient times in the history of the development of life on earth. Supervenience to Superdupervenience- Meeting the Demands

David Brightly said...

Victor, Isn't your stance on this rather like that of a man who, shown an audio CD, says, What! How can this contain music? Music is sound and sound is a continuous phenomenon. These dots and dashes you tell me are here are completely discontinuous.

Joe Hinman said...

Blogger Edward T. Babinski said...
Vic, Have you considered the view of atheists that higher more complex holistic laws, forces or behaviors can exist in nature that supersede lower ones without being supernatural?

your use of the term SN is irrational, and meaningless, term was hijacked enlightenment no such term was used in Christian doctrine the way atheists have come to use it,

Hal said...

If one is looking at the sub-atomic level where substances do not exist, does it even make sense to talk about the physical state of the universe? I don't know what it would mean.

In any case for one such as myself who does not claim that the only things that exist are material or physical things, I'm still looking for an explanation of why the fact that there are physical laws it is not possible for substances such as ourselves to have the capacity to think and act rationally.