Wednesday, August 5, 2015

David Parker’s response to ‘A provisional reply to David Parker’ posted on July 31

Dear Julius,

I understand the reference to Aristotle, I accept that two bodies cannot be in the same place. But consciousness would not be considered as building a physical representation of the outside world by adding neurons or something else to locations in an already packed brain.

Assuming a physicalist view, consciousness would arise from the activity of the existing infrastructure of the brain, and would be represented in the information relayed between different areas of the brain, either reduced to the anatomy and physiology of the brain in a classical mechanistic sense, or an emergent effect (e.g. field effects) that arises from the summed activity of many components and can in turn influence them, or a non-algorithmic, possibly quantum effect, as suggested by Penrose /Lucas/Hammerhof (which is debated but is contentious to say the least). I suppose an analogy is that a computer programme does not rewire or build onto a computers hardware, but uses existing hardware to run the programme. I know the hardware/software compared to brain/mind has been suggested many times, and is again contentious. But it seems reasonable to suggest that consciousness, in principle, can be a physical reflection arising from the activity of existing neuronal infrastructures. For example, if we chose to we can all in principle make a movement that has never been made before, but by using the same circuitry as used for normal walking; we don’t need a novel structure for each function, we just use what exists in different ways. And while neuron A cannot be in the same place as neuron B, when we do something novel and want to store it in the brain this is possible by changing the properties of, say neuron A, including changes in anatomy (e.g. growth of neuronal processes), so that neuron A is now functionally neuron B.

I suppose an emergent analogy would be a house made of bricks. Brick A, B.....n   are used to build the house. The house, as an object, cannot according to Aristotle occupy the same place as brick A. But it can as the house emerges from the assembly of those bricks, it is separate to them but at the same time present in them. In this case the bricks A...n and the house occupy the same space. Would this be reasonable?

All the best

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