Monday, March 12, 2018

Brainless Mind vs. No Something from Nothing

Image result for Metacrock's blog



My previous Tie breaker Article was about un-caused God vs, Un-caused universe[1], This One is about Mind vs cause,. William Lane Craig and other Christian apologists have at times argued that we  have no example of anything coning to be without a prior cause. Yet some atheists assert the universe can pop into existence out of nothing with no prior cause merely because we think some quantum particles seem to do that.To which some atheists have been known to respond, "there is no example  of a consciousness without being produced by a brain." Actually there is such an example.

There are these things called "slime molds" they are found under old logs and things, they look like cheese or like,mac and cheese and yellow oatmeal they are causing scientists to re-evaluate intelligence, Farris Jabr tells us:
Single-celled amoebae can remember, make decisions and anticipate change, urging scientists to rethink intelligent behavior...Something scientists have come to understand is that slime molds are much smarter than they look. One species in particular, the SpongeBob SquarePants–yellow Physarum polycephalum, can solve mazes, mimic the layout of man-made transportation networks and choose the healthiest food from a diverse menu—and all this without a brain or nervous system. "Slime molds are redefining what you need to have to qualify as intelligent,[2]
These slime molds seem to be making choices and believing intelligent ways, well ways appropriate to a petri dish.[3] They are not thoroughing wild parties or going to the library. Of course this is a proverbs 26:5  kind of answer.[4] 

The problem is The skeptic is usually claiming that naturalistic explanations account for everything. So it's not unfair to expect that the Skeptic's answer should be empirically observable. since most skeptics of the naturalistic vent claim to be empiricists and many athetists adhere to the maxim don't believe things without empirical proof. At that rate then there should be empirical proof that something could come from nothing rather than merely making faith statements embracing optimistic readings of data that experts argue over.

But what about  other side of the equation? The Theist is not claiming that God is a product of the natural world. The theist is not claiming that God is one of many recurring phenomena. We are saying that God is the basis of all reality, thus God  is off scale form empirical evidence. God is not given in sense data (thus is not amenable to empirical evidence or investigation). The existence of God must be deiced logically or argued in terms of warrant  based upon best evidence, Best evidence can be shaky, It makes no sense to hold this thing that transcends our understanding to comparison to the products of a nature the thing itself created."Science is the study of the natural world through observation and experiment. A scientific explanation is a way of explaining something we see in the natural world that's based on observations and measurements." [5] So then why try to subject God to Scientific evidence? 

It's no good asking then how can one intellectually justify  belief in God? I just alluded to that, Either logical argent or rational warrant, It's not that empirical evidence is not irrelevant but it can't be direct evidence for or against God. For example in my God arguments empirical data is mediated through the notion of the co-determinate; the co-determinate (God's metaphorical finger print) has to be a good logically deduced reason to accept the co-determinate. Examples of recurrence in nature is not going to be one of them. Mystical experience is a valid one because it;s close to the reason for religion in the first place and its an example of divine activity in one's life. It's the ultimate transfomrative experience that enplanes the human problematic. 

Should the Skeptic charge that we are just imposing our limited human understanding on the world, that;s all science is doing. We can see that clearly when  skeptics try to impose the mystique of science upon matters for which they have no empirical evidence but they not only try to pretend that they do but they also try impose those expectations upon religious belief as though God is just another occurrence in nature. But in accessing the implications of mind in nature as a whole, as with all causality, it;s going to come down to the tightness of the correlation, just as it does in accessing naturalistic causality. 

The difference is there is no reason to expect universal mind to be mediated through  naturalistic  brain,  We don't need to expect universal mind to be echoed in the micro examples. But we can understand qualities of mind on a larger scale as with fine tuning  for example. Or with rules change argument  for temple beginning,those would have to be written in at the macro level to make sense. 

I think what both sides are missing is the metaphorical nature of our understanding as a who;e. It;s the metaphors that allow meaning and understanding to literal adherence to the rigid meaning. our understanding of God is metaphor but the experiential aspects are the point of religion.





Sources



[1] Joseph Hinman, "Tie Breaker, God Cannot Be A Brute Fact." Metacrock's Blog (Nov. 7,2017)



[2] American (Nov 7,2012)
https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/brainless-slime-molds/
(accessed 3/12/2018)

[3] Ibid

[4] Proverbs 265, "answer a fool according to his folly." in other words give stupid question stupid answers,
  • on 
















33 comments:

im-skeptical said...

"Single-celled amoebae can remember, make decisions and anticipate change, urging scientists to rethink intelligent behavior...Something scientists have come to understand is that slime molds are much smarter than they look. One species in particular, the SpongeBob SquarePants–yellow Physarum polycephalum, can solve mazes, mimic the layout of man-made transportation networks and choose the healthiest food from a diverse menu—and all this without a brain or nervous system. "Slime molds are redefining what you need to have to qualify as intelligent"

- Perhaps you miss the point of this, Joe. Maybe these signs of "intelligence" aren't as magical as you think. Maybe they're really a mechanical process after all - the product of a large colony of simple processing elements working together. But to you, It appears to be more than that. To you, there must be some "mind" making them behave this way. You're the one who is denying the evidence.

Joe Hinman said...

Perhaps you miss the point of this, Joe. Maybe these signs of "intelligence" aren't as magical as you think. Maybe they're really a mechanical process after all - the product of a large colony of simple processing elements working together. But to you, It appears to be more than that. To you, there must be some "mind" making them behave this way. You're the one who is denying the evidence.

still an indication of mind without brain,what do you think I;m saying?

Joe Hinman said...

how does your explanation avoid giving an example of mind without brain?

im-skeptical said...

how does your explanation avoid giving an example of mind without brain?

- I'm not the one claiming a mind is at work. YOU are. I'm saying that these things are examples of primitive "brains" - that is to say, lots of simple processing elements working together (by following simple rules of behavior) that produce something that looks like intelligence.

Joe Hinman said...

I'm not the one claiming a mind is at work. YOU are. I'm saying that these things are examples of primitive "brains" - that is to say, lots of simple processing elements working together (by following simple rules of behavior) that produce something that looks like intelligence.

Doesn't work that way, the scientists studding the make a big thing out of the fact they do not have brains.Trying to make them into one big brain gives you a more difficult task because there is no proof of the action at a distance connection,

Eric Sotnak said...

Before you can count slime mold behavior as evidence of mind without brain, I think you first need a clear account of what does and doesn't count as a mind.

Also, I'm not sure your example helps that much. Suppose someone claims that every mind we know of has a material basis. Then your slime mold just serves as yet another confirming instance.

Joe Hinman said...

Before you can count slime mold behavior as evidence of mind without brain, I think you first need a clear account of what does and doesn't count as a mind.

why did I tag the slime mold Marguerite as "proverbs what ever?" a loose translation of that passage is "stupid questions serve stupor answers."

the one I'm really consented with is the argument that God is not a product of nature so failure to find divine attributes in nature is not proof that God can't exhibit such tributes,.



Also, I'm not sure your example helps that much. Suppose someone claims that every mind we know of has a material basis. Then your slime mold just serves as yet another confirming instance.

I think that person must prove any mind has a material basis, our only Lakeisha biological organisms. Thatalso evokes my major argument, see above

Ryan M said...

You ought to scrap that slime mold example. The slim mold example is an example of sentience (of a basic sort) occurring without what we normally call a "Brain". But, what the "Minds depend on brains" proposition is intending to communicate is that minds depend on the physical and the physical affects the mind (the physical affects the type of mind that exists, changes in the physical causes changes in the mind, etc), so the slim-mold objection doesn't get off the ground in refuting this.

If the slim mold example was really successful, then many mdernn AI itself would refute the physicalist sort of objection since many modern AIs display what we would call decision making, they improve over time (by their own doing), can learn, etc. Surely though modern AI advancing is actually evidence FOR rather than AGAINST minds depending on brains, so the slim mold example fails.

Ryan M said...

People really need not PROVE any mind has a material basis. If, say, the epistemic probability of minds existing without brains was ".0000000000000000000000000000000001", the theist would surely be in a bad position. Saying "The epistemic probability of minds existing without brains isn't 0!" won't help for the obvious reason that such a standard doesn't absolve someone of irrationality in any situation outside of pure mathematics. The standard of proof in this situation simply cannot be logical certainly, or any quasi equivalent. It being very improbable (given what we know) that a mind exists without a brain is sufficient for the physicalist to continue their project against the theist.

For all practical purposes, 'logical certainty' as a standard is dead.

Joe Hinman said...

Ryan M said...
You ought to scrap that slime mold example. The slim mold example is an example of sentience (of a basic sort) occurring without what we normally call a "Brain". But, what the "Minds depend on brains" proposition is intending to communicate is that minds depend on the physical and the physical affects the mind (the physical affects the type of mind that exists, changes in the physical causes changes in the mind, etc), so the slim-mold objection doesn't get off the ground in refuting this.

Ryan, good to see you again, I know that the point of the mind needs a brain argument is the assertion that the physical is the basis of mid, But you have not proven that argument in terms of all mind. There could be examples of mind that transcend the physical after all mind is actually supposed to be the non physical part of humans, it's just that 20th century reductionism has made that sort of concept seem abhorrent.

German Philosophers like Schweitzer took mind to be synonymous with spirit, and there is a linguistic link the Greek for that view. I think the slime mold thing is a powerful reminder to the naturalist that they don't have it all neatly tucked away,It is a real contradiction t what one shoulod expect.




If the slim mold example was really successful, then many mdernn AI itself would refute the physicalist sort of objection since many modern AIs display what we would call decision making, they improve over time (by their own doing), can learn, etc. Surely though modern AI advancing is actually evidence FOR rather than AGAINST minds depending on brains, so the slim mold example fails.


but they are the epitome of that sort of naturalistic reductionist, they would never link spirit with ind or even keep the concept of mid at all. Remember Denett?

you are saying if this was true they would know it but not if it challenges their ideology,

Joe Hinman said...

People really need not PROVE any mind has a material basis. If, say, the epistemic probability of minds existing without brains was ".0000000000000000000000000000000001", the theist would surely be in a bad position. Saying "The epistemic probability of minds existing without brains isn't 0!" won't help for the obvious reason that such a standard doesn't absolve someone of irrationality in any situation outside of pure mathematics. The standard of proof in this situation simply cannot be logical certainly, or any quasi equivalent. It being very improbable (given what we know) that a mind exists without a brain is sufficient for the physicalist to continue their project against the theist.

For all practical purposes, 'logical certainty' as a standard is dead.

another example of trying to subject God to physical law. God is not a product of nature so he's not going to be anticipated by probability.

Please don't forget what I said about metaphor. WE are only referring to God's will and volition with terms like "mid" because we don't know how to call it but that's only a metaphor for God's form of consciousness, it's not analogous to human mind.

im-skeptical said...

Please don't forget what I said about metaphor. WE are only referring to God's will and volition with terms like "mid" because we don't know how to call it but that's only a metaphor for God's form of consciousness, it's not analogous to human mind.

- So how does slime mold demonstrate ANY kind of mind? It doesn't. It is a simple organism that behaves in some manner like a neural network, with many connected processing elements, each of them individually behaving in a simple way. But when taken as a whole, the behavior becomes more complex. This is similar to a brain. See this article for a description of the behavior.

Joe Hinman said...

skep you need to think about the bull shit you expect people to buy. you think you can set up the notion we don't know what mind is but you expect to buy this bull shit about neural networks. Tt just tells me that you understand there are mind-like behaviors you are trying to explain them in ways that divert us from mind.

go read he article see what they mean by mind.

im-skeptical said...

What article?

7th Stooge said...

The capabilities of the slime mold seem to exceed what the physicalist would expect to find. In other words, there's a disproportionately large intelligent output relative to physical input, suggesting that maybe there's a readiness for mind built into matter.

I think Joe's point is that there's a conceptual distinction between mind (or consciousness) and matter. There's no known instance of mind without a material support or correlate, but the distinction implies that there's no analytic connection between the two things.

im-skeptical said...

The capabilities of the slime mold seem to exceed what the physicalist would expect to find.
- On the contrary. The example of slime mold shows that a relatively simple biological machine with no consciousness can do things that you would attribute to a thinking mind. It tells me that your conception of mind as being necessarily immaterial is flat-out wrong. This example proves it.

Ryan M said...

"I think Joe's point is that there's a conceptual distinction between mind (or consciousness) and matter. There's no known instance of mind without a material support or correlate, but the distinction implies that there's no analytic connection between the two things."

We might speak of mind and matter as distinct in practice, but this seems more like a social issue in our language than anything else. If I broke an arm, I might say "I'm injured", which seems to identify my body with me, but at the same time I might say "One of my arms is broken" which seems to just identify my arm as something I possess. I don't see language of mind vs matter as any different. We often say things that in some contexts make it appear that we believe something that we do not.

Eric Sotnak said...

"If I broke an arm, I might say "I'm injured", which seems to identify my body with me, but at the same time I might say "One of my arms is broken" which seems to just identify my arm as something I possess."

Or how about an utterance like, "I wonder where my mind is" which seems to imply a distinction between me and my mind.

Joe Hinman said...

We might speak of mind and matter as distinct in practice, but this seems more like a social issue in our language than anything else. If I broke an arm, I might say "I'm injured", which seems to identify my body with me, but at the same time I might say "One of my arms is broken" which seems to just identify my arm as something I possess. I don't see language of mind vs matter as any different. We often say things that in some contexts make it appear that we believe something that we do not.

Sorry Ryan I can't help but understand that as an ideological response. There is no proof and no evidence that mind is dependent upon matter in any but the most logistical sense. The notion of transcendent nature of mind still has presumption.

Joe Hinman said...

I think Joe's point is that there's a conceptual distinction between mind (or consciousness) and matter. There's no known instance of mind without a material support or correlate, but the distinction implies that there's no analytic connection between the two things.

well said 7! That sums up my pomposity,

Joe Hinman said...

Eric Sotnak said...
"If I broke an arm, I might say "I'm injured", which seems to identify my body with me, but at the same time I might say "One of my arms is broken" which seems to just identify my arm as something I possess."

Or how about an utterance like, "I wonder where my mind is" which seems to imply a distinction between me and my mind.

You and Ryan seem to be confusing the logistical nature of biological life with the abstract concept of mind. You are assuming the only mind that could be is in nature, you are ignoring what I said about God not being a a product of nature. Arguing that we are no example of universal mind is not a reason to doubt there reality of universal mind, Of course I/m not trying to use the thing I pm arguing for as an example

You are assuring nature is he only valid way to understand reality we don't even understand all of nature.


see 7's comments

im-skeptical said...

... abstract concept of mind ...
Why is it abstract? Most people would agree that people have minds. They're not abstract - they're real. The question is: is it a physical thing?


You are assuring nature is he only valid way to understand reality
I assume that the things we observe in the (physical) world are part of that world. Why shouldn't that be the case? You assume something different. Why is that?

Joe Hinman said...

im-skeptical said...
... abstract concept of mind ...
Why is it abstract? Most people would agree that people have minds. They're not abstract - they're real. The question is: is it a physical thing?

Rather than abstract I should have said "metaphysical assumption." When you start making pronouncements such as "there is no mind without matter," or "there is mind without matter," you are dealing with metaphysics.


Me: You are assuring nature is he only valid way to understand reality

You:I assume that the things we observe in the (physical) world are part of that world. Why shouldn't that be the case? You assume something different. Why is that?

We on't observe minds we only observe the effects of minds,I don't see why non material things can't be in the material world.

For that matter why think of it as a "material world?" It's a world in which there is an abundance of matter doesn't make it only material, that's another metaphysical assumption.

Joe Hinman said...

I will do a whole knew post tomorrow anwering Ryan and Eric and Skep then.

Joe Hinman said...

aahahaha I said "knew" rather than "new."

Ryan M said...

"Sorry Ryan I can't help but understand that as an ideological response. There is no proof and no evidence that mind is dependent upon matter in any but the most logistical sense. The notion of transcendent nature of mind still has presumption."

My point was actually to suggest it is flawed to suppose that mind is distinct from matter due to uses of language. Using Eric's example in a different way, it would be like saying my mind literally has left my body when I say "My mind wandered" after an instance of day dreaming.

im-skeptical said...

We on't observe minds we only observe the effects of minds
- Nobody is saying that a mind is a physical object. But they do say that mind is a physical process. It is a function of the physical brain. Furthermore, we do observe this process. We experience consciousness. It is something that can be studied by scientific means. And it is directly tied to (and dependent on) the physical brain.


I don't see why non material things can't be in the material world.
- OK. What evidence do you have? If you cite mind as evidence, you are only making a presumption (without evidence) that it's not physical.


For that matter why think of it as a "material world?" It's a world in which there is an abundance of matter doesn't make it only material, that's another metaphysical assumption.
- An assumption based on EVERYTHING we observe. If you want to presume that there are non-material things in the world, then show us the evidence.

7th Stooge said...

We might speak of mind and matter as distinct in practice, but this seems more like a social issue in our language than anything else. If I broke an arm, I might say "I'm injured", which seems to identify my body with me, but at the same time I might say "One of my arms is broken" which seems to just identify my arm as something I possess. I don't see language of mind vs matter as any different. We often say things that in some contexts make it appear that we believe something that we do not.

I agree that we often say things that make it appear as if we believe things we do not. That's why we have to appeal to something more than just conventional language use to tell if we really believe the things we say or not. My getting an arm transplant while remaining me makes sense but my getting a consciousness transplant, although it makes superficial grammatical sense, doesn't make logical sense in the same way. Similarly, a physically identical world to this one would have to include my two arms, but that same absolute ncessity wouldn't apply to that world containing my conscious awareness.

7th Stooge said...

Or how about an utterance like, "I wonder where my mind is" which seems to imply a distinction between me and my mind.

There are things in my mind that I'm not aware of like psychological functions, compulsions, etc. That's why there can be and often is a moral distinction between the things that "I" do and the things my mind does.

7th Stooge said...

- On the contrary. The example of slime mold shows that a relatively simple biological machine with no consciousness can do things that you would attribute to a thinking mind. It tells me that your conception of mind as being necessarily immaterial is flat-out wrong. This example proves it.

My point was that slime mold is physically simpler than we might suppose given the sophistication of its responses. Same with amoebae and other single celled organisms. That's not an argument necessarily for immaterial mind, but for humility; no one knows what the nexus between mind and matter is.

7th Stooge said...

My point was actually to suggest it is flawed to suppose that mind is distinct from matter due to uses of language. Using Eric's example in a different way, it would be like saying my mind literally has left my body when I say "My mind wandered" after an instance of day dreaming.

But it's not due just to uses of language but to uses of arguments. Those arguments might be wrong but even if you disagree with, you should acknowledge that they're not merely kernels of naive folk wisdom.

im-skeptical said...

My point was that slime mold is physically simpler than we might suppose given the sophistication of its responses. Same with amoebae and other single celled organisms. That's not an argument necessarily for immaterial mind, but for humility; no one knows what the nexus between mind and matter is.

- And my point was that a collection of simple things can produce a remarkably complex response (which is fully explained in physical terms). How much more complex is the human brain than a colony of slime mold? It stands to reason the the human mind would exhibit proportionally "sophisticated" behavior without any resort supernatural explanations.

7th Stooge said...

I'm not proposing supernatural explanations. I'm saying that no one has a very good idea of the nexus between consciousness and matter. There isn't even an agreed on non-circular definition of consciousness. Physicalists assume a physical reductive explanation, supernaturalists assume a supernatural explanation, but no one has a very good argument or even theoretical framework from which a good argument might someday emerge.