Wednesday, February 26, 2020

see Resistance is not Futile

Bad Reasons to Doubt God

Image result for galaxies in space

This was from 2011. The problem is I should talk about good reasons to doubt God, are there any?

Some guy named Andrew Zak Williams asked well known (suppossedly) atheists why they don't believe in God. This is in the NewStatesman (25, July 2011).

Someone I've never heard of asked public figure atheists:

Maryam Namazie
Human rights activist:
I suppose people can go through an entire lifetime without questioning God and a religion that they were born into (out of no choice of their own), especially if it doesn't have much of a say in their lives. If you live in France or Britain, there may never be a need to renounce God actively or come out as an atheist.
But when the state sends a "Hezbollah" (the generic term for Islamist) to your school to ensure that you don't mix with your friends who are boys, stops you from swimming, forces you to be veiled, deems males and females separate and unequal, prescribes different books for you and your girlfriends from those read by boys, denies certain fields of study to you because you are female, and starts killing in­discriminately, then you have no choice but to question, discredit and confront it - all of it. And that is what I did.

Some people in some religions don't' question, some in some religions do wrong things. That's a reason not to believe in God? Why is it that religious people doing wrong things is a reason to doubt that there's a God but religious people doing good things is only an excuse to examine that person super closely and be hyper critical in an extremely petty way and go after them with a vengeance (like Christopher Hitchens went after Mother Tresa) but it's not a reason to believe in God?

Philip Pullman

The main reason I don't believe in God is the missing evidence. There could logically be no evidence that he doesn't exist, so I can only go by the fact that, so far, I've discovered no evidence that he does: I have had no personal experience of being spoken to by God and I see nothing in the world around me, wherever I look in history or science or art or anywhere else, to persuade me that it was the work of God rather than
of nature.
Of course this guy hasn't looked at my list of 42 God arguments has he? When people say this is usually turns out they have never really evaluated a God closely they just go by the surface "feel" of their attitudes. When they do actually go toe to toe I can take you though point for point and show you why they don't win. The next day of course they out there saying "there's no evidence." I have been through month long knock-down-drag-out debates and wound up with atheists virtually admitting there has to be "something there" yet the next day saying the same mistaken stuff I disproved the day before. In my Internet argument career I found several atheists, maybe six, who actually admitted they would no longer be atheists any more because of my arguments.Of course the much more common result is that they usually wind up saying things like "O well logic doesn't really mean anything, arguments aren't proof, proof is not proof."

Actually, in my view, the answer "I don't see the evidence stacking up to prove it" is really the only good answer to the question. I really don't mean to criticize anyone who says this. The one doesn't see it stacking up that way is understandable and acceptable as a valid answer. It's when they work overtime not to see that bothers me.

Kenan Malik
Neurobiologist, writer and broadcaster

I am an atheist because I see no need for God. Without God, it is said, we cannot explain the creation of the cosmos, anchor our moral values or infuse our lives with meaning and purpose. I disagree.
Invoking God at best highlights what we cannot yet explain about the physical universe, and at worst exploits that ignorance to mystify. Moral values do not come prepackaged from God, but have to be worked out by human beings through a combination of empathy, reasoning and dialogue.
This is true of believers, too: they, after all, have to decide for themselves which values in their holy books they accept and which ones they reject.
And it is not God that gives meaning to our lives, but our relationships with fellow human beings and the goals and obligations that derive from them. God is at best redundant, at worst an obstruction. Why do I need him?
This is a classic sort of answer based upon classic misconceptions. Belief in God is not predicated upon the need to explain things (with the one exception of sense of the numinous and other co-determinate related sensations). The areas he mentions: explain cosmos, anchor morality, give meaning, I have never seen atheists pass my challenge to produce their own systems that offer even one or all of these three things. I have yet to see an atheist advance a moral system that can get past my cirteria for a valid grounding of moral axioms. When atheists talk about meaning in life their whole its an exercise in cross purposes before form the get go they can't mean real actual universal meaning; their concepts of meaning are relative, private and discordable.

Beleif in God is not about explaining the physical universe. We don't need arguments about he inapplicability of the universe to predicate rational warrant for belief. I urge everyone to read my list of 42 reasons and pay special attention to the religious experience arguments. Yet I have never seen an atheist answer the Cosmological argument with anything but duplicity and question begging and putting the problem off through logical loops that bring up more problems than they solve (I refer to Infinite causal regression).

Take that last part:

And it is not God that gives meaning to our lives, but our relationships with fellow human beings and the goals and obligations that derive from them. God is at best redundant, at worst an obstruction. Why do I need him?
Yes it is precisely God who does that. I have not seen an atheist ever provide me with a basis for such meaning that isn't either the privatized relativist meaning that just amounts to giving yourself an award, (it means something to me, of course my life is meaningless against the backdrop of eternity but it's ok it's my little meaning--which I get form silver age DC comics). He's just begging the question with this statment then redudantly echoing "why do we need him?" Because you can't make your own meaning. That's the special Olympics startegy of meaning "You all won a gold medal just for being you." Not to put down the special Olympics. that's fine for self esteem but it's not a basis for real meaning in life.

Susan Blackmore
Psychologist and author
What reason for belief could I possibly have? To explain suffering? He doesn't. Unless, that is, you buy in to his giving us free will, which conflicts with all we know about human decision-making.
O brilliant! Free will is disproved by what we supposedly know yet I choose not to believe in God. Of course if we have no free will (human decision making is where she puts the emphasis for determinism) then what means does she use to refuse to believe in God? It's obviously not something she figured by her own intelligence because it's determined. It's cut and dried, no free will remember? We know it, it's a fact beyond dispute. you are not smart for being an atheist and you didn't choose to be one. That means also means atheists are stupid for mocking and ridiculing religious people because no one chooses remember?

In fact it is not a done deal, is not proven. There is good scientific evidence that we do have free will.

Veto Power

Glenn Miller, Christian Think Tank:

"The studies of neuronal timing by Libet has demonstrated that conscious will exerts a veto effect on action sequences initiated at an unconscious level [Journal Consciousness Studies:1.1.130; CS:TSC:342f]. In other words, an unconscious process may get a muscle ready to move, but when that readiness becomes 'visible' to the conscious mind, that conscious mind can let the action continue, or shut it down! Elsewhere [CS:TSOC:113], Libet explains the implications of this veto-power, over against those who would ASSUME that even the veto was "upwardly caused":

"It has been argued that the appearance of the conscious veto would itself require a prior period of unconscious neural development, just as for conscious intention; in such a case even this conscious control event would have an unconscious initiating process. However, conscious control of an event appears here after awareness of the impending voluntary action has developed. Conscious control is not a new awareness; it serves to impose a change on the volitional process and it may not be subject to the requirement of a preceding unconscious cerebral process found for awareness. In such a view, a potential role for free will would remain viable in the conscious control, though not in the initiation, of a voluntary act. These findings taken together have a fundamental bearing on the issues of voluntary action, free will and individual responsibility for conscious urges and actions."

In case you didn't get that--the veto cannot have antecedent unconscious processes (before it becomes aware) , since it only appears in as the initiated action has ALREADY become aware--it controls with a go/no-go decision THEN.
This is why I avoid harangues about free will vs determinism. Determinism is self defeating because if they are right there's no sense in arguing about positions you are determined by genes or whatever to defend even though without those influences you would be free to reject a position that had you not been influenced by those influences that control you would be wrong anyway. It's not as though you can convince the other side, they are determined to be against you.

Richard Dawkins
Evolutionary biologist
I don't believe in leprechauns, pixies, werewolves, jujus, Thor, Poseidon, Yahweh, Allah or the Trinity. For the same reason in every case: there is not the tiniest shred of evidence for any of them, and the burden of proof rests with those who wish to believe.
So, why don't you believe in God? This is so obviously just an attempt to slander belief by classing it among ideas we all know are false and which are discredited long ago; but then it's a just a pretense, and a stupid one, to assume that belief in God is like belief in these contingent myths that have nothing to do with God. They all fit the atheist straw man propaganda about "superantuarl." Of of cousre they have nothing to do with the Christian concept of Supernatural. For this reason I find it hard to take Dawkins seriously. This is not a serious reason to disbelieve. "I disbelieve in God because I don't believe these things that are totally different from God."

Then Dawkins goes on to give a perfect example of slippery reasoning. He illustrates exactly what we meant by "a greasy debater" back in high school and college debate.

Even given no evidence for specific gods, could we make a case for some unspecified "intelligent designer" or "prime mover" or begetter of "something rather than nothing"? By far the most appealing version of this argument is the biological one - living things do present a powerful illusion of design. But that is the very version that Darwin destroyed. Any theist who appeals to "design" of living creatures simply betrays his ignorance of biology. Go away and read a book. And any theist who appeals to biblical evidence betrays his ignorance of modern scholarship. Go away and read another book.

He starts by saying "can you make a case for a general concept of God apart from any tradition?" then his reasoning against doing that is based upon a specific God of a specific tradition. Never mind the fact that he's only using bad bits from one part of the Bible, never mind that the Bible is not the only basis for Christian concepts, he would have to deal with the real thinkers of the tradition and he stays as far away from them as he can, but the fact of it is he's doing what he said he's not going to do. In both cases, both paragraphs he's basing his reasons on things that have nothing to do with what he's supposed to be arguing about. This classic case of mis direction is exactly what we mean by "propaganda."

His assertion that Darwin destroyed any part of Christian belief is pure ignorance. It' no state secret that only the most primitive literalists are displaced by Darwin. Here's the kind of stupdity that really seals my opionoin of this clown:

And any theist who appeals to biblical evidence betrays his ignorance of modern scholarship. Go away and read another book.

That kind of backward stupid thinking that makes my job so tough. My job: explicating Christin theology to people who mock and riducle it but don't seek to understand it. The reason this is so pathetic and puerile is because the average atheist who hasn't studied logic and doesn't know about textual criticism reads that and get's the legalistic idea that one dare not refer to a book to prove that book. Of cousre atheists do that all the time. They want to prove Dawkins is right tthey look in his books and compare what it says to other things. Do that with the bible and they all go "you can't do that that's circular reasoning." This is exactly what I've been fighting for a month on message board. I show that there are eight levels of verification in the Gospels that refer to older works that the gospels draw upon and rather than example a single bit of that evidence they call "you can't prove a book with that book."

Here's what they are confusing, and Dawkins is purposely leading them in the confusion:

Fundie says: the Bible is the inerrant word of God

skepic: how do you know it is

Fundie" It says it is in verse X.

Obviously you can't prove the authority of a book by the books own statement of it's own authority. That's about the idea of having outside proofs that demonstrate the validation of the book. Obviously there could be statements in a book that refer to external touchstones that show you how to prove the books own veracity. That's why why people defend Dawkins books. The Bible can and does have the same kind of touchstones. The Bible says the walls of Jericho came tumbling down. Archaeology finds the walls they did tumble their tumbling is consistent with the Biblical account, that's an external verification mentioned din the book. The atheist fundie, the Dawkamenaltist says "no you can't do that that's a rule" (of Dawkamentalism).

The reasons for unbelief are just as shallow and silly seeming as the reasons for belief (given by many). What one should be doing rather than evaluating other people's reasons is seek for one's own. Ask yourself what you believe and why you believe it. Then ask yourself if your reasons for belief or unbelief really satisfy you. One can have total absolute assurance of God's reality but that's different from an objective reason that will convince others. The way most people reason about things it's clear that objective well argued reasons are just not important in terms of convincing others. One need only seek truth in one's own hear to find God. There's no problem with doing that. It' snot illogical it's not wrong it's not violating some secret rule of logic. The main problem is it's not satisfying, because you can't use it to convince others, but that's becuase one is concerned with the views of others. We can also have rationally warranted reasons to believe. See my God argument list.


Brap Gronk said...
Regarding your comments on Maryam Namazie’s section:

“Some people in some religions don't' question, some in some religions do wrong things. That's a reason not to believe in God?”

No, that is not a reason not to believe in God, and that is not what Ms. Namazie is saying.

“Why is it that religious people doing wrong things is a reason to doubt that there's a God . . .”

It isn’t a reason to doubt that there’s a God, and that is not what Ms. Namazie is saying.

What she is saying is that for some people (and this is very dependent on the culture), the only reason to eventually question the existence of God is when you have a reason to question what people are doing in the name of God. If you grow up in a culture where almost all of your family and friends are believers, and nobody ever does anything to you that you consider wrong (using religion to justify it), you have no reason to question why. However, if you grow up in a culture like she presumably did, where many things are done in the name of religion that she considers unfair (especially toward females), then it is reasonable to question those actions and try to determine why. She asked “why” enough that she eventually got to the point of asking why people believe in the existence of God, and she apparently felt the evidence was less than convincing.

She was giving her personal account of what started her on the journey to question the existence of God. She certainly did not connect all the dots.

“but religious people doing good things is only an excuse to . . . but it's not a reason to believe in God?”

No, what people do as a result of their beliefs has no bearing whatsoever on the validity of those beliefs.
Joseph Hinman (Metacrock) said...
He Brap, long time no read from.

I respect your comment but I disagree. Questioning what people do in the name of god is fine and necessary but is not a reason to disbelieve in God. That's illogical. To care what people do in the name of God is to imply a tacit belief in God.
Brap Gronk said...
"Questioning what people do in the name of god is fine and necessary but is not a reason to disbelieve in God. That's illogical."

Agreed, but at least it gets some people started in that direction. That's all she's saying. Lots of steps on that journey, as most people who have crossed the line (in either direction) will confirm.

"To care what people do in the name of God is to imply a tacit belief in God."

How so? If someone attacked you or treated you unfairly in the name of some other god that you knew didn't exist, would you care?

(Replies may be delayed. Headed to Schlitterbahn . . .)
Joseph Hinman (Metacrock) said...
all gods point to God; the reality behind all the different cultural constructs.

Sunday, February 23, 2020

Return of the Trump Attack

Last Thursday a Trumper attacked my essay on the death of Democracy. I put my answer on Resistance is not Furtile.

Now he's back
It takes a turn for the  dark and mysterious,

 Joseph Hinman (Metacrock) said...
Anonymous said...
"Listen you are totally unaware of what is happening in the world today..."

Sez you, wiener.

Hinman: name calling just proves that you have not the intellect to argue on an intellectual level, 

"You don't want to see truth Look at the way you try to dismiss the facts by sledging they are my personal problems."

Anonymous: They are your personal problems, among so many others.

Hinman:you know nothing about me,

,Me: "The law says when the house impeaches a President the Senate must have a trail. It's the law."

Anonymous:You are not even honest enough to look at the facts,

Hinman:that is a fact. You just proved that you can't handle facts.

Anonymous:I not only look at them, I actually understand them.

Hinman:OK show me how the house did not impeach the pretender and how the senate trial is not mandatory.

"You are giving me a meaningless hypothetical."

Hinman:Your abortion thing was totally irrelevant, you are dodging the issue.

Anonymous:It's based on the actual question posed to him based on YOUR telling of it.

Hinman:the Issue I wrote about was how the senate in fixing the trial so it was not a real trial set trump above the law destroyed the system of checks and balances and turned america into a dictatorship. It has noting to do with abortion that is totally irrelevant,

Me: "you dismiss the evil he does"

Anonymous:I dismiss nothing. I dismiss your understanding of what he's done...your imaginings of what he's done. I dismiss YOU.

Hinman:He's destroying the country. Pull your head out and look at the truth, 65,000 people are going to die every year because of that selfish little creep's destruction of pollination laws.That's real it;s proven stop hiding from truth.

"People like you have turned Christianity into a mockery."

Anonymous:  Sez the guy who tries to insist the Holy Spirit affirms the acceptance of homosexual behavior and abortion.

Hinman:when did I ever say anything of the kind? You are brain washed. You can't reson about the truth because you are afraid of those who are not in the cult,

Anonymous:There is no such law. The Senate is only conferred with "sole authority" to do so, just as the House has "sole authority" to impeach. Doesn't mean either is required by law to do either.

Hinman:they are required to have a trail they did not they had a joke
7:36 PM
Blogger Joseph Hinman (Metacrock) said...
"45,000 people a year will die in the future because he took away protections on air pollution."

Anonymous: Speculation of a most biased kind.

Hinman:No I can document it with studies, no Magic trump make believe, its fact. it's science.

Read my research

How many lives? Trump balance sheet

"You are living in a dream."

Anonymous:You're a nightmare.

you can;t face the facts, you can't answer you call names because you can't face the truth,

"He has no skill or achievement."

Anonymous:Demonstrably false. I don't mean "demonstrably false" in the way Dan uses the expression. I mean it's easy to note his skill and least it is for honest people. Find an honest person and ask.

Hinman:All the major people who have been around him say he can't read, that;s been documented in source after source.He was born into wealth, he has no skill in business he was born rich ,it doesn't matter who talented he may be he set himself above the law..

"He did not make the economy better, Obama did!"

Anonymous:Obama said the crappy economy was the new normal and that Trump would need a magic wand to make it better. You can't cite one policy of Obama that did anything to improve the economy, much less explain how it did.

Hinman:No Obama did not say that, The economy tubed under Bush Obama got itgoin again it improved every year he was in,

"he stole the office and you are putting materiel gain over spiritual truth, you are spiritually bankrupt."

How did he get all those states to give him the electoral votes needed to win? That would indicate a level of skill even I didn't ever attribute to him!

it wasn't very many states, he did not win by a big margin and the popular vote he lost outright.The Dems used poor campaign savy and didn't campaign in the rust belt

Material gain is how normal people measure economic improvement, given that economic improvement indicates material gain.

not due to anything he's done,

You wouldn't know truth...spiritual or otherwise...if it kicked you in your lady parts.

that is a lie of satan I know Jesus I don't think you do. every argument you've made is about selfish monitory gain, You are not the least bit concerned about people, or about truth or justice. you are afraid to examine the facts.

"yes! I am sick,"

Wow. A breakthrough.

Your little trump cult is destroying Christianity,
7:42 PM
Blogger Joseph Hinman (Metacrock) said...
"...because the what mindless cretins like you have done to sell your souls to wolves in sheep's clothing"

Don't know any mindless cretins who aren't you. I didn't sell my soul to anyone.

you sold your soul to the republican party, you have no idea what the gospel is about,you have adopted a salvation by works doctrine in which good works are measured by political rightness, and being anti abortion.

I voted for a guy who promised things that would improve life for the entire nation,

He has bot fulfilled a single promise he made, Has Mexico paid for the wall? smell the coffee

someone who wasn't Hillary Clinton, and my risk has paid off nicely. He's done far more that has aligned with the Christian faith than Hillary would have, and more than most center-right presidents of the past have done.

He's turned it into a laughing stock, I have been dining Christian apologetic on the net for 20 years, people i;v been trying to the Lord for years just laugh about the idea of "finding Jesus: because to them Christianity has been disproved,it's hypocritical,

Indeed, rather than destroying the faith, he's helped it out rather well.

how? SHOW ME ONE REASON. Because you feel your enemies will be crushed not becasue anyone is finding the Lord, your kind of
chrisiabity os based on hate , you couldn't care less if people go to hell

YOU, on the other hand, continue to mock the faith with your many heresies.

You amuse you know you don;t know enough about theology to even define heresy, you think not being republican is heresy,

Jesus warned us against the likes of you and Dan.

who? who the hell is Dan?

We who don't fart around with the faith or truth know who Trump is. We also know who YOU are.

like he;s the messiah you really are in a Trump worship cult. you say i'm heretical? If not worshiping Trump is makes, me a heretic then I'm a heretic. No you to tell me openly and honestly what exactly you mean by know whotrump is? who is Trump? who the hell is

Wednesday, February 19, 2020

Mind is not Reduceable to Brain Part 2

Image result for brain/mind issue

Empirical Data:
There is No Empirical Data that proves reducibility

            Both sciences and the general public have come to accept the idea that the mind is dependent upon the brain and that we can reduce mental activity to some specific aspect of the brain upon which it is dependent and by which it is produced. Within this assumption neuroimaging studies are given special credence. These kinds of studies are given special credence probably because the tangibility of their subject matter and the empirical data produced creates the illusion of “proof.”[1] Yet EEG and MRI both have resolution problems and can’t really pin point exactly where neural activity is located.” In short, neuroimaging studies may not be as objective as some would like to think. There are still large gaps between observation and interpretation – gaps that are ‘filled’ by theoretical or methodological assumptions.”[2] Learning is not hard wired but is the result of “Plasticity.” This plasticity is what allows us the flexibility to learn in new situations. This means that most of our neocortex is involved in higher level psychological processes such as learning from experiences.[3] Our brains are developed by new experiences including skills acquisition.[4] Exercise and mediation can change the brain.[5]
            Classical psychological reductionism assumes the mind is essentially the brain. Mental behaviors are explained totally in terms of brain function. Mental states are merely reduced to brain states.

But while it may be true that certain psychological processes are contingent on some neurophysiological activity, we cannot necessarily say that psychological processes reduce to ‘nothing but’ that activity. Why not? – Because much of the time we are not dealing with cause and effect, as many neuroscientists seem to think, but rather two different and non-equivalent kinds of description. One describes mechanism, the other contains meaning. Understanding the physical mechanisms of a clock, for example, tells us nothing about the culturally constructed meaning of time. In a similar vein, understanding the physiological mechanisms underlying the human blink, tells us nothing about the meaning inherent in a human wink (Gergen, 2010). Human meaning often transcends its underlying mechanisms. But how does it do this?[6]

Reducing mind to brain confuses mechanism with meaning.[7]
            Raymond Tallis was a professor of Geriatric medicine at University of Manchester, and researcher, who retired in 2006 to devote himself to philosophy and writing. Tallis denounces what he calls “neurohype,”  “the claims made on behalf of neuroscience in areas outside those in which it has any kind of explanatory power….”[8]

The fundamental assumption is that we are our brains and this, I will argue presently, is not true. But this is not the only reason why neuroscience does not tell us what human beings “really” are: it does not even tell us how the brain works, how bits of the brain work, or (even if you accept the dubious assumption that human living could be parcelled up into a number of discrete functions) which bit of the brain is responsible for which function. The rationale for thinking of the kind – “This bit of the brain houses that bit of us...” – is mind-numbingly simplistic.[9]

Specifically Tallis has refernce to experiments where the brain is scanned while the subject does some activity and the differences are attributed to some structure in that part of the brain. Tallis is highly skeptical of this method.

Why is this fallacious? First, when it is stated that a particular part of the brain lights up in response to a particular stimulus, this is not the whole story. Much more of the brain is already active or lit up; all that can be observed is the additional activity associated with the stimulus. Minor changes noted diffusely are also overlooked. Secondly, the additional activity can be identified only by a process of averaging the results of subtractions after the stimulus has been given repeatedly: variations in the response to successive stimuli are ironed out. Finally, and most importantly, the experiments look at the response to very simple stimuli – for example, a picture of the face of a loved one compared with that of the face of one who is not loved. But, as I have pointed out elsewhere (for the benefit of Martians), romantic love is not like a response to a stimulus. It is not even a single enduring state, like being cold. It encompasses many things, including not feeling in love at that moment; hunger, indifference, delight; wanting to be kind, wanting to impress; worrying over the logistics of meetings; lust, awe, surprise; imagining conversations, events; speculating what the loved one is doing when one is not there; and so on. (The most sophisticated neural imaging, by the way, cannot even distinguish between physical pain and the pain of social rejection: they seem to “light up” the same areas!)[10]

Hal Pashler’s study, University of California, San Diego is discussed in an an editorial in New Scientist, he is quoted as saying  “In most of the studies that linked brain regions to feelings including social rejection, neuroticism and jealousy, researchers … used a method that inflates the strength of the link between a brain region and the emotion of behaviour.”[11]

While no empirical data proves reducibility, some empirical data seems to support irreducibility. The mind cannot be reduced to the brain alone.

Some empirical data supports claim:

            There are, however, empirical data that imply that brain is not necessary to mind. One such datum is the humble amoeba. They swim; they find food they learn, they multiply, all without brains or brain cell connections.[12]  Various theories are proposed but none really answer the issue. Stuart Mameroff (anesthetist from University of Arizona) and Roger Penrose, Mathematician form Cambridge, raise the theory that small protein structures called microtubules found in cells throughout the body. The problem is they don’t cause any problem with consciousness when damaged.[13] Nevertheless, the amoeba is a mystery in terms of how it works with no brain cells. That leads to the recognition of a larger issue the irreducealbity raises the question of consciousness as a basic property of nature. Like electromagnetism, there was a time when scientists tried to explain that in terms of other known phenomena, when they could not do so they concluded that it was a basic property and opened up a branch of science and the electromagnetic spectrum.[14] David Chalmers and others have suggested the same solution for consciousness.

The late Sir John Eccles, a neuroscientist who won the Nobel Prize for medicine in 1963 for his work on brain cell connections (synapses) and was considered by many to be one of the greatest neuroscientists of the twentieth century, was perhaps the most distinguished scientist who argued in favor of such a separation between mind, consciousness and the brain. He argued that the unity of conscious experience was provided by the mind and not by the machinery of the brain. His view was that the mind itself played an active role in selecting and integrating brain cell activity and molded it into a unified whole. He considered it a mistake to think that the brain did everything and that conscious experiences were simply a reflection of brain activities, which he described as a common philosophical view:

'If that were so, our conscious selves would be no more than passive spectators of the performances carried out by the neuronal machinery of the brain. Our beliefs that we can really make decisions and that we have some control over our actions would be nothing but illusions.[15]

Top Down Causation
confirming irreducibility

            Or downward causation, as seen in last chapter: “Top-down causation refers to the effects on components of organized systems that cannot be fully analyzed in terms of component-level behavior but instead requires reference to the higher-level system itself.” [16]

*problem of binding

            There is a problem with understanding what it is that binds together the unity of a conscious experience. We have many different kinds of conscious faculty at work in the process of being conscious, symbolic thinking, literal thinking, sense of temporal, sense of reality, and physical perceptions. Somehow it all gets brought together into one coherent sense of perceptions. How are the individual aspects, such as color, form, the temporal, and united into a coherent whole experience? Unification of experience is not achieved anatomically. There is “no privileged places of structures in the brain where everything comes together…either for the visual system by itself or for sensory system as a whole ” [17] McDougall took it as something that physicalilsm can’t explain.[18] Dennett and Kinsbourne recognize the phenomena marking top down causation and acknowledge it, they spin it as undermining unity.[19] The old approach was to assume there must be an anatomical center for binding. Without finding one the assumption was that it couldn’t be explained. Modern explanations of unity are based upon a functional approach.

The essential concept common to all of them is  that  oscillatory electrical activity in widely distributed neural populations can be rapidly and reversibly synchronized in the gamma band of frequencies (roughly 30-70 Hz) thereby providing a possible mechanism for binding.” (von der Malsburg 1995). A great deal of sophisticated experimental and theoretical work over the past 20 years demonstrates that mechanisms do exist in the nervous system and they work in relation to the normal perceptual synthesis. Indeed Searl’s doctrine of biological naturalism has now crystallized neurophysiologically in the form of a family of global workspace theories, all of which make the central claim that conscious experience occurs specifically and only with large scale patters of gamma band oscillatory activity linking widely separated areas of the brain. [20]

In other words if consciousness was reducible to brain chemistry there should be an anatomical center in the brain that works to produce the binding effect. Yet the evidence indicates that binding mechanisms must be understood as functions of various areas outside either the brain (nervous  system) or  in different parts of the brain which means it can’t be reduced to just a physical apparatus but is systemic and that is indicative of top down causation.

* Projective activity in perceptual process

            Our brains act as a sort of “word generating virtual reality system.”[21] That is the brain is constantly projecting and updating a model of the perceptual environment and our relation to it. Top down cross modal sensory interactions have been recognized as the rule rather than the exception, in perceptions, as several studies indicate (A.K. Engle et al, 2001; Shimojo and Shams 2001). [22] Evidence indicates that the ultimate source of projective activity may originate outside the brain. A great deal of knowledge is put into action for use in understanding language and in writing. Some researchers have advanced the view that the fundamental form of projective activity is dreaming.[23]

*Semantic or intentional content; word meaning and other form of representation.

This has been dealt with traditionally through reductionism. Representations were said to work by resembling things they represent. This was disproved by Goodman and Heil (1981). [24] In cognitive psychology there is a rule of thumb that meanings are not to be conceived as intrinsic to words, they are defined by the functional role they play in a sentence.  The major approach to the problem used now is connectionism, from dynamic systems theory. The meaning of a given response such as settling of a network into one of its attracters or firing of a volley of spikes by a neuron in the visual cortex is identified with the aspect in the environment that produces the response. This account can’t deal with abstract things or non existent things. There’s nothing in the environment to trigger it. Responses do not qualify as representations nor signs as symbols. “That something,” as Searl so effectively argued (in 1992) “is precisely what matters.”[25]

*problem of Intentionality

            Intentionality is the ability of representational forms to be about things, to reflect meaning and to be about events and states of affairs in the world. [26]  The problem of intentionality has plagued both psychologists and philosophers. Intentionality is inherently three ways, involving the user, symbols, and things symbolized. Searl tells us that intentionality of langue is secondary and derives from the intrinsic intentionality of the mind. “Intentionality can’t be obtained from any kind of physical system including brains.”[27]

*The Humunculus Problem

            The Homunculus was a medieval concept about human reproduction. The male was said to have in him little men just like him with all the basic stuff that makes him work that’s how new men get born. In this topic it’s the idea that we need in the mind another mind or brain like structure to make the mind work. The problem is it keeps requiring ever more little structures to make each one before it work; in endless regression of systems. Kelly and Kelly et al site Dennett’s attempt to solve the homunculus problem in the form of less and less smart homunculi until the bottom level corresponding to heard ware level end the recursion so it’s not infinite. (Dennett 1978)[28] Searl (1992) responds that there has to be something outside the bottom level that knows what lower level compositions mean. Cognitive models can’t function without a homunculus because they lack minds, as Kelly tells us.[29]

No homunculus problem, however, is posed by the structure of our conscious experience itself. The efforts of Dennett and others to claim that there is such a problem, and to use that to ridicule any residue of dualism, rely upon the deeply flawed metaphor of the Cartesian theater a place where mental contents get displayed and I pop in separately to view them. Descartes himself, James, Searl and others all have this right: conscious experience comes to us whole and undivided, with the qualitative feels, phenomenological content, unity, and subjective point of view all built in, intrinsic features. I and my experience cannot be separated in this way. [30]

[1] Brad Peters, Modern Psychologist, “the Mind Does not Reduce to the Brain.” On line resource, blog, 2/4/12
URL:   visited 5/3/12
Brad Peters, M.Sc. Psychologist (Cand. Reg.) • Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada
[2] Ibid.
[3] ibid
[4]Schore, A. N. Affect regulation and the origin of the self: The neurobiology of emotional development. Hillsdale, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates. (1994).
See also: Siegel, D. J. The developing mind: How relationships and the brain interact to shape who we are. New York, NY: Guilford Press. (1999).
[5] Peters, op cit.
[6] ibid.
[7] K. Gergen, The accultured brain. Theory & Psychology, 20(6), (2010).  795-816.
[8] Raymond Tallis New Ideas for Godless People (blog—online researche) volume 124 Issue 6 (Nov/Dec 2009) URL:  visited 5/9/12
[9] ibid
[10] ibid
[11] quoted by Tallis, ibid.
[12] Science Research Foundation, “Science at the horizon of life,” independent charitable organization in UK 2007-2012. On-line resource, UFL:  visisted 5/2/12
[13] ibid
[14] ibid
[15] ibid
[16] Mary Anne Meyers, “Top Down Causation, an Integrating Theme…” Templeton Foundation Symposium, Op cit. (no page number listed).
[17] Edward F. Kelley and Emily Williams Kelley, et al, Irreducible Mind: Toward a Psychology for the 21st Century. Boulder, New York, Toronto: Rowman and Littlefield Publishing Inc, 2007/2010, 37.
[18] Ibid. 38, referring to W.McDougall, Proceedings of scientific physical research 25, 11-29. (1911/1961)..
[19] ibid. 38 refers to Dennette and kinsbourne in Consciousness Explained. (op cit) 183-247
[20] ibid, sites C.Von der Malsburg, “Binding In Models of Perception and Brain Function.” Current Opinion in Neurobiology, 5, 520-526. also sited Crick 94; Dehaene and Naccache,  2001; Edelmon and Tononi, 2000; Engle, Fries and Singer 2001; W.J. Freeman 2000, and others.

Engle, Fries, Singer cited in Pub Med: See comment in PubMed Commons below
 2001 Oct;2(10):704-16.


Classical theories of sensory processing view the brain as a passive, stimulus-driven device. By contrast, more recent approaches emphasize the constructive nature of perception, viewing it as an active and highly selective process. Indeed, there is ample evidence that the processing of stimuli is controlled by top-down influences that strongly shape the intrinsic dynamics of thalamocortical networks and constantly create predictions about forthcoming sensory events. We discuss recent experiments indicating that such predictions might be embodied in the temporal structure of both stimulus-evoked and ongoing activity, and that synchronous oscillations are particularly important in this process. Coherence among subthreshold membrane potential fluctuations could be exploited to express selective functional relationships during states of expectancy or attention, and these dynamic patterns could allow the grouping and selection of distributed neuronal responses for further processing.

[21] ibid
[22] ibid, 40, he sites A.K. Engle et al, 2001; Shimojo and Shams 2001;
[23] ibid,  41-42 sites Rodolfo Llina’s and Pare’ 1996 Llina’s and Ribary, 1994.
[24] Ibid, 42 see Heil 1981
[25] ibid, 43 see Searl 1992
[26] ibid
[27] ibid, see also studies, puccetti 1989; Dupuy 2000 discussion of issue form opposing points of view).
[28] Ibid see Dennett 1978 and Searl 1992)
[29] ibid
[30] ibid, 44