Date: Thu, 4 Jan 2001 19:36:51 -0500 (EST)
From: Dan Fabulich <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Subject: Re: Placebo effect not physical
>Yeah. "Why can't I, a world-reknowned jazz musician, be considered a
>sculptor? Sculpture is nothing more than a barrier to keep
When you, or I, am sculpting we are "sculptors" ... so you can be
a sculptor whenever you like, though maybe not a world-famous one!
I also think anyone can do "philosophy" but that the peculiar school
of academic or conventionalist philosophy muddies the water and
needs to be got rid of, for clarities sake ..... it obscures rather than
clarifies. If the world of arty-farty sculpturing got too pretentious I
would criticise that also.
S> I am going to argue that your whole case relies on DEFINING
S> everything as "physical" and not allowing anything to exist outside
S> this definition ... you can call it anti-realism or whatever, but
S> your argument is completely vacuous and circular. If "Principles"
S> and "symbols" and "time" are physical (ha, what rubbish) then at
S> least you have to accept they are not "physical" in the same sense
S> of the word as rocks or brains are "physical" ... so what value has
S> this catch-all word "physical" ... none at all.
>No, it has some uses. It has an intension as well as an extension.
>"Physical" doesn't just describe the set of things which do exist, but
>the set of things which could possibly exist. It supports
>counterfactuals, as they say.
This just proves my point. Not only do you define everything that exists
or has been thought of as "physical" but everything that hasn't been
thought of as well! What "uses" do you have in mind, I find this
manoeuvre pointless. You are also committing a well-known error
by conflating "exists" with "physical" (the same strategy that was
used in one of the well-known arguments for the existence of God).
>More to the point, it seems to be in opposition to theories like
>yours. If "physical" meant nothing, or everything, you should be able
>to show that, under my own definition of "physical," your theory is
Absolutely .. under *your* definition of physical MVT is physical!
I just don't find any value in your definition.
>But you can't do that. You theory inherently relies on
>non-physical elements. (Yet you try to claim the scientific
>high-ground and resort to name-calling with cries of "medievalism.")
This is just the way we define things, I don't rely on any "elements"
that are not conceivable within your system, it is just that you want to
call everything physical. Maybe the phantom eye concept is one of
your "counterfactuals" .... but MVT offers several levels of explanation
and doesn't demand a leap of faith into the non-material. I am
happy to provide a descriptive level how the "phantom" pineal eye
operates in terms of neural information, glandular and action potentials,
and thus is experienced in the same way that externally originating
sense-data/ neural information is experienced (as conscious "behaviour").
There is an ADDITIONAL level that MVT/ Third Eye (Kether, Eye of
Shiva, Dharma Eye) can be understood that is beyond and above the
limitation of your syntax and knowledge, possibly, but this meditational
awareness state is not what we are discussing, as I am aware it goes
beyond what can be described by biology and physics. Cultural & mental,
yes, with "consciousness correlates" that have been identified by most
human-era societies as the "source" of spirituality ... but not particularly
identified with your Charvaka (materialist) view ... the philosophy of ash
(or dust ... the view that everything reduces to dust or atoms).
MVT promises to reduce supernaturalism as well as materialism, in
that it explains phenomena in more natural, basic terms. I do not
think, whatever you say, that "time" and "meaning" can be transformed
into atomic quantities (dust in India 2,000bc was thought to be the
smallest particle). If your physicalism is anything more that a tautologous
definition (which I assert it is) then you should have some evidence that
everything is atomic.
S> >Well, my physicalism denies that symbols are anything more than their
S> >physical part. e.g. Writing is nothing more than scratches on paper.
S> So all scratches on paper ARE writing? Ridiculous!
>Forgive me. Scratches on paper that are USED in a certain way by
>people. No non-physical component, unless you consider their use as a
>kind of "logical part," which is misleading.
But your physicalism "denies that symbols are anything more than their
physical part. e.g. Writing is nothing more than scratches on paper" but
now in response to my point you add a qualifier about "USE" made by
them, which seems an intentional quality rather than anything physical.
S> Who apart from a philosopher would talk about "meaning-object" in
S> order to deny straightforward "meaning" ... I bet you do not use this
S> garbage-speech in normal conversation.
>I don't normally have conversations about physicalism. But, I assure
>you, whenever I do, I use these sorts of words and adopt this style of
Exactly, just goes to show how ludicrous philosophy is.
S> Not "out there" anywhere , this is just a lame assumption that everything
S> is physical again .... ideas are properties of the mind (phantom pineal
S> eye) so do not need physical extension.
>Properties of a non-physical object? No good. As far as I'm
>concerned, ideas may be properties of physical objects, or
>second-order properties of properties of physical objects, but at the
>end of the day, it must be a physical property.
But this is pure conjecture, just your "idea", what evidence do
you back this with? I can back up MVT with scientific experiment
>1 a : a comprehensive and fundamental law, doctrine, or assumption b
>(1) : a rule or code of conduct (2) : habitual devotion to right
>principles <a man of principle> c : the laws or facts of nature
>underlying the working of an artificial device
>2 : a primary source : ORIGIN
>3 a : an underlying faculty or endowment <such principles of human
>nature as greed and curiosity> b : an ingredient (as a chemical) that
>exhibits or imparts a characteristic quality
>4 capitalized, Christian Science : a divine principle : GOD
>I clearly didn't mean 2-4 when I said that principles were arrays of
>symbols. (And, hey, if you'd had some charity, maybe you could have
>seen that. This is an area where bad ethos will get you in trouble.
Ah, but my system can cope with ALL the definitions, whereas your
physicalism in my opinion fails to account for any of them.
>Seriously, try to engage with respect and empathy. Try to figure out
>how I could possibly be right. You just might figure out what I meant
>for a change.)
Within your strict set of closed definitions that everything (even
MUST be physical, then you are right, but not otherwise. Anyway, how
do you (of all people) expect me to *read your mind* when all you give out
(and can give out) are physical scratches that I have to read literally!
You are what you say .... whereas I am far, far more because my view
allows for the possibility of any physical *or* non-physical properties.
I can identify with and "understand" fictional characters for instance,
although these fictions cannot be reduced to atoms.
>So I meant definition 1. And laws, doctrines, assumptions, rules, and
>codes are all statements, usually sentences. Sentences ARE arrays of
>symbols. But the key point I was making there is that even principles
>which are not written down as scratches on paper are encoded
>physically in the brain: they are coded statements. The brain is a
>symbolic processor in this sense, just like the Turing machine.
>Principles in the brain are complex arrays of brain symbols.
But in a Turing machine everything is explicit, and somewhere on
the tape you can read these arrays. In the brain they cannot be
observed or detected. What are "brain symbols" anyway, I have never
heard of these .....
S> Are you claiming your strange definition is correct and *everybody*
S> else including the Oxford English Dictionary is wrong?
>No, I claim that you failed to understand what I said, because you
>were looking for a way to make me wrong, rather than looking for how
>or why I could possibly be right. You picked the wrong
>interpretation, instead of the right one. See how that's a waste of
It is not my job to argue your case or to pretend to agree with
you when I do not see any merit in your argument. If I have a choice
then you are not presenting a very water-tight case. To be honest,
I still fail to see how (any kind of) "principle" can be physical.
I don't ask you to agree with my views unchallenged.
> > The brain can't *arbitrarily* change its hardware.
S> The brain is very plastic and continually forges new connectivity ..
S> the *physical neurons* change ... and not just signal routes. Do
S> you deny this? How can ontogeny occur at all by your account?
>No, I don't deny this. But changing physical neurons does not imply
>changing hardware. Babbage's Analytical Engine, a mechanical
>computer, changes its PHYSICAL layout. But it still can't change its
>hardware. The hardware is just the part that it can't change. In a
>normal desktop computer, the hardware is the stuff you can drop on
>your foot, but that's just a coincidence about computers as we build
There are records of young car crash victims who lived an apparently
normal life, but on autopsy it was discovered that only 5% of their brains
had been functioning! If brain damage occurs at an early enough age
it is plastic enough that any part of the brain can take over functions of
any other part ... so you are wrong in fact on this issue.
S> But it isn't like the brain in ANY way ... the brain is distributed
>They are both equivalent in behavior to a Turing machine. Therefore,
t>hey both share the limitations of a Turing machine. One of them is a
>distributed parallel system, and the other one isn't. But (pay
>attention now) that is irrelevant to the claim I'm making.
>Distributed parallel systems are equivalent to Turing machines in
>behavior. They can't do anything a big fast Turing machine couldn't
We have already decided that *real-time* responses cannot be
simulated. Neither could a big Turing machine have evolved.
>Does that mean that I'd build one? No, but that doesn't matter.
>What matters is that they share the same limitations. Whatever
>behavior the one couldn't exhibit, the other couldn't exhibit either.
The brain can develop entirely new modules (eg. the neocortex)
in response to changing environmental demands, how would your
Turing machine do this?
>Neither one can change their own "hardware," by definition.
Wrong, see above. I suppose you might be right in the case of
some artificial silicon neural-computers, since these are designed
and manufactured, but this is not true of brains, which are plastic.
S> You persist with the old hardware/ software language that just doesn't
S> cut it when examining neural computers .... there is not software, just
S> weight-states ... evolution sculpts the response directly.
>What's wrong with calling that software, exactly?
Because it isn't arrays or streams of signals (code), it is electrical
charge only .... there is no symbolic equivalent. You get the two
types of computers to behave similarly, but the method by which they
reach this behavior is not equivalent or even similar. Your Turing
or von Neumann machine also has electrical pulse, but this is not
what you mean by "software" ... and nor is the same as "weight states"
as these carry different information than logic gate arrays &c.
> S>So, I'm not telling you that the brain's circuitry is analogous to the
> S>circuitry of a Turing machine, but that the brain's hardware, the part
> S>that cannot be changed internally, is equivalent to the Turing
> S>machine's hardware.
S> There is not a scrap of evidence for this ... what studies do you cite
S> And which parts of the brain are you saying are non-plastic?
>Look, I'm not going to *bother* to cite this no-brainer. Some
>characteristics of the brain are non-plastic. The fact that the brain
>can't change the laws of physics implies that the laws of physics can,
>if need be, serve as the non-plastic element. I'm not making a very
>large assumption here, but important conclusions follow from this
The Laws of Physics might be unalterable, but where do these disagree
with the proven facts (can provide car crash refs if needed) that the brain
(pretty much all of it) can be reconfigured for different tasks, and that
and neurones are constantly dying, creating new connections, and even
physically migrating during early brain formation.
S> Why *should* we do that ... why adopt such ludicrous and
S> anti-intuitional way of talking .. nobody actually does this. I can
S> make equally as strong a case that the physical is an epiphenomena
S> of the mental, and that everything is an "illusion" and that nothing
S> is physical .... but I would rather assume that both physical AND
S> non-physical entities can happily co-exist. MVT allows me that ... I
S> am not forced to adopt such extreme and unwieldy positions as either
S> materialism or idealism (both worn-out philosophical jargon worlds).
>Because materialism is scientific. Materials can be scientifically
>verified. Phenomena cannot. No other philosophical theory, including
>MVT, can claim the scientific high ground. We need nothing more than
>the materials to explain everything material. Why invoke the ideal
>when we have a science of materials?
But only "materials" can be verified (molecular descriptions?) by
science, whereas you widen the claim for physicality to everything,
even principles, which cannot be verified as materials. No way.
S> All you are saying is that there is a lessening only in *degree or type*
S> physicalness ... that the phantom effect of the pineal eye is less
S> than the actual cellular structure that has gone ... whereas I take the
S> further view that abstract images can only be formed by an abstract
S> sense-organ (memory of physical organ, if you like). The language
S> but maybe this is not a significant difference .. the philosophy and its
S> jargon just gets in the way here.
>If you like. But it seems that one way of using this jargon has
>considerably more intuitive appeal than the other, though we disagree
>which one has that status. If you like, this may be an argument from
>intuitive grounds as to which jargon we ought to use. But this is not
>an idle concern. Our jargon shapes the way we view the world and
>interact with it. It fundamentally shapes what theories we will
>accept and which we will not. So, if that's irrelevant to you, we can
>skip the philosophy, and leave it up in the air as to which jargon has
>more intuitive appeal.
Yes, ditch the philosophy by all means. It is quite inadequate.
I argue for a post-human aesthetic that can embrace the
powerful new vocabulary and world-view that MVT offers. The
many various mental phenomena can all be described using
the evolutionary narrative (scientific) offered by MVT, whereas
the old philosophical jargon offers nothing. I disagree with you
that functionalism solves Leibnitz Law , by the way, on any
level other than by linguistic contrivance. MVT offers a constructive
reconciliation by means of the virtual generic sensor as a bridge.
> >My incapacity to point to something doesn't mean that it's not
> >physical. But no matter.
S> I think you have big problems here ... the essence of being physical
S> seems to be that there *should* be something you can point to, or at
S> least detect by the instrument of physics. Without any objective
S> your claim to the physicallness of such "unpointable to" things is weak
S> at best ... and is eminently challengeable by idealists and others.
>Not very. All physical objects can be pointed to. You cannot point
>at any properties, however. Time is a property of a physical object.
>It is not a physical object, but it is a physical property. Same
>thing with length. You cannot point to two inches, but you can point
>to objects which are two inches long, and no non-physical things have
>the property of being two-inches long.
God is a fictional character .... he cannot be pointed to so is not
a physical object ... but how is he a "property of a physical object?"
What you call a "physical property" could equally well be described as
S> "Physical" here might mean "hallucinatory" or "mental" .... fictional
S> even? What exactly do you mean by "physical" since you use it
S> to describe some very, very different things. Can one thing be
S> "less" physical than another? If so, then you have a scalar system,
S> and at one extreme of the scale will be "non-physical" things.
>Because even under idealism there will be a difference between the
>hallucinations of brains and minds. The one will be a "physical"
>hallucination, under that wacky definition, but even then, the mind
>STILL won't be "physical." Same old problem, even under a radically
>bizarre definition of "physical."
Sure, idealism (an human-era philosophical device, like physicalism)
gives some bizarre conclusions ... but no more bizarre than your
view, and equally (or even less) unprovable.
S Yes, which is why (if you have ever read any of my MVT publications) I
S> am careful to avoid identification with any of the philosophical camps
S> I trot out the idealist position just to counter your physicalist
>But it doesn't help *your* position, because you fall under attack
>from both sides. If I have to, I'll take the more general view that
>it doesn't matter which is right, idealism or physicalism, because,
>whichever it turns out to be, your theory is either wrong or
But this "general view" that follows from either idealism or materialism
does not allow ANY explanation of 'consciousness' ...so this bothers
me not in the least. It is the philosophical models that are wrong, not MVT.
S> but I actually think the distinction between phyical and mental is
S> the shape of the body changes the shape of the mind, and the shape
S> of the mind affects the shape and action of the body (Aristotle).
>Aristotle didn't know, just as Descartes didn't know, that the
>physical world is causally closed. That was our original problem,
Quantum physics allows (theoretically) non-causal effects, action at
a distance and so on. We also cannot describe what "Laws" are
in operation at the point of singularity in a black hole. On macro-level
description, Aristotle seems to be correct. And we can think, plan
and mentally model (internal thought, not possible to E-2 animals!?)
action before manifesting it physically. The mind affects the body.
>Read that again... I was characterizing a view which you might be
>holding. Are you? I assume not, but if not, it's not obvious what
>you WERE saying.
No, I think that we can never be certain that we are not in trance and
hallucinating, but this does not mean that I think we ARE in trance all
the time ... otherwise it would be problematic to make graduations
between depths and types of trance ... but I do think that certain
individuals (Buddha's) might be more aware/ awake than run-of-the
-mill humanoids, and experience states not accessible to you or me.
S> Just word games, absolutely content-free!
>If that's the case, then the difference between MVT and MVT' is nil.
>One has some extra non-scientific content-free statements. Hmmm.
I make it plain (I hope) that some parts are scientifically based
premises, and that there is a stronger case that relies on the whole
aesthetic, circumstantial and pattern-completion (elegance) case
to support claims ... which ultimately rely on opinion. But I think the
scientific observations and evolutionary account for why animals
behaviour that was externally controlled by sunlight and glandular
reactions in the pineal eye ALSO cover areas such as how ectothermy
became supplanted by internal (endothermic) behavioural strategies
and why this COULD NOT occur while the external clock/ pineal eye
existed as a cellular structure.
I take the next step in drawing attention to similarity between properties
modern E-1 consciousness and the (known) properties of the physical
median eye (non-transferability, generic wholeness &c, 6 are listed in
my book & film). There may or may not be experimental means to PROVE
that the old median eye is the template for modern types of mental phenomena
such as the pervasive "self" ... but the MVT account for how and why REM
arose in evolution, and similarities between night-time median (direct or
physical) vision in cold-blooded E-2 animals and DREAM mentation that
we have ... are fairly apparent.
If the loss of the pineal eye explains how & why modern brains AND their
accompanying mental life evolved, then this is our best shot at clearing up
associated problems (Globus' and Menakers's theories in physiology) and
getting rid of philosophical quandaries. I challenge you to suggest another
natural/ physiological scenario that resolves Leibnitz Law ... Putnam
just doesn't cut it.
S> I have a scalar view which is actually neither physicalist, idealist or
S> dualist .... MVT is adequate on all explanatory accounts, whereas your
S> fictional and unbuildable Turing machine view is no better than a
S> medieval supernaturalist account .... you have no evidence.
No, I don't call you anything here, just ridicule your idea.
>And, I argue, the reverse of the case: MVT FAILS under
>all explanatory accounts. It's no good under idealism, no good under
>physicalism, no good under dualism (even scalar dualism), it's just no
>good, unless you resort to equating MVT with MVT', which is an
>acceptable interpretative manoeuvre, but makes your theory no theory of
>consciousness at all.
MVT doesn't fail .... Idealism, Dualism and Physicalism fail!
Bye bye to failed lingoistic philosophy. None of these accounts
resolves the mind-body problem .... physicalism might try to deny
the mental, but still cannot overcome the Identity = Interchangeability
issue because the thoughts of the brain ARE NOT the cellular matter
of the brain, however you cut it (even as "properties" or "conscious
behaviour.") They may correlate with, but are not "fully interchangeable"
since the language used to describe each type is different.
S> But your epiphenomenalism has to show that everything runs exactly
S> the same whether people can "think" or not, and the placebo case
S> clearly refutes this. "Thinks" is a consciousness term.
>I put scare quotes around "thinks" to indicate that I meant my
>anti-realistic "thinks." It's the behavior of your thinking, the
>physical part of your thinking, the bit that, formally speaking, a
>philosophical zombie could exhibit without having any thoughts at all.
>Thinking and acting like you're thinking are not the same; the second
>part is what I mean when I say "thinks."
>Simply by making the patient do the physical part, the placebo works.
>No mental elements need be involved. "thinks" is a shorthand for
>brain states, not for non-physical ghoulies and gohesties which you'll
But if you claim this, then "brain states" and "thinks" are the same thing,
so you can substitute one for the other in any sentence without changing the
meaning? Is this what you are saying?
>Yes, meaning is as physical as an air-wave.
I can measure sound in decibels, or with an air sock.
It has location, speed, frequency and other physical
How do I measure "meaning" ..... what tests can I do
and what physical measurements do I take, using
S> But no one can read the internal state of a neural computer
S> because it is a dynamic system ... the memory does not "exist"
S> as stored until some hook or other activates a state similar to a
S> previous pattern that evokes a "memory". I think you are confusing
S> "program" with "constraints" .... a neural computer "learns" by exposure
S> to lots of examples .. and makes its own patterns from these ..
S> This is how a humanoid infant learns to talk .. by being talked to ..
S> and listening to voices in the world, and NOT by being given a
S> book on the rules of grammar or a English primer. Same with neural
S> computers ... no programmers or software .... just reward for correct
S> and absence or reward for wrong, and it figures out the patterns for
>When I simulate a neural network that does this on my desktop, is it
>exhibiting a program or constraints? I'm not conflating these;
>they're the same. The presence or absence of a human programmer
>doesn't imply that it's not a program.
I disagree that a serial simulation is identical with a physical, parallel
instantiation ... they may exhibit behaviour that we think is equivalent,
but one is algorithmic and provable at any point, and the other is not.
Also I deny that you can even simulate RGA circuits on your laptop.
The difference is much the same as between a stage-play (simulation)
that is based on events and characters in real life. Your programmed
version is an artificial construct .... there are clear operational
between the two .. which is why hybrid systems have been designed
to maximise the respective strengths of both systems. Connectionist
glue between von Neumann databases does seem to be more efficient
than either one or the other.
Of course, reciprocally, there is not task that can be performed by a
(dumb but fast) Turing machine or von Neumann that cannot be done
using parallel distributed architectures ..... but I do not claim that
somehow von Neumann processors are REALLY neural computers,
or that neural architecture has *anything whatsoever* to do with their
design or evolution. They are just a (less optimised) alternative!
S> The link is in the identification with phantom pineal eye sensation
S> as "self" owned or originating .... we "own" our thoughts and feelings
S> in a way that your robot cannot, it is a closed physical system,
S> we have a "non-cellular" component.
>No, this is not an explanation. You don't explain why we necessarily
>have a feeling when we have physical (in)capacities. Here, you just
>re-insist that we DO.
The medical literature on why (in ALL cases of recorded traumatic
organ loss) we have phantom sensations explains this point adequately.
There is a necessity about such phenomena, not a voluntary choice.
S> The whole-part fusion of physical brain with phantom organ of generic
S> is enough to provide us with an experiential gestalt, we can reintegrate
S> action-potential signals into the whole experience because our brains
S> instantiate a sensor out of the very same type of action-potential
>No. There's no gestalt when one link in the chain is missing: the
>link between the physical (in)capacities and the feelings, on your
The neurosignatures are generated along with 'phantom eye'
information thereby identifying this information as "self" originating,
but distinct from signals originating at the retina and so on.
I accept Melzacks' neuromatrix theory of self, by and large.
S> But you cannot move from "can" to "does" ... so your speculation
> carries no more weight than the supernaturalists, perhaps the
S> Scientologists who think we are possessed by Thetan demons ..
S> both accounts work in theory to cover any potential type of experience,
S> but neither are true in practice.
S> Start from the phenomena, look at how the brain IS constructed, and
S> the case that the brain is a neural computer (or cluster of) is
>Neural computers, all of them, are Turing machine equivalents.
No ... as discussed above, I can simulate all the behaviours of a
Turing machine on neural systems, but they are not identical.
You fail to take on board my point that (theoretically .. and not
in practice since your Turing machine has never, and will never
be built, since as we decided earlier it is "daft") the THETAN
DEMON of the scientologists *could* do anything your Turing
machine (until it ran out of tape or demands exceeded the
wit of its army of programmers/ homunculi) could do. But
the two things are not equivalents. You accept that the Turing
machine is running neural simulations in lock-step (very fast,
but not INSTANT) .. and so you fail on your equivalence claim
just on the real-time property alone .... and I think there are further
> >When we design a functional human-equivalent AI, it will obviously be
> >a Turing equivalent. Will you be in the camp of philosophers who will
> >insist that it still cannot be conscious?
S> Go ahead and do it ...... if you can. But even if you achieve it YOU
S> deny it can be "conscious" because of your strange physicalist beliefs.
>I asked you a question. This was not an answer.
I answer this point by saying the type of "consciousness" would be
different either from (a) silicon neural systems, or (b) E-2 brains ...
the type of "self" that self-referential consciousness has are different
by the very natures of the things. We are evolved, organic lifeforms.
I do not know whether insects have a rudimentary consciousness or
not, but if they do I suggest it would not be equivalent to humanoid.
S> And you are talking only about a "human EQUIVALENT" .. I and MVT
S> are talking about the real things and how they actually DID evolve, not
S> some simulation fiction!
>The simulation tells us facts about the reality. It's like how math
>tells us about physics.
But the only simulations in silicon of EVOLVED intelligent are with
reconfigurable hardware and neural computers. And why look
at simulations in preference to the real things ... at best they are
a substitute. I argue that the best simulations (neural computers)
are based on study and reverse engineering of actual brains
rather than purely conceptual models such as you describe.
Maths is the language of physics by and large, not a simulation.
Big particle accelerator chambers &c. and "experiments" are
the simulations of physical events, maths is just a terminology.
I am interested in building MVT-based machines in which
components are removed and self-organisation thereby allowed
and stimulated (of both hardware or in software/ simulation).
However, while these computers might be useful slaves, I expect
to gain more understanding of E-2 consciousness (behaviour)
by using MVT model in a psychotherapeutic context. Real life
is better than contrived simulations and robotic toys.
M.V.T. - - Opening of the Primal Eye
and the anti-sophical enlightenment
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