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Forums > Social Discussion > Can physical events have non-physical causes?

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onewheeldave
GOLD Member since Aug 2002

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Posted:An attempt to keep an existing thread from distraction.



Written by: quiet


psyrush: do you think that physical events can have non-physical causes?





Written by: Mynci


Written by: quiet


psyrush: do you think that physical events can have non-physical causes?





I do.....all human physical events start with a mental cause.





So, can physical events have non-physical causes?


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simian


simian

110% MONKEY EVERY TIME ALL THE TIME JUST CANT STOP THE MONKEY
Location: London

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Posted:Written by: i8beefy2
....the brain [controlling] everything else like a computer ... [requires] positing a completely unnecessary, untestable non-physical thing that can interact physically with physical things.





Does it? confused



How so?


"Switching between different kinds of chuu chuu sometimes gives this "urgh wtf?" effect because it's giving people the phi phenomenon."

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nearly_all_gone
SILVER Member since Aug 2004

nearly_all_gone

Pooh-Bah
Location: Southampton, United Kingdom

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Posted:Epiphenomena = tongue , it just describes a lack of our ability to translate effectively as humans, ie you can't describe red with words, because it's not a word or a concept, it's a colour. It assumes far too much which is definitely human is universal.

What a wonderful miracle if only we could look through each other's eyes for an instant.
Thoreau

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i8beefy2
GOLD Member since Mar 2003

i8beefy2

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Posted:That was the second option in that sentence. The second quoted part refers to the first option.

Either:
1. We are stymulus-response based (IE cause-effect, causally determined), the one I think is a simpler, better explanation... because

2. The body is like a computer (brain the keyboard / monitor if you will) which is controlled by this unexplanable and completely wierd idea of a non-material soul, like a user at a computer. THIS posits the unnecessary thingy I was talking about.

OR

3. Everything is mind / illusion, some sort of idealism and we deny the material world all together. This has it's problems, and if Quiet is floating around somewhere I know he is particularly against this viewpoint, though I don't think I've ever really heard him explain his reasoning, just point at a bunch of philosophers and say they proved it wrong. I don't quite agree with that, and think this is still a possibility... but 1 still seems to be the simplest answer.

Don't know what this Epiphenomena thing is... Explain?


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simian


simian

110% MONKEY EVERY TIME ALL THE TIME JUST CANT STOP THE MONKEY
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Posted:Epiphenomenalism theorises that our conscious mind is a production of our brain activity but doesn't have any causal effect on our actions.



which is different from saying that our conscious mind is a production of our brain activity and deterministic.

(which i reckon is the case. i also reckon that i have free will.)



i don't think Nearly All Gone understands the term in the same way as me though confused (it's like poi terminology all over again, what is mind? what is an airwrap? wink )



This thread has gone so far offtopic that it ain't never coming back ubblol


"Switching between different kinds of chuu chuu sometimes gives this "urgh wtf?" effect because it's giving people the phi phenomenon."

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i8beefy2
GOLD Member since Mar 2003

i8beefy2

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Posted:A little diversion to explain terms and concepts was necessary to follow the line of reasoning though...

So, if I get this right, epi-whosamawhatsit-ism is like behavioral psychology in a way?

That is, all our actions are determined by physical stilumus activity, and consciousness is a completely unimportant factor as it is essentially a neutral, or atleast powerless, observor of the input / output? If so, a simple reference to cognitive dissonance theory might evidence against this, though it ALSO sounds kinda like self-attribution theory (we are observors and explainers of our behavior, but are not openly conscious of the reasons for our actions while performing them... or somethin like that).

Eh.


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jeff(fake)


jeff(fake)

Scientist of Fortune
Location: Edinburgh

Total posts: 1189
Posted:Yup, topic is way off in the distance and simian seems to think I'm proposing epi-whaeveritscalled.

The information I do have is that our being aware of making a 'descision' occurs ever so slightly after the 'descision' was made in our subconscious (this is based on evidence from CAT scans and it was a few years ago I heard about it so things might have moved on). Also it takes about a tenth of a second for information to travel from the tip of our toes to our brain but for some reason we aren't aware of it. It is suggested that brain backdates the information. Also I'm pretty darn sure that if somone were to follow every molecule and jolt of electricity in someone's body at no point would we find anything supernatural happening.

If we can get back to the original question however I think it's a matter of whether you are 'spiritual' or not. Since such people tend to have slightly, umm, unconventional approaches to reason and logic further discussion with them here is pointless: they think they are right ergo they are right.


According to Heisenberg's Uncertainty Principle of Quantum Dynamics, we may already be making love right now...

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simian


simian

110% MONKEY EVERY TIME ALL THE TIME JUST CANT STOP THE MONKEY
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Posted:Epiphenomenalism states that consciousness has absolutely no causal effect on actions (eg. You are sitting in the passenger seat, thinking you're driving)

i think it's effectively disproven by this conversation we're having. Rubbish theory really...

i reckon everybody self-attributes quite a bit though. But sometimes (not often wink ) we fairly undeniably think, then act.


"Switching between different kinds of chuu chuu sometimes gives this "urgh wtf?" effect because it's giving people the phi phenomenon."

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simian


simian

110% MONKEY EVERY TIME ALL THE TIME JUST CANT STOP THE MONKEY
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Posted:Jeff:

Aha, that research IS the reference i was originally asking for.

(as opposed to the link to a fairly rubbish description of something we both knew the definition of anyway)



Although still no reference to the research means i remain a little sceptical...



And you are espousing epiphenomenalism, no?


"Switching between different kinds of chuu chuu sometimes gives this "urgh wtf?" effect because it's giving people the phi phenomenon."

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jeff(fake)


jeff(fake)

Scientist of Fortune
Location: Edinburgh

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Posted:Written by: simian

i think it's effectively disproven by this conversation we're having. Rubbish theory really...



That logic doesn't follow. Nothing we can do can't be atributed to a complex of responses.


According to Heisenberg's Uncertainty Principle of Quantum Dynamics, we may already be making love right now...

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simian


simian

110% MONKEY EVERY TIME ALL THE TIME JUST CANT STOP THE MONKEY
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Posted:ok, replace "prove" with "shows beyond reasonable doubt" rolleyes



Written by: jeff(fake)
The mind appears to be a construct of the brain rather than some kind of descision making prosces.





This is your original point which i'm taking issue with.



You don't see how i think that the act of engaging in this conversation makes that demonstrably false? If our minds are not providing the reasoning\motivation involved in this decision making process, then something else is (Component X).



What is it that makes "component x" non-identifiable with "mind"?


"Switching between different kinds of chuu chuu sometimes gives this "urgh wtf?" effect because it's giving people the phi phenomenon."

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nearly_all_gone
SILVER Member since Aug 2004

nearly_all_gone

Pooh-Bah
Location: Southampton, United Kingdom

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Posted:Written by: simian

i don't think Nearly All Gone understands the term in the same way as me though confused (it's like poi terminology all over again, what is mind? what is an airwrap? wink )


I don't think nearly_all_gone understands at all. Because he is thinking about epiphenomenal qualia, as opposed to epiphenomena in a substance dualism sense. Sorry redface ubblol


What a wonderful miracle if only we could look through each other's eyes for an instant.
Thoreau

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i8beefy2
GOLD Member since Mar 2003

i8beefy2

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Posted:If I am not mistaken, Mr. Fake's interpetation can still be correct, and not be disproved by this conversation. All descision making becomes stimulus-response complexes, and we simply attribute our causal influence on the behavior because consciousness is simply another effect of the process of the stimulus-response, and not a true causal agent.

May even be taking it as far as saying that consciousness is completely seperate and all behavior is subconscious based as per last post... however I don't see why it is even necessary to take it this far, as we can just relegate consciousness to an effect of the stimulus, and at that, one which comes AFTER the actual behavior, and attributes things to it post-facto. In this case, there is no component X, unless you want to call it causal necessity. Consciousness becomes nothing but a process to help influence future causal responses for the survival of the organism.

Simian however wants to claim (I think) that because there is the choice to engage in the conversation, that the mind is a genuine, seperate causal agent in the behavior, and not merely an effect of the complex stimulus-response process. ie we are conscious of most of our stimulus's and choose to behave a certain way, instead of reasoning back to our behavior and merely thinking we had some kind of guiding force on the behavior.

Quite the quagmire, as I can see reason to support both. Pulling quickly from psych again, we have cognitive dissonance and self-attribution theories... let me explain.

This guy did an experiment where they told people they were doing measurements on motor performance. They had people turn square pegs, the most boring task they could come up with... for forty five minutes straight. They then told them that the person who normally prepared the next person (who was actually another researcher) was sick, and they wanted him to lie about the activity to the next person, telling them it was very fun and exciting, instead of the boring task that it was. The participants were divided into two groups, those paid $20 to lie (about $100 by today's standards) and those paid $1 (obviously much less).

BOTH groups tried to sell the experiment as hard as the other, lying just as well. Afterwards, they were asked whether they enjoyed the experiment. The group that was paid $20 almost always said it sucked, and the group that got paid a $1 almost always said it was enjoyable. There are two explanations for this (and keep in kind, the original researcher was looking at cognitive disonance during the Skinner / Behavioral Theory years, and was specifically trying to discredit that stimulus-response approach).

Cognitive Dissonance says that Because the $20 group had adequate reason to lie, they didn't have to modify their perceptions of the task in order to lie. The $1 group, however, did. This is because the lack of retribution for lying created this abstract "cognitive dissonance" which the mind tried to limit to as close to zero as possible (little or no CD in the $20 group, because they had a strong REASON to lie, the others didnt). Since the $1 group couldnt change the fact that they had to lie about it, they changed their perceptions of the task instead, telling themselves that it really WAS fun and interesting to do it. Ha! Behaviorism is disproved!

But then came along this other guy (Bohm I think?) who had self-attribution theory. He claimed that we are no better than observors of our behavior, just like an outside observor. We look backwards to find the answers to those questions, step by step. So the $20 group looks back to the lie, and says, "yeah I lied, but I was also paid $20 to do it" so they look back an extra step and say "No wait, that actually DID suck" and answer as expected. The $1 group looks back to the lie and says "Well I lied, but I wouldn't lie for a lousy $1, so I must have been telling the truth" and stops there and answers that they did like it.

... on a side note, the researcher on cognitive dissonance chain smoked to his death, and knew that it was bad for him... How's that for cognitive dissonance. He did however make it clear to his euologers that they should point out he didn't die of lung cancer... just smoking related heart disease. smile

IE what we have here is a similar problem that we are getting at now. Simian seems to lead toward the cognitive disonance answer, and Jeff toward the more behavioral self-attribution theory. Or at least judging from what I am attributing to what the two of you have posted thus far... biggrin

What I mean to point out here, is that this is far from a settled debate in philosophy and psychology as well. But I digress far too much to show a rather simple point...

===

I actually want to kind of learn toward what jeff has been explaining, and the viewpoint that he seems to hold judging from this and other posts I've read from him... however as it isn't even clear to professional researchers what exactly consciousness is, I won't be so hemmed in. I think Im more prone to lean toward consciousness not being seperate but an evolved response though...


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jeff(fake)


jeff(fake)

Scientist of Fortune
Location: Edinburgh

Total posts: 1189
Posted:I'm not at present expousing any particular theory as I don't think the debate is anywhere near being settled. I do think however that the experimental evidence at present leans toward the self-attribution hypothesis but this is a matter of debate. I'm afraid I can't provide references to the CAT scan studies as it was a long time ago and this isn't a field I am proficient in, sorry.

You may wish to consider the Philosophical Zombie in this debate. This is the hypothetical human which lacks any kind of mind/soul but still exhibits all the regular behaviour. The questions are: could they theoretically exist? and could you differentiate between one and a regular human?


According to Heisenberg's Uncertainty Principle of Quantum Dynamics, we may already be making love right now...

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simian


simian

110% MONKEY EVERY TIME ALL THE TIME JUST CANT STOP THE MONKEY
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Posted:oh, this goes a bit disjointed and rambly, sorry...

i don't think cognitive dissonance\behavioural attribution is a matter for either\or schools of thought. Both have their place in explanations of our behaviour.

But to take attribution to the extent of saying that we're robotic philosophical zombies, plus a 'ghost passenger' of consciousness that thinks its in control, is what i reckon is just silly.

The point where a "stimulus-response complex" allows you to have apparently self aware discussions, while another "experiencing complex" experiences qualia which seem to it as if it were making the decisions that are being made by the other process...
*takes breath*
...would seem indistinguishable to me from saying that it is a single complex.

and a philosophical zombie... theoretically possible i think...
but a far more complex proposition than the more obvious alternative.

i can't prove to you that i'm not a zombie
but i can prove to me that i'm not
and you should be able to prove to you that you're not
so it becomes reasonable to assume that people are not
(BTW, thats all with the 'weak' sense of prove wink )

"Theoretically possible" and "Vaguely probable" are quite different beasts.


"Switching between different kinds of chuu chuu sometimes gives this "urgh wtf?" effect because it's giving people the phi phenomenon."

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i8beefy2
GOLD Member since Mar 2003

i8beefy2

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Posted:Hehe, as so often happens in these threads, Im not trying to say you believe the things your trying to explain, only that you are the one saying these things to keep things orderly. As such if I use a phrase like "X says this" I am not attributing that belief to you, only the act of posting it here.

Anyway...

The main point that I see being strong for the stimulus-response thingy is parsimony. It is more simple, as it does not have to go outside the realm of general cause-effect relationships and posit a FREE causal agent, or will. We can explain everything nicely and orderly without creating a new abstract concept that might not be necessary to explain the same thing.

It might not SOUND appealing given how we have been raised to think we're all special and all that, but it does make sense, and can account for itself rather logically. Even the act of learning in new situations can be accounted for somewhat well, as I would think most strict behavioral models would have a bit of an issue with.

Where I think the big hangup is is right where you point at consciousness being an extra feature... Consciousness does not become seperated is merely a ride-along process. It is still right there in the center of everything, however it is not free to choose in the usual sense most people think of "free". It IS free in terms of the individual, but the individual WILL choose a specific way because of who they are, where they've been, etc. Consciousness becomes essentially the process of processing causal relationships from memory, extrapolation, etc.

Where I would expect you to go from here is to ask if consciousness is simply this processing step, what makes it different from the subconscious. Selective attention maybe? I don't know. I'm just trying to draw out exactly what the logical consequences or perhaps applications of this silly thing is. biggrin

Zombies... well yeah I suppose that's kinda what I'm getting at.


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simian


simian

110% MONKEY EVERY TIME ALL THE TIME JUST CANT STOP THE MONKEY
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Posted:i totally agree with all of that smile

"Switching between different kinds of chuu chuu sometimes gives this "urgh wtf?" effect because it's giving people the phi phenomenon."

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Akashla
BRONZE Member since Jul 2005

Akashla

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Posted:Keep this up guys, im intrigued.
I had never even heard about epiphenomenalism, never mind philospophical zombies. I was just about to start reading some philosophy texts, as i've always thought that philosophy is something you should think about yourself, before letting someone else think it out for you. But now, i might just wait a little longer...


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I am THE bitch.
And Im Miss Bitch to you.

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Groovy_Dream
SILVER Member since May 2005

Groovy_Dream

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Posted:Did any of you read the article that mo-seph posted? It's quite interesting, and relates well to the idea of zombies. You see, part of our functioning might act like a zombie, for instance, i might have very little or no control over the fact that I'm attracted to girls. But other functions, for example which girls i go after or the way i go about it, i might have more control over.



Some psychological processes are difficult to control. A good quote from Carl Jung: "the subconscious is SUBCONSCIOUS", meaning we really have no idea of whats going on in the subconscious. Sometimes thoughts pop into my mind and i have no idea where they came from. I have no problem in admitting that these thought processes are deterministic. The only other explanation is that there is some other deity within me :S, which i doubt.

Some people claim to take control of processes which are normally automated, eg. your heart rate.



There is a constant flux (and possibly a spectrum) between which processes you're in control of and which you aren't.



In response to these questions: could [zombies] theoretically exist? and could you differentiate between one and a regular human?



They could exist, it's only a matter of time before artificial intelligence brings them to life. Whether you could differentiate whether they are people or not really depends on whether things like auras/chi energy etc. are real. If these things are real, you would feel an absence of something in their presence, if not, then most likely you'd have no idea.



Judging from the obsession people get with tamagotchis, the sims, virtual girlfriends or whatever else, it's possible that people won't know or care whether they're interacting with zombie/robots.


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simian


simian

110% MONKEY EVERY TIME ALL THE TIME JUST CANT STOP THE MONKEY
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Posted:Is there any reason that an "artificial" intelligence would lack an "aura" or "chi"? umm



on second thoughts... i'd really prefer not to go down that route.


"Switching between different kinds of chuu chuu sometimes gives this "urgh wtf?" effect because it's giving people the phi phenomenon."

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Groovy_Dream
SILVER Member since May 2005

Groovy_Dream

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Posted:hehe yea i didn't really want to start a discussion on that one, just pose the question...

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quiet


quiet

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Posted:Written by:
3. Everything is mind / illusion, some sort of idealism and we deny the material world all together. This has it's problems, and if Quiet is floating around somewhere I know he is particularly against this viewpoint, though I don't think I've ever really heard him explain his reasoning, just point at a bunch of philosophers and say they proved it wrong. I don't quite agree with that, and think this is still a possibility... but 1 still seems to be the simplest answer.



oi! do a durbs, i've been over the reasoning behind this before elsewhere. i'll do so again, if you wish - albeit in a separate thread, since i'm aware that this is a bit of a hijack. or pm me, i'm happy to rant. but, you know, solipsism/idealism are pretty widely discredited in the philosophical community at the moment. it doesn't mean that they're right - but it does suggest that there are some pretty strong reasons out there.


ture na sig

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