Thought vs Matter/Energy

Discussions on the philosophical foundations, assumptions, and implications of science, including the natural sciences.

Re: Thought vs Matter/Energy

Postby charon on June 13th, 2020, 3:10 am 

Hello again, suz. One day you'll tell us why there are such long gaps between your posts. Perhaps you're practising 'pausing between sentences', what do I know? :-)

I was just over on the Block Universe thread and it's still rambling on for 11 pages. Not much pausing there!

I think it's quite interesting how so many of us are so interested in reality, or the nature of reality. All the ideas, the crazy ideas, the theories, the authorities, the interpretations... it seems to be endless. I was wondering why.

Because we're lost and confused? Because we're not really in touch with things or ourselves? Is it all really such a great mystery?

I'm sure one reason is because we love our theories and confused ideas, the whole indeterminate nature of them. I'm sure that as long as we live in that world of endless thoughts, opinions, ideas, words, notions, and all the rest of it, obviously life will seem confusing. We'll never just settle down and see things very simply as they are.

After all, reality's not really a mystery. It's just there - the birds, the trees, the nature, the whole ghastly world of man, the mess we've made of everything. Also the aesthetic side of life too, of course - everything really. It's all there and of course it's real. But as long as we're caught up in various things, whether scientific, artistic, technical, the various separative worlds of business, military, politics, religion, personal, etc, etc, that's all we'll see.

Fact is, it's all a great whole and one thing. It's our mind, the intellect, which breaks things up and prevents a complete seeing, a holistic perception of life and things as they are.

But I ramble...

I'm not quite sure what your post's about but I see you've mentioned one thing twice, and that's 'cause':

it may be that we are just waiting for the right discovery to reveal a cause


ie. a lack of any cause?


So are you pointing to a possible cause of life or of all things? Is this a search for truth or God?

To find that out surely one has, first, to have an absolutely firm sense of reality, things as they are. We must be solidly in touch with things as they are, not lost in words, ideas and speculations. The feet must be very firmly flat on the ground - no illusions, no deceptions, no delusions.

That's absolutely first. And possibly that's all we can do. But it may be very difficult to see through and be free of all illusion. Illusions come in all sorts of guises. Someone caught in any kind of delusion and unreality at all can't possibly find something beyond what is there factually.

So it seems to me the real quest isn't for something vague and unknown but to see what is and is not illusion. Which means understanding the power to create illusion.

We could talk about that but it would make this post very long so we can't just do that.

The mystics and other thinkers have always said that in order to go beyond reality the mind must be silent - because it's the restlessness of the mind that prevents perception. If there's any noise, agitation, one can't see anything.

Unfortunately they've invented clever ways to quieten the mind but they're all silly - little tricks that don't work. They might put your mind to sleep but that's not silence.

We can't possibly find out if there's an ultimate cause or reason for all that is in a positive sense. We can't go to it because we don't know what it is. All we can do is be in a state of complete negation, which means no self at all. And that can't be brought about artificially either.

So it's a long trip, not just a post or two, and I'm not sure we're ready for that sort of thing here.
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Re: Thought vs Matter/Energy

Postby lateralsuz on June 13th, 2020, 8:11 pm 

Hi The Vat


Absence of a complete explanation is not a warrant to assume that none is forthcoming unless we concoct some novel metaphysical stuff.


I agree - all realistic possibilities need to be kept open until proven otherwise.
The trouble is that the opinion which the public are normally spoon-fed is the determinist view supported by mathematics - presented as the supposed 'gospel truth' - when it isn't.
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Re: Thought vs Matter/Energy

Postby lateralsuz on June 13th, 2020, 8:24 pm 

Hi Charon

In answer to your question - am pursuing truth, or more accurately, trying to avoid being misled.

As you say, we do not know the answer to some aspects of these issues, but when scientists make persistent claims that promote something as definitive when it isn't, and start trying to influence the decisions of ordinary people in their daily lives based on these dubious claims, I do not like it.

However in terms of this post, my starting point was as stated in the OP. I am intrigued to see where people's opinions currently lie, and what the main drivers are for those opinions.
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Re: Thought vs Matter/Energy

Postby charon on June 14th, 2020, 3:11 am 

Suz -

am pursuing truth, or more accurately, trying to avoid being misled


I am intrigued to see where people's opinions currently lie, and what the main drivers are for those opinions.


If you're pursuing truth then you can't bother with opinions. How can you find truth through opinion?
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Re: Thought vs Matter/Energy

Postby lateralsuz on June 16th, 2020, 11:53 pm 

Hi Charon

We seem to be diverting from the subject here - but to quickly answer your question before we return to the topic at hand -

If you're pursuing truth then you can't bother with opinions. How can you find truth through opinion?


When there is an unknown factor, all you can do is speculate about an answer, but that speculation/opinion has to accommodate all known facts - not just some of them. We can then test the speculation to see if continues to be a valid possibility. By testing opinion we may be able to narrow the field of true possibility - but it is also useful to gauge where general opinion currently rests, and what drives that viewpoint even if it is proven to be incorrect.

Determinism only works for the totality of something. In the case of existence as a whole, Determinists will typically say it applies to everything - literally - including our thoughts.

Others like myself say that we might limit determinism to the action of physical things - a different and smaller set than the totality of existence.... but even then it may not even be true for that smaller set, due to the findings from Quantum Mechanics.

Coming back to our earlier conversation, a key test for determinism is inevitability. Despite testing our ideas between us, you still haven't given your final opinion on the 'length of a pause in conversation' as an example of non-inevitability emerging from our minds.... although you did seem to agree with my answers to your initial comments. Does that mean that you are now persuaded that the pauses are not an inevitable length... or are you a determinist at heart?

If such things are not inevitable, (as distinct from just unpredictable), then Determinism cannot be true for everything. An important finding I would suggest.

However if everything is inevitable, and we are effectively playing out a fixed and pre-determined script in our lives, (and indeed across existence as a whole), then there is no opportunity to change anything to make a difference, and I would feel that any perception of our lives would be diminished - and reduced to that of a puppet.
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Re: Thought vs Matter/Energy

Postby charon on June 17th, 2020, 8:41 am 

Suz -

No, we're not diverting from the subject because the subject is part of the whole and we can never find the whole through the part. Even if we put many parts together that's not the whole.

There is something mysterious behind the universe. It's a mystery, it's all things and beyond all things. It's not possible to describe or explain it. Our minds can't grasp it. It can be known in the sense of knowing it exists but it can't be known.

Science has come close to it in their own way but the words they use, however logically derived, are not that. Man also has invented gods but what he invents is not that.

Someone once said anything we say about it is false, is a lie, and there's truth in that.

Knowing that will solve all your problems but it can't be summoned up, there's no way to it.

The determinist/non-determinist arguments have raged for god knows how long. There's a very good reason why they've never been resolved and that's because the mind can't solve it with its speculations, ideas, concepts, theories, or whatever else.

The mind is too small, too limited, too conditioned, too narrow. It's only when one goes beyond all that is there a possibility of finding out. That endeavour is the actual meaning of religion, which has nothing at all to do with competing dogmas, creeds, rituals, priesthoods, wars, the urge for comfort, hope, and all the rest of it. The actual meaning or significance of religion is to transcend limitation and enter a different world.

It might be true that everything is determined in one sense but not in another. It might be true that everything just 'is' but that doesn't explain how it would be possible.

After all, if life is about spontaneous creation, how can it be pre-determined? Everything may have come from nothing but to say that isn't true either because nothing can come from literally nothing. There may be no such thing as literally nothing.

So, basically, life is everything, all the opposites and beyond the opposites...

It's a phenomenon all to itself and we have to enter into that if we're to grasp even a modicum of what it's all about.

Science may come up with the answer in its own terms but - forgive me - what difference does it make? The way they put it is an uncertainty, something to be disputed, argued, or merely agreed on. But at the end of the day we are where we are.

We still have to deal with the vicissitudes of life whether they're determined or not. So what actually matters isn't all this stuff, it's ourselves. It's about what we are, how we live, whether we're confused or clear, whether we're sane or insane, and so on. And that applies to scientists as well, however brainy they are.

When we've sorted out our own mess, which is also the mess of the world, then we can begin. Until then any search is a vain endeavour because we will only find what is knowable, and what is knowable isn't an answer to this.
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Re: Thought vs Matter/Energy

Postby lateralsuz on June 18th, 2020, 10:45 pm 

Hi charon

I think it is defeatist not to try, because until we try we/future humanity can never succeed.
If we can achieve a better choice for us, then trying is worthwhile, even if it is not perfect.

You talk of just living for the moment and dealing with the uncertainties we are presented with, but our choices are influenced by our perceptions and beliefs. If some of those are based on falsehoods then we will inevitably make worse choices than we would do without such falsehoods.

We may not know the full answers, but we can certainly eliminate those things which contradict the evidence - even if they are the current fashionable preference.

Science criticised religion for peddling dogma over reality, but I fear it is now in danger of doing the same itself but to uphold a different set of dogmatic principles.
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Re: Thought vs Matter/Energy

Postby charon on June 19th, 2020, 3:19 am 

Suz -

I hear what you say, but try doing what? Succeed at what? Achieve what?

You talk of just living for the moment


I don't think I did. We can't possibly 'live for the moment'. The past is always there and we need to consider the future.

What we did yesterday matters because it affects today. People are in jail because of what they did yesterday!

Tomorrow there are things to be done. Most projects succeed if they're planned properly.

So living in the moment never means disregarding the past and pretending there's no tomorrow, that's foolish stuff. It means giving attention to the present. If what we do now is correct then it'll be easier tomorrow. What we're doing now will soon be the past and will determine the future.

So attention isn't exclusive, it's all-inclusive. The now isn't an isolated moment in time, in it is the entirety of all existence. All time, all life is now.

dealing with the uncertainties we are presented with, but our choices are influenced by our perceptions and beliefs. If some of those are based on falsehoods then we will inevitably make worse choices than we would do without such falsehoods


Absolutely, we all have to deal with uncertainties because life is always somewhat uncertain. Tomorrow anything can happen so we need to keep awake - which means attention now! Same answer.

But I'm not just waxing lyrical for fun, this is true. I agree we have to battle on doing our best. On the other hand, it matters what we're trying our best to do. Is it sensible in the first place?

So, I'm asking again, what is it we (or you in this instance, regarding your posts here) are trying to do, succeed at, and achieve?

But, also, why? Why do you want to know if everything is determined or not? Or if anything, or everything, is inevitable?

I shouldn't think anything is inevitable except maybe death. Change is absolutely inevitable, including death. Death is change.

So, again, it means keeping awake, not living in beliefs or relying on prior conclusions, or saying tradition is good, and so on. We need as much knowledge as possible - made a lot easier with the internet these days - and applying that knowledge as intelligently as possible.

I'll let you into a secret. I see you have more time now and you're contributing to other threads, which is interesting... but this is the one that matters :-)
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Re: Thought vs Matter/Energy

Postby doogles on June 19th, 2020, 6:16 pm 

I've been having some thoughts about the basis of this thread that "Thought is the only thing that can cause Matter/Energy to deviate from its inevitable chemical path."

It occurred to me that the sea turtle provides a very good example. I may have mentioned a sea turtle years ago as an example of how robotic an animal can be, and how its hard-wired behaviour makes an excellent starting point for a discussion of behaviour. But I'll mention it again to save searching elsewhere.

There is a mud-map of the brain of a sea turtle at the end of this post. The main thing to note is that there is very little cerebral cortex and therefore it should be safe to conclude that there is very little in the way of 'thought' going on. The total size of this brain in a mature sea turtle would equate to that of a little finger.

The fact is that the life of a sea turtle virtually does not deviate from its inevitable chemical path. It is hard-wired to know how to peck its way out of its shell, to climb up through the sand to the surface, to waddle (and in the direction of the sea), to swim, to locate food sources (coral, seaweed, jellyfish etc), to later find a mate, the female of which years later will most probably find its way back to its beach of origin, where the cycle will begin over again.

This is all pre-programmed by a sort of hard-wired series of chemical sequences of Matter/Energy. And it happens without a single lesson from another turtle. It behaves like a robot.

Barring brain damage, the only thing that could change this hard-wired behaviour of a sea turtle would be the capacity to make choices. Choices require rationalised thought. Hence "Thought is the only thing that can cause Matter/Energy to deviate from its inevitable chemical path."
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Re: Thought vs Matter/Energy

Postby charon on June 19th, 2020, 7:12 pm 

There is a mud-map of the brain of a sea turtle at the end of this post. The main thing to note is that...


... it's sideways.
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Re: Thought vs Matter/Energy

Postby doogles on June 19th, 2020, 8:28 pm 

I've been having some thoughts about the basis of this thread that "Thought is the only thing that can cause Matter/Energy to deviate from its inevitable chemical path."

It occurred to me that the sea turtle provides a very good example. I may have mentioned a sea turtle years ago as an example of how robotic an animal can be, and how its hard-wired behaviour makes an excellent starting point for a discussion of behaviour. But I'll mention it again to save searching elsewhere.

There is a mud-map of the brain of a sea turtle at the end of this post. The main thing to note is that there is very little cerebral cortex and therefore it should be safe to conclude that there is very little in the way of 'thought' going on. The total size of this brain in a mature sea turtle would equate to that of a little finger.

The fact is that the life of a sea turtle virtually does not deviate from its inevitable chemical path. It is hard-wired to know how to peck its way out of its shell, to climb up through the sand to the surface, to waddle (and in the direction of the sea), to swim, to locate food sources (coral, seaweed, jellyfish etc), to later find a mate, the female of which years later will most probably find its way back to its beach of origin, where the cycle will begin over again.

This is all pre-programmed by a sort of hard-wired series of chemical sequences of Matter/Energy. And it happens without a single lesson from another turtle. It behaves like a robot.

Barring brain damage, the only thing that could change this hard-wired behaviour of a sea turtle would be the capacity to make choices. Choices require rationalised thought. Hence "Thought is the only thing that can cause Matter/Energy to deviate from its inevitable chemical path", as far as a sea turtle is concerned.

The question is whether these hard-wired drives that govern behaviour can be regarded as a form of determinism.
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Re: Thought vs Matter/Energy

Postby charon on June 20th, 2020, 12:29 am 

There is a mud-map of the brain of a sea turtle at the end of this post. The main thing to note is that...


... it's sideways.
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Re: Thought vs Matter/Energy

Postby charon on June 20th, 2020, 12:34 am 

The question is whether these hard-wired drives that govern behaviour can be regarded as a form of determinism.


That's like saying that an acorn always becoming an oak tree, and not a carrot or a cauliflower, displays determinism.
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Re: Thought vs Matter/Energy

Postby doogles on June 20th, 2020, 1:31 am 

Yes it is in a way Charon, but it applies to a living, mobile, sentient animal as well.
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Re: Thought vs Matter/Energy

Postby charon on June 20th, 2020, 3:08 am 

But why bother with sea turtles? You've said that a sea turtle is hard-wired to do what it does, much the same as the acorn.

One could apply that to most creatures without a lot of brain power. But there's no doubt that animals like dogs and cats make decisions, you can see them doing it. Some creatures probably don't make those sorts of decision whereas others do. I say probably because I'm not sure we really know what goes on in the mind/brain of an animal.

But surely the determinism that Suz is talking about refers to the whole of life and existence? She wants to know if everything is determined or not. I think that's the point here.
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Re: Thought vs Matter/Energy

Postby doogles on June 20th, 2020, 7:24 am 

The main thrust of leteralsuz's OP was "In his book 'Our Existence Part 1 : The Nature and Origin of Physical Matter", Christophe Finipolscie explores a major distinction between the alternate philosophies of Existence - relating to 'Causality'. One phrase he gives us is this:-

"Thought is the only thing that can cause Matter/Energy to deviate from its inevitable chemical path."

I love this quote, but I'm intrigued to see whether you feel this might be true?
"

Charon I see your case of an acorn growing into an oak tree as one of determinism. A growing oak tree is incapable of thought. Its final shape is determined by its genome.

This applies to the life of a sea turtle and I believe to 'most creatures without brain power', as you mentioned. We were asked by lateralsuz as to whether we believe that the statement that "Thought is the only thing that can cause Matter/Energy to deviate from its inevitable chemical path" might be true.

I believe the above examples suggest that Finipolscie could be spot on.

Animals with larger cerebral cortices are capable of thought in my opnion, with the result that they can make choices about how, when and where they manifest their primitive drives, even though the drives themselves are hard-wired and pre-determine animal behaviour to a large extent.

Whether Finipolscie or even lateralsuz were thinking along the same lines as myself, I may never know. But the proposition makes some sense to me if you look at it broadly enough.

Mind you, I can't see a great value in the statement per se, but it sounds true enough to me, and that was the basis of the OP.

You state that lateralsuz wants to know if everything is determined or not. Hmm. The statement by Finipolscie actually implies that any living thing that can indulge in thought, can deviate from its natural chemical path, and she did say that she loved that quote. It will be interesting to read her comments.
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Re: Thought vs Matter/Energy

Postby charon on June 20th, 2020, 8:53 am 

Either everything is determined or nothing is. If it's only partial then it's not. It's like the curate's egg.

Because the acorn will inevitably grow into an oak tree and nothing else doesn't mean everything in life is determined. Whereas it's true that a human fertilised egg will become a human being and not a gooseberry it's not determined how the human being will turn out.

When things go wrong in their life and a human being turns into a serial killer it's usually put down to nature and nurture. Some of it's in that person, some of it's produced by abuse of some kind (although, as in the case of Jeffery Dahmer who apparently came from a nice home, not always).

Or you could say very simply that whatever happens is meant to be - i.e. it's determined from the outset. That's the debate, that's the question no one seems to be able to answer. Theories abound but, as I like to repeat endlessly, theories aren't an answer.,

So we have to find the truth of it. If it is true that everything, right down to the tiniest detail, is determined, then obviously life is extraordinarily cruel - wars, torture, disease, suffering, poverty, depression, suicide, crime, whilst some seem to live a plentiful, happy life...

Then we have the spiritual or religious teachers who point out that we can change, that most of our troubles are self-created, and purport to show us the way out of it all, not that they seem to have succeeded much.

Nevertheless, one could still say it's all meant to be, exactly as it is now. So the fact is we don't really know, do we? Some say God made it all but man has a choice. Others say everything is God so everything is meant to be (and what's more it's good for us). Others say that it's all down to nothing but an inexorable law of cause/effect.

So you tell me what the right answer is, and preferably why!
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Re: Thought vs Matter/Energy

Postby doogles on June 20th, 2020, 5:05 pm 

We seem to be talking about two different things Charon. You are talking about a global form of determinism, while I'm simply answering a question posed by lateralsuz, as to whether I think a quote by Finipolscie is true or not. My examples suggest that barring accidents, "Thought is the only thing that can cause Matter/Energy to deviate from its inevitable chemical path."

It sounds okay to me when I look at the almost universal determinism of the lives and behaviours of all the plants, insects, worms, protozoa and phylogenetically lower marine life. Everything about them is determined by their genomes, which in turn determine each of their inevitable chemical paths.

I'd be interested in lateralsuz's comments on your statement that "Either everything is determined or nothing is"
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Re: Thought vs Matter/Energy

Postby charon on June 20th, 2020, 5:23 pm 

We seem to be talking about two different things


What makes you think that? I said either everything's determined or nothing is. If it's only here and there then we can't say determinism rules, only that certain things seem to be inevitable, like acorns and oak trees.

I know you want to limit it so you can discuss Finipolscie and his theories. But I don't care about Finipolscie. He obviously didn't know what he was talking about.

almost universal determinism


Almost universal? No such thing. Is gravity almost a law? Is the speed of light almost constant?

I agree, tackle it with lateralsuz.
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Re: Thought vs Matter/Energy

Postby lateralsuz on June 22nd, 2020, 9:25 pm 

Welcome to the debate doogles!
And thanks for providing a direct answer to my question. You're one of the few who has.

When charon said...
Either everything is pre-determined or nothing is"


I think that has some element of truth.... but with limits.

It is still possible to say that some things are effectively pre-set in their actions while others may not be. If that is correct then the elements which are pre-set will be influenced and deviated from their otherwise inevitable path by the things that aren't .

So I would say that the 'change' and the associated lack of determinism, is where there there is an interaction between the two.

As an example....

It has been argued many times that the 'inevitable actions of sterile matter/energy' (eg. history of the universe) could theoretically be entirely predicted by a competent scientist, if that stuff was left entirely to its own devices; and we were aware of its totality; and we knew all of its 'rules of operation'. However if you throw living things into the mix, then the outcomes where there is an interaction between them, or with the physical environment is far less predictable. Buildings, termite hills, rockets to the moon, etc. don't occur in nature without the interference from living things.

If Life has the ability to be non-deterministic then it is free to change the mix - but to varying degrees.
I would suggest that the life of a single celled organism will have less of a capability for true change than a turtle, which is less than a dog, which is less than a human.
I know there are microscopic single celled 'carnivorous' creatures which hunt their prey - attacking them with lethal darts that they fire - requiring awareness and targetting if nothing else.

While you are right that turtles have quite a limited range of capabilities - they still have some. They choose which direction to swim in. They search for food, They choose to mate or not.... and in doing this they will minutely affect the environment around them.

In contrast - rocks just travel on a pre-set trajectory until they hit something else - there is no choice in what they do other than collide, get hot or cold and, if the conditions are right, they will immediately chemically react with things they come into contact with. There can be no pause.

I think Finipolscie's challenge was whether anything other than thought could change the inevitable path of matter/energy. Can you think of anything else?


Charon - you can still choose to answer my question instead of finding ways not to. The interesting point is whether your choice to do so, or not, was somehow inevitable and pre-determined... or not....

PS. I have already answered your question - I feel it is better to try to find answers, than not.
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Re: Thought vs Matter/Energy

Postby charon on June 23rd, 2020, 5:58 am 

...

Oh, god, here we go. Welcome to the tea party.

Sorry, but no. I'm actually a pretty light-hearted person, I crack jokes and all that, but we really can't fool around with life and make it some kind of entertainment.

See, this is how we go round and round and, naturally, inevitably, get nowhere. It might be fun for some but not for me.

I think that has some element of truth.... but with limits.


No, look at what you're saying, for heaven's sake. Either something is true or its not. It's not a bit of truth with limits. Then you can mess around with it till doomsday pointlessly.

It is still possible to say that some things are effectively pre-set in their actions while others may not be.


What do you mean 'it's still possible'? Of course some things are pre-set. The acorn will be an oak, not a banana. And of course some things are not set, they can be changed. Put something in a pan and cook it. You can leave it till its burnt to smithereens or take it off at the right moment.

If that is correct then the elements which are pre-set will be influenced and deviated from their otherwise inevitable path by the things that aren't .


So they were never inevitable.

I refuse to talk about turtles. We have absolutely no idea whatsoever about what goes on in the mind/brain of a turtle. I doubt if they 'make choices', they simply react according to their instinct which is what they're designed to do (designed by nature, not an invented god). Likewise any creature, so I'm not going there.

Why begin with creatures we don't really know about? WE make choices and we know we make them, so why not start with ourselves? There we can see exactly what's going on, it's not difficult - except apparently no one wants to look at themselves. They'd rather discuss the universe!

I think Finipolscie's challenge was whether anything other than thought could change the inevitable path of matter/energy. Can you think of anything else?


So we go looping again. Thought is also matter/energy! Change the way you think. Then thought has changed matter/energy. Or rather matter/energy has changed itself.

In nature the course of many things is completely changed by causes other than thought! A volcano blows up and obliterates all the life around it. A meteor from space gets rid of the dinosaurs! Wind comes along and blows a tree over. Slugs destroy your vegetables.

Charon - you can still choose to answer my question instead of finding ways not to.


I have answered every single question put here. There's nothing to avoid. I wouldn't stoop to 'finding ways not to'. I'm not a politician!

In any case - if you can be bothered to read it - what does determinism mean anyway?

Look around. The room you're in, or up at the sky, the sun, or the stars, the changing seasons... is it all 'determined'? What does that mean?

Determined by what? The laws of nature? One could say that. But what does determined actually mean? Pre-set? Planned beforehand? By whom?

If you think of it, it doesn't mean anything, does it? If it is determined then it must be by life itself, not beforehand but in the instant, timelessly. So life is timeless creation.

That is actually the fact, that's why some things change and others don't. That's why no day is like any other. That's why we sometimes make the wrong choices, etc etc.

But if you want to talk about turtles, etc, I'll leave you to it and come back later when you're bored.

Have lots of fun :-)
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Re: Thought vs Matter/Energy

Postby doogles on June 24th, 2020, 6:48 am 

My response in this thread was directed entirely to the OP proposition that "Thought is the only thing that can cause Matter/Energy to deviate from its inevitable chemical path." I could have been wrong but I believe that this limited that discussion to biological determinism.

I agree with most of what you said latersuz. Just a minor point -- the movement of a sea turtle on the macroscale has to be determined for it to roam all over the place and then finish up back where it started from. What it does on the way may be mostly random so long as it is within an area containing its food supply.

As Charon suggests, I'm also not sure about 'choosing to mate'; the urges to mate are hard-wired so it's largely genetically urge-driven. Apparently females mate with multiple males.

When Charon makes the point that "In nature the course of many things is completely changed by causes other than thought!", one cannot argue. The genome determines the potential sequence of the vast biochemical sequence of events that define the final outcome of a seed or a fertilised egg or a cell gene if the extrinsic environment provides the necessary factors for such an outcome.

A plant seed will not grow in Antarctic snow, but all over the planet other living things are developing to their full potential as determined by their genomes.

In the broader context, there are different variations of meaning in the term 'determinism'. So, for discussion we need to define the type of determinism we are talking about, which is what I did in my last two posts.

The Wikipedia researcher who developed this site -- https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Determinism -- lists Causal determinism, Predeterminism, Fatalism, Theological determinism, Logical determinism, Adequate determinism, and 'The many-worlds interpretation'. Philosophers have debated, and will debate, forever about such matters. I can't see how anybody can resolve any such discussion. One can only talk about specific cases.

On that basis, I remember reading a book in the 1970s about a blind lady in Bulgaria, known popularly as Vanga, who was credited with being able to predict future events in the life of many people. There was an interest in psychic research behind the Iron Curtain in those days, and the author of the book I read claimed that Vanga had been put on a USSR payroll so that an official record could be made of her predictions and outcomes. One record claimed that she received an 80% accuracy in predictions. If this was so, then it meant that 80% of our life events were somehow pre-determined. There were doubts of course, but once again a Wikipedia researcher has put together the story on this site -- https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Baba_Vanga.

In response to Charon's claim that not much is known about sea turtles, a good account by another Wikipedia researcher is available here -- https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sea_turtle .
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Re: Thought vs Matter/Energy

Postby charon on June 24th, 2020, 10:20 am 

Charon's claim that not much is known about sea turtles


That's not exactly what I said, doogles. I said there's no way we can know what's going on in the mind/brain of a turtle or any other creature. We can probably scan their brains and observe their behaviour, etc, etc, but we can't know what it's like to be them. I also think that forming any kind of conclusion about what/how they think/feel based on scans is highly insecure.

That's why I said therefore start with ourselves. That we can know without any question or doubt. You can know, without recourse to any laboratory or special equipment, exactly how, why, and whether, you choose and decide things. The same goes for the rest of us and there's no reason, as we're all human and the same species, why the 'system' isn't the same for all.

But, in any case, what will that achieve apart from self-knowledge (always a good thing)? Would it answer any of the fundamental questions here?
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Re: Thought vs Matter/Energy

Postby doogles on June 25th, 2020, 6:01 am 

My apologies Charon for misinterpreting what you said about sea turtles. We can make a guess about their degree of 'thought power' though if we look at the mudmaps I presented in my first post. The point I made in those mudmaps was that an adult sea turtle has a total brain about the size of our little finger, and compared with other animal species it has practically no cerebral cortex. The part that equates to a cerebral cortex in other species consists of mainly nerve fibres (and not grey matter) microscopically. This suggests that it functions almost entirely from its primitive hard-wired innate drives which are determined by its genome.

That's an educated guess based on anatomy and histology.and not on scans.

I agree with your last two paragraphs except that I believe that we can understand ourselves better by understanding the extent to which our own (and other animals) behaviours are conditioned by our hard-wired innate drives. The sea turtle provides an example of basic behaviour that is modified very little because of its lack of the ability to make choices.

I published a book on this called Animals, Brains and Cultures in 2012. It comes up in Google. It was a result of almost 50 years of part-time research across many disciplines. It is mostly evidence-based, but contains much introspection by myself as a human. There is an extensive bibliography. It gels with most people, but obviously everyone else has their own viewpoints.

The way I see it is that an understanding of ourselves is only relevant to the fundamental questions here in so far as a large part of our behaviour is determined by our innate drives which in turn are determined by our genomes. But this determinism is biological, and not the same determinism that philosophers have been fruitlessly debating over the last couple of millennia.
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Re: Thought vs Matter/Energy

Postby hyksos on June 25th, 2020, 1:10 pm 

My response in this thread was directed entirely to the OP proposition that "Thought is the only thing that can cause Matter/Energy to deviate from its inevitable chemical path." I could have been wrong but I believe that this limited that discussion to biological determinism


"Thought is the only thing that can cause Matter/Energy to deviate from its inevitable chemical path."


The answer to this is clear and already posted in other threads. The inevitable chemical path is what happens to matter in a closed thermodynamic system. The energy spreads out around in the (closed) system and it reaches thermal equilibrium. Mere matter, or "dead inert matter" if you will, cannot organize itself. Because it cannot organize itself, its quantified measure of order cannot increase. Instead its disorder increases constantly. It's entropy just goes up steadily.

Open thermodynamic systems do not follow this pattern. They can be seen to increase their order over time. Their definition is that they are receiving energy from outside them, and/or losing that energy to the environment.

One example is cell division in a growing life form. To our best understanding of this, the increase in order inside the dividing cell is offset by an increase in disorder in the surrounding environment. We suppose that if one were to add up all the entropy both in the cell and the surrounding environment, that the total entropy S,

S = Scell + Senv

S will increase over time. Given this, there is no reason to invoke "thought" as a separate entity operating independently from regular energy, E.

For many of us, the dynamics of entropy increase is so intuitive, that we "know" in a natural way that if a computer runs a program, that it must produce heat and that heat must be given off to the environment. The computation in a computer will increase the order of the electrons in its RAM. You can't get that for free. Interestingly, this is exactly what is observed in real computers. Their microprocessors are flanked by large heatsinks cooled by even larger fans. We expect they will use energy from outside them. They do.
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Re: Thought vs Matter/Energy

Postby charon on June 25th, 2020, 1:25 pm 

doogles » June 25th, 2020, 11:01 am wrote: I believe that we can understand ourselves better by understanding the extent to which our own (and other animals) behaviours are conditioned by our hard-wired innate drives. The sea turtle provides an example of basic behaviour that is modified very little because of its lack of the ability to make choices.


What do you mean by understanding ourselves? Gathering comparative knowledge? Is that actually the understanding of oneself?

I published a book on this called Animals, Brains and Cultures in 2012.


Oh, in that case I better keep my mouth shut!
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Re: Thought vs Matter/Energy

Postby TheVat on June 25th, 2020, 5:59 pm 

The way I see it is that an understanding of ourselves is only relevant to the fundamental questions here in so far as a large part of our behaviour is determined by our innate drives which in turn are determined by our genomes. But this determinism is biological, and not the same determinism that philosophers have been fruitlessly debating over the last couple of millennia.


Quite so. The question of human thought being reducible to physical processes in neurons, or thoughts having some causal efficacy that is not so reducible, lies in the realm of philosophy. We've had a number of chats here over the years that concern the question, called the Hard Problem of consciousness. It's helpful to read people like Chalmers, Koch, et al before proceeding further. For this thread, so long as it stays in the science section, Edelman is also helpful (and his pal Tononi).
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Re: Thought vs Matter/Energy

Postby hyksos on June 25th, 2020, 7:27 pm 

We've had a number of chats here over the years that concern the question, called the Hard Problem of consciousness. It's helpful to read people like Chalmers

Yeah. Chalmers is where it all starts.
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Re: Thought vs Matter/Energy

Postby charon on June 25th, 2020, 8:03 pm 

Dear god, where will it end?

See what you're all doing. To find out about yourselves you have to turn to some opaque, complicated academic (who is actually just the same as you are) and try to make sense of his ideas, or whoever's ideas they are.

I have no idea why this even interests you, and I really mean it. It's just words, words and more words. And has he, or anybody else, actually solved this 'problem of consciousness'? Well, I know they haven't and so, I expect, do you.

Being conscious is not a problem. Why make it into one? The real problem is the utter mess we've made of everything. Consciousness isn't to blame for that, we are. And if anyone thinks, for one second, that Chalmers, poor chap, has the answer they're sorely misguided.

I don't care why I experience, for example, saltiness. If I taste something salty it's because we've got taste buds. Amazing, that's what we're supposed to do, it's part of human physiology. And if I hand it to you and you say 'That's salty' that's exactly what you're supposed to do. 'Salty' is just the English word we give to that taste, coming from 'salt'.

Why is this a problem? Why is practically everything a 'problem'? Go ahead, someone tell me.

(And also tell me what on earth it has to do with the title of this thread!)
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Re: Thought vs Matter/Energy

Postby TheVat on June 25th, 2020, 10:05 pm 

Chalmers is not opaque. One of the clearest writer's around, in fact.

This is a science thread, and concerns itself among other things with the nature of cognition and it's causal role in the world. The fact that you have given up on any approach but vague, meandering, and homespun philosophizing doesn't mean that others are also obligated to flee the intellectual challenges of a scientific approach -- or analytical philosophy. If you don't want to crack a book, or in any way learn what the Hard Problem actually is, then you should stand down and not loudly judge the merits of a topic you seem unfamiliar with.
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