- Stepping back from free will per se, the subjective component of consciousness itself remains singularly unexplained by current empirical science; what, for instance, is my subjectivity made from or projected onto? matter and energy alone don't obviously provide a substrate from which to weave it, at least as we currently understand them; this is, of course, as much a problem for me as for APM and BS, though I would claim it as evidence of "hidden variables"
- If subjective experience is simply a one-way phenomenon that is a functionally unnecessary bi-product of physico-chemical processes in our heads (i.e. akin to a real-time graph of the output of an underway computer simulation), then:
- why is it so well-realised and coherent? (i.e. why not just a jumble of subjective phenomena);
- why does it include features such as emotions that appear designed to channel behaviour in particular ways? (i.e. why is this necessary if things are one-way);
- why does it include an overwhelming and well-developed sense of being "in control"? (i.e. what possible process can this sensation be an emergent property of)
- To try to tease BS's chain of thought out some more, regardless of whether one judges quantum systems as stochastic or cryptically deterministic (= "hidden variables"), if one subscribes to the "illusion" school of thought (ISOT), conscious decisions are either the necessary outcomes of a chain of molecular events, or random (with a dose of determinism) outcomes of the same; does this in any way square with the subjective experience of decision-making?
- Just to avoid any accusations of dualism (or, heaven forfend, mysticism), whatever it is I'm looking for, I expect it to be subject to physical investigation; I don't believe that this is currently true, since I'm arguing for "hidden variables", but I believe that one day this will come to pass
Thursday, 16 December 2010
It's Christmas again. And among the regular festive highlights is our annual Biomodellers Christmas Lunch, a tradition that got off to a start in 2003. Anyway, it's normal at these events for alcohol-fuelled discussion to take a turn for the philosophical, and a regular topic for myself, APM and BS is that of (so-called) free will. By way of (biased) summary: they say "illusion"; I say "real, but I can be persuaded otherwise". Anyway, unless I'm bone-headedly mistaken, we're still in the phase of taking pot-shots at one another's ideas. However, one of the problems with our discussion is that it flares up only once or twice a year, such that the meat of it becomes attenuated and forgotten between skirmishes. To get around this, I present here some summary points to facilitate the return to (slightly) drunken hostilities next week.