Sphere Eversion, Free Will & Infinite Powers

Can a sphere be turned inside out, such that the outside becomes the inside, and vice versa, without creasing or tearing or poking a hole in the sphere?

Obviously not. Take any spherical object, such as a sealed balloon, and, without popping it, turn it inside out. Can’t be done.

Doesn’t have to be a real balloon, an imaginary one will do. Make it (in your mind) of some ultra thin material, with no real air inside to reduce the chance of popping. Then try to envision a way the thing can turn inside out.

You’ll quickly see it can do so only if the material of the “sphere” is not really solid, but has, at at least one point, a gap through which the material of the outside can pour into the inside, or vice versa. Of course, the material has to be thinner than the hole, else it won’t fit through the hole.

Now any material that is flexible enough and mesh-like, such that it contains at least one sizable hole, can perform this magic trick. But what if the material is solid; i.e., has no holes? Depends on what you mean by solid.

Infinitesimally solid? Meaning no matter how close you focus in on a patch of the surface it is everywhere connected with no holes? Can such a material exist in actuality? I have no idea. We know there are already “gaps” between atoms (or whatever) in ordinary surfaces, but that doesn’t mean anything can get through these gaps, especially if the objects are larger than the atoms (or whatever). This ignores all the forces acting on these surfaces, including those forces that could bring the eversion about; about that, wait a moment.

Even though such a continuous surface might not exist in actuality, it does exist in potential. Which is to say, we can write down equations for these kinds of surfaces which assume they are smooth.

How do you then evert surfaces like these, even if such an exercise is only in potential? It can be done. (Simplest proof I have seen: pdf.)

Spheres with continuous surfaces can indeed turn inside out—potentially. Which flies in the face of intuition, of what we know about real surfaces in actuality. Something has gone wrong with our intuitions then. But what?

Infinity. The trick, in principle, in potentia, involves infinite forces.

It is only when things can be pushed, stretched, and manipulated into infinite positions, which necessitates infinite forces, that the magic happens. Mathematicians have proved it can work; or rather, that it is possible in potential. They even have clever animations, but all of them are cheats because none can show infinite gradations of surfaces, and the power is all “from above”, in the minds of the programmers. None of these proofs say how, or rather by what mechanism, what cause, these eversions work. They just say (or rather imply logically) that if they do, infinite forces are needed.

There is only one infinite force.

What does this have to do with free will? Wilbur Salazar asks some excellent questions along those lines:

In your latest post, So-Called Random Numbers And Encryption, you defined randomness as something “where random merely means of unknown cause.” Later you imply that we might someday undo quantum uncertainty—certainly undoing Heisenberg’s principle. How does that affect your interpretation of free will? From what I’ve gathered binge-reading your posts, you seem to be a libertarian (dualist?). Do you think we will undo our notions of free will by undoing quantum uncertainty?

First, there is no proof quantum mechanics is strictly non-deterministic, only that if it is deterministic, (some? all?) causes are non-local. The papers linked in the post give illustrations of what some of these kind of non-local causes might look like. Whether these will be the only ones or there will be others, I don’t know. It may be that locality is itself false, in some or all cases.

However, this isn’t an article about quantum causality, but about our intuitions of free will. There is no proof that indeterminacy in QM causes free will, or is associated with it in any way. If indeterminacy is ontic (physically real), and our minds are totally caused by physical forces, then all our choices and thoughts are made wily nily. They therefore cannot be trusted, since trust is caused to happen “randomly.” Everything is thus nonsense. Even this conclusion.

Our minds, in the sense of our intellect and wills, are not, however, physical. So quantum mechanical forces, determinate or not, can only affect them indirectly. Still, our intellects and wills do operate, and operations have causes. The leading candidate for these causes is the same as the infinite cause in sphere eversion.

Free will exists, which is certainly true given the observation that we freely make some but not all choices. Should I shoot this guy in the neck and take the money in the till, or instead pay cash for the gas? Should I comment on this post and call Briggs a fool, or merely lurk?

Free will exists, but how is exists doesn’t make sense if you accept that, as Salazar asked, events like our choices have causes. If our choices are caused to happen—even by God—then choice isn’t free, but determined.

That kind of thinking leads to the argument, “I can’t see how the will is free if it is caused; therefore, the will is not free.” Which is equivalent to “I can’t see how spheres can turn inside out; therefore, spheres cannot turn inside out.”

I have no idea how our wills our free given that God is behind the causes of our wills and intellects. Neither do mathematicians have any idea how infinite forces must be employed to evert spheres. All mathematicians can demonstrate is the possibility, even if nobody has any idea how to bring such event about in practice.

We also have an enormous supply of positive demonstrations that our wills are free. It’s only that we have no idea how. But we have just seen that knowing how and knowing that are completely different, even though they are often conflated.

This is a weak proof, or rather a dim pointer to where a proof might lie. It must be, I believe, that a proof of free will will involve infinite causes and powers, just as with sphere eversion. Infinity is mind-busting; intuition fails. Even thinking of very large, not even infinite numbers, leads to dizziness. The mind rebels.

We’re at the point where we don’t even know how to frame a free will theorem in any proper way. We do know the infinite is utterly bizarre. We may be too stupid, in this life anyway, to figure it out. But no theory, in whatever shape or form, can disprove our observations.

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36 Thoughts

  1. Our minds, in the sense of our intellect and wills, are not, however, physical.

    You don’t know that.

    Free will exists, but how is exists doesn’t make sense if you accept … our choices have causes. … That kind of thinking leads to the argument, “I can’t see how the will is free if it is caused; therefore, the will is not free.” Which is equivalent to “I can’t see how spheres can turn inside out; therefore, spheres cannot turn inside out.”

    Can be said about most any argument. Really. The argument for a Prime Mover follows the same logic: “Can’t see how there isn’t a first motion so there must have been one.”

    See how easy it is?

  2. I built a machine to move the molecules from inside to outside, one inch at time and slowly enough the sphere does not collapse, thus inverting the sphere. (No, I’m not sharing the machine or it’s location!) Math is too hard, so I had to go with building a device.

    Whether or not we have free will is just as provable as the existence of God—as in it is not provable and we can play mind games on it forever but we won’t ever get an answer (Though in the movie “Pi”, getting an answer was possible, but then your brain exploded and you could never share the answer. I love that movie!).

  3. Quantum mechanics is inherently nonlocal. That is, in fact, what the famous “double slit” experiment shows. It baffled my why more scientists couldn’t seem to understand this simple idea, until I came to realize that most of them are button counters and bottle washers who put their faith in wee p-values.

  4. slit experiment: https://www.wired.com/2014/06/the-new-quantum-reality/

    free will:
    Def. The Will is the intellective appetite. (A desire for or revulsion from the products of intellective conception.)
    1. You cannot want what you do not know.
    2. You don’t know a thing completely.
    3. Therefore, your will With respect to that thing has some degree of freedom.

    Prime Mover: Mr. DAV does not understand Prime Mover and thinks it has something to do with an initial cause of local motion. Its existence has nothing to do with a failure of imagination. It is a conclusion, not a postulate. Cf. Plato, Aristotle, Plotinus, Maimonides, ibn Rushd, Jayanta Bhatta, Thomas Aquinas, Leibnitz, et al.

  5. We cannot see how the Sun produces light, therefore the Sun does not produce light.

    Not a proper scientist then. If you cannot see how things happen, you invent a testable theory out of thin air. Just like they did with Dark Matter.

  6. Our minds, in the sense of our intellect and wills, are not, however, physical.

    You don’t know that.

    Actually, we do, in the same way we know that numbers, for example, are not physical. All physical things exist in space, which means that they have a location. Mind does not have a location. Some people claim that it exists in the same place as the brain, but if I’m watching a tennis match on TV, and the match is taking place in another city, my attention is not on my couch; it is on the tennis court in the other city. And if my thoughts are out there, how can my mind, which entertains the thoughts be hovering above the couch in my living room? The mind has no location, merely a perspective. Therefore, it is not a physical object.

  7. Prime Mover: Mr. DAV does not understand Prime Mover and thinks it has something to do with an initial cause of local motion.

    I don’t think I said anything about local motion. Reading what you want to read again?

    In any case, this is how it was presented:
    Motion stems from other motion and going backward we come to the first motion initiated by a Prime Mover. We get there by saying there must have been a first motion. Why? Basically, because it can’t been seen how there wasn’t therefore there was.

    As for cause, you seem to be saying that initiating motion isn’t causing it. Word games for sure.

    Cf. Plato, Aristotle, Plotinus, Maimonides, ibn Rushd, Jayanta Bhatta, Thomas Aquinas, Leibnitz, et al.

    And that proves what, exactly? You seem enamored by authority.

  8. Def. The Will is the intellective appetite. …
    1. You cannot want what you do not know.
    2. You don’t know a thing completely.
    3. Therefore, your will With respect to that thing has some degree of freedom.

    What? Because there is some limitation there must be some degree of freedom? You don’t see that for the babble that it is? How is that any different than saying: “You can only do or have so much X therefore you have some degree of freedom wrt X”?

  9. “Our minds, … , are not…physical”

    If that’s true ain’t it curious how the same types of brain damage (e.g., injury or by strokes) results in the same deficits in intellect, will, etc.

    When some of the injuries are tracked to recovery so returns intellectual functioning.

    One might try to preserve a postulated notion of a soul disconnected from a body based on ancient beliefs founded, ultimately in ignorance by asserting the ole ‘correlation is not causation’ bit.

    But after a while even the most isolated test subject figures out the switch linking a power source & light bulb reveals the illuminated light is a result of some kind of physics, not magic.

    That is exactly what happened with the invention of the light bulb, by the way. Some of the first purchases were by farmers at a fair … and when lit matches failed to get the thing to light up they concluded it was a scam.

    That’s how some of the arguments look trying to philosophize of view of nature, like a disembodied mind, long since disproven.

    If you really believe the mind & spirit are related externals, explain where the aged & stroke victims, and injury victims, missing intellect/mind goes and how those lost portions reconnect in an afterlife.

    Consider:

    If god is a mere triumvirate deity, bits of minds & intellects we observe incrementally lost in the aged as the aged age, and accumulate strokes, suggests mortal souls exhibit far greater fragmentation and coalescence than god — by orders of magnitude!

    Kind of like the movie, The Blob; or that robot in the Terminator sequel that froze, shattered then melted & solidified back together.

    If our minds / souls are doing that … doesn’t that make merely rising from the dead seem like a clumsy parlor trick?

  10. Briggs: Our minds, in the sense of our intellect and wills, are not, however, physical.
    DAV: You don’t know that.
    David Gudeman :Actually, we do, in the same way we know that numbers, for example, are not physical.

    We don’t really know what the mind is so it’s not possible to say whether or not it is physical. You can’t say it doesn’t arise because of some configuration of matter that responds as such while under application of power (Life?).

    if I’m watching a tennis match on TV, and the match is taking place in another city, my attention is not on my couch; it is on the tennis court in the other city.

    What does your focus of attention have to do with whether or not your mind is physical or even where it is located? Your attention is on the information about the distant match. It isn’t where the information arises. Presumably, the information is internalized.

    A programmed computer in a satellite with purpose of adjusting the attitude of the spacecraft is still within the spacecraft even when using information derived from stars located elsewhere. Its perspective is the distant stars and their relative positions. Are you saying that means the computer program isn’t physical even if it is implemented with hard wiring. (FYI: there is no fundamental difference between a hard-wired program and a soft-wired one, aka software).

  11. Fuzzdazzle,
    If that’s true [mind not physical] ain’t it curious how the same types of brain damage (e.g., injury or by strokes) results in the same deficits in intellect, will, etc.

    Unfortunately, this is sidestepped by asserting the brain is merely a conduit for thought. You can’t steer a car which lacks a steering mechanism.

    What is elided over is why a brain is needed at all. Not to mention it’s the only physical thing which can interact with the non-physical. What makes it so special?

  12. “Def. The Will is the intellective appetite. (A desire for or revulsion from the products of intellective conception.)”

    How can it be that several ancients or moderns, (matters not), decided on a word or phrase and then defined it? That’s not how it works.

    People have a notion of a sensation or an experience in this case ‘the thing’ being discussed, they then try to put it into words. How do people know they’re all describing the same thing if they don’t have a reasonably concrete point of reference to start with?

    I thought I believed in ‘free will’ but think I[m talking about something different. Saying people make judgements and that they have intentions or purposes given their state of knowledge seems to be saying nothing much.

    People are really talking about one element of the conscious person.
    “you cannot want what you do not know”
    Seems to be a statement of the obvious.
    If you don’t know it, you can’t have any opinion one way or the other.
    Bliss!

    This stuff is a trip round the inside of someone else’s head. Not mine.

  13. The sphere example seems to be saying that there is a substance that is described as smooth, ie no gaps and yet all substances have gaps as you also mentioned when talking about chaps between atoms. Everything as you know is mostly ‘gaps’. Thinking of a sphere one dipole thick where the sphere is then acted on by an electromagnetic force so that the dipoles switch. That would constitute a turning inside out.

    All to demonstrate the point that not knowing how doesn’t mean it can’t happen. It’s enough to say that it appears; the mind is not physical, or vice versa. Until much more is known about our perceived consciousness.

    Maybe the mind, or consciousness is a physical thing ultimately. It makes no difference to the bigger question of God, since he has done it all, if he exists, by physical means. Is Spirit ultimately physical?
    Physicists tell everyone that we are/ everything is, a “probabilistic set of wave functions in Hilbert space” or something equally abstract if more accurately stated. So whether the mind is secreted by the brain as a byproduct or works some other way doesn’t alter the God question.

    The shame is that individuals think that existence of God means something about control of other people. That the most obvious thing which separates humans from everything else is superiority of intellect is true, yet it is always the basest and most abhorrent aspects of humanity that capture the imagination of the side pressing the free will argument. Supposedly the side I’m on. Everybody is judged by the lowest standard. Some hideous human does X therefore all humans are culpable and evil, or similar verbiage.

    False notions of God will definitely fade, ultimately. Without God, life has no ultimate value. By ultimate I mean real and eternal. If that is true, why don’t those who believe in God, act like it is true?

    Arguments against free will mean that people are not free to follow a chosen path or action. Yet for a living creature to be able to move towards or away from a stimulus they must be able to exert control. That necessitates freedom from other influences external to the body AND internal.

    Just because a thing is subjective it doesn’t make it false, necessarily. The freedom to act or potential to act is another thing of infinite value. When that freedom, or perception of it, is frustrated, even in animals, in labs, profound changes in behaviour ensue and the animal gives up.

    On brain damage, there is a lot o imagined ‘broken intellect’ and repaired intellect spoken of. Yet the intellect is not changed by brain damage. Only our ability to experience the intellect of that individual. You cannot know what is really in the mind of another person with brain damage. Speech and language defects say nothing about the intellect or inner thoughts/knowledge of a person. Furthermore, king where something happens in space doesn’t explain how the mind works. It’s also interesting that it takes all of the body together to make the ind work. Patches of brain lighting up are one small element. There is no ‘experience’ centre. ‘pain centre’, ‘happy centre’. Something, somehow is able to exert control on the entire system, or at least influence it. It isn’t to be found in one patch of cells.

  14. “chaps”? gaps! You see that’s not autocorrect, nor is it spell check, nor is it typo. It is the monkey in the comment box.
    The other day it changed mastery into pastry. Some of the time it’s noticed before posting.
    Anyhow, it’s quite entertaining if it weren’t so creepy.

    How do they doit? same way they get y key chain password every time I change it.
    Abus of Privileged access, probably.

  15. “We don’t really know what the mind is so it’s not possible to say whether or not it is physical.”

    We don’t really know what numbers are either, but we know that they are not physical. You are conflating what causes the mind with the mind itself. The mind is that which entertains thoughts, which wills, which has a sense of self, which endures through time in the form of memories. None of this implies a physical location.

    Now, it may be that all of these things are caused by physical processes, in which case the causes would have a physical location, but that would not change the nature of the mind, which is an empirical concept independent of any theories of causation–that is, we know that the mind exists from experience; we know what properties it has, and we can see that those properties are not bound to any particular location.

    These are not religious assumptions; they are empirical observations. Any theory that gives a location to the mind is going beyond observation, adding speculation and assumptions to the direct observations. You have to grasp this point to engage in real discussions of what the mind is; if you don’t, then you aren’t talking about the same thing I am.

  16. “What does your focus of attention have to do with whether or not your mind is physical or even where it is located?”

    The analogy between satellites and minds is just that–an analogy, and argument-from-analogy is illogical. My glass of water is analogous to the ocean: both are bodies of water, both have living things floating around in them, but I can’t go scuba diving in my glass of water. You cannot logically conclude from the existence of one analogous property to any other analogous property. When the satellite takes an image, the image is located in the satellite; and when a brain recognizes an image, the image is located in the brain, but that tells us nothing about the mind, which is not the brain.

    There is, of course, an intimate relationship between brain and mind, but they aren’t the same thing. The brain is something that you can see when a skull is cracked open, the mind is not. The brain can be injured, the mind cannot (regardless that when the brain is injured, it can affect the mind).

    You are unable even to understanding what I am talking about because instead of taking what I say about the mind seriously, and trying to understand what I mean, you immediately translate “mind” to brain, and try to force my meaning into that paradigm, where it doesn’t make sense. You can do this if you want, but it leaves you intellectually poorer; unable to grasp a great wealth of philosophical thought.

  17. We don’t really know what numbers are either
    Straw man argument. We DO know what numbers are — we invented them.
    We DO NOT know what the mind is so it can’t be said that it isn’t a physical thing.

    You are conflating what causes the mind with the mind itself.
    No I’m not but you seem to be.

    Now, it may be that all of these things are caused by physical processes, in which case the causes would have a physical location, but that would not change the nature of the mind, which is an empirical concept independent of any theories of causation
    Didn’t say it would. Not sure why you keep going on about the causes of the mind. I’m saying it being a physical property cannot be ruled out.

    Any theory that gives a location to the mind is going beyond observation, adding speculation and assumptions to the direct observations.
    Like you did when you said that your mind is where your attention is focused? You do realize that “My mind was elsewhere” is a figure of speech and isn’t actually referring to location, yes?

  18. When the satellite takes an image, the image is located in the satellite; and when a brain recognizes an image, the image is located in the brain, but that tells us nothing about the mind, which is not the brain.

    Any you know the mind is not the brain how? If it’s physical it likely IS the brain.

    instead of taking what I say about the mind seriously … you immediately translate “mind” to brain, and try to force my meaning into that paradigm, where it doesn’t make sense.

    Well, then maybe you should look more closely at what you are saying. Your sole premise was: I can focus my attention on something/someplace external and that means my mind is not physical, which is nonsensical. I used the satellite analogy to show what ‘”attention” really means. You still didn’t get it.

    There is, of course, an intimate relationship between brain and mind, but they aren’t the same thing. The brain is something that you can see when a skull is cracked open, the mind is not.
    Maybe it’s because you don’t recognize it when you see it?

    What distinguishes a CPU chip from a random slice of silicon is its configuration. The same is true of hardwired programs like those found in ASICs. Why can’t the same be said about brains and the mind? How do you know that if the brain wasn’t fired up (brought back to life assuming we knew how and further assuming the brain hadn’t deteriorated much) the mind within wouldn’t reappear?

    The brain can be injured, the mind cannot (regardless that when the brain is injured, it can affect the mind).
    Think about that. “When the brain is injured it can affect the mind.” Yet, The brain can be injured the mind cannot .” Which is it?

  19. There is, of course, an intimate relationship between brain and mind,

    Why is that? What’s so special about a physical brain that allows it to interact with a non-physical thing called a mind? What other physical things can interact with the non-physical? Why is the brain needed at all? Why can’t this non-physical mind interact with the body directly? Why does it interact anyway? Why is this mind unique to a specific brain? Why can’t the brain establish a relationship with another mind?

    Seems it is more likely the mind is a product of the brain making it a physical thing.

    “Why? Why? Why?” sounds like an Allman Brothers song 🙂

  20. @ Briggs,

    “We’re at the point where we don’t even know how to frame a free will theorem in any proper way.”

    That’s because the concept of free will is self-contradictory. If you can’t even define the thing you’re trying to argue for, maybe it’s time to conclude that it just doesn’t exist?

    “But no theory, in whatever shape or form, can disprove our observations.”

    We can’t know our thoughts before we think them, so even if they were completely predetermined we’d feel like they were unpredictible and free, so our observation proves nothing.

  21. “If you can’t even define the thing you’re trying to argue for, maybe it’s time to conclude that it just doesn’t exist?”
    No, that is not strictly true unless you’re disinterested or giving up; happy to take a guess.

    Maybe it is just impossible to define to the satisfaction of everybody.
    Whoever started slicing and dicing the body up to find the soul is the culprit. I’m blaming the ancients.

    Define pain. Nobody would bother arguing about such a thing. Does pain exist? Is it physical? People call it physical if it’s in a soft tissue or a musculoskeletal part. Yet it’s location is entirely decided by the brain at a subconscious level. Does it therefore not exist because we don’t control how pain manifests or how accurately it is located?

    Does it exist? The part that matters, as it happens, when it becomes complex, it becomes obvious that such a complex system operates with feedbacks that involve the thing that is being denied. i.e. the awareness or memory itself.

    I am going to read the recommended book on the minds I but the answer lies in the fact that each person knows, even if they deny it, that they are in that one way different from every other that they observe, including animals, in that one aspect. Something made them who they are, inside looking out. THAT’s special.

  22. @ Joy,

    “Yet for a living creature to be able to move towards or away from a stimulus they must be able to exert control. That necessitates freedom from other influences external to the body AND internal.”

    So free will necessitates being free from external influences in order to react to external influences? If you’ve got freedom, you haven’t got control, and vice-versa.

    “Yet the intellect is not changed by brain damage. Only our ability to experience the intellect of that individual. You cannot know what is really in the mind of another person with brain damage.”

    If we can’t know what is in another person’s mind if they’ve got brain damage, how can we tell that it isn’t changed? That makes no sense. There’s plenty of research into people who have brain damage but can still communicate, and they report all manner of changes to their thought patterns.

    “the answer lies in the fact that each person knows, even if they deny it, that they are in that one way different from every other that they observe, including animals, in that one aspect”

    My cats think the same thing.

  23. “I used the satellite analogy to show what ‘”attention” really means. You still didn’t get it.”

    I got it, which is why I pointed out the illogical nature of argument by analogy. The satellite doesn’t have attention. There is an aspect that is analogous in some ways to attention, but it isn’t the same thing, therefore, your argument by analogy did not prove what you wanted it to.

    But here is another analogy for you. A computer program implements an algorithm. Where is the algorithm? If you say it is in a computer, then what computer? It is executing on many computers. If you say it is on all of the computers on which it is executing, then what physical properties of the bits makes the algorithm O(n^2)? Do we have to prove that it is O(n^2) for each instance on each computer? And what happens when all of the software implementing the algorithm is deleted? Does the algorithm vanish from the universe? What about if a new program is then written to implement the algorithm? What if that program is never loaded into memory and executed?

    The mind is like an algorithm in this sense. You can claim till you are blue in the fact that the algorithm is a collection of bits on a computer, but I’m just going to keep telling you that’s not what I’m talking about–I’m talking about something abstract, that is independent of any particular implementation, that doesn’t exist in any particular time or place, and by its very nature *can’t* exist in a particular time and place because it’s not the kind of thing that exists that way. Anything you can point to in a particular place, I can compare it to my notion of what an algorithm is, and say, “No, that’s not what I’m talking about”.

    “Not sure why you keep going on about the causes of the mind. I’m saying it being a physical property cannot be ruled out.”

    If it is a physical property then you are talking about it being implemented physically. Also, you keep saying things like this:

    “Any you know the mind is not the brain how? If it’s physical it likely IS the brain.”
    “Why is that? What’s so special about a physical brain that allows it to interact with a non-physical thing called a mind?”
    “Seems it is more likely the mind is a product of the brain making it a physical thing.”

    All of which sound to me like you are talking about how the mind is implemented. Maybe the misunderstanding is here: maybe when I say “mind”, you are not translating it to “brain”, but to “whatever gives us the power to think”. If that’s what you mean, then your comments makes sense, but that isn’t what I mean by “mind”, nor what practically any philosopher means by the word. We aren’t talking about whatever gives us the power to think, but something more like the aggregate of all our mental states, or possibly the arena in which all of our mental states occur.

    A mind is not a soul or a spirit; it is not a theoretical or unobservable entity of any kind, but a fact of experience. I have thoughts; I refer to other things; I have desires and goals; all of this is bound up with a sense of unity and self which I can observe by introspection. The mind is just the summary of all of this.

    We can have a discussion about whether all of this can have a physical basis or not, but we can’t have that discussion until you grasp what I’m talking about, and if you can’t see that it makes no sense to say that the mind itself is a physical object, then you don’t grasp what I am talking about, and having such a discussion about the mind would be as pointless as trying to have a discussion about an algorithm with someone who insists that the algorithm is “whatever makes the algorithm run”. Bits in memory don’t have the properties of algorithms.

  24. The satellite doesn’t have attention.

    Yes, it does. It’s the focus of processing.
    https://skymind.ai/wiki/attention-mechanism-memory-network

    All of which sound to me like you are talking about how the mind is implemented

    It’s the question of whether or not the mind is physical. So. In broad terms, yes.

    Philosophers merely chart its taxonomy ultimately getting nowhere toward understanding it. Much like a zoologist cataloging species but never reaching an understanding of what makes them alive.

    You seem to enjoy that part, which is fine, but do stop arguing about the mind’s fundamental makeup — you aren’t really interested in it.

  25. “Yes, it does. It’s the focus of processing.”

    No it doesn’t. It is common to name computer parts and events using analogies to mind, but they are still no more than analogies. Paying attention implies awareness. The satellite isn’t aware of anything, any more than a rock is.

    “You seem to enjoy that part, which is fine, but do stop arguing about the mind’s fundamental makeup — you aren’t really interested in it.”

    Of course I’m interested in it; I’m just not interested in any dogma that begins with ridiculous assumptions such as the assumption that everything is physical. It’s hard to imagine that anyone who starts at such an absurd position would have anything interesting to say to a skeptical rationalist like myself. I am of course, willing to listen to arguments that conclude that everything is physical, but they have to start somewhere more reasonable and argue to that bizarre position.

  26. as pointless as trying to have a discussion about an algorithm with someone who insists that the algorithm is “whatever makes the algorithm run”. Bits in memory don’t have the properties of algorithms

    Yet your view of the mind is “whatever makes it do the things it does” while you seem to slough off any attempt to discuss that whatever focusing instead on the things it does.

    Actually, the bits in memory (some of them anyway) are how the wiring of the resulting machine (the algorithm) is encoded. Nowadays it is done with bits in memory but in days gone by this wiring was much more explicit.

    That you don’t know this explains a lot about your outlook on the mind.

    So far, you have avoided the question of whether the mind is a physical entity using lots of bandwidth in the process. I do indeed see the things you are talking about but 1) they don’t actually support the notion of non-physicality; 2) you continually reject any effort to explain to you why they don’t; and 3) you seem intent on avoiding any explanation of how they would . I suspect any attempt would only come across similar to your initial premise that being able to focus on externals means it’s non-physical — which is utter nonsense — so it’s just as well.

    Like I said before, you aren’t really interested in the question.

  27. @ David Gudeman,

    “But here is another analogy for you. A computer program implements an algorithm. Where is the algorithm?”

    Probably on stackoverflow.com (: Algorithms don’t just magically exist independently of spacetime. They have to be worked out and written down. An algorithm is just a list of instructions for doing something. It could be a method for calculating pi, or a recipe for thai green curry. I don’t see how a recipe for thai green curry can be non-physical.

    “I’m talking about something abstract, that is independent of any particular implementation, that doesn’t exist in any particular time or place, and by its very nature *can’t* exist in a particular time and place because it’s not the kind of thing that exists that way.”

    Something which “doesn’t exist in any particular time or place” doesn’t exist at all. Minds appear to be different from one another, to require particular physical brains to operate and to exist for a finite time, so they don’t match any of the criteria you listed.

  28. Is this more acceptable:
    “Yet for a living creature to be able to move towards or away from a stimulus they must be able to exert control. That ENABLES? freedom from other influences…”

    “If you’ve got freedom, you haven’t got control, and vice-versa.”
    Don’t see your point there. If you’ve got freedom you absolutely do have control, self control, is the point. Clockwork is not free.
    ~
    “If we can’t know what is in another person’s mind if they’ve got brain damage, how can we tell that it isn’t changed?”
    Yes, (I was self contradictory), but the reality is that in rehabilitation, patients are always overestimated with the understanding of any particular known areas of damage being identified by MRI.
    Examination is required to test multiple faculties and those who work for longer periods of time with patients develop an understanding of what they can and cannot understand. You cannot test everything any more than you can test anybody for their faculties. Never assume! Patients are able to describe immense frustration knowing what particular faculties are lost, with respect to expressive dysphasia (speech defect). The receptive kind affects information going in. Yet the person the “you” is still the same. In the same way as when you have a high temperature, for example, you’re still you. Your relatives might not recognise you but you know you’re the same. Whether you’ll be doing the Sunday crossword might be another matter!

    Okay, about the cat, but that is really my actual point. Talking about the nature of perspective and that it actually exists. You seem to gloss over it, maybe it seems somehow seemly to do so or something, but to me it’s really the point everybody is dancing around.
    You say you have no free will but it is based on an incomplete picture of the human body because consciousness is not understood, not even remotely.

  29. “That you don’t know this explains a lot about your outlook on the mind.”

    OK, you keep trying to take the topic off of minds and onto personalities, so I will accommodate you. For your information I have a PhD in computer science and decades working in the field, including working on optimizing compilers, so I do, in fact know something about algorithms and how they are implemented in hardware. I’ve said nothing to indicate I don’t know that, so your assumption is obtuse.

    Another obtuse behavior on you part is this: although I have repeatedly told you that you don’t understand how I am using the word “mind”, you have asked not one question to try to clarify your understanding; instead repeating the same sorts of arguments that originally prompted me to say this.

    “Yet your view of the mind is “whatever makes it do the things it does” while you seem to slough off any attempt to discuss that whatever focusing instead on the things it does.”

    No, I proposed that as what *you* mean by “mind” while saying that was *not* what I meant by it. I began by treating you as an intellectual peer, but this is the kind of obtuse misunderstanding that leads me to suspect that the problem is not just stubbornness on your part, but the fact that you really aren’t an intellectual peer.

    “I do indeed see the things you are talking about but 1) they don’t actually support the notion of non-physicality”

    Another obtuse misunderstanding: I haven’t argued for the non-physicality of mind since my first comment, so clearly you don’t see what I am talking about since you don’t even grasp the topic being discussed.

    “you continually reject any effort to explain to you why they don’t; and 3) you seem intent on avoiding any explanation of how they would”

    None of your explanations make sense given what I mean by the word “mind”, as I told you in my second reply to you, but you refuse to make any effort to understand what I mean. As to (3), I don’t see any point in arguing why mind cannot be physical when I can’t even get you to understand what I mean by “mind”. I gave an extensive analogy to try to explain this point, but all you got out of it was (somehow) that I don’t understand how algorithms are implemented.

  30. I have a PhD in computer science
    Aren’t you *special*?
    Undoubtedly how you arrived at your unique perspective.

    you really aren’t an intellectual peer
    I most certainly hope not.
    I love you anyway, darling.

    I have thoughts; I refer to other things; I have desires and goals; all of this is bound up with a sense of unity and self which I can observe by introspection. The mind is just the summary of all of this.

    A mind allows those things.
    IOW: what it does vs. what it is.

    Back to the original question: is the mind a physical entity?

    I don’t see any point in arguing why mind cannot be physical

    Congrats, you’ve succeeded.
    You’ve pointlessly spent your time arguing why you shouldn’t.

    Like I said: you aren’t interested in the question.

  31. I can feel a well rounded, fully orbed, spherical shaped aversion to the notion, that is, a repulsion from, the conception of free will!
    Everybody else is peculiar.
    I’m the only special one.

  32. @ Joy,

    “You say you have no free will but it is based on an incomplete picture of the human body because consciousness is not understood, not even remotely.”

    I don’t agree. First, it’s illogical to conclude anything about free will based on our _lack_ of understanding of conciousness.

    Second, if free will is the ability to have chosen otherwise in a given situation (you chose ‘A’ but you could have chosen ‘B’), then it can’t work no matter what is happening in our consciousness.

    Standard argument against free will:

    1.?The concept of determinism contradicts that of free will.
    2.?The concept of indeterminism also contradicts free will.
    3.?Some occurrences are governed by determinism, and all the rest by indeterminism.

    all of which lead to the conclusion:

    4.?Free will does not govern any occurrences (does not exist).

    “In the same way as when you have a high temperature, for example, you’re still you. Your relatives might not recognise you but you know you’re the same.”

    You don’t know that you’re you when you’re asleep, so the state of your brain definitely affects your sense of self. I read that some patients whose brains have been surgically split in two experience having two separate selves, so that’s some more evidence.

  33. Swordfish,
    “…it’s illogical to conclude anything about free will based on our _lack_ of understanding of conciousness.”
    A leap maybe, but not illogical in that living human consciousness, is the state wherein the ’free will’ operates (if it exists). It does not operate when you are asleep or unconscious or that would b nonsense.
    So little is understood, except how to manipulate it in given circumstances, so it’s quite rational to presume that the answer will follow a better understanding of consciousness.
    ~~~
    Your second point, “if not A then B: Why is consciousness necessary at all, let alone free will? You say free will is redundant I say no freedom leaves consciousness redundant.
    ~~~
    “..so the state of your brain definitely affects your sense of self.“ Yes your self awareness. It’s circular. There’s no claim of awareness when awareness is absent during sleep.
    ~~~
    “I read that some patients whose brains have been surgically split in two experience having two separate selves…”
    Not doubting what you’ve read but I doubt the author. Patients report all sorts of things with the power of surgery and knowledge of procedures. I don’t believe one individual can experience more than one person at one time in one body. The notion ‘self’ negates that possibility. So it is some other kind of symptom. Symptoms are not imagined, they are experienced. Not doubting that, unless they’re being deceitful which is rare in my experience.

  34. @swordfishtrombone: “Something which “doesn’t exist in any particular time or place” doesn’t exist at all.”

    I don’t know how to respond to this, since you don’t say why you found my argument unconvincing. You need to explain how the same algorithm–as a physical object–can be implemented in multiple places, cease to exist for a time and then exist again. What makes it the same algorithm?

  35. Swordfish sensibly didn’t answer.

    What is a tune but a a sequence of specific sounds.. They can recorded faithfully in mutiple places. Does that make them nonphysical? All of the recordings can be lost but the sequence continues as long as someonr who can produce them remembers.

    The same with algorithms. They constist of a list of steps in say, a computer or someone’s head.

    If forgotten, only then they disappear. You seem to be assuming thoughts are nonphysical and can’t back up the claim.

    Perhaps you should make your case instead of begging the question and assuming it true.

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