Consciousness, Emergence, Evolution Theory, and Scientific Materialism

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Consciousness, Emergence, Evolution Theory, and Scientific Materialism

Several points...

- I am using the term "consciousness" to mean, at the very least, "conscious-awareness."

- It is generally argued by materialists that consciousness is an "emergent" property. That is, somewhere during the process of biological evolution, consciousness suddenly emerged in living organisms. Exactly when this emergence occurred seems to be a bit of mystery. And there doesn't appear to be any kind of consensus in the scientific community concerning which organisms are conscious and which are not. Also, keep in mind that consciousness as an emergent property cannot be compared to any other form of emergence we may observe in nature because every other form is physical, not mental. 

- Evolution theory basically holds that the fittest survive by the process of natural selection. In other words, those members of a species with genetic traits or characteristics which confer some kind of survival benefit are the ones that live and reproduce and thereby pass on their traits to subsequent generations.

- Materialism generally holds that consciousness is a by-product or an epiphenomenon of the physical or that consciousness supervenes on the physical. Both epiphenomenalism and supervenience theory hold that conscious is not causally-efficacious. (Incidentally, both eiphenomenalism and supervenience are dualistic...but now I digress.)

Here's the dilemma for materialists as I see it...

Why was the characteristic  or trait of conscious-awareness naturally selected if consciousness does not confer any survival benefit?  In other words, why aren't all living organisms simply organic "robots without consciousness?" (Remember, according to materialism, consciousness is not causally-efficacious. So it cannot confer any survival benefit.)

"Scientists animated by the purpose of proving they are purposeless constitute an interesting subject for study." - Alfred North Whitehead


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Paisley wrote:BobSpence1

Paisley wrote:

BobSpence1 wrote:
There is at least one persistent logic error being made here with regard to the 'immaterial".

Dualism and the supernatural pre-suppose that there are referents which are not material objects, ie 'immaterial".

Atheists deny that dualism and the supernatural are valid concepts.

The conclusion is then drawn that atheists deny the validity of all non-material referents, which is not a valid conclusion.

Two points...

1) There is one misconception that you apparently have. You assume that a belief in the immaterial necessarily assumes dualism

Where is that expressed or assumed in those statements?

The first proposition expressed it the other way round - ie the "Dualism presupposes the 'immaterial'. You surely don't deny this?

The second proposition is is also surely not problematic.

The error I am pointing out here is your leap to the conclusion that atheists must, from 1 and 2, therefore deny ALL referents which can be classed as 'immaterial', which is simply a explicit logical error, regardless of what I actually believe or assume.

Quote:

2) Probability waves and geometrical points (has location in space and time, but not dimension) are mathematical abstractions, not material objects. Also, "space" and "time" are clearly not material. 

Precisely. I agree. Which is exactly consistent with my argument. These are precisely the type of 'immaterial' but extremely useful concepts that atheists and other naturalist do accept.  This just further underlines the error which appears to have lead you to the false conclusion that atheists deny all forms of the 'immaterial'.

Congratulations, you are soo-o-o close to 'getting it'.

Hang in there Paisley, we'll get you sorted out yet...

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BobSpence1 wrote:Addressing

BobSpence1 wrote:
Addressing the OP:

When the term 'emergent' is applied to 'consciousness', it is using the term in the sense of "the whole is more than the sum of its parts", where an attribute, ie consciousness, is not possessed by any of the components of a composite entity, such as the human brain. So the second statement is a misrepresentation of the view of all 'non-dualists', not just strict 'materialists'.

There are two forms of emergence (as I have previously discussed in this thread): strong and weak. Strong emergence holds the view that a property  is irreducible to the interaction of the constituent parts of a system. Weak emergence is reducible to  the interaction of the constituent parts of a system. As Nigel has pointed out, weak emergence is the form that is invoked in science, not strong. For example, hydrogen H and oxygen O interact or combine to form H20 (water). This is weak emergence.

Supervenience theory is based on strong emergence.

BobSpence1 wrote:
Even if consciousness as perceived subjectively is strictly "a by-product or an epiphenomenon of the physical", it is at the very least still an attribute or a manifestation of a particular class of physical process. If that class of process confers some advantage in reproductive success then consciousness will be effectively selected for. Of course, it is usually understood that the subjective experience and the underlying process are really just different aspects of the larger process we refer to as "consciousness", rather than seeing the subjective aspect as purely 'epiphenomenal', which BTW is not inherently a dualistic idea.

To put it another way, "conscious-awareness" will be "naturally selected for" if the kind of processing of experience to assist choice of response or action, which naturally gives rise to such subjectivity, for whatever reason, also results in better choices.

Epiphenomena are causally inefficacious by definition.

http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/epiphenomenalism

http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/epiphenomena 

Also, epiphenomenalism is dualistic - specifically, "type-E dualism."

Quote:
In philosophy of mind, epiphenomenalism, also known as 'Type-E Dualism' is a view according to which some or all mental states are mere epiphenomena (side-effects or by-products) of physical states of the world.

(source: Wikipedia: epiphenomenalism)

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Epiphenomenalism

"Scientists animated by the purpose of proving they are purposeless constitute an interesting subject for study." - Alfred North Whitehead


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Paisley wrote:BobSpence1

Paisley wrote:

BobSpence1 wrote:
'Consciousness' is an emergent property of a complex system of interacting electrochemical processes, which means that the individual processes do not have any attribute of consciousness individually, any more than an individual silicon junction can run Microsoft Office.

Note the terms "emergent property" and "complex system."

BobSpence1 wrote:
The firing of each neuron is determined by the combined effect of signals received from other neurons, some of which may be excitation signals and others inhibition signals.

It is the collective effect of the pattern of firings which is what is believed to give rise to all the 'higher' level phenomena of the brain, up to and including conciousness.

Note the terms "collective effect" and "believed." 

BobSpence1 wrote:
The ill-defined idea of 'free will' is in fact in conflict with the idea that conciousness is a reflection of this underlying neural activity, where patterns of activation corresponding to what we perceive at our conscious level as making a choice, in turn affect which other groups of neurons are activated, and can therefore affect our actions. The reality of how consciousness is understood from the accumulating evidence from brain scans and experiments on the behaviour of people under cleverly designed test situations, as well as evidence from brain-damaged patients, in no way presupposes 'free-will', quite the reverse.

I didn't say it presupposes free will. I said that you are presupposing free will whenever you say the emergent property of consciousness is somehow causing the "complex firing of neurons" to behave differently. If behavior can be explained in strictly physical terms by observing the external, then obviously the mental or internal is irrelevant to the explanation. That being the case, you cannot provide a reason why organic "robots with consciousness" were chosen over organic "robots without consciousness."

The conscious, subjective side is an emergent aspect of the behaviour of a complex collective of neurons underlying what, for example, will be experienced as a conscious decision process. The conscious subjective decision mirrors the result of interacting group of neurons which initiate the physical action. The type of interaction between groups of neurons which is intimately associated with the phenomenon of 'consciousness', whatever the actual mechanism involved here, lead to patterns of response which have the advantages which selection works on. I suspect that the subjective aspect and the associated patterns of neuron activation are just two aspects of an integrated process.

 The higher levels of consciousness above simple 'awareness' reflect more complex modelling of the behaviour of other individuals, including their anticipated reaction to the subject.

This can involve even higher level analysis where not only do you model the likely reaction of the other individual to your action, but you try to anticipate how he will expect you to react to his action, and so on. IOW, I try to think what he is thinking about what I might be thinking. We start to try and model not just his basic reactions, but his modelling of my thinking. The advantages in complex social groups can result in an evolutionary arms race, where the individuals capable of higher levels of modelling of consciousness of other individuals, and my modelling of their modelling of my consciousness, etc. is plausibly what lead to to some relatively rapid increase in brain complexity and actual levels of consciousness.

Quote:

BobSpence1 wrote:
"Dualism" and "Free will" are concepts which have real problems finding justification from modern insights into consciousness and the brain, whereas "scientific naturaiism" incorporates all those insights, by definition.

Anyone whose world-view cannot incorporate the understandings I have outlined is the one with the problem here.

Two points...

1) Your worldview (materialism) cannot account for quantum indeterminacy.

My world-view incorporates the concept and implications of 'quantum indeterminacy". You simply do not comprehend what my world-view encompasses.

Quote:

2) Quantum mind theories have been proposed that incorporate quantum indeterminacy that, if experimentally validated, would support free will. Here's one example from Evan Harris Walker:

Quote:
A brilliant physicist, Evan Harris Walker developed a sound scientific theory about how the brain might, at quantum levels, process information. In his book, The Physics of Consciousness, he adds log2P to Schrödinger’s equation. What he demonstrates mathematically is that when information is measured by consciousness and will channel capacities in terms of a closed loop, it forces one real solution only when one probable state happens and all other possible states disappear. He offers/proposes physical evidence that this process is occurring in the brain.

(source: Wikipedia: Quantum mind)

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Quantum_mind 

Incidentally, Walker's theory not only has implications for individual free will but also for a collective will (i.e. God)

I don't find these theories all that compelling - I first encountered attempts to 'explain' consciousness as a non-algorithmic process with the help of quantum effects in the work of Roger Penrose. I just don't think it is necessary.

Favorite oxymorons: Gospel Truth, Rational Supernaturalist, Business Ethics, Christian Morality

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Paisley
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BobSpence1 wrote:I too have

BobSpence1 wrote:
I too have problems with the term 'immaterial', which is why I interpreted in my argument 'immaterial' as referring to anything which is not itself a material object. This would leave attributes of material objects to be arguably 'immaterial' in this strict sense, even though they have no meaning if not associated with at least a hypothetical material object.

What about the experience of pure consciousness (i.e. awareness that is only aware of itself)? Certainly, this does not require a material object to be meaningful.

"Scientists animated by the purpose of proving they are purposeless constitute an interesting subject for study." - Alfred North Whitehead


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nigelTheBold wrote:I do see

nigelTheBold wrote:
I do see the misunderstanding. You are demonstrating it here. Consciousness does not equal free will. There is a reason why robots with consciousness would be selected over robots without consciousness: because consciousness is part of the physical system, and as such, changes the behaviour of the physical system. Any change in behaviour is selectable.

No, you don't see it because you keep saying the same thing. In a deterministic world, consciousness does NOT change behavior. Whether my computer is actually consciously aware or not does not change how it will perform mathematical calculations! This is what you're not getting.

What's the difference between information data processing and sensory data processing? Nothing except the sensory data processing presupposes that the experience of subjective awareness is happening. That's all. It does not change the output!

nigelTheBold wrote:
Second, materialists don't always assume that life arose by chance. (Again, please be careful when using the word "emerge" to indicate an event while we are discussing the emergent system of consciousness. As we've seen, it's bound to lead to confusion.) If chemistry demonstrates anything, it's that simple building blocks spontaneously form from simpler building blocks in the presense of energy. So, "chance" here is not as in, "pure random coincidence." "Chance" more means, there is the possiblity of two outcomes, both equally alive, and it was "chance" (from epistemic indeterminability, rather than ontic indeterminacy) that one happened rather than the other.

Be careful with the term "spontaneous." It's not usually used to describe a mechanical, inanimate process but something that is alive and free.

Metaphysical determinism implies that there are no pure chance events. There wasn't really "two outcomes." Whatever happens could not have been otherwise. Just because you cannot  epistemically determine it does not change anything.

But you bring something interesting with epistemic indeterminability. You have argued in the past that we cannot know whether the world is determinate or indeterminate. If that is the case, then you would have to come to the conclusion that materialism has only has a 50% possibility of being true (at best). For someone who has only a 50% chance of being right, you seem to be pretty damn cocky!

nigelTheBold wrote:
Of course we assume conscious behaviour to exhibit some element of sponaneity. Consciousness, as an emergent system, can exhibit indeterinability. That gives us the same unpredictability as the roll of a dice, or a high-quality non-quantum random number generator. The assumption that we have free will is far from proving it exists.

I understand where you are coming from.

No, I don't think you really do! In a deterministic world, conscious behavior must really be mechanical (not spontaneous). So, if conscious behavior is always mechanical, then how can you be so sure that an amoeba doesn't have subjective awareness?

nigelTheBold wrote:
You feel there is a "self" that is unrelated to the bag of water that is your body. You feel that decision-making as a process cannot be deterministic in any sense, even if that determinism were indistinguishable from indeterminism. You feel this other "self" must lie outside the purely physical. You feel all this to be true.

And with this, I have a question: when you make a decision, what do you do? What process do you go through? Do you not weigh the consequences of each branch of the decision, based on knowledge and past experience? If so, how is that not just as deterministic as the purely-physical brain? How would the process differ between a dualistic consciousness, and an emergent consciousness based on the physical brain?

The more pertinent question at hand is: How would it differ from a "robot without consciousness" or a "philosophical zombie?" Answer: It wouldn't.

"Scientists animated by the purpose of proving they are purposeless constitute an interesting subject for study." - Alfred North Whitehead


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Paisley wrote:What about the

Paisley wrote:

What about the experience of pure consciousness (i.e. awareness that is only aware of itself)? Certainly, this does not require a material object to be meaningful.

You're joking, right? Brain damage to certain parts of the brain is all it takes to achieve Oliver Sacks' famous man who mistook his wife for a hat. There is no reason to believe that any part of consciousness is independent of the physical brain.

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Paisley wrote:No, you don't

Paisley wrote:

No, you don't see it because you keep saying the same thing. In a deterministic world, consciousness does NOT change behavior. Whether my computer is actually consciously aware or not does not change how it will perform mathematical calculations! This is what you're not getting.

You are like an adherent to Zeno, arguing that nobody can die of from an arrow, and claim anyone who disagrees with you is just ignorant of philosophy.

The physical evidence is against you. As HisWillness (and just about everyone else here) has pointed out, just about every aspect of consciousness has been associated with the physical brain in some way, from brain damage affecting personality, cognitive ability, identity of "self," and so on, to brain scans following the activity of the brain during many different forms of mental processing. Getting drunk or stoned affects the consciousness. Hunger and fatigue both affect the consciousness. In fact, there is not one aspect of consciousness that isn't affected by the physical.

It is impossible for dualism to account for this in a coherent manner.

As for your strange assertion that consciousness can't change the processing of information; that's just absurd. If it's part off the brain's "programming," (that is, is part of the emergent processes that make up intelligence and other cognitive functions of the brain), it will affect the outcome of that processing. As I pointed out that a feedback loop in a TV affects the performance of the TV in a noticeable way, a feedback loop within an information processing system affects the output. That's kind of the whole idea behind neural networks, which can be (and generally are) implemented entirely in software.

You are making an assertion that is both evidentially and logically incorrect.

Quote:

What's the difference between information data processing and sensory data processing? Nothing except the sensory data processing presupposes that the experience of subjective awareness is happening. That's all. It does not change the output!

Sensory processing presupposes no such thing. Sensory data is processed daily in automobile plants, by automatons.

Information processing is much more complex than you suppose. There's an entire branch of mathematics called "information theory" that researches much of this. It's relevant to both computer systems, and general cognition.

How do I know that it's more complex than you suppose? Because processing of input ('sensory data') is but one small field in the whole of information theory. There's a huge difference between them.

I'd be tempted to go into the whole spiel about how the brain is like a computer, but it's not. The similarities are superficial. The physical structure of the computer (the logic gates) allow for the storing and processing of information (the state of all the logic gates). Same with the brain: the physical structure of the brain (neurons) allow for the storing and processing of information (the whole state of the brain). But it breaks down because computer programmers work hard to keep their programs from becoming emergent, and the brain is physically far more complex than any conceivable digital computer.

Quote:

Be careful with the term "spontaneous." It's not usually used to describe a mechanical, inanimate process but something that is alive and free.

Really? What about "spontaneous combustion?"

Quote:

Metaphysical determinism implies that there are no pure chance events. There wasn't really "two outcomes." Whatever happens could not have been otherwise. Just because you cannot  epistemically determine it does not change anything.

But you bring something interesting with epistemic indeterminability. You have argued in the past that we cannot know whether the world is determinate or indeterminate. If that is the case, then you would have to come to the conclusion that materialism has only has a 50% possibility of being true (at best). For someone who has only a 50% chance of being right, you seem to be pretty damn cocky!

I'm pretty damned cocky because the physical evidence supports my position. I'm not sure where you come up with the 50/50 odds.

You're changing the discussion here. I've been attempting to show you why "consciousness" is a selectable trait, and could evolve. Now you're turning it into a discussion of dualistic libertarian free will vs. naturalistic determinism. Which discussion would you prefer?

Frankly, I'd enjoy a friendly debate about dualism vs. naturalistic determinism -- especially over a beer, where we can laugh about it. Forums are tough, because we are both earnest, and it's easy to misconstrue the other; and it's harder to clarify our positions to each other. Everything ends up sounding more serious than it is.

Quote:

No, I don't think you really do! In a deterministic world, conscious behavior must really be mechanical (not spontaneous). So, if conscious behavior is always mechanical, then how can you be so sure that an amoeba doesn't have subjective awareness?

Because an amoeba doesn't have the physical substrate to support emergent consciousness. We have the physical means to determine conscious potential if we assume consciousness is physical. If you assume dualism, you lack that ability.

Your statement fits with my understanding of your position. Consciousness, if strictly part of the physical system, cannot cause spontaneous action.

Strictly, I'd agree with that proposition. Given epistemic indetermanability but ontic determinability, consciousness would appear spontaneous, but in reality be ultimately deterministic.

That's a different proposition than that consciousness does not affect the information processing of the brain.

Quote:

The more pertinent question at hand is: How would it differ from a "robot without consciousness" or a "philosophical zombie?" Answer: It wouldn't.

I don't think that's more pertinent at all. I find my question far more interesting. And your conclusion is simply incorrect, just as concluding that Zeno proved you can't be killed by an arrow is incorrect.

"Consciousness" provides an awareness of "self." This awareness of self allows an organism to relate conditions to itself. For instance, if a self-aware organism sees someone step into a fire and suddenly scream in pain and die in an ugly conflagration, she can project herself into that situation and decide to never step into a fire. An organism driven strictly by stimulus/response could not do that. I hope you see the evolutionary advantage of this?

Further, there is "mental time travel," the ability to take past experiences and project them into the future. Until recently, it was assumed that humans were the only ones to do this, but it was recently discovered that certain birds do it also. This requires an awareness of "self." I assume you see the evolutionary advantage of this.

And so on. The awareness of identity (consciousness) is a selectable trait. It confers an evolutionary advantage. Whether it is ontically deterministic or not does not matter. If it is strictly deterministic, it is still part of the physical mechanism of information processing, even if it simply provides a more sophisticated framework for evaluation.

"Yes, I seriously believe that consciousness is a product of a natural process. I find that the neuroscientists, psychologists, and philosophers who proceed from that premise are the ones who are actually making useful contributions to our understanding of the mind." - PZ Myers


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Paisley wrote:BobSpence1

Paisley wrote:

BobSpence1 wrote:
I too have problems with the term 'immaterial', which is why I interpreted in my argument 'immaterial' as referring to anything which is not itself a material object. This would leave attributes of material objects to be arguably 'immaterial' in this strict sense, even though they have no meaning if not associated with at least a hypothetical material object.

What about the experience of pure consciousness (i.e. awareness that is only aware of itself)? Certainly, this does not require a material object to be meaningful.

Yes, but is another class of 'immaterial' referent, than the simple case I had in mind in my statement about 'attributes'. BTW, even 'non-pure' consciousness is just such a referent, the bit about 'awareness of awareness itself', ie awareness of the workings of our own mind, is an unnecessary qualification.

Actually, looking at that again, many even simple attributes such as color can be imagined in isolation. 'Shape' would be a little harder. But maybe I should have said "... may have no meaning if not...". Umm, ok drop the underlined clause, it has no impact on my argument, maybe even detracts from the idea that "materialists" (in the sense of non-dualists) accept the validity and usefulness of truly 'immaterial" referents all the time, but not those which refer to the "soul" or "the supernatural", among other examples.

Thanks for the heads-up there.
 

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Paisley wrote:You have

Paisley wrote:

You have argued in the past that we cannot know whether the world is determinate or indeterminate. If that is the case, then you would have to come to the conclusion that materialism has only has a 50% possibility of being true (at best). For someone who has only a 50% chance of being right, you seem to be pretty damn cocky!

Can you show us how you calculated P=.5? I don't see where that number came from. I think that most of the posters here have some understanding of statistics; so if you show your calculations we should be able to follow it and understand where this 50% chance came from.

I hope that we are all clear that just because there are two different possibilities, that does not mean that each possibility is equally likely. I am either a person or a Turing machine. But that does not mean that there is a 50% chance that I am a Turning machine.

"You say that it is your custom to burn widows. Very well. We also have a custom: when men burn a woman alive, we tie a rope around their necks and we hang them. Build your funeral pyre; beside it, my carpenters will build a gallows. You may follow your custom. And then we will follow ours."
British General Charles Napier while in India


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Jormungander wrote:Paisley

Jormungander wrote:
Paisley wrote:

You have argued in the past that we cannot know whether the world is determinate or indeterminate. If that is the case, then you would have to come to the conclusion that materialism has only has a 50% possibility of being true (at best). For someone who has only a 50% chance of being right, you seem to be pretty damn cocky!

Can you show us how you calculated P=.5? I don't see where that number came from. I think that most of the posters here have some understanding of statistics; so if you show your calculations we should be able to follow it and understand where this 50% chance came from.

I hope that we are all clear that just because there are two different possibilities, that does not mean that each possibility is equally likely. I am either a person or a Turing machine. But that does not mean that there is a 50% chance that I am a Turning machine.

There are only two possibilities: determinism or indeterminism. If an individual believes that there is not sufficient reason to believe one way or the other (which is Nigel's argument), then the odds that he is guessing right is only 50-50.

"Scientists animated by the purpose of proving they are purposeless constitute an interesting subject for study." - Alfred North Whitehead


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HisWillness wrote:Paisley

HisWillness wrote:
Paisley wrote:

What about the experience of pure consciousness (i.e. awareness that is only aware of itself)? Certainly, this does not require a material object to be meaningful.

You're joking, right? Brain damage to certain parts of the brain is all it takes to achieve Oliver Sacks' famous man who mistook his wife for a hat. There is no reason to believe that any part of consciousness is independent of the physical brain.

Joking? Bob Spence stated that he cannot fathom something immaterial without reference to something physical. So, I simply asked him if the notion of the "experience of pure consciousness" is something that he could intellectually or intuitively grasp.

"Scientists animated by the purpose of proving they are purposeless constitute an interesting subject for study." - Alfred North Whitehead


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nigelTheBold wrote:Paisley

nigelTheBold wrote:
Paisley wrote:

No, you don't see it because you keep saying the same thing. In a deterministic world, consciousness does NOT change behavior. Whether my computer is actually consciously aware or not does not change how it will perform mathematical calculations! This is what you're not getting.

As for your strange assertion that consciousness can't change the processing of information; that's just absurd. If it's part off the brain's "programming," (that is, is part of the emergent processes that make up intelligence and other cognitive functions of the brain), it will affect the outcome of that processing. As I pointed out that a feedback loop in a TV affects the performance of the TV in a noticeable way, a feedback loop within an information processing system affects the output. That's kind of the whole idea behind neural networks, which can be (and generally are) implemented entirely in software.

But the "feedback loop" which you are referencing in this situation is not consciously aware. Duh! 

On the materialistic view, the only difference between a conscious "stimulus-response system" and one that is not is that the stimuli in the conscious one are actually experienced. That's all. The external behavior is still the same for both!

nigelTheBold wrote:
You are making an assertion that is both evidentially and logically incorrect.

Your reasoning is circular. You presuppose the conclusion in the premise of your argument.

nigelTheBold wrote:
Paisley wrote:
What's the difference between information data processing and sensory data processing? Nothing except the sensory data processing presupposes that the experience of subjective awareness is happening. That's all. It does not change the output!

Sensory processing presupposes no such thing. Sensory data is processed daily in automobile plants, by automatons.

Then you are using the term "sensory" figuratively in this context, not literally. That's why it is processed by automatons!

nigelTheBold wrote:
Information processing is much more complex than you suppose. There's an entire branch of mathematics called "information theory" that researches much of this. It's relevant to both computer systems, and general cognition.

How do I know that it's more complex than you suppose? Because processing of input ('sensory data') is but one small field in the whole of information theory. There's a huge difference between them.

I'd be tempted to go into the whole spiel about how the brain is like a computer, but it's not. The similarities are superficial. The physical structure of the computer (the logic gates) allow for the storing and processing of information (the state of all the logic gates). Same with the brain: the physical structure of the brain (neurons) allow for the storing and processing of information (the whole state of the brain). But it breaks down because computer programmers work hard to keep their programs from becoming emergent, and the brain is physically far more complex than any conceivable digital computer.

Computer programmers "work hard to keep their programs from becoming emergent?" What the hell is this supposed to mean?

I don't see a logical rebuttal in your foregoing commnents. I will remind you that you are burden with the problematic task of explaining how consciousness is causally-efficacious in a deterministic world. You are using "information theory" and "complexity" to gloss over the fact that you haven't got a clue.

nigelTheBold wrote:
Paisley wrote:
Metaphysical determinism implies that there are no pure chance events. There wasn't really "two outcomes." Whatever happens could not have been otherwise. Just because you cannot  epistemically determine it does not change anything.

But you bring something interesting with epistemic indeterminability. You have argued in the past that we cannot know whether the world is determinate or indeterminate. If that is the case, then you would have to come to the conclusion that materialism has only has a 50% possibility of being true (at best). For someone who has only a 50% chance of being right, you seem to be pretty damn cocky!

I'm pretty damned cocky because the physical evidence supports my position. I'm not sure where you come up with the 50/50 odds.

It's pretty simple. There are only two possibilities: determinism and indeterminism. Only one is true. If you argue that we cannot "determine" which one is true, then it logically follows that the odds of guessing which one is true is 50/50.

nigelTheBold wrote:
You're changing the discussion here. I've been attempting to show you why "consciousness" is a selectable trait, and could evolve. Now you're turning it into a discussion of dualistic libertarian free will vs. naturalistic determinism. Which discussion would you prefer?

No, I'm not changing the discussion. The only possible causal role that consciousness can play is the exercising of free will. That's the difference between automatons and living organisms.

nigelTheBold wrote:
Paisley wrote:
No, I don't think you really do! In a deterministic world, conscious behavior must really be mechanical (not spontaneous). So, if conscious behavior is always mechanical, then how can you be so sure that an amoeba doesn't have subjective awareness?

Because an amoeba doesn't have the physical substrate to support emergent consciousness. We have the physical means to determine conscious potential if we assume consciousness is physical. If you assume dualism, you lack that ability.

The amoeba is clearly a living organism that responds to its environment. How the hell can you say with absolute certitude that it doesn't have some rudimentary form of "feeling awareness?" Answer: You can't!

nigelTheBold wrote:
Your statement fits with my understanding of your position. Consciousness, if strictly part of the physical system, cannot cause spontaneous action.

Strictly, I'd agree with that proposition. Given epistemic indetermanability but ontic determinability, consciousness would appear spontaneous, but in reality be ultimately deterministic.

That's a different proposition than that consciousness does not affect the information processing of the brain.

No, it isn't. In your worldview, everything is information processing. Whether the information processing is conscious or not is immaterial (pun is intended) to what output will be produced!

nigelTheBold wrote:
Paisley wrote:
The more pertinent question at hand is: How would it differ from a "robot without consciousness" or a "philosophical zombie?" Answer: It wouldn't.

I don't think that's more pertinent at all. I find my question far more interesting. And your conclusion is simply incorrect, just as concluding that Zeno proved you can't be killed by an arrow is incorrect.

"Consciousness" provides an awareness of "self." This awareness of self allows an organism to relate conditions to itself. For instance, if a self-aware organism sees someone step into a fire and suddenly scream in pain and die in an ugly conflagration, she can project herself into that situation and decide to never step into a fire. An organism driven strictly by stimulus/response could not do that. I hope you see the evolutionary advantage of this?

The operative term in your argument is  "decides." Deterministic processes don't have free will.....DUH!

nigelTheBold wrote:
And so on. The awareness of identity (consciousness) is a selectable trait. It confers an evolutionary advantage. Whether it is ontically deterministic or not does not matter. If it is strictly deterministic, it is still part of the physical mechanism of information processing, even if it simply provides a more sophisticated framework for evaluation.

In the worldview of deterministic materialism, whether or not consciousness is present  and irrespective of the level complexity, a stimulus-response system will process (sensory) data the same - i.e. mechanically.  "Robots with consciousness" are only spectators in life, not actual participants.

"Scientists animated by the purpose of proving they are purposeless constitute an interesting subject for study." - Alfred North Whitehead


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Paisley wrote: But the

Paisley wrote:

But the "feedback loop" which you are referencing in this situation is not consciously aware. Duh! 

Irrelevant. A feedback loop takes the output and feeds it back into the input. As you just pointed out, it doesn't even need to be "consciously-aware" to be effective. Duh.

Okay, ignore the feedback loop if you want. It's really just the simplest way to look at it. Here's another:

Self-awareness by definition provides an organism information about how events, circumstances, and options relate to the organism. Therefore, self-awareness is a source of information used in information processing. Therefore, an organism that is self-aware will operate on a different set of information than the organism that is not self aware, but experiencing the same events.

Therefore, self-awareness is a selectable trait.

Quote:

Then you are using the term "sensory" figuratively in this context, not literally. That's why it is processed by automatons!

I used the term quite literally. If you disagree, please explain how the vision processing in a construction robot is different than vision processing in a human brain.

Quote:

Computer programmers "work hard to keep their programs from becoming emergent?" What the hell is this supposed to mean?

I was thinking of keeping multi-threaded programs from exhibiting unpredictable behaviour through an error called a "race condition." It's a bit of a stretch, really, to call it emergent; it is emergence only in the most crude sense of the word. So, I retract that statement.

Quote:

I don't see a logical rebuttal in your foregoing commnents. I will remind you that you are burden with the problematic task of explaining how consciousness is causally-efficacious in a deterministic world. You are using "information theory" and "complexity" to gloss over the fact that you haven't got a clue.

No, I used "information theory" to explain how you were wrong that sensory processing was the same as information processing. Sensory processing is only one small aspect of information processing.

I'm not even using "complexity" to explain anything of significance.

I've already explained how a feedback loop alters the bahaviour of a system. I've already explained how consciousness acts as a feedback loop, and even outlined the way in which this occurs. You're rebuttal has been to tell me that sensory processing is the same as information processing (which it isn't), and tell me that I'm wrong, without explaining how I'm wrong.

I've also explained how consciousness provides new information to the information processing system. This information concerns the relations of things, events, and so on, with the organism. As the organism has more information, it is able to evaluate options better.

Quote:

No, I'm not changing the discussion. The only possible causal role that consciousness can play is the exercising of free will. That's the difference between automatons and living organisms.

That's a bare assertion, and one that is completely contrary to physical evidence.

Your definition of consciousness was, "self-awareness." It had nothing to do with free will. This is why people were asking for a clarification on your definition. Your use of it indicated that you were using consciousness in a way that differed from your definition; thanks for clarification.

I thought the difference between automatons and living organisms was that living organisms evolved, and they reproduce; while automatons were designed and are constructed.

Quote:

nigelTheBold wrote:

I don't think that's more pertinent at all. I find my question far more interesting. And your conclusion is simply incorrect, just as concluding that Zeno proved you can't be killed by an arrow is incorrect.

"Consciousness" provides an awareness of "self." This awareness of self allows an organism to relate conditions to itself. For instance, if a self-aware organism sees someone step into a fire and suddenly scream in pain and die in an ugly conflagration, she can project herself into that situation and decide to never step into a fire. An organism driven strictly by stimulus/response could not do that. I hope you see the evolutionary advantage of this?

The operative term in your argument is  "decides." Deterministic processes don't have free will.....DUH!

To "decide" is merely the evaluation of multiple possibilities and selecting one of them based on certain criteria. It doesn't take free will to decide. All it takes is information, and  the ability to process that information. Consciousness is one more information source, the information of how things affect the self, and as such, affects the decision.

Knowing how things affect you changes your behaviour, and is therefore selectable.

And I ask again: when you make a decision, how do you go about it? Do you randomly choose? Or do you evaluate your past experience, list your options, project the effects of each option into the future, and choose the one that provides the best projected result?

If it's the first, then congratulations. You may have free will, assuming it's truly random. If it's the second, then it's not significantly different than a deterministic indeterminate self-aware information processing system.

Quote:

In the worldview of deterministic materialism, whether or not consciousness is present  and irrespective of the level complexity, a stimulus-response system will process (sensory) data the same - i.e. mechanically.  "Robots with consciousness" are only spectators in life, not actual participants.

Strawman. Irrelevant.

The debate isn't about whether a "robot with consciousness" will "participate" or be a "spectator." It's about whether or not a "robot with consciousness" will behave the same as a "robot without consciousness."

As has been shown, the "robot with consciousness" will operate with a more complete set of information, and so will behave differently.

"Yes, I seriously believe that consciousness is a product of a natural process. I find that the neuroscientists, psychologists, and philosophers who proceed from that premise are the ones who are actually making useful contributions to our understanding of the mind." - PZ Myers


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nigelTheBold wrote:Paisley

nigelTheBold wrote:
Paisley wrote:
No, I'm not changing the discussion. The only possible causal role that consciousness can play is the exercising of free will. That's the difference between automatons and living organisms.

That's a bare assertion, and one that is completely contrary to physical evidence.

Your definition of consciousness was, "self-awareness." It had nothing to do with free will. This is why people were asking for a clarification on your definition. Your use of it indicated that you were using consciousness in a way that differed from your definition; thanks for clarification.

My definition of consciousness in the OP was simply "awareness." In a deterministic worldview, what other role is there for consciousness to play besides simply being aware? There is NONE. This is the whole point! "Being aware" is simply a passive role, not an active one.

At this point, I think we should agree to disagree because we have obviously reached an insurmountable impasse.

"Scientists animated by the purpose of proving they are purposeless constitute an interesting subject for study." - Alfred North Whitehead


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Paisley wrote:My definition

Paisley wrote:

My definition of consciousness in the OP was simply "awareness." In a deterministic worldview, what other role is there for consciousness to play besides simply being aware? There is NONE. This is the whole point! "Being aware" is simply a passive role, not an active one.

At this point, I think we should agree to disagree because we have obviously reached an insurmountable impasse.

I agree. As you refuse to bother trying to actually understand the materialistic worldview, there's no way forward.

I think you take philosophy a bit too seriously. It's an empidiment to your understanding. I was being facetious in my reference to Zeno, but I'm beginning to suspect it's a bit closer to the truth than I thought.

Seriously: good luck in your quest for knowledge and understanding.

"Yes, I seriously believe that consciousness is a product of a natural process. I find that the neuroscientists, psychologists, and philosophers who proceed from that premise are the ones who are actually making useful contributions to our understanding of the mind." - PZ Myers


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Paisley wrote:HisWillness

Paisley wrote:

HisWillness wrote:
Paisley wrote:

What about the experience of pure consciousness (i.e. awareness that is only aware of itself)? Certainly, this does not require a material object to be meaningful.

You're joking, right? Brain damage to certain parts of the brain is all it takes to achieve Oliver Sacks' famous man who mistook his wife for a hat. There is no reason to believe that any part of consciousness is independent of the physical brain.

Joking? Bob Spence stated that he cannot fathom something immaterial without reference to something physical. So, I simply asked him if the notion of the "experience of pure consciousness" is something that he could intellectually or intuitively grasp.

Paisley, I stated in my first reference to this:

" This would leave attributes of material objects to be arguably 'immaterial' in this strict sense, even though they have no meaning if not associated with at least a hypothetical material object."

Note I was referring specifically to "attributes of material objects", not "something immaterial" in general. I have since conceded that the qualification you underline is going a bit far, even in the restricted category of attributes of physical objects.

None of which undermines my point that there are many 'immaterial' referents which I am quite happy to accept, despite your misleading categoizing of me as a 'materialist' who cannot accept such ideas.

IOW I affirm again that I do not have a problem with your example of "experience of pure consciousness".

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Paisley wrote: - I am using

Paisley wrote:
- I am using the term "consciousness" to mean, at the very least, "conscious-awareness."
Except we aren't always consciously aware of the fact that we are conscious. The assumption here is that because we are ever aware of our consciousness we are always aware of it. I suppose that assumption is good enough for some, but it's an inductive argument at best and not particularly rigorous or scientific at least not without supporting evidence.
Paisley wrote:
- It is generally argued by materialists that consciousness is an "emergent" property. That is, somewhere during the process of biological evolution, consciousness suddenly emerged in living organisms. Exactly when this emergence occurred seems to be a bit of mystery. And there doesn't appear to be any kind of consensus in the scientific community concerning which organisms are conscious and which are not. Also, keep in mind that consciousness as an emergent property cannot be compared to any other form of emergence we may observe in nature because every other form is physical, not mental.
Except that this is not at all what is meant by the term emergent. An emergent property of any given system is not simply a property that emerges over time but is a property in that given system which emerges as the result of the system's many complex interactions in such a way that we wouldn't have predicted it. Given this definition we can compare it to physical things because it is not actually a mental thing, it is a physical thing. In this case self awareness is an emergent property of the size of specific brain structures vs other brain structures coupled with the human brain's unprecedented amount of interconnectivity between brain structures. Most notably is the fact that we have a much larger prefrontal cortex vs the size of other brain structures than other animals do. The prefrontal cortex has been identified as the area where thoughts originate, and where we formulate intentions. When people refer to consciousness as emergent we are generally refering to how it emerges from the current physical state of the brain. Thus I will say again its form is physical and it can be compared to any other form of emergence we see in nature, for instance colors as an emergent property of the atomic system.
Paisley wrote:
- Evolution theory basically holds that the fittest survive by the process of natural selection. In other words, those members of a species with genetic traits or characteristics which confer some kind of survival benefit are the ones that live and reproduce and thereby pass on their traits to subsequent generations.
Evolutionary theory is actually more interested in the survival of traits, not the survival of individuals. So the only fitness that really matters is reproductive fitness. Those traits that improve reproductive fitness may include, as in the case of tasmanian devils, getting to puberty younger. Tasmanian devils are dying at an increasing rate due to some kind of cancer that many of them seem to be contracting, so their genetic adaptation to this in an attempt to increase their reproductive fitness is to reproduce younger. This will ensure at the very least the prolonged survival of their species given their current problem but it will not make any individuals more fit to survive the cancer that they will very likely develop after birth. But the process of evolution doesn't actually care if an individual dies after reproducing. Also an individual doesn't have to be the most reproductively fit to pass on traits to the next generation, it just has to be an individual who is reproductively fit. It's not survival of the fittest, just survival of the fit, and not of the fit individuals, but the fit genes.
Paisley wrote:
- Materialism generally holds that consciousness is a by-product or an epiphenomenon of the physical or that consciousness supervenes on the physical. Both epiphenomenalism and supervenience theory hold that conscious is not causally-efficacious. (Incidentally, both eiphenomenalism and supervenience are dualistic...but now I digress.)
Epiphenominalism is not actually dualistic since it does not argue that mind is seperate from the brain, in fact the argument there is that mind is emergent from brain functions. They argue that the epiphenomena of mind is caused by the physical but cannot cause the physical. Supervenience is also not dualistic because again it argues that the mind depends on the brain and likewise the brain depends on the mind, which means again it does not argue that the mind and the brain are seperate or dual.
Paisley wrote:
Here's the dilemma for materialists as I see it... Why was the characteristic or trait of conscious-awareness naturally selected if consciousness does not confer any survival benefit? In other words, why aren't all living organisms simply organic "robots without consciousness?" (Remember, according to materialism, consciousness is not causally-efficacious. So it cannot confer any survival benefit.)
The assumption here is the apiphenomenal assumption that consciousness cannot cause the physical. If that is the case in reality, which not everyone believes (and no one has proven), then it profers no survival advantage in reality. However how does that mean it wouldn't be selected favorably? Improving reproductive fitness does not have to improve an organisms odds of survival. There's also sexual selection and genetic drift. Really the only things that cannot evolve are those traits which harm reproductive fitness. Any traits that have no effect at all on reproductive fitness may be selected favorably by genetic drift alone. Genetic drift is purely random and does no actual selecting, so the traits that have no effect on reproductive fitness may be passed on to future generations through pure chance. Of course if we just reject the epiphenomenal assumption about consciousness being only caused by the physical and not causing the physical then consciousness does profer a survival advantage. It renders us capable of making more informed decisions given less obvious information. Now the evidence points to this actually being the case, that we can reason out actual consequences and decide and effect our actions based on this. Going back to the epiphenomenal assumption. Even if we assume that we don't actually make the decisions, that these decisions are made for us physically before we are aware of them, it doesn't change the fact that we are behaving as though we made the decisions before we acted on them, and given what we have done and are capable of that no other animals appear to be capable of, such as advanced mathematics, logic and science, it would seem that it would actually profer a survival advantage whether we were really causing the behaviors or not. So here we see that your assertion that consciousness cannot effect survival because it does not cause anything fails. Unless we deny thousands of years of history, that is. We would have to propose the argument that epiphenomenon means that we don't cause our own behaviors and also propose that this means we didn't behave the way we have in the past. I fail to see how us not causing our own behavior, given that we still have behaved historically the way we have, means that epiphenomena cannot improve survival fitness. Much less reproductive fitness.


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DeathMunkyGod

DeathMunkyGod wrote:
Epiphenominalism is not actually dualistic since it does not argue that mind is seperate from the brain, in fact the argument there is that mind is emergent from brain functions. They argue that the epiphenomena of mind is caused by the physical but cannot cause the physical. Supervenience is also not dualistic because again it argues that the mind depends on the brain and likewise the brain depends on the mind, which means again it does not argue that the mind and the brain are seperate or dual.

Both epiphenomenalism and supervenience theory are dualistic because each holds that the mental is immaterial. Epiphenomena are byproducts and causally inefficacious by definition. Supervenient mental events correlate with physical events but are not identical with them. Moreover, correlation is not causation. And if you argue that supervenient mental attributes have some kind of "top-down" causation, then you are ascribing causation to the immaterial.

Identity type/ token theory has its own set of problems and eliminative materialism is so obviously ridiculous that it not worthy of any serious consideration. 

"Scientists animated by the purpose of proving they are purposeless constitute an interesting subject for study." - Alfred North Whitehead


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Dualism presumes a certain

Dualism presumes a certain category of 'immaterial' referents, but not all 'immaterial' subjects presume dualism.

'Eliminative materialism' is only 'ridiculous' when applied to ideas which can shown to have some substance to them.

In the case of Daniel Dennett - he is considered an EM specifically on the subject of 'qualia', defined as "qualities or properties as perceived or experienced by a person", but not on other aspects of the mind problem. Having read his arguments on that topic, I find it fairly compelling. Denying the validity of certain specific ideas, such as 'qualia', that are used in some approaches to analysing mental phenomena, does not make one an Eliminative Materialist. This is another example of a false generalizations, which fails to acknowledge whole ranges of significant variations within some broad category or over-generalized label.


 

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Hey Paisley, you're one of

Hey Paisley, you're one of the 'ultimate purpose' advocates:

 

The Israelis are, as I type this, running all over Gaza and the surrounding region with tanks & troops, as well as dropping heaping shitloads of air-delivered ordinance onto it's populated areas. Well over 400 victims have been claimed by the conflict already. I won't have this topic derail into an argumet over the rights/wrongs of the conflict, but I do want you to answer me this:

What is the 'ultimate purpose' to this decades-old feud the Israelis and the Islamic world has had?

Quote:
"Natasha has just come up to the window from the courtyard and opened it wider so that the air may enter more freely into my room. I can see the bright green strip of grass beneath the wall, and the clear blue sky above the wall, and sunlight everywhere. Life is beautiful. Let the future generations cleanse it of all evil, oppression and violence, and enjoy it to the full."

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Kevin R Brown wrote:Hey

Kevin R Brown wrote:

Hey Paisley, you're one of the 'ultimate purpose' advocates:

 

The Israelis are, as I type this, running all over Gaza and the surrounding region with tanks & troops, as well as dropping heaping shitloads of air-delivered ordinance onto it's populated areas. Well over 400 victims have been claimed by the conflict already. I won't have this topic derail into an argumet over the rights/wrongs of the conflict, but I do want you to answer me this:

What is the 'ultimate purpose' to this decades-old feud the Israelis and the Islamic world has had?

Come on Kevin, we can do better than this. Paisley means purpose in a personal sense. I think he means that you or me individually have some ultimate meaning, not that modern wars have spiritual meaning to them. I'm pretty sure he means meaning for individuals more than meaning for feuds.

"You say that it is your custom to burn widows. Very well. We also have a custom: when men burn a woman alive, we tie a rope around their necks and we hang them. Build your funeral pyre; beside it, my carpenters will build a gallows. You may follow your custom. And then we will follow ours."
British General Charles Napier while in India


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Quote:Come on Kevin, we can

Quote:
Come on Kevin, we can do better than this. Paisley means purpose in a personal sense. I think he means that you or me individually have some ultimate meaning, not that modern wars have spiritual meaning to them. I'm pretty sure he means meaning for individuals more than meaning for feuds.

All the better.

 

He should have no problem, then, explaining the 'ultimate purpose' of having one's skull caved-in by the explosion of a 500-lb General Purpose Bomb.

Quote:
"Natasha has just come up to the window from the courtyard and opened it wider so that the air may enter more freely into my room. I can see the bright green strip of grass beneath the wall, and the clear blue sky above the wall, and sunlight everywhere. Life is beautiful. Let the future generations cleanse it of all evil, oppression and violence, and enjoy it to the full."

- Leon Trotsky, Last Will & Testament
February 27, 1940


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 [Adopts Sing Song

 [Adopts Sing Song Voice]

All things work together for good for those who love the Lord...

[/Fucking stop that nasty voice, already!]

Well, you see, Kevin... um... we don't know anything about that person with the erstwhile cranium.  Maybe um... god knew that... um... if they hadn't gone to be with Him at that moment that some horrible atheist might have  corrupted the contents of that cranium with LIES FROM THE DEVIL!!!!!  Maybe that was the next HITLER!!!

Or... maybe someone will see a touching memorial in honor of the pulverized pate, and the spirit of the Lord will touch them and they will come to know the love of our One True Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.

And anyway, who are you to dictate what God can and can't do with His Creation?!?!

 

 

Atheism isn't a lot like religion at all. Unless by "religion" you mean "not religion". --Ciarin

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Kevin R Brown

Kevin R Brown wrote:

Quote:
Come on Kevin, we can do better than this. Paisley means purpose in a personal sense. I think he means that you or me individually have some ultimate meaning, not that modern wars have spiritual meaning to them. I'm pretty sure he means meaning for individuals more than meaning for feuds.

All the better.

 

He should have no problem, then, explaining the 'ultimate purpose' of having one's skull caved-in by the explosion of a 500-lb General Purpose Bomb.

Good response. I suppose some Palestinian two year old who lives next to an ammunition storage facility that is bombed by the Israelis doesn't have any purpose whatsoever in life. I suppose assigning existential purpose to people who die as infants is impossible. Unless you define their purpose as being killed young, but I doubt many people would do that.

I suppose that Paisley could respond by delegating ultimate purpose to the afterlife. That way our real world lack of ultimate purpose can be ignored and he can hide behind a fantasy land's version of ultimate purpose. But perhaps I underestimate him.

"You say that it is your custom to burn widows. Very well. We also have a custom: when men burn a woman alive, we tie a rope around their necks and we hang them. Build your funeral pyre; beside it, my carpenters will build a gallows. You may follow your custom. And then we will follow ours."
British General Charles Napier while in India


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Jormungander wrote:I suppose

Jormungander wrote:

I suppose that Paisley could respond by delegating ultimate purpose to the afterlife. That way our real world lack of ultimate purpose can be ignored and he can hide behind a fantasy land's version of ultimate purpose. But perhaps I underestimate him.

No, I'm pretty sure that's the direction this is going. It's cyclical. Ultimate purpose turns to an afterlife filled with joy, and anything else isn't ultimate purpose. The aforementioned afterlife has no evidence for its existence save our imaginations, so the purpose is undermined. Then Paisley responds with a tirade against an old philosophical version of materialism that's limited, and rightly points out that it is limited. That not having addressed the problem of immateriality (at least to both sides), the materialist camp tries an explanation of modern materialism, only to be bombarded with more criticisms of Descartes-era materialism. That, in turn, sparks renewed interest in purpose and causality, which leads back to a characterization of "atheistic materialism" as without ultimate purpose, and so on, ad infinitum.

Saint Will: no gyration without funkstification.
fabulae! nil satis firmi video quam ob rem accipere hunc mi expediat metum. - Terence


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HisWillness wrote:No, I'm

HisWillness wrote:

No, I'm pretty sure that's the direction this is going. It's cyclical. Ultimate purpose turns to an afterlife filled with joy, and anything else isn't ultimate purpose. The aforementioned afterlife has no evidence for its existence save our imaginations, so the purpose is undermined. Then Paisley responds with a tirade against an old philosophical version of materialism that's limited, and rightly points out that it is limited. That not having addressed the problem of immateriality (at least to both sides), the materialist camp tries an explanation of modern materialism, only to be bombarded with more criticisms of Descartes-era materialism. That, in turn, sparks renewed interest in purpose and causality, which leads back to a characterization of "atheistic materialism" as without ultimate purpose, and so on, ad infinitum.

Damn, Will. 132 words to sum up all of Paisley's posts. That's impressive.

"Yes, I seriously believe that consciousness is a product of a natural process. I find that the neuroscientists, psychologists, and philosophers who proceed from that premise are the ones who are actually making useful contributions to our understanding of the mind." - PZ Myers


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nigelTheBold wrote:Damn,

nigelTheBold wrote:

Damn, Will. 132 words to sum up all of Paisley's posts. That's impressive.

Hmm. Maybe I'm God. I declare Beer sacred in My Sight! Micro-brewed beer, not that factory shit. This is excellent - I already have an absolute morality. Look how easy that was.

Saint Will: no gyration without funkstification.
fabulae! nil satis firmi video quam ob rem accipere hunc mi expediat metum. - Terence


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And I wonder what the

And I wonder what the purpose of life iin the alleged 'after-life' is.....

Favorite oxymorons: Gospel Truth, Rational Supernaturalist, Business Ethics, Christian Morality

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HisWillness

HisWillness wrote:

nigelTheBold wrote:

Damn, Will. 132 words to sum up all of Paisley's posts. That's impressive.

Hmm. Maybe I'm God. I declare Beer sacred in My Sight! Micro-brewed beer, not that factory shit. This is excellent - I already have an absolute morality. Look how easy that was.

I'll join your religion, but only if you declare that Newcastle is a sanctified beverage. Also you are right that this is going to be a circular discussion that will likely go nowhere.

"You say that it is your custom to burn widows. Very well. We also have a custom: when men burn a woman alive, we tie a rope around their necks and we hang them. Build your funeral pyre; beside it, my carpenters will build a gallows. You may follow your custom. And then we will follow ours."
British General Charles Napier while in India


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Jormungander

Jormungander wrote:

HisWillness wrote:

nigelTheBold wrote:

Damn, Will. 132 words to sum up all of Paisley's posts. That's impressive.

Hmm. Maybe I'm God. I declare Beer sacred in My Sight! Micro-brewed beer, not that factory shit. This is excellent - I already have an absolute morality. Look how easy that was.

I'll join your religion, but only if you declare that Newcastle is a sanctified beverage. Also you are right that this is going to be a circular discussion that will likely go nowhere.

I'm in, but leffe is my beer of choice!

Eden had a 25% murder rate and incest was rampant.


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HisWillness wrote:No, I'm

HisWillness wrote:
No, I'm pretty sure that's the direction this is going. It's cyclical. Ultimate purpose turns to an afterlife filled with joy, and anything else isn't ultimate purpose. The aforementioned afterlife has no evidence for its existence save our imaginations, so the purpose is undermined.

This is simply a diversionary tactic to draw attention away from the fact that no one on this forum can account for why consciousness was naturally selected when it doesn't confer any survival benefit. (This is the subject of the thread).

HisWillness wrote:
Then Paisley responds with a tirade against an old philosophical version of materialism that's limited, and rightly points out that it is limited. That not having addressed the problem of immateriality (at least to both sides), the materialist camp tries an explanation of modern materialism, only to be bombarded with more criticisms of Descartes-era materialism. That, in turn, sparks renewed interest in purpose and causality, which leads back to a characterization of "atheistic materialism" as without ultimate purpose, and so on, ad infinitum.

Your so-called modern version of materialism is immaterial (the term "immaterial" is meant literally in this context). Probability waves are mathematical abstractions, not physical objects. The dualism of waves and particles is not Cartesian but quantum theory.

Yeah, you can redefine "materialism" to be compatible with uncaused events....but in so doing....you forfeit your right to claim rationality.

"Scientists animated by the purpose of proving they are purposeless constitute an interesting subject for study." - Alfred North Whitehead


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BobSpence1 wrote:None of

BobSpence1 wrote:
None of which undermines my point that there are many 'immaterial' referents which I am quite happy to accept, despite your misleading categoizing of me as a 'materialist' who cannot accept such ideas.

The problem I have with your "materialism" is the acceptance of your immaterial referents. Probability waves and geometric points are mathetical abstractions, not physical objects. If all matter reduces to "immaterial referents," then how is that materialism?

"Scientists animated by the purpose of proving they are purposeless constitute an interesting subject for study." - Alfred North Whitehead


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Paisley wrote:no one on this

Paisley wrote:

no one on this forum can account for why consciousness was naturally selected when it doesn't confer any survival benefit. (This is the subject of the thread).

Pure bullshit. Consciousness does confer a survival benefit in animals. Imagine an unconscious (ie: a comatose) mouse or cat. Both would lay there immobile until they died of starvation or dehydration. Contrast that with a conscious mouse or a conscious cat that perceive things in its environment and react to them and make decisions. Are you really claiming that unconsciousness is a trait that can be selected for in animals? Let us say specifically mammals: which mammal do you think would have greater reproductive success if it was unconscious?

 

Paisley wrote:

Yeah, you can redefine "materialism" to be compatible with uncaused events....but in so doing....you forfeit your right to claim rationality.

Has someone on here explained quantum fluctuations and how they are materialistic? I could try to explain it but I don't work with quantum mechanics regularly and I would be trying to recall what I learned last year in a few statistical mechanics/quantum mechanics courses. This sentence from Paisley reaffirms that he is attacking some form of archaic materialism that we can hardly recognize due to our modern understanding of the universe.

"You say that it is your custom to burn widows. Very well. We also have a custom: when men burn a woman alive, we tie a rope around their necks and we hang them. Build your funeral pyre; beside it, my carpenters will build a gallows. You may follow your custom. And then we will follow ours."
British General Charles Napier while in India


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BobSpence1 wrote:Dualism

BobSpence1 wrote:
Dualism presumes a certain category of 'immaterial' referents, but not all 'immaterial' subjects presume dualism.

Whatever. The bottom line is that both epiphenomenalism and supervenience theory (which is based on strong emergence) are dualistic mind theories. That is, they both postulate that mental phenomena are nonphysical.

BobSpence1 wrote:
'Eliminative materialism' is only 'ridiculous' when applied to ideas which can shown to have some substance to them.

In the case of Daniel Dennett - he is considered an EM specifically on the subject of 'qualia', defined as "qualities or properties as perceived or experienced by a person", but not on other aspects of the mind problem. Having read his arguments on that topic, I find it fairly compelling. Denying the validity of certain specific ideas, such as 'qualia', that are used in some approaches to analysing mental phenomena, does not make one an Eliminative Materialist. This is another example of a false generalizations, which fails to acknowledge whole ranges of significant variations within some broad category or over-generalized label.

I'm glad you're finally acknowledging that Dennett is peddling eliminative materialism.

Qualia is subjective experience. And it's called "eliminative materialism" because it seeks to solve the mind-body problem by eliminating the problem of subjective experience. It does this by denying the reality of subjective experience itself! That this is completely absurd is patently obvious to anyone with a modicum of sanity.

"Scientists animated by the purpose of proving they are purposeless constitute an interesting subject for study." - Alfred North Whitehead


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Jormungander wrote:Pure

Jormungander wrote:
Pure bullshit. Consciousness does confer a survival benefit in animals. Imagine an unconscious (ie: a comatose) mouse or cat. Both would lay there immobile until they died of starvation or dehydration. Contrast that with a conscious mouse or a conscious cat that perceive things in its environment and react to them and make decisions. Are you really claiming that unconsciousness is a trait that can be selected for in animals? Let us say specifically mammals: which mammal do you think would have greater reproductive success if it was unconscious?

Decisions? Sorry, materialism does not allow for free will. This is why, in the deterministic worldview of scientific materialism, consciousness does not have a causal role to play. Whether electrochemical processes have the "emergent property of subjective awareness" does not change the behavior of the electrochemical processes themselves. Hence, the question: Why did nature select "robots with consciousness" rather than "robots without consciousness?"

Quite honestly, materialistic philosophers do not debate this point. That you are arguing that consciousness is causally-efficacious simply demonstrates that you have not properly reflected on the implications of a materialistic worldview.

"Scientists animated by the purpose of proving they are purposeless constitute an interesting subject for study." - Alfred North Whitehead


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  Honestly P, your fixation

  Honestly P, your fixation with defeating atheists and their "materialistic worldview" is becoming an exercise in futility.  Why don't you just buy yourself a nice high powered rifle, find a group of atheists milling around somewhere and get this out of your system once and for all ?

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Paisley wrote:BobSpence1

Paisley wrote:

BobSpence1 wrote:
None of which undermines my point that there are many 'immaterial' referents which I am quite happy to accept, despite your misleading categoizing of me as a 'materialist' who cannot accept such ideas.

The problem I have with your "materialism" is the acceptance of your immaterial referents. Probability waves and geometric points are mathetical abstractions, not physical objects. If all matter reduces to "immaterial referents," then how is that materialism?

I did not say, nor do I believe, that all matter reduces to "immaterial referents".

Probability waves are mathematical models describing the behaviour of fundamental particles.

To a good approximation, some particles behave as if they had no significant physical extension, so it is convenient when predicting their behaviour to treat them as mathematical points, of course.

It really is equivalent to the distinction between the phenomenon of gravitational attraction, and the immaterial mathematical construct that is Newton's law of universal gravitation.

Favorite oxymorons: Gospel Truth, Rational Supernaturalist, Business Ethics, Christian Morality

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Paisley wrote:BobSpence1

Paisley wrote:

BobSpence1 wrote:
Dualism presumes a certain category of 'immaterial' referents, but not all 'immaterial' subjects presume dualism.

Whatever. The bottom line is that both epiphenomenalism and supervenience theory (which is based on strong emergence) are dualistic mind theories. That is, they both postulate that mental phenomena are nonphysical.

No, non-material, in the sense of not being physical objects themselves. They still are descriptions of attributes or processes or explicit manifestations of physical things.

Quote:

BobSpence1 wrote:
'Eliminative materialism' is only 'ridiculous' when applied to ideas which can shown to have some substance to them.

In the case of Daniel Dennett - he is considered an EM specifically on the subject of 'qualia', defined as "qualities or properties as perceived or experienced by a person", but not on other aspects of the mind problem. Having read his arguments on that topic, I find it fairly compelling. Denying the validity of certain specific ideas, such as 'qualia', that are used in some approaches to analysing mental phenomena, does not make one an Eliminative Materialist. This is another example of a false generalizations, which fails to acknowledge whole ranges of significant variations within some broad category or over-generalized label.

I'm glad you're finally acknowledging that Dennett is peddling eliminative materialism.

Qualia is subjective experience. And it's called "eliminative materialism" because it seeks to solve the mind-body problem by eliminating the problem of subjective experience. It does this by denying the reality of subjective experience itself! That this is completely absurd is patently obvious to anyone with a modicum of sanity.

If you insist in defining 'Qualia' as simply "subjective experience", then you are conflating two concepts. Dennett is certainly not "denying the reality of subjective experience itself", he is denying the validity of something much more specific, as I pointed out. Now if you don't agree with his usage of the word 'qualia', then that is not grounds for accusing him of denying what you understand by it.

Favorite oxymorons: Gospel Truth, Rational Supernaturalist, Business Ethics, Christian Morality

"Theology is now little more than a branch of human ignorance. Indeed, it is ignorance with wings." - Sam Harris

The path to Truth lies via careful study of reality, not the dreams of our fallible minds - me

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Paisley's ongoing

Paisley's ongoing re-definition of words and concepts to fit his views confounds me.

I hope you'll fogive me for asking: But is there really much reason to keep trying to get him to understand?

"Anyone can repress a woman, but you need 'dictated' scriptures to feel you're really right in repressing her. In the same way, homophobes thrive everywhere. But you must feel you've got scripture on your side to come up with the tedious 'Adam and Eve not Adam and Steve' style arguments instead of just recognising that some people are different." - Douglas Murray


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JillSwift wrote:Paisley's

JillSwift wrote:

Paisley's ongoing re-definition of words and concepts to fit his views confounds me.

I hope you'll fogive me for asking: But is there really much reason to keep trying to get him to understand?

I admit I am getting awfully close to abandoning the apparently futile attempt to get Paisley to acknowledge even the most explicitly fallacious aspects of his arguments. "Whatever" seems as close as we get to this. IOW "you may be right on that point, but it doesn't matter".

Favorite oxymorons: Gospel Truth, Rational Supernaturalist, Business Ethics, Christian Morality

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BobSpence1 wrote:I admit

BobSpence1 wrote:
I admit I

am

getting awfully close to abandoning the apparently futile attempt to get Paisley to acknowledge even the most explicitly fallacious aspects of his arguments. "Whatever" seems as close as we get to this. IOW "you may be right on that point, but it doesn't matter".

Well, you definitely have sterner patience than I. I gave up ages ago.


 

"Anyone can repress a woman, but you need 'dictated' scriptures to feel you're really right in repressing her. In the same way, homophobes thrive everywhere. But you must feel you've got scripture on your side to come up with the tedious 'Adam and Eve not Adam and Steve' style arguments instead of just recognising that some people are different." - Douglas Murray


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Bob, Jill and everyone else

The problem with most of paisley's threads are that the defintions that he uses are so vague and undefined that he constantly changes the meanings of them to fit is views, which gets to the point that you cannot discuss anything because there is nothing to discuss as there is no proper definition of anything. Conscious is consicous awareness, what is awareness, his defintion is that if you don't know already then he can't define it, however the problem lies is that awareness can mean many things.


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  BobSpence1 wrote:No,

 

 

BobSpence1 wrote:
No, non-material, in the sense of not being physical objects themselves. They still are descriptions of attributes or processes or explicit manifestations of physical things.

This is not complicated. Either mental phenomena are PHYSICAL or they are NOT. If they are not, then we have dualism. There are no "ands," "ifs," or "buts" about it.

It is true that epiphenomenalism views mental phenomena as manifestations (actually, byproducts) of physical processes. However, the mental phenomena themselves are NONPHYSICAL. Thus this actually qualifies as a form of dualism, not strict materialism. And supervenience theory is pretty much the same thing except it is argued that mental events supervene (hence the term) and are correlated with physical events. But, like epiphenomenalism, supervenience theory holds that mental phenomena themselves are nonphysical. This also qualifies as a form of dualism.

In both epiphenomenalism and supervenience theory (at least, in the strictly materialistic versions), mental phenomena are causally-inefficacious. This being the case, (and overlooking the obvious dualism), I am asking the question: "How do materialists account for subjective awareness being naturally selected if it does not confer any survival benefit?" To date, I have not received an adequate response that did not implicitly presuppose free will in the argument.

BobSpence1 wrote:
If you insist in defining 'Qualia' as simply "subjective experience", then you are confalting two concepts. Dennett is certainly not "denying the reality of subjective experience itself", he is denying the validity of something much more specific, as I pointed out. Now if you don't agree with his usage of the word 'qualia', then that is not grounds for accusing him of denying what you understand by it.

I have already cited numerous sources in this thread that say otherwise. Qualia is the "quality of our subjective experience" (hence the term). And eliminative materialism (of which Dennett is most certainly a proponent) denies its reality. I cannot think of anything more irrational.

"Scientists animated by the purpose of proving they are purposeless constitute an interesting subject for study." - Alfred North Whitehead


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Jormungander wrote:which

Jormungander wrote:

which mammal do you think would have greater reproductive success if it was unconscious?

Blonds. Sticking out tongue

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BobSpence1 wrote:Paisley

BobSpence1 wrote:
Paisley wrote:
The problem I have with your "materialism" is the acceptance of your immaterial referents. Probability waves and geometric points are mathetical abstractions, not physical objects. If all matter reduces to "immaterial referents," then how is that materialism?

I did not say, nor do I believe, that all matter reduces to "immaterial referents".

This is scientific materialism. And if you subscribe to it, then you are intellectually obligated to acknowledge its logical implications.

The prevailing scientific theory (quantum mechanics) reduces matter (mass/energy) to probability waves and/or geometrical points (having location in space and time, but not dimension).

BobSpence1 wrote:
Probability waves are mathematical models describing the behaviour of fundamental particles.

Once again, the fundamental "particles" are geometric points (which are immaterial referents). Also, you are failing to mention that quantum theory is dualistic - i.e. the fundamentals abstractions are both probability waves and geometrical points. Finally, the "behavior" is indeterministic. But now we are digressing. Aren't we? This is simply a diversionary tactic because you are incapable of accounting for why consciousness was  naturally selected when it does not confer any survival benefit (this is, after all, the subject matter of this thread).

BobSpence1 wrote:
To a good approximation, some particles behave as if they had no significant physical extension, so it is convenient when predicting their behaviour to treat them as mathematical points, of course.

Some particles "behave AS IF" they had no significant physical extension? Then this "behavior" actually qualifies as evidence that they are not PHYSICAL (at least in the ultimate sense).

BobSpence1 wrote:
It really is equivalent to the distinction between the phenomenon of gravitational attraction, and the immaterial mathematical construct that is Newton's law of universal gravitation.

Yeah, and it is really the equivalent of speaking about singularities with infinite density and having no location in space and time. But this is just another mathematical abstraction which further makes my case.

"Scientists animated by the purpose of proving they are purposeless constitute an interesting subject for study." - Alfred North Whitehead


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JillSwift wrote:]Well, you

JillSwift wrote:
]Well, you definitely have sterner patience than I. I gave up ages ago. 

The actual reason why you gave up is because you were incapable of logically defending your position. I know it and you know it.

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BobSpence1 wrote:I admit I

BobSpence1 wrote:
I admit I am getting awfully close to abandoning the apparently futile attempt to get Paisley to acknowledge even the most explicitly fallacious aspects of his arguments. "Whatever" seems as close as we get to this. IOW "you may be right on that point, but it doesn't matter".

Quite honestly, anyone who espouses eliminative materialism (which apparently you do) is in no position to judge what is fallacious and what is not. And if you want to give up, then I suggest you do so and do it quickly. This way I will know not to waste my precious time on your posts.

"Scientists animated by the purpose of proving they are purposeless constitute an interesting subject for study." - Alfred North Whitehead


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latincanuck wrote:The

latincanuck wrote:
The problem with most of paisley's threads are that the defintions that he uses are so vague and undefined that he constantly changes the meanings of them to fit is views, which gets to the point that you cannot discuss anything because there is nothing to discuss as there is no proper definition of anything. Conscious is consicous awareness, what is awareness, his defintion is that if you don't know already then he can't define it, however the problem lies is that awareness can mean many things.

I'll make this simple. If the term "conscious-awareness" is not immediately evident to you, then you obviously lack the intellecutal faculties to participate in this debate. 

"Scientists animated by the purpose of proving they are purposeless constitute an interesting subject for study." - Alfred North Whitehead


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Paisley wrote:This is simply

Paisley wrote:
This is simply a diversionary tactic to draw attention away from the fact that no one on this forum can account for why consciousness was naturally selected when it doesn't confer any survival benefit. (This is the subject of the thread).

Paisley, not all things naturally selected offer immediately apparent survival benefits. I don't need to draw attention away from a point that is completely irrelevant.

Paisley wrote:
Your so-called modern version of materialism is immaterial (the term "immaterial" is meant literally in this context). Probability waves are mathematical abstractions, not physical objects. The dualism of waves and particles is not Cartesian but quantum theory.

Yeah, you can redefine "materialism" to be compatible with uncaused events....but in so doing....you forfeit your right to claim rationality.

Right, sorry, guys - I left this part out of the Paisley cycle: since Paisley takes the terms of quantum mechanics as literal descriptions with philosophical ramifications, quantum mechanics points the way to an immaterial universe. (Despite the fact that the terms are meant as helpful descriptions of what is purely math and experimental observation.)

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Paisley wrote: Quite

Paisley wrote:

 

Quite honestly, anyone who ...blah blah blah..... I will know not to waste my precious time on your posts.

  By all means, conserve that precious commodity by haunting another forum.  I think your self-proclaimed victory means that your work here is done ?

Lastly, if it fulfills your need for recognition and praise then allow me to exclaim:  

"All hail Paisley, slayer of atheistic materialism.   None can stand before his towering intellect !!!"

      'Bye Paisley ( ps, save that precious time of yours and make your absence permanent this time, m'kay ? )

 

I'm a right wing atheist because I enjoy being hated by everyone.