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Religion Pascal's Wager converted me from Catholicism to Agnosticism!

SoronTheBeast

Avatar: 159958 2010-01-24 16:32:03 -0500
17

[Brainfreeze]

Level 69 Hacker

There's your 3 BPs. Now stop ****ing whining about THIRTEEN CENTS you pathetic no-lifer. - Fran

I’m sorry if I’m just playing with semantics, but it REALLY depends on how you define the soul. BUT, more that just semantics, it matters about what bumumptions you make about the world when you DO define it.

And whether that wold view is a materialism, idealism or a spiritualism.

You CAN’T go mixing world views what you start to talk about the soul. You can’t talk about an “atheistic soul” and then switch to a “Christian soul.” The word view is TOO different on the matter of something like a “soul” to make any sense mixed.

Christians do think that other stuff is alive. The reason humans have souls and other stuff does not is not because we are the only things alive, its because we are the only things with Free Will, in their world view. Which is why switching between them is just going to mess you up. To Christians, having a soul has nothing to do with being “alive,” and everything to do with being able to CHOOSE between right and wrong, heaven and hell.

What I did not include in my definitions was one including an idealism world view, but, I have never had an idealism world view, myself. (I went right from spiritualism to physicalism) So, someone else should probably do that if it is to be done.

Anansi

Avatar: Anansi's Avatar
9

[Arsenal of Ninjacr-
acy
]

Level 69 Troll

Resident Psychoanalyst

Duncecap Posted:

Clarification:

All computation seems to me to also be thought.

I cannot think of a computation which cannot be thought.

Of course you can’t…Think about it. Log in to see images!

But, setting the possibility of “unthinkables” aside for a moment: having the ability to translate from, say, Japanese to Spanish doesn’t mean Japanese and Spanish are the same.

That is why I do not conflate thought with other forms of computation, while I am fairly comfortable calling thought a type of computation.

It’s interesting sometimes, but most of the time you just end up reinventing the wheel with a different name and a different number of spokes. Everything I do has to satisfy a constructivist . . . it all has to be mathematically provable from the bumumptions. A lot of computer science is like: “Yeah, we can’t prove it, but you can see where it goes, right?”. Indirect proofs are rarely allowed.

So yeah, that guy Dijkstra and his algorithm? That so useful algorithm you could use in every computation ever by defining nodes and edges reasonably? I’m not allowed to use that unless the axioms of choice for graph theory are accepted. Hamiltonian paths/graphs? Same thing.

And what if I run into NP complete? I’m not allowed to estimate . . .

Ah…Validity.

Still sounds like a neat job.

But yeah, looking forward to your answer.

Sorry about the delay, been distracted lately.

The brain is hardware; the part that you identify as ‘you’ is the software, and merely an internal state of the brain.

Lose that internal state, lose that arrangement, and what is left? The blank hardware. No personality, no memories.

One must be careful with the hardware/software analogy, useful though it is…A brain with its particular set of connections between neurons is hardly a tabula rasa.

Anansi edited this message on 02/09/2010 9:37AM

Duncecap

Avatar: Abstract Blue Circle
4

[The Airship]

Level 44 Hacker

“Backdoor Bob”

While in the argument there, I was saying that the connections in the brain were the internal state.

So i was talking about just having a lump of non-connected neurons as being a blank state.

I may be wrong there, (some evidence suggests that the neurons may change their DNA to store information . . after all, they don’t use it), but for now i believe that the arrangement and connections of the neurons are the programming/storage/etc. The data.

Take in mind how little I know about biology/biochem/the brain in an academic sense, though.

edit1:

And @soron, mentioning MacDouglas . . . define the time of death, please? Even if, can you guarantee that no gases leave the body? That study clearly has no merit, in that time of death is ill-defined, and the bodies were not weighed in an air-proof chamber.

And I’m sure if I really cared, I could raise half a dozen other valid objections.

Sorry, that study always bugs me when someone tries to bring it up.

edit2:

@anasi again: True enough, that I wouldn’t be able to think of a non-thought. Let me get back to you on that.

Duncecap edited this message on 02/09/2010 12:08PM

man-man

Avatar: 156485 2010-01-24 16:36:14 -0500
24

[Harem and Sushi Bar]

Level 69 Hacker

Selfish fine upstanding member of society

Drakodan Posted:

man-man, I can certainly understand what you mean, but there have been successful brain transplants, as well as putting people to sleep during operations, which involves switching the body off.

Brain transplants? Not that I’ve heard of… quite aside from immune rejection, the problem of connecting the brain stem to a foreign spinal cord in such a way that it actually had sensible control over a new body… that is a little beyond current science insofar as I’m aware of it. Maybe eventually we’ll standardise the brain/spine connection onto USB 5.0 and be able to hot-swap brains and bodies (or plug ourselves into immersive virtual worlds, Matrix style) but not yet…

Drakodan Posted:

And anyway, as you say, the brain itself switches off and dies. But what is it INSIDE the brain that makes us, well, us? Consciousness, for certain. I’d prefer to call it the soul. Like I say, its not something I’m entirely sure of yet, but something I’m certainly willing to consider.

The unique pattern of neuronal connections and chemical influences contained in the brain. At birth there’s a certain level of predetermined templating, to define where the various regions of the brain go (don’t want the optic nerve at the back, that kind of thing) but considering the billions of neurons available, there’s more possible ways of wiring a person up than … well I don’t know the number, but it’s on the order of a metric ****-tonne. Far more than enough for 7 billion unique human minds.

It’s not so much the individual neurons, as the patterns they instantiate – you can lose some of the individual cells and the patterns survive, but lose too many (to oxygen starvation, brain damage, anything that kills cells or disrupts their connections to one another) and the pattern is destroyed. Maybe that kills you, maybe it just impairs some part of your cognitive function, maybe you just lose a couple of memories… there’s constant rewiring in progress, so losing a pattern here or there is only to be expected, but you don’t want the important ones being lost.

Duncecap Posted:

In any case, there is no need for the ‘soul’ to be non-physical.

The part that makes the brain the thinking centre, as previously stated here in this topic, is the arrangement of the neurons and their connections. The brain is hardware; the part that you identify as ‘you’ is the software, and merely an internal state of the brain.

Lose that internal state, lose that arrangement, and what is left? The blank hardware. No personality, no memories.

You do want to be careful with that analogy – take the “bare metal” of a brain with no connections or arrangement and you don’t have a working brain at all. By the time you’ve got it connected up enough to be functioning there could well be some fledgling elements of personality in there. That, and in a normal brain the parts that make you ‘you’ aren’t distinct from the ‘hardware’ – you couldn’t take the same brain and use it to run a different ‘program’. Your personality, your consciousness, all those things that define a person, are present in the very solidly physical state of the brain, not some abstract ‘internal state’ that could be separated from the neurons.

There may seem to be a ghost in the machine, but it’s a ghost made out of machinery.

SoronTheBeast Posted:

In most of Christianity (generally speaking), “the soul” would be the spark of the divine in humans only that gives us life and free will. [..] It’s also the part of you that takes your experiences and “self” up to heaven or down to hell when you die. Like a repository of all your thoughts and memories.

I would say, without this kind of soul, it’s hard to prove free will exists.

Scientifically, “the soul” would be the “spark of life” all living things have. Why can’t you get a dead body to start up again with the right chemicals or something? Because a living thing is so complex that once its harmony is disrupted it can’t be gotten back. That harmony would be the “soul.” Some living things are more complex than others, so there even harder to “get back.” Once the brain is damaged, the unique ordering of chemicals and electronically impulses that makes you “you” is gone. That would be the “soul” scientifically.

I don’t know whether I think this scientific soul is worth calling a soul; I take the word as strongly implying a separate entity from the body, one that’s generally believed to survive the death of the body. The scientific equivalent is more like a convenient shorthand for the particular state of a brain and body (the body affecting the brain via hormones and chemical signals and the like), the combination of which make a unique person. I agree in the broad strokes with what you’re saying – a personality is in the chemicals and impulses, not a magical non-physical spirit, but calling the chemicals and impulses a soul seems to me to carry too many excess connotations.

SoronTheBeast Posted:

Really, I’m talking about two kinds of ‘scientific soul.’ One being a “life force” the other being a “repository of thoughts and experiences.”

But, for both kinds of “scientific souls” we are talking about an unique ordering of chemicals and electrical impulses. One ordering, which I called “harmony” above, keeps you alive. The other I am talking about is the ordering in the brain that gives you (or any animal really) memories and a personalty. For exampled, some dogs are mean and some dogs are nice.

I’d still consider it short of the definition of soul, but we may be working to different definitions; I consider the ‘survives death’ part to be the main characteristic of a soul. I don’t believe such a thing exists, so I don’t think there is a ‘scientific soul’. Granted though, there are physical patterns of chemicals and neurons that keep a body alive and instantiate a personality. If you want to call it a soul then carry on…

[and then I see that in your later post you’ve said much the same as I just did – mixing definitions is a Bad Idea™. As for world views, you may be able to tell I’d count myself a materialist. There are some very interesting ‘high level’ properties to matter, but nothing that isn’t founded on physical stuff. By high level, I mean that thoughts and memories are high level features of brain cells in the same way as “wetness” is a high level feature of water molecules – you can’t satisfactorily describe what “wet” means in terms of water molecules, even though there’s nothing causing the wetness except for those same molecules, just as you can’t really describe a thought in terms of brain cells, even though there’s nothing but brain cells involved in thought.

I sometimes tend towards materialistic functionalism; that thinking can be seen as a function of the brain in the same way as digestion is a function of the stomach, but functionalism as a theory doesn’t really say a great deal. It’s hard to find a part of it to disagree with, but that’s largely because it’s an ‘anything goes’ kind of theory.

man-man edited this message on 02/09/2010 12:29PM

Drakodan

Avatar: 57623 2010-05-29 20:03:09 -0400
13

[Brainfreeze]

Level 69 Troll

Surfing the Tubes

Actually, a monkey’s head was removed and transplanted onto another one’s body once, and they managed to wake it up. It was paralyzed from the neck down, but responded to them by snapping at their fingers with its teeth and following them with its eyes. It was clearly alive, just paralyzed. It didn’t survive for very long though.

Afraid I have no source, but I did read about this once.

man-man

Avatar: 156485 2010-01-24 16:36:14 -0500
24

[Harem and Sushi Bar]

Level 69 Hacker

Selfish fine upstanding member of society

Drakodan Posted:

Actually, a monkey’s head was removed and transplanted onto another one’s body once, and they managed to wake it up. It was paralyzed from the neck down, but responded to them by snapping at their fingers with its teeth and following them with its eyes. It was clearly alive, just paralyzed. It didn’t survive for very long though.

Afraid I have no source, but I did read about this once.

Sounds to me like they managed to hook up the blood vessel connections to keep the brain alive (at least for a while), but not the nervous connections to give it control of the body.

man-man edited this message on 02/09/2010 12:46PM

SoronTheBeast

Avatar: 159958 2010-01-24 16:32:03 -0500
17

[Brainfreeze]

Level 69 Hacker

There's your 3 BPs. Now stop ****ing whining about THIRTEEN CENTS you pathetic no-lifer. - Fran

Right, the ‘scientific soul’ would be the “best” definition of a soul under a purely physicalism world view, which is the world view I have. If you’re saying that the ‘scientific soul’ is not “good enough” to be a ‘real’ soul, I would argue that under a materialism world view there IS no definition of a ‘soul,’ as in, one does not exist.

Now, it seems some people here would disagree with that, but I would argue that they do NOT have a materialism world view, but an idealism world view. However, I have never had an idealism world view, and as such don’t understand it as well as I could.

I was hoping that people might start stating their own definition of a “soul.” As I said, when talking about a “soul” you really can’t go mixing an matching bumumptions. I would like to know what others think so this can be discussed better.

Drakodan

Avatar: 57623 2010-05-29 20:03:09 -0400
13

[Brainfreeze]

Level 69 Troll

Surfing the Tubes

man-man Posted:

Sounds to me like they managed to hook up the blood vessel connections to keep the brain alive (at least for a while), but not the nervous connections to give it control of the body.

Pretty much. The fact that it was alive and conscious certainly validates something, though. It still had its consciousness after its head was removed. I don’t think you can compare headless chicken to this, since that’s just motor functions gone wild.

man-man

Avatar: 156485 2010-01-24 16:36:14 -0500
24

[Harem and Sushi Bar]

Level 69 Hacker

Selfish fine upstanding member of society

Drakodan Posted:

Pretty much. The fact that it was alive and conscious certainly validates something, though. It still had its consciousness after its head was removed. I don’t think you can compare headless chicken to this, since that’s just motor functions gone wild.

Maybe I’m misunderstanding the experiment. But if you take a head, and attach it to a different body, so long as the ‘host’ body can keep the head alive for a while I’d expect it to continue functioning as a head (and hence by the fact that the head contains the brain, be conscious).

If you removed a monkey’s head, and the rest of its body continued responding to anything more than basic reflex responses (or the headless chicken style motor functions) then it’d be odd, but I was reading this as “monkey’s head continues consciousness for a while, even when attached to a different body”, not “monkey’s body continues consciousness without a head”.

Duncecap

Avatar: Abstract Blue Circle
4

[The Airship]

Level 44 Hacker

“Backdoor Bob”

Drakodan Posted:

Actually, a monkey’s head was removed and transplanted onto another one’s body once, and they managed to wake it up. It was paralyzed from the neck down, but responded to them by snapping at their fingers with its teeth and following them with its eyes. It was clearly alive, just paralyzed. It didn’t survive for very long though.

Afraid I have no source, but I did read about this once.

Okay, you see my post up there? Where I talked about scientists from Ohio had faked some results for attention and money?

THIS IS THAT EXPERIMENT.

They hooked the head’s blood vessels up to a basic dialysis machine, oxygenated the blood, pumped it around. Basic life support stuff. At first the monkey head responded, (as you would expect), then it stopped responding, (after no more than an hour), but showed signs of life, (brainwaves, blood vessel constriction/dilation, etc.), and then died, definitively, after 6 days.

To another monkey body? No. They’ve had to hook up its lungs nerves/controls and its heart’s nerves/controls to the correct places to do that, which would be just as difficult as connecting, say, its arms, or legs.

Basically, to say that the monkey was alive, but paralysed just fits in that crack where any thinking person should realize “why so far and no farther?”

SoronTheBeast

Avatar: 159958 2010-01-24 16:32:03 -0500
17

[Brainfreeze]

Level 69 Hacker

There's your 3 BPs. Now stop ****ing whining about THIRTEEN CENTS you pathetic no-lifer. - Fran

Duncecap Posted:

edit1:

And @soron, mentioning MacDouglas . . . define the time of death, please? Even if, can you guarantee that no gases leave the body? That study clearly has no merit, in that time of death is ill-defined, and the bodies were not weighed in an air-proof chamber.

And I’m sure if I really cared, I could raise half a dozen other valid objections.

Sorry, that study always bugs me when someone tries to bring it up.

I guess I should respond to this.

I’m sorry, I was unclear. When I said “Results were… inconclusive” I meant “He was full of ****.”

Duncecap

Avatar: Abstract Blue Circle
4

[The Airship]

Level 44 Hacker

“Backdoor Bob”

I got that impression, I just had to clarify further. Log in to see images!

That research is like that senator who claimed that the ‘soul pictures’ of black and white people were different from his examination of research data, when

1) X-rays are a far cry from ‘soul pictures’.

2) He didn’t have access to the personal info of the patients, nor was racial information stored in the research data, or even in the personal info.

Merely an idiot trying to use ‘science’ to ‘prove’ his own pre-existing beliefs.

But at least the soul weight guy was speciest, not racist.

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