5 of 16
5
Illusion of Freedom
Posted: 16 August 2011 01:26 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 61 ]  
Member
RankRankRank
Total Posts:  122
Joined  2011-05-10

Once again Sam Harris addresses the question of free will in his recent video.

1. Argument: “everything we are aware of is the result of causes, which we are not aware of.” Again, this is the determinism argument. It is basically his belief. This has been discussed ad nauseam in this thread and it has been thoroughly refuted from a scientific point of view. Complete determinism contradicts the modern scientific point of view.

2. Argument: Think of a person and tell me why you thought of him/her. I thought of my mother and a friend Why? Because they are very dear to me and occupy a very prominent place in my memory and psyche. So I can account for why I thought of these people. Then he appears to argue that we are in no position to say why we make choices. I don’t think that’s true, we call the reasons for our choices our motives and deliberate about them.

3. Argument: “We know from neurophysiology that that was manufactured by the brain at the end of a series of causes of which you are not conscious of which you are witness”; This is just argument 1 but this time he claims to know what he believes.

4. Argument: Sam claims that neuroscientists know, which hand we were going to move before we actually move them. So what? That doesn’t disprove free will. The scientist would have to know the hand before we make the conscious decision to move the hand in order to disprove free will. There’s a time lag between making a choice and executing it. Again, he appears to be referring to the Libet experiment, which does not prove this notion.  “We know that we are downstream of causes of which we are not conscious”. He doesn’t know this, this is Sam’s firm belief. This is just argument 1

5. “How ever you look at this you have to admit that the contents of consciousness are born of an unconscious mental life, which is almost certainly at bottom a matter of neurophysiology”.Why do I have to admit this? His thought experiment? No, his experiment doesn’t even address a choice in the sense of an action of a person. It merely deals with the mental state in a certain situation. So what? Does that prove that all mental states are exclusively due to an external cause? No, definitely not. Sure, lot’s of mental states are due to external causes, such as physical pain. No one has ever denied that.

Then he goes on:

“If in fact we can’t choose what we choose but simply choose then how can choice be important?”

The question is absurd Sam. Look at the question form a logical point of view. Apply your faculty of reasoning to the question. Then - I claim - how ever you look at the question you have to admit that the question is either absurd or trivial.

The logical inconsistency: “...we can’t choose what we choose but simply choose…”

The first part of the sentence presupposes that we do not make choices (we can’t choose), whereas the second part presupposes that we do make choices (what we choose but simply choose). The rules of logic tell us that a proposition cannot be true and false at the same time. Therefore, we have to find out what you really mean. I suppose that you mean that we do not make choices, because we cannot choose. So let me rephrase your question:

“If in fact we do not make choices then how can choice be important?”

The answer is simple. Choice is not important because it doesn’t exist. That’s the only reasonable answer. Sure we can talk about illusions all day long but it has no meaning in real life. I must say that Sam really rambles on about mental effort and weighing pros and cons. So what?

Sam, if you really believe that choice is a mere illusion then you are no longer in a position to discuss issues of morality. You must leave the table because your point of view renders the whole discussion as inconsequential and meaningless. Nevertheless you feel compelled to write books about morality. This just shows to me that you do not really believe in what you profess to know, namely that we have no free will. You are like the religious person who professes to believe in the effect of prayers, but when push comes to shove he/she doesn’t rely on prayers.

Regards


Kikl

 Signature 

Enlightenment is man’s emergence from his self-incurred immaturity.

Profile
 
 
Posted: 16 August 2011 06:13 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 62 ]  
Member
RankRankRank
Total Posts:  122
Joined  2011-05-10

I would like to address a few more points in your recent video blog

One question was:

1. “Does human life have intrinsic value?”

The utilitarian calculus seeks to maximize the overall happiness or well being as you call it. A person who is by nature miserable because of his genetic predisposition or physical state (illness) has no value in this calculus. His/her contribution to maximizing overall well being is zero. The utility of a miserable person to the overall happiness of other people does not provide INTRINIC value to the person.Therefore, utilitarians must reject the notion that human life has an intrinsic value. Only well being / happiness itself has an intrinsic value. The very idea of inalienable human rights and the notion of human dignity must be rejected from a utilitarian stand point.

This is what the questioner was trying to tell you, in my humble opinion. Therefore, I think you essentially dodged the question.

2. Authority of science

I think that was well put and have little to add. I may just add that scientific revolutions are the exception to the rule. Now although they do change our perception of the world in a meaningful way, they do converge nevertheless in terms of accuracy and consistency. Newtonian physics can be regarded as a good approximation of both the theory of relativity as well as quantum mechanics under different constraints.

3.Should atheists join with Christians against Islam?

I think this depends on whether the christian accepts a secular democratic state that protects universal human rights, non-violence and freedom of thought and religion. Yes, I think in this case you must join with christians from a moral point of view against orthodox Islam. Why not?

4. What does it mean to speak about the human mind objectively?

I think this question was very well answered. The more fundamental question is: How does our objective knowledge about the state of the human mind in and of itself lead to moral commands (imperatives)? You presuppose the utilitarian calculus in your argument. The scientific knowledge about our minds helps us calculate the maximum happiness. However, the calculus falls from the sky and cannot be proven scientifically. You appear to obfuscate this.

Well all the best and good like. I look forward to reading your take on the moral question of lying.

Regards

Kikl

 Signature 

Enlightenment is man’s emergence from his self-incurred immaturity.

Profile
 
 
Posted: 18 August 2011 10:28 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 63 ]  
Jr. Member
RankRank
Total Posts:  76
Joined  2011-08-15

.

[ Edited: 31 January 2012 06:03 PM by ...]
Profile
 
 
Posted: 19 August 2011 12:01 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 64 ]  
Member
RankRankRank
Total Posts:  122
Joined  2011-05-10

Hi Lexie, I would like to comment on your post:

“I see a lot of talk here about determinism and quantum mechanics. Again, not so familiar with these, but I’m not seeing how this really plays into the debate. It’s my understanding that quantum mechanics is highly debated but in general involves a great deal of randomness and probability.”

Yes, quantum mechanics is a non-deterministic theory according to main stream understanding. That is it only predicts future events with a certain probability.  Furthermore it is believed to be a complete theory. There are people who reject this notion who claim that QM is incomplete. They believe in “hidden variables” that determine everything, however we have no scientific evidence whatsoever in the existence of “hidden variables”. Therefore, I liken this belief with the belief in “flying spaghetti monsters”.

“To me the question of free will is more one of, are we a result of the “stuff” (for the sake of simplicity, stuff being particles, energy, laws of physics, statistics, etc.) of the universe interacting or not?”

This is the mind/body problem. Is the mind merely the product of the brain or is the mind some kind of different substance (dualism). The question of free will is more or less related to this problem. But, you can believe in a free will without believing in dualism. However, if you do believe in free will and reject dualism, you must concede that our scientific description of the world is incomplete. Well, we actually know that it is incomplete, wherefore scientific research in the “theorey of everything” is an ongoing project.

“If free will is an illusion created by the end result when the “stuff” of the universe interacts in whatever way it’s going to interact, I don’t see that quantum physics changes anything. It just adds quantum physics and it’s associated randomness to the mix of interactions that interplay to produce some end result - be it a thought, action, sensation, etc. It seems that factoring in quantum physics in a substantial way would just increase the likelihood of unpredictability and randomness in those outcomes, or the idea of more than one possible outcome, but not necessarily that we “chose” that outcome. Perhaps I am missing a key point here, though.”

Quantum mechanics merely refutes the proof that free will is an illusion because everything is predetermined. Why? Because quantum mechanic shows that everything is not predetermined. Quantum mechanics does not explain how a free will emerges from matter. But it renders free will possible within the boundaries set by QM.

“I understand the intuitive sense that the illusion argument makes with our current knowledge of the way things work. It’s always possible that some previously unheard of concept will be discovered in the future, and I certainly don’t rule that out, but I have a hard time thinking about how science can quantify free will. Just thinking of the vocabulary…”

Science cannot quantify free will if it works on the principle that every event has a causal explanation, i.e. everything is causally predetermined. But science can say whether an action is possible or not; it can determine the limits of freedom.

“Free will means to “choose” something, to “want”, to “make” something happen. How are these concepts ever translated into something meaningful in science? When talking at a molecular level how can we ever talk about molecules interacting because they “wanted” to? What is “wanting”, really, in concrete terms? What is “choosing”?”

I don’t think anyone is arguing that molecules have free will. The argument is that the molecule’s state is not predetermined. Therefore, the person made out of molecules is not predetermined by his molecules.

“On the one hand we could envision it as profoundly, almost infinitely complex interplay of interactions between the “stuff” of the universe, including the unpredictable “stuff”, resulting in some (predictable or unpredictable) outcome. ...”

This is the current scientific understanding. The outcome is predictable with a certain degree of probability only.

“The alternative kind of makes my brain hurt in trying to envision it. It would have to be some “thing”, with the capacity to influence “stuff” at will. At will. So back to, what is “will”, in scientific terms? ...”

Science does not have an explanation of free will. Free will does assume the capacity to influence stuff. But, I don’t find it hard to envision because it is our everyday experience when we say things or write blog posts. You just have to be humble enough and admit that our current level of scientific understanding does not explain everything.

“I’ll say here, if we’re going with the mixing bowl analogy above, I don’t necessarily see the idea of saying we shouldn’t worry about morals and such logically following that. In this design, we are able to manipulate this mix of ingredients by adding more of certain things - more knowledge, more exposure to important values, whatever. These would in turn, hopefully, tip the balance towards more favorable results over all, for us individually or for society as a whole. “

I don’t understand you here.

“In this model is it “pre-determined” that we would have done this anyhow? I suppose so, but while it’s a fun little concept to play with, in practical terms it’s so far removed from real life that it would be silly to worry about. “

So in “theoretical terms” free will does not exist, but in “practical terms” free will exists? This is exactly how Sam Harris is behaving. He says: Theoretically free will does not exist. But in practice he always has the working assumption that free will does exist. The rules of logic tell us that a proposition cannot be true and false at the same time. That is my major gripe with Sam Harris’ philosophy.

“So, I’m off to write my self help book now: Ingredients for Life - Take Control of Your Mixing Bowl! (But not really because you were going to do that anyways but still it’s gonna be great…) Is Oprah still on tv? I need a plug here…”

Well said;-)

“I think one of the oddest, spookiest implications of this, if it were to be true, is that we’re actually more “responsible” (in a causal, not a moral, sense) for other’s behavior than we are for our own. In this framework, my behavior is nebulously pre-determined, but where I can make a difference is in your behavior, even if it’s not “intentional” in this framework. By exposing another person to a new stimuli by doing whatever I do, I’m tossing a new ingredient into his or her mix that will undoubtedly shift the balance of factors, no matter how slightly.”

The real implication is in my opinion that we are not responsible for anything. We have no control whatsoever of ourselves because external forces predetermine our behavior. Therefore, we are not responsible for what we do. We really don’t “do” anything. Everything is done onto us by the deterministic forces of nature. That is the implication of a completely deterministic universe. L’homme machine! Man is a machine.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Man_a_Machine
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Julien_Offray_de_La_Mettrie

We are really discussing here 18th century French Philosophy;-) This is how far we’ve come!

 Signature 

Enlightenment is man’s emergence from his self-incurred immaturity.

Profile
 
 
Posted: 19 August 2011 03:38 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 65 ]  
Jr. Member
RankRank
Total Posts:  76
Joined  2011-08-15

.

[ Edited: 31 January 2012 06:03 PM by ...]
Profile
 
 
Posted: 20 August 2011 01:16 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 66 ]  
Member
RankRankRank
Total Posts:  122
Joined  2011-05-10
Lexie_99 - 19 August 2011 07:38 PM

....In my case I think I’d have to be humble enough to admit it would beyond the scope of my cognitive abilities to truly conceptualize. I understand the idea of knowing what “free will” is on an intuitive daily level, but I can’t find any way to conceptualize of this as a scientific concept. You have a cause and an effect, or even a random event - and this could be caused by chance or by will - but how can you create a scientific argument (again, when talking mathematics, physics, etc.) that embodies this, or quantifies the concept of “will”? ...

That’s a very good question: Can science explain free will?

I think you really have to start thinking about what a scientific explanation really is. Science is about finding reasonable answers to questions like: Why is the sky blue? Why do volcanoes erupt?....

The most common mode of explanation is finding a reason, that is a cause for the eruption or colour. Most science works under the assumption that a reason does exist and that this reason is a rational and complete explanation. This leads to the application of the causality principle:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Causality_(physics)

This is the belief that any effect (or event) has a cause. The cause precedes the effect in time. The cause is a necessary and sufficient condition for the effect. The event wouldn’t occur without the cause.

If you believe - like Sam apparently does - that any scientific explanation necessitates the application of the causality principle then you “must” believe that free will cannot be explained scientifically - Well if you read Kant you may get around this problem - he believes that a universally applicable causality principle does not exclude free will. How’s that possible? Kant doesn’t think that man’s scientific explanations can render a complete ontological picture of the world. Therefore, the unknowable thing in itself may in fact be free although the objects of appearance may all appear to be governed by the causality principle. The causality principle according to this reasoning is like a filter through which we look at the world. This filter won’t let us see non-causal events. Therefore, our picture of the world is incomplete. But, I don’t think Sam Harris would follow this kind of reasoning. From Sam Harris point of view the causality principle is universally applicable, therefore no scientific explanation for free will is possible, consequently free will is philosophically a “non-starter”.

But, getting back to quantum mechanics QM. The causality principle has been dropped in this theory. There is no reason for a particular event to occur. The theory merely describes the probability for certain events. It doesn’t provide a causal explanation. Furthermore, the belief in some kind of cause (hidden variables) is rejected, because we have no evidence whatsoever for their existence. QM shows that scientific theories must not be based on the causality principle.

So how can science explain free will? I think science can only explain events in the observable world. So an event governed by free will is not causally determined. Science can only make reasonable predictions based on probabilities. The “motives” for the action render the event more or less probable. I think this is the only way science could get to grips with free will.

Regards

kikl

 Signature 

Enlightenment is man’s emergence from his self-incurred immaturity.

Profile
 
 
Posted: 20 August 2011 11:25 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 67 ]  
Jr. Member
RankRank
Total Posts:  76
Joined  2011-08-15

.

[ Edited: 31 January 2012 06:02 PM by ...]
Profile
 
 
Posted: 21 August 2011 01:53 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 68 ]  
Member
RankRankRank
Total Posts:  122
Joined  2011-05-10

I keep breaking it down to observable reactions. Be it a thought in the form of an electrical impulse, a motor movement, whatever - we as humans are able to observe the reaction or outcome. We can hypothesize that this was the result of cause-effect, chance, or sheer randomness; but even when looking at sheer randomness, all we can observe is that something happened for no discernible reason.

That’s true, we cannot observe the cause. We make reasonable assumption about the cause. Even the Newtonian force of gravity is invisible to us. But, we do observe correlations between events, which make a cause-effect relationship appear plausible. This is exactly how the Libet correlation between the readiness potential and the action is interpreted, namely the readiness potential causes the action. However, correlation does not imply causation.

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

Libet himself as well as other researchers have indicated that they do not believe that the readiness potential invariably causes a subsequent action. A single instance, in which the readiness potential is not followed by a subsequent action disproves the proposed deterministic cause-effect relationship. There are many more problems with the interpretation of these experiments.

When it comes to free will I don’t see how we can could ever, at an observable level, differentiate between chance, randomness, and free will. So even if we “saw” it, in action, we’d have no way of knowing if we were observing chance or randomness at play, vs. a force that was somehow “willing” things to happen. Even if we could see the “will” in some concrete form, all we could observe was that the “will” was a force that made things happen. From our perceptual level it would have to look like cause-effect, chance, or randomness, I just don’t see any way around that (not saying it’s not there, just that I can’t see it.)

Yes, we cannot observe free will or cause-effect relationships. we can only observe the effects of them on the real world. We can propose more or less reasonable hypotheses about the underlying “forces”, whether they be deterministic or not. We can certainly disprove hypotheses conclusively. But, that’s the nature of all scientific investigation of the observable world. A certain level of incertitude remains, wherefore any scientific theory can theoretically be disproved.

I can see how, in that model, QM opens the door on this possibility, and how Kant’s ideas about simply saying it’s unseeable with our current powers of perception make sense (and make me feel better, because I thought it was just me - you go Kant.)

Well, thanks for letting me participate in this interesting discussion.

Regards

Kikl

 Signature 

Enlightenment is man’s emergence from his self-incurred immaturity.

Profile
 
 
Posted: 06 September 2011 10:42 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 69 ]  
Newbie
Rank
Total Posts:  11
Joined  2011-09-02

I will have to respectfully disagree with all of you who claim that quantum mechanics underlies the base of our neural activity.
 
The biochemical processes that underlie the basic functioning of the cytological components of our brain are wholly above the level of significant quantum mechanics contribution. The microtubules that control the cellular “skeleton” and help to move proteins, organelles, and other materials across the cell are “weighed in” at tens, if not hundreds of thousands of times the weight of a single proton. Sure, there is a chance that a conglomeration of quantum events might eventually cause a minor change in the function of a single microtubule of a single cell in a single nerve nuclei in the brain….but there is also a chance that you can lean up against a wall and spontaneously fall through it due to the similar quantum phenomena. Both of these events have a probability associated with them…and I can assure you than any QM-knowledgeable physicist would tell you that it is very, very, very small (FYI, for the falling-through-the-wall event, it might take longer than the entire age of the universe for it to happen!).

The important point I’m making is that while QM can affect the cellular-level operations of our nervous system (the smallest functional unit of the system that is, by all current scientific understanding, intimately related and responsible in some way for our consciousness), it by no means significantly affects the day-to-day function of our consciousness. If someone can present a way in which QM can change the function of an entire cell enough (and often enough! This is a key point.) to play a key role in our nervous system, I could see rational in this argument. The cell is not a Rube-Goldberg machine: It has many, interleaved components, with complementary, quality-assurance, and backup systems. The dysfunction of a single microtubule fails to be our “schrodinger’s cat” extension of QM into the Newtonian realm.

The level of QM influence on biology is a interesting topic for further research, but so far examples have been few and far between!

(My credentials, if it helps further your confidence in my statements without citations, is a Master’s in Biomedical Engineering [Physics and Biology, yay!], and I am currently attending medical school).

Profile
 
 
Posted: 06 September 2011 11:52 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 70 ]  
Member
RankRankRank
Total Posts:  122
Joined  2011-05-10
Mesthione - 06 September 2011 02:42 PM

I will have to respectfully disagree with all of you who claim that quantum mechanics underlies the base of our neural activity.
 
....

The level of QM influence on biology is a interesting topic for further research, but so far examples have been few and far between!

(My credentials, if it helps further your confidence in my statements without citations, is a Master’s in Biomedical Engineering [Physics and Biology, yay!], and I am currently attending medical school).

Sounds interesting, but isn’t true. The smallest functional unit of a working brain is an ion, which is responsible for the current flowing through the brain. The measured “readiness potential” represents a distribution of these ions. If you can represent an ion with Newtonian physics, then you are sure to get the nobel prize. The same holds true for any chemical bond in particular the cells constituents.

Regards

Kikl

 Signature 

Enlightenment is man’s emergence from his self-incurred immaturity.

Profile
 
 
Posted: 06 September 2011 11:54 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 71 ]  
Member
RankRankRank
Total Posts:  122
Joined  2011-05-10
kikl - 06 September 2011 03:52 PM
Mesthione - 06 September 2011 02:42 PM

I will have to respectfully disagree with all of you who claim that quantum mechanics underlies the base of our neural activity.
 
....

The level of QM influence on biology is a interesting topic for further research, but so far examples have been few and far between!

(My credentials, if it helps further your confidence in my statements without citations, is a Master’s in Biomedical Engineering [Physics and Biology, yay!], and I am currently attending medical school).

Sounds interesting, but isn’t true. The smallest functional unit of a working brain is an ion, which is responsible for the current flowing through the brain. The measured “readiness potential” represents a distribution of these ions. If you can represent an ion with Newtonian physics, then you are sure to get the nobel prize. The same holds true for any chemical bond in particular the cells constituents.

Regards

Kikl

That is: Both the ions as well as the cell itself represents a quantum mechanical state. Their interactions are quantum mechanical processes.

Regards

Kikl

 Signature 

Enlightenment is man’s emergence from his self-incurred immaturity.

Profile
 
 
Posted: 06 September 2011 12:24 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 72 ]  
Newbie
Rank
Total Posts:  11
Joined  2011-09-02
kikl - 06 September 2011 03:52 PM
Mesthione - 06 September 2011 02:42 PM

I will have to respectfully disagree with all of you who claim that quantum mechanics underlies the base of our neural activity.
 
....

The level of QM influence on biology is a interesting topic for further research, but so far examples have been few and far between!

(My credentials, if it helps further your confidence in my statements without citations, is a Master’s in Biomedical Engineering [Physics and Biology, yay!], and I am currently attending medical school).

Sounds interesting, but isn’t true. The smallest functional unit of a working brain is an ion, which is responsible for the current flowing through the brain. The measured “readiness potential” represents a distribution of these ions. If you can represent an ion with Newtonian physics, then you are sure to get the nobel prize. The same holds true for any chemical bond in particular the cells constituents.

Regards

Kikl

Kikl,

Respectfully, nearly every biologist will disagree with you. The smallest functional unit of any biological system is the cell. In the nervous system, it is mostly the neuron. Saying that ions are the smallest functional unit of the cell is like saying actin monomers are the smallest functional unit of the muscular system. The nervous system us much, much more than simple current and ions, and involves the smallest functional unit of life that we call the “cell”. Sure, I cannot represent these individual ions with Newtonian physics, but I can represent conglomerations of them with newtonian physics….the “random” quantum uncertainty become diluted and less-important as we expand to the macrostructures of the cell.

You also need to clearly delineate between quantum mechanical composition and quantum mechanical “randomization”, ie wave functions and states. Sure, quantum mechanics describes the proton. And the “randomness” of these wave functions applies to a proton. But not when we have 200,000,000 plus protons connected in a structure. You do not see structures of these size exhibiting significant quantum fluctuations. At the proton level, yes, but not at this level. Again, their nature is described by quantum mechanics, but their aggregated nature does not exhibit the same characteristics.

Again, you need to provide evidence that a random quantum fluctuation occurs at the right scale and often enough to significantly affect the processes of the functional unit of the nervous system….the neuron. The ion example remains insufficient. Remember, neurons require a change of about 25 mV to depolarize from their resting potential of -70 mV. Are quantum fluctuations going to cause that large of an impact? No, not likely at all.

If we cannot find a way in which the uncertainty of quantum mechanics randomly alters the actions of the functional unit of the nervous system (mostly neurons and neuroglial cells), the case for QM-derived “free will” remains frail, and requires further research.

Profile
 
 
Posted: 06 September 2011 12:49 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 73 ]  
Member
RankRankRank
Total Posts:  122
Joined  2011-05-10
Mesthione - 06 September 2011 04:24 PM
kikl - 06 September 2011 03:52 PM
Mesthione - 06 September 2011 02:42 PM

I will have to respectfully disagree with all of you who claim that quantum mechanics underlies the base of our neural activity.
 
....

The level of QM influence on biology is a interesting topic for further research, but so far examples have been few and far between!

(My credentials, if it helps further your confidence in my statements without citations, is a Master’s in Biomedical Engineering [Physics and Biology, yay!], and I am currently attending medical school).

Sounds interesting, but isn’t true. The smallest functional unit of a working brain is an ion, which is responsible for the current flowing through the brain. The measured “readiness potential” represents a distribution of these ions. If you can represent an ion with Newtonian physics, then you are sure to get the nobel prize. The same holds true for any chemical bond in particular the cells constituents.

Regards

Kikl

Kikl,

Respectfully, nearly every biologist will disagree with you. The smallest functional unit of any biological system is the cell. In the nervous system, it is mostly the neuron. Saying that ions are the smallest functional unit of the cell is like saying actin monomers are the smallest functional unit of the muscular system. The nervous system us much, much more than simple current and ions, and involves the smallest functional unit of life that we call the “cell”. Sure, I cannot represent these individual ions with Newtonian physics, but I can represent conglomerations of them with newtonian physics….the “random” quantum uncertainty become diluted and less-important as we expand to the macrostructures of the cell.

You also need to clearly delineate between quantum mechanical composition and quantum mechanical “randomization”, ie wave functions and states. Sure, quantum mechanics describes the proton. And the “randomness” of these wave functions applies to a proton. But not when we have 200,000,000 plus protons connected in a structure. You do not see structures of these size exhibiting significant quantum fluctuations. At the proton level, yes, but not at this level. Again, their nature is described by quantum mechanics, but their aggregated nature does not exhibit the same characteristics.

Again, you need to provide evidence that a random quantum fluctuation occurs at the right scale and often enough to significantly affect the processes of the functional unit of the nervous system….the neuron. The ion example remains insufficient. Remember, neurons require a change of about 25 mV to depolarize from their resting potential of -70 mV. Are quantum fluctuations going to cause that large of an impact? No, not likely at all.

If we cannot find a way in which the uncertainty of quantum mechanics randomly alters the actions of the functional unit of the nervous system (mostly neurons and neuroglial cells), the case for QM-derived “free will” remains frail, and requires further research.

Saying ions do not participate in the functioning of the brain is silly, isn’t it? Actually, the atom is also a functional unit of the brain, remember the brain is made out of atoms and their chemical bonds!? Please describe a chemical bond without recourse to quantum mechanics. Remember quantum mechanical states cause macro phenomena like crystal structures or superconductivity, Josephson currents, the meissner effect, the quantum hall effect…. and so on and so forth….!?

Remember, the brain is made out of atoms!?

 Signature 

Enlightenment is man’s emergence from his self-incurred immaturity.

Profile
 
 
Posted: 06 September 2011 12:56 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 74 ]  
Member
RankRankRank
Total Posts:  122
Joined  2011-05-10
Mesthione - 06 September 2011 04:24 PM

...

If we cannot find a way in which the uncertainty of quantum mechanics randomly alters the actions of the functional unit of the nervous system (mostly neurons and neuroglial cells), the case for QM-derived “free will” remains frail, and requires further research.

This is very simple for me. We know that the constituents of the brain are quantum mechanical objects, in particular atoms, ion, electrons and chemical bonds. For each and every part of this system as well as for the system as a whole the uncertainty principle holds true. Q.E.D.

 Signature 

Enlightenment is man’s emergence from his self-incurred immaturity.

Profile
 
 
Posted: 07 September 2011 04:26 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 75 ]  
Newbie
Rank
Total Posts:  11
Joined  2011-09-02
kikl - 06 September 2011 04:56 PM
Mesthione - 06 September 2011 04:24 PM

...

If we cannot find a way in which the uncertainty of quantum mechanics randomly alters the actions of the functional unit of the nervous system (mostly neurons and neuroglial cells), the case for QM-derived “free will” remains frail, and requires further research.


This is very simple for me. We know that the constituents of the brain are quantum mechanical objects, in particular atoms, ion, electrons and chemical bonds. For each and every part of this system as well as for the system as a whole the uncertainty principle holds true. Q.E.D.


The problem is that for systems as a whole, we rarely (I’m tempted to say never) see large-scale quantum uncertainty. This is called “the correspondence principle”, and describes why we don’t see uncertainty on larger scale systems, ie, the quantum statistical expectation value of the position and momentum obey Newton’s laws. Thus, the uncertainty that would give rise to this “free will” is still not supported by evidence. Again, I only ask for evidence of QM-level propagation of a wave-function collapse that ends up affecting a system of the cellular size and larger.

Profile
 
 
   
5 of 16
5
 
RSS 2.0     Atom Feed