[ExI] Science or Scientism?

William Flynn Wallace foozler83 at gmail.com
Sat Nov 10 22:06:20 UTC 2018

On Sat, Nov 10, 2018 at 3:07 PM Will Steinberg <steinberg.will at gmail.com>

> On Sat, Nov 10, 2018, 13:25 William Flynn Wallace <foozler83 at gmail.com
> wrote:
>> will wrote -
>> I just think it is silly to believe that the other brute facts you refer
>> to (such as the fundamental forces) are ubiquitous throughout the universe,
>> but the brute fact of consciousness/qualia only occurs in brains.
>> Au Contraire - I think since neurons are specialized cells found only in
>> brains of some kind, that it would be strange indeed if they possessed no
>> qualities distinct to them.
> Sorry to be blunt, but with all due respect: that is an absurd
> proposition, undeserving of an "au contraire" and unfitting for an
> intelligent ExI poster like yourself.  There are plenty of relatively
> distinct cells in the domain of life--electroreceptor cells in animals like
> sharks come to mind--but that doesn't mean it would be at all sensible to
> deduce from their existence that they were responsible an entirely new and
> different aspect of reality.
>  There's a difference between distinct structural properties and distinct
> intrinsic properties.  I am perfectly willing to agree with the fact that
> neurons may be structurally unique in many ways, but it does not follow
> that their structural uniqueness leads to the creation of a completely
> unexplained aspect of reality.

Thanks for being easy on me.  I never said that neurons were responsible
for consciousness, but I think it's an idea worth exploring.  I also cannot
help but think that, without any data whatsoever (though I did read a book
written by a researcher of glial cells), that glial cells are going to a
part of whatever consciousness is.  We know far less about them than about

If you would do me this favor:  I have read the sentence fragment below and
simply do not understand it.   Some things are ubiquitous and others are
not.  What does this have to do with anything?  Life is about the most
extreme rarity there is.  And consciousness is even rarer.  So what?  And
it's not as if we know nothing about consciousness as you suggest
('completely unexplained aspect of reality').

I just think it is silly to believe that the other brute facts you refer to
(such as the fundamental forces) are ubiquitous throughout the universe,

Try this one on for size:  consciousness stems from the absence of the
activation of inhibiting neurons (in the RAS, reticular activating system)
that keep us asleep.  (Can anyone produce a more obvious statement?)
Perhaps the unconscious which does all of our thinking turns off those
neurons when it is finished with whatever it is doing while we are asleep.
So I suggest more research on sleep.

bill w

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