Received: by alpheratz.cpm.aca.mmu.ac.uk id XAA15238 (8.6.9/5.3[ref firstname.lastname@example.org] for cpm.aca.mmu.ac.uk from email@example.com); Thu, 19 Apr 2001 23:08:39 +0100 From: <firstname.lastname@example.org> To: email@example.com Date: Thu, 19 Apr 2001 17:11:19 -0500 Content-type: text/plain; charset=US-ASCII Content-transfer-encoding: 7BIT Subject: Re: Levels of explanation (was Re: Determinism) Message-ID: <3ADF1C37.13.4073EA@localhost> In-reply-to: <20010419100238.A806@ii01.org> References: <3ADDA86B.9253.40A00E@localhost>; from firstname.lastname@example.org on Wed, Apr 18, 2001 at 02:44:59PM -0500 X-mailer: Pegasus Mail for Win32 (v3.12c) Sender: email@example.com Precedence: bulk Reply-To: firstname.lastname@example.org
On 19 Apr 2001, at 10:02, Robin Faichney wrote:
> On Wed, Apr 18, 2001 at 02:44:59PM -0500, email@example.com wrote:
> > > Translating between levels of explanation is much more difficult
> that > observing causal efficacy between them.
> If you don't translate the concepts, you can't be clear on which
> entities are interacting.
Some complex concepts simply cannot be translated into simpler
systems; if you think that they can, then supply me with a
molecular conception of self-consciousness. We can, however,
observe, with the aid of PET-scans, the causal relation between a
person's subjective decision and a subsequent stimulation of
relevant neural pathways.
> > > But my concept of diagonal causation perfectly explains the PET
> > > scan findings, with no need to charge recklessly across all the
> > > lanes of the explanatory highway, as you do. "My decision causes
> > > my neural activity, never mind exactly how, I'll just insist it's
> > > top-down causation, and if you don't accept that you're an
> > > irrational anti-scientist." Until you examine and find good
> > > grounds to reject diagonal causation, you *cannot* rationally
> > > claim that top-down causation is the only possible explanation for
> > > the PET scan findings.
> > >
> > Actually, here you misrepresent your frankenstein reverse bastard
> > creation ('diagonal' causation) which denies one of it's parents
> > (vertical); it is not able to deal with the spatiotemporal
> > succession of a cause already decided (and announced) before it is
> > implemented and its effect manifested.
> Why not? (Actually, that's exactly what it was developed to do.)
What you do is to say that at the same time that neural pathways
are being activated, that a person is choosing to engage in a
particular cognitive task, and that there is neither temporality nor
causality between them, as they are two explanatory levels of the
same phenomenon; however, when the decision to engage in a
particular cognitive task is made and announced prior to the
beginning of the neural pattern activation (as happens when
someone says that "in x minutes I will do Y"), so there is indeed
spatiotemporal differentialtion between them, your 'diagonal
causation' is useless as an explanatory device.
> > > > > So how can you also claim that events on one level influence
> > > > > those on another, when the former *is* the latter? Unless, of
> > > > > course, this is diagonal causation, i.e. ordinary horizontal
> > > > > causation but with cause and effect viewed at different
> > > > > levels, as in the case of the PET scans.
> > > > >
> > > > Because the decision to do X can be made before X is done and
> > > > the corresponding PET-scan noted cerebral changes are measured
> > > > for correlation with the subjective task, as I noted in the
> > > > above example.
> > >
> > > But that's perfectly explained by diagonal causation! You
> > > continue to dismiss what you haven't bothered to glance at!
> > >
> > Not when you deny intentional causation between verbally
> > announced mental decisions as to future allocation of attention and
> > the scientifically registered spatiotemporally subsequent pattern
> > changes in neuronal activation configurations which access the
> > specific areas involved in those particular tasks upon which
> > attention is intentionally focused.
> Joe, Joe, Joe!! What did I say next? Let's see...
> > > I say that, in practice, it's fine to consider
> > > neural activity to be caused by a decision. I said exactly that
> > > in the message you quote and -- theoretically -- are replying to
> > > here -- while in practice it seems you didn't bother to read great
> > > chunks of it.
> Why don't you read what I write?
Why don't you think about what you are claiming, and whether it
and its consequences are tenable?
> > > But theory requires that we be much more analytic, and in
> > > particular, that we don't slip insensibly from one type of
> > > explanation, one conceptual framework, to another.
> > >
> > Causation passes between 'levels' much easier than explanation, as
> > it is simply a physical fact of interrelation between existent
> > entities, not a verbal representation, or linguistic 'aboutness',
> > which can be confused by multiple referential frames.
> And how do we recognise "existent entities"?
By means of perception, either technologically augmented or not.
> > > > > Of course it can be "useful" to consider the relationship
> > > > > between what a person is thinking about and activity in
> > > > > specific neural areas as causation (though that leaves open
> > > > > the question as to the direction of the causation -- which I'd
> > > > > suggest is most directly addressed by temporal considerations,
> > > > > cause preceding effect).
> > > > >
> > > > This allows for both top-down and bottom-up, and I concur with
> > > > it.
> > >
> > > Then it's a pity that both top-down and bottom-up are
> > > inexplicable, while diagonal causation, which fully accounts for
> > > all cases where cause and effect are on different levels, is
> > > itself quite easily understood.
> > >
> > Diagonal causation is a mutant hybrid which is of necessity LESS
> > clear than either of its primogenitors.
> Ain't prejudgement great? Never need to stir your bones. Just lie
> back in that warm bath and gloat over your own intellectual
> What's unclear about ordinary causation plus conceptual framework
> translation, Joe?
You are attempting to use "conceptual framework translation" as a
substitute for causation, which you cannot do when a decision on
an emergent level precedes neuronal activation on the level from
which it emerges. In such a case, it cannot be claimed that there
are simply two levels of explanation for a single event, as there are
plural and distinguishable events.
> > > > I do not think that lower-level schemas possess explanatory
> > > > capacities for higher-level phenomena, when they are
> > > > sufficiently separated by degrees of complexity and recursion.
> > >
> > > This again!! Not only do I agree with that, it's the foundation
> > > of my case -- that is precisely why top-down and bottom-up
> > > causation don't work -- but what I asked was whether you agree
> > > that "we have to distinguish between causation and conceptual
> > > framework translation". Why don't you answer that?
> > >
> > No, that is what makes using the laws and concepts of one level to
> > attempt to explain one far more complex is a fool's errand;
> So who's playing the fool?
You should get an Oscar.
> > explanation and causation are two different things
> But the explanations we're discussing are OF CAUSATION!!!! A causes B
> is a causal explanation, and that's the focus of this entire
> discussion! Sheesh!
Being ABOUT causation is not the same as BEING causation; the
word 'tree' is NOT the leafy green thing with a brown trunk growing
out of the ground in my back yard.
> > - please try to
> > keep them separated. Causation, both top-down and bottom-up, is
> > much more easy to attribute than explanations are to proffer, if
> > those explanations attempt to explain complex emergent phenomena
> Explanations of causation and of emergence are very different things.
> That you should confuse them, however, is perfectly consistent with
> your general confusion in this whole area.
No, the material substrate, in interrelation with its environment,
does indeed incubate the emergent self, which then may modify its
ground, both short-term (as seen in PET-Scans) and long-term (as
happens with extended learning). They, to a degree, cause each
other; there is BOTH top-down and bottom-up causation going on
within the substrate + emergence system.
> > > > You are
> > > > welcome to try to understand the forest by deconstructing a cell
> > > > in a leaf if that's what you wanna do, but I doubt if you'll
> > > > find out much about its ecosystem that way.
> > >
> > > Can you quote one sentence of mine that would lead any reasonable
> > > person to think I have such a reductionist agenda?
> > >
> > physics, > > chemistry and biology deal with successively higher
> > > levels (actually, > > sets of levels) of explanation. If
> > > biological phenomena are analysed > > in sufficient detail --
> > > which is not
> > always
> > > desirable because it means > > losing sight of the bigger picture
> > > -
> I think you need to work on your cut'n'paste skills, Joe! :-)
> But what matters is that you missed "which is not always desirable
> because it means losing sight of the bigger picture". Maybe if you'd
> spent 20 seconds making that quote easier to read, you'd have actually
> read it yourself instead of just glancing at it.
In the case of the dynamically recursive pattern configuration of the
emergent self as it relates to its material substrate brain, such a
reduction is not only not desireable; it is not possible.
> > And does this reductionistic agenda work with atoms and thoughts?
> How often do I need to say it before it will penetrate your skull?
Telling a falsehood, even if you personally believe in it, a thousand
times will not render it true. You extoll the supposed virtues of
attempting to explain complex emergent ohenomena by means of
an inventory of their disconnected constituents. Reduction is
reduction. Motor oil is motor oil.
> Robin Faichney
> Get your Meta-Information from http://www.ii01.org
> (CAUTION: contains philosophy, may cause heads to spin)
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