26
Aug
09

Hold on

This is going to be a bumpy ride.

He gets off to a rough start with the question “how does the mind act on the brain?” This implies that the “mind” has influence on “matter” without demonstrating that the mind is, in fact, distinct. It relies upon personal experience (namely, headaches) to imply proof of dualism exists. Aside from humans being intrinsically dualistic (person as actor and person as idea) which serves a vital role in social interactions. He posits, then, that as a result of this, “The response to this apparent impass is a retreat to epiphenomenalism: Mind does nothing, in fact, it does not act on brain, it is an epiphenomena of brain.” I would reply to this accusation that the the mind/brain is not an impass, nor is the mind an epiphenomena of the brain. It is the perception and processing of numerous factors.

He then proposes yet another non-question: “How can we have free will if the world’s becoming, like Newton’s laws, are fully deterministic?” Simple answer? We don’t have contra-causal free will. All actions are caused, but we are still morally responsible for our actions. Humans are predictable, indicating nothing contra-causal or “quantum” as he goes on to say, but operate under laws of quite simple molecular physics.

This statement is awfully telling:

“Whatever the merits of Dennett’s views, however, they do not vitiate the possibility that a quantum decohering-recohering mind-brain may answer the question of how mind – acausally – has consequences for physical matter.”

That statement is pure and utter nonsense. It is neither testable, because it “hides in the quantum,” nor does it yield any explanatory power. He still has yet to answer a basic question: is there a difference between the “mind” and “brain” or is this all a prop?

Unsupported speculation gearing towards a goal: support of his belief system, i.e. that “free will lies in the quantum and thus explains mind/body dualism and their effects”

He misconstrues “preadaptation” to mean “new features.” This NEVER happens. Some old part is recruited to perform a new function. This happens from the genetic to the physiological level. Hands and pectoral fins are homologous, but would you call hands a “new feature?” OF COURSE YOU WOULD. His point in 8.2 “Darwinian Preadaptations Cannot be Described by Sufficient Efficient Cause Law” is completely unsupported.

Talking about Darwin so much is also starting to get annoying, we’ve made strides in evolutionary biology beyond Darwin’s wildest dreams. I certainly hope he is familiar with the Modern Evolutionary Synthesis.

He then goes on to give a patently incorrect view of our understanding of swim bladder evolution.

I’m going to read the rest in silence…

OK, so, here’s what I have, he presents absolutely NO evidence for his hypothesis, even less logically sound support for his conclusion, and more false premises than a young-earth creationist. This isn’t philosophically profound, or even scientifically interesting. It’s nothing more than a collection of “what-if’s” and “this might be true because it’s not explained COMPLETELY yet.” True, we don’t understand exactly how the brain functions, but we also don’t know exactly how gravity works, exactly what evolutionary history our species has, or exactly how geckos evolved toe pads utilizing Van der Waals interactions to adhere to surfaces. That doesn’t mean your magical explanation is correct.

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2 Responses to “Hold on”


  1. 1 Pliny-the-in-Between
    August 26, 2009 at 12:24 pm

    Well, on one level I should be pleased that in Kauffman we have someone who apparently had even more trouble with quantum theory than I did in college. I think Roger Penrose first used this argument in “the Emperor’s New Mind” that was sort of a counter to Hofstadter’s books. Penrose was arguing that true AI was impossible since mind was a quantum phenomenon. Been a while since I read it so I may be off a bit on that. As one working in that particular area my sense is that our current limitations have more to do with the fact that we have been at this for only a few decades while the human brain is the result of hundreds of millions of years of intense and unforgiving experimentation on a biochemical processor. No doubt quantum actions are present at the most basic levels of everything that exists in this universe. What seems to get missed is that quantum activities take place at the heart of all structures within this universe. Quantum physics is not some overlay on top of matter that can have some independent life of its own – it’s just the opposite in fact – matter which performs all these wonderful life functions is largely dependent on it in the first place.

  2. 2 jaredcormier
    August 26, 2009 at 12:39 pm

    Well, my problem with people using quantum theory like this runs deeper than just Kauffman. Many people “hide phenomena in the quantum” to get around most scientific criticisms. The idea that phenomena of olfaction “hides in the quantum” pushed by Luca Turin also rather annoys me. He posits that it is not the chemical’s shape alone, but it’s quantum resonance due to quantum tunneling. If this were the case, a structure should, hypothetically, not be able to be bound to another molecule and still elicit the same smell response. Hiding emergent phenomena in the quantum is not an explanation, it avoids an explanation.


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