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  #21  
Unread April 29th, 2006, 02:36 PM
Margaret McGhee Margaret McGhee is offline
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Default Re: Somatic Behavior Choice Hypothesis

Fred, you said,
Quote:
As I think Carey has intimated, your hypothesis seems to be rather circular.
I agree. It is somewhat a tautology. From Websters: Tautology: Logic necessarily true by virtue of the meaning of its component terms alone, without reference to external fact, and with its denial resulting in self-contradiction; tautologous, an analytic proposition: opposed to SYNTHETIC

a) I am saying essentially we do that which we most want to do, emotionally.

b) Others may say we do that which we most logically believe is the best choice.

c) And some others, moralists like you, say we usually do b) but we can also over-ride a) or b) and do that which our free-will compells us to do.

I think all behavior choice explanations can be reduced to: We do that which we do - which is the ultimate circularity.

I suspect that the difficulty of sorting these out lies in our subjectivity. It is extermely hard to be objective about how our own minds function - since we must use that functioning to provide our various explanations. All this while our egos are telling each of us that only our own mind (and those who agree with it) is capable of discerning the one true answer.

For that reason I am not attempting to prove anything here. I'm just offering an interesting new window to look through, that may - or may not - inform a more objective answer to the question sometime in the future.

I'm not saying I am right and you are wrong. I'm just saying, "Here's another way to look at it" - and hoping for some discussion.

I must disagree with your assertion that Emotions aren’t generated by your intellect, . . What I tried to explain was that emotions are generated by our intellectual conclusions - as a result of how we sense that they will affect our survival - in the context of a behavior choice decision. Just as they are generated by our instincts, beliefs etc. in the same manner and used for the same purpose.

Imagine that you have just gone online to a medical reference website where you have entered some troubling symptoms - and the website says there's a good chance that you have cancer. Certainly, your intellectual conclusion from consulting this website will have a very strong emotional effect on you - and on any decisions you make in the near future.

In the context of a decision that affects our well-being, our happiness, our survival - all our intellectual conclusions will have an emotional component - that gets summed along with other inputs when we make decisions. We usually don't notice the emotions. Even when we do we usually don't notice how they affect our decision-making which occurs subconsciously as their result.

That's my hypothesis.

Part of the problem here is that we've all been taught that emotions are side effects, evolutionary anachronisms that sometimes get in the way of rational problem solving. That's our ego talking. It wants us to believe that our intellect (that part if our mind that it is attached to) is in charge. But, that's why people are so certain that: "Emotions aren’t generated by your intellect . . " It's the CW. It's the paradigm that we swim in. I'm proposing that it is wrong.

I'm saying that we are first and foremost emotional creatures just like every other mammal. Our emotions first of all cause us to engage our intellectual computer for problems where we feel it can be useful. Our intellect is just another information source that helps us make better decisions than most chimps. But, it works just like all our other information sources that we consult during decision-making such as our instincts and beliefs - by providing weighted emotional inputs to a summing computer that goes with the option that gets the most votes (highest synaptic firing rate?) based on those emotional inputs.

Margaret
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  #22  
Unread April 29th, 2006, 06:11 PM
TomJrzk TomJrzk is offline
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Default Re: Somatic Behavior Choice Hypothesis

Quote:
Originally Posted by Fred H.
Whenever you’re hungry for your favorite pie, but not too terribly hungry, put a piece of it in front of you and then see if you can consciously decide to not eat it, and see if you can refrain from eating for say a second or two—if you can, then you’ll see that you have at least some conscious cognitive free will. It’s that simple and obvious.
No one's arguing that we aren't conscious or do not have choices. It's whether there is anything outside our brains that affect those choices - that would be something free of our brains and a possible source for free-will. The 'ghost in the machine'.

It is simple and obvious to me that I can choose to eat ice cream or not. It's neither obvious nor even known (it's even doubtful) whether we have anything more than exceptionally complicated brains that can also give you the illusion of free will.
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  #23  
Unread April 29th, 2006, 07:10 PM
Fred H. Fred H. is offline
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Default Re: Somatic Behavior Choice Hypothesis

Quote:
MM: Imagine that you have just gone online to a medical reference website where you have entered some troubling symptoms - and the website says there's a good chance that you have cancer. Certainly, your intellectual conclusion from consulting this website will have a very strong emotional effect on you - and on any decisions you make in the near future.
No, your “intellectual conclusion” is not what has, or causes, the “emotional effect”—it’s whatever subcortical, subconscious emotional systems get triggered that will provide the emotional effect.

Let’s say that the emotion that you experience here in your example is fear. Fear is generated by the subcortical amygdala. While it may be with your intellect, your conscious cognition, that you’ve discerned and concluded that there seems to be a high probability that you have cancer, you’ll not actually experience fear unless your subcortical amygdala is functioning and is triggered in this process.

Individuals with a (rare) medical condition wherein the amygdala becomes calcified, but with their cognitive function remaining in tact, could also, using your example, consciously discern and conclude that there’s a high probability that they have cancer, and even ponder the various implications of having cancer, and even conclude that this is not good; and yet they’d not experience fear b/c their amygdala no longer functions—they’d know intellectually that they might have cancer and that cancer is “bad,” but they’d not feel or experience the fear, and they’d probably not feel the urgency to attempt to deal with the cancer that someone experiencing fear would feel.

Here’s another experiment for you, assuming you can get your hands on some Xanax, which seems to dampen the amygdala circuitry—the next time you’re really afraid or worried and think you know what “intellectual conclusion” is having the “emotional effect,” pop a Xanax and in about an hour consciously focus, ponder, consider, and dwell on said “intellectual conclusion”—you’ll see that it’s not the “intellectual conclusion,” that is having an “emotional effect.”
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  #24  
Unread April 29th, 2006, 08:17 PM
Margaret McGhee Margaret McGhee is offline
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Default Re: Somatic Behavior Choice Hypothesis

Fred said,
Quote:
No, your “intellectual conclusion” is not what has, or causes, the “emotional effect”—it’s whatever subcortical, subconscious emotional systems get triggered that will provide the emotional effect.
I didn't attempt to describe the brain systems involved which were incidental to my point. I only stated that cognition can result in emotion. Of, course, the amygdala is necessary for that experience - as are other brain regions.

My point was that intellectual conclusions can provide additional input into the decision mechanism - that hypothetically weighs a variety of emotional inputs to arrive at a decision. That implies that at some point along the way, that conclusion in the form of some mental image held in working memeory is somehow converted to emotional signals that can be weighed against other emotional signals to generate a decision somewhere else in the brain. That mental image can then be discarded or it can get executed - depending on the decision result.

As in - I know the odds of winning anything in the lottery are astronomically small, yet I want the positive tingle of the hope of vast riches more than I want the emotional satisfaction of keeping the dollar that I'm sure to lose - so execute the mental image of buying that ticket.

I didn't take several pages to fully explain each detail of the process in this example. I'm not even suggesting that I could do that. Where it occurs and which parts of the brain are involved is not part of my argument.

Again, I suggest that you provide even a cursory explanation of how your 'ghost-in-the-machine' causes a decision to made.

Margaret
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  #25  
Unread April 30th, 2006, 08:39 AM
Fred H. Fred H. is offline
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Default Re: Somatic Behavior Choice Hypothesis

Quote:
MM: Again, I suggest that you provide even a cursory explanation of how your 'ghost-in-the-machine' causes a decision to be made.
“Ghost-in-the-machine?” Hmmm, I’ve never maintained Descartes’ mind-body dualism—you seem to lack an actual understanding of the meaning of that phrase—your buddy Tom obviously doesn’t know what it means/refers to, so maybe you were just regurgitating his nonsense? I’d suggest you reread Pinker, again, b/c Pinker does discuss the “ghost in the machine” thing to some extent—you seem to be mistaking it for the “free will” thing. (Pinker believes we humans do have free will, BTW.)

And so it seems that you’ve run out of arguments regarding your ‘hypothesis,” and that I’ve pretty much made my case regarding free will and downward causation. But it occurs to me that your arguments might be a bit more credible if you actually understood certain terms/phrases b/f you start using them, and certainly b/f you write/publish any book that you may be considering. Nevertheless Margaret, I’m delighted that our most recent exchange here has been reasonably cordial, although perhaps a bit threatening to TomJ. Was it good for you too?—better not answer that affirmatively lest Tom feel even more threatened—perhaps you two could get together to discuss his ghosts in machines and choosing ice cream—give him a big wet kiss for me.
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  #26  
Unread April 30th, 2006, 11:41 AM
Margaret McGhee Margaret McGhee is offline
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Default Re: Somatic Behavior Choice Hypothesis

Fred, Yet another clever attempt to avoid an explanation for just how your theistic free will operates in the human mind - this time by saying that I've mislabeled it - and therefore you don't need to justify it. If there's anyone following this forum who was hoping to find some logical jusification behind your rants - don't you think they might be getting a little discouraged?

I understand why you and your ideology are probably feeling a bit naked now - and so we see you sliding again toward that nastiness that seems to anchor your arguments whenever someone points out their glaring lack of substance. But it was good for a while.

Since no reasonable explanation will be forthcoming from you - since you'd be in the position of having to scientifically justify some Godly force (that ghost-in-the-machine) I'll provide it for you. (Remember how you admitted that your purpose here was to expose the immorality of atheists?)

It lies in the belief zone - one of the strongest sources of the emotions that direct human decisions. When one feels the strength of their higher level identity beliefs directing their decisions - the experience itself engenders strong (religious-like) emotions and can be very moving.

Those thus moved by their Godly hit of dopamine and seratonin, glorify it and give it names. They institutionalize it. That way they can better convince others of their superior virtue and connection to the holy powers-that-be. (There's that conservative identification with authority thing again.)

Sometimes they call it God-speak, sometimes they call it free will. But it serves mostly to convince themselves that they have become virtuous in life above the apostates - as well as well-connected.

Your free will is an ID-like approach to morality - a bamboozlement that is used just as often to justify some of the most stupid and immoral acts of mankind. As in, my superior morality (that carefully doesn't mention God) wants me to to use my free will to deny homosexuals the right to marry . . or whatever. That's because it has no objective scientific (secular) basis. It can be invoked for whatever truly immoral injustices one wishes to justify.

And, as one would expect, those who don't share your beliefs are considered immoral and corrupt - as having no possible motivation for being a good person - and deserving of attack, like on internet forums. Did you forget your meds this morning?

Not only does your kind of morality have no objective basis, as you have so well illustrated in your previous post - it is completely explained by my hypothesis.

Ouch!

Margaret

Last edited by Margaret McGhee; April 30th, 2006 at 01:53 PM.
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  #27  
Unread April 30th, 2006, 02:24 PM
Fred H. Fred H. is offline
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Default Re: Somatic Behavior Choice Hypothesis

Quote:
MM: Since no reasonable explanation will be forthcoming from you - since you'd be in the position of having to scientifically justify some Godly force (that ghost-in-the-machine)....
Hmmm, you don’t seem to be getting this. Again, reread Pinker—free will/moral responsibility, as Pinker explains (from The Blank Slate, the Noble Savage, and the Ghost in the Machine, by Steven Pinker, The Tanner Lectures on Human Values, delivered at Yale University, April 20 and 21, 1999, http://www.tannerlectures.utah.edu/l...s/pinker00.pdf
), “does not literally require a ghost in the machine as an alternative to a causal explanation in biological terms.”
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  #28  
Unread April 30th, 2006, 02:54 PM
Margaret McGhee Margaret McGhee is offline
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Default Re: Somatic Behavior Choice Hypothesis

Of course, like Pinker, I don't believe that a ghost in the machine is needed as a basis for morality.

But why is it that exposing atheists as immoral is your reason for being here? Does Pinker think atheists are immoral? Don't hide behind smart people who actually disagree with you pretending they don't. You've had more than enough opportunity to explain your evolutionary psychology basis for free will in your own words. In the 233 posts you have submitted you have failed to do that.

I agree that this is a valid part of the discussion of how the human mind works. I have addressed it. You don't like my explanation because it shows human behavior to be deterministic and free will to be an illusion.

Now, let's hear your version of how free will is part of the human decision-making process and just how that works to free us from our emotions, our neurons, our neurotransmitters and our hormones - if you can.

Margaret

Last edited by Margaret McGhee; April 30th, 2006 at 03:08 PM.
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  #29  
Unread April 30th, 2006, 05:17 PM
Fred H. Fred H. is offline
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Default Re: Somatic Behavior Choice Hypothesis

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MM: But why is it that exposing atheists as immoral is your reason for being here?
I think that’s one of your delusions, Margaret, unless you can show me exactly where I’ve actually said that—maybe it’s just that your hypersensitivity causes you to infer that whenever I’ve taken the time and energy to explain your own lack of intellectual rigor, consistency, or honesty in your various arguments?

OTOH, I suppose it’s true that I certainly do view deism/theism as being preferable to atheism since religious/spiritual values generally serve as a mitigating factor against the excesses of state power and human behavior (although Islam admittedly hasn’t been all that helpful); whereas the vacuum of atheism leaves us with a moral relativism—humans having no more intrinsic value than any other animal, and (at least for atheists like you and Tom) humans that lack free will and moral responsibility; and the unavoidable brutality that such a POV inevitably engenders as manifest in the various atheistic regimes of the 20th century . . . and the moral relativism/emptiness that we see in some of the crap that TomJ has posted here, e.g., “mass murderers are not morally responsible.”
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  #30  
Unread April 30th, 2006, 05:41 PM
Margaret McGhee Margaret McGhee is offline
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Default Re: Somatic Behavior Choice Hypothesis

That's all interesting Fred. Although we've heard it now several times.

However, as I said in the last post:

Now, let's hear your version of how free will is part of the human decision-making process and just how that works to free us from our emotions, our neurons, our neurotransmitters and our hormones - if you can.

Margaret
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