Oh, what a strange magic,
Oh, it's a strange magic.Got a strange magic.
Got a strange magic.
not suffice to assert that consciousness and/or subjective experience is "undeniably" produced by the brain. It is disturbing that the assertion is commonly believed without, as Hume put it, "the use of deliberate reason". It seems necessary that the very belief that the physical brain gives rise to consciousness or subjective experience must, in order to justify itself, describe the process of how the brain, composed of something that can exist in the complete absence or nonexistence of consciousness, generates first-person subjective experience using the speculative process in which things exist or come into existence
. Critical analysis of how
neurons of the cerebral cortex (purportedly the only area of the brain---and body---responsible for the existence of consciousness) are entailed to create conscious experience, in terms of how consciousness might come into existence from a previous nonexistence or how it might appear independent of the type of causality responsible for every other emergent property in the universe, may inadvertently reveal the fatal flaw in the most common assumption about the origin of consciousness. Understanding The Nature Of Experience, And The Distinction Between Experience And The Physical“It is evident to any one who takes a survey of the objects of human knowledge, that they are either ideas actually imprinted on the senses; or else such as are perceived by attending to the passions and operations of the mind; or lastly, ideas formed by help of memory and imagination- either compounding, dividing, or barely representing those originally perceived in the aforesaid ways. By sight I have the ideas of light and colours, with their several degrees and variations. By touch I perceive hard and soft, heat and cold, motion and resistance, and of all these more and less either as to quantity or degree. Smelling furnishes me with odours; the palate with tastes; and hearing conveys sounds to the mind in all their variety of tone and composition. And as several of these are observed to accompany each other, they come to be marked by one name, and so to be reputed as one thing. Thus, for example a certain colour, taste, smell, figure and consistence having been observed to go together, are accounted one distinct thing, signified by the name apple; other collections of ideas constitute a stone, a tree, a book, and the like sensible things- which as they are pleasing or disagreeable excite the passions of love, hatred, joy, grief, and so forth.
But, besides all that endless variety of ideas or objects of knowledge, there is likewise something which knows or perceives them, and exercises divers operations, as willing, imagining, remembering, about them. This perceiving, active being is what I call mind, spirit, soul, or myself. By which words I do not denote any one of my ideas, but a thing entirely distinct from them, wherein, they exist, or, which is the same thing, whereby they are perceived- for the existence of an idea consists in being perceived.
That neither our thoughts, nor passions, nor ideas formed by the imagination, exist without the mind, is what everybody will allow. And it seems no less evident that the various sensations or ideas imprinted on the sense, however blended or combined together (that is, whatever objects they compose), cannot exist otherwise than in a mind perceiving them.” [My interjection: Or that “..however blended or combined together….are observed and constantly observed to exist as things perceived by a particular person as reality, as it is actually observed or experienced, is never observed independent a perceiving person (and if a person claims this or that exists when no one perceives it, this is naught but fiction, as the person cannot experience, and thus cannot verify independent of the necessity or use of faith, the existence of this or that in the absence of perception)”[/i]]-Bishop George Berkeley: A Treatise Concerning The Principles of Human Knowledge (Principles #1-3), 1710
The term ‘experience’ cannot meaningfully be explained as anything other than what we do at all times when not in a state of dreamless sleep (if dreamless sleep exists), and cannot rationally be explained as anything other than the fundamental nature of our existence. A person, in short, is ultimately an experience
---or an experience that experiences
. What we are, what we are doing now, and what we constantly do is experience
: existence as it is observed and experienced appears only in the form of a particular person and that which the person experiences
Knowledge of the nature of existence (or at least existence that can be known independent of faith
), then, must begin with knowledge of the nature of oneself.
Existence is observed to manifest only as a person and that which the person (currently) experiences, thus objects of everyday experience such as tables and cups are upon introspective sensation are discovered to be composed only of one’s experience (of them)
: when one holds a cup, the “substance” that makes up the cup is not something external to or independent of the self, but is actually nothing more than the experience one feels when holding it.“All we can mean, in talking about physical objects (or nonphysical objects, if there are any) is what experiences we would have when dealing with them (italics and paraphrase mine)."
Arthur Danto: Connections to the World.
Objects (or anything known to exist independent of faith in its existence) are known to exist because they have been (sensorially) experienced by a particular person. The fundamental structure of the question of the nature of reality consists of a dual empirical and speculative substance: the observation of objects as they are currently and actually perceived or experienced by a particular person, and the hypothesis of whether or not the objects exist when they are not perceived or experienced. The object that is experienced is inseparable from and is an aspect of oneself, as it manifests only in the form of how it appears and behaves to one's point of view, and it only appears when one is present and attending to it (directly or peripherally). The self-oriented
nature of perceived objects, and their appearance only when currently and actually experienced, indicates that the perceived environment---as opposed to the environment when no one perceives it (if it exists) is an aspect of oneself; it is not an aspect or part of the external world, but emanates and originates from the experiencing or perceiving subject as an extended world that “springs from” or emerges from the self. The process of perception begins with an object in the real world, termed the distal stimulus or distal object. By means of light, sound or another physical process, the object stimulates the body's sensory organs. These sensory organs transform the input energy into neural activity—a process called transduction. This raw pattern of neural activity is called the proximal stimulus. These neural signals are transmitted to the brain and processed. The resulting mental recreation of the distal stimulus is the percept. Perception is sometimes described as the process of constructing mental representations of distal stimuli using the information available in proximal stimuli.
-Wikipedia: Perception, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Perception
(Note: It is not necessary, given the above, that one personally brings into being or controls the self-emanating environment: it suffices only that the perceived environment is part of and emanates from oneself. In Psychophysicalism, the percept is determined and governed by the ever-changing function of the brain; according to Berkeley and other meta- or non-brain theorists, the content of the percept is determined by Something or Someone in the external world.)The Physical As The Polar Opposite Of Experience:The Concept Of Non-ExperienceLet us examine a little the description that is here given us of matter. It neither acts, nor perceives, nor is perceived; for this is all that is meant by saying it is an inert, senseless, unknown substance; which is a definition entirely made up of negatives, excepting only the relative notion of its standing under or supporting. But then it must be observed that it supports nothing at all, and how nearly this comes to the description of a nonentity I desire may be considered....Now, I would fain know how anything can be present to us, which is neither perceivable by sense nor reflexion, nor capable of producing any idea in our minds, nor is at all extended, nor hath any form, nor exists in any place. The words "to be present," when thus applied, must needs be taken in some abstract and strange meaning, and which I am not able to comprehend.
-Bishop George Berkeley: A Treatise Concerning The Principles of Human Knowledge (Principle #68), 1710
It is remarkable, then, that experience is thought to originate from neurons, themselves believed to be composed of something that is not
the experience which they purportedly create (as this “something” is entailed to have the ability to exist in the absence of the consciousness, and consciousness is, it should be remember, experience and an experience; thus something must experience in order for it [consciousness] to exist). Experience, and persons or subjects of experience, are believed to be creations of things that are not experienced nor experiences at all. Given this contradiction in essential nature or the difference between being an experience and not being an experience
, it is remarkable that one can be said to “come from” or to derive from the other at all, or that non-experience or the Berkeleyian “unknown, senseless, substance” can take from itself or use itself
to produce something that it essentially or substantially is not
: the fact or act of experience.
Experiences exist only as experiences, and as such exist only when experienced. Thus the term 'experience', in order to be meaningfully defined or described, must be described as something experienced
, or as an experience. The brain, conversely, is purportedly composed of a material or 'corporeal' substance that can exist in the complete absence or nonexistence of experience
. If it can exist in the absence of experience, it is therefore something that is not
experience, as experience exists only as an experience, and exists only when currently experienced
(in the form of either Berkeleyian sense
[sensory perception or emotion] or reflection
[memory or thought]), but experience is nevertheless believed with "great assurance and acquiescence" to be created by or derived from something that it [experience] is not
.The "Relationship" Between Neurons And Experience
Straightforwardly, the central problem with Non-experiential
or Non-Mental Psychophysicalism
is its dogged insistence that a type of existence be derived from something that it essentially is not. The mythology of the fate of consciousness before and after the existence and function of the cerebral cortex stipulates (absent panpsychism) that consciousness does not exist.
The remaining universe or infinity independent of or beyond a functioning cortex, then, has nothing (directly) to do with the existence of consciousness. Thus the remaining universe, and the cortex itself, must consist of a Kantian noumena that is not consciousness at all as experience, in this entailment, does not and cannot exist independent of the function of a cerebral cortex (within the skull of a living animal). The existence of Kantian noumena is a matter of faith
, as it is a mythological substance (purportedly) existing independent of consciousness.
As the cerebral cortex is composed of Kantian noumena, the cortex must conjure subjective consciousness or experience (absent panpsychism) from nothing
. The Kantian noumena making up the cortex cannot be used to create experience as it exists in the absence of experience and is thus something that cannot be experienced and something other than experience. In the absence of panpsychism, the only way the (noumenal) cortex can create or generate (phenomenal) consciousness is for it to create consciousness or subjective experience ex nihilo
It is important then, in the face of assertion that consciousnesss is generated by physical brains, to remember the following logical principles governing the purported "relation" between neurons and experience:
1. Experiences are nothing but experiences, and are nothing but experienced. If and when experiences exist, they must be experienced by a particular person (human or animal)
: they cannot meaningfully be said to exist (nor is experience meaningfully defined or described) if they are not experienced (in the form of Berkelian sense or reflection).
2. In Psychophysicalism, subjective experiences are the result of particular functions of cortical neural circuits. If experiences exist only when they are actually experienced, then the absence of an experience is an indication of the (accidental or "programmed") inactivity of the cortical circuit responsible for that experience.
3. Neurons in the cerebral cortex, the only area of the brain responsible for consciousness, do not magically wink out of existence nor instantaneously decompose at the end of a created experience. Thus neurons exist through means and are composed of substances that do not involve nor require the existence of consciousness.
, however, is a view that states that while the physical gives rise to and influences consciousness, consciousness can in turn influence the physical. Scientists and psychologists, moreover, purport "empirical" grounds for interactionism. The Idealist, however, can overturn the cart of interactionism by the observation that the existence of the physical cannot be demonstrated: the relationship between the physical and experience, or the notion that experience can influence the physical, is ultimately a fiction.
4. If dreamless sleep exists, cortical neurons can function without producing consciousness. Dreamless sleep, then, is preliminary evidence that cortical neurons are not required to constantly produce experience, and that they continue to exist in the absence of consciousness or experience.
Regardless, however, of the belief that neurons give rise to or create experience and the purported relation between the physical and experience, the existence of the physical has yet to be demonstrated, and it does not follow that a particular existence could, or should, have anything at all to do with the existence of something it is not
. Fictional imagination believed to be truth, then, must take the place of empirical observation and actual experience, in order to save the belief that experience is something that cannot exist without the pre-existence and creative action of something existing before it. Psychophysicalism, nevertheless, if it dares to assert that experience is created by non-experience, should test the hypothesis with human logic and reason concerning how something exists, and how things create or are created.Methods of Existence, Methods of Creation
The opponent of Psychophysicalism can amusingly challenge the Psychophysicalist to refuse the cop-out of "I don't know" or the excuse that "we can't know how neurons create experience" (while simultaneously asserting that it is “without doubt” that noumenal neurons, rather than phenomenal ones, create phenomenal consciousness) and linguistically (if not imaginatively) “demonstrate” how
noumenal neurons (which purportedly exist in imperceptible form of an imperceptible substance in the external world and are not one and the same things as the phenomenal neurons observed in medical contexts or neuorscientific experiment) can produce phenomenal experience from a previous condition of nonexistence
, or an antecedent condition of opposing or unrelated existence
. It is worthwhile, for hope of rational or logical explanation of how neurons create or give rise to personal subjective experience (as neurons purportedly responsible for consciousness are cells within a skull and subjective experience is experience of things seemingly outside the skull
) (commonly), that the Non-Mental Psychophysicalist, or any Psychophysicalist, "puts one's money where one's mouth is" and not ask that we simply swallow the belief that brains create experience without explaining how the brain goes about doing this. A good starting point, to lend a helpful hand, is the conceptual use of the hypothetical processes in which things might come into existence, and how things are or might be created
Physics does not avoid the attempt, with its hypothesis that the origin and substance of physical things reduce to an eternal and indestructible substance comprising everything save consciousness (or erroneously comprising consciousness in unthinking or willfully ignorant interchangeability of experience and [non-experiential] Kantian noumena). Nothing in physical theory emerges from a previous and total nonexistence: everything is ultimately derived from a fundamental quantity called energy
---the noumenal entity manifesting as substance, motion, and force that comprises the totality of the external world.Energy is an idea that runs through the entire gamut of science, and defines what is meant by physical reality. Everything that exists has energy, and occupies space and evolves in time. All of physical reality can be said to be the manifestation of different forms of energy. Energy is also central to the functioning of human civilization; to reshape nature in accordance with human needs involves the expenditure of energy. Hence, engineering and technology are intimately concerned with the properties of energy which make it amenable for human manipulation and utilization. All of things that exist in nature, as encountered in physics, chemical processes, biological entities and so on, regulate and transform energy from one form into another. Consequently, being familiar with the major forms of energy lays the basis for understanding the underlying substratum of apparently diverse phenomena, and prepares one to understand new and unforeseen forms of energy. Energy In Physics: Why should we study the concept of Energy? http://www.physics.nus.edu.sg/~phybeb/core/node4.html
When it comes to consciousness (sometimes defined as awareness
but that can non-rigidly and globally be defined as experience
--in that experience subsumes awareness, which is ultimately nothing but the experience of being aware
), this method of causal or substantially derivative
(being composed of or derived from a particular substance) explanation fails as, absent David Chalmer's panprotopsychism
in general, consciousness is not believed to have always existed and only exists in response to the function of the cerebral cortex.
The material of consciousness or experience, then, is not the same as the material making up the cortex, as experience exists only when experienced and it is believed that experience, under certain conditions, does not exist (inferred when something is no longer experienced). Common explanation of physical existence holds that the stuff making up the cerebral cortex or a neural circuit---that which purportedly exists when consciousness does not---is indestructible: it does not come into nor go out of existence (the Law of Conservation of Energy), and as such remains in existence before, during, and after any experience. Similarly, when a person dies, he or she ceases to exist as a person. But the dead body does not lapse into nothingness, since the materials of the body continue in other forms of matter or energy. In other words, all sorts of organizational wholes (e.g., biological organisms) do cease to exist only as such when they disintegrate and their parts are scattered. But their parts continue in some form.-Adolf Grunbaum: The Pseudo-Problem of Creation in Physical Cosmology
The paradigm is simple: a neural circuit said to be responsible for a particular experience precedes the experience in existence, continues to exist as an electrically active neural circuit during and in the “background” of the beginning, presentation, and end of an experience, and continues existence (albeit absent the electrical activity coinciding with the appearance of the experience) despite the absence of the previous experience. It does not matter if the physical configuration of the circuit changes: the physical substance making up the circuit is conserved as there is no cessation of or brute discontinuities in the existence of the physical.
If experience (which only exists as someone’s experience and only exists when experienced) must come into existence from a previous nonexistence (as opposed to being eternally existent alongside the physical), then neurology itself is composed of a substance that is not the phenomenal or experiential substance of conscious experience and exists when phenomenal or experiential substance does not. The Three Ways Things Exist Or Come Into Existence, and the Two Methods By Which Things Are Created “Another way in which people are tempted to insist on a bounded past involves the commission of a fallacy similar to the one illustrated by my earlier trivial example of motherhood. The reasoning starts out from the claim that such macroscopic objects as the earth, trees, people, mountains, and individual stars are first fully formed as such by causal processes from earlier, more primitive states. Thus such macro-objects each have their own respective beginnings in time in at least the following sense: For each of them, there is a time such that it did not exist in its final form before then, but did exist as of then or since. Incidentally, without additional theory, the correctness of this claim of temporal origin is by no means obvious in regard to all elementary particles, for example, some of which might conceivably have existed in their present form throughout all past time. But let us grant the claim for macro-objects. Since there may well be infintely many of them, it then still does not follow that there must have been a single time such that all such objects whatever in the universe originated at or since that time.”
-Adolf Grunbaum: The Pseudo-Problem of Creation in Physical Cosmology
A Psychophysicalist attempting to explain how neurons create or produce experience should, as stated before, resort to the imaginative or hypothetical (and empirically known) logic of how things exist or come into existence, and the methods by which things are created.[/i]
There are three general ways things exist or come into existence, and two ways by which things are created. The second mode of creation is synonymous to the third condition of existence.The Three Conditions of Existence
There are three
conditions under which a thing exists or comes into existence, the first two existing independent of collocation
(the arrangement of pre-existing disparate components or constituents into a macroscopic collective, composite, or whole). The second mode of existence is fiction
involving inconceivable process.
1. Eternal existence
. That which is eternally existent has existed, following Grunbaum, "throughout all past time" and will endlessly exist throughout all future
time. That which is eternal (in this sense) has no beginning nor end of existence, does not acausally wink into existence from a previous nonexistence, does not acausally wink out of existence, and cannot be caused
by an external agent, nor by itself, to go out of existence.
2. Intermittent (Non-Collocational) Existence
. That which has intermittent but non-collocated existence intermittently exists without transformative causation (collection or combination from pre-existent components or parts) and:(i)
Eternally exists through all past moments in time but inexplicably winks or fades from existence through the action of an external agent or cause, or winks out of existence independent of cause.(ii)
Previously does not exist, but causally or acausally (without collocation) pops into existence and remains eternally existent thereafter, or pops into existence and exists for a short time before causally or acausally fading or winking out of existence.-Jim Starlin, Marv Wolfman: Warlock #11: The Strange Death of Adam Warlock, Marvel Comics 1975
3. Collocational Existence.
That which collocationally
exists is a composite entity or collective formed from the polycentric (or monocentric) organization of pre-existent components or constituents. Cars, mountains, brains, organisms, etc. are ultimately composite entities or collectives of molecules (strong emergence notwithstanding, the presence of the car, mountain, or organism does not mean that the constituent atoms making them up have merges into a continuous mass: each atom continues to exist within the collective and remain separate from all other atoms through interstitial fields of force; thus any new properties seen on a macroscopic scale generally given voice as “strong emergence” is actually a novel weak emergence, explicable only to the novel interaction of the constituent micro-particles rather than a brute disappearance or physical immersion of those particles into each other); molecules are composites or collectives of atoms; atoms are composites or collectives of electrons, up quarks, and down quarks---while electrons and quarks are fundamental particles believed not to be made up of anything smaller. Frederick Hayek vigorously disputes the argument from design. Throughout his writings, he makes the distinction “between an order which is brought about by the direction of a central organ...and the formation of an order determined by the regularity of actions toward each other of the elements of a structure” (1967a, p73). The former is a designed order, the later is a “spontaneous order.” Hayek further uses Michael Polanyi's notion of “monocentric” and “polycentric” (ibid.) orders to clarify this distinction: A monocentric order is organized by a directing core, a polycentric order, on the other hand, emerges out of “the relation and mutual adjustments to each other of the elements of which it consists” (ibid.). A polycentric order, in other words, is a “self-organizing” (1984a, p259) system; a system that “dispenses with the necessity of first communicating all the information on which its several elements act to a common centre” (1967a, p74) and operates, instead, through the trial-and-error interaction of many parts.
-Gary T. Dempsey: Hayek's Evolutionary Epistemology, Artificial Intelligence, and the Question of Free WillThe Two Methods of Creation
As stated before, there are two methods by which things are created or imagined to be created. The first method is common to everyday experience and empirically derivative and supportive of the language that describes it. The second possesses “descriptive” language, but its internal process is inexplicable and beyond the bounds of knowledge derived from experience.Transformative Causation“Even for those cases of causation which involve conscious agents or fashioners, the premise does not assert that they ever create anything out of nothing; instead, conscious fashioners merely TRANSFORM PREVIOUSLY EXISTING MATERIALS FROM ONE STATE TO ANOTHER; the baker creates a cake out of flour, milk, butter, etc., and the parents who produce an offspring do so from a sperm, an ovum, and from the food supplied by the mother's body, which in turn comes from the soil, solar energy, etc.
-Adolf Grunbaum: The Pseudo-Problem of Creation in Physical Cosmology
1. Transformative Causation.
The term "creation" typically or commonly entails collocation
: the (through accident or deliberate imposition) forced combination and connection of smaller entities and objects into larger, macroscopic wholes. In physical theory, collective or composite entities are formed by forcible interaction between its constituent elements through self-generated force fields (force generating fields in the form of positive pulls
or negative pushes
) that result in the aggregation of a macro-object (formed from an attractive/repulsive balance between its constituent atoms and the atoms making up the environment surrounding the object: the repellent activity of the negative force, pushes away those atoms not going into the construction of the macro-object, with the repelled atoms forming the air or other objects both micro- and macro-scopic that surround the relevant formation).
The most common, everyday form of creation is that which Wes Morriston calls Transformative Causation
. It is nothing more or less than the creation of something from a pre-existing material (the creation of something using materials that already exist). In physical theory denying the existence of panpsychism
, everything with the exception of consciousness is a product of transformative causation. As Adolf Grünbaum has pointed out, many familiar causes are “transformative” in character. When a person makes something, he makes it out of something. He transforms a pre-existent material into something else (the effect). The carpenter cuts the wood and fits it together so as to make a house, the potter shapes and bakes his clay so as to make a pot, and so on.
- Morriston, Wes: Creation ex Nihilo and the Big BangCreation Ex Nihilo
2. Creation Ex Nihilo.
Creation ex nihilo
is, in effect, the polar opposite of transformative causation. It is nothing more than that. It is an inconceivable form of creation in which something that previously did not exist is somehow ‘brought’ into existence or ‘made’ to exist without the material use of anything that previously and currently exists. Like its acausal variant Origination ex nihilo
(which entails the coming into existence of something independent of pre-existing agent or cause), creation ex nihilo
involves the coming into existence of something in response to a non-collocational
action committed by a pre-existing agent.[/i]
Creation independent of derivation from pre-existing substance---in which a material or substance that already exists is rearranged to form a particular object---is explanatorily, conceivably, and procedurally void. One is being told that x causes y to exist without explanation of how
y came to exist without the use of the substance making up x or anything else that exists. For historical reasons, the term "creation" is laden with the notion of a creating agency or cause external to the created objects. In this important respect, this word differs from the neutral term "origination." Moreover, the terms "nothing" or "from nothing" as used in conjunction with "creation" carry the connotation of the traditional theological notion "ex nihilo." As we know from two thousand years of theology, the hypothesis of divine creation does not even envision, let alone specify, an appropriate intermediate causal process that would link the presence of the supposed divine (causal) agency to the effects which are attributed to it.
In physics, there is either an actual specification or at least a quest for the mediating causal dynamics linking presumed causes to their effects. Yet despite the failure of theology to provide just such a dynamical linkage, Newton invoked divine intervention in the belief that it could plug explanatory lacunae which his physics had left unfilled.
In the face of the inherently irremediable dynamical inscrutability of divine causation, the resort to God as creator, ontological observer of matter, or intevener in the course of nature is precisely a deus ex machine that lacks a vital feature of causal explanations in the sciences. The Book of Genesis tells us about the divine word-magic of creating photons by saying "Let there be light." But we aren't even told whether God said it in Hebrew or Aramaic. I, for one, draw a complete explanatory blank when I am told that God created photons. This purported explanation contrasts sharply with, say, the story of the formation of two photons by conversion of the rest-mass of a colliding electron-positron pair. Thus, so far as divine causation goes, we are being told, to all intents and purposes, that an intrinsically elusive, mysterious agency X inscrutably produces the effect.
- Adolf Grunbaum: Creation As a In Pseudo-Explanation Current Physical Cosmology
Any ‘laws’ governing existence ex nihilo
(particularly in magical theory and imagination), in which certain dynamic motions or verbal spells or incantations result in the sudden existence of something that previously did not exist, are (intrinsically) explanatorily and procedurally empty; the human mind can envision no procedure or process whereby a particular entity might be formed without the collocation or transformation of pre-existing material or substance. There is no pre-existing material that can be used to shape the new entity as the very substance making up the entity does not exist before the entity is “created”: the entity must suddenly and inexplicably “come into existence” as nothing that already exists is used to create it. But it is just this absence of antecedence
that questions the logic, if not the metaphysical possibility, of the notion that things that do not exist can suddenly gain existence and the belief that something that does not exist can be “made” to exist by something that currently exists.
Without antecedence, there is no predictive logic
to the notion that x created y ex nihilo
, as y previously did not exist and its substance, despite the fact it is the same as something that previously exists, did not derive from any pre-existing substance. One cannot predict the property or nature of that which “comes into existence” as said property or nature was not pulled from anything that currently exists. There is nothing about the current condition and action of anything currently in existence that plays a role or that can be predicted to account for the nature and disposition of the newly arrived existence. If Santa Claus pops into sudden existence from a previous and total nonexistence, why does Santa
emerge rather than Quetzalcoatl? If absurd random chance and the inscrutable process of something simply “existing” (no “creation out of nothing “ but pure and simple “sudden existence from nothing”) is out of the question and something more is involved, what invisible force or process ensures that only Santa, as opposed to Quetzalcoatl, exists? There is no transformation of pre-existent physical energy into amalgamations of different aspects of itself, but a brute addition of existence from previous nonexistence. More importantly, why should electrons flowing from one point to another along a neural membrane result in an experience that is neither an electron nor a neural membrane? How can something that does not exist (something that is truly nonexistent, not existing in potential, pre-dissipated form) be created without
the use of pre-existing material or substance?
In attempted imagination of how something comes into existence from previous nonexistence, the object is once unimaginable---with the object suddenly springing into the mind’s eye from a previous moment when there was no imagination of the object. Thus there is a moment in which the object or phenomenon is mentally absent, then a moment in which the object or phenomenon is mentally experienced. But independent transformational causation, the mind’s eye can only yield a momentary transition from sudden absence to sudden presence, as a hypothetical entity generated ex nihilo
is not pieced together using pre-existing material or objects in even an imaginary vicinity.
[Of course, one might try to imagine what is going on “beyond existence”, and imagine a misty or lighted space with the soon-to-exist object emerging from imaginary nothingness to form in this imaginary light show or mist before appearing in one’s imagination of the room in which one sensorially sits (or some other place). But here, one merely creates a fictional space within one’s mind and claims it to be or to represent “that which is beyond existence”. The mind can at times form “realities” consisting only of one’s imagination of that “reality”, with the subject believing it represents something beyond one’s consciousness. Without this deliberate or inadvertent illusion, it seems transparent that imagination of something that previously did not exist “coming into” existence would take the form of a mental absence of the object transformed into the sudden appearance of the object in ones mind’s eye.]
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------In recent years…some Christian philosophers have suggested that purely scientific and philosophical considerations show that the universe was not made out of anything. William Lane Craig, in particular, has argued that creation ex nihilo is strongly supported by the Big Bang theory of the origin of the universe.
Grünbaum, on the other hand, has forcefully argued that creation ex nihilo does not follow from any reasonable interpretation of the claim that the universe has a cause. Causes of the sort that are acknowledged in everyday experience and in scientific explanations either do not involve conscious agency, or, if they do, they also involve the transformation of some pre-existing material. In neither case do we have the sort of cause envisaged by classical theism. So even if one were to grant the premise that everything (including the beginning of the universe) has a cause, it would not follow that the universe [my interjection: nor anything in the universe, even consciousness] was created ex nihilo.
- Wes Morriston: Creation ex Nihilo and the Big Bang
The notion of creation ex nihilo
is highly problematic, for the proponent of this type of creation is forced to ask the audience to simply 'swallow' or accept that a pre-existing object or action can ‘cause’ something that did not exist to come into existence wholly without the use of pre-existent material or substance. It is tempting to assert that it is impossible for things to come into existence from a previous nonexistence, or that it is impossible
to create anything without transformative causation--but respecting the epistemic burden of proving a negative, it suffices that given everyday experience and the logic and reason that is instilled from experience, we have no good reason to this type of causation or creation exists, and that there is nothing but pre-existence and transformative interaction
between eternally existing substance(s). The Two Methods of Creation And Their Relation To Belief In Neural Creation Of Consciousness
The proponent of Non-Mental or Non-Experiential Psychophysicalism (the belief that consciousness or subjective experience is created by and reflects that which is not consciousness nor subjective experience) can perhaps avoid explanatory gaps accompanying the assertion that neurons create subjective experience through reference to the Two Methods (of creation) to determine the method (if a method exists) by which neurons create experience and to determine if, by explaining the arousal of consciousness within neurons through the creative methods, there is any reason to believe that the physical (relevantly in the form of neurons and neural activity) has anything to do with the existence of experience: given that (denying Panpsychism, Phenomenalism, and Idealism) experience did not exist before cerebral cortices, a particular conscious experience does not exist before the actual performance of the function said to give rise to it (if it did, it would be experienced), and the fundamental substance making up cerebral cortices existed, and exists absent performance of a parent neural function, in the complete absence and nonexistence of consciousness.Creation Ex Nihilo As Explanation For Neural Creation Of Consciousness
Those denying Panpsychism, or the view that subjective experience does not come into and go out of existence but exists eternally as the fundamental “inner” layer of physical reality, must hold that subjective experience before the appearance of cerebral cortices, upon sufficient dysfunction and destruction of the cortex, or moments before the performance of the relevant neural function that happens to give rise to it simply does not exist
. Absent Panpsychism, (or Phenomenalism or Idealism) subjective experience can be said to only exist when it is actually experienced and is something that, unlike the physical (which has neither beginning nor end of existence due to the laws of conservation of energy and thermodynamics) is something that can come into and go out of existence.Energy can be neither
created nor destroyed, it merely changes form.
-Julius Robert Von Meyer (1841)
Indeed, it is generally taken for granted (particularly in the negative sense in common belief about the nature of death) that neurons of the cerebral cortex, independent of every other physical object in the universe, possess the power of creation ex nihilo
. With the exception of the creation of consciousness, every other form of causation in existence involves transformative causation. The cerebral cortex, the only area of the brain responsible for consciousness and thus the only object alone of every other object in the universe (save in theory of non-biological brain-like computers and other brain-like configurations of matter and energy), possesses the power to bring something that previously did not exist into existence without the use of pre-existing material.
Experiences, meanwhile, are not neurons and cannot be mistaken for neurons, as experiences are experiences
while neurons are physical objects which (implied from “common knowledge”) can exist in the complete absence or outright nonexistence of experience (i.e during states of dreamless sleep, where neurons are functional and alive but do not produce consciousness).
[Of course, it is ultimately not neurons themselves that are entailed to give rise to consciousness but the function
of neurons or the "communication" between neurons, which is ultimately nothing more than a flow of electrons, the raison d’etre of electricity or electric current.] The Incoherence Of Creation Ex Nihilo As Explanation For Neural Creation Of Consciousness Though the chain of arguments…were ever so logical, there must arise a strong suspicion, if not an absolute assurance, that it has carried us quite beyond the reach of our faculties, when it leads to conclusions so extraordinary, and so remote from common life and experience. We are got into fairy land, long ere we have reached the last steps of our theory; and there we have no reason to trust our common methods of argument, or to think that our usual analogies and probabilities have any authority. Our line is too short to fathom such abysses.
“Professing themselves to be
wise, they became fools.”
Following Grunbaum, the notion of creation ex nihilo
carries a fundamental defect in the form of the absence of antecedence or antecedent cause, or absence of a pre-existing, substantially-derivative link
between a cause and its purported effect (in which the substance making up the effect is derived from the substance making up its cause). If consciousness is created by the cerebral cortex ex nihilo
(as it must be if one denies panpsychism, phenomenalism, and idealism), then consciousness must come into existence from previous and total nonexistence
. Consciousness cannot, then, be derived from the material making up cortical neurons nor from the kinetic energy in the movement of outer-shell electrons from one atom to another in the membrane and cell bodies of cortical neurons, as objects that can be held to exist in the absence of experience cannot rationally be thought to be one and the same as that which does not exist
when a neural circuit does not function, or does not function in consciousness-generating manner. We must be told, and asked to believe, that consciousness comes into existence from a previous nonexistence
in response to the motion of a pre-existent but unrelated entity.
At the end of the day, creation ex nihilo
as explanation for how cortical neurons give rise to or create conscious experience is incoherent precisely because one who proposes this type of creation, particularly when it comes to consciousness and the belief that consciousness did not always exist, must rely upon the supposition and belief that things that do not exist can come into existence independent of pre-existing material and substance
, upon verbal command (God creating light) or through the motion of an existing object or objects that by it/their action somehow causes something that does not exist to exist for no other reason than the performance of the activity (flow of electrons through a neural circuit in the cortex giving rise to subjective experience).
At the end of the day, one can argue that this inscrutable tie between cause and effect (particularly in light of the empirical nature of reality when it comes to the question of the relation between the physical and consciousness) is ultimately “established” not through experiment or common experience but propositional make-believe
: fantasy believed to be or to indicate a hidden reality proposed due to an unconscious or deliberate psychological prejudice against (yielding a dogged refusal to accept) the greater simplicity and possible truth of the alternative: that the physical does not exist and has nothing to do with the existence of consciousness
.END PART ONE: CONTINUED IN PART TWO