Adonis Diaries

Posts Tagged ‘Daniel Dennett

This “Abduction field” that steals your “Free-Will behavior”?

Note: Re-edit of “Deterministic/free-will behavior: What is priming the “Thief Program”? October 31, 2011

Do you know that a few universities have opened courses in “experimental philosophy“?

This new field of study combine neurosciences research with theoretical philosophical concepts such as finding out whether people believe that their behaviors and actions are determined (or perceived as predetermined) or if the “free-will factor” is a working concept…

This field of study wants to associate reflective and elaborate concepts with experimental studies.

Last September, the John Templeton Foundation contributed $4.4 million to a 4-year program in interdisciplinary research projects among natural scientists, philosophers, and theologians…

Apparently, Joshua Knobe and Shaun Nichols are working on 3 domains:

One, using neurosciences tools to study cerebral activities of subjects confronted with philosophical problems;

Two, adopting questionnaires to clarify intuitions and modalities of everyday reasoning, and

Three, conducting field experiences for observing the manners individuals behave in particular circumstances and situations.

US philosopher Daniel Dennett who published “Theory of the evolution of liberty, (2004)” claims that we have tendency to dissociate the “I” from “my brain”.  For example, is there a specific zone in the brain exclusively reserved for the “I” or the “Cartesian theater of operations“?

The neuropsychology Benjamin Libet demonstrated that we become conscious of a decision half a second after our body gets prepared to react to a decision.

For example, the disparate “I” in our constitution and brain parts contribute to the decision.  It is sort every single muscle has an “I”, our genetic constitution has an “I”, every section and network of neurons has an “I”.

All our “I” have to reach a working consensus before the body react and a decision can be carried out.

Isn’t that how a skill is described?

Neuroscientist Patrick Haggard wrote: “When we talk of free-will, we mean the richness of the act, of our capacity of acting intelligently, of not reacting in the same manner to the same stimuli…”

Scientists, neuroscientists, neuropsychologists, philosophers, theologians, and the legal profession have to agree on baseline consensus principles before any reasonable set of experiments can be carried out for the purpose of resolving this critical question.

Firstoperational definitions of “what is free-will decision” and “what is understood by deterministic behavior” we are measuring?

For example, how can these concepts be measured and quantified in any experiment?

So far, neuroscientists consider an excitation of neurons in the brain as indication of a decision to act.  Their preferred measuring sticks are time of onset of the excitation and its duration…

Second, what kinds of excitations and their intensity level can be indicators of a particular decision? Sort of we need to agree on a taxonomy of decisions (weak decision, temporary one, routine decision, sub-decision...)

For example, pushing a button, decisions for submitting to a test, an exam…considering an opportunity, running for election, committing a crime…

Third, the legal institutions must be involved in the definition and operational decisions. For example, will the court accept the definition and findings of the neuroscientists as valid in court under the principle of “individual responsibility”? Otherwise, how pragmatic any results can contribute to better mankind existence?

Four, how to separate community moral and ethical standards (idiosyncrasies) from how the real world functions and how people actually have tendency to behave?

For example, experiments demonstrated that group of subjects who were induced to believe in a deterministic world tended to cheat significantly (statistically) more often than the compared groups… Does cheating an indicator of community culture or an individual moral value…?

In Jan. 23, 2010, I published an article titled “Abduction field” or a priori “stealing” program” behavior.

I coined the term “abduction field” to describe and explain how people manage to function in their daily routine. People move and act as if executing an “a priory program” a “primed program“:  They seem to mentally “pick up” objects and event as they go about. People seem to know in advance what they want to do.

Hazards can be categorized as just obstacles that the “abduction field” in the brain failed to adjust to, in a timely manner, to redesign the plan.

It might be a good idea to explain what abductive reasoning means before I venture into this topic, and I urge you to read note#1, before you resume reading.

People use the abduction reasoning technique as routine behavior to decide, move, or act. People have implicitly a priori (idea, plan, concept, hypothesis, path, or line of actions) before they get moving.

People move as if they already know what will happen next; they adjust their plan as frequently as obstacles occur. Thus, abductive reasoning is the rule instead of the exception in most commonly used strategies:  We either start our “conscious day” with a priming thief program or we opt for the default “Habit thief program” to carry on our daily decisions and activities.

The abduction field explains the contradictory feeling we have that our actions are frequently determined or occasionally following a free-will course of action.

For example, if we consciously start with a thief program that is pre-programmed to suit what we want today, we tend to steal objects, events, opportunities on our way.  Otherwise, the default value is the “habit thief program”, and we feel that the day is pretty much determined.

The individual “I” is spread all over our organism, physical, genetics, and mental (brain). Decisions are delayed until all the different varieties of “I” reach a working consensus, or a particular “I” or a set of “I” override the other I, depending on which thief program we launched at the start of the day, rejump it (re-edit it) during the day according to our circadian cycles.

For a set of “I” to be able to override the many other “I” it requires a conscious effort of training and awareness for a long time. That is why, we have the feeling that our behavior is pretty much determined because we allow the “conventional wisdom”, habit of convenience, comfort, and “common sense” attitude to take over our decision processes.

A good way to explaining the abduction field theory is by observing someone who is familiar with a particular supermarket.  The customer moves around and pick up items in a determined manner.

A few times, the customer stops and study particular varieties of the “same” items for prices, weight and chemical contents.  The supermarket guide the customer to pose and attend to special new items displayed on shelves. The customer might look as if he just woke up or is disoriented, but his action is kind of planned: he behaves pretty “sober” in his decisions.

People move and act within abduction fields of reasoning, otherwise, how can we imagine extending a step forward without advanced planning?

The initial schemas of abduction fields are Not that well oiled, and many errors and pitfalls occur during the abduction plans.  By the by, the human brain gets adjusted and trained to secure better fit in forecasting next steps and moves.

Highly intelligent people differ from normal intelligence in that, more frequently than not, they consciously apply deductive and inductive reasoning on their initiated abduction fields.  The implicit purpose is to optimize the “abductive field” performance by supporting it with better formal or coded laws among the working laws.

With conscious training and application of the other two reasoning methods, the individual acquire higher intelligence reasoning choices or diversified perspectives to view and resolve a problem.

Brainwashing is an application phenomenon of abduction field distortion.

Brainwashing is Not so much a process of feeding misinformation or disinformation as in ideologically and dogmatic State-controlled government.

Brainwashing is the process of altering the abduction field so that an individual lacks the objective flexibility to pick up the appropriate objects, tools, or events to place on his “abduction path”.

For example,  the individual is picking what is available on his path, including ready-made terminology and definitions, and not what his brain was more likely to select in normal conditions.  The more institutions restrict the freedom of choices, the more the citizen is expected to select what is available to him.

The citizen starts emulating the “ideology” or the opinions of what have been displayed to him (The Silent Majority).  Most State institutions control people in restricting the availability of choices and opportunities, regardless what names are given to them (communist, socialist, democratic, capitalist, theocratic…)

When we say “this guy is a one track-mind or one-dimensional mind”, we basically means that his abduction field has been restricted by habit: His brain ended up lacking the potential flexibility and versatility to train and develop his abduction field reasoning.

Note 1: It might be a good idea to explain what abduction reasoning means before I venture into this topic.  Human mind uses many reasoning methods such as deduction, induction, and abduction.

Deductive reasoning is a process that starts from a set of basic propositions (proved or considered the kind of non provable truths) and then prove the next propositions based on the previous set.  In general, a law, natural or social, or a theorem in mathematics guides the demonstration.  Practically, it is like using a function to find the appropriate pieces of data or information that are available on a well drawn path or trend.

Inductive reasoning is a process of selecting samples from a phenomenon or a basket of items and then studying the samples.  If the items are the “same” in each sample then the individual is prone to recognize that a law is guiding that phenomenon. The sample taker is ready to form a law, though he knows that logically, if in the future one sample is wrong, then the law is logically invalid. In the mean time, the sample taker can resume his life as if the law is valid, as long as it is working (more frequently than not).

We call a “paradigm shift” the period when accumulated samples or observations are showing to be “false” and that the law has to be dropped for a better performing law.  The process needs time before the scientific community reaches a consensus for a change in venue, simply because it was comfortable using well-known mental structures.  The paradigm shift period is shortened if a valid alternative is demonstrated to work far better, not just slightly better, than the previous theory.

Abduction reasoning is an “intuitive” process such as having a few facts or data and we manage to find a connection among these facts.  In a way, we got an idea that the facts follow a definite trend.

For example, the astronomer and mathematician Kepler started with the notion that planets move in circles around the sun; his observations of Mars detected two positions that didn’t coincide with any circle. Kepler selected another trajectory among those mathematically described in geometry that might be appropriate.  The elliptical shape accounted for the two observed positions of Mars.

Kepler got convinced that planet trajectories are elliptical, but he needed to convince the “scientific community”. Thus, Kepler worked for many years waiting for Mars to cross different positions that he knew would inevitably be on the ellipse anyway.

Note 2: I am under the impression that Spinoza had the same philosophical theory when he wrote: “The movements of our investigative spirit obey real laws”.  If we think well, we are bound to think according to rules that link things one to another.  Kant adopted this reasoning and offered the “a priori” dispositions of the mind.

Note 3: You may access experimentalphilosophy.typepad.com

Note 4: I stumbled on this topic reading a piece in the French weekly “The International Courrier” #1095.

 

Presbyterian Minister Who Doesn’t Believe in God. Why should you be that surprised?

“How can you call yourself a Christian, let alone a minister?!”

I get asked that question frequently and the questioner is hostile more often than not.

Still, I like to answer it if I believe the questioner is sincere.

Though I self-identify as a Christian and I am an ordained minister in the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), I raised eyebrows a few years ago when I posted an article on my website about how my personal beliefs don’t align with those of most Presbyterians.

For example, I believe that:

  • Religion is a human construct
  • The symbols of faith are products of human cultural evolution
  • Jesus may have been an historical figure, but most of what we know about him is in the form of legend
  • God is a symbol of myth-making and not credible as a supernatural being or force
  • The Bible is a human product as opposed to special revelation from a divine being
  • Human consciousness is the result of natural selection, so there’s no afterlife

In short, I regard the symbols of Christianity from a non-supernatural point of view.

And yet, even though I hold those beliefs, I am still a proud minister.

But I don’t appreciate being told that I’m not truly a Christian.

Why is that so many people think my affirmations are antithetical to Christianity?

I think it is because Christianity has placed all of its eggs in the belief basket.

We all have been trained to think that Christianity is about believing things. Its symbols and artifacts (God, Bible, Jesus, Heaven, etc) must be accepted in a certain way. And when times change and these beliefs are no longer credible, the choices we are left with are either rejection or fundamentalism.

I think of Christianity as a culture.

It has produced 2,000 years of artifacts: literature, music, art, ethics, architecture, and (yes) beliefs.

But cultures evolve and Christianity will have to adapt in order to survive in the modern era.

Many of those paths will be dead ends.

As Daniel Dennett once said, the dinosaurs really have not died out because modern birds carry on many of their traits.

Similarly, as religions evolve, they may look similar in some respects and quite different in others. You may not even call some of them religions anymore, depending on how you define the word.

I believe one of the newer religious paths could be a “belief-less” Christianity.

In this “sect,” one is not required to believe things. One learns and draws upon practices and products of our cultural tradition to create meaning in the present.

The last two congregations I have served have huge commitments to equality for LGTBQ people and eco-justice, among other things. They draw from the well of our Christian cultural tradition (and other religious traditions) for encouragement in these efforts.

I think a belief-less Christianity can be a positive good for society.

Belief-less Christianity is thriving right now, even as other forms of the faith are falling away rapidly.

Many liberal or progressive Christians have already let go or de-emphasized belief in Heaven, that the Bible is literally true, that Jesus is supernatural, and that Christianity is the only way. Yet they still practice what they call Christianity.

Instead of traditional beliefs, they emphasize social justice, personal integrity and resilience, and building community. The cultural artifacts serve as resources.

But what about belief in God?

Can a belief-less Christianity really survive if God isn’t in the picture? Can you even call that Christianity anymore?

In theory, yes. In practice, it is a challenge because “belief in God” seems to be so intractable.

However, once people start questioning it and realize that they’re not alone, it becomes much more commonplace.

Since posting my article — and in response to my ministry in general — many have opened up to me that they didn’t believe in God but they liked coming to my church. One young woman, after going through my confirmation class, joined the church.

She read her faith statement in front of the congregation. It was a powerful articulation of her social justice commitments in which she added that she didn’t believe in God. The congregation enthusiastically welcomed her, of course.

Personally, even though I don’t believe in God as a supernatural agent or force, many still do. I utilize the symbol “God” in worship.

This may be viewed as cheating but since our cultural tradition is filled with images of God, it is near impossible to avoid.

As a symbol, I’m not yet ready to let go of God. It is a product of myth-making — I know that — but the symbol incorporates many of our human aspirations.

I find that “God” for me is shorthand for all the things for which I long: beauty, truth, healing, and justice. They’re all expressed by this symbol and the stories about it.

Someone quipped that my congregation is BYOG: Bring Your Own God. I use that and invite people to “bring their own God” — or none at all.

While the symbol “God” is part of our cultural tradition, you can take it or leave it or redefine it to your liking. That permission to be theological do-it-yourselfers is at the heart of belief-less Christianity.

I understand some Christians may react with hostility and panic to this idea — they already have — but it deserves an honest discussion.

Patsy Z sent this link on FB

VERY interesting, coming from a priest! Surprisingly open-minded and logical! Makes sense from a community perspective.

The question is: does this thinking work at all in the religious frame?

Or better call this community something else and frame it differently?

I get asked that question frequently and the questioner is hostile more often than not.
patheos.com
Note: Aren’t we all living within sets of cultural constructs?

Deterministic or free-will behavior: What is priming the “Thief Program”?

Do you know that a few universities have opened courses in “experimental philosophy“?

This new field of study combine neurosciences research with theoretical philosophical concepts such as finding out whether people believe that their behaviors and actions are determined (or perceived as predetermined) or if the “free-will factor” is a working concept…

This field of study wants to associate reflective and elaborate concepts with experimental studies.

Last September, the John Templeton Foundation contributed $4.4 million to a 4-year program in interdisciplinary research projects among natural scientists, philosophers, and theologians…

Apparently, Joshua Knobe and Shaun Nichols are working on 3 domains:  One, using neurosciences tools to study cerebral activities of subjects confronted with philosophical problems;

Two, adopting questionnaires to clarify intuitions and modalities of everyday reasoning, and

Three, conducting field experiences for observing the manners individuals behave in particular circumstances and situations.

US philosopher Daniel Dennett published “Theory of the evolution of liberty, (2004)” claims that we have tendency to dissociate the “I” from “my brain”.  For example, is there a specific zone in the brain exclusively reserved for the “I” or the “Cartesian theater of operations“?

The neuropsychology Benjamin Libet demonstrated that we become conscious of a decision half a second after our body gets prepared to react to a decision.

For example, the disparate “I” in our constitution and brain parts contribute to the decision.  It is sort every single muscle has an “I”, our genetic constitution has an “I”, every section and network of neurons has an “I”.

All our “I” have to reach a working consensus before the body react and a decision can be carried out. Isn’t that how a skill is described?

Neuroscientist Patrick Haggard wrote: “When we talk of free-will, we mean the richness of the act, of our capacity of acting intelligently, of not reacting in the same manner to the same stimuli…”

Scientists, neuroscientists, neuropsychologists, philosophers, theologians, and the legal profession have to agree on baseline consensus principles before any reasonable set of experiments can be carried out for the purpose of resolving this critical question.

First, operational definitions of “what is free-will decision” and “what is understood by deterministic behavior” we are measuring?

For example, how can these concepts be measured and quantified in any experiment? So far, neuroscientists consider an excitation of neurons in the brain as indication of a decision to act.  Their preferred measuring sticks are time of onset of the excitation and its duration…

Second, what kinds of excitations and their intensity level can be indicators of a particular decision? Sort of we need to agree on a taxonomy of decision.

For example, pushing a button, decisions for submitting to a test, an exam…considering an opportunity, running for election, committing a crime…

Third, the legal institutions must be involved in the definition and operational decisions. For example, will the court accept the definition and findings of the neuroscientists as valid in court under the principle of “individual responsibility”? Otherwise, how pragmatic any results can contribute to better mankind existence?

Four, how to separate community moral and ethical standards from how the real world functions and how people actually have tendency to behave?

For example, experiments demonstrated that group of subjects who were induced to believe in a deterministic world tended to cheat significantly (statistically) more often than the compared groups… Does cheating an indicator of community culture or an individual moral value…?

In Jan. 23, 2010, I published an article titled “Abduction field” or a priori “stealing” program” behavior.

I coined the term “abduction field” to describe and explain how people manage to function in their daily routine. People move and act as if executing an “a priori program”:  They seem to mentally “pick up” objects and event as they go about. People seem to know in advance what they want to do.

Hazards are just obstacles that the “abduction field” in the brain failed to adjust, in a timely manner, to redesign the plan.  It might be a good idea to explain what abduction reasoning means before I venture into this topic, and I urge you to read note#1, before you resume reading.

People use the abduction reasoning technique as routine behavior to decide, move, or act. People have implicitly a priori (idea, plan, concept, hypothesis, path, or line of actions) before they get moving.

People move as if they already know what will happen next; they adjust their plan as frequently as obstacles occur.  Thus, abduction reasoning is the rule instead of the exception in most commonly used strategies.  We either start our “conscious day” with a priming thief program or we opt for the default “Habit thief program” to carry on our daily decisions and activities.

The abduction field explains the contradictory feeling we have that our actions are frequently determined or occasionally following a free-will course of action.

For example, if we consciously start with a thief program that is pre-programmed to suit what we want today, we tend to steal objects, events, opportunities on our way.  Otherwise, the default value is the “habit thief program”, and we feel that the day is pretty much determined.

The individual “I” is spread all over our organism, physical, genetics, and mental (brain). Decisions are delayed until all the different varieties of “I” reach a working consensus, or a particular “I” or a set of “I” override the other I, depending on which thief program we launched at the start of the day, rejump it during the day according to our circadian cycles.

For a set of “I” to be able to override the many other “I” it requires a conscious effort of training and awareness for a long time. That is why, we have the feeling that our behavior is pretty much determined because we allow the “conventional wisdom”, habit of convenience, comfort, and “common sense” attitude to taking over our decision processes.

A good way to explaining the abduction field theory is by observing someone who is familiar with a particular supermarket.  The customer moves around and pick up items in a determined manner.

A few times, the customer stops and study particular varieties of the “same” items for prices, weight and chemical contents.  The supermarket guide the customer to pose and attend to special new items displayed on shelves. The customer might look as if he just woke up or is disoriented, but his action is kind of planned: he behaves pretty “sober” in his decisions.

People move and act within abduction fields of reasoning, otherwise, how can we imagine extending a step forward without advanced planning? The initial schemas of abduction fields are not that well oiled, and many errors and pitfalls occur during the abduction plans.  By the by, the human brain gets adjusted and trained to secure better fit in forecasting next steps and moves.

Highly intelligent people differ from normal intelligence in that, more frequently than not, they consciously apply deductive and inductive reasoning on their initiated abduction fields.  The implicit purpose is to optimize the “abductive field” performance by supporting it with better formal or coded laws among the working laws.

With conscious training and application of the other two reasoning methods, the individual acquire higher intelligence reasoning choices or diversified perspectives to viewing and resolving a problem.

Brainwashing is an application phenomenon of abduction field distortion.  Brainwashing is not so much a process of feeding misinformation or disinformation as in ideologically and dogmatic State-controlled government.  Brainwashing is the process of altering the abduction field so that an individual lacks the objective flexibility to pick up the appropriate objects, tools, or events to place on his “abduction path”.

For example,  the individual is picking what is available on his path, including ready-made terminology and definitions, and not what his brain was more likely to select in normal conditions.  The more institutions restrict the freedom of choices, the more the citizen is expected to select what is available to him.

The citizen starts emulating the “ideology” or the opinions of what have been displayed to him.  Most State institutions control people in restricting the availability of choices and opportunities, regardless what names are given to them (communist, socialist, democratic, capitalist, theocratic…)

When we say “this guy is a one track-mind or one-dimensional mind”, we basically means that his abduction field has been restricted by habit: His brain ended up lacking the potential flexibility and versatility to train and develop his abduction field reasoning.

Note 1: It might be a good idea to explain what abduction reasoning means before I venture into this topic.  Human mind uses many reasoning methods such as deduction, induction, and abduction.

Deductive reasoning is a process that starts from a set of basic propositions (proved or considered the kind of non provable truths) and then prove the next propositions based on the previous set.  In general, a law, natural or social, or a theorem in mathematics guides the demonstration.  Practically, it is like using a function to find the appropriate pieces of data or information that are available on a well drawn path or trend.

Inductive reasoning is a process of selecting samples from a phenomenon or a basket of items and then studying the samples.  If the items are the “same” in each sample then the individual is prone to recognize that a law is guiding that phenomenon. The sample taker is ready to form a law, though he knows that logically, if in the future one sample is wrong, then the law is logically invalid. In the mean time, the sample taker can resume his life as if the law is valid, as long as it is working (more frequently than not).

We call a “paradigm shift” the period when accumulated samples or observations are showing to be “false” and that the law has to be dropped for a better performing law.  The process needs time before the scientific community reaches a consensus for a change in venue, simply because it was comfortable using well-known mental structures.  The paradigm shift period is shortened if a valid alternative is demonstrated to work far better, not just slightly better, than the previous theory.

Abduction reasoning is an “intuitive” process such as having a few facts or data and we manage to find a connection among these facts.  In a way, we got an idea that the facts follow a definite trend.

For example, the astronomer and mathematician Kepler started with the notion that planets move in circles around the sun; his observations of Mars detected two positions that didn’t coincide with any circle. Kepler selected another trajectory among those mathematically described in geometry that might be appropriate.  The elliptical shape accounted for the two observed positions of Mars.

Kepler got convinced that planet trajectories are elliptical, but he needed to convince the “scientific community”. Thus, Kepler worked for many years waiting for Mars to cross different positions that he knew would inevitably be on the ellipse anyway.

Note 2: I am under the impression that Spinoza had the same philosophical theory when he wrote: “The movements of our investigative spirit obey real laws”.  If we think well, we are bound to think according to rules that link things one to another.  Kant adopted this reasoning and offered the “a priori” dispositions of the mind.

Note 3: You may access experimentalphilosophy.typepad.com

Note 4: I stumbled on this topic reading a piece in the French weekly “The International Courrier” #1095.


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