Half a second to consciousness

#2
#4
Apparently, it takes half a second for a thought to register consciously. Thinking about this, the "I" that I think I am is not the real me, or at least not the decision maker. I only experience the decisions that are made by the real "I." Scary stuff huh! :eek:
When you consider the senses like vision, hearing etc it is easy to see how the brain influences the non-physical mind. So I don't really see any contradiction if the brain produces some thoughts that the mind can perceive or makes decisions that affect the body. But in order to have a subjective experience, to perceive, to be aware, for example to experience what the color blue looks like, there has to be a non-physical mind.

http://ncu9nc.blogspot.com/2012/08/the-materialist-explanation-of.html

http://ncu9nc.blogspot.com/2013/08/consciousness-cannot-be-emergent.html
However, consciousness is not an emergent property of matter. Subjective experience which cannot be measured objectively cannot be the product of fundamentally different objective measurable phenomena such as neuronal activity in the brain. If you study a lump of brain cells, neither the laws of physics nor any biochemical reactions can explain why subjective experiences feel the way they do. Subjective experiences are known only in terms of subjective experience, not in terms of mathematics, or molecular models, or physics, or chemistry, or biology, or psychology, or sociology. Red looks red. Physics can tell you what wavelengths of light look red, and chemistry can tell you how light is sensed by the retina, and neurology can tell you how the signals from the optic nerve are processed by the brain, but none of that will ever tell a colorblind person what red looks like. Consciousness and physical processes are fundamentally different things.

Thinking you will be able to explain how consciousness emerges by understanding more about a massive number of nerve cells is like trying to make a ham sandwich from bricks. You can't make a ham sandwich from bricks and piling up more and more bricks will never get you any closer to having a ham sandwich.

The subjective experience of consciousness cannot be understood in physical terms therefore, consciousness cannot be a result of any physical process. Consciousness is a fundamentally different thing from any physical process.
 
#5
It sounds like a description of the mechanisms of the body.

Thought and consciousness operate at an undetermined speed, but certainly very different to the lethargic pace discussed here.

See:http://www.skeptiko-forum.com/threads/time-some-personal-experiences.998/
Typoz said:
Every few minutes there came another sharp sound.
Then I was fully awake and the sound I was hearing was readily identified. It was the mechanical alarm clock on the bedside table, which ticked at the usual rate, I think about five ticks per second.
I will often have rich and multi-faceted thoughts occur in an instant, but attempting to put these into words can take many minutes to express even a single aspect
 
#6
I think there is a range / spectrum of response times.

The shortest is the involuntary reaction spoken of in the article, like when you touch a hot skillet. No decision-making necessary. Your hand moves away. Very fast.

The next shortest would be calculated decisions. I taught martial arts for 19 years. A big part of that training is decreasing a student's "reaction time".

1. Brain detects incoming punch at X/Y angle.

2. Arm moves to deflect the punch.

The difference between a trained versus untrained person is dramatic.

On the other extreme, I used to work with mentally retarded people whose brain circuitry was messed up. They sometimes got locked into a permanent reflex action. Imagine your Startle Reflex lasting for 10 minutes.
 
S

Sciborg_S_Patel

#7
http://nymag.com/speed/2016/12/what-is-the-speed-of-thought.html

Apparently, it takes half a second for a thought to register consciously. Thinking about this, the "I" that I think I am is not the real me, or at least not the decision maker. I only experience the decisions that are made by the real "I." Scary stuff huh! :eek:

http://www.ucl.ac.uk/~uctytho/libetnew.html
Even Daniel Dennet, a materialist determinist, doesn't think Libet experiments have much to say about free will because they are asking you to make irrelevant choice that isn't done with deliberation/reason.

From the Thomist Feser:

Freedom From Choice?

...In his Philosophical Investigations, Ludwig Wittgenstein complained that “in psychology there are experimental methods and conceptual confusion.” What he meant is that academic psychologists too often interpret empirical evidence in light of unexamined and dubious metaphysical assumptions. What is presented as good science is really just bad philosophy.

The recent spate of neuroscientific and psychological literature claiming to show that free will is an illusion provides a case in point. Philosopher Alfred Mele’s new book, Free, is a brief, lucid, and decisive refutation of these arguments. Mele demonstrates that scientific evidence comes nowhere close to undermining free will, and that the reasoning leading some scientists to claim otherwise is amazingly sloppy.

Perhaps the best known alleged evidence against free will comes from the work of neurobiologist Benjamin Libet. In Libet’s experiments, subjects were asked to flex a wrist whenever they felt like doing so, and then to report on when they had become consciously aware of the urge to flex it. Their brains were wired so that the activity in the motor cortex responsible for causing their wrists to flex could be detected. While an average of 200 milliseconds passed between the conscious sense of willing and the flexing of the wrist, the activity in the motor cortex would begin an average of over 500 milliseconds before the flexing. Hence the conscious urge to flex seems to follow the neural activity which initiates the flexing, rather than causing that neural activity. If free will requires that consciously willing to do something is the cause of doing it, then it follows (so the argument goes) that we don’t really act freely.

As Mele shows, the significance of Libet’s results has been vastly oversold. One problem is that Libet did not demonstrate that the specific kind of neural activity he measured is invariably followed by a flexing of the wrist. Given his experimental setup, only cases where the neural activity was actually followed by flexing were detected. Also, Libet did not check for cases where the neural activity occurred but was not followed by flexing. Hence we have no evidence that that specific kind of neural activity really is sufficient for the flexing. For all Libet has shown, it may be that the neural activity leads to flexing (or doesn’t) depending on whether it is conjoined with a conscious free choice to flex.

There’s a second problem. The sorts of actions Libet studied are highly idiosyncratic. The experimental setup required subjects to wait passively until they were struck by an urge to flex their wrists. But many of our actions don’t work like that—especially those we attribute to free choice. Instead, they involve active deliberation, the weighing of considerations for and against different possible courses of action. It’s hardly surprising that conscious deliberation has little influence on what we do in an experimental situation in which deliberation has been explicitly excluded. And it’s wrong to extend conclusions derived from these artificial situations to all human action, including cases which do involve active deliberation.

Even if the neural activity Libet identifies (contrary to what he actually shows) invariably preceded a flexing of the wrist, it still wouldn’t follow that the flexing wasn’t the product of free choice. Why should we assume that a choice is not free if it registers in consciousness a few hundred milliseconds after it is made? Think of making a cup of coffee. You don’t explicitly think, “Now I will pick up the kettle; now I will pour hot water through the coffee grounds; now I will put the kettle down; now I will pick up a spoon.” You simply do it. You may, after the fact, bring to consciousness the various steps you just carried out; or you may not. We take the action to be free either way. The notion that a free action essentially involves a series of conscious acts of willing, each followed by a discrete bodily movement, is a straw man, and doesn’t correspond to what common sense (or, for that matter, philosophers like Wittgenstein or Aquinas) have in mind when they talk about free action.

Other arguments against free will are no better...
 
#8
I'm looking around for more info. Do you know anything that I should know?
Now you've put me on the spot... lol... if you read libet's famous paper, you'll see how easy it is to criticise. Just think about how you would time somebody as a child, using just the second hand of an analog watch. If you try it, you'll quickly see some obvious problems with libets experiment, and why it's popular interpretation is unsafe. Other objections can be raised about similar experiments where a repeating frequency occurs too. There was a nice series of references to criticisms of the paper on Wiki a few years ago. They we're worthwhile reading, as they raised other concerns I wasn't aware of.

Using flash surpression might be better, and when we do, we find alsorts of interesting faster or slower responses to stimuli, depending on what is being investigated... they all seem to tell us something interesting about what conscious is. There are lots of interesting papers on google scholar which investigate conscious using flash suppression.
 
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Sciborg_S_Patel

#10
Man, I could kick myself! I don't think anything could turn me into a materialist, but this certainly got me a little worried! :eek: Thank you everybody - in future, every time I find an article, I will look for a rebuttal as well.
This thread might be worth a read. It's what I would call a collection of "conservative" (not politically, but not dependent on parapsychology and cleaving closer to mind=brain) examinations of the free will question.
 

Paul C. Anagnostopoulos

Nap, interrupted.
Member
#11
When you consider the senses like vision, hearing etc it is easy to see how the brain influences the non-physical mind. So I don't really see any contradiction if the brain produces some thoughts that the mind can perceive or makes decisions that affect the body. But in order to have a subjective experience, to perceive, to be aware, for example to experience what the color blue looks like, there has to be a non-physical mind.
Why?

However, consciousness is not an emergent property of matter. Subjective experience which cannot be measured objectively cannot be the product of fundamentally different objective measurable phenomena such as neuronal activity in the brain If you study a lump of brain cells, neither the laws of physics nor any biochemical reactions can explain why subjective experiences feel the way they do..
This is the standard just-so claim about a category error. It really requires a proof.

~~ Paul
 

Paul C. Anagnostopoulos

Nap, interrupted.
Member
#12
I agree that experiments such as Libet's don't disprove libertarian free will. However, as many of you know, I'm still waiting for a coherent description of how free will might work.

~~ Paul
 
#14
Man, I could kick myself! I don't think anything could turn me into a materialist, but this certainly got me a little worried! :eek: Thank you everybody - in future, every time I find an article, I will look for a rebuttal as well.
Rebuttals keep the conversation balanced, fresh and you can find things you overlooked or didn't think to question. Fact of the matter is NOBODY knows the true nature of reality. Not your local pastor, Shaman or Scientist
 
S

Sciborg_S_Patel

#15
I agree that experiments such as Libet's don't disprove libertarian free will. However, as many of you know, I'm still waiting for a coherent description of how free will might work.

~~ Paul
Why wouldn't it work?

(I'm waiting for a coherent description of compatibilism btw)
 

Paul C. Anagnostopoulos

Nap, interrupted.
Member
#17
Why wouldn't it work?

(I'm waiting for a coherent description of compatibilism btw)
Because you cannot give a coherent description of how I can make a decision that is not some combination of determined and a coin toss. You can push the decision down into some sort of "agent" or "self," but that just adds another layer. You can also argue that what we call random is not in fact entirely arbitrary, but, again, that just pushes down the problem. I suppose you can try to solve the problem by declaring a "free decision" to be a fundamental thing, but then you cannot formulate the laws for how that thing behaves.

As far as compatibilist free will is concerned, it doesn't seem to me to be an interesting topic.

~~ Paul
 
S

Sciborg_S_Patel

#18
Because you cannot give a coherent description of how I can make a decision that is not some combination of determined and a coin toss.
Why would these be the only options?

I suppose you can try to solve the problem by declaring a "free decision" to be a fundamental thing, but then you cannot formulate the laws for how that thing behaves.
Why do you need to formulate laws for how things behave?

As far as compatibilist free will is concerned, it doesn't seem to me to be an interesting topic.
Same, it's obviously nonsense in my opinion as well.
 

Paul C. Anagnostopoulos

Nap, interrupted.
Member
#19
Why would these be the only options?
I'm happy to entertain a coherent description of a third method of making decisions. It is the lack of such description that leads me to believe that libertarian free will is incoherent.

Why do you need to formulate laws for how things behave?
If you cannot formulate such laws, then I daresay the thing is random, as in completely arbitrary.

~~ Paul
 
S

Sciborg_S_Patel

#20
I'm happy to entertain a coherent description of a third method of making decisions. It is the lack of such description that leads me to believe that libertarian free will is incoherent.

If you cannot formulate such laws, then I daresay the thing is random, as in completely arbitrary.

~~ Paul
It seems you are assuming something must be determined or random, that these are the only two options. I wanted to see a logical proof of this.
 
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