by dhw, Sunday, July 08, 2018, 12:07 (762 days ago) @ David Turell

I am telescoping posts again.
TONY: I think perhaps this discussion could use a dose of computing knowledge.

dhw: Although as usual the vocabulary is foreign to me, I love the intricacies of the argument. In my terms it all means that there is no such thing as a soul, and all organisms consist solely of materials, but these are individually “wired” to give us our individual personalities.

TONY: Erm, not really. Saying that the body is a machine does not preclude there being a user(soul). Rather, my point was that the unique capabilities of the machine would directly effect what information was available to the soul and how it is presented to the soul, thus altering how the soul responds.

This is one of the points I keep reiterating about dualism: the soul uses the brain to acquire information. Clearly the soul will be influenced by the information it is given, but the dualist’s soul does the processing of the information. The machine/brain/body does not do the actual thinking. (Furthermore, it uses the brain to give material expression/ implementation to its thoughts.) See the following comments to understand why I consider your analogy to be materialistic.

Tony: It's been proven that neural wiring differences (dopamine response and grey matter thickness) lead to introverted and extroverted personality types. Imagine having one computer that was good at abstract problem solving, a task that uses up a lot of CPU time, versus one that was good at real-time reaction and logic. The hardware would be different, the capabilities would be different, the response times would be different. Yet, the user only gets the machine they get. There are no exchanges. Like any good game, the user can increase certain attributes through activity (training, learning, eating, etc), and also like any good game, some attributes could not be altered. The machine is wired the way it is wired and built the way it is built.

DAVID: You have taken up my side of the discussion in that a genius brain certainly supplies the ability/substrate for advanced intelligence for the soul to work with. And you correctly point out the ability to alter that ability. The soul can only work with the brain it is given. And it has to work with that specific brain. In that sense, the newborn 'blank slate' has a definite starting point, different in each individual.

How can the newborn be a blank slate if it starts off with a brain which determines not only a vast number of physical characteristics, but also, according to Tony, the very nature of our personality (which in turn determines the way we think)? In fact, nobody knows the extent to which the physical gives rise to the mental. Materialists claim it is 100%. The excellent Egnor article sums it up, and also offers (and favours) the alternative:

QUOTE: “The view assumed by those who taught me is that the mind is wholly a product of the brain, which is itself understood as something like a machine. Francis Crick, wrote that “a person’s mental activities are entirely due to the behavior of nerve cells, glial cells, and the atoms, ions, and molecules that make them up and influence them.”
"René Descartes […] argued that the mind and the brain were separate substances, immaterial and material. Somehow (how, neither Descartes nor anyone else can say) the mind is linked to the brain – it’s the ghost in the machine.

In all honesty, if “neural wiring” creates the different personality types, I can see very little difference between Tony’s machine and Crick’s.

dhw: If, as you constantly agree, the soul initiates thought, the limits of the brain relate only to the amount of information it can supply (e.g. we cannot see the boundaries of our universe) and the extent to which it can implement our thoughts (I can imagine flying unaided, but my brain/body can’t implement the concept). What other limitations does the passive, recipient brain impose?

DAVID: It is limited by the complexity of its networks, as shown by genius brains.

WHAT is limited, apart from the amount of information and the extent to which thought can be expressed/implemented?

dhw: Of course the soul having to use the material brain is not materialism! The concept of the soul is dualistic! The dualist’s soul uses the brain for information and for expression, and you continue to ignore my question: what other functions does the brain perform in the thought process?

DAVID: It provides information from its sensory inputs, as you know, and it provides the complexity of networks for advanced thought.

What does "networks for thought" mean, if not that the networks are responsible for advanced thought (= materialism)? You still haven’t offered us any function in addition to information and expression..

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