Wednesday, May 19, 2021

George R. F. Ellis - How Can Physics Underlie the Mind? Top-Down Causation in the Human Context

 Many physicists now are saying that we do not have free will, and that everything is due to cause and effect, even our thoughts and feelings. I did once agree with this, and I can remember arguing in on-line groups saying that we did have free will, but then overnight I was thinking about it and I just flipped to the opposite conclusion, and I stayed believing that for years until I flipped back again, and then back again, and so on. 

Anyway, I've started to come around to a middle way, that the world is deterministic on the whole, and our genes drive us to work really hard to achieve the outcomes we need to survive and live a good life. Now scientists would say this was absolute determinism and that our genes determine outcomes. But if we didn't strive so hard, our outcomes may be very different. Now, if we lived in an entirely deterministic universe, would we need to work at anything at all, maybe we could sit back and let it all happen?

We don't choose our feelings, wants, and desires, for instance, we can't choose who we fall in love with, or what foods we like the taste of, but just the same, we do work very hard to bring about the outcomes we require. We know we are changing events. 

I feel that not all our decisions are made by the ego anyway, but are also made by the unconscious, but then I started to feel that maybe we were influencing our bodies as well at a cellular level, where our wants and desires originate from, which would mean we have a limited free will over our feelings and desires. 

Anyway, I feel that George F.R Ellis has nailed it, or he is pretty close. He is a mathematician who has done work with Stephen Hawkins solving many mysteries. He says that computers are physical and abide by the laws of physics, but computer algorithms are not physical. An algorithm can affect how a mechanical computer works, and although it's not a great anology, as I believe that computer algorithms are very much rooted in our physical world - as they only carry out only simple tasks, like switching on a light  - but do think he is right about the human mind, which his computer anology helps us to understand. The thoughts in our minds affect our biology, and our biology affects our minds. This is the sort of middle way that I had come to the conclusion of. We are definitely shaping our world - even if much of it is driven by our genes and biology - where we use will power and hard work to achieve the outcomes we want. 

 Anyway, I've put out three videos. Now, if you want a clear understanding of George F.R Ellis's thinking very quickly, then go to video three. 

The first video is by Arvin Ash which is on superdetermism, and is brilliant! The second is gentle introduction introduction to George F.R Ellis's thinking, which I think sets you up for his thoughts very nicely, and the third is still a gentle introduction, but a bit more thorough. I think the order works well, but just choose which one you want if you're interested in any of these. 

Arvin Ash says the science seems to be saying that our universe is superdetermistic, but I see it differently. Let's say we have absolute free will, so I can choose to anything I want to do, or what foods I like, and I go 10-years into the future and examine the world. Now what if the next day someone else goes in the time machine to exactly the same place and time as I did, would he see a different world? No. What if 100 people did the same over next consecutive days, would they see the exact same future? Yes. There is only one future, despite any free will we may have. In fact, in all the time machine novels, the authors assumed we had free will and yet there was only one future. So, the superdetermism that Arvin talks about  doesn't rule out free will as many believe. In fact, our free will shapes the future. 

Entanglement Theory may Reveal a Reality we can't Handle 

George F.R Ellis - What is strong emergence 

Professor George Ellis - How Can Physics Underlie the Mind? Top-Down Causation in the Human Context

Physics underlies all complexity, including our own existence. But how is this possible? How can our own lives emerge from interactions of electrons, protons, and neutrons? In his new book, How Can Physics Underlie the Mind?, Prof George Ellis considers the interaction of physical and non-physical causation in complex systems such as living beings, and in particular in the human brain, relating this to the emergence of higher levels of complexity with real causal powers. In particular it explores the idea of top-down causation, which is the key effect allowing the emergence of true complexity and also enables the causal efficacy of non-physical entities, including the value of money, social conventions, and ethical choices.

1 comment:

Peter Pan said...

Free will is like suspension of belief when you're watching a movie.