Saturday, August 10, 2013

Consciousness Cannot be an Emergent Property of the Brain

(This article is an addendum to the section: Consciousness cannot be Explained as an Emergent Property of the Brain on my web page Skeptical Fallacies.)

Materialists often try to explain how consciousness can be produced by the brain by saying it is an emergent property of the brain. However it is not possible for consciousness to be an emergent property of the brain.

Consciousness has been empirically proved not to be an emergent property of the brain by several independent forms of empirical evidence for the afterlife. If consciousness can survive death, it cannot require a functioning brain for its existence.

More empirical evidence that consciousness is not produced by the brain comes from the several independent forms of evidence for ESP. ESP is not produced by the brain. Precognition, remote viewing, psychokinesis, and telepathy are independent of time and distance and therefore cannot be explained by the known laws of physics including quantum entanglement. Thus, consciousness cannot be the result of any physical process in the brain.

Simply saying consciousness is an emergent property does not explain anything because materialists cannot explain how consciousness emerges. "Emergence" is just an empty promise. Sir John Eccles the Nobel prize winning neurophysiologist called such promises superstitions.

Things that "emerge" have to be the same general type of thing as the thing they emerge from. Consciousness is a fundamentally different type of thing than matter, therefore it cannot emerge from the brain which is composed of matter.

An amorphous lump of matter probably won't roll. But if you shape that matter into a wheel it will roll. The ability to roll is an emergent property of matter. And you can explain using the known laws of physics why some forms of matter roll and others don't. By understanding momentum, center of mass, velocity, kinetic energy, friction you can explain how the ability to roll emerges from matter.

A lump of inanimate matter is unlikely to spontaneously grow and reproduce. However life is an emergent property of matter. If you have a living cell you can explain the biochemical reactions by which a cell maintains itself, absorbs nutrients, and reproduces. By understanding atoms, atomic and molecular reactions, electron orbitals, stoichiometry, etc you can explain how a living cell works, how life emerges from matter.

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.

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