Here's my take on it.
Agnosticism is illogical and refutes itself. Agnosticism and agnostics characterize God as unknowable, ineffable, incomprehensible to all attempts to understand him. This doctrine is self-refuting. The agnostic is making a knowledge claim about what he/she claims is unknowable. How do agnostics know that God is unknowable if he is unknowable ? How do they even know that God's existence cannot be disproved if God is unknowable, or that God even exists if he is unknowable ? To claim any attribute for God is knowledge and claims to know this unknowable God possesses certain attributes. That's a logical contradiction, and any being containing two incompatible attributes cannot possibly exist. So one need not resort to agnosticism. He/she would be justified in not believing in that God if the concept of it contradicts itself in any way. One is justified in accepting and adopting the atheist position.
@ Terrence - I'm with the Dr. on this one - it seems implausible to me to even suggest that we could learn how to accomplish a readout. The idea of axiomatizing human thought processes and truths, to me, seems to presuppose that the human mind is simply an endless series of "1"s and "0"s. This is patently false, as the mind is something far greater than the sum of its parts, and without being able to contextualize why something would represent a 1 or an 0 in any specific given situation (for which the outcomes are near-limitless), we are constrained to Gilbert Ryle's retake on the Cartesian "privileged access" model, which is almost certainly an untenable argument. We can establish tendencies to maybe even a very precise degree, but we can never take into account and make testable predictions on the relativity involved in human emotion and feeling. The butterfly effect always reigns supreme.
First, is thought THE function, or A function, of the human brain.
We know too little about the brain to say it has but one function.
Second, to say function is to say evolution has a purpose.
Instead, say the brain is capable of thought.
Hi Matthew...Now this is something i can claim to be agnostic about...I don't have enough knowledge to determine whether we will ever be able to precisely align the physical activity of the brain with human thoughts/behaviour...but i refrain from claiming implausibility...a century ago it probably would have seemed implausible to sequence the human genome, or to measure quantum phenomena...now as to the question of the mind being greater than sum of it parts, I don't have enough info to judge that statement other than to say that at least on one level they are one and the same..remove the brain/kill the brain, and the mind disappears (or at least the measureable mind - i can't speak to the claim that some supernatural consciousness survives)
I mean, the gist of Penrose's argument in The Emperor's New Mind was that if human thought does not involve a quantum element, if it is classically deterministic, he could derive a contradiction, in a handwaving way, via Goedel's incompleteness theorem.
Give me the exact reference. Throughout his book Penrose mentions Gödel's incompleteness theorem many times. His discussions are informal and speculative and this is an area where precision is necessary.
The part where he's most explicit about his argument (as I remember) is where he has the human inventor of a robot arguing with the robot, and in time the robot breaks down because of the argument :) Starts fizzing or something :)
Can you be more explicit—give a page reference or at least a chapter. The book is long and sprawls over a lot of territory and Penrose tosses out an enormous number of ideas.
Apparently this dialog is actually in Penrose's Shadows of the Mind, pgs 179-190. A book I don't have either.
I have read several of his books, but not that one and I don't own a copy.
The dialog between the robot and its creator is in section 3.23 of Shadows of the Mind. It's a challenging and thought-provoking summary of Penrose's arguments from Goedel's theorem.
Shadows of the Mind was a followup of The Emperor's New Mind where Penrose tried to make his arguments more rigorous and technical. There's even a pdf online with Penrose's answer to the criticisms of his argument in Shadows of the Mind.
The programs, experience, memory, etc. can be incorporated into the basic Turing-machine model. Those things in themselves don't make us fundamentally different from a Turing machine.
but the question still remains, if a person is a Turing machine, what gets in the way of them proving their own Goedel sentence? A Turing machine has an equivalent to its Goedel sentence, as I vaguely remember (?)
Here's a paper online that summarizes the Lucas-Penrose argument that people aren't Turing machines.
One can turn it into an argument that some things are unknowable: if we are Turing machines there are truths we will never know.