Thursday, 19 September 2013

Why there is no soul - part 2 - Information

In Part 1 I explained that, at least according to what science has shown us, there can be no thoughts or feelings or beliefs or anything associated with the conscious mind unless there is activity of brain cells, activity which is itself inextricably linked to the behaviour of particles - atoms, ions, electrons.  I described what happens as a set of stories, each story at a different level of reduction, each story being true and all stories being linked.

What I'm now going to consider is where the content of the stories comes from.  The linkage of the different levels of reduction tells us something important - all the content of the 'higher' (larger scale) level of story must be present at the lower levels.  The story of the mind is present in the language of the activity of brain cells.  The story of the activity of brain cells is present in the activity of the particles.  If this were not the case, the different stories could not be as locked together as they are, a locking together which physical causality insists must be the case.

How can such complex stories be told in the language of mere particles?  It's because the relationships of particles can have endless richness.  There is no limit to what can be represented by particles linked by the known physical laws.  The simplest of mathematical systems can result in infinite richness, as we can see in the details of fractal systems like the Mandelbrot Set, and the interactions of the particles of matter and energy that make up our bodies aren't so simple.

Physics provides a fabric on which the most complex dynamic patterns can be woven, patterns that we may need to step back to the level of biology to understand.   But no matter how complex these biological patterns, all the information for these patterns is written in physics too.  I'll explore what this means in part 3.

1 comment:

Quine said...

Steve, you will not be surprised when I chime in and ask when the patterns happened to acquire "soul"? It goes with my recent post about the continuity of physicalism.