Does combination of atoms produce emergent properties?

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    Ankur Sethi

    I heard a debate in which sat-karya vada was referenced:
    It was used as a support of why God must be a conscious being. The counter argument was made that this is simply a logical fallacy and brought up the combination of atoms to create water and therefore wetness.
    We have heard the example of fire being present in wood. Do we say that hydrogen and atom come “after” water and therefore their combination is not a valid precursor state to water itself.
    The claim of a logical fallacy does seem problematic.

    Ankur Sethi

    Thank you for your very detailed answer.
    I appreciate the term semanticism.
    I am sure you understand the challenge that arguments are not framed in a way that discusses the conscious experience as primary. So part of the challenge is trying to bring the argument back to a problem in semantic and personal understanding which I see you are always doing because it is indeed essential. I very much appreciate that.
    So in this case of the argument in the video, the person refers to wetness and not taste. It is perhaps my mistake because I used the word “emergent” in the title of the post. I am not aware if that is a special term.
    But the person was not even referring to anything about consciousness in his argument. He only suggests that wetness comes automatically, and therefore, consciousness could as well. There are a lot of gaps in between something being wet and consciousness, but lets ignore those for now. Do we need consciousness or mind to explain the property of water being wet or lets say dissolving things?
    So before we even talk about consciousness, must we counter the claim that wetness comes automatically? Do we have to tie consciousness into this? Is the suggestion that wetness requires a conscious observer? I am asking because you referred to an article about the mind being emergent. But I think the example given is far away from that.
    So he will claim he is making a simple physical claim with nothing to do with the mind or consciousness.
    I appreciate the argument about the untenability in science and looking for philosophical consistency.

    Ashish Dalela

    The wetness or liquidity arguments are designed carefully as traps for the scientifically naive people. According to atomic theory, particles exist in stationary states, and to change the state, you have to change the ensemble boundary. In short, when you touch water, it sticks because a new boundary surrounding your finger and water is created. That new boundary then changes the atomic states of the water molecules and the molecules of your finger, and that’s why water sticks to your finger. But the question is: How did that boundary get created? And the answer is consciousness. So, even the fact that water sticks to your finger cannot be explained without consciousness. But one must know enough science to be able to argue like that.

    There are two things involved in perception: the “organ”, and the “sense”. The organ, or finger, touches the water, and the sense creates a boundary around your finger and water. Whenever conscious persons perform actions, by a complex process, these boundaries are created, and that boundary creation then leads to experience. It is like saying that I have 10 liters of water, and I can divide that water into 10, 100, 1000, or any number of buckets. So, how I divide it is up to me. Like that, I am touching water and you are not touching the same water. So, there is a “bucket” in which my finger and some water are dipped and another “bucket” in which your finger and some water are dipped. And these “buckets” are created by our sensual movements.

    The movement of the senses causes the change of boundaries. These boundaries are present in the ether, but they remain invisible because what we see is the effect, not the cause. So, the materialist says that only the visible part is real. But they cannot explain how new effects — even wetness — are created. So, even they must accept the existence of the boundary.

    In short, whatever they call “emergent” is not due to matter, but due to consciousness. We can say more: the wetness is not emergent, but objective. The experience of wetness is emergent. But since they say that wetness is itself emergent, therefore, a simpler argument can be used.

    Ankur Sethi

    Thank you for your detailed response. I am still not sure how we bring conscious experience to this argument.
    Is this a valid summary of your position? “Saying atoms produce wetness means that it necessarily includes a perception of wetness. ”
    In that case how about the quality of dissolving? The quality of water to dissolve another substance is an attribute of water. If someone says atoms combine and then this quality exists. Do we then say we cannot determine that water really dissolves unless we perceive it? It seems you are trying to bring a conscious experience of water to the argument and they are purposely avoiding that.

    Ashish Dalela

    You are assuming that things dissolve automatically, or at least the materialist claims that they do. But that is a naive classical physical notion of things happening automatically. Like I said above, atomic theory tells us that the world exists in a stationary state. What is a stationary state? It is something in which nothing moves or nothing changes. O2 and H2 don’t form H2O automatically. Energy must be added — e.g. as electricity. Who is going to add that?

    The materialist might say: Well, light or energy is emitted from some unknown source, and then it causes a reaction. But that other thing is also in a stationary state and is not about to emit energy. So, for it to emit energy, there must be something that causes that emission, which then causes the H2 and O2 to react to form H2O. That leads to an infinite cascade of actions.

    This infinite cascade existed even in classical physics, where the universe had to be set in motion one time, after which it will perpetually be in motion. But in atomic theory, it must be set into motion for every single change. So, who or what is causing that change again and again?
    This is why John von Neumann said that consciousness “collapses” the wavefunction, which means that it triggers the emission of light, which is then absorbed, and a molecule of H2O is created. Then consciousness must be triggering for every molecule of H2O to be formed. So, how can you separate the question of consciousness from ordinary chemical reactions?

    People tend to make these naive arguments thinking that the world is automatically set into motion one time and thereafter it is moving continuously. That is false. No serious physicist makes that argument. But people who don’t know physics say such things. Every single change requires a conscious intervention. How it is set into motion is a complex process, but it is set into motion, and the cause is always a choice. So, nothing is moving automatically. It is moving by a will.

    I have so many posts, and books that discuss this problem. I thought it is settled.

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