Presents an analysis of Jonathan Edwards' theological position. This book includes a study of his life and the intellectual issues in the America of his time, and examines the problem of free will in connection with Leibniz, Locke, and Hume.
It is argued that both neuroscience and physics point towards a similar re-assessment of our concepts of space, time and 'reality', which, by removing some apparent paradoxes, may lead to a view which can provide a natural place for consciousness and language within biophysics. There are reasons to believe that relationships between entities in experiential space and time and in modern physicists' space and time are quite different, neither corresponding to our geometric schooling. The elements of the universe may be (...) better described not as 'particles' but as dynamic processes giving rise, where they interface with each other, to the transfer, and at least in some cases experience, of 'pure'or 'active'information, the mental and physical just reflecting different standpoints. Although this analy-sis draws on general features of quantum dynamics, it is argued that purely quantum level events (and their 'interpretations') are unlikely to be relevant to the understanding of consciousness. The processes that might be able to give rise, within brain cells, to an experience like ours are briefly reviewed. It is suggested that the elementary signals that are integrated to generate a spatial experience may have features more in common with words than pixels. It is further suggested that the laws of integration of words in language may provide useful clues to the way biophysical integration of signals in neurons relates to integration of elements in experiential space. (shrink)
This expands the proposal in 'Is consciousness only a property of individual cells?' to attempt to cover all relevant psychological, neuroscientific and philosophical issues. Some of the material is now dated (in 2011) but chiefly in the sense that tentative proposals have become firmer views for me. An example of this is the clarification of complementarities in "Are our spaces made of words?'.
We perceive colour, shape, sound and touch 'bound together' in a single experience. The following arguments about this binding phenomenon are raised: (1) The individual signals passing from neurone to neurone are not bound together, whether as elements of information or physically. (2) Within a single cell, binding in terms of bringing together of information is potentially feasible. A physical substrate may also be available. (3) It is therefore proposed that a bound conscious experience must be a property of an (...) individual cell, not of a group of cells. Since it is unlikely that one specific neurone is conscious, it is suggested that every neurone has a version of our consciousness, or at least some form of sentience. However absurd this may seem it appears to be consistent with the available evidence; arguably the only explanation that is. It probably does not alter the way we should expect to experience the world, but may help to explain the ways we seem to differ from digital computers and some of the paradoxes seen in mental illness. It predicts non-digital features of intracellular computation, for which there is already evidence, and which should be open to further experimental exploration. The arguments given may well prove flawed or the conclusion biologically or physically untenable, but the idea is raised for discussion not least because a formal demonstration that it is invalid may help to identify more fruitful avenues. (shrink)
Prepared by editors of the distinguished series The Works of Jonathan Edwards, this authoritative anthology includes selected treatises, sermons, and autobiographical material by early America’s greatest theologian and philosopher.
Eighteenth-century theologian_Jonathan Edwards remains a significant influence on modern religion, and this book constitutes his most important contribution to Christian thought. Edwards_raises timeless questions about desire, choice, good, and evil, contrasting the opposing Calvinist and Arminian views of free will and addressing issues related to God's foreknowledge, determinism, and moral agency.
v. 1. Freedom of the will -- v. 2. Religious affections -- v. 3. Original sin -- v. 4. The Great Awakening -- v. 5. Apocalyptic writings -- v. 6. Scientific and philosophical writings -- v. 7. The life of David Brainerd -- v. 8. Ethical writings -- v. 9. A history of the work of redemption -- v. 10. Sermons and discourses, 1720-1723 -- v. 13. The "miscellanies" (entry nos. a-z, aa-zz, 1-500) -- v. 15. Notes on Scripture -- (...) v. 17. Sermons and discourses, 1730-1733 -- v. 18. The "miscellanies" (entry nos. 501-832) -- v. 19. Sermons and discourses, 1734-1738 -- v. 20. The miscellanies -- v. 22. Sermons and discourses, 1739-1742 -- v. 24. The "blank Bible" (2 v.). (shrink)