Essays for performers: Instability and Determinism in the Brain

In the theory of mind debates, I am on the side of materialist monists. I accept determinism but because of chaos/complexity,  life as I experience it is still awesomely beautiful, and unpredictable, and thoroughly consciously lived. You might ask: How is that possible? Doesn’t determinism suck all the joy and hope and agency from life, leaving speculators listless or uncomfortable in the lie of freewill they must tell themselves to survive? Well, yes it does, if you only have a naive understanding of how deterministic systems behave.  Luckily, stuff is much more intricate than suggested by the demonstrations of newtonian physics presented in science class. I won’t try to explain how exactly consciousness arrises or agency operates, but the following is a series of ideas which make space for the influence of top-down thinking on an animal’s actions. Most of the relevant ideas come from math, specifically dynamical systems.

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