Sunday, September 03, 2017

Mind and Emergent property


An emergent property is one that stems from factors lower down in the evolutionary process that do not involve the emergent property. The emergent properties emerge from amid a set of properties none of which herald the emergent one. It just springs forth, life from non-life, consciousness from non-conscious, por soir from en soir.

...[E]mergent entities (properties or substances) ‘arise’ out of more fundamental entities and yet are ‘novel’ or ‘irreducible’ with respect to them. (For example, it is sometimes said that consciousness is an emergent property of the brain.) Each of the quoted terms is slippery in its own right, and their specifications yield the varied notions of emergence that we discuss below. There has been renewed interest in emergence within discussions of the behavior of complex systems and debates over the reconcilability of mental causation, intentionality, or consciousness with physicalism.[1]

According to O'connor and Wang emergent properties can't be reduced to the properties from which they spring. If true that means that if consciousness is emergent it's not reducible to brain fuction. Yet every reductionist I've ever argued with uses emergence to explain the rise of consciousness, which they take to be reduciable to brain chemistry. Emergence is also divided into strong and weak. Strong emergence is when the phenomenon is high level and emerges from a low level domain. Strong emergence was evoked by the British emergentists in the 1920s and is featured in most philosophical discussions about emergence. Weak emergence is in respect to low level domain when high level phenomenon emerges from low level domain but truths concerning that phenomenon are unexpected given the principles governing that domain.[2] The more radical consequences stem from strong emergence. As David Chalmers says, if the property could be deduced principle from the properties it emerges from there's no need to evoke new laws. The radical consequences result from the evoking of new laws, resulting from the emergence of properties not deducible in principle. I am avoiding discussions of artificial intelligence or the Chinese room argument (Searl)[3] as they would divert from the argument. I will, however, bring up Searl's argument about AI in order to make a larger point. Searl argues that consciousness is a biological product and computers can't be emergently conscious because they can't produce a biological basis. In answering Searl Paul Almond says:
While it is reasonable to regard consciousness as an emergent property of a physical system there is no profound sense in which it can be said that different people's brains work according to the same kinds of processes and an appropriately programmed computer and a human brain would work according to different processes. Any difference between these situations is just a matter of degree and any argument that we should presume other people conscious because their brains work in basically the same sort of way could also be used to justify presuming an appropriately programmed computer conscious.[4]
This may be a fine idea in philosophy, but how would it work in real life? A doctor in a hospital says “I can't deliver this baby because I have no proof that all human reproductive processes are the same.” You could not practice medicine on that basis. Almond also seems to be contradicting himself because he says on the one hand that we can't assume human thought processes work the same, but somehow we can assume that our minds work the same as computers (which would contradict the ideas that they don't all work the same). Why should we assume it's only a matter of degree? It's pretty self evident that there is a qualitative difference. Searl's argument doesn't help us in deciding about consciousness in humans as emergent but Almond's response tells us something about fallacies in human reason. We must assume that there is a likeness in human consciousness or we can't even do medicine and there's no point in doing science. Thus we can draw analogy between human consciousness and order in the cosmos, metaphysical hierarchy. This will become apparent in unfolding of the argument. But emergent properties per se do not destroy the TS argument.

The notion of emergent properties is firmly ensconced in the repertoire of modern scientific acumen. It's an article of faith for all, those who fail to pledge their allegiance to it are to be ridiculed. Actually there's no reason why emergent properties per se can't be embraced along with belief in God. There is no way to establish that God didn't set it up that way, it probably makes more sense to assume he did. Given the law-like regularity of the universe and modern notions of cause and effect, assuming spontaneous emergence with no prior arrangement of mind is just a contradiction to these aspects of nature (regularity and the necessity of causes). So emergent properties without God (the TS or some other prior agent) violate the criteria of best explanation laid down in chapter three [the book I am writing]; the logical consistency criterion. The emergence of mind is one of the most difficult questions. With simple “self organizing” such as snow flakes there's no problem. When reductionists start insisting that consciousness is emergent and reducible to brain chemistry (actually a contradiction, emergence belongs to holism and is the enemy of reductionism, but one finds at popular level these technicalities escape notice) we must take issue. The need for mind in creation is reflected in the hard problem and in the irreducibility of consciousness.

Reductionists, (especially readers of Dawkins) are convinced that brain chemistry explains consciousness but that view has been proved inadequate. The reductionists are doing a bait and switch, switching brain function for consciousness. Those who claim to evoke mystical experience by brain stimulating use no reliable means of measuring religious experience.[5] One of the major arguments, against the reductionist view, is known as “the hard problem.” The hard problem says that there's a texture to consciousness that can't be communicated, much less reduced to physical origins, but is with us all and thus its existence is self evident. That argument is illustrated by Thomas Negal in his famous article “What is it Like to Be a Bat?” [6] We can have all the facts science can provide about bats but that wont tell us what its like to be a bat. Consciousness has an irreduceable dimension that is fundamental to understanding it and yet scientific reductionism can't tell us about it. In fact some can't admit it exists, even though we all know it does. Sean Carroll dismisses the idea saying, “Nagel actually doesn’t spend too much time providing support for this stance, as he wants to take it as understood and move on.” [7] As though we don't know about the personal dimension to consciousness because we are all conscious (or most of us).

Nagel wrote a book way back in 2012,Mind and Cosmos, for which he was raked over the coals by all manner of scientifically inclined critics. Nagel's basic argument is that because there is this dimension of mind (the hard problem—we can't know what it's like to experience consciousness by reducing the concept to empirical data)-- the subtitle of the book says it-- “...the Materialist Neo-Darwinian Conception of Nature is Almost Certainly False.” He did not argue that evolution is wrong but that the reductionist understanding will never unlock the hard problem because they can't admit there's an aspect of the world their methods can't grasp. He says this not just about brain and mind but that “it invades our understanding of the entire cosmos and its history...a true appreciation of the difficulty of the problem must eventually change our conception of the place of the physical sciences in describing the natural order.” [8] He points to the hubris in modern scientific reductionism in thinking we can understand and explain all things, he argues that we don't understand much of the universe at all. He is arguing about what can and cannot in principle be understood by existing methods.[9] He argues that the failure of psychophysical reductionism to produce a theory of everything marks the inability of reductionism to penetrate the mind-body problem. He argues for a mind-like process in nature but he is not arguing for God. He's an atheist. He introduces teleology back into science.

Negal also argues that the connections between the physical and the mental that emergentists think are responsible for consciousness are all higher order. They concern only complex organisms and don't require any fundamental change in the physical conception of the elements that make up those organisms. "An emergent account of the mental is compatible with a physically reductionist account of the biological system in which mind emerges." [10] So emergence doesn't require any change in the 'ground up' conception of what makes up the universe. To be a true explanation, emergence can't just be a set of correspondences between the physical and mental. It must also be systematic, providing principles or laws linking the two. It must tell us why, or at least how, the physical emerges into the mental.

But even with a systematic theory, emergence seems like an unsatisfactory explanation of the mental. That purely physical elements, when arranged in a certain way, and even if systematically accounted for, should result in consciousness seems like magic. That physical things should exhibit, at the macro level, properties and relations not constituted out of the properties and relations of the physical parts making it up seems like magic. In other cases of emergence, we can understand how the micro properties of the parts give rise to the macro properties of the whole. Liquidity emerging from H2O molecules is an example.

Because emergence of the mental remains mysterious, we should seriously consider an explanation of the more fundamental constituents of the universe. This kind of explanation would draw on a general monism which posits that the basic building blocks contain properties that explain not only physical but also mental properties at the macro level. So there's a deeper more comprehensive reality, of which the physical is only one expression. This deeper framework would explain physical and mental as two aspects of this more fundamental reality. The physical would be an explanation of phenomena from the outside, and the mental would explain things from the inside. "Consciousness in this case is not an effect of the brain processes that are its physical conditions: rather, those brain processes are in themselves more than physical, and the incompleteness of the physical description of the world is exemplified by the incompleteness of their (brain processes) purely physical description." [11] Monism or dualism really depends upon how the terms are used, I don't intend to go into that here. I don't necessarily agree with him on monism but I do about the mental as a basic property of nature. Carroll reviews Mind and Cosmos, he justifies the sorry treatment it was given by the followers of new atheism, who paned it without giving it a chance. They basically treated Nagel like he is a young earth creationist (I believe he's an atheist). Carroll's justification:
Back in the dark ages a person with heretical theological beliefs would occasionally be burned at the stake, Nowadays, when a more scientific worldview has triumphed and everyone knows that God doesn’t exist (emphasis mine), the tables have turned, and any slight deviation from scientific/naturalist/atheist/Darwinian doctrine will have you literally tied to a pole and set on fire. Fair is fair. Or, at least, people will write book reviews and blog posts that disagree with you. But I think we all agree that’s just as bad, right?[12]
Translation: “this is not about facts, truth , logic, or reason. Obey the priesthood of knowledge and don't think. But hey we are imposing this ideology so the world will be safe for free thought, just remember to stick with the right ideas.” He says "everyone knows God doesn't exist," 90% of the population is excluded from “everyone.” His answer to the hard problem is basically that it's an old idea and David Chalmers likes it. He accuses Negal of using bad reasoning but his only example is a general allusion to “common sense” which he takes for bad logic, and does not bother to document (although I stipulate that he does appeal to that standard several times).. Appeal to common sense is not the best. Philosophers tend to hate it and its easy prey for people who themselves do not understand argument. For example Carroll belabors Nagel's admission that he's not an expert, not part of the priesthood of knowledge. He misses Nagel's rhetorical strategy in emphasizing consciousness, judgment and intuition in an argument about consciousness. We are all experts in being conscious. He also includes principle of sufficient reason, which is an immanently reasonable standard and one many great philosophers accept. Carroll's rejection of that principle is no doubt based upon the fact that he does not have a sufficient reason for ignoring the need for prior cause, necessity, and can't answer the questions raised by those who want real answers. His major reason for his beliefs is that they free him from belief.

In attacking Nagel's position that we need an explanation for physical law. Carroll says “They [people such as Negal] cannot simply be (as others among us are happy to accept). And the only way he can see that happening is if 'mind' and its appearance in the universe are taken as fundamental features of reality, not simply by products of physical evolution.”[13] Believers are actually tortured with all of that unnecessary thinking? And I thought we were benighted. Apparently it's the skeptics who are happy not to ask questions. There's less to being a “free thinker” than I thought. Carroll then contemplates the terrible consequences for human reason if we accepted that consciousness is not purely physical, (as though the mental dimension just isn't there even though we all experience it all the time); “Imagine what it would entail to truly believe that consciousness is not accounted for by physics. It would entail, among other things, that the behavior of ordinary matter would occasionally deviate from that expected on the basis of physics alone.”[14] There's an expectation that it wont deviate? If it's not prescriptive, if there is nothing to make the regularity stick then we should expect deviation however rare. But of course that's one of those things free thinkers should be happy not to question.

What would it entail to truly believe that consciousness is not accounted for by physics? Belief in God? Nowhere does Nagel go near that conclusion, and in calling himself a monist he could be veering away from that conclusion. Nor does he actually say that physics can't account for consciousness, only that I hasn't, and wont as long as it refuses to consider a mental dimension. Apparently even one step in the direction of God is too close. Carroll then says, “Several billion years ago there weren’t conscious creatures here on Earth. It was just atoms and particles, bumping into each other in accordance with the rules of physics and chemistry. Except, if mind is not physical, at some point they swerved away from those laws, since remaining in accordance with them would never have created consciousness.”[15] Come again? There are laws that determine things? They can't be deviated from? If the regularity of nature is only a description of “tendencies” why shouldn't there be deviation? More of that double minded assumption, laws are not prescriptive except when they help us pretend there's no God. “So, at what point does this deviation from purely physical behavior kick in, exactly? It’s the immortal soul vs. the Dirac equation problem.”[16] Nagel never says we have an immortal soul. Where does that come from. It's like he's arguing with someone other than Nagel. By that statement he means that if the process of our brains “isn't simply following the laws of physics” (another implication of mandated physical law) then “you have the duty to explain in exactly what way the electrons in our atoms fail to obey their equations of motion. Is energy conserved in your universe? Is momentum? Is quantum evolution unitary, information-preserving, reversible? Can the teleological effects on quantum field observables be encapsulated in an effective Hamiltonian?”xvii[17]

First of all, Nagel doesn't say anything about the consciousness dimension being opposed to the laws of physics. Neither do I. Who says there is not a conscious dimension to the laws of physics that we don't know about? But that would be like admitting the priesthood of knowledge doesn't know all things. Secondly, the smokescreen of Nagel's inability to answer specific questions is, as smokescreens usually are, a red herring. If it's a dimension we don't know, then of course we don't know. He has no argument to disprove the hard problem, and no means of demonstrating that Nagel's surmises about it are not sound. Carroll's basic argument is “this can't be true because if it was it would mean the priesthood is not all knowing and there might be a God.” In Carroll's world those reasons are as sound and valid as the equations to which he alludes.

The veracity of this charge is summed up in his final paragraph in the phrase: "He [Nagel] advocates overthrowing things that are precisely defined, extremely robust, and impressively well-tested (the known laws of physics, natural selection) on the basis of ideas that are rather vague and much less well-supported (a conviction that consciousness can’t be explained physically, a demand for intelligibility, moral realism).”[18] Nagel doesn't advocate overthrowing anything, nor does he suggest departing from physics or the methods of scientific exploration. He even says that dualism is a wrong choice. All he is really saying is that there's a dimension that we don't know much about and until we start including it in our explanations, our explanations lack something in explanatory power. Carroll's answer to that seems to be “don't question the faith!” If there is a dimension we don't understand and admitting that is of “enormous consequence” then if true the explanation offered by materialism, physicalism, science itself is not the best. That explanation doesn't account for all the data, one of the criterion for best explanation. The TS argument assumes that dimension and since it doesn't overturn the laws of physics, but assumes them, then it is a better explanation.The irreducibility of mind to brain serves two purposes in the argument: (1) it means there is a dimension that physicalism has ignored, thus it cannot be the best explanation, (2) it sets up Nagel's answer that there must be some mind-like process in the universe for which physicalism cannot take account. When I say “physicalism” in this context I mean all the camps such as: materialism, physicalism proper, reductionism, functionalism, scientism. In presenting evidence for irreducibility of mind to brain I am setting up the argument for mind as the best organizing principle. There is actual positive scientific data that mind does not reduce to brain.



sources

1 Timothy O'Connor and Hong Yu Wong, "Emergent Properties", The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy (Summer 2015 Edition), Edward N. Zalta (ed.), URL = Here, Accessed 9/13/15 2 David Chalmers, “Strinmg and Weak emergence,” Research School of Social Sciences, Austrailian National University, online resource, PDF URL: http://consc.net/papers/emergence.pdf accessed 9/13/15. 3 David Cole, "The Chinese Room Argument", The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy (Fall 2015 Edition), Edward N. Zalta (ed.), forthcoming URL = .
4 Paul Almond, “Searl's Argument Against AI and emergent Properties—part 1,” MLU: Machines Like Us, (December 29, 2008) online resource, URL: http://www.machineslikeus.com/news/searles-argument-against-ai-and-emergent-properties-part-1 accessed 9/13/15.
5 Joseph Hinman, The Trace of God: A Rational Warrant for Belief. Colorado Springs: Grand Viaduct Publishing, 2014,
6 Thomas Nagel, "What is it like to be a bat?", Mortal Questions, Cambridge University Press, 1979, p. 166. pdf: http://organizations.utep.edu/portals/1475/nagel_bat.pdf accessed 9/14/15. Nagel is philosophy professer atv NYU. Ph.D Harvaed 1963, awards: 1996 PEN/Diamonstein-Spielvogel Award for the Art of the Essay.
7 Sean Carroll, “Mind and Cosmos,” Sean Carroll (blog)(posted August 22, 2013) URL:
http://www.preposterousuniverse.com/blog/2013/08/22/mind-and-cosmos/ accessedd 9/14/15.
8 Thomas Nagel, Mind and Cosmos:Why the Materialist Neo-Darwinian Conception of Nature is Almost Certainly False,. Oxfor: Oxford, London: New York University Press, first edition, 2012, 3.
9 Ibgid 4
10 Ibid 55
11 Ibid 57
12 Carroll, “Mind…”op. Cit.
13 Ibid
14 Ibid
15 Ibid
16 Ibid
17 Ibid
18 Ibid

73 comments:

Eric Sotnak said...

A big part of the problem you highlight, I think, is that there are different ways of understanding what, exactly, it is to reduce one set of phenomena to another. There are different accounts of reductionism, each with their own difficulties. But I think the biggest difficulty rests on the false expectation that successful reduction should allow us to substitute reducing statements for reduced statements without loss of meaning.

7th Stooge said...

In referrig to Nagel's argument for the irreducibilty of consciousness, Carroll writes that

"Nagel actually doesn’t spend too much time providing support for this stance, as he wants to take it as understood and move on."

When in fact Nagel devotes 39 pages to his argument. That's more than a quarter of the book. Did carroll read the same book I did?

When Carroll supposes that Nagel's position would require a swerve or deviation from the laws of physics to allow for consciousness, I think this assumption reveals his fundamental misreading of the book, as Joe points out. Nagel's is a dual aspect monism with no deviation required.

7th Stooge said...

Erik, Interesting comments. I'll have to reread the book, but I think the form of reductionism Nagel has in mind is what Chalmers would label "Type B" or a posteriori identity statements along the lines of "Water is H2O." The terms aren't substitutable in terms of meaning but they are as far as reference.

Joe Hinman said...

When Carroll supposes that Nagel's position would require a swerve or deviation from the laws of physics to allow for consciousness, I think this assumption reveals his fundamental misreading of the book, as Joe points out. Nagel's is a dual aspect monism with no deviation required.


\thank you Eric, That's the way I saw it.I think people like Carroll have a very mechanical understanding of consciousness, they think of it as part of the apparatus of brain,

Joe Hinman said...

Jim check out the main blog section I followed up on your request,

Anonymous said...

There are several errors in this article that, while they do not impact on the main argument, make me question how well emergence is understood. For example:

JH: An emergent property is one that stems from factors lower down in the evolutionary process that do not involve the emergent property.

No, Joe, emergence is nothing to do with evolution. The wetness of water, for example, is emergent.

JH: According to O'connor and Wang emergent properties can't be reduced to the properties from which they spring. If true that means that if consciousness is emergent it's not reducible to brain fuction. Yet every reductionist I've ever argued with uses emergence to explain the rise of consciousness, which they take to be reduciable to brain chemistry.

If consciousness is emergent, then is based solely on brain chemistry in the sense that no other factors (such as the soul) need be considered. They may mean reducible in that respect. Or as weak emergence...

JH: Strong emergence is when the phenomenon is high level and emerges from a low level domain.

So is weak emergence. The real difference is that weak emergence is a property that is not unexpected from the low level domain, while strong emergence is not possible to predict even in theory. See here:

This means that reductionists could be right about consciousness being weakly emergent, but still reducible to brain chemistry.

JH: The notion of emergent properties is firmly ensconced in the repertoire of modern scientific acumen. It's an article of faith for all, those who fail to pledge their allegiance to it are to be ridiculed.

It is not an article of faith, it is very well evidenced. Viscosity is an excellent example, as is the second law of thermodynamics. Anyone who says emergence does not exist deserves that ridicule.

JH: Translation: “this is not about facts, truth , logic, or reason. Obey the priesthood of knowledge and don't think. But hey we are imposing this ideology so the world will be safe for free thought, just remember to stick with the right ideas.”

You have entirely missed the point. Carroll is saying science is way better because nowadays people merely get bad reviews, while in the dark ages - when religion had control - they would have been burnt at the stake.

Pix

Anonymous said...

With regards to the actual argument...

JH: Reductionists, (especially readers of Dawkins) are convinced that brain chemistry explains consciousness but that view has been proved inadequate.

Show us the proof, Joe. I see claims science cannot yet say how it happened ("Consciousness has an irreduceable dimension that is fundamental to understanding it and yet scientific reductionism can't tell us about it."), but no proof and no links to proof.

JH: To be a true explanation, emergence can't just be a set of correspondences between the physical and mental. It must also be systematic, providing principles or laws linking the two. It must tell us why, or at least how, the physical emerges into the mental.

I would love to know your own explanation, Joe. Do tell us how, according to your own theory, the physical relates to the mental. Remember, you need laws or principles linking the two.

JH: The physical would be an explanation of phenomena from the outside, and the mental would explain things from the inside. "Consciousness in this case is not an effect of the brain processes that are its physical conditions: rather, those brain processes are in themselves more than physical, and the incompleteness of the physical description of the world is exemplified by the incompleteness of their (brain processes) purely physical description.

Okay, so how does Nagel say the physical interacts with the mental. I assume you hold his theory to the same standard as you do emergence.

JH: What would it entail to truly believe that consciousness is not accounted for by physics?

A belief in something for which there is no evidence. It is comparable to homoeopathy or astrology. It is not a step towards religion as such but a step towards superstition, a step towards blind belief rather than reason. No wonder scientists reject it.

Nagel might be right, but until he gets evidence to support his claims, no reputable science will accept what he says. And rightly so.

Emergence is a known phenomenon, it is well established that injuries to different parts of the brain lead to differ effects on the mind, fMRI has proved that different parts of the brain are involved in different thinking processes. Until Nagel's claims haave that sort of support, science will stick with consciousness from emergence, incomplete though it may be.

Pix

7th Stooge said...

"So is weak emergence. The real difference is that weak emergence is a property that is not unexpected from the low level domain, while strong emergence is not possible to predict even in theory."




I thought Chalmers said that weak emergence is unexpected given the lower-level phenomena but deducible at least in theory. Strong emergence is neither unexpected nor deducible in principle.

The problem with consciousness as weakly emergent is that with other cases of weak emergence,the emergent properties are deducible. It can be understood. If consciousness weakly emerges, no one understands how. Chamers would argue that this is a conceptual issue, a failure in principle.

"You have entirely missed the point. Carroll is saying science is way better because nowadays people merely get bad reviews, while in the dark ages - when religion had control - they would have been burnt at the stake."

I agree. I thought Joe misread that. Carroll would never tip his hand so overtly ;)

7th Stooge said...

Show us the proof, Joe. I see claims science cannot yet say how it happened ("Consciousness has an irreduceable dimension that is fundamental to understanding it and yet scientific reductionism can't tell us about it."), but no proof and no links to proof.

If something is scientifically or physically irreducible, there wouldn;t be definitive scientific proof for that irreducibility. That's absurd. There would be absence of proof to the contrary. The real proof would lie with the arguments for and against reducibility. I think Chalmers, Nagel and Jackson among others have made strong arguments, strong enough that I think one's justified in saying at least tentatively that consciousness is not reducible in principle to the physical. Of course it could be wrong but every scientific theory could be wrong as well. That fact doesn;t keep scientists from having pretty solid confidence in some theories.

"I would love to know your own explanation, Joe. Do tell us how, according to your own theory, the physical relates to the mental. Remember, you need laws or principles linking the two."

He doesn't have to offer an explanation. He's arguing for irreducibility. He's arguing for a negative.

"Okay, so how does Nagel say the physical interacts with the mental. I assume you hold his theory to the same standard as you do emergence."

He doesn't think they are two separate things so interaction isn't a problem. He thinks reality is one thing that presents under two aspects.

"A belief in something for which there is no evidence. It is comparable to homoeopathy or astrology. It is not a step towards religion as such but a step towards superstition, a step towards blind belief rather than reason. No wonder scientists reject it."

To liken it to those things indicates that maybe you misunderstand the argument.

"Nagel might be right, but until he gets evidence to support his claims, no reputable science will accept what he says. And rightly so."

Have you taken a poll of reputable scientists? And if I produce some you'd say "They can't be reputable because they hold a disreputable belief!" ;)

7th Stooge said...

" Strong emergence is neither unexpected nor deducible in principle."

Oops. Should read "Strong emergence is neither EXpected nor deducible in principle."

Anonymous said...

7th stooge: I thought Chalmers said that weak emergence is unexpected given the lower-level phenomena but deducible at least in theory. Strong emergence is neither unexpected nor deducible in principle.

Yeah, typo. That is what I meant.

7th stooge: If something is scientifically or physically irreducible, there wouldn;t be definitive scientific proof for that irreducibility.

How would we know it was irreducible? Best we could say is it is still not determined.

7th stooge: I think Chalmers, Nagel and Jackson among others have made strong arguments, strong enough that I think one's justified in saying at least tentatively that consciousness is not reducible in principle to the physical.

Do you have a link to them? How well accepted are they amongst philosophers and scientists?

7th stooge: He doesn't have to offer an explanation. He's arguing for irreducibility. He's arguing for a negative.

Then the best he can hope for is "we don't know".

7th stooge: He doesn't think they are two separate things so interaction isn't a problem. He thinks reality is one thing that presents under two aspects.

I thought he was. I thought it was mainstream science that said consciousness is just a part of the natural world that we already know so well. I think reality is one thing that presents under one aspect.

7th stooge: To liken it to those things indicates that maybe you misunderstand the argument.

It is a claim made without evidence. Tell me how that is different to astrology or homoeopathy?

7th stooge: Have you taken a poll of reputable scientists? And if I produce some you'd say "They can't be reputable because they hold a disreputable belief!" ;)

I know how science works, and I know scientists need good evidence before they accept a new theory.

Pix

7th Stooge said...

Pix said: How would we know it was irreducible? Best we could say is it is still not determined.

Through reasons and argument.Through the failure of empirical finding s to address the relevant kind of problem. You've said yourself that you don't think that ethics and morality are completely explainable through empirical scientific research. How did you reach that conclusion? Was it scientific research? What degree of certainty do you have about it? I'm guessing it's about the same degree of certainty that I have about this. We cvould both be wrong, but based on everything I know now, I feel confident in my belief. That's as secure as most knowledge is. But there's more certainty there than jsut saying "I don't know." It's tentative but greater than absolute agnosticism.

Pix said: Do you have a link to them? How well accepted are they amongst philosophers and scientists?

I'll find them. I would guess that some version of physicalism is the majority position among philosophers and scientists today, but those who question it, especially among philosophers represent a sizable minority. Just a hunch.

Pix: Then the best he can hope for is "we don't know".

But that's in effect making science the arbiter of all knowledge. Why would you think that?

Pix:I thought he was. I thought it was mainstream science that said consciousness is just a part of the natural world that we already know so well. I think reality is one thing that presents under one aspect.

Nagel thinks that consciousness is a part of the natural world but that the natural world isn't confined to the physical world. Think of ethics and morality again.

Pix: It is a claim made without evidence. Tell me how that is different to astrology or homoeopathy?

Astrology is a pseudoscience. It could in principle be confirmed or disconfirmed using empirical means. The debate about consciousness is about the nature of reality, whether consciousness is explainable in terms of physical concepts. If I were saying that consciousness is explainable due to a homunculus a blob of protoplasm or a ghost=like entity in some part of my brain, that would be analogous to astrology.

Anonymous said...

7th S: Through reasons and argument.Through the failure of empirical finding s to address the relevant kind of problem.

So not from evidence? Wow. This maybe why these theories get ridiculed by scientists. Consciousness-of-the-gaps!

7th S: You've said yourself that you don't think that ethics and morality are completely explainable through empirical scientific research. How did you reach that conclusion? Was it scientific research? What degree of certainty do you have about it? I'm guessing it's about the same degree of certainty that I have about this. We cvould both be wrong, but based on everything I know now, I feel confident in my belief. That's as secure as most knowledge is. But there's more certainty there than jsut saying "I don't know." It's tentative but greater than absolute agnosticism.

But it is not based on evidence. How do you know your reasoning and arguments actually relate to reality rather than some fantasy world?

I have an opinion on ethics and morality but I would freely admit it is just a guess, and that really my opinion is that we do not know and have no way to know. I think that is quite different to your belief about a specific hypothesis.

7th S: I'll find them. I would guess that some version of physicalism is the majority position among philosophers and scientists today, but those who question it, especially among philosophers represent a sizable minority. Just a hunch.

Science has built a very good model of the universe without the need to include any "mental" component. If it turns out there is some other force (in the loosest sense), then that model would be overthrown. The problem that minority has is that the validity of the model is evidenced by all the technology around us.

7th S: But that's in effect making science the arbiter of all knowledge. Why would you think that?

Not all knowledge, but of certain types of knowledge (under the general heading of how the universe works). I think that because of its track record. Why should I not think that?

7th S: Nagel thinks that consciousness is a part of the natural world but that the natural world isn't confined to the physical world. Think of ethics and morality again.

Ethics and morality are emergent properties of social systems. Why suppose they do not ultimately supervene on the physical world?

7th S: Astrology is a pseudoscience. It could in principle be confirmed or disconfirmed using empirical means. The debate about consciousness is about the nature of reality, whether consciousness is explainable in terms of physical concepts. If I were saying that consciousness is explainable due to a homunculus a blob of protoplasm or a ghost=like entity in some part of my brain, that would be analogous to astrology.

Wait, I did not say the debate about consciousness was analogous to astrology, I said Nagel's hypothesis is. I say that because - like astrology - it has no evidence to support it. Just like your hypothesis about a homunculus, in fact!


Pix

7th Stooge said...

Pix: So not from evidence? Wow. This maybe why these theories get ridiculed by scientists. Consciousness-of-the-gaps!

Reasons and argument potentially are evidence. They can both include empirical data. That nothwithstanding, evidence doesn't have to be empirical scientific data. You're assuming the thing we're disagreeing over!

Pix: So not from evidence? Wow. This maybe why these theories get ridiculed by scientists. Consciousness-of-the-gaps!

Arguments are a kind of evidence. The problem of consciousness is a pilosophical problem, it's not a scientific research program, even though the debate is informed by empirical findings. Physicalism is a philosophical position that rests on reasoning and arguments. Consciousness-of-the -gaps would be positing some causal mechanism for consciousness that science can't currently confirm or disconfirm. The philosophical problem of consciousness is nt at all analogous.

Pix:I have an opinion on ethics and morality but I would freely admit it is just a guess, and that really my opinion is that we do not know and have no way to know. I think that is quite different to your belief about a specific hypothesis.

I thought it was based on an argument. Sorry. But if your belief were based on arguments that withstood sustained critique and remained sound, then there would be good reason for believing it, even though that belief could be overturned (as nearly all of our beliefs could be!)

Pix: Science has built a very good model of the universe without the need to include any "mental" component. If it turns out there is some other force (in the loosest sense), then that model would be overthrown. The problem that minority has is that the validity of the model is evidenced by all the technology around us.

I agree that science has built a very good model for certain types of things but maybe not fro all things. A useful methodology doesn't insure that that model can address all problems.

Pix:Not all knowledge, but of certain types of knowledge (under the general heading of how the universe works). I think that because of its track record. Why should I not think that?

I think that too. But there are good reasons to think that it's not all-explanatory. Those reasons cannot be entirely empirical because the question has to do with the scope and nature of the empirical.

Pix: Ethics and morality are emergent properties of social systems. Why suppose they do not ultimately supervene on the physical world?

But you said your beliefs about ethics are just a guess, right?

Pix:
Wait, I did not say the debate about consciousness was analogous to astrology, I said Nagel's hypothesis is. I say that because - like astrology - it has no evidence to support it. Just like your hypothesis about a homunculus, in fact!

No, you didn't. I was including the whole field and thus including Nagel's position. It's like the difference between a metaphysical theory and belief in fairies. Apples and gravel.

Mike Gerow said...

"“Faced with difficulties in applying fundamental theories to the observed Universe,” they wrote, some scientists argue that “if a theory is sufficiently elegant and explanatory, it need not be tested experimentally”"

https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/string-theory-science-hossein-javadi?articleId=8632749584031595799

Anonymous said...

7th S: Reasons and argument potentially are evidence. They can both include empirical data. That nothwithstanding, evidence doesn't have to be empirical scientific data. You're assuming the thing we're disagreeing over!

By evidence I mean what we observe (what you call empirial data), rather than the reasoning or arguments that use it. You have inserted the word "scientific", I am going to ignore that, and just discuss empirical data, to avoid the word evidence.

Arguments and reason are certainly important, but unless they are based on empirical data, how can we ever suppose they relate to the real world? String theory is a great example of something that might be true, but it would be foolish to accept it until it is supported by empirical data. Same for astrology or homoeopath - until supported by empirical data, it is just a possibility.

7th S: Arguments are a kind of evidence. The problem of consciousness is a pilosophical problem, it's not a scientific research program, even though the debate is informed by empirical findings. Physicalism is a philosophical position that rests on reasoning and arguments. Consciousness-of-the -gaps would be positing some causal mechanism for consciousness that science can't currently confirm or disconfirm. The philosophical problem of consciousness is nt at all analogous.

Either the claims are supported by empirical data, and it is science, or they are not, and they are as much pseudo-science as astrology or homoeopath. Labelling it philosophy does not mean you get an automatic pass when it comes to empirical data. As you said, we can propose consciousness is rooted in homunculi inside out heads, but it does not mean anything without the support from empirical data.

7th S: I agree that science has built a very good model for certain types of things but maybe not fro all things. A useful methodology doesn't insure that that model can address all problems.

That was not my point. What Nagel seems to be proposing is some new fundamental to the universe. Such a thing would be expected to seriously impact science as we know it (imagine someone discovering the weak nuclear force if it was not already known and how the laws of physics would have to change to accommodate it). The fact is that we have good reason (but not certainty) to think there are no more fundamentals out there because our current model is so good.

7th S: I think that too. But there are good reasons to think that it's not all-explanatory. Those reasons cannot be entirely empirical because the question has to do with the scope and nature of the empirical.

Can you think of an example? Just to be clear, I am not taking about specifics here, like what I had for breakfast or where is Tokyo, science is about the big picture, the general rules. I am not aware of anything we know with any certainty in that regard outside science (obviously religious beliefs are held with certainty by an individual, but collectively we disagree vehemently).

7th S: But you said your beliefs about ethics are just a guess, right?

Yes, so my statement was just my guess. We do not know. You said "Think of ethics and morality again." I did, and I see no reason to suppose any new fundamental principle is required (hope that does not sound too sarky, it is not meant that way!).

7th S: No, you didn't. I was including the whole field and thus including Nagel's position. It's like the difference between a metaphysical theory and belief in fairies. Apples and gravel.

Sure, because you were including the whole field. Just consider Nagel's position, and it looks a lot like just different apples.

Pix

7th Stooge said...

Pix: By evidence I mean what we observe (what you call empirial data), rather than the reasoning or arguments that use it. You have inserted the word "scientific", I am going to ignore that, and just discuss empirical data, to avoid the word evidence.

It's not that simple. First one has to interpret the data. The data are not self-interpreting. One interprets the data in light of whole sets of assumptions, many f which depend upon emprical findings but then those findings themselves are informed by assumptions, and so on. But more importantly, philosophical positions such as physicalism or the questioning of physicalism need to be consistent with (constrained by) empirical findings, but the fact that a question is philosophical means that the emoirical findings alone cannot decide the issue. They aren;t what determine where one comes down on the question.

Pix: Arguments and reason are certainly important, but unless they are based on empirical data, how can we ever suppose they relate to the real world? String theory is a great example of something that might be true, but it would be foolish to accept it until it is supported by empirical data. Same for astrology or homoeopath - until supported by empirical data, it is just a possibility.

Yes, supported by and consistent with but not determined by.

Pix: Either the claims are supported by empirical data, and it is science, or they are not, and they are as much pseudo-science as astrology or homoeopath. Labelling it philosophy does not mean you get an automatic pass when it comes to empirical data. As you said, we can propose consciousness is rooted in homunculi inside out heads, but it does not mean anything without the support from empirical data.

No, not that simple for the reasons I just mentioned. A position can be supported by empirical evidence but not determined by it. One doesn't and can't make a final decision on philosophical questions based on the empirical findings.

Pix: That was not my point. What Nagel seems to be proposing is some new fundamental to the universe. Such a thing would be expected to seriously impact science as we know it (imagine someone discovering the weak nuclear force if it was not already known and how the laws of physics would have to change to accommodate it). The fact is that we have good reason (but not certainty) to think there are no more fundamentals out there because our current model is so good.

You're confusing different kinds of questions. You're making the same mistake Sean Carroll did in his review of Nagel. Nagel's theory would not affect the laws of physics. The question is whether physics can account for consciousness. The reasons for thinking that phusics cannot account for everything in the natural world could not be physical in nature because the question IS whether consciousness can be accounted for by physics. Even someone arguing for your position can't just hold out reams of physical data as the evidence for their position. That person has to make an argument consistent with the data but not determined by it. (To be continued)

7th Stooge said...

Pix: Can you think of an example? Just to be clear, I am not taking about specifics here, like what I had for breakfast or where is Tokyo, science is about the big picture, the general rules. I am not aware of anything we know with any certainty in that regard outside science (obviously religious beliefs are held with certainty by an individual, but collectively we disagree vehemently).

I am in pain. Torturing small kids is morally wrong. 2+2=4. Socrates is mortal. I am conscious.

Pix; Sure, because you were including the whole field. Just consider Nagel's position, and it looks a lot like just different apples.

So believing that consciousness is physically irreducible is on all fours with faireology? Is that what you're saying?

7th Stooge said...

"“Faced with difficulties in applying fundamental theories to the observed Universe,” they wrote, some scientists argue that “if a theory is sufficiently elegant and explanatory, it need not be tested experimentally”"

Sounds like a very contentious issue. To strike a cynical note, of course string theorists would say what they're saying to keep their jobs and the $ rolling in? :)

Mike Gerow said...

I think my point was that what constitutes "evidence" in science is perhaps not so simplistic - not always so straightforward?

A lot of science is just reinterpreting the same old data...so "string theory" makes sense - given certain assumptions which are along the lines of "the universe is elegant, simply contructed in its essence and mathematical" - just because it doesn't breach relativity or the standard model of QM, but reconciles them more elegantly (according to string theorists) than its competitors


So, is that a valid theory?

If so, would a theory that could account for Chalmers's question, "what does the color red look like to you?" moreso than the physicalist one can also be a valid theory?

Yeah, like that....

Mike Gerow said...

Edit to Add: well, it seems like qualia would have to be considered "a fundamental fact of the observed universe" ... no?

;-)


Anonymous said...

7th S: It's not that simple. First one has to interpret the data. ...

Well, duh! The theory of relativity uses a lot of reasoning and argument, but is only accepted as science because it is also supported by empirical data.

7th S: No, not that simple for the reasons I just mentioned. A position can be supported by empirical evidence but not determined by it. One doesn't and can't make a final decision on philosophical questions based on the empirical findings.

Why?

Point me to a philosophical question where a final decision has been made without reference to empirical data. Then explain how we know it relates to this world and not some fantasy world.

7th S: Nagel's theory would not affect the laws of physics. The question is whether physics can account for consciousness. The reasons for thinking that phusics cannot account for everything in the natural world could not be physical in nature because the question IS whether consciousness can be accounted for by physics.

Why would that not affect the laws of physics? Either his hypothesis will affect how the universe is or it will not. Which is it?

If it has no effect, then, well, it has no effect and cannot engender consciousness. Or if consciousness operates entirely separate to the physical world, then how can we control our bodies?

7th S: Even someone arguing for your position can't just hold out reams of physical data as the evidence for their position. That person has to make an argument consistent with the data but not determined by it. (To be continued)

Again, well duh! See previous.

7th S: I am in pain. Torturing small kids is morally wrong. 2+2=4. Socrates is mortal. I am conscious.

I specifically said "Just to be clear, I am not taking about specifics here", and yet three of your examples are just that! Also, are you experiencing the pain? If so, that is empirical data. 2+2=4 is an abstraction; what makes you think it relates to reality at all?

Why do you think torturing small kids is morally wrong? Please explain without reference to observation or experience.

7th S: So believing that consciousness is physically irreducible is on all fours with faireology? Is that what you're saying?

I would say the hypothesis is comparable to string theory, an interesting hypothesis, but not to be taken as true until we have empirical data to support it.

If you have a conviction that consciousness is physically irreducible despite the lack of empirical data, then yes, that would be like believing in fairies despite the lack of empirical data.

Pix

Joe Hinman said...

Anonymous said...
7th S: It's not that simple. First one has to interpret the data. ...

Well, duh! The theory of relativity uses a lot of reasoning and argument, but is only accepted as science because it is also supported by empirical data.

7th S: No, not that simple for the reasons I just mentioned. A position can be supported by empirical evidence but not determined by it. One doesn't and can't make a final decision on philosophical questions based on the empirical findings.

Why?

Point me to a philosophical question where a final decision has been made without reference to empirical data. Then explain how we know it relates to this world and not some fantasy world.

No moral issue can ever decided by the data because its about values systems, you can't establish a value by taking data. Upi have to have an ought and there's no ought in numbers,



Joe Hinman said...

7th S: Nagel's theory would not affect the laws of physics. The question is whether physics can account for consciousness. The reasons for thinking that phusics cannot account for everything in the natural world could not be physical in nature because the question IS whether consciousness can be accounted for by physics.

Why would that not affect the laws of physics? Either his hypothesis will affect how the universe is or it will not. Which is it?

If it has no effect, then, well, it has no effect and cannot engender consciousness. Or if consciousness operates entirely separate to the physical world, then how can we control our bodies?

7th S: Even someone arguing for your position can't just hold out reams of physical data as the evidence for their position. That person has to make an argument consistent with the data but not determined by it. (To be continued)

Again, well duh! See previous.

you are sloughing Px

7th S: I am in pain. Torturing small kids is morally wrong. 2+2=4. Socrates is mortal. I am conscious.

I specifically said "Just to be clear, I am not taking about specifics here", and yet three of your examples are just that! Also, are you experiencing the pain? If so, that is empirical data. 2+2=4 is an abstraction; what makes you think it relates to reality at all?

not the fact of the data that makes it wrong, it;s just reliant to weather a specific case is a certain outcome doesn't make the right or wrong,no ought,

Joe Hinman said...

Why do you think torturing small kids is morally wrong? Please explain without reference to observation or experience.

the data does not make the ought, it is needed to understand the issue but it's not what makes the ought,doesn't make philosophy into scinece

7th S: So believing that consciousness is physically irreducible is on all fours with faireology? Is that what you're saying?

I would say the hypothesis is comparable to string theory, an interesting hypothesis, but not to be taken as true until we have empirical data to support it.

If you have a conviction that consciousness is physically irreducible despite the lack of empirical data, then yes, that would be like believing in fairies despite the lack of empirical data.

you are convolution two very different questions here,at least.

(1) empirical data may be necessary to answering certain kinds of philosophical question but it is not the eprical data that makes the ought an ought,

(2) our experience of consciousness is empirical and that helps us answer the question about consciousness but it's not then kind of empirical data from science but the old form of eroticism,philosophical empiricism,experience.

Joe Hinman said...

"“Faced with difficulties in applying fundamental theories to the observed Universe,” they wrote, some scientists argue that “if a theory is sufficiently elegant and explanatory, it need not be tested experimentally”"

Sounds like a very contentious issue. To strike a cynical note, of course string theorists would say what they're saying to keep their jobs and the $ rolling in? :)

they undid every objection atheists make to belief,

Anonymous said...

Pix: Point me to a philosophical question where a final decision has been made without reference to empirical data. Then explain how we know it relates to this world and not some fantasy world.

JH: No moral issue can ever decided by the data because its about values systems, you can't establish a value by taking data. Upi have to have an ought and there's no ought in numbers,

So point me to a philosophical question where a final decision has been made without reference to empirical data. Speaking for myself, I make moral judgements based in part on my experiences interacting with people. I think murder is wrong because my experiences tell me that other people are also thinking beings with as much worth as me.

JH: the data does not make the ought, it is needed to understand the issue but it's not what makes the ought,doesn't make philosophy into scinece

Okay, I guess at this point this is a straw man. I clearly that argument and reason are required as well, and yet here you are pretending otherwise.

JH: (1) empirical data may be necessary to answering certain kinds of philosophical question but it is not the eprical data that makes the ought an ought,

It is reasoning and argument based on empirical data. Without the empirical data is is just fantasy unrelated to the real world.

JH: (2) our experience of consciousness is empirical and that helps us answer the question about consciousness but it's not then kind of empirical data from science but the old form of eroticism,philosophical empiricism,experience.

Great, looks like we agree that both reasoning and argument is required as well as empirical data.

So give the empirical data that shows consciousness is not reducible.

Pix

Mike Gerow said...

The "empirical data" is OF A NEGATIVE SORT - simly to an insolubility problem in maths -- it is pointing to not a positive quality but a LACK ... i.e. it's EXACTLY the LACK in all physicalist theories's explanatory power (even in principle) for some actual phenomena incl. qualia and sensations that is the problem....

Mike Gerow said...

Px, let me put it another way for you....

The nice and elegant thing about string theory is that it reconciles some basic fields and unifies physics. But, the thing is, that doesn't make ST true. As you say, most or many people would want to see concrete physical evidence before they accepted the validity of those theories. Otherwise, they'll stick with the messy, contradictory but tried and true existing theories.

Why is that? Because we are instinctively suspect if nice, simplifying, "unifying" assumptions, even if make the world more comprehensible?

But which of the two hypothesis above is REALLY more like string theory in this regard? -- "Consciousness is physically reducible" or "Consciousness is physically irreducible?" -- IOW which is the nice and "conv-e--e-e-ient" (using Dana Carvey's church lady's famous phrase)unifying and simplifying assumption?

IOW, which is "messier but safer to assume" and which really needs to be proven?

I would say, considering there isn't even a conceivable empirical procedure that could CONCLUSIVELY answer that age-old question THAT IS raised at one point or another in virtually every Phil 101 class that was ever conducted - "is it possible that what I see as red, you might see as a different color?" - the second and LESS unified hypothesis might be the "safer" one?

After all, as dubious as many people think it is, string theory is at least still testable in principle - eg, accrdng to physicists, if there was a particle accelerator the size of the Milky Way.

What you think?

7th Stooge said...

Mike: If so, would a theory that could account for Chalmers's question, "what does the color red look like to you?" moreso than the physicalist one can also be a valid theory?

Good point. I think Chalmers said that establishing 'psychophysical laws' would depend tp some extent on empirical findings, including research on the "easy problem,' but you may be right. A 'deeper' explanation would probably have to rely on a theory that was consistent with all knowns, simple elegant and explanatory, but it probably won't be empirically testable.

7th Stooge said...

Pix: Point me to a philosophical question where a final decision has been made without reference to empirical data. Then explain how we know it relates to this world and not some fantasy world.

I never said "without reference to." I said "not decidable by." Can you grasp that difference? Any philosphical position, such as physicalism, can't contradict any non-controversial facts. It has to be consistent with all such facts. The problem is that even if two people agree on all basic observable facts, they may interpret those facts in different ways. So they can't argue for their positions by just going back to those observable facts.

Pix: Why would that not affect the laws of physics? Either his hypothesis will affect how the universe is or it will not. Which is it?

Because if consciousness is a non-physical property, it would have no effect on the laws of physics. Consciousness would be an aspect of the way things are but the way things are would not be reducible to physics. It would be the other way 'round.

Pix: If it has no effect, then, well, it has no effect and cannot engender consciousness. Or if consciousness operates entirely separate to the physical world, then how can we control our bodies?

It's dual aspect theory. Nagel's idea is that the mental is not reduciblle to the physical nor the physical to the mental but that each is an aspect of some greater reality. They're both shadows cast by something else we can't see because there's no adaptive reason for being able to see it.

Pix: I specifically said "Just to be clear, I am not taking about specifics here", and yet three of your examples are just that! Also, are you experiencing the pain? If so, that is empirical data. 2+2=4 is an abstraction; what makes you think it relates to reality at all?

You are not "observing" your pain but experiencing it! There's no appearance/reality distinction in your experience of pain as there is in the standard model of observation. If you talk to mathematicians, most of them will say that they are dealing with discovery and a part of reality. If you use "abstraction" to disqualify something from being real, then science would suffer the same fate, including nearl all empirical data.

Pix: Why do you think torturing small kids is morally wrong? Please explain without reference to observation or experience.

Again the distinction between "without reference to" and "not decidable by." I can't decide that something is morally wrong based just on bare observations. I have to have a moral theory already in place to interpet my observations and make moral judgments.

Pix: I would say the hypothesis is comparable to string theory, an interesting hypothesis, but not to be taken as true until we have empirical data to support it.

String theory is a physical theory. Theories about philosophy of mind are metaphysical theories. They're not analogous. You keep assuming the thing we disagree about. It's called "begging the question." Every side of metaphysical questions are usually equally well "supported" by empirical data. So using simple reasoning, you can deduce that empirical data doesn't "tip the balance."

7th Stooge said...

Do you ever get the feeling that no matter what you say, the other guy doesn't respond but keeps saying the same thing?


"These go to eleven"

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4xgx4k83zzc

Joe Hinman said...

Anonymous said...
Pix: Point me to a philosophical question where a final decision has been made without reference to empirical data. Then explain how we know it relates to this world and not some fantasy world.

JH: No moral issue can ever decided by the data because its about values systems, you can't establish a value by taking data. Upi have to have an ought and there's no ought in numbers,

So point me to a philosophical question where a final decision has been made without reference to empirical data.

I just did,m the ought aspect of any moral issue


Speaking for myself, I make moral judgements based in part on my experiences interacting with people. I think murder is wrong because my experiences tell me that other people are also thinking beings with as much worth as me.

and that is why atheists can't ground axioms, it's all subjective


JH: the data does not make the ought, it is needed to understand the issue but it's not what makes the ought,doesn't make philosophy into scinece

Okay, I guess at this point this is a straw man. I clearly that argument and reason are required as well, and yet here you are pretending otherwise.

it;s not straw man, you use that incorrectly

JH: (1) empirical data may be necessary to answering certain kinds of philosophical question but it is not the eprical data that makes the ought an ought,

It is reasoning and argument based on empirical data. Without the empirical data is is just fantasy unrelated to the real world.

the empirical part does nothing to supply the ought,its the issue of ought specifically I'm talking abouit,

JH: (2) our experience of consciousness is empirical and that helps us answer the question about consciousness but it's not then kind of empirical data from science but the old form of eroticism,philosophical empiricism,experience.

Great, looks like we agree that both reasoning and argument is required as well as empirical data.

o because that's the other issue that being conflated it has nothing to do with ought try to pay attention,

So give the empirical data that shows consciousness is not reducible.

I experience consciousness as mental rather than physical

Anonymous said...

Mike Gerow: The "empirical data" is OF A NEGATIVE SORT - simly to an insolubility problem in maths -- it is pointing to not a positive quality but a LACK ... i.e. it's EXACTLY the LACK in all physicalist theories's explanatory power (even in principle) for some actual phenomena incl. qualia and sensations that is the problem....

No,it is not. Qualia and sensations are empirical data. The only waty you know those "actual phenomena" happen is empirical data.

I sometimes wonder if "you people" know what empirical data actually is. Empirical data is anything we observe or experience. It is not limited to scienmce, it is how we navigate the world. If you want to get out of a room you use empirical data to find and use the door.

Mike Gerow: The nice and elegant thing about string theory is that it reconciles some basic fields and unifies physics. But, the thing is, that doesn't make ST true. As you say, most or many people would want to see concrete physical evidence before they accepted the validity of those theories. Otherwise, they'll stick with the messy, contradictory but tried and true existing theories.

I used string theory as an example that is NOT supported by empirical data earlier in the discussion, so I am not about to try to argue against your position here.

Anonymous said...

7th S: I never said "without reference to." I said "not decidable by." Can you grasp that difference? Any philosphical position, such as physicalism, can't contradict any non-controversial facts. It has to be consistent with all such facts. The problem is that even if two people agree on all basic observable facts, they may interpret those facts in different ways. So they can't argue for their positions by just going back to those observable facts.

Then how do we decide which is right?

One way is to look at which predicts the basic observable facts and which offers ad hoc rationalisations for them (eg evolution vs creationism). Another is Occam razor (gravity vs angels determining planetary orbits). Or accept that we do not know. This is how science operates.

I think this is the crux of our discussion. We need some way to determine which hypothesis is best; what do you propose? We can then see how relativity, astrology and your consciousness hypothesis stand up.

7th S: Because if consciousness is a non-physical property, it would have no effect on the laws of physics. Consciousness would be an aspect of the way things are but the way things are would not be reducible to physics. It would be the other way 'round.

If it has no effect on the laws of physics, how can consciousness affect the physical world? As I type this, my consciousness is directing my hand; it is clearly affecting the physical world. This means your hypothesis is NOT consistent with the observable facts, so should be rejected.

Pix: Also, are you experiencing the pain? If so, that is empirical data.

7th S: You are not "observing" your pain but experiencing it!

Right...

empirical (from Google): based on, concerned with, or verifiable by observation or experience rather than theory or pure logic.

7th S: If you talk to mathematicians, most of them will say that they are dealing with discovery and a part of reality. If you use "abstraction" to disqualify something from being real, then science would suffer the same fate, including nearl all empirical data.

Maths is not just abstraction, but it is about an abstract world (consider imaginary numbers or number theory for example). A lot of it (perhaps all) translates to our world, and that does give impetus to research in some areas, but mathematics is, or at least can be, pursued in an abstract sense without reference to the real world. Leonard Dickson once said "Thank God that number theory is unsullied by any application". Since then applications have been found, but clearly in mathematics they are happy to produce proofs that do not relate to the real world at all.

Yes, science is about abstraction, but the point of the abstraction is to model the real world.

7th S: Do you ever get the feeling that no matter what you say, the other guy doesn't respond but keeps saying the same thing?

Hell yes!

Pix

Anonymous said...

Pix: Point me to a philosophical question where a final decision has been made without reference to empirical data. Then explain how we know it relates to this world and not some fantasy world.

JH: No moral issue can ever decided by the data because its about values systems, you can't establish a value by taking data. Upi have to have an ought and there's no ought in numbers,

Pix: So point me to a philosophical question where a final decision has been made without reference to empirical data.

JH: I just did,m the ought aspect of any moral issue

Okay, so you ought not murder would be an example? Can you do the second part of the question? Why do you think that is true? Without reference to any observation or experience of the real world.

JH: and that is why atheists can't ground axioms, it's all subjective

But at least I could say why murder is wrong. That is one better than Christians, who it appears cannot.

JH: it;s not straw man, you use that incorrectly

How so?

Pix: So give the empirical data that shows consciousness is not reducible.

JH: I experience consciousness as mental rather than physical

Okay, now give the reasoning or argument that leads from that to shows consciousness is not reducible.

To put this in context, your have written a blog post about emergence. If consciousness is weakly emergent, then we would expect that you would experience consciousness as mental rather than physical, given the definition of mental.

Pix

Joe Hinman said...

To put this in context, your have written a blog post about emergence. If consciousness is weakly emergent, then we would expect that you would experience consciousness as mental rather than physical, given the definition of mental.


that's my point you just contradicted your position. The nature of consciousnesses means it's not physical so empirical data wot help except in the philosophical sense,

Joe Hinman said...

But at least I could say why murder is wrong. That is one better than Christians, who it appears cannot.


bet you can't, you certainly cant do it with empirical data,

Joe Hinman said...

H: I just did,m the ought aspect of any moral issue

Okay, so you ought not murder would be an example?

you have not told me why one ought not to murder,

Can you do the second part of the question? Why do you think that is true? Without reference to any observation or experience of the real world.

because murder is unloving.

Mike Gerow said...


No,it is not. Qualia and sensations are empirical data. The only waty you know those "actual phenomena" happen is empirical data.


Considering that philosophers of mind often point to the unknowable nature of those phenomena - in terms of how they exist in the experience of others - how does that claim hold up, how can that be "data" in a scientific sense? Qualia and sensations seem to exist on some border between the phenomenal and the semantic - a space where "objectivity" Is dubious & what's referenced is no longer subject to "empirical" forms of testing.

...this is the distinction everybody here is trying to make for you, essentially.

7th Stooge said...

Pix:
One way is to look at which predicts the basic observable facts and which offers ad hoc rationalisations for them (eg evolution vs creationism). Another is Occam razor (gravity vs angels determining planetary orbits). Or accept that we do not know. This is how science operates.

With philosophical disputes, the observable facts are not determinative. If such facts were determinative, it wouldn't be a philosophical question but one for experimental science. So the philosophical question is whether consciousness is a physical concept at all and thus whether or not it is understandable and explainable through experimental science. You keep assuming that the answers to those questions are "yes' with no argument or justification. that's why you are begging the question. I hope you can see how your reasoning is circular...That being said, it's hard to even conceive of an experiment that would confirm or disconfirm these positions. There may be in the future, but as I've said, all knowledge can be overturned, but that potential does not and should not prevent us from having justified beliefs.

Pix: I think this is the crux of our discussion. We need some way to determine which hypothesis is best; what do you propose? We can then see how relativity, astrology and your consciousness hypothesis stand up.

I propose the thing I've been proposing for the last half dozen comments. Through the strength scope depth of the arguments and reasoning. We cannot ASSUME that this is a question resolvable through empirical means because the question is WHETHER it is resolvable that way. You first have to establish why you think it is an empirical matter and THEN we can say "We don't know" or "We have to wait on further data" etc. AFTER you've established your position, then researchers can get to work trying to explain consciousness empirically. I hope this helps...

Pix: If it has no effect on the laws of physics, how can consciousness affect the physical world? As I type this, my consciousness is directing my hand; it is clearly affecting the physical world. This means your hypothesis is NOT consistent with the observable facts, so should be rejected.

Because the mental and physical, according to Nagel, are aspects of one seamless reality. They are the same thing, BUT that does not mean that one is reducible to the other, because of the serious philosophical problems that follow. The simpler, more elegant and more explanatory solution is the one Bertrand Russell proposed which is Nagel's as well. I don't know if that is the right one but it's worth consideration as a philosophical question.

Pix;empirical (from Google): based on, concerned with, or verifiable by observation or experience rather than theory or pure logic.

Yes, "based on." Not the experiences as experiences. The empirical method, whether it's in organized science or the everyday sense, uses experiences or appearances as a means to get at the objective reality that those appearances signify or are caused by. By "objective reality" is meant what is observable in principle by all competent observers. One problem is that reality is not just "objective" reality. It includes subjective points of view as well. An empiricist would take her experiences or what "appears" to her as a way to understand what is objectively real. But this method can't apply when the thing of interest is the appearances themselves. The appearances themselves are not equally accessible in principle to all competent observers. I have privileged access to my pain that you do not and cannot have (if you did have it, then it would be your pain) and vice versa. Consciousnes is essentially linked to an irreducible first-person ontology, a subjective ontology. I can't "strip away" teh subjective aspects of my experience to get at the objective reality underlying it because it's the subjective aspects themselves that are the thing I'm interested in.

7th Stooge said...

Pix: Maths is not just abstraction, but it is about an abstract world (consider imaginary numbers or number theory for example). A lot of it (perhaps all) translates to our world, and that does give impetus to research in some areas, but mathematics is, or at least can be, pursued in an abstract sense without reference to the real world. Leonard Dickson once said "Thank God that number theory is unsullied by any application". Since then applications have been found, but clearly in mathematics they are happy to produce proofs that do not relate to the real world at all.

You're assuming again that "the real world" is physical reality. The question is whether maths are real! There you go again!

Pix; Hell yes!

Talking to yourself again? How does that make you feel, I mean on a scale of one to...eleven?

Pix: Yes, science is about abstraction, but the point of the abstraction is to model the real world.

Assuming the point at issue once again. Yeehaw.

Anonymous said...

JH: that's my point you just contradicted your position. The nature of consciousnesses means it's not physical so empirical data wot help except in the philosophical sense,

The nature of consciousness indicates it supervenes on the physical. Every example we know of is rooted in a physical location of a very particular nature. And that is certainly not contradicted by the observation that we experience it as mental.

JH: bet you can't, you certainly cant do it with empirical data,

And yet I have had a better attempt than you.

JH: you have not told me why one ought not to murder,

Yes I did. I said: "I think murder is wrong because my experiences tell me that other people are also thinking beings with as much worth as me."

JH: because murder is unloving.

What does "unloving" mean? To me is sounds like a glib buzzword. Buying a newspaper involves zero love, so could be considered unloving, depending on what it means, but most people do not think buying newspapers is immoral. Giving your scholarly background, I am sure you will be in the habit of carefully defining your terms, right? You do not want anyone to think this is just a cheap dodge.

Pix

Anonymous said...

Mike Gerow: Considering that philosophers of mind often point to the unknowable nature of those phenomena - in terms of how they exist in the experience of others - how does that claim hold up, how can that be "data" in a scientific sense? Qualia and sensations seem to exist on some border between the phenomenal and the semantic - a space where "objectivity" Is dubious & what's referenced is no longer subject to "empirical" forms of testing.

As you said, they exist in the experience of others, hence they fall into the category of that with is experienced or observed, and hence empirical data.

Mike Gerow: ...this is the distinction everybody here is trying to make for you, essentially.

So none of them know what empirical actually means?

Pix

7th Stooge said...

Pix; I sometimes wonder if "you people" know what empirical data actually is. Empirical data is anything we observe or experience. It is not limited to scienmce, it is how we navigate the world. If you want to get out of a room you use empirical data to find and use the door.

It can't be anything I experience because my experiences may be mistaken. There's an "appearance/reality" distinction with empirical data. The point of the empirical approach is to use experiences as a means to get at objective reality. I have to verify my epxerience with other experiences and with reasoning and logic. But qualia are the appearances themselves. I can;t be mistaken about it. I can find out what causes my pain or what my pain causes, which would be the empirical approach, but I can't reduce my pain to some third person phenomenon without losing the essential property of the pain: how it feels!

Mike Gerow said...

I have privileged access to my pain that you do not and cannot have (if you did have it, then it would be your pain) and vice versa. Consciousness is essentially linked to an irreducible first-person ontology, a subjective ontology. I can't "strip away" the subjective aspects of my experience to get at the objective reality underlying it because it's the subjective aspects themselves that are the thing I'm interested in.

;-)

Okay, but I'm not sure that if I had your pain, it really would be my pain .... esp cuz even pain is partly constructed (most often by our added worries about its underlying causes) ... no? If I had YOUR pain, I might experience it as pleasure, most esp if I was sure it wasn't realy MY pain!

.... but my point is merely to complexify and show the difficulties of even defining "pain".... um, in terms of some "objectivity" .... since, after all, only subjects and not objects are believed capable of feeling "pain"

This topic is sure a "pain", tho....

Mike Gerow said...

As you said, they exist in the experience of others, hence they fall into the category of that with is experienced or observed, and hence empirical data.


Um, generally,we rely on verbal reports or observations to determine what another "subject" is experiencing ..... experience is not directly observable, and there are clearly inferences involved. This shows there is a conceptual distinction between "experiences-as-experienced" and "significations-of-experiences" That's the whole point.

Your theory breaches that unbreachable wall without justifying its underlying assumption of "sameness," i.e. without taking the distinction defined above into consideration....which is actually kinda dehumanizing, imv....

Mike Gerow said...

So, if the conscious experience of others is something we INFER only from the things that actualy are directly observable, why is your claim essentially different than saying....

"Black holes are empirical data"

or

"Gravity is empirical data"

Or claiming any other (well-constructed) interference about the universe as something that is directly observed?

Anonymous said...

7th S: With philosophical disputes, the observable facts are not determinative. If such facts were determinative, it wouldn't be a philosophical question but one for experimental science.

I agree with the second part, but then how do we determine which is best? Hopefully them will be clear in the rest of your post...

7th S: So the philosophical question is whether consciousness is a physical concept at all and thus whether or not it is understandable and explainable through experimental science. You keep assuming that the answers to those questions are "yes' with no argument or justification. that's why you are begging the question. I hope you can see how your reasoning is circular...That being said, it's hard to even conceive of an experiment that would confirm or disconfirm these positions. There may be in the future, but as I've said, all knowledge can be overturned, but that potential does not and should not prevent us from having justified beliefs.

As far as I can tell, you are saying that there is (or may well be) no way to determine which is the best answer. Is that right? I think that that is a reasonable position - obviously it cannot be shown to be true, but I can understand why someone would hold that opinion, and I would not be able to argue against it.

Previously you seemed to be making the rather more definite position that consciousness was not reducible, and I was objecting to taking such a position when not supported by empirical data.

7th S: I propose the thing I've been proposing for the last half dozen comments. Through the strength scope depth of the arguments and reasoning. We cannot ASSUME that this is a question resolvable through empirical means because the question is WHETHER it is resolvable that way.

I am not assuming it can be empirically resolved, I am assuming that if it cannot be resolved empirically then it cannot be resolved.

7th S: You first have to establish why you think it is an empirical matter and THEN we can say "We don't know" or "We have to wait on further data" etc. AFTER you've established your position, then researchers can get to work trying to explain consciousness empirically. I hope this helps...

That really is not how it works. A researcher who thinks it can be resolved a certain way will look for the empirical evidence to support his or her hypothesis. It is only after numerous such attempts are fruitless than you question whether it can be resolved at all. The only way to know if it can be determine empirically is to determine it empirically, so this idea of doing it in two stages is nonsense.

Pix

Anonymous said...

7th S: Because the mental and physical, according to Nagel, are aspects of one seamless reality. They are the same thing, BUT that does not mean that one is reducible to the other, because of the serious philosophical problems that follow. The simpler, more elegant and more explanatory solution is the one Bertrand Russell proposed which is Nagel's as well. I don't know if that is the right one but it's worth consideration as a philosophical question.

The electromagnetic force and gravity are aspects of one seamless reality, neither reducible to the other. However, if our laws of science were missing one, then they would be way off in numerous places. The absence of a fundamental of the universe is not something that you can miss - especially something that has such an influence on the world around us.

7th S: Yes, "based on." Not the experiences as experiences. The empirical method, whether it's in organized science or the everyday sense, uses experiences or appearances as a means to get at the objective reality that those appearances signify or are caused by. By "objective reality" is meant what is observable in principle by all competent observers. One problem is that reality is not just "objective" reality. It includes subjective points of view as well. An empiricist would take her experiences or what "appears" to her as a way to understand what is objectively real. But this method can't apply when the thing of interest is the appearances themselves. The appearances themselves are not equally accessible in principle to all competent observers. I have privileged access to my pain that you do not and cannot have (if you did have it, then it would be your pain) and vice versa. Consciousnes is essentially linked to an irreducible first-person ontology, a subjective ontology. I can't "strip away" teh subjective aspects of my experience to get at the objective reality underlying it because it's the subjective aspects themselves that are the thing I'm interested in.

So what is your point? If you mean that a theory of consciousness will depend on subjective experiences, then that does not contradict anything I have been saying. Subjective experiences are still empirical data. Clearly objective data are to be preferred, but we have to take what we have.

7th S: You're assuming again that "the real world" is physical reality. The question is whether maths are real! There you go again!

Seriously? Yes, I absolutely am assuming that! If you want to argue about the nature of consciousness in another world, you can do so without me.

7th S: Assuming the point at issue once again. Yeehaw.

Certainly I was assuming we were discussing the real world. Guilty as charged! I guess that means you are not talking about the real world. That actually explains a lot...

Pix

7th Stooge said...

Pix: As far as I can tell, you are saying that there is (or may well be) no way to determine which is the best answer. Is that right? I think that that is a reasonable position - obviously it cannot be shown to be true, but I can understand why someone would hold that opinion, and I would not be able to argue against it.

No, I'm saying that I'm fairly confident that consciousness is irreducible, due to the nature of the concepts and the arguments involved and because there's no way presently conceivable that empirical evidence would have any bearing on the nature of the concepts. That's as secure a basis for knowledge as we usually ever have.

7th Stooge said...

Pix: I am not assuming it can be empirically resolved, I am assuming that if it cannot be resolved empirically then it cannot be resolved.

Right, so you're assuming that it's either empirically knowable or not knowable at all. That's the crux of the question right there, the point that has to be established and the point you just keep blithely assuming without feeling any need to justify. You have this huge blind spot that you just seem unable to acknowledge.

Pix: That really is not how it works. A researcher who thinks it can be resolved a certain way will look for the empirical evidence to support his or her hypothesis. It is only after numerous such attempts are fruitless than you question whether it can be resolved at all. The only way to know if it can be determine empirically is to determine it empirically, so this idea of doing it in two stages is nonsense.

To empirically research some subject, you first have to have a clear idea of what that thing is, what questions to ask, how to ask them and how to know when they've been answered. Empirical research depends on an agreed upon theoretical framework. The problem of consciousness occurs at a much more basic, conceptual level. It's a question of establishing a theoretical framework. You can't assume one when the problem IS establishing and justifying one in the first place!

7th Stooge said...

Pix: The electromagnetic force and gravity are aspects of one seamless reality, neither reducible to the other. However, if our laws of science were missing one, then they would be way off in numerous places. The absence of a fundamental of the universe is not something that you can miss - especially something that has such an influence on the world around us.

I agree. They're both physical concepts. It's uncontroversially accpeted. The nature of the concepts is not in question, so analogy to the consciousness problem..

Pix: So what is your point? If you mean that a theory of consciousness will depend on subjective experiences, then that does not contradict anything I have been saying. Subjective experiences are still empirical data. Clearly objective data are to be preferred, but we have to take what we have.

Empirical data would be equally accessible in principle to all competent observers. This model of knowledge is blocked when the thing in question is essentially NOT accessible equally.

Pix; Seriously? Yes, I absolutely am assuming that! If you want to argue about the nature of consciousness in another world, you can do so without me.

I've been doing so without you since this thread began!

The question has to do with what the nature of reality is. You can't assume the answer because that's what we're disagreeing over. You have to establish it. You're embedding the conclusion of the argument in one of your premises.

Imagine that we're debating whether some version of "physicalism" is true. You argue that physicalism is obviously the case because everything that's real is physical.

Pix: Certainly I was assuming we were discussing the real world. Guilty as charged! I guess that means you are not talking about the real world. That actually explains a lot...

"What does the real world entail?" is and has always been the question. And yes, your continual assumption of the conclusion in your premises does explain everything about our problems even getting this discussion off the ground!

Anonymous said...

7th S: No, I'm saying that I'm fairly confident that consciousness is irreducible, due to the nature of the concepts and the arguments involved and because there's no way presently conceivable that empirical evidence would have any bearing on the nature of the concepts. That's as secure a basis for knowledge as we usually ever have.

Just to be clear, that one paragraph of yours seemed to be arguing that there was no way to determine which is the best answer, while the rest of your posts indicated the above, hence I asked for confirmation.

So we are back to discussing why we should imagine the concepts and the arguments relate to the real world in the absence of any empirical data.

Why you consider a lack of empirical data to be a secure a basis for knowledge I have no idea; to me it indicates we do not know. Compare to, say, relativity, which has a huge amount of empirical data to confirm its relationship to the real world - how you can possibly compare the two is beyond me.

7th S: Right, so you're assuming that it's either empirically knowable or not knowable at all. That's the crux of the question right there, the point that has to be established and the point you just keep blithely assuming without feeling any need to justify. You have this huge blind spot that you just seem unable to acknowledge.

I thought I did acknowledge it. What bit of "I am assuming that if it cannot be resolved empirically then it cannot be resolved" is being unable to acknowledge it?

In contrast you seem to have this blind faith in claims that are utterly unsupported by empirical data, and seem unable to give any reason to suppose the claims relate to reality.

7th S: To empirically research some subject, you first have to have a clear idea of what that thing is, what questions to ask, how to ask them and how to know when they've been answered. Empirical research depends on an agreed upon theoretical framework. The problem of consciousness occurs at a much more basic, conceptual level. It's a question of establishing a theoretical framework. You can't assume one when the problem IS establishing and justifying one in the first place!

Not quite. You start with a clear idea of what it might be, and go about testing that. That is how science is done.

But I am not necessarily talking about science. If I want to know what you wrote in your last post, I look at the empirical data. If you want to decide if your hypothesis matches reality then you test it against empirical data. Otherwise it is just what might be in a fantasy world.

Pix

Anonymous said...

7th S: I agree. They're both physical concepts. It's uncontroversially accpeted. The nature of the concepts is not in question, so analogy to the consciousness problem..

Just because we label gravity and electromagnetic force as physical concepts, you do not get to pretend they are entirely separate to conscious. Consciousness affects the physical and is itself affected by the physical. We KNOW there is a strong interaction between the two.

How does that interaction work, do you think? Your belief in an irreducible consciousness is based on the arguments and reasoning, so talk me through them. How does consciousness affect the physical world? How does the physical world affect consciousness? Then we can discuss why this new fundamental might or might not affect the laws of science.

My guess is that actually there is no explanation about how this new fundamental interacts with the universe excerpt in the most vague terms.

7th S: Empirical data would be equally accessible in principle to all competent observers. ...

Why?

Clearly that would be preferable, but why is it a requirement?

Pix: Seriously? Yes, I absolutely am assuming that! If you want to argue about the nature of consciousness in another world, you can do so without me.

7th S: I've been doing so without you since this thread began!

As long as we are clear that what you are arguing for relates to another world and not this one...

7th S: The question has to do with what the nature of reality is. You can't assume the answer because that's what we're disagreeing over. You have to establish it. You're embedding the conclusion of the argument in one of your premises.

Can you explain?

Relativity is about the nature of reality, but we do not start worrying about whether it is the real world.

7th S: Imagine that we're debating whether some version of "physicalism" is true. You argue that physicalism is obviously the case because everything that's real is physical.

Or imagine we are arguing about the periodic table; we would be assuming we were talking about the real periodic table in the real world... So?

Sorry, I am not getting your point here.

7th S: "What does the real world entail?" is and has always been the question. And yes, your continual assumption of the conclusion in your premises does explain everything about our problems even getting this discussion off the ground!

We are discussing the nature of the real world (which is what science, for example, does). Are we discussing whether this is the real world? Not as far as I am concerned! I am assuming it is.

For the record, whenever we have these discussions, I am assuming they are about the real world.

Pix

7th Stooge said...

Mike: Okay, but I'm not sure that if I had your pain, it really would be my pain .... esp cuz even pain is partly constructed (most often by our added worries about its underlying causes) ... no? If I had YOUR pain, I might experience it as pleasure, most esp if I was sure it wasn't realy MY pain!

Right. It's confusing the way I put it, but maybe the confusion is unavoidable due to the puzzles inherent in consciousness. What I meant was that the only way you could experience my pain would be from a first person point of view, even if that scenario is metaphysically impossible or meaningless.

Mike:.... but my point is merely to complexify and show the difficulties of even defining "pain".... um, in terms of some "objectivity" .... since, after all, only subjects and not objects are believed capable of feeling "pain"

I agree. We can define "pain" in other ways, in terms of functionalism or epistemology or whatever but there's that nagging sense that what's essential to pain's been left out.

Mike: This topic is sure a "pain", tho....

My brain hurts!

Mike Gerow said...

Px, for one thing, it's easy to imagine how the brain as an physical machine-like thing constructs images out of electromagnetic forces because we're staring devices that do something like that. But how does electricity "see?" . What colour does red look like to electricity? If the strong electromagnetic force could see thru the perceptions of the weak electromagnetic force would it see red where the weak force sees green?

...me, at least, I wouldn't have a clue how to even begin conjecturing how natural forces could possibly "see, " "smell," or otherwise perceive things for themselves.

OTOH, the universe isn't thought to be locative on a quantum level, so if biological consciousness is a quantum phenomena, it could be "located" anywhere or maybe even nowhere at all....


Hard problem: https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hard_problem_of_consciousness


Anonymous said...

Mike Gerow: Px, for one thing, it's easy to imagine how the brain as an physical machine-like thing constructs images out of electromagnetic forces because we're staring devices that do something like that. But how does electricity "see?" . What colour does red look like to electricity? If the strong electromagnetic force could see thru the perceptions of the weak electromagnetic force would it see red where the weak force sees green?

Robot cars give us a great example of how something physical, without consciousness, can see. What does a car or a road sign look like to a robot car? Undoubted it is different to how we experience it, but I thnk it shows that it is possible to experience a sight without recourse to mysticism.

Now let us do the reverse the question. Anyone here want to explain how vision work with an irreducible consciousness?

Pix

Mike Gerow said...

Vision would work the same as without it....


No one is claiming at this point that irreducible consciousness has any function. It just is & its ineluctability is, in fact, at the core of the issue. Do, no one has to prove its "good" for anything! The fact that motorized automatons can FUNCTION without consciousness just makes the fact that humans (and likely some other biological organisms) really do perceive things seem all the more odd, unnecessary and evolutionistically pointless....

Could someone ask of automated cars, "where Chevy's see red would Fords see green?"


Would the question make any sense?

Mike Gerow said...

Jim, a thought cured to me, could the fact that we can build machines that can sorta "see,"in a rudimentry kind of way, even be taken as better evidence FOR some kind of panpsychic aspect in nature than against it?

Has anyone ever argued it like that?

7th Stooge said...

Mike: a thought cured to me, could the fact that we can build machines that can sorta "see,"in a rudimentry kind of way, even be taken as better evidence FOR some kind of panpsychic aspect in nature than against it?

Has anyone ever argued it like that?

I'm not sure. An interesting thought.

7th Stooge said...

Pix: Just to be clear, that one paragraph of yours seemed to be arguing that there was no way to determine which is the best answer, while the rest of your posts indicated the above, hence I asked for confirmation

What one paragraph? I prob'ly said something to the effect that we can never know for sure, but that applies to nearly all knowledge!

Pix; So we are back to discussing why we should imagine the concepts and the arguments relate to the real world in the absence of any empirical data

Once again, it's not in the absence of empirical data. (Pssst...your scientism is showing again!) What do you think of the entire philosophy of mind field or philosophy in general or metaphysics in general? Do you think that those fields and the problems they cover relate to the real world? What roles do empirical data play in evaluating arguments in those fields? Whatever answers you give (if any), apply those answers to my position. The irreducibility of consciousness is a position in the philosophy of mind. In that field, and in most of the rest of philosophy, arguments have to be constrained by agreed on facts but those facts cannot DETERMINE the positions. If they could, there'd be no dispute.

Pix: Why you consider a lack of empirical data to be a secure a basis for knowledge I have no idea; to me it indicates we do not know. Compare to, say, relativity, which has a huge amount of empirical data to confirm its relationship to the real world - how you can possibly compare the two is beyond me.

It's not the lack of empirical data. That would be a "consciousness of the gaps" argument. It's the nature of the concepts themselves. Really, Pix, this is like high school level stuff.

Pix: I thought I did acknowledge it. What bit of "I am assuming that if it cannot be resolved empirically then it cannot be resolved" is being unable to acknowledge it?

My point was that these statements of yours indicate that you take empirical data as the only true basis or justification for knowledge. THAT IS THE POSITION YOU NEED TO EsTABLISH. THAT IS THE ARGUMENT THAT YOU NEED TO MAKE WHICH YOU HAVE NOT MADE. That belief of yours is not empirically derived. It's not an empirical statement. It's a philosophical position.

Pix: Not quite. You start with a clear idea of what it might be, and go about testing that. That is how science is done.

But your getting a clear idea f what it might be depends on a theoretical framework. Science requires foundations and pre-suppositions. It's not just a set of techniques.

Pix: But I am not necessarily talking about science. If I want to know what you wrote in your last post, I look at the empirical data. If you want to decide if your hypothesis matches reality then you test it against empirical data. Otherwise it is just what might be in a fantasy world.

Philosophy aims at being about the "real world." But naive understandings of what the real world are taken uncritically, on faith, are generally inadequate for answering questions having to do with the interpreation of "the real world," what the real world entails, what things are included in it and what things excluded, the meaning of the real world. The world does not come with its meaning already inscribed in it. So humans came up with this field call "philosophy" that deals with such questions that naive posits cannot and are not meant to answer. We humans, at least some of us, crave meaning and not just instrumental success and technical prowess. The agreed on facts still have to be interpreted as to what they mean, what the "whole" means. To say that these questions cannot be answered absent empirical data to decide them is t take a philosophical position that needs to be justified and cannot be taken on naive faith. YOu can;t appeal to empirical data to justify it because that's obviously circular.

Anonymous said...

Mike Gerow: Vision would work the same as without it....

No it would not. People here (you too?) are claiming a mental aspect to the universe, and that means that the images received by your eye have to cross the threshold from physical to mental. And once in the mental, then... who knows?

Mike Gerow: No one is claiming at this point that irreducible consciousness has any function. It just is & its ineluctability is, in fact, at the core of the issue. Do, no one has to prove its "good" for anything! The fact that motorized automatons can FUNCTION without consciousness just makes the fact that humans (and likely some other biological organisms) really do perceive things seem all the more odd, unnecessary and evolutionistically pointless....

Not sure what your point is. I thought you guys were saying irreducible consciousness is true; that would mean it has a function, which is to give us consciousness. If you want anyone to take your claims seriously (and not put the in the same bracket as astrology and homoeopathy), then you do indeed need to show how it can function.

And what makes you think robot cars do not have a rudimentary consciousness, say comparably to an ant?

Could someone ask of automated cars, "where Chevy's see red would Fords see green?"

Would the question make any sense?


People perceive consciousness as something entirely different to anything else. No one who ask that question because no one cares (or if you do, look at the source code). Robot cares are not mystical because we can look at the source code, human consciousness is. The assumption is that the latter must be fundamental different. Why?

Pix

7th Stooge said...

Here are some links that will introduce you to this question. I'll be glad to entertain any questions or comments you might have AFTER you familiarize yourself a little bit with the subject. Note: I am far from an expert in this question. I have only just begun and have barely skimmed the surface of it myself.

https://video.search.yahoo.com/yhs/search;_ylt=A0LEVvOLbrlZZEkASTonnIlQ;_ylu=X3oDMTByMjB0aG5zBGNvbG8DYmYxBHBvcwMxBHZ0aWQDBHNlYwNzYw--?p=The+Knwledge+Argument+Youtube&fr=yhs-mozilla-003&hspart=mozilla&hsimp=yhs-003#id=3&vid=407b79c720efb100e4e93a1bf7a7d28a&action=view


https://plato.stanford.edu/entries/consciousness/


http://www.consc.net/


http://faculty.arts.ubc.ca/maydede/mind/Nagel_Whatisitliketobeabat.pdf

Mike Gerow said...

No it would not. People here (you too?) are claiming a mental aspect to the universe, and that means that the images received by your eye have to cross the threshold from physical to mental. And once in the mental, then... who knows?

I'm claiming (and I think Jim is also claiming....) only that physicalism can't account even in principle for the actual existence of some well-known phenomena -- ie sensations and qualia -- so mine is a far humbler claim than what you suggest. The existence of those seeming-irreducible phenomena, otoh, also does not demonstrate the existence of an integrated, non-physical self either, tho. Of course not - & no moreso than Descartes' "Cognito" ever did....

Otherwise -- yeah -- who knows? If such phenomena could be explained, the explanation would likely have to be in physical/mechanical terms, which would likely make all those things part of the physical world after all, no? But lack of knowledge about a thing (or perhaps even the impossibility of acquiring positive knowledge of a thing) does not indicate the nonexistence of a thing. IOW, no-one can just reduce reality to "what I can explain"!

Doh!


People perceive consciousness as something entirely different to anything else. No one who ask that question because no one cares (or if you do, look at the source code). Robot cares are not mystical because we can look at the source code, human consciousness is. The assumption is that the latter must be fundamental different. Why?

I dunno that looking up source code could determine exactly what a robot "perceives" either? A robot is made up of materials that ultimately stem from natural sources too, after all, not just source code.

"Tous autres est tous autre" as Derrida said. ;-)

Mike Gerow said...

Not sure what your point is. I thought you guys were saying irreducible consciousness is true; that would mean it has a function, which is to give us consciousness. If you want anyone to take your claims seriously (and not put the in the same bracket as astrology and homoeopathy), then you do indeed need to show how it can function.

iirc, even some evolutionary biologists agree that human type of consciousness is pretty superfluous to all functionality and they take it to be only a "by-product" of evolution.

Anonymous said...

MG: I dunno that looking up source code could determine exactly what a robot "perceives" either? A robot is made up of materials that ultimately stem from natural sources too, after all, not just source code.

I meant that we could determine if Fords and Chevys see it in the same way, which is different to understanding how they perceive it, so I would agree with you. But then, that is my position, that the "consciousness" of a robot is emergent from its software and hardware, just as our consciousness is.

Pix

Mike Gerow said...

Leaving the two questions I've asked before....

1. IF some entity "perceives", how would it be possible to claim to know HOW they perceive if you don't even know WHAT they perceive?

2. Consciousness could be emergent phenomena, but as only a strong emergence, UNLESS, that is, you can show how consciousness (incl. its qualia and sensation aspects) is deductible from Newtonian physical forces....which would (once again) require you to answer some absurd questions along the lines of how the color red might look to the weak economy is electromagnetic force and so on and so on....

OR OTHERWISE perhaps you're postulating some unknown (superstringish) aspect of nature that could accnt for it? If so, what exactly would define that new concept as "physical" or not? In the absence of even being able to conjecture its nature at all, at least by present understandings? (As I asked previously on Doxa.)

Otherwise, well, you might try an eliminativist argument a al Daniel Dennett? But so far, I don't think you've taken up that approach?

Anonymous said...

MG: 1. IF some entity "perceives", how would it be possible to claim to know HOW they perceive if you don't even know WHAT they perceive?

The robot car gives an example. We can readily see how it perceives, but as you indicated, I doubt we can really appreciate what it perceives.

MG: 2. Consciousness could be emergent phenomena, but as only a strong emergence, UNLESS, that is, you can show how consciousness (incl. its qualia and sensation aspects) is deductible from Newtonian physical forces....which would (once again) require you to answer some absurd questions along the lines of how the color red might look to the weak economy is electromagnetic force and so on and so on....

A. Any explanation has to explain what the colour red looks like. As far as I can tell no other theory has made any more progress than weak emergence.

B. Why do you get to decide which the default explanation is? As it is at the moment, we do not know, and that makes weak emergence just as valid as other theories - and more likely than those proposing some new fundamental to the universe.

C. Are you aware science has progressed since Newton?

MG: OR OTHERWISE perhaps you're postulating some unknown (superstringish) aspect of nature that could accnt for it? If so, what exactly would define that new concept as "physical" or not? In the absence of even being able to conjecture its nature at all, at least by present understandings? (As I asked previously on Doxa.)

Not at all. I have been arguing against this position in my discussion with 7th Stooge.

Pix

Joe Hinman said...

we have 69 comments. we two posts uncommentted on

Joe Hinman said...

another complaint is the comments are so unfocused on the post, the post to which this is a comment section is always the topic, stick to the topic,

Mike Gerow said...

A. Any explanation has to explain what the colour red looks like. As far as I can tell no other theory has made any more progress than weak emergence.

B. Why do you get to decide which the default explanation is? As it is at the moment, we do not know, and that makes weak emergence just as valid as other theories - and more likely than those proposing some new fundamental to the universe.


My point was, there has to be a hypothesis, a conjecture, some basis to a claim, and the contention of philosophical non-physicalists is that there isn't one for a physical/Newtonian explanation for qualia &tc. That is to say, no explanation seems possible EVEN IN PRINCIPLE. Ergo, strong emergence (at best) wins by default. (And this is exactly the same argument you've already been over and over with Jim on this thread.)

So, anyway, if you wanna claim deduciblability in principle, show me how and why. Give me a clue! - give a reasonable conjecture. (You're the one who is assuming the unknown and seemingly unexplainable CAN be explained in terms of known principles, after all... so the onus would seem therefore to be on you.)


C. Are you aware science has progressed since Newton?

Sure. But otoh a lot of 20th/21rst century science (physics in particular) has been about drilling down to discover how complex, unpredictable and bizarre the universe is underneath....

As I said before, if - eg - you try to conjecture some quantum aspect to consciousness, be careful cuz according to the dominant theory you lose locality; i.e. the hub of conscious perception could be "located" anywhere via quantum entanglement instead of "in the brain" where you'd like it to be, perhaps trillions of light years away or perhaps even no specific place at all.

Anonymous said...

we have 69 comments. we two posts uncommented on

It takes so much THOUGHT to comment intelligently on theological concepts tho!

Science and maths are so simple!


Okay, so iow, Ima just lazy ... ;-)