Sunday, March 18, 2018

Mind is Not Reducible to Brain. (part 1)

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            This topic is of great importance for believers in God because it encompasses almost every facet of the territory upon which the battle over belief is fought. It impinges upon what one believes about the ability to be good or to refuse sin, the freedom of belief vs. the view that belief is just a side effect of bad psychology, the nature of religious experience and its veracity, even the after life. This topic should be of great importance to non believers as well as it impinges upon our ability to understand ourselves as free agents capable of governing ourselves, and as individuals who would seek the meaning of our lives and the expression of self in art. I suspect also that the determinist/reductionist view point encourages atheists in their materialism and rejection of the soul.


Brain/Mind


            Ideological and philosophical types of reductionism seek to reduce human consciousness to a level of side effect produced by brain chemistry; to do this reductionsts will lose the phenomena that describe an irreducible consciousness. This is done by employing the standard reductionist tricks of re-labeling, re-describing, and bait and switch. The bait and switch is primarily a replacement of consciousness with brain function. Phenomenoloigcally consciousness might be thought of as the awareness of self, others, nuance, place, time, ambiance, and the feel of perception. In place of this the reductionist places the way the brain functions, and puts it over as consciousness. The reductionst, assumes there is nothing to consciousness that is not produced by the physical apparatus of the brain. This just puts in place the outgrowth of the physical apparatus minus the aspects of consciousness the consciousness supporters talk about then points to those brain function aspects as proof that this is all there is; after all this is consciousness. Whereas in fact all they are doing is removing consciousness and pointing to the aspects they want to support as proof because those are the aspects they can get at through their methods. This is something like a prosecutor at a trial replacing the evidence with his own briefs then saying “well see the evidence is so in line with my briefs that it proves my case.”
            The debate about consciousness stacks believers in unique irreducible nature of human consciousness against those who think that consciousness can be reduced to mere brain chemistry. This is not an issue of theism vs atheism; major positions allied against the reductionism are also materialist positions, as well as God-believing positions. On the side of the mind are materialists such as property dualists, Functionalists and supervenience theorists. Property dualists are often mistaken for theists by the term “dualist,” yet they are not true dualists they don’t believe there are two levels of reality but that each property can have dual aspects. Functionalists hold that mental states are functional states but mental properties cannot be identified with mental biological properties. Supervenience says that mental life correlates with physical body.[1]
            Perhaps the major source for this kind of reductionism where brain/mind is concerned is the now classic work Consciousness Explained by Daniel Dennett.[2] Dennett is a master of the bait and switch, using a vast amount of data about all sorts phenomena based studies dealing with brain function, all the while asserting that it’s explaining consciousness with which he does not even deal. I urge the reader to see the article by my friend Lantz Miller who wrote it for the academic journal that I once published; Negations: an Interdisciplinary Journal of social Criticism.[3]  Dennett seems to say “we are all zombies, no one is conscious.”[4] Kevin B. Korb seems to think this is just Dennett’s attempt to motivate the reading, sort of a shock effect by taking an extreme position.[5] Be that as it may Dennett represents the functionalists position. Functionalism, introduced by J.J.C. Smart and U.T. Place, is the thesis that mental states are identical to some particular brain states.[6] If the goal of Dennett is the old positivist’s dream of clearing away the clutter so science can get on with its work, the clutter he seeks to clear away is twofold, two positions stemming from the brain/mind questions as dealt with by philosophy: (1) mental states cannot be shared since the physical make up of our brains cannot be shared (Korb uses the term “goo”).  (2) the dualistic homuncular theories which had been advocated by many dualists. That idea suggested something like this, there is a part inside us that has the true brain function and that part really understands our motivations, even though we don’t. This gives way to an infinite regress as there has to be a homuncular thinker inside to give the powers to the first homunculus and so on.[7] This latter view can work out to be one of the tricks of reductionism, redescribing an otherwise valid position in terms of “homuncularism.” Atheists on the internet tend to call anything that involves internal states “homuncular.”
            Even though dualistic options are no longer defended, hold over ideas remain and obscure the valuable reductions. Korb sums up:


Dennett shows that the homuncular concept retains a powerful grip on the imaginations of many, perhaps most, cognitive scientists. While explicit dualism and homuncularism are (no doubt properly) `endangered' theses, a great many theories and judgments advanced by cognitive scientists rely at some point upon there being a magical place in the head where everything comes together---in what Dennett calls the Cartesian Theater. This concept is pernicious in a variety of ways. For one thing, it leads to lazy analysis: if we can rely upon some arbitrarily complex central process to clean up our functional loose ends, we needn't be very careful about specifying whatever functional processes we do provide. But worse, this Cartesian Materialism (functionalism with the Theater at the center) again leads to infinite regress: if there is a theater where consciousness is `projected', then there must be an observer viewing the projection (else why bother with the theater?). As before, we will find it difficult to understand this observer: if the theater and its audience are needed to understand conscious processes,
then an `inner' theater and `inner' audience will be needed to understand the observer, and so on. But if the theater and its observer are not needed to understand conscious processes, then why introduce them in the first place? As Dennett notes, the best place to stop an infinite regress is usually at the beginning.[8]

The opposition of the functionalists to the Cartesian theater is the opposition to a center of internal control where the subject makes a conscious decision or carries away an awareness of his own internal states. As an alternative to the ‘center’ (the Cartesian theater) Dennett proposes the idea of “multiple drafts.” This idea says that the version of what is perceived is contrastingly re-written. The drafts are edited and reedited endlessly and passed along through endless processes.[9] So there is no one key center perception. While this is highly reductionist, it takes out the conscious control of the subject. It loses phenomena of consciousness as our own experience tells us that we do take part in editing some of the drafts. It’s also problematic because it’s a reprise of the homuncular concept. Who is writing the drafts, a little reductionist inside the brain?  The true position of Dennett is ambiguous, although no doubt he does believe that consciousness reduces to brain chemistry.
We know this from 150 years of neurology where you damage areas of the brain, and faculties are lost… You can cease to recognize faces, you can cease to know the names of animals but you still know the names of tools…What we’re being asked to consider is that you damage one part of the brain, and something about the mind and subjectivity is lost, you damage another and yet more is lost, [but] you damage the whole thing at death, we can rise off the brain with all our faculties in tact, recognizing grandma and speaking English![10]

Atheists on the popular level use this argument quite a bit. From that premise, that brain damage means destruction of consciousness, they conclude that consciousness is reducible to brain chemistry and imagine a complete factual basis for the supposition. They have created a bogus science of neurology which they imagine has already answered all questions and proved conclusively that consciousness is reducible to brain function. This is far from a done deal. Science is just getting started on understanding the brain, despite what popular atheism wants to believe. This fact is stated bluntly by one of its expert teachers, Vitzthum in his lecture to the Atheist culb: “Since how the brain actually works is today one of the least-understood and most hotly-debated subjects in science, I'd like to explain briefly the most promising of these theories and in the process finish my discussion of philosophical materialism.”[11]
            The position that mind is reducible to brain and that it is proved by neurology is far form a proven position. Moreover, the brain damage argument is a weak argument. There are better arguments to be made by documenting brain function through neurological evidence, even though that is not proof. The brain damage argument is almost separate from any scientific evidence as we can observe the connection between damage and loss of consciousness without any scientific equipment. Either way the bran damage argument proves only that brain is essential to accessing consciousness, not that consciousness is reducible to brain function.  The access argument can be illustrated with the following analogies. We can destroy computer hardware such as the monitor and that eliminates or blocks our access to soft ware but it doesn’t’ mean that soft ware is hardware or that software is erased by the damage of hardware. The logic of the brain damage argument can be applied to prove that television programs are not broadcast through the air waves but originate in the tv box. After all if we damage the box, take out parts or what have you, we don’t get the picture or the sound or the program. By the logic of the brain damage argument proves that he signal originates in the box.


Mind irreducible to brain function

            By way of explanation of the two sides, I will take property dualism as representative of the pro-mind side, on the proviso that it’s not the only position. Panpsychism can be thought of as a subset (one of four types) of property dualism.[12] I will compare them with John Searle’s article “why I’m Not a Property Dualist.”[13]
            Searle summarizes the property dualist position:

(1)  Empirical reality exits in two categories, physical and mental.
(2)  Because mental states are not reducible to physical states they are something over and above the physical. The irreducibility in and of itself is enough to demonstrate that there is more than just the neurobiological.
(3)  Mental phenomena do not constitute separate objects of substances but rather are features of properties of a composite, such as human or animal. Thus humans or animals have two types of features or properties, mental and physical.[14]

Searle takes issue with this in that he ascribes the categories to just one world. There are not two sets of characteristics. We have one world, everything is physical, but we can describe it in a number of ways. Searle may be thought of as part of the pro-mind side, but he is not a property dualist. He explains why in terms of the problem of the mental and the causal. If the mental is removed from physical then it can’t play a causal role. Ultimately he’s going to argue that the conventional terms are the problem because they invite us to discuss the issue in dualistic ways. So Searle accepts the premise of the reductionists that everything is physical and material but he can’t be called a reducationist because he also recognizes the importance of ontology. He says in terms of neurobiology there is one world and consciousness is a product of the causal process. On the other hand, since descriptively our mental states are not reducible or accessible by others there is an ontological dimension that can’t be reduced. He seems to take the ontological as a descriptive dimension. As argument against the ramifications of Property dualism he lays out a dilemma. If consciousness is closed from the physical realm its not part of the causal mechanism and that means our behavior has nothing to do with consciousness. The alternative is that if the conscious is part of the causal it creates a dualistic causality in which case each action has two explanations, the mental and physical.[15] It seems rather coherent to me to appeal to the mental as motivation for movement and to the physical as the actual mechanics of carrying out the “enabling legislation” so to speak.
            I agree with Searle that a large part of the problem is the dualistic nature of language. We are forced into categories of dualism by the way we are led to speak about the distinction between physical and mental. I can accept Searle’s position, even as a Christian, with the proviso that we can’t understand God and God is obviously an exception to what we know and could contradict all of it. The qualities in humanity that make us “eternal sprits” and put us above the realm of the mere physical can be described in functional terms rather than taken as “essentialist.” That is to say, we can see “spirit” as mind, and mind as mental phenomena without positing a discrete entity or ghost in the machine. On the other hand I hold back from commitment to Searle’s position due to one question that he doesn’t seem to answer. When we say “consciousness” do we mean the actual awareness, or even the texture of mental awareness that comes with mental states, or do we mean the apparatus that makes that texture possible? That seems crucial because if we mean the apparatus then I would agree with his position in so far as we stipulate for biological life only; for biological life consciousness is rooted in the neurobiological. We need not confine our understanding of the texture of awareness or the function of awareness to biological life. If the texture is what we mean by “consciousness,” then it could be much more vast and irreducible to the neurobiological. This is an explanation of the term “source of consciousness.” That term I apply to God.
            I think Searle is wrong in assuming that two dimensions of human being (mental and physical) make for two causes in every action. One cause beginning with the motivation (mental) and working itself out as a cause over two dimensions of our being. That argument is not proof that mental can be reduced to the physical, nor does the threat of being dualistic disprove the reality of dualism. David Chalmers has an argument, or several arguments, for the irreducealbity of consciousness.[16] Chalmers observes that consciousness escapes the reductive net and is not easily reduced to the physical by the assumptions reductionists make. It’s natural to assume that everything reduces to the physical that consciousness supervenes upon the physical. No physical explanation can wholly account for the nature of consciousness. The argument is in what I call the “texture” or the “conscious nature” of consciousness itself.[17] Chalmers argues that consciousness does not logically supervene upon the physical. The reductionists pull a biat and switch by demonstrating the reduction of brain function to the physical, obviously, then speaking as though they have demonstrated that consciousness is the same as brain function when in fact they have no such demonstration. The very nature of consciousness resists such a demonstration, yet the reductionist is often blind to this fact because they can’t stop identifying consciousness with brain function.
            Chalmers full argument entails the theory of the supervenient but he also makes arguments without it. He says one can do it either way. I will avoid the complex and highly specialized issue in order to keep it simple; otherwise I am apt to become confused. He sets up the arguments so that they can be made and make sense without the supervenient analysis.[18]The basic argument is grounded in the nature of consciousness which is seen in the so called “hard problem,” the inability to explain the nature of consciousness without losing the phenomena of consciousness. To illustrate the hard problem Chalmers constructs the notion of the philolophical zombie. Philosophical zombies differ from Hollywood zombies in that they are not mindless automatons who can’t think wondering about doing someone’s bidding. They are identical to us in every way so they cannot be identified as such externally. The only difference is they don’t have mental states or the “texture” of consciousness. They can think they can react logically and reason but they don’t have the mental experience going on inside. The zombie can’t feel the good morning but she can say “good morning” and in a way that implies that she means it. It doesn’t matter weather such zombies are actually possible or not. This is not a possible worlds argument its really more of an analogy that illustrates the distinction between consciousness and brain function.[19] The upshot of the zombie thing is that one could have all the brain function to memic everything humans do, but still lack consciousness and that illustrates that consciousness is not explained by brain function. If the organism with all the brain we have lacks the texture of consciousness then the two don’t share the same properties one is not dependent upon the other.  Of course the opponent will argue that we are making more of consciousness than we should and that in imagining a world of such zombies we are inherently putting in the mental states just in ascribing to them our behaviors. The burden of proof is on them to prove that there is nothing more to the texture of consciousness than behavior.[20]
            The epistemic asymmetry of consciousness affords Chalmers a powerful argument. Conscious experience is a complete surprise given the relationship between mathematics and the rest of reality. That is to say, if not for our actual experience of consciousness we could never theorize or guess as to its’ existence just based upon scientific knowledge about brain function or the physical world. A world of philosophical zombies in which there was no experience of consciousness with all the scientific understanding we have could never come to realization that consciousness must exist for some beings somewhere.

From all the low-level facts about physical configurations and causation, we can in principle derive all sorts of high-level facts about macroscopic systems, their organization, and the causation among them. One could determine all the facts about biological function, and about human behavior and the brain mechanisms by which it is caused. But nothing in this vast causal story would lead one who had not experienced it directly to believe that there should be any consciousness. The very idea would be unreasonable; almost mystical, perhaps.It is true that the physical facts about the world might provide some indirect evidence for the existence of consciousness. For example, from these facts one could ascertain that there were a lot of organism’s that claimed to be conscious, and said they had mysterious subjective experiences. Still, this evidence would be quite inconclusive, and it might be most natural to draw an eliminative conclusion—that there was in fact no experience present in these creatures, just a lot of talk.[21]
If consciousness was dependent upon the physical entirely as a shared property of the physical it would be deducible immediately by its relation to the physical. We should be able to deduce anything that is physical by understanding its physical break down. We can’t even get at a definition of consciousness that doesn’t exclude the mental qualia and reduce to brain function. That is not an explanation (though its taken for one by reductionists) it’s nothing more than losing the phenomena and re-labeling.
            What Chalmers calls the most vivid argument against the logical supervienence of consciousness upon the physical is ‘the knowledge argument’ put forth by Jackson (1982) and Nagel (1974). The example he uses is that of a woman he dubs “Mary” who is the world expert on neurophysiology of color vision. She lives in an advanced time when science has all knowledge of the physical realm. Mary has been raised in a black and while room where she has never seen color. She understands everything there is to know about the physical processes of producing color but she does not know what red looks like. No amount of reasoning from the physical facts can tell her how red appears.


It follows that the facts about the subjective experience of color vision are not entailed by the physical facts. If they were, Mary could in principle come to know what it is like to see red on the basis of her knowledge of the physical facts. But she cannot. Perhaps Mary could come to know what it is like to see red by some indirect method, such as by manipulating her brain in the appropriate way. The point, however, is that the knowledge does not follow from the physical knowledge alone. Knowledge of all the physical facts will in principle allow Mary to derive all the facts about a system’s reactions, and its various abilities and cognitive capacities; but she will still be entirely in the dark about its experience of red.[22]

He reinforces this idea by reference to Thomas Negal’s famous article of the 70’s “What is It Like to be a Bat?”[23] All the physical knowledge about bats can’t tell us what it’s like to be one. That’s just multiplying examples at that point. We can’t know what it feels like to be a bat because we don’t have the consciousness of a bat. The texture of the experience is a point in consciousness. The reductionists sometimes substitute brain function for the actual nature of the experience of consciousness. Until they get at that they can’t get at the hard problem.  They argue, as does Dennett in Consciousness Explained, discussing the theory of multiple drafts proposes that consciousness is just an epiphenomenal illusion that results from the process of editing perception by the brain. It’s like a number of still photos shown in rapid succession that becomes a moving picture. So it is with the multiple drafts and the continuous flowing sense of consciousness. "You seem to be referring to a private, ineffable something or other in your mind's eye, a private shade of homogenous pink, but this is just how it seems to you, not how it is."[24] There’s a lot that could be said to this point, for example see Latnz Miller’s devastating critique of Dennett’s book in Negations[25] Yet the most to the point criticism that can be made is that it’s not about consciousness. This is about the function of the brain. That doesn’t do anything to get at the nature of consciousness itself. Tending to brain function in this way does not prove that consciousness arises out of brain function and has no larger reference as a basic property of nature. The only thing it does prove is that conscious awareness is accessed through brain function.
            The issue of access is not the issue of causality. To say just exactly what is access and what is causing what, is hard to tell. It would be necessary to know that to resolve the argument either way. If there is a larger framework for consciousness than just being a side effect of chemicals in the head, such as a basic property or a principle of physical law or some such, then there must be some way in which what seems like an emergent property is actually connected to a larger principle. The fact that consciousness is communicated through brain chemistry is not a disproof.  It may be the case that the evidence for irreducibility doesn’t prove it either. It would seem that irreducibility is a good reason to think that consciousness might be a basic property of nature. While at the same time the link between access and brain chemistry is not proof that mind reduces to brain or that consciousness is wholly a side effect of brain chemistry. The organizing effect of mind also adds another valid reason to suspect that consciousness could be a basic property.



[1] Richard C.Vitzchum, “Philosophical Mateirlism.” The Secular Web, On-line resource, URL: http://www.infidels.org/library/modern/richard_vitzthum/materialism.html#F9 visited 4/12/2012 from lecture given to atheist students association, University of Maryland, College Park, Nov 14, 1996.
[2] Daniel Dennett, Consciousness Explained. Back Bay Books, second edition, 1992.
[3] Lantz Miller. “The Hard Sell of Human Consciousness part 1. (no 3, Winter 1998)
_______________________________________________part II, (no 4, Spring 2002)
this is only going to be found on line. go to this URL:  http://negations.icaap.org/  see the menu on left side bar, click on winter of 1998, and scroll to the title "Hard Sell of Human Consciousness" by Lantz Miller, part one, then for part Two go to the 2002 issue and just scroll down until you see the title then sroll further to page number. It's well worth reading. If you really care about the top you must read this article.
[4] Dennett, ibid, 406
[5] Kevin B. Korb. “Stage Effects in the Cartesian theater: A Review of Dennette’s Consciousness Explained.” Pdf file published online, URL: http://www.theassc.org/files/assc/2271.pdf  visited 4/16/2012.
Korb is at School of Computer Science and Software Engineering Monash University Clayton, Victoria 3168 Australia
[6] Ibid, section 1.1
[7] ibid, section 1.3
[8] ibid section 1.5
[9] ibid, section 1.6
[10] Sam Harris quoted by Luke Muehlhauser, “Sam Harris, Argument Agaisnt the Afterlife,” blog, Common Sense Atheism, March 15, 2011 URL: http://commonsenseatheism.com/?p=14919  the original quote is from a “You tube video”  URL: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=48xmvFgtKmc&feature=player_detailpage#t=92s
[11] Vitzthum, ibid.
[12] “Consciousness,” Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy. Archives pages. Website URL: http://www.science.uva.nl/~seop/archives/sum2004/entries/consciousness/#8.1 visited 1/22/11. Robert Van Gulick ed. and Copyright. (2004)
[14] ibid.
[15] ibid.
[16] David Chalmers, The Conscious Mind: In Search of a theory. England, New York: Oxford University Press, 1996. 3-5.on line version: http://www.scribd.com/doc/16574382/David-Chalmers-The-Conscious-Mind-Philosophy Scribd, David Chalmers, The Conscious Mind: In Search of a Theory of Conscious Experience, webstie Department of Philosophy, University of California at Santa Cruz, July 22 1995, visited 3/1/11 on line page numbers apply.

[17] Ibid, supervenient specialized philosophical term that refers to the necessary sharing of peripheries between two existents when one is a subset of the other.
[18]  Ibid. 84
[19] ibid.84-85
[20] ibid. 90
[21] ibid,
[22] ibid
[23] in Chalmers, 90, originally in Philosophical Review, pp. 435-50
[24] Daniel C. Dennett, op cit329
[25] Lantz Miller, “the Hard Sell of Human Consciousness, and the recovery of consciousness in the nature of new language. part 1.” Negations: An Interdisciplinary Journal of Social Criticism.Issue 3, Winter 1998. On line copy: URL: http://negations.icaap.org/ (scroll down). For part 2 of Miller’s argument see the 2002 issue on the same site.

68 comments:

im-skeptical said...

Dennett seems to say “we are all zombies, no one is conscious.”
- Before you try to tell us what Dennett says, it might be wise to read his book, rather than just repeating what his critics say about it. Or at least read something besides those critics. Dennett doesn't seem to say that at all. The whole book is about consciousness, not a denial that we have it. What he denies is the claim that there is any immaterial aspect to it. And his comment that we are all zombies is based on a hypothetical definition - IF a zombie is defined as being exactly like a human in every respect with the caveat that it has no immaterial aspect - THEN we are all zombies, because we all fit that definition. Of, course, he predicted (right there in the book that you never read) that his words would be misunderstood or taken out of context. And here we are.

the bran damage argument proves only that brain is essential to accessing consciousness, not that consciousness is reducible to brain function.
- This is not only a bad argument - it is incredibly naive to say that the brain acts like some kind of receiver. I have discussed this issue before. It would be like saying you could remove a transistor from a TV, and it would work as normal, except that it always blurs human faces. Receivers don't work that way. There is no special transistor in a TV that only works for faces (for example). Either the image comes through correctly, or it is distorted, but there is no highly selective distortion of the kind that we observe with neural damage. Highly selective cognitive degradation only implies that the brain itself must be where the ability to discriminate and understand concepts resides.

7th Stooge said...

I have read Dennett, though it's been a while. I remember that in "Consciousness Explained" he wrote: "There is no phenomenology. There only seems to be." (or words to that effect) This is how I interpreted his "We are all zombies" remark, namely that we are not conscious in any way that isn't completely explained and accounted for in functional/ structural terms, that the phenomenal aspect of consciousness is the residue of a certain theoretical understanding of ourselves that an "improved " theory will help to dissolve.

im-skeptical said...

Dennett says that qualia aren't real. I suppose that depends on how you look at it, but I would agree that there are no "things" called qualia out there or that they have any kind of objective aspect. Still, he doesn't deny that we have something that we call consciousness, which includes awareness and the experience of perception.

Joe Hinman said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Joe Hinman said...

Skepie says:
"Before you try to tell us what Dennett says, it might be wise to read his book, rather than just repeating what his critics say about it. Or at least read something besides those critics. Dennett doesn't seem to say that at all. The whole book is about consciousness, not a denial that we have it...."

My answer:
This the kid of arrogant little stupidity that creates the general impression people have that you are an ass.

for your supremely ignorant little information I published one of the first in-depth criticisms of that book. I read it when it first came out. When I say I published it I mean it laterally--I was the publisher of the academic journal Negations the article was buy a guy from MIT. I had David Chalmers referee the article.

Joe Hinman said...

im-skeptical said...
Dennett says that qualia aren't real. I suppose that depends on how you look at it, but I would agree that there are no "things" called qualia out there or that they have any kind of objective aspect. Still, he doesn't deny that we have something that we call consciousness, which includes awareness and the experience of perception.

typical reductionist ploy known as "re-labeling." They just take over reality and change the terms. There are not things called quality but the individual things refereed to as qualia may exist but only in temrs such as I describe them.

If the reader cares to examine the matter he does this consistently with all forms of clash

Joe Hinman said...

skepie puts a happy face on Dennett he doesn't really understand what he says. Demnnett is one figure that is not the sum total of reductionist thinking.

7th Stooge said...

Dennett is an eliminativist. He needs to eliminate the raw feel, the "what it's likeness" of conscious experiences. But this elimination is due, imo, to circular reasoning. He sets himself the task at the outset to fully explain consciousness in terms of current physics. So when he comes across aspects of consciousness that appears as if current physics can't account for, he has to eliminate them (because, you guessed it, he's already set himself the task...)

Qualia don't exist "objectively." The whole point is that they are subjectively experienced. But you can't legitimately argue that qualia don't exist, assuming that reality only includes what objectively exists, because that's what the whole debate is about! You have to give independent reasons why reality includes only what's objective (or third person) in nature.

Joe Hinman said...

Another thing Skep, there are only a couple of people I've known who know this topic better than 7th Stooge and one of them Is David Chalmers.

Joe Hinman said...

7th Stooge:"Qualia don't exist "objectively." The whole point is that they are subjectively experienced. But you can't legitimately argue that qualia don't exist, assuming that reality only includes what objectively exists, because that's what the whole debate is about! You have to give independent reasons why reality includes only what's objective (or third person) in nature."

Right you are 7, Skep needs to take a note, this is an example of how he beggs the question. He's assuming something about qualia and he uses that position as as a defense of the position itself.I believe X therefore X proves X.

im-skeptical said...

for your supremely ignorant little information I published one of the first in-depth criticisms of that book
- This is the kind of thing that makes you sound so arrogant. I don't care what you "published" on your "online journal"/blog at college. You still don't understand what Dennett was saying. He does NOT believe we are all zombies, and he emphatically does not believe that no one is conscious. If you read and understood the book, you would know that.

skepie puts a happy face on Dennett he doesn't really understand what he says. Demnnett is one figure that is not the sum total of reductionist thinking.
- You haven't defined exactly what you mean by "reductionist". One can only guess what you think it means, but when you say things like "mind reduces to brain", I would reply that NOBODY thinks that, and certainly not Dennett.

Another thing Skep, there are only a couple of people I've known who know this topic better than 7th Stooge and one of them Is David Chalmers.
- David Chalmers is a purveyor of immaterialist woo. His argument based on an incoherent concept of zombies as being "conceivable" is proof that he lives in a fantasy world.

7th Stooge said...

The way I read Dennett was that he's saying there are no simple unanalyzable properties called "qualia." They are not what they appear to be. These qualia are actually analyzable (decomposable) down into finer and finer grained bundles of dispositions. All we see, according to him, are dispositions to behave. I think of it as a very fine-grained internalized behaviorism. The reason we think qualia are simple and essentially connected to this substantial thing called phenomenal consciousness and an ongoing 'self' is because of a myth, a story we've told ourselves over the millennia that was (maybe ) adaptive but has lost whatever adaptive advantage it might have given us.

Chalmers doesn't base his ideas just on zombies. That's just one part of his approach. It must be fun to fling "woo" around. A lot easier than having to make actual arguments!

im-skeptical said...

It must be fun to fling "woo" around. A lot easier than having to make actual arguments!

- I have made my own argument in response to Chalmers'. You can read it here. As for this thread, if you want to know exactly when the discussion went downhill and argument went out the window, I urge you to take another look at Joe's first entry into the fray. Ad hominem attacks and argument from authority. This is what I hear from him again and again. Next, he will start deleting my comments.

7th Stooge said...

First off, you start out your post with ad hom swipes at Chalmers, including an attempt to poison the well through tainting his reputation through association, ie by citing the fact that he's popular with theists. You've used the same move against Nagel. You'd probably come across as a bit more formidable if you refrained from such tactics and focused on the arguments themselves.

Then on the second sentence, you make a misleading comment that his position is "based" solely on the p-zombie argument. This is false and would lead most people who've actually read Chalmers to wonder if you've done the same.

Then you equate non-physicalism with substance dualism (Ghost in the machine). Actually there are other types of non-physicalism regarding the mind which I believe Chalmers thinks are more plausible.

Then you assume that p-zombies would lack "minds." They would lack consciousness but would have "minds" insofar as minds are defined as psychologically functions. The point about p-zombies is that psychological functions do not logically entail consciousness.

I agree that total p-zombies would lead to epiphenomenalism. Some non-physicalists are epiphenomenalists. I think partial zombies, such as in cases of blind sight, inverted spectra, fading or absent qualia, avert this problem.

When he writes that "God had more work to do," that was obviously meant as a metaphor. He is an atheist. Who he may or may not be polar with has no bearing on the merit of his arguments.

im-skeptical said...

First off, you start out your post with ad hom swipes at Chalmers
- Saying that theists like Chalmers is not an ad hominem, nor is it poisoning the well.

You'd probably come across as a bit more formidable if you refrained from such tactics and focused on the arguments themselves.
- If you read my atricle. you might notice that there is an argument there.

Then on the second sentence, you make a misleading comment that his position is "based" solely on the p-zombie argument. This is false and would lead most people who've actually read Chalmers to wonder if you've done the same.
- That's not what I said. I said "The argument is based on the conceivability of philosophical zombies (or p-zombies)", which is true.

Then you equate non-physicalism with substance dualism (Ghost in the machine).
- Agauinn, that's not what I said. I didn't even mention substance dualism. I was talking about the Christian concept of a soul. Take it any way you like.

Then you assume that p-zombies would lack "minds."
- Right. That's a key part of the definition - no conscious awareness.

He is an atheist. Who he may or may not be polar with has no bearing on the merit of his arguments.
- I did not make any claims about how that quote (or his beliefs) may affect the soundness of his argument.


You advised me to focus on arguments. But you are not focusing on the argument I made. You're just trying to put words in my mouth that I never said.

7th Stooge said...

- That's not what I said. I said "The argument is based on the conceivability of philosophical zombies (or p-zombies)", which is true.

It's confusing though, because Chalmers never makes a "Ghost in the Machine" argument that I'm aware of.

- Saying that theists like Chalmers is not an ad hominem, nor is it poisoning the well.

What was the point then? On this site, you've referred to Thomas Nagel's alleged popularity with theists as grounds to dismiss or at least diminish what he writes

- Agauinn, that's not what I said. I didn't even mention substance dualism. I was talking about the Christian concept of a soul. Take it any way you like.

"Ghost in the Machine" is the title of your post. You're implying that Chalmers' p-zombie argument is a "Ghost in the machine" argument. Where's your evidence?

- Right. That's a key part of the definition - no conscious awareness.

The vast majority of what most people in the relevant fields would label as "mental" happens without conscious awareness. The mind and consciousness are not interchangeable terms.



im-skeptical said...

It's confusing though, because Chalmers never makes a "Ghost in the Machine" argument that I'm aware of.
- What Chalmers does is to assert that mind is separate from body, and indeed that it isn't even a physical entity. This is the concept of the "ghost in the machine", and I don't think it's all that confusing.

What was the point then? On this site, you've referred to Thomas Nagel's alleged popularity with theists as grounds to dismiss or at least diminish what he writes
- You are still reading things into what I have said. I make comments about WHY Christians love people like Nagel or Chalmers. I don't think I have made the argument that they should be dismissed on the grounds of what they believe. I do point out the unscientific or illogical nature of their arguments as a basis for rejecting them. For example, you can see from my article that I showed the incoherency of Chalmers' zombie argument.

"Ghost in the Machine" is the title of your post. You're implying that Chalmers' p-zombie argument is a "Ghost in the machine" argument. Where's your evidence?
- That's his argument. He is saying that mind is a non-material entity. That's what I call a ghost, even if you don't. Sorry if it upsets you.

The vast majority of what most people in the relevant fields would label as "mental" happens without conscious awareness. The mind and consciousness are not interchangeable terms.
- Nevertheless, a zombie is defined as not having any conscious awareness.

Mike Gerow said...

Chalmers doesn't assert any theistic type of dualism for which "ghost in the machine" would be appropriate, afaik.

Chalmers argues for an "explanatory gap" from the objective to the subjective, and criticizes physical explanations of mental experience, making him a dualist. Chalmers characterizes his view as "naturalistic dualism": naturalistic because he believes mental states are caused by physical systems (such as brains); dualist because he believes mental states are ontologically distinct from and not reducible to physical systems
from the DC Wiki article....

im-skeptical said...

Chalmers argues that physicalism is false. Questions of reducibility aside, he still thinks there's something non-physical involved. That's what I call the "ghost".

Joe Hinman said...

Chalmers doesn't assert any theistic type of dualism for which "ghost in the machine" would be appropriate, afaik.

Chalmers argues for an "explanatory gap" from the objective to the subjective, and criticizes physical explanations of mental experience, making him a dualist. Chalmers characterizes his view as "naturalistic dualism": naturalistic because he believes mental states are caused by physical systems (such as brains); dualist because he believes mental states are ontologically distinct from and not reducible to physical systems
from the DC Wiki article....


I have always had the impression that Chalmers is a property dualist,

Joe Hinman said...

im-skeptical said...
Chalmers argues that physicalism is false. Questions of reducibility aside, he still thinks there's something non-physical involved. That's what I call the "ghost".

re labeling is one of the big tricks of reductionist, just label it into submission by defining it they want to see it, Little more than name callimg.

Joe Hinman said...

Gilbert Ryle invented the phrase ghost in the machine to mock Descasrtre's mind/body issues. But so what? It;snot not a logical fallacy, saying that one's views are GITM is no more devastating than saying "Gilbert Ryle disparages of you." Big deal.

There is Skepie begging the question again. he asserts for no valid reason that there's something wrog with saying "he still thinks there's something non-physical involved. That's what I call the 'ghost.'" Big deal. That's assert the validity of the position by appealing to the position itself. You are just saying physical ism is true because it;s not dualism. WE Dadaism is wrong because it's not physicalism.

My appeal to Ryle might generic fallacy except my point is the phrase is not derived from some logical corporation just from the personal likes of a particular philosopher.

Mike Gerow said...


I have always had the impression that Chalmers is a property dualist,


Well, it doesn't sound like he believes the "ghost" survives the body, so... isn't that almost the gist of physicalism anyway?

im-skeptical said...

Gilbert Ryle invented the phrase ghost in the machine to mock Descasrtre's mind/body issues. But so what? It;snot not a logical fallacy, saying that one's views are GITM is no more devastating than saying "Gilbert Ryle disparages of you." Big deal.
- I never said the term "ghost in the machine" implies a fallacy. That's your own extremely poor comprehension at play, Joe. I simply used it to refer to the apparitional entity that non-physicalists believe in. Apparently, the word 'ghost' gets people all riled up, but I don't know why. Christians have traditionally believed in ghosts as being synonymous with the soul. People who die are said to have "given up the ghost".

There is Skepie begging the question again. he asserts for no valid reason that there's something wrog with saying "he still thinks there's something non-physical involved.
- Why don't you learn to read, Joe. I never said that. Everything I say, you put some ridiculous spin on it. It's no wonder you can't understand arguments. You don't even hear what they're saying.

You are just saying physical ism is true because it;s not dualism. WE Dadaism is wrong because it's not physicalism.
- Not my argument, Joe. I never said that, and you can't point out where I did.

im-skeptical said...

Well, it doesn't sound like he believes the "ghost" survives the body, so... isn't that almost the gist of physicalism anyway?
- the gist of physicalism is not whether something survives the body. It is whether it's physical. Chalmers doesn't believe that.

Mike Gerow said...

Yeh, but I said "almost"...

;-)

Mike Gerow said...

....my point being that Chalmers position is a moderate one between pure physicalism and the substance dualism stances for which GITM might be an appropriate label ..so neither side of the more black vs white popular debate can really claim him as their own...

https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ghost_in_the_Machine_(album)
(But I think "ghost in the machine" sounds cool, anyway, personally...)

7th Stooge said...

Chalmers argues that physicalism is false. Questions of reducibility aside, he still thinks there's something non-physical involved. That's what I call the "ghost".

But a "ghost" would suggest substance dualism, a distinct immaterial soul substance inside of and directing the brain. You don't have to believe that to think that consciousness is not physical. Although Chalmers I think is open to substance dualism, he leans more toward some kind of neutral monism, that consciousness and physical things are different aspects of the same underlying "stuff."

While we're on the topic, what the heck do we mean by "physical" anyway? It seems to have more to do with what can be known in a certain way rather than what there actually is.

7th Stooge said...

Apparently, the word "ghost" gets people all riled up.

Or is it that the word "ghost" gets physicalists all "Ryled" up? (yuk yuk)

Mike Gerow said...

While we're on the topic, what the heck do we mean by "physical" anyway? It seems to have more to do with what can be known in a certain way rather than what there actually is.

Yeh, that's interestingly put, 7th.....

im-skeptical said...

But a "ghost" would suggest substance dualism
- I think it can be whatever you want to to be. After all, that's what God is. If you are not bound by laws of nature, who's to say what it must be? You can define it any way you like.


Or is it that the word "ghost" gets physicalists all "Ryled" up? (yuk yuk)
- It's the theists who get perturbed about it.


what the heck do we mean by "physical" anyway?
- Here are some ideas:
That which is bound by the laws of nature.
That for which there is evidence.
That which exists in THIS world.

7th Stooge said...

- It's the theists who get perturbed about it.

It was a joke. Lighten up. I've never gotten upset by the "ghost" epithet. I was only pointing out that you were mischaracterizing Chalmers' argument.

- That which is bound by the laws of nature.

I'm sure you'd say that the laws are mere descriptions of behavior. So "bound" would be a metaphor, I assume. There are lots of things that physical laws wouldn't describe very well if at all, but you could say that these things are necessitated by or supervene on things that the descriptions would apply to.

- That for which there is evidence.
That which exists in THIS world.

This goes back to the discussion about what qualifies as "evidence." You can't define evidence as being support for physical things because that's what the disagreement's about. You have to give independent reasons. And if there are other universes with other kinds of descriptions, they wouldn't be "physical" universes?

7th Stooge said...

"Quantum weirdness" doesn't appear to be bound by natural law. So "physical" would only apply at a certain macro-level scale. But that could lead to the absurd conclusion that physics isn't necessarily investigating physical things.

Mike Gerow said...

....unless you define "physical" as just "whatever stuff does" - but that might give you much limit or boundary on what might or might not be included in "physicality"

im-skeptical said...

I was only pointing out that you were mischaracterizing Chalmers' argument.
- Like I said ...

I'm sure you'd say that the laws are mere descriptions of behavior. So "bound" would be a metaphor, I assume. There are lots of things that physical laws wouldn't describe very well if at all, but you could say that these things are necessitated by or supervene on things that the descriptions would apply to.
- OK. Perhaps I should say That which behaves the way we observe things to behave.

You can't define evidence as being support for physical things because that's what the disagreement's about.
- But I can define evidence as being objectively observed. And as it happens, physical things are objectively observed. Immaterial things are not. Coincidence?

"Quantum weirdness" doesn't appear to be bound by natural law.
- I disagree. It's just not the kind of behavior that you are accustomed to.

unless you define "physical" as just "whatever stuff does"
- Whatever stuff does, it always follows these patterns of regularity that we call laws.

7th Stooge said...

....unless you define "physical" as just "whatever stuff does" - but that might give you much limit or boundary on what might or might not be included in "physicality"

Right. Good point. It would mean "whatever happens," which isn't much help.

7th Stooge said...

How do nonlocality, superposition, reverse causation, etc follow physical law? It makes more intuitive sense (and I acknowledge that intuition isn't always trustworthy) to define "physical" if it can be defined, in terms of a certain kind of understanding.

im-skeptical said...

OK - here's another. Physical things are perceived by the senses (as opposed to believed by the mind). This makes sense to me.

I'm just trying to understand why theists always make such a game of understanding what is meant by "physical". It's as if you don't really know. Why so coy? Could it be that you're just looking for an opening to include non-physical things? If so, why? If and you believe there are other things, why don't you just own your belief, and admit that they're not physical?

7th Stooge said...

Have you ever directly perceived a quark or an electron? Such things seem to be theoretical rather than perceivable.

I have an intuitive sense if what 'physical" means, but intuition isn't that reliable when it comes to philosophical positions like "physicalism." Physicalists are usually the first ones to point out that intuitive, "folk" understandings aren't to be trusted, such as in morality, philosophy of mind and so forth. If someone puts themselves out there as a physicalist in the philosophical sense, it's up to them to give a philosophical definition of the term.

im-skeptical said...

Have you ever directly perceived a quark or an electron? Such things seem to be theoretical rather than perceivable.
- Nothing is "directly" perceivable. We detect the presence of things by the physical effects they have on other things. Sometimes, it is through the use of instruments that we are able to detect them, because our biological sensory equipment lacks sufficient range or sensitivity.

intuition isn't that reliable when it comes to philosophical positions like "physicalism."
- Or God. But the difference between these two opposing philosophical positions is that one one is purely intuitive, while the other is supported by all available evidence.

If someone puts themselves out there as a physicalist in the philosophical sense, it's up to them to give a philosophical definition of the term.
- I have given you several definitions. I'll stick with the last one as being the most useful. On the other hand, responsibility should be accepted on both sides. If you want to believe in something for which there is no objective basis, how do you justify that?

Mike Gerow said...

The "objective" basis for rejecting physicalism are the simple facts of experience, which would appear to present a different quality of existence than "stuff" does (in the sense Chalmers means when he says you can't know everything there is to know about "red", no matter how hard you've studied, if you've never seen red). If you want to explain why you or anyone else doesn't have experience, or why all our experiences are really essentially made up of the same thing as a rock or something, go ahead, but the onus would be on you in this case, as 7th is also trying to point out.

Mike Gerow said...

Otherwise, I can't see how your claim that consciousness is "physical" is really diifferent than saying "well, matter is magic stuff, too, as well as being purely physical" and your claim might as well be invoking tiny perceiving fairies that lodge in our synapses....

im-skeptical said...

The "objective" basis for rejecting physicalism are the simple facts of experience, which would appear to present a different quality of existence than "stuff" does ...
- That is subjective, NOT objective.

If you want to explain why you or anyone else doesn't have experience, or why all our experiences are really essentially made up of the same thing as a rock or something, go ahead, but the onus would be on you in this case
- I don't claim that we don't have experience. But as much as materialists try to explain the physical nature of consciousness, there are some who refuse to listen. In any case, your own position is not exempt from explanation, and you shouldn't try to pretend it is.

Otherwise, I can't see how your claim that consciousness is "physical" is really diifferent than saying "well, matter is magic stuff, too, as well as being purely physical" and your claim might as well be invoking tiny perceiving fairies that lodge in our synapses....
- Nice try, but unlike your immaterial ghost (or whatever you prefer to call it), physicalism specifically rejects any kind homuncular explanation for conscious perception.

Mike Gerow said...

In any case, your own position is not exempt from explanation

Once again, I haven't expressed an opinion on the mind-body problem, only argued for the inadequacy of reductive physicalism....and btw arguing only against something, if you think it provides insufficient explanation, is certainly a valid thing to do. IOW, you can't graft a position onto me, just cuz it would be strategically advantageous to ya if I had one!

All I said was to assume without evidence that consciousness/qualia/perceptions arise from some kind of bio-chemical-electro-reaction that one cannot even begin to describe and that we know virtually nothing about as yet, one might as well assume they arise by magic or from tiny fairies for that matter.

... & it's those kind of problems that cause Dennett and other philosophers like him to adopt elimitivism instead.

im-skeptical said...

Otherwise, I can't see how your claim that consciousness is "physical" is really diifferent than saying "well, matter is magic stuff, too, as well as being purely physical" and your claim might as well be invoking tiny perceiving fairies that lodge in our synapses....
- What a phony way to duck the issue. You claim not to take a position., and yet you argue against one side of a two-sided issue. (Mind is either physical or it isn't.) You stand on one side, along with all the other science deniers, and throw rocks at physicalists, and cry "No fair" if they demand the same kind of explanations from you that you demand of them. Bullshit.

All I said was to assume without evidence that consciousness/qualia/perceptions arise from some kind of bio-chemical-electro-reaction that one cannot even begin to describe ...
- As I said, you are a science denier. There's tons of evidence, and there's a major branch of science that deals with it.

Mike Gerow said...

Y'know, skep, I suspect you have an essentially black vs. white mentality. Should work on it.....

Nice try, tho.

Tons of evidence? I've never even heard anyone give a cogent theory of bio-cemical-electro-qualia. But im open to persuasion....

Got any links? Everybody will want to see these proofs that perceptions are physical phenomena.....

7th Stooge said...

- Nothing is "directly" perceivable. We detect the presence of things by the physical effects they have on other things. Sometimes, it is through the use of instruments that we are able to detect them, because our biological sensory equipment lacks sufficient range or sensitivity.

What would it mean to "directly perceive" something then if not through our unaided bodily senses? I think it's pretty obvious what's meant by "directly perceive." It's the difference between perceiving my computer screen and a lepton. Who's being coy now?

- Or God. But the difference between these two opposing philosophical positions is that one one is purely intuitive, while the other is supported by all available evidence.

We weren't talking about God but about physicalism, remember? You said that I was being "coy" by acting as if I didn't know what "physical" means. The problem is that my, and I would venture to guess most people's, intuitive sense of what the word means is precisely the kind of meaning you'd reject because it wouldn't support your version of physicalism. I'm just wondering if there's a coherent meaning to the word "physical."

- I have given you several definitions. I'll stick with the last one as being the most useful. On the other hand, responsibility should be accepted on both sides. If you want to believe in something for which there is no objective basis, how do you justify that?

I believe that I'm conscious, a belief for which there is no objective basis. It has a subjective basis, and yet I can't think of a belief I have that's more certain.

im-skeptical said...

Tons of evidence? I've never even heard anyone give a cogent theory of bio-cemical-electro-qualia. But im open to persuasion....

Got any links? Everybody will want to see these proofs that perceptions are physical phenomena.....


- Yes, tons of evidence. If you want to learn about it, there are plenty of books in the arena of cognitive sciences. I wouldn't know where to begin. But I can tell you this: when the proponents of a non-physical mind theory come up with any glimmer of an explanation of how their immaterial ghost in the machine is supposed to interact with the physical body, please let me know. But I won't hold my breath.

im-skeptical said...

What would it mean to "directly perceive" something then if not through our unaided bodily senses? I think it's pretty obvious what's meant by "directly perceive." It's the difference between perceiving my computer screen and a lepton. Who's being coy now?
- I don't think you understand what I'm saying. We don't directly perceive a computer screen or anything else. We see photons that bounce off things. We feel other various effects that are caused by the interactions of physical objects. Direct perception is an illusion. And i'm not being coy.

We weren't talking about God but about physicalism, remember? You said that I was being "coy" by acting as if I didn't know what "physical" means. The problem is that my, and I would venture to guess most people's, intuitive sense of what the word means is precisely the kind of meaning you'd reject because it wouldn't support your version of physicalism. I'm just wondering if there's a coherent meaning to the word "physical."
- Well, I don't know because you don't seem to be willing to proffer your own definition. I gave you a definition, but you don't seem to be happy with it. So instead of being coy, why don't you just tell me what YOU think it means?

I believe that I'm conscious, a belief for which there is no objective basis. It has a subjective basis, and yet I can't think of a belief I have that's more certain.
- We all think we're conscious. And while it is subjectively based, there's more to it than that. We objectively observe others, and we can see that they're just like us. There' good reason to think they are conscious, too. But that's not the real issue at hand. We are discussing the nature of consciousness - not whether we have it. When I referred to "something for which there is no objective basis", I meant the immaterial mind. That's something that is a mockery of any scientific-based understanding of reality.

7th Stooge said...

- I don't think you understand what I'm saying. We don't directly perceive a computer screen or anything else. We see photons that bounce off things. We feel other various effects that are caused by the interactions of physical objects. Direct perception is an illusion. And i'm not being coy.

Of course there's a causal chain involved in perception. My point was that when the term "direct perception" is used, it refers to unaided perception with our (human) sensory organs. Meanings are contextual. If I say "I gave him the letter directly" the meaning is clear even though there is a complex causal chain involved in my physically transferring the latter from my hand into his hand. I'm saying "directly" in that case to diffentiate it from other ways of delivering the message.

- Well, I don't know because you don't seem to be willing to proffer your own definition. I gave you a definition, but you don't seem to be happy with it. So instead of being coy, why don't you just tell me what YOU think it means?

But you're the one making such a big deal out of being a "materialist" and "physicalist." I'm admitting it's a problematic term.

- We all think we're conscious. And while it is subjectively based, there's more to it than that. We objectively observe others, and we can see that they're just like us. There' good reason to think they are conscious, too. But that's not the real issue at hand. We are discussing the nature of consciousness - not whether we have it. When I referred to "something for which there is no objective basis", I meant the immaterial mind. That's something that is a mockery of any scientific-based understanding of reality.

The point is that I cannot know that you are conscious in the same way that I know I am conscious. You cannot know what my headache feels like the way that I can. You can infer, imagine, what it might feel like but this projection would be based on your own experiences of similar pains. 1st person and third person are two different kinds of knowing.

im-skeptical said...

Of course there's a causal chain involved in perception. My point was that when the term "direct perception" is used, it refers to unaided perception with our (human) sensory organs.
- OK. But given the context of the conversation, the point was that physical things are perceivable by the senses (regardless of whether it is "directly"). That includes things like quarks, which can be detected, even if not directly by our senses.

But you're the one making such a big deal out of being a "materialist" and "physicalist." I'm admitting it's a problematic term.
- And I gave you a definition of what I mean by it. The definition is pretty clear. i don't think it's very problematic at all.

1st person and third person are two different kinds of knowing.
- That's right. But there's still no reason to say that one of them must be somehow immaterial. It's just different. That's all.

7th Stooge said...


Things like quarks can be indirectly inferred from things that are directly perceived, usually through long inferential chains. But so can so called "immaterial" things be inferred. The question is whether or not the inferences are justified.

So your definitions of "physical" are problematic because things at very small scales aren't directly perceived and don't necessarily follow physical laws.


- That's right. But there's still no reason to say that one of them must be somehow immaterial. It's just different. That's all.

Here's what you wrote in a previous post:


- If you want to believe in something for which there is no objective basis, how do you justify that?

My belief that I'm conscious has no objective basis as far as my believing it, even if my being conscious is a physical process, whatever that means. Even if my consciousness is ultimately some kind of physical thing, it can only be directly accessed subjectively.

im-skeptical said...

Things like quarks can be indirectly inferred from things that are directly perceived, usually through long inferential chains. But so can so called "immaterial" things be inferred. The question is whether or not the inferences are justified.
- You completely fail to understand. It's not about what we can infer. it's about what we can detect. Physical things have physical impacts on other physical things. And that's what we detect, whether directly through our senses, or with the aid of instruments.

Even if my consciousness is ultimately some kind of physical thing, it can only be directly accessed subjectively.
- So what? That doesn't mean it must not be physical. My point is that any such conclusion that conscious thought must be non-physical is unjustified by this whole line of reasoning.

7th Stooge said...

- So what? That doesn't mean it must not be physical. My point is that any such conclusion that conscious thought must be non-physical is unjustified by this whole line of reasoning.

That wasn't my point. I was addressing your question:

- If you want to believe in something for which there is no objective basis, how do you justify that?

Joe Hinman said...

- That's right. But there's still no reason to say that one of them must be somehow immaterial. It's just different. That's all.

the whole subatomic thing is just a trick of book keeping, it;s not even real much less solid; particles are not particles they are bits of field but field is made it of particles. which means field is field which is tautology there is no evidence that SAP are material of physics no real indication of what ohsyicakmeans

Joe Hinman said...

The vacuum is "empty" in every precise sense of the word. What we call "particles" in quantum field theory are states created by so-called annihilation and creation operators, which represent "substracting" and "adding" a particle of a certain type to a state. The free vacuum is by definition precisely the state from which you cannnot substract anything, hence it is "empty". The interacting vacuum is by definition the lowest-lying energy state, but we can't talk about particles for interacting states, so it's meaningless to ask if it is "empty"....The "boiling brew of particles" is a misinterpretation of what so-called vacuum bubbles mean. They are the Feynman diagrams that contribute to the energy of the interacting vacuum state, and if internal lines of such diagrams described actual particles, then these diagrams would mean a continuous creation and annihilation of particles in the vacuum. But the internal lines of Feynman diagrams are not associated to actual particles states (i.e. no creation/annihilation operator of the free theory belongs to them), so this is nonsense. There are no particles in the vacuum and they don't create a universe....He is misinterpreting Feynman diagrams to give laymen reading the book a magical and mysterious, but math-free picture of what quantum field theory is about. This picture is almost completely wrong.It's the lowest-lying energy state of the theory, and the start for so-called perturbation theory. Not much more.[11]
Another poster, Arnold Neumaier:


The only way the usual dynamical language for virtual particles is justified by the theory is as purely figurative analogy in ”virtual reality”, useful for informal talk about complicated formulas and for superficial summaries in lectures capturing the imagination of the audience.This has to be kept in mind when reading in professional scientific publications statements involving virtual particles. Otherwise many statements become completely misleading, inviting a magical view of microphysics and weird speculation, without the slightest support in theory or experiment.[12]
Two things we need to know to make sense of what was just said. First, wen physicists speak of :"nothing" they don't mean that in the sense most people use it. They mean something very different, Understanding this will tell us what they mean by Qm vacuum. ohnRennie tells us:
In Physics "nothing" is generally taken to be the lowest energy state of a theory. We wouldn't normally use the word "nothing" but instead describe the lowest energy state as the "vacuum". I can't think of an intuitive way to describe the QM vacuum because all the obvious analogies have "something" instead of nothing "nothing", so I'll do my best but you may still find the idea hard to grasp. That's not just you - everybody finds it hard to grasp..[13]

[11] A curious Mind (moderator of stack exchange) Ibid.

[12]Arnold Neumaier, Stack Exchange, Ibid.

Neumaier Lectures at the Institute of Quantum Optics and Quantum Information of the Austrian Academy of Sciences, University of Vienna.

[13] John Rennie, ''What is meant by Nothing in Physics./ Quatum Physics?" Physics Stack Exchange (June 29, 2012)
https://physics.stackexchange.com/questions/30973/what-is-meant-by-nothing-in-physics-quantum-physics
(accessed 3/29/2012)

im-skeptical said...

That wasn't my point. I was addressing your question: ...

- The question was about physicalism versus whatever it is that you believe, which you said is only accessible by subjective means. My point is that there is objective evidence and ample reason to believe in a physical world. What you believe is not supported by any objective evidence.

im-skeptical said...

the whole subatomic thing is just a trick of book keeping, it;s not even real much less solid; particles are not particles they are bits of field but field is made it of particles. which means field is field which is tautology there is no evidence that SAP are material of physics no real indication of what ohsyicakmeans
- WOW! talk about changing the subject. Why do I have to keep telling you to follow the conversation, Joe? OK if you want to go back to this again ...

The vacuum is "empty" in every precise sense of the word.
- That's what I've been telling you. In other words, the universe comes nothing.

What we call "particles" in quantum field theory are states created by so-called annihilation and creation operators, which represent "substracting" and "adding" a particle of a certain type to a state.
- Again, that's what I've been telling you. The so-called quantum field is nothing more than equations on a chalkboard.

The only way the usual dynamical language for virtual particles is justified by the theory is as purely figurative analogy in ”virtual reality”
The "particles" from which virtual particles are made don't actually exist.

You know, Joe, it would be nice if you actually understood some of this stuff you keep quoting to make yourself sound like some kind of physics expert.

7th Stooge said...

- The question was about physicalism versus whatever it is that you believe, which you said is only accessible by subjective means. My point is that there is objective evidence and ample reason to believe in a physical world. What you believe is not supported by any objective evidence.

Yes. That's my point! And so do you!

im-skeptical said...

What we see in our world is physical stuff.
There is nothing we observe that isn't physical.
NOTHING.

Why are people physicalists?
- Evidence.
- Science.

Why do people believe in non-physical things (especially mind)?
- Religion.
- Traditional ways of thinking that originated with religion.

Joe Hinman said...

m-skeptical said...
What we see in our world is physical stuff.
There is nothing we observe that isn't physical.
NOTHING.



That is bull shit, people see things that are not physical,all the time, of course then you discount it because they are not suppose to. More begging the quesitoin.

Why are people physicalists?
- Evidence.
- Science.

Noe, ideology, there is no scientific evidence that disproves the spiritual. There is no evidence that proves that there is no spiritual. In fact the evidence clearly proves there is.

Why do people believe in non-physical things (especially mind)?
- Religion.
- Traditional ways of thinking that originated with religion.

that is a meaningless question begging answer. It's recursion

People believe non physical reality because we experience it all the time,I do not have a city physically in my brain called "Kandor."I can focus on the world of Kandor then I'm there, but not physically. Everything we Kiowa about the world comes to us through the medium of the non physical.All our knowledge of the physical is mediated through the nonphysical, it actually doe snot stack up. the world we think of as physical is actually the world created in our minds. That is common knowledge it;s well proven by optometrists and psychologists,


Joe Hinman said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Joe Hinman said...

Skepie you are an intellectual wusssie,

Joe Hinman said...

What we call "particles" in quantum field theory are states created by so-called annihilation and creation operators, which represent "substracting" and "adding" a particle of a certain type to a state.


that is drivel, particles are field and field is particles, it's recursive. They don't know. I quote the physicist saying all references that do not involve math are misleading. get it? hear the words, dork. Misleading! the little psycho-babel you just uttered is saying the same fucking thing I just said dumbass!


- Again, that's what I've been telling you. The so-called quantum field is nothing more than equations on a chalkboard.

Joe Hinman said...

You know, Joe, it would be nice if you actually understood some of this stuff you keep quoting to make yourself sound like some kind of physics expert.

That is a personal attack,when you resort to personal attack you are telling us you can't support your position. If you feel that can't support your position with research and logic maybe you should rethink your position.

7 has kicked your ass several times now,

im-skeptical said...

Skepie you are an intellectual wusssie

That is a personal attack,when you resort to personal attack you are telling us you can't support your position. If you feel that can't support your position with research and logic maybe you should rethink your position.

Joe Hinman said...

gee why didn't I think of saying that? But no it's a personal attack I ALREADY BACKED MY ARGUMENTS YOU COULD NOT ANSWER THEM; THAT'S WHY YOU RESORTED TO YOUR FEEBLE LYING SLANDER.

Joe Hinman said...

ok this topic is closed.