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Cogito ergo sum

Here in the Philosophy forum we will talk about all the "why" questions. We'll have conversations about the way in which philosophy and theology and religion interact with each other. Metaphysics, ontology, origins, truth? They're all fair game so jump right in and have some fun! But remember...play nice!

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Dualism on the chopping block

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  • We're confusing two entirely different things here. It's the first person experience that is the substance in question. The first person experience, is the irreducible substance, the stuff, the essence. When you mention " retrieval of memories", or "accessing someone's experience", what exactly are you saying, and in what manner will these things be accessed or retrieved? If it involves 3rd person, then you're talking about something completely different. You're talking about something existentially different. Why? Because in 1st person reality, there is no 3rd person. You can tinker around all you want from the outside. I've done some neuro feedback where I controlled gadgets through will power alone. Who knowns, one day I may be able to control a mechanical hand holding a paint brush, and paint a picture with thoughts alone.

    Have you ever watched any Black Mirror on Netflix? There is one episode about an insurance company that has this technology to scan their clients memories in order investigate claims. They hook the claimants up to this little box, and the memories of the events are displayed on the screen. It's neat fiction. Will it ever become a reality? I don't see any path forward for this technology to come about, but whether it can or not completely misses the point. You will still be watching this person's memories, or accessing their experience by watching 3rd person, from the outside, in.

    I would like to see the conversation move forward than lumber around on this point. Stoic has already agreed that it's impossible to know what it's like to be a bat unless one becomes a bat. This is the dualism that I am referring to. Batness is a different substance, inaccessible through physical means. It's that simple. Any 3rd grader could understand this.

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    • Originally posted by Machinist View Post

      We're confusing two entirely different things here. It's the first person experience that is the substance in question. The first person experience, is the irreducible substance, the stuff, the essence. When you mention " retrieval of memories", or "accessing someone's experience", what exactly are you saying, and in what manner will these things be accessed or retrieved? If it involves 3rd person, then you're talking about something completely different. You're talking about something existentially different. Why? Because in 1st person reality, there is no 3rd person. You can tinker around all you want from the outside. I've done some neuro feedback where I controlled gadgets through will power alone. Who knowns, one day I may be able to control a mechanical hand holding a paint brush, and paint a picture with thoughts alone.

      Have you ever watched any Black Mirror on Netflix? There is one episode about an insurance company that has this technology to scan their clients memories in order investigate claims. They hook the claimants up to this little box, and the memories of the events are displayed on the screen. It's neat fiction. Will it ever become a reality? I don't see any path forward for this technology to come about, but whether it can or not completely misses the point. You will still be watching this person's memories, or accessing their experience by watching 3rd person, from the outside, in.

      I would like to see the conversation move forward than lumber around on this point. Stoic has already agreed that it's impossible to know what it's like to be a bat unless one becomes a bat. This is the dualism that I am referring to. Batness is a different substance, inaccessible through physical means. It's that simple. Any 3rd grader could understand this.
      I don't see how not being able to know what it's like to be a bat is really a problem for physicalism.

      Even if physicalism is true, I wouldn't expect a human to be able to know what it's like to be a bat.

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      • So, I'm kinda back.

        We calculate potential energy all the time, yet potential energy has no impact, no effect and is at best conceptual. Is it real energy? Well, once it converts to kinetic, it sure is. And since we use it in mathematical analysis, it has a definite reality to it.

        Kinetic energy is only measured in effect. It's clearly real enough, but we do not describe it in terms of physical properties because it has none of its own.

        I realize I'm just restating for the moment - y'all leaving me in the dust and I don't want to lose track. Worse, I ended up down a quantum rabbit hole. I've never cared for quantum (which tells you zero about it) because probabilistic. Turns out it's the better argument against physicalism, but I think I'll keep to my little classic track for now.

        Okay, so, I'll be back for real in a few days - probably!

        "He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain that which he cannot lose." - Jim Elliot

        "Forgiveness is the way of love." Gary Chapman

        My Personal Blog

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        • Originally posted by Machinist View Post

          We're confusing two entirely different things here. It's the first person experience that is the substance in question. The first person experience, is the irreducible substance, the stuff, the essence. When you mention " retrieval of memories", or "accessing someone's experience", what exactly are you saying, and in what manner will these things be accessed or retrieved? If it involves 3rd person, then you're talking about something completely different. You're talking about something existentially different. Why? Because in 1st person reality, there is no 3rd person.
          You are assuming that there is an essential, 1st person, immaterial “you” separate from your material living brain but there is no justification for such an assumption. Nor is it logically coherent. There is no nexus whereby the immaterial can interact with the material. Hence, although we have the illusion of existential difference, there is no actual existence beyond the physical activity of the living brain.
          “He felt that his whole life was a kind of dream and he sometimes wondered whose it was and whether they were enjoying it.” - Douglas Adams.

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          • Originally posted by Stoic View Post

            I don't see how not being able to know what it's like to be a bat is really a problem for physicalism.

            Even if physicalism is true, I wouldn't expect a human to be able to know what it's like to be a bat.
            That's certainly an interesting thought. Perhaps that's possible, I don't know. The point is that there is a dualism of sorts. One aspect is public and amenable to scientific analysis, the other is private and existentially shut.

            If this private world of 1st person experience is physical, then it's the only physical thing in existence that cannot be accessed via physical means. This is the reason philosophers in the past have suggested that these two aspects are of a different substance.

            If it is all physical, then the dualism would be physical things that can be analyzed by physical science, and physical things that cannot. To me, a dualism of two separate substances seems more simpler, more parsimonious.

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            • Originally posted by Tassman View Post

              You are assuming that there is an essential, 1st person, immaterial “you” separate from your material living brain but there is no justification for such an assumption. Nor is it logically coherent. There is no nexus whereby the immaterial can interact with the material. Hence, although we have the illusion of existential difference, there is no actual existence beyond the physical activity of the living brain.
              The afterlife is all a belief yes. I do think that there is at least some basis for hope there because of the phenomena that we can observe about consciousness. That it cannot be accessed by physical means, that it would violate the law of identity, tells me that there is hope that it's a different substance altogether. I understand that there seems to be a mystery surrounding how the immaterial interacts with the material, and I agree. It's quite mind blowing.

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              • Originally posted by Machinist View Post

                That's certainly an interesting thought. Perhaps that's possible, I don't know. The point is that there is a dualism of sorts. One aspect is public and amenable to scientific analysis, the other is private and existentially shut.

                If this private world of 1st person experience is physical, then it's the only physical thing in existence that cannot be accessed via physical means. This is the reason philosophers in the past have suggested that these two aspects are of a different substance.

                If it is all physical, then the dualism would be physical things that can be analyzed by physical science, and physical things that cannot. To me, a dualism of two separate substances seems more simpler, more parsimonious.
                I would go the other way, since I don't see how dualism explains anything that physicalism does not.

                Comment


                • Originally posted by Stoic View Post

                  I would go the other way, since I don't see how dualism explains anything that physicalism does not.
                  You can go that way, yes. It's just that you're left with one aspect of the physical that can be probed scientifically, and one that can't be. It's not as neat and tidy as saying that they are two distinct substances. But I guess that's a matter of taste.

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                  • Originally posted by Machinist View Post

                    The afterlife is all a belief yes. I do think that there is at least some basis for hope there because of the phenomena that we can observe about consciousness. That it cannot be accessed by physical means, that it would violate the law of identity, tells me that there is hope that it's a different substance altogether.
                    Consciousness is not a “different substance altogether” it is a physical action executed by the law of physics - as can be demonstrated by the ingestion of mind-altering drugs etc. etc.

                    I understand that there seems to be a mystery surrounding how the immaterial interacts with the material, and I agree. It's quite mind blowing.
                    The material interacting with the immaterial is not a “mystery” at all, it is logically incoherent; they cannot interact. The notion of an immaterial soul detaching from our body after we die is wishful thinking.


                    “He felt that his whole life was a kind of dream and he sometimes wondered whose it was and whether they were enjoying it.” - Douglas Adams.

                    Comment


                    • Originally posted by Tassman View Post

                      Consciousness is not a “different substance altogether” it is a physical action executed by the law of physics - as can be demonstrated by the ingestion of mind-altering drugs etc. etc.



                      The material interacting with the immaterial is not a “mystery” at all, it is logically incoherent; they cannot interact. The notion of an immaterial soul detaching from our body after we die is wishful thinking.

                      Well, you know, it very well may be. Like I said, if it's all physical, then there are two different types of physical: one that is public and open to physical probing and analysis, and one that is private and existentially sealed off.

                      It's funny to think that there are physical properties that can reflect upon themselves and wonder if they are properties.

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                      • Is there a view, or a school of thought out there, that proposes that matter has conscious properties...not necessarily pantheism, but rather "receptor sites", if you will, for conscious interface?

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                        • One more thought here before I go:

                          I have read in numerous publications and articles by scientists that matter is ultimately non-physical. That all the subatomic particles: protons, electrons, gluons, leptons, etc, etc, are actually comprised of smaller and smaller oscillations of immaterial energy. If this is true, and these scientists are really on to something, then there's your nexus: The immaterial consciousness interacting with the immaterial compositions of matter.

                          Apparently, solidity is an emergent property of energy at astronomically fast oscillations.
                          Last edited by Machinist; 07-25-2022, 07:40 AM.

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