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  1. peanutaxis
    peanutaxis says:

    Yes, I don’t see how they are not going to be physical. There have just been to many examples in history of things that could have turned out non-physical but never do. How that plays out I’m not sure – I doubt whether dogged reductionism will be that fruitful. More likely it will be more useful to talk in terms of emergent ‘objects’.

  2. D Bnonn Tennant
    D Bnonn Tennant says:

    So to be clear, on your view the only things that exists are particles in motion — and these particles in motion have properties or states including intentionality, truth, and qualia?

  3. peanutaxis
    peanutaxis says:

    Yes I’d predict that intentionality, qualia and ‘truth’ will be shown to be the result of physical processes.
    It is almost certainly not the case that the correct way to think of these things is on the level of particles, though. Just like it is not sensible to think of a planet as a QM object – it IS a QM object, but that view of a planet is not very useful. Similarly, although the object “paper” in my mind is simply made up of particles in motion, it is not useful to think of it in this way. The object “paper” is much more usefully described by a nebula of memories, sensations, qualia that group together to form the object “paper”.

  4. D Bnonn Tennant
    D Bnonn Tennant says:

    Similarly, although the object “paper” in my mind is simply made up of particles in motion, it is not useful to think of it in this way. The object “paper” is much more usefully described by a nebula of memories, sensations, qualia that group together to form the object “paper”.

    Can’t you see how flagrantly you are begging the question? If the paper actually is nothing but particles in motion, how can it be anything other than particles in motion? Qualia are not things which can be predicated of particles, no matter what structure those particles take.

    What you are saying is that complex configurations of particles can perceive, or be about other complex configurations of particles. If that is the case, and qualia and intentionality are actual properties or states of particles, then that is not a scientific view of the world. It’s a mystical one. How can you object to dualism when your own view amounts to mysticism?

  5. peanutaxis
    peanutaxis says:

    “Can’t you see how flagrantly you are begging the question? If
    the paper actually is nothing but particles in motion, how can it be anything other than particles in motion?”

    How on earth is this begging the question? If DNA is nothing but chemistry, how can it be anything other than
    chemistry? I don’t see any problem. If we are just particles in motion, where’s the big problem?

    “Qualia are not things which can be predicated of particles, no matter what structure those particles take.”
    This is just the baseless assertion. Everything else we ever care to
    investigate is merely particles in motion, why not the brain/mind?

    “What you are saying is that complex configurations of particles
    can perceive, or be about other complex configurations of particles.”

    Why on earth not? [This gets into information theory but..] Craters on the moon are about the collisions that have landed there, photons that reach my eye are about the object they came from, DNA is about biological structures. When it comes to the brain it is the most natural thing in the world to suppose that the brain is about the world it perceives. Sure it’s in ‘code’, and a very modular and complex one, but so is DNA.

    ” If that is the case, and qualia and intentionality are actual properties or states of particles, then that is not a scientific view of the world. It’s a mystical one. How can you object to dualism when your own view amounts to mysticism?”
    I don’t follow you at all. It seems a VERY scientific view that when I see an apple my brain represents what I see with physical neurons (what do you expect to see? a box in the brain labelled ‘magic’?). It sounds very much like you have just decided that these things are mystical and decided that a physical description is not mystical and is therefore wrong.What is wrong with the idea, for instance, that when we observe something, it has meaning for us due both to the more objective/evolved sensory inputs like size, shape ,colour etc. but also to the emotive elements of our past experiences with it – how it makes us feel, or more specifically, how it sits in relation to the concept/object of Self. If you care to view that Ramachandran video it has a great example of when there is a disconnect between the visual input and emotive functioning.

  6. D Bnonn Tennant
    D Bnonn Tennant says:

    Sorry about the slow reply.

    This is just the baseless assertion. Everything else we ever care toinvestigate is merely particles in motion, why not the brain/mind?

    What you are saying is that your experience of the world is identical with a certain configuration of particles. But this is obviously wrong. For example, the perception of red may be caused by a particular wavelength of light encountering certain nerve systems, but it is not itself that wavelength of light encountering certain nerve systems. You are simply confusing the distinction between objective, third person phenomena, and subjective, first person phenomena.

    Craters on the moon are about the collisions that have landed there

    I think this will be my last post, because you obviously just don’t get this entire topic. There is no sense in which craters on the moon are objectively “about” collisions. Physical states do not have the property of intentionality. Where intentionality comes from is some person saying, from their subjective, first person perspective, that this physical state relates to this other physical state in an “about” kind of way. The aboutness is not inherent in the crater. It is inherent in the mind of the person observing the crater. The trouble is, you don’t seem able to grasp this categorical distinction, so you keep begging the question while you think you’re giving a perfectly good accounting of intentionality in physical terms. Unfortunately there’s obviously no point in continuing a discussion with someone who can’t actually see the problem in the first place.

  7. peanutaxis
    peanutaxis says:

    “But this is obviously wrong. For example, the perception of red may be caused by a particular wavelength of light encountering certain nerve systems, but it is not itself that wavelength of light encountering certain nerve systems.”

    Why not? You are simply espousing your intuitive (“obvious”) belief that your subjective experience can’t be made by your physical brain.

    Lets say that a lobster reacts to red light by immediately moving towards it, and let’s say that we someday can map and read everything that’s going through it’s brain when it does this – we can see how the input of red light affects the nerves in the brain and that the brain then ‘outputs’ to the motor nerves etc. I imagine that a person with your views will either have to then conclude that this shows that a lobster is not conscious at all and is just a physical ‘machine’, or you could conclude that – despite us understanding exactly how and why the lobster reacts – that the lobster still has an internal subjective experience of the red light on top of the mere physical mechanism. Well, you might be correct. But it’s a completely redundant and useless proposition. It can’t add to our understanding of any lobster’s brain(assuming that we CAN explain all a lobster’s functioning), and so it’s completely unverifiable/unfalsifiable and pointless.

    Now, when it comes to ‘higher’ brains like ours the prediction is that on top of purely instinctual reactions like a lobster (ever suddenly wake up while driving and realizing that you can’t remember the last few km’s? Notice how you had no subjective experience of those km’s. Like a lobster, you were just an input-output system regards to traffic.) we have more complex associations, and we also have the ability to understand that we are a ‘self’ observing things. So, unlike the lobster’s simple red-light-in:movement-out system we have many more thoughts and reactions when we see red, and also – unlike the lobster – we are able to observe that we are observing something (this is simply the ability to model the self).

    The physicalist view of the brain makes perfect sense then. All brains model the world around them, but more complex one’s can model themselves. The lobster has a simple representation of red light, while we have a more complex one. When we see red it brings many things come to mind(not just “move” like a lobster), and often emotions, but we can also include the ‘self’ in those equations – there is a circularity here.

    But the real proof is in the future, of course. The physicalist prediction is that in the future we can decode the brain and show that the brain is but a complex input-output-system/symbol-manipulator which includes the recursive symbol ‘self’. It would be amazing if we found some magic in there but I think the writing is on the wall. There was no magic in evolution. Or anything else we’ve studied, so betting on consciousness would be long odds.
    What’s funny is that every generation looks back at the ‘silly’ gaps that the previous generation put their supernaturalism/mysticism in and then promptly puts their beliefs in the next gap.

    “The trouble is, you don’t seem able to grasp this categorical distinction, so you keep begging the question while you think you’re giving a perfectly good accounting of intentionality in physical terms.”

    Oh I grasp it, and I am giving the opposing and far more consistent view – there are no categories. It is you who has just defined the next potential bastion of mystery as non-physical, just as your(our) forebears did with the heavens, tides, life…

    While it’s really simple for me to understand you position – it’s one line(and still circular) “subjective experience isn’t physical because I don’t [subjective experience] that it is” – it’s hard for you to understand the physical position because it’s complicated, but based in actual knowledge of the world around us – like neuroscience, information theory, complexity theory, emergence, feedback loops, heck even the downfall of logic – Godel’s incompleteness theorem.
    And why would you bother to inform yourself of these potential explanations since you ‘know’ they’re wrong, anymore than a creationist bothers to inform himself of actual science?

    I can”t help feel that anyone watching this has observed a ‘crippled kid’ beat the crap out of you with your own armchair.

  8. D Bnonn Tennant
    D Bnonn Tennant says:

    While it’s really simple for me to understand you position – it’s one line(and still circular) “subjective experience isn’t physical because I don’t [subjective experience] that it is”

    A tacit admission that you don’t know how to articulate the problem.

    you could conclude that – despite us understanding exactly how and why the lobster reacts – that the lobster still has an internal subjective experience of the red light on top of the mere physical mechanism. Well, you might be correct. But it’s a completely redundant and useless proposition.

    Since we can verify this in humans already, you are basically admitting that my view is correct, but that it doesn’t matter because we can’t use science to understand it. But the fact we can’t use science to understand subjective experience just seems to prove some kind of dualism. That is the only possible explanation. You’re so blinded by your religion that you can’t see the obvious.

  9. peanutaxis
    peanutaxis says:

    Okay. How would you describe the problem then? I don’t think you can do it without being circular. Please prove me wrong though.

    Again your categorizing is causing you problems – now your [false] categories have forced you to conclude that I am denying subjective experience. I am doing nothing of the sort – I fully accept that subjective experience exists – this is all about the explanation of it. While you subjectively decree things about subjective experience, real research and scholarship is being done on the subject.

  10. peanutaxis
    peanutaxis says:

    You haven’t though. You have been gainsaying of a physical description of consciousness and very careful to avoid actually building (or describing) a declarative worldview of your own.

    It’s all “It can’t be this it can’t be that” but no “It is this”.

    While the physical position can point to things and say “This is consciousness’ I suspect that when you try to define it you will end up being circular, as I have outlined many times here. But until you actually define it you can keep jumping around and kidding yourself you have the high ground. It has all the hallmarks of creationism: know nothing about science and then just hand wave and say “the marvels of creation are obvious”.

    Understand, though, that I am perfectly open to you NOT having a circular definition/description. It’s just that you have been so avoidant in asserting anything….assertive about it that I am suspicious.

    So, what is consciousness on your view? If it is so tied up with subjective experience, then how do you know other people have it? What heuristic would you use to infer or detect it? Are animals conscious?

  11. D Bnonn Tennant
    D Bnonn Tennant says:

    I’m sorry dude, I don’t have time to go through this again. If you want to get a good sense for the various lines of argument, I’d really suggest you read someone like Reppert or Moreland on the topic. But coincidentally, J Warner Wallance recently did a good podcast on this which you might find helpful, entitled “Six reasons why you should believe in non-physical minds”:

    http://winteryknight.wordpress.com/2013/09/11/j-warner-wallace-six-reasons-why-you-should-believe-in-non-physical-minds/

  12. peanutaxis
    peanutaxis says:

    Well, you didn’t answer exactly the same questions when I asked a ages back. I think I can see why, though, it seem the answer is ‘theology’.

    Thanks, listened to the podcast. If it wasn’t theological assertion of dualism it was just silly arguments like the fact that we refer to ‘our’ body meaning that there must be a soul that is the real ‘me’. Or that every atom in our mind/body might change but we are still magically ourselves. Or the complete non-sequitur (and information-theory ignorance) that minds can be about things but trees can’t(false!), therefore the mind is non physical. Particularly disturbing is the refusal to accept evidence to the point of being purposefully obtuse, like refusing to admit the obvious conclusion that the brain IS who we are and instead claiming that brain damage is the inability of the physical brain to “access” the mind/soul. Sheesh.
    The best argument, I think, is the free will argument. But, again, this is just intuition – we don’t like the idea that we don’t have a choice. Either way, natural inquiry will wipe the floor with what we intuitively want to believe.

    I think it’s as I suspected. It’s not really a position, it’s an anti-position (except for theology), such that even an atheist like Nagel just has a vacuum where theology/mysticism would normally be. It’s the next unfalsifiable refuge for the age-old intuitive anti-materialist push-back. Nagel’s book might be interesting though.

  13. D Bnonn Tennant
    D Bnonn Tennant says:

    it was just silly arguments

    Here’s what it boils down to:

    Either you are significantly more intelligent than the people who study this topic for a job, and you see through what even the secular experts call the “hard” problem of consciousness…

    …or you don’t get it.

    I leave the reader to decide which is more likely.

  14. peanutaxis
    peanutaxis says:

    What a completely false choice. All the authors of the books I have read on the topic would agree that many of these arguments are silly in that there are perfectly good Naturalistic candidates as answers (it is these very questions which they pose in order to try to answer!). I certainly don’t claim to be more intelligent or informed on the subject than they are.

    Dear reader then,

    There is NO research going on for consciousness from a non-physical side, to such an extent that Nagel calls for an entirely new field of science! It has become ever more apparent upon my requests for alternative theories that the only alternative ‘research’ is theology, which I doubt has done anything to elucidate any ‘facts’ about consciousness in thousands of years (if ever). In which case I invite you to read any research on consciousness, as it will undoubtedly reflect the nature of the field, and reality: that knowledge is either Natural or non-existent.

  15. peanutaxis
    peanutaxis says:

    More vids on the history of science. The second video goes into why falsification is so important. Particularly relevant to supernaturalism/religion are the five points at 16:49. The very reason why religions/supernaturalism are so multiplistic and contradictory is because they do not set up satisfactory standards of evidence/falsification, and so adherents are merely exercising their confirmation bias.

    The confirmation bias is essentially a backwards feedback, as many religious/supernaturalist adherents clearly set up their standards of evidence based on what they view as the strengths of their religion/worldview. But it could be that science is doing the same.

    In terms of what a useful pursuit of knowledge (“satisfactory”) might be then – and assuming that a multiplistic model is not desirable – the only way to go is a theory of knowledge that is consilient one. That is science.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_Md8JpcgwV0

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