Why Thoughts Aren't Immaterial.

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Why Thoughts Aren't Immaterial.

To those theists who try and pigeon hole you by using the 'morality, thoughts, love, hate, ect' is/are immaterial - and they still exist, so god does too.

 

If thoughts and ideas are immaterial, then how are they affected by drugs? 

 

"Egnor's hangup is similar—he thinks that thoughts are in a different class from other physical states—that an idea cannot be embodied in a pattern of neuronal activity. His example is altruism.

Altruism, in contrast, has no matter or energy. It has no 'location', no weight, no dimension, no temperature. It has no properties of matter. Altruism entails things like purpose and judgment, which aren't material. Altruism has no parts, in the sense that there is a 'left-side' of altruism and a 'right side' of altruism. There are, of course, left sided and right sided parts of the brain, which may be associated with acts of altruism, but there is no 'left' or 'right' to altruism itself. Of course, objects (like human brains or bodies) that have location, weight, etc. can mediate or carry out altruistic acts, but the altruism itself doesn't have a location. Altruism isn't spatial. 'My altruism is three inches from the edge of the table' is a nonsensical statement.

That's extraordinarily weak. He's a neurosurgeon—you can't possibly become a neurosurgeon without having read about the case of Phineas Gage, the railroad worker who had a frontal lobe lesion and lost self-control and sociability and became noticeably less altruistic. The denialism blog makes a similar argument: people intentionally modify the way their brains work with psychoactive drugs, but how does that work if thoughts and ideas are immaterial? He could argue that "personality" also has no location, weight, dimension, or temperature, that it is this strange, pure abstraction that has no discrete connection to the brain, but he'd be wrong: it's clearly a product of the ordered connections and pattern of activity in the brain, and that disrupting those physical elements changes the expression of that instance of the abstraction.

His altruism does have a location. It's the product of activity in his brain. Where else would it be, floating in the air, in his left foot, or nonexistent? You know where he wants to trace its source: to the supernatural. He'd like to pretend something like altruism (or lust or intent or wonder or anything else he can assign to an abstraction) is the product of a supernatural agent. A soul. Of course, he can't say that—he's following the creationist paradigm of not saying anything specific about his hypothesis, and instead skirts about the issue, arguing what it is not.

Yet many things in the world, including our ideas and even our theories about the world, are not matter or energy. Altruism is obviously something very real; many people's lives depend on it. We don't know exactly what it is, but we know, by its properties, what it's not. It's not material. It shares no properties in common with matter. It can't be caused by a piece of the brain.

Of course it is caused by a piece of the brain—Phineas Gage, remember? We also know that a sense of altruism is generated by patterns of electrical and chemical activity in a material brain; modify the patterns, change the feeling or action. If he wants to argue for some other agent outside the material body that is adjusting those patterns, he's going to have to make a case for the agent's existence, rather than just stupidly asserting the brain isn't the source of feelings.

But…uh-oh. This is rather like one of those cartoons where the character is out on a tree limb, sawing it away. He's already refuted his own argument!

For one process to cause another there must be a point of contact, in the sense that the processes linked in cause and effect must share properties in common. In biology, the liver contains molecules of enzymes and bilirubin and cholesterol, which cause the secretion of molecules of bile. In physics, a moving billiard ball collides with another billiard ball, causing each to change course. Each billiard ball starts with momentum, and momentum is exchanged when they collide. The transfer of momentum mediates the cause and effect. 'Cause and effect' presupposes commonality of at least one property- enzymes or bilirubin or cholesterol or momentum. Without commonality, there is no link through which cause can give rise to effect.

So we need some causal link, hmmm? Where is the causal link, equivalent to the action of an enzyme mediating the chemistry of two reactants, between a burst of action potentials traveling down an effector neuron and his invisible, immaterial, zero-energy spirit, soul, or ghost? Does his soul carefully reach in and change the conformation of a g-protein, phosphorylate CREB, or open an ion channel? If he's going to postulate a supernatural agent outside the material brain, by his own reasoning, he's also going to have provide a link through which that magical cause can give rise to a mundane effect. No such link exists — and its proponents will quickly backpedal away from any consideration about how that link would work, because that makes their ghost a material and testable presence in the world."

 

Source 

 

Extra Credit. 

 

More on Morality 

 

I found that last link incredibly interesting.

Enjoy guys. 


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Anybody who makes that

Anybody who makes that claim obviously has never taken a class on Psychology, neuropsychology, neuroscience, or physiology. When people are stimulated to think about certain ideas or engage in tasks that require a certain type of thinking, specific ares of their brain are being activated. This is shown time and time again on PET scans an MRI's. When certain regions of the brain are physicially damaged the individual loses their ability to think, or could be motor or memory related, in the specific area that that part of the brain was in control. However, they can relearn that ability using other areas of their brain that are still physically functional. With all of this data it is impossible to conclude that thoughts are immaterial. Since love, hate, and morality come from the way we think, thoughts influence feelings and vice versa, they are also material.

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And even if thoughts WERE

And even if thoughts WERE immaterial, that wouldn't prove a god.


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this dude's a

this dude's a neurosurgeon? "doctor, it hurts when i altruize!" lol

ok, i am no neurosurgeon; truth be told, i'm not altogether certain i'd even be a viable candidate for neurosurgery. but i'm going to post anyways, and if i sound like a complete moron, please do correct me so that:
a) i can speak correctly the next time i open my big fat mouth
b) i will reconsider prior to doing so

ahem.

electricity is not generally spoken of in terms of mass, but is quite distinctly material. nor do most people generally think of lightning as having material composition, but it obviously does; one need merely consider how it reacts to material objects, viz conductivity. the human body is a bio-electrical organism, and however negligible the measurement of actual voltage, the fact remains. now i can only postulate the actualities of the matter, but it seems rather pro sequitur to me that if the initiation of a hand gesture is begat of a bio-electrical signal generated by the brain, that 'signal' is a thought. it may not be a cognitive thought in the same context as our experiences, memories, ideas and dreams, but as a product of brain activity, it thus falls under the same nomenclature as thought. working off of this postulation, it should be a leap no greater than a synaptic gap to see the correlation, then, between the energy matter wherein the thoughts are 'contained' as being just as material as the brain matter wherein the neurons are contained. that is to say that thought (even individual thoughts, such as 'pumpkin pie is evil and will bring about the annihilation of man!' ) must be material: dreams, ideas, memories, personality (and disdain for pumpkin pie) all must reside in some material form in order to interact (as has been stated) with our decidedly material brain. our brain cannot interact with altruism, but it can direct neurological particles to form in a pattern that would generate a signal directing our hands to sow altruism, and after sowing it, then form particles in reaction to the sowing what is synaptically imprinted as a good (or bad) memory, perhaps not unlike writing a photo to a RAM card for later access.

indeed, whatever the process and verbatim, how could thoughts be anything BUT material?!

i wish i could have taken a neuroscience path, for i've many ideas on the mind and thoughts and the paradigms in our classification of conscience, sentience, personality, self et al. but alas, i did not and i will probably be crying myself to sleep tonight after posting this and having all the atheistic neuroscientists herein point and laugh at me. meh. i'll return to my campaign to abolish pumpkin pie now, and leave you neuroscientific critics to your neuroscien...ting.

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Satch. I think you just

Satch. I think you just about summed it up. Ever think about going back for neuroscience?? Correct. Aside from differences in neurotransmitters and brain location there is not much difference between motor activity, memories, planning, and abstract thinking when you look at it from a biological perspective.

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Hi everyone, Couldn't this

Hi everyone,

Couldn't this be rephrased with equal accuracy into the temporal does not exist in isolation from the physical. Thought is still temporal in and of itself there is a lot of physical theory which biological study doesn't take into account that clearly demonstrates there is more unknowns to thought process beyond the presence of neurologically based electrical and chemical (energy exchange) activity. A simple example is A.I. we'd be getting served tea Jetson's style by now if the relationship predictions made on the basis of these arguments had proved as accurate as it first seems. As we are not, I personally would draw the line before saying we are sure to have this relationship the right way round or know it unequivocally.

On the other hand there is definitely a relationship to be known and anyone arguing that there is not hasn't got a leg to stand on.

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If thoughts are material,

If thoughts are material, are memes also material?


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wavefreak wrote: If

wavefreak wrote:
If thoughts are material, are memes also material?

Well, first of all, "meme" is a term coined by Richard Dawkins to describe a mindset/worldview such as religion that is transmitted in a way similar to viruses. He was referring to the way that such ideas are spread from one "host" to another. It is a term for a particularly insidious concept that spreads like an infection of your thought process. So, in the sense that a "meme" refers to  a thought or pattern of thought, then yes, it is material, but in the same way that thoughts are material.

All of your thoughts, all aspects of your personality and what you consider to be your "self" is grounded in the physical structure of your brain--whether it is the specific way that the neuronal pathways are structured or the chemical composition of your neurotransmitters, there is nothing that is not controlled by a material process of neurons firing and neurotransmitters being released. Every emotion, thought, physical action, beat of your heart...EVERYTHING. And any of those things can be affected by the addition/subtraction of the chemical compounds that affect such firing. This is why drugs have effects, whether physical, mental, or both.

Our understanding of this should have put the entire philosophy of dualism in its rightful place in the trash bin, but unfortunately, it is just too difficult for most people to accept that what you consider fundamentally to be you could be destroyed tomorrow if you had a traumatic head injury. Once your neurons stop firing, there is no you


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kellym78 wrote: Our

kellym78 wrote:

Our understanding of this should have put the entire philosophy of dualism in its rightful place in the trash bin, but unfortunately, it is just too difficult for most people to accept that what you consider fundamentally to be you could be destroyed tomorrow if you had a traumatic head injury. Once your neurons stop firing, there is no you.



It's not that monism is too difficult to accept... it's rather that it's a purely positivist conception of the self, and not everybody finds positivism to be altogether convincing.


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kellym78 wrote: wavefreak

kellym78 wrote:

wavefreak wrote:
If thoughts are material, are memes also material?

Well, first of all, "meme" is a term coined by Richard Dawkins to describe a mindset/worldview such as religion that is transmitted in a way similar to viruses. He was referring to the way that such ideas are spread from one "host" to another. It is a term for a particularly insidious concept that spreads like an infection of your thought process. So, in the sense that a "meme" refers to a thought or pattern of thought, then yes, it is material, but in the same way that thoughts are material.

All of your thoughts, all aspects of your personality and what you consider to be your "self" is grounded in the physical structure of your brain--whether it is the specific way that the neuronal pathways are structured or the chemical composition of your neurotransmitters, there is nothing that is not controlled by a material process of neurons firing and neurotransmitters being released. Every emotion, thought, physical action, beat of your heart...EVERYTHING. And any of those things can be affected by the addition/subtraction of the chemical compounds that affect such firing. This is why drugs have effects, whether physical, mental, or both.

Our understanding of this should have put the entire philosophy of dualism in its rightful place in the trash bin, but unfortunately, it is just too difficult for most people to accept that what you consider fundamentally to be you could be destroyed tomorrow if you had a traumatic head injury. Once your neurons stop firing, there is no you.

 

Well that's a mouthful. A simple yes or no would have sufficed. But it does create an interesting possibility. Since everything "I" am is encoded onto a physical structure, it is theoretically possible to encode an exact duplicate onto a another structure (aside: are human minds considered a type of Turing Machine?) . So would there be two of me (if that don't scare you nothing will)? If I destroyed  the original copy (me) would I still be alive?

 


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wavefreak wrote: But it

wavefreak wrote:
But it does create an interesting possibility. Since everything "I" am is encoded onto a physical structure, it is theoretically possible to encode an exact duplicate onto a another structure

Yes, it should be possible, albeit very difficult. It seems like it would be difficult to copy your entire self "instantaneously" enough that no changes could occur for the entire duration.

wavefreak wrote:
(aside: are human minds considered a type of Turing Machine?)

Yes, I consider it very likely that the human brain is a Turing Machine.

wavefreak wrote:
So would there be two of me (if that don't scare you nothing will)?

Yes. However, from the point of duplication, each duplicate would become increasingly differentiated as their experiences differ.

wavefreak wrote:
If I destroyed  the original copy (me) would I still be alive?

One of you would be.

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rexlunae wrote: One of

rexlunae wrote:

One of you would be.

 

Too weird.

So if I copied half of me to one thing and half of me to another then would two of me exist? 


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wavefreak wrote: rexlunae

wavefreak wrote:

rexlunae wrote:

One of you would be.

 

Too weird.

So if I copied half of me to one thing and half of me to another then would two of me exist? 

No. There'd be one you and two really messed up things which may occasionally resemble you.

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wavefreak wrote: rexlunae

wavefreak wrote:

rexlunae wrote:

One of you would be.

 

Too weird.

So if I copied half of me to one thing and half of me to another then would two of me exist?

Who you are is a function of how your mind works. Whatever "you" you are referring to, if copied into another form, would be something different because it would be packaged physically differently and would have different physical and other characteristics.

I think this underlines a problem the explains why so many theists have difficulty understanding these concepts: They don't fully-understand the concept of self in the first place. Until you understand the nature of consciousness, you're more likely to cling to irrational, "easy button"-style precepts that explain your existence.

 

 


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Pile wrote: wavefreak

Pile wrote:
wavefreak wrote:

rexlunae wrote:

One of you would be.

 

Too weird.

So if I copied half of me to one thing and half of me to another then would two of me exist?

Who you are is a function of how your mind works. Whatever "you" you are referring to, if copied into another form, would be something different because it would be packaged physically differently and would have different physical and other characteristics.

I think this underlines a problem the explains why so many theists have difficulty understanding these concepts: They don't fully-understand the concept of self in the first place. Until you understand the nature of consciousness, you're more likely to cling to irrational, "easy button"-style precepts that explain your existence.

 

 

As far as I know, science still does not have a good idea of just what conciousness is. Am I mistaken?


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Quote:

Quote:
So would there be two of me?
for all of about a millisecond. never mind the imperceptible cellular differences that would being to occur almost immediately, but speaking strictly from a
conscious perspective, the other you would immediately start becoming its own self, in response to stimulus that you are not experiencing. since the two of you cannot be in the same place at the same time, your perspectives would be different, which would deterministically invoke individual responses. no matter how exact the clone may be initially, the more time passes, the more different it would become. and woe befall you should a fly enter the chamber.

 oo, and here's a fun thought: should your other you decide one night to sleep with your wife while you're working late, think of the possibilities!  first, you'll have to grant that the other you, having the same experiences and emotions programmed into his brain as you thus far, would love your wife just as thoroughly and profoundly as you do.  in his brain, he said the vows too! would it truly be adultery?

and if you didn't give a shit whether it was adultery or not, and decided to shoot him in the face (twice, just to be sure dontchaknow), you could be tried in a court of law for successfully killing yourself!  lol

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wavefreak wrote: As far as

wavefreak wrote:
As far as I know, science still does not have a good idea of just what conciousness is. Am I mistaken?

We do know that it's a physical process based on the fact that it would violate natural laws for anything that is not physical to be involved. We know what sorts of chemicals are present, and the sorts of chemical reactions that occur. To my (very limited) knowledge, the missing part is the specific implementation details, how the neurons are connected such that it produces this effect we call consciousness. I know there are people who post here who can provide specific chemical details of the process.

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Dualism, the separation of

Dualism, the separation of mind and body has been completely disproven by modern science. The frontal lobe pretty much controls every aspect of personality. Many people have strokes and become entirely different people! We don't fully understand the human brain, it is a wonderfully complex machine, but even a partial understanding, the understanding of modern neuroscientists is enough to disprove dualism.  


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Jacob Cordingley

Jacob Cordingley wrote:
Dualism, the separation of mind and body has been completely disproven by modern science. The frontal lobe pretty much controls every aspect of personality. Many people have strokes and become entirely different people! We don't fully understand the human brain, it is a wonderfully complex machine, but even a partial understanding, the understanding of modern neuroscientists is enough to disprove dualism.  


Providing, of course, that one gives science some sort of prerogative as a truth-discovery mechanism.  It seems to just be assumed that science and truth (in this case "proof" ) are synonymous... I personally don't buy into it, any more than a scientist might buy into the idea that dualism has been foundationally "proven" by Zoroastrianism for centuries. 


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Eloise wrote: Hi

Eloise wrote:

Hi everyone,

Couldn't this be rephrased with equal accuracy into the temporal does not exist in isolation from the physical. Thought is still temporal in and of itself there is a lot of physical theory which biological study doesn't take into account that clearly demonstrates there is more unknowns to thought process beyond the presence of neurologically based electrical and chemical (energy exchange) activity. A simple example is A.I. we'd be getting served tea Jetson's style by now if the relationship predictions made on the basis of these arguments had proved as accurate as it first seems. As we are not, I personally would draw the line before saying we are sure to have this relationship the right way round or know it unequivocally.

On the other hand there is definitely a relationship to be known and anyone arguing that there is not hasn't got a leg to stand on.

oops correction that should have said atemporal, or maybe i should've just stuck with immaterial. 

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Quote: A simple example is

Quote:
A simple example is A.I. we'd be getting served tea Jetson's style by now if the relationship predictions made on the basis of these arguments had proved as accurate as it first seems. As we are not, I personally would draw the line before saying we are sure to have this relationship the right way round or know it unequivocally.

You are forgetting one very important aspect: complexity. In theory, we should be able to generate a perfectly closed system and predict whatever should happen to in in the following 1000 years. Because we know how to do it. In practice, we have no technical means to do that. Another example, more rooted in reality: in theory, we know precisely how one may start a Stellar Vacations Ltd. type of company. But in practice, we've only been able to send very few people above the stratosphere until now.

Regarding A.I. - we have reached the point where we can generate circuitry about the same size of braincell circuitry. However, tell me just one CPU that you've seen the size of the human brain.

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Eloise wrote: Eloise

Eloise wrote:
Eloise wrote:

Hi everyone,

Couldn't this be rephrased with equal accuracy into the temporal does not exist in isolation from the physical. Thought is still temporal in and of itself there is a lot of physical theory which biological study doesn't take into account that clearly demonstrates there is more unknowns to thought process beyond the presence of neurologically based electrical and chemical (energy exchange) activity. A simple example is A.I. we'd be getting served tea Jetson's style by now if the relationship predictions made on the basis of these arguments had proved as accurate as it first seems. As we are not, I personally would draw the line before saying we are sure to have this relationship the right way round or know it unequivocally.

On the other hand there is definitely a relationship to be known and anyone arguing that there is not hasn't got a leg to stand on.

oops correction that should have said atemporal, or maybe i should've just stuck with immaterial. 

Computers, A/I and such are given rules to follow by humans. Although computers may seem faster a computer does not learn like a human does and is dependent upon human input to make changes in it's brain. Although the human/computer anology can be made in some instances the information processing theory does not explain everything. This does not mean that there is some immaterial aspect of human cognition. This means that our ability to program a computer is limited.

I think it would be almost impossible to program frontal lobe processes such as inhibition, planning, purpose, and abstract thinking into a computer. Specifically, due to the closed system of a computer. As mentioned above, humans live in a open system with more possibilities and probabilities. This does not support immaterial control. Why? Well if you damage your frontal lobes you lose all these abilities. Why? Because you damaged your physicial being. All scientific, psychological, and neuroscience data points to monism. Any one who denies this is just having trouble coping with the idea that they are an animal and not as speical as they thought. This is called this egocentricity.

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RationalSchema

RationalSchema wrote:
Eloise wrote:
Eloise wrote:

Hi everyone,

Couldn't this be rephrased with equal accuracy into the temporal does not exist in isolation from the physical. Thought is still temporal in and of itself there is a lot of physical theory which biological study doesn't take into account that clearly demonstrates there is more unknowns to thought process beyond the presence of neurologically based electrical and chemical (energy exchange) activity. A simple example is A.I. we'd be getting served tea Jetson's style by now if the relationship predictions made on the basis of these arguments had proved as accurate as it first seems. As we are not, I personally would draw the line before saying we are sure to have this relationship the right way round or know it unequivocally.

On the other hand there is definitely a relationship to be known and anyone arguing that there is not hasn't got a leg to stand on.

oops correction that should have said atemporal, or maybe i should've just stuck with immaterial. 

Computers, A/I and such are given rules to follow by humans. Although computers may seem faster a computer does not learn like a human does and is dependent upon human input to make changes in it's brain. Although the human/computer anology can be made in some instances the information processing theory does not explain everything. This does not mean that there is some immaterial aspect of human cognition. This means that our ability to program a computer is limited.

I think it would be almost impossible to program frontal lobe processes such as inhibition, planning, purpose, and abstract thinking into a computer. Specifically, due to the closed system of a computer. As mentioned above, humans live in a open system with more possibilities and probabilities. This does not support immaterial control. Why? Well if you damage your frontal lobes you lose all these abilities. Why? Because you damaged your physicial being. All scientific, psychological, and neuroscience data points to monism. Any one who denies this is just having trouble coping with the idea that they are an animal and not as speical as they thought. This is called this egocentricity.

I'd almost call this an "argument from e-magic" -- because computers can do everything and those lazy IT industry people just won't get off their asses.

"A proof is a proof. What kind of a proof? It's a proof. A proof is a proof. And when you have a good proof, it's because it's proven." -- former Canadian Prime Minister Jean Chretien


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stillmatic

stillmatic wrote:
RationalSchema wrote:
Eloise wrote:
Eloise wrote:

Hi everyone,

Couldn't this be rephrased with equal accuracy into the temporal does not exist in isolation from the physical. Thought is still temporal in and of itself there is a lot of physical theory which biological study doesn't take into account that clearly demonstrates there is more unknowns to thought process beyond the presence of neurologically based electrical and chemical (energy exchange) activity. A simple example is A.I. we'd be getting served tea Jetson's style by now if the relationship predictions made on the basis of these arguments had proved as accurate as it first seems. As we are not, I personally would draw the line before saying we are sure to have this relationship the right way round or know it unequivocally.

On the other hand there is definitely a relationship to be known and anyone arguing that there is not hasn't got a leg to stand on.

oops correction that should have said atemporal, or maybe i should've just stuck with immaterial.

Computers, A/I and such are given rules to follow by humans. Although computers may seem faster a computer does not learn like a human does and is dependent upon human input to make changes in it's brain. Although the human/computer anology can be made in some instances the information processing theory does not explain everything. This does not mean that there is some immaterial aspect of human cognition. This means that our ability to program a computer is limited.

I think it would be almost impossible to program frontal lobe processes such as inhibition, planning, purpose, and abstract thinking into a computer. Specifically, due to the closed system of a computer. As mentioned above, humans live in a open system with more possibilities and probabilities. This does not support immaterial control. Why? Well if you damage your frontal lobes you lose all these abilities. Why? Because you damaged your physicial being. All scientific, psychological, and neuroscience data points to monism. Any one who denies this is just having trouble coping with the idea that they are an animal and not as speical as they thought. This is called this egocentricity.

I'd almost call this an "argument from e-magic" -- because computers can do everything and those lazy IT industry people just won't get off their asses.

Wow you guys ran off at the mouth a bit there. For a start my post was in support of monism, my only criticism was to the causal relationship being material to transcendent, it's not necessarily that way round, monism doesn't declare it either way round undisputably at all and even your input/output arguments point out AI as an example of why that can't be, physical mind adapts by influence of thought. The immaterial influences the physical all the time, you say complexity I say more causal relationships, neither word is incorrect. Open system is another way of saying the immaterial influences the physical just as much as in the converse relationship.

The frontal lobes argument is not really different to a blindness argument for the same; being blind doesn't mean there is no colours to be seen if you were not blind, the loss of a physical receptor is disconnection from the immaterial to physical relationship it's not a proof that there is no relationship.

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Rigor_OMortis wrote:

Quote:
A simple example is A.I. we'd be getting served tea Jetson's style by now if the relationship predictions made on the basis of these arguments had proved as accurate as it first seems. As we are not, I personally would draw the line before saying we are sure to have this relationship the right way round or know it unequivocally.

You are forgetting one very important aspect: complexity. In theory, we should be able to generate a perfectly closed system and predict whatever should happen to in in the following 1000 years. Because we know how to do it. In practice, we have no technical means to do that. Another example, more rooted in reality: in theory, we know precisely how one may start a Stellar Vacations Ltd. type of company. But in practice, we've only been able to send very few people above the stratosphere until now.

Regarding A.I. - we have reached the point where we can generate circuitry about the same size of braincell circuitry. However, tell me just one CPU that you've seen the size of the human brain.

We have networks of that maginitude and that goes to proving that at least some of the obstruction to replicating complexity is weak interlocution, lack of imagination, not lack of energy. I'm not saying you can't program imagination, before anyone jumps to any more conclusions, I am simply saying that the stated information above doesn't provide the algorithm equalling imagination so why shouldn't that gap be philosophically exploited? how do we expect to bridge it if we don't at least do that?

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Eloise wrote: Wow you guys

Eloise wrote:

Wow you guys ran off at the mouth a bit there. For a start my post was in support of monism, my only criticism was to the causal relationship being material to transcendent...

Wait, I'm confused.  You are arguing for monism then you talk about a causal relationship between the material and the transcendent?

What is your definition of monism?  

Quote:
The immaterial influences the physical all the time....

How is this possible--no, scratch that...

How is that conceivable?

Without being physical, what is the ontological substrate through which this interaction can occur? The ontological category of 'material' implies that causation, interaction, etc occurs because of the ontological 'stuff' that it shares with other material stuff.  If it doesn't share some ontological 'stuff' through which to interact, then they cannot interact. 

Quote:
Open system is another way of saying the immaterial influences the physical just as much as in the converse relationship.

This is gibberish. 

Quote:
The frontal lobes argument is not really different to a blindness argument for the same; being blind doesn't mean there is no colours to be seen if you were not blind, the loss of a physical receptor is disconnection from the immaterial to physical relationship it's not a proof that there is no relationship.

No, blindness is simply the inability of the brain to receive the physical data (light) from the external world due to the lack of, or damage to, the organ responsible for collecting such data (the eye). 

Shaun 

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ShaunPhilly wrote:

ShaunPhilly wrote:
Eloise wrote:

Wow you guys ran off at the mouth a bit there. For a start my post was in support of monism, my only criticism was to the causal relationship being material to transcendent...

Wait, I'm confused. You are arguing for monism then you talk about a causal relationship between the material and the transcendent?

What is your definition of monism?

That all substance is one natural set. I am highlighting a distinction between neutral monism and materialism I come down somewhat more on the neutral side.

 

Quote:
Quote:
The immaterial influences the physical all the time....

How is this possible--no, scratch that...

How is that conceivable?

Without being physical, what is the ontological substrate through which this interaction can occur?

Sound would probably be the easiest example. Sound mediums are neutral, the content of sound is not informatically related to its physical medium. Immaterial or abstract information is transferred by sound through any physical medium.

ShaunPhilly wrote:

The ontological category of 'material' implies that causation, interaction, etc occurs because of the ontological 'stuff' that it shares with other material stuff. If it doesn't share some ontological 'stuff' through which to interact, then they cannot interact.

Sound shares some ontological 'stuff' with its substrate like pitch and depth, but it is still quite capable of transferring immaterial quantity even in those terms.

 

Quote:
Quote:
Open system is another way of saying the immaterial influences the physical just as much as in the converse relationship.

This is gibberish.

Thanks so very much for the kind words.

 

Quote:
Quote:
The frontal lobes argument is not really different to a blindness argument for the same; being blind doesn't mean there is no colours to be seen if you were not blind, the loss of a physical receptor is disconnection from the immaterial to physical relationship it's not a proof that there is no relationship.

No, blindness is simply the inability of the brain to receive the physical data (light) from the external world due to the lack of, or damage to, the organ responsible for collecting such data (the eye).

Shaun

If ABI blindness isn't really blindness, What is it?

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ShaunPhilly
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Eloise wrote: ShaunPhilly

Eloise wrote:
ShaunPhilly wrote:
Eloise wrote:

Wow you guys ran off at the mouth a bit there. For a start my post was in support of monism, my only criticism was to the causal relationship being material to transcendent...

Wait, I'm confused. You are arguing for monism then you talk about a causal relationship between the material and the transcendent?

What is your definition of monism?

That all substance is one natural set. I am highlighting a distinction between neutral monism and materialism I come down somewhat more on the neutral side.

OK, so you're saying that some fundamental substance is not material, but material is based upon it? That's conceivable, at least. I have reasons to say that it would still be material, but that would just be a semantic argument. Call it whatever you want and divey up the terms wherever you want, it won't make any difference to me.

Quote:
Quote:
Quote:
The immaterial influences the physical all the time....

How is this possible--no, scratch that...

How is that conceivable?

Without being physical, what is the ontological substrate through which this interaction can occur?

Sound would probably be the easiest example. Sound mediums are neutral, the content of sound is not informatically related to its physical medium. Immaterial or abstract information is transferred by sound through any physical medium.

Sound is a physical phenomenon. It is the disturbance of atoms through some physical medium, whether gas, liquid, or solid. So if this is what you mean by neutral monism, I would call this physicalism/materialism/naturalism (take your pick of terms, it is irrelevant--the point is tha tthey all are things that interact due to sharing ontological staus as existing in spacetime and being measurable).

Quote:
ShaunPhilly wrote:

The ontological category of 'material' implies that causation, interaction, etc occurs because of the ontological 'stuff' that it shares with other material stuff. If it doesn't share some ontological 'stuff' through which to interact, then they cannot interact.

Sound shares some ontological 'stuff' with its substrate like pitch and depth, but it is still quite capable of transferring immaterial quantity even in those terms.

What immaterial quantity? What is immaterial in sound?

Quote:
Quote:
Quote:
The frontal lobes argument is not really different to a blindness argument for the same; being blind doesn't mean there is no colours to be seen if you were not blind, the loss of a physical receptor is disconnection from the immaterial to physical relationship it's not a proof that there is no relationship.

No, blindness is simply the inability of the brain to receive the physical data (light) from the external world due to the lack of, or damage to, the organ responsible for collecting such data (the eye).

Shaun

If ABI blindness isn't really blindness, What is it?

Acquired Brain Injury blindness? Um, well, the part of the brain that processes the data sent from the eye has been damaged, hence the data is not processed correctly (or at all, in some cases).

I should have been more clear, but I simply assumed that you understood that after the eye sends the data, it has to be processed in the brain. The more interesting question would have been blindsight, which is where the processing occurs, just not on a conscious level. To me, that's very telling about the relationship between different parts of the brain, conscious awareness, and the influence of non-conscious processes that effect behavior.

Shaun

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ShaunPhilly wrote: Eloise

ShaunPhilly wrote:
Eloise wrote:
ShaunPhilly wrote:
Eloise wrote:

Wow you guys ran off at the mouth a bit there. For a start my post was in support of monism, my only criticism was to the causal relationship being material to transcendent...

Wait, I'm confused. You are arguing for monism then you talk about a causal relationship between the material and the transcendent?

What is your definition of monism?

That all substance is one natural set. I am highlighting a distinction between neutral monism and materialism I come down somewhat more on the neutral side.

OK, so you're saying that some fundamental substance is not material, but material is based upon it? That's conceivable, at least. I have reasons to say that it would still be material, but that would just be a semantic argument. Call it whatever you want and divey up the terms wherever you want, it won't make any difference to me.

I don't think that this is semantic in terms of directionality in causal relationships. Materialism comes down firmly on the side of trivialising directionality and I consider that mathematically and logically prohibiting to the degree that scientific reasoning ends up in paradoxes. I say I'm neutral but what I really mean is that as far as I'm concerned classical neutrality in metaphysical monism actually has an assertive position ie directionality.

 

Quote:
Quote:
Quote:
Quote:
The immaterial influences the physical all the time....

How is this possible--no, scratch that...

How is that conceivable?

Without being physical, what is the ontological substrate through which this interaction can occur?

Sound would probably be the easiest example. Sound mediums are neutral, the content of sound is not informatically related to its physical medium. Immaterial or abstract information is transferred by sound through any physical medium.

Sound is a physical phenomenon. It is the disturbance of atoms through some physical medium, whether gas, liquid, or solid. So if this is what you mean by neutral monism, I would call this physicalism/materialism/naturalism (take your pick of terms, it is irrelevant--the point is tha tthey all are things that interact due to sharing ontological staus as existing in spacetime and being measurable).

 You expected me to offer a non-natural substrate? but I am in support of monism I can't steal that concept away from the basis of my argument.

Sound measurement is highly conceptual it travels in waves with spectral arrangments these can carry vast complexities which sum to a seemingly immaterial whole. A sentient arrangment. Sound mediums do not ontologically reflect the complex arrangement of sound waves, it needs to be carefully observed that we have immaterial wholeness in abstract transferred by classically material arrangements.  An interesting example of this is here:

http://vids.myspace.com/index.cfm?fuseaction=vids.individual&videoid=1343432726   

 

Quote:
Quote:
ShaunPhilly wrote:

The ontological category of 'material' implies that causation, interaction, etc occurs because of the ontological 'stuff' that it shares with other material stuff. If it doesn't share some ontological 'stuff' through which to interact, then they cannot interact.

Sound shares some ontological 'stuff' with its substrate like pitch and depth, but it is still quite capable of transferring immaterial quantity even in those terms.

What immaterial quantity? What is immaterial in sound?

The example above demonstrates a phenomenon of form. But even without that example I could simply say emotion. 

 

Quote:
Quote:
Quote:
Quote:
The frontal lobes argument is not really different to a blindness argument for the same; being blind doesn't mean there is no colours to be seen if you were not blind, the loss of a physical receptor is disconnection from the immaterial to physical relationship it's not a proof that there is no relationship.

No, blindness is simply the inability of the brain to receive the physical data (light) from the external world due to the lack of, or damage to, the organ responsible for collecting such data (the eye).

Shaun

If ABI blindness isn't really blindness, What is it?

Acquired Brain Injury blindness? Um, well, the part of the brain that processes the data sent from the eye has been damaged, hence the data is not processed correctly (or at all, in some cases).

I should have been more clear, but I simply assumed that you understood that after the eye sends the data, it has to be processed in the brain. The more interesting question would have been blindsight, which is where the processing occurs, just not on a conscious level. To me, that's very telling about the relationship between different parts of the brain, conscious awareness, and the influence of non-conscious processes that effect behavior.

Shaun

Well all said, we could just agree that we'll go nowhere with this point, it seems the brain can as a material whole act as a congitive receptor, but there are too many missing elements in the context of this point. OTOH I Can give you an example that joins what I am saying here with what I am saying about sound.

http://www.cbc.ca/technology/story/2007/03/09/science-nervessound-20070309.html 

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MattShizzle wrote: And even

MattShizzle wrote:
And even if thoughts WERE immaterial, that wouldn't prove a god.

 

True, it wouldn't, but it would serve to prove that there is something beyond the material world we live in.


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Besically, from what i

Besically, from what i understand, what most of you guys (and gals) are saying is that since thoughts are a product of material agents (electrical impulses in the brain) it is therefore material.

i had a very interesting exchange with deludedgod regarding that subject which is why i'm a bit familiar now with the concept.

 


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The definition above,

The definition above, though satisfactory, leaves me with a question hanging.  Its been nagging me for quite a while now, and i couldn't place it or articulate it until now.  Here goes:

 The definition of thoughts being material (electric impulses in the brain) serves to define it only at the point of its creation.

I just realized, i want to be able to define it at the point after its creation.

So to illustrate, when i decide to write a thank you note to a friend for a gift, thoughts are created as follows:

1)  Brain fires up, creates thoughts. (material)

2)  I write my thoughts down on a hallmark card (material)

3)  card is mailed to my friend (??????)

4)  friend reads card, understands my message/thought (material)

Or another way of illustrating my story is below: 

 

 

 

                 Brain             |    No Brain                  |   Brain

          electrical impulses  | no electrical impulses    |elec. imp.

                    |               |            |                    |      |

               material           |????????????????          | material

thoughts ---------------------------------------------------

 

At certain points in time (when there is a brain), thoughts are material because of the electrical impulses it generates.  But at other points (when there is no brain) no electrical impulses are generated at all, which is why i put a question mark on it.

True, the thoughts or symbols on the hallmark card are useless and meaningless without a brain to interpret it, but it still exhists even when there is no brain.  Proof of such is when a brain is again introduced, the symbols on the card elicit the same electrical reactions in the brain.

What i therefore need to know is how to define thoughts in a material way when the brain is not present.  The thoughts are still there.  Albeit in a different form, since no electrical impulses can be detected it at that point.  If i say that the thoughts are the card,  it doesn't really sound satisfactory as an explanation. (to me)

Can someone help me here? 


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Quote: At certain points in

Quote:
At certain points in time (when there is a brain), thoughts are material because of the electrical impulses it generates.  But at other points (when there is no brain) no electrical impulses are generated at all, which is why i put a question mark on it.

True, the thoughts or symbols on the hallmark card are useless and meaningless without a brain to interpret it, but it still exhists even when there is no brain.  Proof of such is when a brain is again introduced, the symbols on the card elicit the same electrical reactions in the brain.

What i therefore need to know is how to define thoughts in a material way when the brain is not present.  The thoughts are still there.  Albeit in a different form, since no electrical impulses can be detected it at that point.  If i say that the thoughts are the card,  it doesn't really sound satisfactory as an explanation. (to me)

Can someone help me here?

You find a clay pot with circular grooves on it, dating from the bronze age. Are those thoughts still there? Ah, wait, you didn't realize that its craftsman actually wanted to tell you, through those circular grooves, that he is mad because his wife gave birth to a stillborn child?

 

In order for thoughts to exist, there is need for the following elements:

- one entity that generates them

- the physical support that the entity has in order to be able to generate and store them (a.k.a. brain)

- one physical means of communication towards other entities (a.k.a. sound, paper, blackboard, e-mail, etc.)

- one protocol that will be correctly and coherently understood by all entities involved in communication (a.k.a. language)

- other entities (at least one) that are able to receive, process and store those thoughts

To any person that has at least SOME knowledge of computers, the human thought and communication process is no different from the ISO OSI model. If you cut out any of the OSI model's layers in any of the parts, you are left with gibberish. Cut out the physical layer, and you are left with two or more perfectly isolated entities. Cut out the transport layer, and you are left with two entities that aren't isolated, but that will never be able to understand each other. Cut out the application layer, and you will be left with machines that might be able to store, but not to process data. Etc. Etc. Etc.

Once you realize that thoughts need all the above elements in order to exist and continue existence in the absence of their generator, and once you are able to make a parallel to how computers talk (because it's really not much difference), you'll have the answer to your question, curiousgeorge.

Someone will find, in about 3000 years, a plastic disc with a shiny surface. They will start asking themselves why are there so many tiny circular grooves on its surface, and they wil probably conclude that the people of 2007 were using them as decorative elements at parties or in homes, because, when light reflects on it, the effect is so damn nice. Are the thoughts on that DVD still there? Technically speaking, yes, but practically speaking, who cares?

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curiousjorge050476

curiousjorge050476 wrote:

The definition above, though satisfactory, leaves me with a question hanging.  Its been nagging me for quite a while now, and i couldn't place it or articulate it until now.  Here goes:

 The definition of thoughts being material (electric impulses in the brain) serves to define it only at the point of its creation.

I just realized, i want to be able to define it at the point after its creation.

So to illustrate, when i decide to write a thank you note to a friend for a gift, thoughts are created as follows:

1)  Brain fires up, creates thoughts. (material)

2)  I write my thoughts down on a hallmark card (material)

3)  card is mailed to my friend (??????)

4)  friend reads card, understands my message/thought (material)

Or another way of illustrating my story is below: 

 

 

 

                 Brain             |    No Brain                  |   Brain

          electrical impulses  | no electrical impulses    |elec. imp.

                    |               |            |                    |      |

               material           |????????????????          | material

thoughts ---------------------------------------------------

 

At certain points in time (when there is a brain), thoughts are material because of the electrical impulses it generates.  But at other points (when there is no brain) no electrical impulses are generated at all, which is why i put a question mark on it.

True, the thoughts or symbols on the hallmark card are useless and meaningless without a brain to interpret it, but it still exhists even when there is no brain.  Proof of such is when a brain is again introduced, the symbols on the card elicit the same electrical reactions in the brain.

What i therefore need to know is how to define thoughts in a material way when the brain is not present.  The thoughts are still there.  Albeit in a different form, since no electrical impulses can be detected it at that point.  If i say that the thoughts are the card,  it doesn't really sound satisfactory as an explanation. (to me)

Can someone help me here? 

 

I would argue that when it is on paper or the card iit is not a thought until somebody reads it. When nobody is observing the graphite on papyrus there is nothing. It only becomes a thought after it is processed by somebody's brain or before when it was produced by the brain. Sort of like "If a tree in the forest falls and nobody hears it, did it really fall."

 

Eloise: I am having trouble following your arguement. I will say that my arguement about the frontal lobes is that computers cannot do those things that we are able to do with our frontal lobes. Those things make it look like we have some sort of immaterial power that the computer doesn't have. I don't see the analogy to light blindness. Unless you are saying you can program a computer to see the entire spectrum or something. Even then I don't understand how some of what your saying applies. Maybe I am just stupid, but could you dumb it down for me. Thanks.

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Rigor_OMortis

Rigor_OMortis wrote:

Quote:
At certain points in time (when there is a brain), thoughts are material because of the electrical impulses it generates. But at other points (when there is no brain) no electrical impulses are generated at all, which is why i put a question mark on it.

True, the thoughts or symbols on the hallmark card are useless and meaningless without a brain to interpret it, but it still exhists even when there is no brain. Proof of such is when a brain is again introduced, the symbols on the card elicit the same electrical reactions in the brain.

What i therefore need to know is how to define thoughts in a material way when the brain is not present. The thoughts are still there. Albeit in a different form, since no electrical impulses can be detected it at that point. If i say that the thoughts are the card, it doesn't really sound satisfactory as an explanation. (to me)

Can someone help me here?

You find a clay pot with circular grooves on it, dating from the bronze age. Are those thoughts still there? Ah, wait, you didn't realize that its craftsman actually wanted to tell you, through those circular grooves, that he is mad because his wife gave birth to a stillborn child?

 

In order for thoughts to exist, there is need for the following elements:

- one entity that generates them

- the physical support that the entity has in order to be able to generate and store them (a.k.a. brain)

- one physical means of communication towards other entities (a.k.a. sound, paper, blackboard, e-mail, etc.)

- one protocol that will be correctly and coherently understood by all entities involved in communication (a.k.a. language)

- other entities (at least one) that are able to receive, process and store those thoughts

To any person that has at least SOME knowledge of computers, the human thought and communication process is no different from the ISO OSI model. If you cut out any of the OSI model's layers in any of the parts, you are left with gibberish. Cut out the physical layer, and you are left with two or more perfectly isolated entities. Cut out the transport layer, and you are left with two entities that aren't isolated, but that will never be able to understand each other. Cut out the application layer, and you will be left with machines that might be able to store, but not to process data. Etc. Etc. Etc.

Once you realize that thoughts need all the above elements in order to exist and continue existence in the absence of their generator, and once you are able to make a parallel to how computers talk (because it's really not much difference), you'll have the answer to your question, curiousgeorge.

Someone will find, in about 3000 years, a plastic disc with a shiny surface. They will start asking themselves why are there so many tiny circular grooves on its surface, and they wil probably conclude that the people of 2007 were using them as decorative elements at parties or in homes, because, when light reflects on it, the effect is so damn nice. Are the thoughts on that DVD still there? Technically speaking, yes, but practically speaking, who cares?

The time frame between brains in my illustration is not thousands of years or hundreds, or even tens. Its just a few days or hours at least. The thought, though not used and is no longer energy is still there. It has changed from energy into something else, and changes back into energy once someone reads it again.

One cannot say that it somehow ceased to exhist in the material world and then suddenly pop out again once a brain is there to process it. It remains stationary on the medium on which it was written. And unless something happens to the card, the thought remains exactly the same.

It is that "something else" in that short time frame where no brain is present but it still exists which i seek to define physically.

So far, no one has been able help me adequately define it in the material sense, although i do appreciate the effort of those who tried.


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curiousjorge050476

curiousjorge050476 wrote:
Rigor_OMortis wrote:

Quote:
At certain points in time (when there is a brain), thoughts are material because of the electrical impulses it generates. But at other points (when there is no brain) no electrical impulses are generated at all, which is why i put a question mark on it.

True, the thoughts or symbols on the hallmark card are useless and meaningless without a brain to interpret it, but it still exhists even when there is no brain. Proof of such is when a brain is again introduced, the symbols on the card elicit the same electrical reactions in the brain.

What i therefore need to know is how to define thoughts in a material way when the brain is not present. The thoughts are still there. Albeit in a different form, since no electrical impulses can be detected it at that point. If i say that the thoughts are the card, it doesn't really sound satisfactory as an explanation. (to me)

Can someone help me here?

You find a clay pot with circular grooves on it, dating from the bronze age. Are those thoughts still there? Ah, wait, you didn't realize that its craftsman actually wanted to tell you, through those circular grooves, that he is mad because his wife gave birth to a stillborn child?

 

In order for thoughts to exist, there is need for the following elements:

- one entity that generates them

- the physical support that the entity has in order to be able to generate and store them (a.k.a. brain)

- one physical means of communication towards other entities (a.k.a. sound, paper, blackboard, e-mail, etc.)

- one protocol that will be correctly and coherently understood by all entities involved in communication (a.k.a. language)

- other entities (at least one) that are able to receive, process and store those thoughts

To any person that has at least SOME knowledge of computers, the human thought and communication process is no different from the ISO OSI model. If you cut out any of the OSI model's layers in any of the parts, you are left with gibberish. Cut out the physical layer, and you are left with two or more perfectly isolated entities. Cut out the transport layer, and you are left with two entities that aren't isolated, but that will never be able to understand each other. Cut out the application layer, and you will be left with machines that might be able to store, but not to process data. Etc. Etc. Etc.

Once you realize that thoughts need all the above elements in order to exist and continue existence in the absence of their generator, and once you are able to make a parallel to how computers talk (because it's really not much difference), you'll have the answer to your question, curiousgeorge.

Someone will find, in about 3000 years, a plastic disc with a shiny surface. They will start asking themselves why are there so many tiny circular grooves on its surface, and they wil probably conclude that the people of 2007 were using them as decorative elements at parties or in homes, because, when light reflects on it, the effect is so damn nice. Are the thoughts on that DVD still there? Technically speaking, yes, but practically speaking, who cares?

The time frame between brains in my illustration is not thousands of years or hundreds, or even tens. Its just a few days or hours at least. The thought, though not used and is no longer energy is still there. It has changed from energy into something else, and changes back into energy once someone reads it again.

One cannot say that it somehow ceased to exhist in the material world and then suddenly pop out again once a brain is there to process it. It remains stationary on the medium on which it was written. And unless something happens to the card, the thought remains exactly the same.

It is that "something else" in that short time frame where no brain is present but it still exists which i seek to define physically.

So far, no one has been able help me adequately define it in the material sense, although i do appreciate the effort of those who tried.

This is just plain illogical. It does not exist. Those words are meaningless without something that understands what they mean. The only thing that understands what they mean is a brain. The thought came up in one persons brain and they wrote it down. That person continues to think about the card in THEIR brain. The thought is still neurochemistry. The other person is unable to read the words until they process it in their brain. Once you realize this, you other questions are pointless. The paper/card is nothing without a brain. Words are a method of communication about thoughts between brains. The thought does not exist on paper, it exists in peoples brains. I don't see why this is so hard to grasp.

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While it is clear that

While it is clear that thoughts are bound to material things in our brain, it still is unclear to me whether concepts can be called material. Take the concept for the number 1. We have symbolic representations such as "1", "one",3 minus 2, etc. Presumably, each of these symbols has a different set of neurons and states active and the concept itself involves its own neurons and states.  But  while each of us has corresponding neural states for these symbols and  the concept of "one", it is almost certain that there is no one-to-one mapping between the nuerons and states in my brain to those in yours. So the underlying *material*  for the symbols and concepts are different, and yet we all agree on what "one" is. It would seem as if the concept "one" is somehow independent from the underlying material on which it is encoded.


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wavefreak wrote: While it

wavefreak wrote:
While it is clear that thoughts are bound to material things in our brain, it still is unclear to me whether concepts can be called material. Take the concept for the number 1. We have symbolic representations such as "1", "one",3 minus 2, etc. Presumably, each of these symbols has a different set of neurons and states active and the concept itself involves its own neurons and states.  But  while each of us has corresponding neural states for these symbols and  the concept of "one", it is almost certain that there is no one-to-one mapping between the nuerons and states in my brain to those in yours. So the underlying *material*  for the symbols and concepts are different, and yet we all agree on what "one" is. It would seem as if the concept "one" is somehow independent from the underlying material on which it is encoded.

 

No this is wrong. Of course there is no one-to-one mapping. However, small changes in the chemical and neuronal materials between my brain and your brain does not completely change how you and I interprent the idea of "1". Remember, our DNA is very similar to each others and our brains are made up of the same material. Two Volkswagon Golfs are not the same, but they are made up of the same material that perform the same functions. Our hearts, sex organs, livers, kidneys, lungs, and so forth operate in the same manner across people. Why would we not hold the same for our brains. Yes, how information gets encoded and what is encoded and formed is somewhat different from person to person. However it is still proteins, serotonin, GABA, and dopamine.

Again, this is shown in that all of us have our visual centers in the occipital lobe. This is common across all of us. Brain functions are found in the same parts of the brain across people.

There would be no such idea of the number "1" without a brain to come up with it. Unless somebody thinks about it, there is no "1". One is a symbol that our brains came up with. Similar brains that came about from similar DNA. We are only unique in those small DNA changes and our experiences. Just because the material is slightly different or .00000000000001 nanometers in different parts of the brain, does not mean that the idea of "1" in that brain is so drastically different.

"Those who think they know don't know. Those that know they don't know, know."


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RationalSchema

RationalSchema wrote:

wavefreak wrote:
While it is clear that thoughts are bound to material things in our brain, it still is unclear to me whether concepts can be called material. Take the concept for the number 1. We have symbolic representations such as "1", "one",3 minus 2, etc. Presumably, each of these symbols has a different set of neurons and states active and the concept itself involves its own neurons and states. But while each of us has corresponding neural states for these symbols and the concept of "one", it is almost certain that there is no one-to-one mapping between the nuerons and states in my brain to those in yours. So the underlying *material* for the symbols and concepts are different, and yet we all agree on what "one" is. It would seem as if the concept "one" is somehow independent from the underlying material on which it is encoded.

 

No this is wrong. Of course there is no one-to-one mapping. However, small changes in the chemical and neuronal materials between my brain and your brain does not completely change how you and I interprent the idea of "1". Remember, our DNA is very similar to each others and our brains are made up of the same material. Two Volkswagon Golfs are not the same, but they are made up of the same material that perform the same functions. Our hearts, sex organs, livers, kidneys, lungs, and so forth operate in the same manner across people. Why would we not hold the same for our brains. Yes, how information gets encoded and what is encoded and formed is somewhat different from person to person. However it is still proteins, serotonin, GABA, and dopamine.

Again, this is shown in that all of us have our visual centers in the occipital lobe. This is common across all of us. Brain functions are found in the same parts of the brain across people.

There would be no such idea of the number "1" without a brain to come up with it. Unless somebody thinks about it, there is no "1". One is a symbol that our brains came up with. Similar brains that came about from similar DNA. We are only unique in those small DNA changes and our experiences. Just because the material is slightly different or .00000000000001 nanometers in different parts of the brain, does not mean that the idea of "1" in that brain is so drastically different.

If I understand you, you are saying that because the differences are small, they are irrelevant. Is there some point at which those differences become relevant? I also suspect that the differences are not in tiny fractions of a nanometer. I would be surprised to learn that whatever happens in your brain for the concept "one" involves  even the same number of neurons as in my brain.


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Hmmm... Let me try to go

Hmmm... Let me try to go through your points one at a time.

RationalSchema wrote:

This is just plain illogical. It does not exist. Those words are meaningless without something that understands what they mean.

So what you are saying is that my thoughts which i wrote in the thank you card, once no one reads them, no longer exist? So how does this happen? Do the letters, words or phrases conveying my thoughts that i wrote down on the card suddenly disappear only to appear all of a sudden when someone opens the card to read what it says? Does the card suddenly become blank when no one reads it? Please elaborate on this, because from my point of view, it doesn't sound very logical to me.

RationalSchema wrote:

The only thing that understands what they mean is a brain. The thought came up in one persons brain and they wrote it down. That person continues to think about the card in THEIR brain. The thought is still neurochemistry. The other person is unable to read the words until they process it in their brain. Once you realize this, you other questions are pointless. The paper/card is nothing without a brain. Words are a method of communication about thoughts between brains. The thought does not exist on paper, it exists in peoples brains. I don't see why this is so hard to grasp.

I'd like to ask you a question if i may.

Do you remember every post that you made in this forum? Can you recall or picture in your mind every comma, period, letter, word phrase or sentence you wrote down on all your posts?

Probably not.

Does that mean all your posts no longer exist? Or that only the posts which you can remember are the ones to remain?

Not really.

Unless the webmaster or web administrator deleted or edited your posts, they are all still in the forum.

Every thought, idea, joke, conjecture, every emotion that you typed on your posts are still there for anyone and everyone to read and interpret.

Or by your explanation, does it mean that the thoughts and definitions of words found in the Webster's Dictionary in my house no longer exists because at this point no one is reading it?

Although a thought can linger in the brain for a while, it will eventually fade and be forgotten.  So even though i remember the thoughts that i wrote down, i will eventually not think about it and from the point in time that i no longer think about it and to the point in time that it is read by the recepient, (which could be hours or days) my thoughts are in no one's brain, but it remains conveyed in my thank you card.

 Ok. Let me put it to you this way.  So when i write down on a piece of paper my thoughts, its material composed of chemical reactions in the brain.

But after i write it down, after a while i leave it and forget about it.  And since i no longer think about it, it is no longer a thought.

so what is it? What is that thing that i wrote down on the piece of paper that was once a thought but no longer is?

 Or did I misinterpret what you said? If i did, then please explain that i may understand what you meant to say.


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Here is another way to look

Here is another way to look at it and I hope explains better, as I think you are misinterpretting some things.

1. The words on the paper is not a thought. They are words written on a peice of paper. Nothing more or less, just words on paper.

2. The thought to write it down exists in my brain and only in my brain.

3. The paper with wrods is not a thought. It is paper with words. My previous posts do still exist. They are now posts, not my thoughts.

4. They are representations of thoughts in my brain. Only represenations are those words on paper, not my thoughts. My thoughts only exist in my brain.

5. When somebody else reads those representation they have thoughts about what I might have been thinking. They assume what I was thinking based on what they think those words represent. Hopefully, we have both learned the same form of represenation, English. If it was written in French, I would have no clue what to think about their thinking.

 

WAVEFREAK: I am sure that for some people it may be a different connection or a different number of connections, but those neurons and chemicals are still material. We all have different memories, but still made up of the same type of material.

"Those who think they know don't know. Those that know they don't know, know."


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curiousjorge,

curiousjorge,

Here's what you are missing. The information, the meaning of the words, are encoded in my brain when I think them. If I intend to encode them onto symbols on a piece of paper, I first need to learn the standard shapes if the symbols that represent them, and then using the syntax rules, grammar, and vocabulary that we already know in our heads from language learned previously, we form the symbols using the hand, typewriter, computer/printer, etc that we need to make our note.

The thoughts in our brain can be translated into a movement of the hand, translating the physical thought into an action that creates a series of shapes on the page that encode the thought into written language. At this point, if the brain can stop thinking about that message, the information is stored in memory for later retrieval, and then no longer exists consciously in any way. But the encoding in memory within the brain is comparable to the encoding on the paper. Both are physically encoded, and possible to be retrieved. The method of storage and retrieval is different, but in either case the encoding is physical.

So while the letter is in the mail, the information is stored via written language. If, while the letter is in the mail, you think about the message you sent, you have retrieved it from your memory--physically encoded brain structures. When the letter is received, opened, and read, then the information is processed by the reader and made into a conscious, physical thought by them. They can now encode that thought into their memory for later retrieval.

The information was passed through physical means. At some points in this passing of a thought (the days it takes to reach the recipient) it is mostly an encoded message, and not a conscious one unless thought of specificially. So the information is physical during that time (in written language), but it is not conscious thought during that time necessarily (although it could be thought of).

The thought does not disappear, while in transmission, but it is simply not held in conscious awareness necessarily.


Now, concerning the issue of things like emotion, concepts, etc that are not thought of as being physical;

The emotion itself is surely physical. Emotional states are states that the body is in. Certain hormones are released, some organs take action, and some chemicals are raised or lowered in quanity in certain parts of the brain changing the nature of our awareness at the time being. All of these changes are physical, and I don't think anyone is arguing yet.

But what about the feeling of the emotion. This is the question of qualia, and has been handled by philosophers, scientists, and other laymen more informed than myself. I would suggect you read about the proble of qualia, and I'll point you to a couple very good sources.

Daniel C. Dennett Consciousness Explained (1991)

Antonio Damasio The Feeling of What happens: Body and Emotion in the Making of Consciousness (2000)

Douglass Hofstadter: Godel, Escher, Bach (OK, that one might be asking too much--but I HIGHLY recommend this book). Try this one instead; IAm a Strangle Loop (2007--just released recently!).

There are others, such as:

Paul Churchland

Patricia Churchland

V. Ramachandran

and Thomas Nagel.

I cannot possibly do the concept of qualia--the feeling of conscious experience--justice in explaining how it is a physical process in a post on a forum. It is counter-intuitive for many people how a concept is physical, but once you start to see how it works, you have trouble seeing how it could be thought of as non-physical.

But don't take my word for it, read the literature and decide for yourself. It's a debate that is still lively between dualists, physicalists, and others in the field. However, the evidence seems to be pointing strongly towards a physicalist's interpretation, and dualists are left with the interaction problem I referred to in an earlier post.

Shaun

Shaun

 

 

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ShaunPhilly wrote:

Douglass Hofstadter: Godel, Escher, Bach (OK, that one might be asking too much--but I HIGHLY recommend this book).

 

GREAT book. Get it. Read it. Read it again. Put it away for a year. Read it again. 


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if i may try to simplify

if i may try to simplify the thought transmission issue, or rather phrase it more laymen's terms...

when you are writing on the paper, you are not literally placing your thoughts on paper.  you are placing ink on paper.  the ink forms symbols which may be recognized by another, and then responded to.

if you were placing your *thoughts* on paper, and the paper was viewed by an infant (assuming that thoughts are inherently commutable) that infant would instantly know your thoughts, even if it were too young too read, and even if its brain had not yet developed to be able to experience as complicated a thought as yours.  obviously this is not the case.

if matter can be neither created nor destroyed, once you placed your thoughts on the paper, you would no longer possess them, any more than were you to mail your hand to your friend.  sometimes you say something to somebody and they completely misconstrue what you said; is this a failing of your thoughts, or of their delivery?  it must indeed be the latter, for if you could make your *thoughts* known, the recipient could not possibly misconstrue them.

there is no middle area.  there is no travel time during the mailing.  your thoughts are not in the envelope.  only ink.  only symbols meant to represent your thoughts.

it's like the belief that a photograph captures a moment (or your  soul).  obviously it does neither, no more than does leonardo's mona lisa contain any physical aspect of her being.  it is only paint on canvas, nothing more; only a representation of the subject, and not the subject itself.

now here is where i get a little fuzzy, and i will again offer the disclaimer that i only barely know what the fuck i'm talking about. and hope that somebody who does can put this into more accurate terms...

ahem.

our thoughts are the product of bioelectrical/biochemical activity (indeed, and as shaun has shown, hormones and other fun stuff too).  electricity is material.  chemicals are material.  neurons are material.  they can be observed, measured, and interacted with.  when you die, so do your thoughts.  the neurons which once housed those thoughts die with the body, and thus are the thoughts gone, just as the blood which once ran through your veins. 

though we may like to romanticize emotions as being these transcendental, wondrous, inexplicable things, more likely they are quite scientific and mathematical (albeit curently beyond our quantification).  we ought not fall into the trap there is no magic where there is science!  whether love is transcendant, or a maniacally complex equation, is it any less powerful?  would you suddenly love your wife/child/parent less if you were able to deduce it mathematically?  of course not.  you would still swoon to your wife whispering in your ear, still choke up to hear your 2-year-old singing "the little drummer boy" in the back seat, still feel that wonderful warmth of love and comfort from your mom's hug.

there is magic in the material world, in the physical, in the quantifiable, that it is so prosaic as to be nothing more than particle interaction only makes it all the more wondrous, not less!

if (born++) {truth=null};


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curiousjorge050476

curiousjorge050476 wrote:

The definition above, though satisfactory, leaves me with a question hanging.  Its been nagging me for quite a while now, and i couldn't place it or articulate it until now.  Here goes:

 The definition of thoughts being material (electric impulses in the brain) serves to define it only at the point of its creation.

I just realized, i want to be able to define it at the point after its creation.

So to illustrate, when i decide to write a thank you note to a friend for a gift, thoughts are created as follows:

1)  Brain fires up, creates thoughts. (material)

2)  I write my thoughts down on a hallmark card (material)

3)  card is mailed to my friend (??????)

4)  friend reads card, understands my message/thought (material)

Or another way of illustrating my story is below: 

 

 

 

                 Brain             |    No Brain                  |   Brain

          electrical impulses  | no electrical impulses    |elec. imp.

                    |               |            |                    |      |

               material           |????????????????          | material

thoughts ---------------------------------------------------

 

At certain points in time (when there is a brain), thoughts are material because of the electrical impulses it generates.  But at other points (when there is no brain) no electrical impulses are generated at all, which is why i put a question mark on it.

True, the thoughts or symbols on the hallmark card are useless and meaningless without a brain to interpret it, but it still exhists even when there is no brain.  Proof of such is when a brain is again introduced, the symbols on the card elicit the same electrical reactions in the brain.

What i therefore need to know is how to define thoughts in a material way when the brain is not present.  The thoughts are still there.  Albeit in a different form, since no electrical impulses can be detected it at that point.  If i say that the thoughts are the card,  it doesn't really sound satisfactory as an explanation. (to me)

Can someone help me here? 

The answer to this is simple. The only thoughts we know of exist within brains. Alternately there may be other forms of intelligence but to assume they may have thoughts beyond something material is unfounded.


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RationalSchema wrote:

Eloise: I am having trouble following your arguement. I will say that my arguement about the frontal lobes is that computers cannot do those things that we are able to do with our frontal lobes.

Hi RSchema thanks for replying,

What I am saying applies generally to this consequence of electrodynamic modelling. To say that the model is wholly sufficient for describing the activity of the brain is contrary to the results we get from computation. Frontal lobes can do things that computers can't and we do know that this is at least partly due to an insufficient model at the outset. The human capacity for complex judgement is not the simplistic consequence of computation we once thought it could be, strong AI answers this problem by saying that it could still be a consequence of computation in higher arrays, which seems right for a probable mind but not necessarily a human one which has a tendency to argue with itself, if you add this ability to a complex computational array it comes out less resilient than the human, less likely to recover its senses in a crisis. Although the model sufficiently addresses an artifical sentient ability, it falls short of sufficiently comprising the human mind, there are things you simply shouldn't add to a closed system.

RationalSchema wrote:

Those things make it look like we have some sort of immaterial power that the computer doesn't have.

I think it is an immaterial difference in certain frames of reference, the human mind can pluck out an irrational stopgap and restitute a harmony which need only exist on an imaginary level God, for instance Eye-wink. The human mind can exponentiate quietness, therefore it is not purely a computational instrument but also an imaginative and spontaneous one and this is an important distinction because it's immaterial in the most profound way, like quantum tunneling, a human mind can simply 'get past it' without doing any work. So essentially I am saying here not that strong AI isn't intelligent, it is, rather I am saying it isn't human, it doesn't represent human, there is something more to human consciousness.

RationalSchema wrote:

I don't see the analogy to light blindness. Unless you are saying you can program a computer to see the entire spectrum or something.

I think you have it in a nutshell there RSchema, this is what I am talking about, the basis of matter is both unitary and spectral and that is where I question material monism it firmly holds that there is one direction, unitary to spectral, but I don't think that is how an open system works. There is a spectral to unitary direction as well, a simple argument for it was already given by wavefreak, what entails a significant difference between our concepts of 1? the answer, I think, is the spectral arrangement that comprises 1 outside the mind, but this won't mesh with the idea that thought is simply the end product of a material brain, this part of the material brain, the 1 neural, is therefore also the unitary product of something that you could quite possibly call the universe's thought.

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I know i promised to no

I know i promised to no longer post on this thread and merely read what others expressed, but i changed my mind and will try one last time to show an illustration to try explain my point. If this would still prove to be insufficient, then at least i tried right?

Basically, from the gist of what i've been reading, almost everyone agrees that thoughts basically become mere symbols once transferred to a medium such as a piece of paper right? Because thought come from the brain and the brain is the only agent capable of "interpreting" these thoughts.

At this point, i wish to air my view that although thoughts require a brain to interpret it, the exhistance of thought is independent of the presence of a brain.

Here's my illustration:

1) Let us say a Frenchman sends a love letter to his french wife for their anniversary, and the letter is somehow accidentally sent to an american woman who lived next door to the recepient.

if the american woman (who for the sake of this illustration doesn't speak french) tries to read the letter, she won't understand the thoughts written on it.

But does that mean that the thoughts are no longer there?

No.

It is still there, but merely not understood.

If, however, the american woman would give the letter to the frenchman's wife, and she would read it, she would immediately understand the message and know the thoughts of her husband in the letter.

That is what i mean that though it is a brain that creates a thought, and is required to understand a thought, it is not a prerequisite for a thought to exist.

So, for a thought to be understood, it needs a brain.

But for a thought to exist, a brain is not needed. It exists regardless of the presence or absense of a brain.

2) Let me make a second illustration.

take the sentence " I am six feet tall"

it is a group of words that represent the thought of a person saying that he is six feet tall.

let us say i write it down on a piece of paper.

then let me randomly rearrange all the letters and spaces, which would come out like this:

"x Ii smf etae lfta"

and then let me write that on another piece of paper.

so now we have two pieces of paper.

the 2 pieces of paper are exactly the same, containing exactly the same symbols, letters spaces, and even the same number of characters between spaces. So physically speaking, with the exeption of the arrangement of the characters, the two pieces of paper are exactly the same.

Its just that one has a thought, and the other none.

Again note that there is absolutely nothing physically different between the two pieces of paper.

And the presence or absence of the brain will not change that fact.


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curiousjorge050476

curiousjorge050476 wrote:

the 2 pieces of paper are exactly the same, containing exactly the same symbols, letters spaces, and even the same number of characters between spaces. So physically speaking, with the exeption of the arrangement of the characters, the two pieces of paper are exactly the same.

Its just that one has a thought, and the other none.

Again note that there is absolutely nothing physically different between the two pieces of paper.

And the presence or absence of the brain will not change that fact.

That's ridiculous. The order of the symbols is important. Similarly, if I took apart my TV and then re-aranged the parts in a different structure, would the TV work? Probably not. The order of the letters make up the information, not the letters themselves. The difference in arrangement of the characters is essential.

In linguistics, we see that letters, sounds, etc can be thought of in terms of phonemes. These are the sounds that we can make, and by putting them together in certain structures, we create morphemes. These morphemes have meaning, and by stringing them together, we come up with concepts, stories, descriptions, etc based on the syntax of language. The order of these phonemes and morphemes is critical in making the difference between nonsense and meaning or two very different meanings.

It is somewhat analogous to the way we put things like televisions together. We have all the parts, but the parts don't do anything until you put them together in certain ways. Now, perhaps I could take my TV apart and make soemthing else, but this would be sort of like an anagram. You can't simply put it in any order and have it be the same.

By changing the order of the letters, you change the meaning of the string of letters. The parts themselves are nothing until they are structured in such a way as to represent something based on linguistic rules. Something is not the same physically simply because the parts are the same. The structure of the parts is essential.

Further, the presence of a brain is essential. Without a device or machine of some sort that can perceive the symbols and either determine that it is a meaningless soup of letters or a message (even one that might have errors in the structure somewhere (typos), but not so egregious as to not be decipherable), the string of letters will simply not be perceived, so asking if it is meaningfull is nonsensical.  The distinction between nonsense and meaning can only be made by things--like brains--that have the ability to perceive the symbols and analyze them according to linguistic rules.

I hope that helps.

Shaun

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ShaunPhilly

ShaunPhilly wrote:
curiousjorge050476 wrote:

the 2 pieces of paper are exactly the same, containing exactly the same symbols, letters spaces, and even the same number of characters between spaces. So physically speaking, with the exeption of the arrangement of the characters, the two pieces of paper are exactly the same.

Its just that one has a thought, and the other none.

Again note that there is absolutely nothing physically different between the two pieces of paper.

And the presence or absence of the brain will not change that fact.

That's ridiculous. The order of the symbols is important. Similarly, if I took apart my TV and then re-aranged the parts in a different structure, would the TV work? Probably not. The order of the letters make up the information, not the letters themselves. The difference in arrangement of the characters is essential.

In linguistics, we see that letters, sounds, etc can be thought of in terms of phonemes. These are the sounds that we can make, and by putting them together in certain structures, we create morphemes. These morphemes have meaning, and by stringing them together, we come up with concepts, stories, descriptions, etc based on the syntax of language. The order of these phonemes and morphemes is critical in making the difference between nonsense and meaning or two very different meanings.

It is somewhat analogous to the way we put things like televisions together. We have all the parts, but the parts don't do anything until you put them together in certain ways. Now, perhaps I could take my TV apart and make soemthing else, but this would be sort of like an anagram. You can't simply put it in any order and have it be the same.

By changing the order of the letters, you change the meaning of the string of letters. The parts themselves are nothing until they are structured in such a way as to represent something based on linguistic rules. Something is not the same physically simply because the parts are the same. The structure of the parts is essential.

You are absolutely right! The arrangement of symbols is essential to provide meaning to the symbols.

Therefore, once properly arranged, the symbols now have meaning.

Try absorbing that for a moment.

Regardless of whether there is a brain to perceive it or not, the meaning remains on the symbols.

 

ShaunPhilly wrote:

Further, the presence of a brain is essential. Without a device or machine of some sort that can perceive the symbols and either determine that it is a meaningless soup of letters or a message (even one that might have errors in the structure somewhere (typos), but not so egregious as to not be decipherable), the string of letters will simply not be perceived, so asking if it is meaningfull is nonsensical. The distinction between nonsense and meaning can only be made by things--like brains--that have the ability to perceive the symbols and analyze them according to linguistic rules.

I hope that helps.

Shaun

It definitely helps, and thank you for your reply!

Again, as i said above, though a brain is required to print the symbols and arrange them to have meaning, the meaning connected to the symbols remains even after the brain is gone.

And it stays on the symbols regardless of the presence or absence of a brain to understand it.


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curiousjorge050476

curiousjorge050476 wrote:

You are absolutely right! The arrangement of symbols is essential to provide meaning to the symbols.

Therefore, once properly arranged, the symbols now have meaning.

Try absorbing that for a moment.

Regardless of whether there is a brain to perceive it or not, the meaning remains on the symbols.

 ....


Again, as i said above, though a brain is required to print the symbols and arrange them to have meaning, the meaning connected to the symbols remains even after the brain is gone.

And it stays on the symbols regardless of the presence or absence of a brain to understand it.

I should have said that the symbols now encode a message which has meaning for something that is capable of interpreting it. To have meaning is to have meaning for some person, machine, etc that is capable of comprehending a meaning.

To say that the meaning is not somehow inherent in the symbols themselves seems to be nonsensical.  The symbols exist independently, without being seen or otherwise prehended.  However, the meaning arises from things like brains which decode the symbols into a process of conscious thought.  The symbols encode the meaning, but they don't contain meaning.

Shaun 

I'll fight for a person's right to speak so long as that person will, in return, fight to allow me to challenge their opinions and ridicule them as the content of their ideas merit.


curiousjorge050476
Theist
Posts: 59
Joined: 2007-06-05
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You know, another way of

You know, another way of saying it is:

Symbols represent thought or meaning right?

Thought or meaning that only a brain can interpret and understand.

 

Therefore, symbols carry meaning/thought that only the brain can "see".

To anything else, the meaning/thought on the symbols are invisible, but only the brain can "see" the meaning/thoughts carried by the symbols.

That's why they are called symbols.  They symbolize something.