A defence of the immaterial mind.

Strafio
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A defence of the immaterial mind.

Before I started I thought I should make some points:
1) I know that there have been a several topics of this topic in the forum that I could have put this in but I thought that this one was significantly different enough to warrant its own thread.
2) You'll notice that I am using the word 'immaterial' in a different way to traditional philosophy. I have two reasons for this, that I think it is closer to how we use it in everyday circumstances and that the philosophical version was a perversion of this by trying to squeeze it into our 'world description' frame of language.
The other version is that the philosophical version (as Todangst shows in the topic I link to) is incoherent so this version is the only way the word can have a significant meaning.

This is specifically aimed at Todangst and DeludedGod who have written various essays on this subject, but all views will be welcome.
Todangst has written an essay claiming that immaterial is a broken concept while Deluded God has done a series of essays that deal with the subject.
As I understand it, they both subscribe to physical reductionism, which in contemporary philosophy is the most metaphysically correct position, but one that is at odds with many (if not all!) of our intuitive concepts of the mind.
My aim is to give a conception of the mind that is coherent, respects both materialistic metaphysics and the results of neuroscience and also retains (and vindicates) the common intuitive conceptions of the mind.
(That's right Chris, that fucking nobel prize will be mine for sure! Eye-wink)

This essay will be done in three steps:
1) Define the immaterial mind in a way that is coherent and respects materialist metaphysics.
2) Show that such a conception is compatible with neuroscience and how that traditional 'interactionism' problem is not an issue for this one.
3) Explore how this immaterial mind favours our intuitive conceptions of mind.

Defining the immaterial Mind
Todangsts essay argues that nothing immaterial can exist.
I agree with the essay so have decided to go with denying the 'existence' of the immaterial mind - I've decided that the question of "does the mind exist?" is a bit like "what is the weight of yellow?" is a category error.
So if the mind isn't a 'thing' that 'exists' then what exactly is it?

We use language for a variety of things.
We can greet people, give orders, ask questions, describe the world, etc.
Describing the world is the language we use for science and it is this mode of language that metaphysics is also based on. Everything that we describe is matter and/or motion - material.
Immaterial means not material.
As Todangst has argued, 'immaterial things' are not even defined within the discourse of description, so if I am going to be putting forward a concept that isn't material then it will have to be of a different discourse other than describing and our mental concepts will need a different purpose rather than to describe the world that we live in.

Although we do sometimes use mental concepts to try and describe 'how we are' to another person, this doesn't mean that they descriptions in the same sense as the ones of physical object. E.g. I can describe a table in terms of objective properties like height and colour but with an experience I have to try and work out where my friend might've experienced something similar.
Why do we make such descriptions of our mind to friends?
A common purpose is to explain our actions or to discuss future or hypothetical actions. So we could say that the concepts of mind serve a social purpose, to regulate and make sense of our behaviour.
We use it to explain our actions to other people.
So mental concepts can have a coherent use without being 'things' that exist in the descriptive sense. This allows them to be 'immaterial'.
(I believe that mathematics are also 'immaterial')

One might try and give them a material existence the following way:
Premise 1) Mental concepts are applied in a material setting.
Premise 2) This means that they exist as concepts applied in a material setting.
Conclusion) Mental concepts have a material existence.

However, I disagree with premise 2 as it appears to misuse the word 'existence'. If mental concepts like beliefs and desires exist like that, then so do non-existent objects like unicorns exist as concepts we apply. Actually existing things like tables have multiple existences - existence as the table and existence as the concept of the table... Jesus would have over a billion existences.
'Existence' as used in premise 2 leads to such absurdities that this argument to call 'mind' (or maths) material fails.

So to summarise this first section:
1) I agreed that everything that exists is material and that if something was 'immaterial' then it would have to be a concept from a different use of language rather than to refer to a 'thing' that exists.
2) I gave an alternative use of language to world description, i.e. regulating and making sense of our actions, that would allow mental concepts to be coherent in a 'not material' way. i.e. immaterial.
3) I suggested a possible argument that would claim that such concepts were still material, but I countered that such an argument depended on a misuse of what it was for something to be 'material'.

That leaves me with a coherent immaterial conception of mind that allows materialist metaphysics to be correct. The next question is, does this conception of mind survive the interactionist problem and even if it does, does it cohere with the results of neuro-science?

The immaterial mind meets the brain
The traditional downfall of the immaterial mind is when it comes to interaction with the body. We believe that light stimulating the eyes causes us to experience colours and that the decisions we make cause our actions, but causation as traditionally defined is a relation between two physical concepts. Even emergentists with their physicalist ontology have had difficulties in linking their mental properties with physical ones in a causal chain. If we are going to have the kind of causation as described in the examples above between a material body and non-material mind then we are going to have to take a fresh look at the concept of causation.

The skeleton structure of the concept causation is the counterfactual:
If A hadn't have happened then B wouldn't have happened
How can we know that if A hadn't have happened then B wouldn't have happened?
In physics it is quite easy as we can see situations where the laws of physics would lead from event A to B.
E.g. If I hadn't let go of the coin then it wouldn't have dropped, as the force of gravity on the coin was only countered by the force of my grip on it.
So how can we get a line of causation from my decision to let the coin drop (a mental concept) to the coin's dropping?

Remember I claimed that mental concepts, rather than refer to 'things', were concepts we employed in our human practice of regulating and making sense of our actions. As with all linguistic concepts there are correct ways and incorrect ways to apply them.
Take the greeting 'hello'. The word 'hello' doesn't refer to anything - it has a different linguistic purpose rather than refer to 'things' but there are still correct applications and incorrect applications that we can link with physical situations.
For example, the physical scene of two people meeting is the correct time for them to use the word 'hello' while use of it while parting would be a mis-use.
So although the word 'hello' doesn't refer to anything physical, there is still a connection between the word and the physical situations where it is correct to apply it. This link between the immaterial concept and the physical situation where one should apply it is the meeting point between immaterial mentality and physical actions.

Take the mental concept; Jim deliberately dropped the ball - this concept is a mental concept as it talks of intentions but it is clear that there are limited situations where it would be applicable. A biological machine would have to make the movements whereby a ball is released from it's grasp.
The mental concept involving Jim's intention is to be applied in scene that could be described purely physically, with no intentions or emotions in it. So here we have the supervenience between a mental concept and a physical event. From here we can use the counterfactual version of causation to show a causal relation between the immaterial mental concept of intention and the physical event of the ball dropping to the floor.

We start with the following premises:
Premise 1) Making a decision to 'drop the ball' causes the action 'drop the ball'.
(based on our everyday use of the concept "to make a decision to act")
Premise 2) If we apply a concept of "dropping a ball" then a physical event has occured that involves a biological machine moving in a way that a ball falls from its grasp.
(based on our everyday use of the concept of "dropping the ball")
Premise 3) A biological machine moving in a way that allows a ball to fall from its grasp will cause the ball to drop to the ground.
(based on the laws of physics)

Now for the following steps:
Step 1) If the biological machine hadn't released the ball then it wouldn't have dropped.
(follows from Premise 3 and definition of counterfactual causation)
Step 2) If the concept of "dropping the ball" is applicable if and only if the biological machine releases the ball.
(follows from Premise 2 and definition of counterfactual causation)
Step 3) If the concept of "dropping the ball" hadn't been applicable then the ball wouldn't have dropped.
(follows from steps 1 and 2)
Step 4) If "the decision to drop the ball" hadn't been applicable then neither would the dropping of the ball.
(follows from Premise 1 and definition of counterfactual causation)
Step 5) If "the decision to drop the ball" hadn't been applicable then the ball wouldn't have dropped to the ground.
(follows from steps 4 and 5)

Conclusion) "the decision to drop the ball" causes the ball to be dropped to the ground.
(follows from Step 5 and definition of counterfactual causation)

The argument might not be absolutely logically perfect in the details, but you can see how there can be a 'causal' connection between an immaterial concept and a physical event, thanks to the link of the rule of correct application.
This means that this version the immaterial mind respects materialist metaphysics and the closure principle (that every physical event has a physical cause) without losing its potential for causal relations between itself and the physical body.
The question I must now answer is whether this causal connection fits well with the results of modern neuro-science.

Does this conception of the mind fit in with modern neuro-science
I'm going to admit straight up that I'm not really familiar with the results of modern neuro-science. Instead, my argument is going to be based on what I believe the methodology of neuro-scientific experiments, and try to argue that the very nature of those experiments allows for the mind to be immaterial in the way that I've described. I still start by stating what I understand to be the procedure for empirically verifying connections between the neurological structure of the brain and states of the mind. (Hopefully DeludedGod will be able to confirm or refute my argument.)

Presumably the neuro-scientist will scan the brain somehow to determine what it's physical state is, and find relations between the physical state of the brain and the 'state of mind' that the person is in. They will find the state of the brain using the scanning methods and then see which states of mind it relates to.
But how do they decide which states of mind it applies to?
How do they know that the 'state of mind' that relates to this part of the brain is what they say it is? Presumably, they apply mental concepts as we usually do and are thereby relating the 'state of the brain' with the 'appropiate use of the concept'. So whatever results neuro-science finds, it will be compatable with this 'immaterial mind' as the link between the brain and the mental concept can be explained this way.

To summarise:
1) I explained how an 'immaterial mind' could have a 'causal' connection with physical events, by using the skeletal form of the counter-factual cause and using the "situation of appropiate use" link between certain mental concepts and the physical events the supervene over.
2) I showed that the method of neuro-science ensured that my 'immaterial' theory is compatible with any results it could give. My theory would merely give a different interpretation of those results. Rather than claim that those states of brain are the mental states there's the more intuitive claim that they are just the state of the brain when we apply mental concepts - there would be the same practical purposes.
How this 'immaterial' mind favours lots of intuitive ideas about it.
It's commonly agreed that Descarte's view of the mind was very intuitive, and that it's a shame that he couldn't metaphysically explain such an intuitive picture. The concepts of the mind just didn't seem to behave the same way as spacial ones. If physical reduction has all the metaphysics going for it - the only reason for someone to reject it is if they thought it mis-represented the mind in some way.

Other than pure intuition, this view of the mind does seem to agree with how we generally use mental concepts in real life. We usually explain our actions in a social context and depend on our understanding of other people's beliefs for a sense of security around them, that we can predict and handle how they are going to behave.
It also seems to be the most natural explanation of mental content, especially with Putnam's arguments for 'externalism'.

My main motivation, however, is how it fits our decision making - it allows for libertarian free will. Determinists have traditionally argued that events are either caused or random, and this is true for physical objects because the causal explanation is how we order them and without one they appear to be random. I showed that physical actions can have a causal line from our 'making the decision' to the action itself.
However, the mental concepts that characterise how we make decisions, e.g. desires and beliefs, do not have to have a causal structure. This allows for a spontenaity that allows for a libertarian free will.

This doesn't contradict that the physical world is determined, and in that sense our actions are all determined by the laws of physics. But when we give an explanation that involves 'will' and 'decision making', we aren't giving a physical explanation so different rules apply. This is very similar to Kant's argument for free will, that although the deterministic empirical explanation of the world was deterministic, as not all explanations are based in empiricism then explanations of the mind need not be determined in the same way. His arguments against Hume's compatibilism would support my position too.

This was a relatively rough sketch of a new idea, and it crammed several major topics (ontology, causation, practical use, scientific method etc) into one so it's bound to be very simplified and not account for everything. But I hope that where holes will be found that they will be minor details rather than the core ideas surrounding the theory.


Wonderist
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Unfortunately, your essay

Unfortunately, your essay leaves open attack via simple logic: You concede that 'everything that exists is material' and you claim that 'the mind exists', so by simple deduction, you must concede that the mind is material. (Socrates is mortal too, doncha know.)

Why don't you just say that the mind is information and leave it at that? Information is not *matter*, but it is physical, so in that *very specific* interpretation it is 'immaterial' but still exists, just like an email exists or a running computer program exists.

(For those wondering, I define information as equivalent to structure, form, state, etc. As in, a stable physical relationship between matter/energy within spacetime. For example, atoms exist, but are really just a special arrangement of protons, neutrons, and electrons. Proof: Atoms can be destroyed, but the matter/energy within them cannot be. An atom is a stable physical relationship between matter/energy within spacetime.)

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Strafio,

Strafio,

I think you should rethink your use of the term 'immaterial'. How you are using it is the same as 'abstraction', which I think is better as it avoids potential confusion. In philosophy of mind ‘immaterial’ tends to be used (by dualists) in the traditional philosophical sense so your use of the term will probably be rather confusing (In fact I bet many people will see the title of the thread and think: “not this shit again!”). I think “abstraction” is a far more practical term.

Anyway, I hold the mind (i.e. consciousness, thoughts, emotions, sensations, beliefs, desires, etc) to be abstractions, just like numbers, logic, names, unicorns, and ‘red’ are abstractions. These abstractions are our intuitive or commonsense notion of mind, but in reality, mind is the brain, they’re the same thing. However I think the commonsense notion of mind plays a big role in our social interaction via these abstractions. So I agree with you that the purpose or value of ‘mind’ is in our social context, but I still hold mind exists within a physical matrix (the brain) of which is must as per materialism.

Notice that my explanation acknowledges the physical reality of mind (in that it is equivalent to the brain) as per materialism but still keeps the intuitive notion of mind (the abstractions) that I know you think is important. (And I agree it is important since it plays a big role at our social level. While I think we may technically be able to eliminate this intuitive abstract notion of mind in the future, I don’t think we should.)

For further information on what I mean by “abstraction”, deludedgod describes it as a “lower level ontological category” via reductionism or “the result of synergistic effect[s] in the system” via emergentism:

Fallacies Commonly Employed Against Materialism Refuted:

“So, when the dualist makes the greedy reductionist fallacy by whinging that the materialist is denying the existence of X by invoking reducibility, they are invalidated by both schools of materialism. Reductionism does not say that X does not exist, merely that it is a lower ontological category than its constituents Y and Z. Emergentism says that X exists of its own accord due to a synergistic effect between Y and Z. The latter can be invoked to explain many phenomenon from a materialistic perspective, especially consciousness and the mind. Regardless, any dualist asking for a materialist to explain abstract X is revealing their own unsurprising ignorance of materialist philosophy. Abstractions in this context are merely what a reductionist would call lower ontological categories that result from increasingly complex systems, or what an emergentist would call the result of synergistic effect in the system. Emergentist materialism is extremely important in my work, since one of the things I study is enzyme kinetics, drugs and medicine, where synergistic interplay is extremely important. The same logic which causes a Calcium Channel blocker and a Beta Blocker to work better together to lower blood pressure than the mathematics of their individual workings would have us believe is the same logic that may give rise to abstractions from material systems. In other words, this may cover thoughts, emotions, rationality etc. To a reductionist however, we can explain these in terms of direct reducibility to their electrophysiological activity in corresponding neurons. Regardless of which position you take, the abstract, the thought, is still generated. And hence for the dualist to accuse the materialist of denying said abstractions is just, well, stupid. And can only be described as immensely foolish.”


Strafio wrote:
But how do they decide which states of mind it applies to?

How do they know that the 'state of mind' that relates to this part of the brain is what they say it is?


I don’t think they need to decide since the “state of mind” will be a direct result, it will directly follow. You stimulate a part of the brain, something that is held to be mental happens. To illustrate, when we see the wavelength of red, we don’t apply ‘red’ do we, when we experience pain, we don’t apply ‘pain.’ The nerves send a signal to the brain which are in turn processed by the brain, that causes another part of the brain to processes the concept or thought of pain which and in turn the part of the brain that deals with language/speech may cause us to say “fuck that hurt”. I suspect this is a similar process to other “mental experiences.”

Here’s an example regarding memory retrieval (which I think somewhat relates). It show us a causal chain for certain sensations:

”Nonetheless, similar molecular mechanisms may be at work in these memory types. Almost all theories of memory propose that memory storage depends on synapses, the tiny connections between brain cells. When two cells are active at the same time, the connection between them strengthens; when they are not active at the same time, the connection weakens. Out of such synaptic changes emerges an association. Experience can, for example, fortify the connections between the smell of coffee, its taste, its color, and the feel of its warmth. Since the populations of neurons connected with each of these sensations are typically activated at the same time, the connections between them can cause all the sensory associations of coffee to be triggered by the smell alone.
Source

So for example, there may be a physical connection between the experience of something and our memory of things associated with it. So seeing the wavelength of green may causally recall the name ‘green’ and things associated with the colour, such as "grass" or "green is my favourite colour", etc. Experiencing pain may causally recall everything we personally associated it, including the verbal expressions etc.


Anyway, I enjoyed the post. I’ll be interested to see what other think.

"It is far better to grasp the universe as it really is than to persist in delusion, however satisfying and reassuring" -- Carl Sagan


deludedgod
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Quote:

Quote:


2) You'll notice that I am using the word 'immaterial' in a different way to traditional philosophy. I have two reasons for this, that I think it is closer to how we use it in everyday circumstances and that the philosophical version was a perversion of this by trying to squeeze it into our 'world description' frame of language.
The other version is that the philosophical version (as Todangst shows in the topic I link to) is incoherent so this version is the only way the word can have a significant meaning.

This is specifically aimed at Todangst and DeludedGod who have written various essays on this subject, but all views will be welcome.
Todangst has written an essay claiming that immaterial is a broken concept while Deluded God has done a series of essays that deal with the subject.
As I understand it, they both subscribe to physical reductionism, which in contemporary philosophy is the most metaphysically correct position, but one that is at odds with many (if not all!) of our intuitive concepts of the mind.
My aim is to give a conception of the mind that is coherent, respects both materialistic metaphysics and the results of neuroscience and also retains (and vindicates) the common intuitive conceptions of the mind.
(That's right Chris, that fucking nobel prize will be mine for sure! Eye-wink)

I think that we are defining “material” and “immaterial” in different ways from each other. The way you are defining immaterial is an entity which arises fromphysicality but is not a physical entity per se. This is a subsection of materialism. However, the way the tod and I are defining immateriali is the same way that the theists are: Not based on the physical. Having no physical constituents. Also, I do not subscribe to reductionism. I hover on the fence between reductionism and emergentism. I generally hold that the mind is emergent not reductionist. However, it is still material.

Quote:

This essay will be done in three steps:
1) Define the immaterial mind in a way that is coherent and respects materialist metaphysics.

But this could only be done if we defined “immaterial” as an emergent entity from a materialist system! Even if it is not physical per se. The way you are defining immaterial is the way that an emergent materialist would do so. Not a theist who believes that the mind is a separate agent from the physical. That is what we are attacking. The former is reasonable. The latter is nonsense. You will notice, as Topher quoted me, that I actually already pointed this out in my essay:

I wrote:

One of the things I covered in the other essay (albeit not with this specific terminology) is the concept of ontological orders. We have higher ontological status and lower ontological status. The lower ontological status arises from the higher ontological status. A finger is a higher ontological status than a working hand. A fermion is a higher ontological status than a quark, and a quark higher than a proton, and a proton higher than an atom. In other words, the concept of an ontological status requisites materialism. Not necessarily reductionism because it can also encompass emergentism but it does necessitate that beings exist due to the existence of higher ontological status. Eventually, according to the grand unifying theory of physics, we keep going back and we eventually hit the highest possible ontological status, the absolute substance (or perhaps lack thereof) from which all is composed. A quick versing in the basic ontology behind this can be found in my essay Common Fallacies Employed Against Materialism Refuted where I wrote:

Quote:

The crux of all this is that the dualist who asserts that materialism cannot account for X abstraction is that they are making a fallacy of conflation between reductionism and materialism. Reductionism is merely one arm of the materialist school of thought. We also have to take into account, for this exercise, emergentism, which materialism does indeed encompass. Emergentism is the doctrine that properties emerge from systems that are not necessarily reducible to their constituents. They exist only when the system is in place, and are hence not reducible to the sum of their parts. This is the schism in materialism between reductionism (whole=sum of parts) and emergentism (whole>sum of parts). The point is, these are both materialist positions. Neither invocates dualism or magic. So when the dualist is asserting that the materialist is denying the existence of X because it can be reduced to smaller constituents, they are making the greedy reductionist fallacy. Regardless of whether the system in question is emergentist or reductionist, the fallacy holds. It is analogous to saying:

1. The clicking on hyperlinks can be reduced to electrons being fired across LCD electron guns and photons through ethernet and fiberoptic cables. Therefore hyperlinks do not actually exist, only electrons and photons.

2. An atomic nuclei can be reduced to individual protons and electrons, which in turn can be reduced to quarks, which in turn can be reduced to bosons and fermions. Therefore, atoms do not actually exist, only bosons and fermions.

You will find that many materialist systems are indeed emergentist. That means that they cannot be reduced to their constituents, they only emerge when the complexity of the system reaches a certain point, but, the crux: They are still materialist. Emergentism is an arm of materialist philosophy. Many naturalists regard consciousness and the mind as an emergent property of the brain. Some others hold that the mind can be divided and is hence, with respect to the whole brain, reductionist, not emergent. I am sympathetic to a middle ground position . Obviously when we reduce the system to a certain degree, we find the property which we were examining in the first place disappears. Hence to some degree the two positions of emergentism and reductionism are valid and mutually reconcilable in much the same way that empiricism and rationalism are reconcilable. In fact, I do not think there has been a “pure” empiricist or rationalist since the days of Immanuel Kant. Likewise, the materialist philosophy does not usually find one taking a pure stance on emergentism or reductionism.

So, when the dualist makes the greedy reductionist fallacy by winging that the materialist is denying the existence of X by invoking reducibility, they are invalidated by both schools of materialism. Reductionism does not say that X does not exist, merely that it is a lower ontological category than its constituents Y and Z. Emergentism says that X exists of its own accord due to a synergistic effect between Y and Z. The latter can be invoked to explain many phenomenon from a materialistic perspective, especially consciousness and the mind. Regardless, any dualist asking for a materialist to explain abstract X is revealing their own unsurprising ignorance of materialist philosophy. Abstractions in this context are merely what a reductionist would call lower ontological categories that result from increasingly complex systems, or what an emergentist would call the result of synergistic effect in the system. Emergentist materialism is extremely important in my work, since one of the things I study is enzyme kinetics, drugs and medicine, where synergistic interplay is extremely important. The same logic which causes a Calcium Channel blocker and a Beta Blocker to work better together to lower blood pressure than the mathematics of their individual workings would have us believe is the same logic that may give rise to abstractions from material systems. In other words, this may cover thoughts, emotions, rationality etc. To a reductionist however, we can explain these in terms of direct reducibility to their electrophysiological activity in corresponding neurons. Regardless of which position you take, the abstract, the thought, is still generated. And hence for the dualist to accuse the materialist of denying said abstractions is just, well, stupid. And can only be described as immensely foolish. We shall soon see how easy it is to flip this on its head.

So, if we examine the dualist assertion which is necessary to make the God entity possible, they are:

1) The mind need not be dependent on the material.
2)It can exist extraneous of the physical

I have shown this absurd from all sides, but if we examine it now, it simply becomes apparent their assertion is that the mind is a higher ontological status than the material. But everything we know about reality indicates the opposite is true. The mind is an extremely low ontological status. It is an entity which emerges after the most painstaking evolution. I actually outlined some of the mathematics and entropy probabilities here:

The Absurdity of the Cosmological Argument

The point is that I have raised another reason why the immaterial mind is absurd. The mind is a much lower ontological status than the material. It as an entity is extremely improbable and can only come after billions of years of painstaking evolution. It cannot exist as some sort of “free entity” in the void, nor can it be an eternal entity, nor can it be an entity independent of the material. In essence that would be claiming that the “mental” is the highest ontological status! Surely one has only to open a journal and read about the utterly vast complexities of neuroscience and neurophenomenology to realize the mind is a deeply complex and painstakingly arranged machine. That we may claim it could exist as holding the attributes of “God” is simply ridiculous, if for no other reason that the mind is an extremely low ontological status. Hence, the invocation of a mind as a solution to a posteriori problems of complexity or problems of necessity is merely circular reasoning. I already iterated this of course, I am merely hammering it home.

 

 

 

 

Quote:

2) Show that such a conception is compatible with neuroscience and how that traditional 'interactionism' problem is not an issue for this one.
3) Explore how this immaterial mind favours our intuitive conceptions of mind.

This again, only works if you subscribe to the emergentist position on “immaterial” that I brought up. Not the theist one.

Quote:

Defining the immaterial Mind

You will find that your definition, which is essentially an entity which emerges as a result of a physical system, is concurrent with materialism. However, the theist, who believes that the mind, or the mind of God, is an utterly separate agent and ontological category from the physical, is making an assertion which is absurd.

Quote:

Todangsts essay argues that nothing immaterial can exist.
I agree with the essay so have decided to go with denying the 'existence' of the immaterial mind - I've decided that the question of "does the mind exist?" is a bit like "what is the weight of yellow?" is a category error.
So if the mind isn't a 'thing' that 'exists' then what exactly is it?

I would say that the mind is a process, not an entity. I made this point here:

Quote:

We use language for a variety of things.
We can greet people, give orders, ask questions, describe the world, etc.
Describing the world is the language we use for science and it is this mode of language that metaphysics is also based on. Everything that we describe is matter and/or motion - material.
Immaterial means not material.

But now you are making a fallacy of equivocation, since the mind you are defining is not immaterial at all! It may not be a physical entity per se, but rather a process that emerges as the result of physical entities. IN essence we are in concurrence, then. The only people whose view is absurd is the theists’ since they hold that the mind is a separate agent from the physical. I pointed this out in my essay Topher quoted about distinguishing between something which is truly “immaterial” and merely a physical abstraction:

Let us begin with a common objection. This one is not a consequentialist argument, but it is terrible all the same. It essentially states the materialist cannot account for abstraction, which is to say that things like thoughts, emotions, actions, or even (this is the worst) information cannot be accounted for under the physicalist worldview. Out of amused cruelty, I have called this the “Mary Midgley fallacy, in dishonor of the Oxford philosopher who said: Matter being all that exists is a self-refuting idea (stolen concept), since the argument would deny its own existence. She calls it “self-refutation of eliminative materialism”.

I am genuinely embarrassed that so-called “professional of philosophy” have trotted out with this tripe, not least of which from an institution like Oxford. It does not bear well.

Need I remind anyone that these so-called abstractions are processes, which is to say they are causal interactive events which occur between physical entities. If materialism did not encompass process as well as being it could not deal with the fact that motion existed! How silly a fallacy of composition to claim that if all that exists is physical, processes which result from physicalism are eliminated!

The chain of thought which must go through their mind is fascinating to contemplate, it must go something like this:

I bounce the basketball with my hand

My hand and the bastketball are both made of matter

Matter is all that exists

When my hand (material) acts on the basketball (material) it moves

The movement is not “made” of matter

Therefore the movement does not exist

When I deliberately word it like that, it sounds ridiculous. And it is ridiculous. Anyone with half a brain will be able to see the fallacy of composition located in the implication that since the process is not . But replace “motion” with “thoughts” or “information” and the dualists happily take the bait like a swarm of unusually stupid fish.

It’s ludicrous

Presumably we do not pin the existence of motion on some sort of mysterious vitalism (although ancient scientists did believe in ether, that was thrown out during the scientific revolution of the 18th century).

I think that out of all of these “abstractions”, the worst example is “information”. I get genuinely insulted when a dualist brings up “how does the materialist account for “information or data” for two reasons

1) Most of the time, if you ask them, they do not know what information or data is

2) I spent years poring over the information/entropy laws in university, a process I refuse to go through again.

In the essay I wrote called The Matter/Information Conjecture is a Crisis For the Existence of God I wrote a detailed explanation of the relationship between matter and energy, and explained in full how the entity (matter) gives rise to the process (information):

the_matter_information_conjecture_is_a_crisis_for_the_existence_of_god

And then I described reductionism and emergentism below.

[quote

Although we do sometimes use mental concepts to try and describe 'how we are' to another person, this doesn't mean that they descriptions in the same sense as the ones of physical object. E.g. I can describe a table in terms of objective properties like height and colour but with an experience I have to try and work out where my friend might've experienced something similar.
Why do we make such descriptions of our mind to friends?
A common purpose is to explain our actions or to discuss future or hypothetical actions. So we could say that the concepts of mind serve a social purpose, to regulate and make sense of our behaviour.
We use it to explain our actions to other people.
So mental concepts can have a coherent use without being 'things' that exist in the descriptive sense. This allows them to be 'immaterial'.
(I believe that mathematics are also 'immaterial&#39Eye-wink

Again, the way you are defining “immaterial” is fundamentally different from the way we are in our essays. You are defining immaterial as emergentist. This is false. These entities that emerge from physical systems but have no recognizable physicality themselves are not immaterial the way Tod and I are describing it. They are physical abstractions. In essence they are lower ontological categories from the physical entities from which they emerge. But the theist “immateriality” is a higher ontological category. The latter, I showed, is utter nonsense. The former (your definition) is totally reasonable and I think we are in concurrence over that. But theists hold the latter position and that is absurd.

However, I disagree with premise 2 as it appears to misuse the word 'existence'. If mental concepts like beliefs and desires exist like that, then so do non-existent objects like unicorns exist as concepts we apply. Actually existing things like tables have multiple existences - existence as the table and existence as the concept of the table... Jesus would have over a billion existences.
'Existence' as used in premise 2 leads to such absurdities that this argument to call 'mind' (or maths) material fails.

But again we are defining immaterial in different ways! Thoughts exist as lower ontological categories than the neurons which create them. So thoughts about non-existent entities exist as these abstractions. You are making a fallacy of equivocation between abstract representations of X and X per se. So, the immaterial mind you are defining is one which I would recognize as an emergent process from physicality. This is totally and utterly different to the absurd theist assertion of the mind as a higher/separate ontological category that could exist without the physical.

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So to summarise this first section:
1) I agreed that everything that exists is material and that if something was 'immaterial' then it would have to be a concept from a different use of language rather than to refer to a 'thing' that exists.
2) I gave an alternative use of language to world description, i.e. regulating and making sense of our actions, that would allow mental concepts to be coherent in a 'not material' way. i.e. immaterial.
3) I suggested a possible argument that would claim that such concepts were still material, but I countered that such an argument depended on a misuse of what it was for something to be 'material'.

But again, we are at no disagreement! The alternative way in which you define immaterial is recognized as emergent materialism. But the “immaterial” Tod and I were discussing is the theist “immaterial” utterly and wholly separate frim the physical.

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That leaves me with a coherent immaterial conception of mind that allows materialist metaphysics to be correct. The next question is, does this conception of mind survive the interactionist problem and even if it does, does it cohere with the results of neuro-science?

But there shouldn’t be any interactionist problem in your scenario, since the mind emerges from the physical even if it not physical per se! The only reason theists have an interaction problem is because they define the immaterial mind as atemporal hence non spatial hence the idea of it “interaction” is nonsense.

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The immaterial mind meets the brain
The traditional downfall of the immaterial mind is when it comes to interaction with the body.

But thats the whole point! The downfall of traditional immateriality! Theists still hold to traditional immateriality. I have shown this as nonsense. What yo are defining as immaterial really is not immaterial at all, but rather emergent abstraction.

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We believe that light stimulating the eyes causes us to experience colours and that the decisions we make cause our actions, but causation as traditionally defined is a relation between two physical concepts. Even emergentists with their physicalist ontology have had difficulties in linking their mental properties with physical ones in a causal chain. If we are going to have the kind of causation as described in the examples above between a material body and non-material mind then we are going to have to take a fresh look at the concept of causation.

But in this context the idea of an “immaterial mind” merely means the mind is not a distinct physical entity. It is merely the result of the interactions between physical entities. But we can link physical events in a causal chain since mental events are generated by physical activity. From my essay on neuroscience:

deludedgod wrote:

The dualist assertion, as supported by the religious dogma it complements, is that the soul is the domain of all things mental, that mental states are a seperate reality from the glands and gristle of the brain (but then...what does the brain do? Surely then it would be vestigial, which is absurd). However, neuroscientists have been shooting those off like flies on a windshield. Even the most ardent or ignorant dualist will be forced to admit that there is physical and causal grounding for mental states. We now have convincing neurological explanations for emotion, reason, cognition, pain, perception etc, and those phenomenon which we cannot (as of yet) explain, we can at least to deduce the physical nature of such phenomenon (consciousness, self-awareness and thoughts). The deductions of physicality are obvious, you tweak a physical thing in the brain, and you get a corresponding change in mental state. An electrode at X produces a physiological effect at Y and a corresponding mental state, chemical X in neuron group Y produces mental state Z and so on. We have a slew of cerebrovascular, genetic, neurodevelopmental, congenital neurophysiological, neurotoxic and neurobiological diseases to attest. Depression (serotonin VGIC channel malfunction and limbic-cortic dysregulation), which causes, well, depression. Alzheimers (amyeloid fatty plaque accumulation), which causes dementia, senile dementia, which does the same, Wilson’s disease (accumulation of copper in the brain causing dementia and Kayser-Fleischer rings), OCD (subcortical circuitry malfunction) causing obsessive-compulsive behaivor, Lesch-Nyhan’s (autocannibalism and insanity, caused by a missing copy of the functioning hypoxanthanine-guanine ribulotransferanse), autism (miswiring of mirror neurons) causing, in extreme cases, total antisocial behaivor, inability to speak, general inability to interact with others, eating disorders are caused by frontotemporal synaptogenesis malfunction, hallucination by cytokine storms in the retinogeniculocalcarine tract, the list goes on and on.

So, in the face of 200 crushing years of neurological evidence, many turn to the icky and hopelessly unscientific notion of “free will”. This is appealling because the brain is a physical machine and hence causal, but “free will” as the name denotes, is indeterminate. Many neuroscientists hence reject the notion of “free will”. I am not here to argue for or against such a notion, except to say this:

The question of free will is merely the other side of the coin of consciousness, the existence of a being which is aware of its existence (subject/object) in relation to the world, and has a concept of “I” and hence is able to make decisions about the the world pertaining to the accomplishment of some goal. Neurologists call this executive function. There is a part of the brain responsible, the anterior cingulate cortex (ACC), although we are not absolutely sure of the precise mechanism involved. Regardless, we can be quite sure of the organic biophysical nature of the decision making process. As I explained before, this is merely the other side of consciousness, which through a series of very easy deductions, we can, as I have shown, prove to have organo-physical grounding. The “free will” and control you excercise over your actions can be altered, controlled, lost, and switched on and off by physical actions in the brain, as evidenced by the poor Lesch-Nyhan sufferer.

But the term “free will” implies your ability to make decisions is...free. It is surely not. There are a host of factors, both acknowledged and programmed, which influence decision making. It is a highly causal and determinate process, depending on the tempermant of the subject in question (which is partially genetic and partially environmental), the electrical signals which knit together to form your cohesive worldview, this is the science of perception, which I shall cover now, memory, the pattern-recognition engines of the brain, the precise neuroelectrochemical concentration at time of the decision being made, and so on. There is no such thing as “free will”, because the processes by which decisions are made are as causal and hence physical as any biological process we care to name. The dichotomy we must entertain is this: Is there a “you” commanding and controlling your thoughts, or are “you” the sum total of your thoughts? Most of neuroscience, as do I, lean towards the latter. There is no mental control room, and it is most certainly not external of the brain. You cannot control your thoughts. Try it. You are your thoughts, and these thoughts are caused by....a guess, anyone? I would suspect, along with the bulk of evolutionary cognitive neuroscientists, that the subject/object self-perception of higher organisms which generates the illusion of “free will” is a by product of the evolutionary expansion of the neocortex along the Pan/Homo genus. After all, humans are not the only animals to possess this capability, although ours is certainly most fine-tuned. At present, great apes, chimps, macques and dolphins are also among this small set of organisms which acknowledge their existence as a defined being from the world they inhabit, and hence they do not behave like mere automata, as Descartes would have us believe.

In preperation for the next section of discussion, we must turn the science of perception. In scientific terms, this is the mechanism by which the electrical signals from the external and internal world are arrayed and read to assemble a picture of reality for the brain to interpret. That’s what the brain does, it runs a first-class simulation of reality.

This simulation is based on thousands and thousands of data hard points inside and outside the body. First, there are the five exoperceptive senses, which we all know, sight, smell, taste, touch, and hearing, which depend, respectively, on the eyes and optic, trochlear, abducent and oculomotor nerves, the olfactory and glassopharyngeal nerves, the tongue and hypoglossal nerve, the thousands of recepter neurons across the body and the auditory and vestibulocochlear nerves.

Then, there are the lesser known, but equally important introperceptive senses, which regulate balance and spatiotemporal relative position and geometric orientation in the world (inner ear and cochlear tubes) called proprioception, the tracking of movement and muscle memory called mechanoperception (this one is quite remarkable, it is controlled by grid neurons which array a lattice-like projection of external reality, dividing it into grid squares, such that grid neurons corresponding to said squares fire when movement is detected in said squares. Obviously, your brain does not project this onto your vision, as that would be extremely annoying. As a matter of fact, your brain, while efficiently organizing reality, tweaks a lot of things so as not to appear unsettling. For example, the eyes never stop moving, they, even when fixed on a point, are making a jerky motion called sacchares. However, this is extremely unsettling in appearance so the brain eliminates it from the visual projection. It can be detected only by watching someone else’s eyes in the mirror.

There are many introperceptive senses, but they keep inventing new ones as they are discovered, so I shall not mention them all here. The point is that the simulation which the brain runs based on this data is the fundamental requisite of existence for a conscious mind. The mind cannot exist without it. For some hitherto unexplained reason, perhaps psuedo-therepautical, the wealthy sometimes pay to be placed for short periods of time in a total sensory deprivation tank. This is dangerous. Overexposure to total sensory deprivation will cause insanity then death. The sensory processing units of the brain will begin to unravel, as experiments have shown. Imagine a person born more unfortunate than Helen Keller. Not only are they congenitally blind and deaf, but they have CIPA (Congenital insensity to pain with anhidrosis) and ageusia. If I presented this case to a neuroscientist, they would say the baby would die soon after exiting the womb, assuming it has not been born stillborn. The mind cannot exist without the senses.

In addition to the senses and the genetic factors of temperament and chemical concentration across the VGIC arrays, the mind cannot exist without the brain’s pattern recognition engines, without which we would be somewhat like Dory the fish in Finding Nemo, except that in addition to constantly forgetting our own name, we would be unable to walk, talk, or think at all.

Born without a brain

Of the most ludicrous attempts to prove the existence of the “soul”, surely, the so-called “born without a brain” is one of them.

Of course, it is possible to be born without a brain. The precursor to the neural clusters of the brain are called neural tubes, which open and develop around 25 weeks into embryonic development, and partition along the brain’s major longitudinal axis into the four major partitions (prosencephalon, mesencephalon, rhombencephalon and the cerebrospinal fluid duct. The first three then split again into the brain’s sub-partitioning, the prosencephalon develops along the optic ducts and into the precursor of the cerebrum, which contains all of the higer-level functions and partitions (temporal lobe, occipatal lobe, prefrontal cortex and parietal lobe), and the rest develops into the sub-structures of the primary and secondary tiers of the brain, the midbrain, the fluid ducts that run between the lobes, the pons medullas and hypothalamus, the cerebellum and the brain stem.

To be born without a brain is a classed neural tube defect, which occurs around 26 weeks of human embryonic development, with the failed closure of the neural tubes. The most serious of these is called anencephaly. An anencephalactic baby has no isocortex or cerebral hemisphere, in short, they are missing 85% of their brain, the part necessary for higher-level brain function.

Very few anencephelactic babies are born, since it can be detected in utero, and nearly all mothers who learn of the baby’s condition choose to abort it, many of those who are born are stillborn. A very tiny portion remain alive. It is possible to be alive in an anencephelactic state since the brain stem is present, and hence the cardioregulatory center, so the heart will beat. Eventually, however, with no brain, the body will die very quickly (Morpheus, in the Matrix, my favorite film, was correct when he said “the body cannot live without the mind”) the record, I believe, for an anencephelatic baby is one week outside of the womb.

Unsurprisingly, an anencephaltic baby is in a permanent vegetative state, unable to feel pain, unconscious, blind, deaf and dumb. In short, there is no higher level function to speak of. No consciousness develops, no mind etc. They just...exist, although there is no “I” to speak of in an anencephelactic baby.

Anencephaly is not to be confused with a much, much rarer condition called Acephaly, which is the absence of the entire head of a parasitic twin fetus, which appallingly, can survive for a few hours by leeching blood from the heart of its twin.

So, having read the two sections above regarding free will and NTDs, we reach an incredibly obvious conclusion. The conscious mind is not a separate agent from the reality it inhabits (recall especially the section on sensory deprivation and its resulting effect). The ancient Egyptians actually believed the brain to be vestigial. Such ignorance!

Also, conscious awareness, creativity, intelligence, etc. These are functions which develop via the interactive existence of the brain and the world. It is absurd to say that they are somehow separate or come “pre-packaged” in this nonsensical and ridiculous “ether” which is somehow “injected” into the zygote or foetus (whichever, apparently, depends on whether you are Catholic or Protestant. I am trying very hard not to laugh as I write this). They depend on and build from the subject/object nature of human existence, which is why, as I have previously explained, they cannot exist in a baby born with no sensory functions (which would die soon after assuming it survived in utero). It makes no sense to pin these functions on the existence of this magical nonsense being that they are no more separate functions from the physical brain than the liver is separate from the rest of the body, as 200 years of neuroscience confirms. Hence, as I have already exhaustively iterated with countless case studies, diseases, experiments ad infinitum, it is utterly absurd to claim that the mind is a separate agent from the reality it inhabits, which of course, means that there is no soul, being that the mind is not a disembodied entity, which of course, implies naturalism. This in turn, is a direct challenge to the idiocy of theism, since God is claimed to be a disembodied mind, which I have cast serious doubt upon here (or rather, not I, but 200 years of neuroscience).

So, let us assume, for the sake of argument, that there is indeed a non-physical and non-biological existence for the human conscious mind. As I have shown over and over again, even if such a being did exist, there must logically be some mechanism by which it interacts with the spatio-temporal, material, 1.3 kilos of grey stuff that reside between your ears and the neuroelectrochemical signals which it produces. It cannot exist independently of it. This is totally contradictory to the dualistic worldview and the 2000 years of religious dogma which take up the same position. It also casts impossibility on the notion of life after the death of the brain. But it is surely absurd to claim two such different entities could interact. Non-physical implies no spatial location (x,y,z) and hence, according to general relitivity, no temporal existence either, hence, it is utterly absurd to claim such a mysterious entity could possibly be responsible for any mental function, all of which, including decision-making (a more scientific approximate of the rather silly notion of free will) depend on causality and are hence spatiotemporal. Obviously, we cannot, as of yet, point to a neuroelectrical signal transmitting across a synaptic vesicle and say, this is where “thought X” is occuring, and then go on to explain precisely how neuron Y is causing thought X and so on. but that is merely because we do not fully understand it. The precise relationship between neuroelectrical activity and decision-making and thoughts is not understood, although it may be in time. At present it remains one of the “big ten” Unsolved Problems of Neuroscience. My job is not to provide an answer to that question, but rather to the much more simple statement “Neural activity is causing thought X”. The obvious problem regarding the brain and the "soul" interacting is that one is indeterminate hence acausal. But the nature of the word interaction inherently dictates temporal causality. What else are we to refer to when we say "interaction", could you give an example of "acausal interaction"? How do two things interact if one is not bound by temporal causality? Neither can cause the other? Does interaction not imply one thing acting up another? How can something act upon an entity which is not temporal when causal actions requires one to make reference to temporality? How can one make reference to any sort of interaction when one is temporal and the other is not? That's ridiculous. There is no trichotomy here. Being that the two entities cannot interact, one is vestigial. Either the brain or the soul. Care to guess, anyone, which one it is?

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The skeleton structure of the concept causation is the counterfactual:
If A hadn't have happened then B wouldn't have happened
How can we know that if A hadn't have happened then B wouldn't have happened?

Sounds like Hume. As I said before, we cannot know with absolute certainty the causal relationship between entities. However, we can know the probability of correlation between them. But that was not the point I was making. The point was that the whole concept of causation relies on space and time. Hence, to claim that any reference could be made to causation for an entity outside of spatiotemporality is ridiculous.

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In physics it is quite easy as we can see situations where the laws of physics would lead from event A to B.
E.g. If I hadn't let go of the coin then it wouldn't have dropped, as the force of gravity on the coin was only countered by the force of my grip on it.
So how can we get a line of causation from my decision to let the coin drop (a mental concept) to the coin's dropping?

Oh. That. Well, we can demonstrate that reasonably well, provided you were hooked up to an fMRI, an EEG, a PET, and a CAT scan, which means it would be difficult to drop the ball anyway. But neuroscience can show how decisions and thoughts are made and translated into actions. I showed that here:

The science of consciousness is all about unity of the lobes of the brain, and can be demonstrated likewise: I am referring to what modern neuroscientists called apraxia, a situation which results in a longitudinal divide along the corpus callosum in epilepsy patients, which causes the dominant hand of the patient to undergo involuntary movement and uncontrollable motor functions. The hand might undo buttons, light cigarettes, even strike objects without the users control. However, combined magnetoencephelogram scanning and neurophenomenology conducted after Penfield died in 1976 have revealed that this very rare form of epillepsy apraxia is caused by the damage caused to the medial lobes by the incision along the major axis of the brain. There are different brain functions associated with voluntary movement, the cerebellum for proprioception, the grid neuron array for mechanoperception, Acetylocholin-based Somatic and visceral motor neurons which run up the body's planar axis through the center of the spinal cord and into the Sensory Somatic Cortex. The incision along the brain's long axis severs the connection between the lobes controlling movement, with the result that different areas of the brain may at different times be able to command the hand in different ways, but since they are not connected, conscious control over it is lost. Actually, apraxia is often used to make the neurophysiological distinction between intention of execution otherwise known as Executive function (Anterior Cingulate Cortex), and actual execution. In other words, we can show that the self loses control of the hand due to apraxia due to a division along the major long axis of the brain, and although the kinesthetic sensation is there, the sensation of conscious control over the hand is not. For this reason, most neurophysiologists consider that at the supramolecular level, there is an electrophysiological event which translates intent into action. The general area which does this has been pinpointed by fMRI as the medial fronal lobe. Recently, neuroimaging has revealed the area of the brain responsible for decisional inhibition to be in the parietaloccipatal system. The damage or destruction of this system results in the loss of executive functional inhibition, with the result that the subject may lose conscious control over many physiological functions. But since the area of the brain responsible for action is located on the other lobe of the brain, the result of an incision along the corpus callosum will be in rare cases the loss of ability for interagency neurological control over such functions, with apraxia, with the result that a conscious self loses control for periods of time over the limb in question unless treated. The very fact that it can be treated in a neurological fashion hence indicates that you are dead wrong. Since the brain is a contralateral control system, which means that damage to the posterior medial lobe results in involuntary movement in the opposite function, the same for the parietal-occipatal system, since the corpus callosum is the link between these two areas and the subcortical synaptogenesis which develops when basic motor skills do, the exertation of control over the movement is partitioned into four areas. In other words, we are seeing exactly what we expect to see with an epillepsy patient experiencing apraxia under IET stimulation.

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Take the mental concept; Jim deliberately dropped the ball - this concept is a mental concept as it talks of intentions but it is clear that there are limited situations where it would be applicable. A biological machine would have to make the movements whereby a ball is released from it's grasp.
The mental concept involving Jim's intention is to be applied in scene that could be described purely physically, with no intentions or emotions in it. So here we have the supervenience between a mental concept and a physical event. From here we can use the counterfactual version of causation to show a causal relation between the immaterial mental concept of intention and the physical event of the ball dropping to the floor.

But you are still defining “immaterial” in a way I would ultimately reject. The entity you describe is no more “immaterial” than “motion” is “immaterial”. As for the actual process of making the decision, and the causation of that, I have shown that above.

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We start with the following premises:
Premise 1) Making a decision to 'drop the ball' causes the action 'drop the ball'.
(based on our everyday use of the concept "to make a decision to act&quotEye-wink
Premise 2) If we apply a concept of "dropping a ball" then a physical event has occured that involves a biological machine moving in a way that a ball falls from its grasp.
(based on our everyday use of the concept of "dropping the ball&quotEye-wink
Premise 3) A biological machine moving in a way that allows a ball to fall from its grasp will cause the ball to drop to the ground.
(based on the laws of physics)

Now for the following steps:
Step 1) If the biological machine hadn't released the ball then it wouldn't have dropped.
(follows from Premise 3 and definition of counterfactual causation)
Step 2) If the concept of "dropping the ball" is applicable if and only if the biological machine releases the ball.
(follows from Premise 2 and definition of counterfactual causation)
Step 3) If the concept of "dropping the ball" hadn't been applicable then the ball wouldn't have dropped.
(follows from steps 1 and 2)
Step 4) If "the decision to drop the ball" hadn't been applicable then neither would the dropping of the ball.
(follows from Premise 1 and definition of counterfactual causation)
Step 5) If "the decision to drop the ball" hadn't been applicable then the ball wouldn't have dropped to the ground.
(follows from steps 4 and 5)

Conclusion) "the decision to drop the ball" causes the ball to be dropped to the ground.
(follows from Step 5 and definition of counterfactual causation)

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The argument might not be absolutely logically perfect in the details, but you can see how there can be a 'causal' connection between an immaterial concept and a physical event, thanks to the link of the rule of correct application.
This means that this version the immaterial mind respects materialist metaphysics and the closure principle (that every physical event has a physical cause) without losing its potential for causal relations between itself and the physical body.
The question I must now answer is whether this causal connection fits well with the results of modern neuro-science.

Yes, of course. And there is in turn a causal event which caused the decision to drop the ball to made and in turn an event which translated the intent into execution into action. However, this is all going on within absolute spacetime, and hence the way you are defining immaterial is still in my concurrence: it is emergent materialism. We must remember that theistic immaterialism postulates an entity not dependant on physical, a higher ontological category, and outside space and time, with no physical composition from which the mental function might emerge: Surely, this is complete nonsense.

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Presumably the neuro-scientist will scan the brain somehow to determine what it's physical state is, and find relations between the physical state of the brain and the 'state of mind' that the person is in. They will find the state of the brain using the scanning methods and then see which states of mind it relates to.
But how do they decide which states of mind it applies to?
How do they know that the 'state of mind' that relates to this part of the brain is what they say it is? Presumably, they apply mental concepts as we usually do and are thereby relating the 'state of the brain' with the 'appropiate use of the concept'. So whatever results neuro-science finds, it will be compatable with this 'immaterial mind' as the link between the brain and the mental concept can be explained this way.

You are talking about the procedure of brain-mapping. Here is what we do. The brain is a sub-partitioned organ with thousands of different functions. There are 9,000 types of neurons and each type of neuron behaves differently. By this the brain is partitioned into neural clusters an each one responds in a precise fashion to various external and internal stimuli. The brain is a highly plastic organ and the result

If you read the apraxia paragraph again, you will notice that I said conscious control is an emergent property of the interagency system of all the lobes of the brain in question. Hence, cutting the connections causes the control to separate. You can have kinaesthetic control and sensation but no conscious control until it is repaired.

Anyway, brain mapping is done like thus. I do not work in neuroscience, even though I am versed in it (mostly in molecular neuroscience, neurobiology and neurocellular transducution and physiology). We inject the subject with a contrast radioactive dye before mapping his brain in an fMRI machine, which allows us to monitor the brain. The contrast is flowing though his bloodstream and a radioactive counter can pick it up. Since the concentration of the dye is evenly distrubted across the blood vessels, the color of the area in question indicates the rate of blood flow. If a sudden surge of blood flow occurs in a patient with contrast radioisotope injected, then that area will “light up” on the fMRI. This is how we monitor brain activity. The room is utterly still and silent. We control the various stimuli into the room. For example, we might play music, or flash colors, or read, or read in a different language. The number of stimuli for different mental functions is utterly endless. And eventually, doing this thousands of thousands of times for thousands of subjects, we construct a “map” of the brain and all its areas.

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To summarise:
1) I explained how an 'immaterial mind' could have a 'causal' connection with physical events, by using the skeletal form of the counter-factual cause and using the "situation of appropiate use" link between certain mental concepts and the physical events the supervene over.

But you still are not defining “immaterial” in the same way that I am. The reason the theist immateriality could not have any sort of causation is because it is atemporal. This makes it absurd.

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2) I showed that the method of neuro-science ensured that my 'immaterial' theory is compatible with any results it could give. My theory would merely give a different interpretation of those results. Rather than claim that those states of brain are the mental states there's the more intuitive claim that they are just the state of the brain when we apply mental concepts - there would be the same practical purposes.

But that is merely replacing reductionism with emergentism. It says nothing on theistic dualism.

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How this 'immaterial' mind favours lots of intuitive ideas about it.
It's commonly agreed that Descarte's view of the mind was very intuitive, and that it's a shame that he couldn't metaphysically explain such an intuitive picture. The concepts of the mind just didn't seem to behave the same way as spacial ones. If physical reduction has all the metaphysics going for it - the only reason for someone to reject it is if they thought it mis-represented the mind in some way.

OK, that is simply untrue. The way you are defining immaterial is fundamentally different from Descartes. Descartes view was ridiculous. He believed the mind was a separate agent from the physical world. The poor guy was crushed by neuroscience. The view you are advocating is not that the mind is a separate agent, but rather a lower ontological category than the physicality which generates it.

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My main motivation, however, is how it fits our decision making - it allows for libertarian free will. Determinists have traditionally argued that events are either caused or random, and this is true for physical objects because the causal explanation is how we order them and without one they appear to be random. I showed that physical actions can have a causal line from our 'making the decision' to the action itself.
However, the mental concepts that characterise how we make decisions, e.g. desires and beliefs, do not have to have a causal structure. This allows for a spontenaity that allows for a libertarian free will.

Er, no, that is highly inaccurate. The decision and desire and belief all have causal structure! I can show that using neuroscience. Please refer back to the piece I wrote on apraxia to show the causal nature of belief. In neuroscience there is no such thing is genuine spontaneity (please refer to the part I wrote on stimuli and the causal nature of decision making the Anterior Cingular Cortex). In neuroscience a thought is essentially a combination of sensation, perception and memory (genetics determine it too), hence it is all causal. Again, refer back to what I wrote before on sensation, NTD and why the mind cannot be a separate agent. It is generated by the brain. Hence, it is wholly caused by the physical events of the brain.

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. But when we give an explanation that involves 'will' and 'decision making', we aren't giving a physical explanation so different rules apply.

That is not true. If that were true, then the patient would not lost conscious control over their hand (even though they retain kinaesthetic and sensation when we divided the corpus callosum).

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This is very similar to Kant's argument for free will, that although the deterministic empirical explanation of the world was deterministic, as not all explanations are based in empiricism then explanations of the mind need not be determined in the same way. His arguments against Hume's compatibilism would support my position too.

Kant’s view is not supported by modern neuroscience. We do not take it seriously. Free will is not “outside space and time”. Will, or “conscious control” according to neuroscience, is a process generated by interagency lobe control, hence dividing the axis of the brain causes the loss of executive function! And then...when we repair it, it returns. Would this be possible if it were not determinate or causal or generated by the material?

"Physical reality” isn’t some arbitrary demarcation. It is defined in terms of what we can systematically investigate, directly or not, by means of our senses. It is preposterous to assert that the process of systematic scientific reasoning arbitrarily excludes “non-physical explanations” because the very notion of “non-physical explanation” is contradictory.

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Deludedgod, Strafio and I

Deludedgod,

Strafio and I have been discussing this topic recently, and unless he has changed his mind, he holds that the physical brain and the mind are not linked in any way, that they are in entirely separate contexts, as such, according to his view,  it is an error to talk of the mind in the context of the brain.

This is the fundamental disagreement we had.

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Wait a minute, he

Wait a minute, he does?

That's completely ridiculous! I wouldn't have a job if that was the case. I spent the whole time in this essay:

showing how the brain produces the mind. The mind cannot exist without it. Absolutely nothing in neuroscience would make sense if this were not true. To deny that the brain and mind are fundamentally linked is to deny neurophenomenology, neurotoxicology, neurobiology, neuromolecular physiology, neurocellular transduction, neurophysiology, neuroelectrochemistry, neuroelectrophysiology, neuroimaging and neuroangiogram! The mind is a product of neural eletrical activity. We can show this by examining the causal relationship between mental and physical, the brain map, the 

I showed all that here:

"Vitalism"/"Immaterialism" and Christian "dualism" have long since been debunked. Response?

But he said that his view was not breaking with materialism! I don't understand. Surely a materialist would hold that this view is utter nonsense?  

 

"Physical reality” isn’t some arbitrary demarcation. It is defined in terms of what we can systematically investigate, directly or not, by means of our senses. It is preposterous to assert that the process of systematic scientific reasoning arbitrarily excludes “non-physical explanations” because the very notion of “non-physical explanation” is contradictory.

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deludedgod wrote:

deludedgod wrote:

Wait a minute, he does?

That's completely ridiculous! I wouldn't have a job if that was the case. I spent the whole time in this essay:

showing how the brain produces the mind. The mind cannot exist without it. Absolutely nothing in neuroscience would make sense if this were not true. To deny that the brain and mind are fundamentally linked is to deny neurophenomenology, neurotoxicology, neurobiology, neuromolecular physiology, neurocellular transduction, neurophysiology, neuroelectrochemistry, neuroelectrophysiology, neuroimaging and neuroangiogram! The mind is a product of neural eletrical activity. We can show this by examining the causal relationship between mental and physical, the brain map, the

I showed all that here:

"Vitalism"/"Immaterialism" and Christian "dualism" have long since been debunked. Response?

But he said that his view was not breaking with materialism! I don't understand. Surely a materialist would hold that this view is utter nonsense?


Precisely. Regardless of how one views the mind itself, if you are a materialist then there MUST be a direct link between the brain and the mind.

Strafio based his view largely on Wittgenstein’s philosophy of language... that the brain was in the descriptive/physical language-game (context) while the mind was in the social language-game (context). This is precisely why he thinks determinism and libertarian free will are not mutually exclusive, because to him determinism relates to the descriptive discourse, while free will relates to the social discourse, but of course, as you have shown, what he includes in the social discourse (i.e. beliefs, desires, etc) are still part of the deterministic/causal physical discourse.

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natural

natural wrote:
Unfortunately, your essay leaves open attack via simple logic: You concede that 'everything that exists is material' and you claim that 'the mind exists', so by simple deduction, you must concede that the mind is material.

Dude, I specifically denied that the mind exists because to ask whether the mind exists was like asking the weight of the colour yellow - a category error.

Topher wrote:
I think you should rethink your use of the term 'immaterial'. How you are using it is the same as 'abstraction', which I think is better as it avoids potential confusion. In philosophy of mind ‘immaterial’ tends to be used (by dualists) in the traditional philosophical sense so your use of the term will probably be rather confusing (In fact I bet many people will see the title of the thread and think: “not this shit again!”). I think “abstraction” is a far more practical term.

Maybe. I think I was trying to achieve too many things at once with this topic and it just got muddled. I re-defined immaterial at the beginning on the basis that the 'traditional' version was incoherent and didn't really capture the way people use it. This topic was also written for theists as well as and was trying to give a naturalistic explanation of their 'dualism' to the mind.

I guess writing a topic to two different audiences at once was an open invitation for muddle and confusion! Laughing out loud

DeludedGod wrote:
However, the way the tod and I are defining immateriali is the same way that the theists are: Not based on the physical. Having no physical constituents. Also, I do not subscribe to reductionism. I hover on the fence between reductionism and emergentism. I generally hold that the mind is emergent not reductionist. However, it is still material.

I made a special point of noting that I had re-defined 'immaterial'.
It was even in the bit that you quoted.
I guess my argument for re-defining immaterial ought to have been a topic in itself rather than a couple of lines in this one.
On your position of mind, I got the impression that you had a respect for emergentism but prefered reductionism. Emergentism would be 'immaterial' under my definition (as you noticed yourself).

I like to think that my 'linguistic reductionism' (I've decided to call it that) would be appealing to emergentist as it gives a positive explanation to many emergentism intuitions. As far as I'm aware, the arguments for emergentism are either intuition based or negative. They have the intuitive idea of the mind, and say "not dualism" because of the metaphysical contradictions and "not reductionism" because of intuition based arguments. From what I've heard, the position is attacked for having no positive explanation for various things, like the gap between mind and body.

A last clarification was that this wasn't meant to be attacking your and Todangst's arguments or defending theism. I probably didn't make this clear but I did use the points you both made as the starting points, trying to re-define immaterial in a way that appeals to people's intuition and is both coherent.

Nevermind. I'll drop the word immaterial, after all it was just asking for trouble! Laughing out loud
From here I'll go on to where we had genuine disagreement:

DeludedGod wrote:
But this could only be done if we defined “immaterial” as an emergent entity from a materialist system!

You have an assumption here, that materialism is the only system.
The main point of the first section was to show such assumption to be unjustified. We use language in a variety of ways. Sometimes we use it to describe the world (i.e. the material system) and sometimes we use it for other purposes in which case the concepts involved will follow different rules.

Quote:
I would say that the mind is a process, not an entity. I made this point here:

Fair enough. I'm familiar with functionalism too.
However, functionalism is still using materialistic language.
Materialism states that "everything is matter and motion".
Although I do think that although some mental concepts have a functional behaviour.

Quote:
This one is not a consequentialist argument, but it is terrible all the same. It essentially states the materialist cannot account for abstraction, which is to say that things like thoughts, emotions, actions, or even (this is the worst) information cannot be accounted for under the physicalist worldview.

This is an argument against materialist metaphysics and I agree with you that it doesn't work. My argument wasn't trying to refute materialist metaphysics but show that materialist metaphysics was irrelevent to the concepts mind, as both use different language that follow different rules.

Sure, you could say that linguistic practice is material so therefore any linguistic concepts exist as material, but that's just abusing the word 'existence'.
I can see that using the word 'immaterial' really confused things, but to be fair to myself I did clearly state that I was re-defining it at the beginning of the essay. You can see that I didn't really address most of your reply as much of it missed what I was saying. While this was partly my fault, it did mean that there was nothing to be said to a lot of what you wrote.

There were a couple of points that I thought that I should pick up on:

Quote:
And there is in turn a causal event which caused the decision to drop the ball to made and in turn an event which translated the intent into execution into action.

This is the kind of statement that I specifically set out to refute with this topic. It works on the premise that every physical event has a cause. I specifically denied that a decision was a physical event, just that it was a concept that was linked to a physical event through the link of 'correct application of concept'.

So the physical event that the 'decision' supervened over might've had a physical cause, but the 'decision' itself wasn't a physical concept so didn't require a physical cause. One of the reasons I wish I hadn't used the word 'immaterial' is that it threw you off a lot of the arguments I was trying to make like this. I should've saved my redefinition argument for a different topic altogether.

Quote:
You are talking about the procedure of brain-mapping. Here is what we do.

Yeah. That's what I had in mind.
The point I was trying to make was as follows:
You use a technique to find the physical state of the mind when the person is in a state of desire, say. So you use the brain mapping to find out what the brain is doing. However, how do you know that what the brain is doing here is desire?
All the technique is about finding out what is going on in the brain.
That the person is in a state of desire doesn't seem to require such techniques. Instead we are just applying the word 'desire' as we always do. So what we are matching the state of the brain to is the times when we consider it appropiate to apply the mental concept of 'desire'.

Quote:
OK, that is simply untrue. The way you are defining immaterial is fundamentally different from Descartes. Descartes view was ridiculous. He believed the mind was a separate agent from the physical world. The poor guy was crushed by neuroscience. The view you are advocating is not that the mind is a separate agent, but rather a lower ontological category than the physicality which generates it.

Descartes' intuition was mostly sound.
His argument from his intuitions to substance dualism were subtly flawed, but we can see where he was coming from. He saw that mental concepts are non-spacial, that the concepts of the mind were logically separate from the body. However, he then went and stole the concepts of 'existence' and 'substance' from the material world. Once he'd made that subtle error his arguments followed so logically that many philosophers went on to try and deny his intuitive pictures about the mind in order to try and restore coherence.

Quote:
Er, no, that is highly inaccurate. The decision and desire and belief all have causal structure! I can show that using neuroscience.

It can only be shown if 'belief', 'decision' and 'desire' are definable in the language of science. My argument specifically gave the possibility (and argued for it too) that our mental concepts were from a different use of language rather than describing the world.
Earlier I admitted that I agree that some mental concepts have a functional (and therefore causal) structure, but we don't use all mental concepts in this way.

Quote:
Kant’s view is not supported by modern neuroscience. We do not take it seriously.

It appears that you missed Kant's entire argument.
Neuro-science is a practice within the system of understanding of empiricism - describing the world. Kant's point was that's not the only system of understanding. If, as Kant said, the concepts of the physical world and the concepts of the mind are from two different forms of understanding then the results of neuro-science can hardly refute this as they merely give results within the 'physical mode of understanding'.

Quote:
dividing the axis of the brain causes the loss of executive function! And then...when we repair it, it returns. Would this be possible if it were not determinate or causal or generated by the material?

Yes. Remember my link between mind and physical conditions?
The there are physical conditions when it is appropiate to apply mental concepts. So there is a link between the dividing the axis of the brain and it's physical effects, and when we apply certain mental concepts.

Although some mental concepts appear to be functional or causal, certainly not all of them. So mental concepts should not be considered functional in general.
Anyway, now the confusion of 'immaterial' has been settled, the rest will probably be easier to understand.

Topher wrote:
Strafio and I have been discussing this topic recently, and unless he has changed his mind, he holds that the physical brain and the mind are not linked in any way, that they are in entirely separate contexts, as such, according to his view, it is an error to talk of the mind in the context of the brain.

Slight correction.
I hold that they do not have a physical connection like cause.
However, that doesn't mean that they aren't linked in any way - that would be contradicting neuroscience and some of our most important intuitions about the mind.

I just specified a certain sort of connection.
The connection is that certain mental concepts are applicable only when certain physical events happen. So in the same way 'hello' is applicable when you meet someone, "Jim has decided to throw that ball" is applicable when the body is making a certain motion.


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I don't get it. Talking

I don't get it. Talking about a mind that you admit doesn't exist is about as useful as talking about the FSM. If it doesn't exist, why talk about it? What reason could you possibly have? Sorry dude, there's something seriously wrong with your philosophical foundation.

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Quote:

Quote:

Maybe. I think I was trying to achieve too many things at once with this topic and it just got muddled. I re-defined immaterial at the beginning on the basis that the 'traditional' version was incoherent and didn't really capture the way people use it. This topic was also written for theists as well as and was trying to give a naturalistic explanation of their 'dualism' to the mind.

This does not mean anything.

You haven’t defined what you mean by “immaterial”

“naturalistic dualism” is contradictory. Dualism states that the mind is a separate agent from the brain. I can prove that it is not:

"Vitalism"/"Immaterialism" and Christian "dualism" have long since been debunked. Response?

Quote:

I made a special point of noting that I had re-defined 'immaterial'.
It was even in the bit that you quoted.
I guess my argument for re-defining immaterial ought to have been a topic in itself rather than a couple of lines in this one.
On your position of mind, I got the impression that you had a respect for emergentism but prefered reductionism. Emergentism would be 'immaterial' under my definition (as you noticed yourself).

Ok. You define “immaterial” as emergent. That being the case, you shouldn’t use the word immaterial. Because immaterial and emergent mean different things! Something with no recognizable physical form (such as a process) which is the emergent result of physicality is still material.

Quote:

I like to think that my 'linguistic reductionism' (I've decided to call it that) would be appealing to emergentist as it gives a positive explanation to many emergentism intuitions. As far as I'm aware, the arguments for emergentism are either intuition based or negative. They have the intuitive idea of the mind, and say "not dualism" because of the metaphysical contradictions and "not reductionism" because of intuition based arguments. From what I've heard, the position is attacked for having no positive explanation for various things, like the gap between mind and body.

The position is attacked because we have shown it false. Neuroscience, while unable to account for the precise mechanisms of many of the mental functions, can nonetheless establish that the brain generates the mind. I have shown this,

Quote:

A last clarification was that this wasn't meant to be attacking your and Todangst's arguments or defending theism. I probably didn't make this clear but I did use the points you both made as the starting points, trying to re-define immaterial in a way that appeals to people's intuition and is both coherent.

But the problem is that our “intuition” is highly unreliable. I made this point when I wrote:

Some have argued that human perception about the world inherently lends itself to certain religious ideas. As an analogous example, think of Newtonian physics. Despite being totally false, Newton’s idea of fixed unsubstantial space as a perfectly uniform and synchronous arena in which material things interact, along with totally separate time as a giant clock which is independent of the observer, a completely fixed referent from one event to the next, is very much in complete agreement with our senses and our perception. We are very much intuitive Newtonians. Unfortunately...Newtonian ideas are false. Time and space are a single concept, and not an abstract, but an actual physical thing. Time is relative to the observer which means that it slows down as you speed up, motion exists only in relative frame of reference, which means that to the astronaut in Einstein’s Maxwell paradox, the light beam always outraces him, yet to the stationary observer, he will catch up. Despite feeling stationary, you are always accelerating (the only people who are not accelerating are those in gravitational free-fall), time is slower for a person in a car than a person standing still. The real way in which the spatiotemporal universe works is simply inconceivable to our senses.

Religious concepts which are so pervasive may be equally intuitive for our senses. This is called “folk psychology”. For example, substance dualism is an intuitive idea easy to grasp (although technically impossible to understand), despite being absurd. Indeed, when Francis Crick was the first proponent of the now near universally accepted (among the neuroscience community) mind-brain monoism, his book was such an alien idea that it was titled The Astonishing Hypothesis. Folk biology pertains to human perceptions about biology, and the intuitive appeal of Design. One has only to look at how pathetic the average layman’s objections to evolution (If men came from monkeys, why are monkeys still here!) to realize that folk biology is intuitively in the direction of Design, such as the fallacious comparison of complex man-made devices to biological engines and the arguments from wonder hence attached. Despite that many scientific concepts backed up with iron evidence are utterly counterintuitive, the opposing religions doctrines which seem quite ubiquitous (dualism, a creator of life, etc) are relatively easy for the intuition to grasp.

Quote:

You have an assumption here, that materialism is the only system.
The main point of the first section was to show such assumption to be unjustified. We use language in a variety of ways. Sometimes we use it to describe the world (i.e. the material system) and sometimes we use it for other purposes in which case the concepts involved will follow different rules.

But the whole point of my essay was to show that any non-materialist position which holds some sort of agent independent from the physical was absurd.

Quote:

Fair enough. I'm familiar with functionalism too.
However, functionalism is still using materialistic language.
Materialism states that "everything is matter and motion".
Although I do think that although some mental concepts have a functional behaviour.

We are not dealing in philosophy of language here! We are dealing in epistemology and ontology. The whole point of my essay was to show that non-material concepts are absurd and contradictory and commit stolen concepts. The fact is, the reason my neuroscience essay was so long was because I had to demonstrate as many mental functions as I could were the emergent result of physical process.

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This is an argument against materialist metaphysics and I agree with you that it doesn't work. My argument wasn't trying to refute materialist metaphysics but show that materialist metaphysics was irrelevent to the concepts mind, as both use different language that follow different rules

Materialist metaphyiscs is very relevant to the mind! I have no idea in what linguistic context you are using the term “mind” but in materialism the mind is:

a) An abstraction which results from the interagency nature of the physical brain, generating an entity with self-consciousness and higher thought

b) A process resulting from the electrical activity in said system

Quote:

This is the kind of statement that I specifically set out to refute with this topic. It works on the premise that every physical event has a cause. I specifically denied that a decision was a physical event, just that it was a concept that was linked to a physical event through the link of 'correct application of concept'.

But the whole point of the part in bold about apraxia was that I showed that decisions are physical. What I mean to say is this. We do not fully understand how decisions making (this is what I meant when I said executive function, which is the neuroscience term), but we do know for quite certain that there is an electrophysiological event translating intent into action, resulting from interagency control along the ACC, the Parietal-occiptal system and the Medial prefrontal cortex. Decision making is very much a physical process.

Quote:

So the physical event that the 'decision' supervened over might've had a physical cause, but the 'decision' itself wasn't a physical concept so didn't require a physical cause.

And that was precisely the sort of statement I refuted in my bold part. Furthermore, this is utterly contradictory to materialism (which you claim this supports). In materialism:

-According to Newton’s first law of motion, all physical things have causes, except for quantum law, which is governed by probability waves and follows a different set of rules.

There is no such thing as “genuine spontaneity”. That is what I showed in my other essay! The mind is not an indeterminate entity. That is what I showed in that above post regarding Neural-tube defects and sensory processing. The mind and consciousness are very determinate and depend on the brain. The idea that decision making is some sort of spontaneous entity which does not depend on the physical determinate brain is absurd. How can you possible reconcile this with materialism. It is nonsensical. Materialism works like this:

-The mind is generated by the brain

-All physical things at the macromolecular level and above have determinate causes

-Genuine spontaneity does not exist

-Decision making is a process which occurs in the brain and is hence a physical determine process (I have already shown this. Decision making is anything but an indeterminate process)

-The idea of anything occurring outside of space time (hence non physical) is absurd and contradictory. I have already shown this.

Your position seems to be:

-The mind does not depend on the brain

-Nothing causes decision making.

-Things can occur without cause

This is absurdly contradictory to materialism. How on Earth can you reconcile the two?

Quote:

Yeah. That's what I had in mind.
The point I was trying to make was as follows:
You use a technique to find the physical state of the mind when the person is in a state of desire, say. So you use the brain mapping to find out what the brain is doing. However, how do you know that what the brain is doing here is desire?

What are you talking about. We are finding out what areas of the brain process different functions and stimuli. That’s it. I have no idea why you invoked desire. It’s a simple technique. We play music, the Sensorysomatic cortex lights up. We flash colors, the visual association cortex lights up etc ad infinitum. We can invoke any one of a million stimuli, emotional, rational, self-interest, ethical, physical, patter-recognition, fMRI mapping is one of thousands of techniques used to map the brain

Quote:

All the technique is about finding out what is going on in the brain.

Yes...and since the mind is created by the brain...

Quote:

That the person is in a state of desire doesn't seem to require such techniques. Instead we are just applying the word 'desire' as we always do. So what we are matching the state of the brain to is the times when we consider it appropiate to apply the mental concept of 'desire'.

I have no idea what this means.

Quote:

Descartes' intuition was mostly sound.

That is irrelevant. He was factually incorrect. The mind is created by the brain. It is not a spate agent from it.

Quote:

His argument from his intuitions to substance dualism were subtly flawed, but we can see where he was coming from. He saw that mental concepts are non-spacial, that the concepts of the mind were logically separate from the body.

This is false. Thoughts are generated by neural electrical activity, so they are indeed spatial. They are physical abstractions, not supernatural.

Quote:

However, he then went and stole the concepts of 'existence' and 'substance' from the material world. Once he'd made that subtle error his arguments followed so logically that many philosophers went on to try and deny his intuitive pictures about the mind in order to try and restore coherence.

That was not even the main problem with Descartes argument. His main problem was his factual inaccuracy. He is contradicted by modern science.

Quote:

It can only be shown if 'belief', 'decision' and 'desire' are definable in the language of science.

They are. What do you think I mean when I used the phrase executive function?

Quote:

My argument specifically gave the possibility (and argued for it too) that our mental concepts were from a different use of language rather than describing the world.

This is false intuition. Even if we intuitiviely think of the mental as separate from the physical, it is false and irrelevant. The physical generates the mental.

Quote:


Earlier I admitted that I agree that some mental concepts have a functional (and therefore causal) structure, but we don't use all mental concepts in this way.

It does not matter that we do not intuitively grasp this. The fact is, it is true. I have shown this. Again, why do you think my essay was so long. Give me any mental function and although for most of them I will not be able to show you how they work, I will be able to demonstrate they are physical.

Quote:

It appears that you missed Kant's entire argument.

Kant wrote before neuroscience and before the invention of the genuine scientific method and the concepts of materialism and mechanism. That is why his arguments are unsound.

Quote:

Neuro-science is a practice within the system of understanding of empiricism - describing the world. Kant's point was that's not the only system of understanding. If, as Kant said, the concepts of the physical world and the concepts of the mind are from two different forms of understanding then the results of neuro-science can hardly refute this as they merely give results within the 'physical mode of understanding'.

 But the concepts of physical and the concepts of mental are not different! That was the whole point of what I demonstrated in my essay. The physical generates the mental. Also, you have not shown what any of these other epistemological systems are. Intuition is not a valid epistemological system. The mental and the physical simply must be intertwined. That was what I showed over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over again. There is no if the mental is separate from the physical, since the idea of their seperateness is absurd. It took me almost 60,000 words, but I did show that the physical generates the mental. I simply do not see how your position could even be remotely reconciled with materialism.

Also, I believe it was John Searle who pointed this out, but all our knowledge we gain through our brain, which is a 3lb tangle of neurons. So, all systems of knowledge are neurosystems. We don’t hae philosophy, we have neurophilosophy, we don’t have economics, we have neuroecnomics, neurosociology, neuroepistemology and so on. Hence, the idea of any sort of epistemology that does not depend on the physical is patent absurdity! The concept of the mind as separate from the physical is about as firmly refuted as creationism.

Quote:

Yes. Remember my link between mind and physical conditions?
The there are physical conditions when it is appropiate to apply mental concepts. So there is a link between the dividing the axis of the brain and it's physical effects, and when we apply certain mental concepts.

But again, the whole pont of what I showed was that there is a direct causal relationship between the physical event and the effect on the mental. This indicates the obvious. The physical process generates the decision making process. The interagency control generates the conscious command over the hand.

Quote:

Although some mental concepts appear to be functional or causal, certainly not all of them.

Why not?

As I said before, give me any functions, and I can demonstrate its necessary physicality.

Quote:

Slight correction.
I hold that they do not have a physical connection like cause.
However, that doesn't mean that they aren't linked in any way - that would be contradicting neuroscience and some of our most important intuitions about the mind.

As I said before, our intuition is irrelvenat. Tested evidence is the valid form of epistemology. And neuroscience indicates:

-The brain generates the mind

-Mental processes are generated in the brain

-Mental processes are causal not spontaneous. Again, the whole point of my other essay was to show that that notion is absurd.

One more note, above the quantum level, all physical events must have cause. This is Newton’s first law. It does reality good!

Quote:

I just specified a certain sort of connection.
The connection is that certain mental concepts are applicable only when certain physical events happen. So in the same way 'hello' is applicable when you meet someone, "Jim has decided to throw that ball" is applicable when the body is making a certain motion.

It is also applicable to:

-The physical data which Jim’s brain is receiving, along with the patter-recognition engines, higher thought and language centers, motor function control, kinaesthesia, and the electrophysiological event in the Parietalocciptal and medial systems which generate his decision to throw the ball and translate that decision into the electrical signal to his hand to throw the ball.

I am finding your argument almost impossible to grasp. You aren’t arguing from ontology or epistemology or science. You are arguing from language. It is irrelevant. It does not matter whether we intuitively grasp monoism, the fact is, it is true, and we have to reconcile that with our intuition. I simply have no idea what you arguing because it is not making sense. Regardless of linguistic concepts we must realize that our language in and of itself is generated by the Prefontal cortex. Language is a physical function. So, as Searle sai, there is no such thing as language anyway. Only neurolanguage.

 

Your argument seems to be that the mind and the physical are seprate linguistic categories. But they are not. The mind is an entity generated by the physical. Furthermore, if you are to claim that the mind follows “different rules” you are not subscribing to materialism! You are subscribing to dualism. Even if we intuitively separate the mind and the physical into separate language categories, it is still falsehood! That was what I showed over and over again. If you think there is another epistemology besides empiricism by which we could discover what you implicate, then present it. (Philosophy of language is irrelevant in this context since neuroscience undercuts it by demonstrating how language is processed in the brain).

"Physical reality” isn’t some arbitrary demarcation. It is defined in terms of what we can systematically investigate, directly or not, by means of our senses. It is preposterous to assert that the process of systematic scientific reasoning arbitrarily excludes “non-physical explanations” because the very notion of “non-physical explanation” is contradictory.

-Me

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deludedgod wrote: Despite

deludedgod wrote:
Despite that many scientific concepts backed up with iron evidence are utterly counterintuitive,

As a quick aside, I'd like to mention that, almost by definition, any non-trivial scientific fact will be counter-intuitive. If it was intuitive, it would be common knowledge. Science consists almost entirely of mind-bending shit! Cool

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Strafio
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deludedgod wrote:

deludedgod wrote:
You haven’t defined what you mean by “immaterial”

Not material.
So anything that wasn't used to describe the material world wouldn't be material, but never mind, forget the word was used. It's not part of this topic anymore.

Quote:
We are not dealing in philosophy of language here! We are dealing in epistemology and ontology.

The thing is, your position depends on linguistic assumptions that I don't accept. If you're not willing to question them then I guess that this debate can go no further.

Quote:
The whole point of my essay was to show that non-material concepts are absurd and contradictory and commit stolen concepts.

And my argument pointed out that this position relies on an assumption that language only has one use. All your premises were based on the descriptive use of language that we use to describe the empirical world.

Quote:
But the whole point of the part in bold about apraxia was that I showed that decisions are physical.

If you have then my position fails.
However, I don't think that you have.
If you point me to the justification one last time then I'll take another look, but I suspect that you'd just made the assumption that a 'decision' is a descriptive empirical concept. Not a particularly bad assumption to make but it's questionable.

Quote:
What are you talking about. We are finding out what areas of the brain process different functions and stimuli. That’s it. I have no idea why you invoked desire.

I might've misunderstood, but I thought that you were trying to make claims about mental concepts like beliefs and desires based on these concepts.

Quote:
I am finding your argument almost impossible to grasp. You aren’t arguing from ontology or epistemology or science. You are arguing from language. It is irrelevant.

So maybe that's the problem.
Didn't you realise that language is more fundamental than any of these?
The rules of logic are determined by the rules of language that we are using.
The most fundamental rules of any discourse will depend on the rules for applying concepts in that discourse. You have a clear mastery of our discriptive language, the style of language that we use for science. However, you have grown so accustomed to the rules of that use of language, you have assumed that they are universal.


Topher
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deludedgod

deludedgod wrote:
Religious concepts which are so pervasive may be equally intuitive for our senses. This is called “folk psychology”. For example, substance dualism is an intuitive idea easy to grasp (although technically impossible to understand), despite being absurd. Indeed, when Francis Crick was the first proponent of the now near universally accepted (among the neuroscience community) mind-brain monoism, his book was such an alien idea that it was titled The Astonishing Hypothesis. Folk biology pertains to human perceptions about biology, and the intuitive appeal of Design. One has only to look at how pathetic the average layman’s objections to evolution (If men came from monkeys, why are monkeys still here!) to realize that folk biology is intuitively in the direction of Design, such as the fallacious comparison of complex man-made devices to biological engines and the arguments from wonder hence attached. Despite that many scientific concepts backed up with iron evidence are utterly counterintuitive, the opposing religions doctrines which seem quite ubiquitous (dualism, a creator of life, etc) are relatively easy for the intuition to grasp.

So you could say “folk psychology” is no different to the arguments against evolution and its opposing philosophy, which was once universally excepted... but then we developed biology and evolution. So similarly, as the eliminativists argue, once we further the science the brain/mind (neuroscience), these intuitive concepts will become bunk too.

This is perfectly fine; however, I find it hard to believe that we will ever eliminate intuitive concepts such as belief, emotions, desires, etc, from out life since they play such a vast role in our social interaction/communication. I don’t see a problem with keeping these intuitive concepts (even if we can eliminate), just as long as one still acknowledges the underlining physical framework which generates them (the brain)!

"It is far better to grasp the universe as it really is than to persist in delusion, however satisfying and reassuring" -- Carl Sagan


deludedgod
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I still do not see that you

I still do not see that you have made any sort of argument. The fact that we use words intuitively which attempt to make reference to ideas that we may intuitively in social context consider non-physical is irrelevant. Can you summarize your position in a few sentences or paragraphs? I can. Watch:

 

To say that an entity which has no material being could have the ascribed properties of intelligence, or indeed, any properties at all, is a category error. References to “immateriality” also commit a category error, being that the word has no meaning. The properties which we ascribe to this entity depend on physicality, they are physical properties. To talk of God’s decisions, actions, thoughts, emotions, indeed, to talk of a being outside of time doing anything at all is a category error akin to asking the blind man how he enjoys the panorama. It is precisely akin to Noam Chomsky’s sentence:

Colourless green ideas sleep furiously!

This is a syntactic category error. It is grammatically correct, but an inherent absurdity. It ascribes the property colorless to green (ontological contradiction), and the property green to ideas (syntax error) and the concept of sleep to ideas (syntax error).

Likewise, the phrase:

God is a supernatural entity outside space and time, without a body, capable of communicating with humans of maximally intelligent sentience.

Is a category error. It ascribes the property of entity to supernatural (which is a meaningless null set term), and it ascribes the properties of atemporality and non-spatial (which are category errors in and of themselves) to communication and it ascribes the property of sentience to supernatural (ontological category error) (note that supernatural is per se a syntax category error)

 

Quote:

If you have then my position fails.
However, I don't think that you have.
If you point me to the justification one last time then I'll take another look, but I suspect that you'd just made the assumption that a 'decision' is a descriptive empirical concept. Not a particularly bad assumption to make but it's questionable.

I don’t understand. What other contexts can we use the term decision in? How can we reference decision as an immaterial? Furthermore, how exactly is your argument concurrent with materialism as you claim?

Ok. I can show easily that the mind needs to depend on the physical:

Lets start with the apraxia paragraph:

The science of consciousness is all about unity of the lobes of the brain, and can be demonstrated likewise: I am referring to what modern neuroscientists called apraxia, a situation which results in a longitudinal divide along the corpus callosum in epilepsy patients, which causes the dominant hand of the patient to undergo involuntary movement and uncontrollable motor functions. The hand might undo buttons, light cigarettes, even strike objects without the users control. However, combined magnetoencephelogram scanning and neurophenomenology conducted after Penfield died in 1976 have revealed that this very rare form of epillepsy apraxia is caused by the damage caused to the medial lobes by the incision along the major axis of the brain. There are different brain functions associated with voluntary movement, the cerebellum for proprioception, the grid neuron array for mechanoperception, Acetylocholin-based Somatic and visceral motor neurons which run up the body's planar axis through the center of the spinal cord and into the Sensory Somatic Cortex. The incision along the brain's long axis severs the connection between the lobes controlling movement, with the result that different areas of the brain may at different times be able to command the hand in different ways, but since they are not connected, conscious control over it is lost. Actually, apraxia is often used to make the neurophysiological distinction between intention of execution otherwise known as Executive function (Anterior Cingulate Cortex), and actual execution. In other words, we can show that the self loses control of the hand due to apraxia due to a division along the major long axis of the brain, and although the kinesthetic sensation is there, the sensation of conscious control over the hand is not. For this reason, most neurophysiologists consider that at the supramolecular level, there is an electrophysiological event which translates intent into action. The general area which does this has been pinpointed by fMRI as the medial fronal lobe. Recently, neuroimaging has revealed the area of the brain responsible for decisional inhibition to be in the parietaloccipatal system. The damage or destruction of this system results in the loss of executive functional inhibition, with the result that the subject may lose conscious control over many physiological functions. But since the area of the brain responsible for action is located on the other lobe of the brain, the result of an incision along the corpus callosum will be in rare cases the loss of ability for interagency neurological control over such functions, with apraxia, with the result that a conscious self loses control for periods of time over the limb in question unless treated. The very fact that it can be treated in a neurological fashion hence indicates that you are dead wrong. Since the brain is a contralateral control system, which means that damage to the posterior medial lobe results in involuntary movement in the opposite function, the same for the parietal-occipatal system, since the corpus callosum is the link between these two areas and the subcortical synaptogenesis which develops when basic motor skills do, the exertation of control over the movement is partitioned into four areas. In other words, we are seeing exactly what we expect to see with an epillepsy patient experiencing apraxia under IET stimulation.

Now the part where I show the mind cannot be separate from material reality:

deludedgod wrote:

know wish to turn to the interaction problem. This is a huge problem which immaterialists must overcome. Let us take a step back and examine the brain. The brain is efficiently organizing your physical reality. It is taking sensory data from the world as well as perceptive data from places such as the tubes in your inner ear and receptors on your skin, and organizing all of it so that you can function. At the same time, it is performing involuntary functions which the higher cognitive area of the brain (you) have no control over such as the contraction of the stomach, the beating of the heart and the secretion of the exocrine glands. Meanwhile, it spends a large amount of time just talking to itself. Intelligence can be directly correlated with cerebral cortex activity which is measured by EEGs. Let us imagine a thought and write it as a neuroelectrochemical circuit. It begins with sensory data which is converted into electrical signal and analyzed by the brain, which in turn, is wired to the hippocampus for retrieval of the corresponding mental state, which in turn is accompanied by an appropriate release by the exocrine glands in the neurotransmitter which corresponds. Let us think of an example. You are a chocoholic, imagine for a moment, and you see, on the table, a bar of chocolate. The first thing that happens is that photon waves which are captured by your eyes are converted into electrical signals, whereby the brain reassembles the image, then, with the primary visual cortex in communication with the visual association cortex, and that in turn in communication with the hippocampus for memory retrieval, an appropriate mental state is triggered by the release of a corresponding chemical from the hypothalamus. In this case it would be endorphin, hence triggering the appropriate response, that in turn being handled by the trigeminal nerve and the prefontal cortex, whereby you open your mouth and say “that tastes good”.

What we can see is that the brain is a clear, tangible, distinct, physical entities which generates thoughts, emotions and mental states via neural networks in communication in a causal relationship with sensory integration. Yet the three I just mentioned are held by dualists to be the domain of a “soul”. The soul is acausal, atemporal, intangible etc. How does the physical brain, which, by the way, seems to handle those processes just fine, interact with this timeless, acausal, non-physical “essence”. I am not going into my usual modus operandi which dictates that I point out the ontological invalidity of this concept except to ask this question: What does it mean to say the soul “resides” inside the brain? How can the soul account for differences in personality and intelligence and the different conscious experiences that stretch across the human experience if it has no substance and hence no composition? Just what the hell does the term “a soul” mean when that implies numerical divisibility. To say that each person has a “soul” is incredibly silly since the soul is neither divisible nor physical, which means that to attempt to give it quantifiable property (ie one soul, two souls etc) is just ridiculous. The materialist can easily account for the differences in personality, emotion, reason, IQ, conscious experience for he is backed by 200 years of exhaustive research and because physically, each human brain is unique in its folding pattern, as well as the concentrations of neurotransmitters and fundamentals that compose the glial cells, as well as the precise structure and composition of the neural networks and synaptic connections. And of course, there are causal environmental factors to take into consideration.

The interaction problem was the philosophical nemesis of Descartes. But I am not here to pick on him. After all, the man lived 400 years prior to this discussion, I hardly think it necessary to refute a philosophical stance that no scientist alive would take seriously after 200 years of neurological experimentation flatly contradicting him, less forgivable is that Christian dogma has happily espoused dualism and the notion of the "soul" or "spirit" as have nearly every other religion, despite the fact that we live in an age where the extreme success of neuroscience in explaining these once mysterious obfuscations, at least to the point where we can obviously deduce the physicality of such things as the mind and the conscious experience. I would say that Descartes was wrong, but that is irrelevant, seeing as that's obvious, so what I will say instead is that the whole gamut of religions which espouse substance dualism are dead wrong. Christianity, Islam, the like.

I do wish now to turn to memory. Memory may be the closest to an “essence” of a person, although it is still meaningless without other areas of the brain to handle and process them. Your brain is constantly accessing your memories, comparing them, integrating them with your sensory functions and it is fair to say that if the area of the brain which holds your memories is destroyed then it would be difficult to claim that “you” as a person still exist. Destroying part of your memories will result in a significant dip in your IQ points. Despite the fact that the mind is the sum total of the communication of all of the lobes of the brain, it is fair to say that the hippocampus, where memories are stored, is the most important. And guess what? We may have poor understanding of memory formation, but we do know enough to say that it is physical. For one, simply destroying the hippocampus or part of it will destroy memory, for another, as I cited with synaesthesia, memory can be altered by physical disease. It seems the most important player in the formation of memory is a brain function called synaptogenesis, which is the formation of new synaptic connections inside the neural networks.

I now will introduce something called the knock-on effect. The knock-on effect is something of a cruel joke among neuroscientists. When Descartes first developed dualism, it was held as the center of everything. Perception, consciousness, the mind, thought and cognition, even pain. Descartes thusly believed all non-human animals were mere automaton, and this had some gruesome effects, since scientists back then were eager to study the circulatory system, and since they were now informed that animals could not feel pain, they happily nailed animals to planks and ripped their innards out for study. Any suggestion that the animal’s cries were of genuine anguish were laughed off. A mere spring driving the ticking of a clock, the scientists laughed! (I do hope that no scientist today would be captured in a similar sort of dogmatic frenzy, however, we must remember that this did take place before the scientific revolution of the 1700s).

Of course, today we are aware with exactitude of the chemical and physical basis of pain. Pain is a necessary survival instinct, and any organism which has the capability of movement will have the pain mechanism.

So my conclusion is that despite the mysteries surrounding the functions of the brain, we do know enough to say that they are physical, and what most people do not realize is that dualism has been debunked.

There is another, more brutal way to illustrate the physicality of the mind, much more clear than the cutting of the corpus callosum or disassociative identity disorder. It comes in the form of a brutal and most terrible genetic disease called Lesch-Nyhan’s syndrome. It is extremely rare, occurring only in boys and is an in utero mutation on the X chromosome, inherited from the boy’s mother. It has two distinct effects. The first is a stop-codon in the enzyme HPRT making it useless, this enzyme metabolizes uric acid, and the lack of it causes extremely high buildups of uric acid in the bloodstream. But the truly sadistic nature of the disease comes to light in the second distinct effect.

Most people do not realize it, because the situation rarely demands it, but there is no one “Other” that it present in the human brain. Rather, there are two. The human brain is triple-tiered, the bottom contains the primitive brain, then the brain stem and midbrain, and finally, the part where the thinking, conscious being is, the neocortex, the last tier. In situations of dire fight-or-flight, trauma, shock, or anything of the like, the primitive and primal lower tiers take command, controlling adrenaline flow and autonomic functions and instinctual basics, such as sexual urge. This is truly where man’s baser nature is, an ancient evolutionary structure, hopelessly unsophisticated compared with the deep intricacies of the neural networks of the neocortex, whose twisting patters of neural networks and glial cells produces all of man’s genius and creativity and thirst for knowledge.

Anyway, Lesch-Nyhan causes a mutation in the primitive second-tier of the brain, at the brain-stem, where locomotive signals are fired. There are two distinct effects of signal-crossing in the midbrain. The first is that a Lesch-Nyhan child is spastic and assumes an odd “fencer” position, as appearing with one leg diagonally bent and the opposite arm crooked backwards. The second effect is that the midbrain is deranged and the insane signal-firing causes it to “cross” signals with the neocortex. The effects are ghastly. In a fight between the primitive brain and the conscious neocortex, the primitive brain always wins, it has simply been there for a longer course of evolutionary history, it is more ingrained, it overrides the higher functions. Hence, the deranged vertical dividing of the Lesch-Nyhan brain causes the sufferer, during bouts or “attacks” when the signal firing goes berserk, to attack the people around him (always him, girls, having two X chromosomes, cannot get Lesch-Nyhan), and causes intense writhing and seizure-like convulsions. The most brutal effect of this is autocannibalism, the thrashing of the facial muscles causes the boy to eat away their own face, they will often rip out their own palate with their teeth and most of their lip flesh as well. For their own protection, they often have their teeth extracted. It is truly a ghastly disease. For their own safety, they have to be tied down with restraints, otherwise they will viciously attack themselves with their hands. Self-enucleation, removing one’s own eyes, is rare, but it happens. A boy with Lesch-Nyhan’s will not survive much past adolescence. Either from kidney failure or self-injury, most do not see their 20th birthday.

As a genetic disease, Lesch-Nyhan’s is part of my research into vector-based gene therapy. It doesn’t have much money in it, being that it only occurs in one out of every 950,000 births, but I do hope that the research done will alleviate this monstrosity of a disease. However, for the case at hand, it helps, albeit very brutally, to illustrate that the mind can indeed by divided, and that we can point to the neocortex and say, this is where the conscious, thinking “you” resides, not a soul. I hope I have made this point clear.

Let us review

Consciousness: This process, despite being utterly shrouded in mystery, is clearly physical. It cannot be the domain of a fixed, acausal, unchanging “soul” or essence”. The body has the ability to switch it on and off at will, keeps it under careful control, and the conscious process is directly correlated with neural activity, more to the point, the precise way that neurons fire. Neural activity never stops, unless you are dead. The drugs, diseases and patterns which either affect, turn off or turn on the conscious process alter the way neurons fire, hence strongly suggesting that the neural networks which make up the brain are responsible for consciousness and self-awareness.

Emotion: Involuntary. These are controlled by the brain and operate on a neuroelectrochemical feedback loop. Sensory input triggers an appropriate chemical secretion which in turn is responsible for an emotional state.

Cognition: Has been directly linked using neuroangiograms to the temporal lobe and the extremely complex neural pathways inside. Cognition is directly affected by certain chemicals for better or worse, usually worse. Many toxic heavy metals can cause brain damage in utero, conversely, some chemicals like the now popular omega-3-fatty acid can cause a boost in intelligence. Why? Because O3 otherwise known as DHA is the material employed by oligodendrocytes in the lipid sheath which coats the neurons called myelin. Amyelation is the cause of many nasty neurological disorders like MS and ALS. This suggests, of course, that cognition and intelligence, far from being the domain of the “soul” are controlled by neural networks, the improved conduction of electrical signals through which have been directly correlated with intelligence, as well as the synaptic connections which form in neural networks (brain size is not correlated with intelligence, but number of synaptic pathways is). On a side note, Einstein was found to have almost twice the normal amount of myelin in his brain.

Mind: Is the sum total of the communication of all the lobes of the brain, the most important of which regarding the generation of an “I” is the hippocampus. However, cutting the corpus callosum is not the only way to induce the divisibility effect. There are certain other disorders which can do the trick. I am not referring to schizophrenia, which contrary to the delusion offered by popular culture, is not a split-personality. That disease is called dissociative identity disorder.

Personality: The “soul” whatever that means, is not the seat of personality. Personality is fluid and highly plastic, and can change based on neuroplastic change in the hippocampus and memory formation. However, the soul is unchangeable and acausal.

PS I keep referring in the essay to the hippocampus as the domain of memory. This is inaccurate, but I did it for clarity since it is the closest to that function. In reality there is no one area of the brain tied to memory. Memories are stored depending on their classification in different areas of the brain. The hippocampus functions a memory organizer, deciding what to toss out and what memories to keep. Your brain has the ability to delete memories by destroying neural connections by controlled apoptosis, and does this whenever memories fade out of use for too long. This direct relationship between neural networks and memory which is tightly controlled by the brain further debunks the notion that memory, and by extension, a person, is the domain of the soul or has a non-physical "essence".

In closing, I also have multiple other objections regarding vitalism. First, specifically regarding the notion of the “Cartesian Other”, otherwise known as “homonunculus” , which is described in question form as: When we feel pain, what is the “I” feeling the pain, and where is it? When we see, what is doing the seeing? (The homonunculus is the idea that there is a “’little man” watching the images). Well, Firstly, neuroscience has overwhelmingly shown that the idea of a unified mental “control room” is bunk. There is no one part of the brain where consciousness occurs, no one part of the brain where personality is stored etc. The human brain is a triple-tiered structure partitioned into many, many different lobes and sects each dedicated to various different processes. Some are dedicated to vision, others to language, others to music, others to pain, others to visual association, or hearing, or auditory association, or linguistic association, or color recognition etc.

Secondly, whatever the “I” is, I can say with confidence what it is not-magic. This is, after all, in essence what the vitalists are appealing to, the belief that “I” is intangible, and hence cannot be the domain of the material. What is the thing that feels pain when jabbed with a needle? It is most certainly not a obfuscated vital force...you’re acknowledging that every time you have surgery! Furthermore, it may be best to flip vitalist objections on their head to reveal the absurdity of their beliefs. So, the soul is a mysterious, timeless, acausal, non-spatial essence? I would normally say that is a meaningless statement, but that is for another time. For now, I will simply say: How is it even remotely possible that this immaterial is the domain of the “I”? When your eyes are receiving photon packets and converting them into electrical signals to be transmitted across the optic nerve, how is it possible that this data, which is then reassembled into an image by a brain for review by the visual association cortex and sensory somatic cortex (obviously this is an extreme oversimplification, but were I to talk in depth about picture reassembly, you would all be bored to tears, so I shall press on). How is it possible that this distinctly tangible packet of data, physical ,spatial and causal, interact with this mysterious immateriality that is none of these things and that does not even reside in the brain (obviously it doesn’t. Terms like “reside” and “inside” are incoherent when referring to the immaterial). How can this mysterious ether interact with the neuroelectrochemistry. This seems like a reasonable objection, that being: How can this mysterious intangible possibly be a solution to any of the problems of consciousness? It seems like it multiplies the absurdity of the problem by several orders of magnitude. How can it interact with any of the physical functions of the brain at all? If it is atemporal, how does it form temporal and causal thoughts, or process temporal sensory uptakes? If it is non-spatial, how does it analyze spatial data, or interact with spatial chemicals that make up emotional response? What does it do that the material brain cannot handle? And how is it a more cogent solution to these problems than materialism? As I said before, seems it creates a gamut of extra, absurd problems. Human thought does not reside in a magical land that exists outside of space and time. By sitting at the computer screen and reading these perfectly tangible, spatial and coherent words while my prefrontal cortex and visual association cortex are buzzing and ferrying memories to and fro, I am acknowledging this.

The dogma of the soul suggests it is indivisible, unchanging and fixed. An “essence”. This seems little more than deliberate metaphysical obfuscation. And yet...there is no corresponding function of the human brain which matches with such properties (indivisible, unchanging essence). Consciousness and the “Cartesian”? No. The body tunes that all the time, and keeps it on a chemical leash. Despite neuroscientists not having a clue how it works, the body’s chemical pathways seem to manage it just fine...The mind? No. No magical mental control room of complete unification. The brain’s partitioning shows that the various functions which have synergistic interplay to form a mind are created not by a single unified essence but rather the buzzing and humming of many different areas of the brain, each with their own special task to perform. Destruction or damage of parts of the brain result in corresponding loss of function and alteration of the mind, as Gage shows, or indeed anyone with a destructive brain disorder which starts to override cognition, such as Huntington's. Personality? See below.

The closest thing to an “essence” of a person is memory. After all, as I explained before, memory is equivalent to genetics in importance of a person. There is a growing body of research which suggests that a person’s ethical conduct, moral codes and personality are almost entirely dependent on memory. But memory is most surely a physical process. And there is certainly no magic indivisible soul when it comes to memory! It is not stored in any one place, but rather all sorts of different memories pertaining to different brain functions are stored correspondingly. We can even take a picture of memory formation. Here.

In short, there is no brain function which is indivisible and unchanging, and certainly no brain function which is the domain of a mysterious immaterial, atemporal essence which does not even reside inside the brain. There is no function of the brain, not consciousness, not the mind, not cognition, or personality, or memory, which is not open to change, damage or destruction by disease, trauma, injury, chemicals, toxins etc or simply the everyday brain functions like synaptogenesis or serotonin release.

This brings me full circle back to the interaction problem. All of the processes of the brain are fluid continuum processes which change appropriately based on precise arrangements of neurons and concentrations of chemicals and neurotransmitters. They can be altered directly using drugs, chemicals, or injury. They can be switched on or off by the body and by chemical pathways have a direct effect on physical health. By cutting the physical connections in the brain, one can induce an effect whereby the mind is divided. Yet the soul is acausal and indivisible, and also fixed and unchanging. The functioning of the processes of cognition, emotion, consciousness and the mind is antithetical to the dogma which surrounds the “soul”. We know have incomplete biological understanding of many of these things, but like I said, we do know enough about the neural networks and chemical pathways to rule out immaterialism.

The continuum nature of these processes raises interesting questions. Firstly, we don’t have a test for consciousness, which is problematic and raises ethical questions. For instance, until recently it was believed that those in a permanent vegetative state had no consciousness at all, until neuroangiograms confirmed that they actually respond to music, language etc (a neuroangiogram is where a radioactive isotope is injected into the brain which allows the neuroscientists to track blood flow to specific areas of the brain which in turn will show the amount of brain activity in those corresponding parts).

Since we don’t have a test for consciousness and it appears that we are the only animals which have developed language, there is no way to know as of yet whether any of our cohorts in the animal kingdom are conscious. The two best candidates are gorillas and dolphins since they have all passed the self-awareness test and have reasonable (although extremely primitive compared to our own) methods of communication. If consciousness is a process which exists in degrees, whereby there is no clear-cut line for conscious and not conscious unless neurologists draw an arbitrary line based on electrical activity, then at what point in the evolutionary continuum did consciousness develop? Is it with one of our deceased Homo genus ancestors? And, on that same token, at what point in human embryonic development does the conscious process switch on so to speak? These are the questions which the next generation of embryologists, neurologists and neuroscientist can look forward to. I believe the case has been closed on this silly nonsense of the “soul”.

How many of these functions, once thought of the domain of the magical Descartesian immaterial domain, the domain of the mental, are now known to be physical? Perception, learning, association, pattern recognition, pain and movement and language and cognition and intelligence and memory, sensory integration and recognition, emotion and feeling, mechanopercepetion and proprioception, and facial recognition and creativity and humor and logic and rationality...if only Descartes had known, he would weep in shame.

On the “problem” of “free will” and “volition”

The dualist assertion, as supported by the religious dogma it complements, is that the soul is the domain of all things mental, that mental states are a seperate reality from the glands and gristle of the brain (but then...what does the brain do? Surely then it would be vestigial, which is absurd). However, neuroscientists have been shooting those off like flies on a windshield. Even the most ardent or ignorant dualist will be forced to admit that there is physical and causal grounding for mental states. We now have convincing neurological explanations for emotion, reason, cognition, pain, perception etc, and those phenomenon which we cannot (as of yet) explain, we can at least to deduce the physical nature of such phenomenon (consciousness, self-awareness and thoughts). The deductions of physicality are obvious, you tweak a physical thing in the brain, and you get a corresponding change in mental state. An electrode at X produces a physiological effect at Y and a corresponding mental state, chemical X in neuron group Y produces mental state Z and so on. We have a slew of cerebrovascular, genetic, neurodevelopmental, congenital neurophysiological, neurotoxic and neurobiological diseases to attest. Depression (serotonin VGIC channel malfunction and limbic-cortic dysregulation), which causes, well, depression. Alzheimers (amyeloid fatty plaque accumulation), which causes dementia, senile dementia, which does the same, Wilson’s disease (accumulation of copper in the brain causing dementia and Kayser-Fleischer rings), OCD (subcortical circuitry malfunction) causing obsessive-compulsive behaivor, Lesch-Nyhan’s (autocannibalism and insanity, caused by a missing copy of the functioning hypoxanthanine-guanine ribulotransferanse), autism (miswiring of mirror neurons) causing, in extreme cases, total antisocial behaivor, inability to speak, general inability to interact with others, eating disorders are caused by frontotemporal synaptogenesis malfunction, hallucination by cytokine storms in the retinogeniculocalcarine tract, the list goes on and on.

So, in the face of 200 crushing years of neurological evidence, many turn to the icky and hopelessly unscientific notion of “free will”. This is appealling because the brain is a physical machine and hence causal, but “free will” as the name denotes, is indeterminate. Many neuroscientists hence reject the notion of “free will”. I am not here to argue for or against such a notion, except to say this:

The question of free will is merely the other side of the coin of consciousness, the existence of a being which is aware of its existence (subject/object) in relation to the world, and has a concept of “I” and hence is able to make decisions about the the world pertaining to the accomplishment of some goal. Neurologists call this executive function. There is a part of the brain responsible, the anterior cingulate cortex (ACC), although we are not absolutely sure of the precise mechanism involved. Regardless, we can be quite sure of the organic biophysical nature of the decision making process. As I explained before, this is merely the other side of consciousness, which through a series of very easy deductions, we can, as I have shown, prove to have organo-physical grounding. The “free will” and control you excercise over your actions can be altered, controlled, lost, and switched on and off by physical actions in the brain, as evidenced by the poor Lesch-Nyhan sufferer.

But the term “free will” implies your ability to make decisions is...free. It is surely not. There are a host of factors, both acknowledged and programmed, which influence decision making. It is a highly causal and determinate process, depending on the tempermant of the subject in question (which is partially genetic and partially environmental), the electrical signals which knit together to form your cohesive worldview, this is the science of perception, which I shall cover now, memory, the pattern-recognition engines of the brain, the precise neuroelectrochemical concentration at time of the decision being made, and so on. There is no such thing as “free will”, because the processes by which decisions are made are as causal and hence physical as any biological process we care to name. The dichotomy we must entertain is this: Is there a “you” commanding and controlling your thoughts, or are “you” the sum total of your thoughts? Most of neuroscience, as do I, lean towards the latter. There is no mental control room, and it is most certainly not external of the brain. You cannot control your thoughts. Try it. You are your thoughts, and these thoughts are caused by....a guess, anyone? I would suspect, along with the bulk of evolutionary cognitive neuroscientists, that the subject/object self-perception of higher organisms which generates the illusion of “free will” is a by product of the evolutionary expansion of the neocortex along the Pan/Homo genus. After all, humans are not the only animals to possess this capability, although ours is certainly most fine-tuned. At present, great apes, chimps, macques and dolphins are also among this small set of organisms which acknowledge their existence as a defined being from the world they inhabit, and hence they do not behave like mere automata, as Descartes would have us believe.

In preperation for the next section of discussion, we must turn the science of perception. In scientific terms, this is the mechanism by which the electrical signals from the external and internal world are arrayed and read to assemble a picture of reality for the brain to interpret. That’s what the brain does, it runs a first-class simulation of reality.

This simulation is based on thousands and thousands of data hard points inside and outside the body. First, there are the five exoperceptive senses, which we all know, sight, smell, taste, touch, and hearing, which depend, respectively, on the eyes and optic, trochlear, abducent and oculomotor nerves, the olfactory and glassopharyngeal nerves, the tongue and hypoglossal nerve, the thousands of recepter neurons across the body and the auditory and vestibulocochlear nerves.

Then, there are the lesser known, but equally important introperceptive senses, which regulate balance and spatiotemporal relative position and geometric orientation in the world (inner ear and cochlear tubes) called proprioception, the tracking of movement and muscle memory called mechanoperception (this one is quite remarkable, it is controlled by grid neurons which array a lattice-like projection of external reality, dividing it into grid squares, such that grid neurons corresponding to said squares fire when movement is detected in said squares. Obviously, your brain does not project this onto your vision, as that would be extremely annoying. As a matter of fact, your brain, while efficiently organizing reality, tweaks a lot of things so as not to appear unsettling. For example, the eyes never stop moving, they, even when fixed on a point, are making a jerky motion called sacchares. However, this is extremely unsettling in appearance so the brain eliminates it from the visual projection. It can be detected only by watching someone else’s eyes in the mirror.

There are many introperceptive senses, but they keep inventing new ones as they are discovered, so I shall not mention them all here. The point is that the simulation which the brain runs based on this data is the fundamental requisite of existence for a conscious mind. The mind cannot exist without it. For some hitherto unexplained reason, perhaps psuedo-therepautical, the wealthy sometimes pay to be placed for short periods of time in a total sensory deprivation tank. This is dangerous. Overexposure to total sensory deprivation will cause insanity then death. The sensory processing units of the brain will begin to unravel, as experiments have shown. Imagine a person born more unfortunate than Helen Keller. Not only are they congenitally blind and deaf, but they have CIPA (Congenital insensity to pain with anhidrosis) and ageusia. If I presented this case to a neuroscientist, they would say the baby would die soon after exiting the womb, assuming it has not been born stillborn. The mind cannot exist without the senses.

In addition to the senses and the genetic factors of temperament and chemical concentration across the VGIC arrays, the mind cannot exist without the brain’s pattern recognition engines, without which we would be somewhat like Dory the fish in Finding Nemo, except that in addition to constantly forgetting our own name, we would be unable to walk, talk, or think at all.

Born without a brain

Of the most ludicrous attempts to prove the existence of the “soul”, surely, the so-called “born without a brain” is one of them.

Of course, it is possible to be born without a brain. The precursor to the neural clusters of the brain are called neural tubes, which open and develop around 25 weeks into embryonic development, and partition along the brain’s major longitudinal axis into the four major partitions (prosencephalon, mesencephalon, rhombencephalon and the cerebrospinal fluid duct. The first three then split again into the brain’s sub-partitioning, the prosencephalon develops along the optic ducts and into the precursor of the cerebrum, which contains all of the higer-level functions and partitions (temporal lobe, occipatal lobe, prefrontal cortex and parietal lobe), and the rest develops into the sub-structures of the primary and secondary tiers of the brain, the midbrain, the fluid ducts that run between the lobes, the pons medullas and hypothalamus, the cerebellum and the brain stem.

To be born without a brain is a classed neural tube defect, which occurs around 26 weeks of human embryonic development, with the failed closure of the neural tubes. The most serious of these is called anencephaly. An anencephalactic baby has no isocortex or cerebral hemisphere, in short, they are missing 85% of their brain, the part necessary for higher-level brain function.

Very few anencephelactic babies are born, since it can be detected in utero, and nearly all mothers who learn of the baby’s condition choose to abort it, many of those who are born are stillborn. A very tiny portion remain alive. It is possible to be alive in an anencephelactic state since the brain stem is present, and hence the cardioregulatory center, so the heart will beat. Eventually, however, with no brain, the body will die very quickly (Morpheus, in the Matrix, my favorite film, was correct when he said “the body cannot live without the mind”) the record, I believe, for an anencephelatic baby is one week outside of the womb.

Unsurprisingly, an anencephaltic baby is in a permanent vegetative state, unable to feel pain, unconscious, blind, deaf and dumb. In short, there is no higher level function to speak of. No consciousness develops, no mind etc. They just...exist, although there is no “I” to speak of in an anencephelactic baby.

Anencephaly is not to be confused with a much, much rarer condition called Acephaly, which is the absence of the entire head of a parasitic twin fetus, which appallingly, can survive for a few hours by leeching blood from the heart of its twin.

So, having read the two sections above regarding free will and NTDs, we reach an incredibly obvious conclusion. The conscious mind is not a separate agent from the reality it inhabits (recall especially the section on sensory deprivation and its resulting effect). The ancient Egyptians actually believed the brain to be vestigial. Such ignorance!

Also, conscious awareness, creativity, intelligence, etc. These are functions which develop via the interactive existence of the brain and the world. It is absurd to say that they are somehow separate or come “pre-packaged” in this nonsensical and ridiculous “ether” which is somehow “injected” into the zygote or foetus (whichever, apparently, depends on whether you are Catholic or Protestant. I am trying very hard not to laugh as I write this). They depend on and build from the subject/object nature of human existence, which is why, as I have previously explained, they cannot exist in a baby born with no sensory functions (which would die soon after assuming it survived in utero). It makes no sense to pin these functions on the existence of this magical nonsense being that they are no more separate functions from the physical brain than the liver is separate from the rest of the body, as 200 years of neuroscience confirms. Hence, as I have already exhaustively iterated with countless case studies, diseases, experiments ad infinitum, it is utterly absurd to claim that the mind is a separate agent from the reality it inhabits, which of course, means that there is no soul, being that the mind is not a disembodied entity, which of course, implies naturalism. This in turn, is a direct challenge to the idiocy of theism, since God is claimed to be a disembodied mind, which I have cast serious doubt upon here (or rather, not I, but 200 years of neuroscience).

So, let us assume, for the sake of argument, that there is indeed a non-physical and non-biological existence for the human conscious mind. As I have shown over and over again, even if such a being did exist, there must logically be some mechanism by which it interacts with the spatio-temporal, material, 1.3 kilos of grey stuff that reside between your ears and the neuroelectrochemical signals which it produces. It cannot exist independently of it. This is totally contradictory to the dualistic worldview and the 2000 years of religious dogma which take up the same position. It also casts impossibility on the notion of life after the death of the brain. But it is surely absurd to claim two such different entities could interact. Non-physical implies no spatial location (x,y,z) and hence, according to general relitivity, no temporal existence either, hence, it is utterly absurd to claim such a mysterious entity could possibly be responsible for any mental function, all of which, including decision-making (a more scientific approximate of the rather silly notion of free will) depend on causality and are hence spatiotemporal. Obviously, we cannot, as of yet, point to a neuroelectrical signal transmitting across a synaptic vesicle and say, this is where “thought X” is occuring, and then go on to explain precisely how neuron Y is causing thought X and so on. but that is merely because we do not fully understand it. The precise relationship between neuroelectrical activity and decision-making and thoughts is not understood, although it may be in time. At present it remains one of the “big ten” Unsolved Problems of Neuroscience. My job is not to provide an answer to that question, but rather to the much more simple statement “Neural activity is causing thought X”. The obvious problem regarding the brain and the "soul" interacting is that one is indeterminate hence acausal. But the nature of the word interaction inherently dictates temporal causality. What else are we to refer to when we say "interaction", could you give an example of "acausal interaction"? How do two things interact if one is not bound by temporal causality? Neither can cause the other? Does interaction not imply one thing acting up another? How can something act upon an entity which is not temporal when causal actions requires one to make reference to temporality? How can one make reference to any sort of interaction when one is temporal and the other is not? That's ridiculous. There is no trichotomy here. Being that the two entities cannot interact, one is vestigial. Either the brain or the soul. Care to guess, anyone, which one it is?

It is up to the nonsense-spouting dualist to answer all these questions, to answer the interaction problem, to account for the success of neuroscience, to answer the evidence against them from neurophysiology, neurotoxicology, neurobiology, neuroendocrinology, cerebrovascular pathology, neuroelectrochemistry and neuropharmacology, and to explain diseases, disorders and events which really should not be if their idiocy is indeed true. But, being that it has long since been debunked, I would be suprised if any stepped up to the plate and confronted the levithian of modern neuroscience- if you are foolish enough to do so...then good luck, and I await your response!

 

Quote:

And my argument pointed out that this position relies on an assumption that language only has one use. All your premises were based on the descriptive use of language that we use to describe the empirical world.

But what is your argument? What other ways can we employ this language? How does this make any non-material position coherent? How does this refute the points made in the concluding piece in the series? What exactly are you arguing, compressed into two sentences?

Quote:

The thing is, your position depends on linguistic assumptions that I don't accept. If you're not willing to question them then I guess that this debate can go no further.

But what are those assumptions?

What other ways can we use the linguistic terms employed?

What other forms of epistemology are valid?

What is your argument?

Quote:

So maybe that's the problem.
Didn't you realise that language is more fundamental than any of these?
The rules of logic are determined by the rules of language that we are using.
The most fundamental rules of any discourse will depend on the rules for applying concepts in that discourse. You have a clear mastery of our discriptive language, the style of language that we use for science. However, you have grown so accustomed to the rules of that use of language, you have assumed that they are universal.

But how does this give credence to the concept of anything being non-material? How is it possible that we could coherently linguistically reference concepts as having no material basis. We may intuitively think that we are referencing concepts with no material basis, but in actuality, this is false.

Are you going to respond to Searle’s point?

"Physical reality” isn’t some arbitrary demarcation. It is defined in terms of what we can systematically investigate, directly or not, by means of our senses. It is preposterous to assert that the process of systematic scientific reasoning arbitrarily excludes “non-physical explanations” because the very notion of “non-physical explanation” is contradictory.

-Me

Books about atheism


Strafio
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Sum up my argument? Fine. 1)

Sum up my argument? Fine.
1) Language has many different uses and functions, each with its own rules to suit the task at hand.
2) The discourse of physics is rooted in a particular use/function of language and the rules of this discourse are rooted in this use/function.
3) Other uses of language need not follow the same rules.
4) Your style of physicalism demands that mental concepts follow the same rules as physical ones. This is by presupposing that they are concepts from the discourse of physics. It is this presupposition that I am challenging.

I'll now clear up the point I was making with the word immaterial.
1) Material means 'not material'.
2) Todagnst has shown that in the language of existence, 'immaterial' is incoherent - that everything that exists is material.
3) The language of describing the world and what exists isn't our only use of language, it isn't the only domain where our language has meaning. If concepts aren't defined within the domain of 'things that exist' i.e. the material world then they are not material.
Hence immaterial.

So immaterial isn't necessarily incoherent.
Substance dualism and theism goes further by saying that immaterial things 'exist', and that's a category error that is the flaw in their system. This is where Todangst refutes them.
Without the claim of 'existence', immaterial concepts have no such flaw and if you wanted an argument against them then you'd need to find a fresh one.

So are we clear that material is what we call concepts that are defined within the discourse of discribing the empirical world? Then you would also agree that a concept of a different use, one outside of this discourse, would be describable as immaterial?
I think this is a good time to bring up your 'John Searle' bit from your previous point.

Quote:
Also, I believe it was John Searle who pointed this out, but all our knowledge we gain through our brain, which is a 3lb tangle of neurons. So, all systems of knowledge are neurosystems. We don’t hae philosophy, we have neurophilosophy, we don’t have economics, we have neuroecnomics, neurosociology, neuroepistemology and so on. Hence, the idea of any sort of epistemology that does not depend on the physical is patent absurdity!

Your argument here depends on an equivication on the word dependence. There is a physical dependence as in the following examples:
"This ball not falling to the floor depends on my grip"
"The occurance of a fire depends on my striking the match to cause it"
and there is rational dependence:
E.g. "This table's being green depends on the table having a colour."
"The justification of my belief in gravity depends upon my experience."

Your argument is that knowledge physically depends on physical things. However, we are not looking for the origins of causation here. We are looking for the root of justification, so we are looking for the bottom of the rational dependence.
You used the physical dependence of knowledge on physics to try and conclude the rational dependence of knowledge on physics. That's a straight equivocation.

Physical facts cannot be at the bottom of rational dependence (e.g. the facts of neurology) as they depend on a rational system to justify them. Your position in the quote would land you in an infinite regress - the trail of rational dependence has to end somewhere.
(and I suspect that if John Searle said it then he was trying to reducio ad absurdum on reductive physicalism)

So that's why language is the most fundamental element in any discussion. Our intuitive grasp of language is where all reason and discussion begins and that we have this grasp is the only thing pre-supposed by both sides when they enter a debate. It's the common rules of language that the rules of logic are founded on.

Here is why you are having such a difficulty understanding me.
You have spent so much time working in the scientific use of language, you have come to assume that it is our only form of language. I don't mean an explicit assumption where you state it as a premise, I mean an implicit assumption in that it is the silent background to all your arguments.
It is this assumption I am trying to get you to recognise and to question.

Quote:
I don’t understand. What other contexts can we use the term decision in? How can we reference decision as an immaterial?

The assumption that language has to be referential is a major stumbling block. Do we always use language to refer to things?
When I point to a table I am clearly referring to a table.
When I mention "Rose" it is likely that I am referring to a flower or colour or to a girl by her name.
When I say "hello!" or "go away!" am I clearly not referring to anything in the same way. Language has other uses/function other than to refer to things.
How do we tell the function of a concept?
Surely the only way is to see how we apply it in everyday life?

So how do we use the word 'decision' in everyday life?
Are we explaining an empirical phenomena?
What are you trying to achieve when you explain a decision you made to someone? Give them an empirical explanation of what happened, or try and make sense of your action?
When you ask someone why they did something, are you looking for an empirical description of what happened or are you trying to make a different kind of sense of their actions?

When we attribute mental concepts like beliefs and desires to people, we use them to make predictions on what they will do. This is their practical purpose. If someone is an alcoholic then they are more likely to grab the bottle than the abstaining Buddhist. We make sense of our actions for the social purpose of explaining and regulating our actions. This is different to our use of empirical explanations.

While I've not exactly proved that the 'mind' isn't about physical description, I've atleast given a possible alternative.

Quote:
Furthermore, how exactly is your argument concurrent with materialism as you claim?

Simple. Materialism is a claim that all that exists is material.
When we are describing the world, everything in that discourse will be of material things. I say that the mind is of a different discourse rather than the one that exists. So I don't disagree with materialism, the belief that everything that 'exists' is material, but we're not always talking about 'things' that 'exist'.

I think I have addressed all the questions that you set me on my position. I would now like to set a question on yours.

Quote:
I can show easily that the mind needs to depend on the physical:

You then went on to give a description of the brain which did nothing to show that the mind needs to depend on the physical.
Don't get me wrong: I'm certain that your description of the function of the brain was spot on. There was just major part of your argument that you missed:
What relevence does your description of the function of the brain have to do with our concepts of 'mind' and 'consciousness'?
Sure, the brain works as you describe.
What has that got to do with the mind?
I'm not saying that it hasn't got anything to do with the mind - I myself would argue for a connection. What I'm asking for you to justify such a connection.

You see a function in the brain and call it 'decision'.
I don't dispute the function you are seeing, but what has it got to do with our concept of decision?
It's this you have to justify.
I'm not asking this question to catch you out here, I just think that it's the question you have to address in order to understand where I am coming from.


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Strafio wrote: Your

Strafio wrote:
Your argument here depends on an equivication on the word dependence. There is a physical dependence as in the following examples:
"This ball not falling to the floor depends on my grip"
"The occurance of a fire depends on my striking the match to cause it"
and there is rational dependence:
E.g. "This table's being green depends on the table having a colour."
"The justification of my belief in gravity depends upon my experience."

Your argument is that knowledge physically depends on physical things. However, we are not looking for the origins of causation here. We are looking for the root of justification, so we are looking for the bottom of the rational dependence.
You used the physical dependence of knowledge on physics to try and conclude the rational dependence of knowledge on physics. That's a straight equivocation.

Physical facts cannot be at the bottom of rational dependence (e.g. the facts of neurology) as they depend on a rational system to justify them. Your position in the quote would land you in an infinite regress - the trail of rational dependence has to end somewhere.


Rationality still runs via the brain, hence that too has a physical basis.

Strafio wrote:
So how do we use the word 'decision' in everyday life?
Are we explaining an empirical phenomena?
What are you trying to achieve when you explain a decision you made to someone? Give them an empirical explanation of what happened, or try and make sense of your action?
When you ask someone why they did something, are you looking for an empirical description of what happened or are you trying to make a different kind of sense of their actions?

When we attribute mental concepts like beliefs and desires to people, we use them to make predictions on what they will do. This is their practical purpose. If someone is an alcoholic then they are more likely to grab the bottle than the abstaining Buddhist. We make sense of our actions for the social purpose of explaining and regulating our actions. This is different to our use of empirical explanations.

Your talking about abstractions here. Abstractions do not negate physicality.

Abstraction, which tends to be intersubjective, is the processes of removing all the irrelevant details and just expressing what is required for its purpose. So we can have a precise empirical scientific explanation or an abstraction (which is usually intuitive, commonsense, and/or based on how something is generally used). Abstractions reduce that precise explanation down to a level which is relevant for the specific purpose, such as communication.

Abstractionis the process of generalization by reducing the information content of a concept or an observable phenomenon, typically in order to retain only information which is relevant for a particular purpose. For example, abstracting a leather soccer ball to a ball retains only the information on general ball attributes and behaviour. Similarly, abstracting an emotional state to happiness reduces the amount of information conveyed about the emotional state.

Abstraction uses a strategy of simplification, wherein formerly concrete details are left ambiguous, vague, or undefined; thus effective communication about things in the abstract requires an intuitive or common experience between the communicator and the communication recipient.”
(This latter part is intersubjectivity)

So in abstracting an emotion we do not need to know about the detailed scientific brain functions, or when expressing a colour, the fact that colour derives from a wavelength entering the optical nerve which in turn is processed by the brain which consequently produces a subjective sensation is irrelevant in social communication. We do not need this information when socially expressing colour or an emotion, as such, it is expressed as an abstraction, which retains only the relevant information.

None of this however negates the physical basis of it all. It doesn’t deny physicality, even if it intuitively seems like it does. For instance, we see language itself as ‘immaterial’ or abstract, yet at a higher ontological level, we can reduce language to physicality (i.e. neurolanguage) since language requires the brain processes, so language also has a physical basis.

"It is far better to grasp the universe as it really is than to persist in delusion, however satisfying and reassuring" -- Carl Sagan


deludedgod
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Quote: Sum up my argument?

Quote:

Sum up my argument? Fine.
1) Language has many different uses and functions, each with its own rules to suit the task at hand.
2) The discourse of physics is rooted in a particular use/function of language and the rules of this discourse are rooted in this use/function.
3) Other uses of language need not follow the same rules.
4) Your style of physicalism demands that mental concepts follow the same rules as physical ones. This is by presupposing that they are concepts from the discourse of physics. It is this presupposition that I am challenging.

Please don’t insult me by using the phrase “presup”. It implies something which is believed as a foundation without evidence. The only reason I believe that the mental states are physical is because

a)      I have shown this so

b)      Because in the other essay I showed how the concept of anything non-physical existing or doing anything is a category error

You keep insisting that I am using a prescribed definition of the mental states I am attempting to explain which is not necessarily the right one. But it is. Check it. The definitions we use in neuroscience are essentially the same as the ones we might use in everyday life. After all, we are trying to explain what people everyday consider to be certain mental functions, so why wouldn’t we employ the same definitions? All we are doing is explaining phenomenon that people experience daily. The definition of memory in neuroscience is the same as what we would consider memory on the street. Same with thoughts. Same with perception.

 

Quote:

I'll now clear up the point I was making with the word immaterial.
1) Material means 'not material'.
2) Todagnst has shown that in the language of existence, 'immaterial' is incoherent - that everything that exists is material.
3) The language of describing the world and what exists isn't our only use of language, it isn't the only domain where our language has meaning. If concepts aren't defined within the domain of 'things that exist' i.e. the material world then they are not material.
Hence immaterial.

But then what are not arguing about anything. If we are not making reference to things which exist, you haven’t refuted my position in the last essay, which means that the concept of God is still totally absurd as I have shown.

 

Quote:

So are we clear that material is what we call concepts that are defined within the discourse of discribing the empirical world? Then you would also agree that a concept of a different use, one outside of this discourse, would be describable as immaterial?

But what epistemology exists besides rationality and empiricism?

Quote:

Here is why you are having such a difficulty understanding me.
You have spent so much time working in the scientific use of language, you have come to assume that it is our only form of language. I don't mean an explicit assumption where you state it as a premise, I mean an implicit assumption in that it is the silent background to all your arguments.
It is this assumption I am trying to get you to recognise and to question.

But...what other definitions for these concepts in question exist? Unless you can provide me some, I do not believe there are. Even if there was, all it would reflect would be a technical inaccuracy in the language, since it is attempting to describe what we can show to be an empirical phenomenon. The words “memory” refers to how our brain stores information. How is this any different from when we speak of memory in everyday usage?

Furthermore, what is the relevance of this? How is this any sort of refutation of the idea I posted in the essay last time, which said that God was an inherent absurdity? If this is not a defense, then why did you name the thread “a defence of the immaterial mind”. You haven’t. All you have shown is that we may use words in everyday language which do not refer to things. But that is obvious! I am not “assuming” that our empirical definition of the word in question is the only one, I am making the point that the “empirical” definition is usually a precise description of the phenomenon we commonly describe.  I do not mean to say that scientific language is the only form of language, however, QED it is the best form of language for describing empirical phenomenon (that is sort of the definition of science). So my argument still holds providing we are describing empirical phenomenon (and then you insist that certain mental functions are not empirical and I insist they are, and then I show that with neuroscience and you insist that the science does not reflect the phenomenon, and then I insist that it does since we are describing process which is essentially the same as how would we would reference it in everyday language except much more technical).

Actually, come to think of it, the whole point of the final essay I wrote was to show that the idea that these functions are not empirical is an inherent absurdity, so my argument still holds anyway.

Anyway, the argument in the last essay was about how it would be absurd for an entity outside space and time to do anything at all. I don’t see that this is any sort of refutation of that.

[quote

The assumption that language has to be referential is a major stumbling block. Do we always use language to refer to things?

Remember what I said ages ago:

Words which need referents

Many words are direct representations of existing concepts. For example, the adjective “blue” denotes a certain wavelength along the EM spectrum. The noun “computer” is a word which represents an information processing machine. Oftentimes in everyday language, we are subconsciously ignoring inaccuracies in the way we use our language, for example the term "dumb" does not mean lack of intelligence, it means mute, the term "gay" which bizarrely, has entered the lexicon as sort of the ultimate generic insult, is nothing of the sort, it refers to either happiness or homosexuality. However, this is OK because our prefontal cortex can process this because the social and cultural context is imprinted onto our brain. However, again, in this case, we don’t need to worry about nouns which refer to multiple things, some of them not technically correct, or the accompanying semantics. Because today, as I said, we are using the language of logic, and as such, the nouns and adjectives which we invoke in arguments have to be coherent and correctly defined. The predicate of a logical statement (in this case, that would be "God" or "supernatural" or "spirit" must refer to something, otherwise it is nonsensical).

As I said, what makes nouns and adjectives meaningful is that they refer to something, after all, they are supposed to be representing communicable concepts. Along with verbs, they are the bread and butter of language. Now, obviously, not all words need to refer to things to be meaningful. The word “goodbye” is not referring to anything, nor are conjunctives like “the, but, and”, however, nouns and adjectives most certainly do have to refer to things, otherwise they are nonsensical.

A short divergence regarding the supposed problem of existence in reality versus conceptualization. A noun does not necessarily have to refer to something existing in reality. The term unicorn is coherent (it’s a white horse-like creature with a horn on its head). Even though it makes reference to something that does not exist in reality. That is OK because it does exist in conceptualization and so it is still a coherent concept. We can make reference to these fictional concepts in reality (ie, look everyone! I saw a unicorn over by that pond!) However, the statement would obviously be false.

Meaningless Statements and Fallacies of Definition

There are many ways a statement could be meaningless, and these are of vital importance when we discuss theological noncognitivism, which I promise we will, eventually, please recall the bolded statements when reading this list:

As I said, there are many ways a statement might be meaningless. However, below I will only detail those relevant to our discussion. Ways in which a statement could be meaningless :

-Undefined paramaters. For example, if I decided to make up my own system of measurement and one day announced to the grocer “I’d like 125 fillihonks of apples. Now, how many squidgles will this cost?” I should rightfully be thought insane, since neither of those terms are defined.

-Defining something with a single word synonym: Lets use an example which is relevant to our discussion. In the ontology paper I am preparing, I suggest that defining the word “existence” as “being” or “substantive” is empty. It is the equivalent of saying that 0=0. It’s correct, but unhelpful.

Deliberate obscurity: When attempting to define a term using fuzzy logic or figurative and overly ambiguous language. When we make reference to literal meanings, this is obviously incoherent. Like If I ask the question what is love? And the answer I get is “the insensible quivering of the soul”. This is incoherent. It does not mean anything. It is little more than deliberate obfusication. Gibberish, essentially. When having logical discussions about the existence and nature of things, we must have clear-cut, iron definitions with absolute coherency.

Equivocation of metaphorical and literal contextualizations: For example, if I ask the question: What is life? In the context of a biology class, and the answer I get is “A thrilling escapade of joy and wonder, of up and down, triumph and loss, life is an adventure to be lived”! The answerer is making a fallacy of metaphorical/literal reference. Perhaps that would be an answer in a poetry class. However in biology, the answer is: A self-propogating chemical system capable of reproduction. Or, if I read a novel and it says “he was feeling very blue so he went to see a therapist” and in a physics class, the teacher asks what the color blue is and I reply “it’s a condition for which one would go see a therapist”.

No referents: This applies only to nouns and adjectives. These are supposed to describe objects, hence a word cannot be called a noun or an adjective if it does not have a referent. This is supremely important. This is essentially accusing someone of making up a word. For example, if my friend asks me for my opinion on how many “fonkles” he should purchase, I would probably hit him over the head with a frying pan, since he is being nonsensical. The term “fonkle” does not refer to anything, which, being a noun, it has to.

Contradictory references: When we attempt to describe something with multiple adjectives which clash. This is usually commited when someone equivocates metaphorical and literal references. If I describe object X with literal property A and metaphorical property B, but the literal meaning of B contradicts A, we are confusing metaphorical and literal properties again.

Negative referents: Again, only applies to nouns and verbs, which have to refer to things. A negative referent is describing a noun only in negative terms. There are two ways this could be fallacious:

Ambiguous: If I have an orange, an apple, a banana and a peach, and I define the orange as “not the apple” then it is unclear that I am referring to the orange. I could be referring to any of the three remaining fruits. I haven’t defined what I am talking about.

Eliminative: If I remove the banana and peach, and just have the apple and orange, then I say “not the orange or the apple”, then it is incoherent what I am talking about, since I have just eliminated the entire set. We have just eliminated all possible positives. So any talk further is incoherent.

Now, obviously we use negatives regarding adjectives and nouns all the time in language, but as I explained above in the apple/orange/banana/peach analogy, these are only meaningful because either (a) there positive referents (and, we have described which positive referent we are talking about). Without such a referent (ie remove the peach and banana) then suddenly the term becomes meaningless as by defining it solely by negatives, and eliminating all possible positives.

 

Quote:

So how do we use the word 'decision' in everyday life?
Are we explaining an empirical phenomena?
What are you trying to achieve when you explain a decision you made to someone? Give them an empirical explanation of what happened, or try and make sense of your action?
When you ask someone why they did something, are you looking for an empirical description of what happened or are you trying to make a different kind of sense of their actions?

Simple. We use the word decision to reference intent. What I decide to do is my intention as it exists as a mental state. Now, we have very little idea how this function works but we can tell you that it is physical. How is this any different from our normal usage?

Quote:

When we attribute mental concepts like beliefs and desires to people, we use them to make predictions on what they will do. This is their practical purpose. If someone is an alcoholic then they are more likely to grab the bottle than the abstaining Buddhist. We make sense of our actions for the social purpose of explaining and regulating our actions. This is different to our use of empirical explanations.

So what? Our empirical explanations are for describing how these functions work. All you have shown is that we have words which do not necessarily make reference to things which exist. How is this a defence of the immaterial mind? If we make reference to certain mental functions in a “social context”. You are essentially saying that the empirical phenomenon we are describing are different to the social use of the words we are referring to. I am challenging this. I believe that neuroscience is actually working with the same definitions, it is simply working with them on a technical level. A word is not an utterly ambiguous entity. It has correct and incorrect meaning. The word “hello” makes no reference to any sort of colour. Likewise, the word “decision” has a specific meaning, and this meaning is what neuroscientists are describing when we talk about the electrophysiological event which translates intent into action.

Quote:

While I've not exactly proved that the 'mind' isn't about physical description, I've atleast given a possible alternative.

What’s that? That is does not exist? That is essentially what you said. That to say that the functions in question exist is a category error. That’s not an alternative, and it certainly is not a “defence of the immaterial mind”. Indeed, by your own admission, to deny the organic basis of decisions would be akin to denying their existence.

Quote:

Simple. Materialism is a claim that all that exists is material.
When we are describing the world, everything in that discourse will be of material things. I say that the mind is of a different discourse rather than the one that exists. So I don't disagree with materialism, the belief that everything that 'exists' is material, but we're not always talking about 'things' that 'exist'.

But the problem is, you have not defined the mind. Words are not ambiguities to be tossed around. They have right definitions, and wrong definitions. The word banana is not a type of shoe, for example. Our empirical descriptive phenomenon are usally always in line with our social use. The way we empirically describe a rainbow is precisely the same way in which we describe it in every day situation. What I mean is, we are referring to exactly the same thing, just that in empirical terms, we are describing it technically. I believe the case is the same with neuroscience. We are describing phenomenon which are the same as we may use them in everyday situations, we are just giving them technical definitions. You’ve only asserted that a category error is taking place here, but you haven’t offered a definition of the mind which would show this. What do neuroscientists consider the mind? We don’t really know. We define the mind by its functions. Emotion, reason, perception, intuition, memory, intelligence. We define these, in turn, by their physical grounding. How far off is this from our social usage. And even if it was, what relevance would this have?

Indeed, if your assertion were true, the whole field of neuropsychology would be nonexistent!

 

Quote:

You then went on to give a description of the brain which did nothing to show that the mind needs to depend on the physical.
Don't get me wrong: I'm certain that your description of the function of the brain was spot on. There was just major part of your argument that you missed:
What relevence does your description of the function of the brain have to do with our concepts of 'mind' and 'consciousness'?
Sure, the brain works as you describe.
What has that got to do with the mind?
I'm not saying that it hasn't got anything to do with the mind - I myself would argue for a connection. What I'm asking for you to justify such a connection.

So, the functions of intelligence, decision-making, perception, interagency conscious control over functions...which I spent pages explaining...these are not the functions of the mind?

Didn’t you read the first paragraph? Consciousness requisities interagency control in the brain. I actually stated that directly. Why do you insist that I haven’t made a connection between the physical brain and the mind when I have. The only way you could keep this as tenable is to torque the accepted definitions beyond all recognition, for mental functions, I have shown the inherent physicality of:

1)      Intelligence

2)      Intent

3)      The translation between intent and action

4)      Sensation and perception

 

And you don’t consider these functions of the “mind” and “consciousness”?

The only way they wouldn’t be is if you refused to accept the scientific definitions of mental functions, which really are based on what we consider “decision” making. But then, by your own admission, you would be denying their existence. But the definition of these words is not ambiguous or made up. The way we use them in neuroscience is the same way we use them in everyday situation.

The fact of the matter is, these words do have definitions, and the way we employ them in neuroscience is the same way we employ them in real life. Decision making is intent and the translation of intent into action. Unless you are simply making up definitions, this is exactly the same way we are employing them in real life. But since we can show that intent and the translation of intent into action. Likewise, thoughts have a totally organic basis. In neuroscience, a thought is defined in more or less the same way as it is in real life, just in more technical terms. A thought is the culmination of sensation and memory (recall that I actually showed that thoughts could not exist without sensation and memory)

 

Quote:

You see a function in the brain and call it 'decision'.
I don't dispute the function you are seeing, but what has it got to do with our concept of decision?
It's this you have to justify.
I'm not asking this question to catch you out here, I just think that it's the question you have to address in order to understand where I am coming from.

That’s what I did. I took every mental function and showed its physical dependency. Intelligence, perception, sensation, motor control, intent, action, conscious control, what more do you want?

Unless you don’t accept the scientific definitions of decision making, perception etc. (which are the same as our everyday usage), but then, you are effectively denying their existence. You said it yourself. If you are denying the organic causal basis of decisions, you are by your own admission denying that decisions exist. It would be a category error. But the scientific definitions of these words are merely technical rephrasals of their everyday usages.

But if you consider that these words do not refer to things, you are denying their existence. For you, the equivocation of “does the mind exist” is “does hello exist”. It would be a category error. But you have not defined the mind. The mind is defined (at least in science) by the functions it possesses, emotion, intuition, reason etc. Since the categories of words which do refer to things are nouns and verbs. So what the hell are we arguing about?

You can’t keep criticizing me on grounds that I am only employing one definition of a word if you are not going to give me any others....

Let’s just look at the apraxia paragraph:

If I was a very poorly skilled brain surgeon, and I opened up a poor guy’s head, and I accidently made an incorrect incision along the corpus callosum:

-He would feel his hand, but not exercise conscious control over it. Different parts of the brain would have disjointed functional control at different times

But when the lobes are reunified, the person can feel his hand and exercise conscious control, as well as kinaesthetic and sensory control.

And you don’t consider this...decision making? Please do not tell me I did not justify that the brain created the mental. The whole point of the essay was to show that the brain generated the mental. Decision making, which we would define as your intent to do something and the translation of intent into action, the link between intelligence and O3 or DHA, the fact that the destruction of a part of the brain results in a precise corresponding loss in mental function. Indeed, the destruction of a certain part of the brain results in the subject having no mental states at all. How can the mind not be dependant on the physical? The fact is that if you deny the organic basis of individual decision making, you are denying that it occurs!

Your entire argument is not actually defending the “immaterial mind”. All you have shown is that we use words in social context which do not necessarily refer to material things or material abstractions, in other words, things which exist. So, by your extension, the mind would not exist, or not be a process or entity. But that depends, how would you define the mind?

Again, I challenge the notion that our empirical scientific descriptions are somehow disjointed from our social use. Neuroscience would be a pointless endeavour if the functions we were describing were not the same ones we experience daily.  You’ve focused so much on my use of words you’ve forgotten that maybe they are indeed the correct usage, unless of course you can present me with a social use of a mental state which is utterly disjointed from its neuroscience equivalent. And I don’t mean torquing the definition of the word for instance when I say “decision” I do not mean “group decision” which is where people get to gether and discuss things and come up with a solution. I mean “decision” as in the intent and actual execution of a person represented by what he is thinking, which in turn is represented by neurons.

Every time I define something, all you do is insist I am assuming on the empirical definition of the word in question. All this does is annoy me. For example, in that really long neuroscience piece, you “refuted” it by claiming I was employing definitions that did not necessarily describe mental functions. But that is utterly ridiculous. How would you define memory? Perception? Thought? You will find that we define them the same way . In other words, every time I put forth a definition, you call it out. But you don’t give me anything in its place! The empirical descriptive definition of a phenomenon usually squares with our everyday usage. And if it does not, it is usually because our everyday usage turns out to be factually incorrect.

But more to the point, what are we arguing about? You haven’t refuted what I put forth in the final essay in the series. The idea of the God entity having thoughts, a mind, or doing things is still an absurdity. Since we can only argue for existent things based on empirical description, the only thing we are arguing about is the finer points of subject I rather loathe in the first place...

"Physical reality” isn’t some arbitrary demarcation. It is defined in terms of what we can systematically investigate, directly or not, by means of our senses. It is preposterous to assert that the process of systematic scientific reasoning arbitrarily excludes “non-physical explanations” because the very notion of “non-physical explanation” is contradictory.

-Me

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natural wrote:   Why

natural wrote:

 

Why don't you just say that the mind is information and leave it at that? Information is not *matter*,

Sure it is.

Quote:
 

but it is physical, so in that *very specific* interpretation it is 'immaterial' 

I've heard you say this before, but I can't fathom why. If it's physical, it's matter.

Information is encoded in neurons or in some other medium: every element involved is material. Whether audible or visual, or any other sense, you have a material medium interpreted by a material brain.

If you'd like to explain how something could be physical but not matter, your nobel prize awaits. 

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Quote: Precisely.

Quote:

Precisely. Regardless of how one views the mind itself, if you are a materialist then there MUST be a direct link between the brain and the mind.

Strafio based his view largely on Wittgenstein’s philosophy of language... that the brain was in the descriptive/physical language-game (context) while the mind was in the social language-game (context). This is precisely why he thinks determinism and libertarian free will are not mutually exclusive, because to him determinism relates to the descriptive discourse, while free will relates to the social discourse, but of course, as you have shown, what he includes in the social discourse (i.e. beliefs, desires, etc) are still part of the deterministic/causal physical discourse.

Precisely. But then our differences are merely petty. What are we arguing about?  

 

"Physical reality” isn’t some arbitrary demarcation. It is defined in terms of what we can systematically investigate, directly or not, by means of our senses. It is preposterous to assert that the process of systematic scientific reasoning arbitrarily excludes “non-physical explanations” because the very notion of “non-physical explanation” is contradictory.

-Me

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Don't have much time at

Don't have much time at present, will return to read these posts later, but for now: 

 

 

strafio wrote:

Sum up my argument? Fine.
1) Language has many different uses and functions, each with its own rules to suit the task at hand.


2) The discourse of physics is rooted in a particular use/function of language and the rules of this discourse are rooted in this use/function.


3) Other uses of language need not follow the same rules.

They can pretend to follow different rules, but if they violate basic physics, they end up stealing the concept. "Non materialist' terminology must steal its meaning from materialism.

Quote:
 

 

I'll now clear up the point I was making with the word immaterial.
1) Material means 'not material'.
2) Todagnst has shown that in the language of existence, 'immaterial' is incoherent - that everything that exists is material.

Defining 'immaterial' as not material says nothing.

What is a zark?

It is not non zark.

What have you learned?

What is immateriality? Not matter.

Well, what's left.

If there were something left, you'd start your definition right here, at the beginning by telling me what 'immateriality' is.

Quote:
 

  3) The language of describing the world and what exists isn't our only use of language,

Let's cut to the chase. These sort of arguments are lodged to imply that there could be a way to talk about immateriality.  But these arguments do not actually present the manner of speaking coherently about immateriality, nor do they even get off the couch to move towards opening the door to actually presenting an ontology...

So, in sense, they are merely complaints, not arguments. The complaint implies that the materialist is shutting down the immaterilist from presenting his position.

But this implication is nonsense. THe reality is: if you had a way of talking about immateriality, you'd be doing it, rather than wasting  your time merely implying that you somehow can.

 

When you are in an argument, and you find that you don't actually ever get to presenting what your argument actually is, you should see that you're in trouble.

 

Quote:

 So immaterial isn't necessarily incoherent.

You've actually done nothing to support this claim.  You've merely argued that there may be ways of talking that allow for a coherent discussion of immateriality. But if you actually had such a way of talking, you'd already have posted this first, right?

Can you see my position here? 

 

Quote:
 


Substance dualism and theism goes further by saying that immaterial things 'exist', and that's a category error that is the flaw in their system. This is where Todangst refutes them.

No, my refutation is at the conjectural level, it's not possible to speak of such terms coherently, whether they 'exist' or are imaginary. 

 

Quote:

So are we clear that material is what we call concepts that are defined within the discourse of discribing the empirical world? Then you would also agree that a concept of a different use, one outside of this discourse, would be describable as immaterial?

To 'define' something as contra X, without providing a universe of discourse is to say nothing. If all you can do is say "Not X" then you've not provided a definition. To go on and use the term as predicate in an argument leads to incoherence.

 

 

 

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deludedgod wrote: Every

deludedgod wrote:
Every time I define something, all you do is insist I am assuming on the empirical definition of the word in question. All this does is annoy me.

Join the club! Lol
Apparently it is “begging the question.”

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deludedgod wrote: Please

deludedgod wrote:
Please don’t insult me by using the phrase “presup”. It implies something which is believed as a foundation without evidence. The only reason I believe that the mental states are physical is because

a) I have shown this so

b) Because in the other essay I showed how the concept of anything non-physical existing or doing anything is a category error


And I've been trying to show you that these two 'justifications' rely on the same linguistic presupposition - that we should be using the language of science.

Quote:
But it is. Check it. The definitions we use in neuroscience are essentially the same as the ones we might use in everyday life.

Right. This is the premise that your entire argument relies upon and I dispute it. So far you've given no justification for this premise. I've offered an alternative, which I admit hasn't been proved, but the alternative is there.

Quote:
After all, we are trying to explain what people everyday consider to be certain mental functions, so why wouldn’t we employ the same definitions?

Because you have a habit of explaining things in scientific language and will squeeze concepts into a new form in order to achieve this. You think scientists are immune to philosophical errors?

Quote:
But then what are not arguing about anything. If we are not making reference to things which exist, you haven’t refuted my position in the last essay, which means that the concept of God is still totally absurd as I have shown.

Ofcourse...
You might remember from other discussions that I agree that God is incoherent. Heck, I've even said it in this topic. I'm not sure where God came into this discussion at all...
By the way, I made it clear in the second post that this topic wasn't necessarily out to refute your essays, even if it disagreed with certain points.

Quote:
All you have shown is that we may use words in everyday language which do not refer to things. But that is obvious!

Yet you were making arguments that assumed language needed referents to be meaningful. That's the only reason I had to bring these points in.

Quote:
I do not mean to say that scientific language is the only form of language, however, QED it is the best form of language for describing empirical phenomenon (that is sort of the definition of science). So my argument still holds providing we are describing empirical phenomenon

No disagreement here.
My argument depends entirely on the rejection of the premise in bold.

Quote:
The word “goodbye” is not referring to anything, nor are conjunctives like “the, but, and”, however, nouns and adjectives most certainly do have to refer to things, otherwise they are nonsensical.

I can see why you're saying this as the first place we come across nouns is in the descriptive language that refers to 'things'. That doesn't mean that's the only form of language that would make use of the grammar of the noun.

Quote:
But the problem is, you have not defined the mind. Words are not ambiguities to be tossed around. They have right definitions, and wrong definitions.

Ofcourse they do. I'm not advocating fuzziness here.
I'm not saying that the mind is an 'anything goes' zone where you can do what you like with them. I agree that there are still rules, just not necessarily the same rules that you apply when describing material things. Once example is that material concepts are spacio-temporal while mental concepts only need to be temporal.

Quote:
You’ve only asserted that a category error is taking place here, but you haven’t offered a definition of the mind which would show this. What do neuroscientists consider the mind? We don’t really know. We define the mind by its functions. Emotion, reason, perception, intuition, memory, intelligence. We define these, in turn, by their physical grounding. How far off is this from our social usage.

I admit straight out that I haven't proved that mental concepts must be a different type of language. So far I was just trying to get you to recognise the possibility. I need to convince you of the coherence of my position before I can start bringing forward positive arguments!

Quote:
Indeed, if your assertion were true, the whole field of neuropsychology would be nonexistent!

Not at all. I showed in the OP that my definition of mind was consistent with most of the results of neuroscience, just recognised that there were limits that reductionists had glossed over.

Quote:
So, the functions of intelligence, decision-making, perception, interagency conscious control over functions...which I spent pages explaining...these are not the functions of the mind?

You didn't justify linking them with the brain functions either.
Actually, you have gone on to do so since.
You claimed that neuroscientists were applying the concepts the way that we do in everyday life which was the exact answer I was looking for. So now we see what neuro-science has really shown:
There is a correlation between certain brain functions and the ways that the scientists were applying mental concepts to the subjects

This means that whether the mental concepts are physical 'things' isn't something that neuroscience can prove or disprove. It shows a link between physical functions of the brain and how we apply concepts - it cannot say anything more about the concepts we are applying. It allows for both definitions of mind, yours and mine.

Quote:
The fact of the matter is, these words do have definitions, and the way we employ them in neuroscience is the same way we employ them in real life.

So you claim, but you're going to need to do more than simply re-assert it. Bear in mind that I've made no assertions of the same nature - I simply pointed out that yours had no justification. Hopefully we've gotten to the point where we both recognise that the entire argument depends on this premise and that this is where the battle will be won or lost.
Your entire position relies on this premise and my entire position relies on the refutation of it.

Quote:
But you have not defined the mind.

I admit that my explanation of the mind has been lacking - I was trying to answer all the other questions in this topic as well. I will have another crack here but I think I should point something out.
I suspect your idea of definition will expect me to define it in physical terms - that would be to beg the question against me.

Instead, I need to try and show you how the discourse of mind differs in it's social purpose compared to the discourse of the world and how this would affect the concepts involved. (I'll have had another go at this by the end of the post!)

Quote:

Let’s just look at the apraxia paragraph:

If I was a very poorly skilled brain surgeon, and I opened up a poor guy’s head, and I accidently made an incorrect incision along the corpus callosum:

-He would feel his hand, but not exercise conscious control over it. Different parts of the brain would have disjointed functional control at different times

But when the lobes are reunified, the person can feel his hand and exercise conscious control, as well as kinaesthetic and sensory control.

And you don’t consider this...decision making?


You have shown that there are similarities between this functioning of the brain and our application of the 'decision' concept. I expect that their uses overlap in many ways and neuroscience shows this. However, you are arguing for a logical identity, that they are pretty synonyms in the same way that water and H20 are. That's a much stronger claim that you cannot show with a few similarities.

My position allows for the similarities that neuroscience shows without going as far to claim an identity relation.

Quote:
Neuroscience would be a pointless endeavour if the functions we were describing were not the same ones we experience daily.

Not at all. They can have correlations and overlaps without being absolute logical identities.

Quote:
Again, I challenge the notion that our empirical scientific descriptions are somehow disjointed from our social use.

Yep. This is the challenge I have to meet.
I know it must've been frustrating for you that I refuted you by applying scepticism to your use of language, but I had offered alternatives several times (even as far back as the original post) and you hadn't seen them as relevent. It seems that poking holes in your argument was necessary for you to see the relevence of my points. Without further ado:

My grounding premise is that the rules of language are determined by their purpose. Language is necessary for rational/cognitive thought so language itself must be intuitive. We use language for what we are trying to achieve. We might be trying to describe a scene to someone, we might be greeting them, or giving orders, or a number of things.

So what 'use' do we have for the concepts of belief and desire?
We use them to try and predict and make sense of the behaviour of others. Explaining our actions to others gives a social security, and societies can often become frightened of behaviours that they cannot relate to.
These are small examples but you get the idea.
Mental concepts have social purposes.
There are various reasons why we want to regulate and make sense of our behaviour. Maybe for security purposes, maybe for co-operation and organisation. It's clearly a complex anthropological topic that I could barely touch on here.

So how would this make it different from the physical discourse?
The physical discourse is in the language of description and a standard set of rules applies to all the concepts in it. The mental concepts have a wider purpose and are allowed a little more leer-way as each has it's own purpose and there isn't a uniform of rules that apply to them all.
Maybe they happen to abide by the same rules as certain physical concepts anyway (and I agree that some do) but this isn't a uniform law and we would have to apply it case by case.

In the OP I showed how our use of "make a decision" seemed to have a causal relation to "action". But beliefs and desires don't seem to have such causal structure. I pointed out that our desire concepts allow for spontenaity in our everyday usage. Your refutation was based on that 'nothing spontaneous happens in the physical domain' - but now we have agreed that we can't start with the premise that desires are of the physical domain. So you would have to argue that a lack of spontaneity in our everyday use of desire justified a physicalisation of the concept rather than vice versa.

On the side, I've not yet read Dennet myself and have only heard it on the grapevine, but I've heard that his position is very similar to mine on what the 'mind' is. I just thought I'd drop his name as I've heard you recommend him as a neurobiologist and philosopher of mind.


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todangst wrote: Non

todangst wrote:
Non materialist' terminology must steal its meaning from materialism.

Not necessarily. I'm going to use the example of mathematics here.
Maths is a discourse of it's own that doesn't require the constraints of material discourse. Numbers aren't spacial and aren't temporal. They do not have 'causal' relations.

When we use the word 'existence' in mathematics, we use it in a completely different way to 'existence' in the material world. Some philosophies of maths have stolen the concept - I think that Platonists did. Others have recognised that we don't need to think of mathematics in terms of physical existence - it's a discourse of it's own. Where the word 'existence' is used it means something completely different.

Quote:
Let's cut to the chase. These sort of arguments are lodged to imply that there could be a way to talk about immateriality. But these arguments do not actually present the manner of speaking coherently about immateriality, nor do they even get off the couch to move towards opening the door to actually presenting an ontology...

My positive argument for immateriality is to show discourses that don't abide by the same rules as the material one. One is maths. Another is mind. Obviously you can dispute my argument but I've atleast presented a positive argument to be refuted.

As to ontology, I think that ontology is another concept that only applies to the material discourse. Ontology is about existence, right?


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deludedgod

deludedgod wrote:

Quote:

Precisely. Regardless of how one views the mind itself, if you are a materialist then there MUST be a direct link between the brain and the mind.

Strafio based his view largely on Wittgenstein’s philosophy of language... that the brain was in the descriptive/physical language-game (context) while the mind was in the social language-game (context). This is precisely why he thinks determinism and libertarian free will are not mutually exclusive, because to him determinism relates to the descriptive discourse, while free will relates to the social discourse, but of course, as you have shown, what he includes in the social discourse (i.e. beliefs, desires, etc) are still part of the deterministic/causal physical discourse.

Precisely. But then our differences are merely petty. What are we arguing about?

 


Haha! Philosophical differences often look petty when compared in the bigger picture. However, subtle differences between positions can lead to largely different results. As I understand it, our entire disagreement of this thread has been rooted in the single premise of whether mental concepts denote physical entities.

I think another reason that this difference seems petty to you is because you are not as familiar with the issues of contemporary philosophy of mind. You have a good grip on the issues between ontological physicalism and substance dualism (which contemporary philosophers barely even debate) but treat emergentism and reductionism as if they could jump into bed together. While they share the same materialist metaphysics, they otherwise couldn't be further apart.

Reductionism appears to try and re-define mental concepts to fit physical constraints compared to how we use them in everyday life, and emergentists face a milder version of the causation problems that face the substance dualist. Both suceeds where the other appears to fail. My solution here was aiming to find the best of both worlds.

I think this whole topic would've run a lot smoother if I'd just left the word 'immaterial' out of it. Instead I ended up trying to argue two major points at once - philosophy of mind and the concept of immateriality. It made quite a mess! Laughing out loud
I have to admit, I admire your patience for sticking with it for this long.


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Strafio wrote: I admit

Strafio wrote:
I admit straight out that I haven't proved that mental concepts must be a different type of language. So far I was just trying to get you to recognise the possibility. I need to convince you of the coherence of my position before I can start bringing forward positive arguments!

I’ve seen you do this before. Have you not considered that it is the positive arguments themselves which may convince him? For instance, I will usually not accept the possibility of anything without some kind of positive argument for it.

Strafio wrote:
I have to admit, I admire your patience for sticking with it for this long.

Do I get a special award to 15 pages then!!!!? lol

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Topher wrote: Strafio

Topher wrote:

Strafio wrote:
I admit straight out that I haven't proved that mental concepts must be a different type of language. So far I was just trying to get you to recognise the possibility. I need to convince you of the coherence of my position before I can start bringing forward positive arguments!

I’ve seen you do this before. Have you not considered that it is the positive arguments themselves which may convince him? For instance, I will usually not accept the possibility of anything without some kind of positive argument for it.

Ofcourse. But positive reasoning can't even get off the floor until the coherence of the position has been argued for!
After all, there were positive arguments contained in the OP that got ignored because you need to understand the position to appreciate them.

wrote:
Do I get a special award to 15 pages then!!!!? lol

Yep. A hearty round of applause!! clapping clapping clapping


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The replies appear to be

The replies appear to be drying up a bit so I think I'll post one last summary, trying to re-argue the main points of the original post, bearing in mind the responses that have been put forward.

I think that I finally got you to agree that whose position is correct depends on which one of us is right over how people use mental concepts in everyday life. You argue that they refer to 'material things' while I argue that while they might share grammar with material concepts, e.g. being nouns, their purpose is different than to refer to things.

I've argued for the coherence of my position.
I've given reasons why it doesn't contradict materialist metaphysics.
(that metaphysics deals with the referential use of language and doesn't interact with other language)
In the original post I used the concepts of counter-factual causation and supervenience to show how it could allow for a causal relation between mental concepts and physical concepts, giving a solution to the 'mind-body connection' problem that all non-reductionists struggle with.

So far I've merely shown that my position is a coherent possibility rather than the correct one. The last thing I need to do here add some arguments that would tip this balance into my favour. As I have said before, emergentists and reductionists have had a long standing battle, each with their own strengths and weaknesses.
The difficulties emergentists had involved the explaining mind-body connection. The difficulties the reductionists faced were that they appeared to re-define mental concepts to suit the framework of their metaphysics and this is what I accused your position of doing.

There are arguments in the contemporary philosophy of mind that favour my position. Davidson's arguments against psycho-neural laws are clear arguments against reductionism. Putnam's argument for content externalism isn't necessarily a death-nell for redutionism but gives it a difficulty while my take on mental concepts fit the thesis of externalism perfectly.
These two issues are complex contemporary issues that I can't really do justice to in this topic so I'll leave them linked if you are interested. In this topic I'll just stick to one argument, based on the arguments involving free will and determinism.

Argument from 'free will'
There has been a long history to this argument.
Free will advocates have always pointed out our concepts of 'choice' and claimed that's free will.
Determinists have always pointing out that according to metaphysics, everything is determined by physical laws so our decisions must also be.

Determinists argue from metaphysics so they rely on the premise our concepts of 'choice' and 'decision' refer to physical things. (a la reductionism)
The premise that mental concepts refer to physical things depends upon the claim on that is how we use them in everyday life.
But the free will advocates are basing their arguments on how we use the concepts in everyday life while the determinists are arguing from metaphysics.
Anti-determinism claims come from an understanding of how we use the concepts of 'choice' in everyday life and the determinists try and counter these arguments by an appeal to metaphysics. But their appeal to metaphysics depends on the assumption that the concepts involved are being used within the discourse of metaphysics, so they are arguing against the liberatarian claims on how we use concepts with an assumption of how the concepts are used. This is begging the question.

The fact that our natural grasp of mental language points us towards free will - that our decisions are not causally determined, this supports my claim that when people use mental concepts they are using language in alternative way to referencing physical things.

Cheers for reading.
If you weren't convinced by it all, I hope that you atleast found it interesting. I think I've given all the arguments I have now, but can try clarify them further if you still have questions about them.

On a side note, my accusation that you have pre-suppositions weren't supposed to be offensive. Everyone at a particular moment in time will have pre-suppositions that they are taking for granted. The difference between the rational and non-rational is that the former, when it is pointed out to them, will recognise this and take the challenge face on, while the latter won't allow such a challenge. When I pointed out that you pre-supposed a certain use of language, you said 'Fine. Justify your challenge.' which was the rational response. I think you only found it offensive because you associate the word 'presupposition' to those who will cling to a presupposition and refuse to question it. Just to let you know that I wasn't intending to insult you with the 'presupposition' talk.


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Quote: The fact that our

Quote:

The fact that our natural grasp of mental language points us towards free will - that our decisions are not causally determined, this supports my claim that when people use mental concepts they are using language in alternative way to referencing physical things.

But is that our intuition points us towards free will relevant? The idea that our decisions are not causally determined is of course, total nonsense. The reason for that is that basic physics dictates that all things occur within the medium of spacetime, so unless you subscribe to a ridiculous dualist position, which has been ignored for years, you must acknowledge, a la Newton's First law of motion, that decisions are causal, because they are the emergent result of physical entities, in this case, neural networks. Unless, of course, you believe the brain to be a quantum engine (certainly QC is necessary to understand how VGIC work). After all, time is the utter dictator of how we function, so it is absurd to claim that our decision are occuring outside this medium. By the mere act of making a decision, we are invalidating this. But anyone who studies Relavistic Kinematics (as I have) will tell you that anything which interacts with the spacetime continuum or occurs within it is physical QED.

"Physical reality” isn’t some arbitrary demarcation. It is defined in terms of what we can systematically investigate, directly or not, by means of our senses. It is preposterous to assert that the process of systematic scientific reasoning arbitrarily excludes “non-physical explanations” because the very notion of “non-physical explanation” is contradictory.

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Strafio wrote:

Strafio wrote:
todangst wrote:
Non materialist' terminology must steal its meaning from materialism.
Not necessarily.

Yes necessarily.

Quote:

I'm going to use the example of mathematics here. Maths is a discourse of it's own that doesn't require the constraints of material discourse.

Fallacy of confusing abstractions for immateriality.

Abstractions exist in neurons. Neurons are matter.

Quote:

Numbers aren't spacial and aren't temporal.

If numbers exist, then they are spatial - they exist as abstractions, which are encoded in neurons.

Tell me: how can you represent a number without using space?

Neurons - spatial.

Math books - spatial - and the codes in a math book require a sentient brain to decode them, also spatial.

Platonic conceputalizaitons of numbers is philosophical nonsense. There's no way to make sense of it, it's just 'intuitive horseshit' that falls to pieces if you bother to think it through.

Represent a number without space or time involved, and we'll talk.. until then, do yourself a favor: think it through as to how a number can be represented and by doing so, scrub your brain clean of the infection of platonism.

 

 

By the way, my original essay rebuttal section deals with all the arguments in here:

 

 

Counter argument: Your argument appears to rely on 'referentialism', which is a school of linguistics currently out of favor.

Response: By that logic, every claim coming from every outmoded school of thought would be false, and that's clearly nonsense. So this charge is immaterial unless you can show me how the specific referentialist arguments used here are flawed, and to do that you must actually go to the trouble of presenting an argument. What matters here is whether my usage of referentialism, concerning nouns and adjectives is out of favor, and it is not.

Related Counter argument[b] Words do not necessarily need to refer to things to be meaningful.

Again, unless how you can show how this is relevant here, this charge has no weight. The matter before you deals with terms that attempt to make a reference! Certain types of words in a language set do and must to refer to things to be coherent, such as nouns and adjectives, and the word supernatural is, in literal context, attempted to be utilized as both. Again, the point before you is this: terms like 'supernatural' are defined solely negatively, without any universe of discourse and yet they are intended to denote something. How can such terms have any meaning? Please actually address the argument.

[B] Same as the above: : Certain denizens of the universe are defined in only negative terms and we have a perfectly intelligible conceptual grasp on them.

My Response: Because we have a universe of discourse for the contradistinctive. To say that something is 'not wet' is to leave a universe of discourse: the set of all non-wet/dry things.

 

And

 

Counter argument: There is no materialistic account of abstractions/numbers/colors/universals, ergo abstractions/colors/numbers/universals are immaterial and this proves that immateriality is coherent, since 'abstractions/colors/numbers/universals are coherent existents.

My Response: Yes, I actually get this argument. Let me first point out the logical fallacies.

"There is no materialistic account of "X"

This is an argument from ignorance. Your inability to perform a task does not prove the task impossible. In addition, we have a parsimonious materialistic account for these entities: Neuroscience provides a rational, albeit incomplete basis for holding that abstractions exist within material brains. Any failure of neuroscience in giving a satisfactory materialist account for abstractions is not a basis for holding that abstractions are immaterial.

"...X is immaterial"

This is the fallacy of begging the question. One is simply assuming that "X" is immaterial, based on the previous argument from ignorance, and not for any positive reason.

"...and this proves that immateriality is coherent"

This is the fallacy of non sequitur. You are merely begging the question that "X" is immaterial and then asserting it as evidence of immateriality. Nothing in this claim actually addresses the ontological problems outlined in this brief essay. Nothing in this claim demonstrates how immateriality is coherent, it merely assumes that immaterial things exist, ergo the claim doesn't even address the challenge.

 

 

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  strafio wrote:   I've

 

strafio wrote:
 

I've argued for the coherence of my position.


I've given reasons why it doesn't contradict materialist metaphysics.

Because you steal from materialism! 

 

Quote:

In the original post I used the concepts of counter-factual causation and supervenience to show how it could allow for a causal relation between mental concepts and physical concepts, giving a solution to the 'mind-body connection' problem that all non-reductionists struggle with.

 

Emergentism is part of materialism too.  

 

Quote:

So far I've merely shown that my position is a coherent possibility rather than the correct one. 

No, you've merely argued that there might be a coherent possibility, you've never identified it or presented it, if you had it, it would have appeared in the title of this thread and in the first paragraph of the first post.

There's no way to get around this problem. Allthere really here is, is a confusion born of inculcation: we hear dualism all the time, and just as with the word 'god' we believe that common usage implies coherence.

It does not.  

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So is Strafio’s position,

So is Strafio’s position, as he is arguing it, actually dualism? I’ve always suspected this to some degree since he argues that mind and body is separate, as per language, yet arguing from language still doesn’t create a divide between mind and body since language itself runs via the brain, and if mind is rooted in language, then it is still rooted in the brain/physicality! So there is no divine, but if he insists that there is then all that is left is dualism. If you’re a materialist then no matter how you slice it, in the end everything is still material.

 

Strafio wrote:
The difficulties the reductionists faced were that they appeared to re-define mental concepts to suit the framework of their metaphysics and this is what I accused your position of doing.

Reductionists may redefine mental concepts away from our intuitive notion of what we think they are, but so what!? Intuition is just that, an instinct, what feels right, not what is right. What reductionists do is look at the evidence, see how our mental states actually are as per neuroscience and then corrected the intuitive notion (much like early evolutionary scientists saw the evidence of evolution and correct our intuitive notion of life, a.k.a. 'creation&#39Eye-wink. You however place so much importance on intuition that it seems you’re willing to let it dominate the more correct neuroscientific explanations, which have been proven correct.

Now I’m sure your reply will include something like: "but our intuitive notion of mind is how we use them" or "but this is our intuition" and yes, I agree, it is our intuition and it is how we use them. However two problems I have with this response: 1) Everyone used to live according to our intuitive notion of creation and correcting this only helped further knowledge and actually help life (via developing new medicines, etc) while it didn’t have negative effects. I think understanding how mental states really are in the brain will likely provide similar medical benefits by help furthering our knowledge and understand of various brain conditions and mental illnesses, etc, so with this far far better prospect, I can only see this correction as a good thing, even if it means dropping our intuitive notion of mind (as the eliminativists argue), which leads nicely into the second problem: 2) You don’t have to drop the intuitive notion of mind, we can still have our immaterial-like/intangible/mystical (i.e. abstractions) ideas of mind. We just acknowledge a direct link to  the brain. Just because we acknowledge that they are fundamentally part of the brain does mean we have to refer to them scientifically, it doesn’t mean the intuitive or commonsense basis of social interaction will change.

Strafio wrote:
But the free will advocates are basing their arguments on how we use the concepts in everyday life while the determinists are arguing from metaphysics.

I have to disagree here. People who advocate free will are not advocating the free will of compatalism, they are advocating the free will of theology, which is complete nonsense and doesn’t even serve the purpose it was design for: to absolve god from responsibility.

Free will as we use it everyday is more akin to how the compatalist defines free will, rather than the more absolute free will of libertarianism/theology.

Strafio wrote:
The fact that our natural grasp of mental language points us towards free will - that our decisions are not causally determined, this supports my claim that when people use mental concepts they are using language in alternative way to referencing physical things.

All this shows is people can be wrong. It does not follow that this is an a valid argument, that would be a subtle argument from majority.

In any case, so what! Who cares what ideas we are instinctively guided towards. We are naturally guided towards creation too… are you a creationist? In order to be internally consistent with your argument you’d have to adopt the positions which intuition leads us to, since you argument is basically that it is valid because it intuitively feels right, which would essentially entail the rejection of most of science!

"It is far better to grasp the universe as it really is than to persist in delusion, however satisfying and reassuring" -- Carl Sagan


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Strafio wrote: Describing

Strafio wrote:

Describing the world is the language we use for science and it is this mode of language that metaphysics is also based on. Everything that we describe is matter and/or motion - material.

 This is actually false.  Science doesn't seek so much to understand only matter and/or motion, and even if this were true scientific theories are neither.  They are ideas or conceptions which science is required to describe.  For instance the Big Bang Theory or Model is not matter or motion.   The model of stellar formation is not matter or motion.  These are concepts.  The concept of Common Descent is also not matter or motion.  While it may be possible to logically demonstrate that the Big Bang and Stellar formation are linked to matter and motion and then logically infer that this makes them conceptions of matter and motion, I find it highly unlikely that you could then apply that same logical trail to the principle of common descent.

Also I don't see the necessity of seperating the mind from the brain.  The field of emergent systems is well capable of explaining the apparent complexity in the way the brain processes information.  In your arguments about intent leading to action I should point out that the human brain so long as it has control of the human body should always be able to act on a decision whether made consciously or unconsciously.  Afterall every part of the body that I know of is linked to the brain through neural pathways.  The decision to drop the ball is made within the brain and the natural process once the decision is made to act is for the brain to send the impulse to act.  There's no reason to assume anything seperate from the brain was responsible for the decision.

 I also don't see a problem with the existence of multiple conceptions.  Conceptions or people's individual thoughts or opinions are stored in the brain as information.  This information will be highly personalized since I highly doubt that any two people will experience the world in the exact same way.  So everyone will store a very highly personalized form of any conception sufficiently complex to allow personalized variation, such as religion.  Ultimately the choice of what and how you percieve the world comes down to how you choose to get your information, and what information you choose to accept.  I understand this may be a gross oversimplification, but it would be more work than I'm willing to  put into it right now to make it completely rigorous.


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Topher   Nobody is arguing

Topher

 

Nobody is arguing that if something is intuitive then it is right. You're making the mistake of assuming that there's some objective standard of language that we gradually move toward as we experiment and discover things about the world. This shows a terrible misunderstanding of language. There is no objectively correct usage of a word, there is only commonly applied usage of a word. You say that our conceptions of mind became more accurate with the advent of neuroscience, but you're committing the mistake I just outlined above.

Strafio isn't saying that we should cling to our intuitive concept of mind because it feels right, he's saying that any account of the mind that doesn't fit with how we all commonly and intuitively use the language of the mind is at best irrelevent, and at worst completely fallacious. This has nothing to do with "Then you should accept creation because it seemed intuitively right for a long time". A better analogy that you could identify with would be when creationists argue against evolution by saying it's "just a theory". They base long, involved arguments on this conception of the word theory, but it's completely irrelevent to how the word is actually used! You and deludedgod are basing long, involved arguments against the mind saying that it's "just a brain state", but it's completely irrelevent to how the word is actually used! When we talk of the mind, we aren't referring to brain states; we aren't referring to anything. So you two can go on and on about neural pathways and split brain patients and the like, just as a creationist can go on and on about how basing textbooks off of guesswork is irresponsible, but the way we use mental concepts no more has anything to do with brain states and neurons than the way we use the word theory has to do with unproven hypotheses and educated guesses. 

They're both misunderstandings and thus abuses of language. The theist cannot get past the idea that theory means guess anymore than you and others can get past the idea that mental concepts must refer to physical things. 


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Socrastein wrote:

Socrastein wrote:

They're both misunderstandings and thus abuses of language. The theist cannot get past the idea that theory means guess anymore than you and others can get past the idea that mental concepts must refer to physical things.

You have it backwards - it's not a failure of of imagination on the part of materialists, it's up to an immaterialist to provide an ontology for his 'theory'.

If you want to 'get past the idea that mental concepts must refer to physical things' then present a manner of doing so, don't just toss insults at your opponent, don't blame the other guy for the weakness of your own arguments.

Can we see a thread on this subject where dualists can refrain from either 1) focusing entirely on the supposed limitations placed by materialists on dualists or 2) simply tossing insults?

 

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Socrastein wrote: Nobody

Socrastein wrote:
Nobody is arguing that if something is intuitive then it is right. You're making the mistake of assuming that there's some objective standard of language that we gradually move toward as we experiment and discover things about the world. This shows a terrible misunderstanding of language. There is no objectively correct usage of a word, there is only commonly applied usage of a word. You say that our conceptions of mind became more accurate with the advent of neuroscience, but you're committing the mistake I just outlined above.

NOWHERE have I suggested there is an objective standard of language. All I am saying is that Strafio has only showed that people have intuitive ideas of mind or free will (which no one is even disagreeing with), not whether that intuitive idea is correct, which is the very point under contention. As deludedgod as shown, it isn’t correct, in fact it is entirely false! And as I said, a creationist could just as well argue that creation seems intuitive but well all know that that would be irrelevant to the truth of evolution.

So that fact that our intuition implies us that we have libertarian free will does not mean we have such free will; the fact our intuition implies that mind is immaterial is highly irrelevant and is certainly not an argument that it is. Anyway, that aside, nowhere have I even said we should ignore the intuitive ideas we have, I think they are important, but not at the cost of understanding how these concepts really work/function.

Secondly, are you denying that neuroscience has increased our understanding of the mind and the brain?

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Topher wrote:

Topher wrote:

Socrastein wrote:
Nobody is arguing that if something is intuitive then it is right. You're making the mistake of assuming that there's some objective standard of language that we gradually move toward as we experiment and discover things about the world. This shows a terrible misunderstanding of language. There is no objectively correct usage of a word, there is only commonly applied usage of a word. You say that our conceptions of mind became more accurate with the advent of neuroscience, but you're committing the mistake I just outlined above.

NOWHERE have I suggested there is an objective standard of language.

Obviously you haven't, it's just that dualist CAN'T back up what he says so he MUST continually focus on what you say, and try to poke holes in it, or in lieu of that, strawman the hell out of what you say, so that you need to spend two pages merely clarifying a mundante point.

It's obfuscation. Just keep pounding away at these folks to back up their assertions. They CAN'T do it, so they must forever try to turn the tables... so be prepared to just ignore it just keep returning the focus where belongs: on the fact that they need to back up their claims.

If their case is so easy that they have to pity the poor materialist for not getting it, then they can at least give their argument, as well as their ontology. 

Quote:

All I am saying is that Strafio has only showed that people have intuitive ideas of mind or free will (which no one is even disagreeing with), not whether that intuitive idea is correct, which is the very point under contention.

Precisely, and note that no matter how pleasant or unpleasant the dualist may be, the 'debate' is forever stuck here - with them claiming that something is intuitive, or possible, but NEVER a word on just how it would be possible.

Quote:

As deludedgod as shown, it isn’t correct, in fact it is entirely false! And as I said, a creationist could just as well argue that creation seems intuitive but well all know that that would be irrelevant to the truth of evolution.

Precisely.

And how do creationists argue their case? By forever dodging their epistemic duty by focusing solely on the other guy's case.

Because there's no way to build a creationist argument that works.

I wonder if there's a connection here... how ironic that our dualist friend brought up the connection to creationists... projection?

Quote:



So that fact that our intuition implies us that we have libertarian free will does not mean we have such free will; the fact our intuition implies that mind is immaterial is highly irrelevant and is certainly not an argument that it is. Anyway, that aside, nowhere have I even said we should ignore the intuitive ideas we have, I think they are important, but not at the cost of understanding how these concepts really work/function.

Again, the thread could go on for 40 pages on this sort of bullshit... because the dualist cannot build an argument.

You'll see whining, you'll see insults, you'll see all sorts of dodges and tap dances, you'll see basic confusions (assuming that materialism IS reductionism) but you won't ever see a FUCKING argument to back up their claims.

At least creationists are humorous.

 

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deludedgod wrote: But is

deludedgod wrote:
But is that our intuition points us towards free will relevant?

Yes. I will explain why as I analyse your argument:

Quote:
The idea that our decisions are not causally determined is of course, total nonsense. The reason for that is that basic physics dictates that all things occur within the medium of spacetime..

Remember that this argument relies on the premise that concepts like desire are physical concepts?
How did you defend this premise a couple of posts back?
You claimed that it's how we use the words in everyday life.
As our everyday language is necessary prior to any reasoning, it's clear that we have to rely on our intuitive grasp of it. So if someone's intuitive grasp says that our concepts of decision making involve 'free will' and 'spontenaity' then it likely reflects how they use it in everyday life.
(I don't hold intuition to be infallible but I still hold that many 'rationalists' under-value and under-estimate it. There is a book on this subject which I believe is atleast worth reading. It defends intuition through both common-sense reasoning and from the results of various psychological experiemnts.)

You'll notice that you didn't derive your deterministic conclusion from your grasp of the concepts yourself - you made the assumption that they were concepts of the same sort as the ones of physics and thereby were subject to all the constraints of physical concepts.


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Strafio wrote: ] Remember

Strafio wrote:
] Remember that this argument relies on the premise that concepts like desire are physical concepts?

Provide an ontology for non physical concepts.

 

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Quote:

Quote:

Remember that this argument relies on the premise that concepts like desire are physical concepts?

First of all, non-physical is inocoherent

Second of all, that was my conclusion not my premise. My premise was that concepts like decision etc are still temporal. Obviously, it is a self-refuting idea to claim that that they are not temporal.

But if they are temporal...they must be physical QED! Or at least, the emergent result of physicality, and then they must be causal! Unless they are quantum effects, which I doubt. Anyone who studies Relativistic Kinematics will say the same thing. Face it, language may constrain us, but this stuff:

 

Constrains us even more. 

"Physical reality” isn’t some arbitrary demarcation. It is defined in terms of what we can systematically investigate, directly or not, by means of our senses. It is preposterous to assert that the process of systematic scientific reasoning arbitrarily excludes “non-physical explanations” because the very notion of “non-physical explanation” is contradictory.

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todangst wrote: And how do

todangst wrote:
And how do creationists argue their case? By forever dodging their epistemic duty by focusing solely on the other guy's case.

Because there's no way to build a creationist argument that works.

Exactly. They think that a 'hole' in evolution or a lack of complete understanding means they automatically get through with their ideas, and it is similar with this topic, where a ‘hole’ or lack of complete understanding in a materialistic system allows the intuitive ideas to creep in.

Strafio seems to agree with the direct connection between a mental state and the brain where it is obvious and can clearly be shown, such as ‘pain’, but not with those which are not so obvious or not as well explain by neuroscience.

todangst wrote:
I wonder if there's a connection here... how ironic that our dualist friend brought up the connection to creationists... projection?

I honestly don’t think from my discussions with Socrastein and Strafio they either are actually dualists, but it seems they don’t realise the argument leads them to dualism and/or contradicts science/neuroscience (which DG has extensively shown).

Also, it was me who first mentioned creationists on the basis that they too often argue from intuition. Socrastein then tried (rather ironically perhaps) to link us to creationists. His comparison is false since while we may be focusing on mental states in a way which differs from how they are used, what we are saying is still true. The problem I see is conflating how mental states actually are, how they work and originate, with how they are used or applied in social interaction. We understand that they might be used in every day situations in the form of abstractions, but the issue is how they work, where they originate from, and for this we must turn to neuroscience, which clearly leads us to the brain.

"It is far better to grasp the universe as it really is than to persist in delusion, however satisfying and reassuring" -- Carl Sagan


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todangst wrote: If numbers

todangst wrote:
If numbers exist, then they are spatial - they exist as abstractions, which are encoded in neurons. Tell me: how can you represent a number without using space?

There are two ways you might say that a number exists.
1)You can use the word 'exists' as mathematicians do.
e.g. There exists a natural number between 3 and 5 but not a prime number.
2) You can use the word 'exists' in the sense that tables 'exist'. This is a plain category error.
Remember, I'm a materialist too.
I agree that everything that exists is material.
Just that language isn't always supposed to refer to 'existing things'.

Obviously a representation of a number exists physically, but that's a presentation rather than the number itself. To say that the number has physical existence is a category error.

Quote:

Counter argument: Your argument appears to rely on 'referentialism', which is a school of linguistics currently out of favor.

Response: By that logic, every claim coming from every outmoded school of thought would be false, and that's clearly nonsense. So this charge is immaterial unless you can show me how the specific referentialist arguments used here are flawed, and to do that you must actually go to the trouble of presenting an argument.

I have done throughout this whole topic.
Everytime I've criticised referentialism it was a direct response to a referentialist assumption. I also gave a couple of alternative uses of language that the concepts in question might be based in. Normally I'd grumble at you for not picking up on that I'd been doing this, but as there's such a shitload of text on this page and I don't blame you for scanning through!

Quote:
Again, the point before you is this: terms like 'supernatural' are defined solely negatively, without any universe of discourse and yet they are intended to denote something. How can such terms have any meaning? Please actually address the argument.

I addressed this in the opening points of the OP and in the second post. Supernatural isn't what I'm defending here so we'll leave that out. Immaterial is negative defined as follows: not material.
From there I showed that what was 'material' applied to all concepts in a certain use of language - our language of describing the world. That meant that any concepts of a different discourse would not be material - i.e. immaterial.
There is only incoherence if they then try and steal the concept of 'existence' from materialism.
The platonists did it with mathematics.
The dualists did it with mind.
I've not done it at all. I've said from the very beginning that to say that minds or numbers exist is a category error.
(ofcourse the word existence can be used in a looser way, but that's not what we're discussing here.)

There was also a section in the OP specifically to counter your common claim that 'numbers exist in the brain'.
It's a misuse of the word existence.
If you carry on with that logic then this laptop I'm looking at has double existence - it's physical existence and it's existence as an idea in my brain.
It would also be bad news for us atheists because God would now exist, but also just as bad for theists has 'he' would have over 6 billion separate existences! Laughing out loud
I think that it makes a lot more sense to save the word 'existence' for the context where it belongs - i.e. physical concepts.
Unless ofcourse you're using 'existence' as the mathematicians use it. I think that platonic mathematics was born out of an equivocation.

Quote:

Counter argument: There is no materialistic account of abstractions/numbers/colors/universals, ergo abstractions/colors/numbers/universals are immaterial and this proves that immateriality is coherent, since 'abstractions/colors/numbers/universals are coherent existents.


Easy tiger... my argument is to the left of that strawman!
I know that you didn't write these points with me in mind, but perhaps you could've selected which ones to present in this topic.
I subscribe to materialist metaphysics so I believe that it accounts for everything that 'exists'.

todangst wrote:
Emergentism is part of materialism too.

Yes and no...
It shares materialistic metaphyiscs but it is a form of 'property dualism'. So it claims that the mind has properties of a different 'sort' to material properties. In contemporary debate there are heavy criticisms that these mental properties cannot be causally effacious as 'cause' is a relation between physical concepts.

Quote:
No, you've merely argued that there might be a coherent possibility, you've never identified it or presented it, if you had it, it would have appeared in the title of this thread and in the first paragraph of the first post.

Unfortunately it was too complex to squeeze into a first paragraph.
Nevertheless, it was all in the first post.
All my posts since have merely been trying to clarify everything I tried to put forward in the first.


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Strafio wrote: So if

Strafio wrote:
So if someone's intuitive grasp says that our concepts of decision making involve 'free will' and 'spontenaity' then it likely reflects how they use it in everyday life.

And once that intuitive notion is proved false, what then?

Secondly, whether they use them on a false intuitive notion doesn't mean that notion is really how they are. For instance... I may intuitivly think that the intellect comes from the soul, but this doesn't negate the fact that the intellect actuallys come from the brain. Likewise, many intuitive ideas about the mind are simply false.

"It is far better to grasp the universe as it really is than to persist in delusion, however satisfying and reassuring" -- Carl Sagan


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Strafio wrote:

Strafio wrote:
todangst wrote:
If numbers exist, then they are spatial - they exist as abstractions, which are encoded in neurons. Tell me: how can you represent a number without using space?

 

There are two ways you might say that a number exists. 1)You can use the word 'exists' as mathematicians do.

You're not answering the question.

Mathematicians must rely on materialism too. Whatever means they have for saying something exists must be material, if you disagree, please present the argument instead of the assertion.

 

Quote:

2) You can use the word 'exists' in the sense that tables 'exist'. This is a plain category error.

No, it is not. The phrase "category error' is thrown around too much, I'm starting to wonder if it really occurs at all... after all, you CAN weight light, you can 'listen' to light.

And you can 'weigh' and idea, provided you can locate all the brain elements required for its existence. 

 Abstractions only differ from tables in that tables are not also symbols for something else - i.e. a bundle of neurons and a table aret both are material.

And again: You're not answering the question.

Quote:

Remember, I'm a materialist too. I agree that everything that exists is material.

Whatever the truth of that, you're not talking like a materialist, you're saying that numbers an exist without space. That's false to any materialist.

 

Quote:

Just that language isn't always supposed to refer to 'existing things'.

So what? Abstractions themselves are existing things, and that's the point here. The fact that some signs have no real world correlate wouldn't make them non matter!

 

Quote:

Counter argument: Your argument appears to rely on 'referentialism', which is a school of linguistics currently out of favor.

Response: By that logic, every claim coming from every outmoded school of thought would be false, and that's clearly nonsense. So this charge is immaterial unless you can show me how the specific referentialist arguments used here are flawed, and to do that you must actually go to the trouble of presenting an argument.

Quote:

I have done throughout this whole topic.

You've not done so at any point. You've danced around it as I've already explained.

Quote:

Everytime I've criticised referentialism

...you've wasted everyone's time. Present your argument, not a hole in referentialism. Even if you can find one, it's moot unless you show how you apply this to your claim. That's the issue here.

 

Quote:

I also gave a couple of alternative uses of language that the concepts in question might be based in.

I refute this below.

Quote:

Normally I'd grumble at you for not picking up on that I'd been doing this,

And I'd just point out that your claim is false. You've not demonstrated anything here, in any post.

Grumble away my friend.

 

Quote:
Again, the point before you is this: terms like 'supernatural' are defined solely negatively, without any universe of discourse and yet they are intended to denote something. How can such terms have any meaning? Please actually address the argument.

 

Quote:

I addressed this in the opening points of the OP and in the second post. Supernatural isn't what I'm defending here so we'll leave that out. Immaterial is negative defined as follows: not material.

This leads to incoherence.

To define something as NOT ANYTHING is to not define it... unless you are creating a new synonym for 'nothing'

Quote:

From there I showed that what was 'material' applied to all concepts in a certain use of language - our language of describing the world. That meant that any concepts of a different discourse would not be material - i.e. immaterial.

No, it does not mean this, this is a non sequitur.  

Quote:

There is only incoherence if they then try and steal the concept of 'existence' from materialism.

Every term must either rely on, or steal from materialism.

Including the word 'immaterial" - it only exists as a contradistinctive to materialism.

If you have an actual argument otherwise, please present it, because you're not giving an argument here, you're conceding that you can't give one, and not realizing it.

You're not providing an ontology, you're merely arguing that, in your mind, there is a potential for one. But you don't actually provide this potential means and then apply it, because you know you can't.

Quote:

The platonists did it with mathematics. The dualists did it with mind.

No, they did not. They merely made fools of themselves, stealing from materialism without a clue.  Dualism's been dead for half a century, you only find it in the philosopher's classroom.

Quote:

I've not done it at all. I've said from the very beginning that to say that minds or numbers exist is a category error. (ofcourse the word existence can be used in a looser way, but that's not what we're discussing here.) There was also a section in the OP specifically to counter your common claim that 'numbers exist in the brain'. It's a misuse of the word existence.

No, it is noot. Numbers exist in a brain, as with any abstraction.

No sentient brains, no numbers.

You're confusing signs and signifiers again. A sign without a refernce is still an existent as an abstraction. 

 

Quote:

If you carry on with that logic then this laptop I'm looking at has double existence - it's physical existence and it's existence as an idea in my brain.

Don't confuse referents and references. Numbers are abstractions, representations. They exist in this fashion. They exist. Remove the part of your physical brain where numbers are generated, and no more numbers.

So, to use your analogy, there is one computer, and at least one mental representation of the computer. Two different things. Both exist. Represenations exist.

Their referents may or may not exist.

An idea exists in a bundle of neurons in a physical brain, it's a reference, it may have a real world referrent, it may not. If so, there's not 'two' of the 'same' thing.

So you've refuted nothing here. Instead, you've merely assumed that abstractions are 'not matter' because of a misunderstanding.

Quote:

It would also be bad news for us atheists because God would now exist,

This is why I hate these 'debates'... a bunch of bullshit like this, a strawman of my arguments, and here I am, wasting time on it, so you can avoid actually giving your argument.

The idea of god exists. It steals from materialism, people envision a white man with a beard. But there is no  actual god, just like there is no actual argument in your posts.

To hold that the idea implies extra mental existence is a reification fallacy of the sort that I expect from 13 year old theists, not you.

Quote:

but also just as bad for theists has 'he' would have over 6 billion separate existences! Laughing out loud I think that it makes a lot more sense to save the word 'existence' for the context where it belongs - i.e. physical concepts.

Which include abstractions. You're just confusing signs and signifiers. THat's the actual solution.

Abstractions are signs.

The extra mental entity that they represent are signified items.

There's no need obliterate all meaning from the word existence just beause you find it hard to separate abstractions from extra mental existents... both EXIST.

THEY EXIST. Your brain exists, the ideas in your brain EXIST. Whether or not they have a real world correlate changes NOTHING about the fact that they DO EXIST.

 

Quote:

Counter argument: There is no materialistic account of abstractions/numbers/colors/universals, ergo abstractions/colors/numbers/universals are immaterial and this proves that immateriality is coherent, since 'abstractions/colors/numbers/universals are coherent existents.

 

Quote:

Easy tiger... my argument is to the left of that strawman! I know that you didn't write these points with me in mind, but perhaps you could've selected which ones to present in this topic. I subscribe to materialist metaphysics so I believe that it accounts for everything that 'exists'.

No, it applies dead on , look at my comments above.

 

todangst wrote:
Emergentism is part of materialism too.

 

Quote:

Yes and no...

I agree with you 50%

Quote:

It shares materialistic metaphyiscs but it is a form of 'property dualism'. So it claims that the mind has properties of a different 'sort' to material properties. In contemporary debate there are heavy criticisms that these mental properties cannot be causally effacious as 'cause' is a relation between physical concepts.

You're not giving an argument.

 

Quote:
No, you've merely argued that there might be a coherent possibility, you've never identified it or presented it, if you had it, it would have appeared in the title of this thread and in the first paragraph of the first post.

 

Quote:

Unfortunately it was too complex to squeeze into a first paragraph.

Sorry, no. NO argument. Zero. It must be immaterial.

PS  We're brothers man, so don't take this as a shot at you... just consider it wrestling... 

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Welcome to RRS btw

Welcome to RRS btw Socrastein.
Soccy is a member of MAP - the board that Topher and myself frequent. He's very studied in philosophy and has argued against theism on the MAP religion board.

Topher wrote:
Reductionists may redefine mental concepts away from our intuitive notion of what we think they are, but so what!? Intuition is just that, an instinct, what feels right, not what is right.

Remember Socrastein accused you of holding to an objective standard of language? You didn't explicitly say "I hold to an objective standard of language" but this is exactly the implicit assumption behind this passage.

Intuition is more than 'just' an instinct. I'll once again recommend that you read a book by someone who has actually psychologically studied it rather than just dismiss it for not being 'scientific reason'.

Quote:
What reductionists do is look at the evidence, see how our mental states actually are as per neuroscience

That's daft.
For starters, the results of philosopher of mind is prior to neuroscience. For experimentation to be possible a theory already needs to be in place - otherwise, how could you possibly know what to test for? (I think you need to try a book on the philosophy of science as well. You current views come off incredibly naive.)

Secondly, I've already shown that my conception of mind is compatable with any result of neuroscience. The only difference would be the interpretation of the results. The reductionist says "that brain state is desire" while the emergentist/anomalous monist says "that brain state correlates with an application of the concept of desire".

Quote:
Now I’m sure your reply will include something like: "but our intuitive notion of mind is how we use them" or "but this is our intuition" and yes, I agree, it is our intuition and it is how we use them. However two problems I have with this response: 1) Everyone used to live according to our intuitive notion of creation...

Obviously you shouldn't use intuition for scientific hypothesis' that can be dealt with by the scientific method. But we're not talking about hypothesis' here. We're talking about the very root of reason that the rules of reason depend on. Obviously these very roots need to be rooted in something other than reason as they are the very foundations that need to be there before reason is possible.

Even if intuition wasn't mostly reliable it would be all we had.

Quote:
2) You don’t have to drop the intuitive notion of mind, we can still have our immaterial-like/intangible/mystical (i.e. abstractions) ideas of mind. We just acknowledge a direct link to the brain.

I've already acknowledged a link to the brain - more of a link than emergentists give. (they do what you do, usely use words like 'produces' and 'originates' but refusing to specify what these relations actually mean.)
What I'm pointing out is that when we talk about beliefs and desires we are talking about them as we use them in everyday. Reductionists end up talking about something completely different.
Why? There would be no purpose to consciously re-define these concepts as the scientific ones don't seem to have a use or purpose, not within scientific explanation or anywhere else.

Quote:
I have to disagree here. People who advocate free will are not advocating the free will of compatalism, they are advocating the free will of theology, which is complete nonsense and doesn’t even serve the purpose it was design for: to absolve god from responsibility.

So you take an argument from some people, that subscribe to one of many Christian theologies, which is one of many world views, and decide that that is what all free will is about?
For starters, free will vs determinism pre-dates Christianity...

Quote:
Free will as we use it everyday is more akin to how the compatalist defines free will, rather than the more absolute free will of libertarianism/theology.

Then how come compatibilists (like all determinists) have to argue from metaphysics then? How else do you defend determinism without arguing from metaphysics?


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Is there a point where an

Is there a point where an argument will appear, if so, alert me.

 


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todangst wrote: Provide an

todangst wrote:
Provide an ontology for non physical concepts.

Ontology is about 'being' and 'existence'.
If I deny that it makes sense to say that numbers exist then I'd be contradicting myself to give an ontology.

How many times do I have to repeat this?
Yes, I am a materialist.
Yes, I agree that everything that exists has a materialistic ontology.
No, language isn't always used to refer to 'existing things'.
No, our concepts aren't always refering to 'existing things'.
It seems that rather than try to understand where I am coming from you seem to be assuming that I'm just re-hashing the same old tired arguments that you've seen over and over.

I'd understand this if we'd just met, but you should know me better.
I've argued against these position alongside you, over and over.
I've use arguments that involve these same linguistic premises against pre-suppositionalists and you backed me up. I'm not one of these 'anti-materialist' trolls trying to catch you out for not having an answer to some challenge. I'm trying to genuinely challenge you here with something new.

You know I agree with your materialistic metaphysics.
Why would you think I've turned into a substance dualist?
Even in this topic I've restated in every post that I agree with materialistic metaphysics. I've simply pointed out that we don't always use language to refer to materially existing things.
I described how we might use mental concepts for a different purpose rather than describing the material world.


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deludedgod wrote: First of

deludedgod wrote:
First of all, non-physical is inocoherent

No. Non-physical existence is incoherent. But let's hear your second point.

Quote:
Second of all, that was my conclusion not my premise. My premise was that concepts like decision etc are still temporal. Obviously, it is a self-refuting idea to claim that that they are not temporal.

But if they are temporal...they must be physical QED!


Interesting argument.
Obviously you are right that they are temporal.
I'm going to argue that our naive pre-relativity concept of time is sufficient for mental concepts. After all, mental concepts are limited to being applied within our direct preceptual grasp of time.
Relativity is based on a concept of time that must account for events beyond our direct perception. What's more, I believe that the arguments for relativity are are a-posteriori, so valid within the language of science rather than the concepts of mind.

To sum up:
That mental concepts are temporal doesn't mean that they require the same concept of time as physical concepts. That physical concept of time has an a priori justification, and is based on time as an 'out there' phenomenon. The 'time' on mental events is internal and is the temporal structure of our perception rather than the 'out there' temporal structure on the existing universe.

Nice angle though.
Very original!


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  Quote: Defining the

 

Quote:

Defining the immaterial Mind


Todangsts essay argues that nothing immaterial can exist.
I agree with the essay so have decided to go with denying the 'existence' of the immaterial mind - I've decided that the question of "does the mind exist?" is a bit like "what is the weight of yellow?" is a category error.

This is what I mean, vis-a-vis my problem with the use of 'category error'. There is a weight to yellow. The weight of 'yellow' is the weight of whatever matter is required to represent yellow. 

The problem, of course, is that we don't normally weigh the matter of something that we only consider visually, however, to imply that the category error of weighing a color indicates that there is no weight is a larger error than the category error.

Quote:
 

  So if the mind isn't a 'thing' that 'exists' then what exactly is it?

The mind is a reference to thoughts, character, it refers to an emergent property of the brain. Perhaps it is actually reducible, perhaps it is not, but this would not mean that the mind isn't in fact matter.

Quote:
 

 We use language for a variety of things.


We can greet people, give orders, ask questions, describe the world, etc.


Describing the world is the language we use for science and it is this mode of language that metaphysics is also based on. Everything that we describe is matter and/or motion - material.


Immaterial means not material.


As Todangst has argued, 'immaterial things' are not even defined within the discourse of description, so if I am going to be putting forward a concept that isn't material then it will have to be of a different discourse other than describing and our mental concepts will need a different purpose rather than to describe the world that we live in.

You must actually present this discourse and use it to provide an ontology. Otherwise, merely noting that there are 'other ways to talk' sans reference is of no signficance here.

Quote:
 

 Although we do sometimes use mental concepts to try and describe 'how we are' to another person, this doesn't mean that they descriptions in the same sense as the ones of physical object. E.g. I can describe a table in terms of objective properties like height and colour but with an experience I have to try and work out where my friend might've experienced something similar.

How is this not also material? 

Quote:
 

  Why do we make such descriptions of our mind to friends?
A common purpose is to explain our actions or to discuss future or hypothetical actions. So we could say that the concepts of mind serve a social purpose, to regulate and make sense of our behaviour.
We use it to explain our actions to other people.


So mental concepts can have a coherent use without being 'things' that exist in the descriptive sense. This allows them to be 'immaterial'.

Potential actions are abstractions.

Thoughts, feelings, are abstractions

Abstractions exist in physical brains.

They are things that exist in a descriptive sense.

Thoughts are behaviors too. 

 

Quote:

(I believe that mathematics are also 'immaterial&#39Eye-wink

 

 

Why not then present an ontology for immaterial numbers?

 

 

Quote:
 

 

One might try and give them a material existence the following way:


Premise 1) Mental concepts are applied in a material setting.
Premise 2) This means that they exist as concepts applied in a material setting.
Conclusion) Mental concepts have a material existence.

However, I disagree with premise 2 as it appears to misuse the word 'existence'.

It does not, as explained in my last post. 

 

Quote:

So to summarise this first section:
1) I agreed that everything that exists is material and that if something was 'immaterial' then it would have to be a concept from a different use of language rather than to refer to a 'thing' that exists.

But unless you present this different way, my argument applies:

 

Related Counter argument Words do not necessarily need to refer to things to be meaningful.

Unless how you can show how this is relevant here, this charge has no weight. The matter before you deals with terms that attempt to make a reference that rule out ANY universe of discourse at all! How could 'other modes of making terms meaningful' could possibly help? Don't just assert that there are other ways, demonstrate how these other ways can provide the terms with meaning! Pay heed to the fact that you've not even attempted to do this here - recognize this failure to even make the attempt and ask yourself why you're not presenting it here now, in lieu of this complaint.

 

 

Quote:

 
2) I gave an alternative use of language to world description, i.e. regulating and making sense of our actions, that would allow mental concepts to be coherent in a 'not material' way. i.e. immaterial.

 

These mental concepts are abstractions, and abstractions exist materially, they represent plans for future behavior, which are also material.

 

Quote:
 

) I suggested a possible argument that would claim that such concepts were still material, but I countered that such an argument depended on a misuse of what it was for something to be 'material'.

No, you've just shown that you don't think abstractions are material because they are without a real world correlate. That's simply wrong. 

 

Quote:

That leaves me with a coherent immaterial conception of mind

No, it does not.

Sorry, but if this is the basis of your claim, you've failed to get out of the starting gate.

You have to begin with an ontology for your theory.  

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Strafio wrote: todangst

Strafio wrote:
todangst wrote:
Provide an ontology for non physical concepts.
Ontology is about 'being' and 'existence'. If I deny that it makes sense to say that numbers exist then I'd be contradicting myself to give an ontology.

If you assert that numbers do not exist, then you're already contradicting yourself, so why stop now?

 

Quote:
 

How many times do I have to repeat this? Yes, I am a materialist.

 

You can stop repeating it when you act like one.

Quote:
 

Yes, I agree that everything that exists has a materialistic ontology. No, language isn't always used to refer to 'existing things'.

So? The abstraction would still exist, even if it does not have a correlate.  

 

Quote:
 

I'm trying to genuinely challenge you here with something new.

And, unfortunately, recreating the same old arguments, even as you don't see it.

 

 

Quote:
I've simply pointed out that we don't always use language to refer to materially existing things.

 

Some terms may not have a real world correlate, but there is no reference, ever, at any time, to immateriality. 

There's a difference. 

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Strafio wrote: deludedgod

Strafio wrote:
deludedgod wrote:
First of all, non-physical is inocoherent
No. Non-physical existence is incoherent.

Which would necessitate that any non physical reference is incoherent.

You're not actually referencing immateriality when you speak of abstractions sans real world correlates... 

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todangst wrote: You're not

todangst wrote:
You're not answering the question. Mathematicians must rely on materialism too. Whatever means they have for saying something exists must be material, if you disagree, please present the argument instead of the assertion.

Um... I didn't say that mathematicians speak in a different language altogether. Just that when they talk about numbers existing, they mean a different kind of 'existence' to physical existence. Remember how words in our language can have different meanings?

Quote:
No, it is not. The phrase "category error' is thrown around too much, I'm starting to wonder if it really occurs at all... after all, you CAN weight light, you can 'listen' to light.

And you can 'weigh' and idea, provided you can locate all the brain elements required for its existence.


Colour doesn't mean light and to say that ideas are brain elements is to just restate your position, which would be fine if you were arguing for the coherence of your position but you aren't. You were supposed to be arguing against the coherence of mine.

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Abstractions only differ from tables in that tables are not also symbols for something else - i.e. a bundle of neurons and a table aret both are material.

Exactly. When you say numbers exist you want to mean the representation. When you say tables exist you want to mean the object table. You are being inconsistent.
If you were being consistent with your use of 'existence' when you said 'numbers exist' then God would exist and tables would have double existence.

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Whatever the truth of that, you're not talking like a materialist, you're saying that numbers an exist without space.

No I'm not. I even said in that very post that numbers don't exist. That it's a misuse of the word existence.
It's something I've been saying from the beginning of the thread.
Why are you saying that I claim numbers exist?

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So what? Abstractions themselves are existing things, and that's the point here. The fact that some signs have no real world correlate wouldn't make them non matter!

When you talk about tables existing you want to talk about the tables rather than the representation but when you talk about numbers existing you want to refer to the representations. If you made up your mind on this we could move forward.

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You've not done so at any point. You've danced around it as I've already explained.

Now you're talking as if you've read the topic front to back.
The most you can honestly say here is that you haven't seen it.
I mean, I'm not convinced that you've even properly read the posts you've directly replied to, let alone the entire argument in this topic.

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The platonists [stole from materialism] with mathematics. The dualists [stole from materialism] with mind.

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No, they did not. They merely made fools of themselves, stealing from materialism without a clue.

And you wonder why I don't think you've been reading me properly?
I don't think this conversation is going to get any further.

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PS We're brothers man, so don't take this as a shot at you... just consider it wrestling...

I'm glad you said this as I can't always tell from tone of text.
I wasn't quite taking it personally, but was perhaps coming close.
My complaints about being misread still stand though.
Could the paragraph above this be a more obvious example? Sticking out tongue