The Self-Contradictory Definition of Physicalism and the Indeterminate Nature of the Physical

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The Self-Contradictory Definition of Physicalism and the Indeterminate Nature of the Physical

(To a large extent, this thread will serve as a critique of "physicalism" as defined in Wikipedia.)

Wikipedia defines physicalism (a.k.a. materialism) as follows:

Quote:

Physicalism is a philosophical position holding that everything which exists is no more extensive than its physical properties; that is, that there are no kinds of things other than physical things.

(source: Wikipedia: Physicalism)

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Physicalism

Please note, according to this defintion, that physicalism holds that the only things that exist are PHYSICAL THINGS and that everything "is no more extensive than its PHYSICAL PROPERTIES (emphasis mine)".

Also, Wikipedia states the physicalism is whatever that which is defined by the science of physics:

Quote:

The ontology of physicalism ultimately includes whatever is described by physicsnot just matter but energy, space, time, physical forces, structure, physical processes, information, state, etc.

(source: Wikipedia: Physicalism)

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Physicalism

But "space" and "time" are clearly abstractions, not physical things at all. Also, what about information? Is information a physical thing?

Wikipedia gives the following rationale for why the term "physicalism" is preferred to the term "materialism:"

Quote:

Physicalism is also called "materialism", but the term "physicalism" is preferable because it has evolved with the physical sciences to incorporate far more sophisticated notions of physicality than matter, for example wave/particle relationships and non-material forces produced by particles.

(source: Wikipedia: Physicalism)

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Physicalism

Non-material (i.e. nonphysical) forces? Doesn't that blatantly contadict the definition of physicalism which holds that only the physical exists?  Why call it "physicalism" if you believe in the reality of nonphysical forces?

And what about "matter?" Based on the theory of quantum mechanics, matter has a dualistic nature - namely, it reduces to either waves or particles. Probability waves are clearly mathematical abstractions and are therefore not physical. But what about particles? Well, physics represents particles as geometric points (i.e. abstractions) that have location in space (i.e. a nonphysical aspect) and time (i.e. a nonphysical aspect) but lack dimension (i.e. an immaterial aspect).

But doesn't a particle have "mass?" Yes, but what is mass? Well, mass is matter. But Newton's second law defines mass as follows: m = F/a...where "m" equals mass, "F" equals force, and "a" equals acceleration...Therefore we can conclude that matter (i.e. mass) is actually immaterial  because we have already determined that force is immaterial.

But doesn't Einstein's special theory of relativity hold that matter is convertible with energy? Yes, but what is energy? It would appear that physics doesn't know?

"We have no knowledge of what energy is" - Richard Feynman (Nobel laureate in physics)

It seems to me that physics has reduced the physical world to an abstract process consisting soley of mathematical abstractions.

Merriam-Webster's third defintion of "matter" (listed below) is the one that seems to be most germane to what physics is actually describing.

Quote:

3 a : the indeterminate subject of reality; especially : the element in the universe that undergoes formation and alteration b : the formless substratum of all things which exists only potentially and upon which form acts to produce realities

(source: Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary)

http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/matter

But what is this "form" which acts on this formless substratum to produce all things? Mathematical abstractions?

To speak of mathematical abstractions as having causal-efficacy is sheer nonsense. Moreover, to speak of mathematical abstractions existing independently of a mind that abstracts is unintelligible. However, this is precisely what physicalism (which is based on the language of physics) reduces the physical world to - an abstract process comprised soley of mathematical abstractions.

Lenin (the Marxist revolutionary and Russian communist), realizing that the new advances in physics (i.e. the "theory of relativity" and "quantum mechanics" which I briefly discussed above) were undermining materialism (the metaphysical system upon which Marxism is based), argued that the defining property of the material world is that it is "an objective reality" existing outside the mind.

Quote:

"For the sole 'property' of matter with whose recognition philosophical materialism is bound up is the property of being an objective reality, of existing outside of the mind." - Vladimir Lenin

(source: Wikipedia: Dialectical materialism)

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dialectical_materialism

Okay. For the sake of argument, let's accept this definition of the physical or the material world - that it is "objective."

Wikipedia also defines physicalism as a position in the philosophy of mind which holds that consciousness is physical.

Quote:

In contemporary philosoophy physicalism is most frequently associated with philosophy of mind, in particular the mind/body problem, in which it holds that the mind is a physical thing in all senses. In other words, all that has been ascribed to "mind" is more correctly ascribed to "brain".

(source: Wikipedia: Physicalism)

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Physicalism

However, this position does not hold water. It clearly violates the definition of physicalism - namely, "that everything which exists is no more extensive than its physical properties." Consciousness has no physical properties. Moreover, it violates Lenin's redefinition of materialism because it does not have the property of being objective. Consciousness is not objective; it is subjective.

Now, I have encountered more than a few atheists on this forum who will attempt to salvage materialism by arguing that consciousness is an "emergent property." This is tantamount to invoking "magic." But more than that, emergentism in regards to philosophy of mind is actually a DUALISTIC position because it holds that the mind is IRREDUCIBLE to the physical (i.e. supervenient physicalism) or that it is simply a nonphysical byproduct of the physical (i.e. epiphenomenalism).

Quote:

Emergentism is a theory which came to popularity in the early twentieth century. It is a form of non-reductive supervenience, but one where reality is considered to supervene in a manner more akin to layers, rather than patterns within a single layer, as per later physicalism. These layers are said to be genuinely novel from each other (i.e., the psychological vs. the physical), and is thus a type of dualism.

(source: Wikipedia: Physicalism)

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Physicalism

Quote:

epiphenomenalism, also known as 'Type-E Dualism', is a view according to which some or all mental states are mere epiphenomena (side-effects or by-products) of physical states of the world.

(source: Wikipedia: Epiphenomenalism)

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Epiphenomenalism

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Di66en6ion wrote:If you want

Di66en6ion wrote:

If you want to simply say that the physical sciences cannot describe consciousness then so what?

No, I am saying that there is no scientific means to test for the presence or absence of consciousness. Therefore you have no scientific evidence that it is physical.

Di66en6ion wrote:

We do not yet have the necessary tools and information to describe a lot of shit about the universe we live in. You can argue over the concept of sufficient evidence for beliefs but just remember that that concept is recursive. I'm skeptical whether consciousness can be shown to be anything other than a subjective term at this point since no amount of emulation and knowledge will convince some people, the goal post is always changing.

Then you agree with me on this point.

 

 

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Strafio wrote:e.g. To learn

Strafio wrote:
e.g. To learn what a brain is we could show a picture of a brain, or show a brain itself and say "that's a brain".


We would then know what the physical concept "brain" is.
Would we do the same for "want" or "desire"?
We wouldn't point to an object of our senses like we do for physical concepts, so what would we do instead?

Paisley wrote:
This depends on what you want or desire. If you desire a physical object, then you would point to a physical object.

Good... this is kind of what I was more looking for.
You're right that we might point at an object to talk about desire, but rather than talking about an existing object. we're more indicating an "attitude" towards such an object.
So when talking about desires, rather than talking about an "object", we're talking about a person's "attitude" towards an object.

My next question is why we use language in this way?
Why are beliefs and desires worth talking about?
Is there a purpose to talking about these "attitudes" towards the physical objects we point at?"

 

(Once I've established some points about "language use", I'll be able to use that to make a "mind/body" argument.)


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Strafio wrote:Paisley

Strafio wrote:

Paisley wrote:

This depends on what you want or desire. If you desire a physical object, then you would point to a physical object.

Good... this is kind of what I was more looking for.
You're right that we might point at an object to talk about desire, but rather than talking about an existing object. we're more indicating an "attitude" towards such an object.
So when talking about desires, rather than talking about an "object", we're talking about a person's "attitude" towards an object.

My next question is why we use language in this way?
Why are beliefs and desires worth talking about?
Is there a purpose to talking about these "attitudes" towards the physical objects we point at
?"

(Once I've established some points about "language use", I'll be able to use that to make a "mind/body" argument.)

Communication is the purpose.

"Scientists animated by the purpose of proving they are purposeless constitute an interesting subject for study." - Alfred North Whitehead


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Paisley wrote:Eloise

Paisley wrote:

Eloise wrote:

Paisley wrote:

But what about particles? Well, physics represents particles as geometric points (i.e. abstractions) that have location in space (i.e. a nonphysical aspect) and time (i.e. a nonphysical aspect) but lack dimension (i.e. an immaterial aspect).

You're right that there is really no such thing as a point particle. This is just a model we use and it is based upon certain logical postulates that have a long, and fruitful, history in science (ie Euclid's elements etc) but are neither absolute nor infallible in representing the physical reality which they are used to study.

I know that scientific models are not infallible. But the present model has not been falsified. And the present model represents "something" that has location in space-time but lacks dimension. (A geometric point is dimensionless).

No, it's definitely false.All particles have mass and/or charge which are both extensions in a physically real space, the dimensionlessness is strictly a consequence of euclidean modelling which doesn't recognise the physical extension of a force. 

 

Quote:

But in Quantum physics and Cosmology, there is a debate as to whether some elementary particles are not bodies, but are mere points without extension in physical space within space-time.

(source: Wikipedia: Physical objects)

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Physical_objects

I'm ignorant of this debate, Paisley. It's my understanding that point particles are nothing more than a representation within limited and obviously fallible model of physical space so there should be no debate as to whether it is a true representation. 

Quote:

Eloise wrote:

It's well understood in science that the point particle relates only to a certain kind of space which in turn relates well to only certain domains of the physical universe. Space and time are most decidedly physical aspects, the bottom line is they are the physical domain itself. Space and time are no more or less than the extent/extensions of physical events.

There seems to be disagreement exactly what space constitutes.

Yes and No. AFAIK it's pretty well accepted that space is not actually euclidean but it is a very useful approximation for the purpose of doing physics. 

 

Quote:

The concept of space is considered to be of fundamental importance to an understanding of the physical universe although disagreement continues between philosophers over whether it is itself an entity, a relationship between entities, or part of a conceptual framework

(source: Wikipedia: Space)

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Space#Relativity

Oh, ah yeah that's an age-old see saw ride, that. At the moment, I believe, the majority interpretation of relativity is a substantival space-time, but there are still those who favour Leibniz on the matter of whether space is an entity.

I, personally, find merit in both ideas so I fencesit on this one..  

Paisley wrote:

Eloise wrote:

Physics no longer takes those old, dualism-informed (and dare I say ever so slightly primitive), notions of independent fields of time and space providing a static backdrop for the universe seriously, Paisley. It's simply not true -- so no, time and space are not contradictory (read: immaterial) aspects of a scientifically informed monism, they are characteristic states of the fundamental substance, namely, those in which the character of the substance is one of extension.

I am fully aware of the space-time continuum. Thank you very much. But what I find perplexing is why a self-professed panentheist (that would be you) is arguing for the dogma of scientific materialism.

Because I think you're wrong to call this dogma, Paisley. In my experience these specific issues are wide open. 

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Paisley wrote: I like you

Paisley wrote:

 I like you to respond to post #48 which I have listed below:

Ok. 

 

Paisley wrote:

Eloise wrote:

**Further validation by Quantum Electrodynamics and Information theory (to name the important ones) consequently establishes the view of a neutral monist (perhaps a physicalist, also, in that respect) that matter and it's forms are characteristics states of a fundamental dynamic exemplified by the fundamental physical forces.

Please explain to me what you mean by "neutral monism." I understand  the term to mean that the fundamental constituents of reality are neither physical nor mental.

 

You missed 'in themselves', Paisley, which is a pretty important qualification. Neutral monism isn't about denying that elements of reality are physical, it's about considering physicalism to be an aspect or property of an underlying reality, not the substance of it.  So stuff is physical, it's just not 'in itself' physical, do you understand?

Quote:

Therefore, to argue that quantum physics and information theory establish the view of neutral monism is to argue that quantum physics and information theory establish the view that the fundamental constituents of reality are neither physical nor mental. This is not compatible with physicalism.

No neutral monism isn't compatible with physicalism anyway so I don't know why you said that.. but at any rate, my argument is that quantum electrodynamics and information theory are quite solid support for the view that the fundamental constituents of reality are of themselves neither physical or mental.  

My personal favourite alternative is that they are relational, but you already knew this.

 

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Paisley wrote:This depends


Paisley wrote:

This depends on what you want or desire. If you desire a physical object, then you would point to a physical object.

Strafio wrote:
Good... this is kind of what I was more looking for.
You're right that we might point at an object to talk about desire, but rather than talking about an existing object. we're more indicating an "attitude" towards such an object.
So when talking about desires, rather than talking about an "object", we're talking about a person's "attitude" towards an object.

My next question is why we use language in this way?
Why are beliefs and desires worth talking about?
Is there a purpose to talking about these "attitudes" towards the physical objects we point at
?"

(Once I've established some points about "language use", I'll be able to use that to make a "mind/body" argument.)

Paisley wrote:
Communication is the purpose.

Communication is the purpose in any use of language.
What I was asking is what are we trying to communicate here.
The language of physics, for example, is descriptive.
It makes a description of the world around us.
The facts in physics are supposed to paint a picture of how the world actually is.

My question is what kind of role our language of mind plays in our lives?
When we communicate our desires, what exactly are we communicating?
And why is it important to us?


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Eloise wrote:I'm ignorant of

Eloise wrote:

I'm ignorant of this debate, Paisley. It's my understanding that point particles are nothing more than a representation within limited and obviously fallible model of physical space so there should be no debate as to whether it is a true representation. 

But I have learned through my readings that there is a debate among scientists on this subject. Also, there is apparently no experimental evidence for the spatial extension of elementary particles (see link below). This would seem to support my argument.

Quote:

There is no experimental evidence for any of the elementary particles having spatial extent, and so they are usually considered to be point particles in the more general sense too (at least to the limited extent that the concept of a "particle" is meaningful in quantum field theory)[6]

(source: Wikipedia: Point particle)

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Point_particles

Eloise wrote:

Paisley wrote:

I am fully aware of the space-time continuum. Thank you very much. But what I find perplexing is why a self-professed panentheist (that would be you) is arguing for the dogma of scientific materialism.

Because I think you're wrong to call this dogma, Paisley. In my experience these specific issues are wide open. 

"Science" and "scientific materialism" are not interchangeable terms. The former is the systematic approach to explain and predict phenomena based on the scientific method; the latter is an ideology based on a metaphysical position. If you truly subscribe to some form of panentheism, then why are you always arguing for the materialist worldview? 

"Scientists animated by the purpose of proving they are purposeless constitute an interesting subject for study." - Alfred North Whitehead


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Paisley wrote:Eloise

Paisley wrote:

Eloise wrote:

I'm ignorant of this debate, Paisley. It's my understanding that point particles are nothing more than a representation within limited and obviously fallible model of physical space so there should be no debate as to whether it is a true representation. 

But I have learned through my readings that there is a debate among scientists on this subject. Also, there is apparently no experimental evidence for the spatial extension of elementary particles (see link below). This would seem to support my argument.

Quote:

There is no experimental evidence for any of the elementary particles having spatial extent, and so they are usually considered to be point particles in the more general sense too (at least to the limited extent that the concept of a "particle" is meaningful in quantum field theory)[6]

(source: Wikipedia: Point particle)

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Point_particles

Ok.. well as I said, the advice I often receive is that the geometry is an approximation with predetermined limits as to what it can say about the physical reality it is modelling. The physical interpretation of a point falls outside those limits as far as I have always understood.  

Still, if some particle physicists have actually tested the spatiality of a particle and come up with nothing I'm not surprised by it. The entirety of physical experience can, in principle, be modelled entirely as electromagnetic and gravitational forces. Extension of 'mass' into 'space' is not specifically required (not assuming relativity).

Paisley wrote:

"Science" and "scientific materialism" are not interchangeable terms. The former is the systematic approach to explain and predict phenomena based on the scientific method; the latter is an ideology based on a metaphysical position. If you truly subscribe to some form of panentheism, then why are you always arguing for the materialist worldview? 

I'm arguing for monism. My only point, as to materialism, is that the monism I subscribe to would be mostly informed by the sciences, which are, in turn, grandfathered by the materialist postulate.

So materialism is an epistemic ancestor of my 'worldview' and, as such, is still invoked by the terms and concepts that inform my 'worldview'.   

Thus I'm not arguing for materialism I am respecting of materialism as the epistemological framework in which most of the views I hold were founded, or established, but I don't hold to materialism in those views because I feel they establish an different ontology.

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Eloise wrote:Paisley

Eloise wrote:

Paisley wrote:

Please explain to me what you mean by "neutral monism." I understand  the term to mean that the fundamental constituents of reality are neither physical nor mental.

You missed 'in themselves', Paisley, which is a pretty important qualification. Neutral monism isn't about denying that elements of reality are physical, it's about considering physicalism to be an aspect or property of an underlying reality, not the substance of it. So stuff is physical, it's just not 'in itself' physical, do you understand?

The SEP's (i.e. the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy) article on "neutral monism" is much more extensive than the Wikipedia one. Based on that source, the neutral "stuff" is actually "pure experience" (with the exception of Sayre's neutral stuff of information). I'm not exactly sure I would characterize pure experience as neutral. It smacks of panpsychism (or more specifically, panexperientialism). However, one could make the argument that pure experience is nondual and therefore lacks both a subject and a object. And if we understand the subjective to be the definitive property of the mental and the objective to be definitive property of the physical, then we could argue that pure experience is neutral. That being said, one would have to ask: "How does the subjective and the objective arise from a neutral element?"

http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/neutral-monism/

Eloise wrote:

Paisley wrote:

Therefore, to argue that quantum physics and information theory establish the view of neutral monism is to argue that quantum physics and information theory establish the view that the fundamental constituents of reality are neither physical nor mental. This is not compatible with physicalism.

No neutral monism isn't compatible with physicalism anyway so I don't know why you said that..

I said it because you always appear to be defending physicalism.

Eloise wrote:

but at any rate, my argument is that quantum electrodynamics and information theory are quite solid support for the view that the fundamental constituents of reality are of themselves neither physical or mental.  

My personal favourite alternative is that they are relational, but you already knew this. 

I assume you are referring to relational quantum mechanics. Based on my limited understanding of RQM, all systems are quantum systems and the state of a quantum system is relative to the observer. However, what exactly is the nature of the "observer" in RQM? It would appear that observers are not necessarily conscious ones. Moreover, no observer has a privileged status. IOW, there is no God's eye view of the world in which an external or transcendental observer can view all sets of observed systems. And if that is so, then how does this mesh with your brand of neutral monism? Or, more specifically, with your brand of panentheism?

"Scientists animated by the purpose of proving they are purposeless constitute an interesting subject for study." - Alfred North Whitehead


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Strafio wrote:Paisley

Strafio wrote:

Paisley wrote:

Communication is the purpose.

Communication is the purpose in any use of language.
What I was asking is what are we trying to communicate here.

The language of physics, for example, is descriptive.
It makes a description of the world around us.
The facts in physics are supposed to paint a picture of how the world actually is.

I do not entirely agree with this.

"It is wrong to think that the task of physics is to find out how nature is. Physics concerns what we can say about nature." - physicist Niels Bohr

Strafio wrote:

My question is what kind of role our language of mind plays in our lives?
When we communicate our desires, what exactly are we communicating?
And why is it important to us?

I'm sorry, but I'm not exactly sure what you are driving at here. Do you wish for me to define "desire?"

"Scientists animated by the purpose of proving they are purposeless constitute an interesting subject for study." - Alfred North Whitehead


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Strafio wrote:Communication

Strafio wrote:
Communication is the purpose in any use of language.

 

What I was asking is what are we trying to communicate here.

The language of physics, for example, is descriptive.
It makes a description of the world around us.
The facts in physics are supposed to paint a picture of how the world actually is.

Paisley wrote:
I do not entirely agree with this.

"It is wrong to think that the task of physics is to find out how nature is. Physics concerns what we can say about nature." - physicist Niels Bohr


You kind of missed the point I was putting across.
I wasn't trying to make the claim that "physics = complete accurate description of nature", I was saying that the language of physics is a description. It paints a picture. This picture might be accurate, inaccurate, the point is, the language used is descriptive and paints a picture of how the world of our senses might be.

Strafio wrote:
My question is what kind of role our language of mind plays in our lives?
When we communicate our desires, what exactly are we communicating?
And why is it important to us?

Paisley wrote:
I'm sorry, but I'm not exactly sure what you are driving at here. Do you wish for me to define "desire?"


Kind of. More than define, I'm looking for a description on how we tend to use the word; what part it plays in our lives, why it is important to us.
I want to contrast the language of mind with descriptive language use.
E.g. We might use descriptive language to give someone an idea of an event they didn't see.
The words are supposed to paint a picture that they didn't see with their own eyes.
Would we paint such a picture with the language of mind?
If not, then what purpose does the language of mind serve?

 


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Strafio wrote:Paisley

Strafio wrote:

Paisley wrote:

I'm sorry, but I'm not exactly sure what you are driving at here. Do you wish for me to define "desire?"

Kind of. More than define, I'm looking for a description on how we tend to use the word; what part it plays in our lives, why it is important to us.
I want to contrast the language of mind with descriptive language use.
E.g. We might use descriptive language to give someone an idea of an event they didn't see.
The words are supposed to paint a picture that they didn't see with their own eyes.
Would we paint such a picture with the language of mind?
If not, then what purpose does the language of mind serve? 

We could use language to describe some aspects of mental phenomena (e.g. the content of a dream)

"Scientists animated by the purpose of proving they are purposeless constitute an interesting subject for study." - Alfred North Whitehead


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Okay... the content of the

Okay... the content of the dream would be descriptive.
Some of our ideas and imaginings might also have pictorial content that could be described using language.
What I'm more interested in is mental concepts like belief, desire, consciousness etc
What kind of language use these concepts arise out of.
 

What I'm looking for here, is for example, how we use the word "consciousness" in everyday language?
Is it descriptive language that we use to paint a visual picture with, like with physics?
If not, what is it? How is it actually used?
 


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Strafio wrote:Okay... the

Strafio wrote:

Okay... the content of the dream would be descriptive.
Some of our ideas and imaginings might also have pictorial content that could be described using language.

What about psychology?

Strafio wrote:

What I'm more interested in is mental concepts like belief, desire, consciousness etc
What kind of language use these concepts arise out of.

Expressive language? Functional language? Descriptive language? Abstract or conceptual language? You tell me.

Strafio wrote:

What I'm looking for here, is for example, how we use the word "consciousness" in everyday language?
Is it descriptive language that we use to paint a visual picture with, like with physics?
If not, what is it? How is it actually used?

No, we wouldn't use a visual description to define consciousness. In fact, we can only define "consciouness" in tautological terms (e.g. awareness). But this would simply suggest that we are dealing with something that is fundamental.

"Scientists animated by the purpose of proving they are purposeless constitute an interesting subject for study." - Alfred North Whitehead


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The purpose of my question

The purpose of my question is for you to reflect on how you use the language of mind in everyday life, how you came to learn it and what purpose it serves. I'd rather you had a think and gave me your own ideas rather than force my own perceptions of this language on you dogmatically. Play along, use everyday examples to how people might use and learn this language, and what purpose it serves them, and then I'll show you where I'm going with this.

My mind-body argument requires this look into language in order for it to make sense.
Think about it, sleep on it if you have to, and then come back to me with some ideas.
It'll be difficult to move on until you do.
I'd end up trying to dogmatically force you to accept some propositions that are especially difficult to come to without taking this approach.


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Strafio wrote:The purpose of

Strafio wrote:

The purpose of my question is for you to reflect on how you use the language of mind in everyday life, how you came to learn it and what purpose it serves. I'd rather you had a think and gave me your own ideas rather than force my own perceptions of this language on you dogmatically. Play along, use everyday examples to how people might use and learn this language, and what purpose it serves them, and then I'll show you where I'm going with this.

My mind-body argument requires this look into language in order for it to make sense.
Think about it, sleep on it if you have to, and then come back to me with some ideas.
It'll be difficult to move on until you do.
I'd end up trying to dogmatically force you to accept some propositions that are especially difficult to come to without taking this approach.

I have been playing along. But it doesn't appear that you like my answers. So, why don't you just tell me what you think?

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Okay... first I'll apologise

Okay... first I'll apologise for 2 things.
Firstly, I've been a bit lazy in my feedback. I had noticed that you'd tried to give definitions of these concepts and hadn't really discussed where I agree/disagree with them.
Secondly, I guess I haven't really been fully clear in what I want from you. I did like your answers to a degree, just wanted you to expand on them by relating them to everyday usage of them.

e.g.

Paisley wrote:
desire = wish or want e.g. "I want an orange" expresses a desire for an orange

personality = disposition, personal characteristics or traits e.g. "Jim is a calm person" expresses that Jim rarely gets agitated or loses his temper.


These I pretty much agree with.

Paisley wrote:
No, we wouldn't use a visual description to define consciousness. In fact, we can only define "consciouness" in tautological terms (e.g. awareness). But this would simply suggest that we are dealing with something that is fundamental.

I would use "awareness" too, but you're right that it's almost tautological.
To get a better idea of what consciousness/awareness is, I'd suggest that we look how we use it in everyday language.
e.g. to be aware of something is when we know it's happen.
We're aware of penguins we can see, hear, or that we detect in some other way.
And there might be other penguins our there that we have no awareness of.
We call some of our thoughts "conscious", that we're aware that we're thinking them.
Other thoughts are "unconscious", i.e. we're not aware that we're thinking them and we only discover them through ulterior effects.

 

Anyway, I think the way forward from here would be for me to give my own ideas on "Mental Language" and then you can agree/disagree accordingly.
I said that physics is based around descriptive language, language that paints a picture of the world of our senses.
To contrast, I'm going to use our language use of "desire" as an example:

Why would we express a desire?
Perhaps as a means to get it; e.g. once the shopkeeper hears our desire for an orange, he might advise us of the price to buy one.
Perhaps as an explanation of why we did an action; e.g. "I spent my money because I wanted an orange"
Perhaps someone has asked us how we feel and the honest answer is that at the moment we're "wanting" something.
The point I'm trying to make is that at no point do we come across a "thing", an "object" called "a desire".
It's more a way of saying that we have a disposition to try and "get" or "achieve" something.
Agreed?


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Strafio wrote:Anyway, I

Strafio wrote:

Anyway, I think the way forward from here would be for me to give my own ideas on "Mental Language" and then you can agree/disagree accordingly.

I said that physics is based around descriptive language, language that paints a picture of the world of our senses.

To contrast, I'm going to use our language use of "desire" as an example:

Why would we express a desire?
Perhaps as a means to get it; e.g. once the shopkeeper hears our desire for an orange, he might advise us of the price to buy one.
Perhaps as an explanation of why we did an action; e.g. "I spent my money because I wanted an orange"
Perhaps someone has asked us how we feel and the honest answer is that at the moment we're "wanting" something.
The point I'm trying to make is that at no point do we come across a "thing", an "object" called "a desire".
It's more a way of saying that we have a disposition to try and "get" or "achieve" something.
Agreed
?

I view "desire" as an aspect of the "will." Therefore, I will agree that it is not a "thing or an object" in the sense that it is immaterial. IOW, it is thingless.

"Scientists animated by the purpose of proving they are purposeless constitute an interesting subject for study." - Alfred North Whitehead


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Okay...But I get the

Okay...
But I get the impression that you're a substance dualist, so you still see desire as a "thing" that "exists", just an "immaterial thing" rather than a "material thing"?
Am I wrong in this assumption?


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Strafio wrote:Okay...But I

Strafio wrote:

Okay...
But I get the impression that you're a substance dualist, so you still see desire as a "thing" that "exists", just an "immaterial thing" rather than a "material thing"?
Am I wrong in this assumption?

Actually, I would not characterize myself as a substance dualist (although I would consider dualism as our basic working hypothesis because that's how we perceive the world...dualistically...it seems self-evident to me that there are two domains....a subjective one and an objective one). Having said that, I am actually more process-oriented. Therefore, let's say I believe that "desire" exists and that is is subjective, not objective.

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Okay...What you said there

Okay...
What you said there could be understood in a variety of ways, and we might be close to the same page.
What I'll do is continue to lay out my position and we'll see where you disagree.

I've said that physics is based around descriptive language where we use language to represent a "picture" of "the world of our senses". In this language there are "things", "objects" that are represented by nouns. e.g. basketballs, hotdogs, etc.
The "things" that are actually in the world of our senses are said to "exist".
These concepts are all within the context of describing the world.

The language of mind can be quite different.
Beliefs and desires aren't defined by pointing to an object.
Instead they are defined by different uses of language, i.e. "I think that..." or "I want..."
The thing is, because belief and desire are both nouns, and because nouns are most commonly used to refer to "things" and "objects" in descriptive language, it can be temping to start ascribing beliefs and desires the properties of physical objects, e.g. existence.
It has been said that one of the things that might have influenced Plato into believing in the existence of the "forms" was the grammar of classical Greek. Goodness was called "the good", giving it the structure of a noun.

I think substance dualism stems from this confusion.
Descartes naturally took these mental concepts to be "existing things", presumably due to their being nouns. From there, he noticed that these mental concepts didn't contain the usual properties of "existing things", such a mass, spacial position, etc.
This caused him to posit a special new substance for these "mental things" to "exist" in.
Reductive physicalism also take mental concepts to be "existing things", and instead of positing a new substance they try to re-define mental concepts as "physical things". The problem here is that these re-defined concepts are different to the everyday mental concepts we use - it's like they're talking about something else.

Emergentism seems to fit better.
It denies the existence of a second "substance" while retaining mental concepts in their natural purity rather than trying to re-define them. Where Emergentism gets criticised is it doesn't really explain what these mental concepts are and their connection to the physical body. Pointing out that "mental language" as a different language game, a different use of language to descriptive language, I think that provides the missing explanation.


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Strafio wrote:Okay...What

Strafio wrote:

Okay...
What you said there could be understood in a variety of ways, and we might be close to the same page.
What I'll do is continue to lay out my position and we'll see where you disagree.

I've said that physics is based around descriptive language where we use language to represent a "picture" of "the world of our senses". In this language there are "things", "objects" that are represented by nouns. e.g. basketballs, hotdogs, etc.
The "things" that are actually in the world of our senses are said to "exist".
These concepts are all within the context of describing the world.

The language of mind can be quite different.
Beliefs and desires aren't defined by pointing to an object.
Instead they are defined by different uses of language, i.e. "I think that..." or "I want..."
The thing is, because belief and desire are both nouns, and because nouns are most commonly used to refer to "things" and "objects" in descriptive language, it can be temping to start ascribing beliefs and desires the properties of physical objects, e.g. existence.
It has been said that one of the things that might have influenced Plato into believing in the existence of the "forms" was the grammar of classical Greek. Goodness was called "the good", giving it the structure of a noun

Concepts are employed to describe mental phenomena as well as physical phenomena. For example, think of your "mother." Did you get a visual image? Would you call this a mental object? If not, why not?

Strafio wrote:

I think substance dualism stems from this confusion.
Descartes naturally took these mental concepts to be "existing things", presumably due to their being nouns.

Well, Descartes is probably most known for his philosophical statement - cogito ergo sum (i.e. I think, therefore I am). Just for clarity. Are you arguing that the "I" is a concept and therefore does not exist? Is this part of the language game?

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Strafio wrote:Okay...What

Strafio wrote:

Okay...
What you said there could be understood in a variety of ways, and we might be close to the same page.
What I'll do is continue to lay out my position and we'll see where you disagree.

I've said that physics is based around descriptive language where we use language to represent a "picture" of "the world of our senses". In this language there are "things", "objects" that are represented by nouns. e.g. basketballs, hotdogs, etc.
The "things" that are actually in the world of our senses are said to "exist".
These concepts are all within the context of describing the world.

The language of mind can be quite different.
Beliefs and desires aren't defined by pointing to an object.
Instead they are defined by different uses of language, i.e. "I think that..." or "I want..."
The thing is, because belief and desire are both nouns, and because nouns are most commonly used to refer to "things" and "objects" in descriptive language, it can be temping to start ascribing beliefs and desires the properties of physical objects, e.g. existence.
It has been said that one of the things that might have influenced Plato into believing in the existence of the "forms" was the grammar of classical Greek. Goodness was called "the good", giving it the structure of a noun

Paisley wrote:
Concepts are employed to describe mental phenomena as well as physical phenomena. For example, think of your "mother." Did you get a visual image? Would you call this a mental object? If not, why not?

I never went as far as to say that there was never descriptive concepts within mental language. (Re-read the underlined bit in the quote)
Yes, dreams and imaginations involve visual pictures, but there are mental concepts that don't.
It "the imagination" a visual concept? Is desire? Is belief?
 

Strafio wrote:
I think substance dualism stems from this confusion.
Descartes naturally took these mental concepts to be "existing things", presumably due to their being nouns.

Paisley wrote:
Well, Descartes is probably most known for his philosophical statement - cogito ergo sum (i.e. I think, therefore I am). Just for clarity. Are you arguing that the "I" is a concept and therefore does not exist? Is this part of the language game?

I was talking about where Descartes established substance dualism rather than his most famous statement.
This is kind of off topic, but since you brought it up:
I'm not asserting that anything "is a concept" and therefore "doesn't exist".
I'm making the point that "existence" is a concept within the context of descriptive language.
So I would question whether the "I" is such a concept and look to how we use it to answer the question.
I can think of such uses where "I" clearly refers to a physical object (e.g. "I am wearing a blue hat" - I refers to the person who says this)
There might be other uses where it plays a different role to refering to a physical object, in which case there's no need to consider it an "existing thing".


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Strafio wrote:Paisley

Strafio wrote:

Paisley wrote:

Concepts are employed to describe mental phenomena as well as physical phenomena. For example, think of your "mother." Did you get a visual image? Would you call this a mental object? If not, why not?

I never went as far as to say that there was never descriptive concepts within mental language. (Re-read the underlined bit in the quote)

Yes, dreams and imaginations involve visual pictures, but there are mental concepts that don't.
It "the imagination" a visual concept? Is desire? Is belief?

Are you asking whether or not the imagination qualifies as a visual object? If so, then I would say "no" - the imagination is not a visual object. But the imagination or image-making process itself may involve visual images which can be construed as visual objects (but admittedly very ephemeral ones).

I agree that both "desire" and "belief" are not visual objects.

Strafio wrote:

Paisley wrote:

Well, Descartes is probably most known for his philosophical statement - cogito ergo sum (i.e. I think, therefore I am). Just for clarity. Are you arguing that the "I" is a concept and therefore does not exist? Is this part of the language game?

I was talking about where Descartes established substance dualism rather than his most famous statement.
This is kind of off topic, but since you brought it up: I'm not asserting that anything "is a concept" and therefore "doesn't exist". I'm making the point that "existence" is a concept within the context of descriptive language.

What about "being?" What about "nothingness?" What about "becoming?"

Strafio wrote:

So I would question whether the "I" is such a concept and look to how we use it to answer the question.
I can think of such uses where "I" clearly refers to a physical object (e.g. "I am wearing a blue hat" - I refers to the person who says this)

There might be other uses where it plays a different role to refering to a physical object, in which case there's no need to consider it an "existing thing".

I am failing to see the logical connection here. Why should we assume that if "something" (for lack of a better term) is not a physical object, that it does not exist?

Incidentally, the subject matter of this particular thread is the "indeterminate nature of the physical." And I have argued (and I think successfully) that the existence of physical objects (e.g. subatomic particles) is very much in doubt. But what I cannot doubt is the existence of "awareness" itself.

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Paisley wrote:I am failing

Paisley wrote:
I am failing to see the logical connection here. Why should we assume that if "something" (for lack of a better term) is not a physical object, that it does not exist?

What I'm doing here is going back to the word "existence"; where it comes from and what its use it in everyday life.
We seem to say that an object exists when it is in the world of our visual senses.
Those "things" that aren't actually in the world of our visual sense don't exist.
I'm not saying that's the only way we use the word - there are other uses of the word "exist" e.g. in mathematics.
All I'm saying is that if we use "exist" in a different way to "is a 'thing' in the world of our visual senses", then I'll ask you to define what you mean by it and why it's an important concept.

Those things that we can't actually "see" are defined in terms of how they affect things we can.
E.g. Forces are defined by the acceleration of a mass, subatomic particles defined as building blocks of big objects, etc.

 

To apply this to mental concepts:

Paisley wrote:
Are you asking whether or not the imagination qualifies as a visual object? If so, then I would say "no" - the imagination is not a visual object. But the imagination or image-making process itself may involve visual images which can be construed as visual objects (but admittedly very ephemeral ones).

I agree that both "desire" and "belief" are not visual objects.


I agree that images in the mind contain visual images that can be described in descriptive language.
The things I picture are "things" that might exist (like my mother) or might not exist. (like a dragon)
What I'm more interested in talking about is the mental objects like "imagination", "desire" and "belief" that aren't visual objects.

Here I want to ask you what they are?
And if they "exist", what do you mean by existence here?
In descriptive language; "x exists" means that x is a "thing" in the world of our senses.
If we're not talking about "things in the world of our senses", then what are we talking about?

 


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Strafio wrote:What I'm more

Strafio wrote:

What I'm more interested in talking about is the mental objects like "imagination", "desire" and "belief" that aren't visual objects.

Here I want to ask you what they are?
And if they "exist", what do you mean by existence here?
In descriptive language; "x exists" means that x is a "thing" in the world of our senses.
If we're not talking about "things in the world of our senses", then what are we talking about?

We are talking about "subjective awareness." And if it were not for our subjective awareness, there would be no senses to speak of whatsoever. Now, if we redefine the term "existence" to mean only those things in the objective world, then subjectivity does not exist by definition. But it's 'non-existence' is simply the result of playing a semantical game. In reality, nothing has changed. Consciousness still exists. And this is the very kind of intellectual gymnastics that eliminative materialists employ. They will argue that subjective experiences have no objective property, therefore they do not exist. But this kind of reasoning is not reasoning at all. It is simply a form of psychological denial based on complete and utter irrationality. 

 

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Paisley wrote:Now, if we

Paisley wrote:
Now, if we redefine the term "existence" to mean only those things in the objective world, then subjectivity does not exist by definition. But it's 'non-existence' is simply the result of playing a semantical game. In reality, nothing has changed. Consciousness still exists.

Hmph..
I want to point out that I didn't re-define anything.
I took a look at the definition of "existence" as we commonly use it.
When talking about an object, if has a time and place in the world of our senses, we say it exists.
Otherwise, we say it doesn't.
Is that or isn't that how we commonly use the word existence?

And "existence" in this context is important to us because it often implies importance and relevance.
e.g. I'm not worried about fire breathing dragons hurting me because they'd need to exist to do so, and they don't.
Blood-sucking Mosquitos, however, do exist so I would need to be concerned about them.

I'm not being dogmatic here.
1) I'm only making an observation about how we tend to use a word.
2) I'm not saying that it's the only way we use the word, just that it's the most common use that's relevant to us.
Mathematicians, for example, have their own variation on "existence" for their discipline.

 

All I'm doing here is presenting a challenge.
You say there's a "consciousness" that "exists".
You agree that you're not using existence in the same sense we do for physical things like mosquitoes.
(i.e. that they have a time and place in our universe)
So since we're using it in a different way, I'd like you to explain what you mean by this differing usage of "existence" and how it is relevant to us.

 

Paisley wrote:
We are talking about "subjective awareness." And if it were not for our subjective awareness, there would be no senses to speak of whatsoever.

When you say "Subjective awareness is necessary for there to be senses", I suspect that you're conflating a causal connection with a logical one.

If you say "Subjective awareness is logically necessary for there to be senses", I can agree with that. It's simply pointing out that sensing something is being aware of it from a first person point of view. If you're sensing something then you're aware of it - logical tautology. However, I think you then try and use this logical connection to establish "Subjective awareness is causally necessary for there to be senses". That is, if we are sensing something then there must be this "thing", this "subjective awareness" that's doing the sensing. I don't see any justification for this causal connection. I think people tend to assume that just because the logical connection stands that the causal one does - they do not distinguish.

I also get the feeling you've fallen into the trap I mentioned earlier.
Why should this "awareness" be a "thing" that "exists"?
When talking about awareness or being aware in everyday language, we don't seem to be pointing towards an "existing thing".
I think that it's simply because "my awareness" gives it the grammatical structure of a noun and that we're used to nouns referring to "existing things", because that's how nouns are used in descriptive language.

IMPORTANT: I'm not saying any of this dogmatically!!
These are just suspicions of mine.
Consider it a challenge to:
a) Justify the statement "Subjective awareness is causally necessary for there to be senses"
b) I think that you're only considering "Subjective awareness" as an "existing thing" because you're used to nouns being used to refer to "existing things".
If not, provide other reasons why we should treat "subjective awareness" as referring to a "thing" that might "exist".
I personally don't think that reflects how we actually use the word awareness in everyday language, but you're welcome to challenge me with counter examples.
c) We tend to use "existence" within the descriptive language that describes the world of our senses.
If you're using a different definition of existence, explain what it is and defend its relevance.

If you could meet these challenges, it would show my suspicions to be false.
The ball's in your court...
GOGOGOGOGOGOGOGOGOGO!! Eye-wink


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Strafio wrote:Paisley

Strafio wrote:

Paisley wrote:

Now, if we redefine the term "existence" to mean only those things in the objective world, then subjectivity does not exist by definition. But it's 'non-existence' is simply the result of playing a semantical game. In reality, nothing has changed. Consciousness still exists.

Hmph..
I want to point out that I didn't re-define anything.
I took a look at the definition of "existence" as we commonly use it.
When talking about an object, if has a time and place in the world of our senses, we say it exists.
Otherwise, we say it doesn't.
Is that or isn't that how we commonly use the word existence?

That might be how an eliminative materialist uses the word. But that is not how it is conventionally used.

Quote:

exist 1 a : to have real being whether material or spiritual <did unicorns exist> <the largest galaxy known to exist>

(source: Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary)

http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/exist

Strafio wrote:

So since we're using it in a different way, I'd like you to explain what you mean by this differing usage of "existence" and how it is relevant to us.

I know that I exist. I trust that you know that you exist. If not, then continuing this discussion may prove to be an exercise in futility. That's the relevance.

Strafio wrote:
 

When talking about awareness or being aware in everyday language, we don't seem to be pointing towards an "existing thing".

The fact that you have repeatedly used the personal pronouns "I,""you," and "we" in this thread undermines your argument.

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I'm not trying to deny

I'm not trying to deny anyone's existence here.
Seems I need to make my approach clearer...

Imagine the situation; a person comes up to you and says:
"Hi! Do you believe in the existence of Hello?
I do and I feel it strongly. I feel the presence whenever I meet someone I know, the Helloness is thick in the atmosphere.
Many people claim to disbelieve but they still call its name whenever they see someone!!"
Were you convinced?
This person seems to have taken our greeting "hello" and started treating it like an object that exists.
The conclusions they have come out with are consequently very weird, and it all comes from twisting the word "hello" from its usual meaning and usage.
A lot of philosophical positions do a similar thing in a more subtle way.
The way to remedy this is to investigate how we use certain words in everyday life, and ensure that the philosopher isn't twisting them out of their usual usage.
To this "Believer of Hello" I'd probably say:
"You've gotten mixed up. 'Hello' isn't a 'thing' - it's just what we say when we see someone.
We call this a 'greeting'. The word 'hello' doesn't refer to a 'thing' - we use the word in a different way."

What I am trying to do here is get clarity on some of the stranger concepts you're using.
It often happens in philosophy that philosophers bring in weird jargon or takes a word out of its usual context leaving us with a flurry of weird words without real meaning. What I'm trying to do is get you to relate some of your more abstract concepts to everyday language and make sure that you've not taken a word out of its usual context.
Take the definition of existence you took from Merriam-Webster:
 

Quote:
exist 1 a : to have real being whether material or spiritual <did unicorns exist> <the largest galaxy known to exist>

(source: Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary)

http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/exist


"To have real being"?
And what exactly does that mean?
Not exactly what I'd call helpful.
How would you explain "existence" to a person who had never come across the concept before?
When I had a go of doing this, you accused me of just being an "eliminative materialist", so I'd like to see your take on this.
You meet a person who doesn't understand how to correctly use the word existence - use some examples to help him... go!!


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Strafio wrote:What I am

Strafio wrote:

What I am trying to do here is get clarity on some of the stranger concepts you're using.

What "strange" concepts am I employing that is not commonly used in our everyday language?

Strafio wrote:


Take the definition of existence you took from Merriam-Webster:

Quote:

exist 1 a : to have real being whether material or spiritual <did unicorns exist> <the largest galaxy known to exist>

(source: Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary)

http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/exist

"To have real being"? And what exactly does that mean?

Do you truly not understand the meaning of the infinitive "to be?"

Strafio wrote:

How would you explain "existence" to a person who had never come across the concept before?

I would not attempt to explain the term to that person because there is clearly a greater communication problem here - namely, the individual in question does not understand the English language.

Strafio wrote:

When I had a go of doing this, you accused me of just being an "eliminative materialist", so I'd like to see your take on this.

And you accused me of playing a "language game." Just for the sake of clarity. Do you believe that consciousness exist? Yes or no? If "no," then please explain your position.

"Scientists animated by the purpose of proving they are purposeless constitute an interesting subject for study." - Alfred North Whitehead


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Paisley wrote:Just for the

Paisley wrote:
Just for the sake of clarity. Do you believe that

consciousness exist

? Yes or no? If "no," then please explain your position.


No. Saying "consciousness exists" is like saying "hello exists".
Some words refer to things and it makes sense to talk about whether they exist or not.
E.g. dragons, carrots, rabbits, jedi

Conscious isn't that kind of word.
When defining consciousness, we don't point to a thing and say "that's consciousness".
Instead we use it to describe the state someone is in, e.g. "that person isn't conscious at the moment"
Saying "consciousness exists" isn't even false - it's just doesn't make sense altogether.


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Strafio wrote:Paisley

Strafio wrote:

Paisley wrote:

Just for the sake of clarity. Do you believe that consciousness exist? Yes or no? If "no," then please explain your position.

No. Saying "consciousness exists" is like saying "hello exists".

Okay. My original suspicion has been confirmed. You're an eliminative materialist. You have managed to eliminate the term consciousness from your consciousness by playing some kind of twisted and distorted semantical game. It is so insane that to continue this discussion is to risk my own sanity.

"Scientists animated by the purpose of proving they are purposeless constitute an interesting subject for study." - Alfred North Whitehead


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So rather than read and

So rather than read and address my arguments you've decided to just label me an "eliminative materialist".
It's one thing to disagree with me having read and understood my arguments. I'd even have sympathy if you'd given it a go, but now you're just running away with your hands over your ears because it's challenging some of your pre-conceptions.

Oh well...

If you want to know why I didn't say "consciousness" exists, does "hello" exist? If not, why not?


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Strafio wrote:So rather than

Strafio wrote:

So rather than read and address my arguments you've decided to just label me an "eliminative materialist". It's one thing to disagree with me having read and understood my arguments. I'd even have sympathy if you'd given it a go, but now you're just running away with your hands over your ears because it's challenging some of your pre-conceptions. Oh well... If you want to know why I didn't say "consciousness" exists, does "hello" exist? If not, why not?

Pre-conceptions presuppose the existence of consciousness for it is not possible to conceive of an idea without it. Hello!

Consciousness is axiomatic (i.e. self-evident). Any attempt to deny its existence presupposes it. There is nothing more irrational than an individual attempting to make the argument that his or her own subjective awareness does not exist.

"Scientists animated by the purpose of proving they are purposeless constitute an interesting subject for study." - Alfred North Whitehead


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I'm not denying that I'm

I'm not denying that I'm conscious.
You're still not listening or responding to my argument.
I'm just questioning whether "consciousness" is an "existing thing".

I'm not denying that I'm conscious or that you're conscious.
You're putting forward the proposition that "consciousness" is a "thing" that "exists".
Are you willing to address an argument that challenges it?
Or will you just keep repeating your own position dogmatically?

If you're interested in addressing the argument, I'll pose the question again:
Does "Hello" exist? If not, why not?

 


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Strafio wrote:Are you

Strafio wrote:


Are you willing to address an argument that challenges it?

 

I don't know that it'll do you much good.  Earlier Paisley made it clear that he thinks we are aware even when we are asleep, and even that this was common knowledge.  Basically I think he doesn't think 'unconscious' is a state of mind if you think of conscious as meaning aware.  I don't understand this position at all.

 

Paisley wrote:

Consciousness does not disappear during sleep. I am very much aware while I am sleeping. I am aware during dreaming. I am also aware during dreamless sleep.

 

I didn't agree with this.


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To be honest, if he wants to

To be honest, if he wants to define "being conscious" as "having some kind of experience", I can work with that.
But you're right that it deviates from the common usage.
We normally only call someone "conscious" if they're aware of the real world.


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Strafio wrote:I'm not

Strafio wrote:

I'm not denying that I'm conscious.
You're still not listening or responding to my argument.
I'm just questioning whether "consciousness" is an "existing thing".

I'm not denying that I'm conscious or that you're conscious.
You're putting forward the proposition that "consciousness" is a "thing" that "exists".
Are you willing to address an argument that challenges it?
Or will you just keep repeating your own position dogmatically?

Your definition of the term "existence" presupposes the materialist worldview (i.e. the view that only MATERIAL things exist). I am not a materialist; therefore, I do NOT agree with your definition of "existence."  Consciousness exists and consciousness is NOT a material thing or object.

"Scientists animated by the purpose of proving they are purposeless constitute an interesting subject for study." - Alfred North Whitehead


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I think that,

I think that, as v4ultingbassist suggests, his world-view requires, or assumes, that 'consciousness' is indeed some essence in itself, separate from the physical, or 'material' world. If it could just switch on and off , that would be a problem for his view.

EDIT: Paisley, your response came in while I was composing the above.

You cannot accept consciousness as a manifestation of a physical process, because your world-view PRESUPPOSES that it is a fundamental component of the non-material world.

Favorite oxymorons: Gospel Truth, Rational Supernaturalist, Business Ethics, Christian Morality

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Paisley wrote:Your

Paisley wrote:
Your definition of the term "existence" presupposes the materialist worldview (i.e. the view that only MATERIAL things exist). I am

not

a materialist; therefore, I do NOT agree with your definition of "existence."  Consciousness exists and consciousness is NOT a material thing or object.


It's alright to disagree with my definitions.
You'll notice that I've not stated any definition dogmatically.
I've not said "Existence means this..." and just expected you to accept it.
When I made a suggestion on what it meant I showed some everyday examples to back it up, open for you to pick out where you disagree.
I then point out that if your prefered definition is different then you should lay it out and back it up with examples of usage.
So far, I've only seen dogmatic rejections of my position without actually addressing my argument.

If you're interested in addressing the argument, I'll pose the question again:
Does "Hello" exist? If not, why not?


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Strafio wrote:I've not said

Strafio wrote:


I've not said "Existence means this..." and just expected you to accept it.
When I made a suggestion on what it meant I showed some everyday examples to back it up, open for you to pick out where you disagree.
I then point out that if your prefered definition is different then you should lay it out and back it up with examples of usage.

I provided you with Merriam-Webster's first definition of the term.

Quote:

exist 1 a : to have real being whether material or spiritual <did unicorns exist> <the largest galaxy known to exist>

(source: Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary)

http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/exist

Then you asked me what does "being" mean?

To which I replied: "Do you truly not understand the meaning of the infinitive "to be?"

To which no response was forthcoming.

Strafio wrote:

So far, I've only seen dogmatic rejections of my position without actually addressing my argument.

I have already pointed out that your argument is inherently self-refuting each and every time you employ the personal pronoun "I." Why? Because it presupposes "self-awareness." Hitherto, you have failed to proffer some intelligible response to counter my point. Unless you can manage that, this debate is over.

"Scientists animated by the purpose of proving they are purposeless constitute an interesting subject for study." - Alfred North Whitehead


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BobSpence1 wrote:I think

BobSpence1 wrote:

I think that, as v4ultingbassist suggests, his world-view requires, or assumes, that 'consciousness' is indeed some essence in itself, separate from the physical, or 'material' world. If it could just switch on and off , that would be a problem for his view.

I believe that consciousness (i.e. awareness) is fundamental - at least as fundamental as space-time, mass-energy. I make no apologies for holding this position.

BobSpence1 wrote:

EDIT: Paisley, your response came in while I was composing the above.

You cannot accept consciousness as a manifestation of a physical process, because your world-view PRESUPPOSES that it is a fundamental component of the non-material world.

But what does this have to do with the issue at hand? The issue that is currently being debated here is whether consciousness exists or not. I say that it does; she says that it does not. Therefore, she qualifies as an eliminative materialist.

"Scientists animated by the purpose of proving they are purposeless constitute an interesting subject for study." - Alfred North Whitehead


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Paisley wrote:BobSpence1

Paisley wrote:

BobSpence1 wrote:

I think that, as v4ultingbassist suggests, his world-view requires, or assumes, that 'consciousness' is indeed some essence in itself, separate from the physical, or 'material' world. If it could just switch on and off , that would be a problem for his view.

I believe that consciousness (i.e. awareness) is fundamental - at least as fundamental as space-time, mass-energy. I make no apologies for holding this position.

Right. So I have reasonably accurately grasped what your position is.

/quote]

BobSpence1 wrote:

EDIT: Paisley, your response came in while I was composing the above.

You cannot accept consciousness as a manifestation of a physical process, because your world-view PRESUPPOSES that it is a fundamental component of the non-material world.

But what does this have to do with the issue at hand? The issue that is currently being debated here is whether consciousness exists or not. I say that it does; she says that it does not. Therefore, she qualifies as an eliminative materialist.

You find it appropriate to keep reminding us of how what you assume is our world-view locks us into certain conclusions, so I am just returning the favour.

And of course, as Strafio said, 'does not exist' does not really address the position she holds.

Favorite oxymorons: Gospel Truth, Rational Supernaturalist, Business Ethics, Christian Morality

"Theology is now little more than a branch of human ignorance. Indeed, it is ignorance with wings." - Sam Harris

The path to Truth lies via careful study of reality, not the dreams of our fallible minds - me

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BobSpence1 wrote:Paisley

BobSpence1 wrote:

Paisley wrote:

I believe that consciousness (i.e. awareness) is fundamental - at least as fundamental as space-time, mass-energy. I make no apologies for holding this position.

Right. So I have reasonably accurately grasped what your position is.

I would hope that you basically know where I stand because I have never been coy about expressing this view.

BobSpence1 wrote:

Paisley wrote:

But what does this have to do with the issue at hand? The issue that is currently being debated here is whether consciousness exists or not. I say that it does; she says that it does not. Therefore, she qualifies as an eliminative materialist.

You find it appropriate to keep reminding us of how what you assume is our world-view locks us into certain conclusions, so I am just returning the favour.

Somehow I get the feeling that you're thinking: "I gotcha."

BobSpence1 wrote:

And of course, as Strafio said, 'does not exist' does not really address the position she holds.

I explicitly asked her: "Does consciousness exist? Yes or no?" She answered "no." (It was not a trick question.)

"Scientists animated by the purpose of proving they are purposeless constitute an interesting subject for study." - Alfred North Whitehead


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Paisley, he's not saying

Paisley, he's not saying that consciousness is non-existent altogether. He's saying the rhetoric we use to construct a sentence using the word consciousness is different than everyday usage of proper nouns. Quit with the labeling and attempt to answer the question he asked.

 

Consciousness in any sentence means nothing without it referring to something. Saying "I am conscious" may be a tautology but it also conveys no information, what are you conscious of? (yourself? So what, what part of yourself? What internal/external stimuli? What memories?)

 


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Di66en6ion wrote:Paisley,

Di66en6ion wrote:

Paisley, he's not saying that consciousness is non-existent altogether. He's saying the rhetoric we use to construct a sentence using the word consciousness is different than everyday usage of proper nouns. Quit with the labeling and attempt to answer the question he asked.

"He" is in reference to whom?

Di66en6ion wrote:
 

Consciousness in any sentence means nothing without it referring to something. Saying "I am conscious" may be a tautology but it also conveys no information, what are you conscious of? (yourself? So what, what part of yourself? What internal/external stimuli? What memories?) 

Self-awareness is "being aware that I am aware." And the fact that you stated that "I am conscious" may be a tautology is proof-positive that consciousness exist.

"Scientists animated by the purpose of proving they are purposeless constitute an interesting subject for study." - Alfred North Whitehead


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Paisley wrote:Di66en6ion

Paisley wrote:

Di66en6ion wrote:

Paisley, he's not saying that consciousness is non-existent altogether. He's saying the rhetoric we use to construct a sentence using the word consciousness is different than everyday usage of proper nouns. Quit with the labeling and attempt to answer the question he asked.

"He" is in reference to whom?

Strafio

Paisley wrote:

Di66en6ion wrote:
 

Consciousness in any sentence means nothing without it referring to something. Saying "I am conscious" may be a tautology but it also conveys no information, what are you conscious of? (yourself? So what, what part of yourself? What internal/external stimuli? What memories?) 

Self-awareness is "being aware that I am aware." And the fact that you stated that "I am conscious" may be a tautology is proof-positive that consciousness exist.

I said it may be a tautology but since what you conceive to be consciousness is so vague with no concrete answers on what constitutes it or how it works I really can't say (ie it's only a tautology because of the way you've vaguely defined it). To say consciousness is not constituted of anything is to appeal to woo with billions of pieces of conflicting evidence. Calling it a tautology may be nothing but rhetorical word games at this point due to the ambiguity of subjectivity and/or just a strict adherence to a specific definition of the term.

Being aware that you are aware of what? You sentence still conveys absolutely no useful information. Awareness is just a word for which you have yet to define with anything other than synonyms. Strafio is trying to get you to formulate under what context it belongs to since it's not a distinct 'thing' like a sofa is. You can say consciousness is a tautology and that any utterance of it presupposes it but that's only because we understand its general usage. We can program a machine to spout out that phrase all day but does that then make the machine conscious? Under your definition it would be but I'm sure you'll add more functions as to what conscious is/does.

[I'm probably digressing here but when you say "I am conscious", the only thing I'm conscious of at that time is the words I'm reading. Reading consecutive phrases requires memory of some sort, you cannot be conscious of anything without memory. Memory in relation to consciousness also presupposes many things (mostly a concept of time). That's why when you say you're conscious you have to have it be a referent of something otherwise it has no meaning. When you say you're conscious you're referring to something such as the phrase in your head, the memories you've associated with those words, and/or the stimuli you're experiencing at that time, etc...

Interestingly, to me, when you call consciousness an existent thing in the same context as proper nouns, your really refuting you're own stance that it's something other than a physical process going on.]

 

Now where it goes from here is the point of conjecture. You say consciousness exists (back to the point Strafio was getting at); exists in what context? When we talk about existence we're referring to things we've directly perceived (not the act of perception itself). When we say something exists we always refer to nouns, like a table, an atom, a friend, or even a fictional character (because it was written about or drawn and exists in that form). Strafio pointed out that when you say something like "hello exists", or "belief exists" it doesn't make sense in that context so we need to clarify on that context.

To me that context would be under processes, like a function that you can place many many variables in. Like consciousness, functions require an input and output to be useful (experienced). Without input it does nothing. Fortunately our brains are wired and always chemically active so theirs always some form of 'input/output'. It would be in the same category as saying "reproduction exists", it doesn't refer to any object, but a process that can vary greatly depending on what context (what definition of reproduction you choose and involving animals, machines, or simple chemicals, etc...) its in. 

 

 

 


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Strafio wrote:I've not said

Strafio wrote:


I've not said "Existence means this..." and just expected you to accept it.
When I made a suggestion on what it meant I showed some everyday examples to back it up, open for you to pick out where you disagree.
I then point out that if your prefered definition is different then you should lay it out and back it up with examples of usage.

Paisley wrote:
I provided you with Merriam-Webster's first definition of the term.

exist 1 a : to have real being whether material or spiritual <did unicorns exist> <the largest galaxy known to exist>


The reason I didn't like that Merriam-Webster definition was because it replaced one abstract definition, "existence"; with another, "to have real being". It didn't really give an idea of what this means in terms of everyday usage. I'm looking for examples of how we use the word in everyday life because that is the best way to illustrate what people actually mean about it. It's not that I don't know what "to have real being means". I know what I think it means, but since we have disagreement we need to resolve this by backing up our definitions with examples of everyday usage.


Strafio wrote:
So far, I've only seen dogmatic rejections of my position without actually addressing my argument.

Paisley wrote:
I have already pointed out that your argument is inherently self-refuting each and every time you employ the personal pronoun "I." Why? Because it presupposes "self-awareness." Hitherto, you have failed to proffer some intelligible response to counter my point. Unless you can manage that, this debate is over.

I've not once denied by own existence.
I've not once denied that I am conscious.
All I've done is questioned whether "consciousness" is a "thing" that "exists".

Let me ask you for the fourth time, does "Hello" exist. If not, why not?

 

Di66en6ion wrote:
Paisley, he's not saying that consciousness is non-existent altogether. He's saying the rhetoric we use to construct a sentence using the word consciousness is different than everyday usage of proper nouns. Quit with the labeling and attempt to answer the question he asked.

There we go!
For a while there I was worried I'd accidently typed my argument up in French or something.

 

BobSpence1 wrote:
And of course, as Strafio said, 'does not exist' does not really address the position she holds.

Thanks for spelling out my position, but dude... is my avatar picture really that feminine? Raised Brow
 

(Don't worry... you're not first...)


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Di66en6ion wrote:Paisley

Di66en6ion wrote:

Paisley wrote:

"He" is in reference to whom?

Strafio

Okay. I thought "Strafio" was female, not male.

Di66en6ion wrote:

Paisley wrote:

Di66en6ion wrote:
 

Consciousness in any sentence means nothing without it referring to something. Saying "I am conscious" may be a tautology but it also conveys no information, what are you conscious of? (yourself? So what, what part of yourself? What internal/external stimuli? What memories?) 

Self-awareness is "being aware that I am aware." And the fact that you stated that "I am conscious" may be a tautology is proof-positive that consciousness exist.

I said it may be a tautology but since what you conceive to be consciousness is so vague with no concrete answers on what constitutes it or how it works I really can't say (ie it's only a tautology because of the way you've vaguely defined it). To say consciousness is not constituted of anything is to appeal to woo with billions of pieces of conflicting evidence. Calling it a tautology may be nothing but rhetorical word games at this point due to the ambiguity of subjectivity and/or just a strict adherence to a specific definition of the term.

I define consciousness as "awareness."

Quote:

Consciousness is subjective experience or awareness

(source: Wikipedia: Consciousness)

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Consciousness

Quote:

Awareness is the state or ability to perceive, to feel, or to be conscious of events, objects or sensory patterns. In this level of consciousness, sense data can be confirmed by an observer without necessarily implying understanding. More broadly, it is the state or quality of being aware of something

(source: Wikipedia: Awareness)

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Awareness

Di66en6ion wrote:

Being aware that you are aware of what? You sentence still conveys absolutely no useful information.

The statement "I am consciousness" (this was your example) conveys both the knowledge of self-awareness (i.e. knowledge through identity) and that the subject exists.

Di66en6ion wrote:

Awareness is just a word for which you have yet to define with anything other than synonyms.

That you believe "awareness" is a synonym of "consciousness" suggests to me that you know what "conscioussness" is. So, why are you playing these games?

Question: Do you know whether or not you are presently experiencing "awareness?" Yes or no? If "yes," then "awareness" obviously exists. If "no," then continuing this debate would be an exercise in futility. You cannot have a rational discussion with individuals who are grappling with the the reality of their own subjective awareness.

Di66en6ion wrote:

Strafio is trying to get you to formulate under what context it belongs to since it's not a distinct 'thing' like a sofa is. You can say consciousness is a tautology and that any utterance of it presupposes it but that's only because we understand its general usage.

Each and every time you employ the personal pronoun "I" you are presupposing "self-awareness" (and therefore "awareness" itself).  That this displays its general usage only serves to bolster my point that "consciousness is axiomatic (i.e. self-evident)."

Di66en6ion wrote:

We can program a machine to spout out that phrase all day but does that then make the machine conscious? Under your definition it would be but I'm sure you'll add more functions as to what conscious is/does.

I'm probably digressing here but when you say "I am conscious", the only thing I'm conscious of at that time is the words I'm reading. Reading consecutive phrases requires memory of some sort, you cannot be conscious of anything without memory. Memory in relation to consciousness also presupposes many things (mostly a concept of time). That's why when you say you're conscious you have to have it be a referent of something otherwise it has no meaning. When you say you're conscious you're referring to something such as the phrase in your head, the memories you've associated with those words, and/or the stimuli you're experiencing at that time, etc...

You are digressing here. The issue that is presently being debated here is whether consciousness exists or not.

Di66en6ion wrote:

Interestingly, to me, when you call consciousness an existent thing in the same context as proper nouns, your really refuting you're own stance that it's something other than a physical process going on.

I fail to understand your rationale here. How exactly does "subjective awareness"establish the materialist worldview?  There is no scientific instruments available to detect "consciousness." But this is really beside the point. To reiterate: The issue that is presently being debated here is whether consciousness exists or not

Di66en6ion wrote:
 

Now where it goes from here is the point of conjecture. You say consciousness exists (back to the point Strafio was getting at); exists in what context? When we talk about existence we're referring to things we've directly perceived (not the act of perception itself).

This is laughable. The only basis you have for making the argument that material "things" exist is based soley on subjective experience. IOW, perception of material things presupposes consciousness. And the presupposition of consciousness presupposes that consciousness exist. To reiterate: Consciousness is axiomatic. Those who deny its existence are seriously flirting with insanity.

Also, I know with absolute certitude that I exist. I am certainly not the first person to realize this truth. Are you truly without knowledge of your own existence? If so, then I will kindly ask you to refrain from using the personal pronoun "I."

Di66en6ion wrote:

When we say something exists we always refer to nouns, like a table, an atom, a friend, or even a fictional character (because it was written about or drawn and exists in that form). Strafio pointed out that when you say something like "hello exists", or "belief exists" it doesn't make sense in that context so we need to clarify on that context.

"Saying hello," "understanding the meaning of the term," and "having beliefs" all presuppose the existence of consciousness. To comment any further than this is to give both Strafio's and your argument a modicum of respectablity which it certainly does not deserve.

Di66en6ion wrote:

To me that context would be under processes, like a function that you can place many many variables in. Like consciousness, functions require an input and output to be useful (experienced). Without input it does nothing. Fortunately our brains are wired and always chemically active so theirs always some form of 'input/output'. It would be in the same category as saying "reproduction exists", it doesn't refer to any object, but a process that can vary greatly depending on what context (what definition of reproduction you choose and involving animals, machines, or simple chemicals, etc...) its in. 

You're giving the functional definition of consciousness. On this view, consciousness reduces to information processing. If this is true, then am I to infer that my computer is consciousness? If not, then something is missing in your definition. And I would argue that what is missing is "awareness." Duh!

Incidentally, this is the very same argument that Daniel Dennett made in his book "Consciousness Explained." That you are making the same argument qaulifies you as an eliminative materialist because you have just eliminated "awareness" from the definition of consciousness.

 

"Scientists animated by the purpose of proving they are purposeless constitute an interesting subject for study." - Alfred North Whitehead


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Strafio wrote:Paisley

Strafio wrote:

Paisley wrote:

I have already pointed out that your argument is inherently self-refuting each and every time you employ the personal pronoun "I." Why? Because it presupposes "self-awareness." Hitherto, you have failed to proffer some intelligible response to counter my point. Unless you can manage that, this debate is over.

I've not once denied by own existence.
I've not once denied that I am conscious.

How do you know that you exist?

You have not responded to my point that employing the personal pronoun "I" presupposes "self-awareness" which in turn presupposes the existence of "awareness" itself. Don't expect a response from me unless you can muster up some kind of intelligible counterargument that refutes my point. 

"Scientists animated by the purpose of proving they are purposeless constitute an interesting subject for study." - Alfred North Whitehead