• GLEN willows
    93
    DISCLAIMER - just want to clarify this is NOT a criticism of this forum, just that it has aspects of all the other forums I've been on, including Facebook (the worst example). In fact the whole internet - that's the focus of my puzzlement. I ONLY find it interesting as a comment on human behaviour in general, not anyone here specifically.

    -----
    I've only been here for a short time, and I've already noticed the same tendency as many other open forums on the internet.

    Negativity. Nastiness hiding behind anonymity. Chest-beating. Condescension, ad hominem attacks. (Note the difference between these things and a good "heated discussion.")

    I'm not bemoaning it, in fact I'm used to it, but since this is a philosophy forum I'm wondering "why?" when the opposite could just as easily true. And asking for input. To make it official here's my question:

    "Why do human interactions on the internet tend to skew negative, as opposed to positive? What does this say about human behaviour?"
  • Outlander
    1k
    It [the Internet] is often used as an outlet, a vent. When you see a real person in front of you, you often see more than a face but a person with hopes, dreams, expectations, a soul perhaps? Someone just like you. With random words on a screen it's easier to focus on attacking ideas and concepts and unleash your full criticism of these concepts unabated and in full force, much more so than in person. Along with the fact some people are big and the human form can be quite squishy.. :lol:

    Excluding politics, which undoubtedly shape the world and laws of the world or society we all will live in, including those who come after us, and to an extent religion, this is a pretty chill and logically focused forum. I like it. Very much.
  • Wayfarer
    11.3k
    Why do human interactions on the internet tend to skew negative, as opposed to positive? What does this say about human behaviour?"GLEN willows

    In your case, you opened with a strong appeal to ‘materialist theory of mind’, a la Dennett/Churchlands/Rosenberg. A lot of people find that a pretty atrocious philosophy (if it actually is a philosophy). That might have something to do with it.
  • GLEN willows
    93


    First off, I wasn't whining about my own thread. I've seen many many other examples of other pairs of people going after each other. I could give a damn...remember I've said I'm used to it.

    As far as I can see, from studies in Philosophy of Mind pretty much everywhere, materialism is the prevailing belief in current thought. Regardless, are you saying that people here refuse to argue a theory the thinkers you mentioned (no dummies) refuse to engage or argue against a major theory in current thought?
  • GLEN willows
    93
    Your description is perfect thanks. Maybe I'm just been on wrong threads. Cheers.
  • Wayfarer
    11.3k
    It’s not that. The point about materialist philosophy of mind is that it is self-refuting, in that it reduces the power of reason to something like endocrinology. But from the perspective inside of it, there’s no counter argument, because anything that said against it is simply treated as the output of neurobiology. This is why Dennett’s first book was parodied as ‘Consciousness Ignored’ by other philosophers - but Dennett will always plough on, like Terminator, as he is by his own admission a moist robot. So, yes, materialist philosophers do refuse to engage, because any view other than materialism can’t be real, according to them.
  • GLEN willows
    93
    Are Dennett and the Churchlands considered the bad guys here? I'm a huge fan of the C's, so if their theory is "pretty atrocious philosophy (if it actually is a philosophy)." I'll toddle off somewhere else.

    No worries
  • Wayfarer
    11.3k
    Well, they’r considered ‘bad guys’ by me, for the reasons I’ve given. I can’t speak for others here, it’s a very diverse community. Advocates register reasonably often but I don’t think there’s much support for it amongst the regulars, that would be my observation.
  • GLEN willows
    93
    Well I've seen lots of materialists engage in arguments, including Dennet. I definitely agree he's pompous, but his arguments against non-materialism are so air tight.

    Are most people here dualists?

    My argument is different, more on the common sense, plain language line. If consciousness isn't in the brain:

    - why do changes to the brain change consciousness?

    - how do thoughts/ideas cause our arms to lift, punch a guy we hate, etc.
  • GLEN willows
    93
    It's a diverse community, but it feels like I stepped over a forbidden line here, not with you but others.
  • Wayfarer
    11.3k
    does feel like that sometimes, but the internet can be like that. I’ve had furious flame wars in the past but I guess I’m well insulated by the resulting scar tissue. :-)
  • GLEN willows
    93
    Could you answer my questions?
  • Wayfarer
    11.3k
    why do changes to the brain change consciousness?

    - how do thoughts/ideas cause our arms to lift, punch a guy we hate, etc.
    GLEN willows

    I tried to address a few of those in the thread you started on it. But as far as I can see, the arguments are only ‘air-tight’ because you’re predisposed to believing them, so will automatically deprecate counter-arguments.

    - As far as the fact that physical changes to the brain affect the mind, I argued, with references, that volitional and intentional changes can work the other way, affecting neural configuration. According to materialism, this ought not to happen, all of the causation should be from matter up to mind, not from mind down to matter. There’s a text book available, Irreducible Mind edited Kelly and Kelly, which has a lot of case studies and published papers which mitigate against materialism. The argument that these are simply material phenomena that science doesn’t yet understand also cuts against materialism.

    - If I made an argument that really concerned you or caused doubt or stress, that would have physical consequences like increased heart rate or adrenal activity, Yet nothing physical has passed between us, only ideas, which are themselves not physical, as they can be realised in totally different physical and semiotic forms whilst still retraining their identity.

    - I don’t see how the fact that persons can act voluntarily is any kind of argument for materialism. Dead bodies don’t life their arms or anything else so why volitional movement is regarded as being solely material is beyond me. In any form of dualism, the dual nature (i.e. material and mental nature) of human beings is acknowledged.
  • GLEN willows
    93


    I tried to address a few of those in the thread you started on it. But as far as I can see, the arguments are only ‘air-tight’ because you’re predisposed to believing them, so will automatically deprecate counter-arguments.

    Ok if you feel I'm doing that. I'm not, I think you are...works in a lot of arguments that way.

    - As far as the fact that physical changes to the brain affect the mind, I argued, with references, that volitional and intentional changes can work the other way, affecting neural configuration.

    The belief that intentional and volitional changes affect neuronal activity. That's a materialist argument. I'm confused. Materialism says the mind and the brain are the SAME, so of course one part of a "thing" can effect another part of it.

    maybe we actually agree.

    - If I made an argument that really concerned you or caused doubt or stress, that would have physical consequences like increased heart rate or adrenal activity, Yet nothing physical has passed between us, only ideas, which are themselves not physical, as they can be realised in totally different physical and semiotic forms whilst still retraining their identity.

    Again I agree. No one is saying consciousness is physical. This seems to be a confusion people have here. How it operates is still not fully understand. But it is part of the brain - if not what causes it?

    - I don’t see how the fact that persons can act voluntarily is any kind of argument for materialism.

    That not what materialists say! I don't see how the brain can do anything without the mind - THAT'S THE ARGUMENT. Brain affects mind, mind affects brain. To say they are two separate entities is dualism.
  • GLEN willows
    93
    Wayfarer - Dead bodies don’t life their arms or anything else so why volitional movement is regarded as being solely material is beyond me.

    Bodies die, brains die and so does consciousness. Mind dies with brain. I don't understand what part of that people don't get
  • GLEN willows
    93
    I'm seeing why people are so anti-materialist here. They think that materialism denies that consciousness, qualia, feelings et al are either "real" or have an effect on the brain.

    Of course they do! Without minds we'd be zombies, and not philosophical zombies :smile:
  • Wayfarer
    11.3k
    No one is saying consciousness is physical.GLEN willows

    That is what is at issue. It’s precisely what eliminative and reductive materialism declare. There is only one kind of ‘substance’ (philosophical not common-or-everyday) and that ‘substance’ is what is described by the fundamental laws of physics. Mind or consciousness ‘supervene’ on the physical i.e. appear to have their own kind of existence, but whatever existence they have is reducible to the physical. If you don’t understand that then it’s quite possible you don’t understand what they’re arguing for.

    Modern materialism grew out of Descartes’ dualism. He divided the world into mental and physical. Subsequently, idealist and religious philosophers gravitated to the idea of the primacy of mind - idealism - whereas scientifically-orientated thought developed the other way, especially because of Galileo’s notion of the ‘primary attributes’ of bodies and the related mathematization of nature.

    The way the dynamics of the argument played out, it was easy for the scientifically-inclined to dismiss Descartes ‘res cogitas’ as non-existent, ostensibly because of the ‘interaction problem’ that you’ve touched on. But others say that Descartes’ conception of res cogitans was incoherent from the beginning, for reasons I won’t go into here.

    IN any case, the whole point about Dennett/Churchlands/Rosenberg is that really do say that the mind has no real existence. What appears to us as ‘mind’ is the unconscious output of billions of cellular transactions that generate the illusory sense of agency. Of course there is some truth in this diagnosis, but that coterie of philosophers pushes it to extremes, and the upshot is, it really does undermine individual agency and the idea of the human as a rational being. That is why beneath the veneer of scientific rationalism, it is a deeply irrational and anti-philosophical attitude and a symptom of the general decline of Western culture.
  • Wayfarer
    11.3k
    Incidentally there’s a critique of Dennett that I consider pretty good here. If you read the credits, yes, it’s by a conservative, probably Christian, critic, but it draws out the philosophical implications of Dennett’s arguments quite well.
  • Isaac
    4k
    "Why do human interactions on the internet tend to skew negative, as opposed to positive? What does this say about human behaviour?"GLEN willows

    Because a far greater proportion of communication is carried in body language and social status than we think and so what you think of as a nice warm, open comment is often read as hostile, condescending and combative.

    Basically, you're doing what everyone else is doing, it's just that you read their comments in the absence of all the intended additional context but your own with all that implicit context known to you.
  • GLEN willows
    93


    I'll read it, but I've read many others. have you read any Churchland?

    Wayfarer - my hat goes off to you, if I wore a hat. That was the best summation of the issues I've read here. I was seriously going to bail. I may still, but I'd like to continue this, if you're game. I read no negativity or condescension in your post.

    But you're still wrong hah! I just have to really be careful expressing my ideas to you. And I will defer to you, because I don't have the breadth of knowledge you do. But I am annoyingly tenacious.

    When I say consciousness isn't physical, I mean that materialism doesn't argue that we don't have feelings, intentions, consciousness or qualia. That would be silly. If you have a feeling, you have a feeling. Materialism just argues all those feelings are creations of neurons interacting. They are still feelings.

    If a feeling isn't a part of the brain, what is it? If it's a separate thing, NOT part of the brain, but can affect the brain, how does that occur?

    As for agency, I have no idea why the mind being part of the brain - still the same old mind we used to think was separate - has anything to do with personal agency. As I've said, all aspects of the "mind" are exactly the same as when we used to think they were separate.
  • Possibility
    1.9k
    I've only been here for a short time, and I've already noticed the same tendency as many other open forums on the internet.

    Negativity. Nastiness hiding behind anonymity. Chest-beating. Condescension, ad hominem attacks. (Note the difference between these things and a good "heated discussion.")

    I'm not bemoaning it, in fact I'm used to it, but since this is a philosophy forum I'm wondering "why?" when the opposite could just as easily true. And asking for input. To make it official here's my question:

    "Why do human interactions on the internet tend to skew negative, as opposed to positive? What does this say about human behaviour?"
    GLEN willows

    It seems clear to me that you’re used to it - there’s a defensive over-confidence to much of what you write that suggests you expect to engage in debate rather than discussion. It invites responses from those with confidence in an opposing argument, or at least in the success of their own debating tactics. Your phrasing them as questions in the end (and even your added disclaimer) does little to conceal your intentions here.

    From my perspective, I felt your passive-aggressive approach is a serious deterrent to joining in your ‘discussion’. But I hadn’t heard of Patricia Churchland before, and so I am taking an opportunity to read a couple of her articles. I have an interest in the collaboration of neuroscience with psychology, and its implications for philosophy (I find Lisa Feldman Barrett’s work on a constructed theory of emotion sheds some interesting light on the mind-body relation) so I’m intrigued. I am neither a materialist nor a dualist, but I find reductionist methodology to be an important tool to keep philosophers from throwing all their weight behind theories that reduce to solipsism or nihilism. In my view, philosophy should reduce ultimately to physics - but not necessarily through strict materialism, if that makes sense. Quantum physics, I think, plays a key role in this.
  • GLEN willows
    93
    I'll grant you I can be pointed in my comments. But I'm really not being passive-aggressive, my thought with this post really was to understand the negativity of the internet, and what it says about human nature. A lot of people took it as an attack, but I really didn't mean it that way....probably I just explained myself poorly - wouldn't be the first time.

    But I would still contend that a very large percentage of internet discussions end in acrimony and personal insults. Including many I've gotten caught up in. My point is why?

    But I guess this was a misfire and I do apologize for wasting anyone's time.
  • GLEN willows
    93
    Maybe check my post to Wayfarer above yours to see that, with the right interlocuter, I can place nice.
  • GLEN willows
    93
    I see what you're saying. I definitely wasn't implying I'm better or more calm than anyone else.
  • Olivier5
    1.7k
    On the OP, Internet nastiness is often related to anonymity. One can express oneself on the Internet without risking much social capital, and this encourages nastiness. Whereas in real life, an overly nasty person would often lose all his friends and end up all alone, the same does not apply on virtual message boards and twitter, where you can change ID.
  • GLEN willows
    93
    Totally agree. I've sometimes wondered if this should change. Should people have to post at least their names (NOT other details) to prevent really serious trolls from having free rein? People have been bullied to death (literally) online.
  • magritte
    208
    Why do human interactions on the internet tend to skew negative, as opposed to positive?GLEN willows
    Interactions on the internet are a sample of humanity as a whole. Whatever you see, whether seen by you as positive or negative depends on where you are looking. Many nice religious sites have nothing but positive content. In philosophy, people who agree with you are not doing you any favors because while agreement is psychologically supportive it is in fact intellectually damaging to whatever your actual purpose is in posing a philosophical point. Only serious critiques are of any use to you, whether clothed in positive or negative verbiage.

    What does this say about human behaviour?"GLEN willows
    What is human behavior? Is that some sort of material object?
  • Olivier5
    1.7k
    I’ve been on online forums since the 90’s. I’ve come to a few conclusions. One is that we’re all the troll of somebody else. By that, I mean that it is a lot of fun to trigger internet anger from the relative safety of your armchair, to push on people’s buttons and see them jump. And even the most quiet poster plays that game once in a while.

    On another site there’s this poster — Walter — who is calm incarnated. He is always self-loathing, and never ever says anything aggressive about others. I like him very much, he’s a wise man. Yet his very calm composure does irritate folks quite a lot, and is meant to destabilize them and make them look like fools. So in a sense, Walter is something of an « anti-troll » in that his behavior is a polar opposite to usual trolling behavior. And yet he manages to piss off trolls mightily. So he is the troll of the trolls.
  • GLEN willows
    93
    Hilarious. You're right - we all push people's buttons and I can be passive-aggressive although I HATE admitting it haha.

    It's hard for me - being socially not exactly "astute - to sometimes find a balance. Too timid? Too aggressive. I've been both in my life. That's why I'm Humian when it comes to the self. It's a bundle.

    Thanks for your comments.
  • GLEN willows
    93
    Good points, but I just think there's a certain nastiness the net brings out in people, and I'm not sure why, but I think Oliver5 is right that anonymity is part of it, maybe even the biggest part. I've talked to people on facebook who agree they sometimes say things to people they would never say to their face. Not sure that's true of any other form of communication, except I guess letters sometimes.
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