• Eugen
    475

    I have a better question. Spinoza had nothing against the idea of something totally unconscious, like a God lacking qualia, will, thoughts, etc. could give rise to something conscious. But he didn't come up with an explanation for how come this can happen, he just assumes it from the start, and he just defines consciousness as being the complexity, but he doesn't bother with explaining how could this really work. Right?
  • 180 Proof
    3.1k
    No. :rofl:
    No. :cry:

    E.g. Something with no flavor, such as atoms, do cause, as you say, e.g. strawberries to have flavor.
  • Eugen
    475
    Ok, I can understand and I can accept that something with no consciousness can create consciousness. But let's just assume for the sake of the argument that someone had convinced Spinoza that this is impossible. Let's assume that Spinoza was finally convinced that something with no consciousness cannot cause consciousness. Would he also come to the conclusion his theory was wrong?
  • 180 Proof
    3.1k
    What "theory" are you talking about? Spinoza was not a natural scientist and had never claimed to be one or proposed a theoretical model of ... anything. Philosophy =/= science, Eugen. Go read Damasio's book on Spinoza wherein the difference is made plain and explored. Stop vapidly asking the likes of 'why sunlight tastes like beer' and 'why time doesn't stop for a broken clock' ...
  • Eugen
    475


    Let's assume that Spinoza was finally convinced that something with no consciousness cannot cause consciousness. Would he also come to the conclusion his metaphysics/ idea of reality, call it however you want, was wrong?Eugen
    Please don't avoid this easy answer.
  • fdrake
    4.7k
    Do those complex individual parts contain consciousness?Eugen

    No. Does cycling (consciousness) contain a bike (ideas)? Note, I didn't write involve a bike, I wrote contain a bike. Ideas are not "thinking things", which seems to be a necessary (but not sufficient) condition for human consciousness.

    Then we can say that consciousness is in fact the result of a complex interaction of mindsEugen

    The mind is an idea of the body. Consciousness isn't a complex interaction of minds. It seems you want one of these to be true, and you assume one must be true:

    (1) Consciousness derives from an interaction of physical things and no other type of thing
    (2) Consciousness derives from an interaction of mental things and no other type of thing

    And in seeing that the exegesis so far has denied (1) (since mind and body are separated aspects of the human mode), you inferred that (2) must be a claim that Spinoza is committed to. However, I believe both (1) and (2) are strictly false for Spinoza, because of the plurality of aspects of modes. Why? This is because the modes have the dual aspects of thought and extension (an infinity of others too maybe), which renders the italicised "and no other type of thing" qualifiers false.

    When talking about contingent entities and events: the modes interact, substance does the bookwork of making sure like only conditions like and that the reflection between the attributes of those modes holds up. The "bookwork" there was already done an eternity ago, as that principle of reflection by which the correspondence is assured is thrown into what it means to be a mode. (@180 Proof, requesting sanity check).

    One kind of extended body, however, is significantly more complex than any others in its composition and in its dispositions to act and be acted upon. That complexity is reflected in its corresponding idea. The body in question is the human body; and its corresponding idea is the human mind or soul. The human mind, then, like any other idea, is simply one particular mode of God’s attribute, thought. Whatever happens in the body is reflected or expressed in the mind. In this way, the mind perceives, more or less obscurely, what is taking place in its body. And through its body’s interactions with other bodies, the mind is aware of what is happening in the physical world around it. But the human mind no more interacts with its body than any mode of thought interacts with a mode of extension.

    One of the pressing questions in seventeenth-century philosophy, and perhaps the most celebrated legacy of Descartes’s dualism, is the problem of how two radically different substances such as mind and body enter into a union in a human being and cause effects in each other. How can the extended body causally engage the unextended mind, which is incapable of contact or motion, and “move” it, that is, cause mental effects such as pains, sensations and perceptions? And how can an immaterial thing like a mind or soul, which does not have motion, put a body (the human body) into motion? Spinoza, in effect, denies that the human being is a union of two substances. The human mind and the human body are two different expressions—under thought and under extension—of one and the same thing: the person. And because there is no causal interaction between the mind and the body, the so-called mind-body problem does not, technically speaking, arise.
    — SEP, article on Baruch Spinoza

    Link here.


    , taken individually, are not conscious. In a word, complexity makes the difference between a stone and a man. So there is a threshold between unconscious and consciousness determined by pure complexity.

    The inference of the existence of a thresh-hold is something you've brought to the table. Through some argument like: "individual ideas aren't conscious, a sufficient aggregate of ideas are conscious, therefore there is a thresh-hold of complexity"; notice that this is your argument, and it isn't a textual reference.
  • Eugen
    475


    If one had truly convinced Spinoza that something with no consciousness cannot cause consciousness, would he come to the conclusion his metaphysics was wrong?
  • fdrake
    4.7k


    While I have a lot of patience for earnest inquiry, I do demand that you engage with what I wrote.
  • Eugen
    475
    I actually do, but I need to read it several times. Patience please :smile:

    Also, I started to read this: https://eltalondeaquiles.pucp.edu.pe/wp-content/uploads/2016/12/Nadler-Spinoa-on-counciousness.pdf

    ''state of experience we recognize as consciousness.
    This latter issue is, of course, Chalmers's 'hard question' about con-
    sciousness transposed to the realm of Spinoza's attribute of Thought. It
    is one thing to refer to the structures and dynamics that obtain among
    ideas that are a reflection of structures and dynamics of the body; it is
    another thing entirely to understand how these amount to conscious
    awareness (Chalmers 1995). In response to Chalmers, Spinoza might,
    on my reading, reply that the question is misconceived. To ask how cer-
    tain structural relations among our ideas-a reflection of correlative
    structures in the body (the brain and the nervous system) -`give rise'
    to consciousness would, Spinoza might insist, be to fail to grasp his
    reductive move.24 Consciousness is not generated or caused by or oth-
    erwise related to complexity in thinking. Rather, it just is that complex-
    ity among and within our ideas -`perceiving many things at once'-
    and nothing more. The adequacy of this response, however, will
    depend not only on whether Spinoza can specify what exactly is the
    complexity and relations among our ideas that constitute conscious-
    ness, but also and perhaps more problematically-whether he can
    use those persuasively to explain the qualitative feel of consciousn''

    So indeed my questions aren't the best, but I'm making progress.
  • Eugen
    475
    and - I could have stopped asking questions here after several people had already confirmed that if the h.p were true, Spinozism would be false. The only reason I'm asking questions is because your opinions matter to me.
  • fdrake
    4.7k
    So indeed my questions aren't the best, but I'm making progress.Eugen

    :up:

    Not your fault, again. The practice of responding to a very detailed post with a single question is a time honoured internet tradition, and I tend to interpret it as either trolling or otherwise a style of bad faith engagement. If you didn't intend it like that, I apologise for assuming that you did.
  • 180 Proof
    3.1k
    No. Why would he conclude that?

    What does "if the hard problem is true" even mean? A solution to a problem is "true" but not the problem itself. Btw, there is no "hard problem" just as there is no mind-body/interaction problem. All you've been going on about amounts to saying "if creationism, then dinosaur fossils are fake". :sweat:
  • Eugen
    475

    Trolling - no way. But my question wasn't a ''response'' to your last post. Was just another question. It's late here and it's kind of hard to read a complex answer. I'll do it tomorrow.
    I'm trying to keep thing as simple as possible. So my goal is to find out if:
    A. Spinoza simply assumes that consciousness can be caused by non-conscious stuff, without bothering with issues like ''how is that possible in the first place";
    B. He doesn't just assume, but he actually has strong arguments for why this works and manages to find a decent explanation for it.
  • 180 Proof
    3.1k
    Is Eugen a bot?
  • Eugen
    475
    Now it is pretty clear to me you're actually avoiding the answer. I can accept that my earlier questions make no sense, this one really does. It is a very simple question and it makes sense. Why are you referring to older posts of mine? Are you disrespecting me?
  • fdrake
    4.7k
    Is Eugen a bot?180 Proof

    I don't think so? Combination of (1) English is second language (2) isn't used to arguing on forums (3) isn't used to Spinoza (4) is coming at this from a distant vantage point seem to explain it to me. It seems Eugen's also responding to prompts in context and reasoning with analogies, both of which are hard for bots.
  • Gregory
    2.8k


    Eugen is highly disturbed that everyone does not see the 'hard problem' the way he does so this Spinoza thing is a way of expressing that. The hp is what's really bothering him
  • 180 Proof
    3.1k
    It seems that you are "disrespecting" Spinoza by refusing to adequately read his work or ask questions relevant to his philosophy. This is why your "simple" questions are so simple-minded and misplaced.
  • Eugen
    475
    I don't share your opinion on that.
  • 180 Proof
    3.1k
    Of course you don't. :roll:
  • Eugen
    475
    I'm just going to assume your answer to my simple question would be yes
  • Eugen
    475
    You just can't resist :rofl:
  • Valentinus
    1.2k

    Nadler's essay is interesting. I think he is on to something by realizing Spinoza is looking further than the propositions that deal specifically with attributes of mind and body considered as separate realms to talk about experience.

    But the reference to Chalmers was disappointing. Nadler assumes Chalmers is objecting to a reduction as a philosophical statement when Chalmers' actual essay talks about what he, as a scientist, cannot reduce to a set of functions. I complained about this earlier in the thread. The hard problem has a gooey center.

    All that to the side, Nadler is not on board with your framing Spinoza to be explaining whether "conscious" minds come from "unconscious" sources as you reduced the topic to:

    "Just to be clear on what I am claiming: the greater complexity of the
    human body does not causally explain consciousness in the mind. This
    would violate the causal and explanatory separation that exists between
    the attributes of Thought and Extension in Spinoza's parallelism; no
    mode of Thought can be causally affected by a mode of Extension, and
    no state or property of a mode of Thought has its causal explanation in
    a state or property of a mode of Extension. 'The modes of each attribute
    have God for their cause only insofar as he is considered under the
    attribute of which they are modes, and not insofar as he is considered
    under any other attribute' (IIP6). Rather, what I am claiming is that for
    Spinoza, human consciousness just is the greater complexity of the
    human body as this is manifested under the attribute of Thought."
  • Wayfarer
    11.8k
    I've been following this thread (and thanks to the learned exponents who have taken the time to spell out the detail.) I too find Spinoza quite difficult to understand, but I think your specific problem is you're looking at the issue through a 20th century mindset without being aware of the way that attitude conditions the kinds of questions you're asking and therefore the kinds of answers you're looking for.

    We're separated from Spinoza by centuries of rapid intellectual change, and this conditions the way that we think about the nature of mind, the nature of matter, and so on. The way we think about it today is very different to how such questions were understood then - one of the main challenges with reading philosophy, generally.

    There's a useful article on the understanding of 'substance' in 17th C philosophy https://iep.utm.edu/substanc which among other things gives a primer on the concept of 'substance and modes' in Descartes, Liebniz and Spinoza.

    There's a paragraph in that article which I have always found crucial:

    Degrees of Reality

    In contrast to contemporary philosophers, most 17th century philosophers held that reality comes in degrees—that some things that exist are more real or less real than other things that exist. At least part of what dictates a being’s reality, according to these philosophers, is the extent to which its existence is dependent on other things: the less dependent a thing is on other things for its existence, the more real it is. Given that there are only substances and modes, and that modes depend on substances for their existence, it follows that substances are the most real constituents of reality.

    Bearing in mind here that 'substance' is a translation of the Aristotelian 'ouisia' - 'substance' is definitely not 'a kind of matter with uniform qualities' but 'the bearer of attributes'. It would be nearer in meaning to either 'subject' (as in, 'subject of experience') or 'being'. So here we see at least an echo of the medieval 'chain of being', with the divine intellect (God) at the top of the hierarchy, with the rational intellect being below that but in some sense also reflecting it. This was not so much an articulated premise as an underlying assumption.

    Besides that, the Damasio book which @180 Proof mentioned previously might be a useful bridge between Spinoza and modern thinking on neuroscience.

    I myself am interested in Chalmers' 'hard problem of consciousness' argument, and furthermore believe that Chalmers is on the right side of that argument against his materialist opponents (e.g. Dennett). But I think the whole 'hard problem of consciousness' debate is more relevant in respect of the implications of Descartes' dualism. I think you're looking at the issue through a 'post-Cartesian' perspective, which is why you're finding it so hard to understand (not that it isn't hard to understand!)
  • Eugen
    475

    My problem is that I'm trying to frame Spinoza's vision of consciousness in materialism / panpsychism, and Spinoza is neither (at least, he isn't materialist). In Spinozism, consciousness is not emergent, but it simply exists and manifests itself in humans and animals, but not in objects.

    The explanations for how the consciousness of something without consciousness emerges through the weak or strong emergence are not unanimously accepted due to the classic hard problem.

    I thought that in Spinoza's vision consciousness also appears from something without consciousness, but that he comes with a different explanation from that of the materialists for how this is possible. I mean, we hope he says something like that: and I think consciousness comes from something without consciousness, but not through the weak or strong emergence. And so far I can accept that he actually says that (although I still don't fully understand how). But here it stops and does not seem to offer an alternative to the emergence for "why consciousness in the first place?" and for "why consciousness in humans and not in stones?", but only states that the complexity of the idea is consciousness without offers absolutely no logical explanation for this.

    Please answer the following:

    A. He claims that consciousness arose from a God/Nature who does not contain consciousness and does not see the issue here. I mean, he doesn't ask himself, "How is it possible to get consciousness out of something with 0% consciousness?", but he simply thinks that's the way it is. Right?

    B. For Spinoza, consciousness is not explained, but starts from the premise that it is present in creatures and not in objects, ie it is the idea of ​​a human body, and Spinoza limits himself to associating human consciousness with the complexity of the idea of ​​human body.
    He does not have a logical explanation why complex ideas are qualia, subjectivity, thoughts, etc., but only starts from the premise that it is in the nature of complex ideas to be so. Correct?
  • Wayfarer
    11.8k
    My problem is that I'm trying to frame Spinoza's vision of consciousness in materialism / panpsychism, and Spinoza is neitherEugen

    That's because, as I explained, the way the problem is discussed in our day is mainly as a response to Descartes. That discussion has been ongoing since Descartes' time and has framed the whole debate in those terms. I think @fdrake and @180proof have provided excellent explanations of what Spinoza said in his own terms - far better than I could as they know the subject better - but what I'm trying to do is situate the issue in terms of 'the history of ideas'.

    I don't know if you're familiar with Thomas Nagel's 2012 book Mind and Cosmos, but in it he summarizes the Cartesian picture like this:

    The modern mind-body problem arose out of the scientific revolution of the seventeenth century, as a direct result of the concept of objective physical reality that drove that revolution. Galileo and Descartes made the crucial conceptual division by proposing that physical science should provide a mathematically precise quantitative description of an external reality extended in space and time, a description limited to spatiotemporal primary qualities such as shape, size, and motion, and to laws governing the relations among them. Subjective appearances, on the other hand -- how this physical world appears to human perception -- were assigned to the mind, and the secondary qualities like color, sound, and smell were to be analyzed relationally, in terms of the power of physical things, acting on the senses, to produce those appearances in the minds of observers. It was essential to leave out or subtract subjective appearances and the human mind -- as well as human intentions and purposes -- from the physical world in order to permit this powerful but austere spatiotemporal conception of objective physical reality to develop. (pp. 35-36)

    So I think you're asking, how to account for consciousness within this framework. And maybe the answer is: it can't be done! Your basic question seems to be what consciousness is 'made of' or where it 'comes from'. To understand something, is to understand it in terms of it's constituents - which is to ask how to provide an objective account. But that is also a product of a reductionist point of view, that seeks to explain consciousness - actually, I prefer 'mind' - in terms of fundamental constituents, in the same way that the physical sciences do. But as has been pointed out already, Spinoza doesn't think about it like that.

    To go back to Nagel again:

    The scientific revolution of the 17th century, which has given rise to such extraordinary progress in the understanding of nature, depended on a crucial limiting step at the start: It depended on subtracting from the physical world as an object of study everything mental – consciousness, meaning, intention or purpose. The physical sciences as they have developed since then describe, with the aid of mathematics, the elements of which the material universe is composed, and the laws governing their behavior in space and time. We ourselves, as physical organisms, are part of that universe, composed of the same basic elements as everything else, and recent advances in molecular biology have greatly increased our understanding of the physical and chemical basis of life. Since our mental lives evidently depend on our existence as physical organisms, especially on the functioning of our central nervous systems, it seems natural to think that the physical sciences can in principle provide the basis for an explanation of the mental aspects of reality as well — that physics can aspire finally to be a theory of everything.

    However, I believe this possibility is ruled out by the conditions that have defined the physical sciences from the beginning. The physical sciences can describe organisms like ourselves as parts of the objective spatio-temporal order – our structure and behavior in space and time – but they cannot describe the subjective experiences of such organisms or how the world appears to their different particular points of view. There can be a purely physical description of the neurophysiological processes that give rise to an experience, and also of the physical behavior that is typically associated with it, but such a description, however complete, will leave out the subjective essence of the experience – how it is from the point of view of its subject — without which it would not be a conscious experience at all. 1

    I doubt that Thomas Nagel, who is a contemporary analytic philosopher, could be described as 'Spinozist' - actually it would be interesting to read what he has to say on Spinoza - but I think he's articulating a crucial point in respect of the question you're asking, but in contemporary terms: that there's a sense in which modern science cannot, as a matter of principle, provide an account of the subjective nature of consciousness (a.k.a. 'being').

    The way I put it is, we can't articulate what 'mind' is, because we can never get outside of it, it is never an object to us. This is why eliminative materialism insists that it can't be real, because its very nature challenges materialism i.e. it cannot be represented in the way that the objects of natural science can be.

    Mind you, all that said, there are lots of interesting, scientifically-informed explorations of this question, which I think you will find more congenial than Spinoza, including Antonio Damasio (already mentioned), Thomas Metzinger, Christian Koch, and Philip Goff. They're all both philosophically literate and scientifically informed. They might provide approaches to the question that interests you.
  • TheWillowOfDarkness
    2.1k
    Now it is pretty clear to me you're actually avoiding the answer. I can accept that my earlier questions make no sense, this one really does. It is a very simple question and it makes sense. Why are you referring to older posts of mine? Are you disrespecting me?Eugen

    The question does not make sense. Spinoza's metaphysics recognise the question has no answer because it fails to understand what it is talking about.

    Spinzoa's metaphysical system details how events that occur of the necessary substance and so are explained in the relations of that substance. If a state of consciousness follows out of a state which is not concious, it is explained in that those to events (modes of extension) have relation of substance.

    In any case, it is impossible for an event non conscious state followed by a concious state to go unexplained. To understand Spinzoa here, you have to realise his system is saying the hard problem is logically impossible.

    In this respect, Spinoza's metaphysics are consistent with materialist style accounts in which states or consciousness are produced out of non-conscious bodies. His metaphysics are also consistent with certain pansychists postion in which each conscious experience is a production of an entity with its own conciousness experience--e.g. an account in which my brain, arms, fingers, cells and atoms each had their own personal experience.
  • TheWillowOfDarkness
    2.1k
    Spinoza's metaphysics are like a Xantos Gambit. What he's describing and analysing is what is necessarily true. He's not doing speculation of possible counterfactual (e.g. Does the Christian God exist or not? Does Zeus exist or not?). He is describing what will be true in any instance of what events occur.

    If for example, the being like the Christian God were exist, Spinoza's metaphysics would be true. The being would be modes (God, creator, judge, Jesus, etc.) of Substance, as would the various places (Heaven, Hell, Earth, etc.).

    If Zeus existed, Spinoza's metaphysics would be true. Zeus would be a mode of Substance, as would all the pantheon and their realms.

    If bodies without conscious experience generate experiences,the Spinoza's metaphysics are true. The mode of a body without consciousness would be followed by a mode of conscious experience, both of substance.

    If any body or part of a body that generates a conciousness experience also already has its own experience, then we have the modes of body and its present experience followed by a mode of new experience, all of substance.

    Whatever exists, whichever of these possible conunterfactal states of existence happen, they are consistent with Spinoza's metaphysics. Spinoza is talking about what will be true of any of these possible events.
  • Eugen
    475
    The question does not make sense. Spinoza's metaphysics recognise the question has no answer because it fails to understand what it is talking about.TheWillowOfDarkness

    The question makes absolutely 100% sense. We assume one guy convinces Spinoza of something. That can lead to :
    A. no difference, the ''something'' is not related to his metaphysics or even if it was, it wouldn't affect it;
    B. It does somehow affect it and it would make Spinoza reconsider his own idea.

    Any question some of you guys don't like, you just qualify it as a question that does not make sense.

    it fails to understand what it is talking about.TheWillowOfDarkness
    I'm pretty sure Spinoza would understand.

    it is explained in that those to events (modes of extension) have relation of substance.TheWillowOfDarkness
    - could you please find another formulation for this? I tried google translate and I still couldn't understand. The sentence does not make sense in my native language.

    you have to realise his system is saying the hard problem is logically impossible.TheWillowOfDarkness
    - that is not because he somehow proves that, but simply because Spinozism is not materialism, and the hard problem is framed in materialism. But I'm still failing to understand this:
    in Spinozism, everything has a cause. Are those things that cause consciousness conscious? If not, what is Spinoza's explanation for how come non-conscious stuff causes conscious stuff. Simple as that.

    In any case, it is impossible for an event non conscious state followed by a concious state to go unexplainedTheWillowOfDarkness

    So please be free to explain.

    In this respect, Spinoza's metaphysics are consistent with materialist style accounts in which states or consciousness are produced out of non-conscious bodies.TheWillowOfDarkness

    Ok, so in this case, if non-conscious bodies produce consciousness (which I doubt it in Spinoza's parallelism), then one could at least raise the possibility of hard problem. What is the proof in Spinozism (not just assume, because you said it makes the hard problem impossible) that non-conscious bodies produce consciousness?

    His metaphysics are also consistent with certain pansychists postion in which each conscious experience is a production of an entity with its own conciousness experience--e.g. an account in which my brain, arms, fingers, cells and atoms each had their own personal experience.TheWillowOfDarkness

    Combination problem, same thing. What's the proof for that in Spinozism? Why do atoms have consciousness? What's the explanation for that in Spinozism?

    If bodies without conscious experience generate experiences,the Spinoza's metaphysics are true.TheWillowOfDarkness
    IF!!!!!!!!!!!! But what if they don't? How does Spinoza demonstrate that non-conscious bodies create consciousness? Or he just assumes that?

    Whatever exists, whichever of these possible conunterfactal states of existence happen, they are consistent with Spinoza's metaphysics. Spinoza is talking about what will be true of any of these possible events.TheWillowOfDarkness

    Well, this is exactly what my intuition was telling me from the beginning.

    PLEASE ANSWER MY QUESTIONS
  • Eugen
    475
    Spinoza doesn't think about it like that.Wayfarer

    Then how exactly does he think about it?

    Please give me a short answer for these:

    A. He claims that consciousness arose from a God/Nature who does not contain consciousness and does not see the issue here. I mean, he doesn't ask himself, "How is it possible to get consciousness out of something with 0% consciousness?", but he simply thinks that's the way it is. Right?

    B. For Spinoza, consciousness is not explained, but starts from the premise that it is present in creatures and not in objects, ie it is the idea of ​​a human body, and Spinoza limits himself to associating human consciousness with the complexity of the idea of ​​human body.
    He does not have a logical explanation why complex ideas are qualia, subjectivity, thoughts, etc., but only starts from the premise that it is in the nature of complex ideas to be so. Correct?
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