• RogueAI
    620
    I think there's tension between the claim that matter can produce consciousness, but not vice-versa. For example, it is claimed by many that if you arrange brain-stuff a certain way and run a current through it, you can produce the feeling of stubbing your toe. But if you arrange the feeling of stubbing your toe with the beauty of a sunset while listening to a Bach symphony, you don't a working brain from that. You never get anything material from mental states. Isn't this a problem for physicalists who believe in matter/energy conversion? Why not mental/physical conversion? Why is it a one-way street?
  • 180 Proof
    4k
    You can get walking from legs but not legs from walking. Wtf. "Why is it a one-way street?"
  • Manuel
    984


    That premise rests on the assumption that mental states aren't physical states. There is no reason to believe that physical stuff isn't mental stuff. There's no other intelligible option given what we know.

    So the case presented of stubbing your toe while looking at the sunset can't be stated in the terms because, absent modified physical stuff found in brains, you couldn't even stub a toe or look at a sunset. There would be nothing there.

    The reason it is a one way street is because mind is not opposed to physical stuff, it is physical stuff. It's the physical stuff of which we are most acquainted with in merely having experience.

    So even if you couldn't get a working brain from phenomenal qualities, you can certainly create completely new and unique aspects of physical stuff just by thinking about anything - flying fish, Paris, a golden mountain, or anything you can think of.

    There's much more to say about this, such as the topic of intentionality, the property of mind which is about the postulated objects we experience in the world. Without such a property, we couldn't even construct a world.

    So in short, the dichotomy between mind and matter doesn't hold. Physical stuff just "works" the way that is does, which is astonishing enough as it is.
  • RogueAI
    620
    "Walking from legs" is not the same as "consciousness from non-conscious stuff".
  • RogueAI
    620
    That premise rests on the assumption that mental states aren't physical states.

    Why should we assume physical states even exist? What evidence do you have for the existence of the non-conscious stuff these physical states are supposedly made of?

    There is no reason to believe that physical stuff isn't mental stuff.

    Sure there is. Think of some music. Is there music playing in your skull right now? Does your mind seem to have weight? Does it seem to be about the size of both your hands put together? Is your imagination bound by the size of your brain? Why are some parts of the brain conscious and some parts not? What is the explanation for how consciousness arises from matter? If you don't know that, then what is the framework for the emerging explanation for how consciousness arises from matter? If you don't know that, then your belief system is severely lacking in explaining something as fundamental as consciousness. That's catastrophic, as far as I'm concerned.

    There is no forthcoming explanation because no explanation is possible. Non-conscious stuff doesn't produce consciousness. It's a category error that leads to absurdities. I don't know if you in particular think a functional equivalent to a human brain made of flushing toilets would be conscious, but I've met plenty materialist who do think that, and it's not hard to get a materialist to agree to that absurdity.

    There's no other intelligible option given what we know.

    Pretty much every other option is better than brain=mental states. I'll use a favorite example of mine. Imagine two ancient Greeks talking about their mental states. Pretty easy to do, right? Now, if mental states are the exact same thing as brain states, and if those ancient Greeks are meaningfully talking about their mental states (which they are), it follows they're also meaningfully talking about their brain states. But of course ancient Greeks had no idea what the brain was even for, let alone describing brain states to each other. Therefore, mental states aren't brain states.

    "The reason it is a one way street is because mind is not opposed to physical stuff, it is physical stuff. It's the physical stuff of which we are most acquainted with in merely having experience."

    If you got a bunch of switches and ran a current through them and turned them on and off in a certain way...would consciousness be produced?
  • Wayfarer
    12.6k
    You never get anything material from mental statesRogueAI

    When alarmed, your body will produce adrenaline, when in love, oxytocin. The whole field of mind-body medicine relies on this.

    You're barking up the wrong tree. What materialism can't provide a satisfactory explanation for is meaning, and the faculty that perceives it, namely, reason.
  • RogueAI
    620
    When alarmed, your body will produce adrenaline, when in love, oxytocin. The whole field of mind-body medicine relies on this.

    All of that is compatible with idealism. Science does NOT say that adrenaline is some non-conscious stuff. Science is mum on metaphysics.
  • Wayfarer
    12.6k
    Yeah but it undercuts your claim that 'You never get anything material from mental states' when you plainly do. Fear and love are mental states, and they produce all kinds of material consequences, like fights and babies :-)
  • RogueAI
    620
    Fear and love are mental states, and they produce all kinds of material consequences, like fights and babies

    Fair point. I will amend my claim to "you don't get new/additional matter from mental states".
  • 180 Proof
    4k
    Really? Explain please.
  • Kenosha Kid
    2.4k
    "Walking from legs" is not the same as "consciousness from non-conscious stuff".RogueAI

    His general point stands: legs are a prerequisite for walking; walking does not cause legs. Atomic structure is a prerequisite for materials; material structure is not a prerequisite for atoms. A prerequisite for atoms is massive, charged particles; atoms are not a prerequisite for massive, charged particles. Or, more simply, trees are a prerequisite for forests; forests are not a prerequisite for trees.

    You have an invalid assumption: that every hierarchical relationship in physics is or ought to be a two-way street. That is not a peculiarity of physics (just your conception of it) so, no, it's not* a problem for physicalists that consciousness is a function of brains but cannot create brains.

    *EDIT: thanks Shirley
  • RogueAI
    620
    His general point stands: legs are a prerequisite for walking; walking does not cause legs. Atomic structure is a prerequisite for materials; material structure is not a prerequisite for atoms. A prerequisite for atoms is massive, charged particles; atoms are not a prerequisite for massive, charged particles. Or, more simply, trees are a prerequisite for forests; forests are not a prerequisite for trees.

    Do you believe the brain is a prerequisite for consciousness? If so, why do you think it's taking so long to come up with an explanation for how the brain produces consciousness? Also, how long would you be willing to wait before giving up? For example, suppose 1,000 years from now the Hard Problem remains. Would you reexamine your belief that consciousness arises from matter? What about 10,000 years from now? Also, would you agree that anything that is functionally equivalent to a working brain should be conscious?

    As for running and legs and brains, we have an explanation for running/walking. We have no explanation for the emergence of consciousness from the actions of neurons. Also, "Running" and "legs" exist in the same ontology, just like "wet" and "water" and "river". No new ontological categories are required for those examples. Not so with physical states and mental states. They are obviously ontologically different things.

    "You have an invalid assumption: that every hierarchical relationship in physics is or ought to be a two-way street. That is not a peculiarity of physics (just your conception of it) so, no, it's a problem for physicalists that consciousness is a function of brains but cannot create brains."

    If physical states can cause mental states, why not vice-versa? In other cases in physics where A causes B but B can't cause A, there's an explanation. What's the physicalist explanation for why matter can produce mental states, but not vice versa?
  • 180 Proof
    4k
    What materialism can't provide a satisfactory explanation for is meaning, and the faculty that perceives it, namely, reason.Wayfarer
    Sure methodological / pragmatic / phenomenological 'materialists' can ... via linguistics, semiotics, discursive pragmatics, embodied cognition, cultural anthropology, etc. Vide Peirce, Wittgenstein, Merleau-Ponty, Austin, Chomsky, Levi-Strauss, Eco, Deleuze, Haack, Bourdieu, Dennett, Lakoff, Flanagan et al.

    Not so with physical states and mental states. They are obviously ontologically different things.RogueAI
    If so, then how do 'mental states' interact with 'physical states' without a shared (causal) ontology? Not Malebranche's occasionalism ... :roll:
  • Pfhorrest
    4.5k
    FWIW you could crudely describe my own view as "physicalism about mind and idealism about matter": minds are just functions of physical brains, and physical stuff is just empirical stuff, where empiricism is about observation, and observation is a mental activity, carried out by a mind made of matter that consists only of mentally accessible properties, around and around...

    The resolution to the apparent paradox is that it's all just information. Matter is like data, mind is like code. Code is nothing but data being executed, data is just anything accessible to code... and all data can in principle be executed as code, though most of it does nothing interesting when executed.
  • 180 Proof
    4k
    The resolution to the apparent paradox is that it's all just information. Matter is like data, mind is like code. Code is nothing but data being executed, data is just anything accessible to code... and all data can in principle be executed as code, though most of it does nothing interesting when executed.Pfhorrest
    How 'materialistic' (Turing computational) of you – Democritus ... and Wolfram / Deutsch, I'm sure, would approve. :up:
  • Kenosha Kid
    2.4k
    Do you believe the brain is a prerequisite for consciousness?RogueAI

    Yes, uncontroversially. This is a philosophy forum, I'm well aware of the difficulty in claiming to know anything beyond that I'm a thinking thing, but as much as one can be certain of anything else, I'm at least certain of that.

    If so, why do you think it's taking so long to come up with an explanation for how the brain produces consciousnessRogueAI

    Those are not related things. There is no necessary cause for a brain to come to understand consciousness. If humans hadn't evolved, perhaps no brain would even have a concept of consciousness. I don't think rats, crows and dolphins spend their time thinking about this stuff.

    For example, suppose 1,000 years from now the Hard Problem remains. Would you reexamine your belief that consciousness arises from matter?RogueAI

    The hard problem is not a problem, it's a protest. It's even worded by Chalmers as such. There is nothing to wait for.

    As for running and legs and brains, we have an explanation for running/walking. We have no explanation for the emergence of consciousness from the actions of neurons.RogueAI

    An of-the-gaps fallacy again. Science hasn't explained it yet, therefore it must be God/panpsychism/dualism/whatever other ism I favour. If you find yourself making this argument, stop, catch yourself, and remember: no one finds this a good argument when it's not used in the service of their pet theory. And more honest people don't think it a good argument period.

    If physical states can cause mental states, why not vice-versa?RogueAI

    You've already had the answer to this.
  • Wayfarer
    12.6k
    Logic is the relationship of ideas. Whatever material system, organic or synthetic, understands logic will have to realise the rules of logic, which can’t be reduced to or explained in terms of the rules which govern physical systems. Howard Pattee, Apokrisis’ mentor, spells that out in the Physics and Metaphysics of Biosemiosis.

    All signs, symbols, and codes, all languages including formal mathematics are embodied as material physical structures and therefore must obey all the inexorable laws of physics. At the same time, the symbol vehicles like the bases in DNA, voltages representing bits in a computer, the text on this page, and the neuron firings in the brain do not appear to be limited by, or clearly related to, the very laws they must obey. Even the mathematical symbols that express these inexorable physical laws seem to be entirely free of these same laws. — Howard Pattee
  • bongo fury
    1k
    so no, it's [not, Shirley?] a problem for physicalistsKenosha Kid



    Even the mathematical symbols that express these inexorable physical laws seem to be entirely free of these same laws.Howard Pattee

    Woo, Shirley?
  • Tom Storm
    1.3k
    You're barking up the wrong tree. What materialism can't provide a satisfactory explanation for is meaning, and the faculty that perceives it, namely, reason.Wayfarer

    The general argument seems to be that reason and the foundations of logic can only be possible if there is a god or higher consciousness as the guarantor of their fidelity. Physicalism is self refuting - isn't that what the pre-suppositionalist apologists say (and Kant and others)?
  • Wayfarer
    12.6k
    The general argument seems to be that reason and the foundations of logic can only be possible if there is a god or higher consciousness as the guarantor of their fidelity.Tom Storm

    Wouldn’t go along. I’d just say that we must have the rational faculty in order to define the physical. That’s the sense in which the rational precedes the physical.
  • Wayfarer
    12.6k
    Many people then proceed to an argument for a higher intelligence, but if you only say that physical laws aren’t explicable in their own terms, then you can leave it as an open question - which is the best philosophical stance.
  • Tom Storm
    1.3k
    Many people then proceed to an argument for a higher intelligence, but if you only say that physical laws aren’t explicable in their own terms, then you can leave it as an open question - which is the best philosophical stance.Wayfarer

    Yes, very much. I suspect that explaining reason via God is just another God of the gaps idea - no different than explaining why there is 'something rather than nothing' using God. Explaining that meaning is only possible if there is a God is functionally no different than saying the Magic Man did it. Explaining a mystery with another mystery.
  • Apollodorus
    1.3k
    Why not mental/physical conversion? Why is it a one-way street?RogueAI

    I think Max Planck said that matter is a derivative of consciousness. Logically, you probably could make a good argument for it. The problem is how to find evidence that this is the case.

    If consciousness does create matter, it is doubtful that it is the individual consciousness that does so. For if everyone’s consciousness created matter at will, there would be total chaos.

    So, I think we need to posit the existence of some form of universal consciousness that actually creates matter as some monistic idealists (Platonists, etc.) have done. But universal consciousness is something that science has no access to - and has not been looking into - hence it can’t say anything about it.

    You could say that both consciousness and matter consist of electromagnetic fields and construct a model as to how this actually works but it would remain just a hypothesis.
  • Harry Hindu
    4.1k
    Not so with physical states and mental states. They are obviously ontologically different things.
    — RogueAI
    If so, then how do 'mental states' interact with 'physical states' without a shared (causal) ontology?
    180 Proof
    The problem here is the dualistic assumption that there two incompatible states.

    What is the difference between physical and mental? We know mind exists and only know brains exist by way of the mind. So which came first in the causal process? It seems to me that brains are the form the information/knowledge of other minds takes in our own mind. Brains are how our minds model other minds.

    Why is my mind and not my brain observable from my end, but only my brain and not my mind observable from your end?
  • Wayfarer
    12.6k
    Explaining a mystery with another mystery.Tom Storm

    Not really. We know that, for instance, the laws of motion hold, but we don’t know why they hold. Asking why they hold, you could argue, is overstepping the mark - that’s when you get into all of the pseudo-scientific speculation about ‘why these laws’. Naturalism assumes that there are laws, but as soon as you ask ‘why are there these laws?’ you’re going beyond naturalism. That’s where circumspection is recommended. We know that f=ma but we don’t know why it is - that is not really ‘explaining a mystery with another mystery’, though. It’s recognising the limits of knowledge.

    I think Max Planck said that matter is a derivative of consciousness.Apollodorus

    The famous quote is:

    All matter originates and exists only by virtue of a force which brings the particle of an atom to vibration and holds this most minute solar system of the atom together. We must assume behind this force the existence of a conscious and intelligent mind. This mind is the matrix of all matter.

    Which can’t help remind me of the famous Einstein quote along similar lines.
  • Tom Storm
    1.3k
    We know that f=ma but we don’t know why it is - that is not really ‘explaining a mystery with another mystery’, though. It’s recognising the limits of knowledge.Wayfarer

    I agree with this. Have I misunderstood you? I was saying it is explaining 'a mystery with a another mystery' if you use God as an explanation.

    The fact that we don't know why reason works is a philosophical question that may well have a physicalist answer one day. Who knows?
  • Apollodorus
    1.3k
    The famous quote is:

    All matter originates and exists only by virtue of a force which brings the particle of an atom to vibration and holds this most minute solar system of the atom together. We must assume behind this force the existence of a conscious and intelligent mind. This mind is the matrix of all matter.

    Which can’t help remind me of the famous Einstein quote along similar lines.
    Wayfarer

    Thanks for the quote. Yes, I suppose a lot of physicists would be prepared to go along with that. And, possibly, a few neuroscientists too. But, as I said, the "mind" or "consciousness" in question would probably need to be a universal one that creates both matter and individual minds or consciousnesses. And the question is, how do you access that by scientific means?
  • god must be atheist
    3.2k
    Science is mum on metaphysics.RogueAI

    And rightly so. Physics is science. Metaphysics concerns itself with things science can't explain. Hence the word, "meta-", which means, after. It's not a temporal "after", but just a conceptual dumper or back-hoe, that pushes all the elements of human knowledge and comprehension concerns that do not fit in the sciences from the area of sciences into the area we call metaphysics.
  • god must be atheist
    3.2k
    We must assume behind this force the existence of a conscious and intelligent mind.

    I don't agree with this, and I can't prove it it's false. But the proponents of this sort of thinking can't prove that it's true. It is purely up to the individual's own intuitive inner world whether he accepts the above and the likes of it as true. It is futile to argue whether it is true that 'We are correct if we assume'.

    But that we "must assume" is absolutely incorrect. It is equally possible without the assumption. So we "can assume", or "we are at liberty to assume", but we don't necessarily have to assume.

    Hence I declare that the quote is false and misleading.
  • 180 Proof
    4k
    In other words, physics is theoretical (i.e. explains matters of facts) and metaphysics is speculative (i.e. describes, or interprets, the concepts by which physicists theorize ... and artists create).
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