Is the mind divisible?

• 6k
oh, well you edumacated me for sure. Thanks guv. If only you could have edumacated Zeno and Plato and Parmenides! You belong in the canon. We dumb philosophers -we need help from washed up academics from other disciplines. Help us, oh unimaginative ones, so that we too may see as narrowly as you.
Imagine a region of space isaac. Now imagine half of that. See?
Space. You can divide it. Any region of space. And so too for anything occupying it.
• 6k
Tell me, Isaac, when you get a pizza and it hasn't been sliced up, do you think it can't be divided?
It can be, can't it?
What if it was smaller. Oh, then it can't.
But what if we had itsy bitsy cutlery - couldn't we then divide it?
But our big chubby hands would get in the way!
Okay, so make us smaller too.
If we all shrank down, and everything else with us, would there come a size where we couldn't divide our pizzas Isaac? Does your reason say yes?
"Mr Isaac sir, we is everso hungry. Can we orphans have a slice of your big pizza? Please sir, may we?" "No, you foolish urchins. We are too small to divide things anymore. My reason says so. Below a certain size a pizza cannot be divided as is manifest to the reason of all those who have contempt for careful thought. So I will have to eat the whole thing although I cant do that either as my teeth are too small to bite through the too small pizza, despite the fact it's three times bigger than my head"
• 10.3k
Imagine a region of space isaac. Now imagine half of that. See?
Space. You can divide it. Any region of space.

Nope. I imagine at some point that just becomes impossible. I imagine that at some point the fabric of space becomes quantised such that it ceases to be like the space I'm used to but acts rather more like something space is made of than something divisible.

Wonderful thing the imagination.

Unfortunately almost useless when determining what actually is the case.

If we all shrank down, and everything else with us, would there come a size where we couldn't divide our pizzas Isaac? Does your reason say yes?

Yes. That's what I just told you. My reason says that space is not infinitely divisible and what you've just described is infinite divisibility.
• 6k
But we orphans is so hungry mister. It don't make no sense what you is saying. The pizza is three times bigger than your head. I gets that we is all tiny, but everything else is tiny too ain't it? So why can't you divide it? You ain't making no sense sir, as even us foolish urchins can see. Your reason ain't up to much it seems to me sir, begging your pardon. Don't be a tommy tanker, cut us a slice sir. You knows you can.
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So why can't you divide it?

Some law of physics prevents it.

We can't get that tiny and still be functional objects capable of dividing other objects.

Shrinking things doesn't even make sense without a non-shrunk background against which to compare and that non-shrunk background exerts a field which restricts shrinking.

... Are just some of the ideas I've just imagined.

I might imagine a few more over tea.
• 6k
No, isaac - don't say physics. I told you about that. Give the urchins a slice of the pizza. You know you can. Stop saying you can't and not explaining why.
It's got nothing to do with shrinking. Imagine we've always been this tiny size. How could that stop us being able to divide things?
Don't say 'physics' Isaac. Don't. That's naughty and it means you are not thinking.
• 10.3k
Stop saying you can't and not explaining why.

I don't need to explain why I can't. It's a self-evident fact of reason. You have to explain why I can. The burden of proof is on you.

Shall I remind you...?

Our reason represents [X].

That's prima facie evidence that's precisely what they are.

That means it is defeasible evidence. That's fancy for 'it could be false'.

But it means the burden of proof is on the person who thinks [~X] to undercut those rational intuitions.
• 6k
You are not appealing to reason, but to physics.
You lie when you say it is clear to your reason that the pizza cannot be divided. It can be, can't it? The idea that below a certain size it would become indivisible is utterly inconceivable.
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You are not appealing to reason, but to physics.

No, the physics is entirely imagined. I haven't a clue about physics. I'm appealing entirely to reason. My reason says that you can't just keep dividing extended objects forever, it sounds ridiculous.

Since my reason said it, we take it as default true and you have to prove it's wrong.

The idea that below a certain size it would become indivisible is utterly inconceivable.

I'm conceiving of it right now. Can't be held responsible for your lack of facility can I?
• 6k
Yes, you can't keep dividing something forever.
But you would be able to divide an extended thing forever. As the tiny pizza case shows.
What those two truths of reason entail is that there are no extended objects. In other words, immaterialism about the sensible world is true. I already noted this earlier. Divisibility is a huge problem for the coherence of materialism.

Extended things are divisible. Your claim - your correct claim - that nothing can be infinitely divisible does not contradict that. It just entails what I said, namely that reality contains no extended things.

Now focus on this thread. Extended things are divisible and nothing our reason says implies otherwise.

Minds are indivisible

It follows that minds are not extended things.
• 10.3k
But you would be able to divide an extended thing forever. As the tiny pizza case shows.

It doesn't 'show' that at all. You thought it would remain divisible, I thought it wouldn't. Nothing's been 'shown' other than what we each reckon would be the case with a shrinking pizza.

It's patently absurd to imagine a shrinking pizza and then claim that whatever you imagine happening to it tells us anything whatsoever about what would really happen to it.

Extended things are divisible. Your claim - your correct claim - that nothing can be infinitely divisible does not contradict that. It just entails what I said, namely that reality contains no extended things.

But reality does contain extended things. It's a self-evident fact my reason presents to me, so the burden is on you to disprove it.

I have two self-evident facts of reason. The world contains extended things, and you can't divide things forever. Therefore you can't divide extended things infinitely.

It's on you to prove that wrong, and you can't just say "it isn't" to either of my premises, because they're self-evident facts of reason.
• 9.5k
The practical activity one is obliging oneself to engage in by judging and acting is integrating those new commitments into a unified whole comprising all the other commitments one acknowledges…. Engaging in those integrative activities is synthesizing a self or subject, which shows up as what is responsible for the component commitments” (ibid).

A self or subject in this usage is not something that just exists. It is a guiding aim that is itself subject to development. “[T]he synthetic-integrative process, with its aspects of critical and ampliative activity [rejecting incompatibilities and developing consequences] provides the basis for understanding both the subjective and the objective poles of the intentional nexus. Subjects are what repel incompatible commitments in that they ought not to endorse them, and objects are what repel incompatible properties in that they cannot exhibit them” (p. 53).
...
Upstream from all of this, according to Brandom, is “Kant’s normative understanding of mental activity” (ibid). This is closely bound up with what he calls Kant’s “radically original conception of freedom” (ibid). In the Latin medieval and early modern traditions, questions about freedom were considered to be in a broad sense questions of fact about our power. For Kant, all such questions of fact apply only to the domain of represented objects. On the other hand, “Practical freedom is an aspect of the spontaneity of discursive activity on the subjective side” (pp. 58-59).

“The positive freedom exhibited by exercises of our spontaneity is just this normative ability: the ability to commit ourselves, to become responsible. It can be thought of as a kind of authority: the authority to bind oneself by conceptual norms” (p. 59). Brandom recalls Kant’s example of a young person reaching legal adulthood. “Suddenly, she has the authority to bind herself legally, for instance by entering into contracts. That gives her a host of new abilities: to borrow money, take out a mortgage, start a business. The new authority to bind oneself normatively… involves a huge increase in positive freedom” (ibid).

Rationality for Kant does not consist in having good reasons. “It consists rather just in being in the space of reasons” (p. 60), in being liable to specific kinds of normative assessment.
Pie

Most interesting. — Ms. Marple

What do you call this kinda perspective/point of view on philosophical topics? It's (very/too) general/co-opts concepts or ideas from other disciplines/etc. It also gives me the feeling of someone backed up against a wall rather than someone in control of the situation so to speak. I maybe way off the mark here but that's the impression I get.
• 1.4k
if only we could communicate better we would all be of one mind.

What the heck would that look like tho?
• 8.2k
What the heck would that look like tho?

You know how when you want to open a jar, one hand holds the jar and the other the lid and they twist against each other to get the job done? You and I would work together like that. And when the jar was open, we wouldn't be fighting over the contents.
• 1.4k
that sounds like the most succinct summation of socialism I've ever heard; @Streetlight would be proud.
• 227
If you remove parts of the brain you consequently effect the functions of the mind. I don't know how good of an understanding that you will come up with when dissecting the mind into parts, or cognitions into parts, but in neurology anatomists can localize specific parts of the brain and their functions.

I think the mind is divisible, but into what? And if we grasp all that the mind can be divided into, have we a more clear or even better grasp of what the mind is?
• 8.2k
Streetlight is always proud. "I am the right hand and therefore I am in charge." :roll:
• 1.6k
Minds 'have' states - they're called mental states for that very reason. A mental state is a 'state of mind'. That is, a state a mind can be in.

You said earlier that minds are indivisible, not made of parts. But they can be in states that are different from one another. Typically, objects change their states by rearranging their parts in some way. But for a partless immaterial soul, I'm struggling to understand how such a thing could support different states. How can it change?
• 12.8k

If mind is indivisible, how come I am one, you, the reader, are one, so on and so forth?
:up:

Typically, objects change their states by rearranging their parts in some way. But for a partless immaterial soul, I'm struggling to understand how such a thing could support different states. How can it change?
:clap:

2. My mind is not divisible
:sweat:

How do you square "mind is not divisible" with Socrates'/Plato's idea (which is based on reason alone)?
From the fact that one can be affected by two or more desires simultaneously, he infers that the soul (psyche) cannot be unitary, since it is impossible for the same thing to act in opposite ways at the same time (there are obvious affinities here with the logical principle of non-contradiction, which Plato learned from Socrates [c. 470–399 b.c.e.]). Accordingly, in the Republic he identifies three distinct parts of the soul (psyche) — reason (nous), passion (thumos), and appetite (epithumia) — and posits these as the source of conflicting desires (IV, 439d–e). Reason rules over the soul with wisdom, but opposed to it is appetite, the irrational part of the soul "with which it loves, hungers, thirsts, and feels the flutter and titillation of other desires" (439d).
source: https://www.encyclopedia.com/history/dictionaries-thesauruses-pictures-and-press-releases/philosophy-mind-ancient-and-medieval
• 6k
Well now you are simply ignoring reason. The only basis upon which you claim the pizza - and everything else - would magically become indivisible upon shrinking is another self evident truth of reason, namely that nothing can be infinitely divided. But as I just explained - utterly pointlessly, it seems - the conclusion that follows from that is that extended things do not exist and that the pizza needs to be reconceived as a bundle of sensations occurring in another mind.
It is because you are wed to a false worldview- one not endorsed by reason, but convention - that you find this conclusion absurd and mistake its clash with convention as a clash with reason. It is not. It - the immaterialism of the sensible - is just what follows if one follows reason. The pizza exists, but not as an extended thing. For if it was an extended thing - a notion of ours that we bring to bear on our sensible experiences - then it would be capable of infinite division, something our reason denies is possible. Ni conventional thinker is going to be able to follow reason if doing so threatens their conventional beliefs, as for them they are only seeing in philosophy a resource to support their conventional beliefs. Hence why, at base, you have contempt for the subject and sneer at it.
• 6k
I do not yet see a problem that would not just be a much more general problem of change (one that would apply as much to complex things as to indivisible simple things).

Take a lump of clay. This lump is currently a sphere. That is a property it has. Now change it so that it is a cube. Well, it has changed shape, but nothing has been added or taken away from it. That is, the clay has not been divided.

So, let's now imagine that in fact the clay could not be divided. Well, that would be no impediment to it changing shape given we changed its shape without dividing it.

So, that the mind is indivisible is no impediment to it changing. The states of a thing are not parts of it.
• 1.6k
Take a lump of clay. This lump is currently a sphere. That is a property it has. Now change it so that it is a cube. Well, it has changed shape, but nothing has been added or taken away from it. That is, the clay has not been divided.

Sure, but it changes its shape because of the particles in it moving around. Its ability to change shape depends on the fact that it is composed of many small parts. That doesn't disprove you of course, it may be that indivisible minds are just not like clay in the relevant respects. I was just trying to understand how something indivisible can change. You could say "Well it must do, because minds change and minds are indivisible, exactly how they do it is not my concern." I've heard people say that kind of thing on this forum about other matters (i.e. such and such must be the case somehow, and it's not the job of me as a philosopher to work out the details of how).

EDIT: maybe it's a kind of stretchiness that isn't like the stretchiness caused by chemical bonds in, say, rubber? But I'm thinking of spatially extended analogues, whereas you don't think minds are spatially extended at all (unlike me).
• 14.6k
So it is no part of the definition of a materialist that they believe in objects of the senses, for that would generate a contradiction.

You are just repeating the same nonsense that I've already shown to be such without offering any counterargument.

Materialists believe that what is real is a material world of, as you say, "mind-external extended things"; things which just are the "objects of the senses". Where is the contradiction in that?

That doesn't preclude others from believing that the objects of the senses are real, but that they are not "mind-external extended things".

That reason apparently show different people different things shows that what reason show depends on its starting assumptions, which themselves are not show by reason, but appeal intuitively to some, and not to others..
• 6k
You are quite right that the clearest demonstration that change us possible for an indivisible thing is that our minds change states yet are indivisible. And yes, it is correct that one does not have to be able to explain why something is happening in order to have evidence that it is happening.

But we can explain in this case. The states of a thing are not what the thing is made of. There does not begin to be a problem then. So it is really you who owes an explanation. Why do you think that a change in something's properties requires that the thing itself be divided? That, to my mind, does not even get out of the starting blocks.
• 14.6k
For if it was an extended thing - a notion of ours that we bring to bear on our sensible experiences - then it would be capable of infinite division, something our reason denies is possible.

Democrtius' reason told him over two thousand years ago that divisible extended things are made up of tiny indivisible extended things and that therefore extended things are not, as it is possible to imagine they are, infinitely divisible. Kant's antinomies show us that exercising pure reason may lead to contradictory conclusions.

Kant understood this to show that our sometimes contradictory understandings of appearances cannot be in accordance with any absolutely mind-independent reality. One could be counted as a materialist and yet take the indubitable existence, for us, of material objects of the senses to show nothing beyond what it shows about our own experience. Just as Kant said he is an empirical realist, he could equally consistently have said he is an empirical materialist and that materialism has no bearing on anything beyond the empirical.

I said earlier "absolutely mind-independent reality"; we cannot know anything about such a thing, but we can say that objects of the senses are mind-independent relative to our experience, because our experience shows them to be such; it seems obvious to reason that they must be independent of any individual mind, because the world will not disappear no matter how many people you remove.

What will happen if the last person and all the animals (and plants?) are removed? It seems then the world would no longer appear; but will it still be there: visible, audible and tangible, but unseen, unheard and unfelt? That is the question about which no absolute, context-free answer can sensibly be given.
• 12.8k
So you can't refute Plato's reasoning for a tripart soul (i.e. divisible mind). Of course you can't; I just wanted to confirm that. Thanks, Bratshitz! :up:

Democrtius' reason told him over two thousand years ago that divisible extended things are made up of tiny indivisible extended things and that therefore extended things are not, as it is possible to imagine they are, infinitely divisible.
:100: :smirk:

(Also corroborated by quantum physics (of which, of course, Bratshitz, is also demonstably ignorant) ).
• 1k
What do you call this kinda perspective/point of view on philosophical topics?

As I understand it, lots of philosophers simply make what is already going on explicit. They foreground what in retrospect was haunting the background.

Another way to approach this is to ask what makes philosophy philosophy ? Or a philosopher a philosopher, as opposed to a mystic or a confidence man? What already counts as intellectual virtue or hygiene ? What qualities or behaviors already disqualify them from being trusted or honored? We want people to keep their story straight, to not call something black and white or round and square at the same time. We are also responsible for either adopting the implications of our beliefs or dropping those beliefs as such troublesome implications become manifest (which takes time and discussion.) (And so on.)
• 12.8k
As I understand it, lots of philosophers simply make what is already going on explicit. They foreground what in retrospect was haunting the background.Pie
:fire: :up:
• 6k
Democrtius' reason told him over two thousand years ago that divisible extended things are made up of tiny indivisible extended things and that therefore extended things are not, as it is possible to imagine they are, infinitely divisible. Kant's antinomies show us that exercising pure reason may lead to contradictory conclusions.

That's not an argument. Explain why an extended thing could not be divided.

An extended thing occupies some space. So it can be divided.

That it can be infinitely divided is a problem - not for me, but for those who believe there are extended things.

Nothing Democritus - and it is Democritus, not Democritius - said suggests any solution to the problem of the infinite divisibility of extended things.
• 12.8k
Your "students" have my sincerest sympathies. :lol:
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