• enqramot
    64
    First, do you accept that when you observe something, you actually are observing it, and this is not reducible in the way the model indicates?Constance

    I believe that when I observe something it’s not possible to say whether it exists or not. I believe in a dynamic stream of information that can be categorised so that some categories may not be compatible with others. Can observed objects be reduced to physical states? I don’t see why not. It depends how such information is stored inside the brain. I don’t get how “the knowledge argument against physicalism” proves anything. If Mary learns something new outside the room, it can be just another type of physical information, which requires another interface. Say, the “physical” information Mary gained in the room required physical connection type A, whereas what it's like to see colours required physical connection type B, hence method that worked for type A was not compatible with type B. So I assume she was deluded to think she knew everything physical about the colours whereas in fact some knowledge was missing and was only accessible through different means, learning of a different kind if you will.

    But are you reading what I wrote?Constance

    Yes, but my neurons are having hard time understanding what you're driving at. I've already ordered a new set of neurons at Amazon, so bear with me.

    the assumption of a physicalist conception of the world as foundational provides NO epistemic extension so that other worlds is anything more than the one localized body of events. Knowledge connections, this is what is needs to be shown.Constance

    It must be appreciated that you obviously “did your homework” and gained plenty of knowledge in various philosophical concepts so you don’t have to reinvent the wheel but rather build on what’s already been built, even though I’m sure some of these theories are plain false. To truly catch up with you I’d have to first spend a lot of time to study at least some of the key theories pertinent to this discussion, something I’m not currently prepared to do because of time restrictions and perceived lack of practical value of such knowledge. In particular, I’m yet to find out what in physicalist model makes knowledge connections impossible, so right now I cannot comment on that. To my common sense it doesn’t seem impossible but if there are existing arguments against it, first they need to be tackled, of course.

    How does the physicalist model of a brain manage to "get to anything out there"? And, as I said, even the concept of physicalism itself now to be understood with exactly this delimitation. How is it that when I am gazing at my uncle. the entire affair is not reducible to brain events?Constance

    Your original post asked why, when you greet your uncle Sidney, you are not greeting exclusively systems of neuronal activity. It didn’t specify any particular theory, in particular, it didn’t mention the physicalist theory. So when you step outside the confines of this theory then maybe it can be demonstrated that even though your uncle cannot be reduced to brain events, your perception of him can.

    How is it that existence itself is not just a unique brain event; that when you ponder existence and other sweeping terms that are all inclusive. you are not just making a statement that entirely conceived within a brain matrix, and everything you can imagine is just this and nothing else. You would have to have an independent theory of experience, then, apart from what science can observe and think about.Constance

    But why a theory should be required for something to exist independently? Say, there's a car in another galaxy. It's something you would never be able to verify. The car doesn't care whether you have any theory explaining its existence, it just exists, independently.

    How would it be that this three and a half pound greyish "thing" produces ideas that are "about" something else?Constance

    As I said, it doesn't simply produce them, but creates customized copies of real world objects, that is: objects that exist independently and as such cannot be reduced to brain events.

    This is what is required, and of course, you can say that science is an experimental/theoretical work in progress that will one day unlock the secrets of epistemic relationships, but this will have to include a dramatic reconception of what it means for a thing to be physical; some new "law of epistemic connectivity" will have to be introduced, but note that physicalism does not have this at all!Constance

    Yes, I'm afraid if it becomes apparent that physicalism doesn't do a good job as a model of reality, it's physicalism that'll have to go. We cannot discard of reality. And this is exactly what science is, an experimental work in progress. Major changes to our understanding of how the reality works are expected.

    You may not want to restrict yourself to this model, and I say very good.Constance

    I'm not married to any particular model. It's the reality that matters.

    how can you extract P from the knowledge conditions that make knowing P possible?Constance

    As I see it, what matters is practical implications of how we can use our "knowledge" of P, whereby this "knowledge" should also be treated as "work in progress".

    Once again, does the fact that they cannot be confirmed preclude their existence? If so, how? In what scope? — enqramot


    The complaint of this rests solely with the epistemic deficits of physicalism.
    Constance

    I would argue that that the question of "independent existence" has nothing to to with epistemology.

    The argument doesn't care about what the future holds. Either you can tell me what the essential epistemic connectivity is about or you cannot. Again, if you want to include something that physicalism COULD have then you have to make sense of this "could". Otherwise it is merely empty speculation.Constance

    So no, I cannot, which is not to say that it's not possible. But for now it IS a speculation. May somebody step in and provide such a connectivity! But just as I cannot provide what is required, neither can you disprove similar speculations. So it may well be that the physicalist model is untenable right now but it is possible to fix it. Don't ask me how.

    In order for it to be a heavily filtered version of him, it has to be first shown that it is possible to affirm anything at all of him. How would physicalism make this affirmation, GIVEN all that has been said above? (Pls don't just ignore all of this, and continue to say how outrageous it al sounds, The argument itself has to be dealt with.)Constance

    Just as I explained above, I cannot do that within the confines of physicalism without first having learned about and analysed physicalism in depth. Now's the time for someone else to step in.
  • Constance
    1k
    To truly catch up with you I’d have to first spend a lot of time to study at least some of the key theories pertinent to this discussion, something I’m not currently prepared to do because of time restrictions and perceived lack of practical value of such knowledge. In particular, I’m yet to find out what in physicalist model makes knowledge connections impossible, so right now I cannot comment on that. To my common sense it doesn’t seem impossible but if there are existing arguments against it, first they need to be tackled, of course.enqramot

    You should have led with that.
  • enqramot
    64
    You should have led with that.Constance

    Right, so I'm a time waster, aren't I?
  • Constance
    1k
    Right, so I'm a time waster, aren't I?enqramot

    Absolutely not! I, for one, don't come to this forum for conservation. I come to explain and argue, and in the process, I clarify what I think, to myself! Reading is one thing, writing is another, and the latter is where the real work lies.
  • enqramot
    64
    Absolutely not! I, for one, don't come to this forum for conservation. I come to explain and argue, and in the process, I clarify what I think, to myself! Reading is one thing, writing is another, and the latter is where the real work lies.Constance

    Thanks.
  • Janus
    13k
    It seems that via the eyes and brain an ever-moving image of the "external" is formed. — Janus


    This in itself is a conceptual inference given a) the occurrence of our awareness in general and b) our empirically gained awareness regarding the mechanisms via which our visual awareness is formed, and I disagree with its wording. Hence, with what the inference is saying.

    Better: "It seems that via the eyes and brain an ever-moving sight (else seeing) of the "external" is formed."
    javra

    I'm not seeing any significant difference in the way you've formulated it. I don't see it as an inference, but as an experience. In our visual field we find parts of our body situated in relation to an environment we experience as being external to it.

    For my part, I'm not getting into preferred ontological worldviews here, although physicalism isn't it. I'm only disagreeing with the inference that a seeing agent/consciousness entails the occurrence of a homunculus. Here concluding that the first in no way entails the second ... and that the notion of homunculi is a fallacy.

    But maybe that's part of the issue: homunculi are conceptually palpable ideas that one can with some ease mentally manipulate; whereas consciousness is not.
    javra

    Right physicalism is a worldview too and I understand it is not your preferred worldview. I wasn't serious about the "homunculus"; I realize it involves a reductio ad absurdum. As I said we can't get our head around the fact that we can see an image of the environment and parts of our body situated within it. We can observe and analyze the mechanics of vision, which are analogous to a camera, but we cannot understand how the experience of seeing is possible.

    Thanks for that explanation Constance; I can relate to what you're saying there, but I have nothing to add.
  • javra
    1.9k
    Overall I agree with your comments.

    Better: "It seems that via the eyes and brain an ever-moving sight (else seeing) of the "external" is formed." — javra

    I'm not seeing any significant difference in the way you've formulated it. I don't see it as an inference, but as an experience.
    Janus

    As to the distinction I wanted to make:

    That the eyes and brain make the activity of seeing possible is in and of itself an inference, and a very good one at that given all our empirical data. Nevertheless, the activity of seeing is not contingent upon this conceptual understanding that “eyes and brain are required for seeing”: the experience of seeing can well occur without this understanding, as per toddlers and lesser animals for example.

    This inference that “eyes and brain are required for seeing” can, then, take the conceptual form – such as via analogy to the workings of a camera – that the eyes and brain make possible an image that we then witness via our sight. Alternatively, we can conclude that eyes and brain make possible our very capacity of sight.

    The distinction between these two inferences might be subtle, but it’s important, for the former (eyes and brain make possible a moving image which we then see) introduces a conceptual differentiation between consciousness and body wherein the body has its own distinct agency whose outcomes (in this case the "ever-moving image" which the body produces) are then witnessed by the separate agency of consciousness – and, here, a homunculus argument results: a “little person” within the person.

    Whereas in the latter inference (eyes and brain make possible our capacity of sight, our seeing per se) no such distinction between consciousness and body results in relation to our ability to see stuff. Here, where the issue is that of physiological sight of the external world, the agency of consciousness and the agency of body are one and the same. Remove a human’s eyes or brain and the human’s capacity to see ceases to occur. With functional eyes and brain in place, the human’s capacity to see occurs. Here, there is no homunculus that sees the outcomes of what the body does. Instead, here physiological sight and body are concurrent and interdependent – in at least one sense, such that physiological sight as process is the whole that is being addressed and the body’s functional eyes and brain are themselves complex process that serve as parts from which the whole is constituted.

    Now, this speaks neither in favor of physicalism, neutral monism, nor objective idealism – to list just three worldviews – instead simply addressing the relation between a) our awareness via physiological sight and b) our body’s workings. Biased thought this may be on my part, I’m maintaining that the latter inference addressed ought to be maintained regardless of worldview held – and that the former ought to be done away with.

    At any rate, the aforementioned is in attempts to clarify my previous post in terms of differences that, as apo would put it, make a difference.
  • Janus
    13k
    Remove a human’s eyes or brain and the human’s capacity to see ceases to occur. With functional eyes and brain in place, the human’s capacity to see occurs. Here, there is no homunculus that sees the outcomes of what the body does. Instead, here physiological sight and body are concurrent and interdependent – in at least one sense, such that physiological sight as process is the whole that is being addressed and the body’s functional eyes and brain are themselves complex process that serve as parts from which the whole is constituted.javra

    I wasn't seeking to introduce a dualism of consciousness and body. the physiological study of vision tells us that there processes involving the eye the optic nerve and the visual cortex, and that like a camera the image formed is upside-down (which is "corrected" by the brain. This suggests that there is a "moving image" or visual data there prior to what we call conscious seeing.

    Have you heard of blindsight? It seems that some people whose visual cortex has been damaged in some way cannot consciously see what is happening in what would normally be their visual field, but if asked to guess, get it right at rates that are much higher than chance.
  • javra
    1.9k
    This suggests that there is a "moving image" or visual data there prior to what we call conscious seeing.Janus

    To some, yes. Yet to others the working of the brain can be interpreted to suggest the presence of unconscious awareness of the external world which works (in obviously very complex ways) more or less in concurrence to conscious awareness – this in a parts-to-whole relation. Such that there arguably is no “moving image” (else, freestanding visual data that occurs independently of being witnessed) anywhere to be found, but only visual awareness at different levels of mind.

    Can there be data ("facts know from direct observation" else "recorded observations") in the absence of awareness which observes? To me the answer is so far "no".

    Have you heard of blindsight?Janus

    But of course I’ve heard of it. I find it very much in line with the inference of unconscious awareness just mentioned. As just one of many examples wherein the notion of “unconscious vision” can be found in relation to blindsight, see here. To me by far the most interesting cases are studies of split-brain patients in relation to conscious awareness. There’s the Wikipedia page, but also research findings such as this one, whose abstract nicely sums up some of what's going on in such cases and also interestingly maintains a “divided perception but undivided consciousness.”

    Much of the info on split-brain patients, as one example, can be deemed to support the inference of different loci of unconscious awareness working in an overall mind (which in a healthy mind would thereby converge into a coherent consciousness).

    Just so its said: The issue of how awareness – be it conscious or unconscious – manifests is nevertheless just as pertinent from this vantage point regarding unconscious awareness of the mind.
  • Janus
    13k
    To some, yes. Yet to others the working of the brain can be interpreted to suggest the presence of unconscious awareness of the external world which works (in obviously very complex ways) more or less in concurrence to conscious awareness – this in a parts-to-whole relation. Such that there arguably is no “moving image” (else, freestanding visual data that occurs independently of being witnessed) anywhere to be found, but only visual awareness at different levels of mind.

    Can there be data ("facts know from direct observation" else "recorded observations") in the absence of awareness which observes? To me the answer is so far "no".
    javra

    Perhaps the "unconscious non-visual awareness" in people with blindsight is the counterpart to the pre-conscious visual awareness in sighted people. Is the 'visuality" of awareness, or the consciousness of seeing, a step in the process of seeing that comes after the unconscious non-visual awareness? In other words do sighted people share this step with blindsight people, and blind sight people lack the next step of visual awareness? I don't know, but it seems possible.

    I don't know what you mean by "no moving image", because it seems obvious to me that we do see moving images, or if you want to phrase it differently, that our seeing consists in moving images. I also don't know what you mean by "freestanding visual data" since it seems obvious to me that there is nothing at all "freestanding" ( if I've understood what you meant with this term).

    And again I'm not sure what you mean by "facts known from direct observation in the absence of awareness which observes". I do know we can drive on "autopilot"; that is, we seem to be able to process and respond to visual data without conscious awareness of doing so.
  • javra
    1.9k
    I don't know what you mean by "no moving image", because it seems obvious to me that we do see moving images, or if you want to phrase it differently, that our seeing consists in moving images. I also don't know what you mean by "freestanding visual data" since it seems obvious to me that there is nothing at all "freestanding" ( if I've understood what you meant with this term).

    And again I'm not sure what you mean by "facts known from direct observation in the absence of awareness which observes". I do know we can drive on "autopilot"; that is, we seem to be able to process and respond to visual data without conscious awareness of doing so.
    Janus

    A lot of miscommunication here; always tedious, and sometimes unresolvable, but I’ll try to better explain where I'm coming from.

    In the context of our discussion regarding the possibility of homunculi in relation to the workings of eyes and brain, your latest affirmation was:

    the physiological study of vision tells us that there processes involving the eye the optic nerve and the visual cortex, and that like a camera the image formed is upside-down (which is "corrected" by the brain. This suggests that there is a "moving image" or visual data there prior to what we call conscious seeing.Janus

    As we both appear to agree, there can be no data in the absence of observation, which in turn does not occur in the absence of awareness. So the notion of visual data occurring prior to it being seen is misplaced. The last quoted sentence could well be interpreted to affirm this very misplaced notion just addressed. That said, in this interpretation consciousness would then be inferred to observe images that are produced by the camera-like apparatus of eyes an brain.

    The alternative is to affirm that - as evidenced by blindsight and other examples - there occurs in us an "unconscious seeing of visual data" from which our functional conscious seeing of visual data is constituted. In this interpretation, there is no camera-like image produced by eyes and brain that is in turn seen by consciousness but, instead, visual consciousness is the very activity of seeing the external world. Such that visual consciousness is a unified compound of multiple instantiations of unconscious visual awareness, i.e. is a unified compound of multiple instantiations of unconscious seeing.

    Recall that "an image" is commonly defined as a visual re-presentation of an actual object: in the sense of a picture, a painting, or a drawing; wheres seeing - be it conscious or unconscious - is understood to be a direct presentation of actual objects. We don't consciously see images unless we're looking at something like pictures, paintings, or drawings. What we consciously see is our personal truth of what the external world is visually.

    Now, I very much acknowledge this can easily become very complicated by issues of indirect realism (where it's often enough worded that "we create images in our mind which represent some possibly noumenal reality") but if we take care not to equivocate our terms, the same issue would yet remain. We either consciously see a representational image of noumena constructed by the eyes and brain, such that there here are two items in relation to each other (that of a) image and of b) consciousness which sees the image) or, alternatively, the very activity of seeing - be it conscious seeing or unconscious seeing - is identical to the activity of visually representing noumena, such that here there is only one item concerned (the representational visual awareness which looks out at the world). But I don't want to enter into discussions/debates regarding indirect realism. The issues of indirect realism and of homunculi are to me utterly separate.

    Perhaps the "unconscious non-visual awareness" in people with blindsight is the counterpart to the pre-conscious visual awareness in sighted people. Is the 'visuality" of awareness, or the consciousness of seeing, a step in the process of seeing that comes after the unconscious non-visual awareness? In other words do sighted people share this step with blindsight people, and blind sight people lack the next step of visual awareness? I don't know, but it seems possible.Janus

    I was addressing "unconscious visual awareness" not "unconscious non-visual awareness".

    But in answer, it to me seems like the best inference to make given all the data we have.
  • Janus
    13k
    As we both appear to agree, there can be no data in the absence of observation, which in turn does not occur in the absence of awareness. So the notion of visual data occurring prior to it being seen is misplaced.javra

    It really depends on what you mean by "data". Is there data in a computer when it is not being used? Are the effects of light in the eye and the subsequent neural processes in the optic nerve and cortex,that gives rise to seeing, to be counted as data?

    The alternative is to affirm that - as evidenced by blindsight and other examples - there occurs in us an "unconscious seeing of visual data" from which our functional conscious seeing of visual data is constituted.javra

    I don't know whether I would refer to it as "visual" data, at least not in the sense that there is no conscious experience of seeing. I referred to it earlier as a kind of "moving image" there to be processed as a conscious experience of seeing. I would not say we see "visual data" but that we see images, which are constituted from neural data. Of course we can analyze what we see in terms of visual data, light and dark tones, different hues and intensities of colour, parallax and so on.

    Recall that "an image" is commonly defined as a visual re-presentation of an actual object: in the sense of a picture, a painting, or a drawing; wheres seeing - be it conscious or unconscious - is understood to be a direct presentation of actual objects.javra

    I don't think of it that way. I don't believe there is an "actual object"; what we see are always partial views from different perspectives out of which the idea of an "actual object" is abstracted. We don't see the actual object in any wholistic sense. So I think, phenomenologically speaking, we do see in images; the whole visual field at any moment is a more or less changing or moving image.

    These are difficult things to discuss without talking past one another, as we all have our own preferred ways of conceiving things, so i am not convinced that we are even disagreeing.
  • javra
    1.9k
    so i am not convinced that we are even disagreeing.Janus

    :grin: Sounds about right from my side as well.
  • Manuel
    3k


    I don't know if you can "meet" systems of neuronal activity, or any biological activity for that matter, at least if you have in mind anything that people have in mind when they meet other people, or animals even.

    It's not as if the neuronal activity will say anything, given that neurons don't speak, nor will it feel emotions, given that neurons themselves have no emotions.

    I've really only met and talked with family members that were people, not abstract systems of their biological makeup. So, I think you can go to sleep with ease, and everything continues as is.
  • Constance
    1k
    I don't know if you can "meet" systems of neuronal activity, or any biological activity for that matter, at least if you have in mind anything that people have in mind when they meet other people, or animals even.

    It's not as if the neuronal activity will say anything, given that neurons don't speak, nor will it feel emotions, given that neurons themselves have no emotions.

    I've really only met and talked with family members that were people, not abstract systems of their biological makeup. So, I think you can go to sleep with ease, and everything continues as is.
    Manuel

    My uncle is not an abstract system, granted. This here is meant to test the plausibility of a physicalist/materialist ontology.
    You have to take a radical step back. The thesis of physicalism and its reduced brain to sheer physicality, leads to one conclusion: None of this that we talk about is happening at all at the most basic level of analysis. Not even the "physicality" of physicalism. It is vicious circularity: If all that can be acknowledged is reducible to a physical condition, then the supposition itself is just some physical condition, and calling it 'some physical condition' is also reducible in the same way; and so on.
    One would have to include in the concept of physicality an epistemic feature, allowing the brain to have knowledge of something other than itself, (and even this knowledge would be, without without this epistemic ability, just another localized physicality) but this is just pulling a knowledge relationship out of a hat. What "epistemic ability"?? How could this even be conceived, this "knowledge at a distance"? This acausal access between objects, like a brain and a sofa?
  • javra
    1.9k
    [...] This acausal access between objects, like a brain and a sofa?Constance

    Nicely said!

    In parallel to the issue of knowledge you address, one of my takes on this issue is that were physicalism to be reformulated to allow for the ontic (rather than the illusory) reality of intentions - such as one’s own and one’s uncle’s in any interaction between - then physicalism as worldview would inherently contain the reality of teleological processes. This would in turn entail that physicalism as worldview would then allow for possibilities such as Aristotle’s unmoved mover as ultimate telos. Which would in turn entail that this reformulated physicalism would then consist of a bunch of concepts that are outright rejected by, and contradictory to, the principles of physicalism as we currently know them.

    Muddled reasoning in the just expressed (maybe all too implicit) physicalist stance that intentions are all illusory on account of teleology in no way occurring, yes. Then again, I’m not a physicalist.
  • Manuel
    3k


    I'm the odd one out here. I either think Galen Strawson's "real materialism" is correct, namely that everything is physical, including or especially experience, which makes the physical much, much richer than mainstream physicalism or I take Chomsky's view that "materialism" no longer has any meaning.

    The best guess I see for mainstream physicalism is that it's whatever physics and co. says, but whatever physics says will change in a year or two, making it very dubious as a metaphysics.

    If this latter view is correct, as I think it is, we are merely discussing terminology. But if someone argues for "eliminitavism", then there is content, but it's not a serious view, in my opinion.
  • Constance
    1k
    Muddled reasoning in the just expressed (maybe all too implicit) physicalist stance that intentions are all illusory on account of teleology in no way occurring, yes. Then again, I’m not a physicalist.javra

    Not clear as to why the notion of teleology helps this here. I mean, to me, it makes the matter complicated, as if now one has to reconcile the world with, not just impossible epistemological relationships, but an overarching logos that underlies all things.
    Perhaps I am missing something?
  • Constance
    1k
    I either think Galen Strawson's "real materialism" is correct, namely that everything is physical, including or especially experience, which makes the physical much, much richer than mainstream physicalism or I take Chomsky's view that "materialism" no longer has any meaning.Manuel

    I have strawson' paper here. Give me a bit to read it.
  • javra
    1.9k
    Not clear as to why the notion of teleology helps this here. I mean, to me, it makes the matter complicated, as if now one has to reconcile the world with, not just impossible epistemological relationships, but an overarching logos that underlies all things.
    Perhaps I am missing something?
    Constance

    Missing something in relation to the overall worldview that I hold? Nah, you got it about right.

    Wasn’t aiming to argue for a particular worldview, though, so much as aiming to evidence one additional inconsistency of physicalism - this so as to further support the thread’s main thesis that there’s something wrong with physicalism. For instance, by pointing out the … well, inconsistency … in someone engaging in arguments for the sake of - hence, with the intent of - preserving the status quo of physicalism which, as worldview, upholds the nonoccurrence of teloi (such as those which take the form of the very intents to uphold the worldview).

    It's a bit like placing the cart before the horse in truth-ville.

    Certainly, a theory of everything might not be at hand at any point in our lifetime, but I take it that a philosopher should be honest with themselves in terms of what occurs in the world (e.g., they occur in the world, as do their intents). And then try to work out a coherent worldview from there. A quirk of mine maybe.

    But yes, you're right, getting into what the implication are for intentions being real in the world would certainly complicate matters. Not what I intended to do, though.
  • Constance
    1k
    Sure.Manuel

    So I've read it, and as I knew, because I have read enough analytic philosophy to know, it was nearly altogether empty of content. These philosophers write as if Kant, whose thoughts ruled philosophy for a hundred years and beyond (in one way or another) never existed. The mentality here comes from science and the "naturalism" that follows from this attitude,and attitude it is, for there is nowhere in this paper that ever exceeds Moore's axiomatic wave of the hands, as if from this, and the aimless talk about mental and non mental or experiential and non experiential physicality one finds grounds for affirming materialism, implicitly showing that all this amounts to is a "feel" (that is a quote) for the rectitude of scientific thinking at the most basic level. I mean, he hasn't even begun to think philosophically.

    If you would like to argue about this, I am open to this, but I have to say that it is a typical approach in analytic discovery: there is no discovery, only an endless reference to what is commonly held in the naturalistic point of view, and he never gets beyond Moore's waving of his arms and declaring this to be ample proof that "there is waving of the arms" is true. Strawson relies simply on common sense. Kant, Hegel, Husserl, Heidegger, Jaspers, and on and on, never happened, as if science is now here and we can finally just adopt science's playing field as a place to play out arguments about ontology. Really? Materialism is NOT an empirical concept, but he tries to make it into one, all the while throwing incaveats about how to qualify materialism away from its being an absurd metaphysical ontology, which, if approached honestly, is just this: ask a simple question, what is the "material" of materialism? He says it is not unlike the question about the material a shirt or a lamp is made of. He sees it as a kind of attitudinal carry over from the common cases of affirming "what is it?" questions, and so, the "material" of materialism just refers us to another body of established thinking, like asking what a bank teller is refers us to talk about banks, money, and so on, so asking about material in his sense refers us to other contexts where material finds a comfortable place to settle; and this is simply the way of it with analytic philosophy: monumentally unenlightening!

    Analytic thinking, from Russell to Quine and Strawson is just a lot of very well spoken and painfully elaborated vacuity.

    Just look at this passage:

    For (briefly) what we think of as real understanding of a natural phenomenon is always at
    bottom just a certain kind of feeling, and it is always and necessarily relative to other things
    one just takes for granted, finds intuitive, feels comfortable with. This is as true in science as
    it is in common life. I feel I fully understand why this tower casts this shadow in this sunlight,
    given what I take for granted about the world (I simply do not ask why light should do that, of
    all things, when it hits stone).


    This is a stunning example of what I am talking about: Materialism is....what?? Just at the comfortable end of....whatever? How does this serve as a litmus for any kind of affirmation according to the rigorous standards os the scientific method? Does the thesis of materialism really rest with what one is "comfortable" with in the mind set of the scientific attitude?

    If one wants a true scientific approach to achieving a scientifically respectable philosophy, then Husserl is the place to go. Just read the first chapters of his Ideas I, and see.

    Anyway, sorry for the tirade. I am thoroughly disenchanted with analytic philosophy, as you can tell.
  • Constance
    1k
    For instance, by pointing out the … well, inconsistency … in someone engaging in arguments for the sake of - hence, with the intent of - preserving the status quo of physicalism which, as worldview, upholds the nonoccurrence of teloi (such as those which take the form of the very intents to uphold the worldview).javra

    For me the telos rests with what I see as simply without doubt, the most salient part of our existence, which is value. I've said it before, but it always bears repeating: value is by far the strangest thing in all there is. It is sui generis, this "ouch" at the touch of a flame and this falling in love, this happiness, and this what sets it apart from Wittgenstein's "states of affairs". The "Good" is what Witt called divinity, and of course, he knew all about the long historical philosophical narrative of this term, but it is, by my thinking, the true bedrock of foundational analysis. Wittgenstein famously turned on Russell, and Russell called him a mystic. Well, the world is, at the very heart of where the understanding can go, utterly indeterminate. Only value-meaning stands out in affirmation: nobody invented love, bliss, suffering, pain misery and all the thousand natural shocks. This the world "does to us", so to speak. And it is what we live and die for.
  • Manuel
    3k
    This is a stunning example of what I am talking about: Materialism is....what?? Just at the comfortable end of....whatever? How does this serve as a litmus for any kind of affirmation according to the rigorous standards os the scientific method? Does the thesis of materialism really rest with what one is "comfortable" with in the mind set of the scientific attitude?Constance

    It's not a standard of the scientific method, it's saying how much more the physical is compared to the view of the physical presented by people who call themselves "materialists", Dennett, Churchland and others.

    As to the "certain kind of feeling" comment, it's more or less true. You can keep on asking why questions infinitely, but beyond a point the question itself does not advance any further answers. So one is either content to give the best explanation we may have of a thing so far as we can tell, or we'll merely end up talking about terminology, which is not interesting.

    The point of the essay was to show how much more "materialism" is, than what is commonly assumed. It includes everything there is, because we simply don't know enough to claim that there is something else which is not physical.

    We have not exhausted, at all, what the physical is. It's a monist claim. But if you dislike the name "materialism", you can call it "objective mentalism" or "critical idealism" or even "dialectical phenomenology", everything would be that one thing postulated by the term you use. And then you'd have to give a very good reason for justifying the introduction of another substance or ontology. Simply asserting the mind isn't matter is missing the point completely.

    If one wants a true scientific approach to achieving a scientifically respectable philosophy, then Husserl is the place to go. Just read the first chapters of his Ideas I, and see.Constance

    I don't deny that Husserl has some useful things to say. He is not good at explaining them very well, admittedly, but if one wants to go through that monumental effort, there may well be some interesting ideas to be gained from him.

    It's fine to prefer one school of thought over another, that's just the way we are.
  • Benj96
    1.3k


    For me the physical and the mental (abstract) are interchangeable. Such that I can take an idea (whatever it may be) and manifest it in the physical via poetry, art, invention/innovation or emotive speech, rhetoric, philosophy.

    It seems then that the creativity of the mind and the actual are mutually dependent. The ideals we hold within out mental landscape can be made physical through expression. And in the same way the physical can be assumed into the mental as interpretations
  • javra
    1.9k
    For me the telos rests with what I see as simply without doubt, the most salient part of our existence, which is value. I've said it before, but it always bears repeating: value is by far the strangest thing in all there is.Constance

    Yea, my thoughts precisely. You hit the nail on its head.
  • Constance
    1k
    It's not a standard of the scientific method, it's saying how much more the physical is compared to the view of the physical presented by people who call themselves "materialists", Dennett, Churchland and others.Manuel

    The scientific method insists on standards of confirmation that are not arbitrary. A "feeling" that something is the case as it is taken up by Strawson, is not like an intuition of logic or one of, say, Kant's apriori space. It has no content and there is nothing "there" to acknowledge and interpret. Rather, it is just a reification of common sense, a pretending really, that the feeling that assures one all is well ontologically. But nothing at all is "well". And the concept as an ontology is absurd and really no better than religious affirmation in scripture in which feelings are very strong indeed.

    As to the "certain kind of feeling" comment, it's more or less true. You can keep on asking why questions infinitely, but beyond a point the question itself does not advance any further answers. So one is either content to give the best explanation we may have of a thing so far as we can tell, or we'll merely end up talking about terminology, which is not interesting.[
    It depends on what questions you are asking and this changes entirely what the best explanation could be. Take the simple matter raised in the OP: what is the "best explanation" here, at the genuinely most basic epistemic connectivity is? A concept about how this is possible, this kind of connectivity, is fundamental to all other claims to what could be a foundational substratum to all things, i.e., an account of what "reality" is at the basic level of inquiry. IF one assumes materialism in this, THEN one is bound to the essential descriptive features of materialism, and there is nothing in materialism that can do this. One would have to redefine materialism for this, and I think Strawson wants to have all things subsumable under materialism as he often pulls back to say how "open" the idea is. But it is not open at all. It in fact closes theory. If you want openness, then Heidegger is your man.
    Manuel
    The point of the essay was to show how much more "materialism" is, than what is commonly assumed. It includes everything there is, because we simply don't know enough to claim that there is something else which is not physical.Manuel

    But the term 'physical' equally says nothing. This comes down to a term having a descriptive capacity to explain the what is there, and what is there is indeterminacy at the basic level, not the physical or the material. These are terms simply borrowed from everyday talk, stand-in terms for general references. They are anti-analytic, as if inquiry found its terminal point. But there is only one terminal 'point' and this is openness itself; not the kind of scientific openness that looks to established paradigms in science for its clues to proceed, but existential openness that puts science, too, and its objectivity, in abeyance. All Strawson provides is a reification of "common" sense. But the world is not common at all.

    We have not exhausted, at all, what the physical is. It's a monist claim. But if you dislike the name "materialism", you can call it "objective mentalism" or "critical idealism" or even "dialectical phenomenology", everything would be that one thing postulated by the term you use. And then you'd have to give a very good reason for justifying the introduction of another substance or ontology. Simply asserting the mind isn't matter is missing the point completely.Manuel

    I don't assert the mind is not matter. That would be assuming the term 'matter' has any sense outside it comfortable contextualities.
    No, materialism comes with very specific baggage, and the point is one cannot simply declare it to be without any real meaning, then conclude all things are this. One is committed to science's paradigmatic limitations with this term and the trouble with this is, science cannot examine its own presuppositions, like the mind-body-epistemic problem. Attention must go exclusively issues raised by Kant, Hegel, Kierkegaard, Heidegger, Husserl, so forth into Derrida and others.

    I don't deny that Husserl has some useful things to say. He is not good at explaining them very well, admittedly, but if one wants to go through that monumental effort, there may well be some interesting ideas to be gained from him.

    It's fine to prefer one school of thought over another, that's just the way we are.
    Manuel

    We are what we read, and there is such a thing as bad thinking. No doubt Husserl can be demanding. But the Cartesian Meditations are not so impenetrable at ll. But his IDEAS I and II really do lay out the details of his phenomenology.

    But pls, it's not just a whatever floats your boat matter. Why not read Heidegger's Being and Time, just for the philosophical pleasure of coming to grips with the greatest philosopher of the past century?
  • Manuel
    3k


    I mean, I don't have issues with that way of expression or thinking about this problem.

    If anything, those things not immediately in our heads - objects, hard stuff, whatever - are less known or understood than our ideas. Of course, it doesn't follow that those objects are made of ideas at all; it's a matter of emphasizing one aspect of our experience over another one.

    So, you saying that ideas can be made into physical expressions makes sense.

    A "feeling" that something is the case as it is taken up by Strawson, is not like an intuition of logic or one of, say, Kant's apriori space. It has no content and there is nothing "there" to acknowledge and interpret. Rather, it is just a reification of common sense, a pretending really, that the feeling that assures one all is well ontologically. But nothing at all is "well". And the concept as an ontology is absurd and really no better than religious affirmation in scripture in which feelings are very strong indeed.Constance

    Well, one should keep in mind, which Kantians don't usually bring up for some reason, is that he was a Newtonian. He took space and time to be the a-priori conditions of sensibility, as opposed to say, cognitive openness or a background of intelligibility, because he thought space and time were absolute as Newton showed. He then incorporated this into our subjective framework and denied the validity of these to things in themselves.

    Today we know that Newton is only correct within a range of phenomena, but not others. We now speak of spacetime, due to Einstein.

    I don't read into it much scripture. Again, you can label the world whatever, it's a monist postulate, not more. The idea that experience is physical was mind-boggling to me. But as he says clearly, his physicalism is not physicSalism. These are very different.

    A concept about how this is possible, this kind of connectivity, is fundamental to all other claims to what could be a foundational substratum to all things, i.e., an account of what "reality" is at the basic level of inquiry. IF one assumes materialism in this, THEN one is bound to the essential descriptive features of materialism, and there is nothing in materialism that can do this.Manuel

    What something "really" is, is honorific. You can say I want the "real truth" or the "real deal", that doesn't mean there are two kinds of truth, the truth and the real truth nor the deal and the real deal.

    You can ask, what constitutes this thing at a certain level. So in the case of neurons, you stay within biology. If you want to go to a "deeper" level (which can be somewhat misleading), you go to physics, not biology. But if we are not talking about neurons, and instead are speaking about people, we can speak in many different ways, not bound down to the sciences at all.

    One is committed to science's paradigmatic limitations with this term and the trouble with this is, science cannot examine its own presuppositions, like the mind-body-epistemic problem. Attention must go exclusively issues raised by Kant, Hegel, Kierkegaard, Heidegger, Husserl, so forth into Derrida and others.Constance

    If you say so. That's why I said I'm the odd one out. I could call myself a real materialist in Strawson's sense, or a "rationalistic idealist" in Chomsky's sense and not be committed at all to the ontology of current science. I don't believe in this notion of commitment, my thoughts could change depending on arguments and evidence.

    We are what we read, and there is such a thing as bad thinking. No doubt Husserl can be demanding. But the Cartesian Meditations are not so impenetrable at ll. But his IDEAS I and II really do lay out the details of his phenomenology.

    But pls, it's not just a whatever floats your boat matter. Why not read Heidegger's Being and Time, just for the philosophical pleasure of coming to grips with the greatest philosopher of the past century?
    Constance

    Who says I have not read Heidegger? Why are you assuming this? Because I referenced Strawson, you assume I have not read him or Husserl? That's quite amusing. I used to be a Heideggerian, and I think he has interesting things to say, no doubt. Hegel I can't stand. I prefer Schopenhauer. I should read more Kierkegaard, but I have my own interests too.

    I don't find Derrida is useful at all, in fact to me it's the opposite. But I am not going to pre-judge people who do find him useful because "they are what the read". You can tone it down a bit you know.
  • javra
    1.9k
    Again, you can label the world whatever, it's a monist postulate, not more. The idea that experience is physical was mind-boggling to me. But as he says clearly, his physicalism is not physicSalism. These are very different.

    [...]

    What something "really" is, is honorific. You can say I want the "real truth" or the "real deal", that doesn't mean there are two kinds of truth, the truth and the real truth nor the deal and the real deal.

    [...]
    Manuel

    What position would you hold in relation to this view intending a more precise, philosophical definition of materialism?

    In sum: In metaphysical essence, materialism is Aristotelian thought when fully divorced from formal and teleological causes.

    In so being, it only acknowledges material causes and, as a subsidiary of these, efficient causes - such that it is not forms (like a person as an Aristotelian form) which engage in efficient causes (e.g., we persons as forms do not here efficiently cause things) but, instead, it being matter itself which so does (e.g., we persons are nothing more than our constituency of this and that material causes which, as material causes, efficiently cause things).

    This differentiation between Aristotelian notions of formal cause (the uncle as person) and material cause (the uncle as a plethora of central nervous system cells) to my mind being of direct pertinence to the OP.

    Again, the idea is that the implications of this absence of formal and teleological causes in a world strictly comprised of material causes and their efficient effects thereby results in materialism / physicalism as its currently known.

    (Btw: Here acknowledging that the scientific method - which in truth historically emerged in rough parallel to this change in metaphysical perspectives - can be founded upon the metaphysics of materialism but that, if we agree as your former writing seems to suggest, it can just as validly be applied within non-physicalist worldviews such as Peirce's notion of objective idealism.)
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