• wonderer1
    1.5k
    The one data point that I think defeats physicalism (or makes it very unlikely), is the fact that I'm conscious. Physicalism cannot explain that and probably never will.RogueAI

    Can you provide any reason to think that you aren't making an argument from ignorance?

    Argument from ignorance (from Latin: argumentum ad ignorantiam), also known as appeal to ignorance (in which ignorance represents "a lack of contrary evidence"), is a fallacy in informal logic. It asserts that a proposition is true because it has not yet been proven false or a proposition is false because it has not yet been proven true. This represents a type of false dichotomy in that it excludes the possibility that there may have been an insufficient investigation to prove that the proposition is either true or false.[1] It also does not allow for the possibility that the answer is unknowable, only knowable in the future, or neither completely true nor completely false.[2] In debates, appealing to ignorance is sometimes an attempt to shift the burden of proof.
  • RogueAI
    2.3k
    Can you provide any reason to think that you aren't making an argument from ignorance?wonderer1

    If there was progress to be made explaining consciousness, science would have made it by now. There are also reductio absurdums at play. Bernardo Kastrup talks about one of them here: https://www.bernardokastrup.com/2023/01/ai-wont-be-conscious-and-here-is-why.html

    What theory of consciousness do you subscribe to?
  • wonderer1
    1.5k
    If there was progress to be made explaining consciousness, science would have made it by now.RogueAI

    This just shows your ignorance of the technological challenges in the way of gaining detailed information about neurological processes. So it doesn't do anything to dispel my impression, that all you have is an argument from ignorance.
  • RogueAI
    2.3k
    What theory of consciousness do you like?
  • RogueAI
    2.3k

    https://www.durham.ac.uk/research/current/thought-leadership/2023/10/consciousness-why-a-leading-theory-has-been-branded-pseudoscience

    I expect more of this in the future. Physicalist explanations of consciousness are all pseudoscience. It just hasn't sunk in yet.
  • DanCoimbra
    12
    Consciousness remains a mystery, for physicalists and non-physicalists alike.

    To support my claim, I will reframe the problem of consciousness in the way I see it. The problem is to explain how qualia interact with non-qualia in a way that reflects its qualitative content. For example, why do aversive qualia (e.g. suffering) cause aversive physical reactions?

    There are three possible solutions. One is to explain away qualia, as illusionists do. Another is to explaim away non-qualia, as idealists do. The third is to explain the bridge between qualia and non-qualia, as most people try to do (e.g. dual-aspect monists, panpsychists, orchestrated objective reduction theorists, information integration theorists).

    For lack of a better alternative, I am drawn towards illusionism, which sees qualia as cognitive illusions. We are all in fact philosophical zombies, but our cognitive apparatuses couldn't possibly believe that on an intuitive level. Qualia are just our cognitive judgments about ourselves and the world around us. I find the arguments in Dennett's work elucidating in this aspect, although they are not decisive (cf. "Quining qualia" and "Time and the observer").
  • RogueAI
    2.3k
    We are all in fact philosophical zombiesDanCoimbra

    If the physicalist/materialist has to make this move to salvage their ontology, they've lost the game.
  • NOS4A2
    8.2k


    I expect more of this in the future. Physicalist explanations of consciousness are all pseudoscience. It just hasn't sunk in yet.

    The entire field of consciousness is pseudoscience. At best it's folk psychology; at worst it's superstition. I wager that physicalist explanations will come to this conclusion before non-physicalist ones.
  • wonderer1
    1.5k
    What theory of consciousness do you like?RogueAI

    It is too soon for anyone to be justified in calling something a scientific theory of consciousness.

    However, speculation plays an important part in how scientific understanding develops.

    So while in my opinion the IIT crew is being pretentious in calling IIT a theory, I wouldn't call it pseuoscience, so much as speculative hypothesizing that serves a useful role in science.

    But you haven't responded to the issue of you making arguments from ignorance. Why do you consider yourself competent to judge what the state of science should be at present? Surely it is not a matter of you considering yourself scientifically well informed. Right?
  • DanCoimbra
    12
    It is not virtuous to be dismissive. I believe onlookers to our debate will agree.

    As with most age-old philosophical questions, any answer to the problem of consciousness will be deeply counter-intuitive; otherwise, it wouldn't have resisted solution for so long.

    For reasons we could debate, idealism, dualism, panpsychism, emergentism, and non-reductive physicalism all face serious issues in connecting qualia to the functional properties of physical objects.

    Illusionism is deeply counter-intuitive in that it explains away what seems to be the most given; but that is not to be rejected apriori, but only upon theoretical and empirical reflection. There might be conceptual and empirical reason to think that qualia are incoherent posits. Here is an argument outline.

    Our ability to perform conscious judgments are strongly connected to our brain processes. What happens to our brain affects our attention, object detection, object identification, object tracking, pattern detection, similarity judgment, distance judgment, duration perception, proprioception, and so on.

    This is evidenced by perceptual impairments caused by brain damage, such as hemispatial neglect (seeing but ignoring objects without noticing), cortical blindness (unconscious seeing), visual anosognosia (denial of blindness), prosopagnosia (no detection of faces), akinetopsia (no detection of motion), mixed transcortical aphasia (where a person can sing but not talk), and the effects of psychedelics in perception, proprioception, ego fragmentation, and ego dissolution. The work of Oliver Sacks and the work of V. S. Ramachandran are very interesting in this regard.

    From the above, some conclude that qualia are just brain processes (reductive physicalists), where others conclude that they are caused by brain processes (non-reductive physicalists, dualists), and still others believe that they partially constitute brain processes (panpsychists, dual-aspect monists, idealists). Either way, we must accept that the mind and the brain are deeply connected.

    Having said so, here are some direct motivations for illusionism.

    1. Consciousness seems unified, but it is not. Our brain processes are temporally and spatially distributed. There is no tiny interval in spacetime where our brain perceptual judgments coalesce so as to possibly form a unified conscious state. I like Dennett's multiple drafts hypothesis on this regard, which receives empirical support in his paper "Time and the observer" (cf. color phi phenomenon, cutaneous rabbit pheomenon). There is also something to say about the unity of consciousness when reflecting on split-brain patients; more on this in the succeeding item.

    2. Our access to conscious states seems infallible, but it is not. Access to conscious states requires a physical process connecting qualia to memory, action, and speech, but such a physical connection coud aways fail. We could form false memories or simply forget what we just felt. We could feel something but not be able to think about it, act based upon it, or talk about it. This happens with split-brain patients: the right hemisphere is able to detect objects alright (and even draw them), but it cannot *talk* about it. What's worse, the right hemisphere does not notice that it cannot talk about anything. How does that conscious state (or "soul") function? Was the person's soul divided?

    3. There is even an argument from the philosophy of time. The standard Minkowski interpretation of Einsteinian relativity in terms of a 4D spacetime seemingly entails eternalism – that there is no objective present and that time does not objectively pass. Reality is static; time is a static relation between static events; the flow of time is an illusion. Yet, conscious states seem intrinsically dynamic, although they are in fact static.

    These statements show that conscious states might not be what they appear, contradicting Berkeley's principle "esse est percipi". And if there can be a partial cognitive illusion about qualia, why not a complete cognitive illusion?
  • AmadeusD
    1.3k
    Interesting turn in the last page or two. I see Dennett rearing his head in these discussions.

    I think it is, even after reading Dan's elucidative posts, a really hard sell that Dennett even gets off the ground in reducing qualia to something other than qualia. The idea that "unification", "access" and "temporality" of conscious states is amenable to change doesn't at all infer, to me, that qualia are not qualia as currently understood. Its not just counter-intuitive, but counter possible-experience. In that way, even if it were true, I don't think its actually reasonable to expect a human mind to discuss the fact of its non-existence - given we operate via qualia at levels from sense experience to thought.
    It may not be virtuous to be dismissive, but I do think it's virtuous to not waste time discussing something that, at it's base, appears to be not possible.
  • RogueAI
    2.3k


    Interesting turn in the last page or two. I see Dennett rearing his head in these discussions.

    I think it is, even after reading Dan's elucidative posts, a really hard sell that Dennett even gets off the ground in reducing qualia to something other than qualia. The idea that "unification", "access" and "temporality" of conscious states is amenable to change doesn't at all infer, to me, that qualia are not qualia as currently understood. Its not just counter-intuitive, but counter possible-experience. In that way, even if it were true, I don't think its actually reasonable to expect a human mind to discuss the fact of its non-existence - given we operate via qualia at levels from sense experience to thought.
    It may not be virtuous to be dismissive, but I do think it's virtuous to not waste time discussing something that, at it's base, appears to be not possible.
    AmadeusD

    I agree with this. There are some things that are so obviously wrong, they (and the people that support them) can be justifiably dismissed out of hand: flat-earthers, YE creationists, phrenology, palmistry, etc. Is anyone here going to spend much time arguing with a breatharian?

    Am I a zombie? No. Ah, but what if you rephrase the question? Is my conscious experience and mind and subjective experiences some kind of illusion so that in effect I'm actually a zombie? No. I think a winning move in a debate with people like Dennett is to ask them to smash their finger with a hammer and then say qualia doesn't exist or is an illusion. Intense pain is probably the best rejoinder to the claim, "we're all zombies"*. When my back flares up... if only I were a p-zombie!

    And I get being dismissed out of hand. My own pet theory, idealism, is taken seriously by very few. It is a very hard sell. But I sense a change in that. Panpsychism is on the rise. People are even seriously discussing plant consciousness. The materialist paradigm is teetering. That doesn't mean idealism will win out, but any loss of faith in materialism is going to translate into some gain for idealism. Bernardo Kastrup has a following. As science continues to flail away at the hard problem and more bottles of win are won by philosophers, I see my position as only getting stronger.

    *Note that this is not like Johnson kicking the rock. Rock-kicking is consistent with immaterialism. Intense pain, on the other hand, directly contradicts any notions of zombiism.
  • RogueAI
    2.3k
    But you haven't responded to the issue of you making arguments from ignorance. Why do you consider yourself competent to judge what the state of science should be at present? Surely it is not a matter of you considering yourself scientifically well informed. Right?wonderer1

    Compared to someone like Christof Koch, I'm a scientific ignoramus. But is that your point? So what? Does that make me wrong? 100 researchers haven't accused me of pseudoscience. I didn't lose a humiliating bet to David Chalmers. I would gladly have taken some of Koch's wine too, if he had been inclined to bet me. So who's ahead of the game, me or the integrated information "experts"? It was very entertaining when that j'accuse! pseudoscience letter was published.
  • wonderer1
    1.5k
    I'm a scientific ignoramus.RogueAI

    At least we can agree on that.
  • RogueAI
    2.3k
    I can always count on you to go for the ad hominem. A lot of materialists here do. It's like they're emotionally invested in it or something.
  • wonderer1
    1.5k
    I can always count on you to go for the ad hominem. A lot of materialists here do. It's like they're emotionally invested in it or something.RogueAI

    And it is like you don't recognize that your ignorance makes your opinion on the matter uninteresting, and tedious to respond to.
  • DanCoimbra
    12


    Thanks for the walm welcome. Illusionism is indeed a hard sell. It is, however, at least conceivable that there could be cognitive machines (functional minds) outputting false beliefs about there being ineffable experiences. This makes some sense when we consider that conscious experiences involve numerous cognitive judgments, rather than being (purely) some form of raw feeling. It is this feature which gives me hope that perhaps consciousness is just a cognitive illusion. However, like you, it does not fully convince me either.



    It is alright to be dismissive with an inept interlocutor. Flat-earthers are very bad at physics, for instance. Illusionists, on the other hand, bring arguments and insights from cognitive science on the table, equipped with contemporary analytic philosophy of mind. They are not denying scientific evidence. What they are denying is that we have introspective evidence of qualia, and they do so by providing a somewhat detailed cognitive theory of how that comes about. I think their case is sufficiently well-argued for us to take them seriously.

    At any rate, thank you for the cordial exchange. I enjoyed reading your first-hand account of what it is like to be an idealist. I have already consumed some of Kastrup's work, it is interesting indeed.
  • AmadeusD
    1.3k
    Thanks for the walm welcome.DanCoimbra

    I assume you're taking it in good humour, but i am sorry. I should've been more cordial in a first comment!

    at least conceivable that there could be cognitive machines (functional minds) outputting false beliefs about there being ineffable experiences.DanCoimbra

    I suppose to me, that is true, but its not worth pursuing given we haven't got started as to how to attempt to move toward bringing it about, really. But you're right - it is conceivable and imo, logically possible. I bite the p-zombie bullet as it is atm
  • RogueAI
    2.3k
    Welcome to the forum!
  • RogueAI
    2.3k
    What they are denying is that we have introspective evidence of qualia, and they do so by providing a somewhat detailed cognitive theory of how that comes about. I think their case is sufficiently well-argued for us to take them seriously.DanCoimbra

    They're clever. They know their facts. I just think it's an obvious dead end. I notice that in the 2009 Philpapers survey, non-physicalism regarding the mind was at 27%. In 2020, it exploded to...32%. Still, if these trends continue...
  • DanCoimbra
    12


    I was not jesting at all! Sorry, I had the mistaken memory that you had explicitly welcomed me, because this has happened too often (people here are very welcoming). Then I thought your welcome to be warm because you paid attention to my remarks and also said they were elucidative. :-)
  • AmadeusD
    1.3k
    Ah! Fair enough - well glad to have a cordial 'proper' intro.

    Welcome to the forum Dan :) I can see you're going to really contribute a lot here. Unfortunately, my interests and proclivities aren't around mathematics or modal logic per se so we may not interact too much - but very glad to have you here, from what i've seen :)
  • Fire Ologist
    65
    everything is physical, or as contemporary philosophers sometimes put it, that everything supervenes on, or is necessitated by, the physical.SEP

    If you describe the human being as a non-physical spirit with a body, the physicalist must say that the thing being identified as a non-physical "spirit", is really a supervening moment necessitated by a conscious brain.

    Certainly seems plausible. At the very least, there is the physical. There is no real reason to deny the presence of the physical. Physicalism appears an elegant solution to a sensing, bodily being.

    Thanks to Plato and Kant, we have to admit there are serious difficulties with really saying what a physical, individuated thing is in itself. So, though I think we have to admit the omni-presence of the physical, we haven't yet really satisfied ourselves that we have any actual explanation of physical things.

    After searching round and round the cave under all of its physical, fleeting manifestations, being unsatisfied, what real use is it to introduce non-physicalism for more explanatory power? We don't even know what matter is, and so to insert something non-physical seems like a naïve way of introducing another unexplainable substance, adding confusion, making things worse.

    But do we just need more science of the physical then, to really explain what an individuated, moving thing is? Though the physical is always there, I don't agree that the physical alone can account for my experience. We can't do what we are doing right now, namely, passing ideas from one mind to another through words, or, in other words, communicating, without the non-physical. Meaning is not physical. I mean, I know you are familiar with meaning, and use it every time you speak. We are submerged in meaning, because we are human beings.

    I can say "you know what I mean" or I can say "you catch my drift" - these are different physical things, but with the same meaning, so we have three "things" here: my first phrase, my second different phrase, and the meaning of each, which happens to be the same meaning...if you are following me and digging what I'm laying down here. To make use of words, we make meaning, apart from the words. Same meaning, different words, means words and meaning are different. Meaning is the non-physical part, and only there when fabricated in a mind.

    We, human minds in communication with one another, meaning things, become the bookends on the physical. We are the limit of the physical. Only from here, in the attempt to communicate meaning across the abyss of the physical, standing somewhere/somehow outside the physical, can we ask about the physical and physicalism. There is no question in the necessity of the purely physical, yet here we are, communicating our wonder over this experience.

    Another way to say what I mean: the physical is tied to necessity, but if something is said to "supervene on" the physical, it must not be physical, or it would not be supervening, and it would remain part of the chain of necessity. There is no supervening on the physical without something non-physical. Somehow, we alone are that supervening, saturated in a world of immateriality.

    Now whether this meaning matters, that is another question. (Yes I said "matters" as applied to "meaning" and meant "matters" in the sense of 'means anything to you' - and yes, I meant to make a pun of the words 'matter' and 'meaning'; the pun, where meaning makes a mockery of the matter/words.)
    But for physicalism to mean that meaning can be fully reduced to the physics, does not seem to account for this very conversation, if any of us have meant anything here, or if any of us 'see what the other is saying', or might say "I understand." You feel me? Physics just doesn't cut it, at least not deep enough.
  • Mark Nyquist
    729

    On your post directly above you question if meaning can be reduced to physics. Probably not in the sense we could find out the exact mechanism but it's still a likely guess that holding meaning actually is possible because the physics supports it.

    Another question in the same area and I think a little more focused is can our physical brains conform to specific subject matter? I really enjoy the infinity discussions going on here now (other threads) and by that evidence I say yes and we do it very well. The opinions we form don't always agree and often disagree but for individuals it is a problem of matching mental capabilities with an inflexible subject matter. Some do it better than others. In areas of specialty... capabilities are built up over years and years. In other cases insights come quickly.

    So meaning doesn't reduce to physics but brains can conform to specific subject matter. More of a reaching out and capturing than a reducing down it appears.
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