• Apustimelogist
    430


    Not at all. I'm saying there is nothing special about science. I believe knowledge and methodology evolves in different ways to best suit the field. That's how physics has arrived at its methods, same with biology, same with history, sociology, musicology, theology, sabermetrics, anthropology, etc, etc.

    I genuinely don't think that there is any possibility of explaining phenomenal consciousness through the lense of a biologist or anyone else. Because I don't think phenomenality can be explained by anyone, I have no motivation to look at things from any different perspective that were to be radically different from modern neuroscience, cognitive science, psychology. I am not casting away phenomena. I just don't think there can be given a compelling, satisfying explanation for what-it's-like-ness.
  • Wayfarer
    21.5k
    I genuinely don't think that there is any possibility of explaining phenomenal consciousness through the lense of a biologist or anyone else. Because I don't think phenomenality can be explained by anyone, I have no motivation to look at things from any different perspective that were to be radically different from modern neuroscience, cognitive science, psychology.Apustimelogist

    I appreciate the answer and I like your forthrightness. But I don't think Chalmer's point in 'facing up to the problem of consciousness' really is a call for an explanation. It's not pointing out a flaw in the naturalist account, by saying the nature of consciousness is a problem for naturalism as currently understood. Or that scientific accounts of the mind leave something important out.

    Philosophy itself is very much concerned with the meaning of being. It is not concerned with an explanation in the functional sense of explaining one thing in terms of another. From a scientific point of view, that sounds hopelessly vague and quixotic. It's not sharply defined and doesn't have crisp boundaries. But some of the most pressing questions in life are like that.

    The dualistic [approaches] usually appear with two substances, a material one, which is attributed to the body, and an immaterial one, which is assigned to the mind.Wolfgang

    Agree - this is largely attributable to Cartesian dualism which posits a 'res cogitans', literally, 'thinking thing', an oxymoronic conception. However, there has been a revival of interest in hylomorphism, which is derived from Aristotle's matter-form dualism, which is a completely different animal, with current advocates including William Jaworksi and others.

    Inevitably, one enters religious, esoteric or mystical ground, because an immaterial spirit lacks any real justification. A distinction must be made between those who speak of immaterial things in relation to thoughts, since they cannot be touched. The immaterial here is therefore not of a substantive nature, but of a linguistic nature. Body and mind sometimes work partly independently of each other, sometimes in parallel, sometimes the mind supervenes over the body, sometimes it influences it. None of these attempts, however, can solve the mind-body problem, and it remains an unsatisfactory dualism. And this contradicts the fact that every organism consists of nothing more than flesh and blood, thus of matter.Wolfgang

    I take issue with this claim. From Descartes' oxymoronic 'res cogitans' we inherit an unintelligible metaphor for the nature of mind. The principle problem is indeed perspectival, because the thinking being is never itself among the objects of perception. So it can't be grasped or comprehended objectively, which is why diehard materialists such as Dennett seek to eliminate it. The OP acknowledges this, but then just says 'so much the worse for philosophy'.

    So I agree the unsatisfactoriness of dualism arises from trying to treat the mind as some object or thing. But as the OP also says, 'what is mind' is a badly-asked question - UNLESS it is asked as a kind of koan, a question that dissolves itself in the asking of it. By coming to realise that the mind is in some profound and real sense actually unknowable, that it, and therefore we ourselves, are a mystery at the heart of being. So that it is enter religious, esoteric or mystical grounds, an essential and primordial aspect of human being.

    As to every organism comprising nothing but matter, this is outright materialism, and I reject it completely. But that doesn't mean endorsing any kind of thinking substance. The aspect of the human nearest the immaterial is the capacity to grasp meaning, is to see the real meaning of things. Of course that is preserved in science, but in a limited and specific way - an instrumental way, according to Adorno's analysis. We value science for its instrumental utility, not so much for its ability to grasp capital T truth. But that kind of insight into the big picture, the overall meaning of things, is precisely what is meant by sagacity (or sapience), and that is where something like 'the immaterial spirit' is revealed, albeit that nowadays sounds a rather gauche expression. (Who is that gauche amigo :chin: )
  • Manuel
    4k
    I don't think we can say that, other than as a 'position' to take, rather than that it is the case. Isn't that what half of the questions in this arena relate to? The fact we don't know that that is the case?AmadeusD

    I think we can be highly confident thoughts arise in human beings from the brain. We can lose almost any part of our bodies and still have thoughts. But if you remove the brain, no more thinking.

    The problem is not from where do thoughts come from, but the how.
  • Mark Nyquist
    744
    Putting mind into the universal form I mentioned yesterday seems to work as a theory of mind. That looks like this:

    Physical brain; (mind)

    A fairly simple concept.
    Again using the same relation it means that mind is supported by physical brain state.

    All the things that fit this form are one thing...what the brain supports...but the word mind is a more all encompassing word.

    Now instead of mind being off limits we have an understanding of its physical basis and since we have direct access to mind and not to biology we can make some progress.
  • Mark Nyquist
    744
    Here is an abbreviated list in case you missed the first one:

    Physical brain; (thought)
    Physical brain; (ideas)
    Physical brain; (knowledge)
    Physical brain; (information)
    Physical brain; (consciousness)
    Physical brain; (memory)
    Physical brain; (planning)
    Physical brain; (time perseption)
    Physical brain; (non-physicals)
    Physical brain; (communication abilities)
    *
    *
    *
    AND mind
    Physical brain; (mind)

    The pattern seems to be that we have a lot of words for what the brain does. Maybe a trap is that we argue for the meaning of a word and miss the big picture.
  • Corvus
    3k
    The most compelling question on mind is still, is it a substance i.e. is it some existence of its own, be it physical or non-physical?. Or is mind just a totality of intelligent and sentient actions and responses on the environment without its own existence?

    Although it supports the functions of mind, surely physical brain is not mind itself is it? Has any Science come to a concrete answer to the question?
  • Mark Nyquist
    744

    I would say the minds physical form is the physical brain itself. To me that is a starting point. After that there is a lot to sort through.
  • Corvus
    3k
    Fair enough. So how does the physical brain generate consciousness or awareness?
  • wonderer1
    1.8k
    So how does the physical brain generate consciousness or awareness?Corvus

    Physically.

    If you want to consider the question seriously it will involve studying a lot of science. However, I suspect you just wanted to do philosophical performance art, by asking a non-serious question. Am I right?
  • Corvus
    3k
    If you want to consider the question seriously it will involve studying a lot of science. However, I suspect you just wanted to do philosophical performance art, by asking a non-serious question. Am I right?wonderer1
    I was just asking the most compelling question I used to have on mind problem, but had no answers.
  • Corvus
    3k
    Physically.wonderer1
    Please elaborate further?
  • Metaphysician Undercover
    12.8k
    I thought that a pretty cool response, but then, it was also telling me what I wanted to hear (although, how did it know that :chin: )Wayfarer

    I think that this is a very interesting question, and goes to the heart of what current AI processes actually are. It's more a topic for the philosophy of language, than mind, but the two are closely related, language being a reflection of mind.

    The Ai is formulated to look at the exact words which you use, and the exact way that you use them, compare this with others, and thereby categorize you, produce a very specific "type" constructed just for you, the individual. You are a type. But it isn't really "you" that it is representing with that specialized type, it is simply what you want, as represented by that one specific instance of language use. And, as you note, it is very adept at giving you what you ask for. Beside the fact that it has all sort of language use available at its fingertips to analyze, it is very impressive because it is designed with that one intent, to represent what you want, without the interference of having its own desires, which happens with human to human interaction. The machine has the capacity to determine what you want without being influenced by what it wants, if the only thing it wants is to give you what you want.

    Of course, misuse is extremely likely. To begin with, ulterior motives are probably already cooked into the machine, intent other than to simply provide a representation of what you want, such as data collection and other forms of classification for you, for advertising or whatever.

    Imagine if an AI were to stalk you. It can already produce a very good representation of what you want, from one simple instance of language use. Do you think that if it followed a whole lot of your language use, it could produce a very clear model of "you", or would it get totally confused by all sorts of conflicting wants, and see you as a completely unintelligible being?
  • AmadeusD
    2k
    yes, I’ve thought about this while reading a bit about it now. But it’s 2:30am now so maybe not the best time to be verbose - in short, yes I agree I was misapprehending (or maybe miswording) a different problem I had in mind.
    Sorry about that waste of time.
  • Manuel
    4k


    Not at all.

    Happens to all of us. :smile:
  • Apustimelogist
    430
    I appreciate the answer and I like your forthrightness. But I don't think Chalmer's point in 'facing up to the problem of consciousness' really is a call for an explanation. It's not pointing out a flaw in the naturalist account, by saying the nature of consciousness is a problem for naturalism as currently understood. Or that scientific accounts of the mind leave something important out.Wayfarer

    I am not sure what you are suggesting the problem of consciousness is then. I think it must be related to explanation because if there was an explanation then there would be no issue for physicalism. I think though there are alternative ways of looking at naturalism if we go through the avenue of looking at how there may be inherent limits on explanation.

    Ultimately, I think as metaphysical frameworks, naturalism and physicalism are pretty thin; but they also capture strong intuitions myself and other people have. As I have mentioned elsewhere I suspect maybe it could be conceptualized instead in terms of the rejection of certain scientist hypotheses about the world e.g. about dualism, the supernatural.

    Philosophy itself is very much concerned with the meaning of being. IWayfarer

    For me, meaning is functional. If our behavior is functionally explained by brains entirely then meaning is as well.
  • sime
    1k
    For me, meaning is functional. If our behavior is functionally explained by brains entirely then meaning is as well.Apustimelogist

    If functions are regarded to be nothing more than tools, then it would seem that the intensional meaning of functions is entirely dependent upon the intentional state of the investigator who applies them.

    It seems to me that the identification of meaning and function per-se doesn't distinguish function realism from function anti-realism and idealism. (Kripkean skepticism comes to mind again)
  • Wayfarer
    21.5k
    Ultimately, I think as metaphysical frameworks, naturalism and phyaicalism are pretty thin....For me, meaning is functional.Apustimelogist

    I get it. I was drawn to philosophy for different reasons to many here (not necessarily better or worse, but different.) My motivation was the quest for philosophical enlightenment, which is a way of being or attaining a superior affective state. I don't feel I have succceeded in that, but it doesn't dim my belief that it is real and that it is nearer the meaning of philosophy as traditionally understood. I didn't see philosophy as a research program to establish the causal connections between neural states and behaviours, although I have discovered a few sources on the neuroscience of mindfulness, for instance James H. Austin's Zen and the Brain and The Buddha's Brain, Rick Hanson, so there can be a cross-over. But if it's looked at purely through the perspective of today's naturalism (I say 'todays' because the definition constantly shifts), it tends too much towards scientism for my liking. I continue to believe that humans are more than physical - that we are metaphysical beings with access to planes of being beyond the physical.
  • Mark Nyquist
    744

    A good argument for mind is all the variations in our minds. Like all the books in the libraries. Different brains, different minds. Not the case that all brains are alike.
  • Apustimelogist
    430


    there are neither intensional nor intentional states imo

    It seems to me that the identification of meaning and function per-se doesn't distinguish function realism from function anti-realism and idealism. (Kripkean skepticism comes to mind again)sime

    Not sure what you're saying here but definitely a fan of Kripkenstein.
  • sime
    1k
    Not sure what you're saying here but definitely a fan of Kripkenstein.Apustimelogist


    "According to functionalists, mental states are identified by what they do rather than by what they are made of" - IEP

    Yet functionalism leaves the very nature of "doing" unspecified, so it is hard to think of what functionalism rules in versus out. The concept of functions/doing is part descriptive and part normative, and related to metaphysical presuppositions about the nature of time, causality and counterfactuals. For instance, can "doing" purely consist of synchronised motions like the contents of a movie? or is agency, causation and the notion of counterfactuals involved?

    Kripke came to mind for similar reasons, in his astonishment to learn that the meaning of mathematical functions is intensional, i.e implicit and normative, as opposed extensional i.e explicit and descriptive.

    (Data might be interpreted as expressing a function, but cannot ground the meaning of the function or make the meaning of the function explicit, since the latter's meaning is inexhaustible from the perspective of the user of the function who understands it normatively, while being open to interpretation from the perspective of an observer of the purported function who understands it descriptively)
  • Mark Nyquist
    744
    The OP mentioned Artificial Intelligence so I took a look at the free ChatGPT for the first time. I'm familiar with chatbots and some of the other things we run into but it's really not a big interest of mine. It seems to be better every time I check.

    I asked ChatGPT if it had time perception and it answered NO and that it was a human trait. I thought that was interesting. I asked some geometry questions like 3D objects and it does great on those and sometimes returned more than I would have known so a useful tool. It's a big deal, no doubt. It did seem very mechanical and constrained. Not quite a human response on all questions and on some questions it seemed like it was just retrieving a page of text.

    To me it seems like AI is still mechanics. I suspect brains do it differently. My guess is brains are advanced enough that they really do manipulate non-physicals. The computers are just running lines of code.

    Not entirely sure about this, I could be wrong.
    I still think there is more potential in developing theory of mind than not.
  • Apustimelogist
    430


    Yes, I wasn't necessarily trying to identify meaning with function but more like there isn't anything more to what we call meaning than 'function' which is just a vague way of me talki g about sequences of events. Like Kripke, Wittgenstein, Quine suggest, I think meaning becomes completely deflated. There's no objective essence about it. We can concpetualize ourselves as complex brains which just go through sequences of brain states. Or alternately sequences of experiences. But with experiences it gets vague and I feel like my intuition of experiences are very different from some other people.
  • Malcolm Lett
    76
    As someone who comes more from, shall we say, a reductionist scientific viewpoint, and who is interested in using that viewpoint to understand human consciousness, I find the Philosophy of Mind discussions tremendously beneficial. I read somewhere on this forum (and paraphrasing) that the relationship between philosophy and science is that philosophy is tasked with finding the questions that need to be answered, and in putting some constraints on the possible answers, and that science is tasked with finding the answers that can be empirically justified.

    Consciousness and the philosophy of mind is perfect topic for that conjoint study. The history of consciousness research, complete with its ancient history, the later behavioral hiatus, and the recent re-update, is a story the co-dependence between philosophy and science (for better or for worse).

    That being said, I am regularly frustrated by intransigent philosophical arguments that seem to derive from some fundamental misunderstanding somewhere or unproven viewpoint, but that the cause is impossible to identify due to the complexity of the arguments. In some cases though it is entirely clear. I've been trying to read Chalmer's The Conscious Mind, and, while Chalmer's was the one who got me interested in consciousness in the first place and I have tremendous respect for him, I am frustrated by the oblique assumptions that riddle his arguments -- assumptions that I don't agree with.

    On the other other hand, I have come to recognize and accept that these kinds of debates are the domain of philosophy, and that ultimately they do lead to exactly the outcomes that we need for science to partake.

    The topic of consciousness and other philosophy of mind questions are still deeply unknown. Taking a scientific viewpoint, I have a strong theory that explains consciousness in purely reductionist mechanistic principles, and I can argue that it explains phenomenal consciousness. But any arguments I present will not be accepted because the explanations are too far from our intuitions. That's where philosophy of mind comes in, to discuss the hows and whys of the explanatory gap between any scientific theory and our intuitions.
  • 180 Proof
    14.7k
    [P]hilosophy is tasked with finding the questions that need to be answered, and in putting some constraints on the possible answers, and that science is tasked with finding the answers that can be empirically justified.Malcolm Lett
    Works for me. :up:

    Taking a scientific viewpoint, I have a strong theory that explains consciousness in purely reductionist mechanistic principles, and I can argue that it explains phenomenal consciousness. But any arguments I present will not be accepted because the explanations are too far from our intuitions.
    In science, this quality is a feature not a bug and therefore piques my philosophical interest. :cool:

    I've been trying to read Chalmer's The Conscious Mind, and, while Chalmer's was the one who got me interested in consciousness in the first place and I have tremendous respect for him, I am frustrated by the oblique assumptions that riddle his arguments -- assumptions that I don't agree with.
    :up:

    If you've read Being No One (or its less technical summary The Ego Tunnel) by Thomas Metzinger, I wonder what you think of his phenomenal self model (PSM) of consciousness. If you're not familiar with his work, Malcoim, I highly recommend it given your self-described interest in the philosophy of mind. (Also, this ...
    https://thephilosophyforum.com/discussion/comment/755060)
  • Corvus
    3k
    People die. Philosophies never die.
  • Lionino
    2.2k
    A lot of their studies get discredited. Twins study for example.Mark Nyquist

    Was it? I have never heard of anything like that. And when I read the study, the methodology seemed solid.
  • AmadeusD
    2k
    There seem to be many critiques 2,, 3. and 4.

    I've not fully vetted these sources.
  • Lionino
    2.2k
    The second link raises good points, but the information it contains belongs more to the fact that those studies do not contain circumstances that would maximise the difference that genes play (being raised in a different geographic area), but even then it does not mean the studies are not valuable. The last paragraph however is transparent cope.
    The third is an opinion piece by a single researcher, instead of actual research, I did not read the full thing but it seems to generally say something along the same lines as the second link.
    Far from the studies being discredited.
  • AmadeusD
    2k
    I think its possible you're just not being honest here. I'm going to leave it, but suffice to say I'm of the opinion you are defending something no one really takes seriously.
bold
italic
underline
strike
code
quote
ulist
image
url
mention
reveal
youtube
tweet
Add a Comment

Welcome to The Philosophy Forum!

Get involved in philosophical discussions about knowledge, truth, language, consciousness, science, politics, religion, logic and mathematics, art, history, and lots more. No ads, no clutter, and very little agreement — just fascinating conversations.