• Sapientia
    5.5k
    Pat searched in the kitchenBanno

    Yeah, because he believed that there was a good chance his keys were there.
  • Srap Tasmaner
    1.6k

    Have not read Ramachandran, but cognitive science is enough in the air it's not hard to have a sense of these sorts of things. I'm just never sure what the philosophical upshot is. That was the point of the "machine code" post after the one you quote: of course a person's brain is doing all sorts of stuff below the level of consciousness, but that doesn't necessarily mean that everything we think about people and how they reason is wrong. That looks like a category mistake.

    Suppose I argue that you don't "really" hear Giancarlo Stanton's bat striking the ball, that there is a vibration in the air, and your brain processes that as an auditory signal in some complicated way that isn't simply veridical, and puts it together with a highly processed version of the visual sensations you're having, makes some adjustments for a direction for the "sound" to be perceived to have come from, and "arbitrarily" assigns it to the image your brain has created of the Stanton-object swinging. I've left out ~1200 pages of detail. I've probably also left out too many of the "justs" and "onlys" that this sort of account relies on, but I got an "arbitrarily" in there.

    Should be clear I don't think this is anything like proof I don't hear bat striking (the crap out of) ball. It's just an account of how I do that -- not sure what a more neutral phrase there would be -- at another level that doesn't include me or bats or balls.
  • Pseudonym
    907


    For me, the philosophical significance is in both the malleability of the conscious experience, and in the unreliability of our intuitive model of the world.

    The first I think has implications for the philosophy of mind, mainly in that (to bastardise Nagel) there isn't even a 'thing that it's like' to be us. I think pretty much any philosophical framework, from Descartes to Husserl, which has as it's centre the idea of the truth of introspection, must question its methodology in the light of the fact that out conciousness simply does not serve us any coherent or consistent story which might yield any deeper truths on analysis. It's not the sound of the cricket ball being hit that we might doubt, but that it 'means' anything to hear it.

    The second part I think simply lends weight to phenomenalism, but perhaps more importantly reminds us that we have no reason to assume that theories which work are also ones which make intuitive sense. I think there's still a tendency, even among professional philosophers to err towards ideas which make intuitive sense, when the reality of our modelling tools means that other theories may work better for us, if we can just get over the weird feeling accepting them gives us at first.
  • creativesoul
    2.5k
    One can act in a way that contradicts what they believe?

    Not true unless speaking insincerely counts as acting in a way. Here, there need to be a distinction drawn between what one says and what one does. One will not do something contrary to what they believe, unless for show and tell. Privately, it just plain does not happen. One will say, perhaps, all sorts of things contrary to what they believe. It's called dishonesty/insincerity/lying.

    So...

    Just because lying is possible, it does not follow that belief does not effect/affect behavior. It's quite a bit more nuanced than that. Jack is not capable of lying...
  • Srap Tasmaner
    1.6k

    I think I'm cool with most of this. (But what's that intuition worth?)

    We've talked elsewhere about the special use of introspection in linguistics. (The stuff about speaking on behalf of your speech community.) Something I'd like to know more about is the idea of theory in linguistics. It's my (limited) understanding that in trying to model a language formally, whether any speaker is or even could be conscious of the theory is not an issue. I think there are constraints on what could be computable, and thus conceivably instantiated in a human brain. And I guess there are also learnability constraints. But we know -- by introspection, no less! -- that people do not and need not consciously work through their knowledge of a language in order to speak it. I think there is some residual uncertainty, the usual anxiety of modeling, about whether it would be meaningful much less correct to say that your complete theoretical description must in fact be instantiated in the brains of speakers. I don't know where people come down on that.

    Anyway, that would be a principled way of leaning away from what's agreeable to your intuition and toward whatever has the most predictive power, because the theory's structure might not look much like what you think the structure of your language is, if you think about it, or much like the sorts of things you think about when you do consciously intervene in the production of speech.

    And in a broad sense I think the stuff we've learned about cognitive biases the last several decades -- with, you know, research, not anecdotes! -- is all to the good. It's notable that awareness of such biases can lead to corrective conscious intervention. ("Man this rookie shortstop is hitting like a god! -- Okay, okay, dial down the excitement a bit, that's only 50 PAs ...")

    Not sure where that leaves me. There's tons of stuff that goes on "below" -- it's always "below", isn't it? -- the level of consciousness, and I'm cool with that. How we do intervene consciously in those unconscious, automatic processes is pretty interesting, especially since there's a whole lot of reasoning I'm interested in that does seem to take place in the exception room instead of the business-as-usual room. The use of intuition there does require considerable care -- not least because it might represent the automatic department trying to assert control and get consciousness off its turf!
  • Pseudonym
    907


    Interesting thoughts. I'm a fairly committed realist (even, dare I say something of a materialist... I know, but we're fairly easily killed with silver bullets and a stake through the heart). So, for me, numbers present a problem to be solved. When it comes to a belief in the subjectivity, or unreliability, of intuition, language, I think, plays the same role. Its unreasonably effective given that no-one who speaks it understands how it functions.

    I think the solution I tentatively apply to numbers though can be applied to language also. Both, I think, are meta-real, by which I mean the entities themselves don't exist as real objects (numbers, words), but are a shared fiction. We must tell each other what the fiction is before we can use them, but it is because our consciousness is so desperately searching (and with such efficiency) for a 'fiction' which can be used to unite our various empirical epistemologies that these fictions have such staying power.
  • Srap Tasmaner
    1.6k

    Our views are very close.

    I have almost irresistible impulses toward naturalism and nominalism. Almost started a thread yesterday on abstract objects as imaginary, supported by certain sorts of speech acts. I cannot make the details work though ... As it turns out, Darth started one, so I'll probably chime in there.

    I often wish I'd never even heard of ontology.
  • frank
    808
    Given that we probably often do assign belief as an explanation for events that may not have involved any thought at all, that doesn't mean I can't sit here now and ponder what I believe. When I do this, I'm not explaining anything. I'm noting what I believe.
  • creativesoul
    2.5k

    I tried to defend the notion that to believe something is to act as if it is true. It didn't work, because one can act in ways contrary to one's beliefs. It's a result of the lack of symmetry between beliefs and actions mentioned above - Beliefs explain but do not determine actions.
    Banno

    This conclusion isn't true Banno. We know that dishonest/insincere behaviour happens. Thus, we know that behaviour alone does not always show belief(particularly when it's regarding creatures capable of insincerity). We still know that one's belief determines one's actions. Even those actions that are contrary to one's belief are caused by belief , because insincerity is intentionally misrepresenting one's own belief. In this instance, one's belief is not necessarily equivalent to the belief statement being professed. After-all, a liar does not believe what they say. One cannot accidentally do this.

    Call this situation a case of mis-speaking and I'll respond by arguing how one cannot deliberately mis-speak. Lying is deliberate. Mis-speaking is not. One cannot accidentally say something that they do not believe. They know it every time. When it comes out, one knows whether or not one believes it, doesn't believe it or is unsure whether or not to believe it. A sincere speaker will immediately correct themselves.

    One acts contrary to their beliefs, and they know it. It does not follow that that behaviour was not determined by belief. Beliefs most certainly determine deliberate, intentional, voluntary actions, even the act of making statements contrary to one's beliefs. Those insincere speech acts are what they are because one is deliberately misrepresenting one's own thought and belief. Not all belief is overt. All belief is operative(it influences behaviour).




    ...any belief could be used to justify any action, given suitable auxiliaries.

    This appears to undermine any causal link between belief and act.
    Banno

    Using a belief is not equivalent to having it. One cannot accidentally use a belief to justify an action, regardless of whether or not they have the belief. One can deliberately misrepresent their own belief. One way of doing that would be to use a belief that they do not have to justify an action. It does not follow that that justification behaviour wasn't determined by belief. It also does not follow that the original behaviour being justified wasn't determined by belief. It follows that not all speakers believe what they say. It follows that not all belief-caused behaviour shows the actual(operative) belief(s).

    The two beliefs causing the insincere behaviour are one that is contrary to the lie(that's the one being deliberately misrepresented by the lie), and the other(that lying is the best thing to do).
  • creativesoul
    2.5k


    You're thinking about your own belief frank...

    One must first have belief, and the capability to think about it, prior to being able to think about it.
  • Sum Dude
    34
    I'm going to list your bold assertions and reply with my own whether I agree or disagree.

    1. Agreed, but it can also be purely a physical proposition or a pure attitude disregarding the physical.

    2. Belief can and cannot imply truth, but truth or falsehood are the essence of the tool of belief.

    3. Totally agreed, unless they have Dissociative Identity Disorder, but I understand that is a stretch.

    4. Agreed, but I like to think of it as nihilation rather then making sense of error. Acquiring knowledge is first and foremost a deductive process that leads to an inductive or inferential process.

    5. I dont think so in essence. Yes, words change but the dynamic is always stemmed from Human Success and Human error, meaning love and fear. Our intentions change, yes, but our motivations are always the same: Security, Love, Fun.

    6. This sounds like you're against cultural relativism, and I generally agree with that notion. For example, schadenfreude has no English equivalent, but it's basis of pleasure of others pain is just as knowable for English speakers, it's just a discrepancy of vocabulary.

    7. I totally agree, if this were true, that would mean magic were real. Once something is real that was once imaginary it is subject to the rules of reality and then no longer purely immaterial in the mind.

    8. This sounds like transcendence to me, so once again cultural and even on a person to person basis make this a very grey area.

    9. I disagree, you can discern peoples beliefs even if you don't understands the minutae of every event that led to their actions. Is it difficult sometimes? Yes.
  • Banno
    2.7k
    1. Agreed, but it can also be purely a physical proposition or a pure attitude disregarding the physical.Sum Dude

    How?
  • Sum Dude
    34


    I'll rephrase, yes every attitude has it's basis in physical reality, but when it comes to ignorning truth, like hard evidence that the Earth is a sphere and not flat, some people choose to ignore facts.
  • Banno
    2.7k
    You said:
    but it can also be purely a physical propositionSum Dude

    I supposed you meant that a belief can be a proposition stating a fact - a true proposition. But that's not right. A belief is not a true proposition since some beliefs are not true. Or you could mean that a belief is somehow always about the physical -
    every attitude has it's basis in physical realitySum Dude
    but that's not true either since on the one hand folk believe stuff that's not true, and on the other they believe stuff that's not physical - 1+1 is 2.
  • creativesoul
    2.5k
    All of which is serving to reinforce my intuition that belief is hollow.Banno

    Wow.

    I'm left wondering what the term "belief" is referring to here. You posit a notion of belief. You argue for that notion. You find that the notion doesn't hold up to scrutiny. So...

    Belief is hollow?

    That notion is hollow. It doesn't follow that all notions of belief are.

    :wink:
  • creativesoul
    2.5k
    Hypocrisy is not when one acts contrary to one's beliefs or expressions thereof. That would be inconsistency and/or self-contradictory behaviour. Hypocrisy is the result when one uses different standards as a means to judge themselves and others about the same behaviour.

    The classic example is 'Do as I say not as I do". Here one is not acting in a way that contradicts their belief. It is hypocrisy nonetheless.
  • Banno
    2.7k
    Yeah, I guess you could treat this thread as a reductio.

    So is there a coherent notion of belief? What?
  • creativesoul
    2.5k
    I'm not too sure that the notion you're putting forth needs thrown out Banno. Refined, maybe...

    A distinction needs to be drawn between belief statements and belief, or perhaps reports of belief with belief.

    That would eliminate the issue of Jack's belief not being meaningful to him, but rather to us. It renders the notion of belief as an attitude towards a statement/proposition as inadequate. And it eliminates the issue of one acting in ways contrary to one's statements.
  • frank
    808
    What does it imply about culpability if beliefs are ad hoc explanations? Is there such a thing as pre-meditated murder?

    Maybe you could start a thread on motive.
  • Banno
    2.7k
    A distinction needs to be drawn between belief statements and belief,creativesoul

    Perhaps; remind me of how you do this.
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