• George Cobau
    38
    Materialism has come to dominate philosophy and science since the mid-twentieth century, and this has been a horrible mistake. Materialism is entirely unjustified and irrational. There is no real evidence that actually supports it. Many have claimed that conscious experience is some kind of illusion, but this is absurd. Of course, we have conscious experiences such as internal feelings, thoughts, memories, imaginations, and intentions, and those who deny this are the ones being delusional.

    The truth has been hiding in plain sight, as the saying goes. Although dualism has been very much maligned and marginalized, a new type of dualism appears to actually be right. According to the old Cartesian dualism, mind and brain are two completely independent substances, and yet this is wrong because the mind obviously depends on the brain. (We know that damage to be brain can effect the mind.) According to the new dualism, mind and brain are not completely independent substances, and yet they are still quite different and distinct. We have physical neurons and electrochemical activity as well as conscious mental experiences going on within our brains. These are two very different things, and thus, a new kind of dualism is the only rational explanation.

    Materialists are not rational. They have accepted an irrational, unrealistic, absurd, and poisonous ideology that simply does not correspond to reality. They typically claim to be scientific, but they are anything but. Science is supposed to be based on evidence and reason, not delusional and deranged ideology. There has been tremendous bias against the mind, and this has led to the false rejection of dualism and an unwarranted acceptance of materialism. Some have claimed that brain and mind are really identical, but this is an ad hoc explanation unsupported by any real evidence.

    Mind and brain are clearly very different. The only realistic and rational explanation, given the totality of the facts as we know them, is that the physical brain must somehow cause and produce conscious experience even though we don't know just how it does this. Exactly how this happens is the question that needs to be asked. Prending that internal minds and conscious experiences do not really exist is clealry not the right answer. This kind of delusional thinking will not make them go away. Internal conscious experinece is here to stay because, like it or not, it really does exist.

    Hopefully in the next few decades, the tide will turn, and philosophers and scientists will come to their senses and accept the fact that we have internal conscious experineces that are different and distinct from neurologica activity. This will be a great win-win for both science and humanity. Our philosophy and science will be far more rational, balanced, and, above all, true to the actual reality.
  • Dalai Dahmer
    73
    Are you saying that hopefully, in the next few decades, the tide will turn, and philosophers and scientists will come to YOUR senses?

    I really think the brain will never know the mind because the brain relies on knowledge, and the mind will always escape any such brain-inspired confinements. Brains make categories. Brains compare. Knowledge is a process of comparisons and contrasts.

    Well, an opinion of this brain anyway.
  • Uber
    147
    I am one of the proud and irrational materialists that George is attacking. All I need to refute his pathetic attempt at evangelization is his own statement:

    According to the new dualism, mind and brain are not completely independent substances, and yet they are still quite different and distinct. We have physical neurons and electrochemical activity as well as conscious mental experiences going on within our brains.

    Nothing in this statement is inherently in contradiction with materialism, or at least certain versions of materialism. In fact, I agree with George here, even though I am very much a materialist. How can that be? Because a macroscopic physical state can indeed be extremely different from the microscopic units of matter that underlie its existence and behavior. This is one of the central results of condensed matter physics, encapsulated in principles like emergence and renormalization. A superfluid state can be very different from the helium atoms that collectively interact to produce the state, but we don't then conclude that superfluids are not real or physical. A conscious mental state can be completely different from the neurons and neuroglia that sustain it, and yet it is still physical.
  • Galuchat
    475


    I think with regard to:

    Existence of Mind
    1) Inductive evidence in the form of physiological correlates, and criterial evidence in the form of observed behaviour, establish the existence of mental conditions and functions.

    Mind-Body Dependence
    1) Corporeal and mental conditions and functions are mutually dependent, but incommensurable because:
    a) Correlation does not imply causation.
    b) Corporeal and mental data are accessed at different levels of abstraction.
    2) The fact of neuroplasticity is sufficient reason to reject epiphenomenalism.

    So, with regard to substance, I currently hold to a dual aspect (i.e., physical and/or mental) neutral monism (cheers, Javra).
  • Aaron R
    178
    A superfluid state can be very different from the helium atoms that collectively interact to produce the state, but we don't then conclude that superfluids are not real or physical.Uber

    The difference is that we have a model that explains how the properties of a superfluid state arise from the dynamics of the underlying substrate, but I don't believe we have such a model in the case of mental states. To my knowledge, we have no model that explains why experience should be one way rather than another given the dynamics of the underlying substrate.
  • George Cobau
    38
    I will answer these objections one by one.
    First to Dalia: It's not my senses that are important. There is an objective truth that goes beyond the individual. Philosophers and scientists need to understand the objective truth. Also, you are confusing brain and mind. It's the mind that makes categories, not the brain.
  • Jacykow
    13
    Why is your speech so emotionally heavy?
    They have accepted an irrational, unrealistic, absurd, and poisonous ideology that simply does not correspond to reality.

    It is really easy to defend materialism because it can explain any phenomenon as a scientific (purely mechanical) proces that has already been examined or is going to be soon.

    I would attack from a different angle:
    1. The world is filled with objects that interact.
    2. We have no proof of the existance of things that do not interact.
    3. Therefore, objects are their interactions and have no other body.
    4. Their material aspect is the one we are interacting with but it is largely dependent on the observer and cannot possibly show all of the information and therefore it is only a part of an object at any time and not its only face.
    5. We are left with information as the fundamental building block of reality and it is hardly material but not really spiritual either.
  • Marcus de Brun
    450
    Perhaps the strangest issue with dualism is that it should be rebelled against with such enthusiasm.

    How do we arbitrate upon the question and arrive at the best possible answer.


    First we must recognize the inherent bias on either side of the argument and before one makes a decision one should try to relieve oneself of ones own bias.

    Dualists hold that there is a mind body distinction. that minds are independent of bodies and in this sense they suggest that consciousness can exist independent of the body. Dualists have a more agreeable relationship with the notions of God, and supreme consciousness, or life after death etc

    Materialists hold that minds are predicated upon bodies, that minds, thought etc is a product of material interactions as per the example above in respect of helium atoms and super fluidity etc) PF Strawson put the materialist position quite clearly when he said that minds are to bodies as scores are to football matches or surfaces are to tables vis one cannot exist without the other. materialists have a more agreeable time with the notion of atheism, 'when you're dead you're dead' and so on and so forth.

    It is not surprising that the materialist position is in the ascendancy at the present time. We (westerners) live in a material world in the sense that one can derive more pleasure from more material things than during the period when Dualism was perhaps more in the ascendancy (prior to the industrial revolution) Indeed this was a period when Religion was in the ascendancy as it was the opium of the poor masses, because they could not afford the real stuff. Now that the masses can have their material opium, and all the 'wisdom' that Google affords... the currency or potency of religious opium and of Gods in general have become more of a private self serving affair. There is no God, or we are Gods or we have our own notion of what god is... etc, all this evolution has effectively diluted the Dualist 'cause' and arguably we might describe this century as the 'Century of the Self' (See BBC docu on youtube of same title).

    Man has lately become a God unto himself and as such, for many the baby of dualism has been ejected with the bath water of Cartesian Dualism. One must be careful of fashion and trend, they generally show themselves to be ephemeral at best.

    If bias is left behind we must ask upon whom does the burden of proof lie... the Materialist or the Dualist.
    In any court of law the burden is placed upon the accuser and not the defendant.

    Who is the accuser here. I would agruge that it is clearly the materialist, as the materialist is presenting (or attempting to present) material evidence to prove that consciousness is entirely dependent upon the material.

    Thought on the other hand does not need material evidence to confirm its existence. This much has been effectively proven by Descartes.

    The question now remains, have materialists provided enough or substantial evidence to prove that thought is dependent upon material processes... well, the answer here is clearly NO, and if someone wishes to contract this assertion they must cite the material evidence. Evidence that may well be immediately swallowed up by the preeminence of thought itself.

    Therefore on balanced judgement, Descartes has shown that thought exists, and materialists have 'proven' little more than the evident fact that material things are contained or perceived by a process of thought. Thought has not been shown to be a product of some brain locus, or brain totality, or superfluid brain state, Descartes himself suggested that it is manufactured in the pineal gland?!? have we yet to move on from this quackery, or must we persist in the worship of the material because anything else just stinks too much of a divinity?

    Thought remains supreme and the notion of its endogenous manufacture is no different to that of religious apriori that the earth is the center of the Universe or that 'man is the measure of all things'. He is a determined trousered ape... at least until proven otherwise.

    M
  • Dalai Dahmer
    73
    I can't agree with that. Was it my brain that disagreed, do you think?

    On the subject inspired by the words "do you think?', is it not the brain that thinks?

    After all, thinking is also categorizing.

    Please explain how this may not be the case.
  • Dalai Dahmer
    73
    It's the mind that makes categories, not the brainGeorge Cobau


    I should have included your quote.
  • George Cobau
    38
    Uber, first I will admit that you are not irrational. In fact, yours is probably the best kind of defense of materialism that can be given. It definitely raises issues I have thought about. It is true that those who want to eliminate the mind completely are irrational, but you appear to support a kind of non-reductive physicalism. The problem with this is that if the mind does not reduce to the brain, then it is not really physical. Whatever the mind is, call it X, it is different from the brain--thus dualism is right. My point is that there are two different things going on in the brain, and to say the mind is physical is a kind of cop out, like you are trying to have it both ways. I think you have a bias against dualism. As you said, we may not be that far apart in theory, but semantics are important, and the idea of dualism, that mind and brain are different makes far more sense than nonreductive physicalism, which is confusing and contradictory. More can be said about this, but I want to get to the others.
  • Jacykow
    13
    How do dualist cope with the fact that we can predict decisions? YouTube is making this all the time - by recommending videos it effectively simulates somewhat accurately my decisionmaking without my cooperation.
  • George Cobau
    38
    Galuchat,

    You didn't write many words, but there's a lot packed in there. I just want to make a few points. It's true that correlation does not prove causation, but I believe that, given the evidence, the most likely explanation by far is that the brain causes conscious experience. Yes, there are different levels of abstraction (that appears to be the point that Uber was making) but the difference between brain and mind is certainly more than this. Also, I don't believe that the mind is an epiphenomenon. The brain would not produce experience for no reason, so it must be doing something. Conscious experience must have some effect back on the physical brain.

    Dual aspect and neutral monism are two different theories. All forms of monism are wrong because brain and mind differ, hence dualism is right. Dual aspect theory is self-contradictory, holding that brain and mind are different and yet still the same somehow. Thus, it cannot be right.
  • Jacykow
    13
    You keep repeating that brain and mind are different. A materialist might say that anything you believe to be conciousness, free will or decisionmaking is a consequence of neurons cleverly put together to form an efficient survival machine.
  • George Cobau
    38
    Thank you, Aaron, for criticizing one of my critics. Of course, you are absolutely right.
    What you said points out one of the main problems with materialism. Materialists generally assume that someday we will be able to understand the mind within the context of materialism. They take this to be a matter of quasi-religious faith that, dare I say, is irrational. To truly understand how the brain produces conscious experience, it will take a whole new theory and paradigm shift on the order of Copernicus, Newton, Darwin, or Einstein.
  • George Cobau
    38
    Jacykow, I suppose the reason I appear emotional is because I truly believe that materialism has been extremely harmful to both science and humanity. It's actually very difficult to defend materialism because it cannot explain the internal mind and conscious experience. You assume that materialism can explain everything, but that is clearly an overreach.

    I think you are wrong about information being the fundamental building block, but your argument would take too much time to get into. Also, you appear to confuse the mental with the spiritual. I don't think that the mind is spiritual. I believe that mental aspects and conscious experiences are a natural result of evolution. They evolved along and in conjunction with the physical brain.
  • Uber
    147


    I'm not quite sure what point you're making here. That because we don't have a model for something physical, then it's not physical? Then take high-temperature superconductivity, of the kind found in cuprates and other exotic materials. This is a notoriously difficult problem in condensed matter theory and still has no general solution. This project in many ways mirrors the difficulties involved with the mind-body problem. Should physicists believe that high-temp superconductors are not physical because they don't yet have a 'model' for explaining such phenomena? Sounds like an absurd conclusion.

    We don't yet have the physical mechanisms by which collective interactions among neural networks generate conscious states, but it's not a requirement to identify those mechanisms to simply know that conscious mental states do indeed emerge from collective interactions, just like high-temperature superconductivity (and every condensed matter system) requires collective interactions. The basis for this general knowledge is empirical, rooted in the results of modern neuroscience and modern physics. So the details still need to be finished, but the general idea is already there: consciousness is an emergent physical state.
  • yatagarasu
    119


    This is an interesting topic and I thank your for your thoughts but I feel one of your criticisms for materialism is a little off. While I won't argue that materialism is free from blame in our current world, I wouldn't necessarily call dualism a healthier alternative. Within the materialist mindset the world of science was formed. So while both seem to be somewhat correct, in my opinion, they are both off, but on the right track. So to me Dualism has been harmful as well, and for most people the results of materialistic thought are available all around you. For Dualism it is not so evident.

    Also, I would like to hear your thoughts on why you think Dual aspect theory is self-defeating. Thank you.
  • Uber
    147


    To truly understand how the brain produces conscious experience, it will take a whole new theory and paradigm shift on the order of Copernicus, Newton, Darwin, and Einstein.

    Every single one of your examples happened within the context of naturalism, and in many ways helped produce the intellectual dominance of naturalism that you are now decrying. You keep arguing against yourself.

    Materialism...bad...but mind and brain still connected somehow...paradigm shift to explain consciousness...but it's cool if that shift happens within materialism.

    The humor of it all.
  • Galuchat
    475
    The basis for this general knowledge is empirical, rooted in the results of modern neuroscience and modern physics. So the details still need to be finished, but the general idea is already there: consciousness is an emergent physical state.Uber

    While I'm not opposed in principle to the notion that mind "is an emergent physical state", I'm not aware of any research which comes to this conclusion. Could you provide a citation to such?
  • yatagarasu
    119


    Perhaps he is decrying the fact that the future developments in the understanding of the mind is ASSUMED to fit within a materialist structure. There may in fact be a third 3rd substance that helps explains things or dualism may have something to say about it. The danger may lie in the forceful completion of this "puzzle". It's like having a puzzle and you're on the last piece. You're trying to figure out why it won't fit and are incessant on it fitting in that specific puzzle. When in fact it may fit better in another puzzle/paradigm.

    With that said I agree with what you've said so far. Especially with regard to consciousness as a emergent state. There are several hypothesis that back up that claim. I would just caution anyone from taking such a hard line approach to this topic. That goes also to @George Cobau. Just because materialism doesn't solve everything now, does not mean that dualism is the complete answer. It is just another possibility.
  • Uber
    147


    One of the greatest neuroscientists of our time, Antonio Damasio, holds the view that consciousness is an emergent state. The following article from MIT gives a quick rundown of his theories.

    The Importance of Feelings

    I think variations of these views are now widely accepted in neuroscience. In another debate on this forum I cited several books by prominent neuroscientists saying that it's basically impossible to maintain dualism while pretending to care about reality. Materialism has already won. Now it's matter of filling in some (very important) details.
  • Marcus de Brun
    450
    I'm not sure what all the fuss is about. It seems people wish to cling to their 'believies':

    God,
    Materialism/self-god/no-God
    Free will

    A combination (house special) theory inclusive of, Dualism plus Bell's super-Determinism plus an exogenous existence of 'thought' (akin to Spinozism) within a functionally a-temporal Universe, would seem to explain things and accommodate almost all rational thought on the matter?

    M
  • Uber
    147


    Hahaha! You have won this thread!
  • George Cobau
    38
    Marcus, I think people rebel against dualism with such enthusiasm, as you put it, because it appears to be so obviously right. They assume it is a kind of naïve view. The problem with this is that no other theory appears to work. Certainly, the burden of proof is on those who would reject dualism, and they have never met this burden.

    What I am saying is that according to the new dualism, which is my view, the mind is not independent of the brain. It is caused by the brain and yet is still distinct from it. Also, there are many different forms of materialism, which is a clue to the weakness of the materialist position. They cannot come up with any form of materialism that actually works and makes realistic sense.

    There are many reasons materialism became ascendant (although none of them are any good) and as you point out, one of them is that dualism became associated with religion and spiritualism. You are right to say that the baby of dualism has been ejected with the bathwater of the Cartesian view. You are also right that the burden of proof is on the materialist. Still, I believe that thought does depend on a material process, but this is different than saying that thought itself is a material process. Immaterial thought depends on a material brain.

    You make some additional interesting points, but I'll let those go for now.
  • Galuchat
    475
    It's true that correlation does not prove causation, but I believe that, given the evidence, the most likely explanation by far is that the brain causes conscious experience. — George Cobau

    Please cite such evidence. Also, doesn't this statement contradict your dualist position?

    Yes, there are different levels of abstraction (that appears to be the point that Uber was making) but the difference between brain and mind is certainly more than this. — George Cobau

    Beyond occupying different levels of abstraction, what other differences exist between brain and mind?

    Also, I don't believe that the mind is an epiphenomenon...
    I don't think that the mind is spiritual. I believe that mental aspects and conscious experiences are a natural result of evolution.
    — George Cobau

    What do you believe mind is, if not an epiphenomenon or spiritual (beyond being a natural result of evolution)?
  • Galuchat
    475
    One of the greatest neuroscientists of our time, Antonio Damasio, holds the view that consciousness is an emergent state. The following article from MIT gives a quick rundown of his theories.Uber

    Yeah, well, that's what I figured: no empirical research to support the claim, just theory.
  • George Cobau
    38
    Dalia,

    Actually, I think brain and mind work together. They are intimately linked and connected. So if you say that my brain disagreed with you, that would really be no different than saying my mind disagreed with you. Still, thought and feeling are technically contained in the mind. I believe that the brain creates and then interprets internal conscious experience.
  • Uber
    147
    On the current status of the issue, refer to the following sources.

    1) The book Neuropsychiatry and Behavioral Neuroscience (2003) by Jeffrey Cummings and Michael Mega. On page 4:

    Contemporary neuroscience has established a fundamental correlation between brain function and mental activity; the data support the basic monistic premise that human emotional and intellectual life is dependent on neuronal operations. This monistic perspective is associated with a philosophy of materialism.

    2) The book Psychology of Science (2012) by Robert Proctor and E. J. Capaldi. On page 462 they quote a long list of major thinkers and neuroscientists that reject dualism, including Antonio Damasio:

    The neuroscientist Antonio Damasio (1994) is noted for his critique of Descartes's separation of mind and body, which he refers to as a significant "error" thay has misled many cognitive scientists and neuroscientists. Noe (2010) is also clear that the last 25 years have led a growing number of neuroscientists to abandon the Cartesian dualism of mind and body for an "embodied, situated approach to mind" in which we are "dynamically coupled with the world, not separate from it." Rand and Llardi echo the same conclusion: "To the degree that a scientist subscribes to the still widespread Western belief in mind-body dualism...his or her ability to investigate the relationship between mental events and brain events may be compromised."

    3) The book Explaining Abnormal Behavior (2014) by Bruce Pennington. On page 176:

    Although modern neuroscience has rejected dualism, it still has to account for how cognitive representations and processes can affect bodily states.

    4) The cognitive scientist Benjamin Bergen also explains this issue very elegantly. In his book Louder Than Words: The New Science of How the Mind Makes Meaning (2012), he writes in the Foreword:

    For centuries we in the West have thought of ourselves as rational animals whose mental capacity transcends our bodily nature. In this traditional view, our minds are abstract, logical, unemotionally rational, consciously accessible, and above all, able to directly fit and represent the world.
    .
    .
    .
    I was brought up to think about the mind, language, and the world in this way. And I was there in the mid-1970s when the revolution started. Some philosophers...had already begun taking issue with the traditional view of the mind. They argued that our bodies have everything to do with our minds. Our brains evolved to allow our bodies to function in the world, and it is that embodied engagement with the world, the physical, social, and intellectual world, that makes our concepts and language meaningful. And on the back of this insight, the Embodiment Revolution began.
    .
    .
    .
    It started out with empirical research carried out mostly by analytical cognitive linguists who discovered general principles governing massive amounts of data. Certain computer scientists, psychologists, and philosophers slowly began taking the embodiment of mind seriously by the 1980s. But by the mid-1990s, computational neural modelers and especially experimental psychologists picked up on the embodied cognition research -- brilliant experimenters like Ray Gibbs, Larry Barsalou, Rolf Zwaan, Art Glenberg, Stephen Kosslyn, Martha Farah, Lera Boroditsky, Teenie Matlock, Daniel Cassanto [and many more]...They have experimentally shown the reality of embodied cognition beyond a doubt. Thought is carried out in the brain by the same neural structures that govern vision, action, and emotion. Language is made meaningful via the sensory-motor and emotional systems, which define goals and imagine, recognize, and carry out actions. Now, at the beginning of the twenty first century, the evidence is in. The ballgame is over. The mind is embodied.
  • Uber
    147
    The article reviews his experimental results. Did you not read it? Or more accurately, were you not impressed because it happens to contradict some profound and misguided belief you happen to hold?
  • George Cobau
    38
    Jacykow, I don't think that predictions made by YouTube in any way implies materialism or physicalism, or disproves dualism. Moreover, I don't really feel like YouTube does much to predict my decisions. It appears to offer suggestions, and that's about it. By the way, even if you could somehow build a conscious robot, this does not imply materialism either. It would still be the case of something physical (the robot's computer "brain") producing something nonphysical, namely conscious experience. Obviously, this is not going to happen anytime soon, but as a thought experiment, I think the materialists are wrong about this.
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