• Dfpolis
    647
    It is quite common to believe that intentional realities, as found in conscious thought, are fundamentally material -- able to be explained in terms of neurophysiological data processing. This belief has presented metaphysical naturalists with what David Chalmers has called "the Hard Problem." It seems to me that the Hard Problem is a chimera induced by a provably irrational belief.

    By way of background, I take consciousness to be awareness of present, typically neurophysiologically encoded, intelligibility. I see qualia as of minor interest, being merely the contingent forms of awareness.

    I am not a dualist. I hold that human beings are fully natural unities, but that we can, via abstraction, separate various notes of intelligibility found in unified substances. Such separation is mental, not based on ontological separation. As a result, we can maintain a two-subsystem theory of mind without resort to ontological dualism.

    Here are the reasons I see intentional reality as irreducible to material reality.

    1. Neurophysiological data processing cannot be the explanatory invariant of our awareness of contents. If A => B, then every case of A entails a case of B. So, if there is any case of neurophysiological data processing which does not result in awareness of the processed data (consciousness) then neurophysiological data processing alone cannot explain awareness. Clearly, we are not aware of all the data we process.

    2. All knowledge is a subject-object relation. There is always a knowing subject and a known object. At the beginning of natural science, we abstract the object from the subject -- we choose to attend to physical objects to the exclusion of the mental acts by which the subject knows those objects. In natural science care what Ptolemy, Brahe, Galileo, and Hubble saw, not the act by which the intelligibility of what they saw became actually known. Thus, natural science is, by design, bereft of data and concepts relating to the knowing subject and her acts of awareness. Lacking these data and concepts, it has no way of connecting what it does know of the physical world, including neurophysiology, to the act of awareness. Thus it is logically impossible for natural science, as limited by its Fundamental Abstraction, to explain the act of awareness. Forgetting this is a prime example of Whitehead's Fallacy of Misplaced Concreteness (thinking what exists only in abstraction is the concrete reality in its fullness).

    3. The material and intentional aspects of reality are logically orthogonal. That is to say, that, though they co-occur and interact, they do not share essential, defining notes. Matter is essentially extended and changeable. It is what it is because of intrinsic characteristics. As extended, matter has parts outside of parts, and so is measurable. As changeable, the same matter can take on different forms. As defined by intrinsic characteristics, we need not look beyond a sample to understand its nature.

    Intentions do not have these characteristics. They are unextended, having no parts outside of parts. Instead they are indivisible unities. Further, there is no objective means of measuring them. They are not changeable. If you change your intent, you no longer have the same intention, but a different intention. As Franz Brentano noted, an essential characteristic of intentionality is its aboutness, which is to to say that they involve some target that they are about. We do not just know, will or hope, we know, will and hope something. Thus, to fully understand/specify an intention we have to go beyond its intrinsic nature, and say what it is about. (To specify a desire, we have to say what is desired.) This is clearly different from what is needed to specify a sample of matter.

    4. Intentional realities are information based. What we know, will, desire, etc. is specified by actual, not potential, information. By definition, information is the reduction of (logical) possibility. If a message is transmitted, but not yet fully received, then it is not physical possibility that is reduced in the course of its reception, but logical possibility. As each bit is received, the logical possibility that it could be other than it is, is reduced.

    The explanatory invariant of information is not physical. The same information can be encoded in a panoply of physical forms that have only increased in number with the advance of technology. Thus, information is not physically invariant. So, we have to look beyond physicality to understand information, and so the intentional realities that are essentially dependent on information.
  • tim wood
    1.6k
    Thank you for a post worth the read! I don't entirely follow the argument in #1, and I do not need to.

    (To specify a desire, we have to say what is desired.)Dfpolis
    If we substitute "fear" for "desire," the result is the claim that to fear is always to fear something. Yet angst is usually understood as a kind of fear that is the fear of nothing in particular - 'though I accept the proposition that in this context the "nothing" is indeed a something. Not an argument, just a thought.
  • Dfpolis
    647
    I don't entirely follow the argument in #1tim wood

    Thanks for the heads-up. I edited it to make it clearer.

    (To specify a desire, we have to say what is desired.) — Dfpolis

    If we substitute "fear" for "desire," the result is the claim that to fear is always to fear something. Yet angst is usually understood as a kind of fear that is the fear of nothing in particular - 'though I accept the proposition that in this context the "nothing" is indeed a something. Not an argument, just a thought.
    tim wood

    Yes, a thought certainly worthy of reflection. I wonder if angst should be called an "intention." I think that angst might be a physiological state, while our awareness is of that state is the intentional reality.
  • Noah Te Stroete
    575
    Forgetting this is a prime example of Whitehead's Fallacy of Misplaced Concreteness (thinking what exists only in abstraction is the concrete reality in its fullness).Dfpolis

    Could you explain Whitehead’s Fallacy? I’m not familiar with it.

    Also, could you explain what you mean by “information is not physically invariant”?

    Thanks.
  • tim wood
    1.6k
    I wonder if angst should be called an "intention." I think that angst might be a physiological state, while our awareness is of that state is the intentional reality.Dfpolis

    A thrown state, perhaps. It leaves the question of what arm did the throwing and why. And one might seek definitional clarity (for lack of any other at the moment) for a solid footing on which to assert (either way) that the state just is/is not the awareness of the state. I'm thinking that angst is a manifestation - a symptom (without resolving at the moment whether the symptom is just a symptom of itself, which would still leave the why) - which manifestation just is the awareness, which in the coming into the focus of awareness achieves its intentional reality.

    And from just the fog of this kind of thinking arises the likes of Freudian analysis, the self-consistency of which took more than a century to pierce, and is still in places a problem. That is, it would seem you are exactly correct in at least this context, that material and intentional reality differ profoundly, to even evil effect!

    But angst seems a digression, a tangent, to the main point. I'm willing to leave the path of this for that.
  • Terrapin Station
    6k
    It is quite common to believe that intentional realities, as found in conscious thought, are fundamentally material -- able to be explained in terms of neurophysiological data processingDfpolis

    "This is material" in no way implies "This is able to be explained" first off.

    "This is material" is an ontological claim about the sort of existent that something is..

    "This is able to be explained" is a claim about individuals considering some set of words (or equations or whatever) to provide psychological satisfaction in a way that quells a "this is a mystery" feeling that they otherwise had.

    Something being a particular sort of existent has no implications for whether individuals will find some set of words psychologically satisfactory.
  • Terrapin Station
    6k
    I don't entirely follow the argument in #1, and I do not need to.tim wood

    I don't know if I really follow any of it. I have tons of questions about all of it--multiple questions about every sentence of it. That would need to be tackled one thing at a time.
  • Dfpolis
    647
    Could you explain Whitehead’s Fallacy? I’m not familiar with it.Noah Te Stroete

    Whitehead discusses the fallacy in Science and the Modern World. as part of his defense of his theory of organism. The specific context is the fact that an electron acts in a certain way when considered in isolation, does not mean that it acts exactly the same way in its natural context. This is certainly true, as to know that electrons repel each other, you need to break the isolation by bringing in another electron, and, to describe the behavior of bulk matter, we need to consider the non-linear interactions and anti-symmetry relations between all the electrons.

    But, the fallacy has a broader application. Whenever we abstract any content from experience, we leave contextual data on the table. Forgetting this is a logical error. For example, in abstracting the data of physics, we leave on the table the fact that matter occurs in living as well as nonliving beings. As a result, even if we do physics right, we cannot deduce specifically biological conclusions. We cannot logically reduce biology to physics. All that we can know from the best physics is that biology is possible. The reason is that the information which biology seeks is not what is physically possible (which physics might tell us), but the actual morphology, physiology and behavior of organisms in their actual evolutionary and ecological contents -- and that is precisely the information we leave on the table in abstracting physics. If we did not leave it on the table, we would be biologists, not physicists.

    So, my application here is that, in doing natural science in general, we fix on physicality to the exclusion of intentionality, and so leave data essential to the understanding of consciousness on the table.

    Also, could you explain what you mean by “information is not physically invariant”?Noah Te Stroete

    I mean that the identical information can be encoded in any number of physical forms, and so is not explained by the data describing its physical matrix. In any case of conventional signing (speaking, writing, Morse code, digital representations, etc.) the information depends not on its physical form, but on the shared convention agreed to, implicitly or explicitly, by the users.
  • tim wood
    1.6k
    I don't know if I really follow any of it.Terrapin Station
    You're no slouch, Terrapin (are you a Marylander?). But it seems you must be conflating "following" with agreeing. I'm pretty sure you "follow" most of it. Yes?
  • Harry Hindu
    1.6k
    Thus it is logically impossible for natural science, as limited by its Fundamental Abstraction, to explain the act of awareness. Forgetting this is a prime example of Whitehead's Fallacy of Misplaced Concreteness (thinking what exists only in abstraction is the concrete reality in its fullness).Dfpolis
    Do you think this is why we have the current break between Classical Physics and Quantum Mechanics and the strangeness of QM?

    If you change your intent, you no longer the same intention, but a different intention.Dfpolis
    What do you mean by "no longer the same intention"? Wouldn't it just be the same intention that changed, just like everything else does, like "matter"? Everything changes. Change is the essence of time.

    Matter's appearance of having parts outside of parts is a result of how our minds categorize space.

    4. Intentional realities are information based. What we know, will, desire, etc. is specified by actual, not potential, information. By definition, information is the reduction of (logical) possibility. If a message is transmitted, but not yet fully received, then it is not physical possibility that is reduced in the course of its reception, but logical possibility. As each bit is received, the logical possibility that it could be other than it is, is reduced.

    The explanatory invariant of information is not physical. The same information can be encoded in a panoply of physical forms that have only increased in number with the advance of technology. Thus, information is not physically invariant. So, we have to look beyond physicality to understand information, and so the intentional realities that are essentially dependent on information.
    Dfpolis
    A transmission takes time. You are talking about a causal relationship. All effects carry information about their causes. The tree rings in a tree stump still refers to the age of the tree even if no one is there to look at it. Information is the relationship between cause and effect.

    If we substitute "fear" for "desire," the result is the claim that to fear is always to fear something. Yet angst is usually understood as a kind of fear that is the fear of nothing in particular - 'though I accept the proposition that in this context the "nothing" is indeed a something. Not an argument, just a thought.tim wood
    Angst could be the fear of the unknown.
  • tim wood
    1.6k
    Whatever coffee you're drinking this morning, please keep drinking it. You're being so clear, on difficult stuff, that I imagine even your usual antagonists must attend compliantly.
  • Dfpolis
    647
    "This is material" in no way implies "This is able to be explained" first off.Terrapin Station

    I did not claim that it did. I am saying that material properties alone cannot be the explanation of intentional properties.

    "This is able to be explained" is a claim about individuals considering some set of words (or equations or whatever) to provide psychological satisfaction in a way that quells a "this is a mystery" feeling that they otherwise hadTerrapin Station

    No, it is not about psychological satisfaction, even though that is usually involved. It is about having a logical structure in which the premises entail the datum to be explained.

    Something being a particular sort of existent has no implications for whether individuals will find some set of words psychologically satisfactory.Terrapin Station

    Even if I grant that, it is irrelevant to the question of logical adequacy.
  • Terrapin Station
    6k
    You're no slouch, Terrapin (are you a Marylander?). But it seems you must be conflating "following" with agreeing. I'm pretty sure you "follow" most of it. Yes?tim wood

    Re my name, I'm a Grateful Dead fan. "Terrapin Station" is an album and song of theirs.

    Re not understanding the post, I don't want to go through every sentence, but just a couple examples:

    Neurophysiological data processing cannot be the explanatory invariant of our awareness of contents.Dfpolis

    There, I really have no idea what "explanatory invariant" is supposed to amount to. Explanations are not the sorts of things that are invariant. Explanations are about language usage and especially how people interpret the same. So how would it make sense to attach the word "invariant" to "explanatory"?

    Another example:

    All knowledge is a subject-object relation.Dfpolis

    There, I'd want to clear up if he's doing some sort of ontological analysis or propositional analysis.

    One final example:

    The material and intentional aspects of reality are logically orthogonal.Dfpolis

    I understand at least some of the common definitions of "othogonal" in mathematics and physics. But as with "explanatory" and "invariant," I have no idea how things can be "logically orthogonal," especially not when we're talking about "aspects of reality," or really, empirical stuff in general, since that's not the purview of logic.

    It's one of those things where "I know all the words he's saying, but at least some of them don't make any sense to me put together in that order."
  • Noah Te Stroete
    575
    Are you separating intentionality from the rest of experience (outside stimuli specifically)? Wouldn’t that be a fallacy?
  • Dfpolis
    647
    A thrown state, perhaps.tim wood

    "Thrown state" is a new term for me.

    We know that one of the main causes of depression is neurochemical -- problems with the balance of our neurotransmitters. I'm thinking angst may be similar.
  • Terrapin Station
    6k
    No, it is not about psychological satisfaction, even though that is usually involved. It is about having a logical structure in which the premises entail the datum to be explained.Dfpolis

    Aside from the fact that we'd still be talking about psychological satisfaction in response to some set of words, equations, etc. in this case, what you're saying is kind of ridiculous, because all we'd have to do for anything, then--in order to have an explanation for it--would be to forward two modus ponens to the effect of:

    If x is F, then x is G (premise 1).
    X is F (premise 2)
    X is G (modus ponens a)
    If x is G, then F is G (premise 3)
    F is G. (modus ponens b)

    Where "x is F" is something completely noncontroversial, and either "x is G" or "F is G" or both are the explanation we want. (If one only wants "x is G," just the first modus ponens would do, obviously.)

    So for example:

    If mentality is intentional, then mentality is material.
    Mentality is intentional.
    Mentality is material
    If mentality is material, then intentionality is material.
    Intentionality is material..

    That's a logical structure in which the premises entail the datum to be explained.

    But that can't be all that you require, can it?
  • Noah Te Stroete
    575
    We know that one of the main causes of depression is neurochemical -- problems with the balance of our neurotransmitters. I'm thinking angst may be similar.Dfpolis

    On your view of LFW and intentionality, wouldn’t you say that the depressive thoughts cause a neurochemical imbalance?
  • tim wood
    1.6k
    I'm thinking angst may be similar.Dfpolis
    Hah! Are you treading material meaning out of intentional?

    Being thrown is from Heidegger. We are all, he says, dasein (here-there being), That is, the being who finds him- or herself, in a world willy-nilly: thrown. Hmm. Using your terminology here, one might say that dasein's business is to create intentional meaning from the material facticity (another Heidegger word) of his throwness.

    For a respectable and readable road into Heidegger, Michael Gelvin's, A Commentary on Heidegger's Being and Time works very well.
  • Dfpolis
    647
    Do you think this is why we have the current break between Classical Physics and Quantum Mechanics and the strangeness of QM?Harry Hindu

    I think the Fallacy of Misplaced Concreteness plays a pivotal role in the confusion surrounding quantum theory, but explaining this would take us far afield. An outline of my position is at https://www.researchgate.net/project/A-Manifest-Varaibles-Approach-to-Quanum-Theory, and I have explained a lot of points in comments to my YouTube videos on quantum topics. (Dfpolis channel)

    If you change your intent, you no longer the same intention, but a different intention. — Dfpolis

    What do you mean by "no longer the same intention"? Wouldn't it just be the same intention that changed, just like everything else does, like "matter"? Everything changes. Change is the essence of time.
    Harry Hindu

    I meant to write "you no longer have the same intent." I have edited the post to correct this.

    No, it would not be the same intention. In a physical change, the material in the initial state, which is an aspect of that state, is found, in different form, in the final state. In a change of intention, what is the same is not part of the original intention, but the intending subject. We simply stop believing in Santa, and start not believing in Santa. The Principle of Excluded Middle forbids a continuous transformation as in the physical case. Even though the weight of evidence may accumulate slowly, the change of intent is discontinuous.

    Matter's appearance of having parts outside of parts is a result of how our minds categorize space.Harry Hindu

    If there were no parts outside of parts in reality, the mind would have no reason to separate them in thought.

    A transmission takes time. You are talking about a causal relationship. All effects carry information about their causes. The tree rings in a tree stump still refers to the age of the tree even if no one is there to look at it. Information is the relationship between cause and effect.Harry Hindu

    I am not denying the role of cause and effect. I am saying that matter is logically orthogonal to intent.

    Information surely has causes, many of which are material. In my message example, the transmission process is described by physics, but the apprehension of information is not. Nothing described by physics involves awareness per se.
  • Dfpolis
    647
    Whatever coffee you're drinking this morning, please keep drinking it.tim wood

    Thank you. It's Kirkland Colombian.
  • Dfpolis
    647
    I really have no idea what "explanatory invariant" is supposed to amount to.Terrapin Station

    It amounts to the basis of scientific understanding. Every branch of science has unchanging principles, their explanatory invariants, in terms of which its phenomena are understood. For example, we understand physical processes in terms of invariant physical laws. In controlled experiments, we vary only one factor at a time, so we can isolate the invariant explanation from other factors. In evolution the invariant principles are unpredictable variation, inheritability, and natural selection.

    Explanations are not the sorts of things that are invariant. Explanations are about language usage and especially how people interpret the same. So how would it make sense to attach the word "invariant" to "explanatory"?Terrapin Station

    That we use language to express explanations does not mean the explanations are about language (unless we are lingusits). Explanations are logical structures that we typically express in language.

    I have just explained the role of invariance in theories.

    All knowledge is a subject-object relation. — Dfpolis

    There, I'd want to clear up if he's doing some sort of ontological analysis or propositional analysis.
    Terrapin Station

    I am discussing the ontological nature of knowledge, not how that knowledge may or may not be expressed propositionally.

    The material and intentional aspects of reality are logically orthogonal. — Dfpolis


    I understand at least some of the common definitions of "othogonal" in mathematics and physics. But as with "explanatory" and "invariant," I have no idea how things can be "logically orthogonal," especially not when we're talking about "aspects of reality," or really, empirical stuff in general, since that's not the purview of logic.
    Terrapin Station

    To be orthogonal is to have no basis vectors in common. Here I am following Carnap in thinking of independent judgements as spanning the space of human knowledge. In it, orthogonal subspaces do not overlap, and so cannot imply each other's elements.

    The purview of logic, defined as the science of correct thinking, is the soundness of thought about reality, and reality is known empirically.

    I hope this makes my meaning clearer to you.
  • apokrisis
    4.5k
    So, we have to look beyond physicality to understand information, and so the intentional realities that are essentially dependent on information.Dfpolis

    As a result, we can maintain a two-subsystem theory of mind without resort to ontological dualism.Dfpolis

    Alternatively, information and matter make a pretty sound modern naturalism. What can be dubbed the pan-semiotic approach.

    Where we make a huge ontological mistake is to abstract the "mental" as a simple. A basic kind of substance or stuff. Mindfulness is instead a complex process. It arises as an elaboration of a semiotic modelling relation - the capacity for information to act as an enduring constraint on material instability. A system is mindful when it is regulating its material world - the world of fluxes and entropic flows. Intentionality is just this in spades. It is the evolution of a nervous system that can accumulate the memory, the habits, the plans, the information, to channel materiality towards the maintenance of living and knowing form.

    So while it is commonplace to set up physicalism in strawman fashion as a brute materialism, in fact science has moved on to a systems understanding of materiality in which information plays the role of developmental constraints. History accumulates to regulate material instability. And this is just as true of the thermal cooling of the Cosmos that produces the current material reality of atoms and particles as the way the dirt of a landscape is the memory channeling the flow of a pattern of waterways, or a nervous system comes to encode a "selfish" set of regulatory habits and intentions.

    Ontology does have to wind up with the ultimate simplicity of a dualism. A substantial monism (like everything is matter, or everything is mind, or even everything is information) can't work. It is the sound of one hand clapping. We always have to have a pair of ontic abstractions that reduce reality to some kind of orthogonal pairing. A dichotomy or opposition of parts.

    But then that sets up an explanatory gap unless the two parts make a unity of opposites. The two abstract simplicities we extract from our experience of the world must make a properly matched duo - connected by being in a reciprocal or inverse relation. They must each be each others logical extreme in a formal sense. And that way, they then can be both ultimately simple and also in the kind of interaction that produces the more complex world we experience. There can be the actuality of the system - the triadicy of a hierarchical organisation.

    Information and matter produce this kind of composite ontology if materiality is understood as a radical instability. Just action or fluctuation without shape or form. And then that gives information its physicality. It becomes the part of the equation which is the accumulation of events, the forming of a history or memory which then impinges on the material energies of the present as a constraining context.

    It doesn't take much. If you have wax, you also have the possibility of the mark, the imprint, the sign. A little bit of material stability brings with it a little bit of informational memory. A history can start to build. The organisation of a world can begin. A past can start to constrain the present in ways that limit material possibilities and so anticipate a particular structured future.

    Again, this is true of Cosmos that is locked into an entropic dissipative gradient - cooling and expanding its way to a Heat Death - as of a river snaking its way across a plain, as of a nervous system building up a rich modelling relation with its world.

    So it is time to dump the theistic metaphysics. It is just substance dualism-lite to talk about information in contrast to matter ... if matter is not also re-imagined in its modern form of radical instability. Action without direction, or flux and fluctuation.

    To still speak of the material aspect of being as a stuff with inherent properties is the strawman. It fails to keep up with modern physics. We now take a structural approach to particle physics where particles are stabilities only to the degree that instabilities have been contextually suppressed or thermally decohered.

    Materiality has a new (pan-semiotic) ontology. And that makes a rehashed substance dualism old hat.
  • Dfpolis
    647
    Thanks for the clarification and reference.
  • Dfpolis
    647
    Are you separating intentionality from the rest of experience (outside stimuli specifically)? Wouldn’t that be a fallacy?Noah Te Stroete

    No, I am not. I am talking about the conceptual space spanned by concepts and how they relate logically. I am not saying that there is no relation between intentional and material operations. Experientially, we know that committed intentions can issue in actions that affect material states.
  • Noah Te Stroete
    575
    That’s not what I meant. I mean does your view of intentionality separate it out from the external stimuli that may have caused it?
  • Dfpolis
    647
    No, it is not about psychological satisfaction, even though that is usually involved. It is about having a logical structure in which the premises entail the datum to be explained. — Dfpolis

    Aside from the fact that we'd still be talking about psychological satisfaction in response to some set of words, equations, etc.
    Terrapin Station

    Logical satisfaction need not reference human psychology. So, any psychological satisfaction is only related per accidens to an explanation being logically satisfactory.

    in this case, what you're saying is kind of ridiculous, because all we'd have to do for anything, then--in order to have an explanation for it--would be to forward two modus ponens to the effect of:

    If x is F, then x is G (premise 1).
    X is F (premise 2)
    X is G (modus ponens a)
    If x is G, then F is G (premise 3)
    F is G. (modus ponens b)
    Terrapin Station

    I find this line of thought puzzling. For an explanation to be satisfactory, it has to be sound, not merely valid. Being sound requires that the premises be either true, or at least believed to be true. To be true means that they are adequate to reality. Thus, the hypotheticals you posit need to be grounded in reality by sufficient evidence to warrant their actual or plausible truth. So, positing an abstract structure is not "all we'd have to do."
  • Metaphysician Undercover
    5k
    Thus, to fully understand/specify an intention we have to go beyond its intrinsic nature, and say what it is about. (To specify a desire, we have to say what is desired.) This is clearly different from what is needed to specify a sample of matter.Dfpolis

    The problem with "to specify a desire", or "to specify an intention", is as Tim woods alludes to above. Intentions and desires are derived from, and based in, something general and very unspecified, just like angst. So when we get to the point of specifying an intention, i.e. to state a specific intention, we have already removed that particular intention from its natural environment of intention in general, just like an inversion of abstraction.

    Consider "hunger" for example. It might start as a strange feeling inside. Then the person may specify it from this general feeling, so as to associate the feeling with the stomach. Then one might further specify it as a want for food. From here the individual might consider possible food sources, and specify a particular food desired. Then the person might develop the very specific intention of getting a particular thing which is thought of, to eat. So intention's "intrinsic nature", is for something very general, and unspecific, but when we derive a specific intention, we go "beyond its intrinsic nature" (as you say) because intention is based in a general feeling.
  • Dfpolis
    647
    On your view of LFW and intentionality, wouldn’t you say that the depressive thoughts cause a neurochemical imbalance?Noah Te Stroete

    I think the causality can run in either direction. As the placebo effect shows, what we think can affect our physical health. As neurophysical processing affects the contents we are aware of, defective processing can lead to defective thinking.
  • Noah Te Stroete
    575
    I think the causality can run in either direction. As the placebo effect shows, what we think can affect our physical health. As neurophysical processing affects the contents we are aware of, defective processing can lead to defective thinking.Dfpolis

    How does one make sense of this? A causes B and B causes A?
  • Noah Te Stroete
    575
    Forgive me. I’m thick. I’m but a child at your knee.
  • Dfpolis
    647
    Alternatively, information and matter make a pretty sound modern naturalism. What can be dubbed the pan-semiotic approach.apokrisis

    Naturalism is a vaguely defined and, in my considered and elaborated view, irrational movement motivated by an a priori prejudice against what its proponents call "spooky" realities. The invocation of such deprecatory language in its definition should be enough to place rational minds on high alert. Further, as I point out in my book, it is a Zombie theory -- no matter how many times it is killed, it keeps coming back to life. So, I am not one to judge what would or would not be a "sound" form of naturalism.

    I can only ask what is a good and consistent framework for understanding the full range of human experience? Providing such a framework, rather than justifying prejudices, is my vision for philosophy. It seems to me that since experience is continually surprising us, no approach that begins with a priori exclusions can be such a framework. Rather we must examine human experience in many complementary projections to see if we've covered all the bases.

    Semiotics has to do with signs, which are relational structures linking sign and meaning. Empirically meaning is found only in human thought. So, a semiotic theory that does not rest on a deep understanding of human thought is necessarily incomplete. While a perfectly fine field of study, it is necessarily limited by various abstractions. Thus, it cannot be the basis of a framework spanning the full range of experience.

    Where we make a huge ontological mistake is to abstract the "mental" as a simple. A basic kind of substance or stuff.apokrisis

    Empirically, the human mind is limited in the number of "chunks" of information it can consider at one time. We must, then, choose to focus on some aspects of reality to the exclusion of others. Abstraction is the "stupid human trick" for dealing with this limitation. As far as I can tell, there is no intrinsic problem with this as long as we realize we are dealing with abstractions and so avoid Whitehead's Fallacy of Misplaced Concreteness.

    Reifying abstractions, as Descartes did, is an example of this fallacy. That we can separate mind in our thought, does not justify thinking that it is separate in reality. So, I agree with you. Further, he drew the line in the wrong place. How can we imagine extension, if at least part of the mind were not extended? So, there is not a line between matter and mind, but between material and intentional realities. The mind involves an interaction of matter and intentionality.

    So while it is commonplace to set up physicalism in strawman fashion as a brute materialism, in fact science has moved on to a systems understanding of materiality in which information plays the role of developmental constraints.apokrisis

    I've argued previously that the laws of nature, intrinsic to physical operations, are in the same genus (Logical Propagators) as human committed intentions. So, in a way I agree, but I do not see science as having done more than abstract information as a kind of object to be processed. Intentionality, with its ontological dependence on an intending subject, goes beyond considering information as an object. It points to its intrinsically relational structure.

    Information and matter produce this kind of composite ontology if materiality is understood as a radical instability.apokrisis

    But, information is an abstraction that leaves out the necessity of an informed intellect for its actualization. A sign (sema) is only informative when it actually informs an intellect to reduce logical possibility -- for that is the definition of information. So, intellect has logical and ontological priority over information, and therefore over signs as carriers of information. Consequently, semiotics in abstraction cannot be the ultimate foundation for a comprehensive framework -- even if we add matter.

    So it is time to dump the theistic metaphysics.apokrisis

    This is a complete non sequitur, even on your premises. Taking matter and information as principles does not imply that they exist without further explanation. Indeed, assuming that some phenomena need no explanation undermines the whole structure of science, the logic of which will fail if anything is a brute, unexplained, fact.

    To still speak of the material aspect of being as a stuff with inherent properties is the strawman. It fails to keep up with modern physics. We now take a structural approach to particle physics where particles are stabilities only to the degree that instabilities have been contextually suppressed or thermally decohered.apokrisis

    As a physicist, I do not see how the fact that quanta are dynamic instead of static atoma does anything to support your case or undermine my position.
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