• Dfpolis
    700
    Fair enough, but since, as you point out, we do not know the laws of nature, how do we know they obey the Principle of conservation of energy? And is the Principle of conservation of energy, a Principle of physics or of nature?Inis

    The whole point of physics is to learn as much as we can about the laws of nature by studying their actual operation. Experimentally, we know that the law of conservation of mass-energy applies with great accuracy over the the domain in which it has been tested. Of course, no measurement can be completely accurate. So, all that we really know is that it provides with a very accurate description of physical events.

    And is the Principle of conservation of energy, a Principle of physics or of nature?Inis

    Both. It is a description of a regularity in nature, but a very accurate one. As an essential cause it is a law of nature.

    Also, I'm not sure the Principle of conservation of energy even tells you how to measure whether energy is conserved or not.Inis

    Yes, the law of physics is part of a large theoretical framework, including methods for making measurements and calculating quantities such as mass and energy from them.
  • aporiap
    155

    That is not what I explained that I mean by concepts being orthogonal. I explicitly said, "... logically orthogonal. That is to say, that, though they co-occur and interact, they do not share essential, defining notes." Having non-overlapping sets of defining notes makes concepts orthogonal -- not the consideration of interactions in their instances, which is a contingent matter to be resolved by reflecting on experience.
    I think my issue stems from not being able to separate 'ontological independence' from logical orthogonality. I mean to assert that concepts and intentions exist and are distinct from their material instances and yet to then say these things are somehow still of same ontological type [i.e. physical] as physical objects seems difficult to reconcile [what makes them physical if they're not composed of or caused by physical material?]. It just seems like an unsubstantiated assertion that they are ontologically the same.

    Once you make the implicit assumption they are ontologically distinct then it becomes clear that any interaction between intentional states and physical substance serves as a counterargument to their
    being distinct from materiality [since material and nonmaterial have no common fundamental properties with which to interact with each other (charge; mass; etc)]. The only alternative, for me then, is that they are either nonexistent-complete fictions- or something that has the same essential basis as materiality and is somehow emergent and completely dependent on lower-level physical activities.

    Concepts are abstractions and do not "interact." All that concepts do (their whole being) is refer to their actual and potential instances. Still, it is clear to all but the most obdurate ideologues, that intentionality can inform material states. Whenever we voice a concept, when we speak of our intentions, our speech acts are informed by intentional states. Conversely, in our awareness of sensory contents, material states inform the resulting intentional states. So, the fact that intentional and material abstractions are orthogonal does not prevnt material and intentional states from interacting.
    Intentional states inform physical states but I mentioned before [and I think this is important] that this is always by virtue of a physical-material mechanism. There is activity pattern in higher level areas of brain which trickle down via some series of physical communication signals into a pattern of behavior. The 'seeming' ontological jump from intentional state [not-physical] to physical change in muscle activity is what I argue never happens because there must ultimately be some physical nature to that intentional state in order for it to lead to a physical change.

    This misses the fact that intentional states do inform material states. That we are writing about and discussing intentionality shows that intentional states can modify physical objects (texts, pressure waves, etc.)
    Again, I can't think of how this could happen without a physical mechanism. And in fact it is currently made sense of in terms of physical mechanisms [albeit coarse grained and drafted at present] - as a hypothetical mechanism: some web of 'concept-cells' [higher level cells in a feedforward neural circuit that invariantly fire in response to a very specific stimulus or object class] are activated in conjunction with reward circuitry and a motor-command sequence is initiated.

    if I am commited, I will find other means. I planned on a certain route, encoded in my initial state, but as I turn the corner, I find my way blocked by construction. I find an alternate route to effect my intended end. In all of this, the explanatory invariant (which can revealed by controlled experiments) is not my initial physical state, but my intended final state. Clearly, intentional states can produce physical events.
    Right but all of this goal directed decision making is ultimately mediated by physical processes happening in the brain. It also doesn't need to be determinate to be mediated by physical process.

    To say that intentions have "no parts outside of parts" does not mean that they are simple (unanalyzable). It means that they do not have one part here and another part there (outside of "here"). My intention to to go to the store is analyzable, say, into a commitment and a target of commitment (what if is about, viz. arriving at the store.) But, my commitment and the specification of my commitment are not in different places and so are not parts outside of other parts.
    Okay that makes sense. They certainly seem spatially dimensionless -- feelings and sentiments from a first person perspective, for example, seem to be present without any spatial location. I don't know biophysically how these types of things are encoded in a distributed, non localized fashion or in a temporal pattern of activity that doesn't have spatial dimension or etc so I couldn't say they are one or the other but I guess I'd say they could be spatially decomposable.

    Of course my intention to go to the store has biophysical support. My claim is that its biophysical support alone is inadequate to fully explain it.
    How do you define 'biophysical support'? What in addition to that support would you say is needed for a full explanation?

    First, as explained in the scenario above, the invariance of the intended end in the face of physical obstacles shows that this is not a case covered by the usual paradigm of physical explanation -- one in which an initial state evolves deterministically under the laws of nature. Unlike a cannon ball, I do not stop when I encounter an obstacle. I find, or at least search for, other means. What remains constant is not the sum of my potential and kine
    the contexts are different but, again they are both [the invariance of the goal and the ball's deterministic behavior] explainable by physical processes - some neurons are realizing a [physically instantiated] goal which is influencing via [probabilistic] physical interactions some other set of neurons which are informing behavior via other [probabilistic] physical interactions. The ball is a simple physical system which is directly being impacted by a relatively deterministic process.

    Second, you are assuming, without making a case, that many of the factors you mention are purely biophysical. How is the "valance component," as subjective value, grounded in biophysics? Especially when biophysics is solely concerned with objective phenomena? Again to have a "cognitive attitude" (as opposed to a neural data representation) requires that we actualize the intelligibility latent in the representation. What biophysical process is capable of making what was merely intelligible actually known -- especially given that knowledge is a subject-object relation and biophysics has no <subject> concept in its conceptual space?
    I am making broad-band metaphysical assumptions of materialism and emergentism which implies I take things like 'valence' and 'concepts' to be materially realized in physical systems. My defense of materialism is there is simply no evidence for any other substance in reality, and that everything -so far- that has seemed to be non-physical or have no physical basis has been shown to be mediated by physical process. My defense of emergentism is something like this.

    I couldn't tell you how things like valence are exactly biophysically grounded because that's still something being explored but it seems to involve activity in a well-defined anatomical reward circuit involving parts of cortex and limbic system which itself seems involved across all forms of 'liking' or 'pleasure' [sexual, drug-induced, food-induced] and seems common to a variety of animal species.

    I can imagine mental [cognitive] schemas [theories of self, mind and world], as just some very complex web of connections with specific connection strengths between various spatially distributed, semi-autonomous neural populations and the activity patterns between them. The 'information' is the connection scheme + the various activity patterns elicited intrinsically. Again it doesn't have to be deterministic to be governed by physical laws.

    Third, how is a circuit interaction, which is fully specified by the circuit's configuration and dynamics, "about" anything? Since it is not, it cannot be the explanation of an intentional state.
    Say you want a pizza. Pizza can be thought of as a circuit interaction between 'concept cells' [which -in turn- have activated the relevant visual, tactile, olfactory circuits that usually come online whenever you come into contact sensorily with pizza], particular reward pathway cells, cells which encode sets of motor commands. 'Wanting' could be perceived as signals from motor-command center which bombard decision-making circuits and compete against other motor-commands for control over behavior. All of these have an associated experience which themselves can be thought of as fundamental phenomena that are caused by the circuit interaction [e.g. pizza -- whatever is conjured when asked to imagine the concept: smells, visual content, taste; wanting-- 'feeling pulled' toward interacting with the object].
  • Mww
    733
    It suffices to think that, having once grasped it a posteriori, in an experienced example, we can see, that it applies in all future cases "a priori."Dfpolis

    Which is PRECISELY the error Kant points out regarding Hume’s characterization of the principle cause and effect. Sure we can “think” it applies in all future cases, but that is merely given from the habit of never having seen its falsification in the past. Hume, being an rabid empiricist, had no call to suppose a principle being grounded in pure reason, as are all principles whatsoever, absolutely **must** have it’s proof also given from pure reason. Kant’s argument wasn’t that there IS a proof per se, but rather no empirical predicates at all can be attributed to a possible formulation of it. Which of course, makes Hume’s convention of repeatable occurrences fall by the epistemological wayside. From this, it is clear that while it is certainly true no thesis can be reject that has not first been considered, Kant’s argument was that the thesis of which Hume was aware (a priori judgements do exist), having been considered, was summarily rejected (slave of the passions and all that happy crappy) because it wasn’t considered **as it ought to have been**. In other words, he didn’t consider it the right way.

    I shall not insult your intelligence by informing you the human cognitive system is already in possession of a myriad of pure a priori principles of the kind Hume failed to address, first and foremost of which is, quite inarguably, mathematics. And as a final contribution, I submit there is no logical reason to suppose cause and effect should lend itself to being differentiated between kinds, with all due respect to Aristotle.

    A couple minor points, if I may:
    Isn’t a proposition where the subject and predicate describe the same event and contain the same information a mere tautology?

    It’s not that the relationships are contingent; it’s that instances that sustain a principle governing them are. If cause and effect is an intelligible relationship prior to our knowledge of it’s instances, doesn’t it’s very intelligibility mandate such relationship be necessarily a priori?

    Inquiring minds.......
  • Dfpolis
    700
    I mean to assert that concepts and intentions exist and are distinct from their material instances and yet to then say these things are somehow still of same ontological type [i.e. physical] as physical objects seems difficult to reconcile [what makes them physical if they're not composed of or caused by physical material?]. It just seems like an unsubstantiated assertion that they are ontologically the same.aporiap

    I'm unsure what I said that led to this interpretation. It does not reflect my view. Concepts, whether of intentions or of physical objects, are intentional realities. I am calling concepts "orthogonal" if they share no notes of comprehension. That the concept of materiality does not share notes of comprehension with the concept of intentionality does not mean that the concept of materiality is itself material. The concept of materiality points to what extended and mutable. It is not itself extended and mutable.

    Once you make the implicit assumption they are ontologically distinct then it becomes clear that any interaction between intentional states and physical substance serves as a counterargument to their being distinct from materiality [since material and nonmaterial have no common fundamental properties with which to interact with each other (charge; mass; etc)].aporiap

    When I use "distinct" I mean aspects that can be separated in thought, but not in reality.

    What logical orthogonality prevents is an analytically true connection. It does not prevent contingent connections. We know from experience that material objects are intelligible and that their intelligibility informs concepts. We also know, from experience, that our committed intentions can be embodied in material states. These are contingent, not analytic truths. So, orthogonality does not preclude interaction. It means that we have to look to experience to find it. It also means that the orthogonal concepts are mutually irreducible.

    Intentional states inform physical states but I mentioned before [and I think this is important] that this is always by virtue of a physical-material mechanism.aporiap

    I don't think that your claim is possible. Of course, our intentional physical acts are neurally mediated, but if we follow the causal chain back to its intentional origin, the first step must involve the direct modification of the physical by the intentional. If this were not so, then intentionality could have no physical effects. Michelangelo's intention to sculpt could never have produced the David.

    How is this possible? As I have discussed many times{1}, the laws operative in nature are essentially intentional. Characterizing the laws of nature as intentional acts is concurrent with their first mention in Western literature. Jeremiah, apparently relying on a cultural consensus, used the Lord’s “covenant with day and night and the fixed laws of heaven and earth” (Jer. 31:35-36) as a sign of His faithfulness to Israel. The same insight is the basis of Aquinas' Fifth Way to prove the existence of God. So, I claim no originality in seeing the laws of nature as intentional, although the arguments supporting my case are my own.

    There is no dynamics linking the laws of nature to the material states evolving in response to them, for they themselves are the dynamics. Thus, in physics we explain time development by appeal to what turns out to be an intentional reality. Of course, it is not described as such in physics, because the Fundamental Abstraction of natural science leaves physics devoid of intentional concepts. Still, once we understand the nature of intentionality, it is easy to see that it applies to the laws of nature.

    So, it is not unreasonable to see human committed intentions as effecting their embodiment in the same way -- by being the very dynamics by which intentional processes are driven. If the general laws of nature are intentional, then they, and committed human intentions, act in the same, intentional, theater of operations. Thus, our intentions could perturb the general laws of nature.

    Of course, this line of reasoning only motivates a hypothesis. It does not prove that human intentions can modify the operation of the laws of nature. However, there is an overwhelming mass of empirical data confirming the hypothesis that human intentions can modify physical processes. I have discussed this data before in the thread on "Fallacies of Strawson's Argument vs. Free Will":

    Dean Radin and Roger Nelson (1989) reviewed 832 experiments by 68 investigators in which subjects were asked to control random number generators, typically driven by radioactive decay. They subjected the results to meta-analysis, a method for combining data from many experiments. While control runs showed no significant effect, the mean effect of subjects trying to influence the outcome was 3.2 x 10^-4 with Stouffer’s z = 4.1. In other words, subjects controlled an average of 32 of every 100,000 random numbers, and this effect is 4.1 standard deviations from pure chance. The odds against this are about 24,000 to 1.

    Radin and Diane C. Ferrari (1991) analyzed 148 studies of dice throwing by 52 investigators involving 2,592,817 throws, found an effect size (weighted by methodological quality ) of 0.00723 ± 0.00071 with z = 18.2 (1.94 x 10^73 to 1). Radin and Nelson (2003) updated their 1989 work by adding 84 studies missed earlier and 92 studies published from 1987 to mid-2000. This gave 515 experiments by 91 different principal investigators with a total of 1.4 billion random numbers. They calculated an average effect size of 0.007 with z = 16.1 (3.92 x 10^57 to 1).

    Bösch, Steinkamp, and Boller (2006) did a meta-analysis of 380 studies in an article placing experiments in the context spoon bending and séances. They excluded two-thirds of the studies considered. Nonetheless, they found high methodological quality, and a small, but statistically significant effect.

    So, the hypothesis that human intentions can perturb the general laws of nature is confirmed beyond a statistical doubt.

    The 'seeming' ontological jump from intentional state [not-physical] to physical change in muscle activity is what I argue never happens because there must ultimately be some physical nature to that intentional state in order for it to lead to a physical change.aporiap

    Yes, there must be. While the concept of <matter> is orthogonal to the concept of <intention> physical processes are more than material. They are also intentional via the operation of the laws of nature. So, I try to be very careful not to confuse "material," which voices matter as an abstraction, with "physical" which includes not only matter, but the (intentional) laws under which material states evolve over time.

    In physics we have material states |psi(t1)> which are defined by the values of physical variables at time t1. These states evolve over time into later states, |psi(t2)>, in response to a time-development operator, exp-iH(I2-t1) which expresses the laws of nature with their intrinsic intentionality. I give the formalism not to confuse, but to show that physics distinguishes material states, |psi(t)>, from the intentionality (time development operators) under which they evolve. What physics does not do is point out that time-development operators express intentionality.

    And in fact it is currently made sense of in terms of physical mechanisms [albeit coarse grained and drafted at present] - as a hypothetical mechanism: some web of 'concept-cells' [higher level cells in a feedforward neural circuit that invariantly fire in response to a very specific stimulus or object class] are activated in conjunction with reward circuitry and a motor-command sequence is initiated.aporiap

    The problem with this kind model is its lack of intentional concepts. We can fully describe its operation in physical terms. So, it does not tell us how, for example, the idea <awareness> can give rise to the physical act of saying "awareness." That speech act can only occur if intentional states can modify physical states. So, the model is clearly inadequate.

    Hiding this inadequacy in "concept cells" does nothing to advance our understanding.

    Right but all of this goal directed decision making is ultimately mediated by physical processes happening in the brain. It also doesn't need to be determinate to be mediated by physical process.aporiap

    We agree. Where we disagree is on the causal effectiveness of intentions. The inability to understand how this can happen is not an argument against the observational datum that it does happen.

    I don't know biophysically how these types of things are encoded in a distributed, non localized fashion or in a temporal pattern of activity that doesn't have spatial dimension or etc so I couldn't say they are one or the other but I guess I'd say they could be spatially decomposable.aporiap

    I think you are confusing intelligibility, which can certainly be spatially distributed, as these words are, which what is actually known. The concept <apple> has one and only one operation: it refers to actual and potential apples. It does not resist pressure, scatter light or generate electrochemical pulses. It only refers. Of course, it has physical support that encodes information. Still, the idea is not the encoded information that supports it. Encoded information is not known information unless its intelligibility is actualized by a knowing mind -- which is to say that it has to become operational in the intentional, not the physical, order.

    How do you define 'biophysical support'? What in addition to that support would you say is needed for a full explanation?aporiap

    To form and execute my intention to go to the store I need physically encoded memories, physical senses, and a brain capable of processing the relevant data. All of that is necessary, but none of it is a goal, which is an intentional commitment. As Brentano points out, intentions are about something beyond themselves. Physical states are fully described by their intrinsic character -- we need not look beyond them to understand their operation.

    I can program a robot or a computer with a goal, but the goal is mine, not the machine's. All the machine does is make state transitions that require no understanding of its goal to predict. On the other hand, my arrival at the store can be predicted independently of the detailed mechanisms that get me there. A set of state transitions that were not predetermined will get me to the store.

    the contexts are different but, again they are both [the invariance of the goal and the ball's deterministic behavior] explainable by physical processes - some neurons are realizing a [physically instantiated] goal which is influencing via [probabilistic] physical interactions some other set of neurons which are informing behavior via other [probabilistic] physical interactions. The ball is a simple physical system which is directly being impacted by a relatively deterministic process.aporiap

    You seem to be arguing against a position that is not mine. I see humans as physical beings, requiring physical means to effect physical ends. The question is, is the paradigm of physics, as applied in various fields, including neuroscience, adequate to our experience? The case for the affirmative starts with a huge obstacle, because the fundamental abstraction of natural science leaves behind a good half of human experience -- the part informing of us of the subjective object. So, we have no reason to believe that any science that begins with the Fundamental Abstraction will be adequate to our experience as subjects.

    As to the case in point. The paradigm of physical explanation is that applying a time development operator to the initial state gives us the final state. It does not matter if the initial state is simple, as a canon ball, or complex, involving millions of neurons, glia and psychoactive compounds.

    Your hypothesis is that an adequate explanation of goal directed behavior is encoded (somehow) in our initial brain state. Yet, as soon as we encounter an obstacle, the initial brain state hypothesis becomes inadequate. We are no longer operating on our original representation of the world, but on a new representation not part of our initial brain state. That means that your original assumption can no longer explain what happens.

    What does remain constant, the explanatory invariant, it an intentional state -- my commitment to go to the store. Now, you will say that that commitment is somehow explained by a physical (non-referential) brain state. But, how can what is non-referential explain an intention that is intrinsically referential?

    I am making broad-band metaphysical assumptions of materialism and emergentism which implies I take things like 'valence' and 'concepts' to be materially realized in physical systems.aporiap

    That is precisely the point! These are assumptions with no rational support and many rational doubts. I explained, via the Fundamental Abstraction, why physicalist approaches to philosophy cannot deal with the full range of human experience. I showed you evidence for the causal effectiveness of intentionality. So, you can assume what you like, but doing so closes you, a priori, to possibilities the evidence leaves open. Such a stance rejects the scientific mindset in which data trumps belief.

    Say you want a pizza. Pizza can be thought of as a circuit interaction between 'concept cells' [which -in turn- have activated the relevant visual, tactile, olfactory circuits that usually come online whenever you come into contact sensorily with pizza], particular reward pathway cells, cells which encode sets of motor commands.aporiap

    A key position in the Age of Reason was the rejection of "occult" properties, but here you are positing "concept cells" as a cover for abject ignorance of how any purely material structure can explain the referential nature of intentional realities. Where are these concept cells? How do they work? They are as irrational and ungrounded as the assumption of homunculi.

    ---------
    {1} For example in my video "#14 Laws of Nature 6: Intentionality" (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=19Ac7rTbWB4); in my article "Mind or Randomness in Evolution," Journal of Interdisciplinary Studies (2010) XXII, 1/2, pp. 32-66 (www.academia.edu/27797943/Mind_or_Randomness_in_Evolution); in my book, God, Science and Mind: the Irrationality of Naturalism, pp. 55ff; and in a number of posts on this forum.
  • Dfpolis
    700
    Which is PRECISELY the error Kant points out regarding Hume’s characterization of the principle cause and effect.Mww

    Kant's assumption that we have a priori knowledge is inadequate grounds for calling Hume's position an error. While I am a determinist in physics, I am one on a posteriori grounds -- because I see determinism as working to explain the physical universe, and not because I think that physical indeterminism is logically or metaphysical impossible. God could change the laws of nature from second to second. He seems to have chosen to leave them fixed.

    But, Kant wants more than the principle of causality to be known a priori. He wants it to be imposed by the mind so that its contrary is literally unthinkable. The number of reflective people who believe in the ontological indeterminism of quantum theory shows that this is simply wrong. Indeterminism is quite thinkable, even if I disagree with it -- as are alternate views of space and time. So, causality, space and time are not forms imposed on reality by the mind, but empirically derived concepts.

    a principle being grounded in pure reason, as are all principles whatsoever, absolutely **must** have it’s proof also given from pure reason.Mww

    Pure reason is reason without data. Lacking grist, it can conclude nothing, not even transcendental principles. It is when reason is exposed to being, when it has reflected on the nature of being as encountered, that it comes to understand the principles of Identity, Contradiction, and Excluded Middle -- and seeing that they are grounded in the nature of being, understands that they apply transcendentally.

    Kant’s argument wasn’t that there IS a proof per se, but rather no empirical predicates at all can be attributed to a possible formulation of it.Mww

    This is because the experience grounding these principle is the experience of existence, and existence is not a predicate. The fact that it is not a predicate does not mean that it is not found in experience -- for it is found in any and all experience.

    Kant’s argument was that the thesis of which Hume was aware (a priori judgements do exist), having been considered, was summarily rejected (slave of the passions and all that happy crappy) because it wasn’t considered **as it ought to have been**. In other words, he didn’t consider it the right way.Mww

    In other words, Hume did not agree with Kant's assumptions.

    I shall not insult your intelligence by informing you the human cognitive system is already in possession of a myriad of pure a priori principles of the kind Hume failed to address, first and foremost of which is, quite inarguably, mathematics.Mww

    It would not insult my intelligence. There is no reason to think that mathematics is not grounded in experience. For example, arithmetic, which cannot be proven to be consistent, is consistent because it is grounded in the experience of counting. So, its consistency reflects the self-consistency of the countable reality from which we abstract it.

    On the other hand, Euclid's parallel postulate, involving as it does infinity, cannot be adequately grounded in experience, and its inadequate experiential grounding was why it was questioned. If mathematics were known a priori, there would be no reason to question it.

    The problem with Hume's empiricism is not that he saw all knowledge as based on experiences, but that he did not recognize the limits of association as a tool of generalization. When we generate universal conclusions on the Hume-Mill model of induction, we must always add the assumption that the cases we have not seen are like the cases we have seen. As a result Hume-Mill inductions are always dubious -- even though of practical utility.

    Coming to universal conclusions by abstraction is quite different. For example, the central insight of arithmetic is that counting is independent of what is counted. Once we see this, we can deal with numeric relations abstractly and universally. Thus, while Hume-Mill induction requires the addition of a dubious hypothesis, abstractive induction subtracts irrelevant factors and so adds nothing to the data.

    And as a final contribution, I submit there is no logical reason to suppose cause and effect should lend itself to being differentiated between kinds, with all due respect to Aristotle.Mww

    I am not sure what you mean. Surely the sculptor, her material, the from she imposes on it, and the motivation for her work are all different kinds of explanatory factors in the creation of a statue.

    Isn’t a proposition where the subject and predicate describe the same event and contain the same information a mere tautology?Mww

    If they contain the same information, it surely is a tautology. When I was saying why propositions are true, I did not say that the subject and predicate contained the same information, but that they had the identical object as their referent. In general, they will have different aspects of the same object as their referents, as "The 16th president of the U.S. was bearded." If the person who was the 16th president was not the same person who is bearded, this would be false.

    It’s not that the relationships are contingent; it’s that instances that sustain a principle governing them are. If cause and effect is an intelligible relationship prior to our knowledge of it’s instances, doesn’t it’s very intelligibility mandate such relationship be necessarily a priori?Mww

    I take the position that, while we may have uninstantiated ideas, abstract relations are not real, only their instances are. <Fatherhood> is not a relation, but the idea of a relation. If there are no actual fathers, then <fatherhood> would only be an uninstantiated idea.

    Knowledge being a priori or a posteriori depends on how we come to know it. Something may be true transcendentally (true of all existents), but it is not a priori unless we know it without the experience of an existent informing us. Once we see it in one case, then like the insight that counting does not depend on what we count, we may see that the principle does not depend on the kind of being we apply it to, but only on the fact that we are applying it to a being.
  • Janus
    7.5k
    This misses the fact that intentional states do inform material states. That we are writing about and discussing intentionality shows that intentional states can modify physical objects (texts, pressure waves, etc.)Dfpolis


    Again, I can't think of how this could happen without a physical mechanism.aporiap

    If for every intentional state, there is a corresponding physical state and vice versa, then it could be said, as Spinoza does, that they are the same thing seen from two different perspectives. If this is right then to say either that physical states cause intentional states or that intentional states inform physical states would be to commit a category error.
  • aporiap
    155
    A key position in the Age of Reason was the rejection of "occult" properties, but here you are positing "concept cells" as a cover for abject ignorance of how any purely material structure can explain the referential nature of intentional realities. Where are these concept cells? How do they work? They are as irrational and ungrounded as the assumption of homunculi.
    They're empirically supported, I didn't conjure these things up: https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Grandmother_cell . It's a set of spatially distributed, sparsely firing neurons which activate when particular category of object - faces, hands, etc. - are presented irregardless of form of perception (whether it's the name 'face' that is heard, an image of a face seem, a face that is felt).

    I'll respond to the rest soon
  • Dfpolis
    700
    If for every intentional state, there is a corresponding physical state and vice versa, then it could be said, as Spinoza does, that they are the same thing seen from two different perspectives. If this is right then to say either that physical states cause intentional states or that intentional states inform physical states would be to commit a category error.Janus

    This is fails on two counts.

    The first has to do with the fact that that every instance of sensory awareness has a twofold object, violating your assumption of a one-to-one correspondence of physical and intentional states. As I noted in a previous post in this thread, every instance of sensory cognition has an objective object, which informs of the sensed object, and a subjective object, which informs us of the sensing subject. One and the same modification to my neural state grounds both the fact that there is an apple, and that I am seeing. Thus, a single physical state (the apple's modification of my neural state) grounds two intention states -- <there is an apple> and <I am seeing>.

    The second is that concurrence does not preclude causality. Of course, it provides no ground for time sequence by rule or accidental causality -- which requires two separate events. Still it is a necessary condition for concurrent or essential causality, as exemplified by Aristotle's paradigm case of the builder building the house. In that case there is agency unless the builder is actually building and no effect unless the house is actually being built. In the present case the material state is intelligible, but not actually understood unless it is actually known by the intellect. So, the intellect is an actualizing concurrent cause.

    I am unsure what category error you are contemplating, unless it is the requirement for two separate events, which does not apply in cases of essential causality.
  • Dfpolis
    700
    They're empirically supportedaporiap

    No, they are hypothetical. Your Wikipedia reference says "The grandmother cell, sometimes called the "Jennifer Aniston neuron," is a hypothetical neuron that represents a complex but specific concept or object."

    The support cited in the article is behavioral (which is to say physical), with no intentional component. I am happy to agree that behavioral events require the firing of specific neural complexes. The problem is, a concept is not a behavior, but the awareness of well-defined notes of intelligibility. The article offers no evidence of awareness of the requisite sort.
  • Janus
    7.5k
    The first has to do with the fact that that every instance of sensory awareness has a twofold object, violating your assumption of a one-to-one correspondence of physical and intentional states.Dfpolis

    You're misunderstanding me. Imagine you're looking at a tree and thinking about the tree. the phenomenological description is that this is a perceptual, intentional, state or process.

    Now, imagine the same process from a physical point of view. Light is reflected form the tree to you eyes, nervous impulses are carried via the optic nerve to the visual cortex, neural processes occur which are correlated with seeing the tree and thinking about it, and so on.

    These are two descriptions of the one process. From a phenomenological perspective we can say that something about the tree caught your attention, and to stop and look at it, which in turn triggered associations which led to you having a series of thought about it.

    From a physical perspective we can say that light reflected from the tree affected the neural processes in your brain such that you body stopped moving for a few moments, after which the ongoing relected light, and perhaps sounds and odors triggered further neural processes in the visual cortex, the hippocampus, the amygdala, the cingulate gyrus, the thalamus, the hypothalamus, the epithalamus, the mammillary body and so on.

    The point is that it is a category error to say that the physical and physiological process cause you to think certain thoughts, because it is other thought and memory associations which cause that. Of course those other associations can be said to have been correlated with neural processes which led to further neural process which were correlated with the subsequent thoughts you had. The point is that they are two different types of analysis best kept separate, and confusion and aporias often result when talk of causation operating across the two kinds of analysis is indulged in.
  • Mww
    733
    Kant's assumption that we have a priori knowledge is inadequate grounds for calling Hume's position an errorDfpolis

    Yes, it is, because a priori knowledge derives from universality and necessity, which Hume’s empirical grounds, with respect to cause and effect, do not and can not possibly afford.

    But, Kant wants more than the principle of causality to be known a priori......
    (Correct, he would wish all principles whatsoever be known a priori)
    .......... He wants it to be imposed by the mind so that its contrary is literally unthinkable.
    Dfpolis
    (No, not literally unthinkable, for reason has no power to not think. Reason’s sole domain is to enable thinking correctly, which means understanding does not confuse itself with contradictions.)

    Pure reason is reason without data........
    (The data of pure reason are categories, without which reason and indeed all thought, is impossible)
    .........Lacking grist, it can conclude nothing, not even transcendental principles.
    Dfpolis
    (Reason does not conclude, that being the sole domain of judgement. While judgement is a part of the total faculty of reason, it is improper to attribute to the whole that which properly belongs to the particular function of one of its parts. In this much I grant: without categories reason has no means to, and therefore cannot, derive transcendental principles.)

    So, causality, space and time are not forms imposed on reality by the mind, but empirically derived concepts.Dfpolis

    Correct. Causality, space and time are pure forms imposed on the mind by reality.

    In other words, Hume did not agree with Kant's assumptions.Dfpolis

    Hume died 20 years before Kant put his assumptions to print. At least, the ones we’re talking about.

    consistent because it is grounded in the experience of counting.Dfpolis

    Arithmetic is consistent by means of its use *because* the principles from which it arose have nothing whatsoever to do with counting. The numeral “5”, or any series of objects representing the numeral, denotes a quantity, but “quantity” cannot be derived from anything arithmetic alone.

    If mathematics were known a priori, there would be no reason to question it.Dfpolis

    Mathematics the science is never questioned. Mathematics the discipline may be.

    I did not say that the subject and predicate contained the same information, but that they had the identical object as their referent.Dfpolis

    And I say that if they have the same referent they have the same information. But I’m. Probably misunderstanding some word usage or something.

    Something may be true transcendentally (true of all existents)........
    (This is not what transcendentally means to me)
    ........, but it is not a priori unless we know it without the experience of an existent informing us.
    Dfpolis
    (True. I know the principle “all bodies are extended” is true without the experience of a body informing me, otherwise I would only be entitled to say “this body is extended”. I know all bodies are extended not because of *this* body I perceive, but rather because the concept of empirical bodies in general must have the pure concept of “extension” belonging to it, in order to be intuited as “body” at all. “Extension” is hardly empirical, so any knowledge of principles connected with it must be a priori.

    Your turn.
  • Dfpolis
    700
    These are two descriptions of the one process. From a phenomenological perspective we can say that something about the tree caught your attention, and to stop and look at it, which in turn triggered associations which led to you having a series of thought about it.Janus

    While they describe the same process, they describe different aspects of that process. The physical description deals with the actualization of sensibility, while the phenomenal description requires the actualization of intelligibility. This difference is critical. To think of the tree, I need not only sense the tree, but also actualize its intelligibility to form the idea <tree>. Describing how light scattered from the tree modifies my neurophysical state, and how that state is neurally processed, elaborates the sensory aspect of the process, but says nothing of the actualization of intelligibility required to think <tree>.

    There is no doubt that these processes are correlated, and since the time of Aristotle, it has been recognized that the intentional state (the idea) is dependent on the sensory representation (which he called the phantasm). But, correlation and dependence are not identity.

    The point is that it is a category error to say that the physical and physiological process cause you to think certain thoughts, because it is other thought and memory associations which cause that.Janus

    We cannot have any association of thoughts without first actualizing the intelligibility latent in sensory representations. Coming at this more phenomenologically, there is a considerable literature, going back to at least to Ibn Sina, showing that humans engage in automatic behavior, being "lost in thought," while engaging in complex tasks such as playing musical instruments, bicycle riding or driving -- all without a shred of task-related awareness. (I can provide a long list of citations if you like.) Such reports show that even complex sensory processing need not involve awareness and the actualization of intelligibility.

    I would not say that thoughts cause other thoughts. We have neurally-based associations, and we have logical processes which allow us to evaluate such associations. In both cases it is the thinking subject, and not thoughts, that are causal.

    The point is that they are two different types of analysis best kept separate, and confusion and aporias often result when talk of causation operating across the two kinds of analysis is indulged in.Janus

    I see not reason to keep them separate. They are two projections of the same reality. Each is partial and incomplete. The best thing to do is compare them for points of agreement, and then determine what each projection grasps that the other misses. Doing so leads to a more complete model of reality.
  • Dfpolis
    700
    Yes, it is, because a priori knowledge derives from universality and necessity, which Hume’s empirical grounds, with respect to cause and effect, do not and can not possibly afford.Mww

    While Hume's model of universalization though association is clearly inadequate, we need not invoke a priori knowledge to remedy this. As I pointed out in my last post, abstraction (seeing, for example, that counting does not depend on what is counted) is adequate underwrite necessary truths.

    (No, not literally unthinkable, for reason has no power to not think. Reason’s sole domain is to enable thinking correctly, which means understanding does not confuse itself with contradictions.)Mww

    I think experience falsifies this claim. We all make errors in reasoning. Logic enables us to discover those errors.

    The data of pure reason are categories, without which reason and indeed all thought, is impossible

    This requires some justification, beginning with a definition of "categories."

    Reason does not conclude, that being the sole domain of judgement. While judgement is a part of the total faculty of reason, it is improper to attribute to the whole that which properly belongs to the particular function of one of its parts. In this much I grant: without categories reason has no means to, and therefore cannot, derive transcendental principles.Mww

    It seems that we are going deep into Kant, which is far from the thread topic. I would be happy to discuss Kant with you, but I think the proper place would be another thread.
  • Janus
    7.5k
    While they describe the same process, they describe different aspects of that process. The physical description deals with the actualization of sensibility, while the phenomenal description requires the actualization of intelligibility. This difference is critical. To think of the tree, I need not only sense the tree, but also actualize its intelligibility to form the idea <tree>. Describing how light scattered from the tree modifies my neurophysical state, and how that state is neurally processed, elaborates the sensory aspect of the process, but says nothing of the actualization of intelligibility required to think <tree>.

    There is no doubt that these processes are correlated, and since the time of Aristotle, it has been recognized that the intentional state (the idea) is dependent on the sensory representation (which he called the phantasm). But, correlation and dependence are not identity.
    Dfpolis

    I haven't said that the two processes, the intentional and the physical, are identical. I have said they are correlated, and that each has its own respective account which is unintelligible in terms of the other. Whether the intentional is dependent on the physical or the physical on the intentional is ultimately an unanswerable question. Some seem to think that it is more plausible to think that matter is dependent on mind and others seem to think the obverse is more plausible.

    Spinoza seems to assert that the two are co-dependent, that matter and mind are two attributes of the one substance: God. This idea that there are two basic discursive modes appears again, for example, in Wilfrid Sellars, when he speaks about the 'scientific image of the world' and the 'manifest image of the world'; in the first answers to questions are given in terms of causes and in the second in terms of reasons.

    I see not reason to keep them separate. They are two projections of the same reality. Each is partial and incomplete. The best thing to do is compare them for points of agreement, and then determine what each projection grasps that the other misses. Doing so leads to a more complete model of reality.Dfpolis

    It's not a matter of "keeping them separate"; they are separate. They are different discourses with different modes of intelligibility. When we try to mix them we perform category errors and generate unnecessary confusion.
  • Dfpolis
    700
    I haven't said that the two processes, the intentional and the physical, are identical. I have said they are correlated, and that each has its own respective account which is unintelligible in terms of the other.Janus

    We agree: they are correlated. I cannot agree that they are unintelligible in terms of each other. If they were, we would not recognize that they are related. Yet, their relation has been recognized for two and a half millennia. Aristotle recognized that our experience of sensation implied the existence of data conduits, a combined representation (the phantasm), and a central processing organ to integrate various sensory modalities into that representation. He then undertook anatomical studies to find these structures.

    When we read neuroscience, we are generally satisfied that is account of sensation agrees with our experience. This is not the case with naturalistic accounts of awareness.

    Whether the intentional is dependent on the physical or the physical on the intentional is ultimately an unanswerable question.Janus

    On what basis and in what context? Are you thinking of cosmogenesis or ideogenesis? Of course there are divergent views, but there ave been divergent views on all important matters. That does not make them undecidable.

    It's not a matter of "keeping them separate"; they are separate.Janus

    No, they are not separate. They are distinct ways of thinking about one and the same topic, just as wave mechanics and matrix mechanics are different ways of conceptualizing quantum events, or aerodynamics and manufacturing logistics are different approaches the production of an airplane. Different ways of thinking are complementary.
  • Janus
    7.5k
    I cannot agree that they are unintelligible in terms of each other.Dfpolis

    As an example, your reasons for doing something or thinking something is not intelligible in terms of neural processes. You think what you do for reasons, neural processes do not cause you to think the way you do, even though neural processes are arguably correlated with your thinking.

    Think about a movement of thought; it is intelligible if there are intelligible associations between the successive phases of the thought process, and the intelligibility is given in terms of those associations. Imagine that there are neural processes that are correlated with every phase of the thought process.
    The claim that the movement of thought is caused by those neural processes renders the associations between them unintelligible. we cannot parse any relationship between causes and reasons, because the former is predicated on determinism and the latter on freedom; neither of which can be understood in terms of the other.

    We might be able to give an intelligible account of the succession of neural states, and although they may be understood to be in a causal series, they cannot be meaningfully mapped as causes onto the successive phases of the movement of thought in a way that explains a relationship between the physical succession of causes and the intentional succession of associations and reasons.

    Are you thinking of cosmogenesis or ideogenesis?Dfpolis

    I'm thinking of cosmogenesis.

    No, they are not separate. They are distinct ways of thinking about one and the same topic, just as wave mechanics and matrix mechanics are different ways of conceptualizing quantum events, or aerodynamics and manufacturing logistics are different approaches the production of an airplane. Different ways of thinking are complementary.Dfpolis

    I didn't mean to suggest anything like that they are ontologically separate; which would be some kind of dualism, but rather that they are, as you say "distinct ways of thinking about one and the same topic". The point is that being distinct ways of thinking, any attempt to unite them breeds confusion. As an analogy, the world may be thought about in terms of mathematics or of poetry; and there is no unifying discipline that could allow us to think in both ways at once. I don't deny that they are complementary, they are in that each gives us something the other cannot.
  • Mww
    733
    I think experience falsifies this claim. We all make errors in reasoning. Logic enables us to discover those errors.Dfpolis

    Experience falsifies the claim if I’d said “reason’s sole domain is to *force* thinking correctly”. A set of logical rules doesn’t come with the promise of their use, only that we’re better off if we do.

    counting does not depend on what is countedDfpolis

    Why isn’t this just like “seeing does not depend on what is seen”? Seeing or counting is an actual physical act, and mandates that the objects consistent with the act be present. Now, “the ability to see or to count does not depend on what is seen or counted” seems to be true, for I do not lose my visual receptivity simply because my eyes are closed. Otherwise, I would be forced into the absurdity of having to learn each and every object presented to sensibility after each and every interruption of it.
    Are you saying counting and the ability to count are the same thing?

    The categories are the same for Kant as they were for Aristotle. My mistake if I got the impression you were a fan of Aristotle, hence I didn’t feel the need to define them.

    What is Cosmogenesis and who is the authority for it? What is ideogenesis and who is te authority for that? Thanks.
  • Dfpolis
    700
    As an example, your reasons for doing something or thinking something is not intelligible in terms of neural processes.Janus

    If you mean that they are irreducible to neural processes, alone, I agree. But, if you mean that they are unrelated to neurophysical processes, I cannot agree. Many desires are biologically based and neurophysically represented. These representations are not the reasons, but awareness of the represented states may well be reasons for my choosing to act in a specific way. So, neurophysical representations and processing play a causal role in the reasons I consider.

    You think what you do for reasons, neural processes do not cause you to think the way you do, even though neural processes are arguably correlated with your thinking.Janus

    Now we come to will, and the physical-intentional interface. Suppose my blood sugar is low and my stomach is growling. By brain will represent these facts in a way that can inform me that I am hungry; however, it cannot force me to turn my attention to, to be come aware of, this intelligible representation. I may be meditating, solving a complex problem, or doing something else that is engaging my attention. So, you are right that the neural state cannot cause me to think <I am hungry>. However, if I will to turn my attention from what was previously occupying it to my bodily state, the representation will determine the content of what I think of my body state is. I will think <I am hungry> and not, say, <I am thirsty>.

    So, the efficient cause of my thought will be my will-directed awareness, but its formal cause will typically be neurophysically encoded information. That is why brain trauma can affect thought.

    we cannot parse any relationship between causes and reasons, because the former is predicated on determinism and the latter on freedom; neither of which can be understood in terms of the other.Janus

    I don't think this is a question of determinism vs freedom, though free-will directs our awareness. To continue with the hunger example, once I become aware of my hunger, I can decide to ignore it for the moment, or to do something about it. If I decide to act, I may think of what is on hand to eat. This will cause the activation of various physically encoded memories. Since these memories are activated in response to a free decision, it is inadequate to think of the brain as a deterministic machine. It has to be responsive to my decision to think about this, and not that. So, if we have freedom, it cannot end at the edge of intentionality.

    We might be able to give an intelligible account of the succession of neural states, and although they may be understood to be in a causal series, they cannot be meaningfully mapped as causes onto the successive phases of the movement of thought in a way that explains a relationship between the physical succession of causes and the intentional succession of associations and reasons.Janus

    If this were so, we would be left with some form of intentional-physical parallelism a la Leibnitzian Monadology. It is much more rational to say that my decision to eat now causes the brain to activate neural complexes encoding what there is to eat now. Then, being presented with this encoded intelligibility we become aware of the options and can will to eat one rather than another. If I had decided to ignore my hunger, and return to my prior engrossing activity, none of my food memories would have been activated.

    Are you thinking of cosmogenesis or ideogenesis? — Dfpolis

    I'm thinking of cosmogenesis.
    Janus

    OK, we could write several books on this. Here is a short reflection. Several naturalist cosmologists have posited that it is physically possible that the universe could have begun as nothing -- by which they mean a state with no matter or energy. This might happen as the result of a quantum fluctuation in which positive and negative energy states net out to zero total energy.

    If we reflect on this hypothesis, we see that it equivocates on "no-thing." In fact, they are assuming that there are operative laws which at least allow quantum fluctuations to occur and which require energy to be conserved. As I have argued previously, the laws of nature are essentially intentional. So, their "nothing" is not the absence of any operative existent, but only the absence of empirical matter.

    Of course this is not a general analysis of cosmogenesis, but it does point to intentional reality as more fundamental than material reality.

    The point is that being distinct ways of thinking, any attempt to unite them breeds confusion.Janus

    I agree that trying to unite the intentional and physical perspectives can, in fact, lead to confusion. Still, the fact that we know and can affect physical reality shows that, unlike mathematics and poetry, they are dynamically linked.
  • Dfpolis
    700
    Experience falsifies the claim if I’d said “reason’s sole domain is to *force* thinking correctly”. A set of logical rules doesn’t come with the promise of their use, only that we’re better off if we do.Mww

    Excuse me, I misunderstood you.

    counting does not depend on what is counted — Dfpolis

    Why isn’t this just like “seeing does not depend on what is seen”? Seeing or counting is an actual physical act, and mandates that the objects consistent with the act be present. Now, “the ability to see or to count does not depend on what is seen or counted” seems to be true, for I do not lose my visual receptivity simply because my eyes are closed. Otherwise, I would be forced into the absurdity of having to learn each and every object presented to sensibility after each and every interruption of it.
    Are you saying counting and the ability to count are the same thing?
    Mww

    First, because counting is an intellectual operation, while seeing is a physical operation,. Second, because counting is the basis of the natural numbers, which in turn are the basis of arithmetic, while no science is based on seeing in the same way. It is because counting does not depend on what is counted that we may think of numbers, and their intrinsic relations abstractly. Thus, arithmetic is abstracted from experience, and not given a priori.

    Counting is a mental act, that may or may not supported by a physical act. Of course, to count, we need countable objects -- discrete unities of some kind.

    No, I am not confusing actuality with potency.

    The categories are the same for Kant as they were for Aristotle. My mistake if I got the impression you were a fan of Aristotle, hence I didn’t feel the need to define them.Mww

    Kant's categories are not those of Aristotle. For Aristotle, the categories are different ways in which something can be said to "be." This does not appear to be the case for Kant. Also, Aristotle develops his list a posteriori, by reflecting on actual usage, while Kant wants an a priori list.

    What is Cosmogenesis and who is the authority for it? What is ideogenesis and who is te authority for that?Mww

    "Cosmogenesis" means the process by which the cosmos came to be and "ideogenesis" is the process by which concepts come to me. I don't think either is a matter to be settled by an appeal to authority.

    That said, I accept the standard Aristotelian-Thomist account of ideogenesis as abstraction from a physically-encoded representation (the "phantasm").
  • Janus
    7.5k
    But, if you mean that they are unrelated to neurophysical processes, I cannot agree.Dfpolis

    No, I have been saying they are correlated; which obviously means they are not unrelated. What I am saying is that the relationship is not causal.

    Many desires are biologically based and neurophysically represented. These representations are not the reasons, but awareness of the represented states may well be reasons for my choosing to act in a specific way. So, neurophysical representations and processing play a causal role in the reasons I consider.Dfpolis

    Urges may be "biologically based and neurophysically represented" (I think "presented" would be a better term here). I think desires are culturally and rationally mediated. I agree that "awareness of the represented states may well be reasons for my choosing to act in a specific way" since such awareness is always in part at least, conceptual, but awareness of the states is not the same as the states. If the states are preconceptual then they cannot serve as reasons for action.

    By brain will represent these facts in a way that can inform me that I am hungry; however, it cannot force me to turn my attention to, to be come aware of, this intelligible representation.Dfpolis

    I think this is an example of anthropomorphic thinking. Your mind may "represent" the facts or it may not; I don't think it is right to say that that the brain "represents" anything. Often you will simply eat without being aware of any reason to do so, but of course it is possible to think something like "I am hungry, I should eat something".

    Since these memories are activated in response to a free decision, it is inadequate to think of the brain as a deterministic machine.Dfpolis

    I'm not claiming that the brain is a deterministic machine; it may well be an indeterministic organ, but the point is that there is no "I" that is directly aware of neural processes such that it could direct them. So, the succession of brain states is determined by nature, not by ourselves, and thus, as far as we are concerned, it is a deterministic process.

    It is much more rational to say that my decision to eat now causes the brain to activate neural complexes encoding what there is to eat now.Dfpolis

    This is where the category error comes in. Your decision to eat now has its own correlated brain state from which the "neural complexes encoding what there is to eat now" ensues causally. This is a deterministic process (as far as we are concerned because we are not directly aware of it and cannot direct it). But, your decision to eat now gives you reason to seek what there is to eat now. These are two different ways of understanding what is going on; the first in terms of causes, the second in terms of reasons.

    Of course this is not a generally analysis of cosmogenesis, but it does point to intentional reality as more fundamental than material reality.Dfpolis

    I am sympathetic to the ideas you expressed there, but again I would not say that the intentional (or as I would prefer to put it: informational "reality' is more fundamental than the material reality; I think the two are co-arising and co-dependent. In other words, the "zero point field" or "quantum foam" or "akashic field" or "implicate order" or whatever you want to call it, cannot be without there being a correlated material existence.

    Still, the fact that we know and can affect physical reality shows that, unlike mathematics and poetry, they are dynamically linked.Dfpolis

    To my mind you are still thinking dualistically here. We are 'part and parcel" of the physical world and the informational world; I would say there is no real separation; and dynamism abounds but it is not ultimately in the form of "links" between things which are separate or separable.
  • Mww
    733
    First, because counting is an intellectual operation, while seeing is a physical operation,Dfpolis

    I suppose counting could be construed as an intellectual operation, in as much as I am connecting an a priori representation of quantity to spatially distinguishable objects. On the other hand, I don’t agree that seeing is a physical operation, in as much as an object impressed on a bunch of optic nerves can be called seeing. Is it merely convention that the intellect is required to call up an internal object to correspond to the impression, in order to say I am in fact seeing?

    For Aristotle, the categories are different ways in which something can be said to "be."Dfpolis

    Yeah, I know. Less Kant dammit!!!! I post this only to justify my claim.

    “.....and consequently, the objective validity of the categories, as a priori conceptions, will rest upon this, that experience (....) is possible only by their means. For in that case they apply necessarily and a priori to objects of experience, because only through them can an object of experience be thought....”
  • Mww
    733
    Sorry. I hit post before I was done. S“....There is no Cartesian subjectivism in St. Thomas which groups the whole of Being around the thinking self, no principium reddendae rationis which refuses to grant permission to be unless the being can present its credentials before the jurisdiction of reason (Leibniz), no Hegelian absolutizing of rational categories. In St. Thomas, reason is subordinate to faith, to mysticism, and, in the end, to the eschatological consummation of intelligence in the beatific vision....” (Caputo, 1982, p. 250)
  • Dfpolis
    700
    No, I have been saying they are correlated; which obviously means they are not unrelated. What I am saying is that the relationship is not causal.Janus

    I agree that these physical states are not efficient causes of thought; however, as bearing intelligibility, they can inform awareness and so may be seen as informing causes.

    (I think "presented" would be a better term here).Janus

    I agree. "Presented" is much better.

    awareness of the states is not the same as the statesJanus

    We have to be careful here lest we create an epistic gap. Awareness of the states is not the states in the sense that it is more than the states. Physical states are merely intelligible. Our awareness of them is that intelligibility actually known. Still, one and the same intelligibility that is latent in the presented states is actual in awareness.

    There is a tricky analogy here, for the actualization of potential is analogous to the informing of matter. As the matter that was unformed remains in the formed product, so the information latent in the physical presentation remains as the contents of consciousness. Of course, information is immaterial, and that is what makes the analogy tricky. Still, the persistence of presented information in the conscious state is more than correlation. The information plays a dynamic role, even though that role is not efficient causality.

    If the states are preconceptual then they cannot serve as reasons for action.Janus

    I do not think this follows. As long as it plays an essential role in determining the form of our thought, preconceptual intelligibility is part of the reason we act as we do. I walk over to the preconceptual apple because it will allay my hunger. It is an essential part of the reason I'm walking toward it.

    By brain will represent these facts in a way that can inform me that I am hungry; however, it cannot force me to turn my attention to, to be come aware of, this intelligible representation. — Dfpolis

    I think this is an example of anthropomorphic thinking.
    Janus

    Maybe I'm thinking anthropomorphically because I'm thinking of humans?

    Your mind may "represent" the facts or it may not; I don't think it is right to say that that the brain "represents" anything. Often you will simply eat without being aware of any reason to do so, but of course it is possible to think something like "I am hungry, I should eat something".Janus

    I am not sure how you're defining/thinking of "representing." I agree that there are senses that do not work, and the sense that does work is an unusual one. So, I would like to see why you object before deciding to agree or disagree.

    The reason I am using the term is that it is clear that information is transmitted and processed by our nervous system and brain. Since the information is not the nervous system or its physiology, I think it is fair to say it is represented by it.

    Of course we can and do act at an automatic level. I mentioned that earlier in distinguishing sensory and conscious activity.

    I'm not claiming that the brain is a deterministic machine; it may well be an indeterministic organ, but the point is that there is no "I" that is directly aware of neural processes such that it could direct them.Janus

    The "problem" is not that there is no "I," the problem is that it is beyond my power as a human subject to know my brain state. There are many consequences of this. For example, it rules out hypotheses which see consciousness as a form of proprioception.

    It also relates to the issue of representation we have been discussing, for neural representations are neither formal nor instrumental signs. Instrumental signs, such as words and smoke, have to be recognized for what they are in themselves before they can signify. If I can't make our your writing, or think the smudge on the horizon is dust, then they cannot signify your intent or the distant fire. Thus, since we do not know our brainstate, it cannot represent as instrumental signs do.

    At the same time, while brainstates may encode information, the information they encode is only intelligible unless it is the focus of awareness. That means that brain states cannot be formal signs, as ideas are. The whole being of an idea, all that it can do, is refer. As long as our neurally encoded information is only intelligible and not actually known, it is not a formal sign, either.

    That is why I held back in discussing your objection to neural states as representations -- for they are neither instrumental nor formal signs. Perhaps, the problem is thinking of neural representations as signs. Or, if we do think of them as signs, we need a third category of sign -- one that bears information, but need not be recognized for what it is to inform.

    So, the succession of brain states is determined by nature, not by ourselves, and thus, as far as we are concerned, it is a deterministic process.Janus

    I don't think this is the right formulation either. As I said earlier, we have some control over what contents the brain activates. If I want to find something to eat now, my brain will activate contents related to possible food sources. If I do not, it will not. This does not mean that we tell each neuron how to respond, but only that we set goals to which our brain tries to respond. That part of nature is part of myself.

    It is much more rational to say that my decision to eat now causes the brain to activate neural complexes encoding what there is to eat now. — Dfpolis

    This is where the category error comes in. Your decision to eat now has its own correlated brain state from which the "neural complexes encoding what there is to eat now" ensues causally. This is a deterministic process (as far as we are concerned because we are not directly aware of it and cannot direct it).
    Janus

    I think this is a confusing notion of determinism. Determinism means that our actions is completely defined by the state of the world prior to my conception. If my brain is responsive to the the goals set by my will, it is not so determined. Even if I do not control the means in detail, the brain is responding to my will. No upper level manager wants to control the fine details required to implement a decision.

    But, your decision to eat now gives you reason to seek what there is to eat now. These are two different ways of understanding what is going on; the first in terms of causes, the second in terms of reasons.Janus

    While I agree that intentional reasons and physical causes are distinct, they are not unrelated. There is more than correlation here. I know that I need nourishment because I am neurophysically informed that I do. My brain activates complexes storing data on possible things to eat because I have decided to eat. We may need to discuss the nature of the causal links betokened by these two "becauses," but that is no reason to deny that such links exist.

    Once we commit to a single course of action among the many we may have considered, its physical implementation has begun -- in other words the act of intentional commitment and the act of physical initiation are inseparable. Aquinas observes that we know we are committed to an intentionality when we will the means of realizing it -- or in modern parlance, when we walk the walk.

    You speak of correlated brainstates as though they "just happen." Why should my brainstates be correlated with my intentional state if there is no interaction? Why should my awareness of the the sensed "just happen" to have the content transmitted to my brain by my peripheral nervous system? Such "correlations" cry for a causal explanation.

    I think the two are co-arising and co-dependent. In other words, the "zero point field" or "quantum foam" or "akashic field" or "implicate order" or whatever you want to call it, cannot be without there being a correlated material existence.Janus

    I agree with you on this specific point. It is logically impossible to have laws operative on material reality (laws of nature) without a material reality for them to be operative on. Thus is not the ground on which the issue of ontological priority is to be settled.

    Still, the fact that we know and can affect physical reality shows that, unlike mathematics and poetry, they are dynamically linked. — Dfpolis

    To my mind you are still thinking dualistically here. We are 'part and parcel" of the physical world and the informational world; I would say there is no real separation; and dynamism abounds but it is not ultimately in the form of "links" between things which are separate or separable.
    Janus

    You are attributing to me a dualism I am not espousing. Humans are integral beings capable of physical and intentional acts. That does not mean that our physicality is separate from our intentionality, only that they are logically distinct. Whether some residual power of intentional operation is separable, whether our awareness can survive death, is a separate question to be decided on its own merits.
  • Dfpolis
    700
    I suppose counting could be construed as an intellectual operation, in as much as I am connecting an a priori representation of quantity to spatially distinguishable objects. On the other hand, I don’t agree that seeing is a physical operation, in as much as an object impressed on a bunch of optic nerves can be called seeing. Is it merely convention that the intellect is required to call up an internal object to correspond to the impression, in order to say I am in fact seeingMww

    Since we have to teach children to count by counting specific kinds of things, I see no reason to think that there is any a priori component to counting.

    As for seeing, there are many discussions in the literature of complex "automatic" operations such as bicycle riding and driving, which require visual processing, but which can occur while we are "lost in thought." Many of us have had the experience of reading a page, and having no idea what we read because we were thinking of something else. So, it seems clear that seeing, including visual processing and appropriate physical responses, can occur without awareness.

    Kant is a complex thinker, and I should not have brought him up in an offhand way. So, my apologies for that. If we are to discuss him, it should be from the foundations up.

    As for Aquinas, there is no doubt that he saw reason as serving faith. That does not mean that he saw reason as subservient in the sense of yielding sound conclusions to blind faith. Rather, following Augustine, Aquinas saw theology as faith seeking understanding (fides quaerens intellectum), and reason as the tool providing that understanding.
  • Janus
    7.5k
    I agree that these physical states are not efficient causes of thought; however, as bearing intelligibility, they can inform awareness and so may be seen as informing causes.Dfpolis

    There is a lot here to reply to, so due to limited time I will respond bit by bit, as time allows.

    I would say these states are correlated with awareness, or even that they are awareness looked at in an objective, as opposed to a subjective, way. So, objectively speaking visual perception is the whole physical process of light being reflected, entering the eye, stimulating the retina, the ensuing electro-chemical processes of the optic nerve, neural processes of the visual cortex, and so on..

    Subjectively speaking visual perception is the experience of seeing. We are informed by what we see and our reasons for saying what we do about what we see are on account of what we see, not on account of those objective processes, of which we are completely unaware until we have understood some science of optics, visual perception and neuroscience.
  • Mww
    733
    Since we have to teach children to count by counting specific kinds of things, I see no reason to think that there is any a priori component to counting.Dfpolis

    What mechanism is the child using to relate a word he hears to an object he sees, in a system of quantitative analysis, that doesn’t have an a priori component? How does he understand exactly what he’s doing, as opposed to simple learning by rote? What do I say to my child, if after saying, “count this as one, these as two.....”, he asks, “what’s a two?”

    It appears you’re not much of a fan of a priori stuff, I must say. Maybe we just call It by different names, dunno.
  • aporiap
    155

    It is Moderate Realism, which sees universal concepts grounded in the objective character of their actual and potential instances rather than in Platonic Ideas or Neoplatonic Exemplars. Nominalism and conceptualism see universals as categories arbitrarily imposed by individual fiat or social convention.
    So, something like aristotelian realism about universals? Well that would make them more than a mere insignificant mental abstraction, it's a real thing in the world by your take, albeit inextricably linked to the particular. I'm not familiar with terms like 'notes of comprehension' or 'essential notes'. You say that logical distinction is predicated on the fact that intentional objects like concepts are different from materiality not ontologically but by virtue of not sharing these notes of comprehension. Can you unpack this term?

    No. Notice that we run all the original instructions. Any program that simply runs an algorithm runs it completely. So, your 'atmospheric sampler' program does everything needed to complete its computation.
    I mentioned in the post that it poses a problem for programs which require continual looping or continual sampling. In this instance the program would cease being an atmospheric sampler if it lost the capability of iteratively looping because it would then loose the capability to sample [i.e. it would cease being a sampler.] As soon as the instruction is removed, thus it ceases being a sampler and, suddenly would become a sampler [because it now has the capacity to sample] once the instruction is re-introduced. Even though it runs through the entire program in the thought experiment, during the period when the instruction is removed, the program is in a state where it no longer has the looping/iterative-sampling capacity hence the fact that it is not a sampler during that period.

    The problem is, we have no reason to assume that the generation of consciousness is algorithmic. Algorithms solve mathematical problems -- ones that can be presented by measured values or numerically encoded relations. We have no such representation of consciousness. Also, data processing operates on representations of reality, it does not operate on the reality represented. So, even if we had a representation of consciousness, we would not have consciousness.
    What do you mean they solve mathematical problems only? There are reinforcement learning algorithms out now which can learn your buying and internet surfing habits and suggest adverts based on those preferences. There are learning algorithms which -from scratch, without hard coded instruction- can defeat players at high-level strategy games, without using mathematical algorithms.

    Also I don't get the point about why operating on reality representations somehow makes data-processing unable to be itself conscious. The kind of data-processing going on in the brain is identical to the consciousness in my account. It's either that or the thing doing the data processing [i.e. the brain] which is [has the property of] consciousness by virtue of the data processing.

    In the computational theory of mind, consciousness is supposed to be an emergent phenomenon resulting from sufficiently complex data processing of the right sort. This emergence could be a result of actually running the program, or it could be the result of the mere presence of the code. If it is a result of running the program, it can't be the result of running only a part of the program, for if the part we ran caused consciousness, then it would be a shorter program, contradicting our assumption. So, consciousness can only occur once the program has completed -- but then it is not running, which means that an inoperative program is causes consciousness.
    These choices are not exhaustive.. Take an algorithm which plays movies for instance. Any one iteration of the loop outputs one frame of the movie... The movie, here, is made by viewing the frames in a sequential order. It's okay for some of the frames to be skipped because the viewer can infer the scene from the adjacent frames. In this instance the program is a movie player not because of the mere presence of the instructions nor because of the output of one or another frame [be it the middle frame or the last frame]. It also couldn't just result from only some of the instructions running, it requires them all to run properly for at least most [a somewhat arbitrary, viewer-dependent number] of the iterations so that enough frames are output for the viewer to see some semblance of a movie. In this case it's not the output of one loop that results in consciousness nor the output of some pre-specified number of sequential iterations that results in the program being a movie player. Instead it is a combination of a working program and some number of semi-arbitrary and not-necessarily sequential outputs which result in the program being a movie player. This is not even a far-out example, it's easy to imagine a simple, early american projector which operates via taking film-strip.. Perhaps sections of the film-strip are damaged which leads to inadequate projection of those frames. Would you say this projector is not a movie-player if you took out one of its parts before it reached the step where it's needed and then impossibly becomes a movie-player once the part is re-introduced right before it was needed?

    We are left with the far less likely scenario in which the mere presence of the code, running or not, causes consciousness. First, the presence of inoperative code is not data processing, but the specification of data processing. Second, because the code can be embodied in any number of ways, the means by which it effects consciousness cannot be physical. But, if it can't be physical, and it's not data processing, what is the supposed cause?
    I don't think the multiple realization argument holds here.. it could just be something like a case of convergent evolution, where you have different configurations independently giving rise to the same phenomenon - in this case consciousness. Eg. cathode ray tube TV vs digital TV vs some other TV operate under different mechanisms and yet result in the same output phenomenon - image on a screen.

    No, not at all. It only depends on the theorem that all finite state machines can be represented by Turing machines. If we are dealing with data processing per se, the Turing model is an adequate representation. If we need more than the Turing machine model, we are not dealing with data processing alone, but with some physical property of the machine.

    I agree that the brain uses parallel processing, and might not be representable as a finite state machine. Since it is continually "rewiring" itself, its number of states may change over time, and since its processing is not digital, its states may be more continuous than discrete. So, I am not arguing that the brain is a finite state machine. I am arguing against those who so model it in the computational theory of mind.
    I am not in the field of computer science but from just this site I can see there are at least three different kinds of abstract computational models. Is it true that physical properties of the machine are necessary for all the other models described? Even if consciousness required certain physical features of hardware, why would that matter for the argument since your ultimate goal is not to argue for the necessity of certain physical properties for consciousness but instead for consciousness as being fundamentally intentional and (2) that intentionality is fundamentally distinct from [albeit co-present with] materiality. I actually think my personal thought is not that different to yours but I don't think of intentionality as so distinct as to not be realized by [or, a fundamental property of] the activity of the physical substrate. My view is essentially that of Searle but I don't think consciousness is only limited to biological systems.

    This assumes facts not in evidence. David Chalmers calls this the "Hard Problem" because not only do we have no model in which a conglomerate of neurons operate to produce consciousness, but we have no progress toward such a model. Daniel Dennett argues at length in Consciousness Explained that no naturalistic model of consciousness is possible.
    I don't understand why a neuron not being conscious but a collection of neurons being conscious automatically leads to the hard problem. Searle provides a clear intuitive solution here in which it's an emergent property of a physical system in the same way viscosity or surface tension are emergent from lower-level interactions- it's the interactions [electrostatic attraction/repulsion] which, summatively result in an emergent phenomenon [surface tension] . In this case it's the relations between the parts which result in the phenomenon cannot be reducible to simply the parts. I'd imagine there's some sort of way you can account for consciousness by the interactions of the component neurons in the system

    I also haven't read Dennett's arguments so I can't comment on them.

    It is also clear that a single physical state can be the basis for more than one intentional state at the same time. For example, the same neural representation encodes both my seeing the cat and the cat modifying my retinal state.
    Well the retinal state is encoded by a different set of cells than the intentional state of 'seeing the cat' - the latter would be encoded by neurons within a higher-level layer of cells [i.e. cells which receive iteratively processed input from lower-level cells] whereas the raw visual information is encoded in the retinal cells and immediate downstream area of early visual cortex. You could have two different 'intentional states' encoded by different layers of the brain or different sets of interacting cells. The brain processes in parallel and sequentially

    "Dichotomy" implies a clean cut, an either-or. I am not doing that. I see the mind, and the psychology that describes it, as involving two interacting subsystems: a neurophysical data processing subsystem (the brain) and an intentional subsystem which is informed by, and exerts a degree of control over, it (intellect and will). Both subsystems are fully natural.

    There is, however, a polarity between objects and the subjects that are aware of them.
    Okay but you seem to imply in some statements that the intentional is not determined by or realized by activity of the brain. I think this is the only difference we have. I would say intentional state can be understood as some phenomenon that is caused by / emerges from a certain kind of activity pattern of the brain.

    Please rethink this. Kant was bullheaded in his opposition to Hume's thesis that there is no intrinsic necessity to time ordered causality. As a result he sent philosophy off on a tangent from which it is yet to fully recover.

    The object being known by the subject is identically the subject knowing the object. As a result of this identity there is no room for any "epistic gap." Phenomena are not separate from noumena. They are the means by which noumena reveal themselves to us.

    We have access to reality. If we did not, nothing could affect us. It is just that our access is limited. All human knowledge consists in projections (dimensionally diminished mappings) of reality. We know that the object can do what it is doing to us. We do not know all the other things it can do.

    We observe everything by its effects. It is just that some observations are more mediated than others.
    I'm not entirely familiar with the Kantian thesis here, but I think the fact that our physical models [and that the entities within the models] change with updated evidence and the fact that fundamental objects seem to hold contradictory properties - wave-particle nature imply that theoretical entities like the 'atom' etc are constructs. Of course the measurables are real and so are their relations- which are characterized in equations; but the actual entities may just be theoretical.

    This is very confused. People have learn about themselves by experiencing their own subjectivity from time immemorial. How doe we know we are conscious? Surely not by observations of our physical effects. Rather we know our subjective powers because we experience ourselves knowing, willing, hoping, believing and so on.
    I was trying to say that introspection is not the only way to get knowledge of conscious experience. I'm saying it will be possible [one day] to scan someone's brain, decode some of their mental contents and figure out what they are feeling or thinking.
  • aporiap
    155

    No, they are hypothetical. Your Wikipedia reference says "The grandmother cell, sometimes called the "Jennifer Aniston neuron," is a hypothetical neuron that represents a complex but specific concept or object."

    The support cited in the article is behavioral (which is to say physical), with no intentional component. I am happy to agree that behavioral events require the firing of specific neural complexes. The problem is, a concept is not a behavior, but the awareness of well-defined notes of intelligibility. The article offers no evidence of awareness of the requisite sort.
    I jumped the gun by saying they are empirically supported. But as you can see I didn't conjure them up! The more accurate thing to say is that there are neurons in higher-level brain regions which fire selectively to seemingly abstract stimuli. Whether that indicates they fire in response to a given 'concept' or in response to a given feature shared between all those stimuli [e.g. the presence of 'almond-shapes' eyes] or some other feature coincidentally related to the 'category' of the stimuli presented is not known.

    Christof Koch, Quiroga and Fried have shown some interesting findings though.

    Also, what's not to say that when these higher-level cells fire, they are, by virtue of their connections, contributing to the global 'network' of cells which are active and mediating conscious awareness, and thus the entire system becomes 'aware' of the image or face or higher-level feature? That seems to account for the intentional component no?
  • Dfpolis
    700
    I would say these states are correlated with awareness, or even that they are awareness looked at in an objective, as opposed to a subjective, way.Janus

    Yes, I think it is an error to see sensory (purely physical) and intellectual representations as separate. They are the same physical state considered without and with awareness, not two separate representations (awareness being the source of subjectivity).

    We are informed by what we see and our reasons for saying what we do about what we see are on account of what we see, not on account of those objective processes, of which we are completely unaware until we have understood some science of optics, visual perception and neuroscience.Janus

    Yes, we are informed by what we see. And, yes, we have no immediate awareness of neural processes. My seeing the apple is identically the apple being see by me. Still, as physical-intentional unities, my process of being informed does involve neural representation, transmission and processing. If we ignore this, then we leave the impression that we see mind as separate from matter, instead as merely distinct.

    The neural processing is not the ultimate source of the information we are aware of, but it is an instrumental cause. As I said previously, the semiology involved is unlike any other, and so bears further reflection. So, I sympathize with your desire to further parse this out. Still, I think "correlation" and the denial of causality is not moving us in right direction.
  • Dfpolis
    700
    What mechanism is the child using to relate a word he hears to an object he sees, in a system of quantitative analysis, that doesn’t have an a priori component? How does he understand exactly what he’s doing, as opposed to simple learning by rote? What do I say to my child, if after saying, “count this as one, these as two.....”, he asks, “what’s a two?”Mww

    We learn by abstraction from experience. What the child learns in the first instance is sequence of words ("one," "two," "three," etc.) In the second phase of learning to count, the child learns that these words can be put into one-to-one correspondence with pennies, apples, oranges, etc. In the third phase the child abstracts, and comes to see that the act of counting is independent of what is counted. This is the basis of abstract numbers.

    At no point do we need to look beyond experience to some a priori intuition.

    As with many question children ask, we must defer the answers until they have the background to understand them.

    You are right, the I see no need for any a priori assumption. My question would be, if we had a priori "knowledge," what reason would we have to believe that it applied to the world of experience?
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