• Bartricks
    626
    I am told repeatedly that my mind is my brain, but I see no evidence that this is the case. Far from it, all the evidence seems to be that my mind is an immaterial soul.

    When I say that I think my mind is an immaterial soul, I am told - as if I didn't realise - that what goes on in the brain seems to determine what goes on in our minds. But how does that demonstrate that my mind is my brain? It demonstrates only that there is a causal relationship between what goes on in my mind and what goes on in my brain - but it doesn't establish that my mind 'is' my brain. That'd be like reasoning that because the tea in my mug is having its shape determined by the mug, the tea is therefore the mug. No, the tea is 'in' the mug, and so long as it remains in the mug something about the tea - its shape - will be determined by the mug's shape. But they're distinct stuffs.

    Likewise, all neuroscience does - and all it can ever do, I think - is tell us in ever greater detail about the causal relations that exist between brain states and mental states. But at no point is this going to constitute a demonstration that the mind 'is' the brain.

    So what evidence is there that the mind is the brain? Like I say, I don't think there is any.

    By contrast, there seems to be loads that my mind is an immaterial soul.

    For instance, returning to my mug of tea. I can see it. Given I can see it, it makes sense - my reason assures me - to wonder what it might taste or smell or feel like. It may not have any of those qualities, but it at least makes sense to wonder about them. But what about my mind? I am aware of its conscious states. But my reason assures me that it makes not a blind bit of sense to wonder what my mind looks like, or tastes like, or smells like, or sounds like or feels like. "What does my mind taste like" is, to my ears, like asking "what does 7 taste like" - it doesn't make sense.

    Clearly, then, my reason represents my mind to be an object that lacks sensible properties. That is, it represents it to be something utterly different to my brain.

    And my reason also represents those things that do have sensible properties to be lacking in mental ones. For instance, though it makes sense to wonder what the mug of tea tastes like or smells like, my reason assures me that it makes no sense at all to wonder what it might 'think' like.

    And my reason also says that all extended objects - such as my brain - can be divided. Yet my reason says no less clearly that my mind cannot be divided. Well, if my brain is divisible but my mind not, then my reason is telling me that my mind is not my brain (or any other kind of extended thing).
  • fishfry
    789
    That's the old mind-body problem. If there's a nonphysical realm of existence where my mind dwells, what exactly is it? And what else lives there? The Flying Spaghetti Monster? The baby Jesus? The answer to the Continuum hypothesis? On the other hand if my mind is just an emergent property of my atoms acting according to physical law, then I'm just a machine, a clockwork orange. My life has all the meaning of a bunch of billiard balls bouncing off each other.

    You could start reading the philosophical literature on this and never finish.

    To the extent that I've thought about it at all, I like panpsychism. That says that everything is conscious. The rocks, the atoms, everything. That makes more sense than the other theories. You don't have to figure out how a clump of brain tissue becomes self-aware. It is because everything is.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mind%E2%80%93body_problem

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Panpsychism
  • Bartricks
    626
    I don't understand your reply. How often do you wonder what a cup of tea thinks like? Never, I'll wager. Why? Because it is self-evident that extended objects do not have mental properties. Extended objects have sensible properties, but not mental ones.

    As well as being something our reason tells us directly, it also tells us the same thing indirectly, as I pointed out.

    For instance, it says that our minds are indivisible. Yet any extended object is divisible. So, our reason is telling us that our minds are not extended objects.

    You ask 'where is it?' That's a confused question. Only extended objects have locations.
  • khaled
    1k
    Because it is self-evident that extended objects do not have mental propertiesBartricks

    How is that self evident? I don't think it's self evident at all. Can you "see" minds? How then can you say that cup of tea has no mental properties
  • Bartricks
    626
    It may not be self-evident to everyone (the insane, for example, are a notable exception - they often think extended objects are thinking things). But it is self-evident to most. And even those who think that minds are our brains acknowledge this, for they acknowledge that it is prima facie hard to understand how an extended object can bear a conscious state.
    So it is - undeniably - self-evident that extended objects don't think. That doesn't prove they don't think, for appearances, including rational appearances, can be deceptive. But it means the burden of proof is one the person who says they can think.
    So, where's the evidence my brain thinks?
  • PoeticUniverse
    622
    So, where's the evidence my brain thinks?Bartricks

    Welcome.

    I have half a mind to tell you… oh, never mind but as such all matters;…

    Soul is theSpirit of Unconditional Love.
  • Bartricks
    626
    My 'mind' thinks, PoeticUniverse. My brain does not. Or at least, I see no evidence that it does and plenty that it doesn't. But by all means just conflate the two for comedy purposes.
  • PoeticUniverse
    622
    My brain does not.Bartricks

    Best have that useless organ removed, for it uses most of the energy. I can see that your brain isn't doing anything.

    Enjoy the forum, and best wishes.
  • khaled
    1k
    the way you're wording it, it seems your confusing "self evident" with "very intuitive". Self evident is something that must be true for anything to make sense. Something like if A= B and B= C then A= C

    In that sense, it is not self evident that extended objects don't have mental properties. If they did, there would be no inconsistency with anything

    So, where's the evidence my brain thinks?Bartricks

    Do you understand what panpsychism is? According to panpsychism your mind would be the mental property attached to your body. However it also proposes everything has such mental properties. So a cup could have a mental life for all we know. There is no proof for or against that. Because having a mental life doesn't require or cause any behavior logically speaking. It is possible that a cup could have a mental life and it's possible it doesn't, the fact that it doesn't move doesn't favor either of those hypothesis if you believe a mental life is an epiphenomenon of a physical world.
  • Bartricks
    626
    Self-evident is synonymous with intuitively clear, if intuitively clear means 'clear to our rational intuitions'. 'Self-evident' does not mean what you say. It means the same as 'evident to reason' (and, as that which is evident to our reason is made so by the fact we have rational intuitions that represent it to be the case, self-evident is also synonymous with 'clear to our rational intuitions').
    But we don't need to get into one of those pointless discussions about how words are used. For I agree that it is indeed self evident that if all As are Bs and all Bs are Cs, then all As are Cs (for this is something our reason represents to be the case)

    So, what I am saying is that it is self-evident - or clear to our rational intuitions, or represented to be the case by our reason - that objects that possess sensible properties do not also possess mental ones.

    Why else do we consider someone insane who takes seriously that that their tea may be thinking something?

    Why else do most reflective humans - now and throughout history - think that their minds are not sensible objects?

    Why else do most contemporary philosophers working in this area acknowledge that it is challenging to figure out how a sensible thing could be conscious?


    Yes, I understand what panpyschism is. But a label is not evidence. I have presented three arguments against such a view (you say there is no proof it is false - well, if my arguments can't be refuted, then there demonstrably is).

    Here:

    1. If the reason of most people represents something to be the case, that is good evidence that it is the case other things being equal.
    2. the reason of most people represents their minds to be positively lacking sensible properties.
    3. Therefore, there is good evidence that our minds lack sensible properties (that is, that they are not our brains).

    Another:

    1. If the reason of most people represents something to be the case, that is good evidence that it is the case, othe rthings being equal.
    2. The reason of most people represents objects that have sensible properties to be positively lacking to be lacking in mental properties
    3. therefore, we have good evidence that objects that possess sensible properties positively lack mental properties

    And another;

    1. If an object is material, then it is divisible
    2. My mind is not divisible
    3. Therefore my mind is not material
  • SophistiCat
    822
    You are misunderstanding the mind-brain identity thesis. It does not say that your mind is literally a physical object that is your brain. Rather, it says that the mind is identical to the processes in your brain, and mental states are really brain states. That should satisfy your modest requirement that the mind should not be a thing that you can touch, see, smell, etc.

    That said, mind-brain identity position is not as widely held as you make it sound: it is only one of a number of physicalist theories of mind and, at a guess, not the most popular. Moreover, a dualistic soul is not the corollary of denying mind-brain identity. Again, it is only one of a number of non-physicalists positions on the mind, and again at a guess, not the most popular, at least among philosophers.

    Yes, I understand what panpyschism is.Bartricks

    Then you should also understand that it cannot be self-evidently false, otherwise it would not have as many proponents as it does.
  • Bartricks
    626
    I don't think I misunderstand it at all. Which premise in which of my arguments are you disputing?

    As for panpyschism having lots of proponents - er, no it doesn't, it just has a fancy name and is associated with a philosopher who has long hair and thinks he's a rock star.

    Numbers don't mean anything, it is evidence that counts. But if you're (misguidedly) interested in numbers, then my view wins hands-down. The thesis that your mind is an immaterial soul and not your brain or any other physical thing is far and away the prevailing view among reflective people, now and throughout history.
  • fishfry
    789
    I don't understand your reply.Bartricks

    I am not a philosopher. I am not competent to defend anything I wrote in this thread. Consider it just an idle drive-by post, not to be taken as authoritative in any way.

    How often do you wonder what a cup of tea thinks like?Bartricks

    I have a distinct recollection of being around six years old, outside playing with a ball. I had a strong sense of wondering what it was like to be the ball. The impression is with me decades later. I do have a personal gut sense of panpsychism. I find it very plausible. As I say I don't know the literature and can not converse substantively on the topic. My belief isn't very strong nor has my interest ever even risen to reading the Wiki page I linked. It's just an idle belief. I have many others.
  • Bartricks
    626
    I am not denying that it is possible to wonder what a ball thinks like or what it is like to be a ball. it is entirely possible, for instance, to wonder what it is like to be the number 7.
    What I am claiming is that these are self-evidently confused wonderings.

    Go into a restaurant and ask about the colour of a dish on the menu, or ask about its flavour, or its smell, or its texture, or if it sizzles or not. All perfectly legitimate questions to which an answer will be provided. Then ask what the dish thinks like.
    That's not a legitimate question. You may wonder what the dish thinks like, but your reason - or at least, the reason of most of us - declares loud and clear that such wonderings make as little sense as wondering how heavy Beethoven's fifth symphony is. That is, they reflect category errors.
  • Bartricks
    626
    Now this means that our reason declares, loud and clear, that our minds are not sensible objects. That is, they are not our brains or any other sensible thing.

    That's an inconvenient thing for our reason to say in an age in which it is widely assumed that the intellectually respectable view is that our minds are our brains.

    But there it is: do you go with intellectual fashions, or reason?
  • SophistiCat
    822
    I don't think I misunderstand it at all. Which premise in which of my arguments are you disputing?Bartricks

    I just told you, didn't I? Why not read something about this topic if it interests you? You might want to start not with the identity theory specifically but with an overview of theories of mind, which will put things in perspective.

    As for panpyschism having lots of proponents - er, no it doesn't, it just has a fancy name and is associated with a philosopher who has long hair and thinks he's a rock star.

    Numbers don't mean anything, it is evidence that counts. But if you're (misguidedly) interested in numbers, then my view wins hands-down. The thesis that your mind is an immaterial soul and not your brain or any other physical thing is far and away the prevailing view among reflective people, now and throughout history.
    Bartricks

    You persist in misunderstanding this. "Self-evident" doesn't mean the most popular. Self-evident means that it is impossible to deny. This isn't just a quibble about words, by the way. You are too blithely dismissing positions without even trying to learn about them. That is not the attitude of a philosopher. At the very least, the fact that such positions are taken seriously by people who are not stupid or insane ought to give you a pause.
  • Bartricks
    626
    I have read a lot about the topic. Tell me which premise you are disputing. Be clear.
  • Bartricks
    626
    Oh, and self-evident doesn't mean 'most popular' (and I never said it did - learn to read). Nor does it mean 'impossible to deny'.
  • Bartricks
    626
    oh, and I don't think those philosophers who defend rival views to me are stupid or insane. I never said that either. I think someone who thinks their cup of tea thinks something is insane. And I think the view that our minds are brains is stupid. But you have to be very clever to defend it.
  • Bartricks
    626
    And as you are more concerned with who defends a view rather than the defensibility of the view, perhaps it would interest you to know that defenders of my view would include Plato, Descartes, Locke and Berkeley (and a whole host of others - I mean, most of the canon, frankly). Those good enough for you?
  • Serving Zion
    53
    This soul concept.. what is it?

    My answer to that question is from the ancient Hebrew word: naphesh, which is translated as "soul" in English.

    The naphesh is the "will expressed" or the expression of the will. "Voice" is another way to say it, but the English word for voice is a bit misleading for that purpose. An artist speaks through paint, and a musician through music, that is their voice.

    So the consciousness is intrinsically a principal in the soul (though not everything, because there is much that we say that does not come from our conscious reasoning). The brain, therefore is the central calculator whereupon the consciousness sits when it does it's work of "reasoning".

    But is the consciousness limited to only the brain?

    I remember my first experience with a herbal medic who used a technique of "strength testing" to diagnose the cause and treatment for my condition, (which essentially was adrenal fatigue and related unsettlement). She got me to clasp my ring finger and thumb together with all my strength and she pulled them apart with her two hands, to see how strong my hand muscles were. By doing that while instructing me to press pressure points on various parts of my body, she found that some pressure points produced a weakness in my grip that she could open easily - while in comparison, some pressure points gave me such strength like Samson, that she was literally too weak to pry my fingers apart. (It was amazing, I would never believe it if somebody had told me).

    But the real interesting thing I have for you, is that when she began to analyse and identify the treatment for the pressure points that were revealing weakness, she put a shoulder bag over my shoulder so that the bag rested next to my gut, and into that bag she placed packets of herbs. One, two, three, four etc while she adjusted the measure to find the optimum dose for my treatment. As she placed them and repeated the test, my grip was strengthened. So that is the art of her medical practice - to analyse appropriate prescriptions based upon the body's response to herbal remedies.

    The thing I found most interesting, is that the herbs were not ingested in order to have an impact. The mere proximity of the herbs to my gut was sufficient for the body to be impacted by them. This indicates to me that the mind, or consciousness, extends beyond the brain.

    There are other indications too, like having butterflies in your stomach, or tightness of chest, or general feeling of uneasiness, or heavy heart - all of which can be stimulated by an environment, and even before the eyes or ears have detected a change to the environment (as for example someone walking into a room behind us, or that feeling you get when someone is looking at you).

    Therefore, the soul (the I AM who comes into the world through our actions), is distinct from the mind (the I KNOW that resides within the body).

    .. that's just how I think of the language we use though, which really is all it comes down to when we are discussing these things.

    There is also spirit to consider, as another word describing an aspect of the nature of the living.
  • SophistiCat
    822
    And as you are more concerned with who defends a view rather than the defensibility of the viewBartricks

    I am more concerned with exploring those views, starting with learning them even in the most basic outlines. But I can see that you are not interested in that at all.
  • Bartricks
    626
    I don't think you are interested in that, otherwise you'd address my arguments and tell me which of their premises are false (you need to do it with all of them.....and I've got a lot more too, because unlike you I really am interested in this).
  • Bartricks
    626
    Admittedly the word doesn't have a stable meaning across time (as I understand it, in the 17th century it was synonymous with 'mind' and had no metaphysical baggage).

    But I would use the word 'mind' to denote the object, whatever it may be, that has conscious states.
    And I would use the word 'soul' to denote a mind that is not material. That is, not extended in space.

    So, if my mind is my brain, then it is not a soul, and if my mind is a soul then it is not my brain
  • Serving Zion
    53
    But I would use the word 'mind' to denote the object, whatever it may be, that has conscious statesBartricks

    Could you explain what a "conscious state" means?

    I almost replied to say I would name the body as an object that has conscousness, but I then saw that I was misreading you.
  • Bartricks
    626
    I don't have a definition of a conscious state apart from to say that there is something it is like to be in one.
    But occurrent thoughts, desires and sensations would all be states of consciousness.

    So 'the mind' is any object that can be in a state of thinking, or desiring, or sensing (not that those are exhaustive).

    It is a matter of debate what kind of an object the mind is. And I am arguing that all the evidence is that the mind is not a material object (so, not something that is extended in space).
  • Serving Zion
    53
    It's interesting to consider that view against the backdrop of my view of these things!

    I also thought, while waiting for your answer, that a state of consciousness is a medical description of a brain's awareness of the environment and it's ability to motorise the body to interact with it. (Moreso the former).

    Now you've mentioned states of desire as being a mind, that I hear as describing (as an example) a cigarette smoker who is craving and cannot shake the desire until his addictive appetite has been quenched. But a state of thinking appears to be a mood. A state of sensing is not an expression that I recognise. But it shows you have a basis of philosophy upon which you draw your comprehensions and the words rely upon that philosophical basis to some extent, and therein I do not have the same philosophical basis upon which to interpret the same meanings.

    Nevertheless we are observing and discussing the same reality, and to that extent we can agree that words like "brain" are not merely philosophical concepts.

    But in describing those words that represent real but not so tangible things, like mind, soul, consciousness, spirit, mood, etc, we can work toward if it is constructive.

    So I see that the brain sleeps, and sometimes is made unconscious by trauma etc, wherein it does not recall having interpreted the data that the senses detected during that time, and in the case of sleep, it is only to an extent because the brain can be aroused to consciousness by sound, light or touch.

    Therefore, I think what you are describing is a different thing than that.

    You have named the mind as the seat of consciousness, wherein it's way of thinking then manifests through the body to impact the world. I would agree with that, while also saying that consciousness extends beyond the mind (as I described that the heart and gut have consciousness that is separate from the mind, while contributing toward our state of mind).

    That is to say that our soul is the whole sense of self, that includes the mind, whereas the mind is what we think and it resides in the brain because that is the centre of operations for the body, and a powerful computer.

    I do not see any evidence though, that our mind or soul extends beyond the body, therefore it is baseless to say that the mind or soul can experience the world or impact the world if it were not for the body. In my vocabulary, I would use the word "spirit" to describe the impact we may have on the world beyond the body, and therefore how the world succeeds in impacting our mind through it's actions.
  • Terrapin Station
    12.5k
    I am told repeatedly that my mind is my brain, but I see no evidence that this is the case.Bartricks

    Evidence includes that whenever one suffers brain injuries, brain impairment, etc., we see concomitant mental changes. There's no reason aside from wishful thinking, usually stemming from religious beliefs and/or a desire for oneself and one's loved ones to somehow survive past death, that mind is something different than a subset of brain activities.

    That brain impairment has concomitant mental impairment isn't proof that mind and brain are identical, but empirical claims are not provable, so nothing is going to be proof that they're identical. It's rather evidence supporting a belief that they're identical. On the other hand, there is no evidence to support the wishful thinking that they're different.
  • Bartricks
    626
    I addressed the stupid and fallacious argument that "what goes on in our minds is determined by what goes on in our brains, therefore our minds are our brains" argument in my opening post. It is, I repeat, extremely stupid.

    I have presented three arguments - each one deductively valid and each one with premises that are far, far more reasonable than their negations - in support of the soul. Either challenge a premise or show that the arguments are invalid.

    I am not guilty of any wishful thinking - it is you who is guilty of that, for you just wish my arguments were fallacious and think that's sufficient to establish that they are. And I don't have any religious beliefs, so that's got nothing to do with it either.
  • Bartricks
    626
    I do not follow what you are saying. I have said what I mean by the terms 'mind' 'soul' and 'conscious state'.
    Note, conscious states are not minds (as you imply in some of what you say). They are 'states' of mind. It is a category error to confuse a state of a thing with the thing itself. My desk is brown - that's a state of my desk. but my desk and brownness are not the same. Likewise, my mind is conscious, but my mind and consciousness are not the same.
    Anyway, I have presented three arguments in support of the soul - three pieces of evidence. I know of none in support of the thesis that the mind is the brain. I am still waiting for someone to present me with some or to show me what's wrong with my arguments.
  • Terrapin Station
    12.5k
    I have presented three argumentsBartricks

    Just found that. So one thing at a time:

    "If the reason of most people represents something to be the case, that is good evidence that it is the case other things being equal."

    I don't buy that premise (also, the ceteris paribus clause in it is rather vague). What do you take to be a support of it?
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