• dukkha
    206
    Other human bodies are objects in the world around me. It makes no sense to locate another consciousness within the objects in the world around me (as in, "the people around me have conscious experiences). Because the world around me is constituted by my own perceptions/conscious experience. So I'd be locating a whole another conscious experience within my conscious experience. So for example, this would be like seeing someone in front of me and imagining a visual perception of a world being located in some way within that person (eg, within their head), or even in front of that person. Either way you're locating a visual field within a visual field. This makes no sense because my visual field would then be located within their visual field, which contradicts with my location of theirs within my own.

    And so the people around me don't have conscious experiences?
  • Terrapin Station
    3.7k
    Because the world around me is constituted by my own perceptions/conscious experience.dukkha

    In my view this is conflating your perceptions/experience with what you're perceiving/experiencing. In my opinion, the concept of perception doesn't even make any sense if we say that what we're perceiving is our perception itself.
  • Babbeus
    51
    Maybe there is a world around you and there is also your perception of the world that is different from the world itself. Isn't it a reasonable view?
  • Terrapin Station
    3.7k
    Maybe there is a world around you and there is also your perception of the world that is different from the world itself. Isn't it a reasonable view?Babbeus

    Perception is going to be different than the world around you in that the world around you isn't perception, for example, but that doesn't imply that perception isn't accurate.
  • dukkha
    206
    Maybe there is a world around you and there is also your perception of the world that is different from the world itself. Isn't it a reasonable view?Babbeus


    But this representative/indirect realism doesn't solve the problem. Because if the people around you are internal representations of people, then they aren't conscious. You might say that's fine, that other consciousness exist in an external world beyond your perception. But this position requires some strange relationship between the bodies around you and conscious experiences which exist in the external world. Strange relationship as in, eg, another person wills his arm to move in his own represented world, and somehow this causes the persons arm you see in front of you move in a correlated way. Likewise there's this sort of strange correlation between all his other behaviors he does in his represented world and the person you see in front of you. I don't know how this relationship would work?
  • dukkha
    206
    Perception is going to be different than the world around you in that the world around you isn't perceptionTerrapin Station

    So the colors in the world around you continue to still look the same even when nobody is looking at them? As in, we look *through* our eyes like they're windows onto he world?
  • Babbeus
    51
    You might say that's fine, that other consciousness exist in an external world beyond your perception. But this position requires some strange relationship between the bodies around you and conscious experiences which exist in the external world. Strange relationship as in, eg, another person wills his arm to move in his own represented world, and somehow this causes the persons arm you see in front of you move in a correlated way. Likewise there's this sort of strange correlation between all his other behaviors he does in his represented world and the person you see in front of you. I don't know how this relationship would work?dukkha

    Since both perceptions (yours and that of the other person) are corretaled to the same physical world they should be also correlated with each other.
  • Terrapin Station
    3.7k
    So the colors in the world around you continue to still look the same even when nobody is looking at them?dukkha

    Ignoring nominalism for a moment, they are the same from a particular reference point in the relevant properties (that is, the particular range of electromagnetic radiation for example), where everything else is the same, too (the same atmospheric conditions, etc.), AND it's important to realize that everything is from a particular reference point.

    And yes, your senses are "windows onto the world" so to speak.
  • Brainglitch
    205
    If logically coherent hypotheses for both is presented, how, in principle, can dispute about whether experience is caused by interaction with an alleged external reality, or is entirely subjective possibly be resolved?
  • Terrapin Station
    3.7k
    If logically coherent hypotheses for both is presented, how, in principle, can dispute about whether experience is caused by interaction with an alleged external reality, or is entirely subjective possibly be resolved?Brainglitch

    I would think the first step would be to survey the reasons we have for believing one thing or another. Logical coherency certainly isn't all there is to reasons for believing things.
  • Real Gone Cat
    86


    Isn't this exactly why solipsism is notoriously impossible to refute?

    It is correct to say that no other conscious experience can exist. An interesting aside : You are, in fact, omniscient - all there is to know, you know. Existence and experience and knowledge are one and the same. What can there be that you do not know? If you do not know a thing, it is because it has not been experienced, and therefore does not exist. Crazy!
  • Terrapin Station
    3.7k
    Isn't this exactly why solipsism is notoriously impossible to refute?Real Gone Cat

    The negation of solipsism is just as impossible to refute. Hence why logical possibility isn't sufficient for belief. You need to have reasons other than logical possibility for buying whatever it is that you buy. For most logical possibilities, the negation is equally possible.
  • Brainglitch
    205
    I would think the first step would be to survey the reasons we have for believing one thing or another. Logical coherency certainly isn't all there is to reasons for believing things.Terrapin Station
    What would these reasons possibly be, other than speculative hypotheses unencumbered by empirical evidence?
  • Terrapin Station
    3.7k
    What would these reasons possibly be, other than speculative hypotheses unencumbered by empirical evidence?Brainglitch

    One example for me is that things I take to be externals seem like externals qualitatively. They do not seem to be qualitatively like the things that I take to be mental phenomena-only.

    That's not the only reason, but it's one of them.

    Another reason is that the idea that I'm something like a creature with a mind that is in a possible relationship with observational things doesn't even make any sense if I don't assume that something like that picture is true.
  • Real Gone Cat
    86
    The negation of solipsism is just as impossible to refute.
    - Terrapin Station

    True, but the negation of solipsism was not in question. The existence of other minds was in doubt - which is tantamount to solipsism - and by pointing out that solipsism cannot be refuted, I was lending support to the OP. If the existence of other minds could be established, then solipsism would be refuted.

    What of my other point? I stand by the claim that I am omniscient. What I experience, I know. What I do not experience, I do not know. And what is not experienced does not exist, does it? Thus I know all that there is to know. This (seemingly odd) claim touches on the question at hand because the existence of other minds is ultimately unknowable. And if knowledge, experience, and existence are equivalent, then other minds cannot be said to exist. Unless one admits of the existence of that which is unknown (i.e., unexperienced), then other minds are speculative only.
  • Terrapin Station
    3.7k
    True, but the negation of solipsism was not in question. The existence of other minds was in doubt - which is tantamount to solipsism - and by pointing out that solipsism cannot be refuted, I was lending support to the OP. If the existence of other minds could be established, then solipsism would be refuted.Real Gone Cat

    Okay, but if the idea that there's just one mind is in doubt, would you point out that the existence of other minds can not be refuted, lending support to that? If that there's only one mind could be established, then the existence of other minds would be refuted.

    And what is not experienced does not exist, does it?Real Gone Cat

    Why would you believe that?
  • Real Gone Cat
    86


    And what is not experienced does not exist, does it?Real Gone Cat

    Why would you believe that?Terrapin Station

    Um, you mean when I turn my back on the moon, it still hangs in the sky? That's the gonest, Dad!
  • Metaphysician Undercover
    4.3k
    Because the world around me is constituted by my own perceptions/conscious experience. So I'd be locating a whole another conscious experience within my conscious experience.dukkha

    So long as you allow that there is a real separation between you and others, there is no such problem. The world around you is not constituted by your own perceptions. Your perceptions are within you, and as long as you allow that there is something real outside you, then this reality acts to separate what's within you from what's within others. It is only if you insist that there is absolutely nothing outside of your own conscious experience, that you would have the problem which you describe. But why would you think that your conscious experience comprises all that is?
  • Real Gone Cat
    86
    ... as long as you allow that there is something real outside you, then this reality acts to separate what's within you from what's within others. It is only if you insist that there is absolutely nothing outside of your own conscious experience, that you would have the problem which you describe. But why would you think that your conscious experience comprises all that is?Metaphysician Undercover

    Ah, but then you are a physicalist. I suspect dukkha is not. And therein lies the rub.

    Since other consciousnesses cannot be experienced, it is logical to doubt their existence. Sure, I experience qualia suggestive of other minds - text on a screen, voices, the movement of other bodies, etc. - but these may be nothing more than illusions produced by Descartes' demon. Or the actions of a clever computer program. The existence of other minds can never be more than speculative.
  • dukkha
    206
    So long as you allow that there is a real separation between you and others, there is no such problem. The world around you is not constituted by your own perceptions. Your perceptions are within you, and as long as you allow that there is something real outside you, then this reality acts to separate what's within you from what's within others.Metaphysician Undercover

    Okay but what we humans want to say and believe, is that the people we interact with in the world we perceive have conscious experiences. It is the actual people around us that are conscious, and not say, that the people around us are internal representations of conscious people in the world beyond my conscious experience. It is the people that I see which are conscious, but it's hard to reconcile this because the people that I see and interact with are *within* my conscious experience (the people I see
    are within my conscious experience of a visual field).

    It is only if you insist that there is absolutely nothing outside of your own conscious experience, that you would have the problem which you describe. But why would you think that your conscious experience comprises all that is?Metaphysician Undercover

    I am not a solipsist. I believe that the people I perceive and interact with are conscious. The people I see are not internal representations of conscious people in an external world beyond my experience. When someone moves their hand, it is the very same hand that is being moved which I perceive.

    The trouble is that if other people's bodies are objects which I perceive, then it doesn't make sense to locate the other persons conscious experience within that object. But we always do this. As an example, when someone breaks their arm, we think their experience of pain is located in the broken arm we perceive. As if, by pointing at their broken arm I am directly pointing to the location of the other persons conscious experience of pain. This doesn't make sense because for them, my conscious experience of sight (seeing their broken arm) is for them located in (or in front of) my head which they perceive. But when I see someone point at me, they aren't pointing at my visual field, because their body is-itself *within* my visual field.

    I believe this problem arises *because* I am conceiving of other people's bodies as if they are much like the other objects I experience in the world around me. As in, other peoples's bodies is the object which the biologist describes - a combination of physiological processes, or a collection of organs, a thing comprised of flesh, blood, and organs. Or even how the physicist describes, an object with mass, dimensions, etc. People's bodies must exist in a fundamentally different way than objects in the world like cars, cups, or roast legs of lamb (which *are* like the biologist describes - an object of flesh, bone, and blood, a mass of cells). It's as if, for the people around me to be conscious, they must be separate from my conscious experience (other people's conscious experience is not located inside my own), and yet other people's bodies are within my conscious experience (I see them, I feel them, etc).

    So if people's bodies are not the objects described by biologists, what are they?
  • Metaphysician Undercover
    4.3k
    Ah, but then you are a physicalist. I suspect dukkha is not. And therein lies the rub.Real Gone Cat

    No. I'm dualist.

    Since other consciousnesses cannot be experienced, it is logical to doubt their existence. Sure, I experience qualia suggestive of other minds - text on a screen, voices, the movement of other bodies, etc. - but these may be nothing more than illusions produced by Descartes' demon. Or the actions of a clever computer program. The existence of other minds can never be more than speculative.Real Gone Cat

    Assuming a demon still assumes something external, and my point is that once you assume something external, you have what is required to separate other minds from your mind.

    Okay but what we humans want to say and believe, is that the people we interact with in the world we perceive have conscious experiences. It is the actual people around us that are conscious, and not say, that the people around us are internal representations of conscious people in the world beyond my conscious experience. It is the people that I see which are conscious, but it's hard to reconcile this because the people that I see and interact with are *within* my conscious experience (the people I see are within my conscious experience of a visual field).dukkha

    It appears like you want to experience another's experience in order to validate that experience. You cannot, and this is due to the separation between you and the others. So all you can do is imagine, or think of what another is experiencing. And all you have is an internal representation of another's experience. All you have to do, is allow that there is more to reality than just your conscious experience, and you have the basis for assuming that others' conscious experiences are just as real as yours. Why would you insist that your conscious experience is the totality of reality? That doesn't make sense to me.

    The trouble is that if other people's bodies are objects which I perceive, then it doesn't make sense to locate the other persons conscious experience within that object.dukkha

    You need not do this though. As I said in my last post, you need only to consider the external world as a separation between you and the consciousness of others. There is no necessity to consider that this separation consists of objects, and that the consciousness is within an object. But if you start to understand yourself as an object with a consciousness within that object, you will relate to others that way. How do you conceive of yourself?

    I believe this problem arises *because* I am conceiving of other people's bodies as if they are much like the other objects I experience in the world around me. As in, other peoples's bodies is the object which the biologist describes - a combination of physiological processes, or a collection of organs, a thing comprised of flesh, blood, and organs. Or even how the physicist describes, an object with mass, dimensions, etc. People's bodies must exist in a fundamentally different way than objects in the world like cars, cups, or roast legs of lamb (which *are* like the biologist describes - an object of flesh, bone, and blood, a mass of cells). It's as if, for the people around me to be conscious, they must be separate from my conscious experience (other people's conscious experience is not located inside my own), and yet other people's bodies are within my conscious experience (I see them, I feel them, etc).

    So if people's bodies are not the objects described by biologists, what are they?
    dukkha

    Try to conceive of another's body in the same way you conceive of your own. If you don't think that the biologist's explanation properly represents what you think is your own self, I suppose you have reasons for that. I agree that a living thing is completely different from an inanimate thing, and biology should not be conflated with physics, as if these two are the same. What do you think is the purpose of your body? I think that understanding the nature of my own body helps me to understand the nature of the separation between my consciousness and the consciousness of others.
  • Terrapin Station
    3.7k
    Since other consciousnesses cannot be experienced, it is logical to doubt their existence.Real Gone Cat

    But you can't experience that only your consciousness exists, either. So why wouldn't you just as much doubt that claim?

    The existence of other minds can never be more than speculative.Real Gone Cat

    Likewise with "only my mind exists." That can never be more than speculative.
  • Terrapin Station
    3.7k
    I am not a solipsist. I believe that the people I perceive and interact with are conscious.dukkha

    Per the views you express, you'd not be able to justify why you're not a solipsist.
  • Harry Hindu
    1.3k
    Other human bodies are objects in the world around me. It makes no sense to locate another consciousness within the objects in the world around me (as in, "the people around me have conscious experiences). Because the world around me is constituted by my own perceptions/conscious experience. So I'd be locating a whole another conscious experience within my conscious experience. So for example, this would be like seeing someone in front of me and imagining a visual perception of a world being located in some way within that person (eg, within their head), or even in front of that person. Either way you're locating a visual field within a visual field. This makes no sense because my visual field would then be located within their visual field, which contradicts with my location of theirs within my own.

    And so the people around me don't have conscious experiences?
    dukkha

    You're not locating a visual field in someone else's head. You're modeling a visual field that is in someone else's head inside your head. That is what your own visual field is: a model of the world made up of colors and shapes (visual symbols).

    The world around you isn't constituted by your own perceptions. Your perceptions are only a small fraction of the constituents of the world that include my perceptions and every other process that exists (like fusion, photosynthesis, combustion, etc. a perception is a process).

    If people around you didn't have conscious experiences, then the interactions with them would make no sense. Modeling others' experiences seems to be instinctive for humans - to the point that we project consciousness into inanimate objects - like cartoon figures, puppets and even the universe itself (God).

    When your behavior to being treated unfairly ends up being similar to how others act when you treat them unfairly, then how do you account for those similarities?

    Once you came into the world and you began your observations of it, why did you instinctively categorize other humans as being important and that you copy their behaviors? Why didn't you emulate the behavior of a dog, or a ball, or a car, or shoes? Out of all of these things in your experience, why did you instinctively emulate the behavior of humans out of all the other things? What made humans important to you from the get-go? I mean, if you aren't a human being with conscious experiences yourself, then what are you and why would humans be so important to you for you to categorize yourself as one of them and then emulate their behavior?
  • sime
    198
    This thread reminds me of this other thread from a few weeks ago:

    http://thephilosophyforum.com/discussion/534/is-intersubjectivity-metaphysically-conceivable/p1

    There, somewhat similar to your OP, I reached a somewhat solipsistic looking conclusion, that one cannot ask as to whether or not other minds exist. I prefer your presentation of the basic problem to mine, although I think your conclusion is confused.

    To recap and expand a little:

    The logical inference of other minds is an inference that is made via a supposed analogy with one's own case. This inference is motivated by our natural empathetic instincts towards other people's behaviour that often cause us to identify our own feelings with the feelings of others.

    Hence at first glance, the analogical inference of other minds in themselves might seem to be unquestionable and a forteriori, sensical. And there is also the fact that, as for instance in the case of pains, that we don't merely use our own personal pain-behaviour as an a priori model for understanding third person pain-behaviour, because we also use our understanding of third-person pain-behaviour as a means of understanding our own first-person pain-behaviour. For example, just after stubbing my toe i immediately begin to recognise this fact in a shared language, by recalling similar past instances of myself stubbing my toe and leaping around the room as if observing myself from a third person perspective, and comparing and conflating this memory with both my current predicament and all of the times I have witnessed others doing the same.

    But is argument by analogy valid for interpreting other minds as things in themselves? I conclude not for precisely the reason you state, for the supposed analogy relating the first and the third person isn't an analogy at all; for an analogy to be an an analogy it must be restricted to external comparisons that are empirically sensible, as for instance, in comparing apples to oranges, or in comparing external behavioural observstions of myself to external behavioural observations of others, or in comparing the law of addition in Peano arithmetic to the law of addition in Robinson arithmetic (these are also empirical examples since they involve empirical comparison of use cases in different calculi).

    However, in the current case, we have merely assumed that there is a first vs third person analogy via a superficial appeal to introspection that has already conflated the first person with the third person. But as previously argued, for introspection to present a logically valid argument by way of analogy, the analogy must be reducible to what is sensical from the perspective of the first person, or else be rejected as logically nonsensical, even if accepted as being emotionally meaningful.

    Hence there isn't an analogy relating the first and third person after all, and therefore other minds in themselves are not logically conceivable. This conclusion looks a bit like epistemological solipsism, namely that one can only know of ones personal pains and remain agnostic about the pains of others. Yet this is also mistake, since neither can the ABSENCE of other minds be logically conceivable. We are merely left with sensations and feelings, including empathy and social harmony, that are not logically interpretable in terms of a public-private distinction. For this reason, if this is to be described as a solipsism it is a grammatical solipsism.

    To quote Wittgenstein, "sensations are private" is comparable to "one plays patience with oneself", from which I conclude that "are" means 'analytically entail being'. So talk of public sensations, i.e third person sensations, is nonsense, ergo the notion of sensual privacy is also nonsense.
  • Ying
    179
    "The other can be evident to me because I am not transparent for myself, and because my subjectivity draws its body in its wake. We were saying earlier: in so far as the other resides in the world, is visible there, and forms a part of my field, he is never an Ego in the sense in which I am one for myself. In order to think of him as a genuine I, I ought to think of myself as a mere object for him, which I am prevented from doing by the knowledge which I have of myself. But if another’s body is not an object for me, nor mine an object for him, if both are manifestations of behaviour, the positing of the other does not reduce me to the status of an object in his field, nor does my perception of the other reduce him to the status of an object in mine. The other person is never quite a personal being, if I myself am totally one, and if I grasp myself as apodeictically self-evident. But if I find in myself, through reflection, along with the perceiving subject, a prepersonal subject given to itself, and if my perceptions are centred outside me as sources of initiative and judgment, if the perceived world remains in a state of neutrality, being neither verified as an object nor recognized as a dream, then it is not the case that everything that appears in the world is arrayed before me, and so the behaviour of others can have its place there. This world may remain undivided between my perception and his, the self which perceives is in no particularly privileged position which rules out a perceived self; both are, not cogitationes shut up in their own immanence, but beings which are outrun by their world, and which consequently may well be outrun by each other. The affirmation of an alien consciousness standing over against mine would immediately make my experience into a private spectacle, since it would no longer be co-extensive with being. The cogito of another person strips my own cogito of all value, and causes me to lose the assurance which I enjoyed in my solitude of having access to the only being conceivable for me, being, that is, as it is aimed at and constituted by me. But we have learned in individual perception not to conceive our perspective views as independent of each other; we know that they slip into each other and are brought together finally in the thing. In the same way we must learn to find the communication between one consciousness and another in one and the same world. In reality, the other is not shut up inside my perspective of the world, because this perspective itself has no definite limits, because it slips spontaneously into the other’s, and because both are brought together in the one single world in which we all participate as anonymous subjects of perception."
    -Maurice Merleau-Ponty, "Phenomenology of Perception", p. 410, 411.
  • Terrapin Station
    3.7k
    for an analogy to be an an analogy it must be restricted to external comparisons that are empirically sensible,sime

    What? There seems to be no argument for your claim there . . . well, or no argument beyond a composition/hasty generalization fallacy.
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