• Pfhorrest
    3.3k
    Why do you prefer panpsychism to emergentism (leaving aside the issue of weak vs strong)?Luke

    The issue of weak vs strong is precisely the issue, so we can't leave it aside. Well, strong vs weak, and access vs phenomenal consciousness.

    I think access consciousness does emerge, weakly. And the specific content of our phenomenal consciousness emerges, weakly, along with it.

    The mere having of any phenomenal consciousness at all is the kind of thing that, by the way it's defined, could only emerge strongly. And strong emergence is like magic, so a no go.

    I would think that given what we already know about the evolutionary progression of life on earth, minds would slowly emerge.creativesoul

    Access consciousness does, certainly.

    And that, I think, is what we ordinarily mean by consciousness.


    It really feels like I'm talking around in circles here, and I think it's because people refuse to keep the concepts of access consciousness and phenomenal consciousness separate. They're not at all the same topic, and confusing them for each other is, I think, the root of all the trouble in philosophy of mind. So maybe let's taboo those terms entirely, and speak instead of:

    "reflexive awareness and control"
    (as opposed to simpler e.g. stimulus-response throughput)
    which is a kind of functionality
    and is what's meant by "access consciousness"

    and

    "first-person perspective"
    (as opposed to third-person perspective)
    which is a kind of metaphysical status
    and is what's meant by "phenomenal consciousness"


    My position is that:

    not everything has reflexive awareness and control, not everything even has any awareness or control, most things just respond to stimuli, or less than even that, react when acted upon in an inert Newtonian way. Out of that simple action-reaction can be built up, or can weakly emerge, stimulus-response, first-order awareness and control, and eventually reflexive awareness and control.

    but

    everything has a first-person perspective, because the alternative is either that even we do not, or that something is metaphysically special about us.


    Merely having a first-person perspective is not supposed to be a substantial thing to claim about something. It's a boring, utterly trivial, mundane thing, that's nothing special. Only the functionality of reflexive awareness and control is special.
  • Luke
    1k
    The issue of weak vs strong is precisely the issue, so we can't leave it aside. Well, strong vs weak, and access vs phenomenal consciousness.

    I think access consciousness does emerge, weakly. And the specific content of our phenomenal consciousness emerges, weakly, along with it.

    The mere having of any phenomenal consciousness at all is the kind of thing that, by the way it's defined, could only emerge strongly. And strong emergence is like magic, so a no go.
    Pfhorrest

    I still don’t understand why you prefer panpsychism to emergentism.

    Also, you claim that phenomenal consciousness can "only emerge strongly" and is "like magic", so is impossible. Yet, you also define phenomenal consciousness as having a first-person perspective. Having a first-person perspective is impossible?

    everything has a first-person perspectivePfhorrest

    I think you are defining “first-person perspective” in such a way that it has nothing to do with minds.
  • creativesoul
    8.9k
    ...everything has a first-person perspective, because the alternative is either that even we do not, or that something is metaphysically special about us.Pfhorrest

    I suggest that our ability to talk about our own thought and belief as well as other people's is special enough. I've no idea what "metaphysically special" is supposed to mean. I've a good idea that rocks cannot think about their own thought and belief as well as other rocks'.
  • creativesoul
    8.9k
    There is another sense of the word that means awareness of something, or knowledge of it; that topic is not directly relevant to philosophy of mind, but rather to epistemology.Pfhorrest

    Given that minds consist entirely of thought and belief, and all knowledge consists of belief, I would think that anything directly relevant to knowledge is directly relevant to minds.
  • creativesoul
    8.9k
    First person perspectives are self reports. All reports require language. First person perspectives require language.

    Rocks have none.
  • Pfhorrest
    3.3k
    I still don’t understand why you prefer panpsychism to emergentism.Luke

    because the alternative is either that even we do not [have phenomenal consciousness], or that something is metaphysically special about us.Pfhorrest

    Also, you claim that phenomenal consciousness can "only emerge strongly" and is "like magic", so is impossible. Yet, you also define phenomenal consciousness as having a first-person perspective. Having a first-person perspective is impossible?Luke

    No, I claim that strong emergence is like magic, and so impossible.

    So phenomenal consciousness (like anything else) cannot strongly emerge.

    But if it emerges at all, it must emerge strongly, by the way it is defined (as something that no combination of the ordinary behavior of physical stuff can equate to, and therefore not something that can weakly emerge from ordinary physical stuff that completely lacks anything like it).

    Therefore it must not emerge at all.

    So either it does not exist at all (and we ourselves are zombies), or else it is omnipresent.

    We are not zombies, so it must be omnipresent.

    I think you are defining “first-person perspective” in such a way that it has nothing to do with minds.Luke

    In a way that is completely insufficient for mind as we usually mean it, sure. But that is a way that some philosophers speak of as "mind". So to address their arguments, I need to address this thing that they call "mind", even if it's not the thing I think we ordinarily mean by "mind".

    They talk about the concept of philosophical zombies who behave in every way like a human, so there's nothing behavioral, no test we can do from the third person, to tell if they are zombies. They say these things that certainly act in every way like they have minds could conceivable lack "minds", in the sense of lacking a first-person perspective: though from the outside they seem exactly like humans, from the inside nothing seems like anything because there is no seeming-from-the-inside to them.

    And I just say that there's a seeming-from-the-inside (a first person perspective) to anything, and that's completely trivial and nothing special at all for most things, because most things don't have any complicated sensory apparatuses and interpretive intelligence and reflexive awareness and control, and those are the things that make our first-person perspective interesting the way it is.

    A rock both doesn't appear to do any of that interesting stuff as seen from the outside, and also doesn't experience what it's like to do any of that interesting stuff from the inside, because it's not doing any of that interesting stuff. But there is still a from-the-inside first-person perspective to a rock, it's just completely without note, like the from-the-outside third-person perspective on the behavior of a rock is.

    A rock "doesn't do anything" in a casual sense, it just sits there. But technically it is still doing something, because to be at all just is to do something. It's doing a bunch of boring inert low-level physics stuff (its particles interacting with each other and the air and light and the Higgs field and so on), but nothing we would normally call "doing something". Likewise, a rock "doesn't experience anything" in that casual sense; but in the same boring sense that it technically is doing something, I hold that it's technically experiencing something, just nothing of any note to us, something as dull as the low-level physics behaviors it's doing.

    Because its experiences correlate precisely with its behaviors, just like everything's experiences correlate with their behaviors. And only things that behave like our brains do have the kind of experiences that our brains do, which is the important thing for "mind" in the sense that we ordinarily mean it.

    "Mind" in the sense that people who talk about zombies mean it is something so trivial, it can't even distinguish a human from a rock. Saying that everything has it is basically a way of insulting the significance of it. It's not something special.

    I suggest that our ability to talk about our own thought and belief as well as other people's is special enough.creativesoul

    Indeed, but that's a functional ability, and so not the thing that people talking about philosophical zombies are talking about.

    I've no idea what "metaphysically special" is supposed to mean.creativesoul

    That there is something "magical" about human beings. That the thing that differentiates us from rocks is not just the things we're capable of doing, but some kind of "soul" or something. (NB that that is the position I am against).

    First person perspectives are self reports.creativesoul

    So you literally cannot experience anything unless you tell someone about it? Wow, maybe something like philosophical zombies exist after all, and you're one of them! If I'm to believe your self-report, at least.

    Joking aside, self-reports are things we observe about other people in the third person. They're not the same thing as the experiences being reported.
  • Isaac
    3k
    everything has a first-person perspective, because the alternative is either that even we do not, or that something is metaphysically special about us.Pfhorrest

    Yet you've not explained why you have an issue with there being something metaphysically special about us. We are perhaps the only species to engage in metaphysics. Why on earth would you be surprised to find that it becomes anthropocentric in it's constructs?
  • Pfhorrest
    3.3k
    Yet you've not explained why you have an issue with there being something metaphysically special about us.Isaac

    I'm surprised to hear you of all people asking for a justification to physicalism. Aren't you hard-core all-there-is-to-the-mind-is-the-brain?

    In any case, you've already seen my arguments against the supernatural, as you were engaged extensively in the thread where I presented them. And by "metaphysically special" I mean pretty much "supernatural": that there's something going on with the fundamental ontological status of human beings that is not the same as all of the other stuff in the universe, not the kind of thing we could do empirical science to.

    But I'll quote some other writings here to briefly justify that physicalism:

    I oppose transcendentalism ... as a direct consequence of my position against fideism. While fideism is only a methodology, a process by which to accept or reject opinions, and does not in itself mean any set of such opinions, there are some kinds opinions that cannot possibly be justified except by fideistic methods, so the rejection of fideism demands the rejection of such opinions. Transcendentalist opinions, as I mean the word, are precisely those that would demand appeals to faith to support them, because they make claims about things that nobody could ever check, those things being beyond all experience.

    ...

    The most archetypical kind of transcendentalist opinion is belief in the supernatural. "Natural" in the relevant sense here is roughly equivalent to "empirical": the natural world is the world that we can observe with our senses, directly or indirectly. That "indirectly" part is important for establishing the transcendence of the supernatural. We cannot, for example, see wind directly, but we can see that leaves move in response to the wind, and so find reason to suppose that wind exists, to cause that effect. Much about the natural world posited by modern science has been discovered through increasingly sophisticated indirect observation of that sort. We cannot directly see, or hear, or touch, or otherwise observe, many subtle facets of the world that are posited by science today, but we can see the effects they have on other things that we can directly observe, including special instruments built for that purpose, and so we can indirectly observe those things.

    Anything that has any effect on the observable world is consequently indirectly observable through that very effect, and is therefore itself to be reckoned as much a part of the natural world as anything else that we can indirectly observe. For something to be truly supernatural, then, it would have to have no observable effect at all on any observable thing. Consequently, we would have no way to tell whether that supernatural thing actually existed, as the world that we experience would seem exactly the same one way or the other, so there could be no reason to suppose its existence, no test that could be done to suggest any answer to the question of its existence. And so if we held a belief in it anyway, we would have to do so only on faith; and if we reject appeals to faith, we consequently have to reject claims of the supernatural.

    ...

    But by "faith" I don't mean any particular religious beliefs, such as belief in gods, souls, or afterlives, but rather a more abstract methodology that could underlie any particular opinion about any particular thing. I also don't mean just holding some opinion "on faith", as in without sufficient reason; I don't think you need reasons simply to hold an opinion yourself. I am only against appeals to faith, by which I mean I am against assertions — statements not merely to the effect that one is of some opinion oneself, but that it is the correct opinion, that everyone should adopt — that are made arbitrarily; not for any reason, not "because of..." anything, but "just because"; assertions that some claim is true because it just is, with no further justification to back that claim up. I am against assertions put forth as beyond question, for if they needed no justification to stand then there could be no room to doubt them.

    In short, I am against supposing that there are any such things as unquestionable answers.

    I object to fideism thus defined on pragmatic grounds. I think it is fine and even unavoidable that we pick our initial opinions arbitrarily, for no good reason. But when we do, we then have a very high chance of those initial opinions just happening to be wrong. If we go on to hold those arbitrary opinions (that we just happened into for no solid reason) to be above question, which is the defining characteristic of fideism as I mean it here, then we will never change away from those wrong opinions, and will remain wrong forever. Only by rejecting fideism, and remaining always open to the possibility that there may be reasons to reject our current opinions, do we open up the possibility of our opinions becoming more correct over time. So if we ever want to have more than an arbitrary chance of our opinions being right, we must always acknowledge that there is a chance that our opinions are wrong.
  • Isaac
    3k
    I'm surprised to hear you of all people asking for a justification to physicalism. Aren't you hard-core all-there-is-to-the-mind-is-the-brain?

    In any case, you've already seen my arguments against the supernatural, as you were engaged extensively in the thread where I presented them. And by "metaphysically special" I mean pretty much "supernatural"
    Pfhorrest

    Ah, then we have crossed wires somewhere. Here's what I get thus far from your argument...

    1. There exists a metaphysical construct called 'phenomenal consciousness' or 'first-person experience'.
    2. This appears to be unique to humans (or sentient life)
    3. It cannot not be there because otherwise we'd be philosophical zombies
    4. It cannot appear out of nowhere simply by the action of some cells coming together otherwise that would require supernatural intervention.

    So it must have been present feature of the cells (and other objects?) all along, just weakly expressed.

    What I don't get (and I think this is @Luke's question as well). Is why you're concerned about a metaphysical construct emerging out of nowhere. It has no implications for physicalism at all. Metaphysical constructs are aspects of the human minds which hold them, they can be attached to absolutely anything by any rules whatsoever. If we want to attach 'first person perspective' to only humans, then what is preventing us from doing so? We made it up after all, we can attach it to whatever we like, surely?
  • Pfhorrest
    3.3k
    Ah, then we have crossed wires somewhere. Here's what I get thus far from your argument...

    1. There exists a metaphysical construct called 'phenomenal consciousness' or 'first-person experience'.
    2. This appears to be unique to humans (or sentient life)
    3. It cannot not be there because otherwise we'd be philosophical zombies
    4. It cannot appear out of nowhere simply by the action of some cells coming together otherwise that would require supernatural intervention.

    So it must have been present feature of the cells (and other objects?) all along, just weakly expressed.
    Isaac

    That sounds pretty much right.

    What I don't get (and I think this is Luke's question as well). Is why you're concerned about a metaphysical construct emerging out of nowhere. It has no implications for physicalism at all. Metaphysical constructs are aspects of the human minds which hold them, they can be attached to absolutely anything by any rules whatsoever. If we want to attach 'first person perspective' to only humans, then what is preventing us from doing so? We made it up after all, we can attach it to whatever we like, surely?Isaac

    It sounds like we have different understandings of what a metaphysical claim means. As I understand it, a metaphysical claim -- the predication of a metaphysical construct to something, to say that something is or has a metaphysical construct, or that there exists some metaphysical construct -- is a claim about the thing of which that construct is predicated, not a claim about any human's thoughts. Like, saying "minds are immaterial mental substances" isn't just saying "some people think about minds in terms of immaterial mental substances", it's saying that way of thinking is the right way of thinking about minds.

    Saying that only humans have a first-person perspective isn't saying that we (or someone) only think of first-person perspectives when humans are involved, it's saying that there's something incorrect about considering the first-person perspective of anything else. Conversely, when I say that there's a first-person perspective to everything, I'm not saying that people do or ought to think about the first-person perspectives of everything -- most of the time there'd be no point, because the first-person perspectives of most things are dull as rocks -- just that you can consider anything from its first-person perspective.
  • Luke
    1k
    No, I claim that strong emergence is like magic, and so impossible.

    So phenomenal consciousness (like anything else) cannot strongly emerge.

    But if it emerges at all, it must emerge strongly, by the way it is defined (as something that no combination of the ordinary behavior of physical stuff can equate to, and therefore not something that can weakly emerge from ordinary physical stuff that completely lacks anything like it).

    Therefore it must not emerge at all.

    So either it does not exist at all (and we ourselves are zombies), or else it is omnipresent.

    We are not zombies, so it must be omnipresent.
    Pfhorrest

    The only two options for phenomenal consciousness are either strong emergence (i.e. magic/supernatural, so impossible) or else panpsychism? Surely there's another option.

    They talk about the concept of philosophical zombies who behave in every way like a human, so there's nothing behavioral, no test we can do from the third person, to tell if they are zombies. They say these things that certainly act in every way like they have minds could conceivable lack "minds", in the sense of lacking a first-person perspective: though from the outside they seem exactly like humans, from the inside nothing seems like anything because there is no seeming-from-the-inside to them.

    And I just say that there's a seeming-from-the-inside (a first person perspective) to anything, and that's completely trivial and nothing special at all for most things, because most things don't have any complicated sensory apparatuses and interpretive intelligence and reflexive awareness and control, and those are the things that make our first-person perspective interesting the way it is.
    Pfhorrest

    I don't follow your leap in reasoning from your first paragraph to your second. Wouldn't a better response be - as you say elsewhere - that the idea of p-zombies is simply incoherent?

    Why take the extreme position that everything must have a first-person perspective? I view this as diminishing the usual meaning of the word "mind" to the point that it evaporates entirely. You are no longer talking about the "mind" at that point (in the non-trivial sense), because not everything has one, unless you are a panpsychist. Correct me if I misunderstand you, but I think your position is not that everything has a mind - according to the usual meaning of the word "mind". And therefore, you also aren't using the word "panpsychism" in its typical sense, which I understand to mean that everything does have a mind - according to the usual meaning of the word "mind".

    What I don't get (and I think this is Luke's question as well). Is why you're concerned about a metaphysical construct emerging out of nowhere. It has no implications for physicalism at all.Isaac

    Yes, I agree about the (lack of) implications for physicalism.
  • Pfhorrest
    3.3k
    The only two options for phenomenal consciousness are either strong emergence (i.e. magic/supernatural, so impossible) or else panpsychism? Surely there's another option.Luke

    Or else we are zombies ourselves (which eliminativists would say), but yes basically.

    I don't follow your leap in reasoning from your first paragraph to your second. Wouldn't a better response be - as you say elsewhere - that the idea of p-zombies is simply incoherent?Luke

    I only say it's incoherent because I hold that you can't have something without a first-person perspective, and the first-person perspective of anything matches its third-person-observable function, so any "zombie" that's functionally identical to a human must have the same experience as a human and so not actually be a zombie.

    Why take the extreme position that everything must have a first-person perspective? I view this as diminishing the usual meaning of the word "mind" to the point that it evaporates entirely. You are no longer talking about the "mind" at that point (in the non-trivial sense), because not everything has one, unless you are a panpsychist. Correct me if I misunderstand you, but I think your position is not that everything has a mind - according to the usual meaning of the word "mind". And therefore, you also aren't using the word "panpsychism" in its typical sense, which I understand to mean that everything does have a mind - according to the usual meaning of the word "mind".Luke

    I did clarify in the OP that my view is specifically pan-proto-experientialism, and not the old-fashioned kind of panpsychism. It's pan"psych"ism about phenomenal "consciousness", which I hold is just the prototypical capacity for experience, not fully fledged actual mind/psyche/consciousness in the usual sense.

    Other philosophers talk about "mind" in that other sense though, the sense I think is trivial and not the usual sense, and they seem to find plenty of traction with lay people. So rather than tell people that they're using words incorrectly -- because words just mean whatever we agree to mean by them -- I just distinguish between the different senses of those words that different people mean.
  • Luke
    1k
    Or else we are zombies ourselves (which eliminativists would say), but yes basically.Pfhorrest

    Why can't phenomenal consciousness emerge weakly?

    I only say it's incoherent because I hold that you can't have something without a first-person perspective, and the first-person perspective of anything matches its third-person-observable function, so any "zombie" that's functionally identical to a human must have the same experience as a human and so not actually be a zombie.Pfhorrest

    Yes, which I consider to be a better response than resorting to the extreme position of panpsychism.

    I did clarify in the OP that my view is specifically pan-proto-experientialism, and not the old-fashioned kind of panpsychism. It's pan"psych"ism about phenomenal "consciousness", which I hold is just the prototypical capacity for experience, not fully fledged actual mind/psyche/consciousness in the usual sense.Pfhorrest

    I don't see what this has to do with phenomenal consciousness or minds in the usual sense, so it seems irrelevant to philosophy of mind.

    Other philosophers talk about "mind" in that other sense though, the sense I think is trivial and not the usual sense, and they seem to find plenty of traction with lay people.Pfhorrest

    Is this the same sense of "mind" you are talking about when you say that a rock has a first-person perspective? Which philosophers talk about "mind" in this other sense?
  • Pfhorrest
    3.3k
    Yes, which I consider to be a better response than resorting to the extreme position of panpsychism.Luke

    Saying “you can't have something without a first-person perspective” is exactly my kind of panpsychism. If you can’t have something without it, everything has it; and it’s a thing some people call “mind”.

    I don't see what this has to do with phenomenal consciousness or minds in the usual senseLuke

    Phenomenal conscious is not about minds in the usual sense, it’s about whatever it is that zombies indistinguishable from humans in the third person could supposedly lack. A zombie world have a mind in the ordinary sense: it would say it has a mind and report on its contents just like you do.

    But we’re supposed to suppose it’s conceivable that it might not have the first-person experience it claims to have. That difference between behaving in every way like a human and actually having the same experience as a human is just having a first-person perspective correlating with its behavior. I think that’s such a trivial thing to ask for that it can even be ascribed to rocks, so it’s not actually conceivable that something otherwise indistinguishable from a human would somehow lack it.

    Is this the same sense of "mind" you are talking about when you say that a rock has a first-person perspective? Which philosophers talk about "mind" in this other sense?Luke

    The ones who think there could be some difference between a philosophical zombie and a human. Since the zombie they stipulate is behaviorally identical to a human, indistinguishable in the 3rd person, the only supposed difference they’re on about has to be the trivial having-of-first-person-experience like I’m talking about here.
  • Luke
    1k
    Phenomenal conscious is not about minds in the usual sense, it’s about whatever it is that zombies indistinguishable from humans in the third person could supposedly lack. A zombie world have a mind in the ordinary sense: it would say it has a mind and report on its contents just like you do.

    That difference between behaving in every way like a human and actually having the same experience as a human is just having a first-person perspective correlating with its behavior. I think that’s such a trivial thing to ask for that it can even be ascribed to rocks, so it’s not actually conceivable that something otherwise indistinguishable from a human would somehow lack it.
    Pfhorrest

    That's not how I understand it. Zombies lack our first-person experience of the world in the non-trivial sense: they lack the sense experiences normal humans have of sight, sound, taste, etc, but they outwardly act the same as humans. It seems that you want to diminish these experiences to almost nothingness in order to accomodate zombies and rocks being able to have them. You don't need to do that. Simply say that zombies can't be without sense experiences (in the non-trivial sense) because it's incoherent that a zombie could outwardly act the same while having no sense experiences. This will save you ascribing your diluted notion of first-person experience to rocks.
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