• Janus
    9.6k
    You can study the processes of consciousness scientifically through cognitive science, psychology and other disciplines. You can arrive at an understanding through introspection or through philosophical analysis (as Kant did, and phenomenology attempts to do).Wayfarer

    Sure, but all of that is unverifiable/ unfalsifiable surmise that we may or may not give our assent to, just like we may or may not relate to works of music, poetry, literature, painting and so on; it's not determinate scientific knowledge that can be confirmed or falsified by inter-subjective observations.
  • Kenosha Kid
    1.4k
    What does all conscious experience of red consist in/of such that it is by virtue of having that constituency that makes it count as conscious experience of red.creativesoul

    I don't expect all animals to have the same concept of the same colour. As you pointed out, we have a linguistic component to our understanding of red that other animals would not. But answering your question regardless, I'd say that any commonality between conceptions of redness between different animals would rest in commonality between how those animals' brains transform raw sensory input into phenomenal data (qualia).
  • Mww
    1.9k
    it's not determinate scientific knowledge that can be confirmed or falsified by inter-subjective observations.Janus

    Which is fine; that which is not primarily empirical has no business being addressed under empirical conditions anyway. Logical speculation remains, and carries the weight of its own law, the ground of which ought to have inter-subjective assent. Where the law is to be applied.....that’s the problem.

    That being said, I agree that......

    as to whether consciousness exists, and if so what kind of existence it enjoys, is a misguided question.Janus

    .....for the question should hinge on what validity it enjoys, existence being categorically moot.
  • Janus
    9.6k
    .....for the question should hinge on what validity it enjoys, existence being categorically moot.Mww

    Yes, I think the question could be valid in the sense that it might serve as a stimulant to the creative imagination, for example.
  • Andrew M
    1.1k
    However, if that perspective is is coloring in the world, adding sound, taste, smell and various feels, then we're still left with something that needs to be explained, because the rest of the world isn't colored in, doesn't have feels and tastes and what not. It's only that way to a perceiver. So somehow the perceiver adds those sensations to their interaction with the world. The hard problem remains in some form until there is some way to account for these sensations.Marchesk

    You're describing the world as a barren landscape where the human comes along and colors it in with all the qualities that make it interesting to them.

    But a different view is that the world already has qualities as well as quantities, particulars, relations, actions, events, etc. If so, then making a distinction between in-here and out-there, or subjective and objective, is a philosophical mistake. All of these features are part of the world as we perceive it. Without that perspective - our primary point of reference in the world - nothing is distinguished or defined at all.

    And yes, perceivers are part of the same world, not walled off from it, but still the question needs to be answered: from whence comes the colors, sounds, etc?Marchesk

    But also whence comes distance, mass, time, motion, molecules, plant life and lower organism sentience?

    These features are all defined in reference to our human perspective (consider Einstein with his measuring-rods, clocks and observers giving an operational meaning to his relativistic theories). The hard problem arises as a result of positing an ontological division between one set of features and the other. That is, a solution becomes impossible in principle because it has been defined that way.
  • Andrew M
    1.1k
    A human being has a perspective of the world. The distinctions we make and our representations of the world presuppose that human perspective. But that perspective doesn't itself have properties (qualia) or a substantial existence (res cogitans), contra dualism.
    — Andrew M

    To echo Marchesk’s post, if we have perspectives - if our perspectives exist - yet they do not have substantial (physical?) existence, then what type of existence do they have?
    Luke

    It's a formal aspect of a human being perceiving the world. Their perspective is not a "thing" that has any existence separate from that human activity. But we can consider it separately (i.e., in an abstract sense).

    For an analogy from physics, consider an inertial reference frame. In the train platform's frame, the train is travelling 60mph. In the train's frame, the train is at rest. So what is a reference frame? It's simply an abstract coordinate system that measurements are made relative to. It doesn't have an existence beyond a location in space (such as the train or platform) that is represents.

    A person's perspective is like that. It's an abstraction that doesn't exist separately from the person interacting in the world. Yet it is assumed in the distinctions, observations, and measurements that the person makes. As with the train speed example, there is no "view from nowhere".
  • Marchesk
    4k
    But also whence comes distance, mass, time, motion, molecules, plant life and lower organism sentience?Andrew M

    Physics, chemistry and biology already account for that stuff.

    These features are all defined in reference to our human perspective (consider Einstein with his measuring-rods, clocks and observers giving an operational meaning to his relativistic theories).Andrew M

    That has to do with the speed of light and inertial frames, not perceivers. Perceivers are only used for thought experiments to show their clocks and measuring-rods are different, but there's no need for that. Happens for any objects and events.

    As with the train speed example, there is no "view from nowhere".Andrew M

    But there is, because life evolved long after the universe was around, and science can detail the universe in places where there is no life and no perceivers.

    However, if you're arguing from a Kantian/correlationist position and not a realist one, then that's another matter. I'm pretty sure Dennett is a realist/physicalist, as is Chalmers, except for consciousness.

    I'm not sure the consciousness debate matters for Kantians, since the empirical world includes all the colors, sounds, etc. So I get why you would deny Nagel's "view from nowhere". The consciousness debate seems to only matter for physicalism, pun unintended. At least that's how Chalmers approaches it, with his talk of supervenience and p-zombies.
  • Wayfarer
    10.4k
    All of these features are part of the world as we perceive it. Without that perspective - our primary point of reference in the world - nothing is distinguished or defined at all.Andrew M

    'Perspective' implies or requires an observing mind, does it not? I mean, it is something I'm in complete agreement with, but it seems to me that it is more often than not overlooked.

    Physics, chemistry and biology already account for that stuff.Marchesk

    Physics provides an account of it, but it doesn't account for it.
  • Marchesk
    4k
    Physics provides an account of it, but it doesn't account for it.Wayfarer

    Well, yeah. That gets into Chalmers metaphysical (or was it natural?) versus logical supervenience. The physics doesn't entail consciousness, although it provides the conditions for it.
  • Luke
    1.2k

    Thanks, Andrew. Allow me to try and press the analogy to see whether it holds.

    Their perspective is not a "thing" that has any existence separate from that human activity. But we can consider it separately (i.e., in an abstract sense).Andrew M

    In the same way that e.g. breathing, perspiration and digestion are not "things" that have any existence separate from human activity? Or, in the same way that the game of chess and economic markets are not "things" that have any existence separate from human activity?

    Does separability from human activity help to decide whether these "things" are physical or real?

    So what is a reference frame? It's simply an abstract coordinate system that measurements are made relative to.Andrew M

    Are perspectives identical to reference frames, then? Is a perspective also "an abstract coordinate system that measurements are made relative to"? If it's not the same, then in what way is it comparable?
  • creativesoul
    9.2k
    What does all conscious experience of red consist in/of such that it is by virtue of having that constituency that makes it count as conscious experience of red.
    — creativesoul

    I don't expect all animals to have the same concept of the same colour. As you pointed out, we have a linguistic component to our understanding of red that other animals would not.
    Kenosha Kid

    Language is one consideration worth touching upon. Drawing that distinction is important on my view. Conscious experience of color consisting of a linguistic component, and conscious experience of color that does not; a good move.

    However, I advise that we draw yet another subsequent distinction between conceptions of color having linguistic components, because those come in both the simple and metacognitive varieties. So, there are three basic kinds of conscious experience of red/redness needing to be taken proper account of; conscious experience of red/redness that do not have linguistic components, and two different varieties of conscious experience that do(simple and metacognitive).

    So, we've 'whittled our way down' to three kinds or varieties.

    What do all three consist in/of such that that elemental constituency is capable of evolving along the evolutionary timeline, and growing in complexity alongside the worldview of the individual creature(whatever that may be)?

    I propose correlations drawn by the creature between the color red and other things. It's the other things that determine whether or not the conscious experience of red/redness is language-less, unreflective, or self-reflective. The content of the correlations is the content of the conscious experience.

    Language less conscious experience of red/redness cannot consist of correlations drawn between the color red and language use. The color and food items for the trained crow is an adequate example. If the crow was trained to gather red items after hearing the name "red" being spoken aloud, then it would no longer be language less for the correlations would include the language use, along with the red items and the food items. Should the crow be brilliant enough to learn how to talk about it's own conscious experiences of red/redness , that would be a metacognitive crow.




    I'd say that any commonality between conceptions of redness between different animals would rest in commonality between how those animals' brains transform raw sensory input into phenomenal data (qualia).

    I would concur. The particular individual creature's biological machinery plays a huge, irrevocably important role in determining and/or facilitating the ability to draw correlations between colors and other things(to have conscious experience of red/redness), but not the only remarkable one. Language use plays as noteworthy a role as biological machinery in determining the ability to draw correlations between the color red and other things.

    I request that meaning be invoked and/or incorporated out of bare necessity, common sense understanding of what must count as conscious experience of red/redness .

    All conscious experience is meaningful to the creature having it. All conscious experience of red/redness requires the color to either already be and/or become meaningful to the creature that is reportedly having the conscious experience of red/redness. One cannot have a concept of red/redness, or a conscious experience of red/redness when the color is utterly meaningless to the creature. Again, correlations drawn between the color and other things is more than adequate an autonomous process capable of evolving nicely after language use has begun in earnest, allowing conscious experience of red to grow in complexity after we begin using the name to identify red things, and then self-reflectively considering color and it's relationship to us and other things, after we've begun earnest metacognition(thinking about our own conscious experiences of red/redness as a subject matter in their own right).

    All three kinds clearly summed up.

    All conscious experience consists of correlations drawn between the color red and other things. In that very real sense, they are all the same.
  • Kenosha Kid
    1.4k
    Language less conscious experience of red/redness cannot consist of correlations drawn between the color red and language use. The color and food items for the trained crow is an adequate example. If the crow was trained to gather red items after hearing the name "red" being spoken aloud, then it would no longer be language less for the correlations would include the language use, along with the red items and the food items. Should the crow be brilliant enough to learn how to talk about it's own conscious experiences of red/redness , that would be a metacognitive crow.creativesoul

    :up: Looks good to me.

    All conscious experience consists of correlations drawn between the color red and other things. In that very real sense, they are all the same.creativesoul

    In some qualitative sense, I guess. Redness seems to be a property of objects of perception (no abstract redness is observed, but we can collate red things), and a property is that which causes some particular effect in a particular circumstance (to be is to do) which is the correlation I think we're speaking of. The particular effect may vary from beast to beast, but the property can be established as the same through additional correlations between effects: the crows collate the same things we call red.

    For exactness, crows do learn a simple nonuniform language. This might be too far-fetched, but I was considering four crows in adjacent cages, each with an array of buttons of variable colour. When the buttons light up in a random colour configuration, if all crows press all red buttons and only red buttons, they all get a treat. Occasionally crows are replaced by new ones.

    If crows are capable, and I expect they are, they might learn a voiced instruction to alert other crows to press buttons, and which buttons to press. A noise that means 'press the red buttons' followed by a noise that means 'this is red' as the tutor presses only the red buttons might suffice. If this were the case, newer crows might be said to have a linguistic understanding of redness.
  • Olivier5
    1.3k
    If crows are capable, and I expect they are, they might learn a voiced instruction to alert other crows to press buttons, and which buttons to press. A noise that means 'press the red buttons' followed by a noise that means 'this is red' as the tutor presses only the red buttons might suffice. If this were the case, newer crows might be said to have a linguistic understanding of redness.Kenosha Kid

    In the experiment where a crow learns to fetch a red object to get food, one could conceive of red objects as symbols for food. In this sense, to use a visual signal to trigger a learnt response is already something vaguely approaching language.

    I don't think crows imitate other birds, but some birds are specialists of that, like the mockingbirds. Not sure what the Darwinian advantage is. That's why parrots can mimic entire sentences. I'm pretty sure you can train a parrot to say red when he sees something red.
  • Wayfarer
    10.4k
    ...might be said....Kenosha Kid

    by a being capable of speaking.
  • creativesoul
    9.2k
    Language less conscious experience of red/redness cannot consist of correlations drawn between the color red and language use. The color and food items for the trained crow is an adequate example. If the crow was trained to gather red items after hearing the name "red" being spoken aloud, then it would no longer be language less for the correlations would include the language use, along with the red items and the food items. Should the crow be brilliant enough to learn how to talk about it's own conscious experiences of red/redness , that would be a metacognitive crow.
    — creativesoul

    :up: Looks good to me.

    All conscious experience of the color red consists of correlations drawn between the color red and other things. In that very real sense, they are all the same.
    — creativesoul

    In some qualitative sense...
    Kenosha Kid

    I left out the bolded portion above accidentally in my original reply. Does that correction change anything important on your view? Does it matter to your reply?
  • Andrew M
    1.1k
    That has to do with the speed of light and inertial frames, not perceivers. Perceivers are only used for thought experiments to show their clocks and measuring-rods are different, but there's no need for that. Happens for any objects and events.Marchesk

    Yes it happens for any object and event - which are distinguishable in human perception.

    As with the train speed example, there is no "view from nowhere".
    — Andrew M

    But there is, because life evolved long after the universe was around, and science can detail the universe in places where there is no life and no perceivers.
    Marchesk

    Yes it can. I can point to the Sun and stars (a human perceptual activity) and we can agree that that is what we mean by those terms. It doesn't follow that the Sun and stars didn't exist before we identified them (or before humans emerged). Same thing for red apples.

    However, if you're arguing from a Kantian/correlationist position and not a realist one, then that's another matter. I'm pretty sure Dennett is a realist/physicalist, as is Chalmers, except for consciousness.

    I'm not sure the consciousness debate matters for Kantians, since the empirical world includes all the colors, sounds, etc. So I get why you would deny Nagel's "view from nowhere". The consciousness debate seems to only matter for physicalism, pun unintended. At least that's how Chalmers approaches it, with his talk of supervenience and p-zombies.
    Marchesk

    No, I'm not a Kantian. My view is broadly Aristotelian, which is realist.
  • Andrew M
    1.1k
    All of these features are part of the world as we perceive it. Without that perspective - our primary point of reference in the world - nothing is distinguished or defined at all.
    — Andrew M

    'Perspective' implies or requires an observing mind, does it not? I mean, it is something I'm in complete agreement with, but it seems to me that it is more often than not overlooked.
    Wayfarer

    Seems OK to me. This is what I mean by saying that there is no view from nowhere.
  • Andrew M
    1.1k
    Their perspective is not a "thing" that has any existence separate from that human activity. But we can consider it separately (i.e., in an abstract sense).
    — Andrew M

    In the same way that e.g. breathing, perspiration and digestion are not "things" that have any existence separate from human activity? Or, in the same way that the game of chess and economic markets are not "things" that have any existence separate from human activity?
    Luke

    Yes, that's right. For the first set of examples, if a person dies, they no longer have a perspective on the world - that perspective depended on them being a living, functioning human being. For the second set of examples, these things perhaps exist as artefacts of human activity (and thus don't literally depend on humans to always be there), but nonetheless gain their meaning and purpose by virtue of a human perspective (or perspectives).

    Does separability from human activity help to decide whether these "things" are physical or real?Luke

    I'm not sure I understand your question. In an everyday sense, we regard the things we can observe as real. Those things are separable from human activity. For example, red apples preceded human existence.

    However identifying and talking about those things isn't separable from human activity. So, from my perspective, that's a red apple there (that existed prior to my interaction with it). But that perspective may not be relevant to an alien creature with a different perceptual capability, since their perspective may be different. So you can't necessarily generalize one's perspective to other creatures (or, in certain cases, even to other humans if they can't make the same distinctions that you can - their perspective would be different).

    Are perspectives identical to reference frames, then? Is a perspective also "an abstract coordinate system that measurements are made relative to"? If it's not the same, then in what way is it comparable?Luke

    It's analogous, but not quite the same. A perspective is a reference point that observed distinctions are made relative to.

    Also, a perspective is applicable to human beings and, potentially, other sentient creatures for whom it makes sense. But not trees or rocks (which nonetheless qualify as reference frames).

    Also, two objects can be in the same inertial frame, whereas a perspective is ultimately unique to an individual. However, we are a part of the same world, have similar physical characteristics, and the laws of nature are the same for both of us. So most of the distinctions and statements that would be valid and true from my perspective would also be valid and true from yours.

    The words in a statement such as "the apple is red" derive their meaning from (i.e., are grounded in) a human perspective. The main point of comparison with relativity is that distinctions/measurements are relative to some reference point, not absolute. That is, the perceiver is implied in any statement about the world.
  • Luke
    1.2k
    Does separability from human activity help to decide whether these "things" are physical or real?
    — Luke

    I'm not sure I understand your question.
    Andrew M

    Apologies, I was quite unclear. I was trying to connect it back to your earlier post, where you said:

    A human being has a perspective of the world... But that perspective doesn't itself have properties (qualia) or a substantial existence (res cogitans), contra dualism.Andrew M

    More recently, you stated that a human perspective is not a "thing" which can be separated from human activity, and that having a perspective was like having a reference frame.

    You have now agreed that aspiration, perspiration and digestion are also "things" which cannot be separated from human activity. The point of these more obviously physical examples is that they do (or that they might be considered to) have substantial existence. This is something which you have stated a human perspective does not have. Furthermore, these other "things" are also considered to have properties, which you have also stated a human perspective does not have.

    If a perspective is no different to aspiration, perspiration and digestion in terms of their inseparability from human activity, then why does a perspective differ in terms of having substantial existence and properties?

    In an everyday sense, we regard the things we can observe as real.Andrew M

    But we don't observe a perspective.

    The main point of comparison with relativity is that distinctions/measurements are relative to some reference point, not absolute. That is, the perceiver is implied in any statement about the world.Andrew M

    I see. What I'm questioning about the analogy is your statement that we have a perspective just like we (or other objects) have a reference frame, and yet neither of these has substantial existence. I think I'm still not sold on what you seem to be implying: that we can have them without them existing. More to the point, I doubt that the analogy holds.

    I should probably make clear that I have no interest in preserving 'res cogitans' or the human perspective as a non-physical substance. I am looking for a purely physical explanation, but one which retains the first-person perspective and the reality of its properties/qualities.
  • creativesoul
    9.2k
    Redness seems to be a property of objects of perception (no abstract redness is observed, but we can collate red things), and a property is that which causes some particular effect in a particular circumstance (to be is to do) which is the correlation I think we're speaking of.Kenosha Kid

    If we say that red/redness is a property of red objects of perception, all properties cause some particular effect, and that that effect is the correlation drawn between the property itself and something other than the property itself, then we're saying that red/redness is the cause of all correlations drawn between red/redness and other things(food items, in the case of the crow).

    I cannot agree. On my view...

    Correlations drawn between color and other things are not so much caused by color so much as they are made possible by color. Color is one basic elemental constituent of all conscious experience of color... that of red/redness notwithstanding.





    The particular effect may vary from beast to beast, but the property can be established as the same through additional correlations between effects: the crows collate the same things we call red.Kenosha Kid

    I think we're mostly in agreement here. If the effect of red/redness is the correlation drawn between red/redness and other things(which I'm uneasy with saying per the above reasons), then the only variance from beast to beast would be amongst the other things. I agree that we can establish that the crows are drawing correlations between color by virtue of gathering different things of the same color. I agree that we can establish color as a property of things. I'd go further and say that the color is clearly meaningful to them, particularly so if the color is associated, correlated, and/or otherwise connected to their eating behaviours(food items) and all that that entails physiologically speaking(all the autonomous activity regarding their biological machinery). Those are deep seated simple basic correlations being drawn between directly perceptible things.
  • Andrew M
    1.1k
    If a perspective is no different to aspiration, perspiration and digestion in terms of their inseparability from human activity, then why does a perspective differ in terms of having substantial existence and properties?Luke

    The difference is that aspiration, etc., are bodily processes or functions. Whereas a perspective is a logical condition for being able to make distinctions.

    Compare running a race to winning a race. Both are predicated of people (i.e., are not separable from people). But they are different kinds of predicates. Running is a physical process, whereas winning is the logical condition of having passed the finish line first and is not itself a process. (This is Ryle's distinction between try and achievement verbs.)

    But we don't observe a perspective.Luke

    We don't, but it is implied in a person's activity which we do observe.

    What I'm questioning about the analogy is your statement that we have a perspective just like we (or other objects) have a reference frame, and yet neither of these has substantial existence. I think I'm still not sold on what you seem to be implying: that we can have them without them existing.Luke

    Concrete particulars such as people, apples and rocks have substantial existence, being substances. Abstractions do not. They depend on (are not separable from) concrete particulars. They exist, to the extent that they do, because the concrete particulars that they are predicated of exist.

    Linguistically, we wouldn't normally say that breathing exists, we would say that a person breathes (though we might say that their breath exists - however this refers to the air, which is itself substantial). Similarly, we wouldn't normally say that perspectives exist, we would say that a person has a perspective. So the non-separability (and thus the dependent and abstract nature) of those predicates is clear.

    I should probably make clear that I have no interest in preserving 'res cogitans' or the human perspective as a non-physical substance. I am looking for a purely physical explanation, but one which retains the first-person perspective and the reality of its properties/qualities.Luke

    As I see it, the first-person/third-person division excludes the possibility of a physical explanation (hence the hard problem). Instead, as human beings, we have a perspective on the world. That's the logical condition for being able to make any distinctions at all. So, from my perspective, the apple is spherical and red (i.e., they are properties of the apple). Not that the apple is objectively spherical and subjectively red (which is subject/object dualism).
  • Wayfarer
    10.4k
    we (or other objects) have a reference frameLuke

    Can ‘we’ be categorised with ‘other objects’? Do objects have a reference frame? Or do reference frames only pertain to observers?

    The difference is that aspiration, etc., are bodily processes or functions. Whereas a perspective is a logical condition for being able to make distinctions.Andrew M

    :up: Perspective is an attribute of rational thought. Do non-rational animals entertain perspectives? I think not, because they are not capable of abstraction.

    Concrete particulars such as people, apples and rocks have substantial existence, being substances.Andrew M

    I have to draw attention again to the equivocal meaning of ‘substance’ in this context. ‘Substance’ in normal usage means ‘a particular kind of matter with uniform properties’. ‘Substance’ in the philosophical sense means the fundamental kinds or types of beings of which attributes can be predicated.

    So I think what you are actually saying here, is not 'substantial', but 'material' - you're contrasting material particulars with abstractions.

    They [abstractions] depend on (are not separable from) concrete particulars. They exist, to the extent that they do, because the concrete particulars that they are predicated of exist.Andrew M

    But that leads to the question of what 'dependency' means. If you consider such concepts as fundamental logical laws or arithmetical principles, there are at least some that are understood to be 'true in all possible worlds'. Basic arithmetical principles, such as number, are applicable to any and all kinds of particulars; '3' can be predicated of people, apples and rocks. So I question this notion of 'dependency'.
  • Luke
    1.2k
    The difference is that aspiration, etc., are bodily processes or functions. Whereas a perspective is a logical condition for being able to make distinctions.Andrew M

    Wouldn't you say that having a perspective (or being conscious) is a bodily process or function like any other?

    Compare running a race to winning a race. Both are predicated of people (i.e., are not separable from people). But they are different kinds of predicates. Running is a physical process, whereas winning is the logical condition of having passed the finish line first and is not itself a process.Andrew M

    I think you and I might have different conceptions of a human perspective. Yours is apparently stripped of all phenomena leaving only an abstract point-of-view singularity. Whereas I see little difference between having a perspective and being conscious (in the first-person), with all that that entails.

    We don't, but it is implied in a person's activity which we do observe.Andrew M

    Do you consider observation to be a part of a perspective?

    Linguistically, we wouldn't normally say that breathing existsAndrew M

    I think that human aspiration or human digestion could be said to have physical existence?

    As I see it, the first-person/third-person division excludes the possibility of a physical explanationAndrew M

    Why does it?

    So, from my perspective, the apple is spherical and red (i.e., they are properties of the apple). Not that the apple is objectively spherical and subjectively red (which is subject/object dualism).Andrew M

    If these are properties of the apple, rather than properties of your perception (or rather than some relation of the two), then it would seem to imply that the apple is objectively spherical and objectively red. Which is fine, but how do you deal with things like seeing illusions where there is a discrepancy between the properties of the object and the perception of the object?
  • Luke
    1.2k
    Can ‘we’ be categorised with ‘other objects’? Do objects have a reference frame? Or do reference frames only pertain to observers?Wayfarer

    I was following Andrew's lead here, since he said:

    a perspective is applicable to human beings and, potentially, other sentient creatures for whom it makes sense. But not trees or rocks (which nonetheless qualify as reference frames).Andrew M
  • Wayfarer
    10.4k
    Oh right - didn't notice that qualification. But I stand by my argument that only rational beings are capable of entertaining perspectives. I suppose, from the human perspective, you can see that animals have a unique perspective, but I think that kind of 'perspective' can be understood solely in terms of stimulus and response; they don't abstract from that, as abstraction is dependent on the power of reason. They cannot, for example, create scientific models or hypotheses.

    In any case, I generally agree with what Andrew M is saying about the primary nature of perspective. The way I express it is that in all judgements, including scientific judgements, there is a subjective pole that is fundamental in that judgement, but that is not made explicit in it. That is very much a Kantian argument. Physicalism insists that the data of the objective sciences exist independently of any perspective, that they exist 'as is', independent of any cognitive act on our part. They imagine that the world continues to exist, just as it does now, in the absence of any observer, without, however, acknowledging that there is an implicitly human perspective even in that imaginative act.
  • Janus
    9.6k
    But I stand by my argument that only rational beings are capable of entertaining perspectives. I suppose, from the human perspective, you can see that animals have a unique perspective, but I think that kind of 'perspective' can be understood solely in terms of stimulus and response; they don't abstract from that, as abstraction is dependent on the power of reason. They cannot, for example, create scientific models or hypotheses.Wayfarer

    What exactly is your argument that precludes all animals but humans from being able to imagine or visualize; that for them it is nothing but "stimulus and response"?
  • Wayfarer
    10.4k
    Some animals show rudimentary abilities to count and reason, but speech and reasoning is unique to humans. I'm not going to argue it further.
  • creativesoul
    9.2k
    ...only rational beings are capable of entertaining perspectives. I suppose, from the human perspective, you can see that animals have a unique perspective, but I think that kind of 'perspective' can be understood solely in terms of stimulus and response; they don't abstract from that, as abstraction is dependent on the power of reason. They cannot, for example, create scientific models or hypotheses...Wayfarer

    Neither can children. Do they not have a perspective? Are they not rational?

    Hey Jeep! :smile:

    What you've said here is over-simplistic. There are three basic varieties of conscious experience consisting of language less thought and belief, basic thought and belief with linguistic components, and metacognitive thought and belief with linguistic components. That is also the order in which they appear/emerge with each successive one wholly dependent upon the previous one(s).
  • Wayfarer
    10.4k
    Neither can childrencreativesoul

    However, children have the capacity to acquire language, which they do with extraordinary rapidity. And only human children can do that.

    Do you ever hear the poignant tale of Nim Chimpksy? This was the story of a chimp who was raised by a scientist who was determined to prove that Chomsky's theory of the innate linguistic abilities of humans was wrong, by teaching a chimp to sign. Long story short, failed abysmally and completely, and the scientist altogether lost interest in poor Nim, who ended up being abandoned into an animal lab, 'signing frantically for someone to get him out' before dying at a young age (for a chimp). :sad:

    The saddest moment of the film [about Nim's life] comes when Terrace [who had adopted him and] who spent years spoiling Nim with attention and luxury only to suddenly abandon him to the life of a captive animal returns to Oklahoma a year later for a visit; we see Nim recognize Terrace, and explode with obvious joy, rushing to hug him. Bob Ingersoll, a raspy-voiced hippie who comes across as a saintly presence in the second half of Nim’s life, says of Nim seeing Terrace again that he was thinking, “Holy shit! I’m goin’ back to New York!” But it’s only a show for the cameras. Terrace left the next day, never to be seen again by Nim, and Nim fell into a deep depression.

    https://www.dissentmagazine.org/online_articles/the-sad-story-of-nim-chimpsky

    As for your categorisation of 'varieties of conscious experience', that may be all well and good, but I'm concentrating specifically on rational thought, as I regard that as germane to the OP. It comes from a discussion of the role of perspective in knowing. Andrew M is arguing that perspective is fundamental to knowing - which I agree with.
  • creativesoul
    9.2k


    Not only human children have the capacity to acquire language. What I'm saying is that language use alone is inadequate for reason, as well as unnecessary. In fact, the very notion of reason is fraught by being based upon a gross misunderstanding of thought and belief.

    Some language less creatures can learn that fire hurts when touched. That does not require language, nor metacognition, but it does require basic rudimentary thought and belief which amounts to recognizing and/or attributing causality. That is most certainly a conscious experience of touching fire. Deliberately avoiding fire thereafter seems rational by my lights...

    The problem with all this talk of consciousness and the easy and hard problem are the notions of consciousness at work.

    You seem to want to require metacognition, which is the most complex sort of conscious experience known to man, and it comes after simple linguistically informed consciousness and language less consciousness. Entertaining a perspective requires first having one and the ability to think about it as a subject matter in and of itself. Of course only humans can do such a thing, that we know of, for doing so is a process that requires complex language use replete with the ability to talk about one's own 'mental' ongoings... and others'.

    If it seems hard to explain how consciousness 'pops into existence', perhaps it's because it doesn't. The framework being used to take account of that which exists in it's entirety prior to our awareness(the first two varieties of conscious experience) is inadequate for doing so as a result of conflating the different complexity levels of conscious experience...

    That's the way it seems to me.
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