• bert1
    610
    However I do think the answer to the “hard problem” proper is trivial, and all the actual hard work is in answering the “easy problem”. And that the substantive question of why we have the specific kind of first-person experience that we have, rather than the trivial question of why we have any first-person experience at all, is bound up in the “easy problem” as well, because experience and behavior are inseparably linked.Pfhorrest

    :nod:
  • Wayfarer
    10.9k
    I don't think there are actually any substance dualists. I haven't met any at least. Maybe there are some on the forum, I don't know.bert1

    One of the big problems with this terminology is the meaning of ‘substance’. The word Aristotle used was ‘ouisia’ which was translated into Latin as ‘substantia’. But it means nothing like ‘substance’ in ordinary language i.e. ‘a particular kind of matter with uniform properties.’ It’s nearer in meaning to ‘being’ or ‘subject’. Imagine re-framing Descartes’ dualism as proposing there are two fundamental modes of being, mental and physical - it’s still an abstraction, still a model. But it’s less likely to suggest a literal ‘thinking thing’ which is the practical consequence of ‘res cogitans’.

    Given that caveat, I’m drawn towards a form of dualism, but it’s based on the idea of matter and form, rather than matter and mind. But both matter and form, in Aristotelian philosophy, are like explanatory principles, not theories in the modern sense. It’s not about something that is findable in principle by scientific means, it’s more like a suggestive metaphor. But as I say, I’m drawn to it, in fact I’m probably a likely candidate for the title ‘substance dualist’.
  • bert1
    610
    But matter and form have a relationship, no?
  • Wayfarer
    10.9k
    The original metaphor in Aristotle was that matter was like raw material. The word 'hyle' meant 'timber' or 'lumber', that things are made from. And it 'receives' form like a seal impressed on wax. As for who impressed the seal on the material, I think implicitly that was identified with the Platonic demiurge, the 'maker', so it's a naturally theistic model, if you like. But the crucial difference with Descartes is that it doesn't consider the 'thinking subject' as objectively existent.
  • hypericin
    94
    No, there is no presupposition of dualism.
    There are two perspectives, first person, and third person. The brain, uniquely, is an object that can be experienced from either perspective. Simultaneously, with the right equipment.
    Science is the endeavor of explaining third person facts with third person facts. But to explain consciousness, science must make the perspectival leap, and explain first person facts with third person facts. This required leap is unique to this problem, and is what makes it the Hard Problem.
  • Harry Hindu
    3.9k
    The brain, uniquely, is an object that can be experienced from either perspective.hypericin
    So I'm experiencing my brain? Here I thought I was experiencing the world the whole time. Is your post in my brain or in the world that my brain accesses?

    No, there is no presupposition of dualism.
    There are two perspectives, first person, and third person.
    hypericin
    Sounds like dualism is presupposed to me.

    The first person experience is a manifestation of the way in which sensory information is presented. Sensory information includes information about location relative to the body. A perspective, or view, IS information about location relative to something else.

    Third-person information does not include information about location relative to something else, which is why we call it a view from nowhere. Which view we talk about depends on what our present goal is - knowing about location relative to the body, or not.
  • Tom1352
    16
    I'm not sure I quite understand the distinction between first person and third person perspectives as neither would lead to a view on dualism or materialism. I take the first person view to mean the unique properties of consciousness (qualia) which cannot (yet) be described i.e. an individual cannot know what it is like to experience colour before they have experienced it themselves etc. Whether this experience can be described in physical terms seems like a separate question. A third person perspective would be removed from that experience. The dualist would however need to explain why qualia warrants departing from physicalism, which is my understanding of the 'leap' involved in answering the hard problem.
  • Wayfarer
    10.9k
    I'm not sure I quite understand the distinction between first person and third person perspectivesTom1352

    To illustrate by way of example: third person perspective is 'witnessing an accident'. First person perspective is 'being in an accident'.

    From Daniel Dennett:

    In Consciousness Explained, I described a method, heterophenomenology, which was explicitly designed to be 'the neutral path leading from objective physical science and its insistence on the third-person point of view, to a method of phenomenological description that can (in principle) do justice to the most private and ineffable subjective experiences, while never abandoning the methodological principles of science.

    Dennett's point being that there's no ineliminable difference between first- and third-person perspectives.

    The dualist would however need to explain why qualia warrants departing from physicalism, which is my understanding of the 'leap' involved in answering the hard problem.Tom1352

    'Qualia' is a word that was introduced to this argument by the 'eliminativists' and you only ever read the word in this context. I regard it as jargon and a term that Chalmers makes his case without needing:

    From David Chalmer's Facing Up to the Hard Problem of Consciousness:

    The really hard problem of consciousness is the problem of experience. When we think and perceive, there is a whir of information-processing, but there is also a subjective aspect. As Nagel (1974) has put it, there is something it is like to be a conscious organism. This subjective aspect is experience. When we see, for example, we experience visual sensations: the felt quality of redness, the experience of dark and light, the quality of depth in a visual field. Other experiences go along with perception in different modalities: the sound of a clarinet, the smell of mothballs. Then there are bodily sensations, from pains to orgasms; mental images that are conjured up internally; the felt quality of emotion, and the experience of a stream of conscious thought. What unites all of these states is that there is something it is like to be in them. All of them are states of experience.

    The way I interpret it is that he's simply talking about 'being' - as in 'human being'. 'Being' is the precondition of any statement or theory whatsoever, including Dennett's 'objective physical science'. Dennett has spent his entire career contriving to deny that this has any particular significance. That is what Chalmers says has to be 'faced up to'.
  • hypericin
    94
    So I'm experiencing my brain? Here I thought I was experiencing the world the whole time. Is your post in my brain or in the world that my brain accesses?Harry Hindu

    Any externally originating experience is both the experience of the world, and a phenomenal event generated by your brain. And, you can experience the brain from the third person, by looking at one, even your own with the right instrument. As well as your everyday experience of the brain in the first person.

    Sounds like dualism is presupposed to me.Harry Hindu
    But only the dualism of perspective presupposed by everyone: the world out there vs the world in the head.

    The first person experience is a manifestation of the way in which sensory information is presented.Harry Hindu

    This is not what I had in mind.
    You can regard a brain as a lump of grayish, convoluted tissue. This is the third person perspective of the brain.
    Or, you can experience it as a rich internal universe. This is the first person perspective.
    The hard problem is to reconcile these two perspectives. In particular, it seems that no matter how much you elaborate the working of the brain scientifically, from the third person, there is no conceivable way to make the leap to explaining the first person experience.

    The answer may somehow involve substance dualism. But posing the problem certainly does not presuppose it.
  • Tom1352
    16


    My point was that talking about first and third person does not make sense in this context. Which perspective the mind is experienced from does not affect whether the mind can be considered as physical or not.
  • Harry Hindu
    3.9k
    You can regard a brain as a lump of grayish, convoluted tissue. This is the third person perspective of the brain.
    Or, you can experience it as a rich internal universe. This is the first person perspective.
    hypericin
    Are you saying that the rich internal universe IS the brain, just from a different vantage point? Where is this (first-person) vantage point relative to the other vantage point (third-person)? Are you a realist or solipsist? Is there a "rich external universe" that corresponds to this "rich internal universe"? Using these terms, "internal" vs "external", presupposes dualism.

    The hard problem is to reconcile these two perspectives. In particular, it seems that no matter how much you elaborate the working of the brain scientifically, from the third person, there is no conceivable way to make the leap to explaining the first person experience.

    The answer may somehow involve substance dualism. But posing the problem certainly does not presuppose it.
    hypericin
    The problem is in thinking that the way the brain/mind appears in the third person is how the brain/mind really is.
  • Manuel
    66
    The hard problem more than presupposing dualism, presupposes that it's obvious that certain problems can be distinguished between "easy" and "hard".

    Not that there aren't topics that we are more or less informed, relative to something else. There clearly are areas of research which are harder than others in terms of complexity. Psychology is harder than physics because there are too many factors involved, whereas physics, while technically very difficult, studies "simple structures".

    But when it comes to foundational questions, it's far from clear that one can make an easy/hard problem distinction. Along with McGinn, and foreshadowed by many, of the classical figures, it looks to me that every aspect of nature is a mystery.

    I used to not understand this point well, but I think it clear(er) to me now, as Darwin once said, roughly, that we shouldn't regard thought arising in matter as more marvelous than the properties of gravity, magnetism and so on, also properties of matter. It may be unbelievable for us, or extremely hard to accept. But that's then a problem of our nature, and thus an epistemological issue, not pertaining to the nature of the actual world.
  • Wayfarer
    10.9k
    I used to not understand this point well, but I think it clear(er) to me now, as Darwin once said, roughly, that we shouldn't regard thought arising in matter as more marvelous than the properties of gravity, magnetism and so on, also properties of matter.Manuel

    But the problem with that, is that the qualities of thought are different in kind from magnetism, gravity, or other properties associated with matter. For instance, intentionality or ‘aboutness’. There’s nothing even analogically similar to intentionality amongst physical phenomena. And, related, representation, where a sign stands for or signifies something else. That too is a fundamental activity of the mind for which there doesn’t seem to be an analogy in physical science.
  • Manuel
    66

    How are they different in kind? It's not at all clear to me. We always presuppose intentionality, true, but it's all we have. So when we analyze gravity, magnetism and so forth, whatever behavior they may exhibit absent our framework of understanding (if there are any), we don't know. But it's still possible, that gravity and so forth do things we can't perceive. So if you say intentionality is something not found in all these other properties, we can't say more, because there's nothing to compare it to.

    In other words, we can't compare consciousness with anything else, but we cannot compare gravity to anything else either. Is there an analogue in nature to any of these fundamental properties? I wouldn't know what such an argument would amount to. To be clear, I'm not denying the complexity of consciousness, but our bafflement in relation to it is relative to our nature.

    And if you look at the history of gravity, as explained say, in Chomsky's What Kind of Creatures Are We?, you'll see that even Newton, and many of his distinguished contemporaries, were completely baffled about the properties of gravity. Newton even said:

    "It is inconceivable, that inanimate brute matter should, without the mediation of something else, which is not material, operate upon and affect other matter without mutual contact. That gravity should be innate, inherent, and essential to matter, so that one body may act upon another at a distance, through a vacuum, without the mediation of anything else, by and through which their action and force may be conveyed from one to another, is to me so great an absurdity, that I believe no man who has in philosophical matters a competent faculty of thinking, can ever fall into it." (added emphasis mine)

    The thing is, we've accepted that we don't understand gravity, and simply move on with the equations that seem to work. But we've left behind the goal of understanding it. Again, Chomsky's book is quite insightful in these matters.
  • Wayfarer
    10.9k
    t's still possible, that gravity and so forth do things we can't perceive.Manuel

    I think it's indisputable that there are many things about apparently ordinary physical things we don't know. Newton's famous 'hypothesis non fingo' was made in respect of gravity, as you say. I do recall reading Chomsky on that particular issue. although I haven't read that book. (Looks interesting, though.)

    But the point about intentionality or 'aboutness', is that there's no obvious analogy to that in physics. That's the significance of the concept of intentionality, introduced to philosophy by Brentano. Intentionality seems on face value to be irreducibly mental in nature, as it requires or implies both the obvious meaning of intentionality with respect to some object, but also implies representation regarding what the object is about. That's why it suggests dualism - there's nothing that maps against that in physical laws. It's not enough to say that, well, gravity and magnetism are mysterious, and so is consciousness! I think there are fundamental attributes of the mind which are incommensurable with physical laws and descriptions - hence the suggestion of dualism!
  • Kenosha Kid
    1.9k
    Charitably, it's a boo word for a good reason: the interaction problem is rightly considered fatal to substance dualism.bert1

    Exactly this.

    But the point about intentionality or 'aboutness', is that there's no obvious analogy to that in physics. That's the significance of the concept of intentionality, introduced to philosophy by Brentano. Intentionality seems on face value to be irreducibly mental in nature, as it requires or implies both the obvious meaning of intentionality with respect to some object, but also implies representation regarding what the object is about. That's why it suggests dualism - there's nothing that maps against that in physical laws.Wayfarer

    Once upon a time, sure. But based on current knowledge, it doesn't suggest dualism, since we know of other physical laws that yield that sort of mirage of intentionality.
  • Manuel
    66


    Sure intentionality is mental, but the mental is physical, no mental property suggest dualism at all, it only highlights ignorance. Our physical laws are incomplete, and it could be that, as they currently stand, they can't say much about consciousness and maybe they never will. But again, I don't see what's analogous to gravity or electromagnetism in nature either. We are simply talking about different aspects of nature.
  • DoppyTheElv
    100
    they can't say much about consciousness and maybe they never willManuel

    That's the entire point that shows why
    Sure intentionality is mental, but the mental is physicalManuel

    doesn't follow.
  • Manuel
    66

    Well, can "physical laws" say anything about psychology or literature or even the consciousness of a dog? Yet it seems to me that psychology and dogs are physical phenomena, and the laws of physics work quite well, in the domain where they can be applied, which is limited.

    By saying "mental", I'm following Galen Strawson here, we merely want to say that within physical reality, which encompasses all reality, we are focusing on the mental aspects of the physical, instead of the chemical aspects. This emphatically is not "eliminitavism", or anything like that, the physical is not physics, it's everything. Which is to say that the physical is much stranger than what we initially suppose.

    You'd need to explain why there needs to be something else besides the physical. So I don't see any inconsistency here.
  • DoppyTheElv
    100
    Yet it seems to me that psychology and dogs are physical phenomenaManuel
    I for one, do not share this intuition.

    By saying "mental", I'm following Galen Strawson here, we merely want to say that within physical reality, which encompasses all reality, we are focusing on the mental aspects of the physical, instead of the chemical aspects. This emphatically is not "eliminitavism", or anything like that, the physical is not physics, it's everything.Manuel

    Dualists and panpsychists would not accept this assertion given the hard problem.


    The argument usually being made, if I understand it, Is that in order to fully explain consciousness in physical terms you ought to be able to do it entirely with the physical actions of the brain. In other words, physical laws and chemistry. At least if I have understood it.

    Physicalists nowadays either hope that sometime in the future there will be such an explanation due to the advance of science or they deny that there is a problem at all. However, people who do not have that trust in physicalism have reason enough to bet on panpsychism or dualism if they so please.

    You'd need to explain why there needs to be something else besides the physical. So I don't see any inconsistency here.Manuel

    Well they would refer to the hard, easy problems. I might even risk my skin and say that hard emergence of consciousness from matter is evenly absurd and magical as the interaction problem dualism faces. And since you say here that you do not deny that there is mental, a la Dennet, I cannot see how you go around it.
  • Manuel
    66
    Yes. We'll probably not find much by way of agreement here. I don't think metaphysical dualism is tenable, maybe a kind of dual aspect epistemic dualism at most, but I'm unsure about that.

    Physicalism, as is it commonly used today, means whatever science (especially physics, but not exclusively) call tell us about things, though I think using that word is misleading. I think science, though without a doubt our greatest intellectual achievement, is quite limited in terms of what it can give insight to. In this respect "physicSalism" tells us almost nothing about human beings.

    I think, like Russell, Strawson, Schopenhauer, etc., that consciousness is the phenomena in nature we are most acquainted with out of everything, it's rich, vivid, extremely sophisticated and complex. Dennett denies qualia - that's insane. It's totally irrational to me to even consider this view.

    As for emergence, our disagreement is plain. I think it's something that happens in nature, and we have no idea how it happens, another mystery. One of many.
  • Wayfarer
    10.9k
    Sure intentionality is mental, but the mental is physical, no mental property suggest dualism at all, it only highlights ignoranceManuel

    Begs the question. If we don't know what is phtysical, then how can you say it's physical?

    we know of other physical laws that yield that sort of mirage of intentionality.Kenosha Kid

    Do 'we' now? Such as?
    consciousness is the phenomena....Manuel

    'Phenomena' are 'what appears', so 'consciousness' is not a phenomena, when considered from a first-person standpoint. Instead, it is what phenomena appear to, it is what interprets experience as phenomena (per Kant and Schopenhauer).


    Charitably, it [dualism] is a boo word for a good reason: the interaction problem is rightly considered fatal to substance dualism.
    — bert1

    Exactly this.
    Kenosha Kid

    The 'interaction problem' only occurs if you treat 'consciousness' as some kind of objective 'substance' or 'thinking thing' (following descartes.) But this itself is an abstraction or model. In reality, 'consciousness' or 'mind' is something that we can never stand outside of, so it's never present as an object. Of course, from the scientific viewpoint, we can only consider phenomena that are present as objects, hence the attempt to 'objectify' conscious experience.
  • Manuel
    66


    What I should have said from the outset, is that I'm essentially formulating Priestley, Galen Strawson and Chomsky in slightly different terms, but the main point is, is that everything is physical. The brain is modified physical stuff, the universe is physical and so are the creatures within it. That is, if we are going to refer to the thing out there, and use a word to describe it, then it seems to me that "physical" is a good word to use.

    I wouldn't say that the term "mental" is just as good, if we are simply going to use one term to refer to the whole of reality. Why not? Because I don't believe that everything is mental, or depends on mind, such that even if human being disappeared, nothing would remain in the world. I don't think that is the case. By using "physical" in the way Strawson does, it serves to highlight the ignorance we have of the nature of physical reality. But we are acquainted with the experiential character of consciousness better than anything else in the world, this is a given.

    But I would also say that consciousness always presents itself to us in a certain way. We do not know its nature apart from experience, or how it comes about. I don't think experience is all there is to consciousness, one needs a brain too as well as something for the consciousness to react to. Schopenhauer argued, perhaps plausibly, that the nature of the world is will, consciousness does not show the nature of the world "in itself" - for him - but it helps us approximate what it could be, which in his case was "will". With consciousness and the aid of the intellect, we gain some understanding of it, but its nature in itself, we do not know, though again, will is the closest approximation we have.
  • Kenosha Kid
    1.9k
    Do 'we' now? Such as?Wayfarer

    Natural selection :)
  • Sam26
    1.6k
    I'm also probably a substance dualist. I believe everything comes from consciousness, i.e., at the bottom of reality, or at the core of reality is consciousness. It's what unifies reality.
  • Wayfarer
    10.9k
    the main point is, is that everything is physical. The brain is modified physical stuff, the universe is physical and so are the creatures within it. That is, if we are going to refer to the thing out there, and use a word to describe it, then it seems to me that "physical" is a good word to use.Manuel

    ‘Physical’, meaning what, exactly? It used to mean indivisible particles, now it means fields, however they’re conceived. For all we know there might be biological fields or mental fields - current science doesn’t think in those terms - but in any case it’s no longer possible to define ‘physicalism’ other than 'a general sense of allegiance to scientific method' - science as the arbiter of what’s real.

    Post Descartes, ‘the world’ was divided along the lines of res cogitans and res extensia. Res cogitans became associated with idealism and religious philosophies, res extensia, extended stuff, the locus of interest for science (and engineering!)

    The term "Idealism" came into vogue roughly during the time of Kant (though it was used earlier by others, such as Leibniz) to label one of two trends that had emerged in reaction to Cartesian philosophy. Descartes had argued that there were two basic yet separate substances in the universe: Extension (the material world of things in space) and Thought (the world of mind and ideas). Subsequently opposing camps took one or the other substance as their metaphysical foundation, treating it as the primary substance while reducing the remaining substance to derivative status. Materialists argued that only matter was ultimately real, so that thought and consciousness derived from physical entities (chemistry, brain states, etc.). Idealists countered that the mind and its ideas were ultimately real, and that the physical world derived from mind (e.g., the mind of God, Berkeley's esse est percipi, or from ideal prototypes, etc.). Materialists gravitated toward mechanical, physical explanations for why and how things existed, while Idealists tended to look for purposes - moral as well as rational - to explain existence. Idealism meant "idea-ism," frequently in the sense Plato's notion of "ideas" (eidos) was understood at the time, namely ideal types that transcended the physical, sensory world and provided the form (eidos) that gave matter meaning and purpose. As materialism, buttressed by advances in materialistic science, gained wider acceptance, those inclined toward spiritual and theological aims turned increasingly toward idealism as a countermeasure. Before long there were many types of materialism and idealism. — Dan Lusthaus

    I agree ‘mental’ is not a particularly good word. Nor ‘consciousness’ except for in certain contexts. I prefer ‘mind’ , but really the key term, which has long dropped out of philosophical discourse, is the Greek term ‘nous’ (which ironically is still used in colloquial English as a term for cunning or penetrating intelligence).

    By using "physical" in the way Strawson does, it serves to highlight the ignorance we have of the nature of physical reality.Manuel

    I read Galen Strawson's paper on panpsychism again recently - it was a subject of discussion on one of the many threads on this (vexed) topic. I agree with Strawson's criticisms of Dennett - as I think you do also - but I still think his model is essentially materialist. More here


    Do 'we' now? Such as?
    — Wayfarer

    Natural selection :)
    Kenosha Kid

    Now there's a can of worms for you. But I think we can both agree that Darwin's theory is first and foremost a biological theory regarding the origin of species, right? So it doesn't contain anything inherently referring to epistemology, or the nature of mind, except insofar as these can be understood through biological principles. Which then naturally assumes the form of 'biological reductionism' and general neo-darwinian materialism.
  • Kenosha Kid
    1.9k
    Now there's a can of worms for you. But I think we can both agree that Darwin's theory is first and foremost a biological theory regarding the origin of species, right? So it doesn't contain anything inherently referring to epistemology, or the nature of mind, except insofar as these can be understood through biological principles. Which then naturally assumes the form of 'biological reductionism' and general neo-darwinian materialism.Wayfarer

    It doesn't matter. The point is that optimisation in nature can occur without teleology. Even if you disagree that natural selection is incidentally true, it is trivial to see that it is possible. Seeming intention does not require actual intention. The idea is extendable to completely different fields of study (e.g. cosmology, market forces).
  • Manuel
    66
    Materialism (which can now be used interchangeably with "physicalism") used to mean roughly mechanistic materialism. It was thought that if an artisan or engineer could replicate an object in nature, say, the digestion of a duck, via some mechanical process, based on direct contact mechanics, then it was said to be understood and thus a physical phenomena. We apparently have a "built in physics" that understands the world in such a manner, where objects interact with other objects directly.

    That quote from Newton a few posts back simply shows that he could not believe that the materialism of his time, based on contact mechanics, wasn't true of the world. That's why he was surprised. Now that view of materialism if false. If we are to use the term "material" or better yet, "physical" to attempt to refer to anything that is going on in the world, then the physical must mean "whatever there is". But I wouldn't at all say that this means that everything physical can, even in most cases be solved by the sciences, or even be hoped to be understood by said methods. In that respect I am very much a "mysterian".

    I find it useful to say that I'm a "real physicalist" as a reply to those who believe in Dennett an co.'s line of reasoning, which denies the existence of consciousness as mere reaction or epiphenomenon or bad folk psychology or whatever else they say, and I also think that it's a useful exercise to grab an object, any object a book, a laptop, whatever, and say, this is physical, and then you see how much the physical encapsulates everything, and how little one may know about it, but this is a preference.

    I agree with your assessment of Strawson concerning Dennett, but I wouldn't say he is one of those science types at all. His writings of the nature of the self, narrativity, identity metaphysics should dispel beliefs in that view. I don't know what you make of panpsychism, but as articulated by him and in fact by anybody that I know of so far, I don't believe it to be true, though it is a hard problem.

    At the end of the day speaking of "physical", "non-physical" or whatever else is more terminological than anything else, although not only that. So I can't really quibble with you choice of word "nous", it's a good word.
  • Wayfarer
    10.9k
    The point is that optimisation in nature can occur without teleologyKenosha Kid

    It depends on what is meant. There's nowadays a neo-aristotelian trend in biological sciences, precisely because of the discovered need for a final cause, the reason why x exists. Having ditched 'teleology', biologists had to invent the word 'teleonomy' to allow for the 'appearance of purpose'.

    And the discovery of the so-called anthropic principle seems to radically undercut the idea of life arising solely by chance; the sequence of events leading to the formation of life-bearing planets stretches back to the big bang itself, to the way the universe is constituted.

    I don't doubt the principle of natural selection, but I do question that it provides a basis for philosophy of mind, other than some species of utilitarianism. (Nagel again.)

    Now that view of materialism if false. If we are to use the term "material" or better yet, "physical" to attempt to refer to anything that is going on in the world, then the physical must mean "whatever there is".Manuel

    What about the elements of judgement - 'is', 'is not', 'is greater than', 'is equal to', and so on. I claim that those elements have no counterpart in the physical domain, and yet they're fundamental to judgements about what constitutes 'the physical'.

    Let's re-consider the term 'mental universe'. There was an OP of that name published in Nature some years back by a physicist by the name of Richard Conn Henry. I don't think he meant that objects are literally mental or 'made from' anything mental. It's more that whatever we know, whatever nature discloses to us, is the product of judgement, in the sense elucidated by Kant. I think understanding the idealist view requires a shift in perspective. 'Naturalism' is very much the default attitude, that what is 'out there' is the persistent reality, we ourselves are simply ephemeral individuals on life's stage. But we don't see the part our own mind plays in constructing that stage; we don't see it, because we are it. We instinctively 'read' the world as I-and-it, self-and-other, within which things are designated physical, mental or whatever; but the idealist analysis operates on a different level, that of becoming aware of the mind's constructive role in generating our world. That's where philosophy starts.

    grab an object, any object a book, a laptop, whatever, and say, this is physicalManuel

    A book is physical, for sure. But what of its contents? Consider some classic text that has been edited and translated for centuries. Any given book is just one version of that story, but the story itself is independent of any particular presentation. The story is 'in' the book only in a metaphorical sense. So in what sense is that 'physical'? In what sense is 'the brain' physical? Surely it can be injured physically, but it can also be altered by intentional acts; hence 'mind-body medicine', neo-plasticity and the like. Maybe 'physical' is just a reference point, something to hang on to in the vast uncertainty of today's world.
  • Manuel
    66
    @Wayfarer: I take it that when you talk about content, you are describing aspects or architectures of the mind, therein you are describing mental faculties. But what I argue, along with Strawson and Chomsky, is that the mental is physical, you simply are choosing what aspect of physical reality you want to elucidate. You may want to elucidate the mind, phenomenological aspects of experiential episodes, you may want to study how certain animals react to certain viruses, then you'd be studying the biological aspects of physical reality. When you go to psychology and sociology, you are studying the behavior of people and groups of people, all of which form part of physical reality.

    You keep talking about the counterparts or aspects "not found in the physical domain". I'm not denying that we play a huge role in construction of what we take to be "the given". When I say physical, I'm not remaining at the level of physics at all. I don't have in mind reducing the experience of seeing an orange, or reading my favorite book to some sub-processes in my brain, that would be crazy and is precisely what I think is literally bad philosophy. I only put in the caveat that without the brain, we wouldn't have consciousness even if I admit, along with you I suspect, that we begin with consciousness. In what respect is the story in my favorite novel physical? In the sense that I interpret the story through some processes in my mind/brain. Intentionality is also a process of the brain/mind, both play a role, one we experience as directly as anything (mental), the other we do not experience at all, minus a headache (the brain).

    I think we might be getting stuck by using the word "physical", as it carries connotations to empirical science. Let's then call it by the more neutral term "worldly". The book is worldly, the story is worldly the mind is worldly. We still talk about the mental aspects of worldly reality, or the biological aspects of worldly reality, or we can do literary analysis of stories, which are created by worldly creatures.

    The point is, as I take it, why add something to worldly, if we cannot say where "worldly" reality stops, and some other reality begins? Why introduce metaphysical differences, instead of talking about different aspects of the same reality? I mean, would you say that vision and hearing are two metaphysically different things, or two aspects of one thing? I see benefits to the latter, no benefits to the former, so far as metaphysics is concerned.
bold
italic
underline
strike
code
quote
ulist
image
url
mention
reveal
youtube
tweet
Add a Comment