Comments

  • Do Neural Codes Signify Conscious Content?
    Two different signals are involved in the process of sensation.
    Light (one type of signal) changes retinal states. Photoreceptors (rods and cones) in the retina transform light signals into neural signals.
    Galuchat

    The signals in the brain indicate that the state of our rods and cone has changed.

    Neural signals and visual perception are related by correlation, not causation.Galuchat

    So, in your view, no dynamics links neural signals and visual perception??

    So, do neural codes signify conscious content?Galuchat

    No, and that is my point. We do not first become aware (or ever become aware) of our neural state and then interpret what that state means. For an (instrumental) sign to work we need to be aware of what the sign is, and then decide what it means. There is no such process here. So calling neural pulses "signs" only increases confusion.
  • Do Neural Codes Signify Conscious Content?
    OK, this suggests mental states contingently arise. Nevertheless, the mental states do not arise without the physical input.Relativist

    That is the usual case. However, you may wish to read W. T. Stace, Mysticism and Philosophy (1960) to have more data to reflect upon.

    Sensory perception ceases when there's a physical defect. This is strong evidence that the physical processes are in the causal chain even if there are immaterial dependencies as well (like attentiveness).Relativist

    I agree that consciousness is usually awareness of neurally encoded data. I think I said that in my OP. That does not mean that neurally encoded data is sufficient, only that it is normally necessary.

    Laws of nature apply to physical-physical causation. Mental-physical and physical-mental is unique.Relativist

    Are you sure? I have argued (elsewhere) that the laws of nature are essentially intentional. Like human committed intentions, they effect ends. My arriving at the store is immanent in my initial state and decision to go to the store. The final state of a physical system is immanent in its initial state and the laws of nature. They meet Brentano's criterion for intenionality of pointing beyond themselves by pointing to later states.

    How does the physically encoded data get into an immaterial mind?Relativist

    The immaterial aspect of the mind (the power to choose and attend, aka aware) has no specific "place;" however, experience tells us it generally attends to data processed by and encoded in the brain -- and we have a reasonable idea of how data gets there.

    It seems to me the only plausible explanation is that the physical processes cause immaterial mental states.Relativist

    They inform the mental states, but to inform is not to be an efficient cause. Plans may inform a process, but they do not cause the process.
  • Do Neural Codes Signify Conscious Content?
    Who is interpreting the signs in your DNA?Zelebg

    Normally, no one. DNA does not work by being a sign, but mechanically. Hence, it needs no interpretation or interpreter. It is a "program" in an analogous way compared to a computer program, which is to say equivocally so. (Or do you think of God as a programmer?) When it is a "sign" of a structure, the interpreter is a molecular geneticist.

    Did you see "Hugo"? The atomaton in it had a program that caused it to draw. No interpretation was required. So the program did not act as a sign, except in relation to a human programmer or interpreter.

    And what do you call a process constrained by a set of instructions, such as processes in your body, your cells and organs, if not a program?Zelebg

    We use words analogously to cover new needs. As a result various uses need not mean the same thing, and what they name need not work in the same way. Normal instructions and rules are signs which must be interpreted by a mind before they can be implemented. There is no such set of instructions in human physiology. Rather, there are laws of nature that act on initial physical states to produce later physical states without need of interpretation. So we must be careful not to be fooled when the same words are used with differ meanings in different cases.

    I am, however, glad that you see that the laws of nature are works of Mind.
  • Do Neural Codes Signify Conscious Content?
    I do not assume that "electro-chemical signals produce the related mental states." — Dfpolis

    I suggest that we can deduce this is the case.
    Relativist

    Please do so.

    surely you must agree that sensory perception originates in physical processes, and ultimately mental states arise.Relativist

    I agree that neural processes are physical. Whether or not mental states arise from them depends on whether or not we attend to them. The act of attending to them is an act of awareness (aka the agent intellect).

    This implies there is a causal chain from the physical to the mental.Relativist

    No, it shows that the agent intellect can transform physically encoded data to concepts (mental intentions).

    at the fundamental level, physical-mental causation has to be taking place.Relativist

    Why?
    It seems unavoidable if the mind is non-physical.Relativist

    Immaterial does not mean physically impotent. The laws of nature are not made of matter; nonetheless, they effect physical transformations.

    I do not assume the mind is immaterial. I deduce — Dfpolis

    ... Challenging it would entail a different discussion.
    Relativist

    We had that discussion earlier, when I showed that and why intentional realities are not reducible to material realities.
  • Do Neural Codes Signify Conscious Content?
    Programs are intentions.Zelebg

    No, programs implement the intentions of their programmers. They themselves are signs requiring human interpreters to actually signify.
  • Do Neural Codes Signify Conscious Content?
    I said "it’s most accurate and pragmatic to call it “virtual reality”, a sort of simulation".Zelebg

    Aside from the fact that this claim is wholly unsupported by data, there is no reason to suppose simulating physical (simulation) operations can generate intentional operations.
  • Do Neural Codes Signify Conscious Content?
    As I said, the pain signal (in effect) reaches a transducer which produces the mental state of localized pain. Does this much sound plausible? If so, what is your specific issue?Relativist

    My issue is that the same signals indicate I am seeing an apple as indicate I am seeing (my retinal state is being modified by) and apple. So how do we use the signal to know that there is an apple as opposed to the state of my retina has changed?

    If the mind is immaterial, as you assumeRelativist

    I do not assume the mind is immaterial. I deduce from the data of experience that it has both physical and intentional operations.

    the issue seems to he: how do physical, electro-chemical signals produce the related mental statesRelativist

    I do not assume that "electro-chemical signals produce the related mental states." Following Aristotle, I see this as the work of the agent intellect, which acts in the intentional, not the physical, theater of operations.
  • Do Neural Codes Signify Conscious Content?
    Intentions, and other mental states, feelings and qualities, are not immaterial, they are virtual.Zelebg

    I have no idea what this means. "Virtual" usually means "potential." Clearly, my actual intentions are not longer potential.

    To exist is to be (made of) something rather than nothing.Zelebg

    This is begging the question. Clearly, anything that can act in any way exists, and, as I have pointed out, many intentions act to effect motions. Others act to motivate truth claims.

    Can you give examples of what you are talking about?Zelebg

    See the OP. The same signals indicating I am seeing an apple also indicate that my retinal state has change.
  • Do Neural Codes Signify Conscious Content?
    When a pain receptor is fired, the mind experiences it as the quale "pain". That is the nature of the mental experience.Relativist

    Yes, it does. How does this allow us to distinguish data on the sensor state from data on the sensed?
  • Do Neural Codes Signify Conscious Content?
    Thanks for your interest.

    Just to make one thing clear. There is no such thing as “immaterial” or “non-physical”, it’s a self-contradiction.Zelebg

    Would you care to show the contradiction? Please define "material" and "existence" and then show that existence entails material. I ask this because on the usual understandings these terms do not mean the same thing.

    Obviously, being immaterial does men not made of any kind of matter, but there is no logical reason why something not made of matter can't act, and so exist. For example, my intention to go to the store acts to motivate my motion toward the store. Your argument simply begs the question by assuming, a priori, that everything must be "made of something."

    You might find my discussion "Intentional vs. Material Reality and the Hard Problem" of interest. In it, I show why intentional existence cannot be reduced to physical existence.

    From a 3rd person perspective, neural states represent mental content in the form of electromagnetic and chemical signals, just like virtual reality of a simulated content is represented inside the computer in the form of signals between the logic gates and other circuits.Zelebg

    Of course, but what I am discussing is the first person perspective -- how it is that we know the difference between body states and object states.

    so it’s too optimistic to expect we could yet explain the ghost in the machine.Zelebg

    I am not suggesting a ghost in a machine. Rather, unified human have both physical and intentional operations, and neither is reducible to the other -- just as we cannot reduce the sphericity of ball to the rubber it is made of.

    Meaning comes from the grounding inherent in a decoder / interpreter system, also called personality, identity, ego, self...Zelebg

    While I agree, this does not solve the problem I am raising.
  • Do Neural Codes Signify Conscious Content?
    I suggest that it's a consequence of the neural connections being different.Relativist

    Different how? To take your example, how do I distinguish a signal indicating the existence of a condition causing pain from a signal that says only that a pain receptor is firing? Since they are one and the same signal, I do not see how I can.
  • Do Neural Codes Signify Conscious Content?
    Do you mean rather, how does this allow us to distinguish body states from the states of other objects?Galuchat

    Yes, that is what I said.
  • Do Neural Codes Signify Conscious Content?
    I think that mind is an integrated set of organism events which produce an individual's automatic and controlled acts, so; an open sub-system of (at least certain) organisms (e.g., those having a central nervous system). But, the ontology of mind is off-topic.Galuchat

    It seems to me that subjectivity (being a knowing and willing subject) is essential to the experience of mind. Functionalism does not cut it.
  • Do Neural Codes Signify Conscious Content?
    Signals are not only transmitted from environment to body to mind, but also from mind to body to environment. The capacity for motor coordination differentiates object (other) and self in the mind of a sentient being.Galuchat

    I agree, but how does this allow us to distinguish body states from external states?
  • Do Neural Codes Signify Conscious Content?
    A visual image is something distinct from the object seen, it's a functionally accurate representation of the object.Relativist

    While I tend to agree with this, it does not explain how we distinguish the object from the subject -- which is the problem I have.

    It seems as if a concept is a mental object, but when employed in a thought, it may more accurate to describe it as a particular reaction, or memory of a reaction: process and feeling, rather than object.Relativist

    I think I agree. I would say that the concept apple, while often conceived of as a "thing" is simply the act of thinking of apples.
  • Do Neural Codes Signify Conscious Content?
    Thanks for commenting.

    it doesn' seem possible to ground these concepts in something physical.Relativist

    I agree. As I argued last year, I do not think that intentional (mental) realities can be reduced to physical realities.

    That doesn't prove mind is grounded in the nonphysical, it may just be an inapplicable paradigm.Relativist

    "Physical" means now the reality it calls to mind now. Its meaning may change over time (and has), but the present paradigms are based on our conceptual space as it now exists. Changing paradigms involves redefining our conceptual space, and a consequent redefinition of terms such as "physical" and "natural."

    Consciousness is that which mediates between stimulus and response.Relativist

    This seems very behaviorist in conception and inadequate to the data of human mental experience.
  • Do Neural Codes Signify Conscious Content?
    Thank you also for responding,

    Still, I do not see that anything you said resolves the three issues I raised. Did I miss something?
  • Do Neural Codes Signify Conscious Content?
    Thank you for your comment,

    While I agree that we have an immaterial aspect that makes us subjects in the subject-object relation of knowing (a soul), the fact that each of us is a different subject, with unique experiences, makes it difficult for me to lend credence to the notion of a collective soul. I do think that there is an immaterial God, and that we can be aware of God via rational proof and direct, mystical experience.
  • Reflections on Realism
    How does Aristotle treat what we now understand as established entirely subjective predications?Mww

    Aristotle does not talk much about subjective decisions, except for his discussion of proairesis. Proairesis is the process leading to a decision. He sees it very rationally, proceeding iteratively. If we want A, we have to effect B, If we want B we have to effect C, etc., until we come to something we can do now to get the process started -- and that is what we should do now. He sees the goal of human behavior as happiness, and ethics as studying the means for attaining happiness.

    His general view of ethical reasoning is that it is very imprecise and it is an error to expect it to be as exact as the other sciences.

    He also had agents in the field with Alexander the Great, documenting the "constitutions" of the nations encountered -- in other words, how they ruled themselves. In so doing, he placed political science on an empirical footing. That suggests to me that he wanted to find out what worked rather than approaching the subject more theoretically as Plato seems to have done.

    I will have to admit to being more interested in his views on metaphysics, nature, and epistemology than in his work on ethics, art and politics.
  • Reflections on Realism
    I don’t suppose a real thing such as a man, to be passive stuff upon whom is imposed a form of justice, that shapes him in some way? Wrong kind of shape?Mww

    I think we become just by actively willing to make just decisions.
  • Reflections on Realism
    Guess the explains why there are no statues based on the inverse square law.Mww

    Yep
  • Reflections on Realism
    Can we say matter can be passive in its reception of an imposed form?Mww

    Well, if we understand matter as stuff we can, and the kind of matter that is passive is stuff that is shaped in some way -- like rubber of marble. In a natural process, the matter (hyle) is never a thing or a stuff. It is always a tendency (what Aristotle calls a "desire" in Physics i, 9).

    How is the form imposed? Where does the imposed form originate? What forces are in play to impose the form?Mww

    Since this is the artificial case, the form comes from the artificer. In the natural case it is implicit in law-like tendencies that anticipate the later idea of laws of nature.
  • Reflections on Realism
    I hope you're not assuming that I ever thought you were reasonable.Terrapin Station

    I had no such expectation.
  • Reflections on Realism
    That would only be the case if you give all of this up and focus on watching TV or something.Terrapin Station

    I am happy to dialog with reasonable people, even if we disagree. Constant equivocation and twisting what is said is not reasonable.
  • Reflections on Realism
    So how about trying to start off with something really simple and obvious (in your view) that you think we could agree on?Terrapin Station

    I am done wasting my time.
  • Reflections on Realism
    So, this is what I mean by Aristotle making a mistake about this. You misunderstood my language, but this was what I was saying. Aristotle separates them so that they're not identical. That's a mistake. They're identical. It's incoherent to suppose them to be otherwise.Terrapin Station

    You refuse to understand that you are using Aristotle's language equivocally. I tried to explain this, but you ignored my explanations.

    What something has the potential to become is never identical with what it is. — Dfpolis

    This is wrong. Even putting aside your wonky ontology of potentials/possibles, which I don't at all agree with, what something is is necessarily identical with something it has the potential to be, otherwise it couldn't be what it is.
    Terrapin Station

    You are so fixed on justifying your ideas that you are not even reading what I wrote. I said has "the potential to become," not "the potential to be what it is."

    Things are not NUMERICALLY IDENTICAL through time. "Dynamic continuity" is not identity.Terrapin Station

    You will not even allow me to define my own terms.

    You're right. You are not open to what others say, so we will never agree.
  • Reflections on Realism
    Is this not the same or very similar to noting the difference between intrinsic and extrinsic final causes? Because I have heard/read him make mention of that.AJJ

    It is analogous, but has different implications.
  • Reflections on Realism
    Just in case we don't get to this, nothing is literally/objectively identical through time.Terrapin Station

    You are equivocating yet again. The identity here is not immutability. It is numerical identity or dynamic continuity.

    Also, Aristotle is quite aware of the difference. Accidental changes do not affect numerical identity, but substantial changes do.
  • Reflections on Realism
    At any moment, the matter and the form are identicalTerrapin Station

    No, they never are. What something has the potential to become is never identical with what it is. The problem is that you are using your notion of matter (which is a poor translation of hyle), not Aristotle's. For him, hyle is always potential -- active in natural objects and passive in artifacts.

    The mistake of this sort of view is that it sees matter as something that can be given, or can have taken away, properties, while still being the same matter. That's incorrect.Terrapin Station

    Really?? So the rubber injected into the ball mold is not the rubber in the ball?
  • Reflections on Realism
    Edward Feser’s book on Aquinas. It clarifies the distinction between matter and form (substance and properties) very well I’d sayAJJ

    Feser, following Aquinas, does not pay enough attention to the difference between artifacts (which have their form imposed from without), and natural objects (which have their form as a result of internal principles of motion). Matter can be passive in the reception of an imposed form, but it has to be active to generate a new natural form. That is the point of my hyle article,
  • Reflections on Realism
    The material beginning with "the whole remains . . . " is presumably about ontology, right?Terrapin Station

    If you take it so. It can also be about what we perceive. As Aristotle is not distinguishing the two (as he is not a post-Kantian), it is not meant as an ontological vs a phenomenological claim. That distinction is an anachronism you are imposing.

    Meanwhile, it turned out that "the whole remains" was saying something about, or that hinged on, definitions.Terrapin Station

    Which properties are essential hinges on our definitions because Aristotle defines essence as the basis in reality for a certain kind of definition. Whether Socrates survives turning blue or or a weight gain does not depend on a definition.

    No, it is about what we see. — Dfpolis

    So then of what relevance is it to a discussion about Aristotle's ontology?
    Terrapin Station

    You are the one confusing the analyses in the Organon with ontology.
  • Reflections on Realism
    "Aristotle famously contends that every physical object is a compound of matter and form."

    Matter and form are not a compound. The "two" are inseparable in all respects--logical, physical, conceptual, etc. They're the same thing.
    Terrapin Station

    I am sorry that "compound" confuses you. It may not be the best term. I discuss the relation of matter and form in my article, "A New Reading of Aristotle's Hyle," The Modern Schoolman LXVIII (1991), 3, pp. 225-244. Briefly, "form" (eidos or morphê) names what a thing actually is while hyle (conventionally and poorly translated "matter") names its tendency/potential (Aristotle calls it a "desire" in Physics i, 9) to become something else. Clearly, these are not the same and also are present in all physical objects. "Compound" names this mentally distinguishable, but ontologically inseparable, co-presence.

    Re your extended SEP quotation:

    The Physics is not, for the most part, a book on "natural science" as we now define it. It is a philosophical analysis of nature.

    Among other issues, Socrates turning blue, putting on pounds, etc. ARE substantial changes.Terrapin Station

    Only if you equivocate on Aristotle's use of the term, He explains:

    As regards one of these simple 'things that become' we say not only 'this becomes so-and-so', but also 'from being this, comes to be so-and-so', as 'from being not-musical comes to be musical'; as regards the other we do not say this in all cases, as we do not say (1) 'from being a man he came to be musical' but only 'the man became musical'.

    When a 'simple' thing is said to become something, in one case (1) it survives through the process, in the other (2) it does not.
    Physics i 7

    So, your absurd claim is that Socrates does not survive being dyed blue or gaining weight.

    And the accidental distinction is subjective--it depends on one's conceptTerrapin Station

    No, it is not subjective. A substance is an ostensible unity (tode ti). When Socrates dies, he does not continue as a unity but decays into constituents which are no longer a unified organism.
  • Reflections on Realism
    The material beginning with "the whole remains . . . " is presumably about ontology, right?Terrapin Station

    No, it is about what we see. Aristotle has not yet turned to the analysis of the relation between what is perceived and what is. He does that in De Anima iii. Here he is prescinding from that sort of analysis, and discussing how we use language to describe experience. He is not saying that experience revels being, nor is he denying it. It just isn't what he's discussing.

    Descartes's confusion of knowledge and belief, and Kant's confused musings about phenomena and noumena had not occurred yet, and so are not part of the problematic he had to deal with.
  • Reflections on Realism
    My understanding is that the notion of a substance without properties serves to demonstrate that such a thing cannot exist, and it’s that which makes it necessary to have properties (form) as part of the metaphysical picture together with substance (prime matter). I think Aquinas presents it that way; perhaps Aristotle does also.AJJ

    I think they both would see substances (ostensible unities) as givens, not requiring an argument. Then, on mental analysis, we find and name various aspects of the whole (logical accidents) and rejoin them with the whole in judgements expressed by predication.

    The idea that as we abstract properties from wholes we remove them, like picking the raisins out of a pudding, leaving behind an empty, unintelligible matrix which is substance, is an absurd misunderstanding of the Aristotelian doctrine.
  • Reflections on Realism
    And I was referring to the notion of substance sans properties. — Dfpolis

    Which is another way of saying "mentally separable"
    Terrapin Station

    No, it is not. An Aristotelian substance is always a whole. Properties are what we separate mentally.

    You just wrote this: "The point made by Aristotle is that some properties can change, and the whole remains the same kind of thing (fits the same definition)Terrapin Station

    This statement can be taken phenomenologically or ontologically, but it it certainly does not mean "the whole remains simpiciter." Some aspect of it no longer remains. Still, ostensible unities have a phenomenological continuity to from before to after phenomenological changes. Or, are you denying that?
  • Reflections on Realism
    knowledge is the reception and processing of intelligible informationMww

    I am saying we have no actual knowledge until we are aware of the processed information.

    Physical possibility: always derived from experienceMww

    I'd say that physically possibility is prior to our experiencing/knowing it.

    Each part of the matter of reality is existentially independent, even if not necessarily ontologically independent.Mww

    I don't know what the difference between ontological and existential would be.

    Logical possibility is thought, physical possibility is experienceMww

    Experience informs thought. Uninformed thought can have no impact on what is logically possible.

    everything must relate to how a human understands it.Mww

    There is no reason to reject the existence of things to which we do not relate. It is just that our knowledge is human knowledge, which is to say knowledge of how reality relates to us.

    Parsimony dictates, therefore, that the form reside internally and it be that to which the impressions on our perception relate.Mww

    I think that, since reality constantly surprises us, it is more than an internal mental state, The reason for this is that no state is truly mental unless we are aware of it. A state can be potentially mental (intelligible) without awareness, but it can't be actually mental sans awareness.

    all the same in kind as Aristotle’s forms, except for their location.Mww

    No, not their location, but their very dynamics differ. Anything "internal" in the sense of "mental" is an object of awareness. Most Aristotelian forms are not. Most are intelligible, but not actually known. That makes them radically different, and gives them an explanatory value internal forms necessarily lack.

    I can easily know a presence and surmise there to be a content in it, without knowing what the content is.Mww

    Agreed.
  • Reflections on Realism
    So you're saying that Aristotle is doing ontology "The whole remains..." by analyzing language. Which is something I said above that you disagreed with.Terrapin Station

    I did not say "the whole remains," you did. I said that some properties could change and the substance would still satisfy the definition. That is a linguistic claim.
  • Reflections on Realism
    That is not Aristotle's idea, but yours. — Dfpolis

    I was referring to "mentally, not ontologically separable
    Terrapin Station

    And I was referring to the notion of substance sans properties. Aristotle never speaks of it. That is why it is your idea. The reason substances are not accidents is that accidents do not exhaust substances, not because substances can exist (even mentally) without accidents.
  • Reflections on Realism
    There's no sense in which essential versus accidental properties are objective/extramental.Terrapin Station

    The point made by Aristotle is that some properties can change, and the whole remains the same kind of thing (fits the same definition). That relates to extramental reality, but not not exclusively, because it is humans who define things.
  • Reflections on Realism
    Now you're telling me what I'm referring to. I'm referring to being logically separable. The idea of substances sans properties is incoherent. That's the whole point (that I already made).Terrapin Station

    That is not Aristotle's idea, but yours. Aristotle sees substances as wholes.