Monday, May 23, 2011

329: The Brain and a defence of Dualism

Discussion about dualism tends to start from the assumption of the reality of the physical world, and then to consider arguments for why the mind cannot be treated as simply part of that world.

The reason for this is, that common sense tells us that there is only this physical world around us, where we live in. We have no evidence of the existence of anything non-physical.

This leads to the almost "default option" of some kind of materialist ontology in which the mental and the physical are one category eventually.

However, because this is philosophy, the arguments never stop. We still can ask ourselves the question: is there a justification for treating the mind as different of our physical world?

The position Descartes (1596 - 1650) took is almost abandoned. The idea that there are two real substances, a physical and a non physical, is not corroborated by any scientific research.

Actually, this is a trivial statement, because how can you observe non-material things, when the theories to interpret observations are completely deduces from the laws of physics?

Yet there are words in our language that make perfect sense, but don't belong to the realm of physics. At least, not yet.

The hardest concept for a modern materialist theory is "consciousness". How do molecules produce what we call consciousness?In its wake follow the whole range of meaningful psychological or mentalistic predicates.

A predicate operates only on the linguistic level. It describes some typical feature of for instance an object: "the grass is GREEN" or "I feel HAPPY".

What is the philosophical hot potato here? A full description of the world should eventually be formulated in pure physical statements, a materialist says. Thus, all predicates should be derived from the realm of the physical.

This means that all psychological or mentalistic predicates eventually have to reduced to physicalistic predicates. Is this going to work?

This means that psychological predicates carry no more information than the physicalistic to what they are reduced (translated).

An example of what we believe to be a true type reduction outside psychology is the case of water, where water is always H2O: something is water if and only if it is H2O.

If one were to replace the word ‘water’ by ‘H2O’, it is plausible to say that one could convey all the same information. But that doesn't work in a lot of sciences.

Take 'hurricane' or 'infectious disease'. Impossible to reduce these terms to always one and the same set of physicalistic predicates. No two hurricanes are alike….and yet identified as hurricanes.

These words are classified as functional terms rather than natural kind terms. That means, we use these words rather to tell what such a specific state as a hurricane or disease DOES.

In that way we can describe our world with our language. Not two hurricanes are the same, but in what they do they are pretty alike: cause a lot of damage. The same with infectious diseases.

There is no particular description, using the language of physics for instance, that would do the work of the word "hurricane" like "H2O" does the work of the word "water".

To get back to where we started, we could conclude then, that we have descriptive words in our language of their own kind, with which we scientifically describe our world.

In our case on the one hand psychological or mentalistic predicates and on the other hand physicalistic predicates.

And the tough nut the materialist has to crack is to answer the question what these psychological predicates describe in our world, if they can not be reduced to physicalistic predicates.

It does not mean, that psychological predicates describe real things, in the sense that when I say "I feel happy" you could dissect me and find this feeling of happiness somewhere in my body.

It means that a full description of the world apparently needs to make use of more than only physical predicates. We have to use these psychological predicates too. In other words, we have at least Predicate Dualism.

I guess, now you have enough to think about ….. what is language here doing? And is this reduction to physicalistic predicates really a must for genuine materialism. We'll learn in the future.

Tho it can be said that nowadays materialism seems to be a kind of "default option", it doesn't mean that Dualism has thrown its towel in the ring already. So, we are not yet done with dualism.

The Discussion

[13:24] herman Bergson: Thank you :-)
[13:24] BALDUR Joubert: criticism on what you said : you said there are words which make perfect sense....
[13:24] herman Bergson: Any question or remark...the floor is yours
[13:24] BALDUR Joubert: sense yes but why and how perfect...
[13:25] Alaya Kumaki: is that meaning that immanence of our psychologic and consciousness exist? as the from only?
[13:25] Mick Nerido: The dualist view is ancient and the language reflects it...
[13:25] herman Bergson: Yes Baldur...that is the what way make mentalistic words sense
[13:25] Ciska Riverstone: we use the word water for h2o with bacteria in and without
[13:25] BALDUR Joubert: second. feel happy is biochemically measurable…
[13:25] Ciska Riverstone: yes Mick
[13:25] Gemma Allen (gemma.cleanslate): i think that is a manner of speaking
[13:25] Alaya Kumaki: the form only, immanent consciousness?
[13:26] herman Bergson: To Baldur....
[13:26] herman Bergson: that is actually the whole issue....
[13:26] :: Beertje :: (beertje.beaumont): you said..i feel happy, but for you it can be a different feeling then for's not for everybody the same
[13:26] herman Bergson: there is a correlation between MRI scan results and the I feel happy" statement
[13:27] herman Bergson: Yes Beertje...that too is an issue....
[13:27] herman Bergson: I can write DOG dog DoG....
[13:27] Gemma Allen (gemma.cleanslate): yes we went through that before
[13:27] Gemma Allen (gemma.cleanslate): feelings
[13:27] herman Bergson: How many words did I type?
[13:28] Mick Nerido: Someday we may be able to measure degrees of "happiness" scientifically
[13:28] Bejiita Imako: must get used to this smaller keyboard
[13:28] BALDUR Joubert: q
[13:28] Alaya Kumaki: can words works as a scan does? spelling happiness?
[13:28] :: Beertje :: (beertje.beaumont): large hands bejiita??
[13:28] Ciska Riverstone: how mick? we can only measure the material aspect -but we do not know how another person really feels?
[13:29] Bejiita Imako: bought a smaller keyboard that i can have n the lap and thus lay against the tv screen
[13:29] Bejiita Imako: the table s 90n degrees to it
[13:29] Alaya Kumaki: its true, we cannot really find out unless the pother person manifest it clearly cisca
[13:29] BALDUR Joubert: smile..ciska..we come to the i-subjective problem?
[13:29] Alaya Kumaki: manifestation, in physical...
[13:29] Ciska Riverstone: jupp
[13:30] Mick Nerido: We could measure seratonan levels and match it to a test subjects feelings
[13:30] herman Bergson: yes Ciska refers to the famous article of Nagel about how does it feel to be a bat?
[13:30] BALDUR Joubert: smile..we can find out what we have in common..but not what is going on exactly..
[13:30] Bejiita Imako: us have often thought about this as well
[13:31] Bejiita Imako: when i feel good and my friend feel good don we feel exactly the same feeling
[13:31] herman Bergson: Well...calm down plz......
[13:31] herman Bergson: :-)
[13:31] BALDUR Joubert: if we takle the question beyond the neuron lever to the atomic level, we agree at loss:9
[13:31] Bejiita Imako: but since we react to the feeling in much the same ways should be kind of similar i guess
[13:31] Bejiita Imako: and also other people
[13:31] herman Bergson: your remarks touch an dozens of subjects and questions that will be treated here in future lectures...
[13:31] Doodus Moose: yes,, Baldur
[13:31] Alaya Kumaki: yes we have the same range of feeling actually
[13:31] Ciska Riverstone: yes bejiita but this is and stays an assumption
[13:32] BALDUR Joubert: lol... looking forward to 2015
[13:32] herman Bergson: pretty optimistic Baldur..thnx
[13:32] BALDUR Joubert: well i'm too old to think any further:9
[13:32] herman Bergson: Let's get back to the main issue of today....
[13:33] Mick Nerido: There are several H20 like heavy water
[13:33] herman Bergson: the point is that we have a meaningful language with psychological and physicalistic predicates
[13:33] BALDUR Joubert: h202
[13:33] herman Bergson: that language makes sense and describes our world
[13:34] Bejiita Imako: heavy water is not H20 its D20
[13:34] Bejiita Imako: D= deuterium
[13:34] herman Bergson: but when our world is only matter...eventually we could reduce all statements to physical statements
[13:34] Mick Nerido: we need new words
[13:34] herman Bergson: and the question is.....can this be done..?
[13:34] BALDUR Joubert: bows my head in shame bejiita
[13:34] Bejiita Imako: hehe
[13:35] herman Bergson: yes Mick...that is what Patricia Churchland says....
[13:35] herman Bergson: Like we explained things in the Middle Ages using words of witchcraft...
[13:35] Bejiita Imako: however d is H but a different isotope
[13:35] Kai Boissay: im sure language can describe our world but not everyone can understand it the same way.
[13:35] Mick Nerido: If it's all physical it can be written as a formula
[13:35] herman Bergson: we now have the language of physics...
[13:35] herman Bergson: the language of witchcraft is completely gone
[13:35] BALDUR Joubert: but it must be understood the same way
[13:35] Alaya Kumaki: what does poetry is saying, , is it physical?
[13:36] Bejiita Imako: a and magic as well
[13:36] :: Beertje :: (beertje.beaumont): language is a living changes constantly
[13:36] Bejiita Imako: magics = breaking of physical laws = impossible
[13:36] herman Bergson: Yes Beertje.....because our look at the world changes scientific insights etc.
[13:36] Alaya Kumaki: breaking laws it was? i didnt know that
[13:37] Alaya Kumaki: i thought that it was illusion tricks
[13:37] BALDUR Joubert: so.... what could be understood by physics doesn't mean it can have logical conclusions about the philosophy of who we are and why we are and how we know we are
[13:37] herman Bergson: yes Ayala....real magic ignores all laws of physics...
[13:37] Bejiita Imako: Magic is the claimed art of manipulating aspects of reality either by supernatural means or through knowledge of occult laws unknown to science
[13:37] Mick Nerido: Advanced tech seems like magic
[13:37] Alaya Kumaki: real ? magic was real?
[13:38] BALDUR Joubert: davids copperfield?
[13:38] herman Bergson: no...magic was imagination only
[13:38] Alaya Kumaki: lol
[13:38] herman Bergson: A Harry Potter world :-)
[13:38] Bejiita Imako: but with todays parelerators u can do alchemy, transformone basic element to another
[13:38] Alaya Kumaki: language solicit imagination always
[13:38] Bejiita Imako: particle accelerator
[13:38] Mick Nerido: A person from say the 15th century would think SL was magic
[13:39] herman Bergson: He would not recognize it Mick..
[13:39] BALDUR Joubert: language is a problemn
[13:39] :: Beertje :: (beertje.beaumont): Catweezel
[13:39] Mick Nerido: No recognise or understand it?
[13:39] herman Bergson: Yes ^_^
[13:39] Alaya Kumaki: maybe it was some science, but not understood, as when you drink tea,, you become energetic, one may imagine that you have been given strength ....
[13:40] Alaya Kumaki: imagination is also a problem
[13:40] BALDUR Joubert: our mind is 500 or more years behind words used today
[13:40] Doodus Moose: Baldur :-)
[13:40] BALDUR Joubert: imagination is what got us to where we are..:)
[13:41] herman Bergson: the Man from the MIddle Ages has no language for what he sees in our world...
[13:41] Alaya Kumaki: well if we make a physical language, can we exclude imagination from the language?
[13:41] Bejiita Imako: no, he would certainly thing that our stuff is pure magic
[13:41] Bejiita Imako: a computer for ex
[13:41] Bejiita Imako: a thinking machine
[13:41] BALDUR Joubert: carnap was concious of the lack in our language..
[13:41] Bejiita Imako: and even electricity
[13:42] :: Beertje :: (beertje.beaumont): we can't understand the language used in the middle ages either
[13:42] herman Bergson: We never can exclude imagination Ayala.....that is hard wired into our brain
[13:42] Mick Nerido: And all this is just matter not magic
[13:42] BALDUR Joubert: not for technology..but philosophy
[13:43] herman Bergson: At least now we have a nice problem derived from dualism
[13:43] herman Bergson: Dualism is so deeply embeded in our language...
[13:43] BALDUR Joubert: imagination os the capacity of your brain to connect to neurons containing information which are not subject to logic
[13:44] BALDUR Joubert: but can create new ideas
[13:44] herman Bergson: That is a way of putting it Baldur
[13:44] :: Beertje :: (beertje.beaumont): imagination brought us here..were we are now
[13:44] Ciska Riverstone: isn't that just describing the process?
[13:45] herman Bergson: You could say that scientific method puts the result of our imagination to the test
[13:45] Ciska Riverstone: we have something which we can sense but not explain
[13:45] Mick Nerido: The philosophical question is why is there consciousness?
[13:45] herman Bergson: yes Mick...a huge question....
[13:46] herman Bergson: if all is can matter produce what we experience as consciousness
[13:46] BALDUR Joubert: a well known philosopher says the i-identification is a continuous process
[13:46] herman Bergson: you mean personal identity Baldur?
[13:47] Mick Nerido: Matter is only about 1% of the universe
[13:47] Alaya Kumaki: this is what i was thinking about consciousness as a captation tool,, inside us,, immanent ,
[13:47] Alaya Kumaki: but not an object
[13:47] herman Bergson: That doesn't matter Mick...we aren't even 0.00000000000000001% of the universe :-)
[13:47] Bejiita Imako: acording to scientists the matter we can see and interact with is only 4 %
[13:48] :: Beertje :: (beertje.beaumont): suddenly i feel very! small...
[13:48] Bejiita Imako: but how can there be 96% of some strange stuff that is invisible a cannot be felt or detected at all
[13:48] herman Bergson smiles
[13:48] Bejiita Imako: that dark matter
[13:48] Alaya Kumaki: its relative, you can look at the bacterias and feel big
[13:48] Gemma Allen (gemma.cleanslate): and micro stuff
[13:48] Gemma Allen (gemma.cleanslate): out in space etc
[13:48] Gemma Allen (gemma.cleanslate): i have to leave now
[13:48] Gemma Allen (gemma.cleanslate): I sorry..
[13:48] Gemma Allen (gemma.cleanslate): I'm Sorry!
[13:48] Mick Nerido: How could we think that 96% of the unknown is not affecting us?
[13:48] herman Bergson: I think that this is of little concern regarding the mind - body problem fortunately :-)
[13:48] Doodus Moose: Bejiita - but isn't that stuff "pointed to" by mathematics?"
[13:48] Bejiita Imako: ok cu gemma
[13:49] :: Beertje :: (beertje.beaumont): bye gemma:)
[13:49] Ciska Riverstone: bye gemma :)
[13:49] Jerome Ronzales: tata
[13:49] BALDUR Joubert: you know how many bacterias are on and in your body?
[13:49] herman Bergson: Bye Gemma:-)
[13:49] Alaya Kumaki: byby
[13:49] :: Beertje :: (beertje.beaumont): iecks..
[13:50] BALDUR Joubert: about a hundred times more than your body cells
[13:50] herman Bergson: ok...sound like we have reached the end of our discussion on the present subject...:-)
[13:51] herman Bergson: Thank you all for your participation....
[13:51] herman Bergson: Class dismissed ^_^
[13:51] Bejiita Imako: was interesting like hell once again
[13:51] Mick Nerido: Thanks great class
[13:51] Doodus Moose: again, i won't sleep soundly, Professor :-)
[13:51] Ciska Riverstone: Thank you Herman
[13:51] Bejiita Imako: oo btw LHC is just about to set a new world record
[13:51] herman Bergson: thank you Mick
[13:51] Bejiita Imako: ㋡
[13:51] Bejiita Imako: hehe
[13:51] herman Bergson: ok...which one Bejiita???
[13:52] Bejiita Imako: 768 niminal bunches
[13:52] Bejiita Imako: previous record was 480
[13:52] BALDUR Joubert: any new erkenntnisse after the discussion? herman will translate erkenntnisse:)
[13:52] Bejiita Imako: a big increase
[13:52] herman Bergson: Knowlodge = Erkentniss
[13:52] Alaya Kumaki: i can se if there is a bunck of it , on cartain par of my body after a bruise baldur
[13:52] Doodus Moose: "insights"
[13:52] BALDUR Joubert: smile close but not right doodus
[13:53] herman Bergson: yes Doodus...maybe better translation
[13:53] Doodus Moose: Google Translate
[13:53] BALDUR Joubert: insights
[13:53] BALDUR Joubert: ty
[13:53] herman Bergson: insight os the correct translation indeed
[13:54] herman Bergson: Well Bejiita least I understand the difference in numbers :-)
[13:54] BALDUR Joubert: words are so interesting... insight compared to knowledge...
[13:54] herman Bergson: Was my typical Dutch mistake Baldur...
[13:55] herman Bergson: in Dutch we have KENNIS = not Erkentniss
[13:55] :: Beertje :: (beertje.beaumont): maar inzichten
[13:55] Alaya Kumaki: poetry
[13:55] BALDUR Joubert: smile..i noticed reading that many are sloppy with the meaning of words when they have a theory and try to prove it
[13:55] herman Bergson: Insight is the correct translation
[13:55] Bejiita Imako: aaa
[13:56] herman Bergson: SL is a very good place for language education :-)
[13:56] Alaya Kumaki: depends if you like english
[13:56] Bejiita Imako: yes , much things u can do in here
[13:56] Doodus Moose: :-)
[13:56] herman Bergson: C'est vrai Ayala :-)
[13:57] Alaya Kumaki: i like old english..mostly
[13:57] :: Beertje :: (beertje.beaumont): i learned english here in sl..i didn't speak a word
[13:57] herman Bergson: Lucky me, I happen to like it :-)
[13:57] Alaya Kumaki: not modern one
[13:57] herman Bergson: wow...Beertje
[13:57] Kai Boissay: english isnt my first language and this is my first time attending this class , and its very interesting.
[13:57] Bejiita Imako: aa ok
[13:57] Alaya Kumaki: bravo beertje
[13:57] herman Bergson: Can be a challenge indeed Kai
[13:57] :: Beertje :: (beertje.beaumont): thank you:))
[13:58] Bejiita Imako: ㋡

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