Friday, July 15, 2011

340: The marterialist Brain 6

Although Wittgenstein (1889 - 1951) did not like to be called a behaviorist, he belongs to that group.

He insisted that in any acceptable analysis of a mental concept the description of a person’s state of mind must make reference only to publicly detectable features of the organism and its behavior.

His many subtle discussions of mental concepts are all attempts to identify the patterns of behavior whose display would constitute being in a given state of mind.

To attribute that state of mind to someone is to attribute a disposition to display the relevant pattern of behavior.

Thus mental states were dispositions to show specific patterns of behavior or these observable patterns of behavior themselves.

The mental statement "I am in love" does not mean that my inner self or a mind or a soul is in a special state, but it means that I have the disposition to show a certain pattern of behavior.

When you see this behavior, the first thing you would say then "Oh, he is in love". We'll get back to this behaviorist program in future lectures, but I can tell you already now, that it was an unsuccessful approach.

Just one obvious criticism: pains, sudden unsought recollections or dreams are definitely mental states, but they resist any plausible dispositional analysis.

The response to that criticism was formulated by a theory of mind known as central-state physicalism.

The central-state physicalists held that although it may be that some mental states can be understood dispositionally, there are many mental states, items, or events that must be accorded a straightforwardly status of their own.

These independent mental states turn out to be, as a matter of contingent fact, states of the central nervous system.

In 1931, Herbert Feigl married Maria Kaspar and emigrated with her to the United States, settling in Iowa to take up a position in the philosophy department at the University of Iowa.

In 1940, he accepted a position as professor of philosophy at the University of Minnesota, where he remained for 31 years. He died in 1988.

I mention him so explicitly, because his famous essay The "Mental" and the "Physical" (1958) was the cornerstone in my thesis with which I graduated at my university in 1977.

I took the book from my bookshelf today, opened it and saw my diligent underlinings and scribbled notes in the margins of the pages.

And there are his classic empiricist words, where he describes his contemporary dualists:

"And some very persuasive arguments point simply to the existence (occurrence) if immediate experience, i.e. the raw feels or hard data of the directly given.

They maintain that these data, though related to behavior and neurophysiological processes, are not reducible to, or definable in terms of, purely physical concepts;

and that their occurrence is not predictable or explainable on the basis of physical laws and physical descriptions only"
-end quote-

Just realize that in 1958 behaviorism was the flourishing theory for a materialist interpretation of the mind and a refutation of dualistic interpretations.

The neurobiological revolution still had to begin, which means that our perspective on the philosophy of mind is now supported by much more scientific data then in Feigl's time and in my time in 1977.

This is what makes this project so exciting for me, as I am entering new realms of scientific knowledge myself today, which have a profound influence on contemporary philosophy of mind.

Due to all this excitement it is really time to take some rest and time to study. Therefore the Summerbreak begins and my next lecture will be at the first of September.

Thank you all for your interest during this year again…. and enjoy the vacation.

The Discussion

[13:23] herman Bergson: Hello Rodney....:-)
[13:23] :: Beertje :: (beertje.beaumont): thank you Herman:)
[13:23] Rodney Handrick: hi Herman
[13:23] Carmela Sandalwood: what would Wittgenstein have said about PET scans?
[13:23] herman Bergson: If you have a question or remark..feel free..the floor is yours
[13:24] herman Bergson: We also can begin our vacation now of course ^_^
[13:25] :: Beertje :: (beertje.beaumont): i think you missed a question from Carmela
[13:25] herman Bergson: oh sorry....
[13:25] herman Bergson: That is difficult to say Carmela...
[13:26] herman Bergson: his approach was mainly based on conceptual analysis...
[13:26] herman Bergson: while our approach today is so much more influenced by detailed knowledge of the brain...
[13:26] Rodney Handrick: We're talking about Wittgenstein, right?
[13:27] herman Bergson: The one and only Rodney :-)
[13:27] Rodney Handrick: thanks
[13:27] Carmela Sandalwood: positrons weren't even known when Wittgenstein was active
[13:27] herman Bergson: no..not even the detailed structure of the brain as we know it now...
[13:28] herman Bergson: Philosophically we are in such a different landscape today....
[13:28] herman Bergson: Like they took dispositions to act as for real
[13:28] Carmela Sandalwood: so what does our imprved knowledge say about the nature of mind?
[13:29] herman Bergson: while we now know that the awareness of such a disposition is there AFTER the brain already has set the proces in motion...
[13:29] Mick Nerido: That is still hard to believe
[13:29] herman Bergson: least, that we are our brian....
[13:30] herman Bergson: One of the goals of this project is to evaluate THAT statement...
[13:31] herman Bergson: Today , as a difference with 1977, in the philosophy of mind, philosophy and several sciences are closely interconnected...
[13:32] Paula Kayvon is Offline
[13:32] Carmela Sandalwood: Dennett has some very good proposals about studying 'internal states of mind'
[13:33] herman Bergson: He IS on the menu Carmela :-)
[13:34] Mick Nerido: Thanks Herman, have a great vacation, see you in Sept.
[13:34] herman Bergson: Good idea Mick.....
[13:34] herman Bergson: Let's take it easy today ^_^
[13:34] herman Bergson: So...thank you all for your participation again :-)
[13:35] Carmela Sandalwood: oh, OK
[13:35] :: Beertje :: (beertje.beaumont): thank you Herman..have a nice vacation
[13:35] herman Bergson: Unless you have a burning question left of course
[13:35] herman Bergson: If not.....
[13:36] herman Bergson: Class dismmissed and a nice vacation to your all
[13:36] 방랑자 (tauto): thank you herman :)
[13:36] herman Bergson: You are welcome Tauto
[13:36] 방랑자 (tauto): and have a cool and fruitful vacation all of you
[13:37] 방랑자 (tauto): see you later beertje and Rodney and herman
[13:37] herman Bergson: ok Tauto…
[13:37] Rodney Handrick: ok bye
[13:37] :: Beertje :: (beertje.beaumont): See you in september Tauto
[13:38] 방랑자 (tauto): ok Beertje :)

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339: The materialist Brain 5

In fact it is an amazing observation, that a religion, a system of beliefs, in this case christianity, has been able to block the development of science for so many centuries.

The classic proof of this use of power is of course the case of Copernicus and Galileo Galilei (1564 – 1642).

Not only in science was religious thinking powerful. Also in philosophy it was able to keep materialism as an ontology outside for at least 1500 years.

When the development of science couldn't be stopped anymore and Thomas Hobbes (1588 – 1679) formulated a real materialist philosophy, Descartes (1595 - 1650) saved the day by introducing his Dualism.

In those days you could be ACCUSED of atheism. But then the term "atheist" was frequently applied to people who believed in God, but not divine providence,

or to people who believed in God but also maintained other beliefs which were inconsistent with such belief.

Religion in this context is not the personal belief of an individual, but the system of cultural, social and political power of an organization.

An organization that demands to believe in certain things and forbids to believe certain other things. It even had an Index, a list of books which, tho published, were forbidden for catholics.

In line with this historical development it is not at all surprising that in recent years books like "The End of Faith" (2004) by Sam Harris or "The God Delusion" (2006) by Richard Dawkins were published.

Today neuroscientists can stimulate certain parts of the brain, which gives people certain experiences, which can be describes as religious experiences. A subject I have elaborated on in my lectures 286 to 289.

This all is a general development in Western Europe and in science in general. The triumphant progress in the twentieth century of a materialistic biology and biochemistry has almost completely eliminated vitalist notions of living forms as governed by forces additional to, and distinct from, the purely physical forces operating
on inanimate matter.

The situation of earlier ages has been reversed; it now seems implausible to maintain that the vital functions of living organisms are different in kind from chemical (ultimately, physical) processes.

In the realm of the mind, a new challenge for immaterialists has also developed. The rise of cybernetics (the abstract theory of machines) and its applications in computers threatens the idea of a special status for mental activity.

In the 1920s and 1930s some logical positivists, led by Rudolph Carnap and Otto Neurath, espoused an epistemic materialism. They held that the meaning of any statement consists in the directly testable statements deducible from it.

Inner states, however, can not be tested directly. Thence , testable physical statements should be deduced from inner states.

With testable was meant statements that were suitable for intersubjective agreement. Therefor these logical positivist regarded statements about behavior suitable candidates as "translation" of inner states.

This meant, that In this way the philosophy of language led to a behaviorist materialism and as such became an important development in the philosophy of mind with for instance, a philosopher like Gilbert Ryle with "The concept of Mind" (1949).

Ryle asserted that the workings of the mind are not distinct from the actions of the body. They are one and the same.

Mental vocabulary is, he insists, merely a different manner of describing action. He also claimed that the nature of a person's motives is defined by that person's dispositions to act in certain situations.

This was one of the first modern attacks on cartesian dualism and the definite rise of materialism in philosophy and science.

The Discussion

[2011/06/28 14:16] druth Vlodovic: well, science, since it often promotes change, is really the purview of young or transitional societies
[2011/06/28 14:16] Simargl Talaj: Nothing like a war to stimulate interest in technology.
[2011/06/28 14:16] druth Vlodovic: wb professor
[2011/06/28 14:16] druth Vlodovic: established societies will prefer changelessness because they like what they have
[2011/06/28 14:16] Carmela Sandalwood: when it comes to a question of existence or non-existence, societies will often allow questions they wouldn't otherwise allow
[2011/06/28 14:17] druth Vlodovic: in times of peace (or wars that don't actuallt threaten existence) then it is the other way around, questions become the greatest danger
[2011/06/28 14:17] herman Bergson: I am sorry....dont seem to have any stabe viewer at all anymore
[2011/06/28 14:18] druth Vlodovic: you should check your lag meter, see if it is server, connection, or your computer
[2011/06/28 14:18] herman Bergson: I am glad I maned through this lecture and discussion
[2011/06/28 14:19] herman Bergson: Druth..if I would tell you what I already had done.....
[2011/06/28 14:19] Tauto: i wish i could stay more and listen but need to leave now.
[2011/06/28 14:19] druth Vlodovic: lol, it was just a suggestion
[2011/06/28 14:19] Tauto: thank you herman and Simargl, Camela, druth for good discussion.
[2011/06/28 14:19] druth Vlodovic: please don't hit meeee!
[2011/06/28 14:19] Simargl Talaj: Herman would you be so kind as to give us the website once again that lists the books on neurobiology that pertain to this set of your lectures?
[2011/06/28 14:19] herman Bergson: take care Tauto
[2011/06/28 14:20] Carmela Sandalwood: take care tauto
[2011/06/28 14:20] Carmela Sandalwood: care
[2011/06/28 14:20] Carmela Sandalwood: I have to go soon also...need to get dinner going
[2011/06/28 14:20] Tauto: thank you bye all~
[2011/06/28 14:20] Tauto: :)
[2011/06/28 14:20] herman Bergson: Byeeee!!! :-)
[2011/06/28 14:20] Doodus Moose: byeeee!!!!!
[2011/06/28 14:20] Carmela Sandalwood: thank you very much for the class and discussion professor
[2011/06/28 14:21] herman Bergson: My pleasure were great
[2011/06/28 14:21] herman Bergson: interesting input....
[2011/06/28 14:21] Carmela Sandalwood: well, I am in math and physics and have a great interest in computers
[2011/06/28 14:21] Carmela Sandalwood: and am a materialist in the philosophical sense
[2011/06/28 14:22] herman Bergson: And have knowledge of history!
[2011/06/28 14:22] Carmela Sandalwood: *smiles* I try to learn
[2011/06/28 14:22] Carmela Sandalwood: it was a no more classes for a while?
[2011/06/28 14:23] herman Bergson: only coming thursday...last class
[2011/06/28 14:23] Carmela Sandalwood: ok...I will attempt to be there
[2011/06/28 14:23] herman Bergson: you are welcome :-)
[2011/06/28 14:24] Simargl Talaj: Thank you Herman.
[2011/06/28 14:24] Doodus Moose: Professor - you're the best. we'll talk before September
[2011/06/28 14:24] herman Bergson: ohh thank you Doodus...
[2011/06/28 14:25] Doodus Moose: looks like you're cleaning up, Prof!
[2011/06/28 14:25] Doodus Moose: byeeeee!!!!!!
[2011/06/28 14:26] herman Bergson: more cosy :-)
[2011/06/28 14:26] druth Vlodovic: :)
[2011/06/28 14:26] druth Vlodovic: have you ever heard the idea of "emergent properties"?
[2011/06/28 14:26] druth Vlodovic: it was last weeks topic at thothica
[2011/06/28 14:26] herman Bergson: yes...
[2011/06/28 14:27] herman Bergson: but it is a bit misleading idea...
[2011/06/28 14:27] druth Vlodovic: my first reaction was that it is a last ditch attempt to recover magical thinking in science
[2011/06/28 14:27] druth Vlodovic: misleading how?
[2011/06/28 14:28] herman Bergson: has a dualistic character
[2011/06/28 14:28] herman Bergson: to emerge is an action which needs a force....
[2011/06/28 14:28] herman Bergson: so...emerging properties are properties created by some force...
[2011/06/28 14:28] herman Bergson: and that is bull ^_^
[2011/06/28 14:29] druth Vlodovic: either from a smaller base or interaction with other factors
[2011/06/28 14:29] druth Vlodovic: oh, by "some force"you meant an unknown one
[2011/06/28 14:30] herman Bergson: It suggest that there is some mystic energy in matter that makes properties emerge...
[2011/06/28 14:30] druth Vlodovic: yes
[2011/06/28 14:30] herman Bergson: complete nonsense
[2011/06/28 14:30] druth Vlodovic: they didn't like my arguments ;-?
[2011/06/28 14:30] herman Bergson: lol
[2011/06/28 14:31] herman Bergson: you have been too long in my class perhaps :-)
[2011/06/28 14:31] druth Vlodovic: it is a good kludge I guess, you can work with larger scale without learning smaller scale
[2011/06/28 14:31] druth Vlodovic: but as an idea I think it leads to a type of thinking that is potentially damaging
[2011/06/28 14:31] druth Vlodovic: I wish I could get to more of them
[2011/06/28 14:31] druth Vlodovic: my RL schedule is weird
[2011/06/28 14:32] herman Bergson: doesn't matter...
[2011/06/28 14:32] herman Bergson: when you are here..all is good :-)
[2011/06/28 14:32] druth Vlodovic: :)
[2011/06/28 14:32] druth Vlodovic: you'll turn my head, I swear!
[2011/06/28 14:32] herman Bergson: turn your head???
[2011/06/28 14:33] herman Bergson: I'd love to keep it in place where it is!
[2011/06/28 14:34] druth Vlodovic: what are your big plans now your students have abandoned you?
[2011/06/28 14:34] herman Bergson: They didn't abandon just went home or elsewhere ;-)
[2011/06/28 14:35] herman Bergson: And I have no plans at all
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