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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