Thursday, October 20, 2011

354: The Brain and the Identity Theory 3

"The identity theory of mind holds that states and processes of the mind are identical to states and processes of the brain.

Strictly speaking, it need not hold that the mind is identical to the brain. Idiomatically we do use ‘She has a good mind’ and ‘She has a good brain’ interchangeably but we would hardly say ‘Her mind weighs fifty ounces’.

Here I take identifying mind and brain as being a matter of identifying processes and perhaps states of the mind and brain.

Consider an experience of pain, or of seeing something, or of having a mental image. The identity theory of mind is to the effect that these experiences just are brain processes, not merely correlated with brain processes.

Some philosophers hold that though experiences are brain processes they nevertheless have fundamentally non-physical, psychical, properties, sometimes called ‘qualia’.
Here I shall take the identity theory as denying the existence of such irreducible non-physical properties.

Some identity theorists give a behaviouristic analysis of mental states, such as beliefs and desires, but others, sometimes called ‘central state materialists’, say that mental states are actual brain states.

Identity theorists often describe themselves as ‘materialists’ but ‘physicalists’ may be a better word. That is, one might be a materialist about mind but nevertheless hold that there are entities referred to in physics that are not happily described as ‘material’.

In taking the identity theory (in its various forms) as a species of physicalism, I should say that this is an ontological, not a translational physicalism.

It would be absurd to try to translate sentences containing the word ‘brain’ or the word ‘sensation’ into sentences about electrons, protons and so on."

These are not my words, but the words of J.J.C. Smart (1920 - …) himself in his essay on the identity theory in the

First published Wed Jan 12, 2000; substantive revision Fri May 18, 2007. J.J.C. Smart was 87 when he did a revision of his essay! And he is still among us, as far as my information goes.

It is interesting to read the words from the man himself, the philosopher, who put materialism again on the map. He suggests however, that physicalism is a better word than materialism. Why?

The Stanford Encyclopedia says: "Physicalism is the thesis that everything is physical, or as contemporary philosophers sometimes put it, that everything supervenes on, or is necessitated by, the physical.

The thesis is usually intended as a metaphysical thesis, parallel to the thesis attributed to the ancient Greek philosopher Thales, that everything is water, or the idealism of the 18th Century philosopher Berkeley, that everything is mental.

The general idea is that the nature of the actual world (i.e. the universe and everything in it) conforms to a certain condition, the condition of being physical.

Of course, physicalists don't deny that the world might contain many items that at first glance don't seem physical — items of a biological, or psychological, or moral, or social nature.

But they insist nevertheless that at the end of the day such items are either physical or supervene on the physical."

And when you go to the page M for the entry of materialism, I guess, you will smile, for it only says:
materialism --- see physicalism.

My guess is, that this use of names has a historical background, it is a matter of modern emphasis and maybe to masks the bad sound of the word materialism, so close to materialist (old word for banker :-) or atheist.

The ontological question is not focused on matter, what the stuff is, but on the thesis that what really exists is only governed by the laws of physics as we know them today. That is our ontology here.

By the way, bookmark this page, exciting material:

The Discussion

[13:29] Qwark Allen: ¸¸.☆´ ¯¨☆.¸¸`☆** **☆´ ¸¸.☆¨¯`☆ H E R MA N ☆´ ¯¨☆.¸¸`☆** **☆´ ¸¸.☆¨¯`
[13:29] Qwark Allen: thank you
[13:29] Ciska Riverstone: thank you herman
[13:29] herman Bergson: Take your time to digest it all ㋡
[13:29] Qwark Allen: bit by bit you take us all to the basic of matter
[13:29] Lizzy Pleides: thank you Herman
[[13:29] herman Bergson: But the floor is yours if you have any question or remark
[13:29] Ciska Riverstone: sorry have to leave - great lecture ㋡
13:30] Qwark Allen: i think the way that materialism evolute, makes it more logical
[13:31] herman Bergson: makes what more logical Qwark?
[13:31] Qwark Allen: materialism
[13:31] Qwark Allen: physicalism sounds like a evolution of materialism
[13:31] Mick Nerido: Everything is physical in the maintains also.
[13:32] herman Bergson: Yes...but I understand the shift to the term physicalism.....
[13:32] Qwark Allen: more adapted to the "new reality"
[13:32] herman Bergson: yes...
[13:32] herman Bergson: Materialism is focused on the question...What is matter....
[13:32] druth Vlodovic: attempts to dislodge baggage, when done too early it just loads the baggage onto the new term
[13:32] herman Bergson: But I think that isn't interesting anymore...
[13:33] Qwark Allen: what is the question?
[13:33] herman Bergson: no..I wouldn't say that Druth...
[13:33] Mick Nerido: There are not spirits or souls floating around...
[13:33] herman Bergson: It is more a matter of shifting focus...
[13:34] herman Bergson: whatever matter may be....the focus is on the laws of physics..
[13:34] druth Vlodovic: oh I see, I was mistaking the root word
[13:34] herman Bergson: We know what matter is...well...atoms, protons neutron...and now we try to find higgs particles and so on
[13:35] herman Bergson: but ontologically that is not the most important thing I would say
[13:35] herman Bergson: what is more important is...that whatever there follows the laws of nature we have discovered
[13:35] Mick Nerido: The deeper we dig into matter the more particals we find
[13:35] herman Bergson: Yes Mick…seems so....
[13:36] Lizzy Pleides: we are doing a balance act between several sciences i think
[13:36] herman Bergson: but in fact philosophically it is not that important...
[13:36] druth Vlodovic: depends if you are looking for the laws or the effects of the laws
[13:36] herman Bergson: important is that whatever is, is under the laws of nature as we know them
[13:37] druth Vlodovic: or the laws of nature, whether we know them yet or not
[13:37] herman Bergson: we definitely don't know everything....
[13:37] Mick Nerido: Physicalism maintains that whatever we discover will obey scientific laws, not randomness?
[13:38] herman Bergson: there was that little upheaval about particles that seemed to move faster than lightspeed....
[13:38] Lizzy Pleides: and surely there are many laws of nature we don't know
[13:38] herman Bergson: Yes Mick.....but there is a big BUT
[13:39] herman Bergson: whatever we call the bottom we find quantum mechanics....
[13:39] Mick Nerido: BUT?
[13:39] herman Bergson: where randomness is the rule , it seems
[13:39] Mick Nerido: ahh..
[13:39] herman Bergson: this goes deep...
[13:39] druth Vlodovic: "physicalism" sounds like "dependant on physical phenomenon" "physicsalism" might be better, except it sounds awful
[13:39] herman Bergson: Because many said that materialism is synonimous with determinism...
[13:40] Mick Nerido: over my head :)
[13:40] herman Bergson: smiles at Druth...
[13:40] herman Bergson: there are a lot of ugly words in philosophy....^_^
[13:41] Qwark Allen: what is wrong with determinism?
[13:41] druth Vlodovic: I'm sure at some point they will find formulas to make quantum mechanics deterministic
[13:41] herman Bergson: I don't know druth
[13:41] herman Bergson: There is nothing wrong with determinism, Qwark...
[13:42] Qwark Allen: in physicalism seems the laws of physical world are the "law"
[13:42] herman Bergson: the problem is only that when everything is determined by a chain of causality, we really get nervous about the concept of free will!
[13:42] Qwark Allen: if so, determinism should be a standard
[13:42] Qwark Allen: there is no free will
[13:42] Qwark Allen: we know that at a long time
[13:43] Lizzy Pleides: i am not convinced of that
[13:43] herman Bergson: will be served Qwark....the chapter on the free will is already in preparation :-)
[13:43] Qwark Allen: i think after today, this idea should be more studied
[13:43] herman Bergson: We'll discuss that issue at length here, Qwark
[13:43] Qwark Allen: very nice
[13:44] herman Bergson: Dont worry...
[13:44] Qwark Allen: sounds logical
[13:44] herman Bergson: And look who is in time...Rodney!!!!
[13:44] Qwark Allen: HooooooooOOOOOOOOOOOooooooooooo !!!!!!
[13:44] Rodney Handrick: Hi Herman
[13:44] herman Bergson: Welcome Rodney
[13:44] herman Bergson: smiles
[13:44] Lizzy Pleides: lol
[13:44] druth Vlodovic: I'm worried, I've been to a few "free will" "debates"
[13:44] :: Beertje :: (beertje.beaumont): lol
[13:44] druth Vlodovic: can we bring clubs?
[13:44] Qwark Allen: class dismissed
[13:44] Qwark Allen: hehehe
[[13:45] druth Vlodovic: lots of emotionalism
[13:45] herman Bergson: The show
[13:45] :: Beertje :: (beertje.beaumont): i'm going back to the show..thank you for the lecture Herman
[13:45] herman Bergson: that so
[13:45] Qwark Allen: very nice outfit Beertje
[13:45] herman Bergson: See you soon Beertje ^_^
[13:45] :: Beertje :: (beertje.beaumont): ㋡
[13:46] Lizzy Pleides: TC beertje
[13:46] Qwark Allen: a pity i have to go dj-ing
[13:46] herman Bergson: isn't she gorgeous ^_^
[13:46] Qwark Allen: ::::::::: * E * X * C * E * L * L * E * N * T * ::::::::::
[13:46] druth Vlodovic: where is the show?
[13:46] herman Bergson: Well..I guess now we all get distracted
[13:46] herman Bergson: I can give you a LM Druth
[13:47] druth Vlodovic: please
13:47] herman Bergson: Well....for good order...
[13:47] herman Bergson: Class dismissed...
[13:47] Qwark Allen: ehhehehe
[13:47] Qwark Allen: ¸¸.☆´ ¯¨☆.¸¸`☆** **☆´ ¸¸.☆¨¯`☆ H E R MA N ☆´ ¯¨☆.¸¸`☆** **☆´ ¸¸.☆¨¯`
[13:47] Qwark Allen: thank you
[13:47] druth Vlodovic: every philosophical debate should end with a cabaret
[13:47] herman Bergson: Thank you all for you participation....
[13:47] Qwark Allen: was for sure very interesting
[13:47] herman Bergson: YEAH!
[13:48] Mick Nerido: Thanks!
[13:48] Qwark Allen: all these lectures are leading for a good conclusion
[13:48] Qwark Allen: there is no spoon!
[13:48] herman Bergson: Working on it Qwark...:)
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