Friday, October 21, 2011

355: The Identity Theory, a first evaluation

The Identity theory is about the relation between brain states and mental states. Before we begin to address the question,"What are mental states?", it will be useful to have before us a list of the most significant features of mental states.

Such a list will help us assess theories of mental states by determining the extent to which a theory explains the existence of these features.

ln general, a theory of mental states which makes sense of these features is to be preferred to a theory which does not. Here's a possible list of general features of mental states.

1. Some mental states are caused by states of the world.
2. Some mental states cause actions.
3. Some mental states cause other mental states.

4. Some mental states are conscious.
5. Some mental states are about things in the world.
6. Some kinds of mental states are systematically correlated with certain kinds of brain states.

I guess you can fill in for yourself easily how these abstract descriptions apply to what goes on in our mind, whereas point 6 is the result of contemporary neuroscience.

How well does the Identity Theory explain these six features of mental states. Let's have a closer look.

"1. Some mental states are caused by states of the world."
I see a car (mental state) and there is a car approaching me.

If, as the identity theory claims, mental states are brain states, then the first feature amounts to the claim that some brain states are caused by states of the world.

Equally with respect to "2. Some mental states cause actions." we have discussed a overwhelming amount of neuro-scientific data and examples in previous lectures, which confirm that this is the case.

"3. Some mental states cause other mental states."
When I have the belief that it is Thursday today, and that on Thursday I always lecture, then I have good reason to believe that this is a lecture day today for me.

With "good reason" I mean, that the relations between my mental states are often characterized by rationality.

Here we run into a serious question: how can an account of the rationality of thought be squared with the claim that mental states are brain states?

"4. Some mental states are conscious." This is going to be the toughest nut to crack. How do consciousness and certain brain states relate to each other?

Like claim nr. 3 this feature of mental states will get considerable attention in next lectures.

"5. Some mental states are about things in the world."
Mental states represent the world as being in a certain way. My thoughts are always thoughts about something and often about things in the world.

That some brain state occurs in the visual cortex, when we look at a picture for instance, is common knowledge, but here it is about the content of a mental state. Is there a picture too? We'll pay attention to this issue in future lectures. Gonna be a difficult chapter.

"6. Some kinds of mental states are systematically correlated with certain kinds of brain states.
According to the identity theory, mental states literally are brain states.
Consequently, the identity theory smoothly explains the systematic correlation of mental states with brain states.

Whereas Dualism already crashed on explaining feature one and two of mental states, the identity appears to do a better job.

But yet we are still left with a number of questions. We still have a long way to go to get a full understanding of a theory of mind.

The Discussion

[13:20] herman Bergson: Thank you...
[13:21] herman Bergson: If you have any questions or remarks...feel free....
[13:22] Farv Hallison: I only recently realized that the mind is different from consciousness.
[[13:22] Farv Hallison: I used to think they are the same.
[13:22] Farv Hallison: I read Dennett's book thinking they are the same.
[13:22] herman Bergson: That is a matter of conceptual analysis Farv...
[13:23] herman Bergson: Just from scratch I would say...
[13:23] Qwark Allen: after this last lectures i think , mind, conscious and brain are the same thing
[13:23] herman Bergson: you have two stages of consciousness....
[13:23] herman Bergson: eventually yes Qwark...
[13:24] herman Bergson: But you can make a difference between awareness and consciousness....
[13:24] Qwark Allen: only brain states
[13:24] herman Bergson: when you drive your car you perform all kinds of actions of which you are not conscious of, but yet aware...shifting gear, breaking etc...
[13:25] herman Bergson: while you are conscious of the surrounding traffic....
[13:25] Qwark Allen: the brain as the focus thing
[13:25] Qwark Allen: we are focus in what we are doing
[13:25] herman Bergson: those two, awareness and consciousness, I would call the mind
[13:26] Qwark Allen: still a brain state
[13:26] Qwark Allen: i'm aware of priorities
[13:26] herman Bergson: and yes...just brain states
[13:26] Farv Hallison: I am thinking of those experiments where the subject is consciously aware only a half second after a descion has been made.
[13:26] herman Bergson: the Libett story, Farv....yes....
[13:27] herman Bergson: I still don' know what to think about it...
[13:27] herman Bergson: the conclusion is often that it proofs that th ebrain decides and we only have the illusion that we consciously decide, have free will in that
[13:28] herman Bergson: I am still working on that chapter
[13:28] Qwark Allen: i was thinking the same…. the brain can be manipulated
[13:28] Farv Hallison: I interpret it to mean that consciousness is different than the brain.
[13:29] herman Bergson: yes Qwark....for instance...memories can be provoked by electro-stimulation of certain brain areas
[13:29] Qwark Allen: herman will go to free will again soon ^^
[13:29] Qwark Allen: some past lectures were about free will , and how we can manipulate brain states to a purpose
[13:29] herman Bergson: that is a kind of dualistic interpretation , I would say Farv
[[13:30] Qwark Allen: yet, was a brain state tha
[13:31] Farv Hallison: I call it triality because I think the mind makes the decisions and it is different than the brain.
[13:31] Qwark Allen: eheheh
[13:31] Qwark Allen: funny
[13:31] herman Bergson: Well look at the situation more closely....
[13:32] herman Bergson: there is the "I" that decides to raise my hand....
[13:32] herman Bergson: I even don't know what that I is but I can say here I am...
[13:33] herman Bergson: then in the brain the motoric parts are faster in action than the other part that makes me say "I raised my hand"
[13:33] herman Bergson: the famous half second...
[13:33] herman Bergson: So what is observed is brain activity in two different areas only with a temporal difference
[13:34] herman Bergson: and fro that they conclude that the brain is faster than the conscious experience of raising my arm....
[13:34] Qwark Allen: the same temporal difference explains the " deja vu"
[13:34] herman Bergson: to me it is bogus
[13:34] herman Bergson: the brain is a unity..thus is the mind....
[13:35] herman Bergson: For instance....
[13:35] herman Bergson: there is no single spot in the brain that can be pointed out as THE central processor, so to speak
[13:36] herman Bergson: Francis Crick suggested that the unity of the brain was created by brain areas working together at the same 40Mhz or somethin glike that
[13:37] herman Bergson: So free will is gonna be a nice subject
[13:37] Qwark Allen: :-)
[13:37] herman Bergson: and the unity of the person too :-)
[13:37] Farv Hallison: more like 40 Hertz
[13:37] herman Bergson: You certainly will be right Farv....your area :-)
[13:38] Qwark Allen: i was thinking more in gigaherz
[13:38] herman Bergson: With Mhz our brain would be cooke din no time
[13:38] Qwark Allen: the calculations in brain are more then 40 hertz/second
[13:39] herman Bergson: I am no neuro scientist...I just pick up the idea...
[13:39] Qwark Allen: for a computer reach the brain speed, they got to evoulte processors more 20 years
[13:39] Qwark Allen: CPUs now are around 16 gigahertz
[13:39] Farv Hallison: Hertz is oscilations per second
[13:39] Qwark Allen: or calculations
[13:40] herman Bergson: the main point...philosophically and from a brian state point of view is
[13:40] herman Bergson: that there is nothing in the brain that shows this oneness which we as a person experience....
[13:41] herman Bergson: So ..there is no "I" in the brain....but it is in the mind!
[13:41] herman Bergson: when mental states and brain stated are identical...we may have a problem here with the "I"
[13:42] herman Bergson: We could suggest that the "I" is constituted by consciousness
[13:42] herman Bergson: produced by consciousness....
[13:43] herman Bergson: I really have to think about this....

[13:43] herman Bergson: or the "I" is identical to consciousness which is identical to a brianstate....
[13:44] herman Bergson: Well, I guess I drop this puzzle into your laps ^_^
[13:44] herman Bergson: and thank you for your participation...
[13:44] Farv Hallison: ^_^
[13:44] Lizzy Pleides: if you figure it out you'll get the nobel prize probably, Herman:)
13:44] herman Bergson: You might be right about that, Lizzy
[13:44] Bibbe Oh: or lynched
[13:44] herman Bergson: smiles
[13:45] Frederica Lexenstar: there is no nobel prize in philosophy
[13:45] herman Bergson: Well a prize or a funeral…I am working on it...
[13:45] Frederica Lexenstar: :-P
[13:45] Bibbe Oh: they reward Philosophers oddly in our world
[13:45] Bibbe Oh: or have in history
[13:45] Frederica Lexenstar: hemlock
[13:45] herman Bergson: What you say Bibbe…..!!!!
[13:45] herman Bergson: That is true....
[13:46] herman Bergson: isn't that amazing actually !!!!
[13:46] Bibbe Oh: yes!
[13:46] herman Bergson: It tells something about the way this Nobel looked at this world
[13:46] Qwark Allen: i have to go
[13:47] Qwark Allen: see you tuesday
[13:47] Lizzy Pleides: TC Qwark
[13:47] Qwark Allen: ty hermaan, exellent lecture
[13:47] Qwark Allen: .-)
[13:47] herman Bergson: Ok Qwark...
[13:47] herman Bergson: Class dismissed ...^_^
[13:47] Frederica Lexenstar: thank you!'
[13:47] Lizzy Pleides: Thank you Herman
[13:47] :: Beertje :: (beertje.beaumont): thank you Herman:)
[13:47] Farv Hallison: Thank you Professor Bergson
[13:48] Bibbe Oh: thank you, Professor
[13:48] herman Bergson: Nice class again....thank you
[13:49] :: Beertje :: (beertje.beaumont): have a nice evening all:)
[13:49] Lizzy Pleides: Good night Herman, good night everybody!
[13:49] herman Bergson: Night Lizzy

Enhanced by Zemanta

No comments:

Post a Comment