Friday, October 13, 2017

680: Kant himself versus Hume

An important difference between Hume (1711-1776) and the brain reductionists I mentioned in my previous lecture, is that they look for different things in different places. 
Hume is searching for  the Self in sensory experience, the brain reductionists seek the Self in the brain. 
But there is also an important agreement: both of them think we must be able to demonstrate the existence of the Self based on the perception. 
For Hume this perception is a form of inner perception, also known as 'introspection’. 
For brain reductionists, it involves the perception of brain activity, for example by brain scans. 
But how convincing is the assumption that the Self can be perceived?  
A criticism of this idea is found in the work of Immanuel Kant (1724-1804). Kant responds to Hume's conclusions. 
He completely agrees with his statement that we do not encounter the Self in sensory experience, but this does not mean that it does not exist. 
According to Kant, Hume doesn’t find the Self because he is  looking in the wrong place. The self is not the kind of thing you can find in perception like a chair or a table. 
Imagine: You are in a meadow and you see a white horse standing there. According to Hume, a number of experiences are taking place at a rapid pace: 
the experience of something that is white, has a horse shape, makes a horselike sound, and so on.
Hume is right that you will not find your Self in the horse experience; You only have the experience of a white horse. 
But Kant asks the following question: What makes it actually possible that you experience this white horse as such? 
His suggestion is that there must be "something" that brings together these loose experiences as it were and giving it a meaning. 
After all, you have the experience of a white horse, not a white thing + horse shape + horse sound, and so forth. 
Indeed, we would not have any idea of ​​the concept of horse (or "table", "human", etc.) if the different experiences would not be united in one way or another. 
According to Kant, there must be something, a sort of anchor point, which forges these Ioose  perceptions into a unity of shape, color, size, place, time, etcetera
and which causes us to not see a collection of loose horse parts (four legs , two ears, a head, body  and a tail) that are white in color. 
According to Kant, this 'something' is the Self. Kant calls this a transcendental Self 
because it is not something that can be found in sensory experience, but is something that allows those experiences. 
The Self makes us see the horse as a whole, even if it is partially hidden behind a tree. We also see this horse as a whole over time. 
When it starts to run, we experience it as an object that moves, rather than as countless objects in different places. 
The Self makes us see the 'total picture'. The Self is thus not an object of the experience, but its precondition to experience. 
In other words, without the existence of a Self, we could not have any experience at all. 
Although Kant's argument is addressed Hume, it also applies to contemporary brain reductionists.
We do not actually find ourselves in the brain, and we can not prove its existence on the basis of a brain scan. 
But that does not mean that it does not exist. There must be "something" that enables us to interpret brain activity in a meaningful way, 
which means that we can assign a certain meaning to a brain scan. That 'something' is the Self.
Thank you for your attention again…^_^

Main Sources:
MacMillan The Encyclopedia of Philosophy, 2nd edition
Routledge Encyclopedia of Philosophy, 1995
John Searle: The Mystery of Consciousness (1997)
Antonio Damasio: Self comes to Mind (2010) Bruin/F. Jongepier/ Maargt: IK, Filosofie van het Zelf (2017)

The Discussion

[13:19] herman Bergson: If you have any questions or remarks...the floor is yours :-)
[13:19] CB Axel: So where does he think that "something" that is the Self is?
[13:19] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako): like in self = the whole of it?
[13:19] herman Bergson: in th emind, CB
[13:20] herman Bergson: That is why Kant called it is not a physics phenomenon
[13:20] CB Axel: I thought his Self was what interpreted brain activity, not the brain itself.
[13:21] herman Bergson: Kant's Self is the organizer of our sensory perceptions...make them meaningful..
[13:21] roos Gartner is offline.
[13:22] CB Axel: OK
[13:22] herman Bergson: an old fashoined movie is a strip of tranparent material containign a series of images...
[13:23] herman Bergson: when played at speed it looks like moving objects...
[13:23] Zorba (code2.hax): persistence of vision
[13:23] Mikki Louise (mikkilouise) is online.
[13:23] Zorba (code2.hax): done by the brain
[13:23] herman Bergson: But that is not how the brain works accoring to Kant...
[13:23] herman Bergson: we see objects ..for instance people walking by
[13:24] Zorba (code2.hax): [13:21] herman Bergson: Kant's Self is the organizer of our sensory perceptions...make them meaningful. <= can include persistence of vision, no?
[13:24] herman Bergson: yes...Zorba..the brain organnizes sensory input....
[13:24] Zorba (code2.hax) nods
[13:24] .: Beertje :. (beertje.beaumont): Kant never saw a movie I guess
[13:24] Zorba (code2.hax): I guess I don't see how this contradicts Kant
[13:24] herman Bergson: and this organizer is called teh Self by Kant
[13:24] Zorba (code2.hax) nods
[13:24] herman Bergson: this faculty of the  brain....
[13:25] herman Bergson: like it organizes our memories of our past...make us a person throughout time
[13:25] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako): simply put, there is a limit how fast the brain can process things and if you update fast enough it can not differ a sequence of images from continous motion
[13:25] Zorba (code2.hax) nods
[13:25] Now playing: Andreas Staier - BACH - Partita No.5 in G,BWV829
[13:26] Kimmy Jannings (kim1987.wirefly) is offline.
[13:26] herman Bergson: So...if we have learnt something sofar...we now know that it makes no sense to lookfor the  Self as some ontological entity...
[13:27] herman Bergson: Yet it is a meaningful part of ourselves...
[13:27] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako): true
[13:27] herman Bergson: It means...we can look at ourselves
[13:27] Dien (djdien.bailey) is offline.
[13:27] herman Bergson: Like there is me and my shadow there is me and myself...
[13:28] Zorba (code2.hax): well different conditions will affect the number of consciousness events a person will have during a period of time, like for example when there's certain drama it's believe that the 'frame-rate' or consciousness events (as called by some) are increased casing a person to believe  that time slows down, like in a car accident.
[13:28] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako): as said it is recursion, when I refers to I i refer to myself
[13:28] herman Bergson: I watch myself and take care of mysef  everyday...
[13:28] Zorba (code2.hax): trama*
[13:29] herman Bergson: Yes looks like some recursive rpocess..
[13:30] CB Axel: Cogito ergo sum
[13:30] Oceane (oceane.madrigal) is offline.
[13:30] herman Bergson: Yes Zorba.... a car accident you hardly remember...
[13:30] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako): ah
[13:30] CB Axel: There is no self, only my thoughts.
[13:30] Ladyy Haven (ladyy.haven) is offline.
[13:30] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako): there is no self, only self reference
[13:31] herman Bergson: Interesting issue here CB....
[13:31] herman Bergson: You say ...MY thoughts....
[13:31] herman Bergson: so there are thoughts and someone who calls them MINE :_)))
[13:31] herman Bergson: so...there is a Self :-))
[13:32] herman Bergson: the owner of the thoughts :-))
[13:32] CB Axel: I guess we could all be just random thoughts out in the ether. °͜°
[13:32] Zorba (code2.hax): doubtful, CB
[13:32] herman Bergson: You are not my thought, are CB :-))
[13:32] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako): i understand this recursion thing well because i use it in programming a lot, for ex i = I+1 is recursive because i use the same variable on both sides thus self refering to it and then adding to it
[13:32] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako): I = I+1
[13:33] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako): very simple example
[13:33] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako): the same way that you can refer to yourself
[13:33] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako): the whole of you
[13:33] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako): it must be like that
[13:33] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako): and that is self
[13:34] herman Bergson: Well...guess Kant made his point here today :-))
[13:34] herman Bergson: SO...if you ha ven't any questions or remarks....?
[13:35] herman Bergson: Thank you all again....^_^
[13:35] Ciska Riverstone: thank you herman
[13:35] herman Bergson: Class dismissed.....
[13:35] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako): nice again
[13:35] CB Axel: Thank you, Herman.
[13:35] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako): cu next time
[13:35] herman Bergson: in other words..
[13:35] herman Bergson: PARTY TIME !!!! ^_^
[13:35] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako): hee
[13:35] bergfrau Apfelbaum: Thank you Herman & Class :-)
[13:35] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako): hehe

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