Tuesday, January 10, 2012

371: The Brain and a new approach

Last lecture I introduced a new approach. After all, which we have discussed, I have come to the conclusion, that it would be better to drop my reductionist materialist view.

I adopt a new hypothesis, as formulated by John Searle: " Consciousness is a natural biological phenomenon that does not fit comfortably into either of the traditional categories of mental and physical.

It is caused by lower-level microprocesses in the brain and it is a feature of the brain at the higher macro levels."

A biological process? You could argue, isn't that plain materialism? According to Searle the answer is "NO", but to understand that, we have to look closer at his arguments

Most important is that we stop using any of the traditional categories of "dualism," "monism," "materialism," and all the rest of it.

Frankly, I think, says Searle, those categories are obsolete. But if we accept those categories at face value, then we get the following picture:

You have a choice between dualism and materialism.

According to dualism, consciousness and other mental phenomena exist in a different ontological realm altogether from the ordinary physical world of physics, chemistry, and biology.

According to materialism consciousness as I have described it does not exist. That is, asa biological phenomenon.

Just recall what I said in my previous lecture out the attempt to reduce the statements of one theory to a set of more basic statements, which could imply that the first kind of statements even become obsolete.

Like theories based on alchemy or witchcraft have been discarded completely, because we now talk in terms of chemistry and medicine.

Neither dualism nor materialism as traditionally construed, allows us to get an answer to our question about consciousness.

Dualism says that there are two kinds of phenomena in the world, the mental and the physical; materialism says that there is only one, the material.

Dualism ends up with an impossible bifurcation of reality into two separate categories and thus makes it impossible to explain the relation between the mental and the physical.

But materialism ends up denying the existence of any irreducible subjective qualitative states of sentience or awareness.

In short, dualism makes the problem insoluble; materialism denies the existence of any phenomenon to study, and hence of any problem.

The heart of my new approach is "the existence of any irreducible subjective qualitative states of sentience or awareness. "

In essence it leads to the question, if this is not about an independent not physical substance, nor is is reducible to pure matter, then how do we have to understand this?

We know enough about how the world works to know that consciousness is a biological phenomenon caused by brain processes and realized in the structure of the brain.

It is irreducible not because it is ineffable or mysterious, but because it has a first person ontology, and therefore cannot be reduced to phenomena with a third person ontology.

What I mean by this last statement I'll explain to you in my next lecture

The Discussion

[13:24] Lizzy Pleides: brilliant!
[13:24] herman Bergson: Thank you Lizzy :-)
[13:24] Qwark Allen is Offline
[13:24] Mick Nerido: By first person you mean what I am experiencing cannot be reproduced?
[13:25] herman Bergson: Something like that , yes, Mick....but it is a bit longer story
[13:26] herman Bergson: But before ending up in the next lecture....
[13:26] herman Bergson: science describes the world in third person form.....
[13:26] herman Bergson: that molecule behaves so and so....third person
[13:27] herman Bergson: my private conscious states however, I can only describe by saying....I feel, I believe I experience and so on...
[13:27] herman Bergson: I can't describe them by saying herman Bergson is experiencing this or that....when I talk about myself
[13:28] herman Bergson: But we'll get to that in detail in the next lecture
[13:28] Mick Nerido: ok
[13:29] herman Bergson: most interesting in my new approach is that I have to drop materialism in its most absolute form...
[13:29] herman Bergson: There is something in this word ..ontologically which we can't name....
[13:30] herman Bergson: let me explain....
[13:30] herman Bergson: micro-level.....macro-level
[13:30] herman Bergson: water....
[13:30] herman Bergson: at the micro-level it is a bunch of h2o molecules...only that
[13:31] herman Bergson: in a certain state water is liquid....
[13:31] herman Bergson: so there is liquidity....
[13:31] herman Bergson: it is caused by the h2o molecules....
[13:31] herman Bergson: can't exist without them...
[13:32] herman Bergson: yes at the macro level liquidity is something real..ontologically
[13:32] haglet Alter is Online
[13:32] herman Bergson: that is according to Searle also the relation between the matter of th ebrain and consciousness
[13:33] herman Bergson: liquidity is a feature of h2o molecules....
[13:33] herman Bergson: there not a single liquid h2o molecule….
[13:33] Mistyowl Warrhol: poking Mick and waking him up!
[13:34] Mick Nerido: lol
[13:34] herman Bergson: but combined in a certain state those molecules cause this property which we call liquidity
[13:34] herman Bergson: so...
[13:34] Mick Nerido: So conciousness is chemistry?
[13:35] herman Bergson: I hope you get a picture more or less? :-))
[13:35] Mistyowl Warrhol: so discussing water, we forget on components in the water.. say river water vs tap water?
[13:35] herman Bergson: Yes Mick it is
[13:35] Gemma Allen (gemma.cleanslate): does not matter
[13:35] Mistyowl Warrhol: Ok, kicking chemistry into a closet for now :-)
[13:36] Gemma Allen (gemma.cleanslate): needs to mull this over a while
[13:36] herman Bergson: apart from h2o molecules there can be a lot of other molecules in the water....
[13:36] herman Bergson: but that is irrelevant
[13:37] Gemma Allen (gemma.cleanslate): question did you really toss out your basic philosophy herman ? or just adjust the the termanology?
[13:37] Mistyowl Warrhol: ok clearing out the unnecessary data and focusing on just H2O
[13:37] Gemma Allen (gemma.cleanslate): sp
[13:37] herman Bergson: Most important is that you understand that liquidity is a property of water that can only exist , and it does, when h2o molecules are in a certain state
[13:38] Gemma Allen (gemma.cleanslate): Yes-ah!
[13:38] herman Bergson: like consciousness is a feature of the brain when it is in a given state....
[13:38] Gemma Allen (gemma.cleanslate): got it
[13:38] Mistyowl Warrhol: and consciousness? is it effected by different states?
[13:38] Gemma Allen (gemma.cleanslate): sleep
[13:38] herman Bergson: sure....
[13:38] Gemma Allen (gemma.cleanslate): coma
[13:38] herman Bergson: whe we are asleep we are not conscious....
[13:39] Gemma Allen (gemma.cleanslate): Yes-ah!
[13:39] herman Bergson: yes Gemma , things like come....locked-in syndrome...brrrr
[13:39] Mistyowl Warrhol: but for this study, we are ignoring those and just focusing on the how consciousness fits into our world.. ?
[13:39] herman Bergson: We try to understand what consciousness it, Misty....
[13:40] Mistyowl Warrhol: ok :-)
[13:40] Lizzy Pleides: what about subconsciousness?
[13:40] herman Bergson: Like one pretty common way of understanding it is, that we have a body and a mind...
[13:40] herman Bergson: as if these were two independent entities
[13:40] Mistyowl Warrhol: Some do not believe in Subconsciousness. one either is or is not aware.
[13:41] herman Bergson: subconsciousness is a term from psychology, Lizzy....
[13:41] Mistyowl Warrhol: correction, some do not believe in it.
[13:41] herman Bergson: it has little meaning in the context of the philosophical analysis of consciousness
[13:41] Lizzy Pleides: do you say it doesn't exist?
[13:42] herman Bergson: besides...subconsciousness is a term which has only meaning within the psych analytical context
[13:42] Mick Nerido: I have to go thank s
[13:42] herman Bergson: A completely different story is the question....do we always act, based on conscious decisions?
[13:43] herman Bergson: and that is obviously not the case....
[13:44] Lizzy Pleides: intuition
[13:44] herman Bergson: psychotic behavior….
[13:45] herman Bergson: neuroses..
[13:45] Jaelle Faerye: those are pathological though
[13:45] herman Bergson: a person who is not aware that he washes his hands every 5 minutes for instance
[13:46] herman Bergson: Yes they are the extremes Jaelle
[13:46] Jaelle Faerye: uh huh
[13:46] herman Bergson: but look at yourself.....
[13:46] herman Bergson: Maybe once someone said to you...do you know that you always……….
[13:46] herman Bergson: habits
[13:47] herman Bergson: Like Hume said...Custom is the great guide of life....
[13:47] Jaelle Faerye: habits, like sports moves, are the body repeating (or the mind) movements they have learnt
[13:47] herman Bergson: doing things all the time about which you do not have to think...:-)
[13:48] Jaelle Faerye: once acquired, those movements, or habits, are more comfortable
[13:48] herman Bergson: Yes Jaelle....
[13:48] Jaelle Faerye: easier
[13:48] herman Bergson: yes...
[13:48] Jaelle Faerye: so it is a learning process somehow
[13:48] Jaelle Faerye: i think
[13:48] herman Bergson: an din that case consciousness as we understand it is not involved…
[13:48] Rodney Handrick is Online
[13:49] Jaelle Faerye: no, because the body has learnt to go past it
[13:49] Jaelle Faerye: is able to spare it
[13:49] herman Bergson: inthe beginning of the learning process we had to be conscious of every move.....
[13:49] Jaelle Faerye: so you can use your consciousness
[13:49] Jaelle Faerye: yes
[13:49] herman Bergson: the brain has....
[13:49] Jaelle Faerye: adapted
[13:49] Jaelle Faerye: to the task
[13:50] Jaelle Faerye: new neuron paths
[13:50] herman Bergson: yes....
[13:50] Jaelle Faerye: once established, doesn't take a lot of thinking
[13:50] Mistyowl Warrhol: but is the consciousness you use, mental or physical?
[13:50] herman Bergson: just look at a young child.....
[13:50] Jaelle Faerye: the mind is available for something else
[13:50] Gemma Allen (gemma.cleanslate): :-)
[13:50] herman Bergson: how conscious it has to be of every move....when he learns to walk
[13:50] Jaelle Faerye: depends what is the task you're setting yourself to
[[13:51] Jaelle Faerye: people who work a lot with their brain, use it in constructed ways, paths too
[13:52] Jaelle Faerye: and it might be easy for them to write a state of the art article on, say, neurosurgery, but difficult to learn a new language
[13:52] herman Bergson: Looks at his watch....
[13:52] Jaelle Faerye: but i might be disgressing here :)
[13:52] Gemma Allen (gemma.cleanslate): ♥ LOL ♥
[13:52] Lizzy Pleides: Hi Rod, you are late
[13:52] Mistyowl Warrhol: Hi Rodney :-)
[13:52] Jaelle Faerye: Hello Rodney
[13:52] Gemma Allen (gemma.cleanslate): i have to go in a few minuts
[13:52] herman Bergson: lol no!...Rodney...
[13:52] Rodney Handrick: Hi everyone...happy new year
[13:52] herman Bergson: He always comes in on the right moment.....
[13:53] herman Bergson: thank you all for your participation again....
[13:53] Gemma Allen (gemma.cleanslate): ♥ Thank Youuuuuuuuuu!! ♥
[13:53] herman Bergson: see you next class
[13:53] Jaelle Faerye: Thank YOU
[13:53] herman Bergson: Class dismissed
[13:53] Lizzy Pleides: Thanks to YOU Herman
[13:53] herman Bergson: Hello Rodney..happy 2012
[13:53] Gemma Allen (gemma.cleanslate): Bye, Bye ㋡
[13:53] Gemma Allen (gemma.cleanslate): for now
[13:54] herman Bergson: Bye Gemma
[13:54] Rodney Handrick: still rezzing
[13:54] herman Bergson: And give Qwark my regards and best wishes for his health
[13:55] Jaelle Faerye: thanks a lot, that was quite instructive :)
[13:55] herman Bergson: thank you Jaelle...
[13:55] herman Bergson: feel free to attend any lecture you like
[13:55] Jaelle Faerye: Good evening, all :)
[13:55] Lizzy Pleides: TC everybody
[13:55] Jaelle Faerye: thanks :)
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