Chapter 7: Paradoxes for Liberal Naturalism

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Canute said:
An observation acts causally?
Interacts..obervation is not ghostly.

I can never quite get the hang of what QM says about this. Does it have to be a conscious observation?
There is no firm reason to suppose that.

How does the observation of the new state of the system cause that state? Until we observe the system in that new state then it is not observable in that state. That is, it takes a finite time for information to travel from what is being observed to the observer. This means that to observe a selected eigenvalue that eigenvalue must have already been selected prior to the observation. How is this explained in QM?
If observation means interaction with a piece of apparatus it is not a problem.
 
  • #27
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Canute said:
cIn fact I also would argue that consciousness, for biological systems at least, would be the best explanation of the innate tendency towards survival, growth and increasing omplexity that they exhibit. Staurt Kaufman writes ""There’s a price to pay in becoming more complex; the system is more likely to break, for instance. We need a reason why biological systems become more complex through time.
Mechanical systems become more prone to break. Organic systems are characterised
by redundancy, homeostasis, etc.
 
  • #28
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Tournesol,

I have responded to your post concerning the implications of a single consciousness in a new thread in the Metaphysics and Epistemology forum.

Paul
 
  • #29
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Tournesol

Couple of comments on your posts. The reason that positing a single substrate underlying individual appearnaces of consciousness is that it changes the mind-brain 'hard' problem into a different problem, one that is not so intractible. It allows mind and brain to be approached in a different way, one in which mind-brain interaction is mediated by a common 'substance'. This is what James meant here:

"[t]he attributes "subject" and "object," "represented" and "representative," "thing" and "thought" mean then a practical distinction of the utmost importance, but a distinction which is of a FUNCTIONAL order only, and not at all ontological as understood by classical dualism." ('The Notion of Consciousness')

In this view the reason that we cannot solve the mind-brain problem is that we are basing our tentative solutions on an incorrect assumption.

You say the timing problem in QM (the timing of the observation relative to the collapse of the probability wave that is observed) is not a problem. I think you'll find that it is a serious and as yet unsolved problem.

The fact that biological systems are characterised by redundancy, homeostasis etc. is quite clear but not relevant. Kaufman's comment was specifically about such biological systems.
 
  • #30
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Canute said:
Couple of comments on your posts. The reason that positing a single substrate underlying individual appearnaces of consciousness is that it changes the mind-brain 'hard' problem into a different problem, one that is not so intractible.
I fail to see how. The boundedness issue surely gets worse.

It allows mind and brain to be approached in a different way, one in which mind-brain interaction is mediated by a common 'substance'.
The common-substance idea seems quite separate from the single-consciousness idea. Materialism is monism too.

"[t]he attributes "subject" and "object," "represented" and "representative," "thing" and "thought" mean then a practical distinction of the utmost importance, but a distinction which is of a FUNCTIONAL order only, and not at all ontological as understood by classical dualism." ('The Notion of Consciousness')
Again, you can reject dualism without embracing idealism.

In this view the reason that we cannot solve the mind-brain problem is that we are basing our tentative solutions on an incorrect assumption.
I still fail to see how your alternative helps.

You say the timing problem in QM (the timing of the observation relative to the collapse of the probability wave that is observed) is not a problem. I think you'll find that it is a serious and as yet unsolved problem.
There may be a problem as to where exactly (and indeed, if) collapses occurs
between instrument and human observer, but there is still no reason to
think there is anything special about human observation.

The fact that biological systems are characterised by redundancy, homeostasis etc. is quite clear but not relevant. Kaufman's comment was specifically about such biological systems.
It is difficult to see how it could have been. Redundancy (etc) is the answer
to the question: "how does a system become more complex without becoming more fragile?"
 
  • #31
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Tournesol said:
I fail to see how. The boundedness issue surely gets worse.
No, it doesn't get better or worse, it gets different. It would mean that individual consciousness is, at a base level, not bounded. Or rather, individual conscious is bounded, but that boundedness evaporates once that individuality is transcended. It would mean that ontologically, in the last analysis, all individual consciousnesses are the same consciousness, just as all the twigs on a tree are the same tree. [/quote]

The common-substance idea seems quite separate from the single-consciousness idea. Materialism is monism too.
The suggestion is that consciousness is the common substance. Perhaps you have an idea of a different common substance but it's hard to see what it might be. The idea of a single consciousness appears to be monism, and perhaps in Paul's version it is. However in my view monism is dualism in disguise and so gives rise to the same philosophical problems. When I say 'one consciousness' I mean that this is one way of characterising something that cannot properly be characterised as either one or many, but in many situations it can be considered as one for theoretical purposes.

Again, you can reject dualism without embracing idealism.
Idealism is dualism, in Berkeley's version anyway. It rests on a fundamental ontological distinction between perceiver and perceived. This is why he needed God in his theory as well as perceiver and perceived for it to work. This was James's point in that quote. He was suggesting that the poles of all such dualisms/antimonies/opposites reduce at a meta-level to something that is not dual.

I still fail to see how your alternative helps.
At the moment we try to explain mind-brain as if they were the two fundamental substances or as if one of them were. This has so far proved impossible. If there is a third term involved a quite different kind of theory becomes possible and we are offered a means of escaping from the longstanding philosophical deadlock. (Philosopher Charles Peirce argued that for logical reasons three terms were required in order to explain anything - I think he was right).

There may be a problem as to where exactly (and indeed, if) collapses occurs between instrument and human observer, but there is still no reason to
think there is anything special about human observation.
I didn't suggest that there was anything special about human observation. I suggested that there is something paradoxical about the idea that something can be observed before it has been rendered observable by being observed.

It is difficult to see how it could have been. Redundancy (etc) is the answer to the question: "how does a system become more complex without becoming more fragile?"
Yes, but that is not the question Kaufman was addressing. A biological system generally becomes more liable to break as it becomes more complex. This was the issue Kaufman's was addressing, and the point of his comment. He was pondering on why biological systems become more complex under these circumstances, not on how. Perhaps this brings us full circle to Rosenberg's ideas about causation.
 
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  • #32
Canute said:
The suggestion is that consciousness is the common substance. Perhaps you have an idea of a different common substance but it's hard to see what it might be. The idea of a single consciousness appears to be monism, and perhaps in Paul's version it is. However in my view monism is dualism in disguise and so gives rise to the same philosophical problems. When I say 'one consciousness' I mean that this is one way of characterising something that cannot properly be characterised as either one or many, but in many situations it can be considered as one for theoretical purposes.
If the underlying substrate is not one or many, it's certainly confusing to call it one consciousness!

Canute said:
Idealism is dualism, in Berkeley's version anyway. It rests on a fundamental ontological distinction between perceiver and perceived. This is why he needed God in his theory as well as perceiver and perceived for it to work. This was James's point in that quote. He was suggesting that the poles of all such dualisms/antimonies/opposites reduce at a meta-level to something that is not dual.

At the moment we try to explain mind-brain as if they were the two fundamental substances or as if one of them were. This has so far proved impossible. If there is a third term involved a quite different kind of theory becomes possible and we are offered a means of escaping from the longstanding philosophical deadlock. (Philosopher Charles Peirce argued that for logical reasons three terms were required in order to explain anything - I think he was right).
What you are discussing sounds like neutral monism, and in the last century is mostly identified with James and Russell. A very good historical look at efforts to develop this (in Western philosophy anyway) is in this Stanford Encyclopedia entry.

The benefit of the approach is that it tries to address the hard problem by proposing an underlying substrate which underlies both mind and matter, but of course the hard part is providing an explanation for how this works. I've thought in recent times that the challenges faced by these efforts is the degree to which they are based on a "substance" ontology. Explaining how one substance, neutral or otherwise, gives rise to a different one is not significantly easier than Descartes' trying to explain how mind and body interact in his dualism.

By moving to a process or event ontology, we might have a better chance to construct a theory of why the causal network of events can give rise to the phenomena we know as the physical and the experiential. Maybe they are different perspectives on the same causal chain. Rosenberg's effort is in this spirit.
 
  • #33
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Canute said:
No, it doesn't get better or worse, it gets different. It would mean that individual consciousness is, at a base level, not bounded. Or rather, individual conscious is bounded, but that boundedness evaporates once that individuality is transcended. It would mean that ontologically, in the last analysis, all individual consciousnesses are the same consciousness, just as all the twigs on a tree are the same tree.
So consciousness is somehow not really bounded but somehow seems to be ?
That just seem muddled.

The suggestion is that consciousness is the common substance.
Common to what ? Mind and matter ? Isn't consc. the same thign as Mind ?

Perhaps you have an idea of a different common substance but it's hard to see what it might be.
The only substance for which there is any evidence is matter.

The idea of a single consciousness appears to be monism, and perhaps in Paul's version it is. However in my view monism is dualism in disguise and so gives rise to the same philosophical problems. When I say 'one consciousness' I mean that this is one way of characterising something that cannot properly be characterised as either one or many, but in many situations it can be considered as one for theoretical purposes.
That is very unclear.

Idealism is dualism, in Berkeley's version anyway. It rests on a fundamental ontological distinction between perceiver and perceived. This is why he needed God in his theory as well as perceiver and perceived for it to work. This was James's point in that quote. He was suggesting that the poles of all such dualisms/antimonies/opposites reduce at a meta-level to something that is not dual.
Dualism means there are fundamentally different *kinds* of things. The perceiver/perceived dichotomy only requires different individual things;
they may be of the same kind.

At the moment we try to explain mind-brain as if they were the two fundamental substances or as if one of them were. This has so far proved impossible. If there is a third term involved a quite different kind of theory becomes possible and we are offered a means of escaping from the longstanding philosophical deadlock. (Philosopher Charles Peirce argued that for logical reasons three terms were required in order to explain anything - I think he was right).
it is yet to become clear *how* the thord term resolves the alleged problem.


I didn't suggest that there was anything special about human observation. I suggested that there is something paradoxical about the idea that something can be observed before it has been rendered observable by being observed.
I don't see why there should be a problem about something being observable before it is observed, any more than there is a problem about somethig being edible before it is eaten.

Yes, but that is not the question Kaufman was addressing. A biological system generally becomes more liable to break as it becomes more complex.
I don't see any evidence for that.
 
  • #34
hypnagogue
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It seems the discussion here is dying down, and in any case, we've strayed a fair bit from the content of chapter 7. I'll work on getting a summary of chapter 8 up over the next few days.
 

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