Dualism made intelligible

  • Thread starter hypnagogue
  • Start date
  • #1
hypnagogue
Staff Emeritus
Science Advisor
Gold Member
2,277
2
Dualism (physical/non-physical interactions) made intelligible

A common argument against Cartesian dualism, which states that consciousness or "the soul" exists independently of the body but interacts with it, is that such an interaction between the physical body and non-physical mind is logically impossible. Mentat for one (:smile:) is fond of advocating this argument, as exemplified below:

You mentioned that there would have to be a "portal" (I referred to it as an "intermediary", but "portal" works fine) between the non-physical and the physical, in order for consciousness to be non-physical and yet communicate with the brain. You are absolutely right, except there cannot logically be such a portal. It cannot exist, not even in principle. The reason this is is that for there to be an intermediary between the physical and the non-physical, this intermediary could neither be physical (since, if it were physical, it would be no more useful then the already physical brain in communicating with the non-physical) nor non-physical (since it would then be no more useful in communicating with the physical brain).

It is not my intention here to argue for the existence of a non-physical mind or soul, but rather to present a viewpoint which actually seems to make the interaction between a non-physical mind and a physical body intelligible and logically consistent.

The inspiration for this comes from David Chalmers' essay http://www.u.arizona.edu/~chalmers/papers/matrix.html [Broken]. Making dualism intelligible is not the main objective of the essay, but arises as an interesting side issue. One will be best served to understand the argument I am about to put forth by reading Chalmers' essay in its entirety, but I will here put forth a brief summary of those points pertinent to our discussion of how dualism is to be made intelligible.

Let us imagine an individual X who exists in a world fabricated by computers, a la The Matrix. X calls the reality in which he lives and with which he interacts "physical," much as we call the world we live in "physical." The term "physical" applies only to this world X finds himself in; he does not necessarily deny the existence of anything beyond this immediate physical world, but from X's standpoint anything that exists outside his immediately observable world is not "physical" but "non-physical" or "metaphysical." This again agrees with our notions of the words "non-physical" and "metaphysical," as we use them in relation to our own existential circumstances.

But we also know that X's physical world is, at its base, a rich composite of binary 1s and 0s existing in the computers that simulate this world. For clarity, let us denote anything pertaining to X's immediate, computationally generated world with a *-- so, for instance, X lives in a world*, and X denotes the fundamental substance of this world* as physical*. Likewise, let us denote anything pertaining to the world that exists outside of X's world*-- that world that contains the computers which generate X's fabricated reality-- with a ^. So, for instance, we say that X's world* is, at its most fundamental level, generated by computers^.

In addition to X's physical* body* and brain*, we know that there is something more to X's existence-- his world* is generated by computer signals^ which feed information into his brain^, and which also take responses from his brain^ and feed them back into his simulated world*. The result is that, from X's standpoint, he is fully immersed in his physical* world*, receiving information from it, processing this information, and then interacting with it. X cannot possibly know about the existence of these computers^ or his "actual" brain^, and thus to him these things are "non-physical*" or "metaphysical*."

So, X's mind^ (brain^) is actually a non-physical* entity that nonetheless interacts with his physical* world! As summed up by Chalmers in note 6 of his essay:

On the Mind-Body Hypothesis: It is interesting to note that the Matrix Hypothesis shows a concrete way in which Cartesian substance dualism might have turned out to be true. It is sometimes held that the idea of physical processes interacting with a nonphysical mind is not just implausible but incoherent. The Matrix Hypothesis suggests fairly straightforwardly that this is wrong. Under this hypothesis, our cognitive system involves processes quite distinct from the processes in the physical world, but there is a straightforward causal story about how they interact.

(edit for grammar)
 
Last edited by a moderator:

Answers and Replies

  • #2
Jeebus
255
0
However contentious, the philosophical problem, as distinct from the physiological problem, can be stated quite simply as follows: What, essentially, is the relationship between events in the brain and those private, subjective, introspectible experiences that together constitute our inner mental life? We need not assume here that consciousness is synonymous with mind - consciousness may well be no more than just one aspect of mind - but, with respect to the problem at issue, it is the existence of consciousness that is critical.

Stated thus, the problem admits of only three basic answers:

(1) Events in the brain, operating in accordance with the laws of physics, determine completely both our behaviour and our subjective experiences.

(2) Mental events may be elicited by events in the brain or they may, in turn, elicit brain events and so influence the course of our behaviour (I use here the word 'elicit' rather than 'cause' advisedly since the kind of causation here envisaged is so unlike familiar causation of the physical kind).

(3) There are no such things as private, subjective, introspectible, sense-data or qualia (e.g. that red patch that I am now staring at in the centre of my visual field). Hence there just is no problem. All that exists, in the last resort, are the physical events underlying the information-processing, colour-coding or whatever such as any sophisticated computer or automaton could, in principle, be programmed to perform. It follows that there is no mind-brain problem for humans or animals any more than there is for robots or other artificial intelligence.
There are, of course, innumerable alternative formulations. The most salient, historically, is the Idealist position according to which the brain, along with all other physical contents of the universe, is just a creation of mind. But, despite the eminence of some of their proponents, these other options are too strained, too evasive, or just too incoherent to detain us here and I shall take the liberty of ignoring them. Regarding the three contenders I have enumerated, I shall call (1) Epiphenomenalism, Double-Aspect, or just Weak Dualism; (2) Interactionism, Radical or just Strong Dualism and (3) Monistic Materialism or Functionalism. I shall argue that (3) is so flagrantly counter-intuitive that, although widely endorsed at the present time by so many of the foremost philosophers, psychologists, physiologists and exponents of artificial intelligence, we have the right to reject it and reaffirm that there is a mind-brain problem. Accordingly, our only serious options are (1) and (2). I shall not attempt to disguise my own preference for (2).
 
  • #3
hypnagogue
Staff Emeritus
Science Advisor
Gold Member
2,277
2
OK, but I don't really see how this is directly relevant to my first post. It doesn't matter what framework of the 3 you listed we choose to adopt; for each of them, we could still say that a person in a Matrix-esque situation has a non-physical* mind (his non-computational brain^ in the "outside" world^) that interacts with his (computationally generated) physical* body*.
 
Last edited:
  • #4
Mentat
3,918
3


I'm sorry, good buddy, but there is a flaw from the start in any argument that postulates a continuous "stream of consciousness" - an "inner world", if you will. That flaw is the (ever-popular :wink:) homunculun problem. This problem will come up, ever time one postulates an "inner world" of phenomenology (that conclusion is based on both Inductive and Deductive reasoning).

Also, even if someone could finally solve the combinatorial problems of creating such a MASSIVE hallucination as the "Matrix" (which is possible in principle, so we will assume that it can happen), they would still only be dealing with physical things (electrochemical interactions in the brain of the "victim" (for lack of a better term)), and everything that the "victim" believes he's "experiencing" is merely the action (note: not the "product" of the action, just the action) of his own brain.
 
  • #5
Mentat
3,918
3
btw, I'm sorry if I sounded over-convinced in the previous post. Looking back...well, I could have been more humble in that, but I hope you will be able to look past that error at the points I'm trying to make.
 
  • #6
hypnagogue
Staff Emeritus
Science Advisor
Gold Member
2,277
2


Originally posted by Mentat
I'm sorry, good buddy, but there is a flaw from the start in any argument that postulates a continuous "stream of consciousness" - an "inner world", if you will. That flaw is the (ever-popular :wink:) homunculun problem. This problem will come up, ever time one postulates an "inner world" of phenomenology (that conclusion is based on both Inductive and Deductive reasoning).

I would like to hear more of your thoughts on this, specifically how it negates the results of Chalmers' thought experiment.

Also, even if someone could finally solve the combinatorial problems of creating such a MASSIVE hallucination as the "Matrix" (which is possible in principle, so we will assume that it can happen), they would still only be dealing with physical things (electrochemical interactions in the brain of the "victim" (for lack of a better term)), and everything that the "victim" believes he's "experiencing" is merely the action (note: not the "product" of the action, just the action) of his own brain.

Ah, but what is "physical"? To a person in a 'matrix' the definition of the physical world is the same as ours, with respect to our own existential circumstances: we define that immediate reality that we can perceive and with which we interact "physical." So to a person who has been in a 'matrix' for his entire life, he defines the computer simulation as the physical world. Thus, to him anything existing outside the simulation-- even his 'envatted' or 'en-matrixed' brain in the 'actual' world-- is not physical, but metaphysical. To simply redefine the 'actual' world as physical itself is to make an ad hoc redefinition of terms.

The thrust of this argument lies in the fact that we could be in such a situation ourselves, since our existential circumstances, from our own perspective, are identical to those of an 'envatted' person. If we were in such a situation, then our 'actual' brains would be metaphysical, or non-physical, identities by our own definitions of the terms. That is, our notion of 'physical' would simply be a label for something described on a more fundamental level as 'computationally generated reality.' Thus we would have physical/non-physical interactions taking place, as a consequence of our definitions-- the metaphysical ('actual') envatted brain interacting with the physical (computational) world.
 
  • #7
Mentat
3,918
3


Originally posted by hypnagogue
I would like to hear more of your thoughts on this, specifically how it negates the results of Chalmers' thought experiment.

I haven't read his thought experiment yet (and would do so right now, except I have to get off-line in a couple of minutes). I will try to read it tomorrow; but, until then, are you asking me to expound on why the homunculun problem must always arise in any theory that requires a "narrative" of consciousness?

Ah, but what is "physical"?

Yes, that is the question du jour (I read the rest of your post, but I think the rest hinged on this question, so I will answer just this question), and my answer is "anything composed of wavicles and spacetime". I only answer this way because that is what science has taught us (not because of any "truth" that may lie in the statement itself, since philosophy and logic are not at all interested in "truth" merely "validity").

Since none of his "thoughts" are composed of wavicles or spacetime (otherwise they would take up more and more space in his head, and you still have the homunculun problem, just a Materialistic version of it), they don't exist. There are no "thoughts" merely electrochemical interactions in his brain.
 
  • #8
hypnagogue
Staff Emeritus
Science Advisor
Gold Member
2,277
2


Originally posted by Mentat
I haven't read his thought experiment yet (and would do so right now, except I have to get off-line in a couple of minutes). I will try to read it tomorrow; but, until then, are you asking me to expound on why the homunculun problem must always arise in any theory that requires a "narrative" of consciousness?

I'm more looking for your reasons for thinking that this homunculan problem undermines this specific thought experiment itself.

As for reading his essay, I think it would be beneficial only as a means of perhaps getting a clearer idea of what I'm trying to say. But the basic points of his position, with regard to this specific conversation on dualism, have all been covered more or less by my initial post.

Yes, that is the question du jour (I read the rest of your post, but I think the rest hinged on this question, so I will answer just this question), and my answer is "anything composed of wavicles and spacetime". I only answer this way because that is what science has taught us (not because of any "truth" that may lie in the statement itself, since philosophy and logic are not at all interested in "truth" merely "validity").

An envatted person's reality is composed of wavicles and spacetime, from that person's perspective, just as it is from ours. The caveat is that in such a reality, there is something more fundamental underlying the wavicles and spacetime-- strings of binary code (or whatever) in the computer matrix.

Plus, it may very well be that the ontology of the 'actual^' world is not mirrored by the physics of the envatted person's 'physical*' world. To say that the 'actual' world is composed of wavicles and spacetime is an assumption-- there's no binding logical reason why it must be this way.

Since none of his "thoughts" are composed of wavicles or spacetime (otherwise they would take up more and more space in his head, and you still have the homunculun problem, just a Materialistic version of it), they don't exist. There are no "thoughts" merely electrochemical interactions in his brain.

The issue is not thoughts as such, but what those thoughts represent. For an envatted person, his thoughts model the reality created by the computer system. Thus, to him that reality that he calls physical is actually information existing in and governed by the computers of the 'actual' world. The 'actual world^' or 'metaphysical world*' itself is an entirely different reality, with an entirely different ontology, although obviously there is overlap-- the computational world is a subset of the actual world. But an envatted person only perceives that specific subset, and necessarily he perceives it only partially and imperfectly. He calls this computational realm existing in the computers 'physical,' and everything existing outside of the computer generated reality 'metaphysical' or 'non-physical.'
 
  • #9
Fliption
1,081
1
I think that Note 10 of the article addresses Mentat's point of view.


Note 10: What is the ontology of virtual objects? This is a hard question, but it is no harder than the question of the ontology of ordinary macroscopic objects in a quantum-mechanical world. The response to objection 6 suggests that in both cases, we should reject claims of token identity between microscopic and macroscopic levels. Tables are not identical to any object characterized purely in terms of quantum-mechanics; likewise, virtual tables are not identical to any objects characterized purely in terms of bits. But nevertheless, facts about tables supervene on quantum-mechanical facts, and facts about virtual tables supervene on computational facts. So it seems reasonable to say that tables are constituted by quantum processes, and that virtual tables are constituted by computational processes. Further specificity in either case depends on delicate questions of metaphysics.

Reflecting on the third-person case, in which we are looking at a brain in a vat in our world, one might object that virtual objects don't really exist: there aren't real objects corresponding to tables anywhere inside a computer. If one says this, though, one may be forced by parity into the view that tables do not truly exist in our quantum-mechanical world. If one adopts a restricted ontology of objects in one case, one should adopt it in the other; if one adopts a liberal ontology in one case, one should adopt it in the other. The only reasonable way to treat the cases differently is to adopt a sort of contextualism about what counts as an "object" (or about what falls within the domain of a quantifier such as "everything"), depending on the context of the speaker. But this will just reflect a parochial fact about our language, rather than any deep fact about the world. In the deep respects, virtual objects are no less real than ordinary objects.



The bolding is mine. I emphasize it because I think this is what Mentat is doing. This is very similar to other discussions we've had where I have been convinced that while Mentat's materialistic conclusions may be logical, they are built on materialistic assumptions/definitions and no other conclusion is possible.
 
  • #10
Mentat
3,918
3


Originally posted by hypnagogue
I'm more looking for your reasons for thinking that this homunculan problem undermines this specific thought experiment itself.

As for reading his essay, I think it would be beneficial only as a means of perhaps getting a clearer idea of what I'm trying to say. But the basic points of his position, with regard to this specific conversation on dualism, have all been covered more or less by my initial post.

Well, if you covered his main points in your post, then the homunculun problem arises in this case just as it does in any other than takes consciousness as a product of the functions of the brain, rather than as those functions themselves.

Let me break it down for you: If there is a "thought" in my brain, that exists as the product of brain processes (and note: it does not matter whether it is physical or not, in this case, since the homunculun problem applies either way) then there must be some "internal viewer" (in scare quotes since I'm trying to incorporate all ideas of "mind's eyes" or other such notions) that views these phenomenological events. However, this "internal viewer" would have to be conscious, which means that he too must have an "internal viewer" since that is how we "think" in the first place (with "thoughts" coming up as products of our brain's activity), according to the presupposition in the first sentence. This will go on ad infinitum, and you can probably see why (if not, suffice it to ask "What good is a monitor inside your PC?").

An envatted person's reality is composed of wavicles and spacetime, from that person's perspective, just as it is from ours. The caveat is that in such a reality, there is something more fundamental underlying the wavicles and spacetime-- strings of binary code (or whatever) in the computer matrix.

Plus, it may very well be that the ontology of the 'actual^' world is not mirrored by the physics of the envatted person's 'physical*' world. To say that the 'actual' world is composed of wavicles and spacetime is an assumption-- there's no binding logical reason why it must be this way.

Very true, but you still have the homunculun problem to deal with, if you postulate a virtual "world" in his mind. Besides, the definition of "physical" is based on modern science, and is thus not a logical necessity but is commonly taken for granted as true.
 
  • #11
Mentat
3,918
3
Originally posted by Fliption
I think that Note 10 of the article addresses Mentat's point of view.


Note 10: What is the ontology of virtual objects? This is a hard question, but it is no harder than the question of the ontology of ordinary macroscopic objects in a quantum-mechanical world. The response to objection 6 suggests that in both cases, we should reject claims of token identity between microscopic and macroscopic levels. Tables are not identical to any object characterized purely in terms of quantum-mechanics; likewise, virtual tables are not identical to any objects characterized purely in terms of bits. But nevertheless, facts about tables supervene on quantum-mechanical facts, and facts about virtual tables supervene on computational facts. So it seems reasonable to say that tables are constituted by quantum processes, and that virtual tables are constituted by computational processes. Further specificity in either case depends on delicate questions of metaphysics.

Reflecting on the third-person case, in which we are looking at a brain in a vat in our world, one might object that virtual objects don't really exist: there aren't real objects corresponding to tables anywhere inside a computer. If one says this, though, one may be forced by parity into the view that tables do not truly exist in our quantum-mechanical world. If one adopts a restricted ontology of objects in one case, one should adopt it in the other; if one adopts a liberal ontology in one case, one should adopt it in the other. The only reasonable way to treat the cases differently is to adopt a sort of contextualism about what counts as an "object" (or about what falls within the domain of a quantifier such as "everything"), depending on the context of the speaker. But this will just reflect a parochial fact about our language, rather than any deep fact about the world. In the deep respects, virtual objects are no less real than ordinary objects.



The bolding is mine. I emphasize it because I think this is what Mentat is doing. This is very similar to other discussions we've had where I have been convinced that while Mentat's materialistic conclusions may be logical, they are built on materialistic assumptions/definitions and no other conclusion is possible.

Fliption, I would respond to this, but I don't think you will understand my response, since I have yet to explain the homunculun problem adequately for you to understand it. The homunculun problem arises whether the "virtual world" is physical or not.
 
  • #12
hypnagogue
Staff Emeritus
Science Advisor
Gold Member
2,277
2


Originally posted by Mentat
Well, if you covered his main points in your post, then the homunculun problem arises in this case just as it does in any other than takes consciousness as a product of the functions of the brain, rather than as those functions themselves.

Let me break it down for you: If there is a "thought" in my brain, that exists as the product of brain processes (and note: it does not matter whether it is physical or not, in this case, since the homunculun problem applies either way) then there must be some "internal viewer" (in scare quotes since I'm trying to incorporate all ideas of "mind's eyes" or other such notions) that views these phenomenological events. However, this "internal viewer" would have to be conscious, which means that he too must have an "internal viewer" since that is how we "think" in the first place (with "thoughts" coming up as products of our brain's activity), according to the presupposition in the first sentence. This will go on ad infinitum, and you can probably see why (if not, suffice it to ask "What good is a monitor inside your PC?").

I still don't think the homunculan problem is relevant here. So the thoughts of a person in the matrix are not a 'product' of his 'actual' brain's^ mechanisms, but are those mechanisms. Fine. Regardless, he still calls the computational structures of the computer matrix 'physical reality,' and from his standpoint his 'actual' brain^ is still a metaphysical* entity, since it is not part of that computational reality termed 'physical.' It follows that his own mind, which can be identified with the mechanisms of his 'actual' brain^, are metaphysical entities to him, existing outside of but still interacting with his 'virtual' or computer-generated world. Everything argued thus far still holds up-- there has been no dependence, tacit or otherwise, on the notion of an 'internal viewer.'

Very true, but you still have the homunculun problem to deal with, if you postulate a virtual "world" in his mind. Besides, the definition of "physical" is based on modern science, and is thus not a logical necessity but is commonly taken for granted as true.

The virtual world, as such, derives its existence from the computer matrix that stores and processes its underlying bits (or whatever) of data, not in mind of the person. This 'virtual world' exists in the person's mind only in the same sense as our own external reality 'exists' in our own minds. A person in the matrix regards his computationally generated world as 'physical' and 'substantial' and 'real' in precisely the same way as we regard things in our reality as 'physical' and 'substantial' and 'real' (as a function of the external inputs being processed by his brain, and outputs from his brain affecting that reality in turn). This correspondance holds regardless of the ultimate ontology of our own reality.

The humunculan problem has no bearing on the argument, since it can easily be sidestepped and all the arguments made thus far still hold. You're creating a problem where one doesn't exist.
 
Last edited:
  • #13
Mentat
3,918
3


Originally posted by hypnagogue
I still don't think the homunculan problem is relevant here. So the thoughts of a person in the matrix are not a 'product' of his 'actual' brain's^ mechanisms, but are those mechanisms. Fine.

Mis-statement, IMO. The thoughts of the person in the matrix have no existence at all. There is no such thing as the matrix. There is just a stimulation of electrochemical processes in the victim's brain.

I emphasize this, because to postulate that he thinks "this" (referring to some perceived "thing" in the Matrix) is pretty (for example), is completely fallacious, since there's nothing to think of as pretty. His brain was stimulated as it usually is by something pretty, but in this case there was nothing there.

Regardless, he still calls the computational structures of the computer matrix 'physical reality,' and from his standpoint his 'actual' brain^ is still a metaphysical* entity, since it is not part of that computational reality termed 'physical.'

That's the point - there is no "computational reality". He may think there is, but there is not.

It follows that his own mind, which can be identified with the mechanisms of his 'actual' brain^, are metaphysical entities to him, existing outside of but still interacting with his 'virtual' or computer-generated world. Everything argued thus far still holds up-- there has been no dependence, tacit or otherwise, on the notion of an 'internal viewer.'

Yes there has, since you cannot think of a person as "seeing" this or that in the "virtual world" unless there are two worlds (one virtual and one "normal" (for lack of a better term)). Whether or not this "virtual world" is supposed to be physical or not is irrelevant, that there is supposed to be a virtual world in addition to this "normal" one is enough to require an "internal viewer" (which would be experiencing these phenomenal events).

The virtual world, as such, derives its existence from the computer matrix that stores and processes its underlying bits (or whatever) of data, not in mind of the person. This 'virtual world' exists in the person's mind only in the same sense as our own external reality 'exists' in our own minds.

Very true, except that external reality never really does exist in our own minds...we just percieve it to. We percieve that there is a world around us because of the way we process it...however there is never an "inner display" of the outside world (which draws it's information from light or sound or whatever), there is only the light or sound itself and the firing through synapses.

A person in the matrix regards his computationally generated world as 'physical' and 'substantial' and 'real' in precisely the same way as we regard things in our reality as 'physical' and 'substantial' and 'real' (as a function of the external inputs being processed by his brain, and outputs from his brain affecting that reality in turn). This correspondance holds regardless of the ultimate ontology of our own reality.

But you are still referring to the "world in our minds" as though we re-presented it (the external world) in our own minds. This is not, and cannot be the case, since it falls into the homunculun paradox.

The humunculan problem has no bearing on the argument, since it can easily be sidestepped and all the arguments made thus far still hold. You're creating a problem where one doesn't exist.

Or, you're attempting to side-step one that really does.

Note: Careful use of wording will be fundamental in a debate this complex, but don't think that rewording something while maintaining the same concept in your own mind is going to be enough (since a hint of what's going on in the writer's mind almost always shows up). IOW, don't think that I'm harping on your use of the words that lead to the homunculun problem...instead, know that I'm combating the actual concept behind the words being used.
 
  • #14
hypnagogue
Staff Emeritus
Science Advisor
Gold Member
2,277
2


Originally posted by Mentat
Mis-statement, IMO. The thoughts of the person in the matrix have no existence at all. There is no such thing as the matrix. There is just a stimulation of electrochemical processes in the victim's brain.

Of course there is such a thing as the matrix (in our hypothetical example): it is the set of computers that store and process information to emulate a reality. And of course the person in the matrix has thoughts: his thoughts just happen to be guided by the elaborate illusion of that matrix. Arguing the ontology of this situation is one thing, but you won't get vary far saying these things don't exist in the first place.

I emphasize this, because to postulate that he thinks "this" (referring to some perceived "thing" in the Matrix) is pretty (for example), is completely fallacious, since there's nothing to think of as pretty. His brain was stimulated as it usually is by something pretty, but in this case there was nothing there.

Of course there is something to think of as pretty. A person in the matrix perceives prettiness in precisely the same way we do: certain signals activate certain parts of his actual^ brain, leading to a brain state where there is a conscious perception of a flower, which the person regards as pretty. The fact that in this case the inputs leading to this perception of the flower were created by a computer is irrelevant. The patterns of brain activity are the same, and thus the sense of prettiness is the same. The ultimate nature of the input doesn't make a difference.

We never think that a flower, in and of itself, is pretty. Rather, we think that our visual perception of a flower is pretty. The object of prettiness is nothing but a set of subjective visual qualia, and ultimately it is irrelevant precisely how these qualia are evoked. To say otherwise basically amounts to naive realism.

That's the point - there is no "computational reality". He may think there is, but there is not.

"Computational reality" is simply that closed world of perceptions that he experiences, 'lives in' (used loosely), and interacts with. As I said before, ultimately this 'reality' is just a subset of the 'actual' world-- it is the information stored in and processed by the computer matrix. But the person in the matrix defines the information existing in this self-consistent, closed subset and the rules that govern the manipulation of this information as a reality whose 'essence' he defines as 'physical.' Anything existing outside of this closed computer system is not physical, by his definition of the word.

Yes there has, since you cannot think of a person as "seeing" this or that in the "virtual world" unless there are two worlds (one virtual and one "normal" (for lack of a better term)). Whether or not this "virtual world" is supposed to be physical or not is irrelevant, that there is supposed to be a virtual world in addition to this "normal" one is enough to require an "internal viewer" (which would be experiencing these phenomenal events).

There are only two worlds insofar as there are two closed sets of information with their respective ways of generating and manipulating this information before it gets to the brain. Thus they each support the appearance of a closed 'space' of perceptions and events-- roughly, a 'world' or 'reality.'

Very true, except that external reality never really does exist in our own minds...we just percieve it to. We percieve that there is a world around us because of the way we process it...however there is never an "inner display" of the outside world (which draws it's information from light or sound or whatever), there is only the light or sound itself and the firing through synapses.

Again, I have not implied any internal viewer. All I have implied is that conscious perceptions are generated as a function of input fed into the brain. (And just so you don't get one of your crazy ideas, I mean 'conscious perceptions are generated' in the same sense as I mean 'brain activation/events is/are generated.' ) Are you going to deny this?
 
  • #15
Jeebus
255
0
Originally posted by Hypangogue: I still don't think the homunculan problem is relevant here. So the thoughts of a person in the matrix are not a 'product' of his 'actual' brain's^ mechanisms, but are those mechanisms.

I agree.

Cartesian dualism is worth examining because it reveals many misunderstandings that beset other dualistic approaches, while the homunculus problem deals more with the proposition of: "John is taller than Mary. Jill is shorter than Mary." if we are then asked "Who's taller- John or Jill?" we may conclude that we
require a homunculus to work out the problem as it requires us
envisaging the characters. However, if we used dolls to make a PHYSICAL comparison we are discharging the homunculus.

Matter and mind is construed as created substances, each constituting a radically different and independent form of reality. Their interaction does not stem from a common origin.

I don't see the connection Mentat is with homunculus problem and dualism.
 
  • #16
Mentat
3,918
3


Originally posted by hypnagogue
Of course there is such a thing as the matrix (in our hypothetical example): it is the set of computers that store and process information to emulate a reality. And of course the person in the matrix has thoughts: his thoughts just happen to be guided by the elaborate illusion of that matrix. Arguing the ontology of this situation is one thing, but you won't get vary far saying these things don't exist in the first place.

What "things"?

Of course there is something to think of as pretty. A person in the matrix perceives prettiness in precisely the same way we do: certain signals activate certain parts of his actual^ brain, leading to a brain state where there is a conscious perception of a flower, which the person regards as pretty.

Uh...WRONG! They do not lead to a "brain state" of anything, they simply process the image in a way that is different from processing of things that are "plain". Remember, the processing is the consciousness, it does not "lead to it".

The fact that in this case the inputs leading to this perception of the flower were created by a computer is irrelevant. The patterns of brain activity are the same, and thus the sense of prettiness is the same. The ultimate nature of the input doesn't make a difference.

We never think that a flower, in and of itself, is pretty. Rather, we think that our visual perception of a flower is pretty. The object of prettiness is nothing but a set of subjective visual qualia, and ultimately it is irrelevant precisely how these qualia are evoked. To say otherwise basically amounts to naive realism.

Not at all (though I have to congratulate you on making me think twice about contradicting you...that proactive insult was a good idea), since you have taken the HUGE (and logically fallacious) step of implying that there is such a thing as the visual quality of a "flower" in our mind. This cannot be the case (due to logical inconsistency) and thus there is no reason for me to combat the rest of it, since it all spawned from a flawed ascertion. We've been through this before: The homunculun problem will always come up when one tries to say that we only think the "visual qualia" are pretty.

There are only two worlds insofar as there are two closed sets of information with their respective ways of generating and manipulating this information before it gets to the brain. Thus they each support the appearance of a closed 'space' of perceptions and events-- roughly, a 'world' or 'reality.'

Sure, except that there are not two worlds, but merely two different sets of external stimulus (one set of which is merely a part of the other, larger, set) which cause electrochemical interaction in the brain.

Again, I have not implied any internal viewer. All I have implied is that conscious perceptions are generated as a function of input fed into the brain. (And just so you don't get one of your crazy ideas, I mean 'conscious perceptions are generated' in the same sense as I mean 'brain activation/events is/are generated.' ) Are you going to deny this?

The point is that, every single time you refer to "generation" of "qualia" or phenomenological events, you imply the internal viewer. It's inevitable. What you probably don't realize yet, is that your use of this term is a Freudian slip, not a semantic error in expressing your actual thoughts.
 
  • #17
Mentat
3,918
3
Originally posted by Jeebus
I agree.

Cartesian dualism is worth examining because it reveals many misunderstandings that beset other dualistic approaches, while the homunculus problem deals more with the proposition of: "John is taller than Mary. Jill is shorter than Mary." if we are then asked "Who's taller- John or Jill?" we may conclude that we
require a homunculus to work out the problem as it requires us
envisaging the characters. However, if we used dolls to make a PHYSICAL comparison we are discharging the homunculus.

Matter and mind is construed as created substances, each constituting a radically different and independent form of reality. Their interaction does not stem from a common origin.

I don't see the connection Mentat is with homunculus problem and dualism.

Even when it's so obvious?! No offense, but how can you not see that to posit an inner homunculus (a little guy in your head, that does the calculating for you) is to cause infinite regress (which makes your a logically impossible idea)? If I say that my calculating something is due to the inner calculating of the little guy in my head, then he must be calculating, and thus must have a little guy in his own head (because that is our current explanation of how one calculates, he has a little guy in his head doing the calculating for him), which in turn must also have a little guy in his own head, ad infinitum.
 
  • #18
hypnagogue
Staff Emeritus
Science Advisor
Gold Member
2,277
2
Originally posted by Mentat
What "things"?

The things that you said didn't exist, of course. :wink: The matrix exists... it is the computers. The thoughts of a person in the matrix exist... they are the processes taking place in his actual^ brain.

You meant to say that these things don't exist in the way they appear to exist. But they quite obviously exist in some sense or another.

Uh...WRONG! They do not lead to a "brain state" of anything, they simply process the image in a way that is different from processing of things that are "plain". Remember, the processing is the consciousness, it does not "lead to it".

I actually tried to go out of my way to use language that did not imply that consciousness was anything but the processing of the brain, but apparently I failed. I also think you are overly sensitive to phrases like "leading to" when it comes to consciousness. :wink: Let me try again to state my case. You said:

I emphasize this, because to postulate that he thinks "this" (referring to some perceived "thing" in the Matrix) is pretty (for example), is completely fallacious, since there's nothing to think of as pretty. His brain was stimulated as it usually is by something pretty, but in this case there was nothing there.

Now, what I was trying to say before was that epistemically, the perception of a flower in the matrix and the perception of a flower in the real world are identical. This is so because presumably the precise same pattern of information-- the same pattern of input stimuli exciting the optical nerves-- is implicated in both cases, leading to (and this is the sense I meant it before) the same general activity (processing of this input information) in the brain, and thus deriving all the same perceptual properties, including greenness, flower-shaped-ness, and prettiness. (We need not invoke the homunculus; simply apply your own personal favorite theory of cognition. The important point is that whatever is being done by the 'matrix' brain is indistinguishable from what is done by the 'real world' brain.)

The upshot of this is that the 'prettiness' of the flower is not something that depends on the existence of a 'real world' flower in the first place. The 'prettiness' of the flower simply depends on the introduction of a set of appropriate input stimuli into the optic nerves of the brain. So while we attribute 'prettiness' to the 'real world' flower itself, in actuality we should attribute it to the optical input pattern that the flower generates in properly lit conditions, since this is the minimally sufficient "thing" needed to illicit the perception of prettiness in the perceiver. (This also explains why a picture or hologram of a flower can be just as pretty as a 'real' flower itself.)

So yes, there is something to think of as pretty in the case of the matrix flower. In fact, it is the same thing to think of as a pretty in the case of the 'real' flower. It is simply the set of optical stimuli that we normally associate with flowers in general.

Not at all (though I have to congratulate you on making me think twice about contradicting you...that proactive insult was a good idea),

It was not an insult at all, proactive or otherwise. "Naive realism" is simply an established term in philosophy; its definition is "the doctrine that in perception of physical objects what is before the mind is the object itself and not a representation of it."

On the other hand, I am inclined to think of a retort to an argument such as "Uh...WRONG!" to be a sort of insult along the lines of "man, you are stupid for not agreeing with me." :wink: In any case, rest assured that no insults were meant on my part, and I hope no more are forthcoming from you.

since you have taken the HUGE (and logically fallacious) step of implying that there is such a thing as the visual quality of a "flower" in our mind. This cannot be the case (due to logical inconsistency) and thus there is no reason for me to combat the rest of it, since it all spawned from a flawed ascertion. We've been through this before: The homunculun problem will always come up when one tries to say that we only think the "visual qualia" are pretty.

Well, obviously a visual quality of "flower" exists in some sense or another, no matter what we say about its ontology. If you don't believe me, go look at a garden.

In any case, the important part of my argument can be encapsulated by this less controversial statement: prettiness (whatever that might be) exists as a function of how the brain processes sensory input from an object, not in that object itself. Thus, we can perceive the prettiness of a flower even if there is not a 'real' flower (whatever that might be) to perceive.

Sure, except that there are not two worlds, but merely two different sets of external stimulus (one set of which is merely a part of the other, larger, set) which cause electrochemical interaction in the brain.

True! But what is a world X, in the most stripped down logical sense, but a closed set of stimuli such that all stimuli belong to X?

We presume the most basic building blocks of our world to be quarks, electrons, and the like. If we were actually in a matrix, then there would exist a deeper level to the ontology of our world that we could not hope to know: quarks and electrons would actually be themselves composed of bits (or whatever) of information in the computer matrix. Everything we call 'physical' would actually refer to information existing in this computer. The things we call 'the laws of physics' would actually be rules existing in the computer code. And so on.

It thus follows that everything existing outside the information of the computer matrix 'world' would be called by us 'non-physical.' To simply step back and say "no, this whole existence itself would be 'physical'" is not very fruitful at all, since the redefinition of the term is not consistent with the original usage. Now things that we cannot detect even in principle (such as the actual computers of the computer matrix) are to be called 'physical,' destroying any meaningful definition of the word.

We could take the same approach of redefinition to the more traditional dualist vision, with equally unsatisfying results. We could say that the immaterial mind, or the immortal soul, or whatever, is itself actually a 'physical' entity even though we have no means of actually detecting it, measuring it, or knowing about it. And just like that, the physical/non-physical interaction problem of traditional dualism vanishes like so many homunculi. :smile:

You can't have it both ways-- either accept a redefinition of the word physical to mean roughly "whatever exists," or accept the definition of physical to mean roughly "those things that are measurable in the closed set of stimuli that we call 'our world.'" Once you have accepted one of these alternatives and stick to it (doesn't matter which), you are obliged to accept that dualism is indeed logically consistent and possible, at least in principle.

If you accept the redefinition, then we simply redefine 'the mind' or 'the soul' to be a physical entity that causally interacts with the brain, even though we have no means of detecting these ethereal agents. If you do not accept the redefinition, then Chalmers' matrix analogy is a straightforward demonstration of how 'physical' and 'non-physical' systems can interact.
 
Last edited:
  • #19
pelastration
162
0


Originally posted by hypnagogue
A common argument against Cartesian dualism, which states that consciousness or "the soul" exists independently of the body but interacts with it, is that such an interaction between the physical body and non-physical mind is logically impossible.

So, X's mind^ (brain^) is actually a non-physical* entity that nonetheless interacts with his physical* world!
-------
Originally posted by Mentat
Yes, that is the question du jour (...), and my answer is "anything composed of wavicles and spacetime". I only answer this way because that is what science has taught us (not because of any "truth" that may lie in the statement itself, since philosophy and logic are not at all interested in "truth" merely "validity").

Since none of his "thoughts" are composed of wavicles or spacetime (...), they don't exist. There are no "thoughts" merely electrochemical interactions in his brain.

Originally posted by hypnagogue
An envatted person's reality is composed of wavicles and spacetime, from that person's perspective, just as it is from ours. The caveat is that in such a reality, there is something more fundamental underlying the wavicles and spacetime-- strings of binary code (or whatever) in the computer matrix.
-------
Originally posted by Jeebus
Matter and mind is construed as created substances, each constituting a radically different and independent form of reality. Their interaction does not stem from a common origin.

Matter and mind are here seen as radically different form of reality.
But what is dualism?
When "anything is composed of wavicles and spacetime" then the two phenomena are just compositions of wavicles and spacetime which are differently composed.

This is non-commutative (putting your socks on and then yours shoes is decidedly not the same as putting your shoes on and then your socks (http://www.kingsu.ab.ca/~brian/phys/phys370/lectures/lect5/sld005.htm [Broken]).

When spacetime makes layers then we get different situations.
Call that 'putting your socks on and then yours shoes' : spacetime layering A, and "putting your shoes on and then your socks": spacetime layering B ... then we can say that in both case (A and B) the moves of the socks and the moves of the shoes will influence each other ... but in another way.
Both are spacetime structured (locally) in another way. Both can interact and even couple. Couplings bring direct oscillating interactions of spacetime. This is local. But non-local interactions (oscillations) happens also by common spacetime sheets. That is non-local.

That can explain what hypnagogue called: "there is something more fundamental underlying the wavicles and spacetime".

Then the physical "brain" can be the shoes and 'mind' can be the socks. And they interact with each other by less complex compositions of spacetime.
From this view there is just local dualism (or discrete spacetime structuring). Basically there is unity.
 
Last edited by a moderator:
  • #20
Royce
1,514
0
In a very real sense my, our mind is "envatted" within the human body. It is in a physical sense totally isolated from whatever may be outside of it. The only information I/we receive is via our senses. This information is conveyed to our mind/brain via nerve fibers in the form or electrochemical impulses. Our minds receive and interpret these inputs to become perceptions and thoughts. There is no difference and no way of knowing whether these inputs are accurate and actually from our physical sensory organs or if they or totally inaccurate and come from a computer or other such device.
I KNOW only one thing. I AM. I know only that my mind exists. I do not know that I have a brain, sensory organs or a body. I do not know that there is any other reality other than my mind and my existence. I am told that I have a brain and senses and a body and I am told that they are real. I am told that there are other minds and bodies and a universe outside of my mind and I am told that this is called reality. I do not KNOW this. I am told this and I accept this as true. There is only one mind and one reality and I call that ME.
The rest is all presumption and assumption.
To say that I, my mind, does not exist is absurd and it is the only thing that I know absolutely. To say that thought does not exist is just as absurd for it it thought and the act of thinking that proves that I, my mind, exists. There is simply no way that I can KNOW anything else. I can deduct, induct, reason and process inputs and assume that they all represent a reality outside of my mind.

If thoughts are generated by electrochemical actions in my brain then they are energy and take the only form that energy can take so far as we "know", wavicles; therefore, if thoughts are energy wavicles they are real and exist even in a purely materialistic universe.
If then thoughts are real in a physical sense and my mind is made up of pure thought then my mind exists in a real physical universe. If thought and mind exist in a real physical universe then I exist in a real physical universe and presumably so do you, all of you.
Where am I and where is my mind? The brain is made up of and contains neurons and axions that generate and carry electrochemical impulses that I assume are thoughts, memories, perceptions, etc. Is this my mind. Is my mind then my brain or is my brain only the physical means of making me, my mind real?
If thoughts are physical wavicles then there is no doubt that they, thought, can and do effect physical matter just as any other form of energy does.
Whatever the conclusion we are in a matrix and we are the matrix but is the matrix real or a simulation of reality. We have no real way of knowing. Reality exists only in my mind. Whatever may or may not exist ouside my mind is only as real or unreal as I chose to let it be.
 
  • #21
pelastration
162
0
Thanks Royce,

A nice post with deep thoughts.
Can we say that two different concept are involved: shape and movement?
I can offer you for the moment only a question and an image.
What makes the river on the mountain?
Doesn't the stones and the ground guides the dynamic water.
For those two different interacting phenomena with have one name: the river.

Everyone's river (and thoughts and perception) is different because it is based on other key-stones.

Dirk
 
  • #22
Mentat
3,918
3
Originally posted by hypnagogue
The things that you said didn't exist, of course. :wink: The matrix exists... it is the computers. The thoughts of a person in the matrix exist... they are the processes taking place in his actual^ brain.

Make up your mind. Either the matrix is a dream world, or it is the computers. Either the thoughts of a person are (nothing but) the certain synaptic processes in their brain, or they are extra "subjective qualia" in a phenomenological world.

You meant to say that these things don't exist in the way they appear to exist. But they quite obviously exist in some sense or another.

What things? I know that the computers exist (including the organic ones, that we call "brains") but I don't recognize the existence of anything else (what else is there?).

I actually tried to go out of my way to use language that did not imply that consciousness was anything but the processing of the brain, but apparently I failed. I also think you are overly sensitive to phrases like "leading to" when it comes to consciousness.

That's because the slightest error in stating one's opinion on consciousness can lead to a huge discussion (of over 40 pages, sometimes :wink:) that is based on a misunderstanding.

Now, what I was trying to say before was that epistemically, the perception of a flower in the matrix and the perception of a flower in the real world are identical.

But one doesn't percieve a flower in the matrix. One perceives the flower in the real world (where their brain is). There is, in fact, only one world...and no flower.

This is so because presumably the precise same pattern of information-- the same pattern of input stimuli exciting the optical nerves-- is implicated in both cases, leading to (and this is the sense I meant it before) the same general activity (processing of this input information) in the brain, and thus deriving all the same perceptual properties, including greenness, flower-shaped-ness, and prettiness. (We need not invoke the homunculus; simply apply your own personal favorite theory of cognition. The important point is that whatever is being done by the 'matrix' brain is indistinguishable from what is done by the 'real world' brain.)

But there is no "matrix brain". There is only the one brain, processing incoming signals in the form of electrochemical activity in the neurons and across the synapses.

The upshot of this is that the 'prettiness' of the flower is not something that depends on the existence of a 'real world' flower in the first place. The 'prettiness' of the flower simply depends on the introduction of a set of appropriate input stimuli into the optic nerves of the brain.

I keep being tempted to say "the prettiness of what flower?!", but I know that you are not trying to refer to a "flower" and just to the electrochemical activity in the brain. As it is, I just posted this as a reminder that you are referring to "a flower" where there is none.

So while we attribute 'prettiness' to the 'real world' flower itself, in actuality we should attribute it to the optical input pattern that the flower generates in properly lit conditions, since this is the minimally sufficient "thing" needed to illicit the perception of prettiness in the perceiver. (This also explains why a picture or hologram of a flower can be just as pretty as a 'real' flower itself.)

Correct.

So yes, there is something to think of as pretty in the case of the matrix flower. In fact, it is the same thing to think of as a pretty in the case of the 'real' flower. It is simply the set of optical stimuli that we normally associate with flowers in general.

But now the semantic problems will either come up, or be cut off at the knees...I do not think that the matrix flower, or the "hologram" of a flower is pretty, because there is no such thing. There is a real flower (actually there are billions of them), that I have seen before, and that I thought was pretty, not because I thought the sum of the processes in my brain was "pretty", but because the very way I was processing gave rise to the "pretty" sensation.

It was not an insult at all, proactive or otherwise. "Naive realism" is simply an established term in philosophy; its definition is "the doctrine that in perception of physical objects what is before the mind is the object itself and not a representation of it."

On the other hand, I am inclined to think of a retort to an argument such as "Uh...WRONG!" to be a sort of insult along the lines of "man, you are stupid for not agreeing with me." :wink: In any case, rest assured that no insults were meant on my part, and I hope no more are forthcoming from you.

My apologies. Still friends? :smile:

Well, obviously a visual quality of "flower" exists in some sense or another, no matter what we say about its ontology. If you don't believe me, go look at a garden.

Wait a minute, I never denied that there was an actual flower, or that it could be seen (which is what I hope you mean by saying that it has a "visual quality").

True! But what is a world X, in the most stripped down logical sense, but a closed set of stimuli such that all stimuli belong to X?

A world X is a set of physically existing things. If it were not, then we would never receive stimuli in the form of energy. Also, I wish to re-iterate that there is no "world" in our brains (physical or otherwise), composed of the sums of these stimuli (and the reactions thereto), which is the conclusion that you seem to be leaning toward. There is, really, no "sum" of these stimuli in the mind, but merely a set of processes that occur at different times, for different reasons, but which appear to have synergistic properties to them.

We presume the most basic building blocks of our world to be quarks, electrons, and the like. If we were actually in a matrix, then there would exist a deeper level to the ontology of our world that we could not hope to know: quarks and electrons would actually be themselves composed of bits (or whatever) of information in the computer matrix. Everything we call 'physical' would actually refer to information existing in this computer. The things we call 'the laws of physics' would actually be rules existing in the computer code. And so on.

I disagree. We could not determine the information in the computer as being a quark or an electron, unless it (the computer) incited in us the same experience that we have when we discuss or observe (you can't actually observe them anyway, but that's not too relevant (I hope)) electrons and quarks. We are being stimulated in the same way, but in this case there are no electrons or quarks (real or otherwise) that are the cause (or part of the cause) of this stimulation.

We could take the same approach of redefinition to the more traditional dualist vision, with equally unsatisfying results. We could say that the immaterial mind, or the immortal soul, or whatever, is itself actually a 'physical' entity even though we have no means of actually detecting it, measuring it, or knowing about it. And just like that, the physical/non-physical interaction problem of traditional dualism vanishes like so many homunculi. :smile:

Not at all. If you say that the immaterial mind itself is physical, then you require the homunculus, since a physical entity (a separate "mind", in this case) inside my brain is useless without an "inner eye" with which to percieve it.

You can't have it both ways-- either accept a redefinition of the word physical to mean roughly "whatever exists," or accept the definition of physical to mean roughly "those things that are measurable in the closed set of stimuli that we call 'our world.'" Once you have accepted one of these alternatives and stick to it (doesn't matter which), you are obliged to accept that dualism is indeed logically consistent and possible, at least in principle.

How so?

Besides, I find the two choices most unsatisfactory, since the first one refers to all that exists, which is redundant (anything that can be referred to exists (note: this does not preclude the use of words that don't really refer to anything, but are just words...it merely precludes actually referring to something, and that "thing"'s not existing)); while the second implies that there is a closed set of stimuli that make up "our world", when in fact there is one world, and every one of our brains is a part of that world.

If you accept the redefinition, then we simply redefine 'the mind' or 'the soul' to be a physical entity that causally interacts with the brain, even though we have no means of detecting these ethereal agents.

It doesn't work for "the mind" (seperate from the brain) to be a physical or non-physical thing, it just can't exist at all (which is why Dualism is impossible, no matter how you redefine these terms). If it does exist, then there must be an inner homunculus to observe it, otherwise it's of no use to you, since you never become consicous of what's going on "in there".

If you do not accept the redefinition, then Chalmers' matrix analogy is a straightforward demonstration of how 'physical' and 'non-physical' systems can interact.

But Chalmers' matrix analogy implies the homunculus at every turn, and is thus not valid, until you can prove otherwise.
 
  • #23
Mentat
3,918
3
Originally posted by Royce
In a very real sense my, our mind is "envatted" within the human body. It is in a physical sense totally isolated from whatever may be outside of it. The only information I/we receive is via our senses. This information is conveyed to our mind/brain via nerve fibers in the form or electrochemical impulses. Our minds receive and interpret these inputs to become perceptions and thoughts.

Good buddy, Royce, you are conveying that which almost every human inherently wishes to believe (for some reason or another). Unfortunately, it is very likely wrong. Surely, by now, after all of this thread and the others just like it, you know what the homunculun problem is. Well, to say that our brain communicates to our mind, which then forms the thoughts and perceptions insides itself, is to require that inner homunuculus, and it is thus illogical.

If thoughts are generated by electrochemical actions in my brain then they are energy and take the only form that energy can take so far as we "know", wavicles; therefore, if thoughts are energy wavicles they are real and exist even in a purely materialistic universe.

Thoughts are not generated by electrochemical actions, they are electrochemical interactions.
 
  • #24
Royce
1,514
0
Mentat, your playing with words again. Thoughts, whether actions or interactions, are energy. This energy contains encoded information. This energy is real in any and all forms of reality including materialism. They are a physical reality. As such they can and do interact and influence matter just as any other form of energy can and does.
While the brain may be the means, the hardware, for all of this to take place, it is my position that the mind is not the physical brain but the pure energy of pure thought. There is no homunculun, whatever that is, nor is one necessary. Via the chemicals and circuitry of my brain I generate thoughts.
My bain does many other thing at the same time without tought as well; but, it is the thought that I am interested in right now. The sum total of these thoughts, processes and memories, all information bearing energy is my mind, ME.
In a way the real subjective ME is energy, the energy and potential energy of pure thought. It is my physical brain and body that contains and maintanes ME and let's ME interact with the physical world. I, ME, my mind is greater than the sum total of my parts.
This is very difficult to explain and conceive of without mentioning the third and ultimate reality of the spirit. It is like trying to play solitaire with only 2/3 of a deck of cards. However, since I cannot prove to anyone the reality of the spiritual realm and its power and abilities over the subjective and material realms nor are we allowed to mention or discuss the G word, I try to limit my posts to the subjective and material as much as possible and try to stay more in the material world as much as possible.
 
  • #25
Mentat
3,918
3
Originally posted by Royce
Mentat, your playing with words again. Thoughts, whether actions or interactions, are energy. This energy contains encoded information. This energy is real in any and all forms of reality including materialism. They are a physical reality. As such they can and do interact and influence matter just as any other form of energy can and does.

Royce, you are making assumptions and stating them as facts (again, I might add). No offense, but is there any basis for assuming that thoughts have physical existence (energetic or material)? If they did, they would not only take up space, but they would take up space inside our skulls...where we have no eyes to see them with, and thus no real access to them.

While the brain may be the means, the hardware, for all of this to take place, it is my position that the mind is not the physical brain but the pure energy of pure thought. There is no homunculun, whatever that is, nor is one necessary. Via the chemicals and circuitry of my brain I generate thoughts.

Yes, you can explain generating thoughts that way, but you cannot explain how it is that you are actually aware of those thoughts (which are inside your skull, according to you) without running into the homunculan problem.
 
  • #26
Royce
1,514
0
Okay, Mentat, I suppose I deserved that, I have said the same to you in the past. I was referring to my previous post as if it were accepted as no one disputed it.
I do not know what thought is; nor, do I know what the mind is nor where it resides. I do know the they do exist in any and all realities; for, if the did not, then I would not exist in that reality.
The proof of this goes back to your old thread of Descartes "I think; therefore, I am." It is logical in my mind and I have said so before that the reverse is also true. I am; therefore, I think.
Attempting in this and other posts to keep in the material realm of reality, I can not but think that thought is energy generated by the electrochemical processes and activity in our brains. It is true that this is an assumption and has not been proved. However, if thought is to exist in the physical material world of your paradigm it must, by you definition, be either matter or energy. Thought is obviously not matter. It therefore must be energy. Energy, as we all know, can contain and convey information, intelligence. Thought is a form of information whether or not it is intelligent. Engergy does NOT take up space as matter does. If the mind is pure thought and thought is pure energy, then the mind is pure energy.
There is no way that I can explain consciousness or awareness especially if I am to stay within the materislistic paradigm. I have problems with these thing even if I include the subjective realm. Only when I include the spiritual realm and include a conscious universe at least in one sense can I come to terms with consciousness and awareness; but I still cannot explain how or what they are.
Dualism works for me at least in the terms that I understand it within my spiritual, sujective, materialistic belief system.

After thought:
Actually dualism doesn't work for me as well as trinitism, to coin a word, the soul the mind and the body. It is the soul that is the ultimate conscious, aware being. The mind is its "portal", to use one of your terms, to the body, the physical material realm of reality.
 
Last edited:
  • #27
Mentat
3,918
3
Originally posted by Royce
I do know the they do exist in any and all realities; for, if the did not, then I would not exist in that reality.
The proof of this goes back to your old thread of Descartes "I think; therefore, I am." It is logical in my mind and I have said so before that the reverse is also true. I am; therefore, I think.

But a rock "is", and it does not think.

Attempting in this and other posts to keep in the material realm of reality, I can not but think that thought is energy generated by the electrochemical processes and activity in our brains.

But "energy" is too vague a word. The kind of "energy" produced by electromagnetic waves is photonic in nature, and I see no way that photons could carry "thought", though I can't currently see why it can't be so either. What I do see is the homunculun problem, when you say that the electrochemical processes of the brain generate this "energy" that is thought. After all, for whose benefit are these thoughts "generated"? To me, it's like putting a monitor inside your PC, which would be completely useless, as I trust you can appreciate.

It is true that this is an assumption and has not been proved. However, if thought is to exist in the physical material world of your paradigm it must, by you definition, be either matter or energy.

But I never said that thought existed. I don't think it does. That which we refer to as thinking as an intricate collection of processings of external stimuli that goes on in the human CPU.

Thought is obviously not matter. It therefore must be energy. Energy, as we all know, can contain and convey information, intelligence.

Energy can convey information to who? Conscious beings? If so, then I must re-iterate that the conveying of information inside my skull is utterly useless, unless there's an interior eye.

Engergy does NOT take up space as matter does.

Matter is energy, my dear friend, just a different form. They all have relative mass anyway.

There is no way that I can explain consciousness or awareness especially if I am to stay within the materislistic paradigm. I have problems with these thing even if I include the subjective realm.

Thank you, good buddy! You've given me an idea for a thread.

After thought:
Actually dualism doesn't work for me as well as trinitism, to coin a word, the soul the mind and the body. It is the soul that is the ultimate conscious, aware being. The mind is its "portal", to use one of your terms, to the body, the physical material realm of reality.

Then the soul is not physical? So what is the mind then, physical or non-physical?
 
  • #28
Royce
1,514
0
Originally posted by Mentat
But a rock "is", and it does not think.

A rock is only in your/our mind. A rock does not think nor question its exisence. It is not aware or conscious that is exists. In this sense a rock is not real. It is only real in your mind.


But "energy" is too vague a word. The kind of "energy" produced by electromagnetic waves is photonic in nature, and I see no way that photons could carry "thought", though I can't currently see why it can't be so either. What I do see is the homunculun problem, when you say that the electrochemical processes of the brain generate this "energy" that is thought. After all, for whose benefit are these thoughts "generated"? To me, it's like putting a monitor inside your PC, which would be completely useless, as I trust you can appreciate.

Electrons, photons and electromagnetic wave among possibly some other things are all capable of carrying information and the examples are numerous and obvious if you care to think about it a moment. As far as thoughts are concerned if they are for anyones benefit then they are for the benefit of the being that generated them. We do have a monitor inside our minds. It is us. we are aware of and can control our thoughts. You know and are aware of this just as the rest of us are.



But I never said that thought existed. I don't think it does. That which we refer to as thinking as an intricate collection of processings of external stimuli that goes on in the human CPU.

This is absurd. You have written your thoughts in response to my thoughts and I have read them. Is this not evidence enough for you?
You and I and everyone think; therefore, we are. What we think is thoughts. If thought does not exist thinking does not exist if thinking does not exist you can not prove that you exist and if you exist at all it is the same existence as that of your rock.


Energy can convey information to who? Conscious beings? If so, then I must re-iterate that the conveying of information inside my skull is utterly useless, unless there's an interior eye.
[/QUOITE]

This too is absurd. How do you think that your thoughts are conveyed to me via your computer, the web, and then my computer? Do you watch TV or listen to the radio? Do you read or look outside and see the world? Information is conveyed by energy whether anyone is there to perceive it or not. Conveying information inside your skll may be useless ans you already know everything and spout nothing but nonsense in this post; but, to the rest of mankind conveying information is critical and if life itself. Without that information we would know nothing and sense nothing and perceive nothing. We would again be reduced to Rock.





Then the soul is not physical? So what is the mind then, physical or non-physical?

As I said the mind being of pure thought must be then of pure energy.
I look forward to your new thread.
 
  • #29
Mentat
3,918
3
Originally posted by Royce
A rock is only in your/our mind. A rock does not think nor question its exisence. It is not aware or conscious that is exists. In this sense a rock is not real. It is only real in your mind.

That's not really good philosophy, Royce, since it can immediately lead to Solipsism, and I can assume that you do not really exist consciously, but are just a product of my mind.

Electrons, photons and electromagnetic wave among possibly some other things are all capable of carrying information and the examples are numerous and obvious if you care to think about it a moment. As far as thoughts are concerned if they are for anyones benefit then they are for the benefit of the being that generated them. We do have a monitor inside our minds. It is us. we are aware of and can control our thoughts. You know and are aware of this just as the rest of us are.

Ha! And how do you plan to avoid the homunculun problem after having stated that "we" are the internal viewers?

This is absurd. You have written your thoughts in response to my thoughts and I have read them. Is this not evidence enough for you?
You and I and everyone think; therefore, we are. What we think is thoughts. If thought does not exist thinking does not exist if thinking does not exist you can not prove that you exist and if you exist at all it is the same existence as that of your rock.

Thinking does exist, but an individual thought does not. There is no logical flaw here, that I can see.

As I said the mind being of pure thought must be then of pure energy.
I look forward to your new thread.

I have started the new thread. Here it is.
 
  • #30
Royce
1,514
0
Originally posted by Mentat

Thinking does exist, but an individual thought does not. There is no logical flaw here, that I can see.
What does one think if not thoughts? If thinking, a process, exists then it's media, thought, must also exist.
Again from your materialistic view, thought, thinking is energy produced by the brain. Energy is material and real and a product of material processes. The mind, made up of pure thought, is thus pure energy which is a product of real material processes and thus exists and is real. Energy can and does effect matter; thus, thought and the mind can and does effect the material world.
What effects and to a degree controls thought and mind is consciousness and awareness which may be the same thing. Here I must leave the materialistic paradigm and insert the metaphysical. It is the soul, our individual identity that is part of the universal consciousness or universal mind that is our consciousness, awareness that controls and is aware of our thoughts. If you want to can the soul a homunculun that's okay with me so long as you make that homunculun a part of the universal consciousness that is the ulimate one reality. There is no infinite procression or regression because there is only one. One of which we are all part of while remaining for the most part individuals. I know that you can not accept this from you self declared limited materialistic view and stance. I also know that that view and stance is an affectation.
 
  • #31
Mentat
3,918
3
Originally posted by Royce
What does one think if not thoughts? If thinking, a process, exists then it's media, thought, must also exist.

Not at all. Space (for example) may or may not be discrete, but it exists, regardless of whether there are discrete units of it or not.

Again from your materialistic view, thought, thinking is energy produced by the brain. Energy is material and real and a product of material processes.

No, no, no. If thoughs were energy that was produced in the head, then there would need to be an internal viewer, to become aware of these thoughts, since I don't have any eyes inside my head. And if there is an internal viewer, then he too must be conscious - since, after all, his job is to make sense of all of this information - and so he must also have an internal viewer in his head. This will go on ad infinitum and is thus logically flawed from the beginning.
 
  • #32
Royce
1,514
0
I'm sorry, Mentat. I don't follow your replies at all. It is as if we are talking about two entirely unrelated subjects and I can't find the connection. Explain in a different way how thinking can exist but not thought or thoughts.

Why would there need to be an internal viewer if thought is energy? The energy is carries my higher energized molocules from on part of the brain to another or from on neuron via axions to another. If it is only the brain and its electrochemical activity then why does one type of activity, thinking, not require an internal viewer but its disctrete components, thought, does.

I am conscious and aware and I think, have thoughts and ideas. I also have identity and individuality as well as charater and personality. I am me and I am aware that I am me and that I think and what I think. I can control and direct my thoughts and my body.
If there is an internal viewer it is my soul or spirit that is not material. If you will not accept soul or spirit how about Frued's super ego, ego, id, conscious and unconscious mind. I have will purpose and intent. I do not see how all of this can be explained in a purely objective materialistic way.
 
  • #33
Mentat
3,918
3
Originally posted by Royce
I'm sorry, Mentat. I don't follow your replies at all. It is as if we are talking about two entirely unrelated subjects and I can't find the connection. Explain in a different way how thinking can exist but not thought or thoughts.

Thinking is nothing more than a continuous process, which requires the memory and the cooperation of different sections of the brain. Please see the "question/answer" game analogy on page 53 of this thread.

Why would there need to be an internal viewer if thought is energy?

Because of there is an individual thought, whether in energetic or material form, there must be something in there to make sense of that individual thought.

The energy is carries my higher energized molocules from on part of the brain to another or from on neuron via axions to another. If it is only the brain and its electrochemical activity then why does one type of activity, thinking, not require an internal viewer but its disctrete components, thought, does.

Thinking can be explained (as it is in Consciousness Explained) as a process of synapses and neurons. Individual thoughts, OTOH, require some internal "thinker" which makes sense of each of them in turn. There would have to be a "center of consciousness" and this is illogical, and thus impossible.

I am conscious and aware and I think, have thoughts and ideas. I also have identity and individuality as well as charater and personality. I am me and I am aware that I am me and that I think and what I think. I can control and direct my thoughts and my body.
If there is an internal viewer it is my soul or spirit that is not material. If you will not accept soul or spirit how about Frued's super ego, ego, id, conscious and unconscious mind. I have will purpose and intent. I do not see how all of this can be explained in a purely objective materialistic way.

Freud was wrong about a lot of things, and this was one of them. I admire him for some of his accomplishments, just as I admire Descartes for some of his, but both of them were wrong about consciousness.
 
  • #34
hypnagogue
Staff Emeritus
Science Advisor
Gold Member
2,277
2
Originally posted by Mentat
Make up your mind. Either the matrix is a dream world, or it is the computers. Either the thoughts of a person are (nothing but) the certain synaptic processes in their brain, or they are extra "subjective qualia" in a phenomenological world.

The matrix is a set of information structures existing in computers. These information structures are subjectively experienced by en-matrixed brains as a closed phenomenological world.

But one doesn't percieve a flower in the matrix. One perceives the flower in the real world (where their brain is). There is, in fact, only one world...and no flower.

But there is no "matrix brain". There is only the one brain, processing incoming signals in the form of electrochemical activity in the neurons and across the synapses.

I was describing the perception of a matrix flower, vis a vis a 'real' flower. The distinction is only to be made in the ontology of the source of the input to the brain. And there is an objectively existing 'matrix flower'-- it is simply the information structures in the matrix which represent a flower.

But now the semantic problems will either come up, or be cut off at the knees...I do not think that the matrix flower, or the "hologram" of a flower is pretty, because there is no such thing. There is a real flower (actually there are billions of them), that I have seen before, and that I thought was pretty, not because I thought the sum of the processes in my brain was "pretty", but because the very way I was processing gave rise to the "pretty" sensation.


"Gave rise to the pretty sensation?" The processing doesn't give rise to the pretty sensation, it is the pretty sensation. (Sorry, I couldn't resist. :wink:)

In any case, I know what you're trying to say with that statement and I agree. But clearly you must see that if it is brain processing P that gives rise to the "pretty" sensation, then it doesn't matter what the source of stimulation is so long as it illicits P. It doesn't matter if there's really a 'real' flower there or not. So if we're going to talk about a 'real' flower being pretty, there's nothing wrong with saying a matrix flower is pretty either; the circumstance of prettiness is identical in both cases. The 'real' flower is not what's pretty-- what's pretty is what's going on in the brain. So the existence of the 'real' flower is important only insofar as it acts as a generator of sensory inputs to the human brain which illicit perceptions of flowerness/prettiness by reflecting light in its characteristic way. The data structure we call the matrix flower, in this sense, is precisely the same thing-- it is a generator of sensory inputs to the brain which illicit perceptions of flowerness/prettiness.

My apologies. Still friends? :smile:


Of course.

A world X is a set of physically existing things. If it were not, then we would never receive stimuli in the form of energy. Also, I wish to re-iterate that there is no "world" in our brains (physical or otherwise), composed of the sums of these stimuli (and the reactions thereto), which is the conclusion that you seem to be leaning toward. There is, really, no "sum" of these stimuli in the mind, but merely a set of processes that occur at different times, for different reasons, but which appear to have synergistic properties to them.

Well, this is the rub, isn't it? Can we meaningfully call something physical if it does not fit the criteria for physicality? If we can never observe something to exist (either directly or indirectly) in our observable physical universe, but we are given that it exists, can we rightfully call it 'physical'?

The point is that the notion of physicality hinges critically on our ability to know about something in our own physical world. Suppose for a minute that we are living in a simulated matrix world. Then there is, say, a chair sitting next to the vat that holds your brain, which is hooked up to the matrix computers. You, I, and everyone else living in this matrix world can never know about the existence of this chair. Do we still call it physical? If we do, then you have posited the existence of a physical thing which does not meet the criterion of observability. You, being unable to observe this chair, would of course say "there exists a physical chair that I cannot even in principle observe? Nonsense!"

I disagree. We could not determine the information in the computer as being a quark or an electron, unless it (the computer) incited in us the same experience that we have when we discuss or observe (you can't actually observe them anyway, but that's not too relevant (I hope)) electrons and quarks. We are being stimulated in the same way, but in this case there are no electrons or quarks (real or otherwise) that are the cause (or part of the cause) of this stimulation.

This came in response to the following paragraph I wrote:

We presume the most basic building blocks of our world to be quarks, electrons, and the like. If we were actually in a matrix, then there would exist a deeper level to the ontology of our world that we could not hope to know: quarks and electrons would actually be themselves composed of bits (or whatever) of information in the computer matrix. Everything we call 'physical' would actually refer to information existing in this computer. The things we call 'the laws of physics' would actually be rules existing in the computer code. And so on.

I don't see how your response negates any of my claims. If we have been in a matrix this whole time, who is to say that electrons and quarks even exist in the physics of the world that houses the computer matrix that we are hooked up to? Even if we assume the physics of the 'real' world and the matrix world are identical, your point still does not negate what I have said here. All the claims we make about quarks and electrons and the like would pertain only to matrix electrons and matrix quarks, because this is all we would have been studying. And despite our best efforts, we would not be able to tell that these electrons and quarks are really composed on a deeper level of information structures in the computer matrix.


Not at all. If you say that the immaterial mind itself is physical, then you require the homunculus, since a physical entity (a separate "mind", in this case) inside my brain is useless without an "inner eye" with which to percieve it.

Not at all. Suppose our 'real' brains sitting in the matrix vat operate exactly how you fancy them to operate, with Dennett's MDP and so on. Then we in the matrix have immaterial (unobservable) minds, which are simply our 'real' brains sitting in the vats of the 'real' world. You would like to call these brains physical, but they are unobservable to us even in principle. This creates a standard whereby it is acceptable to call unobservable things physical. Thus, by this same standard, we could call the abstract 'mind' or 'soul' or whatever a physical entity though we have no means of observing them; since we have defined these things to be physical, we do not have the traditional dualist problem of physical/non-physical interactionism. The mode by which this mind or soul or whatever operates is not important-- it is not by necessity evocative of the homunculan problem, for the same reason the matrix/brain example at the beginning of this paragraph did not fall prey by logical necessity to the homunculan problem. I could simply claim that this unobservable physical soul does not produce subjective experience, but simply is the subjective experience.

Besides, I find the two choices most unsatisfactory, since the first one refers to all that exists, which is redundant (anything that can be referred to exists (note: this does not preclude the use of words that don't really refer to anything, but are just words...it merely precludes actually referring to something, and that "thing"'s not existing)); while the second implies that there is a closed set of stimuli that make up "our world", when in fact there is one world, and every one of our brains is a part of that world.

By the way you are defining things, everything that exists is indeed physical. What is a word, but a set of electrochemical processes in a brain, or a pattern of ink on a page, or a set of electrical processes in a computer monitor?

It doesn't work for "the mind" (seperate from the brain) to be a physical or non-physical thing, it just can't exist at all (which is why Dualism is impossible, no matter how you redefine these terms). If it does exist, then there must be an inner homunculus to observe it, otherwise it's of no use to you, since you never become consicous of what's going on "in there".

The mind exists, axiomatically in fact. Let us define the mind as the complete set of subjective experiences of a particular person for a particular duration of time. You have simply described the mind materialistically in terms of Dennett's MDP, but you have not by any means shown that it does not exist.
 
Last edited:
  • #35
Mentat
3,918
3
Originally posted by hypnagogue
The matrix is a set of information structures existing in computers. These information structures are subjectively experienced by en-matrixed brains as a closed phenomenological world.

What in the world is an "information structure"?

I was describing the perception of a matrix flower, vis a vis a 'real' flower. The distinction is only to be made in the ontology of the source of the input to the brain. And there is an objectively existing 'matrix flower'-- it is simply the information structures in the matrix which represent a flower.

No, it is simply an electrical stimulus to the brain of the "en-matrixed" person. Other than that, I think we mainly agree on this particular point.

"Gave rise to the pretty sensation?" The processing doesn't give rise to the pretty sensation, it is the pretty sensation. (Sorry, I couldn't resist. :wink:)

:smile:

Of course, it's not actually correct, since the pretty sensation has to do with stimulations of the limbic lobe, and the secretion of certain hormones, but...oh well.

In any case, I know what you're trying to say with that statement and I agree. But clearly you must see that if it is brain processing P that gives rise to the "pretty" sensation, then it doesn't matter what the source of stimulation is so long as it illicits P.

Yes, except, let's be clear: P ≡ electrochemical stimulation of limbic lobe and secretion of hormones. Nothing else, right?

It doesn't matter if there's really a 'real' flower there or not. So if we're going to talk about a 'real' flower being pretty, there's nothing wrong with saying a matrix flower is pretty either; the circumstance of prettiness is identical in both cases.

Except that there is no matrix flower! Did you miss the point of the encounter with the little Buddhist kid? There is no spoon!

Seriously, in one case, the electrochemical stimulation was caused by light reflected off an actual flower, in the second case (matrix), the same electrochemical activity (within neurons and synapses) was caused more directly, by an electrical stimulation.

The 'real' flower is not what's pretty-- what's pretty is what's going on in the brain.

No, there is nothing in the brain that is pretty (much like there is nothing in my brain that turns red when I see something red (since such a thing would not only fall into the homunculun problem, but would be a rather ridiculous postulate in itself)), there is photonic stimulus in the retina, and there is electrochemical acitivity on the part of neurons and synapses between them. I keep feeling that you are adding to this unnecessarily, since Dennett has proposed a theory (which needn't be correct, of course, but might be) that needs nothing "extra".

Well, this is the rub, isn't it? Can we meaningfully call something physical if it does not fit the criteria for physicality? If we can never observe something to exist (either directly or indirectly) in our observable physical universe, but we are given that it exists, can we rightfully call it 'physical'?

What do you mean? If something fits our standard of physicality, then we should be able to observe it as existing, shouldn't we (at least in principle)?

Sorry, g2g right now. I will finish my response tomorrow...perhaps you should wait until I finish it before responding?
 

Suggested for: Dualism made intelligible

  • Last Post
Replies
15
Views
644
  • Last Post
Replies
10
Views
337
  • Last Post
Replies
2
Views
243
  • Last Post
Replies
3
Views
617
  • Last Post
Replies
17
Views
975
Replies
5
Views
360
  • Last Post
Replies
23
Views
2K
  • Last Post
Replies
11
Views
571
  • Last Post
Replies
25
Views
953
Top