Help me understand dualism?

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  • #51
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Originally posted by hypnagogue
You could indeed equally well phrase it, "it is like something for a dog to do X," eg "it is like something for a dog to smell a tree." The phrasing "it is like something to be a dog" just highlights the first-person view of this 'like-ness.' That is, when we say "it is like something to be a dog," we mean something roughly like

1) A dog has a conscious perception associated with e.g. its behavior of smelling a tree-- it is 'like something' for the dog to smell the tree.
2) The dog's experience of smelling the tree is only accessible to the dog itself.
3) Therefore, if you were the dog, it would be like something for you to smell the tree.
4) Therefore, it is like something to be the dog (eg to be the dog smelling the tree, or to be the dog experiencing any other arbitrary conscious perception).

I think you get the substance of the idea; it's just a matter of phrasing.

I'm sorry, but I still don't like it.

If it is like something to do a particular thing as a dog does that thing, then that dog has subjective experience, and I never denied this. However, if it is like something to be a dog, then doesn't that refer (as you mentioned) to the first-person perspective of being a dog...but the dog doesn't know it's a dog, and so this couldn't take place, could it?
 
  • #52
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Originally posted by Sikz
What about the uncertainty principle? Couldn't the "mind" or "soul" or whatever you want to call it interact with the universe that way? Einstein is quoted as saying "I cannot believe that God plays dice!" but who says GOD is playing dice? What if the randomness of quantum physics provides a way for the non-physical to affect the physical?

How? The Uncertainty principle refers to a physical phenomenon. Remember my deduction of why a physical entity can never interact with a non-physical one?
 
  • #53
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What I was saying about the Uncertainty Principle is that it leaves some things random, multiple possible outcomes with nothing to decide which occurs, one simply happens. No way to decide which PHYSICLY, but one of them obviously occurs (assuming we observe it... now we could go into all that oddness but it's really irrelevant to my point). Therefore since the outcome is physical but not determined by a physical thing, it must be determined by some non-physical thing. So either the non-physical thing is just something called "random" or it is something else, possibly even something intelligent. You see what I'm saying?
 
  • #54
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Originally posted by Sikz
What I was saying about the Uncertainty Principle is that it leaves some things random, multiple possible outcomes with nothing to decide which occurs, one simply happens. No way to decide which PHYSICLY, but one of them obviously occurs (assuming we observe it... now we could go into all that oddness but it's really irrelevant to my point). Therefore since the outcome is physical but not determined by a physical thing, it must be determined by some non-physical thing. So either the non-physical thing is just something called "random" or it is something else, possibly even something intelligent. You see what I'm saying?

Yes, but I think you're wrong. No offense, but there needn't be anything "determining" the result, since the "probability" is the result, and thus determination would be out of place, wouldn't it?
 
  • #55
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And as for your explanation of why physical and aphysical cannot interact (which I just reread)... You are thinking of a direct interaction (the way physical reacts with physical or aphysical reacts with aphsyical, a homotypic reactio). But the type of reaction I am talking about already occurs everyday- a good example is the moon. The moon reacts with the earth to orbit it, however there is a third element involved. The element is movement itself, the concept. Earth/gravity induces movement[moon]. Movement is a physical object in a certain STATE- a state is nonphysical. An aphysical object, however, can also be in a state, so it is in the aphysical catagory (since aphysical is anything besides physical) but it actually is more like this:

Aphysical States Physical

Random is a state that manifests itself as a physical occurence. It is possible that the state is caused (or rather, influenced) by something aphysical- rather hard to explain, but I'm sure you understand what I'm getting at.

Edit: And you are correct, there needn't be anything determining the result, and depending on your definition of a "thing" you might could say there isn't. I am only stating the possibility that an aphysical thing COULD determine/influence the result, and so achieve communication with the physical.
 
  • #56
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Originally posted by Mentat
I'm sorry, but I still don't like it.

If it is like something to do a particular thing as a dog does that thing, then that dog has subjective experience, and I never denied this. However, if it is like something to be a dog, then doesn't that refer (as you mentioned) to the first-person perspective of being a dog...but the dog doesn't know it's a dog, and so this couldn't take place, could it?
The dog has never heard of dogs. But the dog experiences being whatever it is. In other words it is like something to be a dog. If you were a dog you would experience smells and sounds and pains and so on, assuming dogs are conscious.
 
  • #57
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Originally posted by Sikz
And as for your explanation of why physical and aphysical cannot interact (which I just reread)...

Just a quick point, I appreciate your open-mindedness in having re-read my deduction on the matter, instead of just disagreeing outright. Thank you for that.

You are thinking of a direct interaction (the way physical reacts with physical or aphysical reacts with aphsyical, a homotypic reactio). But the type of reaction I am talking about already occurs everyday- a good example is the moon. The moon reacts with the earth to orbit it, however there is a third element involved. The element is movement itself, the concept. Earth/gravity induces movement[moon]. Movement is a physical object in a certain STATE- a state is nonphysical.

A state of a physical object is a description of that object's position and the derivatives therefrom. Motion is just a first-order derivative; the change in position on the part of the object in question. There is nothing non-physical here.

An aphysical object, however, can also be in a state, so it is in the aphysical catagory (since aphysical is anything besides physical) but it actually is more like this:

Aphysical States Physical

Look, even if states were non-physical (which I still don't think they are, but if they were) they would then fall under the category of "intermediaries" (as per my aforementioned deduction) and would be completely useless, since the aphysical object wishing to interact was aphysical in the first place - so what use would it have for another aphysical extension?

Random is a state that manifests itself as a physical occurence. It is possible that the state is caused (or rather, influenced) by something aphysical- rather hard to explain, but I'm sure you understand what I'm getting at.

It is indeed possible, but not necessary and thus an extra assumption.
 
  • #58
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Originally posted by Canute
The dog has never heard of dogs. But the dog experiences being whatever it is. In other words it is like something to be a dog. If you were a dog you would experience smells and sounds and pains and so on, assuming dogs are conscious.

If I were a dog, I would indeed experience all of these external phenomena, but introspection would be lacking. Thus, I wouldn't know what it was like to be a dog, but would know what it was like to catch a ball or chase a burglar, etc. And, if I don't know what it is like to be "me" then it isn't like anything to be me, since no one can tell what it's like to be me better than I can, right?

It still seems like introspection is necessary for it to be "like something" to be a dog...while consciousness is still present, self-consciousness is not.
 
  • #59
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Originally posted by Mentat
If I were a dog, I would indeed experience all of these external phenomena, but introspection would be lacking. Thus, I wouldn't know what it was like to be a dog, but would know what it was like to catch a ball or chase a burglar, etc. And, if I don't know what it is like to be "me" then it isn't like anything to be me, since no one can tell what it's like to be me better than I can, right?
That seems completely self-contradictory to me. Perhaps I'm misreading it. How can you have an experience that is not experienced, not like anything to have? What do you call an 'experience'?

It still seems like introspection is necessary for it to be "like something" to be a dog...while consciousness is still present, self-consciousness is not. [/B]
This is sort of true and sort of false imho. Selfless experiences are the stuff of Buddhism, and that's a big topic. However we needn't get into that. There is no evidence that dogs are are not aware of experiencing existence even when they're not catching balls or chasing burglars.
 
  • #60
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Originally posted by Canute
That seems completely self-contradictory to me. Perhaps I'm misreading it. How can you have an experience that is not experienced, not like anything to have? What do you call an 'experience'?

No, that's the point, the dog does experience all of these things, except that s/he never experiences that s/he is a dog. That requires introspection.

This is sort of true and sort of false imho. Selfless experiences are the stuff of Buddhism, and that's a big topic. However we needn't get into that. There is no evidence that dogs are are not aware of experiencing existence even when they're not catching balls or chasing burglars.

They experience their existence, but they do not perceive that they are doing that (since they don't introspect) and thus don't know what it's like to be (I keep emphasizing this word for a reason) a dog.
 
  • #61
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Originally posted by Mentat
If I were a dog, I would indeed experience all of these external phenomena, but introspection would be lacking. Thus, I wouldn't know what it was like to be a dog, but would know what it was like to catch a ball or chase a burglar, etc. And, if I don't know what it is like to be "me" then it isn't like anything to be me, since no one can tell what it's like to be me better than I can, right?

There is no absolute thing it is like to catch a ball. The experience of catching a ball is contingent upon the cognitive system that is doing the catching. Take 3 examples: a normal human H, a human on psychoactive drugs P, and a dog D. We know that the experience of catching a ball will be different for P and H, and we have good reason to think that it will be even more different for D.

A rough analogy for this phenomenon is to say that P, H, and D all view the world through different lenses. "What it is like to be X" then amounts to "what it is like to see the world through the lens of X." If some particular creature cannot see itself through its lens, but can see at least some things nonetheless, then it is still like something to see the world through its lens. Likewise, if some particular creature has no sense of self, but has some consciousness of at least some things nonetheless, then it is still like something to be that creature.
 
  • #62
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Originally posted by Mentat
No, that's the point, the dog does experience all of these things, except that s/he never experiences that s/he is a dog. That requires introspection.

You cannot have an experience unless you are experiencing having it by defintion. There is always 'something that it is like' to have an experience. If there isn't then it isn't an experience. Either there is 'something that it is like' to be a dog or dogs do not have experiences. It's either/or, it can't be a bit of both.

You can prove this for yourself. Have you ever had an experience which wasn't like something to have?
 
  • #63
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Originally posted by hypnagogue
There is no absolute thing it is like to catch a ball. The experience of catching a ball is contingent upon the cognitive system that is doing the catching. Take 3 examples: a normal human H, a human on psychoactive drugs P, and a dog D. We know that the experience of catching a ball will be different for P and H, and we have good reason to think that it will be even more different for D.

A rough analogy for this phenomenon is to say that P, H, and D all view the world through different lenses. "What it is like to be X" then amounts to "what it is like to see the world through the lens of X." If some particular creature cannot see itself through its lens, but can see at least some things nonetheless, then it is still like something to see the world through its lens. Likewise, if some particular creature has no sense of self, but has some consciousness of at least some things nonetheless, then it is still like something to be that creature.

I see what you mean. I guess my point was resting on the idea that for it to be "like something" to be X doing Y is not significant, but to just be X...well, that would require introspection. Now that I come to think about it, it really isn't possible to "just be X", since you are always doing something, and it wouldn't be "like anything" to be you, since you wouldn't "be". In that case, it makes me wonder if it's "like something" to "be" anything! I mean, it's like something to be X doing Y, but is it like something to just be X?

Anyway, I can see that it's like something for the dog to see the world through the "eyes" of a dog, and it is thus "like something" to be the dog.
 
  • #64
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Originally posted by Canute
You cannot have an experience unless you are experiencing having it by defintion. There is always 'something that it is like' to have an experience. If there isn't then it isn't an experience. Either there is 'something that it is like' to be a dog or dogs do not have experiences. It's either/or, it can't be a bit of both.

You can prove this for yourself. Have you ever had an experience which wasn't like something to have?

No, I had already said that it is always "like something" to experience something, but was wondering of it was always "like something" to be a certain conscious creature. I guess I was wrong on this point as well, though....not completely convinced, but leaning toward that conclusion .
 
  • #65
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Mentat

I don't think you're completely wrong. (I'm not sure it's possible to ever be completely wrong).

'Being' is normally associated with knowing that one exists. This doesn't require anything but having an experience of existing. In that sense you are wrong about 'doing', having to catch balls or chase burglars or whatever in order to be conscious.

But at the limit, in a state of what some people would call 'selfless' being, there is a question about whether that constitues consciousnes or not. Without a 'self' can one be conscious? At first glance the answer seems to be no.

But Buddhists say yes and no, and that being and non-being are one at the limit. There are two ways of looking at it. They suggest that the we should look at it both ways, since the duality of being and non-being is an illusion, the wrong way of thinking about it (or experiencing it).

(They also say that the only way to test this assertion is to find out for yourself).
 
  • #66
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Originally posted by Canute
Mentat

I don't think you're completely wrong. (I'm not sure it's possible to ever be completely wrong).

'Being' is normally associated with knowing that one exists. This doesn't require anything but having an experience of existing. In that sense you are wrong about 'doing', having to catch balls or chase burglars or whatever in order to be conscious.

But at the limit, in a state of what some people would call 'selfless' being, there is a question about whether that constitues consciousnes or not. Without a 'self' can one be conscious? At first glance the answer seems to be no.

But Buddhists say yes and no, and that being and non-being are one at the limit. There are two ways of looking at it. They suggest that the we should look at it both ways, since the duality of being and non-being is an illusion, the wrong way of thinking about it (or experiencing it).

(They also say that the only way to test this assertion is to find out for yourself).

Hmm...didn't David Hume once write something about whether there was a self aside from his experiences? Something about how, if you were to strip away all of his experiences and knowledge and genes (though I don't think he actually mentioned genes) there would be no "self" left behind, and thus the self must be the collection of these things.
 
  • #67
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Yeah, I think just about everyone, whatever their metaphysical beliefs, agrees that the 'self' is an illusion, a personal construct.
 
  • #68
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Originally posted by Canute
Yeah, I think just about everyone, whatever their metaphysical beliefs, agrees that the 'self' is an illusion, a personal construct.

If only this were true! There are so many people who subscribe to a kind of Dualism, wherein the "mindful self" can remain a seperate entity from the body and the experiences...that's part of the reason for my contempt for Dualism: Most of its forms are merely there for the benefit of people who can't accept what science and philosophy have shown time and time again.

However, hypnagogue has propose a very different dualism, and I'm not completely sure that he's wrong.
 
  • #69
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Originally posted by Mentat
If only this were true! There are so many people who subscribe to a kind of Dualism, wherein the "mindful self" can remain a seperate entity from the body and the experiences...that's part of the reason for my contempt for Dualism: Most of its forms are merely there for the benefit of people who can't accept what science and philosophy have shown time and time again.

However, hypnagogue has propose a very different dualism, and I'm not completely sure that he's wrong.
I didn't say that people thought that consciousness was an illusion! I said 'self'. Very few people think that consciousness is an illusion, if any.
 
  • #70
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Originally posted by Canute
I didn't say that people thought that consciousness was an illusion! I said 'self'.

Indeed. Dualism usually has to do with the "self", not just consciousness.
 
  • #71
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Originally posted by Mentat
Indeed. Dualism usually has to do with the "self", not just consciousness.
It is sometimes, I agree. This is because some people think that consciousness is no more than 'self'. Not many, but there are some. Is this relevant?
 

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