The Problem of Other Minds

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  • #51
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LW Sleeth said:
Part of the debate that is going on is trying to decide if consciousness is created by the brain, or if consciousness is something self-existent, pre-existent (to the brain), something very basic, something possibly even universal that is only given "shape" by the functions of the brain.
Hmm, indeed. That's why I ask you, if consciousness is ever explained functionally, do you think it could be represented as a computational formula?
 
  • #52
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confutatis said:
There is no experience which can be put into words! Spiritual experiences are no different. You are giving words a magical power they simply don't have, and then saying that magical power of words doesn't work for spiritual experiences. Well, it doesn't work for any experience!

Close your eyes and think about the word "warmth". Do you feel warm simply by thinking about the word? Are you surprised the word "warmth" doesn't make anyone warm? Of course not!

Now close your eyes and think about an experience that cannot be put into words, then let me choose an arbitrary word to refer to that experience. I'll call it "ohmygod". Are you saying that if my experience of 'ohmygod' is close to your experience of it, we still can't talk about it the way we talk about warmth? That somehow 'ohmygod' is special in a way warmth isn't? Sorry, I think that's nonsense.

There's only one kind of experience which cannot be communicated with words: the experiences only you have and nobody else does. Most people don't take those kinds of experiences seriously for the simple fact that, unless you're God, those experiences can't be real.
I despair. Can't you see your own self-contradictions. You're talking nonsense and four of five people have patiently, carefully and at length pointed your errors and you take no notice at all.
 
  • #53
confutatis
(late reply #1)

LW Sleeth said:
To make your case, however, you've (as you did in your responses to Fliption) explained in a great many and articulate ways what the relationship of language is to consciousness. Most of what you say seems pretty on target in that respect (to me anyway). The point is, all you've talked about is the relationship of language to consciousness, to which you've heard us repeatedly say "we agree."
That's good. It's a good start.

For me at least, what has been frustrating is to agree with the points you make about language and yet still not be able to address issues I see which your explanation does not account for (in terms of defining consciousness).
Those issues are far more complex than you might realize. We can't discuss them without first establishing a good foundation.

That's because when these issues are brought up, you explain once again, though in a new way, what the relationship of language is to consciousness without really answering the objections being raised to your model.
These kinds of statements are what make me sure you don't understand what I'm talking about. I'm not proposing any model. All I'm saying is, I think language can be used as a solid foundation upon which to create a model for consciousness. If I can't get people to agree with this, why should I waste my time building a model?

Similarly, I think your love of understanding (and the relationship of language to understanding) has made you over-focus on the understanding aspect of consciousness.
I'm not overfocussing on the understanding aspect of consciousness (whatever that is), I'm trying to focus on understanding a particular aspect of consciousness. Quite different things.

With great reluctance we have to admit there are more basic things than understanding which make consciousness possible. One of those things is experience. Another, I believe, is "knowing." I see consciousness progressing like this: experience, understand, know.
You see consciousness that way, others see it in different ways. What difference does it make how one sees it?

A rational approach to any subject cannot possibly be based on idiosyncratic views. If Newton had to decide "what mass really is" before advancing his laws of motion, to this day we would still not understand why the earth circles around the sun.

I understand what you and the others have in mind, and I don't know a way to explain what the difference between our thinking is, other than asking you to get a degree in physics. In essence, the problem is that any theory is a lie; a lie that seems true in many cases but still a lie. What everyone is saying is, I can't build a theory of consciousness based on language because it would be a lie. What I'm saying is, I can create a lie about consciousness using language that would seem true in many cases.

You have to explain to us why experience and knowing are not MORE basic, as we claim they are, because that was the original debate. You might for instance, counter my little problem above of which consciousness traits we could do without (experience, understanding, or knowing) and still be conscious. According to my theory, we cannot possibly be conscious without experience; we could not learn without knowing, but I think we could still be conscious; and I think we could be conscious without understanding and language, but we wouldn't be human.
All I can say about your theory is that it is a lie, and that the best I can offer you is another lie. I have the feeling you will never be satisfied with any explanation of consciousness but your own, and that only because you're too engrossed in it to see that it is a lie.
 
  • #54
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Could wuliheron have changed his name? The resemblance is eerie.
 
  • #55
confutatis
(late reply #2

Fliption said:
What I'm talking about is not just any sort of loose semantic explanation, however. I am talking about a scientific explanation. Science does indeed impose limitations on itself on what it gets involved in and how it is engaged. The point being expressed by most here is that consciousness cannot be explained within the current materialist paradigm upon which science is based.
That is not definitely not true. You like to think it is true because you fear that a scientific explanation of consciousness will imply humans have no soul, or something to that extent. I think that notion is based on a misunderstanding of what a scientific explanation is. As I mentioned in my last post, a theory is just a lie that seems true - an illusion if you will.

Language is simply one behavioral characteristic of at least one conscious being(yourself). You can't possibly conclude that consciousness and language are essentially synonymous or co-dependent from this fact alone.
I did not conclude that, you did. I said language represents all aspects of consciousness we can talk about. If there are aspects of consciousness that cannot be talked about, then we cannot talk about them!

I personally, seriously doubt that animals are not conscious. I just don't consider language to be a crutch that consciousness needs to stand on.
If animals perceive the world as made of separate objects, then they already have an internal prototype of a language. If animals perceive the world as a single unknowable entity, then they are probably not conscious.

You think of language as a set of sounds and graphic symbols, but language is a lot more than that, it is a way of thinking.

I'll say this again: I am almost convinced that some of the materialists participating in this forum must be zombies because they can't possibly be talking about the same thing that I am when they speak of consciousness.
I find that a very sad thing to say.

Your view makes a statement about the way things are which is inconsistent with my own (and others)experiences. And when we follow it though logically, your view has no way to even begin. This discredits it completely. Why wouldn't you be bothered?
You can discredit any view. Even physics, the most solid of all sciences, can be discredit. Ultimately skepticism always wins. That's why I said all theories are lies; no theory has the power to convince someone who's determined to be a skeptic.

Now "god" has been inserted as a necessary plug and this is the first I've seen of this.
Well, God is always a nice explanation to anything we don't understand, isn't it?

I would just ask once again that you attempt to lay out all your premises and logically lead to your conclusion. If god is a premise then say that as well.
Come on, you're taking this way too seriously.
 
  • #56
Les Sleeth
Gold Member
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confutatis said:
(late reply #1)
These kinds of statements are what make me sure you don't understand what I'm talking about. I'm not proposing any model. All I'm saying is, I think language can be used as a solid foundation upon which to create a model for consciousness. If I can't get people to agree with this, why should I waste my time building a model?
It is a model. It might not be a complete model, but no one has been trying to create a complete model. We've been debating about what most defines or establishes consciousness. You agreed with Rorty, those of us debating you do not. If language is what does it, as you say, that plays a strong role in shaping any model of consciousness. So I don't see any point to quibbling about whether we are modelling or not, or me calling your concept a "model" as reason to say it makes you "sure you don't understand what I'm talking about."

confutatis said:
You see consciousness that way, others see it in different ways. What difference does it make how one sees it?

A rational approach to any subject cannot possibly be based on idiosyncratic views.
That's the point of true philosophical debate. Our differing views provide a way to exchange what we see. If one wants to learn more than one wants to prevail in a debate, others' views can teach us things. If individual views are only idiosycratic, then so are yours, mine and everyone else's -- so why are you wasting your time debating?

confutatis said:
If Newton had to decide "what mass really is" before advancing his laws of motion, to this day we would still not understand why the earth circles around the sun.
No one said you "had to decide." You are the one here offering your ideas for discussion, and so it is up to you to convince others of why you see things as you do.

confutatis said:
I understand what you and the others have in mind, and I don't know a way to explain what the difference between our thinking is, other than asking you to get a degree in physics.
Why would you think I need a degree in physics? Have I given you reason to believe there's something I don't understand about physics, but which I need to? My physics education is just fine, especially for what we are discussing.

confutatis said:
In essence, the problem is that any theory is a lie; a lie that seems true in many cases but still a lie. What everyone is saying is, I can't build a theory of consciousness based on language because it would be a lie. What I'm saying is, I can create a lie about consciousness using language that would seem true in many cases.
I've tried to understand what you mean by this, but you haven't exactly explained it well. My best guess for what you mean is that ideas can never perfectly represent reality. If so, then . . . so what? It's all we have to work with. I know it, you know it, everyone discussing here knows it, so why interject the unnecessary element of idea-reality non-correspondence into this discussion unless it's something we need?

confutatis said:
All I can say about your theory is that it is a lie, and that the best I can offer you is another lie. I have the feeling you will never be satisfied with any explanation of consciousness but your own, and that only because you're too engrossed in it to see that it is a lie.
Well, if you don't like to debate, what are you doing here? I don't think philosophical discussions necessarily have to lead to debate, but they are certain to when you say things with which others can't agree.

I am not particularly attached to "my own" explanation, but I am attached to having things make sense. As far as I'm concerned, you have not made your case. To me, it seems like it is you who is attached when you fail answer contradictions others point out to your theory that language is what most defines consciousness.

When I say I "see" a contradiction or problem, I mean that from living with and in my consciousness, and observing others' consciousness, what you say doesn't fit what I've learned. So I ask you to account for what isn't explained by your idea that language most defines consciousness. When asked, you give us another version of how you see things without addressing our concerns. That is not debating, that is just lecturing.

You are entitled to your opinion, that's for certain. But it's unrealistic to come to a philosophy forum and expect you won't be called on to justify your views.
 
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  • #57
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confutatis said:
That is not definitely not true.
Thank you for agreeing

You like to think it is true because you fear that a scientific explanation of consciousness will imply humans have no soul, or something to that extent. I think that notion is based on a misunderstanding of what a scientific explanation is. As I mentioned in my last post, a theory is just a lie that seems true - an illusion if you will.
Absolutely not. If you want to check it out you can do a search for a few threads started by hypnagogue that dealt with the ability for science to reductively explain consciousness. There were several threads on this theme and you'll find that there are very sound reasons for holding such a view. The implication that my views are based on how it impacts the existence of a soul is offensive. Perhaps the soul is a coloring pre-occupation of yours?

I did not conclude that, you did. I said language represents all aspects of consciousness we can talk about. If there are aspects of consciousness that cannot be talked about, then we cannot talk about them!
I don't disagree with this. My only point is that what we can talk about doesn't change anything about the real nature of consciousness.
If animals perceive the world as made of separate objects, then they already have an internal prototype of a language. If animals perceive the world as a single unknowable entity, then they are probably not conscious.

You think of language as a set of sounds and graphic symbols, but language is a lot more than that, it is a way of thinking.
This is funny. Actually, if you go back to the first thread that started this topic you'll see that it was I who suggested that you(or zk) weren't talking about linguistic things. What you were referring to was whatever method that was used to make a mental "distinction". So I am aware of what you're talking about and it only proves what I've been saying. That a learned language doesn't cause experience. Experience creates the need for the entity in question to develop a method of distinction. Language is a creation of necessity to communicate about experiences. It is nothing more. It has absolutely nothing to do with the ontology of consciousness.

I find that a very sad thing to say.
It is only sad if they truly aren't zombies and they act like it in order to avoid the necessary gap in their materialistic views. Of course, the real reason I said what I did is to again emphasize the fact that I cannot know for certain whether they are zombies or not. And the argument that they have the same concept of consciousness that I do, therefore they are conscious, does not follow because they clearly don't.

You can discredit any view. Even physics, the most solid of all sciences, can be discredit. Ultimately skepticism always wins. That's why I said all theories are lies; no theory has the power to convince someone who's determined to be a skeptic.
Again there is a implication here that people discussing this are "determined to be a skeptic". This is a bit of a cop out to suggest that people don't want to accept a reasonable view and change their minds accordngly if your view is strong enough to warrant it. I'm open to it btw. But I have to hear a consistent and reasoned idea. I have heard them before despite your claim that all is questionable. But I have not heard one here so far. You have made alot of agreeable points, but I don't connect them to your conclusions.

Well, God is always a nice explanation to anything we don't understand, isn't it?
Nice, but not very reasonable.

Come on, you're taking this way too seriously.
Apparently I'm taking you way too seriously. My mistake.
 
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  • #58
confutatis
LW Sleeth said:
Why would you think I need a degree in physics?
For the same reason you said I should study philosophy.
 
  • #59
confutatis
Fliption said:
Apparently I'm taking you way too seriously. My mistake.
You are forgiven.
 
  • #60
Les Sleeth
Gold Member
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confutatis said:
For the same reason you said I should study philosophy.
How are the two related? I suggested you might want review what thinkers have said about the premier role of experience in consciousness. I said that because it seemed like in discussions you disputed that. That's okay, even if it goes against all the best thinkers, but you still need to justify why your view should replace what the rest of the informed world believes.

Then there's your concern about my physics. If you feel there is something I need to bone up on, please let me know.
 
  • #61
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confutatis said:
You are forgiven.
Only I can grant this.
 

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