Dualism

Serious discussions on politics, religion, and the like.

Re: Dualism

Postby Packbat » Wed Apr 23, 2014 7:14 pm

RyukaTana wrote:If I put a pilot in a plane, and then smash the plane's engine, the plane will stop functioning the same way. Does this mean the pilot has no effect on how the plane functions?

No, it means that the engine has an effect on how the plane functions. If I remove the air from my room, then I will stop posting to the Leftover Soup forums, but that does not mean that my brain has no effect on my forum posts.
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Re: Dualism

Postby Inverse » Wed Apr 23, 2014 7:28 pm

We can look at a plane and see evidence of a pilot: hey, look, here are controls. Hey, look, here's a seat. Hey, look, here's a warm butt-print. The brain has no such evidence, no such space. We can follow the mechanisms of a plane pretty well—pilot moves controls move bits of plane change the way air moves around the plane creates flight—and disrupting any of those steps causes the plane to stop flying. We can similarly, although on a more basic level, follow thoughts from neuron to neuron, action potential to action potential.

Descartes thought that the mind and the brain connected at the pineal gland; we now know that the pineal gland handles some junk about hormones. In the pineal gland, and everywhere else in the brain, there's nowhere for a pilot to fit.
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Re: Dualism

Postby MysticWav » Wed Apr 23, 2014 8:26 pm

There's also nowhere in the brain for experience to fit. And your silicon example is not an example of new properties, it an example of new functionality using existing properties.
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Re: Dualism

Postby Inverse » Wed Apr 23, 2014 8:53 pm

There's plenty of room for experience to fit: the ways that neurons connect to and disconnect from each other are affected by how they are used. Damage to certain parts of the brain disrupts this and disrupts memory; there's certainly no evidence of memory or experience storage somewhere other than within the physical structure of the brain.

I'm not certain how you're distinguishing between "functionality" and "properties." A subatomic particle has vastly different properties than a block of silicon does, I don't think that's up for debate. A computer has the [properties/functionality] that it stores, displays, alters, sends, and so on data. Humans have the [property/functionality] of being able to remember information. Humans have the [property/functionality] that they are able to experience themselves and report on that experience. Termites and other hive insects have the [property/functionality] of being able to create massive, organized structures without any help beyond that provided by simple chemical signaling; do termite hives have a property, by your definition, resembling human consciousness?
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Re: Dualism

Postby RyukaTana » Wed Apr 23, 2014 9:22 pm

Packbat wrote:
RyukaTana wrote:If I put a pilot in a plane, and then smash the plane's engine, the plane will stop functioning the same way. Does this mean the pilot has no effect on how the plane functions?

No, it means that the engine has an effect on how the plane functions. If I remove the air from my room, then I will stop posting to the Leftover Soup forums, but that does not mean that my brain has no effect on my forum posts.


How does that refute my point? I'm not suggesting the brain has no effect, and in fact, I'm not arguing for dualism. I'm only stating that because the brain clearly effects a function, does not mean there are no other effect.

(This is directed at the general anti-dualism argument here, not just Packbat.) In this analogy, let's say the observer can't see inside the plane and doesn't know what a pilot is... The engine breaks, the plane crashes, and the observer can definitely say the engine effected the plane, but that does not mean they can say that nothing else did.

This is like saying the Earth is not round because we have observed it's flatness. I agree that arguing that dualism must be true is clearly false, but to suggest that it isn't true is also false. You may act upon experience, but ultimately, collective human experience tells us that we cannot know and we constantly fail to understand how little we know.
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Re: Dualism

Postby Packbat » Thu Apr 24, 2014 12:20 am

I apologize, RyukaTana - I misunderstood you. Shutting up now.
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Re: Dualism

Postby snowyowl » Thu Apr 24, 2014 3:22 am

RyukaTana wrote:This is like saying the Earth is not round because we have observed it's flatness. I agree that arguing that dualism must be true is clearly false, but to suggest that it isn't true is also false. You may act upon experience, but ultimately, collective human experience tells us that we cannot know and we constantly fail to understand how little we know.

I agree that we can't know either way. But what about Occam's Razor? If our experience is explained just as well with or without a currently-unknown shadow mechanism that produces consciousness, then we should start from the assumption that it doesn't exist. At least, until we find a phenomenon that is best explained by this mechanism.

Of course, consciousness itself is such a phenomenon. But I think the monist view explains our experience while being simpler than the dualist view, and hence it is more likely (though not certain) to be true.
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Re: Dualism

Postby RyukaTana » Thu Apr 24, 2014 5:03 am

What about Occam's Razor? That's like asking: 'What about the Ten Commandments?' It's just shit someone said, follow it if you want.

Except, Occam's Razor isn't even a singular concept. It's a bunch of ideas from a bunch of people that center around the concept of making as few (if any) assumptions as possible. It's an assumption to say anything more than: 'I dunno what the fuck consciousness is or comes from, no human does, and even if we were really sure, we'd never know', which is my position on it.

Why should we start from any position? Science does not benefit from a specific starting point, either it should start from a place where one has no conclusion, or it should start from as many conclusions as possible to give multiple insights into why things work.

I imagine some dualists would suggest that the very abstraction of the 'mind' is itself dualistic. That is, that all the gray matter and electrical impulses working together in such a way as to be entirely separate from any process that could be undertaken by themselves, creates something beyond both matter and energy.

Either way, if you're arguing that no one should be sure that there is something other than energy and matter at work, fine. I am arguing that as well, and that no one should be sure that there isn't, nor should anyone insist that it is wrong to believe either.
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Re: Dualism

Postby snowyowl » Thu Apr 24, 2014 5:24 am

I think I'm in agreement with you, but just to check:

Let there be a statement X, which is either true or false. We have no material evidence either way, not even vague statistical guesses. Does this mean we should act as if X has a 50% chance of being true and a 50% chance of being false? Or are there some things that we should consider unlikely, even before we've collected any evidence against them? Or is the question absurd?
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Re: Dualism

Postby RyukaTana » Thu Apr 24, 2014 6:16 am

I wouldn't assign percentages, I think it's a matter of situational awareness. How much does it matter? What can I do with what I think? How could thinking outside what seems obvious be useful? Does it hurt myself or others to believe in something I can't prove?

Given your suggestion in the morality thread, that events are circumstantial and each must be approached with a far more complex structure than: 'Is it right or wrong?' (At least, that was my interpretation) I think we're on the same page. My first statement in this thread was entirely about refuting the concept of the argument I was responding to, not made to support either side.
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