Dualism

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Re: Dualism

Postby JustinReilly » Thu Apr 24, 2014 8:10 am

MysticWav wrote:
It's not a stigma, it's a lack of evidence.

Both sides lack evidence for consciousness. And both require some fairly weird assumptions to work with it. But at the same time we know it exists. I'm not sure why one side without evidence gets to pretend it's saner than the other. ;)

I don't think I ever questioned anyone's sanity. But anyway, I really don't agree that the evidence is equally non-existent. I don't have any direct evidence, nor any conclusive evidence that consciousness resides in the brain, but there's lots that let one infer it. The biggest one being that I know that brains actually exist. I've got one right here between my ears. Then there's all the evidence that our brains are the source of every other mental state that we can experience. We don't know exactly how the brain produces consciousness, but that's not the same thing as saying we have no evidence at all that it does.

As for non-physical minds, we have no evidence for them whatsoever. And, as I'll explain below, we really, really should if they exist.
A bit soon to just chuck physics in the bin.
No one proposed chucking physics.

As I attempted to explain in my second paragraph, Cartesian dualists do. If you have something from outside the physical universe affecting things in the physical universe, it will be either adding or subtracting energy from the universe. If we were doing science in a world where seven billion minds were pushing energy in and out of the universe, physics wouldn't work. All of our calculations and measurements would be off. But in reality, we're able to measure the mass of an electron consistently to six or more decimal places.
As for epiphenomenalism, I don't think that helps you much, either. We are noticeably self-aware. We can reflect on ourselves and use that reflection to change our behavior. So, the part of us doing the thinking, reflecting, planning, and deciding; you personality, thoughts, feelings, everything that makes you you must still reside in your brain. What's the mind doing? Just experiencing. And it's doing a shitty job of that, because it thinks it's in control of everything. What's the point?

Since when does reality need a point?

It doesn't. I'm saying that once you strip the mind of thought, personality, emotion, and volition, why bother caring about it. It's not doing anything meaningful. I'm not sure it's even meaningful to describe it as a thing at all. All of the stuff that is ME is still in my brain. If that other thing exists, if it even makes logical sense to say that something like that is even existing, I have no reason to give a fuck about it. It's not me.
Last edited by JustinReilly on Thu Apr 24, 2014 10:56 am, edited 2 times in total.
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Re: Dualism

Postby RyukaTana » Thu Apr 24, 2014 8:58 am

JustinReilly wrote:It doesn't. I'm saying that once you strip the mind of thought, personality, emotion, and volition, why bother caring about it. It's not doing anything meaningful. I'm not sure it's even meaningful to describe it as a thing at all. All of the stuff that is ME is still in my brain. If that other thing exists, if it even makes logical sense to say that something like that is even existing, I have no reason to give a fuck about it. It's not me.


Mind =/= Brain, it's an abstract, and in a discussion about dualism, is as likely, if not moreso, to be related to the 'second self' or the 'other' or the 'soul' or whatever.

Also, who's to say, if this thing exists, that any of those things reside in the brain? What if this this is operating by triggering aspects of the brain based on what it feels?

If a telekinetic individual (it doesn't matter that such a thing does or does not 'exist', you know what I am talking about) were to move a puppet, it might be indistinguishable from the puppet moving of its own volition to observers. Even if it isn't you, in that case, you are more like a character in a video game than you are an entity, and you are the one that doesn't 'exist'. However, if there is a you, you absolutely have a reason to give a fuck about something which actually controls your actions.
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Re: Dualism

Postby snowyowl » Thu Apr 24, 2014 9:45 am

RyukaTana wrote:If a telekinetic individual (it doesn't matter that such a thing does or does not 'exist', you know what I am talking about) were to move a puppet, it might be indistinguishable from the puppet moving of its own volition to observers.

And the telekinetic individual isn't moving of its own volition, because brains made of atoms don't have volition - it's controlled by a soul. But why stop at two levels of recursion?

I heard a story once about a thinker who believed that inside the brain's vision center was an actual screen, and eyesight was created by a little man watching the screen and issuing orders to the body. Of course, he was stumped the moment somebody asked how the little man's eyesight worked.

Dualism starts from the assumption that things made out of electrons and quarks - or whatever the fundamental particles of the universe are - can't be conscious on their own. There must be a soul that connects to them and makes them conscious. But what makes the soul conscious? I'm not seriously suggesting that there's a meta-soul behind it - anyway the regression must end somewhere. I'm asking what the soul could possibly be made of, what properties it could possibly have, that make it fundamentally different from base organic matter. What property could allow the fundamental particles of the soul (the question stands even if the entire soul is a single indivisible particle) to be conscious when the fundamental particles of the brain are not?
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Re: Dualism

Postby RyukaTana » Thu Apr 24, 2014 9:56 am

Well, I hope you're not asking me, or the question is rhetorical, because I don't know. I said already, I'm refuting arguments here, not supporting dualism. All i can say is: 'Yeah, okay, that makes sense, but still, properties be all unknown and shit'... Basically, your question, in the context of this debate, sort of answers itself. That is to say, yes, you're right, that is the question of dualism, isn't it? (That probably loses something if you don't inflect correctly.)
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Re: Dualism

Postby MysticWav » Thu Apr 24, 2014 10:06 am

As I attempted to explain in my second paragraph, Cartesian dualists do. If you have something from outside the physical universe affecting things in the physical universe, it will be either adding or subtracting energy from the universe. If we were doing science in a world where seven billion minds were pushing energy in and out of the universe, physics wouldn't work. All of our calculations and measurements would be off. But in reality, we're able to measure the mass of an electron consistently to six or more decimal places.


I wonder if I can turn your earlier argument on its head. If, as you say, matter and energy are responsible for consciousness, which we know exists, shouldn't we observe a discrepancy in the same energy measurements? To cause neuron A to fire into neuron B requires a certain amount of energy. Are you saying we see that amount of energy, plus some extra energy expenditure that goes into consciousness? If not doesn't that mean that consciousness isn't operating in the same system?

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?


Indeed, a subatomic particle does have different properties, but an atomic particle does not. An atom of silicon has the same properties as a block of silicon. I mentioned the scale distinctions in an earlier post. But the brain is not subatomic. Let me see if I can help distinguish properties from functions a bit better. It is true that that an atom of iron cannot break down a door, while a battering ram of iron can. But "breaking down a door" is not a property, it's a function. We know that an atom of iron has properties such as "has mass" and "interacts with matter of the category the door is made of (I forget which force specifically does that, weak or strong, right?)", the function "breaking down a door" is simply built out of the properties of lots of little iron atoms all using their same existing properties. Life is just a function of all the base properties of the chemical potentials of it's constituent atoms. The properties are fundamental and don't change at the scale we're looking at. The suggestion of consciousness as just a function of matter requires a belief that somehow those base properties can be organized to produce that effect, and the phenomenon of consciousness is so orthogonal to all the acknowledged properties of matter and energy, that I'm not seeing how that approach is particularly plausible.
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Re: Dualism

Postby RyukaTana » Thu Apr 24, 2014 10:12 am

MysticWav wrote: The suggestion of consciousness as just a function of matter requires a belief that somehow those base properties can be organized to produce that effect, and the phenomenon of consciousness is so orthogonal to all the acknowledged properties of matter and energy, that I'm not seeing how that approach is particularly plausible.


Well, yeah, no one does... Hence the problem. Dualism is refuted by the exact same issue, just on the other side. Cause of consciousness = unknown property, does not insist that Cause of consciousness = unknown force/entity/state of being.
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Re: Dualism

Postby crayzz » Thu Apr 24, 2014 10:25 am

MysticWav wrote:You can get different values for a property. You're not going to get wholly new properties.


I'm curious as to what you think the conductivity of an electron, is. In any case, life, as I noted, is a property that certain biochemical arrangements hold that other matter does not.

I'm not convinced we understand consciousness enough to exclude currently known material properties as a cause. I think doing so is starting off with the position for which you want to argue.

MysticWav wrote:If, as you say, matter and energy are responsible for consciousness, which we know exists, shouldn't we observe a discrepancy in the same energy measurements? To cause neuron A to fire into neuron B requires a certain amount of energy. Are you saying we see that amount of energy, plus some extra energy expenditure that goes into consciousness?


Why are you assuming that the firing of neurons isn't consciousness itself? Obviously, the firing of a single neuron isn't, but why is the entire biochemical process of the brain being excluded? You're assuming that something else is required in order to substantiate that something else is required.

EDIT:

MysticWav wrote:An atom of silicon has the same properties as a block of silicon.


This actually isn't true. Singular atoms behave differently than aggregates.
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Re: Dualism

Postby JustinReilly » Thu Apr 24, 2014 10:51 am

MysticWav wrote:
As I attempted to explain in my second paragraph, Cartesian dualists do. If you have something from outside the physical universe affecting things in the physical universe, it will be either adding or subtracting energy from the universe. If we were doing science in a world where seven billion minds were pushing energy in and out of the universe, physics wouldn't work. All of our calculations and measurements would be off. But in reality, we're able to measure the mass of an electron consistently to six or more decimal places.


I wonder if I can turn your earlier argument on its head. If, as you say, matter and energy are responsible for consciousness, which we know exists, shouldn't we observe a discrepancy in the same energy measurements? To cause neuron A to fire into neuron B requires a certain amount of energy. Are you saying we see that amount of energy, plus some extra energy expenditure that goes into consciousness? If not doesn't that mean that consciousness isn't operating in the same system?

My claim is that consciousness is an emergent property of the massive, complex, interconnected web of neurons firing and communicating in an ordinary, causal manner. Complex properties emerging from simple interactions shouldn't be as hard to conceive of as you're making it sound. From the relatively simple interactions of a dozen different subatomic particles, the periodic table emerges. From the interaction of 120 or so chemical elements, we get, well, pretty much everything we see around us. A termite has the equivalent of maybe 50 lines of code in its brain. Put ten-thousand of them together and they build structures that to them tower over our tallest buildings. Emergent order is everywhere.

Now, pretty please with sugar on top, can you address my claim that Cartesian dualism is physically impossible?

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?


Indeed, a subatomic particle does have different properties, but an atomic particle does not. An atom of silicon has the same properties as a block of silicon. I mentioned the scale distinctions in an earlier post. But the brain is not subatomic. Let me see if I can help distinguish properties from functions a bit better. It is true that that an atom of iron cannot break down a door, while a battering ram of iron can. But "breaking down a door" is not a property, it's a function. We know that an atom of iron has properties such as "has mass" and "interacts with matter of the category the door is made of (I forget which force specifically does that, weak or strong, right?)", the function "breaking down a door" is simply built out of the properties of lots of little iron atoms all using their same existing properties. Life is just a function of all the base properties of the chemical potentials of it's constituent atoms. The properties are fundamental and don't change at the scale we're looking at. The suggestion of consciousness as just a function of matter requires a belief that somehow those base properties can be organized to produce that effect, and the phenomenon of consciousness is so orthogonal to all the acknowledged properties of matter and energy, that I'm not seeing how that approach is particularly plausible.
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Re: Dualism

Postby JustinReilly » Thu Apr 24, 2014 11:09 am

RyukaTana wrote:
JustinReilly wrote:It doesn't. I'm saying that once you strip the mind of thought, personality, emotion, and volition, why bother caring about it. It's not doing anything meaningful. I'm not sure it's even meaningful to describe it as a thing at all. All of the stuff that is ME is still in my brain. If that other thing exists, if it even makes logical sense to say that something like that is even existing, I have no reason to give a fuck about it. It's not me.


Mind =/= Brain, it's an abstract, and in a discussion about dualism, is as likely, if not moreso, to be related to the 'second self' or the 'other' or the 'soul' or whatever.

Also, who's to say, if this thing exists, that any of those things reside in the brain? What if this this is operating by triggering aspects of the brain based on what it feels?

If a telekinetic individual (it doesn't matter that such a thing does or does not 'exist', you know what I am talking about) were to move a puppet, it might be indistinguishable from the puppet moving of its own volition to observers. Even if it isn't you, in that case, you are more like a character in a video game than you are an entity, and you are the one that doesn't 'exist'. However, if there is a you, you absolutely have a reason to give a fuck about something which actually controls your actions.

I had fucked up the quotes, so it may have been unclear, but I was discussing epiphenomenalism, where the mind is merely an observer unable to control anything, merely experiencing it. I discussed the "puppet-on-a-string" type of dualism in the previous section.
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Re: Dualism

Postby crayzz » Thu Apr 24, 2014 11:15 am

MysticWav wrote:Now, pretty please with sugar on top, can you address my claim that Cartesian dualism is physically impossible?


I think Mystic has conceded that point, at least implicitly.
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