Dualism

Serious discussions on politics, religion, and the like.

Re: Dualism

Postby MysticWav » Thu Apr 24, 2014 3:13 pm

Alright, I think it's about time to call it a day on this conversation. Justin just circled around again to the "Physics does one kind of complex thing, therefore: anything!" argument I was talking about and rejected earlier. I'm sure he doesn't feel that's what he said, and I'm sure it seems like I've circled around a couple times myself. I think we've reached the point where we are all just talking past each other now. Probably best to set it down and let both sides digest what the other said until some other discussion in the distant future. :)

Thanks for the discussion all, was fun even if I don't think either side made any headway with the other. :)
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Re: Dualism

Postby crayzz » Thu Apr 24, 2014 3:42 pm

MysticWav wrote:Alright, I think it's about time to call it a day on this conversation. Justin just circled around again to the "Physics does one kind of complex thing, therefore: anything!" argument I was talking about and rejected earlier.


JustinReilly wrote: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.


I seriously don't know what you're talking about. At no point does Justin argue "complexity, therefore anything."
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Re: Dualism

Postby MysticWav » Thu Apr 24, 2014 4:01 pm

I fully believe you don't see that. Which is more or less why we've reached the end of the conversation, because I cannot think of a way to more clearly explain that that's exactly what that means than the previous couple iterations. I don't mean any insult by it, I've just literally run out of different ways explain why they are the same statement. :)
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Re: Dualism

Postby RyukaTana » Fri Apr 25, 2014 5:12 am

Bow out if you wish, but if there's still discussion to be had, I'm going to have it with or without 'permission' (unless Tailsteak intervenes for some reason). I have been having a rather enjoyable back-and-forth with at least Snowyowl thus far.
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Re: Dualism

Postby snowyowl » Fri Apr 25, 2014 5:33 am

Well, I think I've said all I wanted to say too. I don't think "consciousness" is a thing that's well-defined enough to be argued about.
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Re: Dualism

Postby RyukaTana » Fri Apr 25, 2014 5:39 am

Shrug. Alright, I'm good either way. Thanks for an interesting discussion, though. I don't know that I learned anything particularly meaningful, but it was nice to get words to some of my thoughts at least.
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Re: Dualism

Postby sonofzeal » Thu May 01, 2014 1:22 pm

I hold to Dualism for two reasons, both of which are subjective to a degree.

First, there's the obviously subjective territory of personal experience and perception. Full disclosure - I suffer from a non-impairing condition which results in a whole host of unpleasant physical sensations, and I've had this since I was an infant. Likely as a result of this, I feel rather alienated from my body. My body is not "me", it's this uncooperative thing that hurts all the time that I happen to have to use to get much of anything done. Dualism is how I perceive the world, and while I can appreciate the logical arguments against it, I can't change my perception any more than I can see "solid" objects as >99% empty space.

Second, there's the rather more universalizable reason, which is that I find holding to Dualism to be useful. Not only does it help in dealing with physical discomfort and pain, but also in dealing with more philosophical struggles. Where do I derive meaning from? Are we just deterministic machines with delusions of grandeur? Does anything I do matter in light of the inevitable destruction of all material achievements? Dualism neatly resolves each of these. Acting under the assumption of souls existing offers me greater hope, purpose, and meaning, regardless of whether it's true or not.

Arguments against its plausibility then are secondary. It is my personal default, and I find tangible benefit in maintaining that position. And most counterarguments seem to be operating on a form of Argument from Ignorance - "we don't know how this could work, therefor it doesn't" - which seems remarkably unsatisfying. I'd say that if holding belief A is more beneficial than holding belief B, I'd require some pretty solid proof to switch. If such proof has been offered somewhere in this thread that I didn't see, I apologize, but if the arguments merely come down to "this doesn't seem plausible, I'm fine taking my useful implausibility over an useless plausibility.
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Re: Dualism

Postby Packbat » Thu May 01, 2014 2:55 pm

That's an intriguing position, sonofzeal. I feel as if, other than the word "dualism", I almost agree with it - it lines up with my attitude towards free will.

I think the great confusion lies in mixing up physical causality and philosophical concern. While it is certainly true that I am an organic robot designed to a far greater extend by happenstance than by intent, the I that I am concerned about is not this specific living creature upon whose existence I depend: I care about the mathematical abstraction which - were this brute flesh analyzed as a peculiar sort of computing machine - is implemented by my material substance. Were my limbs replaced with machines that could do all the same operations that their predecessors did with equal strength and fluency, I would experience no philosophical distress; my only concern would be that it may make it more expensive and more difficult to take care of my physical self. The only additional complexity of replacing my brain is that it is more difficult to describe all that would need to be preserved in the conversion.

Do you see what I mean? To my mind, it is absurd to describe a person existing absent some physical computronium in the same way that it is absurd to describe a videogame that can be played without any gaming platform - but there's a genuine, real sense in which playing a PS3 running the PSN version of Super Street Figher II Turbo HD Remix can be equated with playing an XBox 360 running the Capcom Digital Collection version. And a mechanical, computational, physical theory of consciousness isn't a threat to my personhood - it's just a description, in the same way that my temperature is a description of aggregate properties of the kinetic energy levels of the 10^14-odd molecules of which I am composed.
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Re: Dualism

Postby sonofzeal » Fri May 02, 2014 11:20 am

That makes a bit of sense to me. You're basically talking about the Ship of Theseus paradox, or the Grandfather's Axe, right? If you replace individual components of a whole, one by one, until they're all replaced and nothing original remains - can you say that it's still fundamentally the same object? Applying it to the self, one can still say "yes" without accepting Dualism. That's what I got from your post at least, and I do agree. Dualism isn't necessary in order for self-identity and continuity across changing physical structure to make sense. I don't think that takes away from anything I said, but it makes sense to me.

Personally, I've never held to a rigidly materialistic view of reality, for reasons I could expound upon elsewhere. But when your base cosmology accepts non-materialistic phenomena (or at least phenomena well outside any current accepted models for the material universe) as an established state of affairs, the "absurd" proposition you mention ceases to be so. At this point though, if my base assumptions of the universe are incompatible with yours, there's likely no hope of either one arguing the other over. It's still nice to understand though.
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Re: Dualism

Postby RyukaTana » Fri May 02, 2014 4:00 pm

sonofzeal wrote:If such proof has been offered somewhere in this thread that I didn't see, I apologize, but if the arguments merely come down to "this doesn't seem plausible, I'm fine taking my useful implausibility over an useless plausibility.


Great statement.

That said, I am going to play Devil's Advocate, because I enjoy doing so. Again, I don't have a particular dog in this fight, I'm not arguing for a certain position. I am encouraging debate because it's fun and good exercise for peoples' brains.

So, regarding the 'Ship of Theseus' argument, humans are regularly doing almost exactly that, but on a level so microscopic that it's unnoticeable. I believe it goes something like, every ten years or so, every single cell in your body will have been replaced by some means or another, you will, literally speaking, be an entirely different person.

Compound that with the fact that there's evidence that our brains do not view ourselves in the future as the same person. That is, let's take two people, Jeff and Sally. If Jeff thinks about himself, a certain part of his brain fires (we'll call this region A of his brain), and if he thinks of Sally, a different part fires (region B). Now, if Jeff thinks about what he is going to do in a year, region B of his brain fires when he considers himself in the future.

Now, if we reflect upon ourselves 10 years ago (in my case, my High School self), we are physically different entities, our brains tell us we are different entities, are we truly the same person? When I discuss myself in the past, I do not associate him with me. I am aware that who he is directly effects me, but ultimately, I have used 'him' in the third person because I don't see that person as me.

So, given that, if my brain is uploaded to a computer, that computer is as much me to it, as my body is now to myself. It is as foreign to the present me, as the me of 10 years ago is as well.

I'll leave my side of the debate at that for now, just to see where people take it. I look forward to seeing where this goes.
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