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Why materialism is wrong regarding consciousness

Discussion in 'Philosophy' started by atanu, Aug 3, 2019.

  1. atanu

    atanu Member
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    #1 atanu, Aug 3, 2019
    Last edited: Aug 4, 2019
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  2. atanu

    atanu Member
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    Materialists hold that minds are only emergent properties of our brains, and brains only aggregates of mindless elements and forces. Reductionism is the claim that what happens in our mental life is wholly dependent on, and determined by, what happens with our bodily processes. This picture, however, turns out to be wishful thinking, when we consider the problem of mental causation—how it is possible, on such a picture, for mentality to have causal powers, powers to influence the course of natural events. Eliminative materialists, on the other hand, deny the subjective experience component of consciousness all together. The deniers say that although it seems that there is conscious experience, there isn’t really any conscious experience: the seeming is, in fact, an illusion.

    The trouble with this is that any such illusion is already and necessarily an actual instance of the thing said to be an illusion. Suppose you’re hypnotized to feel intense pain. Someone may say that you’re not really in pain, that the pain is illusory, because you haven’t really suffered any bodily damage. But to seem to feel pain is to be in pain. It’s not possible here to open up a gap between appearance and reality, between what is and what seems.
     
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  3. atanu

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    Let us start from the beginning. The materialists point to numerous correlation between physical brain states and behaviours to deduce causal relationship. They conclude that brain generates consciousness.

    But correlation is not causation.

    Suppose, we observe that whenever there is a visible shaft of lightning in the air there is a corresponding electrical discharge. We might be confident that the lightning and the electrical discharge are aspects of one and the same thing.

    Such analogies cannot apply to the mind-body problem (M/BP) (Nagel 1974, 1986). There is no problem if we accept that two sets of empirical observations are "aspects" of the same thing, given a causal model that unifies them. But there is no such causal model in the case of the mind-body problem. For, unlike all other empirical observations, such as lightning/electricity (or water/H2O, heat/molecular-motion, life/biogenetic-function, matter/energy, etc.), in the special case of M/B, the correlated phenomena are not of the same KIND. And that makes this particular set of "correlations" different, and the forecast that M/B will simply turn out to be yet another set of correlations like the rest does not hold. The question arises because of the obvious disanalogies: public ("3rd person") data, as in all the other analogies, vs. private ("1st person") data.

    Empirically detectable shafts of lightning and empirically detectable electrical discharges are the same kind of thing (empirical data, detectable by instruments). So are empirically detectable brain activities and empirically detectable behaviour and circumstances. For example, pains can be correlated to realisers — suppose an area in brain. If pain is so functionalized, the problem of mental causation has a simple solution for all pain instances. So when I say or act out that something hurts (especially when something is indeed damaging my tissues), and there is corresponding brain-image, we may have a correlation between things of the same kind. And out of that correlation we can construct a causal theory of pain function (tissue injury, avoidance, learning, recall, etc.).

    But when the correlate in question is my feeling of pain, there's now an explanatory gap that neither the pain function theory (which is only a functional theory of tissue-damage-related doing) nor any amount of reconfirmation of the tightness of the correlation can close. What should we say about the causal powers of pain as a mental kind? The answer is that as a kind, pain will be causally heterogeneous.

    Why is person ‘xyz’ in pain? Can we derive the statement “xyz is in pain” from information exclusively about xyz’s physical/behavioral properties? The phenomenal mental properties are not functionally definable and hence functionally irreducible. Hence, the problem of mental causation is not solvable for phenomenal mental properties. Similarly, only if consciousness is functionally reducible it’s mystery will be solvable. But what stands in the way of solving the problem of consciousness is the impossibility of interpreting or defining it in terms of its causal relations to physical/biological properties.

    Perhaps the problem is still open, but there is a sufficiently broad consensus among the philosophers to believe that qualia are functionally irreducible.
     
    #3 atanu, Aug 4, 2019
    Last edited: Aug 4, 2019
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  4. LiveBetterLife

    LiveBetterLife Active Member

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    Gobbledygook. Pure gobbledygook.
     
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  5. atanu

    atanu Member
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    The mind-brain identity reduction is also not an option for us. Dennett’s narrative (From Bacteria to Bach and Back, 2017) asks to believe that it is very obvious: Under certain chemical and environmental conditions, life will emerge in time and develop organisms with large brains, and these organisms will of necessity be social organisms.

    Exactly how this happens, how physical causality is transformed magically into phenomenal awareness, is never clear. In his narrative, something again happens, and there is language, which according to Dennett, was very useful, and therefore emerged naturally under the pressure of the social need to communicate, out of meaningless sounds and gestures. It is never clear as to whose needs is being fulfilled by blind nature?

    In his narrative, the conscious mind constitutes a special dilemma, since this so called modern picture of evolution of life and consciousness through natural selection was produced by excluding all mental properties from physical nature. This theorising and narrative is however built up by employing the very mental properties that are being denied.

    As discussed above, there is the enigma of consciousness itself, and of the qualia (direct subjective impressions, such as color or tone) that inhabit it. There is no causal narrative capable of uniting the phenomenologically discontinuous regions of “third-person” electrochemical brain events and “first-person” experiences.

    Then there is the irreducible unity of apprehension, without which there could be no coherent perception of anything at all, not even disjunctions within experience. For example, without an unitive consciousness inking waking, dreaming, and sleeping states of existence, there cannot be an unitive experience of self across these states. It is a unity that cannot be reduced to some executive material faculty of the brain, as this would itself be a composite reality in need of unification by some still-more-original faculty, and so on forever. And whatever lay at the “end” of that infinite regress would have to possess an inexplicable prior understanding of the diversity of experience that it organizes. This is the problem of understanding and organising the discrete brain events to an analog narrative, and primarily the awareness of “I am” woven through all our experiences.

    Again, how to explain the mental intentionality — the mind’s pure directed-ness, its interpretation of sense experience under determinate aspects and meanings, its movement toward particular ends, its power to act according to rationales that would appear nowhere within any inventory of antecedent physical causes.

    Dennett mindlessly attempts to explain away the absolute qualitative difference, between third-person physical events and first-person consciousness, by positing an indefinite number of minute quantitative steps, genetic or structural, to span the interval. In history phylogenic and neurological magic happened, leading to within us an inversion of mindless, physical causality into illusion of unified intentional consciousness.

    The key point of Dennett’s narrative is the idea of “uncomprehending competences,” molded by natural selection into the intricate machinery of mental existence. As a model of the mind, this poses a problem. What are those competences that are not dependent for their existence upon the very mental functions they supposedly compose?

    An example of how illogical the whole proposal is, is Dennett’s idea that language is simply the cumulative product of countless physical ingredients. This is blatantly false as there is no trace in nature even of primitive or protolanguages; all languages possess a full hierarchy of grammatical constraints. Dennett claims that words are like ‘meme’ that reproduce virus like, as if ‘meme’ are real objects that have concrete causal and intentional forces. It is a joke. In order to deny that ‘intention’ is a product of conscious agents, the intentionality is ascribed to a vapid idea called ‘meme’. it is bizarre to think of intentionality as the product of forces that would themselves be, if they existed at all, nothing but acts of intentionality. What could memes be other than mental conventions of conscious agents?

    Dennett claims that the brain is “a kind of computer,” and mind merely a kind of “interface” between that computer and its “user.” Unlike AI fans, Dennett however grants that computers only appear to be conscious agents and the same is true of us. That vast abyss between objective physical events and subjective qualitative experience actually does not exist. Hence, that seemingly magical transition from the one to the other — whether a genetic or a structural shift — need not be explained, because it has never actually occurred. Dennett rejects the very datum that he is claiming to explain.

    Dennett also truly seems confused and fanatic. While discussing zombies he actually equates humans to zombies by claiming humans too do not have real consciousness with qualia. First, how he knows this is beyond me. He too must be a zombie? Is he equipped with divine understanding? Second, a zombie could not ever imagine anything, since it would possess no consciousness at all, let alone reflective consciousness; that is the whole point of the metaphoric exercise of David Chalmer. The very fact that we can imagine, correctly or illusively, is the very sign of consciousness that Dennet vehemently denies. Dennet again and again mistakes the question of the existence of subjective experience for the entirely irrelevant question of the objective accuracy of subjective perceptions.

    The funniest part, in my opinion, is that that eliminative materialists rely on third party data of an object — the brain (which itself has to be a representational product/image generated due to works of whatever forces that engender consciousness) to reject direct irrefutable subjective experience/s. In other words, why the third party records can be accepted as such when all observations must be representational? And why reject the direct experience data as illusion?

    The materialism is the real illusion, called mAyA in Hinduism and Buddhism. Reading the accounts of eliminative materialism, I am now more convinced that consciousness is the non-dual substratum and space-time-objects and temporal conscious agents are experience machines that evolve and devolve within. If, a narrative proposes, as apparently Dennett ’s does, that brain processes entail consciousness and intentionality then that narrative is a mystic spiritual narrative already.
    ….
     
    #5 atanu, Aug 4, 2019
    Last edited: Aug 4, 2019
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  6. atanu

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    Explain please.
     
  7. crossfire

    crossfire Antinomian feminist heretic freak ☿
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    In Buddhism, Maya is Buddha's mother who died soon after giving birth to the Buddha. (Take whatever symbolism from that you will.) Mara is representative of illusion/delusion.
     
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  8. LiveBetterLife

    LiveBetterLife Active Member

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    It's just a cringe worthy, wordy, overcooked way of saying that there are illusory aspects to the ego and consciousness in general. It's a waste of time.
     
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  9. screwyupsidedown19

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    please smallish chunks my tiny brain can only take so much
     
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  10. atanu

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    Thank you crossfire. mAyA in Buddhism is also a mental factor.

    Maya (Buddhist mental factor) - Wikipedia
     
  11. atanu

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    That is not the subject of the thread, however.
     
  12. LiveBetterLife

    LiveBetterLife Active Member

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    Yeah, but that's all that ends up being discussed in the material.
     
  13. atanu

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    Could not help it. Suggest that you read in small chunks, if you wish so.
     
  14. LiveBetterLife

    LiveBetterLife Active Member

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    It's not really worth your time. Or anyone's time for that matter.
     
  15. Left Coast

    Left Coast Happy New Year!
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    This is an odd objection against materialism, since it is actually one of the most classic objections to dualism. If mental events are physical/material events, then it makes perfect sense how they could influence other physical/material events. Same as anything else.

    The unresolved issue for dualists is how an immaterial mind could have a causal effect on material reality.
     
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  16. crossfire

    crossfire Antinomian feminist heretic freak ☿
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    Yes, pretense or deceit. Hence, the Buddhist approach of anatta. (Process-based philosophy rather than substance based philosophy.)
     
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  17. atanu

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    The problem here is that we really do not know what actually 'matter or 'nature'' is. We know only the aspect that we can grasp with mind-senses and we assume that is all matter-nature is. OTOH, I have pointed out several times that we exist, UNCONSCIOUS TO MIND, in deep sleep. So, it cannot be that only that which is consciously manifest to mind-senses exists naturally. There may be a lot hidden from mind-senses.
     
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  18. mikkel_the_dane

    mikkel_the_dane Shadow Wolf's Aspie sibling

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    How can a real physical, chemical system produce illusory aspects? How is that possible? That is unreal? How can the real produce unreal?
     
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  19. LiveBetterLife

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    They're not mutually exclusive.
     
  20. mikkel_the_dane

    mikkel_the_dane Shadow Wolf's Aspie sibling

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    That is an unsupported claim without any reasoned argument to back it up.
     
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