Dualism or Monism?

Dualism or Monism?
geoff23
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#21 - Quote - Permalink
Posted Sep 17, 2004 - 12:47 AM:

muxol wrote:

i) knowing what it's like to be a bat and ii) the existence of mental bat properties are of disparate realms, which shouldn't come as a surprise since (i) is an epistemological matter and (ii) is ontological. and generally, epistemological claims don't establish ontological conclusions.


The bat example was only one of two. Yes, in a way, the fact that we can't know what it is like to be a bat (unless we are a bat) is epistemological. However, the mere fact that a bat has experiences at all is ontological.


what it is like to *experience* a particular sensation S and what it is to be S are completely different questions. the former is only afforded by the actual experience while the latter can be given by a physical specification (a specification in the language of physics).


You can use physics to specify what it is like to be a bat?

Then please do so.


materialism isn't concerned with questions of the former - as they're epistemological. all that matters is whether or not we can provide a physical account of what it is to be, NOT EXPERIENCE, a particular mental property. if experiences just are mental properties.......


That's property dualism, isn't it?


as far as qualia are concerned, the argument again isn't very successful. i don't deny property dualism.


Then you aren't a materialist. Daniel Dennett is a materialist. David Chalmers is a property dualist.


i don't deny that there are mental properties and that qualia are best specified by mental properties. what i deny is that there is a completely different non-physical, mental substance which instiates those properties.


Then you are just rejecting cartesian dualism, aren't you? I wasn't defending cartesian dualism.
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#22 - Quote - Permalink
Posted Sep 17, 2004 - 1:48 AM:

geoff23 wrote:
You can use physics to specify what it is like to be a bat?

Then please do so.


again, knowing what it is like to be a bat can only be accomplished by actually being a bat. that doesn't decisively refute materialism. it does nothing at all. would you deny that rocks are physical? can we give a physical account of what it's like to be a rock? no, but rocks are nonetheless physical.

Then you aren't a materialist. Daniel Dennett is a materialist. David Chalmers is a property dualist.


materialism is defined by whoever's considered a stereotypical materialist? there's more than one version of materialism, and one can simultaneously maintain property dualism and materialism...

Then you are just rejecting cartesian dualism, aren't you? I wasn't defending cartesian dualism.


i was rejecting your arguments against materialism specifically. if your arguments support cartesian dualism, then i was rejecting your arguments as they apply to cartesian dualism. either way, i'm simply rejecting your arguments against materialism. i'm not rejecting any particular form of non-materialism.
geoff23
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#23 - Quote - Permalink
Posted Sep 17, 2004 - 5:13 AM:

muxol wrote:
again, knowing what it is like to be a bat can only be accomplished by actually being a bat. that doesn't decisively refute materialism. it does nothing at all. would you deny that rocks are physical? can we give a physical account of what it's like to be a rock? no, but rocks are nonetheless physical.


I get the feeling we are talking past each other now. I'm not sure whether are disagreement may come down to little more than terminology.


materialism is defined by whoever's considered a stereotypical materialist? there's more than one version of materialism, and one can simultaneously maintain property dualism and materialism...


Okay....any form of materialism which does not reject property dualism is not likely to be falsified by the sorts of arguments employed by property dualists. That includes David Chalmers and his "Hard Problem". As far as I am concerned, once you have accepted the Hard Problem is Hard, I am not going to argue with you. I argue with people who claim there is no Hard Problem and reject even property dualism. These people may be adherents to more eliminative forms of materialism than you are.


i was rejecting your arguments against materialism specifically. if your arguments support cartesian dualism, then i was rejecting your arguments as they apply to cartesian dualism.


I am not a cartesian dualist. I think the interaction problem rules out this position.


either way, i'm simply rejecting your arguments against materialism. i'm not rejecting any particular form of non-materialism.


I think we have a mis-match in our usage of the term "materialism". I am really talking about materialism which leads to a denial of the existence of qualia, rejection of property dualism and require nonsensical claims which depend on meaningless uses of the verb "to be" (as in "qualia are brain processes"). On the whole, those sorts of arguments do tend to come from people who are scientifically-minded more than they are philosophically-minded, if that makes any sense. I accept there may be some modern forms of materialism that aren't falsified by my arguments - someone here already claimed that Husserl provided a form of idealism which was compatible with some forms of materialism, and this interests me. What I am rejecting is anti-philosophical scientism, which tends to be associated with extreme forms of metaphysical materialism.

I'm fascinated by the borderline between cognitive science and philosophy of mind and ontology. That is why I start a joint major degree in philosophy and cognitive science next week. I've already had a taste of the way the two departments at the University refer to each other, and I believe that there probably needs to be more co-operation and understanding between them. They have a tendency to dismiss each other too quickly. The philosophers refered to the cognitive science part of my degree as no more than "brushing up on my software engineering", and a member of the informatics department I ran into in a pub warned me about "those continental linguistic philosophers", said "they are very good at their art" but told me not to expect anything useful to come of it. The attitude from this side was that cognitive science provided answers but philosophy did not. He also accused me of being "a trouble maker", although in a friendly and respectful way. Personally I have one foot firmly placed in each camp. I think it is increasingly important that cognitive scientists are aware of ontology and philosophy of mind and also that philosophers keep track of what is happening in physics, cosmology, evolutionary biology and many other areas of science.

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#24 - Quote - Permalink
Posted Sep 17, 2004 - 9:40 AM:

Everyone seems to agree (how could they not?) that methodological materialism has had nothing but blazing success. The undefended assumption seems to be that we have methods on one had, metaphysics on the other, and we’re supposed to think the two are unrelated.

To a philosophical pragmatist, this is nonsense. For us, the meaning of an assertion is bound to the methods it recommends, and its truth depends on the success of those methods. That’s all there is to it.

Geoff23 has elsewhere with a straight face asserted that his alternative approach makes not one single recommendation that would change the practice of any methods used in cognitive science, or any science. So to a pragmatist like me, his theory is quite literally meaningless: there is nothing anyone can do with it, nothing it allows us to accomplish that we couldn’t already do.

As for the perceived divide between metaphysical and methodological materialism, I can think of two ways to go, but I’m not sure the difference between them makes enough of a difference to care.

A pragmatist who rejects metaphysics wholesale would want to say that methodological materialism is the only coherent materialism one could ever defend, and its continuing success is as complete a justification as one could ever hope to get. This sort of pragmatist would say that a metaphysical spin on materialism, lacking any further recommendations regarding method, would indeed be nothing more than a spin—a spinning fifth wheel that accomplished nothing. (She would also say the same thing about philosophers’ qualia, incidentally.)

A pragmatist of the therapeutic or reforming type, wanting to save metaphysics for science, would want to say that metaphysical materialism can be justified, and the way to justify it would be to see how successful the methods it recommends have been. In fact, that would be the only way one could ever justify a metaphysical stance. The idea that a metaphysical theory offered no recommendations to practice over its rivals would be enough to sink it outright.

In either case, some form of materialism seems to be the only game in town if method and practice are one’s only concern. Until its opponents can show exactly how the world would behave differently if it were false, they have no useful contributions to make and there are no reasons to take their ideas seriously.

Consequently, I have no time at all for the so-called Hard Problem, which I regard with deep embarrassment for the profession of philosophy. As far as I’m concerned, to the degree philosophers take issues like the Hard Problem and zombies seriously, they deserve to be marginalized and ignored by the scientific community. And they will be.
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#25 - Quote - Permalink
Posted Sep 17, 2004 - 11:27 AM:

geoff23 wrote:
As for the bat, it seems to have a brain which is capable of processing sensory information just like mine is, even though it has very different sensory organs, so I see no reason why I shouldn't assume that the bat has experiences just like I do and you do.
that's a very loose chain of assumptions you're hanging your 'what's like to be X' argument on, geoff. raised eyebrow

Are you suggesting it is possible that a bat can behave just as if it was experiencing the world, as we do, yet there is no "what it is like to be a bat?".
possible? yes. but that's not what i'm getting at. i'm just trying to point out that your speculations about 'mind' seem to rest on further speculations ... it's like an infinite regress of 'what ifs'. what can we know about 'mind' or 'subjectivity' within the contraints of limited information / methodical observation? clearly, not enough for metaphysical consolation / certainty (whatever that is!) rolling eyes

Are you arguing that bats might be philosophical zombies?
no.

I have no proof they aren't, by see no reason to assume they are.
the issue isn't whether or not bats are zombies, but assuming they are not when it's clearly an undecidable issue, even for the sake of argument, just begs other questions and doesn't get us anywhere.

If foxes don't experience being hunted then there was no point in Britain banning fox hunting yesterday.
maybe the ulterior motive of those supporting the ban had to do with the coarsening of character this traditional practice of wanton cruelty produces or influences in participants, spectators, and even disinterested members of a society which tolerates it. if one is concerned with one's character as a function of one's actions and / or complicity in social practices then one asks (in aristotlean fashion) whether our actions are virtuous or vicious. as far as i can tell fox hunting, without mitigating circumstances (e.g. survival, food, etc) is simply vicious. i don't think one has to wonder what it might be like to be a fox in order to make a moral argument against their ritual slaughter. (isn't this known as "the affective fallacy"?)

I argue with people who claim there is no Hard Problem and reject even property dualism.
"The hard problem, in contrast, is the question of how physical processes in the brain give rise to subjective experience. This puzzle involves the inner aspect of thought and perception: the way things feel for the subject. When we see, for example, we experience visual sensations, such as that of vivid blue. Or think of the ineffable sound of a distant oboe, the agony of an intense pain, the sparkle of happiness or the meditative quality of a moment lost in thought. All are part of what I am calling consciousness. It is these phenomena that pose the real mystery of the mind." -- David Chalmers

i translate this to mean that what makes the "hard problem" hard is the apparent intractability of defining first-person ontology in terms of third-person ontology. that the program of eliminativists like the churchlands (which attempts to reduce the former to the latter) creates more problems than it solves does not preclude that these disparate ontologies cannot be reconciled. it may simply mean that this is not the way to do it. and 'property dualism' just begs the question of what gives rise to either property in the first place and why there's an apparent assymmetry in how they interact with each other. if one closely examines what chalmers is saying in the above quote it's clear that a number of his terms are confused or ambiguous: "inner", "feel", "experience", "ineffable sound" ( confused ), "quality", & "phenomena". it may be that what poses "the real mystery" is not the mind but chalmers' (our) quotidian conceptualization(s) of it. (pace wittgenstein)

my position, geoff, is that if mind / consciousness / subjectivity is a phenomenon (as chalmers puts it) then its accessable to scientific explanation, even if its problematics are intractable. such problems are, at least, (scientifically) solvable in principle, and therefore are not just metaphysical riddles that we must submit to dogmatically or turn into speculative fetishes.

philosophy should demystify concepts and methods in tandem with other arts & sciences as they gradually demystify "the mind" which is, as far as i'm concerned, the source of all of our mystifications. it just seems to me that chalmers, mcginn & other "mysterians" prefer barking at shadows ... shaking head

EDIT: i didn't see your post faustus before i posted my "ditto". cool
geoff23
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#26 - Quote - Permalink
Posted Sep 17, 2004 - 12:07 PM:

I think we are back where we've been before. And I am now going on holiday for a week so I'll bow out and see you next time. smiling face
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#27 - Quote - Permalink
Posted Sep 17, 2004 - 3:14 PM:

geoff23 wrote:
I think we are back where we've been before. And I am now going on holiday for a week so I'll bow out and see you next time. smiling face

enjoy! cool
muxol
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#28 - Quote - Permalink
Posted Sep 19, 2004 - 6:45 AM:

geoff23 wrote:
Okay....any form of materialism which does not reject property dualism is not likely to be falsified by the sorts of arguments employed by property dualists. That includes David Chalmers and his "Hard Problem". As far as I am concerned, once you have accepted the Hard Problem is Hard, I am not going to argue with you. I argue with people who claim there is no Hard Problem and reject even property dualism. These people may be adherents to more eliminative forms of materialism than you are.


even rejecting property dualism, i just don't see the thrust of the argument from qualia. say i'm a materialist and i hold that mental states can be given a physical specification. what it is like to be a bat can then be specified physically. so can the sensation of seeing a beautiful portrait, or whatever other sensation you wish to specify. the physical specification still doesn't afford the actual experience of seeing a beautiful portrait, but that doesn't mean that the specification doesn't completely describes the experience.

a specification of a mental property is entirely linguistic. it describes a mental property. S's having the mental property is totally different. that doesn't make the mental property non-physical. it means that the specification and the instantiation of the property are totally different, and that's obvious.
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