What is "Mind?"


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Sport climber
The Big Wide Open Face
Topic Author's Original Post - Aug 28, 2011 - 08:17pm PT
What is mind, that is, mind itself, as it presents itself as a first person, conscious phenomenon, NOT the material footprint believed to be associated to mind.


Trad climber
Aug 28, 2011 - 08:19pm PT
searle is a good guy. serious skier. the guy claims to get in like 20 days a year.

the philosophers obviously have a way less grueling schedule than the historians.

once again, i chose the wrong discipline.

searle, btw, is hardly known as reductionist. he's one of the strongest critics of the brain science folks like dennett.

he's wrong, of course. but still smart and funny.

Trad climber
Aug 28, 2011 - 08:55pm PT
Klk, I'd pick a philosopher over a historian any day. Unless you were joking, the philosopher has a far more grueling path than a historian.

Ha! I love you too!

Not when it comes to research and committee work, heh.

just ask murcy. as best i can tell, he spends all his time at stanford rolling naked in all that dough they give him.

Aug 28, 2011 - 08:59pm PT
So many words . . .
Mr. Rogers

The Land of Make-Believe
Aug 28, 2011 - 09:05pm PT
He may be a dualist, but it's still a good read.

Facing Up to the Problem of Consciousness
David J. Chalmers

Consciousness poses the most baffling problems in the science of the mind. There is nothing that we know more intimately than conscious experience, but there is nothing that is harder to explain. All sorts of mental phenomena have yielded to scientific investigation in recent years, but consciousness has stubbornly resisted. Many have tried to explain it, but the explanations always seem to fall short of the target. Some have been led to suppose that the problem is intractable, and that no good explanation can be given.

To make progress on the problem of consciousness, we have to confront it directly. In this paper, I first isolate the truly hard part of the problem, separating it from more tractable parts and giving an account of why it is so difficult to explain. I critique some recent work that uses reductive methods to address consciousness, and argue that such methods inevitably fail to come to grips with the hardest part of the problem. Once this failure is recognized, the door to further progress is opened. In the second half of the paper, I argue that if we move to a new kind of nonreductive explanation, a naturalistic account of consciousness can be given. I put forward my own candidate for such an account: a nonreductive theory based on principles of structural coherence and organizational invariance and a double-aspect view of information.


Trad climber
Aug 28, 2011 - 09:09pm PT
So many words . . .

and so little consciousness . . .

i have no idea what that means
Peter Haan

Trad climber
San Francisco, CA
Aug 28, 2011 - 09:17pm PT
Kerwin, that is John Gill speaking just now. Considering how incredibly deeply he has climbed over the last sixty years and how he has also been quite eloquent in that regard in his writings, it is quite clear to me at least what JohnG means here, as he has spent a life experiencing that subjectivity.

Thanks JohnoL for bringing up Searle and this most splendid issue of all, in philosophy and science. More in a bit, I'm barbecuing.

Trad climber
Aug 28, 2011 - 09:29pm PT
that is John Gill speaking just now.

yes it is

Patrick Oliver

Boulder climber
Fruita, Colorado
Aug 28, 2011 - 09:34pm PT
John Gill and Kerwin (KLK) are good friends,
two of the brightest, most intelligent lights along the spectrum here....
Just fun little banter between them. But Gill's comment
means a lot, really, if you give it time to meld into
the fleshy fibers... or something.

Huntley Ingalls walked up to me at a gathering in Boulder
not long ago, and I asked what he was up to these days, and
he answered, "Enjoying consciousness." That seemed a strange,
almost silly response at first, but then it has followed me
around. I realize Huntley was not being so whimsical as
simply direct and how wonderful it is, truly, to be conscious,
to have a mind, to look out at the stars, to touch and smell....
So many aspects to consciousness, truly, that we are so
fortunate to enjoy. This might be a little off topic, but
maybe not....
J. Werlin

Social climber
Cedaredge, CO
Aug 28, 2011 - 09:41pm PT
Just to put a twist on JL's thread, I like Amit Goswami's proposed solution to the quantum paradox: maybe there was consciousness before there was matter.

Trad climber
Placerville, California
Aug 28, 2011 - 09:44pm PT
i'll refer this one to werner.
he knows my mind better than i do.

Trad climber
Aug 28, 2011 - 09:47pm PT
Huntley was not being so whimsical as
simply direct and how wonderful it is, truly, to be conscious,
to have a mind, to look out at the stars, to touch and smell....
So many aspects to consciousness, truly, that we are so
fortunate to enjoy.

yeah, i'd take ingalls's comments literally.

magical, isn't it? searle would like that.

Ideeho-dee-do-dah-day boom-chicka-boom-chicka-boom
Aug 28, 2011 - 09:48pm PT
"mind" is "headache"
Mike Bolte

Trad climber
Planet Earth
Aug 28, 2011 - 10:01pm PT
my reaction was exactly the same as John's and I found it clever and ironic that he was so concise in his description

the second star to the right
Aug 28, 2011 - 10:04pm PT
I'm surprised, HFCS- you seemed pretty open minded in the thread you started on psychedelics. Amit's position, "monistic idealism", doesn't seem particularly far-fetched and elegantly solves the mind/body paradox, at least to my amateur speculation.

To me, the notion that consciousness is an epiphenomenon of matter- the brain- just doesn't make sense intuitively. The closer we examine subatomic particles, the building blocks of the brain and all matter, the more ephemeral and strange things get. How could the cohesive narrative of a person's life experience be sustained by these little bits of flotsam and jetsam twinkling in and out of existence all the time? Easier for me to swallow that the material world is created and sustained by something much more subtle and powerful. What are your objections to the idea that consciousness is fundamental to matter?

To be clear, never formally studied this stuff just read and pondered a bunch.

edit... uh, corn spirit's post I was replying to seems to have disappeared...

Trad climber
Aug 28, 2011 - 10:07pm PT
^^^^hey q, that's pretty funny. everyone at berkeley then has a killer foucault story, each more entertaining than the next.

searle is back in fashion, these days. sort of. high structuralist (and post-structuralist) and post-quine brain-science-as-epistemology are having to fight uphill against all the "subjects are real" and "consciousness" people.

these days its kant and milton friedmann. and for the pop crowd, add in some esp and biblical prophecy.

i'm going to name a route, "Chinese Box."

Sport climber
The Big Wide Open Face
Topic Author's Reply - Aug 28, 2011 - 10:18pm PT
Foucault, with his quirky homosexual rants while tromping through Death Valley with his band of Frog neo-strucuralists (wank), hammered on LSD, did nothing to establish him as a player in consciousness study. Searle is not my dood, but he raises the "hard questions" with clarity, and dismissed the common pat-answers to said questions.

When the "hard issues" of consciousness don't square with our particular discipline, we end up with simplistic quips like "brain output," which neither addresses or perhaps doesn't even recognize that the computational model of consciousness is a bust for a dozen reasons.

Perhaps the challenge is to tackle the hard issues head on without dismissing the questions if we don't understand and cannot measure same, insisting as scientism insists, that if we ain't quantifying, we're surly just bullshitting each other.

But rather than blast the people who put their ideas out there, I doubt there is much progress to be made by rejecting the hard issues (as straw man arguments = simplistic) and not tackling the questions with new perspectives or info. Otherwise it's just another circle jerk, and I'm out.

I'll do Kant with anyone here if that comes up. He had some interesting ideas but they changed over time making the old Kraut a slippery study.


Somewhere out there
Aug 28, 2011 - 10:23pm PT
What's that story in Quantum Theory that states that an observer ultimately influences the observed.

I think that there can be no meaningful science unless humans have nothing to do with it, and forgo interpretations of said observations.

Humans will find meaning in almost anything.

Just look no further than the bible for your "meaning".

If only us humans have made all meaning up entirely.

Meaning does not exist, it is what humans have ascribed to the things we have all around us. We see this, then this means this. We see this, then this means that. We see that, than it must mean this.

But if one takes a step back, and really observes objectively, then there is no meaning in any of it. There is just observation.

Aug 28, 2011 - 10:24pm PT
Amit Goswami now there's an intelligent man .....

Trad climber
Aug 28, 2011 - 10:31pm PT
I'll do Kant

i'm betting that's the first time anyone has said that on supertopo.

the return of kant has been one of the remarkable deals of the last thirty years. folks like stephen toulimin, steve fuller, and hacohen cohen have argued that many of the writers we think of as quintessentially hard-nosed empirical or rational anti-idealists-- from wittgenstein to popper to everyone in the vienna circle-- were really closet kantians.

toulmin's wittgenstein's vienna (1978) opened the flood gates. cohen's bio of popper has the best case. fuller has the most agressive claims.

and yeah, foucault didn't have much to contribute to the study of consciousness. aside from saying that it was a variety of priestcraft. much as i hate foucault, he has my sympathy on that claim.
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