What is "Mind?"

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High Fructose Corn Spirit

Gym climber
Jul 11, 2018 - 04:08pm PT
eeyonkee, see my "This is hilarious" thread for an example of agency (i.e., the can-do power of an agent in a multiplayer game) in two species besides human.

Agency, the power of an agent, despite the latter's automaticity (mechanistic nature) and despite 100 per cent obedience to causality, physics, chemistry, biology.

Agency, the power of an agent, despite the latter not having any contracausal (libertarian) freedom of the will (in the old, traditional historic sense).

A parrot and a dog, two agents, one avian and one canine, engaged/joined in a multiplayer game, sharing a moment in this scrimmage we call life. lol

...

Qt What are we, automata?!

Yes, and supremely exquisite automata!
eeyonkee

Trad climber
Golden, CO
Jul 11, 2018 - 04:45pm PT
You and I are on the same page, for sure, HFCS.
Largo

Sport climber
The Big Wide Open Face
Topic Author's Reply - Jul 11, 2018 - 04:48pm PT
Ed, as you know, I've never approached mind strictly in terms of physics or quantifiying, though I did spend nearly a decade wrangling various brain mapping approaches. And learned a lot in the process. But your scientism is showing when you purport that I must, or probably should, seek counsel from my physics buddies to answer your faux question about causation.

Remember, an honest question seeks information that the questioner doesn't currently know. That makes your "question" a set up, and underscores the fork-tongued angle people sometimes take when approaching subjects that either outstrip their experience or folk beliefs. And especially their "knowledge," whereby those not privy to their data is a yokel, a yahoo, or "just doesn't understand the math." That's what I called "fluffing your own gizmo."

I am not a Type A physicalist that stated, as you have many times, "What isn't physical?" Another way to phrase this is: What isn't temporal? Yet another is: What object or phenomenon doesn't arise from physical causation?

I still remember one of my philosophy of science profs, himself a cosmologist, hammering into our skulls that causality "is the relationship between causes and effects," a fundamental factor in the natural sciences especially physics.

Keeping the conversation on your home turf, this raises the question of how to reconcile the central role of causal concepts in the special sciences and in common sense with the putative absence of causation in fundamental physics.

It has to be the case that you are in a much better position to extrapolate on causation, as you know it, than I am, so as Mike said, step up to the plate, Ed, and let us have it. Otherwise Fruity will and you know where that goes.

I've already stated my beliefs in this regards. But I'd be interested in hearing how you define cause, causation, etc.


eeyonkee

Trad climber
Golden, CO
Jul 11, 2018 - 04:54pm PT
You continue to be rude with the "Fruity", IMO Largo. It works to your advantage, of course, in diminishing your opponent. It's why I hate Trump most of all (actually tied with lying).
High Fructose Corn Spirit

Gym climber
Jul 11, 2018 - 04:57pm PT
"how to reconcile the central role of causal concepts in the special sciences and in common sense with the putative absence of causation in fundamental physics."

I can give it to you concisely, most of all, plainly. PLAINLY. But are you prepared to hear it? to internalize it?

ANS Because the two categories of organization (that you're seeking to "reconcile") are different: different categories of function and different categories of thought. What's more, as you bump from one category to another in the organizational hierarchy you change your language (your way of talking).

How many times has this been laid out for you?

...

What's amazing is how people of all stripes get carried away with today's bloody edge physics (to an extent rightly so) but largely forget the role of (well-understood) core physics in our daily lives. You know the physics that IS expressed in our machines (cars, planes, trains; cams, ropes, biners), our buildings (skyscrapers, dams, bridges), our electronics (GPS, internet, nanosecond switching in computers and comm systems). I've said it now eight plus years here only to succeed like a lead balloon: All these items are not only based in physics but as systems - with input, function and output - they are all based in causality; and in every instance where they're operating as designed and built (and actually even when they're not, lol) they are ALSO -and this is so, so exciting - running true in regards to their underlying causality.

But one needs to be receptive to this. They need to be prepared for this. You don't seem to be. For whatever reason.

My beta if you would have it: Think and conceptualize in terms of everyday engineering physics for awhile. That's actually what it's called in some venues, where the focus is on basic everyday energy and forces (their origin, transfer, interaction, etc) in simple systems (pulleys, levers, spinning tops, lenses, telescopes, electromagnets, simple motors, buzzers). Remember one of climbing's mantras: Baby steps. Works in physics, too. Try leaving the esoteric complicated physics (string theory, dark matter, entanglement, "quantum soups", etc) to the Brian Greenes and Ed Hartounis and Lawrence Krausses. It might work better for you. Might.

...

Speaking of causality: What causes the wind? ANS Well, said Alice, the swaying trees of course.
eeyonkee

Trad climber
Golden, CO
Jul 11, 2018 - 05:08pm PT
Okay, Largo, this is for you. I happen to believe that Michael Gazzaniga nailed it. For all of your ranting about how mind cannot possibly be explained in physical terms, it turns out, the physical manifestation of who we think we are is located in a particular location of the left hemisphere that has been called the "interpreter".

The other thing that is clear from Gazzaniga's research is that, if you knock out natural connections in the brain -- like the one connecting the left and right hemispheres, your understanding of the world as it unfolds is profoundly affected. I will say that I knew nothing about Gazzaniga before participating in this thread. His research has profoundly changed my thinking on the subject. I don't know that I have seen others' change their views in the same way. I would love to hear about it.

Sorry, got side-tracked. My question for Largo is, how can mind and brain not be intimately connected when, by knocking out the connection between left and right hemispheres, you get the different and predictable behaviors that we see?
High Fructose Corn Spirit

Gym climber
Jul 11, 2018 - 06:54pm PT
I've posted this link before. You know, Largo, if you'd bother long enough to get this man's lesson and take it seriously, it would help.

https://youtu.be/NNnIGh9g6fA

In this very first of FREE lectures from Stanford, he discusses this very topic: different categories (buckets he calls them) of things (organizations, thoughts, language, etc)...

...and how mixing them inappropriately (an act that human minds are inclined to do) can lead to confusion.

His "lesson" leads to the reconciliation you seek.

Sapolsky is a prof at Stanford, a favorite for his content, clarity and teaching style; and no schlupp.




Your welcome.

...

For a great discussion on so-called "downward causation" and emergence - favorites with the chopra gang re consciousness - there's a Waking Up episode with Geoffrey West, no schlupp either. Best of all, he and Sam discuss these cool topics so, so very plainly even a 6th grader could follow with interest.

https://samharris.org/podcasts/from-cells-to-cities/
My Conversation with the Great Geoffrey West

Dig the part where we have two stones residing on a slope at t=0, one cubical and one spherical... At t > 0... we end w different behaviors, different descriptions, different outcomes... and yet each overlying bucket/level remains obedient to any underlying bucket/level despite feedback from the former. How plain as day is that.
WBraun

climber
Jul 11, 2018 - 07:04pm PT
You and I are on the same page, for sure, HFCS.

That's because you are both in a brainwashed delusion.

Both of you would actually have benefitted by being stuck in that cave in Thailand with the coach who taught the kids to meditate there.

You would have then actually have learned something beyond your brainwashed academics for once ...

(Do NOT Respond)
MH2

Boulder climber
Andy Cairns
Jul 11, 2018 - 07:35pm PT
(Do NOT Respond)


Why not?
Ed Hartouni

Trad climber
Livermore, CA
Jul 12, 2018 - 12:11am PT
Largo retreats, he uses words for effect, but doesn't know what he means by them.

Once again, don Largo, please define your terms, what do you mean when you refer to "cause," "causal," "causality"?

If you insist that this is a fundamental principle underlying physics, you must be able to at least point to the "law" that "enshrines" it. Here I am talking about science, not scientism.

MikeL: Just a minute, please. Are you saying that you do not believe there are causes (and results)? Is there anyone in this room who does not believe in causality (other than me, perhaps)?

I generally don't "believe" in things... but I also suspect you are not using these words the same way I would, perhaps you could also provide what you mean by "causes" and by "causality" and how they are a part of science.

yanqui

climber
Balcarce, Argentina
Jul 12, 2018 - 12:16am PT
I'm not sure I get all this insistence that science has to be all about "causality" (whether it's coming from Largo, or HFCS or eeyonkee). Is that a "metaphysical" (better: normative) truth about science? Or is it a based on considerations about how science is (and has been) done by scientists? Maybe it is a metaphysical statement about the structure of the world? (In this case I am sure Largo thinks it is false). Or maybe you think this is a scientific theory about the world that can be formulated precisely and tested? Or is it simply something that has been handed down from science pundits like Sam Harris? Why does "causality" have to be an essential part of every scientific description?

For example, consider Fermat's principle of least time (a bit of pre-quantum classical physics). The language that seems most apt in this case is one of independent agency. The light "prefers" or "decides" according to a rule. Where's the "cause" in this? The rule itself?

The "Great Explainer" trying to characterize this aspect of the principle in his famous text:

The following is another difficulty with the principle of least time, and one which people who do not like this kind of a theory could never stomach. With Snell’s theory we can “understand” light. Light goes along, it sees a surface, it bends because it does something at the surface. The idea of causality, that it goes from one point to another, and another, and so on, is easy to understand. But the principle of least time is a completely different philosophical principle about the way nature works. Instead of saying it is a causal thing, that when we do one thing, something else happens, and so on, it says this: we set up the situation, and light decides which is the shortest time, or the extreme one, and chooses that path. But what does it do, how does it find out? Does it smell the nearby paths, and check them against each other? The answer is, yes, it does, in a way. That is the feature which is, of course, not known in geometrical optics, and which is involved in the idea of wavelength; the wavelength tells us approximately how far away the light must “smell” the path in order to check it. It is hard to demonstrate this fact on a large scale with light, because the wavelengths are so terribly short. But with radiowaves, say 3-cm waves, the distances over which the radiowaves are checking are larger. If we have a source of radiowaves, a detector, and a slit, as in Fig. 26–13, the rays of course go from S to D because it is a straight line, and if we close down the slit it is all right—they still go. But now if we move the detector aside to D′, the waves will not go through the wide slit from S to D′, because they check several paths nearby, and say, “No, my friend, those all correspond to different times.” On the other hand, if we prevent the radiation from checking the paths by closing the slit down to a very narrow crack, then there is but one path available, and the radiation takes it! With a narrow slit, more radiation reaches D′ than reaches it with a wide slit!

One can do the same thing with light, but it is hard to demonstrate on a large scale. The effect can be seen under the following simple conditions. Find a small, bright light, say an unfrosted bulb in a street light far away or the reflection of the sun in a curved automobile bumper. Then put two fingers in front of one eye, so as to look through the crack, and squeeze the light to zero very gently. You will see that the image of the light, which was a little dot before, becomes quite elongated, and even stretches into a long line. The reason is that the fingers are very close together, and the light which is supposed to come in a straight line is spread out at an angle, so that when it comes into the eye it comes in from several directions. Also you will notice, if you are very careful, side maxima, a lot of fringes along the edges too. Furthermore, the whole thing is colored. All of this will be explained in due time, but for the present it is a demonstration that light does not always go in straight lines, and it is one that is very easily performed.

http://www.feynmanlectures.caltech.edu/I_26.html
yanqui

climber
Balcarce, Argentina
Jul 12, 2018 - 05:55am PT
Speaking of Feynman, I just finished reading a really cool story about his role in the development of neural networks (parallel computing). I didn't know about this. I'll post it in case someone else might be interested. It seems to have something to do with the question at hand.

We tried to take advantage of Richard's talent for clarity by getting him to critique the technical presentations that we made in our product introductions. Before the commercial announcement of the Connection Machine CM-1 and all of our future products, Richard would give a sentence-by-sentence critique of the planned presentation. "Don't say `reflected acoustic wave.' Say [echo]." Or, "Forget all that `local minima' stuff. Just say there's a bubble caught in the crystal and you have to shake it out." Nothing made him angrier than making something simple sound complicated.

http://longnow.org/essays/richard-feynman-connection-machine/
Dingus Milktoast

Trad climber
Minister of Moderation, Fatcrackistan
Jul 12, 2018 - 06:27am PT
Ed, as you know, I've never approached mind strictly in terms of physics or quantifiying, though I did spend nearly a decade wrangling various brain mapping approaches. And learned a lot in the process. But your scientism is showing when you purport that I must, or probably should, seek counsel from my physics buddies to answer your faux question about causation.

That's bs, lol. You brought it up, saying physics is this and that. It's a gambit you have tried before. Perhaps it sounds jiggy in a west coast woo lounge but your jedi mind tricks don't fly here.

Show your work.

DMT
MikeL

Social climber
Southern Arizona
Jul 12, 2018 - 07:49am PT
Nice comments, nafod.

eeyonkee,

Gazzaniga’s research has hardly “nailed” anything. He has a theory. It will be devilishly difficult to ever prove.

The theory of evolution is a good example for the word "natural" in supernatural. "Super" in supernatural is like "meta" in metaphysics. It means that it is "above" natural and "above" physics.

I think you’re avoiding being concrete for fear that you’ll end up eating words. And I don’t blame you. But I find it’s useful now and then to take a stand and see what shows up.

Ed: I generally don't "believe" in things... but I also suspect you are not using these words the same way I would, perhaps you could also provide what you mean by "causes" and by "causality" and how they are a part of science.

Good. I don’t believe in things either. “Things” appear to be the common, everyday understanding that comes from modern conceptualization for most folks.

IMO, as yanqui seems to suggest, cause / causality appear to be core ideas that science uses to concretely link things to each other and explain change. Associations / correlations are just too flaccid for hard sciences. Findings seemingly determining causality constitute a gold standard in the sciences, from what I’ve seen. Without causality (explanation of how one thing predictably gives rise to another), science would amount to description for the most part.

I agree with Largo, for the most part: most of causality appears to be rather linearly and dichotomously stipulated, and when it is, then if falls prey to the “post hoc fallacy” complaint. It’s been rare for me to find research in my fields claiming non-linear causal explanations for any outcome. (Even the word “outcome” is laden with notions of causality.) In my fields, exemplary anecdotes have provided non-linear explanations, but those are looked down upon in my fields. Think about: “Why did the economy take a dive?” There would appear to be way too many variables to answer that question with, but people will distill a massive set of inter-relationships into a story that can be remembered and easily articulated.

Causality, as most of us use the term these days, seems to me to be a simple-minded / heavy-handed, binary way of speaking. Sure we think in these ways commonly, but I’d say that’s a sociological and psychological habit that’s been engrained in us philosophically (see, logocentricism).

I wonder if Jan could make some references to different ways of seeing from other cultures than how we speak in Western, modern cultures.

Your turn.


yanqui

climber
Balcarce, Argentina
Jul 12, 2018 - 08:26am PT
IMO, as yanqui seems to suggest, cause / causality appear to be core ideas that science uses to concretely link things to each other and explain change. Associations / correlations are just too flaccid for hard sciences. Findings seemingly determining causality constitute a gold standard in the sciences, from what I’ve seen. Without causality (explanation of how one thing predictably gives rise to another), science would amount to description for the most part.

I think you may have misunderstood my remarks. Take the time to look over Feynman's characterization of Fermat's principle of least time in his classic text: the reasons he gives for why he thinks it's good science. Being a "causal description" of light has nothing to do with it.
Ed Hartouni

Trad climber
Livermore, CA
Jul 12, 2018 - 09:14am PT
Feynman refers to an interesting way of describing a physical system using variational principles, in the case of Fermat, we use the idea that the light takes the path that minimizes the time for it to pass from "point A to point B."

Using this minimization one arrives at Snell's law for refraction.

No student that I have known fails to ask the question "how does the light know?" But the very question reveals the limitation of our language and our bias to seeing the world driven by analogs to "human agency." The light does not "know," and doesn't require that knowledge to "do it's thing."

So there is no need to invoke a "cause" in the sense of agency.

When two massive stars execute their orbital dynamics, what is the "cause"? Viewing the dynamical description of the two stars' trajectory, subject to the initial conditions, are sufficient.

The differential equations that are a part of the description do not "cause" the trajectories. The initial conditions do not "cause" the trajectories. The existence of massive bodies do not "cause" the trajectories. The very existence of gravity does not "cause" the trajectories.

There is no "law of physics" which enshrines this sort of "causality:" A causes B, and there is a lot of physics for which no such proposition is possible.

So while don Largo's insistence that this be the case, he is arguing from profound ignorance, or he means something different.

Since I wouldn't accuse Largo of being ignorant, I have asked him for a definition to help make it clear what exactly he is talking about.

As for MikeL, I think his impressions of science and how science is done lead him to erroneous assumptions. The "hard sciences" are full of associations and correlations, they are often the first things we "see" when trying to understand what is going on...

Newton, the hardest of them all:

I have not as yet been able to discover the reason for these properties of gravity from phenomena, and I do not feign hypotheses. For whatever is not deduced from the phenomena must be called a hypothesis; and hypotheses, whether metaphysical or physical, or based on occult qualities, or mechanical, have no place in experimental philosophy. In this philosophy particular propositions are inferred from the phenomena, and afterwards rendered general by induction.

provides a stark account of our gropings.
MH2

Boulder climber
Andy Cairns
Jul 12, 2018 - 09:20am PT
Whoa! Thanks to yanqui. Probably many people, including me, have discovered the weird thing that happens when you slowly oppose finger to thumb while watching the light between them. I could not be sure it wasn't some trick of my eye or brain, but was aware that small slits can affect the travel of light, depending on wavelength.


Rather than talk about cause and effect, I think a simpler frame for the various steps of a scientific investigation, from initial curiosity to testing to hypothesis and theory and prediction is:

What happens when....?


But if you want to call that cause and effect, okay, but do those terms improve your understanding? I think they may prematurely fix your description and understanding. Much of science is a work in progress and flexible thinking is needed. Using the language of cause and effect has an air of finality and certainty.
madbolter1

Big Wall climber
Denver, CO
Jul 12, 2018 - 11:53am PT
Show your work

This, coming from you, DMT?

Alert!!!

Somebody has hacked into DMT's Taco Stand account! Quick. Alert CMac and Co.

;-)

Nothing made him angrier than making something simple sound complicated.

Ah, the invariable tension. So, "show your work," but do it with "simplicity." Sorry to leave you on your own here, John, for the past few days. Too much materialist popcorn for one non-materialist to eat all on his own.

Having caught up from where I left off, I think that a summary of "where we are" is in order.

MIT physicist Victor Weisskopf used an analogy to describe explaining general relativity to a layperson, and that analogy seems apropos to this discussion of materialists trying to explain mind to us non-materialist laypeople.

A 19th century scientist tries to explain a steam engine to a peasant. At each step of the explanation, the peasant nods and says, "Makes sense. I understand." The scientist covers everything, including how the whole thing works together to produce output-power. Finally satisfied with his explanation, the scientist asks, "So, do you understand it now? Any questions?"

The peasant nods enthusiastically and says, "Thank you for the explanation. I think I've got it. But I do have one question."

The scientist says, "Ask away."

The peasant asks, "But where's the horse?"

This entire thread strikes me as almost exactly that very 19th century exchange. The scientists/materialists here (and as cited) carefully explain the steam engine, and we non-materialists ask, "But where's the horse?"

Materialists are frustrated by the question, because they think that having explained the steam engine, they have demonstrated that the peasant can't even be asking a proper question to ask, "Where's the horse?" But, not wanting to call the peasants downright stupid, they nevertheless wonder about the intelligence/sanity of the peasants who CLEARLY are "not getting it" no matter how carefully they explain the steam engine.

Initially this analogy seems very slanted in favor of the materialists about mind. After all, there are indeed extremely good accounts of the steam engine, and given such accounts, it does seem worse than a misunderstanding, something like a category error, to ask, "Where's the horse?"

But upon a bit more reflection, it seems that the category error or mistake is on the side of the materialists. To whit:

"The horse" is self-consciousness. There it is, big as life. If there's any empirical phenomenon we are most confident has "real existence," it is our own self-consciousness. We know that we are self-conscious with more confidence than we know any other empirical phenomenon.

So, when the "peasant" asks about "the horse," we are really saying, "But this steam engine has nothing whatsoever to do with a horse. There is no horse in that system, and the horse is not some 'emergent property' of that system. Yet, here is the horse, big as life."

The materialist now replies variously (not an exhaustive list): There is no horse; "the horse" can be completely accounted for in terms of horsepower; "the horse" is an "emergent property" of horsepower; "the horse" is really identical to horsepower; etc.

The non-materialist now replies: "But wait. I get all of that. I honestly understand how the engine works as you've described it. I totally understand how 'work' results from the engine and how that work can be described as 'horsepower.' But ALL of that fails to account for this ACTUAL HORSE. This one. Right here. I see one, and you see one. And THAT HORSE is NOWHERE in your system nor explanation of your system. In fact, it is a terrible conflation or outright category error to in ANY way assert that 'horsepower' is related to THIS HORSE; or at least you have thus far failed to account for that relation, whatever it might be."

Now, at this juncture, the materialist has but two options, it seems to me: 1) Abandon the fruitless discussion in recognition that the two camps are literally incommensurable paradigms, and never the twain shall meet; 2) Keep on trying with steam-engine explanations in the (vain) hope that the peasants will someday "get it."

The non-materialist has but two options, it seems to me: 1) Abandon the fruitless discussion in recognition that the two camps are literally incommensurable paradigms, and never the twain shall meet; 2) Keep on asking, "Where's the horse?" in the (vain) hope that the scientists will someday recognize the gaping holes in their steam engine explanations.

The only other discussion I see here is the oft-repeated materialist assertion that we peasants live in a "God of the gaps" paradigm. There may be some anti-materialists on this thread that are in that paradigm. I don't know. But I don't believe that John is, and I know that I'm not.

The "God of the gaps" argument goes something like this:

1) Science has thus far failed to account for phenomenon X.
2) I think that science won't manage to produce such an account.
3) Therefore, God is responsible for X.

The obvious scientific response is: "Well, here's a Y about which you were saying the same thing fifty years ago, and we accounted for that without appeal to God. So, look back at the relentless progress of science, and you really SHOULD abandon your lame argument and believe instead that science WILL at some point account for X."

The "God of the gaps" argument is indeed invalid, and the scientific response is indeed intuitively and inductively compelling.

But I don't believe that John is, and I know that I'm not, making anything like the inferential move from (2) to (3). I wouldn't even be comfortable to assert (3) in the traditional sense of "God" for ANY empirical phenomena!

My perspective is better cast this way:

1) Self-consciousness is an empirical phenomenon that cannot IN-PRINCIPLE be accounted for on ANY empirical/materialistic model.
2) Therefore, the empirical/materialistic account of "reality" is inadequate.

Where you go from (2) is FAR beyond the scope of this (or really any) forum thread!

I've taken stabs at accounting for why I am convinced of (1), but a forum thread is not an adequate venue for a rigorous discussion of why I am personally convinced of (1). The tension between "show your work" and "keep it simple" is too great to bear! So: Kant, properly understood.

What troubles me is that the materialists here keep citing this or that person or model that they have just read, and ohhhh, it is just so compelling. That is NOT an intellectually honest approach to this discussion. Intellectual honesty necessarily includes two attributes that I see precious little of here: 1) systematically and sweepingly immersing yourself in the literature of your opponent; 2) CHARITABLY considering that position, doing everything you can to fill in holes and prop up that position to make it as good as it can possibly be.

For my part, I have spent MANY years doing both to achieve a very thorough understanding of the best arguments in favor of materialism of mind. Indeed, MOST of the literature out there is arguing for materialism of mind, so studying philosophy of mind cannot fail to immerse you in a wide sweep of well-argued materialist accounts. And this study was not just "hobbiest reading," because it was in the context of rigorously evaluated coursework and formal papers taught and evaluated ENTIRELY from a materialist perspective.

Moreover, I have no problem with empiricism/materialism proving to be an adequate paradigm within which to discuss "all that there is." I'm a LONG way from being a "good Christian," and I honestly have no ax to grind here. Conversely, I would guess that most materialists here would find themselves in something like an existential crisis if they really tumbled to HOW inadequate, in-principle, their paradigm is. That would require a leap into the rabbit hole that they are not prepared to take!

Notice that many months ago, I recommended Searle's book, "Minds, Brains, and Science". I even provided an Amazon link to it (this may have been in the "soul" thread, but there's a LOT of attendance-overlap between these two threads). It's a short book, and it is not an "exhaustive case" by any means. But it is a "simple" book outlining a fundamental aspect of the non-materialist case. Have ANY of you materialists purchased/read it in the intervening months?

I thought not. But if I were in your shoes, I'd be looking in the mirror and asking myself, "Have I REALLY given the opposing perspective a fair and charitable hearing? Have I really understood its arguments?" I believe that I can honestly and accurately say that I have rigorously and very systematically given the materialist "side" a fair and charitable hearing. But I put it to you materialists that you have not been willing to do the same. Read "Minds, Brains, and Science," and then we'll have more to talk about.

Non-materialists are not necessarily stupid or ignorant peasants (of course, some are) when we continue to ask, "But where's the horse?" We ALL know that there IS a horse (except for, perhaps, Dennett). We non-materialists do NOT see "the horse," the ACTUAL HORSE in your system nor in any conflation with horsepower. And for my part, I am convinced that empiricism/materialism cannot in-principle account for the horse.

Where we go from here is beyond me. If I'm going to continue, I feel like the only option is to keep questioning, "But where's the horse?" and hope that some of the materialists here will get SERIOUS about considering the opposing viewpoint rather than just dismissively talking about steam engines and horsepower.
Largo

Sport climber
The Big Wide Open Face
Topic Author's Reply - Jul 12, 2018 - 12:27pm PT
There is no "law of physics" which enshrines this sort of "causality:" A causes B, and there is a lot of physics for which no such proposition is possible.

So while don Largo's insistence that this be the case, he is arguing from profound ignorance, or he means something different.

Since I wouldn't accuse Largo of being ignorant, I have asked him for a definition to help make it clear what exactly he is talking about.


Actually, Ed, you've said what I've been fishing for.

I have never claimed as my own the causality I sketch out here, that A follows B and was caused by A (including variations of same) is something I agree with. What I AM saying is that this binary way of thinking and constructing the world is implied if not stated outright by most of those who's attention goes to the brain (like a moth to a flame) when asked questions about experience.

Take Eyonkees drift about the "interpreter," a function believed to "originate" in the left prefrontal cortex.

What does that mean, in our common usage of the word? Does it mean that the interpreter "caused" the pre-frontal cortex? Who would believe that? Is he saying that the pre-frontal cortex caused, gave rise to, birthed or in some way created the interpreter by way of mechanical brain function that occurred BEFORE the interpreter chimes in.

You know perfectly well that's what he's driving at - a classical world view in which the physical is fundamental and that all phenomenon arise from it. Junk "causation" if you want. But most people clearly see reality unfolding in a linear way, and whatever you see or experience is in some way - according to this folk belief - attributable to physical processes that preceded it. That is, mind is the outcome of physical brain processes "we" are not aware of. What's more, these physical processes "explain" why this is so. Ergo, consciousness is what the brain is doing.

Say what you want but this is linear/reductionist all the way. Problem is, this kind of linear, bottom-up, temporally connected sequencing leads either to infinite regress, a first cause, an infinite or boundless fundamental phenomenon or scaler field which either caused itself or else you describe this phenomenon by way of models having nothing to directly do with the subject.

When the man said, If you think you understand it, you don't, what do you think he meant my "understand?" My take is that he meant our common sense understanding of linear causation IS understanding in this regards. And that there was no evidence of this being the case under investigation.

Now what happens when you disregard the linear, the temporal, and the causal from your own internal phenomenal (subjective) process? What changes? What do you see, sense, feel, intuit, hear, and so forth?

Jan

Mountain climber
Colorado & Nepal
Jul 12, 2018 - 02:19pm PT
Some anecdotes about causality from Nepal.

I was explaining to some villagers that they shouldn't drink unboiled water because there were tiny germs in the water. They noted they couldn't see them. I told them in my country we have instruments called microscopes that can see them. I've seen them, they're there.

No, no they told me, stomach problems are not caused by germs, they're caused by water serpent spirits (naga). Well, I've never seen a naga I said. Well in our country, they told me, we have shamans who can see spirits, so we know they're there.

So why do these spirits make people sick? Because people go to the toilet too close to the water and they get mad when their water is polluted. Close enough I told them. We actually believe in the same thing. Keep dirty things out of the water.

So the question is, was this a compromise or was it a close enough approximation of causality?

Another one. I had a stomach ache and blamed the dirty conditions. Oh no, an old woman told me, it's because you took a bath a couple of weeks ago. Look at me, I'm 80 years old and I never took a bath in my life. If you keep bathing, you will never be an old lady like me. Remembering that I had eaten and drunk the same exact things as my Sherpa porters a few months before and I got typhoid fever and they didn't because their natural immunities were stronger than my innoculations, I told her, You may be right. If I had decided to live in Nepal on a permanent basis, I'm sure she would have been right.

Meanwhile, a guy working in my house got a sore throat and knew he needed some powerful medicine. He thought to himself. What is the most powerful thing in this house and decided it must be the mantel on the kerosene pressure lamp which glowed with fire, but never burned up. So he ate one. When I freaked out, he couldn't understand because he had never heard of asbestos before. In fact he died from a drunken fall down some icy steps, so the asbestos didn't kill him after all.

Notions of causality change with the culture for sure.



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