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A naturalistic approach to consciousness

 
weird buffalo
 
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weird buffalo
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23 June 2020 07:14
 
burt - 22 June 2020 10:32 PM
weird buffalo - 22 June 2020 09:11 PM
burt - 22 June 2020 06:59 PM


You miss the point, I don’t have to give evidence one way or the other, the entire Mary thought experiment is intended to raise the question, not necessarily provide an answer. It differentiates between identity beliefs; i.e., there is nothing extra that Mary learns because she already knew everything about the neural states involved in seeing colors; and panpsychism states; i.e., Mary learns something new that no understanding of only the neural states could bring. In other words, she already knows all that is involved in the neural states involved in seeing red, she just hasn’t seen it (had the actual experience) herself so she has not had that particular neural state before. So the question is, when she does experience that state, does she learn anything that she didn’t already know?

Okay, so if this example is not providing us with an answer, then it does not support the idea that there is a nonmaterial answer to the question.

I also think that the example is attempting to conflate the map for the place.  If I study a map of China without ever having been there, I will gain new information once I actually go to China.  The example is taking two separate categories of information, and equivocating between them in order to make a deepity.

Well, it’s a thought experiment that has excited a great deal of analysis from professionals who work in this area, perhaps they are wrong, but I doubt it. You’re right, it’s taking two different categories of information, but what it’s asking is whether or not one category can be reduced to the other. What it does is raise the question: is there something about the nature of an experience that cannot be explained only by the neural events that produce the experience? There are a bunch of other of these sort of thought experiments about and the way people take it depends on their philosophical commitments. Paul Churchland, at least 20 years ago which is the last time I read anything of his, believed that “I see red” was just a shorthand for an extended description of all the neurons that were firing during the experience. David Chalmers thinks that qualities are somehow embedded in nature or in consciousness. Roger Penrose thinks that mathematical ideas exist in a Platonic reality that is non-material. Nobody knows for sure.

The two categories are clearly different though.  When things are equivalent, or interchangeable, the process can be reversed.  I can exchange four quarters for a dollar, or I can exchange a dollar for four quarters.  The two groups are distinct, but equivalent, and a they both belong to the same subset.  If we reversed the order of Mary’s experiences, would we assume that by seeing the color red she now has full knowledge of neural states about seeing the color red?  The evidence that this conclusion is false is fairly overwhelming since for 99% of human existence, precisely zero people have demonstrated any knowledge about neural states (excluding a relative small portion of the human population that has only appeared in the last few decades).  If one does not give knowledge of the other, we cannot assume that it works the other way around without demonstration.

Assuming for the moment we aren’t going to argue about whether reality exists….
We have material explanations for many things.  We know that a physical universe of energy and matter does cause things to happen.  We aren’t arguing over this.

We are debating whether anything beyond energy and matter exists, ie. something nonmaterial.  For a nonmaterial explanation to actually explain anything, something nonmaterial would have to be possible.  It’s fine to ask questions about this, but if the nonmaterial cannot be demonstrated in some way, then I fail to see how we can be convinced that it explains anything.

If materialism fails as an explanation, there are two possibilities:
1)  our ability to explain material reality is insufficient
2) there is something beyond material reality

If we cannot demonstrate that anything beyond material reality exists, then I do not think we have sufficient reason to think that 2 is the more probably answer.  Humans are really good at imagining things that are not true.  We have billion dollar industries devoted to the exercise.

 
burt
 
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burt
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23 June 2020 09:56
 
weird buffalo - 23 June 2020 07:14 AM
burt - 22 June 2020 10:32 PM
weird buffalo - 22 June 2020 09:11 PM
burt - 22 June 2020 06:59 PM


You miss the point, I don’t have to give evidence one way or the other, the entire Mary thought experiment is intended to raise the question, not necessarily provide an answer. It differentiates between identity beliefs; i.e., there is nothing extra that Mary learns because she already knew everything about the neural states involved in seeing colors; and panpsychism states; i.e., Mary learns something new that no understanding of only the neural states could bring. In other words, she already knows all that is involved in the neural states involved in seeing red, she just hasn’t seen it (had the actual experience) herself so she has not had that particular neural state before. So the question is, when she does experience that state, does she learn anything that she didn’t already know?

Okay, so if this example is not providing us with an answer, then it does not support the idea that there is a nonmaterial answer to the question.

I also think that the example is attempting to conflate the map for the place.  If I study a map of China without ever having been there, I will gain new information once I actually go to China.  The example is taking two separate categories of information, and equivocating between them in order to make a deepity.

Well, it’s a thought experiment that has excited a great deal of analysis from professionals who work in this area, perhaps they are wrong, but I doubt it. You’re right, it’s taking two different categories of information, but what it’s asking is whether or not one category can be reduced to the other. What it does is raise the question: is there something about the nature of an experience that cannot be explained only by the neural events that produce the experience? There are a bunch of other of these sort of thought experiments about and the way people take it depends on their philosophical commitments. Paul Churchland, at least 20 years ago which is the last time I read anything of his, believed that “I see red” was just a shorthand for an extended description of all the neurons that were firing during the experience. David Chalmers thinks that qualities are somehow embedded in nature or in consciousness. Roger Penrose thinks that mathematical ideas exist in a Platonic reality that is non-material. Nobody knows for sure.

The two categories are clearly different though.  When things are equivalent, or interchangeable, the process can be reversed.  I can exchange four quarters for a dollar, or I can exchange a dollar for four quarters.  The two groups are distinct, but equivalent, and a they both belong to the same subset.  If we reversed the order of Mary’s experiences, would we assume that by seeing the color red she now has full knowledge of neural states about seeing the color red?  The evidence that this conclusion is false is fairly overwhelming since for 99% of human existence, precisely zero people have demonstrated any knowledge about neural states (excluding a relative small portion of the human population that has only appeared in the last few decades).  If one does not give knowledge of the other, we cannot assume that it works the other way around without demonstration.

Assuming for the moment we aren’t going to argue about whether reality exists….
We have material explanations for many things.  We know that a physical universe of energy and matter does cause things to happen.  We aren’t arguing over this.

We are debating whether anything beyond energy and matter exists, ie. something nonmaterial.  For a nonmaterial explanation to actually explain anything, something nonmaterial would have to be possible.  It’s fine to ask questions about this, but if the nonmaterial cannot be demonstrated in some way, then I fail to see how we can be convinced that it explains anything.

If materialism fails as an explanation, there are two possibilities:
1)  our ability to explain material reality is insufficient
2) there is something beyond material reality

If we cannot demonstrate that anything beyond material reality exists, then I do not think we have sufficient reason to think that 2 is the more probably answer.  Humans are really good at imagining things that are not true.  We have billion dollar industries devoted to the exercise.

Well, yes. You’re buying into the materialist position, or with respect to qualia, the identity position. And you’re in good company. But there are others who don’t go that route and assert that there is more to reality. Your question about how something non-material could ever be shown to influence the material world has been argued since the ancient Greeks (basically, they couldn’t answer it so that most of the ancient philosophical schools adopted some form of materialism). But if I lift a cup of tea, is that an example? Of course, the actual action of lifting the cup has a neural basis but what about the felt identity of willing to do this?

Your dollar and four quarters analogy doesn’t work, a dollar and a quarter are both money so they are in the same category and there is a clear relationship between them. The question is, can you cash out the color red in strictly material terms, can the category of qualia be reduced to something strictly material. You might want to look into some of the zombie arguments about this, too. Roughly, what is the difference, if any, between you and a zombie you who is identical to you in every material way, but who has no inner experience. The extreme sides of the discussion are that (a) consciousness emerges from and can be totally explained in terms of neural interactions in the brain; (b) consciousness must be assumed to pre-exist in the same way that in physics we assume the existence of space-time. In the first case, the assumption is that when sufficiently complex brains evolve, somehow consciousness emerges (nobody knows how, as yet); in the second, the assumption is that when sufficiently complex brains evolve, they “tap into” consciousness, sort of like a television set tapping into broadcast signals. It may be that there is no way to decide between these two positions.

 
weird buffalo
 
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weird buffalo
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23 June 2020 10:15
 

To give evidence that I’m not just being pedantic and skeptical as hyperbole, I consider the Many Worlds hypothesis one that finding an answer to will greatly improve our ability to understand quantum mechanics.  I don’t necessarily believe that there are many worlds, that quantum events necessarily cause the universe to split.  Rather, that until we find a force that prevents it from happening, we should assume that it is possible.  The reason behind this is based on how we represent it through math.  Now, just because we can represent something a certain way in math does not mean that something is true.  Rather, I would argue that if we apply the rules of quantum mechanics consistently throughout the equations, we arrive at a situation where the universe does appear to split.

For representational purposes:
1: quantum mechanics rules will be represented in functions by [ x ]
2: classical mechanics rules will be represented in functions by ( x )

To simply way too much, the Copenhagen represents quantum events like this:
[ agent + subject] + (observer)

The general upshot is that the classical universe ends up not being subject to the rules of quantum physics.  The behaviors of large objects, like molecules and bigger, will behave the way we understand they will behave, regardless of the results of what happens on the quantum level.

If instead we do the math like this:
[agent + subject] + [observer]

We acknowledge that even on the macroscopic level, everything is subject to the rules of quantum mechanics.  In Schrodinger’s famous thought experiment, the observer is entangled on the quantum level with the particles.  The observer is not separate and distinct from the quantum interaction.  This isn’t some strange math trick, we are just applying the rules as we have them to all parts of the equation.  The upshot then is that when these particles interact it might be causing multiple versions of reality proceed from the point of interaction.

This is an example where I see that the positive claim is unprovable.  We currently don’t have a way to falsify the Many Worlds interpretaion.  The math suggests that it is happening though, which is sufficient evidence for us to proceed in investigation.  Either there is something that prevents it from happening, or it is happening.

In contrast, your example does not actually provide us with any indication that something nonmaterial is happening, or that we need to show that something is preventing a nonmaterial answer from being true.  It conflates categories of information, asserts no answer, and then assumes that an answer might be true.

Edit: Also, physicist don’t assume that spacetime exists.  Physicists have made observations, and those observations are consistent with spacetime existing.  Experimentation and observation have repeatedly shown that spacetime as we currently understand it is an excellent hypothesis for how the universe works.  Do we absolutely, conclusively know that spacetime exists in isolated regions?  No, but then you can’t conclusively prove that you exist either.  And I’m assuming that we aren’t requiring each other to prove that reality exists.  Because if we are, then we can’t prove that “consciousness” is a thing, or that brains have evolved or exist, and then everything said so far would be pointless.

Edit 2:
Why do you find the lack of an answer convincing that something without evidence is true?  Maybe what convinced you will convince me.  Hopefully that question gives you an indication on why I am not convinced up to this point.

[ Edited: 23 June 2020 10:54 by weird buffalo]
 
burt
 
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burt
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23 June 2020 21:59
 
weird buffalo - 23 June 2020 10:15 AM

To give evidence that I’m not just being pedantic and skeptical as hyperbole, I consider the Many Worlds hypothesis one that finding an answer to will greatly improve our ability to understand quantum mechanics.  I don’t necessarily believe that there are many worlds, that quantum events necessarily cause the universe to split.  Rather, that until we find a force that prevents it from happening, we should assume that it is possible.  The reason behind this is based on how we represent it through math.  Now, just because we can represent something a certain way in math does not mean that something is true.  Rather, I would argue that if we apply the rules of quantum mechanics consistently throughout the equations, we arrive at a situation where the universe does appear to split.

For representational purposes:
1: quantum mechanics rules will be represented in functions by [ x ]
2: classical mechanics rules will be represented in functions by ( x )

To simply way too much, the Copenhagen represents quantum events like this:
[ agent + subject] + (observer)

The general upshot is that the classical universe ends up not being subject to the rules of quantum physics.  The behaviors of large objects, like molecules and bigger, will behave the way we understand they will behave, regardless of the results of what happens on the quantum level.

If instead we do the math like this:
[agent + subject] + [observer]

We acknowledge that even on the macroscopic level, everything is subject to the rules of quantum mechanics.  In Schrodinger’s famous thought experiment, the observer is entangled on the quantum level with the particles.  The observer is not separate and distinct from the quantum interaction.  This isn’t some strange math trick, we are just applying the rules as we have them to all parts of the equation.  The upshot then is that when these particles interact it might be causing multiple versions of reality proceed from the point of interaction.

This is an example where I see that the positive claim is unprovable.  We currently don’t have a way to falsify the Many Worlds interpretaion.  The math suggests that it is happening though, which is sufficient evidence for us to proceed in investigation.  Either there is something that prevents it from happening, or it is happening.

In contrast, your example does not actually provide us with any indication that something nonmaterial is happening, or that we need to show that something is preventing a nonmaterial answer from being true.  It conflates categories of information, asserts no answer, and then assumes that an answer might be true.

Edit: Also, physicist don’t assume that spacetime exists.  Physicists have made observations, and those observations are consistent with spacetime existing.  Experimentation and observation have repeatedly shown that spacetime as we currently understand it is an excellent hypothesis for how the universe works.  Do we absolutely, conclusively know that spacetime exists in isolated regions?  No, but then you can’t conclusively prove that you exist either.  And I’m assuming that we aren’t requiring each other to prove that reality exists.  Because if we are, then we can’t prove that “consciousness” is a thing, or that brains have evolved or exist, and then everything said so far would be pointless.

Edit 2:
Why do you find the lack of an answer convincing that something without evidence is true?  Maybe what convinced you will convince me.  Hopefully that question gives you an indication on why I am not convinced up to this point.

You’d better be careful talking about quantum analogies, I have a PhD in theoretical physics. Physicists assume that space-time exists, and have experiential evidence to back it up. We also have empirical evidence that consciousness and quaila exist. If you deny that, you must be a zombie. The Mary doesn’t conflate two categories, as I said before, it puts the question whether one category (experience, qualia, consciousness) can or cannot be reduced to another category (materiality). It doesn’t give a way to answer the question, other than what you might feel in your own experience. As I said, there are people on both sides of the question and, since it is undecided (perhaps undecidable), both sides will continue working. You seem to be trying to convince me that something is wrong and only your materialist assumption is valid. Sorry, you won’t be able to do that.

 
Nhoj Morley
 
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Nhoj Morley
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23 June 2020 23:29
 

This looks like a handy spot to butt in with a question for burt.

As the forum’s ranking member on all things quantum, which way do you lean?

Will answers to questions of qualia or consciousness more likely not involve anything special at the quantum level or, will they depend on knowledge of quantum stuff to be grasp-able?

I ask out of curiosity and to help out our patrons and because it would give your bitch-slap more substance.

 
 
Poldano
 
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23 June 2020 23:42
 
weird buffalo - 22 June 2020 08:16 AM
Poldano - 22 June 2020 02:03 AM
weird buffalo - 21 June 2020 11:32 AM

You brought up the example as a way of explaining how the experience was not material.  You haven’t demonstrated that.  Everything involved is still material.

If the experience of “red” is still a brain state, then the fundamental bits and pieces involved are still all material.

I’m assuming you are using the material in conjunction with the materialist philosophical position.

Materialism is incomplete if it does not include complete explanations of entirely subjective phenomena, even if the phenomena themselves are not verifiable by anyone but the subject even in principle.

This seems like a non sequitur.  I asked how the Mary example included anything that was nonmaterial.  Either it demonstrates something nonmaterial, or it doesn’t.

Do you think the Mary example demonstrates something that is nonmaterial?

What I said is not a non sequitur, it is another way of stating a condition that materialism must meet in order to be considered true and complete.

As for the Mary example, I believe that Mary does indeed learn something new when she acquires the ability to see. Previously Mary had learned abstractions about the nervous system that you claim were complete. I can question that it could be complete, but I will grant you the point because it is not relevant to mine. When Mary gained color vision, she learned what the experience of color is. If materialism can claim to be complete, then there must be physically detectable differences in Mary’s neural state between what it was before she could see in color and what it is after that.

I am of the opinion that materialism is a workable position, but that it does not preclude other workable positions, such as classical idealism when interpreted appropriately. The disadvantage of idealism is that it does not benefit as much from our current means of verifiably measuring things, or correspond as well to the naive realism that forms the basis of human interaction with reality.

 
 
burt
 
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24 June 2020 09:09
 
Nhoj Morley - 23 June 2020 11:29 PM

This looks like a handy spot to butt in with a question for burt.

As the forum’s ranking member on all things quantum, which way do you lean?

Will answers to questions of qualia or consciousness more likely not involve anything special at the quantum level or, will they depend on knowledge of quantum stuff to be grasp-able?

I ask out of curiosity and to help out our patrons and because it would give your bitch-slap more substance.

In general I’m relatively neutral on interpretations of quantum mechanics, although I do like the decoherence view (good book, Quantum Philosophy by Roland Omn├Ęs). I don’t really think that QM can be used to explain qualia or consciousness at an ontological level (don’t buy the Penrose-Hameroff theory). On the other hand, the sort of thinking involve in quantum mechanics (entanglement, superpositions, etc.) is good for thinking about such things. The past few weeks I’ve been turning over the traditional saying “when you learn the difference between container and content you will have wisdom” in the context of Schrodinger’s Cat, and the idea that a written text is analogous to the box containing the live/dead cat and we don’t get any of the multiple possible meanings of the text until we “observe” it, at which point we collapse the meaning down to our particular interpretation. You could probably put that into trioonity terms.

 
weird buffalo
 
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24 June 2020 11:23
 
burt - 23 June 2020 09:59 PM

You’d better be careful talking about quantum analogies, I have a PhD in theoretical physics. Physicists assume that space-time exists, and have experiential evidence to back it up. We also have empirical evidence that consciousness and quaila exist. If you deny that, you must be a zombie. The Mary doesn’t conflate two categories, as I said before, it puts the question whether one category (experience, qualia, consciousness) can or cannot be reduced to another category (materiality). It doesn’t give a way to answer the question, other than what you might feel in your own experience. As I said, there are people on both sides of the question and, since it is undecided (perhaps undecidable), both sides will continue working. You seem to be trying to convince me that something is wrong and only your materialist assumption is valid. Sorry, you won’t be able to do that.

When I say that the material world exists, is this an “assumption” we are arguing over?

Also, if I got something wrong in my analogy, I’d be glad to hear it.  Even if only to show that I not approaching this topic with a concrete mindset.  I really am asking questions about why and how we should think something might be true.

[ Edited: 24 June 2020 11:52 by weird buffalo]
 
weird buffalo
 
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weird buffalo
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24 June 2020 11:24
 
Poldano - 23 June 2020 11:42 PM
weird buffalo - 22 June 2020 08:16 AM
Poldano - 22 June 2020 02:03 AM
weird buffalo - 21 June 2020 11:32 AM

You brought up the example as a way of explaining how the experience was not material.  You haven’t demonstrated that.  Everything involved is still material.

If the experience of “red” is still a brain state, then the fundamental bits and pieces involved are still all material.

I’m assuming you are using the material in conjunction with the materialist philosophical position.

Materialism is incomplete if it does not include complete explanations of entirely subjective phenomena, even if the phenomena themselves are not verifiable by anyone but the subject even in principle.

This seems like a non sequitur.  I asked how the Mary example included anything that was nonmaterial.  Either it demonstrates something nonmaterial, or it doesn’t.

Do you think the Mary example demonstrates something that is nonmaterial?

What I said is not a non sequitur, it is another way of stating a condition that materialism must meet in order to be considered true and complete.

As for the Mary example, I believe that Mary does indeed learn something new when she acquires the ability to see. Previously Mary had learned abstractions about the nervous system that you claim were complete. I can question that it could be complete, but I will grant you the point because it is not relevant to mine. When Mary gained color vision, she learned what the experience of color is. If materialism can claim to be complete, then there must be physically detectable differences in Mary’s neural state between what it was before she could see in color and what it is after that.

I am of the opinion that materialism is a workable position, but that it does not preclude other workable positions, such as classical idealism when interpreted appropriately. The disadvantage of idealism is that it does not benefit as much from our current means of verifiably measuring things, or correspond as well to the naive realism that forms the basis of human interaction with reality.

I never claimed that.  The example that you and Burt are using claims that.  Please don’t put words in my mouth.

[ Edited: 24 June 2020 11:31 by weird buffalo]
 
weird buffalo
 
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24 June 2020 11:51
 
Nhoj Morley - 23 June 2020 11:29 PM

This looks like a handy spot to butt in with a question for burt.

As the forum’s ranking member on all things quantum, which way do you lean?

Will answers to questions of qualia or consciousness more likely not involve anything special at the quantum level or, will they depend on knowledge of quantum stuff to be grasp-able?

I ask out of curiosity and to help out our patrons and because it would give your bitch-slap more substance.

I’ll admit, my understanding of QM is pretty surface level.  I find some arguments about them more convincing than others.  I cannot do any math involved with QM, and my education on the subject is mostly analyzing it from the philosophical perspective.

That said, there is evidence that biological entities might be using QM to control biological processes.  For example, an interesting hypothesis has arisen that plants might be manipulating electrons at the quantum level in the process of creating usable energy from sunlight.  Classical mechanics would lead us to conclude that plants should be relatively inefficient at capturing sunlight.  That a lot of the energy of the photons would be lost in translation.  Yet we find that plants are super efficient.  Like efficient to the point that they have to be doing something that under classical physics we would predict is impossible.

Plants are not perfectly efficient.  The only convert roughly 5% of the light into usable energy, but most of that loss is due to various specific macro inefficiencies (like the color green not absorbing certain wavelengths, or converting compounds into glucose).  One thing they are super efficient at though is directing their electrons.  Imagine a chessboard, and moving a pawn from one corner to the opposite corner, but it will randomly choose any path (including off the board).  An extremely small number that started that journey would actually make it there (we’d lose 62% on the first move).  But what we instead find is that a huge amount of the electrons actually make it to their destination.  We don’t actually understand how right now.  One possibility is that plants are somehow manipulating the electrons like a quantum computer.  The electron takes all possible paths, like a wave, but the plant selects the best path for the particle, resulting in it reaching the intended destination.

How all that works and how we’d test to find out if it’s true, I have no idea.  If it is true, then it would conclusively show that living organisms can utilize quantum mechanics “intentionally” (I don’t mean necessarily as a thinking agent, but as a mechanical process of the organism).  There are some studies that are attempting to find out if similar processes are present in the human brain.  I would suspect that we might have an answer sooner on the chlorophyll issue sooner, as its a bit easier to study.

 
burt
 
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24 June 2020 17:34
 
weird buffalo - 24 June 2020 11:23 AM
burt - 23 June 2020 09:59 PM

You’d better be careful talking about quantum analogies, I have a PhD in theoretical physics. Physicists assume that space-time exists, and have experiential evidence to back it up. We also have empirical evidence that consciousness and quaila exist. If you deny that, you must be a zombie. The Mary doesn’t conflate two categories, as I said before, it puts the question whether one category (experience, qualia, consciousness) can or cannot be reduced to another category (materiality). It doesn’t give a way to answer the question, other than what you might feel in your own experience. As I said, there are people on both sides of the question and, since it is undecided (perhaps undecidable), both sides will continue working. You seem to be trying to convince me that something is wrong and only your materialist assumption is valid. Sorry, you won’t be able to do that.

When I say that the material world exists, is this an “assumption” we are arguing over?

Also, if I got something wrong in my analogy, I’d be glad to hear it.  Even if only to show that I not approaching this topic with a concrete mindset.  I really am asking questions about why and how we should think something might be true.

I don’t see us as arguing over anything. You asked why there was philosophical interest in the Mary thought experiment since, as you saw it, it all reduced to a material neuronal set of conditions. All I was trying to do is to show why philosophers find the thought experiment of interest, if your view of it were correct it would have been dismissed long ago. What I said was just that what Mary does is give a sharp point to the basic issue of qualia and the nature of their reality. Are they nothing other than neurons firing, or is there something else there directly connected to a consciousness that cannot be explained only in terms of neurons firing. I think most people accept that the material world exists, otherwise, sitting on a material chair on the fifth floor of a building as I am at the moment, would make me quite nervous.

 
weird buffalo
 
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25 June 2020 07:02
 
burt - 24 June 2020 05:34 PM

I don’t see us as arguing over anything. You asked why there was philosophical interest in the Mary thought experiment since, as you saw it, it all reduced to a material neuronal set of conditions. All I was trying to do is to show why philosophers find the thought experiment of interest, if your view of it were correct it would have been dismissed long ago. What I said was just that what Mary does is give a sharp point to the basic issue of qualia and the nature of their reality. Are they nothing other than neurons firing, or is there something else there directly connected to a consciousness that cannot be explained only in terms of neurons firing. I think most people accept that the material world exists, otherwise, sitting on a material chair on the fifth floor of a building as I am at the moment, would make me quite nervous.

My point with clarifying that we are not debating the existence of the material world, is that we do have a lot of evidence that a material answer could be true.

My question… what evidence is there that a nonmaterial answer could actually be true?  Not just a philosophical musing.  Is there evidence that a nonmaterial answer exists beyond just human imagining?

I could pose the answer that consciousness is actually the product of fairies.  There are invisible, nonmaterial fairies floating all around us, and what we describe as an “experience” or “the feeling of” something, it is actually our nonmaterial perception of fairies that is causing these sensations.  Since this is a possible answer that we cannot disprove, should we now add it to the list of plausible explanations?  Or, should we dismiss it until evidence of fairies can be demonstrated?

Why do you think I should not dismiss nonmaterial answers?
Well-respected philosophers is an appeal to authority.

[ Edited: 25 June 2020 07:11 by weird buffalo]
 
burt
 
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25 June 2020 09:11
 
weird buffalo - 25 June 2020 07:02 AM
burt - 24 June 2020 05:34 PM

I don’t see us as arguing over anything. You asked why there was philosophical interest in the Mary thought experiment since, as you saw it, it all reduced to a material neuronal set of conditions. All I was trying to do is to show why philosophers find the thought experiment of interest, if your view of it were correct it would have been dismissed long ago. What I said was just that what Mary does is give a sharp point to the basic issue of qualia and the nature of their reality. Are they nothing other than neurons firing, or is there something else there directly connected to a consciousness that cannot be explained only in terms of neurons firing. I think most people accept that the material world exists, otherwise, sitting on a material chair on the fifth floor of a building as I am at the moment, would make me quite nervous.

My point with clarifying that we are not debating the existence of the material world, is that we do have a lot of evidence that a material answer could be true.

My question… what evidence is there that a nonmaterial answer could actually be true?  Not just a philosophical musing.  Is there evidence that a nonmaterial answer exists beyond just human imagining?

I could pose the answer that consciousness is actually the product of fairies.  There are invisible, nonmaterial fairies floating all around us, and what we describe as an “experience” or “the feeling of” something, it is actually our nonmaterial perception of fairies that is causing these sensations.  Since this is a possible answer that we cannot disprove, should we now add it to the list of plausible explanations?  Or, should we dismiss it until evidence of fairies can be demonstrated?

Why do you think I should not dismiss nonmaterial answers?
Well-respected philosophers is an appeal to authority.

Now you’re extending the question to whether or not a non-material aspect of reality might exist. I don’t have time to argue that, but you will find the arguments set out well in David Chalmers books The Conscious Mind and The Character of Consciousness.

 
weird buffalo
 
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weird buffalo
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25 June 2020 12:50
 

Is it normal behavior to require someone read two books before you discuss something with them on these forums?

If in the future, you ask me a question, do I get to assign two books to you before I have to answer?

Will there be quizzes?

 
burt
 
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burt
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25 June 2020 18:50
 
weird buffalo - 25 June 2020 12:50 PM

Is it normal behavior to require someone read two books before you discuss something with them on these forums?

If in the future, you ask me a question, do I get to assign two books to you before I have to answer?

Will there be quizzes?

No, but if you want to learn the books will help. I am working on two books of my own (not on this topic) so really have little time for internet interactions.

 
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