The "standard" view of matter entails that it is impossible for consciousness to be p

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Whitewell
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#1
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Given the standard conception of matter since the revolution by Descartes etc. It is impossible in principle that the phenomenon of consciousness be explained in purely physical terms.

The "mechanistic" account of matter essentially boils down to what can be quantitatively known. The method thereby necessitates that qualitative properties will not be captured.

Sensory qualities like color, odor, taste, sound, and the like as common sense understands them are not captured by physics (of for that matter, chemistry or biology). Colour was redefined in terms of surface reflectance properties (say) and sound in terms of compression waves etc. If we want to redefine the “red” of a fire engine in terms of how its surface reflects photons at certain wavelengths, we can say that the fire engine is red. But if by “red” we mean the way red “looks” to us when we perceive it, then nothing like that exists in the fire engine, which is (if we think of color in these commonsense terms) intrinsically “colorless.” And so on for sounds, tastes, and all the rest.

If you are going to insist that matter is comprised only of colorless, odorless, tasteless, soundless particles devoid of any inherent meaning or goal-directedness, then*of course*qualia and intentionality are going to have to count as immaterial, and color, odor, taste, sound, etc. understood as objective features of nature would simply have to be re-defined (in terms of patterns of compression waves or whatever).*

Hence, if one is going to affirm the existence both of matter (as redefined by the early moderns) and of the sensory qualities (or “qualia,” as they have come to be known, relocated from the external world to the internal world of the mind), then it seems one is necessarily committed to mind-body dualism of some sort (whether substance dualism or property dualism). The only way to avoid such dualism is either to reject the existence of matter (as Berkeley did), to reject the existence of the sensory qualities (as eliminativists do explicitly and most other materialists do implicitly), or to reject the mechanistic conception of matter that led to the problem in the first place (as Aristotelians do; though Aristotelianism still leads to a non-Cartesian form of dualism for reasons that have nothing to do with sensory qualities or qualia).


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the bear
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well obviously the "standard view of matter" is incomplete.
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Whitewell
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(Original post by the bear)
well obviously the "standard view of matter" is incomplete.
That would be the obvious conclusion to draw. You would be surprised how hard it is for materialists to let go (it seems to stem from scientism) but given certain changes qualia can be given a physical explanation. Functionalism gives a good go but is incompatible with the mechanistic view of matter. It needs something like an Aristotelian view (or at least a strong emergent view). This is a hard pill to swallow for some.

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the bear
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(Original post by Whitewell)
That would be the obvious conclusion to draw. You would be surprised how hard it is for materialists to let go (it seems to stem from scientism) but given certain changes qualia can be given a physical explanation. Functionalism gives a good go but is incompatible with the mechanistic view of matter. It needs something like an Aristotelian view (or at least a strong emergent view). This is a hard pill to swallow for some.

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whatever it is that causes consciousness, it is not magic :teehee:. to give a physical explanation of consciousness should not downgrade consciousness, although inevitably many people will use it that way.
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Whitewell
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(Original post by the bear)
whatever it is that causes consciousness, it is not magic :teehee:. to give a physical explanation of consciousness should not downgrade consciousness, although inevitably many people will use it that way.
I'm not sure what you are saying

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the bear
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(Original post by Whitewell)
I'm not sure what you are saying

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by providing a complete physical explanation of consciousness and removing its special status above other bodily functions we would give succour to those who deny the hand of the Almighty in our lives.
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Axiomasher
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(Original post by Whitewell)
That would be the obvious conclusion to draw. You would be surprised how hard it is for materialists to let go (it seems to stem from scientism) but given certain changes qualia can be given a physical explanation. Functionalism gives a good go but is incompatible with the mechanistic view of matter. It needs something like an Aristotelian view (or at least a strong emergent view). This is a hard pill to swallow for some.

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I would regard myself as a materialist. As I remember it correctly from reading a while back, dualism (at least the matter-mind kind of dualism) has the problem of needing at least a third 'connecting' phenomenon to allow, for example, a physical brain impulse to become a non-physical experience. If we put perception/experience down as an entirely physical phenomenon then we don't create that problem. Simpler is usually better.
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Whitewell
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(Original post by Axiomasher)
I would regard myself as a materialist. As I remember it correctly from reading a while back, dualism (at least the matter-mind kind of dualism) has the problem of needing at least a third 'connecting' phenomenon to allow, for example, a physical brain impulse to become a non-physical experience. If we put perception/experience down as an entirely physical phenomenon then we don't create that problem. Simpler is usually better.
Right this would be the interaction problem. How can something immaterial affect something physical? How can a "ghostly" billiard ball get into contact with a physical one? (To use an old, crude analogy for efficient causation). As you allude to, this affects on variation of dualism in particular; Cartesian dualism. This account sees humans as composite of two substances, mind and matter.

Whatever we think of the interaction problem and of Cartesian dualism’s ability to deal with it, it cannot be regarded as a reason for preferring materialism to dualism. For materialism faces an interaction problem of its own.

Part of the problem is that even if we identify mental events and physical events, mental properties seem to have no causal relevance. Suppose a sensation of pain is identical with such-and-such a neural firing pattern. The way it causes you to moan and to nurse the damaged body part is by triggering further neural processes which result in the flexing of the relevant muscles. In that case, though, it is the electrochemical properties alone that are doing the causal work, and the distinctively mental aspect – the experienced phenomenal character of the pain itself – seems epiphenomenal. This is called the*“mental causation problem”. It arises in different ways for different varieties of materialism. (It threatens Donald Davidson’s*anomalous monism, for example, because of his principle of the anomalism of the mental.)

Also, if you accept the early modern conception of matter as exhaustively described by physics, then qualia cannot be a physical phenomenon as a matter of conceptual necessity. Simplicity or parsimony may be inclusive to truth, but the hypothesis must first adequately explain the explanandum before issues of simplicity are appealed to.

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Axiomasher
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(Original post by Whitewell)
...

Also, if you accept the early modern conception of matter as exhaustively described by physics, then qualia cannot be a physical phenomenon as a matter of conceptual necessity. Simplicity or parsimony may be inclusive to truth, but the hypothesis must first adequately explain the explanandum before issues of simplicity are appealed to.

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I'm not a philosophy student and I don't know that I can exhaustively defend my view (I'd be writing philosophy books if I could) but it just seems less problematic to me to see what we think of as 'non-physical' phenomenon as being entirely physical yet having an illusory experiential quality which causes us to easily doubt or reject that. This may be anecdotal but on my observation scientific studies in relevant fields seem to consistently favour understanding of brains and behaviour as physical and only physical at root.
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Whitewell
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(Original post by Axiomasher)
I'm not a philosophy student and I don't know that I can exhaustively defend my view (I'd be writing philosophy books if I could) but it just seems less problematic to me to see what we think of as 'non-physical' phenomenon as being entirely physical yet having an illusory experiential quality which causes us to easily doubt or reject that. This may be anecdotal but on my observation scientific studies in relevant fields seem to consistently favour understanding of brains and behaviour as physical and only physical at root.
No worries. Anyone can have an opinion on the subject but it's good to have a discussion. The problem is that an illusion is still an experience. To have an illusion is to 'feel' like something is the case etc. Which just pushes the problem back a stage as to how colourless, soundless matter arranged brain wise can produce an illusion when the very definition rules it out.

I should point out that a number of views are perfectly compatible with the evidence of neuroscience. The empirical findings are consistent with property dualism and hylemorphic dualism so there are dualisms out there untouched.

For what it's worth, I *agree* that consciousness is basically physical. At least qualia and most forms of intentionality that is. The problem is the early modern view of matter.

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Axiomasher
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(Original post by Whitewell)
No worries. Anyone can have an opinion on the subject but it's good to have a discussion. The problem is that an illusion is still an experience. To have an illusion is to 'feel' like something is the case etc. Which just pushes the problem back a stage as to how colourless, soundless matter arranged brain wise can produce an illusion when the very definition rules it out.

...

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I think I'm trying to say that it is the apparent non-physicality of an experience that is illusory not that that the experience is itself illusory.
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Whitewell
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(Original post by Axiomasher)
I think I'm trying to say that it is the apparent non-physicality of an experience that is illusory not that that the experience is itself illusory.
What do you mean?

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nexttime
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(Original post by Whitewell)
This is a hard pill to swallow for some.
My view is that the whole concept of an "internal world of the mind" is a bizarre concept that many people seem to cling onto simply because they can't comprehend its not true. They have this notion that i have my brain sure but my mind is a singularity buried in there somewhere that is entirely separate. I am special andcannot be explained by the physical.

Except that's just completely false. If i cut out the part of your brain that processes vision, your brain or mind or whatever you want to call it... cannot see. If i cut out the sensory cortex you cannot feel anything. Or your memories or your ability to recognise your parents, or your ability to have any thoughts at all, just leaving a bag of reflexes. But somehow people still think that their ability to experience said qualities - colour within vision, pain within sensation, their memories - are definitely not physical and can only be experienced via ... the supernatural? That's just incorrect, I'm afraid. Believe in your 'soul' or 'spirits' or whatever it is where you are, but you do need a brain to experience consciousness and taking away your brain will get rid of it.
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Axiomasher
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(Original post by Whitewell)
What do you mean?

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That our conscious experiences might strongly 'feel' in some sense detached from or additional to the chemical and electrical processes going on in that big lump of fat in our skull but that it just isn't, rather it's all just, ultimately, mechanical interactions and feedback which, thanks to the demands of evolution, have come to construct that feeling. It appears to have emerged in several species too. It might be interesting (if ever possible) to trace the point at which species 'become' possessed of that illusory abstract 'feeling' or, as I remember one scholar calling it, that 'inner eye'.
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(Original post by Axiomasher)
It might be interesting (if ever possible) to trace the point at which species 'become' possessed of that illusory abstract 'feeling' or, as I remember one scholar calling it, that 'inner eye'.
You will not find such a point as no such eye exists (unless you mean the pineal gland!).

But if someone who couldn't let go of such a concept were looking, they would likely believe it to be the point at which animals started for form long-lasting memories.
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Martins1
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(Original post by Whitewell)
Given the standard conception of matter since the revolution by Descartes etc. It is impossible in principle that the phenomenon of consciousness be explained in purely physical terms.

The "mechanistic" account of matter essentially boils down to what can be quantitatively known. The method thereby necessitates that qualitative properties will not be captured.

Sensory qualities like color, odor, taste, sound, and the like as common sense understands them are not captured by physics (of for that matter, chemistry or biology). Colour was redefined in terms of surface reflectance properties (say) and sound in terms of compression waves etc. If we want to redefine the “red” of a fire engine in terms of how its surface reflects photons at certain wavelengths, we can say that the fire engine is red. But if by “red” we mean the way red “looks” to us when we perceive it, then nothing like that exists in the fire engine, which is (if we think of color in these commonsense terms) intrinsically “colorless.” And so on for sounds, tastes, and all the rest.

If you are going to insist that matter is comprised only of colorless, odorless, tasteless, soundless particles devoid of any inherent meaning or goal-directedness, then*of course*qualia and intentionality are going to have to count as immaterial, and color, odor, taste, sound, etc. understood as objective features of nature would simply have to be re-defined (in terms of patterns of compression waves or whatever).*

Hence, if one is going to affirm the existence both of matter (as redefined by the early moderns) and of the sensory qualities (or “qualia,” as they have come to be known, relocated from the external world to the internal world of the mind), then it seems one is necessarily committed to mind-body dualism of some sort (whether substance dualism or property dualism). The only way to avoid such dualism is either to reject the existence of matter (as Berkeley did), to reject the existence of the sensory qualities (as eliminativists do explicitly and most other materialists do implicitly), or to reject the mechanistic conception of matter that led to the problem in the first place (as Aristotelians do; though Aristotelianism still leads to a non-Cartesian form of dualism for reasons that have nothing to do with sensory qualities or qualia).
Or the standard view of consciousness needs to change...
Mind-brain identity theorists and functionalists would disagree (and logical behaviourists would refuse to make any ontological claims and engage you in semantical debate... but that's for another time).
MIBITists believe that the current account is correct, but that consciousness is a physical property of physical things like neurons in the brain. Mind and brain are identical.
Functionalists would define consciousness in terms of its functional role. That functional role can be realised purely in physical terms.
Essentially you're overlooking the commonly accepted standard view of consciousness - if you change this you can maintain the standard view of physical stuff.
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