Thursday, March 21, 2013

Are we all just thinking meat?

Here.

HT: Steve Hays.

33 comments:

BeingItself said...

Great story. Unmasks the prejudice of those who think physicalism must be false.

Moon Shine said...

Was the dialog between two asparagus?

Or may I say "asparagii"?

Victor Reppert said...

Interesting that the person who sent it to me thought it showed the absurdity of physicalism.

Steelwheels said...

Perhaps Swinburne addresses Physical Determinism in a ever slightly more academic presentation.

http://youtu.be/XnH5tk22ee4

BeingItself said...

Victor,

Then the person who sent it to you does not know how to read.

Most critics of physicalism seem to think that it is intuitively obvious that a computer made of silicon chips could not think and reason like us. I gather that is your position, but I'm not sure. The story humorously pokes fun at that position.

Also, the story is about Carbon Chauvinism.

im-skeptical said...

It's reminiscent of the William Jennings Bryan types who ridiculed the notion of man evolving from monkeys. (Of course Bryan was right. Man didn't evolve from monkeys.)

Martin said...

These stories and analogies fail to convince, because they are too vague about what the problem is supposed to be, exactly.

I prefer to think of it in Thomistic and Aristotelian terms:

"Meat" is devoid of teleology. It doesn't point to or aim at any end effect, goal, or target. This is per the naturalistic conception of matter as being meaningless.

Thoughts, and the mind in general, point to or aim at end effects, goals, and targets. When one thinks ABOUT something, one's thought points at that thing. When one makes plans, engages in tasks, etc, one is aiming at end goals.

So, thanks to the naturalist's own conception of matter, thought cannot possibly be material.

BeingItself said...

Martin,

My meat brain is thinking about what you just wrote, and concludes that you are begging the question.

Martin said...

>My meat brain is thinking about what you just wrote, and concludes that you are begging the question.

In what way? Be specific.

BeingItself said...

"[Meat] doesn't point to or aim at any end effect, goal, or target."

Whether or not meat brains can do that is the question. That is your implicit premise, which you just assert without argument. Your conclusion is "thought cannot possibly be material", which you assume in your premise.

Hope that helps.

Martin said...

>Whether or not meat brains can do that is the question. That is your implicit premise, which you just assert without argument.

I did provide an argument. Or rather, just a notation of the naturalist position.

Naturalists say that there is no teleology (from the definition of naturalism)

If there is no teleology, then nothing can point to or aim beyond itself to an end, goal, or target (from the definition of teleology)

Thus yielding the premise: no matter (meat) can point beyond itself to an end, goal, or target

BeingItself said...

"Naturalists say that there is no teleology (from the definition of naturalism)"

There is your mistake. Some naturalists banish all teleology. But not all naturalists banish all teleology.

Besides, I thought we were talking about physicalism. Weird that you would conflate physicalism and naturalism. Some theists are physicalists.

BeingItself said...

I think we would agree that Dan Dennett is a naturalist.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3L7uNyQL0H0

(My posting of that link does not mean I endorse the views being expressed.)

Martin said...

> But not all naturalists banish all teleology.

You mean people like Nagel? Yes, that's true. He wants a halfway house between naturalism and teleology that is not theistic.

But that is a small minority. The vast majority of naturalists implicitly or explicitly reject teleology.

So, per (what most people think of as) naturalism, there is no teleology.

Martin said...

I don't have time to watch an hour long speech. Make the point here and now, or don't make it.

BeingItself said...

"The vast majority of naturalists implicitly or explicitly reject teleology."

I think that is false, but it depends on what we mean by teleology.

But this is a red herring.

Physicalism does not entail naturalism and neutralism does not entail physicalism.

Again, you assumed in your premise that meat cannot think, and then concluded that meat cannot think.

That's not much of an argument.

(The video was to show that Dennett, a naturalist, does not banish all teleology.)

Martin said...

>Again, you assumed in your premise that meat cannot think, and then concluded that meat cannot think.


I did not assume anything. According to physicalism (you are right; naturalism is too vague a term, and can stretch according to what is newly discovered), reality consists of matter in motion. There are no final causes.

So nothing can point beyond itself to an end or goal.

So matter cannot think, because that entails pointing to an end or goal.

Kathen said...

im-skeptical

Human beings did indeed evolve from monkeys. Since the split between apes and Old World monkeys occurred after the split between Old World and New World monkeys all apes and ape descendants have a monkey ancestor.

That would not be true if you thought that monkeyness evolved twice, once for New World and once for Old World monkeys. In that case 'monkey' would refer to a polyphyletic group and would not be considered a scientific classification. I don't suppose you mean that.

BeingItself said...

Martin,

You are confused about physicalism.

Martin said...

>You are confused about physicalism.

Generalities. Never specifics.

Physicalism says that everything that exists is either physical, or supervenes on the physical. This is per the SEP.

And implicit in this is the thesis that there are only material and efficient causes, not formal and final ones. The Aristotelian worldview was chucked, and the science of mathematics was applied to the natural world in order to give you all the technology you see around you. And mathematics can only be applied to material and efficient causes, or "matter in motion", because those are both susceptible to measurement and hence math. Whether explicit or implicit, there are no final causes in the worldview of physicalism.

BeingItself said...

"And implicit in this is the thesis that there are only material and efficient causes, not formal and final ones."

That needs to be unpacked.

Martin said...

>That needs to be unpacked.

Know your history...?

Read here, for example: http://www.iep.utm.edu/descarte/#SH2a

Or for an entire history of this process of chucking Aristotle, see here: http://archive.org/details/metaphysicalfoun00burtuoft

im-skeptical said...

Kathen,

I was thinking of more direct ancestry. Yes, there was some kind of primate that came before the ape. Maybe I should have said that man didn't evolve from modern monkeys, which is closer to what Bryan was mocking, I think.

BeingItself said...

I'm not questioning your interpretation of history, although it is questionable.

Rather, you need to make the case that physicalism and all teleologies (including that advocated by Dennett) are incomparable. Good luck with that. And after that you still have a lot of work to do.

BeingItself said...

incompatible

David L said...

quote ... " [Meat] doesn't point to or aim at any end effect, goal, or target."

Depends to what you refer. If you reduce "meat ' to an isolated small non-living lump, or just take "meat" as a label for bare material existence, then yes, by definition.
But a brain and body is organized 'meat' with a function in an environment.
The brain works quite mechanically, though complexly, by building in itself a model of it's environment, with accumulated and accumulating neural code about all interactions possible. (Pruned back where inappropriate.)
Its function is required to be 'directed' from the beginning to learn ... for coping and surviving in the world.

The real question is how all the electro-chemical actions/reactions in the brain and body make, or relate to, an 'inner experience'.
Logic, and ' choosing' are built into the brain's mechanism ( as well as randomization and abstraction which can create inner worlds accurate or illusory) but the 'taste' of it all , the feeling of "me' and motivation, the flavour of "thinking" , love, emotions and all the qualia are left without current explanation. ( to my mind)

Presumably, the concept of 'material world' and 'mental ' or 'qualia ' are deceivers.
The truth must require some different concept ... which no one seems able yet to produce. Maybe the human brain/mind cannot see its own nature or that of the world..
Look at the writings on consciousness spread around the internet now. Do you find anything but occasional interesting insights which after a little thought you realise, ... no, they are cleverer with words than me, but they are homed in on such
and such a limited concept .

Hah! , such is my own ingnorance.
regards, David.

Martin said...

>But a brain and body is organized 'meat' with a function in an environment.

All examples teleology and structure, of course. So final and formal causes. So Aristotle is right, and physicalism is false.

BeingItself said...

"All examples teleology and structure, of course. So final and formal causes. So Aristotle is right, and physicalism is false."

Jesus CHRIST!

Saying it over and over does not make it so. Why are physicalism and finals causes incompatible?

Martin said...

>Why are physicalism and finals causes incompatible?

Because physicalism says there are no final causes. If you accept the reality of final causes, then you are an Aristotelian by definition.

BeingItself said...

"Because physicalism says there are no final causes."

No, it does not. Look at the definition you provided. There is nothing in that definition about final causes. You need to make an argument. Good luck!

Zach said...

The short story is very cute and funny, and is not an argument either way, but a mirror that shows you what you already think.

Dan Gillson said...

Zach wins the thread.

BenYachov said...

>>"Because physicalism says there are no final causes."

>No, it does not. Look at the definition you provided. There is nothing in that definition about final causes. You need to make an argument. Good luck!

WOW! That's like someone saying "Lutheranism doesn't postulate we are Justified by Faith Alone." or "Muslims don't believe the Koran is God's Word and final revelation" or "Atheists are not people who lack god-belief".

Wow BI you are a real idiot aren't you?

PS.

>Zach wins the thread.

Sure why not.