Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Keith Parsons responds, and I reply back

Yes, I do think you are abusing language here, and the result is that your position becomes even more obscure than standard Cartesian dualism. "Physical" obviously means more than occupying space or having a spatial location. Marley's ghost could be coming through Scrooge's locked door, and so have a spatial location, and still not be a physical entity. "Physical" has to mean that its causal powers and liabilities are reducible to, or ultimately explicable in terms of, the laws, entities, and processes acknowledged by basic physics. In terms of our current understanding, the causal capacities of physical things come down at rock bottom to the properties and interactions of quarks, leptons, and the gauge bosons that mediate fundamental forces. Your "psychons, angel ons, and theon" are not physical in that sense--or, if they are, then I REALLY have no idea what you are talking about.
Further, a basic component of the concept of the physical seems to be that it is impersonal at the ontologically fundamental level. Fundamental things do not think, choose, decide, reason, etc., though fantastically complex composites of them (e.g. you and me) do. As I have always understood dualism and theism--and as they are defended by some of their leading advocates, such as Richard Swinburne--these views put personal explanation at rock bottom.
For these reasons, then, I regard your suggestion that souls might be physical to be an abuse of these terms as they are normally understood.
Let's get to what you identify as the real issue: Do the principles of reasoning govern the brain or the laws of physics?
Here is my basic question: Why can't thinking logically (in accordance with the laws of logic) be something I accomplish with my physical brain? Why cannot my thought, say,
~(P v Q), therefore
~P & ~Q
be physically realized as an event in my brain? If realization is taken as an identity relation, as I think it should be, then the above-described mental even IS a physical event
Problem solved. The radical disjunction you propose simply does not apply. Things in the physical world can be done in accordance with the laws of logic because those laws are apprehended by mental events that are physically realized in the operations of the brain.
This mental/physical act of apprehension, in virtue of its physical properties, can therefore initiate or enter into causal chains. That is how the laws of logic impact the physical world--qua apprehended by physical brains.
Where is the incoherence? In fact, there is none. There may be a recalcitrant feeling of incoherence on the part of some people, but I suggest that this feeling has no logical basis, but is due to the continued subliminal influence of pernicious and obscurantist Cartesian categories. For four hundred years a religiously-based ideology has told us that the mental and the physical are mutually exclusive categories. We have to finally exorcise this notion, or the mind/body relation will always appear unnecessarily obscure.

VR: OK, what defines the "physical?" You say
"Physical" has to mean that its causal powers and liabilities are reducible to, or ultimately explicable in terms of, the laws, entities, and processes acknowledged by basic physics. In terms of our current understanding, the causal capacities of physical things come down at rock bottom to the properties and interactions of quarks, leptons, and the gauge bosons that mediate fundamental forces. Your "psychons, angelons, and theon" are not physical in that sense--or, if they are, then I REALLY have no idea what you are talking about.
Well, Keith, that runs you up against what is known as Hempel's dilemma. You can either define the physical in terms of current physics, in which case you have quarks, leptons and gauge bosons that mediate fundamental forces. But if you go that route, then physicalism is obviously false, since clearly we can expect physics to expand and discover other entities at the basic level of analysis. On the other hand, if fundamental physics is expandable, then fundamental physics might be expanded to include just the entities that I mentioned above, in which case you haven't ruled anything out.
Now I see that you made the step that is typically made at this point. You say:
Further, a basic component of the concept of the physical seems to be that it is impersonal at the ontologically fundamental level. Fundamental things do not think, choose, decide, reason, etc., though fantastically complex composites of them (e.g. you and me) do. As I have always understood dualism and theism--and as they are defended by some of their leading advocates, such as Richard Swinburne--these views put personal explanation at rock bottom.
This is what is called the "via negativa" in defining the physical. The "mental" has to be kept off the basic level in order for the "physical" to be significantly physical. But that's exactly what generates the incompatibility between the mental and the physical. You have to make sure the base level is stripped of the mental, but you still want to make sure the mental is still there at some other level. The problem is going to be that if the mental isn't in the base, then there is a lack of entailment between the physical state-description and the mental state-description. It isn't just a religion-based ideology that generates this result, it is the fact that any attempt to define the physical the excludes what you want it to exclude has to exclude the mental from the physical.
Admittedly, you can have properties of a whole system that is not a property of its proper parts. Thus, if you have a wall made up of bricks that are six inches high, you can add the bricks up and get a wall that is six feet high even though none of the bricks is six feet high. However, there is an "adding up" of the brick sizes which entails that the wall is six feet tall. Given the brick-statements, the wall-statement is entailed. But it doesn't work that way for the mental. I see this, for example, in Quine's argument for the indeterminacy of translation. You can pile up non-mental facts until doomsday, but the question of what mental states there may be remains open. In the case of the bricks and the wall, the brick state-descriptions entail the wall-statement. In the case of the physical state-description, these state-descriptions do no in any way entail the mental state-description. Any set of physical state-descriptions is compatible with various mental state-descriptions, or there being no mental state there at all.

  • 153 comments:

    B. Prokop said...

    Wow! The Brick Wall analogy is absolutely brilliant! I am in awe. Seldom does one come across such a clear, simple (but in no way simplistic), and internally consistent image. Victor, is that your idea, or did you find it elsewhere?

    im-skeptical said...

    Same old unsubstantiated assumption: you can't derive mental activity from the purely physical. You have to make sure the base level includes mental phenomena, so you can define it as something distinct from the physical. But it isn't. Observation and evidence tell us otherwise.

    Victor Reppert said...

    Specifically, what observations and what evidence?

    Lothar Lorraine said...

    This is pretty interesting and seems to be related to the problem of the coherency (or self-consistency) of materialism as a worldview:
    http://lotharlorraine.wordpress.com/2013/11/12/can-materialism-be-meaningful/

    Do you believe I might be right?

    And if so, has it consequences for the topic of your discussion with Keith?


    Lovely greetings in Christ.

    im-skeptical said...

    "Specifically, what observations and what evidence?"

    How about the observation that animals and their nervous systems have evolved from the simple to the complex, and the more complex ones exhibit greater cognitive capabilities. These nervous systems, of course, are composed of physical material that obeys the laws of physics. There's no magic involved - just physics.

    Karl Grant said...

    Except, Skeppy, we have confirmed cases of people continuing to function normally despite their brains more or less being destroyed.

    Example One: John Lorber reported on the case of a hydrocephalic math student with an IQ of 126 who has almost no brains.

    Example Two: Chase Britton. The kid was born without a cerebellum (the part of the brain that controls motor skills, balance and emotions) and Chase also is missing his pons, the part of the brain stem that controls basic functions, such as sleeping and breathing. There is only fluid where the cerebellum and pons should be. Yet he is still able sleep and breath and has learned to walk and interact with people.

    Example Three: A French civil servant who has functioned more or less normally in society despite having water where his brain should have been.

    Now everything you had been saying for the last few days says that these cases should not happen, that these people should not be able to live their lives the way they do. Yet they exist. Of course, we all know how you handle evidence that contradicts your cherished beliefs (not very good at all to put it mildly).

    SteveK said...

    im-skeptical,

    You told a nice story of how the mental pops into existence, but you failed to provide observations and evidence.

    1) You've observed the mental - where?
    2) You've got physical evidence for the mental - where?

    im-skeptical said...

    Karl,

    Oh dear, where to begin.

    1. Lorber's theories are not accepted by the scientific community, and his work has not been peer reviewed. He's a quack.

    2. Most of the news about Chase Britton appears in gossip rags like Daily Mail. Here's a more realistic take on his case.

    http://theness.com/neurologicablog/index.php/reporting-medical-cases-as-human-interest-stories-chase-britton-edition

    3. The man this article refers to has a smaller than normal brain, not water instead of a brain. His IQ is 75. This is from the article: "the brain is very plastic and can adapt to some brain damage occurring in the pre- and postnatal period when treated appropriately".

    Now Karl, you have shown nothing but how easy it is to dupe you into believing ridiculous, fantastic claims. Hence your theistic belief.

    Karl Grant said...

    Lorber's theories are not accepted by the scientific community, and his work has not been peer reviewed.

    The article I linked to was originally published in Science; the academic journal of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, one of the world's top scientific journals and it is peer-reviewed. Strike One. But I can't say I am surprised at your attempted rebuttal; we know you don't read anything that doesn't conform to your worldview, you little fundamentalist you.

    Most of the news about Chase Britton appears in gossip rags like Daily Mail. Here's a more realistic take on his case.

    One, gossip rags like the Daily Mail have proven proven to be adequate when you or Papalinton cite them (you want me to link to one of your posts or maybe a few dozen of Paps' posts you endorsed, all containing said types of links, to put your hypocrisy on display?) Two, to rebut this you link to a skeptical blog with an article that includes this wonderful line:

    According to reports he has an absent pons and cerebellum, although I could not find any imaging online. It is possible that his cerebellum is atrophied to the point that it is not visible (or easily visible on MRI scan), but there is probably a remnant there.

    So in other words the author doesn't have access to Chase's MRI and other relevant hospital records. Also notice the keywords possible and probably. In fact, you notice this quite a few times throughout the article:

    perhaps the ventral pons is missing or atrophied.....time such doctors (or other experts) were horribly misrepresented by the journalist. This is possible here.

    In other words, he doesn't know for sure this is the case; he is just guessing. I am soooo impressed. Not.

    The man this article refers to has a smaller than normal brain, not water instead of a brain.

    The article has images with it. The caption says this The large black space shows the fluid that replaced much of the patient's brain so he has liquid where his brain should be. I didn't say all of his brain was replaced by fluid. And he is still functioning with most of his brain destroyed.

    Now Karl, you have shown nothing but how easy it is to dupe you into believing ridiculous, fantastic claims.

    Oh that is rich coming from a guy who screams Sam Harris doesn't support torture while linking to an article that has Harris saying My argument for the limited use of coercive interrogation (“torture” by another name) is essentially this. By the way, I never did get a reply back from you after I linked to that 2004 Washington Times article written by old Sam Harris praising Dubya and the Iraq War (and the very existence of said article shows his statement that your quoted in his defense, The truth is, I have never known what to think about this war, apart from the obvious to be a lie). And all after you had put so much effort into denying Harris supported said war I expected some little rebuttal from you.

    im-skeptical said...

    "The article I linked to was originally published in Science"

    The article you linked was not Lorber's article. I bet you didn't read it, either. Lorber has not been published in a peer-reviewed journal.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/John_Lorber

    But you go on believing whatever you like.

    What a maroon.

    Karl Grant said...

    The article you linked was not Lorber's article. I bet you didn't read it, either. Lorber has not been published in a peer-reviewed journal.

    I never said Lorber - not Roger Lewin - wrote the article, now did I? That doesn't change the fact that Lorber's work is the subject of an article in one of the biggest peer-reviewed scientific journals in the country. Is it just me or are your evasions and rationalizations getting more desperate and ad hoc? Anyway, I couldn't help noticing the line I bet you didn't read it, either. Interesting word choice. If I didn't know better that is an implicit admission that you did not read the article. Well thank you for confirming what we all knew to be true.

    What a maroon.

    Oh, what are you now? Bugs Bunny? By the way, maroon is a racial slur and I find it rather ironic that somebody who goes on and on about moral progress and that we outgrew racism would use it.

    Papalinton said...

    "By the way, maroon is a racial slur and I find it rather ironic that somebody who goes on and on about moral progress and that we outgrew racism would use it."

    It wasn't meant to be a racial slur. It doesn't fit the context. You got it right the first time. You are a maroon, meant just as Bugs Bunny's malapropism intended.

    Sheesh!

    Karl Grant said...

    Hey Paps, it does fit the context. Bugs Bunny was created during a time when overt racism was the norm in the media and nobody thought twice about making a racist slur a cartoon character's catch phrase.

    B. Prokop said...

    For proof of Karl's point, one need look no further than the crows in Dumbo. Or any one of ten thousand Westerns made in that period. Might I suggest (if you can stomach it) Cecil B. DeMille's The Plainsman (1936).

    Yikes!

    im-skeptical said...

    For the record, I have no idea what Karl's race is. I'll just come out and say it straight. He's a dolt. He cites three articles in a lame attempt to show that people without brains can still have intelligence, but in all three cases either the article or he misrepresented the truth.

    1. "John Lorber reported..." NO. It wasn't John Lorber reporting. It was someone else reporting about John Lorber. And the article calls into question aspects of Lorber's work. The guy actually did have a brain, and Lorber didn't know the size of it. I said that Lorber's work has not been accepted by the community and hasn't been published, and the dolt comes back with the fact that this article first appeared in Science Magazine.

    2. "The kid was born without a cerebellum ..." WRONG. I showed him an article from a more reputable source that questioned those claims, and the dolt objects to the uncertainty about the facts expressed.

    3. "... despite having water where his brain should have been." NO. The article didn't say that. It talked about a hydrocephalic brain that was smaller than normal, but not absent. I point this out, and the dolt lies about the claim he made.

    So then he doubles down in his stupidity by making claims about Sam Harris that are not true, showing that he either refuses to read or doesn't understand Harris' own statements (that I had linked to earlier), choosing instead to believe the hateful gossip of some anti-atheist reporter.

    Karl, you're a dolt.

    B. Prokop said...

    "the hateful gossip of some anti-atheist"

    Whoa, boy! Get a grip, man.

    Karl Grant said...

    He cites three articles in a lame attempt to show that people without brains can still have intelligence

    No Skeppy, I said despite their brains more or less being destroyed. Destroyed, as in damaged, corrupted, impaired, wrecked, not capable of functioning as intended. Take a look at the sentence structure: brain (noun, subject) more or less being destroyed (past tense verb, current status). Show me exactly where I said these people didn't have any brains. What is your reading comprehension level? First grade?

    The guy actually did have a brain, and Lorber didn't know the size of it.

    The article puts lie to that claim:

    "When we did a brain scan on him," Lorber recalls, "we saw instead of the normal 4.5 centimeter thickness of tissue between ventricles and cortial surface there was only a thin layer of mantle measuring only a millimeter or so.

    Those look like measurements don't they?

    I showed him an article from a more reputable source that questioned those claims, and the dolt objects to the uncertainty about the facts expressed.

    You showed me an article from a skeptical blog (which is not a more reputable source but a source more biased towards your worldview) in which the author admits he doesn't have access to the MRI scans or patient medical records and his entire objections come down to well, it could be this.

    NO. The article didn't say that. It talked about a hydrocephalic brain that was smaller than normal

    Skeppy, I quoted the article:

    The large black space shows the fluid that replaced much of the patient's brain

    You seem to think that the above statement and the statement the person has a smaller brain than normal as being mutually contradictory. If the brain is smaller than normal and the fluid is taking up space where brain tissue would be in a normal healthy human being than the man does have water where is brain should be.

    choosing instead to believe the hateful gossip of some anti-atheist reporter.

    Skeppy, I quoted and linked to three different articles by Sam Harris to back up my claims. Two of the other people whose articles I linked to about Sam Harris where atheists themselves; a point that was pointed out to you three damn times and that you keep ignoring because you prefer strawmen to actually engaging your opponents real arguments and evidence.

    William said...

    The hydrocephalus example is real, but proves that the surface area of the cortical mantle matters more than total brain volume in intelligence. But we knew that already.

    Who cares, as far a physicalism goes? What the hydrocephalus example disproves is a certain kind of "type physicalism" which "token physicalism" has mostly replaced due to exactly this kind of example.

    The arguments over cerebellum and pons are irrelevant to the example, by the way.

    Note that I'm not a physicalist but I hate bad arguments against it anyway :0.

    Karl Grant said...

    William,

    The hydrocephalus example is real, but proves that the surface area of the cortical mantle matters more than total brain volume in intelligence

    That's my point. Skeppy's been going on for the last few days about size and complexity nervous system and the brain and the ability to replicate it, etc... He thinks the more complex the brain is the higher the intelligence.

    Papalinton said...

    Yes, Grant is an indiscriminate and undisciplined dolt. The context was not the social milieu in which Bugs Bunny was at his prime, but that of the comment about Lorber.

    Sheesh!

    Karl Grant said...

    The context was not the social milieu in which Bugs Bunny was at his prime, but that of the comment about Lorber.

    Bad move Paps, as you said earlier You are a maroon, meant just as Bugs Bunny's malapropism intended. Oops.

    frances said...

    Victor,
    Admittedly, you can have properties of a whole system that is not a property of its proper parts. Thus, if you have a wall made up of bricks that are six inches high, you can add the bricks up and get a wall that is six feet high even though none of the bricks is six feet high. However, there is an "adding up" of the brick sizes which entails that the wall is six feet tall.
    I agree that there is a computation element to this. But there is also a qualitative element, which is not so easy to pass off as mere addition. At what stage does the wall cease to be small and become large? There is no simple relationship of "entailment" here.
    And the wall is a simple example. The dimensions of the wall are an emergent property of the number of bricks, true. Other emergent properties of physical objects are not so predictable. I believe that the classic example is salt - the saltiness of salt not being a property of either of its constituent parts sodium and chloride.

    oozzielionel said...

    My brain is not me; I'm innocent; My brain made me do it.

    http://www.rawstory.com/rs/2013/11/10/neuroscience-criminal-defense-emerges-my-brain-made-me-do-it/

    B. Prokop said...

    Actually, Oozzielionel, for the materialist there can be no question of anyone's guilt - ever. In a materialist universe, we are all condemned to act precisely as the laws of physics cause us to. There is no Free Will. Your every, smallest action (and even your most fleeting thought) was determined at the moment of the Big Bang.

    im-skeptical said...

    For the theist, we are exactly what god made us to be, except that he doesn't have very good quality control, so most of us don't live up to his expectations, and therefore, we deserve to suffer for eternity. Or is it that the devil made us do it?

    Karl Grant said...

    No Skeppy, you made yourself do it. That is the entire concept of free will.

    William said...

    KG: " Skeppy...thinks the more complex the brain is the higher the intelligence. "

    What is "complexity" to you?

    The point I was making is that the quoted case of congenital stabilized hydrocephalus given as a counterexample is a poor counter to that thesis. It may even be made to support a similar thesis (of complexity over size for example)

    Karl Grant said...

    William,

    It is not what complexity is to me, but what complexity is to Skeppy. He views complexity and size as being one and the same. He has said so on previous threads. He has also been making statements, with in regards to strong AI, such as the following:

    It would indeed be possible to build a system that is conscious and understanding if we could assemble a similar collection of processors and interconnect them the way the brain does.

    for the past several days. I also have a strong suspicion (mainly because his reaction was to deny or discredit the linked to examples rather than explain how they are not a threat to his worldview) that he is of "type physicalism" persuasion though I doubt he will admit that now. As to your question What is "complexity"? to me; it definitely isn't valuing size over intricacy.

    frances said...

    Can anyone enlighten me as to
    1. What a maroon is
    2. Why it is racist
    3. What the connection is with Bugs Bunny?

    B. Prokop said...

    "Can anyone enlighten me"

    Well, now. That's a tall order.

    "as to"...

    Now we're talkin'! A doable proposition here.

    1. What a maroon is

    The Urban Dictionary defines it as follows: "A term used for runaway African slaves in the West Indies now known as the Caribbean." See HERE for further information.

    2. Why it is racist

    Obvious, due to the above definition.

    3. What the connection is with Bugs Bunny?

    From the same dictionary: "Term made famous by Bugs Bunny meaning a pushover, or one easily fooled. A dope, fool, idiot, or nincompoop. Unbelievably stupid person."

    im-skeptical said...

    frances,

    It was something often uttered by Bugs Bunny - rather ironical because he was mispronouncing the word 'moron' without being aware of it.
    I have never heard the term used as a racist remark.

    im-skeptical said...

    Here is a video clip of Karl:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=C_Kh7nLplWo

    Karl Grant said...

    Ah, so nice to know I am getting to you, Skeppy. After all, why else would you post something like that other than to soothe your bruised ego?

    frances said...

    Skep & Prokop,

    Thank you both. It is obviously a homophone with the use by BB having no connection with the other uses on the list.

    Karl Grant said...

    Frances,

    Why don't you go to Youtube and watch All This and Rabbit Stew or Bugs Bunny Nips the Nips and then try and repeat your statement Bugs Bunny's use of the phrase has no racial overtones. That should be entertaining.

    im-skeptical said...

    "Why don't you go to Youtube and watch All This and Rabbit Stew or Bugs Bunny Nips the Nips and then try and repeat your statement Bugs Bunny's use of the phrase has no racial overtones. That should be entertaining. "

    Well, it looks like the dolt is at it again. Neither of those cartoons contains the word 'maroon' at all. I repeat, I have never heard the term used as a racist remark.

    Karl Grant said...

    Well, it looks like the dolt is at it again. Neither of those cartoons contains the word 'maroon' at all. I repeat, I have never heard the term used as a racist remark.

    They may not contain the word maroon but they do contain blatant, over-the-top racism. Do you deny that or do you think it is polite to refer to Japanese 'monkey-face' and 'slant-eyes'? In fact, twelve Bugs Bunny cartoons have been pulled from TV lineups because of racial overtones and others have undergone editing to remove certain elements. So we have a cartoon character who was created during a time when overt racism was normal in American media, using a word in his catchphrase that is listed in the dictionary as a racial slur, who has twelve episodes of his series banned because of rampant racism and other episodes have been edited to remove racist content. And you still think maroon is just mispronouncing the word 'moron'? Your capacity for self-delusion is truly a sight to behold.

    And you have never heard the term used as a racist remark? So what? You have shown yourself to be abysmally ignorant on multiple subjects. But by all means continue down this track. I wanna see how deep you can dig that hole you are in.

    Papalinton said...

    frances
    Grant was called out as a maroon because of his unschooled misconstrual about a Lorber comment. He then branded Skep a racist because he used that word. How Grant drew that acontextual conclusion is a complete mystery. But then god-botherers are prone to rampant and unchecked belief in all kinds of mysteries and perhaps Grant thinks Skep is racist by the miracle of word association. Grant imagines that by simply using that word Skep is a racist.

    I reckon your earlier observation is on the money. Skep really is in midst of discourse with Beaver or Butthead.

    Sheesh!

    Papalinton said...

    "They may not contain the word maroon but they do contain blatant, over-the-top racism."

    Strike one, .... two, .... three. Your Out!

    Karl Grant said...

    But then god-botherers are prone to rampant and unchecked belief in all kinds of mysteries and perhaps Grant thinks Skep is racist by the miracle of word association.

    Oh please Paps, you and Skeppy play word games all the time. Should I link to a few hundred of your past posts to show your hypocrisy here? Oh this could be so much fun! Shall we just limit examples to the current year?

    Skep really is in midst of discourse with Beaver or Butthead

    It's Beavis and Butthead. Can't spell a pop-culture insult correctly? Tsk, Tsk, old age and senility is truly sad.

    Strike one, .... two, .... three. Your Out!

    Ah, so you think the portrayal of the Hunter in Rabbit Stew is an accurate depiction of African-Americans and all Japanese have buck-teeth? That's good to know.

    B. Prokop said...

    Similar to the Bugs Bunny cartoons being edited is what happened to Disney's Aladdin. In the original release, one line in the opening song ran "where they'll cut off your nose if they don't like your face!" but this was protested by Arab-Americans. So it was changed in subsequent releases to "where it's vast and immense, and the heat is intense!" (or something like that)

    im-skeptical said...

    "They may not contain the word maroon but they do contain blatant, over-the-top racism."

    I remind you of your words: "... try and repeat your statement Bugs Bunny's use of the phrase has no racial overtones". You didn't know what you were talking about because you looked on Google and found both things mentioned in the same article. Now let me ask you: can you show me an example of Bugs Bunny using that phrase with in a racial context? I seriously doubt it. The fact that there are old cartoons that are racist has NOTHING to do with the phrase "what a maroon", which was not used in those cartoons.

    Keep your race-baiting to yourself. This is not the place for it.

    Karl Grant said...

    You didn't know what you were talking about because you looked on Google and found both things mentioned in the same article.

    Actually Skeppy, I watched both years ago. What? You think you are the only one who has ever watched Bugs Bunny cartoons? How stupid can you get?

    The fact that there are old cartoons that are racist has NOTHING to do with the phrase "what a maroon", which was not used in those cartoons.

    Really? Hey, Skeppy I don't know if dawned on that piece-of-shit you got for a mind but these cartoons don't exist in a vacuum. The people who worked on those cartoons worked on the other Bugs Bunny cartoons. Mel Blanc voiced him in every cartoon he appeared in before 1989; Tex Avery, the man who directed All This and Rabbit Stew, is the man who directed the first Bugs Bunny Cartoon. Hell, Tex Avery is the official creator of Bugs Bunny. So, we have Bugs Bunny - a character whose catch phrase is listed as a racial slur - starring in a cartoon featuring a blatantly racist version of a black man that was directed by his official creator. Chew on that for two seconds.

    You know what, scratch that. Do what you normally do: ignore that inconvenient fact, whine and hurl insults. It's much more entertaining.

    Keep your race-baiting to yourself. This is not the place for it.

    Oh I do apologize. You come here to insult and put down religious people and boost your own little ego and this conversation doesn't further those ends and puts you in a bad light; like every other conversation you have on this blog. You are absolutely right, this is not place to point out the irony of you using a racial slur as an insult after having gone on about moral progress and how we are outgrowing racism or pointing out your ignorance of racism, which is to the point that you can't even recognize racial slur when it comes out of your own mouth.

    But no, this ain't race baiting. Race baiting is what your idol Sam Harris does. Here is a nice little article by him defending racial profiling.

    In other words Skeppy, shut the fuck up. You couldn't recognize racism if it bit you in the ass.

    Victor Reppert said...

    I think this discussion has devolved a little, don't you think?

    Karl Grant said...

    I think this discussion has devolved a little, don't you think?

    Yes sir, it has. I will leave things alone for the time being.

    Papalinton said...

    "I think this discussion has devolved a little, don't you think?"

    What is interesting though is the class and character of Christians represented by the comments on this site. All of the attributes and ideals that purportedly Christians subscribe to resonate at little more than the profile of veneer, and to which lip service seems the outer limit of genuine commitment.
    Now, I don't subscribe to the God-invoked objective moral code of Christianity because it seems to me generally a dismal failure. And unlike the rhetoric of many on this site I also do not make any pretense that I do. So while the discussion has devolved somewhat, it has been a useful and interesting sociological and psychological sortie into the supernaturalists' mind.

    im-skeptical said...

    "I will leave things alone for the time being."

    Thank you.

    We were discussing whether mental function can come from physical substance.

    I still say that in nature we see a broad range of levels of complexity in nervous systems, and also of levels of cognitive function. The idea that mankind is fundamentally different from other animals is hogwash. Some of us have a higher level of cognitive function than animals, but that's very different from saying we are the only ones that have cognitive function, or that ours alone must come from some invisible, undetectable giver of intelligence.

    You find it incredible, and demand evidence, that billions of neural processing units that are highly interconnected can achieve human intelligence, yet you have no problem believing that an immaterial ghost lives within us and somehow gives us the power to think. Go figure.

    Cale B.T. said...

    Papalinton, having said that you would love to debate, what do you think about 3000 word opening statements then 2000 word rebuttals on the question "Is it irrational to believe in the Resurrection of Jesus?".

    Alternatively, would you consider debating on the excellent site debate.org?

    Samwell Barnes said...

    Of course the conversation devolved, because Beavis and Butthead up there, rather than being ignored, are actively encouraged to parade their ignorance, to turn each thread into a freakshow, and to demand that everyone come and look at it.

    B. Prokop said...

    Where to strike the balance? Compared to Dangerous Idea, most sites around the web are absolute sewers. On any news media site (especially, it seems, those from the UK) the hatred and bile spewed out from the very first comments by gnus makes the worst offenses of Skep and Linton seem positively mannerly. On the other end of the spectrum, I've occasionally tried to participate in one or another Catholic website, only on occasion to be howled down (or even banned * ) because I failed to toe the "Party Line" (as interpreted by people I consider to be extremists) on every issue, no matter how minor.

    I sympathize with Victor trying to strike a good balance on DI. I think we've got a pretty good thing going here, and wouldn't like to see this site start resembling either of the extremes I mentioned. But courtesy is up to us. I know I am not without sin in this matter, but perhaps we could lighten up on the personal attacks? How about an agreement - crude, Karl, and I will refrain from saying that Skep and Linton are dumber than rocks, and they in turn will swear off the words like "woo" or "sky fairy" (and will respectfully capitalize the word God).

    Deal?

    * The one instance of my being banned was because I dared to say that I felt it was a mistake to muzzle the Jesuit theologian Pierre Teilhard de Chardin during his lifetime.

    William said...

    skep:

    You have implict magic in your stance, but deny it. Why?

    It isn't that conscious beings are complex that is the issue, it's why beings are conscious at all!

    What exactly is the principle you would use to get us from complex to conscious? Lots of things that are complex are not conscious.

    It would seem that things that are complex and conscious have a design which leads their particular type of complexity to be conscious, and that is exactly the question at issue: why?

    Just asserting that is what happens begs the question. Of course the dualist or hyelemorphist has the same issue: what makes the soul conscious? But at least they make the jump explicit. I think materialists are often bashful about admitting the leap of faith they must do, so they make the origin of consciousness in complexity somehow implict, which allows them to duck the issue.

    Karl Grant said...

    Bob,

    How about an agreement - crude, Karl, and I will refrain from saying that Skep and Linton are dumber than rocks, and they in turn will swear off the words like "woo" or "sky fairy" (and will respectfully capitalize the word God).

    Haven't we offered similar deals in the past and they refused to take it?

    Skeppy,

    The idea that mankind is fundamentally different from other animals is hogwash.

    This is demonstrably false. Humanity is the only known species that uses written or symbolic communication to pass information and ideas amongst members of it's species. As Dr. Helen Guldberg says here:

    Human beings have something that no other animal has: an ability to participate in a collective cognition. Because we, as individuals, are able to draw on the collective knowledge of humanity, in a way no animal can, our individual abilities go way beyond what evolution has endowed us with. Our species is no longer constrained by our biology.

    Many scientists reject any notion that human beings have abilities that are profoundly different from other animals. To do so, they fear, will give ammunition to creationists and spiritualists. But we do not need spiritual or ‘magical' explanations to grasp that the difference between human beings and other animals is fundamental rather than one of degrees.


    And that alone shows a significant difference in our cognitive abilities compared to, say, gorillas.

    And as William said, a lot of things are complex and not conscious. I told you before that we could recreate the layout of the human brain using water pipes, electrical pumps, storage tanks and wiring. That would not produce cognition. Likewise, for all your talk about complex processors in regard to strong AI; said processors will do nothing without the software to run them. AI examples are inherently dualistic as you can have to the most advanced computer rig in the world and it will do nothing but consume power without the proper software. Likewise that software will just be uselessly sitting in some storage device without a processor to run it. So exactly how do you extrapolate consciousness from complexity?

    im-skeptical said...

    William,

    "You have implict magic in your stance, but deny it. Why?"

    I don't see it that way. Consciousness is just the mechanism that animals have developed to provide enhanced awareness of their environment. It's not magic at all. A simple creature simply reacts to stimulus. A more complex nervous system allows a creature to sense things remotely (ie. vision allows it to sense whether an object is coming toward it), and react in some way. At some place in this continuum, there is sentience - an sense of the distinction between the creature and the world it inhabits. This is the beginning of what you might call a self or soul, but most theists don't attribute a soul to creatures with primitive sentience. Nevertheless, with additional complexity of the nervous system comes additional cognitive capabilities. There is reasoning, memory, anticipation of the future, goal directedness, and even language in non-human animals. (And there are scientific studies that show all of these things.)

    Humans have, above all, a greater linguistic capacity, and along with that better ability to retain and communicate their thoughts. But it is sheer arrogance that leads them to believe that their mental capabilities are of a completely different kind than those of animals, especially the ones with higher levels of cognitive function. It's really more a matter of degree rather than of kind.

    William said...

    skep:

    "At some place in this continuum, there is sentience"

    Just so stories don't cut it with me, sorry.

    Bare assertion, begging the question. How and why?

    B. Prokop said...

    If sheer complexity gives rise to consciousness, then Mitt Romney was right when he said corporations are people! Seriously, given Skep's premises, why isn't New York City self-aware?

    Karl Grant said...

    Consciousness is just the mechanism that animals have developed to provide enhanced awareness of their environment

    This is question begging, why we have consciousness and how is the subject being debated. You are not gonna win a debate by fiat.

    At some place in this continuum, there is sentience - an sense of the distinction between the creature and the world it inhabits.

    This is nothing but an unsupported assertion. Show us how and why.

    There is reasoning, memory, anticipation of the future, goal directedness, and even language in non-human animals. (And there are scientific studies that show all of these things.)

    But these don't progress beyond the animal's innate survival instincts. You could take an ape infant from a group of tool using apes and raise it as a human and it would still be an ape with ape instincts years down the line. Only in humanity has wants and needs extend far beyond basic instincts. That ape only wants food, shelter and companionship. It doesn't care about building AIs, exploring space, curing diseases, etc...

    im-skeptical said...

    "Just so stories don't cut it with me, sorry.

    Bare assertion, begging the question. How and why?"

    Is there something in what I said that strikes you as untrue? Do you deny the existence of sentience, or of increasing cognitive function in creatures with more complex nervous systems? These things are all a matter of observation. Of course, we are still working at piecing together a coherent theory of cognitive function. If we had all the answers, we wouldn't be having this debate.

    For a better example of a just so story, ask a theist about his immaterial soul, and his god. He'll tell you all kinds of tales of fantastic things that nobody has ever observed.

    The difference between us is that mine is based on observation and has no element of magic or supernatural powers in it.

    B. Prokop said...

    "and has no element of magic or supernatural powers in it"

    You say that like it's a bad thing! (to have them)

    "Bare assertion, begging the question."

    William said...

    quote:
    we are still working at piecing together a coherent theory of cognitive function

    --end quote

    Yes, that is so. The theistic theory is coherent, but you would assert is a false theory.

    Yet, you have no working replacement. Brute laws of the universe, working at the level of the psyche? Strange world we live in, then, hmm?

    Please let me know when you have a coherent theory that isn't implicitly saying "it's just magic" without actually admitting that's what you mean.

    im-skeptical said...

    William,

    "Yes, that is so. The theistic theory is coherent, but you would assert is a false theory."

    I said it was a just so story - not backed by observational evidence. I don't believe it's true, because I've never seen a soul or a god, and I have no valid reason to think they exist.

    "Yet, you have no working replacement. Brute laws of the universe, working at the level of the psyche?"

    Yes, the "brute" laws of the universe are the laws by which things work. Yes, those laws are responsible for the phenomena we observe, including the cognitive function of the brain. I frankly don't understand why you should think this is so absurd, especially given the fact that you attribute cognition to the supernatural. If you ask me, that's absurd.

    Now, you claim that by belief that cognition is a natural function of the physical brain is tantamount to saying "it's just magic". Why don't you feel the same about your belief that cognition is supernatural in origin? What makes your belief in the supernatural not magic while my non-belief in the supernatural is magic? Isn't that kind of turning the tables around?

    B. Prokop said...

    "What makes your belief in the supernatural not magic while my non-belief in the supernatural is magic?"

    I think part of the problem here is people's differing reactions to the word "magic". Skep appears to think it has a negative connotation. I regard it as a rather neutral term, being positive or negative depending on context. I for one am not the least bit offended by anyone referring to the supernatural as magic.

    In any case, labeling something as magic (or, for that matter, as not magic) does nothing to advance the conversation. What changes if a person calls something "magic"? Nothing. Doing so is neither an argument for nor against a proposition.

    im-skeptical said...

    Bob makes a good point. So let's get back to what consciousness is. We have different ways of understanding it. You see consciousness as being separate from the body, and I don't. If it is separate, then it supposedly must come from a non-physical being. If, on the other hand, it's not separate from the body, it is just a function of the brain. No need to invoke any supernatural entities. I still don't see why this is so strange to you. After all it is precisely what we observe, and it is consistent with all the evidence. To physically affect the brain is to affect cognition. The evidence for that is overwhelming. But if cognition was not a physical process, there should be at least some independence of mind from the physical brain. There isn't.

    B. Prokop said...

    "But if cognition was not a physical process, there should be at least some independence of mind from the physical brain. There isn't."

    But for anyone who believes in "Life after Death" (horrid term, but we're stuck with it), there most certainly is "some independence of mind from the physical brain".

    Are you prepared to assert that all the reported visitations by Saints, that all the appearances of the Blessed Virgin Mary, that each and every intervention by a deceased person in this world of the living throughout the millennia, that all are false? Are you able to explain Guadalupe, or Fatima, or Mejugorje, without recourse to the active intervention of a person no longer living (Mary)? How do explain Dante Alighieri appearing to Piero Giardino eight months after his death, revealing to him where the missing ending to the Divine Comedy could be found? (And it was found, exactly where Dante had indicated.) More recently, how do you explain the fact that Gustav Mahler wrote his 10th Symphony fifty years (!!!) after his death?

    There is plenty of evidence for "independence of mind from the physical brain". We're practically swimming in it.

    Karl Grant said...

    Of course, we are still working at piecing together a coherent theory of cognitive function.

    Since you don't have a working, coherent competing theory while the theistic account of consciousness is coherent and does fully account for the phenomenon of consciousness I am gonna invoke Occam's Razor. When you have two competing theories that make exactly the same predictions, the simpler one is the better. When you have one working theory and bunch of unsupported assertions, take the working theory.



    To physically affect the brain is to affect cognition. The evidence for that is overwhelming. But if cognition was not a physical process, there should be at least some independence of mind from the physical brain. There isn't.

    Question, does changing the contrast settings on your television turn Bryan Cranston pink? Since it is displaying his picture there is obviously a physical connection between him and your television. I can switch out your current ram chips for old 128 kilobyte models and that will affect Windows performance on your computer. Obviously Windows 8 (or whatever you are running) and your ram chips are one and the same.

    Can you not see the flaw in this reasoning?

    William said...

    skep:
    "Yes, those laws are responsible for the phenomena we observe, including the cognitive function of the brain."
    ----

    Yes, but doesn't that mean that the laws that cause consciousness are laws of the universe? Why should the physical universe have laws that apply just to a recent and rare phenomenon (animal life)?

    What's the random chances of such a narrowly convenient law for humans having been baked into the physics of the universe from the big bang onward, and why?

    skep:
    "Why don't you feel the same about your belief that cognition is supernatural in origin?"
    ----

    But I think that the natural is not natural in origin, in general, you see.

    I think the laws that cause dual aspect theories to work are awfully woo-looking because they are so focused on consciousness, which a naturalistic universe ought to have never made such provisions to support, so to speak.

    Once you allow in the woo, it's still woo, whether it's natural law woo or God's woo or pantheistic woo or whatever.

    im-skeptical said...

    "But I think that the natural is not natural in origin, in general, you see."

    That's an interesting perspective. Then what would be wrong with a naturalist view of cognition?

    William said...

    skep,

    Cognition is natural. It's just not (current physics) physical.

    grodrigues said...

    @im-skeptical:

    "If, on the other hand, it's not separate from the body, it is just a function of the brain. No need to invoke any supernatural entities."

    False.

    im-skeptical said...

    "Cognition is natural. It's just not (current physics) physical."

    What makes you so sure of that?

    William said...

    quote:"Cognition is natural. It's just not (current physics) physical."

    What makes you so sure of that?
    --end quote

    Can you define what current physics includes first?

    im-skeptical said...

    "Can you define what current physics includes first?"

    Why should I have to do that? You can't just say why you are so sure about what you believe?

    William said...

    skep:

    I don't think even well accepted principles of chemistry and biology are derivable from current physics, and that is why I asked you what you would claim physics was...

    Anyway then, I could say that physics has to do with theory about basic properties of subatomic particles and the analogous properties of larger systems, including mass, velocity, position, charge, and so forth. Nothing even close to what we empirically know of consciousness can be derived from those things.

    im-skeptical said...

    William,

    I suppose if you don't even think chemistry derives from physics, it stands to reason you wouldn't think there are more complex phenomena that could be reducible to physical laws. What is there about chemistry that you think is outside the realm of physical law?

    William said...

    The reductionist program fails on most levels. Once again it would seem that we need to define what you think it means for any given thing to be only physical. Would you try?

    Papalinton said...

    "The reductionist program fails on most levels."

    The exceptionally unrivaled success of science would suggest otherwise. And one must be careful is what is meant by the term reductionism due to how it is defined and whether it is an eliminative or retentive process in outcome.

    Those that imagine reductionism fails on most accounts better not use their computer for blogging or go into have a a triple-bypass because their success were a result of reductionist methodology. But let's not quibble.

    im-skeptical said...

    "The reductionist program fails on most levels. Once again it would seem that we need to define what you think it means for any given thing to be only physical. Would you try?"

    That appears to be a rather extreme stance. Chemistry is fully explained in terms of the interactions of particles at the atomic and subatomic level that behave in accordance with known physical laws. If you think chemistry is not reducible to physical laws, it's only because you don't understand it.

    In fact everything we experience behaves in accordance with those same laws. There are some phenomena that may be too complex for analysis with our current tools, so we currently lack a full understanding of how they work - such as the cognitive function of the brain. But that certainly doesn't imply that these things are supernatural in origin. There simply isn't any empirical evidence to support such a thesis.

    grodrigues said...

    @im-skeptical:

    "Chemistry is fully explained in terms of the interactions of particles at the atomic and subatomic level that behave in accordance with known physical laws. If you think chemistry is not reducible to physical laws, it's only because you don't understand it."

    False, it is you who do not understand. Anything at all. There is hardly a single major principle in Chemistry that is grounded in say, the quantum mechanics of elementary particles. At best there are heuristic cum phemonological, approximate derivations.

    A physicalist could simply bite bullet and expand his ontology to cover the entities posed by Chemistry; you just shoot your mouth about what you do not know.

    frances said...

    Karl'
    Since you don't have a working, coherent competing theory while the theistic account of consciousness is coherent and does fully account for the phenomenon of consciousness I am gonna invoke Occam's Razor. When you have two competing theories that make exactly the same predictions, the simpler one is the better. When you have one working theory and bunch of unsupported assertions, take the working theory.

    Leaving aside for the moment the question of whether the theistic account is coherent or accounts fully for consciousness:
    1. what predictions does the theistic theory of consciousness enable you to make?
    2. if it is not actually evidenced then it is just an argument from ignorance. There was a time when the theory that thunder and lightening were caused by some superhuman beings living above the clouds, who made noise and fire when they got angry the only fully developed theory available. No one could have refuted it or even offered any better explanation (because they didn't have the information to offer any explanation at all). But that didn't make the explanation "It's the gods getting angry" a good answer to the question "What causes thunder and lightening?" A better response would have been: "I don't know."

    im-skeptical said...

    grodrigues,

    Perhaps if you had studied some graduate-level science, you wouldn't be so quick to assert that which you don't know about the topic.

    http://chemwiki.ucdavis.edu/Physical_Chemistry/Quantum_Mechanics/Quantum_Theory/Principle_of_Quantum_Mechanics/Schr%C3%B6dinger_Equation

    grodrigues said...

    @im-skeptical:

    "Perhaps if you had studied some graduate-level science, you wouldn't be so quick to assert that which you don't know about the topic."

    Giggle. I studied physics at the graduate level. I studied physics at the research level (e.g. Loop Quantum Gravity).

    The link contradicts absolutely nothing what I said. *Absolutely nothing*. But you do not have to believe me; it matters not; and either way, I have no interest in disabusing you. Go read Scerri, Hendry or van Brakel (among others) who argue against reductionism, a much stronger claim (and more contentious) than mine, which is a simple matter of fact.

    Karl Grant said...

    what predictions does the theistic theory of consciousness enable you to make?

    Well, technically it's dualistic as somebody can hold the mind and brain are separate and still not believe in God; I was just using Skeepy's terminology. Anyway let's start with the idea that not everything that goes on inside our minds is causally determined by what is going on in our bodies; this is the opposite of what materialism declares. Is that a good jumping off point?

    There was a time when the theory that thunder and lightening were caused by some superhuman beings living above the clouds, who made noise and fire when they got angry the only fully developed theory available. No one could have refuted it or even offered any better explanation (because they didn't have the information to offer any explanation at all). But that didn't make the explanation "It's the gods getting angry" a good answer to the question "What causes thunder and lightening?" A better response would have been: "I don't know."

    So what? There was a time mainstream science flatly rejected many things that are now currently accepted to be true. For example, mainstream science treated reports of meteorites the same way it now treats reports of UFO sightings. Maybe you ought to look up on the Red Herring Fallacy. We are addressing materialism versus theistic dualism; what some old pagans thought about thunder and lighting has no bearing whatsoever on the current subject. If you say well, one religious belief (of a religion nobody in this current discussion has ever been a part of at that) was disproven by science so this might be false then that is Poisoning the Well, which is another logical fallacy.

    frances said...

    Karl,
    You have not answered the question.
    At all.
    Anywhere.
    The question was: "What predictions does the theistic theory of consciousness enable you to make? if it doesn't enable you to make any predictions, then can you confirm that you are not claiming this on its behalf, please.

    As to the thunder and lightening, the point is that you appeared tp be saying that if an explanation was coherent and accounted for a phenomenon, then it inevitably followed from that that the explanation deserved to be accepted in the absence of an alternative. The thunder and lightening example was simply an illustration of why this is not so. The fact that some scientific theories have been abandoned since their inception has no bearing on the matter

    im-skeptical said...

    grodrigues,

    "I have no interest in disabusing you. Go read Scerri, Hendry or van Brakel (among others) who argue against reductionism"

    Philosophical debates aside, the science is well established.

    And you did say, as I recall, that your coursework in science was at the undergraduate level. Did I get that wrong?

    William said...

    Here's Scientific American on reductionism (note that the stance is pragmatic and thus rather neutral in philosophicalontology).

    Karl Grant said...

    Frances,


    You have not answered the question.
    At all.
    Anywhere.


    Wrong. I said let's start with the idea that not everything that goes on inside our minds is causally determined by what is going on in our bodies. Should I have changed the word idea to prediction? I assumed your reading comprehension level was a bit more advanced then that.

    The thunder and lightening example was simply an illustration of why this is not so. The fact that some scientific theories have been abandoned since their inception has no bearing on the matter

    On the contrary, they have as much bearing on this matter as does your thunder and lighting. What you are trying to do is a textbook example of poisoning the well. Your only criterion for declaring why your thunder and lighting explanation didn't deserve to be accepted is that you find it personally ridiculous, which is a subjective criterion, and that you know it now to be false, which is the benefit of hindsight. Neither of which is an argument against why the people of ancient civilizations should have rejected said example out of hand or why ideas and theories you find personally distasteful should not be accepted as a possibility when you can't provide an alternative.

    Papalinton said...

    "Giggle. I studied physics at the graduate level. I studied physics at the research level (e.g. Loop Quantum Gravity)."

    And yet you persist in promulgating primitive shamanic level supernatural superstition. You insist that a three-day old dead putrescent cadaver revivified with no more adverse physical effect than a little flesh wound that someone later stuck his unhygienic fingers into, after which levitated into the blue beyond, bodily and fully physical replete with testicles no less.

    It seems all your study in the sciences amounts to nought, a complete waste of time and money. Oh, of course, that's right. I forgot. A miracle against all the laws of physics occurred. Yes. The ubiquitous miracle, that moment in space-time where the laws of physics are suspended, by divine fiat, perhaps even a function of Loop Quantum Gravity within which the laws of physics are disentangled, as if a quantum warp in space-time itself.

    Pull the other leg. It plays various sound-bites from the Pat Robertson and Gerry Falwell book of knowledge.

    im-skeptical said...

    William,

    You said: "Once again it would seem that we need to define what you think it means for any given thing to be only physical."

    Clearly you are implying here that there is an immaterial aspect to things like chemistry. Now you are linking to a paper about reductionism in chemistry that makes no such implication. It's about how we understand complex things. Do we understand them in terms of fundamental physical laws (the reductionist view) or do we understand them in terms of higher-level principles? How do we explain emergent properties? By appealing to basic physical forces, or by taking a different view? This is not about supernatural explanations, nor does it claim that the laws of physics don't apply at the most fundamental levels. It doesn't posit any kind of immaterial element, and you would be quite mistaken to assume that this kind of scientific non-reductionism is a refutation of materialism.

    Papalinton said...

    William

    The Scientific American piece on the failure of reductionism is not endorsed by Scientific American. There is too much of a foray into author-projected woo for that endorsement, eg "Even if an all-powerful being could account for all biological scenarios emerging from an initial state of the universe, it could never tell us why one particular scenario is preferred over others."

    In another instance the author asserts: 'The truth is that the ultimate failure to find an explanation for the existence of alpha amino acids is a powerful reminder of the importance that chance and circumstance played in the evolution of both biomolecules as well as living organisms." How would he know? What's his evidence? It's simply just too early to make such universal declarative statements. Nobody knew about Darwinian evolution until Darwin put forward his proposition, before which it was universally declared that the variety of life on this earth was a product of divine fiat the mystery of which could, would never be explained with such explanatory clarity and illustration.

    In fact, Scientific American makes it very clear: "The views expressed are those of the author and are not necessarily those of Scientific American."

    Be wary of blindly attributing any scientific imprimatur to just-so personal stories, even in a science joiurnal.

    Papalinton said...

    Great point, Skep. I hadn't thought along that line. The article does not indeed refute materialism in its non-reductionist stance. It does not expose a space in explanatory logic into which a god-module can be inserted.

    Equally, the author's argument from personal incredulity about the failure of a reductionist explanation is not a refutation of its efficacy.

    Papalinton said...

    Erratum:

    "Nobody knew about Darwinian evolution until Darwin put forward his proposition, before which it was universally declared that the variety of life on this earth was a product of divine fiat the mystery of which could, would never be explained with such explanatory clarity and illustration."

    should read

    "Nobody knew about Darwinian evolution until Darwin put forward his proposition, before which it was universally declared that the variety of life on this earth was a product of divine fiat the mystery of which could, would never be outlined with such explanatory clarity and illustration.

    grodrigues said...

    @im-skeptical:

    "Philosophical debates aside, the science is well established."

    I do not know what you pretend by this, but I will repeat my two points: contrary to what your pig-ignorance led you to say:

    (1) Outside of a very few special cases (e.g. Hydrogen atom), little of the basic fundamental principles of chemistry has been derived from physics, or if it has, the derivation uses heuristic and phenomonological considerations, so obviously enough, it not a reduction at all. Everyone with a "coursework in science at the undergraduate level" knows this, and the reason (or at any rate one of them) is pretty obvious: the many body problem.

    (2) Whether reduction of chemistry to physics is even possible in principle is contentious; the SEP entry has this to say:

    "One of the perennial topics in philosophy of science concerns inter-theoretic relations. In the course of debating whether biology is reducible to the physical sciences or whether psychology is reducible to biology, many philosophers assume that chemistry has already been reduced to physics. In the past, this assumption was so pervasive that it was common to read about “physico/chemical” laws and explanations, as if the reduction of chemistry to physics was complete. Although most philosophers of chemistry would accept that there is no conflict between the sciences of chemistry and physics (Needham, 2010b), most philosophers of chemistry think that a stronger conception of unity is mistaken. Most believe that chemistry has not been reduced to physics nor is it likely to be (see Le Poidevin, 2005, for the opposite view, and Hendry and Needham, 2007, for a rejoinder)."

    Since the problem *is* philosophical (for after all the problem is about the *relation* of two disciplines, so it cannot be arbitrated by either of them), your remark is just asinine. Either way, the literature is already voluminous; you can start with Baird, Scerri and McIntyre's collection of papers "Philosophy of chemistry".

    "And you did say, as I recall, that your coursework in science was at the undergraduate level. Did I get that wrong?"

    Lab work? Intense, but yes, only at the undergraduate level. Loop Quantum Gravity is theoretical physics. And this is to be contrasted with what? Your science coursework at the kindergarten level? But what I studied or did not study, my credentials or lack of them is neither here nor there. As I said, for all I care, feel free to believe I am a big fat liar. Just go check things; prove I am wrong.

    You certainly are a bullshitter. It varies with the universities, but a student by the third or fourth undergraduate year has learned all of the relevant physics mentioned in your link.

    William said...

    skep:

    " It's about how we understand complex things."

    I will grant that someone can be non-materialist in their epistemology and practice (we all are I think) and still claim their ontology is ultimately physicalist only. That is where the faith in the material woo comes in. The leap of faith is still there. Different people jump differently though.

    frances said...

    Karl,

    What you may or may not have said about minds/bodies etc is irrelevant. I asked you what predictions the theist model enables you make. The only reason that I raised the question was because you said that you were "gonna invoke" Occam's razor. You went on to give a formulation of the rule which included a reference to 2 theories which make the same predictions. Hence my question. Which you still have not answered. At all. Anywhere.

    If you are not comparing the theist model to a scienific theory which enables one to make predictions, then just say so! Although you might want to go on to explain how exactly Occam's razor does apply to your stance in that case.

    I don't find either the theistic claims about consciousness/reason or the ancient theories about thunder and lightening personally distasteful, just completely unsupported by evidence.

    However, I note your acceptance that claims that "Goddidit" as an answer to how conciousness came about are no more rational than making up a story about angry beings in the sky in order to explain thunder and lightening. And presumably as open to being disproved as science enables us to know more about the world.

    Karl Grant said...

    Frances,

    What you may or may not have said about minds/bodies etc is irrelevant. I asked you what predictions the theist model enables you make. The only reason that I raised the question was because you said that you were "gonna invoke" Occam's razor. You went on to give a formulation of the rule which included a reference to 2 theories which make the same predictions. Hence my question. Which you still have not answered. At all. Anywhere.

    Stuff like this makes me think you are Skeppy's sock-puppet; since he has a habit doing this exact same thing. One, the mind-body problem is what is being discussed; i.e. the brain is part of the body and you and Skeppy claim the mind and body are one and the same. So, yes I have answered your question by providing you with one prediction of the theistic dualist model.

    I don't find either the theistic claims about consciousness/reason or the ancient theories about thunder and lightening personally distasteful, just completely unsupported by evidence.

    So you are just poisoning the well. Well, at least you are admitting it. Now why do you find theistic claims about consciousness/reason unsupported by evidence.

    However, I note your acceptance that claims that "Goddidit" as an answer to how conciousness came about are no more rational than making up a story about angry beings in the sky in order to explain thunder and lightening. And presumably as open to being disproved as science enables us to know more about the world.

    And they are no more rational then the Steady-State Theory is to the Big Bang Theory. Your entire argument here boils down to Religious Claim A from Religion Z was disproven by Science. Therefore Religious Claim B from Religion is therefore likely false. So now we are moving from Poisoning the Well to Hasty Generalization. I think somebody needs to buy you a book on logical fallacies.

    im-skeptical said...

    You ask what would be predicted by his theory, and you get a list of logical fallacies that are entailed by your irrational questioning of that which cannot be questioned. Get the picture?

    Karl Grant said...

    You ask what would be predicted by his theory, and you get a list of logical fallacies that are entailed by your irrational questioning of that which cannot be questioned. Get the picture?

    Wrong Skeppy, Frances says that just because some old pagan belief was disproven by science that this is somehow grounds for questioning the validity of a belief of a different religion. There is multiple logical fallacies built into that statement and it is akin to saying since plate tectonics overturned previously accepted theories in geology that the evolutionary theory is somehow suspect. That is the same 'logic' and 'reasoning'.

    frances said...

    Karl,

    You said that were were "gonna invoke" Occam's razor. So go on. Invoke it. I'm waiting. Put up or shut up and don't change the subject.

    I am not saying that your claim about God is likely to be false. I am sayimg that it is completely unsupported by any evidence and therefore it is not rational to believe it.

    Karl Grant said...

    Frances,

    You said that were were "gonna invoke" Occam's razor. So go on. Invoke it. I'm waiting. Put up or shut up and don't change the subject.

    I am not changing the subject. I gave you one prediction of theistic dualism which you have ignored. But you sound a lot like I'm Skeptical right now. In fact, I really am starting to suspect you and him are one and the same as you both use almost the exact same debating 'tactics' (i.e. ignore whenever your opponent makes a point, keep asking them to provide something they already have, etc...). Also, you sentence structure, word choice and attitude are remarkably similar.

    I am sayimg that it is completely unsupported by any evidence and therefore it is not rational to believe it.

    And I asked you to explain why you think it is not supported by evidence, which you have not.

    frances said...

    Karl,

    I now have to ask: do you known what the word "prediction" actually means? Because for all your Humpty Dumptyish efforts you have not said anything which any normal person reasonably familiar with the English language would describe as a "prediction". A prediction is a statement about the future. What is your statement about the future and how would its fulfillment evidence your theistic claims?

    If you have evidence to support your claims then let's see it. It is not for me to explain why I see no evidence. It is for you to present the evidence, if you have it.

    Karl Grant said...

    Frances,

    I now have to ask: do you known what the word "prediction" actually means? Because for all your Humpty Dumptyish efforts you have not said anything which any normal person reasonably familiar with the English language would describe as a "prediction". A prediction is a statement about the future. What is your statement about the future and how would its fulfillment evidence your theistic claims?

    Yes Frances, I know what the word prediction means. Do you know what the word dense means? And yes I have made a prediction: if dualism is true then what goes on inside our minds is not causally determined by what is going on in our bodies.

    You know playing word games is another hallmark of Skeppy. Also, like him, all you ever seem do is gainsay your opponent. Suspicion's getting stronger.

    It is not for me to explain why I see no evidence. It is for you to present the evidence, if you have it.

    News flash Frances, when you say I am sayimg that it is completely unsupported by any evidence and therefore it is not rational to believe it you are making a claim. If you say that my beliefs are not rational and not supported by evidence you have an obligation to explain why you think this is the case. Simply saying that Claim A (which I have never believed in) of Religious Group B (which I have never been a part of) was disproved by science does not cut it. And I have dealt with enough pesudo-skeptic word games over the years to know the run-a-round, so I am going to narrow down what you consider acceptable evidence before proceeding further. Because I am not gonna play Move the Goalposts for the next thirty replies.

    frances said...

    Karl,
    if dualism is true then what goes on inside our minds is not causally determined by what is going on in our bodies
    This is not a prediction. Hello, statement about the future?

    I say that to believe anything without supportig evidence is not rational. I say that it is not supported by evidence because you have not provided any, nor has anyone else.

    When the burden of proof lies on you (as it does here) it is up to you to put forward the evidence. If I deny that it is acceptable evidence then obviously those who are reading my posts will have to make up their own minds as to whether I am justified or whether I am just being evasive. In the end, Karl, we all have to be prepared to let the record speak for itself.

    You may have a scientific argument or you may have a philosophical argument. Either might be capable of supporting your claim. Whether or not they actually do so remains to be seen.

    Karl Grant said...

    Frances,

    This is not a prediction. Hello, statement about the future?

    If that isn't a prediction then neither is Darwin's prediction about transitional fossils a real prediction. Like the theory of evolution dualism has been around since long before either of us were born. This is the future compared to when said prediction was made. You really want to go down this road? Because I don't think you are prepared for all the ways it can backfire on you.

    I say that to believe anything without supportig evidence is not rational. I say that it is not supported by evidence because you have not provided any, nor has anyone else.

    So you say, but you seem to have a lot of trouble just being able to accept one simple prediction so I forgive me if I don't take your word about nobody providing evidence at face value. Especially considering evidence and arguments for dualism are put forward all the time on this blog alone.

    When the burden of proof lies on you (as it does here) it is up to you to put forward the evidence.

    I haven't denied I have a burden of proof in this argument, have I?

    In the end, Karl, we all have to be prepared to let the record speak for itself.

    Indeed we do but on a personal level I am getting tired of someone screaming No you have not when I know I have, Frances (or Skeppy, you two really do sound a lot alike).

    frances said...

    Karl,

    I don't know what Darwin said about transitional fossils, so I can't comment about whether it was a prediction or not. If it was along the lines of "we will find transitional fossils at some point, if my theory is correct" then that would be statement about the future and so would be a prediction.

    If he said "fossils x, y & z which we have already found, are all transitional" then that would not be a prediction.

    Both statements might be true but only one of them is a prediction.

    Anyway, you have now said enough in this thread to prove to the satisfaction of any disinterested observer of at least average intelligence that you cannot sustain your claim that dualism enables us to make any predictions. My point is made and I do not need to carry on the conversation with you.

    Karl Grant said...

    Frances,

    Anyway, you have now said enough in this thread to prove to the satisfaction of any disinterested observer of at least average intelligence that you cannot sustain your claim that dualism enables us to make any predictions. My point is made and I do not need to carry on the conversation with you.

    So your response is basically No, you haven't! again. You might want to get your record checked, I think it's broken. Far be it from me to point the out you keep saying that if dualism is true then what goes on inside our minds is not causally determined by what is going on in our bodies is not a prediction despite having roughly the same grammatical structure as we will find transitional fossils at some point, if my theory is correct. Let's compare them side-by-side:

    Case A. What you say is a prediction:

    If my theory is correct we will find transitional fossils at some point.

    Case B. What you say is not a prediction:

    If dualism is true then what goes on inside our minds is not causally determined by what is going on in our bodies.

    Same sentence structure, same verb choice, both saying if this is true /correct then we will find / observe this. The only difference here seems to be you don't like the implications of Case B and don't have a good counter-argument or example.

    im-skeptical said...

    At this point, it seems like some reasonable person should step in and tell Karl that his statement, "If dualism is true then what goes on inside our minds is not causally determined by what is going on in our bodies", is really not a prediction at all.

    Karl Grant said...

    At this point, it seems like some reasonable person should step in and tell Karl that his statement, "If dualism is true then what goes on inside our minds is not causally determined by what is going on in our bodies", is really not a prediction at all.

    Oh I hope they do. Tell me, will this reasonable person be one of your friends from the Mystery Babylon conspiracy theorist website, the pseudo-scientific homeopathy website or somebody else who thinks Sam Harris writing an article entitled In Defense of Torture is not proof he supports the use of torture? I must say I look forward to debating such a reasonable fellow.

    William said...

    Well, let's see. Say that I am watching a baseball game on live TV. In that case, what I see on the screen is indeed causally determined by what goes on in the electronics of the TV. Thus the example is true, REGARDLESS OF the metaphysics.

    Karl Grant said...

    William,

    Say that I am watching a baseball game on live TV. In that case, what I see on the screen is indeed causally determined by what goes on in the electronics of the TV.

    Of course it does, the screen is a piece of electronic hardware and part of the TV's electronics. But what goes on with your TV does not causally affect either the broadcast or the game itself. Or let's take your computer. Say your monitor goes on the fritz, this does not affect what is stored on your hard-drive or your processor's performance.

    William said...

    Karl, in the case of the brain (TV is a poor analogy in this way) we have no known causal link between the "game" of consciousness and the electronics.

    In physicalism, we lack the explanation of how consciousness is built from the physics or even how it could be given current physics, and in dualism, we lack the explanation of how both the linkage between material and nonmaterial works and of how the nonmaterial stuff gets to be conscious.

    The entire field of explanations given here fails, I see.

    Karl Grant said...

    William

    In physicalism, we lack the explanation of how consciousness is built from the physics or even how it could be given current physics, and in dualism, we lack the explanation of how both the linkage between material and nonmaterial works and of how the nonmaterial stuff gets to be conscious.

    Hmm, good point. It is possible we might one day be able to falsify the statement If dualism is true then what goes on inside our minds is not causally determined by what is going on in our bodies or we might never falsify it. And I kind of get what you where trying to say earlier. Even if we did disprove the above prediction it still wouldn't damage property dualism but it would do some damage to substance dualism.

    The entire field of explanations given here fails, I see.

    Yeah, we don't have explanations for consciousness; only possibilities. Believing in either materialism / physicalism or dualism requires some degree faith.

    im-skeptical said...

    "Believing in either materialism / physicalism or dualism requires some degree faith."

    Of course it takes faith to believe that there is some immaterial entity that inhabits our body and does our thinking and feeling for us. There isn't a scintilla of evidence for it. Just a 'feeling' you have the the mental is somehow separate from the physical.

    Such is not the case for materialist theories of mind. Your refusal to accept the idea that mind could possibly be physical in nature has no bearing on the reality. Evidence abounds. If we can physically induce thoughts and memories, that's evidence. If we can show that physical activity in the brain is intimately linked with mental activity, that's evidence. If we can begin to grasp the functional processes of cognition and map those processes to specific physical structures in the brain, that's evidence.

    Keep your faith for the things that you want to hang on to despite the lack of evidence.

    William said...
    This comment has been removed by the author.
    William said...

    (corrected typos)

    skep:

    If you read the OP reference, there are several following posts at patheos.com which criticized the dualists for applying dualist assumptions to the statements of physicalists and then finding flaws in their thinking which require dualism to work. I would say that the opposite can and often is true: you make physicalist assumtions in your evidence claims that if the brain does it it must be physicalist. But is the brain a merely (current physics properties) physical thing? No.

    quote:
    " If we can physically induce thoughts and memories, that's evidence. If we can show that physical activity in the brain is intimately linked with mental activity, that's evidence."
    /end quote

    How is anything you listed due to a change in things like mass, charge, or velocity at the subatomic level in the brain? Yes, the brain is used in cognition, But is that a basic physical properties brain-thing, or a living, thinking person’s brain, one that is more than (current physics) physical?

    Consider that I don't think chemistry or biology necessarily are reductionist physical either. I see no metaphysical evidence in your examples here, just scientific evidence for scientific things that are not true or false based on anything in physicalist philosophy as such!

    I suggest you look at Chomsky's (a atheist btw, afaik) definition of the mental here .

    Karl Grant said...

    Skeppy,

    You are a one trick pony. Your second paragraph is nothing but question begging because it depends on a materialistic interpretation of observed dependence of the mind / brain. What you are doing, in a nutshell, is taking the functional dependence of the mind and brain (which dualism does not deny and is compatible with) and then proceed to take a flying leap to the metaphysical claim of materialism but you never explain why said leap is warranted.

    Anyway, you may say materialism require no faith. Other materialists say differently. From William Lycan:

    My position may be rational, broadly speaking, but not because the arguments favor it: Though the arguments for dualism do (indeed) fail, so do the arguments for materialism. And the standard objections to dualism are not very convincing; if one really manages to be a dualist in the first place, one should not be much impressed by them. My purpose in this paper is to hold my own feet to the fire and admit that I do not proportion my belief to the evidence.

    im-skeptical said...

    "you make physicalist assumtions in your evidence claims"

    My statement was about faith and evidence. I pointed out that there is evidence that supports a materialist view, and therefore, faith isn't necessary. What physicalist assumptions did I make?

    William said...

    skep: You do have faith, by some definitions of faith, that your evidence supports physicalsm. What if it does not support that metaphysical position?

    im-skeptical said...

    William,

    It is not a claim of the truth of one position or the other. It is a claim of the existence of evidence. And that evidence certainly does provide support for a materialist position. Let's assume for the sake of argument that the dualist position is actually true. That doesn't change the fact that the evidence can be used to make a case for materialism. But that same evidence does nothing to advance the position of the dualist. Even if dualism should happen to be the true position, the evidence supports materialism. It tends to show the physical nature of mind.

    William said...

    skep:

    What is your "materialist position" you mention above, exactly?

    im-skeptical said...

    William,

    Nothing unusual: the universe and everything in it is physical - no gods no souls, etc.

    William said...

    So, you are defining the physical as "everything that can be, except no gods or souls."

    What is the "etc" here?

    You would appear to allow non-material things to exist, as long as they are not gods or souls. For example, you could be an idealist as long as you were not theistic, by that definition. Is that correct about your position?

    im-skeptical said...

    William,

    By 'etc' I mean any kind of immaterial object. Universals would be a good example. There are conceptual things, such as logical truth, but they have no existence - that is, they are not instantiated objects. Something like a soul would be an immaterial instantiated object, so I reject that.

    William said...

    im-skeptical:

    Logic is immaterial, as is truth, so I think the Lewis/Reppert argument from reason applies to your position as self-defeating.

    You of course deny this, because you are not denying logic, and instead are including such abstractions implicitly. As I have said before, this kind of implicit, hidden woo is still woo.

    im-skeptical said...

    The fact that I can speak about abstractions does not mean that I accept any kind of 'hidden woo'. The logical difficulty comes from your ontology, not mine.

    William said...

    Is there truth or not?

    Can you explain how you get from everything being material to some things being true? How do you build truth value from the material stuff you claim is all that exists?

    You don't say, but in refusing to say, you bring the woo in implictly.

    William said...

    Note that if I say truth exists I don't mean it has any material being. That it exists without any material being is your problem, skep, not mine :).

    You are the one who has to build all of your accepted properties (like something being true) out of the physical ones. Good luck with that.

    im-skeptical said...

    "You are the one who has to build all of your accepted properties (like something being true) out of the physical ones. Good luck with that."

    Well actually, it's a much easier thing than trying to build my world out of imagined entities. The difference between my world and yours is that mine is made from real things, while yours, apparently, is made from figments of your imagination. There is reality. It is the state of affairs in the physical world that we inhabit. Truth is not a thing. It has no being at all until you conceive it in your mind. It is simply recognition of reality. That's a cognitive process. Like truth, all kinds of abstractions or conceptual things are nothing more than products of the mind. So if they have any kind of existence, it is as a mental state, or a state of the brain. Without brains to think about them, there would be no abstractions at all, no conceptual things to mull over - just the physical reality of the universe.

    William said...

    skep: I have no problems with the abstraction you state, that abstractions are mental states. I have a pragmatic ontology that includes, provisionally, pretty much everything we find useful and makes no claims on composition beyond a neutral existence is some mode or another.

    I make no metaphyscial assumptions of reduction to current physical subatomic particles-- that is your metaphysics, not mine.

    It is you who are making the unproven, physicalist style metaphysical claim that our living brains are just groupings of such particles, as described by current physics.

    I consider the idea that I personally are merely a grouping of subatomic particles to be a flight of physicalist fantasy. Of course, the parts of my body can be looked at from that perspective, but I don't see myself that way. Do you, really?

    It remains your burden to make sense of your metaphysics, if you really have faith in your physicalism. So I'm still waiting on how that is done :).

    im-skeptical said...

    "It is you who are making the unproven, physicalist style metaphysical claim that our living brains are just groupings of such particles, as described by current physics."

    Unproven - granted. But based on evidence. And therefore my metaphysics cannot be fairly described as a flight of fantasy. On the other hand, the notion of a soul is equally unproven, but also NOT based on evidence. So who's doing the fantasizing?

    Do I really see myself the way you describe - just a grouping of particles? Of course not. A bunch of particles, as such, has no form or function. But particles are built up into hierarchies of structures, each level of which provides something that doesn't exist among its constituent parts. Form and function is produced from things that themselves do not have that form and function. This is not controversial. It's what we see everywhere we look.

    But you say that mental function is different. Why? Because you have a feeling that it's different from everything else. Not because you have rational justification for that feeling - you just accept it and believe it. If you can't justify that belief with evidence, then it is you who are engaging in a flight of fantasy. So show me a soul that is objectively detectable or measurable, and I'll have evidence to believe it. As long as you can't do that (and I'm pretty sure you never will), spare me your accusations of engaging in fantasy.

    William said...

    skep:

    I'm not arguing for dualism, so why assert that I am? I am not the one making metaphysical claims here, you are.

    Perhaps mental function is similar to other things that cannot be shown to reduce to just an accumulation of the properties of current subatomic physics. Remember that I doubt that chemistry and biology reduce. And yes, mental function does not reduce. Or, show me otherwise; I am pragmatic about evidence, so would be willing to change my mind on the empirical evidence.

    Still waiting for your evidence?

    Again, please show how mental function reduces to elementary particle interaction with the properties theorized in current physics.

    im-skeptical said...

    "And yes, mental function does not reduce. Or, show me otherwise; I am pragmatic about evidence, so would be willing to change my mind on the empirical evidence."

    You certainly are making metaphysical claims. If you insist that there is something other than the physical (and that is what you are doing), that is a metaphysical claim. You are the one ignoring all available evidence, despite tour claim of being pragmatic.

    pragmatic : "dealing with things sensibly and realistically in a way that is based on practical rather than theoretical considerations."

    This immaterial aspect of the world that you claim is strictly conjectural. there's no evidence for it. It certainly belies your claim of pragmatism. You're the one making claims about the existence of something. You're the one who needs to prove it.

    You want to be pragmatic? Then look around you. What do you see? Is it a physical world full of physical things, or is it a world of magical, undetectable, immaterial things?

    You want proof of what exists? Sorry, proof is in short supply. The best you can do is look to science. You want conjecture without evidence? There's the AFR. The choice is yours.

    William said...

    "This immaterial aspect of the world that you claim is strictly conjectural. there's no evidence for it."

    But your definition of material, from what I can see, is that it is merely an assemblage of subatomic particles with the properties of current physics. By that definition, I am not merely physical, you are not merely physical, the Internet is not merely physical, my keyboard is not merely physical.

    Show me otherwise. Show how the properties of the keyboard are just those of subatomic particles (mass,charge, and so forth).

    I am still waiting. It is you who are making unprovable metaphysical claims.

    im-skeptical said...

    "Show how the properties of the keyboard are just those of subatomic particles"

    You ignored what I had to say about how things are more than just a collection of particles. I suspect that you aren't interested in hearing what I have to say at all. So please just stop asking the same thing over and over.

    William said...

    If many things are more than physical, then we agree that physicalism is wrong. This does not make dualism true, by the way.

    im-skeptical said...

    William,

    As far as I can tell, we don't agree on anything. I did not say things are more than physical. I said physical things have form and function that their constituent parts don't have. That is not a repudiation of physicalism, it is an affirmation. It is consistent with everything we observe, and it doesn't invoke any unobserved or hidden elements. Whatever you think you see in the world that is "more than physical" exists only in your mind/brain. (That makes it physical, too.)

    William said...

    It seems to me that you can't prove your metaphysics. You reply to this challenge by just re-asserting your metaphysics. That does not work with essentialism and it does not work with physicalism.

    You can't prove your metaphysics by telling me that I can't prove that purely on-physical objects exist. I don't need to. I just need to show your monism fails.

    Thales, in ancient Greece, said all is water. You would say all is subatomic particles. There is a symmetry here,in that both assertions fly in the face of empirical experience. Can't you see that?

    William said...

    "non-physical" not "on-physical", sorry

    im-skeptical said...

    What empirical evidence? You have some evidence of the non-physical? I'd like to see it.

    William said...

    Macro structure, say architecture, is non-physical, but physicalism says all is just a consequence of the properties of subatomic particles. Here is Mitchell (see this link :

    "if the physical level is construed only materially then structure is a level up and causally significant. Hence causal closure is false. If however structure is included in the physical level, then macro objects are physical and closure applies to a collection of micro and macro objects and events. Either way, reduction to a purely material level is violated."

    William said...

    Looks like the above link is broken Google for
    Why integrative pluralism? pdf

    for it instead if you want.

    im-skeptical said...

    "the physical level" ??? What level is that?

    "Either way, reduction to a purely material level is violated."

    Should I be impressed by this? Hardly. The funny thing about philosophers is that you can find one who supports virtually any position, and another who supports the exact opposite, and still others who take virtually every position in between. And every one of them is convinced that their own position is the correct one. (Sounds a little like religion, eh?) Don't expect to ever see a consensus in philosophy.

    Contrast that with science, which doesn't enjoy complete agreement, but tends to come to consensus in a broad range of fields. The reason for that is that empirical evidence is objective.

    William said...

    Going ad hominem on one group of people speaks to the matter at hand?

    im-skeptical said...

    William,

    You said you had empirical evidence for your position.
    I asked to see it.
    You quoted a philosopher who agrees with your position.

    That's not evidence. I could also quote a philosopher who agrees with my position. Would it impress you? Not a chance. you haven't shown me anything. What you can't do is produce real empirical evidence. I know this because nobody has ever produced any such evidence. If they did, it would rock the world.

    William said...

    Okay skep. The salty taste of salt is not a property of its subatomic particles.

    Thus, the taste of salt is non-physical, by what I take is your definition of the physical.

    There is your evidence.

    Of course, no chemist would say the the taste was a spiritual property, either. But it is not by the definition the metaphysics you believe in a physical thing, either.

    Accepting things found by science is not the same as accepting your metaphysics.

    im-skeptical said...

    "But it is not by the definition the metaphysics you believe in a physical thing, either."

    Please tell me what metaphysics you think I believe in, because I don't think you have a clue.

    William said...

    Since you defend physicalism, I have been assuming that you are a physicalist. Of course, on the internet people take various personae, and so I admit I'm not totally sure what you actually think.

    Care to divulge any of that?

    im-skeptical said...

    To be honest, I'm not sure you know what you think, either. Let me see if I can make some sense of what you're saying.

    1. You think I adhere to physicalism. OK - that implies I believe that everything is physical.

    2. You say that according to the definition of my belief, the taste of salt is not physical. OK - that implies that I don't adhere to physicalism.

    So either you're confused or I fail to understand what you're saying.

    And finally,

    3. You say that science is not consistent with my metaphysics. Well it's definitely not consistent with yours. But I believe that one's metaphysics should be consistent with science, or there's something wrong with it.

    William said...

    Clarification question:

    What does it mean to you for something to be physical?

    An example: If I define physical to mean just reality or existence, then nothing that exists can be non-physical,by d efinition.

    Would you define what it means to you that everything is physical?

    im-skeptical said...

    What I mean by physical is everything that is detectable, or everything that exerts any kind of force on things. So you say taste in not physical, and I say it is. Taste is a process in the brain (perceptive cognition) that results from chemical stimulation of sensory organs on the tongue. That's physical.

    If you "define physical to mean just reality or existence", then that begs the question of what exists - which you might take to include things that are not detectable like supernatural beings. So I don't think that's a very good definition. But you might want to include contrived things like 'qualia' in with the other immaterial entities in your world by insisting that they have no physical presence either. That's where we would disagree. If it can be said that something like 'qualia' exist, is is only as a cognitive token in our brains. Much like a thought, this illusive quale is nothing more than a concept. It's physical existence if fleeting, as it consists of a temporary state of various neurons and the interconnections between them. But it is physical.

    William said...

    This is indeed not physicalism. Note that many people feel they have detected the supernatural, or God, so there are many things physicalism excludes that this does not.

    Furthermore, by your definition, there are mainstream scientific depictions of dark matter that imply it is not physical, by your definition.

    How does my position differ? I think there are things that are not detectable by your definition that are useful nonetheless, and I think they exist in at least some ways.

    I like the sheer broadness of the definition, though :)

    im-skeptical said...

    "Note that many people feel they have detected the supernatural, or God, so there are many things physicalism excludes that this does not."

    Not so. Having a feeling (mentally) is not detecting. I'm talking about objective detecting, not just an idea in your mind that you "feel the presence of God", without any way of substantiating that feeling. So my definition does not include these things.

    "there are mainstream scientific depictions of dark matter that imply it is not physical, by your definition."

    No, there aren't. Dark matter exerts a force on things that we can observe. That's real and detectable, and it's how we infer that it exists. We just don't know exactly what this dark matter is.

    Edward T. Babinski said...

    VIC wrote: "Do the laws of physics govern the brain, or do the principles of reasoning?"

    MY reply: First, what is meant by "govern the brain" in both senses above (physical laws, and reasoning). Does "govern the brain" mean the same thing in both instances? For instance, neuroscientists point out that the brain is "governed" by the totality of sensory input, learning, memory, feedback (both external and internal) and the brain remains highly active even when one is asleep. Doesn't that suggest that physical laws and reasoning could be part of the same brain-mind system? Because it is not just individual atoms moving inside the brain-mind but those atoms are connected to molecules and those molecules are part of 100 billion neurons joined by 1 trillion electro-chemical connections and those are connected to sensory systems that feed input into that neural network, input like images and sounds that are each far larger than atom-sized, and that input is also part of constant feedback loops both external and internal as the brain-mind gradually "learns" how to "reason" about "the world," how to make sense of it, how to build a model of the world inside each person's brain-mind. And that takes time, feedback, memory, learning, etc., all part of ongoing processes. No one is born with a fully formed model of the world in their brain-mind.

    Second, can we get all philosophers to agree on what "reasoning" is? Seems like we can get more of them to agree on what physical laws are than agree on what "reasoning" is.

    So, is the AFR the cardinal difficulty of naturalism, as Lewis claimed? Even in a physical sense a lone atom inside each cell is moved about by the dynamics of the molecule to which that atom is attached and that molecule is moved about by the chains of molecular reactions or dynamics inside the cell, so atoms in their individuality do not "govern" the cell. And in the case of a brain-mind which is built up via years of constant sensory input and feedback loops and making corrections that produce a "model" of the world, one cannot but see how such a model must be based on something that makes "sense." The formalization of handy "rules of logic" is a later abstraction or model of how things work, that came about only after brain-minds evolved and began modeling the world.

    As for "principles of reasoning," such as "coherency," philosophers are always coming up with rival models or philosophical systems, that are each argued to be coherent, just as physicists come up with rival hypotheses. But they are in the end all models. While nature in its essence is not what the brain grasps, just as maps do not equal the territory, and words do not equal things, models do not equal reality, not even the finest mathematical models of reality. And as I pointed out, each person's brain-mind contains their "model" of the world, not the world itself.

    And why does the word "physical" play such an important role in the AFR, when modern day naturalists do not rely as heavily on that word today as their ancestors once did, but define naturalism in other ways?

    See also, Prior Prejudices and the Argument from Reason. You keep saying you read it, but you don't seem to grasp it. I don't think Christian apologists understand naturalism's internal coherence (which by the way does not make me a naturalist nor an atheist), nor do they seem able to acknowledge the spectrum of philosophical questions out there, nor the fact that philosophy as a discipline seems to have simply raised ever more questions, leading to finer divisions of each question/problem, but few if any universally accepted answers. http://edward-t-babinski.blogspot.com/2011/01/prior-prejudices-and-argument-from.html

    Edward T. Babinski said...

    I also invite Vic to consider how Christian theistic apologists tend to exclude options that lay somewhere between classical theism and atheism. There are non-hierarchical, non-classical God, options to consider. For instance, Joseph Campbell, Alan Watts, and Robert Anton Wilson expressed the natural relationship between the human mind and the cosmos in this manner:

    J.C. : We are children of this planet... we have come forth from it. We are its eyes and mind, its seeing and its thinking. And the earth, together with its sun... came forth from a nebula; and that nebula, in turn, from space. No wonder then, if its laws and ours are the same.

    A. W. : You are an aperture through which the universe is looking at and exploring itself.

    We do not 'come into' this world; we come out of it, as leaves from a tree. As the ocean 'waves,' the universe 'peoples.' Every individual is an expression of the whole realm of nature, a unique action of the total universe.

    It's like you took a bottle of ink and you threw it at a wall. Smash! And all that ink spread. And in the middle, it's dense, isn't it? And as it gets out on the edge, the little droplets get finer and finer and make more complicated patterns, see? So in the same way, there was a big bang at the beginning of things and it spread. And you and I, sitting here in this room, as complicated human beings, are way, way out on the fringe of that bang. We are the complicated little patterns on the end of it. Very interesting. But so we define ourselves as being only that... as one very complicated little curlique, way out on the edge of that explosion. Way out in space, and way out in time. But billions of years ago, you were a big bang, and now you're a complicated human being. We don't feel that we're still the big bang. But you are... You're not just something that's a result of the big bang. You're not something that is a sort of puppet on the end of the process. You are also still the process. You are the big bang, the original force of the universe, coming on as whoever you are. When I meet you, I see not just what you define yourself as--Mr so-and- so, Ms so-and-so, Mrs so-and-so--I see every one as the primordial energy of the universe coming on at me in this particular way. I know I'm that, too. But we've learned to define ourselves as separate from it.

    R.A.W. : I suspect that this world shows signs of 'intelligent design,' and I suspect that such intelligence acts via feedback from all parts to all parts and without centralized sovereignty, like Internet; and that it does not function hierarchically, in the style an Oriental despotism, an American corporation or Christian theology. I somewhat suspect that Theism and Atheism both fail to account for such decentralized intelligence, rich in circular-causal feedback.

    ___________

    To add to the above quotations, there's also the option not of 'intelligent design' but of a self-tinkering cosmos, or even a Divine Tinkerer.

    Of course to Christian apologists there is no range of religious or philosophical choice, (not even denominationally if you are speaking to an arch conservative Christian), because to them there are only two choices, and there's is the only one you must choose... even if it IS like a game of Let's Make a Deal and you don't get to see what's in the box nor what's behind the metaphysical curtain, before you choose it.

    William said...

    Ed: My point is that once you allow non-basic-physics principles in your ultimate explanatory basics, you have allowed as much woo in your basic explanations as the theists.

    The quotes you provide are of naturalistic woo, and of course there's nothing wrong with that. It is however inconsistent to criticize other types of woo, like theism, if you use the same levels of explanation as they do in a different form.