Friday, November 24, 2017

Linville on Dennett

Another one from Mark Linville, on Dennett: 
Daniel Dennett thinks there is no such thing as "what-it-is-like" to be in pain, i.e., the "ouchiness" of pain. There are only the observable and measurable causes and effects of pain, such as the firing of c-fibers and the person's body hollering "OUCH!"
I think there is such a thing as "what-it-is-like" to be astonished at the claim that there is no such thing as "what-it-is-like" to be in pain.

21 comments:

Mr. Green said...

Indeed, the measurable stuff like nerves and soundwaves are not even directly observable — what I really experience is noisiness and ouchiness, etc. Everything beyond that is an extrapolation; basing what is most certain on what is less certain and derived is quite backwards.

To be fair, maybe Dennett really has never experienced what is it like to be in pain. Which means he's not human, which would explain why he'd say there is no such thing as "being like": if he's just some kind of bearded robot, then there isn't anything that is "what it's like" to be him. At least then what he's saying would make some kind of sense... even if it is irrelevant to those of us who are human.

Joe Hinman said...

when I was doing y doctoral work I helped start an academic journal. We had an article by a guy from MIT attacking Dennett's book Consciousness Explicated. Here is that article. *part 1 I don;t have part 2)

The Hard sell of Human Consciousness


my summary of the article on my Doxa site


Joe Hinman said...

try it again


har sell of human consciousnesss

Doxa summary

Steve Lovell said...

I think there are quite a few who think Dennett's book Consciousness Explained would have been more aptly titled Consciousness Denied.

Joe Hinman said...

Steve Lovell said...
I think there are quite a few who think Dennett's book Consciousness Explained would have been more aptly titled Consciousness Denied.

lOl good one

Jim S. said...

Some books by Dennett:

Consciousness Explained Away.

Dennett's Dangerous Ideology.

Brainfarts.


OK, I'll stop.

Stardusty Psyche said...

Mr. Green said. November 24, 2017 10:28 PM..

" which would explain why he'd say there is no such thing as "being like": if he's just some kind of bearded robot, then there isn't anything that is "what it's like" to be him."
--Now you are starting to catch on. What if a human being is just a collection of tiny little mindless robots?


" At least then what he's saying would make some kind of sense"
--Oh yes, you really are starting to understand, good for you!


"... even if it is irrelevant to those of us who are human."
--Oh darn, you backslid, that's ok, I'm going to help you correct your error.

Human beings are nothing more than a collection of mindless little robots, which we call cells.

Legion of Logic said...

Stardusty: "Human beings are nothing more than a collection of mindless little robots, which we call cells."

Stardusty: "I am self aware therefore I exist in some form, is objectively true."

You are a collection of mindless robots who is self aware. Congratulations, you are now on board with emergence!

Miguel said...

"Human beings are nothing more than a collection of mindless little robots, which we call cells."

This is a quote for the ages, folks. Strawdusty keeps getting better and better. The man has no inner experience of consciousness. No self. I thought denying we could think determinate and universal concepts was bad enough.

I quite like the quote, however; it could be used as a reductio ad absurdum of naturalism.

1- If naturalism is true, then human beings are nothing more than a collection of mindless little robots which we call cells
2- But human beings are not just a collection of mindless little robots
3- Therefore naturalism is false

Stardusty Psyche said...

Legion of Logic said.. November 26, 2017 12:32 AM.

Stardusty: "Human beings are nothing more than a collection of mindless little robots, which we call cells."

Stardusty: "I am self aware therefore I exist in some form, is objectively true."

" You are a collection of mindless robots who is self aware. Congratulations, you are now on board with emergence!"
--Many people get hung up on that, thinking that somehow some new thing has emerged. I rather enjoyed a talk by David Bentley Hart in which he likened the notion of emergence to magical thinking, which of course, it is.

Emergence as an analogy, or a metaphor, or an analytical modeling tool, or a set classification system could be useful, but to imagine some new real thing emerges is indeed magical thinking, as Hart rightly points out.

Legion of Logic said...

Stardusty,

So you are not self-aware?

Stardusty Psyche said...

Legion of Logic said.. November 26, 2017 8:42 AM.

Stardusty,

" So you are not self-aware?"
--This is where Dennett, and others, do not do a very good job with the word "illusion". Well, I might not do a very good job either! We shall see.

Here are a couple definitions of illusion:
a deceptive appearance or impression.
"the illusion of family togetherness"
synonyms: appearance, impression, semblance; More

a false idea or belief.
"he had no illusions about the trouble she was in"
synonyms: delusion, misapprehension, misconception, false impression; More

So, when Dennett says something like "consciousness is an illusion" he means its true nature is not immediately obvious to us, it's not what we think it is. But, those who wish to dismiss Dennett will use the strawman saying the claim is there is no reality connected to consciousness whatsoever.


Is friction an illusion? Is friction real? Is friction emergent? Depends in what sense you are using those words.

At the molecular level there is no such thing as friction. The molecules in a sealed bottle of gas just keep bouncing off each other ad infinitum, without slowing down or heating up from friction.

But we all experience something we call friction. Engineers use the coefficient of friction to make useful and accurate calculations. The true nature of friction is that it is the aggregate of intermolecular forces as they contact each other and are moved and bonds are broken.

So, friction is real in the sense that it is an aggregate accounting of a vastly complex set of constituent processes. Friction is an illusion as a real emergent thing. The reality is all the constituent processes, the valid model we call friction is realistic to the extent that it converges on reality and models a set of constituent processes that would be far too complex to analyze in fullest detail.


Both "I" and "self-aware" are like friction, actually the aggregate of a vast set of constituent processes, but realistic as a model that converges on reality.


Legion of Logic said...

Stardusty: "So, friction is real in the sense that it is an aggregate accounting of a vastly complex set of constituent processes. Friction is an illusion as a real emergent thing."

I fail to see that there is a difference between the two (aggregate accounting of...processes, and emergent thing).

Stardusty Psyche said...

Legion of Logic said. November 26, 2017 10:58 AM..

Stardusty: "So, friction is real in the sense that it is an aggregate accounting of a vastly complex set of constituent processes. Friction is an illusion as a real emergent thing."

" I fail to see that there is a difference between the two (aggregate accounting of...processes, and emergent thing)."
--Admittedly, I have yet to produce a succinct clear description, which is why I used a fairly long explanation, which then risks getting somewhat muddied.

An aggregate accounting is self consciously a model or an analog or a metaphor for a much more complicated reality.

A real emergent thing is a notion that somehow something new has arisen, that the whole is indeed more than the sum of the parts. This is what Hart describes as magical thinking.

Legion of Logic said...

Well if the concept of emergence is inherently tied to "more than the sum of its parts", then that would literally be incorrect. My use of emergence is simply that combinations of components will produce features that the components themselves do not possess - a self-aware organism comprised of things that are not self-aware, etc.

Joe Hinman said...



part 2 my review Goe in the age of science

Joe Hinman said...

I've made a secpmd post, Is science one gene away from defeating religion ?

Mr. Green said...

Mr. Hinman: Thanks for those links, I quite enjoyed that article by Miller.


Legion of Logic: Stardusty, So you are not self-aware?

That was a rhetorical question, right?

Stardusty Psyche said...

Legion of Logic said...

" Well if the concept of emergence is inherently tied to "more than the sum of its parts", then that would literally be incorrect"
I agree, but that seems to be what Hal is saying, that new things emerge. That seems like magical thinking to me, but I have not had a chance to go deeper into what Hal means by that.

How could a new thing emerge? Where would it come from?


Hal said.. October 30, 2017 5:48 AM.
http://dangerousidea.blogspot.com/2017/10/why-mental-states-are-not-emergent-way.html

" I believe that mental properties emerge as a consequence of new things emerging."




Hal said...

Stardusty,

My view of emergence matches Legion of Logic's:
" My use of emergence is simply that combinations of components will produce features that the components themselves do not possess - a self-aware organism comprised of things that are not self-aware, etc."

New things emerge from the convergence of other things. Nothing magical about that. A lever can emerge from the combination of two rods.

Hal said...

Stardusty,

Why don't you check out this Google Preview of Mario Bunge's book on convergence and emergence. He's a scientist and a metaphysical materialist.