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November 11, 2008

Comments

Paul Geisert

You state:

“Only stuff that can be observed with our five senses. So no god, no angels, no devils. And, no minds, no consciousness, no hope.” “No purpose. No courage. Nothing. Nothing but atoms and clusters of atoms."

Wow, I am rather astounded how one can twist meanings to suite one’s fancy. That is, to demean something you clearly don’t understand.

I am a naturalist, that is, an individual who has a naturalistic worldview. Do you really believe that at the moment one comes to understand that we are part of a naturalistic world that they instantaneously have “no purpose” “no courage” or “no consciousness”?

What a foolish viewpoint. Like every other human I have desires, interests, love, disdain, and all the other aspects of humanity. I am a generous fellow, kind to puppies as well as humans.

If you prick me do I not bleed? If you tickle me do I not laugh? Can I not write this response?

It is very shortsighted to believe our physical human reality does not change based on how you explain that reality.

Look to the deeds done, not to some attribution that having a naturalistic worldview empties one of all human characteristics.

Paul Geisert, a member of The Brights Net

Paul Martin

Thanks, Paul, for your comments.

I suppose the nature of "human characteristics" is what is in question here. It seems that the burden is on the naturalist. Consider those "things" you claim to "have": desires, interests, love, disdain. How does a naturalist account for these? They don't seem to be constructed of matter; they seem immaterial. But they also seem very real.

The naturalist philosophy denies the existence (does it not?) of ALL non-material entities.

Thanks, Paul.

Michael

I'm not nearly as familiar with the literature as you are Paul, but is there any distinction between naturalism and eliminative materialism? Because clearly, the EM person would consider thinks like love, hope, feelings, etc (and the previously given examples) nothing but folk psychological phenomenon; but are there any naturalist out there who try to hold onto these things? And would a sort of vitalist-naturalism provide an account of things like life, love, hope, etc?

Paul Martin

Mike, sorry about the delay here. I somehow missed your great comment.

Yes, there are reductive materialists who are deists (and even confessing Christians). Their arguments are a bit much for this blog. But, as I say above, it seems to me that a towering metaphysical burden is placed on the backs of those who would aim to define "me" solely in material terms.

So those things you mention like love and hope, from my perspective at least, cannot be defined in purely material terms. One could CLAIM to be a naturalist and also believe the vitality of desire or purpose. But, as the naturalist holds, if these are not material properties, THEY CANNOT EXIST. Hence, the various non-reductive positions have come to create a position between the reductionists and the dualists. Yet, even these non-reductive positions still leave the following question:

"can all human phenomena be described in purely physical terms?"

Seems to me they cannot. My thought "Mike Burns has a friend in Scotland that eats curry" cannot be located or identified by any scientist. THAT thought seems to exists beyond neurons.

Paul

Dan Olson

Paul,

I find this discussion really interesting and would like to hear your thoughts. I have written a response, but it is rather long and wanted to ask your permission before posting it.

So would you mind if I littered your comments section with a rather long post?

Dan

Dan Olson

Just doing it...

Paul,

Really interesting post and discussion. I have been thinking about this for a while. I hope my comments are helpful in moving the discussion along.

1.) I find the dualist position suspect. Here is as succinct as I can be as to why.

The biggest obstacle, as I see it, for the dualist position is the overwhelming evidence that the mind’s existence is intimately tied to the body’s/brain’s.

First, one must recognize the neural dependencies of some of our self-representational capacities. Autobiographical events depend on and are found in the medial temporal lobes. Our impulses are controlled by the prefrontal lobes—these also carryout the operations of working memory—and limbic structures. Other capacities, such as the ability to recognize a sequence of actions to take in the future and to represent where one is both in space and time and in the social order are also dependant on neural capacities. (Maybe Kant was right).

A second important factor is the brain’s ability to change itself in response to the stimuli it encounters. New neural connections are created. These in turn open up new possibilities for the brain and the whole person.

The third and last point to be made is two fold.
(a) Damage to the brain effects awareness, consciousness, memory, and conceptual ability.
(b) We are becoming more and more aware that we are social creatures. Our identity, or transcendental ego, or I, or “me” is not an isolated monad but rather is bonded to our social environment. If awareness, consciousness, memory and conceptual ability are gone there is no way for “me" to interact with my environment and a huge piece of “me” disappears.

It seems to me that this shows that whom we are is connected to our brain and its capacity to interact with our selves, which INCLUDES our environment (huge point). In light of this it seems implausible to remain a dualist and hold that who we are is to be found in an ethereal soul.

As a Christian I have no problem with this. Since we look forward to the miracle of the Resurrection not a spiritual heaven.

2.) The next point to make is in regards to where thought can be "found".

Due to our linguistic abilities it seems, from cognitive sciences findings, that our cognitive systems are enabled to self-transcend. That is, because of language, and the abstractions that are made possible by it, we can represent to ourselves our pursued goals and the possible outcomes. This is all done through our cognitive structure, or physically.

Also due to our linguistic abilities, which are culturally constructed (I am not trying to enter the whole correspondence debate, just recognizing that language is a peace and form of culture) we are able to recognize, by representing to ourselves possible outcomes, whether or nor the abstract goal will be a moral one or not.

This is possible because of the community that one is in, such as the Church, informs the individual in regards to morality. Yet, the human cognitive system is not limited to this. If it is suggest that one’s morality is simply socially determined, one’s cognitive system may transcend itself again and ask whether the communities aims/morals are one's worth pursuing. Again, this is all done physically.

Thus, the mental is a complex system. It is a brain in a body in a social context extended in time (this last point--time--depends on our understanding of how memories are formed within our self-narrative. I am trying to cut down my incredibly long post but am willing to talk about this later). We should not be surprised if the mental cannot be found solely within brain processes for it is not solely there.

So, the agent’s whole self could be understood as her brain in her body interacting with her environment, which includes semantic structures, her imaginative capacities--shaped by her environment; and her ability to self-transcend all within time. This whole self can be said to be an emergent phenomenon, or even property, but not a new emergent substance.

Yet the whole self does not need to be a new substance in order to have genuinely new causal powers. Through self-transcendence within one’s horizon the whole self is able to make decisions that actually have a top down causal effect and are thus capable of being moral.

The problem with both camps, the dualists and the reductive materialists—such as Metzinger; is that they both assume that if there is no homunculus then there is no self. But if one accepts that the self—agency/subjectivity—can be located, just not isolated, in the physical then this opens up the space for meaningful human phenomenon.

This may even be why God is seeking to save cultures, nations and communities instead of just individuals. I have noticed that those who argue for a soul are often from a conservative Protestant/Evangelical, even fundamentalist, camp who have a very individualistic view of salvation.

Not to suggest where you stand. I have no idea.

Lastly, in your last statement you seem to suggest that since a scientist cannot locate or identify the thought it is proof that the thought exists somewhere else, I assume some kind of dualism. This seems to smack of a bad case of positivism that very few physicalists would ascribe to. Maybe Dawkins but philosophically he is rather sloppy to say the least. The thought can indeed exist beyond neurons but never the less in the material realm, understood a bit more broadly. Why must love, desires, interests, disdains, etc. be entities? One can have metaphysics without transcendence, spirituality or souls.

オテモヤン


http://oppao.net/n-ona/
http://oppao.net/navi/
http://oppao.net/new-d2/
http://oppao.net/fd3/
http://oppao.net/soap2/
http://oppao.net/bg2/
http://oppao.net/host2/
http://oppao.net/lesson2/
http://oppao.net/op2/
http://oppao.net/fl3/
http://oppao.net/bb2/
http://oppao.net/s-este/
http://oppao.net/rd2/
http://oppao.net/kawa/
http://oppao.net/n-club2/
http://s-auc.net/

オテモヤン


http://oppao.net/n-ona/
http://oppao.net/navi/
http://oppao.net/new-d2/
http://oppao.net/fd3/
http://oppao.net/soap2/
http://oppao.net/bg2/
http://oppao.net/host2/
http://oppao.net/lesson2/
http://oppao.net/op2/
http://oppao.net/fl3/
http://oppao.net/bb2/
http://oppao.net/s-este/
http://oppao.net/rd2/
http://oppao.net/kawa/
http://oppao.net/n-club2/
http://s-auc.net/

christian louboutin

No wonder that Leibniz is one of the predominant philosophical references of the cyberspace theorists: what reverberates today is not only his dream of a universal computing machine.

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