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Missing in action: Where is the mind?

 
 
jeeprs
 
  2  
Reply Sun 13 Jun, 2010 11:56 pm
@KaseiJin,
But KasieJin, you continually respond to philosophical arguments - even granted that my own are probably idiosyncratic and not very clever - with appeals to neuroscientific journals. In other words, you already assume that the answer to philosophical questions about consciousness lies in neuroscience. That has been your approach from the get-go, from day 1, right from the very first time I read any of your posts, which is why I always react the way that I do.

What you are always asking me to do is to respond in your terms. And your terms are always taken from neuroscience. In fact over the last 14 months I have put quite a few philosophical arguments to you, about the nature of meaning, the difficulty of accounting for subtle attributes of human consciousness in terms of neurophysiology and even a well-developed argument as to the role of abstract thought in evolutionary development. That particular one, which I think was in May last year, you made me promise that I would debate right till the bitter end, and then you didn't even respond to it.

Again, this is nothing personal. But in nothing you have ever written have I seen any insight on your part into the subject of philosophy, as such. I mean, your big list of journals and textbooks is very impressive in the subjects of cognitive science an/ or neurobiology. Well, jolly good for you, but it is a different subject to philosophy. I post to a philosophy forum, because I am interested in philosophy, even if I am not very good at it. If I wanted to learn all about neuroscience, I would join a neuroscience forum.
jeeprs
 
  2  
Reply Sun 13 Jun, 2010 11:58 pm
@Minimal,
Quote:
I am getting the impression jeeprs rejects eliminative materialism[1]'s dismissal of alternate description of "mind" outside neurobiology.


Of course. This tendency was formed in a previous existence. I was born to argue with materialists. And in the end, I must win, because I can always come back, and they can't. Very Happy
Minimal
 
  1  
Reply Mon 14 Jun, 2010 12:02 am
@jeeprs,
jeeprs wrote:

Quote:
I am getting the impression jeeprs rejects eliminative materialism[1]'s dismissal of alternate description of "mind" outside neurobiology.


Of course. This tendency was formed in a previous existence. I was born to argue with materialists. And in the end, I must win, because I can always come back, and they can't. Very Happy


Haha, well it seems like I am stuck between two bricks -- I agree with neuroscience but I agree with alternate understanding at a personal level.

Per'aps I have my feet in both camps but I see no contradiction.

Regards,

Minimal.
Fido
 
  1  
Reply Mon 14 Jun, 2010 12:27 am
@Minimal,
Minimal wrote:

From what I have gleaned from this discourse - keep in mind I am currently eating lunch and selectively scanning posts -, I am getting the impression jeeprs rejects eliminative materialism[1]'s dismissal of alternate description of "mind" outside neurobiology.

I think the difficulty here is how we are treating this understanding of mind too much like an objective and subjective dichotomy. I believe this is unnecessary to some extent. Although we are objective, that is having physical causation, we have subjective cognition. You can dissect and analyse the basis and this will lay the empirical understanding for what allows for this emergence of subjective cognition. The parts versus the whole.

We have this ontological separation between objective foundation and subjective emergence, chemicals and emotions. However, they are both the same. Although we understand how something functions at a mechanical level, this does not necessarily leave us constrained to such in terms of description. Pragmatically speaking, we do not go "I feel happy because of the increase of dopamine in my system." I think jeeprs argues there is this separation, or disparity, between knowledge of objective foundation (that is the dopamine) and how we personally describe the chemical foundation ("happy"). Philosophy is personal to some extent and I do not believe jeeprs is making the allusion to mysticism as the only philosophical description of "mind" but suggests there is no need to limit our description of "mind" to the jargon of neuroscience -- purely reductionistic terminology. We can in fact use holistic terms such as "happy", "sad" and even, dare I say it, "mind".

You two seem to be literally arguing over labels.
[1] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Eliminative_materialism

Mind is a spiritual conception of reality like all other concepts... We do not have the thing in our heads, but the essence... Turn the inspection of reality into introspection of self and you get the mind. or consciousness... It is safe to say there is some material reality behind the mind, neurobiology... All of that existed before mind and consiousness too; so what is the difference between us and other higher animals??? With language, and culture we have social forms that give us the words for what we sense, or may sense without them.... No one can understand a single human being in isolation... Language, a social form, is the difference between the undeveloped brain and a developed brain essential to an adult personality without the words to express the qualities one experiences neuroconnections are not made, and the brain does not grow... And while you cannot say mind is culture, it certainly has that element... And you can say culture is knowledge, and as one gains knowledge one has the means to make what is personal public... One can speak ones mind or change ones mind because with culture we have the words and the concepts of mind, personality, and consciousness ready made for us...
jeeprs
 
  1  
Reply Mon 14 Jun, 2010 12:36 am
I agree with the scientists that discussion of mind/consciousness often turns into meaningless verbiage. It happens all the time.

It takes a different kind of discipline to understand the first-person nature of consciousness in a rigourous way. One of the philosophical schools that has done that is phenomenology. I can tell you right now, there are only one or two people who know something about that on this forum (well the old forum anyway. Dasein was one of them. Ding-an-sich another). There are also Eastern philosophies that provide a disciplined approach to first-person experience. They are the ones that interest me. So I don't want to improvise on 'what I think mind is'. It is possible to be disciplined about the subject even if you're not a materialist.
0 Replies
 
jeeprs
 
  1  
Reply Mon 14 Jun, 2010 12:38 am
@Minimal,
Quote:
I agree with neuroscience


I cannot possibly disagree with neuroscience. I have had a close relative saved by neurological science. I have nothing but respect for neuroscience. That is not at issue here. The debate, as far as I am concerned, is about philosophical materialism.
0 Replies
 
KaseiJin
 
  1  
Reply Mon 14 Jun, 2010 01:09 am
@jeeprs,
I appreciate your concern, minimal, I am not sure if the nuance of how you see it is quite so bull's eye, but would think there is an element of viable truth in your view on the 'jeeprsxKJ' exchange history.

jeeprs wrote:

But KasieJin, you continually respond to philosophical arguments with . . . That has been your approach from the get-go, from day 1, right from the very first time I read any of your posts, which is why I always react the way that I do.


I'll let you have the last word there, jeeprs, in order to maintain course here. We first met on the LWSleeth thread on Dennett and Buddha's debate. The place where I had asked you if you were gonna stick with the discussion was in my post number 102 (June 29, 09) on the Consciousness is a Biological Problem thread. (I had been [and it is still in process, basically]) answering towards and refuting your assertions in your post number 98 there (June 28, 09). Let's let our discussion prove itself then, rather than bringing up the history of where we differ (I hold that I clearly know just where and what that is...and over philosophy, it is not [for the most part]).

And, you had some extension of the definition for the word 'mind,' was it, jeeprs?





Minimal
 
  1  
Reply Mon 14 Jun, 2010 01:29 am
@Fido,
Fido wrote:

One can speak ones mind or change ones mind because with culture we have the words and the concepts of mind, personality, and consciousness ready made for us...


G'day Fido, I had a trouble extrapolating your point from your post and I am therefore reluctant to comment further on your post without clarifying some points. You appear to be making reference to nature versus nurture and how this relates to two dimensions or mind? Do you subscribe to some form of dualism?

Look forward to your reply!

Regards,

Minimal.

Minimal
 
  1  
Reply Mon 14 Jun, 2010 01:34 am
@KaseiJin,
KaseiJin wrote:

I appreciate your concern, minimal, I am not sure if the nuance of how you see it is quite so bull's eye, but would think there is an element of viable truth in your view on the 'jeeprsxKJ' exchange history.


Did I miss the contention of each party? If I did, can I ask -- what is it?

jeeprs wrote:

Quote:
I agree with neuroscience


I cannot possibly disagree with neuroscience. I have had a close relative saved by neurological science. I have nothing but respect for neuroscience. That is not at issue here. The debate, as far as I am concerned, is about philosophical materialism.


Oh, I was not trying to imply you are against neurology or any scientific discipline. I was stating I personally agree with both elements of what appears to the the J versus K dispute ;-)

I am actually intrigued why there is this apparent incongruence between the two positions, really.

Regards,

Minimal.
jeeprs
 
  1  
Reply Mon 14 Jun, 2010 01:46 am
@Minimal,
Quote:
I am actually intrigued why there is this apparent incongruence between the two positions, really


It goes back a long way. He's a scientific type, I'm a mystical type. Scientific types tend to believe that human beings are the result of processes which we have basically got figured. Mystical types believe there is an entire dimension to existence which the scientific types don't get. It includes 'religion' but a lot more, as well (such as the whole point of existing, but I am not going to press that now.)

Have a look at this excellent essay by Tom Wolfe, called Sorry But Your Soul Just Died. Be sure you read to the last sentence.
Minimal
 
  1  
Reply Mon 14 Jun, 2010 01:51 am
@jeeprs,
jeeprs wrote:

Quote:
I am actually intrigued why there is this apparent incongruence between the two positions, really


It goes back a long way. He's a scientific type, I'm a mystical type. Scientific types tend to believe that human beings are the result of processes which we have basically got figured. Mystical types believe there is an entire dimension to existence which the scientific types don't get. It includes 'religion' but a lot more, as well (such as the whole point of existing, but I am not going to press that now.)

Have a look at this excellent essay by Tom Wolfe, called Sorry But Your Soul Just Died. Be sure you read to the last sentence.


So do you subscribe to some variant of dualism or is it some "holistic" view as opposed to "reductionistic"?

I will give the essay a read over now as I have some free time :-)

Regards,

Minimal.
jeeprs
 
  1  
Reply Mon 14 Jun, 2010 02:29 am
@Minimal,
I think holistic is nearer to it - a multi-disciplinary approach based on comparative religion, Western philosophy, and Buddhist meditation. But I am certainly nearer the religious end of the spectrum.
Fido
 
  1  
Reply Mon 14 Jun, 2010 05:01 am
@Minimal,
Humanity is a cultural phenomenon... Consider that all our advances have involved a change of forms, and that each change of forms involved a greater and more advanced understanding... When we traded in our caves for a tent it was a change of forms, and ditto for every advance so that we have long since become the product of our forms as much as they are the product of us...And we get these forms/concepts/ideas culturally...

Nothing so reveals that the individual is pure myth than the extent to which forms like consciousness and mind which are not even true concepts go into the development and growth of the individual... The individual is the life of his community/society/humanity but it is society/humanity.and community that give to the individual the stuff of life, the knowledge/ forms by which we understand life, with mind being but a single one of hundreds of thousands.... And this is both good and bad, because if we would see as new, we must also learn to see through our forms and not be blinded by them, and I say this in recognition of phenomenologist like Heidegger walked all over this ground..
0 Replies
 
Fido
 
  1  
Reply Mon 14 Jun, 2010 05:15 am
@jeeprs,
jeeprs wrote:

I think holistic is nearer to it - a multi-disciplinary approach based on comparative religion, Western philosophy, and Buddhist meditation. But I am certainly nearer the religious end of the spectrum.


Qualities like mind, or consciousness are infinite moral forms... As much as anyone may wish to, they will never find a firm definition for them because, again, they are infinite... The concepts of physical reality, even complex ones like the brain or the body offer some true knowledge... Looking at the mind/consciousness is like looking at God or nearer to home, at Justice because no such quality can be presented for rational examination... We can learn about a rock, and so, learn from a rock; but the mind is just a foggy sort of notion that we can point to, or at, without knowledge or learning...
0 Replies
 
KaseiJin
 
  1  
Reply Mon 14 Jun, 2010 07:55 am
@KaseiJin,
KaseiJin wrote:

Firstly, I will present the range of the more realistic and pragmatic working definition for the term 'mind,' as follows:

Quote:
1. memory; recollection or remembrance 2. what one thinks; opinion 3. a)that which thinks, perceives, feels, wills, etc.; seat or subject of consciousness b) the thinking and perceiving part of consciousness; intellect or intelligence; c) attention; notice d) all of an individual's conscious experiences e) the conscious and the unconscious together as a unit; psyche. (Webster's New World Dictionary 2nd. Ed.)

Mind is the aspect of intellect and consciousness experienced as combinations of thought, perception, memory, emotion, will and imagination, including all unconscious cognitive processes.

1. The element or complex of elements in an individual that feels, perceives, thinks, wills, and especially reasons; 2. the conscious mental events and capabilities in an organism; 3. the organized conscious and unconscious adaptive mental activity of an organism
( Stedman's Medical Dictionary)


jeeprs wrote:

Incidentally, I am in general agreement with the definition you have given of mind. Mind can be defined in the way you have suggested, and if it is defined that way, there are many things that can be said about it. As you well know, however, I believe there are other levels of both mind, and 'explanation', so I can't take that particular definition as exhaustive or inclusive.


KaseiJin wrote:

Appreciate the come back on that, jeeprs. . . and will ask you to spell this out so that we can clear up the definition.
Fido
 
  0  
Reply Mon 14 Jun, 2010 08:36 am
@KaseiJin,
Give me a break... Exhaustive and inclusive.... You are dealing with a word representing a quality different for every human being, and every human being who has ever lived or may live, that because it is not fixed, but forever changing -is an infinite.... If you may believe Kant, that we can only have finite knowledge which is to say knowledge of finite reality, then in regard to the mind nothing may be thought of as known...You cannot drop a mind on the disecting table nor distill one from a thousand brains... Mind is not a physical reality and people should stop talking as though it is one because in so doing they not only miss the point but lead themselves away from the point they should seek, which is greater understanding... Mind is a moral form, that is not like true forms which are meanings based upon a certain being, but are instead meanings without true being... What does mind mean??? It is nothing, so do not ask what mind is... Ask what mind means...
KaseiJin
 
  1  
Reply Mon 14 Jun, 2010 07:39 pm
@Fido,
Fido, while I do, and can, appreciate the art form involved in your written form, and the ideas presented through the words, I am also fully aware that such artistic form is only useful in a rather narrow, and far less pragmatic way than you may wish to project it as being capable of.

Additionally, you are very mistaken. A mind can be disected to the extent and in the very same way a brain can be disected. Also, the mind is very much a physical thing, and yet I am in no way surprized that there are so many people in the world who crave to postpone that far more accurately and useful a description of the workable part.

It is a fact, a pure and absolute fact, Fido, that if your amygdala calciumed up (meaning the re-uptake function somehow began to fail due to protein misfolding or the like), your mind would absolutely be changed, as well as your personality, your consciousness content, and the resultant behavioural patterns which had been present before calcification. The same thing would happen if your brain failed to take care of iron too...or even if your substantia nigra failed to put out dopamine any longer... I postitively guarntee you, there would be hardly a darn thing you could do about it that would not be due to physcial alterations of that physical organ which minds--in other words, the brain inside your cranium.

So, art form is fine, and worthwhile--I would never argue against, being a painter, woodworker, and a poet myself--but to make claims and assertions towards trying to attempt to identify the realities of the pragmatic world of which and in which we living organisms are, are simply not going to hold any water at all, unless they are firmly secured in down to earth realities.

jeeprs
 
  1  
Reply Mon 14 Jun, 2010 07:58 pm
@KaseiJin,
Quote:
The mind is very much a physical thing


What about the argument that the brain is like a tuner for mind, which exists in attenuated form, throughout the universe.

IN the case, the fact that damage to a part of the brain affects the mind, is due to creating difficulties in 'reception' (so to speak).

What is the argument for this view? That the predictable nature of the universe suggests a greater intelligence. You might think that a religious argument, but Einstein certainly accepted it.
jeeprs
 
  1  
Reply Mon 14 Jun, 2010 08:06 pm
@jeeprs,
To which end, Einstein said:
Quote:
I'm not an atheist and I don't think I can call myself a pantheist. We are in the position of a little child entering a huge library filled with books in many different languages. The child knows someone must have written those books. It does not know how. The child dimly suspects a mysterious order in the arrangement of the books but doesn't know what it is. That, it seems to me, is the attitude of even the most intelligent human being toward God. We see a universe marvelously arranged and obeying certain laws, but only dimly understand these laws. Our limited minds cannot grasp the mysterious force that moves the constellations.
0 Replies
 
KaseiJin
 
  1  
Reply Mon 14 Jun, 2010 08:31 pm
@jeeprs,
jeeprs wrote:

What about the argument that the brain is like a tuner for mind, which exists in attenuated form, throughout the universe.


This concept is exactly tied to, and derived from ancient Vendantic tenets which are exactly theist-based religious belief system assertions. One will need to demonstrate the validity of such, having firtstly fully described the details of the specific claims and assertions. As for the argument you mention, it holds no water at all.

jeeprs wrote:

IN the case, the fact that damage to a part of the brain affects the mind, is due to creating difficulties in 'reception' (so to speak).

This is false. The processes which produce such are exactly brain processes, jeeprs, and, as pointed out just above, there is no room for any already shown to be far less tenable 'brain is a reciever of consciousness waves from somewhere out there' involvment here.

jeeprs wrote:
What is the argument for this view? That the predictable nature of the universe suggests a greater intelligence. You might think that a religious argument, but Einstein certainly accepted it.


I suggest that we keep to the present, working sense of the word 'intelligence,' and thus, by extension, it's derived at adjective, 'intelligent.' While I am aware of this tendency to ascribe patternicity to intelligence (or, more along the line of some in science fields, to ascribe to a state of, or condition of, organization (an entity of sorts which reflects an organized and working pattern) the factor of being 'intelligent,' I have come to reason that more confusion is wreaked than advantage in taking such a sense. This does not mean, I wish to make clear, that I will not see more advantage in doing so in the future, but that at the present moment, it doesn't work as well as some would wish.

I do not fully agree that Einstein though exactly just so. He has, most unfortunately, been selectively quoted by a number of folks, for specific purposes, thus giving a somewhat misleading view of just what Einstein thought on such items of thought related to the universe.

OH ...no class time...later this afternoon ! KJ
 

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