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This is my current theory of Prof Chalmer's Fallancy

 
 
Reply Wed 17 Jun, 2009 10:01 am
I will soon be producing a 5000 word disertation about consciousness and I think I will write an evaluation of Prof David Chalmers' book: 'The Conscious Mind: in search of a fundamental theory'.

I have read well over 1/2 of it so far (its a big book) but that means I've read his whole argument for property dualism and why consciousness cannot supervene logically on the physical (though it may supervene naturally).

I will over the next few weeks also read Daniel Dennent's 'Consciousness explained' and David Papinea's 'Thinking about Consciousness'. At the moment I have a rough idea of Dennent's arguments but not of Papinea's.

I have an idea of what may be the flaw in Chalmer's argument. I want to write this thread out to articulate my ideas, so that they can be examined etc. I will first explain his argument and that suggest my criticism (which is by no means definitive and it may be that I am totally wrong; Chalmer's is a proffesor of Philosophy and has studied cognitive science so he is more likely to be right than me :nonooo:)


OK this is his argument [summarised and phrased in my own words]:
i) We can clearly concieve of a physically similar world (i.e. mass, energy, laws, force strengths, space/time etc all the same as in our world) in which there are like humans which do not have experiences of phenomenal qualities (qualia) (i.e. these humans do not have consciousness: they are zombies)
ii) If something is clearly and coherantly concieveable then it is logically possible. e.g. a mile-high bicyle is logically possible but a round square is no
C1) Therefore consciousness in our world (in the experience sense as opposed to the awareness or behavioural sense) does not logically follow from the physical (it does not supervene on the physical)
iii) But there is consciousness in our world at least with humans and probably most organic life: he admits he can only be certain of his own consciousness but he argues that if natural biology (biology is a subset of the pysical: if you think of the physically similar world it does follow logically that the biology of that world will too be similar) produced consciousness in him then it would do so for other natural humans at least.
C2) Therefore is seems that there is some fundamental (brute) pscho-physical laws in this world that ensure the link between certain life (e.g humans) and consciousness. So human awareness (awareness is a psychological aspect of the mind, Chalmer's accepts that our psychological mind does supervene on the psysical but not out phenomenal mind) will correlate with consciousness (e.g. if I am aware of someone screaming I will behave accordingly {such as go to help them, this is the psychological aspect} and experience sound and anxiety {this experience is the phenomenal aspect}).
C3) These psycho-physical laws are NOT physical laws (this is where the position become property dualism) because the physical is about structure and function whereas our brute consciousness is irreducible and serves no function (Chalmer's appears to adopt a hard determinist position, or at lease accepts the plausability of it. I do feel that I have not adaquetly expained this last point [C3] but I must confess I failed to quite follow him here and he did no spend very much effort in justifying this bit. He knew other philosophers who argued that these psycho-physical laws should be added to the back of brute pysical laws {along with space/time, mass etc} but argued that they should be understood as non-pysical)

Essencially he is arguing that the facts of conscious experience do not follow from physical facts. Another of his arguments may help illustrate this [this one originated with Frank Jackson, {1981} I think]:
i) Imagine Mary is raised in a black and white laboratory and has any colourful objects removed from her sight {he body is always dressed in white overcoat and black shoes etc). She lives in a world where scientists have discovered/understood every physical law that exists and she is taught everything about colour. Mary knows about light waves and our optical cortex etc.
ii) Imagine then that someone gives her a fresh red apple. When she sees the apple she has a red colour experience and she learns the fact of what it is like to experience redness.
iii) This is a totally new fact to her: she already knew every physical fact about colour [and apples!] but now she has learnt a new fact
iv) Therefore facts about phenomenal qualities (qualia) are non-physical facts


There is loads I could say to futher explain Chalmers' argument. He goes through 5 arguements (the Zombie and Mary arguments are the 1st and 3rd arguments respectively) and he justifies every principle and assumption and defends himself from immediate counter-arguements etc.
I will explain two counter-arguments and his response to them:

1) The first is that we can explain awareness and responce and cognition and behaviour etc all through psychology (i.e. a physical science). Chalmers' responds that these theories of consciousness still fail to answer the actual question: why should I experience something like this or experiece it at all. A robot can recieve, process and respond to infomation, a robot can be aware of present stimuli and have memories of such: but that does not mean that the robot experiences anything.
However it could be further argued that our 'experience' is simply the unification of all the information much like a sheet of paper being scibbled over or maybe a computer hard drive can 'experience' my work or the games I play on the computer. Chalmers' responds that this still only explains information and behaviour and there is no logical reason why a physical organism like us should have phenomenal experiences: on physics, and logical application of, we need only be mindless organic robots, but WE'RE NOT.

2) The second is very interesting and follows from the zombie argument:
i) The zombie equivalent of David Chalmers' behaviors just like the real Chalmers' and has the same cognitive capacities. In fact his zombie has the same functional believes and judgements as Chalmers' [though he does not experience anything!]. So logically, his zombie has also thought about the mystery of consciousness [he behaves as if he has consciousness] and written a book arguing for property dualism.
ii) So effectively Chalmers' would think he had phenomenal consciousness (and his conclusion that it must follow from non-physical laws) whether or not he actually had consciousness at all!!! Both he and his zombie are convinced that physicalism [the belief that the world is of one stuff: physical stuff] is false, the only difference is that real Chalmers' is right and the Zombie is wrong (he argues)
C) Therefore we can never know whether or not we have phenomenal consciousness at all.
Chalmers' responds very bluntly "So what?". Chalmers' (the real one) argues that experience is at the heart of our entire epistomologic world and we are innately certain of its reality ("cognito ego sum", Descartes: I think therefore I am, I can doubt the world exists or that my body exists but I cannot doubt that my experience of thoughts exists). Yes the zombie thinks he has consciousness even though he doesn't, that doesn't diminish from the fact that WE do know that we are conscious. The poor old zombie acts like he has a conscious mind, but since he does not, it follows that he would not know he was wrong because there is no 'him' or 'mind' to experience anything at all.


Ok again, there is loads I could say (his book is very long and thorough) but now I feel I can suggest my criticism of his argument for property dualism.

I think his fallancy is essencially trying to derive a objective fact (something that is) from a subjective description. I'll use an analogy to explain:
Imagine a piece of art, e.g. a painting, or the symbolism of a poem or literature. These contain physical facts such as the actual paint, or the cognition of the artist/poet/author. But the fact of what they are like or what they mean to you is not another fact at all expept the fact of your cognitive interpretations. If a painting seems beutiful, that beuty is not another fact above the physical facts, it is just a cognitive interpretation of the facts that are there. And if a poem seems to express a feeling of love or fear, those feelings are not supraphysical facts, they are just interpretations of the facts that are there.
Now it might be objected to that I haven't actually addressed the problem of why I should actually experience anything at all: why shouldn't I behave as if I'm experiencing it? (i.e. why shouldn't I have awareness without experience? Surely that experience is a further fact.) My defence is this: that humans have very sophisticated language. Language is simply the expression of meaning. So we are pychologically aware of the beutifulness (the sense of beuty may derive from cultural memes) of the painting, and we express that beutifulness cognitively through our internal language: experience! So to sum up I would argue that qualia are not non-physical facts, but they are linguistic interpretations of the first physical facts. Our 'consciousness' is simply our interal language to express our awareness of the world (notice how babies or people with severe language difficulties can seem to be less conscious of the world).
That we need to linguistically express ourselfs and our awareness can be easily explained in that these expressions can prepare information in a way that can be understood: try to imagine how well a species would thrive if it interally express its awareness of the world! Here's a little thought experiment for you: imagine you were aware of a door that you needed to open and walk through but had no conscious experience of it (i.e you 'saw' it but could not visualise it), in this case your brain would be struggling to understand what's going on - "there's a door there, and I need to open it, but I don't understand what any of this means, it's just meaningless code to me! Someone PLEASE help me understand" said the brain. And just then: is it a bird, is it a plane, no it's consciousness! "I'll save you brainy, this is what a door is like, now does it make sense to you?" "Yes thank you consciousness, what would I have done without you!" remarked the brain "Don't thank me, thank evolution. Good' old natural selection killed of all your brothers who did not have me to help them" explained consciousness.Laughing
Let's put it another way. Imagine an animal were aware of pain (e.g. burning) but it could not internally express that pain (i.e. you could not experience the burning sensation). Do you think the animals that had evolved the linguistic capabilities to feel pain would thrive better than those who did not? Of course they would. The pain sensation is an inevitable product of natural selection: it is not a non-physical fact, it is.

When we say "I have a conscious experience of a red colour sensation" what is physically happening is that our brains have a linguistic representation of the information which your eyes recieve.
Experience of thoughts (e.g. thinking of red, remembering a red item etc or even feeling happiness from thinking about the good ol' days) can be easily explained by my theory: our cognitive (i.e. pyschological, physical) minds are simply accessing the linguistic representations of those items.

So in responce to his zombie arguement, I would argue that a physically similar HUMAN in a logically possible world would have consciousness just like us. The only way it would not is if it had no significant language skills, but in that case it would not be a physical homo-sapiene (as a consquence of being a homo-sapien is advanced language skills) and so it would not be a true human 'zombie' and so his arguement would be invalid.
In responce to the Mary argument, I would argue that Mary was previously only aware of redness and apples in particular ways that did not involve immediate awareness of it. When she became immediately aware of a red apple (by seeing it) she did learn a new fact (what it is like to see a red apple) but this IS a physical fact because it is simply her optical cortex recieve new information. The experience of the redness is not a non-physical fact, but rather an internal cognitive linguistic representation of the the new information which her eyes just received.



If I examine my arguments here and decide that they do hold water then my 5000 word essay will probably be an evalution of David Chalmers' arguments in reference to the work of Daniel Dennent and David Papinea whereby I explain my criticism of it. My other worry is that when I read Papinear's book Thinking about Consciousness, I hope he has not provided a similar criticism to mine because I thought it up all by myself and I'd like to take credit for it but if he thought of it first then I'd have to give it to him.


Anyway I'm very impressed if anyone read this whole post lol. :bigsmile:
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richrf
 
  1  
Reply Wed 17 Jun, 2009 10:51 am
@Greg phil,
Hi Greg,

I cannot say that I followed everything, but it seems to me that here is at least one important assumption within your rebuttal:

"I think his fallacy is essentially trying to derive a objective fact (something that is) from a subjective description."

There are assumptions here that there is such thing as an objective fact and that facts are somehow independent of how humans either individually or consensually agree on them.

I think it is OK to take this point of view as long as you make clear why you are taking this perspective.

Also, there are many things that are conscious when asleep that have no bearing on physical reality. In other words, we are conscious but not in a four dimensional time/space when we are asleep. Yet we see colors and lots more. Some really weird stuff also that cannot be explained in a four dimensional terms. Thus, we "forget". So any theory of consciousness, I believe, needs to at least attempt to explain the state of sleep, that traditional four dimensional space/time does not exist in sleep, and that consciousness is able to flip between these states of four dimensional space/time awake and no-dimensional (at least in the traditional sense) of sleep.

Rich
RDanneskjld
 
  1  
Reply Wed 17 Jun, 2009 10:53 am
@Greg phil,
I suggest you read 'There's something about Mary' it's a book which contains many of the response's to Chalmers 'Mary's Room' thought experiment including a reply by Prof Dennent. I think theres a version on Google Books but with some pages missing. Also I believe Ned Block has some interesting things to say about Chalmer's arguement there may in fact be a lecture of his on youtube, talking about Chalmer's. Hope that help's I dont know enough about Chalmer's work to feel like I could say anything more!
0 Replies
 
Greg phil
 
  1  
Reply Wed 17 Jun, 2009 11:06 am
@richrf,
richrf;69897 wrote:
Hi Greg,

I cannot say that I followed everything, but it seems to me that here is at least one important assumption within your rebuttal:

"I think his fallacy is essentially trying to derive a objective fact (something that is) from a subjective description."

There are assumptions here that there is such thing as an objective fact and that facts are somehow independent of how humans either individually or consensually agree on them.

I think it is OK to take this point of view as long as you make clear why you are taking this perspective.

Also, there are many things that are conscious when asleep that have no bearing on physical reality. In other words, we are conscious but not in a four dimensional time/space when we are asleep. Yet we see colors and lots more. Some really weird stuff also that cannot be explained in a four dimensional terms. Thus, we "forget". So any theory of consciousness, I believe, needs to at least attempt to explain the state of sleep, that traditional four dimensional space/time does not exist in sleep, and that consciousness is able to flip between these states of four dimensional space/time awake and no-dimensional (at least in the traditional sense) of sleep.

Rich

Well I know that there are lots of niggles that any examination of consciousness should consider, such as dreaming, blindsight ect, but I would develope any arguements relevant to those in a longer essay.
But quickly for sleep: I think that dreams can be explained in respect to consciousness just like I said: your cognitive language
richrf
 
  1  
Reply Wed 17 Jun, 2009 11:18 am
@Greg phil,
Greg;69901 wrote:
But quickly for sleep: I think that dreams can be explained in respect to consciousness just like I said: your cognitive language functions examine memories or thoughts. Conscious experience, wake or sleep, is just the internal language of cognition.


I do not think this addresses the issues of how and why consciousness switches between these two different states. I do not think any description of consciousness is complete without at least some consideration of this.

Quote:
And whether or not you believe in objective reality, I mean the world beyond human perspective. If you do not believe in such then these debates about whether the conscious mind is a part of the objective pysical world or supraphysical world is irrelavent anyway.


There are other possibilities, including the intertwining of the two. However, my point is different. In your rebuttal you are making an assumption, and I believe that it needs to be clearly spelled out and presented. In this way, the reader is clear on your perspective. For example, as soon as I understood this assumption, I understood where you were coming from, and therefore could disagree with your whole rebuttal on this assumption alone.

Rich
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Hermes
 
  1  
Reply Thu 25 Jun, 2009 10:27 pm
@Greg phil,
That was quite a post, Greg! And interesting, because I have never read anything by Chalmers, but only heard about his ideas, and you did a good job of explaining his position.

That said, I think Chalmers is a moron. I don't believe that "qualia" is a useful concept at all, and there are many problems with his reasoning in the arguments of his you presented.

Quote:

We can clearly concieve of a physically similar world (i.e. mass, energy, laws, force strengths, space/time etc all the same as in our world) in which there are like humans which do not have experiences of phenomenal qualities (qualia) (i.e. these humans do not have consciousness: they are zombies)


This "premise", is a complete fiction... there is no observational evidence that suggests it is even remotely possible for a mind to behave like a sentient being and yet not be sentient. I would grant that it is possible to code a machine to behave very much like a sentient being and not be fully self aware, but such a machine would obviously trip up and betray its lack of understanding in certain areas. To create this "zombie" the functional capabilities would have to be stripped back to some extent, else it would be sentient, and so it clearly isn't going to behave in the same way as its sentient counterpart would.

Quote:
Essencially he is arguing that the facts of conscious experience do not follow from physical facts.

Quote:
I think his fallancy is essencially trying to derive a objective fact (something that is) from a subjective description.


I agree, and I think your counter arguments are sound. I have approached this whole issue by ignoring the notion of qualia, and trying to understand the "phenomenon of perception" through hermeneutics and interpretation of sensory data. Key to this is the notion that the brain creates a "relative ontology" - everything is defined by the interrelations with everything else - so everything the mind senses is inherently subjective, and can't be taken out of context. The process can be objectified, not the information. My site.

Quote:

Chalmer's is a proffesor of Philosophy and has studied cognitive science so he is more likely to be right than me


I have recently been reading Francis Bacon, and in this field I thoroughly recommend him. He wrote of the four idols in Novum Organum, and in this case, the "idols of the theatre" is pertinant. Chalmers is a vociferous and, for some reason totally incomprehensible to me, widely known "philosopher", yet all he preaches is a modern brand of Cartesian dualism that is, as far as I can make out...

a) not based on evidence
b) not scientifically productive

That he be established is of no bearing on the correctness of what he teaches, this is only something time and future generations can judge. So do not be afraid of criticising his position. It my belief that Chalmers has come to be adopted by the religious and mystical philosophers who do not wish there to be a mechanical explanation of the mind. Can you name any other philosopher or scientist who is praised for the refutation that a thing is possible?

Good luck with the dissertation! Smile
0 Replies
 
Whoever
 
  1  
Reply Fri 26 Jun, 2009 08:44 am
@Greg phil,
I think we should be wary of assuming that Greg has interpreted Chalmers correctly. I think not. (e.g on the Zombie argument). Certainly it is unlikely that a Professor is a moron. To me Chalmers is one of the few honest academic philosophers of mind around, and while I do not agree with him on many issues, his approach is dispassionate, a rare thing in consciousness studies, and he is always worth a read. His book on consciousness is tedious in my opinion, and it would be a lot easier just to read his articles in the Journal of Consciousness Studies, 'Facing up the the problem of consciousness' and 'Moving forward on the problem of consciousness.' I believe these have been published together as a small book. The second article is a reply to the objections made when his first article was made the target article for a later issue of JCS. I expect all the important objections are there. (All except mine, that is).

I liked your post Greg, and you've done a lot of work on Chalmers, but I'd suggest discarding as many of the details as possible in order to reveal his essential ideas, then have a go at these. When you can summarise his view in one or two short paragraphs then you have identified your target. If you make it more complicated the target will probably escape you.

Basically, he says that mind cannot be reduced to matter not vice versa, thus he favours 'naturalistic dualism' as a pragmatic framework theory within which to explore the issues. As nobody has yet found any clear evidence that mind does reduce to matter or vice versa, despite valiant attempts, you can be pretty sure that there's no point in you attacking this idea. I'd say you'd be best to focus on the inadequacy of his ideas, the fact that they do not produce a fundamental theory, rather than trying to outwit him.
Hermes
 
  1  
Reply Fri 26 Jun, 2009 03:43 pm
@Whoever,
I liked your post very much there, Whoever, your advice was much better than my own! You are right that calling Chalmers a moron is too strong... however, I find it hard to stay away from personal criticism on this issue because I strongly believe that he, and others like him (eg. Searle) are doing a great disservice to philosophy.

By proposing, arguing, teaching and developing positions that are neither suuported by evidence nor testable through experimentation they are firstly taking advantage of a gap that has arisen between scientific expectation and current knowledge (ie. the experientially reasonable expectation that a computational representation of the mind is possible) and secondly bringing philosophy back a pre-(modern)-scientific time, as if the enlightenment never happened.

Like I mentioned, this all rests on the lack of positive theories on the subject, and in the absence of proof-positive they have been free to run wild with speculative ... nonsense, that creates an unwanted gulf between scientists and a subject they should be turning to to answer these questions. Ultimately, I find his "philosophy" damaging and irresponsible and I hope that in time it will be shown to be vacuous and a cautionary tale against "negative philosophizing". As far as I can make out, they have just got enboldened (sic) over the past 30 years or so, and the whole thing will collapse like a house of cards when true synthetic intelligence emerges.
Whoever
 
  1  
Reply Sat 27 Jun, 2009 04:52 am
@Hermes,
Could you zero in on what Chalmers says that leads you to this view? I find his approach far saner than most, and wonder why you see it as anti-scientific.
Hermes
 
  1  
Reply Sat 27 Jun, 2009 06:54 am
@Whoever,
Whoever;72669 wrote:
Could you zero in on what Chalmers says that leads you to this view? I find his approach far saner than most, and wonder why you see it as anti-scientific.


Unfortunately I have not read anything by Chalmers, but have only heard second hand, through other forum posters, wikipedia, or books that discuss his ideas. Indeed, it is from this impression I have made no effort to get to know his work. To give an example, I'll just quote wikipedia...

Quote:





However, the zombie argument against physicalism in general was most famously developed in detail by David Chalmers in The Conscious Mind (1996). According to Chalmers, one can coherently conceive of an entire zombie world: a world physically indiscernible from our world, but entirely lacking conscious experience. In such a world, the counterpart of every being that is conscious in our world would be a p-zombie. The structure of Chalmers' version of the zombie argument can be outlined as follows:
  1. If physicalism is true, then it is not possible for there to be a world in which all the physical facts are the same as those of the actual world but in which there are additional facts. (This is because, according to physicalism, all the facts are fully determined by the physical facts; so any world that is physically indistinguishable from our world is entirely indistinguishable from our world.)
  2. But there is a possible world in which all the physical facts are the same as those of our world but in which there are additional facts. (For example, it is possible that there is a world exactly like ours in every physical respect, but in it everyone lacks certain mental states, namely any phenomenal experiences or qualia. The people there look and act just like people in the actual world, but they don't feel anything; when one gets shot, for example, he yells out as if he is in pain, but he doesn't feel any pain.)
  3. Therefore, physicalism is false. (The conclusion follows by modus tollens.)
The argument is logically valid, in that if its premises are true, then the conclusion must be true. However, philosophers dispute that its premises are true. For example, concerning premise 2: Is such a zombie world really possible? Chalmers states that "it certainly seems that a coherent situation is described; I can discern no contradiction in the description."[2] Since such a world is conceivable, Chalmers claims, it is possible; and if such a world is possible, then physicalism is false. Chalmers is arguing only for logical possibility, and he maintains that this is all that his argument requires. He states: "Zombies are probably not naturally possible: they probably cannot exist in our world, with its laws of nature."[3]


This is identicle to the sophistry that Bacon describes, charges Aristotle with, and denounces.

I find the logic terribly flawed in the first place (I don't think such a thing as "qualia" exists in any functional sense, etc etc) and like I posted above, there is clearly not even meant to be any experiment carried out to support this "hypothesis", though I'm being kind here and "waste of time" might be a better epithet.

The wikipedia article touches upon this...

Quote:

The zombie argument is difficult to assess, because it brings to light fundamental disagreements that philosophers have about the method and scope of philosophy itself. It gets to the core of disagreements about the nature and abilities of conceptual analysis. Proponents of the zombie argument, such as Chalmers, think that conceptual analysis is a central part of (if not the only part of) philosophy and that it certainly can do a great deal of philosophical work. However, others, such as Dennett, Paul Churchland, W.V.O. Quine, and so on, have fundamentally different views from Chalmers about the nature and scope of philosophical analysis. For this reason, discussion of the zombie argument remains vigorous in philosophy.


But this is being gentle... The P-Zombie notion is a waste of time, and I think "thought experiments" like these, along with the Chinese Room and whatnot, have clouded real debate of the philosophy of consciousness for too long. That people (especially of Chalmers' reputation) still entertain negative, untestable, unprovable flights of fancy is detrimental to philosophy as a whole.

I apologise for being so blunt here, and I respect that people may believe what Chalmers is talking about, and also that the OP has more patience and curiosity than I to study and write on this topic. I do wonder that this is taught in academia though.

The "hard problem" too is non-productive to consider, was first proposed by Leibniz (Christian theology), and is anyway a brand of modern Cartesian Dualism (Christian theology), that should have died with The Origin of Species. And when wikipedia says this...

Quote:

Some philosophers, including Chalmers himself, argue that consciousness is a fundamental constituent of the universe, a form of panpsychism sometimes referred to as Hylopathism.


It's hard to shake the firm belief that Chalmers is a mystic who cares not about scientific verification, but only for what his non-p-zombie mind can conjure up. I don't object to his POV, but I do object that this be taken seriously; we are not living in ancient Greece, we can't make stuff up, write it down and say "this is Law."
Whoever
 
  1  
Reply Sat 27 Jun, 2009 01:01 pm
@Hermes,
Hermes - Sorry. My question was aimed at Greg but I forgot to say so.

Hermes;72690 wrote:
Unfortunately I have not read anything by Chalmers, but have only heard second hand, through other forum posters, wikipedia, or books that discuss his ideas. Indeed, it is from this impression I have made no effort to get to know his work. To give an example, I'll just quote wikipedia... This is identicle to the sophistry that Bacon describes, charges Aristotle with, and denounces.

Chalmers is regularly misuderstood on this thought experiment. He's often thought to hold the very view he's trying to ridicule. All he's saying is that there is consciousness.

Quote:
I find the logic terribly flawed in the first place (I don't think such a thing as "qualia" exists in any functional sense, etc etc) and like I posted above, there is clearly not even meant to be any experiment carried out to support this "hypothesis", though I'm being kind here and "waste of time" might be a better epithet.

If experiences do not exist then Chalmers is right. His reductio argument depends on a Zombie world that is physically identical with this one, but mentally different. If you believe that this is an imposssible world then his argument is unnaffected, but it would have no impact on your view.

Quote:
That people (especially of Chalmers' reputation) still entertain negative, untestable, unprovable flights of fancy is detrimental to philosophy as a whole.

I find it difficult to discuss philosophy with people who say things like this. It gives you away.

Quote:
I apologise for being so blunt here, and I respect that people may believe what Chalmers is talking about, and also that the OP has more patience and curiosity than I to study and write on this topic. I do wonder that this is taught in academia though.

You could go and find out.

Quote:
The "hard problem" too is non-productive to consider,

Look, this is a philosophy forum. It is simply impossible to discuss the issues in this way. You have no idea whether it's productive to consider. If it seem unproductive to you that's fine, say so. It does to many people.

Quote:
(the hard problem) ... was first proposed by Leibniz (Christian theology), and is anyway a brand of modern Cartesian Dualism (Christian theology), that should have died with The Origin of Species.

You see, you don't allow for the possibility that you're wrong. It makes this feel like an argument instead of a discussion. I'm forced to say that this is utter rubbish. Chalmers named the 'hard' problem, and it has been around from long before Leibnitz.

Quote:
It's hard to shake the firm belief that Chalmers is a mystic who cares not about scientific verification, but only for what his non-p-zombie mind can conjure up. I don't object to his POV, but I do object that this be taken seriously; we are not living in ancient Greece, we can't make stuff up, write it down and say "this is Law."

This is exactly my point. It not Chalmers who is doing this but you. It appears that you have not even understood his Zombie-argument. I think we should assume, when we start out to examine the ideas of successful and respected academics, that they've thought about them for more the quarter of hour.
Hermes
 
  1  
Reply Sat 27 Jun, 2009 04:29 pm
@Whoever,
Hmm. I am quite willing to accept that I may be wrong, but for criticising me for putting across my POV in platitudes, I am not likely to change my mind if you do the same!

You have said so far that both myself and Greg interpreted the P-Zombie argument incorrectly, but have offered no clarification or explanation of your own to help us see our mistakes. It would be most interesting if you could explain the conclusion and purpose of the P-Zombie argument as you see it, since this is what Greg took to task in the OP, which I supported.

Though I disagree with Chalmers, and I do not like his ideas, I do like talking about the subject since there is always the possibility I can learn something or see from a new perspective. Smile
0 Replies
 
Whoever
 
  1  
Reply Sun 28 Jun, 2009 05:56 am
@Greg phil,
Quote:
"I don't object to his POV, but I do object that this be taken seriously; we are not living in ancient Greece, we can't make stuff up, write it down and say "this is Law."

Wow, you really do think Chalmers is an idiot. The Greeks as well. Me too I expect.

I'd be happy to chat about Zombie argument. But we have to start by taking the argument seriously. Chalmers uses it to prove that consciousness is not an entirely physical phenomenon. If you accept the premise then you have to accept the conclusion, but you don't have to accept the premise. I don't.

Quite how you conclude that he's not interested in scientific verification I'm not sure, nor of how he keeps his job if it's true. It is an unfortunate fact that there is no scientific test that will verify that an entity is conscious, which means we are studying something which is empirically transparent to us except in our own experience. This is not his fault.

I was thinking about how I would simplify Chalmers if I were following my advice to Greg. I'd probably say something like this, in a less scribbled way. Then I'd check it with a few people to make sure I haven't misrembered anything. Luckily, the Zombie argument is a side issue. Even if it doesn't work it makes no difference to his general argument.

Chalmers concludes that consciousness is a real phenomenon deserving of scientific study. But he sees that mind-only and matter-only theories do not work. Accordingly, he proposes that for any scientific investigation of the problem we adopt 'naturalistic dualism' as a framework theory.

For naturalistic dualism neither mind not matter would be fundamental. By making the theory nonreductive in this way he isolates it from mysticism and metaphysics. It is a pragmatic approach, however, and he does not argue that this is a correct theory. As a nonreductive theory it is obviously not correct. His point is that it is useful.

This leaves open the question of how it could be made reductive. On this he gives no suggestion. It is very clear, however, that there is something missing from our mind-matter theories, and he challenges us to figure out what it is. He does not claim to know.

To knock down Chalmers it would be necessary to show that a mind-only or matter-only theory is possible. If we can't do this his position is secure.
Hermes
 
  1  
Reply Sun 28 Jun, 2009 06:50 am
@Whoever,
Whoever;72996 wrote:
I'd be happy to chat about Zombie argument. But we have to start by taking the argument seriously. Chalmers uses it to prove that consciousness is not an entirely physical phenomenon. If you accept the premise then you have to accept the concusion, but you don't have to accept the premise. I don't.

Quite how you conclude that he's not interested in scientific verification I'm not sure, nor of how he keeps his job if it's true. It is an unfortunate fact that there is no scientific test that will verify that an entity is conscious, which means we are studying something which is empirically transparent to us except in our own experience. This is not his fault.


OK this is true, and I understand the desire for people to try to explain things in some way, even if it is incomplete and they know it. This is as old as culture itself, but I don't consider this act entirely innocent now. I'll continue this below...

Quote:

Chalmers concludes that consciousness is a real phenomenon deserving of scientific study. But he sees that mind-only and matter-only theories do not work. If we could find one that did then the 'hard' part of the problem of consciousness problem would be solved, along with various other problems of philosophy. Accordingly, he proposes that for any scientific investigation of the problem we adopt 'naturalistic dualism' as a framework theory.

For naturalistic dualism neither mind not matter would be fundamental. By making the theory nonreductive in this way he isolates it from mysticism and metaphysics. It is a pragmatic approach, however, and he does not argue that this is a correct theory. As a nonreductive theory it is obviously not correct. His point is that it is useful.


Thank you for this! Certainly this a light in which I have never seen Chalmers, I only wish that others had presented his work as such. Arguing that a solely materialistic or mystical approach has failed so should be avoided is logical and refreshing. However, and continuing from above, there is a certain vacuousness, maybe "conservatism", to this that I find disagreeable.

Simply put, my complaint is one that I would level at almost every contemporary philosopher I have come across on the subject; he does not resolve the question of consciousness, but merely theorise about the problem itself. Of course in some regard, this is addressing the solution of the problem, even if only tangentially. And in addition, if I take what you wrote as good, it certainly seems to me that Chalmers is more constructive than most (even if I disagree with anything remotely mystical!).

And as you say...

Quote:

This leaves open the question of how it could be made reductive. On this he gives no suggestion. It is very clear, however, that there is something missing from our mind-matter theories, and he challenges us to figure out what it is.


A challenge is good, but unfortunately it is all to easy to charge him with sophistry if there is no experiemental way forward. Again, I am appreciative that philosophy needs scaffolding, as it were, to construct the right approach to a problem, and perhaps Chalmers has constructed what is needed in this case. But I have seen scaffolding produced by others, Dreyfus, Penrose, Dennett, which has been closer to science yet equally unproductive, and I charge them all with sophistry.

Quote:

The Zombie argument is a side issue. Even if it doesn't work it makes difference to his general argument. To knock down Chalmers it would be necessary to show that a mind-only or matter-only theory is possible. If we can't do this his position is secure.


Exactly, I agree with this totally, and this is what gets my goat. In the absence of a definitive theory, Chalmers and others have tried but not been able to produce one, so theorise around the issue. Now they are smart, of course, and each has approached from a different angle, perhaps from amongst the top of their field (I mean, Penrose, for example, is an extremely successful and respected mathematician and physicist, but as far as I'm concerned was shown up in his books for a lack of... perspective/flexibility on the issue of consciousness).

My point is, being as learned as these men are, if they failed in the first place, does this not suggest that their "angles" were incorrect to begin with?

Perhaps the P-Zombie is supposed to be instructive, or helpful for other philosophers, but if the naturalistic dualism of Chalmers truly is correct, why hasn't the hypothesising been taken closer to the goal than an abstract/hypothetical thought experiment?
Whoever
 
  1  
Reply Sun 28 Jun, 2009 08:03 am
@Hermes,
Hermes;73005 wrote:
Thank you for this! Certainly this a light in which I have never seen Chalmers, I only wish that others had presented his work as such. Arguing that a solely materialistic or mystical approach has failed so should be avoided is logical and refreshing. However, and continuing from above, there is a certain vacuousness, maybe "conservatism", to this that I find disagreeable.

Yeah. In consciousness studies there seeem to be a fear of making the issues simple, just in case someone spots the vacuousness of the discussion. This is why I cancelled my subscription to the Journal of Consciousness Studies. Largely a waste of ink. For me, if I don't make the issues simple I can't understand them.

Quote:
Simply put, my complaint is one that I would level at almost every contemporary philosopher I have come across on the subject; he does not resolve the question of consciousness, but merely theorise about the problem itself. Of course in some regard, this is addressing the solution of the problem, even if only tangentially. And in addition, if I take what you wrote as good, it certainly seems to me that Chalmers is more constructive than most (even if I disagree with anything remotely mystical!).

I think he's trying to find a way forward, rather than solve the problem, and proposes we should honestly face up to the fact that it is a problem as a first step. He is not at all mystical, which is my objection, and this may be connected with his failure to find a solution, but let's leave that can of worms aside for now...

Quote:
A challenge is good, but unfortunately it is all to easy to charge him with sophistry if there is no experiemental way forward.

Well, I'm not sure he says there's no experimental way forward. But it's something similar. If this is so, however, it's not his fault. I'm quite sure he'd like there to be such a way forward.

Quote:
Again, I am appreciative that philosophy needs scaffolding, as it were, to construct the right approach to a problem, and perhaps Chalmers has constructed what is needed in this case. But I have seen scaffolding produced by others, Dreyfus, Penrose, Dennett, which has been closer to science yet equally unproductive, and I charge them all with sophistry.

I'm a fan of sophistry but I probably have a different idea of it. I do agree, however, that there is a great deal of sleight of hand goes on in consciousness studies, as Chalmers notes in his writings. If you can't solve a problem make it more complicated seems to the motto.

Quote:
In the absence of a definitive theory, Chalmers and others have tried but not been able to produce one, so theorise around the issue. Now they are smart, of course, and each has approached from a different angle, perhaps from amongst the top of their field (I mean, Penrose, for example, is an extremely successful and respected mathematician and physicist, but as far as I'm concerned was shown up in his books for a lack of... perspective/flexibility on the issue of consciousness).

I think they've done a great job on defining the problem, but progress is hard to discern.

Quote:
My point is, being as learned as these men are, if they failed in the first place, does this not suggest that their "angles" were incorrect to begin with?

I'd say so. This is what Chalmers is suggesting.

Quote:
Perhaps the P-Zombie is supposed to be instructive, or helpful for other philosophers, but if the naturalistic dualism of Chalmers truly is correct, why hasn't the hypothesising been taken closer to the goal than an abstract/hypothetical thought experiment?

The Zombie argument shows nothing we don't know already. It's not a proof of anything new but a clarification. Or that's how I see it. It's just and attempt to show that the problem is a real one.

My conclusion is that it's possible to complete his theory, but only in the way that Buddhists go about it. If we dismiss this solution then the problem is intractable. It's the only solution never considered. Or hardly ever. Edward Barkin wrote a truly wonderful article for JCS on 'relative phenomenalism,' which is a fancy name for Buddhism's doctrine of dependent origination, but nobody took any notice.

It seems we share many of the same views, and disagree mostly just about mystcism.
Hermes
 
  1  
Reply Sun 28 Jun, 2009 08:54 am
@Whoever,
Whoever;73019 wrote:
Yeah. In consciousness studies there seeem to be a fear of making the issues simple, just in case someone spots the vacuousness of the discussion. This is why I cancelled my subscription to the Journal of Consciousness Studies. Largely a waste of ink. For me, if I don't make the issues simple I can't understand them.


Oh yes, we are in total agreement on this one! I have spent years trying to make Heidegger algorithmic, and my conclusion is that he didn't fully understand what he was trying to say himself, and made his work 10 times wordier and logically convoluted than necessary.

Quote:

I think he's trying to find a way forward, rather than solve the problem, and proposes we should honestly face up to the fact that it is a problem as a first step. He is not at all mystical, which is my objection, and this may be connected with his failure to find a solution, but let's leave that can of worms aside for now...


Well, I have read things which do imply Chalmers has mystical inclinations, though perhaps this is my "if it isn't materialistic its mystical" reflex. :whistling:

Quote:
Well, I'm not sure he says there's no experimental way forward. But it's something similar. If this is so, however, it's not his fault. I'm quite sure he'd like there to be such a way forward.

...

My conclusion is that it's possible to complete his theory, but only in the way that Buddhists go about it. If we dismiss this solution then the problem is intractable. It's the only solution never considered. Or hardly ever. Edward Barkin wrote a truly wonderful article for JCS on 'relative phenomenalism,' which is a fancy name for Buddhism's doctrine of dependent origination, but nobody took any notice.

It seems we share many of the same views, and disagree mostly just about mystcism.


Yes Smile. Quite interesting, I do agree with most of your position, and my own belief is that a materialistic relative-ontology is required (similar to that "relative phenomenalism"?) so we perhaps just come down on opposite sides of Chalmers' non-reductive not-materialism not-mysticism divide?
Whoever
 
  1  
Reply Mon 29 Jun, 2009 07:16 am
@Hermes,
Hermes;73033 wrote:
Oh yes, we are in total agreement on this one! I have spent years trying to make Heidegger algorithmic, and my conclusion is that he didn't fully understand what he was trying to say himself, and made his work 10 times wordier and logically convoluted than necessary.

Hang on. I'm a fan of Heidegger. I certainly think he knew what he was trying to say. After reading a book by the Zen scholar Dr. Suzuki he is quoted as saying, 'this is what I have been trying to say in all my writings.' What do you mean by 'making Heidegger algorithmic'? Sounds interesting.

Quote:
Well, I have read things which do imply Chalmers has mystical inclinations, though perhaps this is my "if it isn't materialistic its mystical" reflex. :whistling:

Yes, I think you're right. Lots of people have the 'if it isn't materialistic its mystical' reflex. Chalmers, however, doesn't appear to have any idea of what mysticism is about. All the same, for Chalmers, and for most philosophers, the trouble with materialism is that it doesn't work.

Quote:
Yes Smile. Quite interesting, I do agree with most of your position, and my own belief is that a materialistic relative-ontology is required (similar to that "relative phenomenalism"?) so we perhaps just come down on opposite sides of Chalmers' non-reductive not-materialism not-mysticism divide?

Not quite sure what you mean here. Relative phenomenalism is a translation into western lingo of Buddhism's doctrine of dependent origination. Materialism is definitely not what it is. If you're a materialist we've a lot of arguing still to do. Smile
Hermes
 
  1  
Reply Mon 29 Jun, 2009 07:26 pm
@Whoever,
Whoever;73327 wrote:
Hang on. I'm a fan of Heidegger. I certainly think he knew what he was trying to say. After reading a book by the Zen scholar Dr. Suzuki he is quoted as saying, 'this is what I have been trying to say in all my writings.' What do you mean by 'making Heidegger algorithmic'? Sounds interesting.


So, in a nutshell, I think the brain must use the relative ontology that is described in Being and Time to create the Being of Entities and Temporality. The way Heidegger describes it is very convoluted, so I have tried to make it totally computational, and I try to give evidence that this is supported both by evolutionary hypothesis and basic functional neuroanatomy.

There is a thread on these forums I started on this...
http://www.philosophyforum.com/forum/philosophy-forums/branches-philosophy/philosophy-mind/2026-theory-consciousness.html
(the thread starts with an old version of my model, just go straight to my sig if you want to look at the current version).

In that thread, one poster also mentioned that Buddhism offers the only other ontological system apart from Heidegger.

Quote:

Not quite sure what you mean here. Relative phenomenalism is a translation into western lingo of Buddhism's doctrine of dependent origination. Materialism is definitely not what it is. If you're a materialist we've a lot of arguing still to do. Smile


OK does sound interesting.... I don't know how involved it is, could you give a summary of relative phenomenalism??
0 Replies
 
Whoever
 
  1  
Reply Tue 30 Jun, 2009 03:22 am
@Greg phil,
I've had a quick scan. I expect I missed quite a lot. You've put in a lot of work, and I like the website design.

What seems missing from your idea is a mechanism whereby the brain becomes conscious. Without that I can't get excited about the idea of machine consciousness. The idea that a brain is sufficient for consciousness is highly controversial and thus not a sound starting point. But.. I may have misread you. Is your diagram meant to illustrate that method?

Personally I find it confusing to base your idea on Dasein, and would suggest finding a different word. Just about everybody is confused by Heidegger's use of this term. Certainly I am. If you're going to use Dasein in the theory, I think you may also need to include Existenz. As far as I understand it, for Heidegger Dasein arises from this, not from brains.

One niggle. I note you say that evolution requires competition, warfare etc. I wish it were more commonly recognised that evolution may just as well be called the survival of the most co-operative. That is, the fittest may be the most co-operative and helpful, not the most musclebound and aggressive. After all, as someone predicted, it's the meek who inherit the earth.

I'm not able to summarise relative phenomenalism, but I'd recommend the article by Edward Barkin by this title. It's one of the best written pieces I've ever read. A search on 'dependent origination' will bring up plenty of info. on the idea it encapsulates.

Edit. Just checked a reference and got this. Is your definition for Dasein the same as Heidegger's?

"For Heidegger, however, it (Dasein) must not be mistaken for a subject, that is something definable in terms of consciousness or a self. Heidegger was adamant about this distinction, which carried on Nietzsche's critique of the subject. Dasein, as a human being that is constituted by its temporality, illuminates and interprets the meaning of Being in Time. Heidegger chose this term as a synonym for "human entity" in order to emphasize the critical importance "being" has for our understanding and interpretation of the world. Some scholars have been confused on this issue, arguing that for Heidegger "Dasein" denoted some sort of structured awareness or an institutional "way of life"[1] but the textual evidence for this claim is not strong."

Sometimes I wonder if his Dasein and Existenz could be replaced by Samsara and Nirvana.
jeeprs
 
  1  
Reply Tue 30 Jun, 2009 06:14 am
@Greg phil,
Hi Greg - I have a question for you about this. Do you think pain is real? By this, I mean, actual physical pain, like a toothace or an electric shock or hitting your thumb with the hammer, while fixing something? Or is it just inferred, or linguistic?
0 Replies
 
 

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