Is the mind nothing more than the physical?

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Re: Is the mind nothing more than the physical?

Postby ktrout » Tue Oct 20, 2009 6:40 pm

Maybe so. How do you test the duality hypothesis? If you can't test it it's not science.
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Re: Is the mind nothing more than the physical?

Postby ktrout » Wed Oct 21, 2009 6:31 am

Actually, if you want your mind blown about what's coming in the not too distant future, read the "Singularity" book.
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Re: Is the mind nothing more than the physical?

Postby flipflop » Wed Oct 21, 2009 6:42 am

Attribute/property dualism

Substance - a thing that exists that needs no other thing to exist

Property - a property can't exist on it's own, but is a property of a substance (contrast between substance and property).

Attribute - an invariant type of property, uniformly present in a substance - e.g. all material things have the attribute of existence in time.

Mode - a variable property, e.g. ginger, black, brown + blackness etc, are all modes. Having a colour is an attribute of a cat, having a particular colour (i.e. ginger) is a mode.

Assertions of this kind of dualism:

(i) A human being is a singular material substance

(ii) This substance has non-material properties, i.e properties which are irreducibly different from physical ones and which can't in principle be analysed in terms of any properties of matter.

(iii) It is the possession of these properties which allows us to say that an entity has a mind, these properties are the mind.


Problems

At what point in the development of an organism do these immaterial properties arise? At which level of complexity, and for what reason?

Attribute/property dualism can't give an intuitively satisfying account of mind-body interaction. It states mental states are merely non-material properties of the brain; once stated thus it is hard to stop the view that the state of the mind is uniquely determined by the state of the brain, and not the other way round. Like epiphenomenalism, attribute/property dualism reduces the mind, counterintuitively, to the condition of causal impotence.

With this form of dualism there is no clear account of how immaterial properties are related to the brain. With physical properties - e.g. having electromagnetic dischrages, it makes sense to ask "Does the brain have this property all over or not?" You can't ask that of an immaterial property. Non-material properties are describable only in negative terms, i.e. of what they're not, this is odd (again) in the same way as the connection with non-material substance. It's not logically impossible, but it's still not that acceptable to the deep-rooted intuitive mind, therefore I have to conclude that attribute/property dualism is not a convinccing account of mind.

That pretty much wraps it up for dualism, next up for you cynics are the various monistic theories of mind. Are we all just lumps of meat, or is there no such thing as "material substance" at all, and the universe is mental only?

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Re: Is the mind nothing more than the physical?

Postby Jäeger » Wed Oct 21, 2009 10:32 am

ktrout:
Maybe so. How do you test the duality hypothesis? If you can't test it it's not science.


I'm less concerned with dualism alone than with the total philosophy of mind in accounting for "mental states"; whether they derive from the material or not. Certain "mental conceptions" like a circle do not exist in nature, yet we use mental constructs like circularity all the time. We also use mathematical symbols in the physical sciences to "explain" physical phenomena. This is why my position actually makes the problems of "mind" more a problem of the philosophy of language to be solved logically rather than scientifically. This is a problem of expression. This occurs in science too, which is why solutions are expressed in the symbolic language of mathematics. Even if we get scientific results about things like mental phenomena, we must be able to communicate them to others with as little error as possible. This is where a more "ideal language" and logic come in to more correctly explain what actually falls under the category of "mind" and "mental".

The common physical tests for dualist theories are attempts to establish correlations between "mental states" and physical stimuli. If the mental state follows physical stimuli (as is postulated in epiphenominalism), you have a good case for mental states as existing independently, although they're not causally independent of the material. If it's the other way around you have to account for the independent existence of a mental state without external stimulation. This is a problem of explaining free will. How can you suddenly will a "mental state" and bring it into physical actuality? Most of the tests of these types are in the province of neurology, but the questions arose from philosophy.

In either case both science and philosophy are simply "mental constructs" and hypotheses. The superiority of one or the other depends on practical effect. In ethics (although a scientific / physical basis for ethical behaviour will eventually be found) philosophy is a more practical guide than physical science. In physics it's the other way around. In astrophysics and high-order mathematics it's a combination of both.
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Re: Is the mind nothing more than the physical?

Postby Sri Lanky » Thu Oct 22, 2009 8:17 pm

I feel that consciousness overlaps into your physical body from other realities/dimensions.
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Re: Is the mind nothing more than the physical?

Postby flipflop » Mon Oct 26, 2009 3:03 pm

Monism

First up,

Idealism

The love child of Bishop George Berkeley is either genius or insanity, I happen to love it, but think it's a load of bollocks.

The beauty of idealism is this - it solves the problem of mind-body interaction at a stroke, how? The good Bishop says that bodies don't exist. Period. The universe is mental only.

Idealism is also closely related to most Eastern philosophies. It shouldn't be confused with its meaning in ethics, where it means someone is commited to moral ideals, usually altruistic.

Problems

It's counterintuitive and can't be empirically tested (yet?). How can you physically test something when "physicality" itself is a myth? A wonderful theory, he was a card was old George, the little tinker.

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Re: Is the mind nothing more than the physical?

Postby Jäeger » Mon Oct 26, 2009 4:16 pm

It's counterintuitive and can't be empirically tested (yet?). How can you physically test something when "physicality" itself is a myth? A wonderful theory, he was a card was old George, the little tinker


Actually, the beauty of Berkeley's theory is that things can be empirically tested. He considered himself the "common-sense" philosopher. Of course, he had to attribute "physical" events to the "mind of god" to do it, but his theory was more practical and simple than that of Decartes. You're right in that he was most definitely a card though and the Three Dialogues are fantastic reading for how to turn someone's thinking upside down and sideways and have them thank you for it in the end.
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Re: Is the mind nothing more than the physical?

Postby Sri Lanky » Fri Oct 30, 2009 1:53 pm

The body is more fundamental to existence and the mind is more significant. The physiosphere made a quantum leap by evolving into the biosphere and the biosphere made the leap by evolving into the noosphere. Each emergent realm transcends yet includes the previous realm. The spiral,intuitively known by the ancients and scientifically determined by recent scientists,represents this phenomenon. It is more of a holarchy than a true hierarchy.
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Re: Is the mind nothing more than the physical?

Postby Sri Lanky » Sun Nov 08, 2009 2:52 pm

Even the physical isn't physical. 99.99% of your body is pure space. It is a microcosmic universe. It is creative intelligence arising out of formlessness. So,being aware of "your body" is being conscious of consciousness.
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