[Serious Phil] SWM's Ontology
SWMirsky at aol.com
Sat Aug 4 22:21:08 CDT 2012
--- In Phil-Sci-Mind at yahoogroups.com, "BruceD" <Philscimind at ...> wrote:
> --- In Phil-Sci-Mind at yahoogroups.com, "SWM" <Philscimind@> wrote:
> > My position is de facto, i.e., I see no point in arguing whether
> physicalism is true or false. The only point I'm making here is that we
> don't have to take the extra step of assuming it's false in order for us
> room explain consciousness. That is a much narrower question. --SWM
> I believe I'm in agreement here, at least with regard to:
> 1- no point in arguing whether physicalism is true or false because this
> abstraction has so many guises (meanings) and, it ain't the sort of
> concept that plays well in the true-false language game.
> 2- But we remain in disagreement about the way you go about "explaining"
> consciousness. You entertain the idea that it is a peculiar object
> without mass and yet are willing to place it in a causal relationship
> with an object of mass (the brain).
Object of reference like games, or institutions or activities, etc., yes! These, of course, are nothing like objects in the sense that physical objects are objects. The problem, or one problem at least, is that we get misled at times by the object paradigm, looking for the thing that a term denotes in the way denotation occurs when referring to physical objects (one of the most common and familiar type of denoting that we do). So some start thinking well, there are minds (since we speak about them as existing) so there must be mind things to be found somewhere in the head, only, because we can't find them when we cut heads open (all we find is gray matter and blood and the activity of cells), we suppose these mind things must exist in some special way, i.e., a non-physical way. Maybe they co-exist but are on another plane. Maybe they shine through the portal of the brain. Maybe they emerge. Or then we have folks like you, Bruce, who say well those possibilities don't make sense so we must suppose that we cannot speak sensibly about this at all and just give up trying.
I would suggest to you that you have missed the point here. Whether you or anyone else likes the idea of brains causing minds, the issue is pretty clearcut in the end. If brains do it and we humans eventually figure out how, and the how is replicable computationally, then computers with consciousness will be built. It doesn't really matter what you or any other opponent of the idea has to say. If machine minds are built and interact with us as conscious beings then you or others may argue all you like that they aren't really conscious (because machines or computers can't be!) but at the end of that future day, the only thing that will matter is how they interact with us. If they behave in a conscious way enough of the time, then he mechanism of consciousness will be seen to have been understood and human inquiry will move on to other issues.
All the philosophical carping and backbiting won't matter at all.
> 3- You try to override this objection by pointing out that we talk about
> the causes of a wheel turning (and a wheel turning causes other gears to
> turn) when, in fact, "turning" has no mass. What I, and others, can't
> get you to see that you do see the wheel (the object) changing position
> in space as it is contacted by the gear that causes to move and the gear
> it does move. There is a continuity of mass here.
And we do see the behaviors of other conscious beings and can differentiate them from the behaviors of non-conscious beings. That these behaviors occur on a continuum such that it isn't always possible to make a clearcut distinction, doesn't diminish the fact that we can make such distinctions in a great many cases. And that is all we need to "see" the consciousness as we see the wheel turning.
> 4- But with regard to the brain, its "moving", its production of
> consciousness (by the medium of chemical and electricity changes of
> detectable pieces and parts), can, we agree, be detected in the brain
> but, alas, the consciousness is no where to be seen. In fact,"seeing
> consciousness" makes no sense.
Actually it makes sense. First, we see consciousness in behaviors. But second, when we get to the stage where we have a sufficiently granular understanding of how brains operate, we can expect to be able to see consciousness in brain behaviors, too. We are already there to a great degree in any case. That's all we need to see when it comes to consciousness in the world. We don't need to see inside another's mind to know they have one. Not only do we never have that option, in any case, but our entire way of operating in the world and, therefore, of speaking about the world reflects that.
> 5- My simple conclusion: The causal production of consciousness is a
> baffling model at best and misleading at worse. However, this should not
> prompt us to imagine that consciousness is some mysterious non-physical
> substance or that the fundamental association of brain and mind is
> mistaken or misleading. We simply need another model of "connection."
No, your conclusions are mistaken. As long as a physically based model can be shown to work, nothing else is needed and I think we are at the stage where we can reasonably speculate that a physically based model will eventually be shown to work. Of course, since it hasn't yet, we can keep arguing (and some of us can keep hoping against hope) for something else. But those who are so inclined would likely be fighting the same rearguard action even after some researchers manage to build synthetic consciousnesses because, at bottom, the opposition to the idea of that possibility is more religionist than its supporters like to admit. In that, Eray is right!
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