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Thread: Are Thoughts Causal?

  1. #231
    tWebber metacrock's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Tassman View Post
    Your position, namely that immaterial “conscious experience” connects with the “psychological and neurological” material brain is incoherent. There is no nexus. Hence the burden of proof rests with you.
    All knowledge of consciousnesses is incomplete. You position is as much theoretical as ours.

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    tWebber
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    Quote Originally Posted by Tassman View Post
    Basically, your argument seems to be that consciousness being directly related to the physical activity of the brain is inconceivable because philosophy says it is. But naturalistic explanations for still-mysterious phenomena have frequently born fruit, especially in the future where research will undoubtedly uncover more information. I remind you that nearly every philosophical argument and conclusion Aristotle made about physical science was wrong and misguided.
    Once again, you fundamentally misunderstand my argument. I am NOT arguing that it is inconceivable that "consciousness (is) directly related to the physical activity of the brain." This is NOT the argument. The argument is that conscious experience is not reducible to physics or physical concepts. It does not seem to be a spatio-temporal or mathematical entity. Once again, science deals with causes and causal dispositions. You are making a causal argument. Even if the brain causes consciousness, consciousness does not seem reducible to the ontology of the brain or any other physical thing,because experiences lack structural and functional expression. Even if the causal mechanism for consciousness is found, how is it that this link could be anything other than contingent? The link in every other scientific identity is necessary, eg H2O and water, DNA and life, etc. The contingency I refer to indicates that there is probably something missing in our physical picture of the natural world, some nexus we cannot see that provides the necessary link between conscious experience and its underlying cause.

    Physical ontology was a useful heuristic in the 17th century to describe, from a third-person perspective, the natural world devoid of conscious points of view. But the natural world includes first person points of view which physicalism with its third-person perspective is singularly ill-equipped to deal with. It is likely that a new paradigm is needed, somewhat like when the mechanical, action-at-a-distance, paradigm had to give way to a new understanding that included electromagnetism and fields as a fundamental entity.

    The Aristotle analogy is not apt, as I have already pointed out, because he was making incorrect empirical claims. His metaphysical claims are still taken seriously. We are not having a debate about the content of physical science but, once again, a metaphysical and epistemological debate about the proper scope of physical science.

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  4. #233
    tWebber
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    Quote Originally Posted by Tassman View Post
    Your position, namely that immaterial “conscious experience” connects with the “psychological and neurological” material brain is incoherent. There is no nexus. Hence the burden of proof rests with you.
    No. Once again, my argument is that conscious experience is NOT reducible to physics or physical concepts. You are the one making the positive assertion. You are saying it IS reducible to physics. The burden is on you to prove that it is. I only have to show that you are wrong. You are asserting that "X is the case." I am saying "X is not the case." You are the prosecution. I am the defense.

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    tWebber metacrock's Avatar
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    Excellent posts Jim B. devastating.

  6. #235
    tWebber Tassman's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jim B. View Post

    The Aristotle analogy is not apt, as I have already pointed out, because he was making incorrect empirical claims. His metaphysical claims are still taken seriously. We are not having a debate about the content of physical science but, once again, a metaphysical and epistemological debate about the proper scope of physical science.
    The Aristotle analogy is perfectly “apt”. You too are making an unwarranted empirical claim based upon untestable metaphysical conclusions, that there is an immaterial component to the universe. This has not been shown to be true by science and metaphysics (unlike science) does not have the mechanism to show whether or not this is true.
    “He felt that his whole life was a kind of dream and he sometimes wondered whose it was and whether they were enjoying it.” - Douglas Adams.

  7. #236
    tWebber Tassman's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jim B. View Post
    No. Once again, my argument is that conscious experience is NOT reducible to physics or physical concepts. You are the one making the positive assertion. You are saying it IS reducible to physics. The burden is on you to prove that it is. I only have to show that you are wrong. You are asserting that "X is the case." I am saying "X is not the case." You are the prosecution. I am the defense.
    The reverse is true. It is you who is arguing that “conscious experience” is immaterial” and that the “psychological and neurological” is material. Therefore, it is up to you to explain how a material entity such as the physical brain can connect with your hypothesized immaterial consciousness. Where is the nexus? Without one your argument is incoherent?
    “He felt that his whole life was a kind of dream and he sometimes wondered whose it was and whether they were enjoying it.” - Douglas Adams.

  8. #237
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    Quote Originally Posted by Tassman View Post
    The Aristotle analogy is perfectly “apt”. You too are making an unwarranted empirical claim based upon untestable metaphysical conclusions, that there is an immaterial component to the universe. This has not been shown to be true by science and metaphysics (unlike science) does not have the mechanism to show whether or not this is true.
    Again, you fundamentally misunderstand my point. I am not making an empirical claim. I am making a claim about the epistemic domain of physical science. I am not claiming that there is an immaterial component to the universe. There may or may not be. The point is that we do not know how to frame the question. It is fundamentally a framing problem, not an empirical problem. It's not a problem of needing to gather more facts, but in understanding what facts we need to gather.

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    tWebber
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    Quote Originally Posted by Tassman View Post
    The reverse is true. It is you who is arguing that “conscious experience” is immaterial” and that the “psychological and neurological” is material. Therefore, it is up to you to explain how a material entity such as the physical brain can connect with your hypothesized immaterial consciousness. Where is the nexus? Without one your argument is incoherent?
    But not necessarily an immaterial substance, like a soul stuff. Just because something is not physical doesn't mean it's a non-physical substance. Substance dualism is only one possibility, as are various forms of idealism. Substance monism would mean that everything is one substance or stuff but presents under two aspects, physical and mental. No nexus is needed if everything is essentially one thing. If emergence is the case, then information is as likely a nexus as anything. But this is all speculation and a diversion form the main argument, which I've repeated many times...

  10. #239
    tWebber Tassman's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jim B. View Post
    Again, you fundamentally misunderstand my point. I am not making an empirical claim. I am making a claim about the epistemic domain of physical science.
    The “epistemic domain” of the scientific method is an empirical method of acquiring knowledge. This has characterized the development of science since its advent, three centuries ago.

    I am not claiming that there is an immaterial component to the universe. There may or may not be.
    The assumption of science is that there is no immaterial component to the universe. Not that there "may or may not be".

    The point is that we do not know how to frame the question.
    Science knows exactly how to frame the question. See above.
    “He felt that his whole life was a kind of dream and he sometimes wondered whose it was and whether they were enjoying it.” - Douglas Adams.

  11. #240
    tWebber Tassman's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jim B. View Post
    But not necessarily an immaterial substance, like a soul stuff. Just because something is not physical doesn't mean it's a non-physical substance.
    It is ALL ‘material’ unless you are going in for Aristotle’s tortuous ‘accidents and substance’ nonsense, which BTW is what justifies the RC doctrine of ‘transubstantiation.’ This is when the “accidents” of the bread” become the “substance” of the body of Christ following a priestly incantation.

    Substance dualism is only one possibility, as are various forms of idealism. Substance monism would mean that everything is one substance or stuff but presents under two aspects, physical and mental. No nexus is needed if everything is essentially one thing. If emergence is the case, then information is as likely a nexus as anything. But this is all speculation.
    Yes, it is “all speculation” and can never be otherwise because, as I’ve repeated endlessly, philosophy has no sound method for testing its arguments. For this you need science - and science does not accept the incoherent notion of material/immaterial dualism.
    “He felt that his whole life was a kind of dream and he sometimes wondered whose it was and whether they were enjoying it.” - Douglas Adams.

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