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Thread: Are Thoughts Causal?

  1. #351
    tWebber MaxVel's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Tassman View Post
    The argument is about whether or not ‘consciousness’ and ‘thoughts’ can be understood via the application of physics, NOT the “nature of knowledge”. This is your diversion. And given that there is no evidence for consciousness and intellect beyond the physical activity of the brain this is the area of research primarily for the cognitive sciences not philosophy.



    OK. Explain how metaphysics can support its numerous unevidenced speculations about the origin of ‘thoughts and consciousness’ - such as radical emergence, neutral monism and substance dualism - without the means to verify its arguments by actual tested facts.
    You're just vomiting up the same bunkum that has been shown to be self-refuting. You can't verify your own position on what we need to have knowledge with 'actual tested facts', ergo the knowledge that we need 'actual tested facts' to have knowledge, if true, is not itself knowledge. Stop being a fool and repeated the same empty claims that can't possibly be correct.

    JimB has pointed you to arguments about the metaphysics that underpin any possible attempt at understanding what thought is and how it works. Your broken and self-refuting metaphysics cannot be the basis for a true understanding of thought, because it is crippled, stillborn, and self-defeating. So YOU need to go back to the drawing board and rethink your metaphysics and epistemology, because what you have now is clearly false, and has been so demonstrated.

    I'm not giving you anything until you either (a) provide the scientific experiments asked for multiple times above; or (b) learn some intellectual modesty and show a willingness to try to learn from people who know what they're talking about. Like JimB on this topic. You don't even understand his arguments yet you think you have refuted them. You look really stupid.
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  3. #352
    Technology Staff Leonhard's Avatar
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    Tassman, the approach to science you're taking is the logical positivist approach where anything that isn't either a synthetic statement (sentences that are verifiable), or an analytical statement (sentences that can be tautotologically determined to be true by the meaning of their words) is categorized as empty nonsense. Unfortunately no other position in philosophy is as infamously well refuted as that position. Because in the end the logical positivist approach is ultimately neither synthetic or analytical, and therefore has to be considered nonsense by its own merits.

    How do you argue metaphysics? On a case by case basis. There's no standardized method of doing it. It's no argument that you think we know how science works (I'd argue that we still have a lot to learn and its much more difficult than you think), and you don't see how you'd approach metaphysics. That gives you a problem, but it is not evidence that metaphysics is a field of nonsense.

    The ironic thing is Tassman, and we've pointed this out to you, you're also engaging in metaphysics. You argue that only the material is real, but the problem is that there's no scientific evidence that there's anything like particles. All you have are relationships described between measurable quantities. A reasonable metaphysical interpretation to explain why all of those mathematical models are experienced universally among humans is that they are describing entities that actually exist. A more radical approach is to argue that only the entitites discoverable by a subset of science say... physics, microbiology and chemistry are real.

    Both of those positions are metaphysical positions, argued on by arguments appealing to various principles.

    But there's garranty that particles actually exist. In some metaphysical models of quantum mechanics, all particles are really completely continuous fields, they just appear as particles to us in the Gellman interpretation of Quantum Field Theory, in others they're a sum of history of particle trajectories in the Feynman interpretation. In others they're real, but they coexist with a guidewave in the Neo-Lorentzian interpretation. In others again they really are particles and they just behave in the quirky ways the math indicates they do in the Thomist interpretation.

    There's no way to argue successfully, not on a scientific basis at least, that biology is reductive. That is that you can explain all aspects of biology by appealing to the physics of particles in motion. People who claim that typically vastly overestimate our ability to actually simulate physics. We're still not fully able to handle the reaction that takes place when two hydrogen atoms react to form a hydrogen molecule. Even something like that requires highly sophisticated approximation schemes to solve the equations. And that's no where near the mind bending complexity of a cell, or the human body, where everything has an effect on everything.

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  5. #353
    tWebber Tassman's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Leonhard View Post
    Tassman, the approach to science you're taking is the logical positivist approach where anything that isn't either a synthetic statement (sentences that are verifiable), or an analytical statement (sentences that can be tautotologically determined to be true by the meaning of their words) is categorized as empty nonsense. Unfortunately no other position in philosophy is as infamously well refuted as that position. Because in the end the logical positivist approach is ultimately neither synthetic or analytical, and therefore has to be considered nonsense by its own merits.

    How do you argue metaphysics? On a case by case basis. There's no standardized method of doing it. It's no argument that you think we know how science works (I'd argue that we still have a lot to learn and its much more difficult than you think), and you don't see how you'd approach metaphysics. That gives you a problem, but it is not evidence that metaphysics is a field of nonsense.

    The ironic thing is Tassman, and we've pointed this out to you, you're also engaging in metaphysics. You argue that only the material is real, but the problem is that there's no scientific evidence that there's anything like particles. All you have are relationships described between measurable quantities. A reasonable metaphysical interpretation to explain why all of those mathematical models are experienced universally among humans is that they are describing entities that actually exist. A more radical approach is to argue that only the entitites discoverable by a subset of science say... physics, microbiology and chemistry are real.

    Both of those positions are metaphysical positions, argued on by arguments appealing to various principles.

    But there's garranty that particles actually exist. In some metaphysical models of quantum mechanics, all particles are really completely continuous fields, they just appear as particles to us in the Gellman interpretation of Quantum Field Theory, in others they're a sum of history of particle trajectories in the Feynman interpretation. In others they're real, but they coexist with a guidewave in the Neo-Lorentzian interpretation. In others again they really are particles and they just behave in the quirky ways the math indicates they do in the Thomist interpretation.

    There's no way to argue successfully, not on a scientific basis at least, that biology is reductive. That is that you can explain all aspects of biology by appealing to the physics of particles in motion. People who claim that typically vastly overestimate our ability to actually simulate physics. We're still not fully able to handle the reaction that takes place when two hydrogen atoms react to form a hydrogen molecule. Even something like that requires highly sophisticated approximation schemes to solve the equations. And that's no where near the mind bending complexity of a cell, or the human body, where everything has an effect on everything.
    That’s a lot of words to refute my sole interest in this discussion, namely the lack of evidence for ‘consciousness’ and ‘thoughts’ beyond the physical activity of the brain. Being a physical problem, this is a matter for science whereas you seem to want to turn it into a metaphysical debate. And to this end have devised several possible arguments for which there is no actual evidence whatsoever. Arguing that it could be “radical emergence, or could be neutral monism or could be substance dualism or "could be" this or that may leave the door open to immaterial, non-natural explanations (which seems to be the point of your exercise) but there is simply no actual evidence to support such assertions.

    Conversely, ‘consciousness’ is dependent upon the action of the living brain. Memory is stored in the neurons and pathways of the brain. Yet theists posit that consciousness outlives the destruction of the brain? How? What is the mechanism of this survival? If there is none then this notion can be dismissed as fantasy. Claiming we don't know what in fact we do know (as you are doing) is a religious fallacy. There is no coherent energy medium for the survival of the personality beyond death. None.
    “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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  7. #354
    tWebber MaxVel's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Tassman View Post
    That’s a lot of words to refute my sole interest in this discussion, namely the lack of evidence for ‘consciousness’ and ‘thoughts’ beyond the physical activity of the brain. Being a physical problem, this is a matter for science whereas you seem to want to turn it into a metaphysical debate. And to this end have devised several possible arguments for which there is no actual evidence whatsoever. Arguing that it could be “radical emergence, or could be neutral monism or could be substance dualism or "could be" this or that may leave the door open to immaterial, non-natural explanations (which seems to be the point of your exercise) but there is simply no actual evidence to support such assertions.

    Conversely, ‘consciousness’ is dependent upon the action of the living brain. Memory is stored in the neurons and pathways of the brain. Yet theists posit that consciousness outlives the destruction of the brain? How? What is the mechanism of this survival? If there is none then this notion can be dismissed as fantasy. Claiming we don't know what in fact we do know (as you are doing) is a religious fallacy. There is no coherent energy medium for the survival of the personality beyond death. None.


    Still a boring record, stuck in the same going nowhere groove.

    The bolded above shows that you are still begging the question. You are assuming that 'physical evidence' is all we need to look at to understand the nature of thoughts. That is a metaphysical position - you ARE doing metaphysics, just very badly.

    The underlined in your post cited above shows that you apply different standards of evidence to your favoured metaphysical positions than to other positions. Your own position - as has been repeatedly pounded into your thick skull - has no more 'actual evidence' for it than any other position. Because it's NOT a position supported by science, or material evidence, or data derived from proper scientific experiments - it therefore has no more evidence than any other position, and devastatingly, it also refutes itself.

    Worse - since you have offered no argument of any merit for it, your position is actually less well supported than others, such as some of the possibilities that JimB has presented. And it's an old, already-refuted position, long since abandoned by anyone with a modicum of sense or intellectual honesty. Even atheists - shock - disagree with you. It's OK, you can abandon that nonsense and still be an atheist. There, there, don't fret so.


    Either you (a) Provide us those scientific experiments that show that science is the only way we can get true knowledge about reality; or (b) start doing some real philosophy and explore the underlying metaphysics; or (c) remain a pathetic laughing stock. I'm very confident that you will choose (c), but I would stand and applaud you if you chose (b).
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  9. #355
    tWebber Tassman's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by MaxVel View Post
    You are assuming that 'physical evidence' is all we need to look at to understand the nature of thoughts.
    No, you are assuming that scientific methodology is not “all we need to look at to understand the nature of thoughts”. But we have no evidence for consciousness and the nature of thought other than the physical activity of the brain. Nor have you provided good reason to think they are the result of some sort of non-physical activity of the mind. So, you don’t have an argument. Our minds are part of our bodies. When our bodies stop functioning our minds also stop. And when our bodies' functioning changes, this affects our minds; e.g. under the effects of anesthesia, or alcohol. Hence, we have direct evidence that our minds are affected by physical things. And we have direct evidence that our minds can affect physical things. But there is no evidence that our minds exist as anything other than the physical activity of the brain.
    Last edited by Tassman; 05-16-2020 at 10:44 PM.
    “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.

  10. #356
    Technology Staff Leonhard's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Tassman View Post
    That’s a lot of words to refute my sole interest in this discussion, namely the lack of evidence for ‘consciousness’ and ‘thoughts’ beyond the physical activity of the brain. Being a physical problem, this is a matter for science whereas you seem to want to turn it into a metaphysical debate. And to this end have devised several possible arguments for which there is no actual evidence whatsoever. Arguing that it could be “radical emergence, or could be neutral monism or could be substance dualism or "could be" this or that may leave the door open to immaterial, non-natural explanations (which seems to be the point of your exercise) but there is simply no actual evidence to support such assertions.

    Conversely, ‘consciousness’ is dependent upon the action of the living brain. Memory is stored in the neurons and pathways of the brain. Yet theists posit that consciousness outlives the destruction of the brain? How? What is the mechanism of this survival? If there is none then this notion can be dismissed as fantasy.
    I'm afraid you don't get to decide whether or not it is or isn't a metaphysical arena. It is. We're trying to discuss the ontology of the social constructions called 'thought' and 'will'. We don't know what they are. And we also have first-hand accounts of them. We think. We decide. Psychology and social studies are replete with examples of studying aspects of the human psyche where we only have barest surface knowledge from neurology of the underlying basis of all that.

    You deny we have evidence that 'thoughts' exist. What you mean is that there's not account of them in neurology, and that's sufficient to rule them out. But again, as has been pointed out to you, you presuppose that materialism is true. However there is no reason to grant you this pressupposition. It's not universally shared amongst scientists. What is mental might be epiphenomenal, it might be something akin to a the austere formal dualism of the platonic tradition.

    At the end of the day, you can look up and see the sky is blue. That experience. Sky, clouds, blue. Those qualities. They are all completely unaccounted for in any materialist model of reality. If you want to double down on materialism you really only have the route of Dennett and the Churchlands to go, where you completely deny that blue exist. You accept, as Dennett and the Churchlands do, that there will never be a scientific account of our first-hand experience. And then you handwave away the fact that we have those experiences by claiming they're not real, or misunderstood...

    But I don't find that plausible at all.

    I won't interact with you on the question of the immortality of the soul. That's an interesting topic in and of itself. But before we even get to the question of whether the soul exists, we have to agree on whether thoughts exist. Or whether the color blue exists.

    If you completely deny that you are capable of experiencing thoughts and sensation, then that is where we would really have to begin. If you do grant they exist, then you'll be forced to try to grapple with the problems of 'quality'. First-hand experiences have quality: blue, light, wet, hot, buzzing... but they're not numerical arithmetic constructions in any trivial sense. But since science (with a small 's': physics, chemistry, math) as it has been done since the days of Descartes, has been focused only on building and testing mathematical models of reality, you're left with accounts completely devoid (by design) of anything capable of account of quality.

    It seems more to be an artifact of how science is done rather than whether something is real or not.

    Claiming we don't know what in fact we do know (as you are doing) is a religious fallacy. There is no coherent energy medium for the survival of the personality beyond death. None.
    I have not talked about the immortality of the soul at any point during this discussion. You're arguing against a strawman there.
    Last edited by Leonhard; 05-25-2020 at 01:23 PM.

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  12. #357
    tWebber Tassman's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Leonhard View Post
    We're trying to discuss the ontology of the social constructions called 'thought' and 'will'. We don't know what they are. And we also have first-hand accounts of them. We think. We decide. Psychology and social studies are replete with examples of studying aspects of the human psyche where we only have barest surface knowledge from neurology of the underlying basis of all that.
    “Thought and will” are considered by neurology to be the physical correlate of mental activity. A change from one state of mind to another implies a change corresponding in the state of the brain and vice versa. The cognitive sciences show that solving different cognitive tasks lead to the emergence of states of brain activity which can be precisely identified. In short, neurology is in a position to identify “thought and will” and “what they are” whereas metaphysics is not.

    You deny we have evidence that 'thoughts' exist. What you mean is that there's not account of them in neurology, and that's sufficient to rule them out. But again, as has been pointed out to you, you presuppose that materialism is true. However there is no reason to grant you this pressupposition.
    Yes, I presuppose that materialism is true in the absence of a viable alternative. There is no evidence for “thoughts and will” beyond the physical activity of the brain, nor have you provided any - merely endless speculation.

    What is mental might be epiphenomenal, it might be something akin to a the austere formal dualism of the platonic tradition.
    It “might” well indeed “be epiphenomenal”. Or it “might” well indeed “be something akin to the austere formal dualism of the platonic tradition” - when do you think you will know? And how will you know?
    “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.

  13. #358
    Technology Staff Leonhard's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Tassman View Post
    “Thought and will” are considered by neurology to be the physical correlate of mental activity.
    That's not quite an accurate depiction of what is happening. Neurology doesn't have specific claims right now about the particular correlations between social constructions of thoughts and will, and whatever neural correlations there are. In these discussions you've been somewhat overplaying the state of sciences as they are right now. And you're underscoring my point: What you'd have is a description of a correlation, however accurate to the microscopic levels it might be. So how are the qualities explained? You haven't, you've just been avoiding dealing with them.

    Yes, I presuppose that materialism is true in the absence of a viable alternative.
    But is the kind of radical reductive materialism that you're talking about even a viable alternative? I've given you some challenges of things to account of. Intentionality, aboutness, qualia, and yet you haven't given even a mild attempt at explaining how these things which we experience as strongly as we do any other fact of reality, could even be explained in principle. You keep alluding to scientific explanations of them, which don't exist.

    It “might” well indeed “be epiphenomenal”. Or it “might” well indeed “be something akin to the austere formal dualism of the platonic tradition” - when do you think you will know? And how will you know?
    Those are all good questions. First of all we could begin with reasoning according to best explanation. Which of these views provide a better account of the reality that we experience. And we can begin to exclude those views who fail to account for these realities.

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  15. #359
    tWebber MaxVel's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Leonhard View Post
    That's not quite an accurate depiction of what is happening. Neurology doesn't have specific claims right now about the particular correlations between social constructions of thoughts and will, and whatever neural correlations there are. In these discussions you've been somewhat overplaying the state of sciences as they are right now. And you're underscoring my point: What you'd have is a description of a correlation, however accurate to the microscopic levels it might be. So how are the qualities explained? You haven't, you've just been avoiding dealing with them.



    But is the kind of radical reductive materialism that you're talking about even a viable alternative? I've given you some challenges of things to account of. Intentionality, aboutness, qualia, and yet you haven't given even a mild attempt at explaining how these things which we experience as strongly as we do any other fact of reality, could even be explained in principle. You keep alluding to scientific explanations of them, which don't exist.



    Those are all good questions. First of all we could begin with reasoning according to best explanation. Which of these views provide a better account of the reality that we experience. And we can begin to exclude those views who fail to account for these realities.
    Not to mention the views which negate themselves by failing to fulfill their own criteria for being knowledge. You know, like Tassman's view.
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    Technology Staff Leonhard's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by MaxVel View Post
    Not to mention the views which negate themselves by failing to fulfill their own criteria for being knowledge. You know, like Tassman's view.
    Oh yeah but that's scientism, and I won't blame that on materialists in general. That's just not fair.

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