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Thread: Are Thoughts Causal?

  1. #181
    tWebber metacrock's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Tassman View Post
    How could thoughts be immaterial things given that they arise from a material brain?

    As far as we know “immaterial thoughts” cease with the cessation of the material brain. Therefore, it is reasonable to assume that “thoughts” are in some sense material and therefore subject to scientific investigation.
    It's obvious thoughts are not physical things, you are just preconditioned ideologically to assert that all things must be caliphs.

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  3. #182
    tWebber
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    Quote Originally Posted by Tassman View Post
    How could thoughts be immaterial things given that they arise from a material brain?

    As far as we know “immaterial thoughts” cease with the cessation of the material brain. Therefore, it is reasonable to assume that “thoughts” are in some sense material and therefore subject to scientific investigation.
    No one knows the 'dependence relation' of the physical brain and consciousness or the physical brain and thoughts. As I have been saying to Jim L, thoughts are immaterial at least in some sense because more than one physical brain can realize the same thought, and also that the same thought can be realized in more than one physical medium, ie it's 'mutliply realizable.' So the thought that '1+1=2' can be realized in a human brain or in a computer or potentially in any other number of other physical mediums in alien species.

  4. #183
    tWebber
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    Quote Originally Posted by Tassman View Post
    Well you did, but IÂ’m not going to argue about it.
    No. Sorry. You were the one who brought up the business about technology allowing us to post on here, which was a complete non-sequitur.



    IÂ’ve not disagreed that science and philosophy are mutually interdependent. But, in the final analysis, only science can achieve actual, tested, factual knowledge. Philosophy cannot.
    isolating one from the other is artificial and intellectually disingenuous.



    The philosophical “theoretical framework” to which you refer is actually scientific speculation grounded in existing scientific knowledge. This can result in a scientific hypothesis which is empirically tested and result in new factual knowledge of the natural world. This is how science works; philosophy is unable.
    Same old same old. You need to get some new schtick. Sorry but that's not how science works. It works within paradigms and conceptual structures. Scientists aren't just simple fact-gathering robots. Science is a conceptual, intellectual activity, not a blindly instrumental activity.



    The “theoretical framework” is the existing body of scientific knowledge which generates new hypotheses.
    No, that's not what it is. It's a conceptual gestalt that shifts the interrelation between the previously known 'facts' into a new pattern that yields new meaning.



    I know what it is, but IÂ’ll leave it for you philosophers to wrestle with. Not that philosophy can ever resolve it, only science can do that.
    With all due respect, I don't believe you do know what it means. And again, isolating one from the other is artificial and simplistic.

    Tell me how, even conceivably, the neurosciences could tell us why some particular physical function or structure is associated with conscious experience.

    Tell me why this conceivability gap exists with consciousness alone in all of science without recourse to scientistic faith or magical thinking.

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  6. #184
    tWebber
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    Quote Originally Posted by JimL View Post
    Right, so different minds could basically be in the same mental state, have the same thought, 1+1=2, as well as be in similar though different mental states, have similar though different thoughts, such as the thought of a spoon. Perhaps I'm missing something, but I'm not getting why you think it a problem for many people to be in, or to have, the same or similar mental states/thoughts at the same time.
    I don't think its a problem because I don't have a problem with thoughts, in some sense, being immaterial things. It's a problem for materialists like Tassman.

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  8. #185
    tWebber Tassman's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jim B. View Post
    No one knows the 'dependence relation' of the physical brain and consciousness or the physical brain and thoughts.
    Consciousness cannot exist without a functioning material brain (we switch off the life support of brain-dead people). So, it is reasonable to assume that “thoughts” are in some sense material and therefore subject to scientific investigation.
    “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.

  9. #186
    tWebber Tassman's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jim B. View Post

    isolating one from the other is artificial and intellectually disingenuous.
    Not “isolating”, merely recognizing the limitations of philosophy vis-ŕ-vis science.

    that's not how science works. It works within paradigms and conceptual structures.
    Yes. It’s called ‘the scientific method’ whereby a scientist develops hypotheses, tests them and then modifies them on the basis of the outcome of the tests and experiments. Thus, providing the data from which to develop explanations and scientific theories and make predictions.

    No, that's not what it is. It's a conceptual gestalt that shifts the interrelation between the previously known 'facts' into a new pattern that yields new meaning.
    See above.

    Tell me how, even conceivably, the neurosciences could tell us why some particular physical function or structure is associated with conscious experience.
    Tell me how, even conceivably, science could tell us how some particular event like lightning could occur without prior knowledge of the existence of electrostatic discharges. OR how, without prior knowledge of the recently discovered Higgs boson, physical proof could be provided of an invisible, universe-wide field that gives mass to all matter. In short, this is what science does – it studies the universe in search of natural explanations as to how it functions based upon the assumption that everything in the universe is material. And it has done so very successfully.

    Tell me why this conceivability gap exists with consciousness alone in all of science
    There’s no "conceivability gap" except in your own mind. It’s the role of science to overcome such “gaps”. 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.

  10. #187
    tWebber
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jim B. View Post
    I don't think its a problem because I don't have a problem with thoughts, in some sense, being immaterial things. It's a problem for materialists like Tassman.
    But my question is why do you think it a problem for many people at once to be in the same "physical" mental state such as the mental state in which 1+1=2?

  11. #188
    tWebber
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    Quote Originally Posted by Tassman View Post
    Consciousness cannot exist without a functioning material brain (we switch off the life support of brain-dead people). So, it is reasonable to assume that “thoughts” are in some sense material and therefore subject to scientific investigation.
    No one knows that consciousness cannot exist without a functioning material brain. But even if that were the case, you're still missing the point. You're at the wrong level of description. Beethoven's Ninth is "in some sense" oscillations of air molecules impacting the auditory and auditory-processing functions and structures of material brains. When I think the thought: "1+1=2," at the physical level, that thought is just neurons firing in my brain, but neuronal activity does not capture the content of the thought. Neurons firing cannot be right or wrong, justified or unjustified.

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  13. #189
    tWebber
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    Quote Originally Posted by Tassman View Post
    Not “isolating”, merely recognizing the limitations of philosophy vis-Ă*-vis science.
    The two interpenetrate each other regularly. Science as mere technical rectitude and proficiency has severe limitations vis-a-vis true science and philosophy. You're construing science in a very narrow, ideological way.



    Yes. It’s called ‘the scientific method’ whereby a scientist develops hypotheses, tests them and then modifies them on the basis of the outcome of the tests and experiments. Thus, providing the data from which to develop explanations and scientific theories and make predictions.
    Yes, within a given paradigm. Hypotheses are not gotten directly from observations. Observations are always theory-laden. Yours is the way I thought about science when I was about twelve.



    See above.
    More ideological nonsense.



    Tell me how, even conceivably, science could tell us how some particular event like lightning could occur without prior knowledge of the existence of electrostatic discharges. OR how, without prior knowledge of the recently discovered Higgs boson, physical proof could be provided of an invisible, universe-wide field that gives mass to all matter. In short, this is what science does – it studies the universe in search of natural explanations as to how it functions based upon the assumption that everything in the universe is material. And it has done so very successfully.
    You prove my point precisely, although, based on what we've been through up to now, I seriously doubt you'll even realize it. None of these problems posed anything remotely close to a conceivability gap like the "hard problem." They are all conventional scientific problems that are or were unknowns that resolve under physical explanations. Before they were explained, a physical explanation was perfectly conceivable.

    As far as the examples of lightning and the Higgs, of course there is an explanatory regress that's necessary but that's just a necessary part of explanation. The nature of hydrogen and oxygen had to be understood before water was understood, but there was no gap once that understanding was in place. It wouldn't make any sense for a chemist to say, "I understand hydrogen and oxygen but why is it that H2O is associated with water?"



    There’s no "conceivability gap" except in your own mind. It’s the role of science to overcome such “gaps”. See above.
    See above. It's NOT the role of science to overcome such gaps. Science has never overcome such a gap. That is not its job. It lacks the conceptual tools to overcome such gaps. If you don't think there is a gap, please tell me how, even in PRINCIPLE, the neurosciences and/or psychology alone could answer the 'hard problem'. Keep in mind that every other unknown in science can be answered in principle in such a way. The burden is on you to explain away this uniqueness.

    There is a sharp distinction between actual science and the ideology of science, which is what you are purveying.

  14. #190
    tWebber
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    Quote Originally Posted by JimL View Post
    But my question is why do you think it a problem for many people at once to be in the same "physical" mental state such as the mental state in which 1+1=2?
    I'm not sure they would be in the 'same', ie the identical, physical state. But that might be a problem, how different physical states could be associated with the same mental state.

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