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August 21, 2014

Comments

The first point - that the physical can't account for our mental lives - is merely asserted over and over with no real argument presented. It's just an argument from ignorance, I guess. The one quasi argument he uses is that "you can't crack open a brain and look for happiness," but that's just silly. It isn't a serious argument at all.

He's just repeatedly asserting the same thing. Talking about love and happiness, he says, "None of those things on that list are physical. These things don't have physical properties. They're not physical things. So these mental properties can't be explained by physicalism." See, he's just saying the same thing over and over with no argument.

Physicalism asserts that love and happiness really are physical. You can't just contradict it over and over - unless this is some kind of Monty Python sketch. Yes, this supposed "challenge response" is as ridiculous as that.

Amazing. Some still believe that the physical is the end of regress. Hawking, Scripture, Science, and the self-evident all say otherwise. The Timeless, Immaterial, One, God (if Theism) / Imaginary Sphere (if Atheism) presents all fronts with Dualism - on necessity.

Read the whole article "Ten Reasons Why Christianity is Wrong" (The "No Soul" point being the sixth) to get the full effect of what the challenger is striving towards. It is fully the mind-set of physicalism as the default correct position without evidence that would support it. Instead of having the basis for ten separate future challenges, we are faced with the premise that fuels all the debates. Physicalism must have full explanatory force with no opposing viewpoints.

What Brett and scblhrm has done is expose the weakness that is inherent with the challenge. Physicalism doesn't have the explanatory power it claims. The brain has a colossal job of controlling the body, but we could list the exceptions, free will, identity, eccentric behavior, etc.

"Physicalism asserts that love and happiness really are physical."

Oh! Well that's settled then!

So physicalism asserts something and Christians simply deny it. When will the actual discussion begin?

Certainly physicalists have their arguments. If you want to respond to the challenge, it's your responsibility to know what those arguments are.

Brett and scblhrm have not exposed any weakness. They've simply said "No it isn't. No it isn't."

"Argument is an intellectual process. Contradiction is just the automatic gainsaying of anything the other person says." (YouTube)

First, let's realize these videos are intended to be introductory. The idea is to demonstrate a path forward in answering a challenge, but we're certainly under no illusion that we can answer these challenges exhaustively in a 5 minute video. That's what books are for.

Second, the entire first part of the video introduced three problems with physicalism: 1) it cannot account for mental properties 2) it cannot account for free will and 3) it cannot account for personal identity through time. So that's a little more than saying, "No it isn't." Feel free to disagree, but it's not really fair to say no arguments were presented. Want more on these arguments against physicalism? Read this: http://www.amazon.com/Consciousness-Existence-God-Theistic-Argument/dp/0415989531/.

Third, we raise these and other problems with physicalism to demonstrate that the view cannot adequately account for reality--it doesn't have the necessary explanatory power to be an adequate account. Therefore, we must look elsewhere and I suggest dualism. Of course, there is much more that needs to be said in support of dualism, but again, this is a 5-minute introductory video.

Looking for an introduction to these matters (and more)?

Try this or this or this.

Hawking denies physicalism. He moves into such vectors because of the inability of Time/Material to self-account.

It's called science.

Whatever begets the stuff we can measure / perceive is not composed of the stuff of Time nor the stuff of Material. It is the other way around. Hence Naturalism's necessary dualism.

John Moore seems unaware of the problem of very Real, very Actual, Imaginary Spheres.

OK, that's fair. You did mention free will and personal identity too. But the whole crux is whether physicalism can account for reality. I wish we could have a bit more of a substantial discussion here.

Love and happiness are feelings, right? And you feel things in your body. Your heart beats faster, and you get a tingling feeling in your body, and your brain is humming with dopamine and all that. These are physical things. What could you feel if you had no body?

You also mentioned knowledge in your list. Do you think knowledge can exist without a physical brain? How could that be? I was thinking all knowledge was a physical relationship between one physical thing, a symbol, and another physical thing, the action. It's like an electrical current in the brain. What other kind of knowledge is there?

On the other thread I mentioned computers and AI. What do you think of that? I believe people will some day build a computer that is alive and conscious and morally equivalent to a human being. If I'm wrong about this prediction, then I'll have to change my beliefs, but if I'm right, then I think you'll have to change yours. So that's a pretty concrete test we can look forward to.

John,

Physical stuff cannot self-account.

AI that reproduces, that is "alive"? It will need machines to reproduce itself.....thus electric... thus trucks and ships, thus.....and thus.....

It will need to build a World.

We will have to show it how to build Worlds.

All will be derived from Mind.


Naturalism's necessary Dualism begins All-Things with Mind and reaches into secondary, derived, begotten time and material, dirt, and fashions minds. Genesis told us this of the state of affairs eons ago. The definitions of All-Things inch ever closer to Theism's descriptive. Just like Hawking's definitions.

"So physicalism asserts something and Christians simply deny it. When will the actual discussion begin?"

Probably never, since the fundamental assertion of physicalism is a straightforward category error.

It's as if I asserted that Batman is the secret identity, not of Bruce Wayne as many suspect, nor even of James Gordon or Harvey Dent or Walter, but of Middle-C.

Now, people will say that that's just not possible, Middle-C can't do the things that Batman does. But that's just the contradiction of my assertion. Because, according to my assertion, Middle-C can do the things that Batman does.

When, oh when, will the contradictions end and the actual discussion begin?

John,

Love is not a feeling.

Love is choice. Love is volition in motion.

Physical stuff cannot even self-account, never mind accounting for the rest of reality.

Yet you persist in believing that physicalism can account for reality.

It's failing miserably. It just calls everything delusion - at bottom - itself strangely immune.

That isn't "accounting for reality".

The anthology that is Physics is running in the opposite direction of physicalism. Whatever begets the stuff we can measure / perceive is not composed of the stuff of Time nor the stuff of Material. It is the other way around. Hence Naturalism's necessary Dualism.

That is data-based. Science and the stuff of very Real, very Actual, Imaginary Spheres.

Definitions and Semantics become ever more strangely familiar to the Theist.

That equates to plausibility.


Let's say material stuff can not explain everything. All right, I can live with that.

What is the non-material stuff that does explain something that material and physics does not, then?

"What is the non-material stuff that does explain something that material and physics does not, then?"

Thinking things...Minds.

Thinking things...Minds.

This is not much in the way of "explanation".


Person A: "How can humans feel happiness?"

Person B: "Because we have minds."

Person A: "How can the mind feel happiness?"

Person B: "Well... it just does."

Its Timeless. Immaterial. Eternal. One. It begets Time. It begets Material. Not on necessity - but volitionally - else cause equals effect..... identity claim..... which the anthology of physics argues against, physical stuff failing to self-account. Mind perceives volition and affirms such lines - reality and physics nicely congruent amid the perceived/quantified. Semantics. Definitions. Contours. Coherence. It adds up. Plausibility is achieved. Metaphysical regressions sound oddly familiar to the Christian. Explanatory power emerges. And then the Moral paradigm. And then......it adds....and adds....

Person A: "How can humans feel happiness?"

Person B: "Because we have minds brains."

Person A: "How can the mind brain feel happiness?"

Person B: "Well... it just does."

Now its waaaay better right?

BTW, Erkki, you didn't ask for an explanation, and I didn't provide what you didn't ask for.

You asked "What is the non-material stuff that does explain something that material and physics does not?"

That itself is a nonsense question. Stuff, non-material or otherwise, doesn't explain anything. It just sits there. References to it may be used in explanations though.

So I interpreted you as asking what the matter-independent substance is that is referenced in correct explanations of mental states, events and processes. Explanations that are not available if you confine yourself to references to mind-independent material substance.

And there is a simple and correct answer to that question...which I gave: minds.

BTW Erkki S,

What is the non-material stuff that does explain something that material and physics does not, then?

I understood this as a clear request for an explanation of the mind* that's dualistic.

I've never seen a dualistic explanation of mind. And I don't expect to.

If a non-dualistic explanation of mind had been shown impossible, it would make some sense to introduce an empty category: dualistic explanations of mind.

But, I've never seen it shown that a non-dualistic explanation of mind is impossible.

So, the dualistic explanation of mind looks to be an unnecessary and empty category.

Sisu?

RonH*kk*

*Clearly you understand the term 'mind' as neutral about dualism. We all believe in minds, but only some of us are dualists.

"I understood this as a clear request for an explanation of the mind* that's dualistic."

Ron, I lack your mind-reading capabilities, since that's not what Erkki asked for.

You should also offer full-disclosure here Ron. What you mean by "explanation" is idiosyncratic.

When you say "A explains B", you mean that A predicts B. I know that because you've said as much in previous threads.

Now, since one of the main features of minds is freedom, it could well be that no Ron-style explanation is possible. In fact, I expect very much that that is the case.

On the other hand, if one means by "explanation" what, I think, is commonly understood, namely that "A explains B" means that A helps one to understand B, then I think there are plenty of mind-based explanations of mental states, events and processes. Psychologists engage in such explanations all the time.

WL,

My understanding of Erkki came from willingly combining the words he wrote with the context.

I think Erkki confirmed my understanding when he complained

This is not much in the way of "explanation".

But let's suppose I was wrong in my interpretation of what Erkki wrote.

Suppose even that Erkki used the wrong words to say what he meant.

I'm asking you now for a dualistic explanation of Brett's 'mental properties'.

What you say, Ron, about Erkki's mental processes may, perhaps, be the case.

Here's what I'm not willing to do: take a lot of time to answer what, I think, Erkki might be asking through a poorly thought out low-effort question, only to get a response from him that shows effort to his original question.

That's why I gave my initial low-effort answer to the apparent meaning of his original question. And I was rewarded with another low-effort response from him that showed that he could not be bothered to know what he was asking for in the first place. That's why my initial riposte was another low-effort reply...I simply parroted back his words substituting brain for mind.

The point of that was not to show that physicalists have nothing to say about mind-body. The point of that was to show that two can play at disengaged, low-effort banter.

I also followed up with a reply meant to elicit more effort and specifics from him.

Now, as to your request. Before I go to a lot of effort, let me make sure we're speaking the same language first.

What would you count as an explanation of anything, and in particular of mental states, events or processes like love and happiness?

That is, when you say "A explains love" or "B explains happiness", what do you mean?

Are you worried I'll insist on testing your explanation by using it to predict something?

I might. I think a good explanation will stand up to such a test.

(When I say 'predict', I don't refer only to accurately describing the future. Predicting can mean working with the explanation to deduce or suggest things not explicitly included in the explanation.)

Explaining is a form of communication.

Explaining aids understanding.

A good explanation is testable.

Otherwise: Is there really understanding?

This guy says a good explanation is hard to vary.

What do you think of that?

I will appreciate whatever effort you make, whether I accept what you offer or not.

It will at least give me an understanding of your view.

Make that the goal.


Person A: "How can the brain feel happiness?"

Person B: "Well... it just does."

I haven't dealt with neurophysical questions a whole lot but I think a more correct answer would be: through a complex series of chemicals, hormones and personal aesthetics interacting millions of times per second to form a conscious thought in the synapses of the brain.

While it is psychologically speaking understandable why people have a strong need to more then "material", the interesting thing here is the whole reasoning assumes a form of special pleading. If I were to ask:

Me: "How do clouds work?"

Person B: "Clouds work by making it rain."

Me: "That's really not what I'm asking to be explained."

Person B: "Well, what do you want silly, a MATERIAL explanation? You can't have a MATERIAL explanation for the clearly immaterial act of raining clouds."

No reasonable person would argue that this is a good reason to dismiss naturalistic explanations.

So the argument basically lies in the idea that the mind is simply too awesome and does impossible things to be any form of known matter. Problem with this argument is that it is ultimately a simple form of argument from (understandable) incredulity. There is obviously no physical dilemma that can not be solved with unobtainium (the mind does impossible things because it's MAGIC STUFF), but whether it's a good explanation is where I beg to differ.

Hawking's Imaginary Sphere (no one is foisting "magic") will always be that which predicts, drives, dopamine - hence dopamine just fails to account for the show inside our skulls. Like it or not Science is our inquiry into one half of our dualistic reality. The temporal's necessary grant of volition (else stasis) finds physics on its side - whereas the static hologram just doesn't. All those paradigms flow within our skulls and all the mind-dependent first-person assertions of the physicalist ever dissolve - therein - all his own third-person descriptions.

Person B: "Well, what do you want silly, a MATERIAL explanation? You can't have a MATERIAL explanation for the clearly immaterial act of raining clouds."

No reasonable person would argue that this is a good reason to dismiss naturalistic explanations.No, they wouldn't especially since raining is manifestly not an immaterial act. Not category error threatens in an attempt to explain rain in term of the three states of matter.

So the argument basically lies in the idea that the mind is simply too awesome and does impossible things to be any form of known matter.
No, that's not where the argument lies. The argument lies in (a) consistently expressing what matter even is...something that's never been done independent of the mind, and (b) describing mental activities solely in terms of mind-independent matter.

Before you start telling me how wonderful your materialist theory is in predicting or explaining things. Just tell me what matter is, without contradiction or reference to the mind.

Uh oh! Unclosed tag I think. I hope I've fixed it.

And, because the unclosed tag makes it unclear, here is the first half of my comment again.

-------------------------------------------------

Person B: "Well, what do you want silly, a MATERIAL explanation? You can't have a MATERIAL explanation for the clearly immaterial act of raining clouds."

No reasonable person would argue that this is a good reason to dismiss naturalistic explanations.

No, they wouldn't, especially since raining is manifestly not an immaterial act. No category error threatens in an attempt to explain rain in terms of the three states of matter.

-------------------------------------------------

Sorry for the confusion...accidentally pressed "post" instead of "preview"

"Are you worried I'll insist on testing your explanation by using it to predict something?"

No. I'm worried that we'll go around and around and find out that we are talking past each other.

The basic problem you have with prediction when it comes to minds is that pesky freedom. Because minds are free, the one thing you can predict about them with certainty is that they are not entirely predictable.

But, you know, psychologists have made rough predictions, based on theories that make reference to minds for many decades now. I don't think I need to repeat them here in order to prove anything.

Erkki's ridiculous A-B conversations notwithstanding, the notion of mind has plenty of explanatory power (thus psychology). It also has the cardinal advantage over material 'explanations' in that it is logically coherent.

As for the effort to revive logical positivism (again), yes, it is possible to have understanding without testability. I for example understand the sentence "It is impossible to have understanding without testability" in spite of the fact that that sentence is thoroughly untestable.

Did I give you sufficient idea of what I'd 'count as an explanation of anything, and in particular of mental states, events or processes like love and happiness?' or not?

OK Let's try a psychological answer to the question of what makes a person happy.

A person is happy when many of his or her desires, especially those to which he or she attaches a great deal of importance are satisfied to a reasonably high degree.

I think I just engaged in a form of communication.

I think what I said helps one to understand what happiness is.

Not that it much matters (since testability, while very nice to have, has little to do with understanding), but I think what I said is also testable.

Given the account of happiness I just gave, you would expect a correlation of how well an individual's desires are being satisfied and his sense of happiness. I would not expect the sense of happiness to perfectly correlate with actual happiness, but I would expect it to be right more often than not.

So, by all the criteria you gave (even the one I don't think is too relevant), I have explained the mental state of happiness referencing only other mental states.

I would expect that those mental states are themselves explicable in similar fashion only with an essential reference to still other mental states, events and processes. And would expect such explanations to continue until you get down to certain basic mental states events and processes that are well understood in virtue of being directly perceived.

A mind is simply a thing that has these basic mental states, events and processes.

Brains, being themselves nothing more than objects of perception, objects of some of the very mental states, events and processes that are under discussion, don't help too much in the explanation.

One thing I've definitely not done is sign any conceptual promissory notes that I cannot even begin to describe how to pay. Physicalism, in contrast, is nothing but that. Physicalists have no idea at all how to give an account of an idea in terms of motion within the brain. The best they can ever or will ever be able to do is predict ideas from such motions. Something that was never in doubt. And something that is far from explanation.

Dopamine? Matter? Yes, and driving that? Hawking's Dualism awaits the physicalist inside those motions within what is the whole show in our skulls just as much as in the whole show that is our universe, because, while dualistic, there are no magical compartments of immunity/isolation. At least according to Theism. Actuality is - on the whole - One.

WL,

I asked for 'a dualistic explanation'.

I guess you are responding to that request with what you describe 'a psychological answer'.

Put aside the merits of your psychological answer for a moment and whether it fits our description I want to investigate your description.

I think I can accept 'answer' as a substitute for 'explanation'.

But are you asking that I accept 'psychological' as a substitute for 'dualistic'?

RonH


We can run from the Timeless and Immaterial, but Hawking's Dualism won't allow us to succeed. Static holograms fail to rescue.

Ron-

My answer is mentalistic. It makes an essential reference to mind. It does not make any essential reference to matter, so you are right, it is not dualistic. Though, since the existence of minds is a major part of dualism, they might welcome such an explanation.

I do not think that the fact that my explanation is not fully dualistic (since matter is not needed for my explanation to work) makes it any friendlier to physicalism...perhaps it makes it even less friendly to it.

My answer fits the three criteria you laid down for explanation. In calling it an answer instead of an explanation, do you now want to change what counts as an explanation?

Oops. A bad edit led to a little unclarity.

This sentence:

Though, since the existence of minds is a major part of dualism, they might welcome such an explanation.
As it is, it looks like its the existent minds that are welcoming the explanation. It should actually go like this:
Though, since the existence of minds is a major part of dualism, dualists might welcome such an explanation.
Sorry about the confusion.

WL,

1)

The existence of minds is a major part of dualism
and
My answer is mentalistic.

Please correct me if I'm wrong...

You write as if mind always entails immaterial.

But mind is widely and usefully written and read without that assumption.

In fact, mind is widely and usefully written and read in active denial of that assumption.

What do you think?

2)

In calling it an answer instead of an explanation, do you now want to change what counts as an explanation?
I called it an answer only because you did:
OK Let's try a psychological answer to the question of what makes a person happy.
So, what did you mean by calling it an answer instead of an explanation?

3)

Getting to the actual answer or explanation you give for happiness.

A person is happy when many of his or her desires, especially those to which he or she attaches a great deal of importance are satisfied to a reasonably high degree.
I agree a dualist could sign on to this.

So could an idealist.

So could a physicalist.


RonH

WL,

By the way, would you please justify this

the fundamental assertion of physicalism is a straightforward category error.
I'm baffled by this. Please lay it out for me. Start with what you take 'the fundamental assertion' to be. And how do you see it as a category error?

I agree a dualist could sign on to this.
So could an idealist.

So could a physicalist.

Yeah, the odd thing about WisdomLovers answer seems to be the assumption that if you subscribe to material interpretations of mind, that this means you automatically have to ignore or dismiss psychological explanations. But this makes no sense: there is no contradiction in saying the mind is dependent on chemicals, and saying you will be more likely to be personally happy once your psychological needs are satisfied. That chemicals alter the experience of the mind is not even controversial: If you don't think that this is true, compare your experiences before and after dropping dozen tequilas straight up.

(Readers, don't actually do this.)

Ron:

I'll explain what I think about this.

Scripture does not seem to have a dualistic view of mind/body.

In the Old Testament you do have the metaphysical category of ruach, (spirit/breath). This is clearly an ancient way of referring to a metaphysical category. But no one thinks in the Old Testament for a minute that this points to a soul that can or should exist fully without a body.

In the New Testament you do have the Greek work psyche. However, this word in context seems to always point to a different concept than what we refer to when we say the word "soul". It is more like the word "life" than anything else.

Another words, scripture teaches that there are two things necessary for human existence: a metaphysical part, and a physical part. One cannot experience full existence without the other. This is not a dualistic teaching at all. To say the word "soul" in biblical literature is like saying that you are looking at the person from a different angle more than some dualistic context. On the other hand, it seems silly to think you can't exist without a metaphysical component.

This is why resurrection is so central to the Christian worldview. If Jesus resurrected, he has been given a new immortal body and the creation is going to be redeemed in the same way (including all those who wish to participate in the new creation). So, the end goal of a Christian is not that we separate from our bodies, but that we have new bodies, a new physicality, that is incorruptible. If not, then the metaphysical part is not really feasible. That is not really dualism.

Some Christians have a tough time understanding this concept because of the influence of Greek philosophy upon Christianity.

I can understand happiness in terms of other mental states. I cannot understand it in terms of brain states of any kind.

If I didn't know what happiness is, and you gave me the explanation I gave above, I'd probably understand what it is. I'd probably already get what desires, satisfaction and importance are. If not, you could get me there by reference to more basic mental states, events and processes.

But if you just talk about brain states, I will never understand what happiness is. Nor will I ever understand what a desire is, what a satisfied desire is or what an important desire is. Motions within the brain simply don't do anything, and will never do anything, to connote happiness. The most you will ever be able to do is predict my mental states from my brain states. This tells you exactly nothing about what mental states are.

Muscle contraction can be understood in such reductionistic terms. Oddly, pain and happiness cannot. In fact, all which the body does can be understood in such terms, all the while that which is the thing we call "understanding-of", that is, those affairs of Mind, cannot be. That is the problem with Idealism and Physicalism (for the physicalist). The two are always that bothersome one step away from each other. Relation, yes. Identity, no. Are they one? Well, yes. Are they the same "thing"? Well, no. That is what we expect, that is what fits given JBerr's description of Scripture and Hawking's description of Reality.


"The most you will ever be able to do is predict my mental states from my brain states. This tells you exactly nothing about what mental states are."

I should have added that what you use to predict mental states (the brain states) may be what causes mental states. (I don't think that's it either, but it's a possibility that I haven't yet dismissed.)

You write as if mind always entails immaterial.

But mind is widely and usefully written and read without that assumption.

In fact, mind is widely and usefully written and read in active denial of that assumption.

The terms "mind" and "mental" are ineliminable references in my explanations. Physicalists never uses the term that way. To use the term that way is to not be a physicalist.

Physicalists may think that "mind", "mental" and other terms are useful, but they could, at least in principle, be replaced entirely and without loss of meaning, though perhaps not conveniently, with references to events, states and processes existing in mind-independent matter, probably concentrated in the brain.

The category error they commit here is that the motions in the brain, or anywhere in matter, that comprise physical events, states and processes can never connote mental events, states and processes, any more than middle-C can ever connote the individual that has the secret identity of Batman.

WL,

This 'category error' makes it pretty clear not going to get anywhere. Thanks for your time.

Ron-

I understand that you think we're not getting anywhere. You think I'm being dismissive. I would not seem so if I could see even a hint that, given someone who doesn't know what happiness (or any mental state) is, you could describe physical motions in the brain to them that would then convey the idea.

It seems to me to be a category error to even try.

there is no contradiction in saying the mind is dependent on chemicals, and saying you will be more likely to be personally happy once your psychological needs are satisfied.
But I'm not just saying that you are more likely to be happy when your desires are satisfied. You are mired in the notion of explanation as nothing more than prediction. It is not just that you can predict happiness from the satisfaction of desire.

I'm saying that the satisfaction of desire is what happiness is. What is more, if I didn't understand what happiness is, I would understand it very well after being told that it is the satisfaction of desire.

In contrast, you can tell me all day about electro-chemical motions in my brain that predict happiness, and you've taken me not one step closer to having any idea about what happiness is. Though I may have an excellent picture of the causal interactions involved in the meat-machine that our brain is. I might also come to understand that, almost like clockwork, certain motions in the brain happen at about the same time that certain feelings happen in my mind.

Happiness is an idea that has to be conveyed by references to desires and similar mental states, events and processes. If you try to convey the idea by reference to motions in the brain, be prepared for blank stares from the person you are trying to convey the idea to.

And those desires and such will also not make any sense except in terms of other mental states, events and processes. And so on. At some point, of course, the explanation comes to an end, and we find mental states, events and processes that we understand, not because they are constructs of more basic mental entities, but because we have direct perception of them.

To WL:

All right, so what you are saying is that explanation can not replicate experience. Obviously not: I can explain to you what kind of physics keep bridge standing, but I can not replicate the aesthetic and emotional experience of moving across a bridge looking down.

Now what does that have anything to do with whether the mind has to non-material?

Last sentence should be:

mind has to BE non-material?

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