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March 28, 2013

Comments

Intentionality is not part of the the OP.

So, you don't get intentionality out of "an awareness of something pink".

OK. Not much I can say to that.

What would that even mean - seeing an awareness of something pink?...What would it 'look' like if a brain state was of pink?
I guess the idea of "seeing" what is in someone's brain must be taken in the most brutally literal sense. The idea that it might mean "investigate and find" can't be considered.

But there is this in what you ask. What you ask about seeing that a brain state is a sensation of pink expresses a certain hopelessness in the project of trying to literally see that.

I think that the same hopelessness really goes for any kind of investigation one might undertake, not just those investigations one carries out by literally looking. How would one investigate, in any way, and find that a brain state was a sensation of pink?

It seems like the most that could ever be discovered about the brain state is that it occurred at the same time as the sensation of pink. Showing that it is actually identical to the sensation of pink? How on earth could that ever be pulled off?

Intentionality is not part of the the OP...(followed by a quote from Amy)
Oddly enough, neither is any mention of J.P. Moreland, who seems to have vexed you terribly.

There was, of course, a post on Moreland in the entry before this one. I'm not sure why you didn't complain there. There is an associated video in that post where Moreland talks about why brain states are different from mental states (arguing using Leibniz's Law and intentionality). I don't think that it would serve you any better than what you've quoted, and perhaps would do worse.

Are you saying the OP is not a Liebniz law argument?

In the video, he lists intentionality as an example of a property of a thought that's not a property of a brain state.

He doesn't make the whole argument dependent on it; it just an alternate property.

The example in the video is no different from any of the others.

It doesn't matter, but I did comment there. Then I switched. Two very similar threads. One more recent. Not much invested in the first. So I switched. This way, we may have several more days before we scroll off the list.

Are you saying the OP is not a Liebniz law argument?
Let me start by pointing out that I think "The OP" has become ambiguous in your comments, do you mean Amy's argument, or the argument from Moreland that you quoted in your second post after pausing to address Amy just long enough to dub her argument as boy's philosophy?

I'm going to assume, as I have been all along in this exchange with you, that when you refer to "the OP", you are talking about the Moreland argument.

FWIW, I don't think Amy's argument is a Leibniz's Law argument or that it depends on intentionality. Instead it assumes a difference between mind and brain but a causal interaction between the two. It goes from their to argue that if my mind can affect matter, then God's mind can affect matter, and it is just a question of scope. God's mind can affect more.

The Moreland argument, of course, is a Leibniz's Law argument (as are almost all arguments for the non-identity of things).

In the video, he lists intentionality as an example of a property of a thought that's not a property of a brain state.

He doesn't make the whole argument dependent on it; it just an alternate property.

That's true.

The pink elephant argument is more dependent on intentionality. You might want to stop and consider why Moreland is so fixated on talking about imagined pink elephants. It's not just because real elephants are gray.

The whole point is to isolate the intentional aspect of a sensation of pink. If you literally see a pink elephant (let's say it's a gray elephant that has been painted pink). You might be tempted to say that the brain state is of pink because it is caused by a particular spread of EM radiation that we call pink.

I think that's a silly thing to say. Still someone might try that.

When you deal with imaginary pink elephants, you take that particular confusion off the table.* The only way, it seems to attribute to the brain state the idea that it is of pink is to note that it occurs at the same time as the sensation of pink.

But in that case the brain state is of pink in at best a roundabout and derivative way. Whereas the mental state is of pink in a primary sense. This difference between the brain state and the mental state is sufficient for an invocation of Leibniz's Law.

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

*At least, you push it farther to the edge...someone intent on it might say that a complex use of memory brain states caused the pink elephant brain state, and those memories were in turn caused by something pink...something emitting a certain spread of EM radiation)

By 'the OP' I mean the OP: 'Can a Non-Physical Being Affect the Physical World?'

It uses the pink elephant argument - though it has a different emphasis.

I really don't see Amy arguing for the claim that mind and body are distinct in the OP. Instead, that's a premise in her argument.

Now, I suppose you could say that some argument or other is implicit, because that particular premise is highly controversial. And given that the assumption is a non-identity assumption (that mind != brain), I suppose you might also assume that some sort of Leibniz's Law argument is going to be involved. But that's as far as I'd go...even when I'm in a charitable mood.

Yes it's a premise.
But it's also argued for.

Your thought was non-physical—it couldn’t have been measured because it had no mass and took up no space. Try describing your thoughts and your will in physical terms—what color are they? How big are they? How much do they weigh?

Well, I guess you could call that an argument...though a typical definition of matter is that it is something extended in space and/or having some mass. If Amy is arguing that the thought is non-physical because it lacks these properties is akin to saying that it is non-physical because it is non-physical. Now, I don't think she is arguing there. I think she's just stating her position twice using different words.

In fact, the only point at which Amy seems to be getting away from merely asserting that thoughts are non-material is when she asks what color they are. Brain states, I guess, do have some color: the color of brain. But most people would not take color to be definitive of materiality the way shape, size and mass are.

Of course, if shape is nothing more than the boundary of color, then even color turns out to be definitive of matter. And if so, there is no argument, but simply the assertion, restated in different ways, that thoughts are non-material.

Brain states, I guess, do have some color: the color of brain.

Can a brain state be a representation of something?

I think so. The pattern of nerve impulses leaving the retina seems to be a represention of the optical image formed by the lens.

A retinal implant can make such a representation of input from a camera or sensor. Inject that signal into the patient's optic nerve will allow him to see.

Now, let me borrow back your electrodes.

Suppose we send a copy of the output from a patient's retinal implant to the optic nerve of a neurophysiologist.

The neurophysiologist 'sees' the very sort of thing thing Moreland says he can't.

He's 'looking' in the appropriate way.

A similar thing would work for an afterimage.

The source end would need to be electrodes, not a sensor, installed at the beginning of the optic nerve.


The problem as I see it is this.

You are trying to do the very thing I thought was silly a couple posts up: argue that the brain state is of pink because of the causal chain from the spread of EM radiation to the stimulation of the eyeball structures to the excitement of neurons in the brain. This argument also depends on the fact that we can reliably correlate the EM spread with the color pink insofar as when we ask people what they see when that spread of EM radiation is beamed at them, they say "pink" barring some pathological condition.

Now, there are two problems I see with this. The first is that the correlation of the EM spread and pink does not translate into an identity of pink and the EM spread (and I think they are surely not identical).

The second is that in the case of imagined pink elephants you have a somewhat obscure and diffuse set of causes that probably trace eventually from the EM spread plus a thousand other things to the correlated brain state. In the case of after-images, you have a different set of obscure and diffuse causes. In the case of dreamed pink elephants, you have yet another set of obscure and diffuse causes. In the case of the normally seen pink elephant you've got a much simpler causal chain leading from the EM spread to the correlated brain state.

If you try to identify the of-pinkness of the mental state with the chain of causation leading to the brain state, it appears that you're going to many have very different causal chains (or more like causal webs), and so many very different of-pinknesses.

But the mental states whether imagined or created by after-image or dreamed or occasioned by the literal presence of pink elephants or what have you are equally and indistinguishably of pink.

That's really good. I enjoyed reading that.

The pinknesses are all different: real pink thing, afterimage, imagined pink thing, and dream.

I was baffled by Moreland's willingness to do the thought experiment with either an imagined elephant or an afterimage.

(For me an imagined pink elephant isn't visual; an afterimage is.)

I especially like the part about casual webs.

I'll see your webs and raise you: loops of causation.

(Effects are fed back to an 'earlier' part of the chain.

Overlapping loops of causation.

RonH

I'm leaning this way.

Our brains make and store representations of actual pink things, imagined ones, remembered ones, afterimaged ones, and dreamed ones.

When these representations serve as inputs to certain brain functions we say things like I heard something outside and I see a pink afterimage and I remember my yellow Lawn Boy mower and I'm thinkin' about your body.

There are no functions for observing the functions. Their outputs are said to be self-presenting and said to be about the represented things.

When we have a brain event involving one of these representations we describe it as a mental event of the represented thing.

We need for the functions to work; we don't need to be aware of them or know how they work - although I want to.

The pinknesses are all different: real pink thing, afterimage, imagined pink thing, and dream.
Well the of-pinknesses are all different if you try to identify of-pinkness as a causal chain, web, feedback loop or whatever.

But is seems to me that they are not all different, they are all the of-pinkness that goes with an awareness of pink.

As such, identifying of-pinkness as the causal connection seems doomed. And that's why the mental state is different from the brain state(s). The one is of pink. The other is not.

For me an imagined pink elephant isn't visual; an afterimage is.
This is a strange saying to me. What is the imagination? Auditory?

Are you saying that they aren't visual because no EM radiation is responsible for their occurrence?

I would say that that's putting the cart before the horse. An experience is visual because of a directly observed quality of the experience, not because of its causes. A visual image force fed into my mind by the Matrix is every bit as visual as one that comes by direct use of my eyes.

Now, I think it is true that you cannot, in normal life, imagine a pink elephant unless you have had some real experience that we could describe as caused by the specific spread of EM radiation we associate with pink. That idea of pink is somehow encoded and stored in one or more places in your brain. So those imprints are caused, in part, by the EM radiation.

When you imagine pink or remember pink, and perhaps even when you have an after-image of pink some of those brain imprints are read and decoded. So even imaginings and the rest can be traced back, via a meandering causal trail to a cause from EM radiation.

Even when you are talking about being force fed by the Matrix a brain state that correlates to a visual mental state of pink, I think the deep causes of that brain state are still going to involve the EM spread we associate with pink.

The Matrix is presumably a program running on some massive computer. And that program had to be initialized with some data so that it could generate and sequence brain states to force into its victims. But that data would have come either by the analysis of or the direct reading of brain states that occurred in brains connected to eyes actually being bombarded with the spread of EM radiation.

So the actual seeing of pink things is somehow behind all these mental states of pink. Likewise the actual impact of EM radiation correlated with pink is somehow behind all these brain states correlated to to mental states of pink. That seems as certain as non-self-evident things can get.

But the fact that the actual impact of the radiation is somehow causally behind the brain state does not make the brain state of pink.

For starters, notice that the impact of the radiation, through Pavlovian conditioning if by no other means, could also be behind the causation of brain states that are correlated to mental states that have nothing to do with pink and that might not even be visual.

And, once again, the causal histories are so massively varied it beggars my imagination. That would seem to suggest different of-pinknesses. But the mental states are equally of pink.

Indeed, it seems that the whole exercise of tracing the brain states back to the EM spread is guided and informed by the already known and understood fact that the correlated mental states are of pink. It is the mental that explains the physical. Not the other way round. It is the physical that stands in need of reduction to the mental. Not the other way round.

Thanks WL,

Other people and Moreland himself run the argument without using intentionality as the property claimed present in one but not the other. (In the video Moreland says his thought is not closer to one ear than the other as a brain event might be.) If intentionality is important to the argument (as you say), why do Moreland and others run the argument without it?

Moreland offers (an afterimage as an alternative to an imagined sight. Seeing an afterimage is very very like seeing a physical object and very different from imagining the object. I can READ an afterimage. I could even correct my spelling by reading an afterimage. If it is important to the argument to consider an imagined thing rather than a real thing, why does Moreland say an afterimage is fine?

As to your last, I need to reread it.

"If intentionality is important to the argument (as you say), why do Moreland and others run the argument without it?"

Correction: They run some Leibniz's law arguments without intentionality.

Moreland did use intentionality in one of the arguments in the video, and I think it's implicit in the use of visual imagery that does not come from typical causes. It's the atypical causal origin that allows us to see that intentionality cannot be reduced to causal origin.

Let's also consider a couple of those other arguments: The argument from locatability and the argument from the truth-value of beliefs.

I think both of these arguments are sound. So I think the argument from locatability is sound. However, the premise that the thought is not locatable is more contentious that the claim that it has intentionality. A thoroughgoing materialist will say "Of course a thought is locatable! It's in such-and-such a cluster of brain cells...exactly where the brain state (which is the thought) is!"

The argument from truth-value is also sound, but derivative. Yes, beliefs can be true or false, and their correlated brain states cannot be true or false. But I think the reason for this is that beliefs are true just in case they are beliefs of true propositions, and false true just in case they are beliefs of false propositions. So we are really getting back to the fact that mental states can be of or about something, but brain states cannot be.

Oops: "and false true just in case..."

I was not trying to reference the radical new truth-value false-true here. Instead, the line should read:

"and false just in case..."

Correction: They run some Leibniz's law arguments without intentionality.

That's not a correction.

It would be a clarification if it wasn't already clear from the context that there were examples with and without.

I look at a pink elephant and, consequently, nerve impulses leave my retina.

Are they not intentional?

"That's not a correction."

I don't want to descend into a quibble, but you were the one who asked "why do Moreland and others run the argument without it?"

As if there were only one argument. The point is that there are many (I discussed 3). Some of them involve intentionality, others don't...as you noted in the last post.

But I'd honestly be more interested in your comments, if any, about things other than what constitutes a correction ;-)

"I look at a pink elephant and, consequently, nerve impulses leave my retina.

Are they not intentional?"

Why? Because they are caused by the EM spread coming off the elephant?

But you could have the same brain state (or nerve impulses for that matter) with a different causal history. The correlated mental state would be equally of pink.

So things have to be mental to be intentional.

It's the definition.

Well, part of the definition anyway.

Why? Because they are caused by the EM spread coming off the elephant?

Why doe ask? Are caused things not allowed to be intentional?

'doe' = 'do you'

"Are caused things not allowed to be intentional?"

Of course caused things are allowed to be intentional. That wasn't my point. My point is that you can't identify the intentionality with the causal history. This is because different causal histories can result in the same intentionality.

If all you want to do is correlate the fact that the sensation is of pink with the causation of the brain state by the excitement of the eyeball by EM waves, I suppose that's OK. But it's not identity. And it can't be identity for the reasons already given.

That wasn't my point. My point is that you can't identify the intentionality with the causal history.

But, apparently, we agree that some intentional things can be normally associated with particular causal histories.

This is because different causal histories can result in the same intentionality.

So... what? So, some intentional things could be wrong? Do you mean that this is not possible? I can think about something that's false, right?

So... what?
So then there is a Leibniz's Law argument for the difference between the mental and the material. The mental state has intentionality, which cannot be identified with any physical property of the brain state. As such the mental state has a property that the brain state lacks.

And around we go.

I dont' really see where you answered: What are you saying about different causal histories resulting in the same intentionality.

. The mental state has intentionality, which cannot be identified with any physical property of the brain state.

The mental state? The brain state?

There are lots of them here. Chains of them. Sequences. Nets. Loops.

We're not aware of the ones near the retina; we don't have first person access to them.

So we don't call them 'mental'.

And we don't know much about to crack open a skull, decode the ones farther along the chains, and identify them with a first person experience.

We have only first person access to them.

So we call them 'mental'.

One other thing about these chains, nets, etc. of intentionality in the brain: It may be useful to think of each one as being about the ones farther upstream especiaily the one most immediately upstream.

The (optical) image on my retina is partly about the real pink elephant and partly about the air between me and him. It's also partly about my eye - all it's parts and defects.

The impulses leaving my retina are about the pigments, etc. in the retina. They can point to green when there is no green object in front of my eye: the afterimage.

---

We're not going in circles here - even if we don't wind up with total agreement in the end.

I'm not at all convinced that intentionality is real. It makes an interesting element in a theory. That's for sure.

Of course caused things are allowed to be intentional.

Hm. What about material things? In a dualist world, now. I have a lot of extra work here figuring out how do deal with your defense of an argument for dualism. Give me a break for a moment please.

"I have a lot of extra work here figuring out how do deal with your defense of an argument for dualism. Give me a break for a moment please."

Fair enough Ron. And even if we don't work it out in this thread. I think that there will be other threads on this or related subjects. I'm deeply insightful that way!

I was asking: Are material things allowed to be intentional?

I was asking for you to answer as if you were a dualist.

And the extra work I refer to: How do I deal with the fact that you an idealist, are defending an argument that 'supports property and substance dualism'?

I might have said, more directly, that Moreland states that

no neurophysiologist could open your brain and see a pink or blue entity or an awareness of such an entity while you are having the sensory experience.
without justification.

But that's the very issue at hand.

RonH

This is wrong: Two views of X are not identical, therefore X is two things.

The quotation in my last comment is stating that no neurologist could get 'your' internal and pink view.

I have one house. Right now, I get an internal view that nobody outside can get. It's still one house.

I think that there will be other threads on this or related subjects.

I don't think here should be but there probably will. :(

Churchland (pg 327) published in 1986 and Moreland in 2007.

Yet here is Moreland's nod toward dealing with objections

Some physicalists respond to this argument by simply denying it. They claim that since thoughts, memories, etc. are stares of the brain, then they are, in fact, spatially located in certain regions of the brain. Likewise, they claim, memories are stored in the brain and a memory' event is a brain event, perhaps one that plays a certain functional role in one's behavior, not a truly mental event causally connected with a brain event.

Perhaps some physicalists do respond with a simple denial and an unsupported claims as described.

But Churchland's response is not a simple denial. Nor does it make unsupported claims. So, what is

BTW, Churchland's response is not a claim that identity theory is true or even that physicalism is true. It's simply a response to one argument for dualism. A dualist could respond as Churchland has.

'Churchland' is a funny name for the Churchlands.

RonH

OK, I see your difficulty Ron.

Perhaps it would help for me to make this clarification...I'm defending the argument from this perspective: That it is not possible to reduce the mental to the physical or eliminate the mental in favor of the physical. That's common ground for me and any dualist.

But you are right about this, I might well agree to an identity of mental and neural. You just wouldn't like it. It would go something like this: The brain state is just the set of all the observations one makes after attaching electrodes or other measurement devices to the brain, plus all the observations one would make in a number of hypothetical situations (underwritten by God's eternal awareness of all possibilities).

BTW, I wouldn't expect Pat Churchland to defend the identity theory (Paul maybe). Isn't she an eliminative materialist?

And yes, their names are ironic.

Sorry, I was not very clear above and you seem not to have read my Churchland link.

Please read from pg 327 under Knowing From the Inside/Having a Point of View.

If mind==brain, then when you observe with your electrodes you observe both mind and brain - since they are one.

And, if mind==brain, then when you introspect you introspect upon both - since they are one.

What is absent from the pink elephant argument is any justification for thinking that mind != brain.

Without such a justification for thinking mind != brain, Moreland's pink elephant argument begs the question at issue.

Same for other similar Liebniz law arguments.

RonH

This

no neurophysiologist could open your brain and see a pink or blue entity or an awareness of such an entity while you are having the sensory experience.
simply asserts that nothing any neurophysiologist 'sees', with his eyes, with electrodes, or otherwise 'could be' identical to the your 'mental event'. It asserts the conclusion.

RonH

The whole point of Moreland's argument is to show that mind != brain. So it's strange for you to ask him to first justify that mind != brain.

What's more, since what I know to be true about minds is not a single thing like what I know to be true of brains, I'm not sure why you would think that anyone first needs to show that mind != brain.

I'm not dodging behind the burden of proof and saying that it's up to you or anyone to prove that mind = brain, and that the default position is that mind != brain. But it sure as heck is not the default position that mind = brain. No one bears any burden to prove mind != brain.

As for this:

It asserts the conclusion.
When you are presenting an argument, you must, at some point, assert you conclusion.

The premise of the argument is that the mental state has properties that distinguish it from the brain state. Properties like truth-value and non-localizability and intentionality.

Now Churchland says that brain-states do have these properties (or mental states lack them) if the mental state is identical to the brain state, so saying they don't is begging the question.

This is one of the reasons I was never interested in attending UC San Diego, in spite of the presence of Henry Allison.

Moreland presents this argument:

  1. A has property-P, and B lacks P.
  2. So, A != B. (by LL)

    Now Churchland, responds by noting that this argument is also valid:

    1. A = B
    2. So, it is not the case that A has property-P, and B lacks P.

      Moreland's premise is true, only if the denial of His conclusion is false, so by assuming his premise, he is ipso facto assuming his conclusion. So Moreland is begging the question!

      By this 'brilliant' reasoning, every deductively valid argument begs the question. Churchland is noting the unremarkable fact that if the conclusion of a valid argument is false, then so is one of its premises and treating it like a profound insight.

      The difference between Churchland's argument and Moreland's is that we have every reason to think that the premise of Moreland's argument is true. But we have no reason at all to think that Churchland's premise is true.

Uh ohEnding the lists?

uh oh

You shouldn't be sarcastic about what Churchland says.

Moreland's conclusion is (logically) contained in his premise.

That's good. It's necessary if the argument is to be sound.

But it's bad. If Moreland doesn't support the premise independently of the conclusion, then he begs the question.

Moreland does not support his premise independently of the conclusion.*

Therefore, Moreland begs the question.

RonH

* Moreland doesn't even say what success would look like for the set of all neurophysiologists, let alone hint at why this success is impossible.

*continued
And if Moreland dosn't say what success would look like for the set of all neurophysiologists, then he can't say what failure is.

*continued
I think Churchland is pointing at this inablity to say what failure is when she says

The point is this: if in fact mental states are identical to brain states,
then when I introspect a mental state, I do introspect the brain state with which it is identical.

The difference between Churchland's argument and Moreland's is that we have every reason to think that the premise of Moreland's argument is true. But we have no reason at all to think that Churchland's premise is true.

I have every reason to think that beliefs do and correlated brain states do not have the property of being true, or being about something. I have no reason to think that the two states are identical. That's just a naked and unsupported assertion.

She's saying that when you introspect you may be seeing brain states.

She's saying that your 'every reason to think that beliefs do and correlated brain states do not have the property of being true' is your belief in dualism.

I have no reason to think that the two states are identical. That's just a naked and unsupported assertion.

That's not being asserted - by me or Churchland. What we're saying is: y'all offer no evidence to the contrary.

I have every reason to think that beliefs do and correlated brain states do not have the property of being true, or being about something.
Then please give them and support them.

I already have. All the properties that mental states manifestly have that brain states do not.

And now you say, "But brain states do have those properties, because they are identical to mental states."

And then I say, "But I have no reason to think that brain states are identical to mental states. And you are begging the question in making the identification."

And then you say, "But then aren't you begging the question by refusing the identification."

And then I say, "I did not beg the question, I proved it from the manifest differences I see"

And then you say, "But you are, because you give no evidence that brain states are distinct from mental states"

And then I say, "I just did".

And around we go.

I hope you see Ron that taking you're approach I could identify anything with anything and no one would ever be able to gainsay be.

I hereby identify everything with Middle-C.

"But wait" you say, "that's not right. This tomato I'm holding is red, but middle-C is not red, so they must be different"

"Au Contraire, mon ami" I reply "because middle-C is identical to the tomato, it does have that very property."

And away we go.

I said before we're not going in circles. Well maybe we are but they are not the circles you describe.

And you are begging the question in making the identification.

No. Again, I make no such identification. Please stop with that.

I'm not defending identity theory; I'm just pointing out that this particular argument requires more than the claim that you see 'manifest' differences.

Look, you say this is manifest:

Mental states can be about something and brain states can't.
I suggest it's more accurate to say:
It's manifest that mental states are can be about something; it's not manifest that brain states can.
So, we leave open the possibility that these manifest differences might be between two modes of observation of one thing.

It's only a possibility. But it's a real possiblity - a strong one - and to ignore it is definitely to beg the question.

Why does he ignore it?

Well, I don't think there is anything else he could do.

But that's his problem, not mine.

You've heard the parable of the blind men and the elephant?

We have no sighted man to settle things in this case.

RonH


No. Again, I make no such identification. Please stop with that.

I'm not defending identity theory; I'm just pointing out that this particular argument requires more than the claim that you see 'manifest' differences.

Actually, I think you kinda' are.

To see that, we ask "Why does argument require more than the manifest differences?"

Because brain states might be identical to mental states. That is, because the identity theory is true. As you yourself, more or less, say in this remark:

we leave open the possibility that these manifest differences might be between two modes of observation of one thing.
Something I will remember to say when you insist on rejecting my identification of everything with middle-C.

As for the blind men and the elephant...well, there is a sighted man, and he says it's pink. I thought we'd already agreed to that! :-)

Should have written:

To see that, we ask "Why does the argument require more than the manifest differences?"

Because brain states might be identical to mental states. That is, because the identity theory is might be true.

You are defending the possibility of the identity theory given the sensed differences. I am claiming that the theory isn't true, or even possible, given the sensed differences.

If you like, you might consider this. In the case of mental states where I introspectively recognize that they are about something, e.g. beliefs, I don't just recognize that they are about something. I recognize that they must be about something. When I recognize a mental state as a belief, I also recognize that it could never have existed at all were it not about the object of belief.

The same cannot be said about the correlated brain state.

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