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Thomas Nagel's "What is it like to be a Bat"
#1
Quote:Consciousness is what makes the mind-body problem really intractable. Perhaps that is why current discussions of the problem give it little attention or get it obviously wrong.

The recent wave of reductionist euphoria has produced several analyses of mental phenomena and mental concepts designed to explain the possibility of some variety of materialism, psychophysical identification, or reduction. 1 But the problems dealt with are those common to this type of reduction and other types, and what makes the mind-body problem unique, and unlike the water-H2O problem or the Turing machine-IBM machine problem or the lightning-electrical discharge problem or the gene-DNA problem or the oak tree-hydrocarbon problem, is ignored.

Quote:Conscious experience is a widespread phenomenon. It occurs at many levels of animal life, though we cannot be sure of its presence in the simpler organisms, and it is very difficult to say in general what provides evidence of it. (Some extremists have been prepared to deny it even of mammals other than man.) No doubt it occurs in countless forms totally unimaginable to us, on other planets in other solar systems throughout the universe. But no matter how the form may vary, the fact that an organism has conscious experience at all means, basically, that there is something it is like to be that organism. There may be further implications about the form of the experience; there may even (though I doubt it) be implications about the behavior of the organism. But fundamentally an organism has conscious mental states if and only if there is something that it is to be that organism—something it is like for the organism. 

Full essay is here: https://organizations.utep.edu/portals/1...el_bat.pdf
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#2
(10-01-2017, 04:46 PM)DarthT15 Wrote: Full essay is here: https://organizations.utep.edu/portals/1...el_bat.pdf

Sorry to be a bore but I think Massimo explains the problem with this type of approach here:


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#3
(10-25-2017, 12:23 AM)malf Wrote: Sorry to be a bore but I think Massimo explains the problem with this type of approach here:

You may care to check out Bernardo Kastrup's paper here. It explains that the "hard problem of consciousness" may be more the result of a common semantic misunderstanding of reality rather than a real "problem". IOW, Bernardo is saying, among other things, that Massimo Pigliucci is blowing smoke by claiming there's a neurobiological explanation for consciousness.
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#4
(10-25-2017, 12:23 AM)malf Wrote: Sorry to be a bore but I think Massimo explains the problem with this type of approach here

Don't worry, you're not being a bore, malf. For one thing, you don't have the tusks. Or the snout. Or the cute little tail.

The main problem I noticed with this presentation is that it was often, in key parts, argument by assertion. e.g. at 2:23, we have the assertion, "Consciousness is a biological phenomenon". Umm, it is? Isn't that one of the points in question? How do you prove it merely by asserting it? And, shortly after that, "The explanation for its appearance in a certain lineage of hominids seems clearly to be a matter for evolutionary biologists to consider". Oh? Why? And why not acknowledge that arguments to the contrary exist? Or at 4:32: "Consciousness as we've been discussing it is a biological process explained by neurobiological and other kinds of mechanisms and whose [unclear] can in principle be accounted for on evolutionary grounds".

And then at 2:35 we have: "How phenomenal consciousness is possible is a question for cognitive science, neurobiology and the like. If you were asking how the heart works, you'd be turning to anatomy and molecular biology, and I see no reason things should be different in the case of consciousness". Well, plenty of us do see good reasons why things should be different. Why not acknowledge them?

He concludes by saying that consciousness does not entail a problem in principle for "scientific naturalism". Well, sure, if you ignore and gloss over a bunch of cogent arguments, many of which have been shared in this subforum, especially in the threads created by Titus Rivas. Curiously, he doesn't even mention the existence of these arguments.

By the way, I think his characterisation of the lack of significance of the hard problem between 2:52 and 3:17 is based on his assumption-assertions - shear off those assumptions (via cogent arguments), and what he says there doesn't make nearly as much sense as it might otherwise seem to.
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#5
(10-25-2017, 06:34 AM)Michael Larkin Wrote: You may care to check out Bernardo Kastrup's paper here. It explains that the "hard problem of consciousness" may be more the result of a common semantic misunderstanding of reality rather than a real "problem". IOW, Bernardo is saying, among other things, that Massimo Pigliucci is blowing smoke by claiming there's a neurobiological explanation for consciousness.

It would be nice to get Bernardo and Massimo together. They appear to be in agreement that The Hard Problem is a construct based on fallacious reasoning (although each takes a different path beyond that)
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#6
(10-25-2017, 08:35 AM)Laird Wrote: Don't worry, you're not being a bore, malf. For one thing, you don't have the tusks. Or the snout. Or the cute little tail.

The main problem I noticed with this presentation is that it was often, in key parts, argument by assertion. e.g. at 2:23, we have the assertion, "Consciousness is a biological phenomenon". Umm, it is? Isn't that one of the points in question? How do you prove it merely by asserting it? And, shortly after that, "The explanation for its appearance in a certain lineage of hominids seems clearly to be a matter for evolutionary biologists to consider". Oh? Why? And why not acknowledge that arguments to the contrary exist? Or at 4:32: "Consciousness as we've been discussing it is a biological process explained by neurobiological and other kinds of mechanisms and whose [unclear] can in principle be accounted for on evolutionary grounds".

And then at 2:35 we have: "How phenomenal consciousness is possible is a question for cognitive science, neurobiology and the like. If you were asking how the heart works, you'd be turning to anatomy and molecular biology, and I see no reason things should be different in the case of consciousness". Well, plenty of us do see good reasons why things should be different. Why not acknowledge them?

He concludes by saying that consciousness does not entail a problem in principle for "scientific naturalism". Well, sure, if you ignore and gloss over a bunch of cogent arguments, many of which have been shared in this subforum, especially in the threads created by Titus Rivas. Curiously, he doesn't even mention the existence of these arguments.

By the way, I think his characterisation of the lack of significance of the hard problem between 2:52 and 3:17 is based on his assumption-assertions - shear off those assumptions (via cogent arguments), and what he says there doesn't make nearly as much sense as it might otherwise seem to.


It's very difficult to ignore the link between the appearance and evolution of "awareness" and the appearance and evolution of biological systems (and so as not to disappear down another track we'll not confine "evolution" to a strictly Darwinian model here)... It takes an ability to ignore evidence way beyond that of the materialist when directed to the papers collating NDE reports.

Either way, I don't this makes much difference to the thrust of Massimo's argument; that "an explanation of the experience" and "the experience" are in different categories.
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#7
(10-26-2017, 02:00 AM)malf Wrote: It's very difficult to ignore the link between the appearance and evolution of "awareness" and the appearance and evolution of biological systems

This seems like more of the same assumption-assertion as in the video: what do we really know about 'the appearance and evolution of "awareness"'? You seem to assume some knowledge base of which I'm not aware, and then you assert a link with biology which both depends on this knowledge base and requires its own knowledge base (of this "link" between the two).


(10-26-2017, 02:00 AM)malf Wrote: Either way, I don't this makes much difference to the thrust of Massimo's argument; that "an explanation of the experience" and "the experience" are in different categories.

I doubt that any of the philosophers he cites fall prey to this category error. More than likely, it is a strawman. The point of the hard problem is that phenomenal consciousness doesn't seem to be explicable at all given physicalist assumptions; it is "hard" to explain in contrast to the "easy" functional problems with respect to consciousness. But of course, if you assume-assert from the start that phenomenal consciousness can be or will be explained given physicalist assumptions - without providing any justification for this assumption-assertion, and ignoring the very basis of why so many people disagree, and have argued very cogently why they disagree - then, sure, you can appear to sidestep that problem. But it's merely an appearance, with no substance to it.
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#8
(10-25-2017, 06:34 AM)Michael Larkin Wrote: You may care to check out Bernardo Kastrup's paper here. It explains that the "hard problem of consciousness" may be more the result of a common semantic misunderstanding of reality rather than a real "problem". IOW, Bernardo is saying, among other things, that Massimo Pigliucci is blowing smoke by claiming there's a neurobiological explanation for consciousness.
Interesting paper; I'll have to read it more carefully.

I note that it contains the usual claim about consciousness:

"Let us remember that our knowledge of the world begins not with matter but with perceptions. I know for sure that my pain exists, my "green" exists, and my "sweet" exists. I do not need any proof of their existence, because these events are a part of me; everything else is a theory."

This sort of claim ignores the possibility that my perception of pain is an illusion built up from smaller bits of consciousness. It treats a perception as a unitary, all-of-a-piece phenomenon.

Kastrup then goes on to say that the hard problem of materialism would disappear if we would just go along with the idea that consciousness is fundamental. But then it wouldn't be materialism, would it? It would be something else with its own hard problem: How do we get a consistent "external world" if all there is is individual consciousness?

~~ Paul
If the existence of a thing is indistinguishable from its nonexistence, we say that thing does not exist. ---Yahzi
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#9
(11-07-2017, 01:33 AM)Paul C. Anagnostopoulos Wrote: my perception of pain is an illusion

Isn't the use of "my perception" contradictory?  I mean we don't experience pain as a aggregation built up from smaller bits on consciousness.  There isn't any proven evidence of this either.  What we "know", if we can truly know anything, is that it hurts like hell when you miss the nail for your thumb with a hammer.  Right?
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#10
(11-07-2017, 07:54 PM)Silence Wrote: Isn't the use of "my perception" contradictory?  I mean we don't experience pain as a aggregation built up from smaller bits on consciousness.  There isn't any proven evidence of this either.  What we "know", if we can truly know anything, is that it hurts like hell when you miss the nail for your thumb with a hammer.  Right?
We don't experience it as a composite thing, which is why it might be an illusion. If it is, in fact, a group of simpler proto-conscious processes that feel like a unitary experience, then it is an illusion.

There is plenty of evidence that we don't experience the brain's lower-level processes. For example, we don't experience everything that goes into making a decision. Heck, when we're driving along thinking about something else, we don't even experience the decisions.

~~ Paul
If the existence of a thing is indistinguishable from its nonexistence, we say that thing does not exist. ---Yahzi
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