Chomsky on consciousness

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Chomsky on consciousness


Quote:Noam Chomsky is an intellectual giant, who has made major contributions to linguistics, philosophy, and cognitive science. In this episode Keith and Philip will explore Professor Chomsky's views on consciousness and the mind.


See also this commentary by Feser


Quote:...For rules always have an explicit content that must be understood before one can apply them.  And to appeal to further rules in order to determine the interpretation of the first set just raises the problem again at a higher level, which threatens a vicious regress.  (See e.g. the discussion of rule-following beginning at p. 174 of Dreyfus’s book What Computers Still Can’t Do.)

Moreover, Dreyfus points out, this computationalist model is an inheritance from the post-Cartesian approach to scientific explanation, according to which explaining a physical event involves identifying the laws by which it follows of necessity from antecedent events, in a manner that might be modeled by a machine.  But this mechanistic model only works when we abstract out of it anything that smacks of the psychological – consciousness, intentionality, and so on.  (This is precisely why Descartes had to relocate consciousness out of the material world and in a separate res cogitans, as Chomsky himself emphasizes later in the discussion with Goff and Frankish.) ...

Quote:...Gravitation seemed as “occult” as anything the medieval Aristotelians talked about.  Newton’s work was nevertheless accepted because of the tremendous predictive success afforded by its mathematical representation of nature.  Newtonian physics did not truly explain the phenomena with which it dealt, but carried the day because it described them so well.

In the history of physics after Newton, Chomsky says, the prevailing attitude came to be that anything was acceptable if it could be given a precise mathematical expression.  The predictive success of such mathematical theories is what mattered, and the metaphysical question about explaining why things worked in the way the mathematics described receded into the background.  For practical purposes, “matter” came to be treated as just whatever accepted physical theories happen to say about it.  But, Chomsky notes, as early twentieth-century thinkers like Bertrand Russell and Arthur Eddington pointed out, physical theory actually tells us very little about what matter is actually like.  It gives us only mathematical structure and is silent about what fleshes out that structure...
'Historically, we may regard materialism as a system of dogma set up to combat orthodox dogma...Accordingly we find that, as ancient orthodoxies disintegrate, materialism more and more gives way to scepticism.'

- Bertrand Russell


(This post was last modified: 2022-10-03, 10:07 PM by Sciborg_S_Patel. Edited 1 time in total.)
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(2022-10-03, 10:07 PM)Sciborg_S_Patel Wrote:
Quote: In the history of physics after Newton, Chomsky says, the prevailing attitude came to be that anything was acceptable if it could be given a precise mathematical expression.  The predictive success of such mathematical theories is what mattered, and the metaphysical question about explaining why things worked in the way the mathematics described receded into the background.  For practical purposes, “matter” came to be treated as just whatever accepted physical theories happen to say about it.  But, Chomsky notes, as early twentieth-century thinkers like Bertrand Russell and Arthur Eddington pointed out, physical theory actually tells us very little about what matter is actually like.  It gives us only mathematical structure and is silent about what fleshes out that structure...

This is something that has puzzled me for a while ~ that the Physicalist can be so confident that they understand the base nature of reality, but have apparently zero understanding of what matter actually is!

So, what is "matter" then? What is that causes the atom? The protons? The electrons? The neutrons? Quarks are a favoured answer by some... but, it results in the same question... the can has merely been kicked down the road.

To be more precise... what is it that gives atoms, subatomic particles, quarks, their respective properties? What is it that gives water its properties? Two hydrogen and one oxygen atoms? What is it that gives these atoms their properties? And so, and so forth...

The only answers I see the Physicalist giving are just... smaller particles. Which seems to logically be leading to the eventual problem of an infinite regress. Smaller and smaller particles needed to explain each layer of particles just becomes very unsatisfying, due to there being no actual answers... only deflections and promissory notes.

There needs to be a base substance somewhere, and it is logically not physical in any way, even ignoring consciousness for the time being. It is an unknown that has zero physical properties, even if it provides the basis for them. It won't be a wave or a particle nor a field or force. It will be something undetectable with the instruments of Physicalist science, because they are limited to detecting physical things.

/ramble
“Everything that irritates us about others can lead us to an understanding of ourselves.”
~ Carl Jung


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Was listening to a discussion (podcast) today.  Mentioned a famous (was new to me Wink ) quote from Newton:

Quote:I have not been able to discover the cause of those properties of gravity from phenomena, and I frame no hypotheses; for whatever is not deduced from the phenomena is to be called a hypothesis, and hypotheses, whether metaphysical or physical, whether of occult qualities or mechanical, have no place in experimental philosophy.

Really resonated for me.  Science seems to be only interested in discovering patterns; reliably repeating patterns.  It seems to have little (no?) explanatory power; or interest for that matter.
(This post was last modified: 2022-10-04, 12:47 PM by Silence. Edited 1 time in total.)
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