Refutation/'debunking' of 'Neuroscientific Evidence-Irreducible Mind'

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The title of this thread refers to the 4 of the 5 videos in the series nbtruthman shared on here from the YouTuber InspiringPhilosophy on 'Neuroscientific/Philosophical Evidence for the Irreducible Mind'. It features a student studying neuroscience and physics (who is also an atheist, skeptic physicalist) called James Fodor (author of Unreasonable Faith). I've been thinking (stressing and debating with myself if I'm honest) about this for some time. I do think a lot decent points are made though so I think it's worth debating/discussing:

The guy running this channel isn't completely close-minded from what I can tell since he has conducted an interview with Bernardo Kastrup on his philosophy prior to this video (which came out last October). Nevertheless, I do not think he is being honest when he calls himself an agnostic. This stream/video is about 4 hours long since they address points made in 4 of his 5 videos (not including his one on NDEs funnily enough, which seems to have been IP's most factual one). Personally I think a lot of the criticisms they made in the latter half of the video were decent, but some of them earlier on weren't so good coming from a someone who has supposedly studied philosophy of mind. 

I do encourage at least a skimming of the video since it does come with time stamps for the different segments. They also pointed out to a commenter that when it came to ORCH-OR, they were not criticising Penrose and Hameroff, but moreso IP and how he framed his arguments based on poorly explained quantum biology. After watching this, I realise that IP apparently did site legitimate sources but took several of them out of context in order to vaguely argue for Idealism, when someone like Kastrup probably could have done a much better job. 

I have bolded the key statements made by James Fodor:

So in regards to the weaker criticisms they make, I wanted to give my own take on some of the claims (in no particular order):
  • At the very end of the video, James says that he thinks the burden of proof on explaining consciousness is on the non-physicalists, but I don't understand his justification for this since he implies in this video he is not familiar with any analogies/theories used (though granted IP didn't mention these). He says Substance Dualists, for example, are in the "deficient position" explanation wise because "They have to postulate so many phenomena and interactions...speculating so much to get there". But the exact same thing can be said for physicalist theories of consciousness, which are often based on certain interpretations of evidence and involve assumptions. When it comes to NDEs, Terminal Lucidity and Reincarnation cases, there is, as we know, a lot of speculation is involved in trying to explain them away when you look at all the evidence objectively. 
  • At 4:14:40, James asks "Why don't these immaterial minds interact with other organisms because there doesn't seem to be any limit on what they can interact with?". Again, James does not appear to be familiar with the analogies often used. We do not know why immaterial minds are specifically linked to certain brains but the analogies (e.g. salt-water and receiver) give a general idea of how to think about it. 
  • This was an analogy used that a commenter worded in regards to arguments against physicalism based on IP's video: "If you break the CD in half, you don't get half of a song. Therefore the music must be irreducible and immaterial. There seems to be an interaction between the physical CD and the music, but those two are fundamentally different in properties. The music having an emotive nature and beauty, all of which the physicalists´ view of the CD could never account for. And I´m sure there is some way that quantum vibrations are linked to that, too". This to me is an oversimplification of the argument and a very poor analogy because it doesn't accommodate things that are able to affect the brain and then the mind, or cases of vice versa (that IP doesn't mention AFAIK). For example, damaging a CD won't 'change' the music being produced, only distort it or cause it to buffer. Snapping a CD in half stops it from producing music, which doesn't apply to the brain. And a CD also requires a CD player, so what would the CD player be if the CD is the brain? The body?...Does anyone else have anything to add to this?
  • At 1:04:47, James admits he is not familiar with the work of Bernardo Kastrup, who is probably the most renowned modern Idealist.
  • James argues InspiringPhilosophy conflates Idealism with Substance Dualism multiple times when it comes to the claims he makes. He claims that the statement "Mind precedes matter and can change the material in limited ways" is strictly a statement of a Substance Dualist, not an Idealist. But if an Idealist argues that mind is all there is, then of course it would precede matter. Correct me if I'm wrong, but I don't think James is understanding Idealism correctly here. 
  • At 1:13:11, James says he would describe consciousness as "a phenomenon that certain brain states give rise to" but he doesn't really elaborate on this at all or explain what exactly he means by this, other than yet another analogy comparing consciousness to temperature as a product of kinetic energy in particles.
  • At 14:15, after admitting that he's somehow not familiar with the work of Penfield either and his arguments, he says that his opinion of Penfield's experiments is that "Well it's just because he was stimulating specific regions of the brain, which he did in a very crude way. All it shows is that beliefs and conscious actions aren't caused by one particular brain region"...But that's just your opinion, based on the assumption of materialism/physicalism being true by default, is it not? IIRC, Penfield had his own conclusions.
  • At 24:14, James complains about the common retort non-physicalists use by pointing out that their evidence is entirely correlation based, and correlation does not mean causation. His response is: "The issue with that is if you push that far enough then it makes the idea of something being beyond the brain/mind become completely unfalsifiable. What evidence would we need?...The best explanation for a one-to-one correlation is the brain producing the mind". He even refers to it as a 'get out of jail free card'. This to me though is just pettiness at the fact that it's a good point to make. And again, it displays a lack of familiarity with stuff like Terminal Lucidity where the opposite of what is supposed to happen under physicalism, seemingly happens. And again, it demonstrates that neither of these guys are familiar with the other analogies, of which they'd likely just say 'but there's no evidence for them'. 
I brought this video here because I feel that they do, on many other occasions, make some better points about the flaws in IP's arguments that misrepresent a proponent's argument at times as well, and due to IP's Christian bias, he ignores other evidence for the most part. He's even made videos in the past about how Quantum Physics 'debunks materialism' for example. I will say however that his final video on NDEs was much better. He uses a lot more citations from credible experts such as Sartori, Parnia and Greyson and addresses skeptical criticisms such as the DMT theory. The only issues were when he talked about hydrocephalus stuff and made assertions about it that weren't necessarily true-I'll probably address this another time. He's good with NDEs, I'll give him that. 

Given this guy is a neuroscientist technically speaking and does bring up some valid criticisms (ones I have not refuted here, and so encourage to be addressed), I was wondering what else anyone here might have to add that I haven't already mentioned?
(This post was last modified: 2021-01-15, 08:19 PM by OmniVersalNexus.)
It's not that there are correlations between mind and brain, it is that closing this gap is an impossible Something from Nothing task.

But yes, Physicalism being false alone is not enough to make a philosophical argument for the soul's immortality. Panpsychism could be true, even Idealism, and we could still cease to exist upon our deaths. There is a philosophical case for continuation - or rather more than one - of which the falseness of Physicalism is the stepping stone. [Though I don't think the philosophical case alone is going to convince most people without Survival cases.]

If that's the strongest argument, an evasion of why Physicalism is false by distracting us with correlations...well then I feel assured saying the video is a waste of time. Especially if he's admitted he doesn't know about the work of the people - Kastrup, Penfield - he's trying to criticize.
'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: 2021-01-12, 06:34 PM by Sciborg_S_Patel.)
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Yes, that summarised why I'm not a fan of IP's series. He only spends one 'episode' focusing on NDEs and overly-exaggerating hydrocephalus cases IIRC. But the others make confusing or weaker arguments that, at times, can work both ways.

His coverage on NDEs was pretty great, leading to pseudo-skeptical arguments that 'their brains are still functioning' when they report them, and that Pam Reynolds 'must have had brain function' because of how she remembered the events so accurately and memory can 'only be stored in the brain'. The NDE video I'm referring to can be found here. I feel since this one involved less philosophy of mind, quantum physics/biology and interpretations of neural correlates, he performed better, at least when focusing on NDEs. 

But those analogies? Ugh. Analogies are never perfect and always have flaws, but that CD one clearly has more effort put into it in mocking 'immaterialists' than it did making sense with what we know about neural correlates.

What did you guys think of his points though about Penfield and falsifying non-physicalist philosophies/theories?
(This post was last modified: 2021-01-12, 08:27 PM by OmniVersalNexus.)
My point wasn't against Inspiring Philosophy, it was against the rebuttal you posted.



Similarly the rebuttal video maker - according to your own timestamps - specifically says he's not familiar with Penfield's work. If he does have specific points to refute it would be interesting, but until then not much point in worrying about it.



Which isn't to say I consider myself familiar enough with Penfield's work to say anything definitive either. Personally I think the work of old hands like Penfield and Eccles is definitely interesting but I think the nascent fields of magneto- and quantum- biology is where we should be looking. If we see relevance to human neuroscience that, IMO, could be quite the game changer but that is possibly a few years away.
'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: 2021-01-12, 11:53 PM by Sciborg_S_Patel.)
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  • OmniVersalNexus
(2021-01-12, 09:28 PM)Sciborg_S_Patel Wrote: If we see relevance to human neuroscience that, IMO, could be quite the game changer but that is possibly a few years away.

I should've said human consciousness in the sense of tight correlations to awareness.
'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


(2021-01-12, 09:28 PM)Sciborg_S_Patel Wrote: My point wasn't against Inspiring Philosophy, it was against the rebuttal you posted.

Similarly the rebuttal video maker - according to your own timestamps - specifically says he's not familiar with Penfield's work. If he does have specific points to refute it would be interesting, but until then not much point in worrying about it.

Which isn't to say I consider myself familiar enough with Penfield's work to say anything definitive either. Personally I think the work of old hands like Penfield and Eccles is definitely interesting but I think the nascent fields of magneto- and quantum- biology is where we should be looking. If we see relevance to human neuroscience that, IMO, could be quite the game changer but that is possibly a few years away.

edit -> So James Fodor has a Patreon and for approx $100 you get a chance to be friends with him...well just on Facebook ->


If he really is a neuroscientist this seems like a strange way to make a buck...especially since he says the money will help him study these subjects...
I see. Well I still stand by my criticisms of both him and James. 

In terms of quantum biology, they do bring it up, and both the host and James express that they weren't criticising Penrose or Hameroff, but just the way IP quoted them. And yeah, James also has a blog called 'Godless Theist' and his own YT channel which can be found here. He apparently at least has an undergraduate degree in physics and is studying neuroscience, though his blog implies 'interest' in a large list of other fields. He doesn't like WLC very much, I know that.

They aren't as harsh as I expected them to be...in the video at least. The comments make even weaker arguments, though the host seemed to be fine with 'Pessimistic Idealist' giving his take.
(This post was last modified: 2021-01-12, 10:20 PM by OmniVersalNexus.)
I think you are missing my point regarding quantum biology.

I wasn't saying anything about Idealism or Inspiring philosophy. My point is that it is future work, rather than the past work of Penfield, where stuff like Survival and Psi could intersect with neuroscience.
'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: 2021-01-12, 11:53 PM by Sciborg_S_Patel.)
I think he's studying neuroscience. And either way the criticisms aren't all around too damning, considering how they're just some cheap shots and at most calling out some actual flaws with Irreducible Mind which yknow isn't a flawless book. His bits on why don't immaterial minds interact with other minds just show the angle he's coming from and his quote about CDs is just pure bad philosophy. Either way, AGAIN, nothing to lose your head over Omni.
This post has been deleted.
Where is he studying neuroscience?

If there's no proof the thread title should be changed to "This guy refutes...".

(2021-01-12, 11:01 PM)Smaw Wrote: some actual flaws with Irreducible Mind which yknow isn't a flawless book.

What are the flaws?

edit: Initially thought Fodor and Digital Gnosis were the same person. Corrected my posts to mark the difference.
'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: 2021-01-13, 12:22 AM by Sciborg_S_Patel.)

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