Thomas Aquinas & The Immaterial Aspects of Thoughts

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Ross: The Immaterial Aspects of Thoughts


Quote:There is a larger and bolder project of epistemology naturalized, namely, to explain human thought in terms available to physical science, particularly the aspects of thought that carry truth values,and have formal features,like validity or mathematical form.That project seems to have hit a stonewall,a difficulty so grave that philosophers dismiss the underlying argument,or adopt a  cavalier certainty that our judgments only simulate certain pure forms and never are real cases of, e.g., conjunction,modus ponens,adding,or genuine validity. The difficulty is that,in principle,such truth-carrying  thoughts cannot be wholly physical (though they might have a physical   medium), because they have features that no physical thing or process can have at all.

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Feser: Kripke, Ross, and the Immaterial Aspects of Thought


Quote:Abstract.
James Ross developed a simple and powerful argument for the immateriality of the intellect, an argument rooted in the Aristotelian-Scholastic tradition while drawing on ideas from analytic philosophers Saul Kripke, W. V. Quine, and Nelson Goodman. This paper provides a detailed exposition and defense of the argument, filling out aspects that Ross left sketchy. In particular, it elucidates the argument’s relationship to its Aristotelian-Scholastic and analytic antecedents, and to Kripke’s work especially; and it responds to objections or potential objections to be found in the work of contemporary writers like Peter Dillard, Robert Pasnau, Brian Leftow, and Paul Churchland.


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Reading Aquinas: Understanding James Ross’s paper: Immaterial Aspects Of Thought

Quote:It took a lot to get the gist of Ross’s paper, primarily because of his writing style, thick as it is with terminology. But I’ve been able to defog it (with the help of additional explicatory material from Edward Feser’s blog and some guy who goes by the handle ‘Codgitator’ who does not infrequently comment on Feser’s blog in defense of Ross’s thesis), and it does very much seem like a knockdown-argument against physicalism.
'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: 2018-12-04, 10:43 PM by Sciborg_S_Patel.)
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  • Oleo
(2018-12-04, 10:32 PM)Sciborg_S_Patel Wrote: Ross: The Immaterial Aspects of Thoughts



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Feser: Kripke, Ross, and the Immaterial Aspects of Thought




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Reading Aquinas: Understanding James Ross’s paper: Immaterial Aspects 
The first quote you have provided here is priceless.
Thank you.
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  • Sciborg_S_Patel
(2018-12-05, 02:03 AM)Oleo Wrote: The first quote you have provided here is priceless.
Thank you.

I should note a weakness in the argument regarding its application solely to humans, in that recent science suggests the ability to form/understand concepts goes pretty far down - at least down to the insect level.

But to me this is just extends the number of organisms we might take to have a soul, rather than weaken the argument's central point that aspects of thought cannot be "material" as the word is defined in modern/scientific sense.
'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: 2018-12-05, 05:45 AM by Sciborg_S_Patel.)
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(2018-12-05, 05:44 AM)Sciborg_S_Patel Wrote: I should note a weakness in the argument regarding its application solely to humans, in that recent science suggests the ability to form/understand concepts goes pretty far down - at least down to the insect level.

But to me this is just extends the number of organisms we might take to have a soul, rather than weaken the argument's central point that aspects of thought cannot be "material" as the word is defined in modern/scientific sense.
Quote: Now he does nothing to justify his use of the notion of representation; again, why a neural process counts as a “representation” any more than the flexing of a tendon or the secretion of bile counts as a representation is something Churchland does not tell us. (Indeed, he is critical of existing materialist attempts to explain representation in terms of the causal relations between neural processes and properties of the external world, in part for indeterminacy reasons of the sort briefly canvassed above.98) Churchland simply assumes that the neural processes he describes constitute representations of a sort, and goes from there. In particular, he supposes that the brain embodies something like a “map” of the external world. Now with this an Aristotelian-Scholastic writer like Ross can readily agree, at least for the sake of argument. But the map-like representations Churchland postulates do not amount to concepts of the sort Ross and other Aristotelian Scholastic writers are concerned with. They are instead to be identified with phantasms, which such writers have always acknowledged to be physiological. And they are no less indeterminate and less than universal than are phantasms as traditionally conceived . Churchland makes heavy use of the analogy of a road map, and of the notion that the “homomorphism” between such a map and the streets and highways it represents is a model for the homomorphism between the “maps” embodied in the brain and features of the external world. But, of course, a road map is as indeterminate as any of the other material symbols and images we have considered. For instance, there is nothing in the material properties of the lines on a map that of themselves determine that an inch represents a mile (say) rather than ten miles; and a legend placed on the side of the map to explain this will itself be comprised of material symbols that are themselves indeterminate in their meaning. Churchland gives us no reason - Edward Feser 

The symbol grounding problem is at the root of all of this debate.  Feser does a nice job above, showing Churchland(s) argument doesn't have its feet down on real substance.

As to your comment - surely bees, ants and termites process information, quite well - at the hive level.

By why stop there?  An intention is an intention and if it logically functional in the simplest way it has an informational (immaterial so to speak) structure that can be modeled as a process flow.  The concept - go eat - works all the way down to single cell organisms.  It involves (if successful for Mr Paramecium) an affordance that must be detected and understood!!!!
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(2018-12-06, 07:00 PM)stephenw Wrote: The symbol grounding problem is at the root of all of this debate.  Feser does a nice job above, showing Churchland(s) argument doesn't have its feet down on real substance.

As to your comment - surely bees, ants and termites process information, quite well - at the hive level.

By why stop there?  An intention is an intention and if it logically functional in the simplest way it has an informational (immaterial so to speak) structure that can be modeled as a process flow.  The concept - go eat - works all the way down to single cell organisms.  It involves (if successful for Mr Paramecium) an affordance that must be detected and understood!!!!

I would differentiate between the desire for hunger and the evolved response toward food vs the holding of concepts like zero, the latter of which has (arguably) been detected in bees.
'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


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A nice break down of Ross's paper on Rocket Philosophy

See also the immaterial aspect of Intentionality, our Aboutness of Thoughts
'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: 2018-12-24, 07:21 AM by Sciborg_S_Patel.)

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