Dualism versus materialism again (Humans)

by dhw, Wednesday, July 07, 2021, 11:44 (111 days ago)

The entries under “Big brain evolution” and “Deep brain stimulation” overlap, and perhaps the sheer repetition under this more appropriate heading will help to clear up the recurrent misunderstanding not only of my position but of the problem as a whole.

Big brain evolution
dhw: How can non-conscious cells misinterpret anything?

DAVID: Your question does not fit my example. Neurons receive consciousness. So they receive a signal and if sick, garble it. Pure dualism.

dhw: You mean my question does not fit your theory, the alternative to which is that neurons create consciousness. So they not only receive information from outside themselves, but if sick they also misinterpret (garble) it and produce false thoughts. Pure materialism.

DAVID: You object by representing your materialism theory. Your neurons make consciousness, mine receive it. Answer my proposal as a strong possibility based on NDE studies.

You keep stating that neurons receive consciousness. That is not a fact. It is your belief as a dualist. Neurons create consciousness is not a fact either. It is the belief of the materialist. I regard NDEs as possible evidence for dualism. I regard the influence of disease and drugs on people’s behaviour as possible evidence for materialism. I remain neutral.

Problem repeated:

dhw: [...] the question remains: why would material drugs and diseases have any effect on an immaterial soul, which is supposed to do all the thinking? (I'm putting the case for materialism because David ignores it – not because I'm committed to either of the –isms.)

DAVID: as usual dhw doesn't understand the concept of a neuron as a receiver. See the entry today of deep brain stimulation curing OCD.

I understand it. I also understand the concept of neurons as a generator. What you do not seem to understand is that there are two different theories, and you should not present your theory as if it were an established fact.


Deep brain stimulation
QUOTES: The patients being treated in our hospital, for instance, receive stimulation of brain areas located in the ventral striatum, leading to changes in the large-scale connections that form between the striatum, the prefrontal cortex and the amygdala, brain areas that play a role in decision-making, memory and thinking. One might hypothesise that the transformation following DBS can be explained by changes to this once-dysfunctional neural network. (DAVID's bold)

"But this cannot be the whole answer. The changes the patient experiences following DBS go far beyond a decrease in their obsessions and compulsions. They include a wholesale change in the person, including an increase in self-confidence; yet loss of self-confidence is not among the symptoms currently used to diagnose OCD."

Problem repeated:

DAVID: My view as a dualist is the network, described in the bold, is sick and misinterprets thoughts received from the consciousness, and the electric stimulation corrects the reception ability of the sick neuron network. dhw will claim this is pure materialism=. It isn't. Malfunctioning neurons are material and misfiring receivers of an immaterial consciousness. Thus two-part dualism. Neurons don't create consciousness as dhw seems to imply.

You quite rightly begin by telling us this is your view (i.e. your opinion), and you finish by yet again repeating your opinion as if it were a fact. It’s not. It remains an opinion. I do not “seem to imply” – I state categorically that any instance in which materials or material actions affect someone’s character and consequent behaviour - either negatively (the sickness) or positively (the cure) - can be taken as evidence for materialism. Conversely, I would argue that many psychic experiences, including NDEs, can be taken as evidence for dualism. You simply refuse to recognize that in nearly all our discussions, there are opinions which are just as understandable as your own.

Dualism versus materialism again

by David Turell @, Wednesday, July 07, 2021, 15:06 (111 days ago) @ dhw

Big brain evolution

DAVID: You object by representing your materialism theory. Your neurons make consciousness, mine receive it. Answer my proposal as a strong possibility based on NDE studies.

dhw: You keep stating that neurons receive consciousness. That is not a fact. It is your belief as a dualist. Neurons create consciousness is not a fact either. It is the belief of the materialist. I regard NDEs as possible evidence for dualism. I regard the influence of disease and drugs on people’s behaviour as possible evidence for materialism. I remain neutral.

Fair enough


Problem repeated:

dhw: [...] the question remains: why would material drugs and diseases have any effect on an immaterial soul, which is supposed to do all the thinking? (I'm putting the case for materialism because David ignores it – not because I'm committed to either of the –isms.)

DAVID: as usual dhw doesn't understand the concept of a neuron as a receiver. See the entry today of deep brain stimulation curing OCD.

dhw: I understand it. I also understand the concept of neurons as a generator. What you do not seem to understand is that there are two different theories, and you should not present your theory as if it were an established fact.


Deep brain stimulation
QUOTES: The patients being treated in our hospital, for instance, receive stimulation of brain areas located in the ventral striatum, leading to changes in the large-scale connections that form between the striatum, the prefrontal cortex and the amygdala, brain areas that play a role in decision-making, memory and thinking. One might hypothesise that the transformation following DBS can be explained by changes to this once-dysfunctional neural network. (DAVID's bold)

"But this cannot be the whole answer. The changes the patient experiences following DBS go far beyond a decrease in their obsessions and compulsions. They include a wholesale change in the person, including an increase in self-confidence; yet loss of self-confidence is not among the symptoms currently used to diagnose OCD."

Problem repeated:

DAVID: My view as a dualist is the network, described in the bold, is sick and misinterprets thoughts received from the consciousness, and the electric stimulation corrects the reception ability of the sick neuron network. dhw will claim this is pure materialism=. It isn't. Malfunctioning neurons are material and misfiring receivers of an immaterial consciousness. Thus two-part dualism. Neurons don't create consciousness as dhw seems to imply.

dhw: You quite rightly begin by telling us this is your view (i.e. your opinion), and you finish by yet again repeating your opinion as if it were a fact. It’s not. It remains an opinion. I do not “seem to imply” – I state categorically that any instance in which materials or material actions affect someone’s character and consequent behaviour - either negatively (the sickness) or positively (the cure) - can be taken as evidence for materialism. Conversely, I would argue that many psychic experiences, including NDEs, can be taken as evidence for dualism. You simply refuse to recognize that in nearly all our discussions, there are opinions which are just as understandable as your own.

I know that. I fully understand your opinions. I just try to refute them as strongly as I can.

Dualism versus materialism again

by dhw, Thursday, July 08, 2021, 11:30 (110 days ago) @ David Turell

dhw: You keep stating that neurons receive consciousness. That is not a fact. It is your belief as a dualist. Neurons create consciousness is not a fact either. It is the belief of the materialist. I regard NDEs as possible evidence for dualism. I regard the influence of disease and drugs on people’s behaviour as possible evidence for materialism. I remain neutral.

DAVID: Fair enough.

But still you continue to present your belief in dualism as if somehow it nullified the argument for materialism. Hence the next exchange:

DAVID: […] Malfunctioning neurons are material and misfiring receivers of an immaterial consciousness. Thus two-part dualism. Neurons don't create consciousness as dhw seems to imply.

dhw: I do not “seem to imply” – I state categorically that any instance in which materials or material actions affect someone’s character and consequent behaviour - either negatively (the sickness) or positively (the cure) - can be taken as evidence for materialism. Conversely, I would argue that many psychic experiences, including NDEs, can be taken as evidence for dualism. You simply refuse to recognize that in nearly all our discussions, there are opinions which are just as understandable as your own.

DAVID: I know that. I fully understand your opinions. I just try to refute them as strongly as I can.

I am neutral on the subject, and present BOTH sides. You try to dismiss any evidence for any opinion that differs from your own by simply repeating your opinion as if it were a fact.

Dualism versus materialism again

by David Turell @, Thursday, July 08, 2021, 15:30 (110 days ago) @ dhw

dhw: You keep stating that neurons receive consciousness. That is not a fact. It is your belief as a dualist. Neurons create consciousness is not a fact either. It is the belief of the materialist. I regard NDEs as possible evidence for dualism. I regard the influence of disease and drugs on people’s behaviour as possible evidence for materialism. I remain neutral.

DAVID: Fair enough.

dhw: But still you continue to present your belief in dualism as if somehow it nullified the argument for materialism. Hence the next exchange:

DAVID: […] Malfunctioning neurons are material and misfiring receivers of an immaterial consciousness. Thus two-part dualism. Neurons don't create consciousness as dhw seems to imply.

dhw: I do not “seem to imply” – I state categorically that any instance in which materials or material actions affect someone’s character and consequent behaviour - either negatively (the sickness) or positively (the cure) - can be taken as evidence for materialism. Conversely, I would argue that many psychic experiences, including NDEs, can be taken as evidence for dualism. You simply refuse to recognize that in nearly all our discussions, there are opinions which are just as understandable as your own.

DAVID: I know that. I fully understand your opinions. I just try to refute them as strongly as I can.

dhw: I am neutral on the subject, and present BOTH sides. You try to dismiss any evidence for any opinion that differs from your own by simply repeating your opinion as if it were a fact.

I'll keep refuting your approach.

Dualism versus materialism again from Feser

by David Turell @, Tuesday, September 07, 2021, 20:31 (48 days ago) @ David Turell

His latest:

http://edwardfeser.blogspot.com/2021/09/make-believe-matter.html#more

"Materialism can at first blush seem to have a more commonsensical and empirical character than Cartesian dualism. The latter asks you to believe in a res cogitans that is unobservable in principle. The former – so it might appear – merely asks you to confine your belief to what you already know from everyday experience. You pick up an apple and bite into it. Its vibrant color, sweet taste and odor, feel of solidity, and the crunch it makes all make it seem as real as anything could be. Anyone who says that all that exists are things like that might, whether or not you agree with him, at least seem to have the evidence of the senses in his corner.

"The trouble is that that is not what the materialist is saying. The matter to which he would reduce everything is not the matter of common sense, not the hard earth of daily experience. It is instead a highly abstract theoretical construct which – just like Descartes’ res cogitans – is not and indeed cannot be known directly via perception (nor, unlike the res cogitans, by introspection either). Moreover, it is a conception the materialist has inherited from Cartesian dualism itself. And it is that conception of matter, rather than the Cartesian’s commitment to a non-empirical res cogitans, that has made it so difficult for Cartesians and materialists alike to account for how conscious awareness relates to the physical world.

***

"Oddly enough, the trouble with the Cartesian dualism comes from the side of the body. The body, as Descartes conceives it, is not such that it can accommodate the soul. It cannot, so to speak, be penetrated by the soul; it can only remain in external contact with it. This body is not the physical body, our physical body, as we know it in our daily intimacy with it. It is the body of physics – that is, of the science of physics; a piece of matter, and particularly as Descartes conceived of matter. But the body of physics is remote and unknown to us and is not the body we live in in our day-to-day existence. The body we know is rarely sharply distinguishable from the soul: in our moods and feelings we are not often sure what part is physical and what not. There is no sharp dividing line between. The life of flesh and blood is particularly focused about the feelings and emotions. So long as there is no adequate conception of the concrete or lived body, our theories of mind cannot deal adequately with the life of feeling.

***

"Descartes notoriously takes non-human animals to be insensate automata. They lack rationality, hence they lack a res cogitans. Thus, since for Descartes the only other kind of substance there is is res extensa, which is pure extension devoid of any consciousness, that is what animals must be.

***

"Some contemporary philosophers, cognizant of the problems with the early modern mechanistic and mathematicized conception of matter, have reinserted into matter the qualities common sense attributes to it, but then fallaciously draw the conclusion that this entails panpsychism....For like the early moderns, they take the qualities of ordinary physical objects to be partially or wholly mind-dependent, i.e. to be identified with the qualia of conscious experience. Unlike the early moderns, they take these qualities to exist in physical objects themselves, and not just in our minds. The result is that they conclude, absurdly, that there must be something analogous to conscious awareness even in rocks, dirt, tables, chairs, etc. (The poor moderns. They just can’t do anything right!)

***

"The sober, boring truth – enshrined in Aristotelian philosophy and common sense alike – is that some kinds of purely material substances (namely non-human animals) are conscious, and others (like rocks and dirt) are not. The latter really do possess qualities like color as common sense conceives of it, but that does not entail panpsychism, because (contra Descartes, Berkeley, and company) those qualities are not entirely mind-dependent. Not all matter is reducible to one, lowest-common-denominator type, and none of it is reducible to the purely mathematical description afforded by physics. That description is merely an abstraction from concrete physical reality. It captures part of that reality, to be sure, but not the whole of it.

"To think otherwise is somewhat like thinking that “the average person” of the statistician really exists, but that the various individual people we meet from day to day do not. The reality is that those individuals do exist, and that the notion of “the average person,” while it captures important aspects of reality and is therefore useful for certain purposes, is a mere abstraction that does not correspond to any concrete entity. And in the same way, the concrete physical objects of everyday experience also really do exist, whereas the mathematical description afforded by physics, despite its undeniable predictive and technological utility, does not capture the entirety of concrete reality."

Comment: Pure materialism tries to tell us the way our sensations are converted into charged ions interpreted by our brain, they are not really what we feel. But Feder argues common sense has to play a role in our theories.

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