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On the nature of the soul

Posted: Fri Jun 05, 2015 11:34 pm
by Erlaksoo Astralmirk
I have been thinking about the soul and have come to some "conclusions" which might seem surprising but makes sense if you think about it (I hope). I experience and feel emotions, feelings, qualia or whatever you want to call it. To me it seems as the "experiencer" (the "I", the soul, the "object" that experiences emotions, consciousness and qualia, be it material or non-material) must be a single undividable unity. If the "experiencer" consisted of several "objects" each of them would experience, feel etc. on its own, in other words be an experiencer that is separate from the other objects. Obviously it may be so that within each of our brains there are many experiencers, but in that case each experiencer would feel everything by itself so each experiencer would still be a single and undividable "object". I guess that the idea is similar to the idea that e.g. two stones hitting each other are in reality numerous microscopic particles interacting with each other, the forces are between these particles. In other words a stone doesn't exist as a stone. What exist are the particles on the lowest, smallest level building up higher, larger, levels of structures forming the stone. Likewise experiencing must take place on the "lowest most basic level", the "level" on which the actual "objects" exist, as each "object" exists "on its own" and must act (e.g. feel) on its own.

In other words, the objects that experience emotions etc. must be "of the lowest level of structure" as they cannot be formed by smaller particles or have inner structures. If they would have been formed by smaller particles, these particles would be the once that existed and interacted with the surroundings. Therefore, the brain cannot experience and feel, as it consists of (very) many "things", particles... However, the brain is obviously crucial in processing, organizing and supplying input to the "experiencer" and in "collecting" and processing the output from the experiencer.

Furthermore, it seems obvious to me that the experiencers cannot be simple "by-products" of our brain-processes. The fact that people are discussing their feelings is itself a proof of that whatever that experiences (i.e. our selves) must be able to "communicate" with the surroundings as we otherwise only would have feelings but be unable to talk about them. There must therefore be a a two-way communication, the experiencing object needs input in order to "experience" what is going on around us and it must provide an output to the rest of the brain and our bodies (e.g. so the brain orders our fingers to write "I am conscious, I have feelings"). Don't get me wrong here, just because someone (a dog, chimp or salmon) isn't talking about its feelings and emotions, it doesn't mean that it lacks feelings and emotions, nor does it mean that it lacks a soul. On the contrary, the "apparent" happiness of a dog meeting its family is a strong indication of that the dog also has feelings and emotions and a soul. What do you folks think about "my" ideas? I am not educated in philosophy and maybe these ideas have been discussed before. But, if you think about it and give these ideas "a chance", don't they makes sense after all?

Re: On the nature of the soul

Posted: Sat Jun 06, 2015 7:29 pm
by hammock
Erlaksoo Astralmirk wrote:. . . What do you folks think about "my" ideas? I am not educated in philosophy and maybe these ideas have been discussed before. But, if you think about it and give these ideas "a chance", don't they makes sense after all?
The concept sought here is panpsychism or some mitigated subset of it like panexperientialism. Panphenomenalism might be a better label, in the sense of it making qualitative occurrences more fundamental than the complexity of a mind; but the term still isn't liberated enough from association with David Hume's views or contexts.

Galen Strawson's "real materialism" embraces panpsychism as well as Gregg Rosenberg's protoconsciousness ventures.

In the context of science, Christof Koch advocates it via the Integrated Information Theory of Giulio Tononi: A Neuroscientist’s Radical Theory of How Networks Become Conscious.
Erlaksoo Astralmirk wrote:. . . To me it seems as the "experiencer" (the "I", the soul, the "object" that experiences emotions, consciousness and qualia, be it material or non-material) must be a single undividable unity. . . .
Like Leibniz's non-divisible monads, that each shared the same phenomenal continuum synchronously unfolding within them (from different perspectives). Or for that matter, Berkeley's non-extended human minds receiving perceptual impressions of a natural world spawned by the Platonic intellectual forms housed within God (he clarified that in his later works). Such hypotheses didn't concern the material appearances of outer sense which science studies, but rather ontological circumstances as they are independent of their representation in consciousness. ["Presentation" is probably better; since, as an analogy, the external world of a dream is hardly a representation of the brain which generates it.]

But otherwise, "soul" has no place in either strict philosophical naturalism or the methodological naturalism of research, which more or less dominate the public arena today (when setting the crankhood sector aside as non-significant).

Which doesn't mean you can't entertain the idea of a transcendent version of mind either personally or in private circles. The Big-3 frameworks for idealism (or revisions of the ancient Greeks' sensible / supersensible dichotomy) of Berkeley, Leibniz, and Kant all assimilated the natural world slash world of appearances into a higher-order system. Without interfering with the progress of science in its investigation of the extrospective cosmos.

However, if going that route, ignore the return to a "grasping of soap bubbles" by the post-Kantian idealisms of the 19th century. They amusingly missed the whole point of Kant securing the experience-less "things-in-themselves" side as a practical possibility for freedom from the history and mechanistic interdependency of material phenomena in the spatiotemporal realm of our outer perceptions. What got lost is that Kant introduced a platform which could enable the output of natural philosophy [science] and the traditional beliefs of cultures (if they revised their dogmas a bit) to get along with each other.
Immanual Kant wrote:In mathematics and in natural philosophy human reason admits of limits but not of bounds, viz., that something indeed lies without it, at which it can never arrive, but not that it will at any point find completion in its internal progress. The enlarging of our views in mathematics, and the possibility of new discoveries, are infinite; and the same is the case with the discovery of new properties of nature, of new powers and laws, by continued experience and its rational combination. But limits cannot be mistaken here, for . . . [such] refers to appearances only, and what cannot be an object of sensuous contemplation . . . lies entirely without its sphere, and it can never lead to them; neither does it require them. . . . Natural science will never reveal to us the internal constitution of things [things in themselves], which though not appearance, yet can serve as the ultimate ground of explaining appearance. Nor does that science require this for its physical explanations. Nay even if such grounds should be offered from other sources (for instance, the influence of immaterial beings), they must be rejected and not used in the progress of its explanations. For these explanations must only be grounded upon that which as an object of sense can belong to experience, and be brought into connection [by experiments] with our actual perceptions and empirical laws. [PTAFM]

. . . so far from my principles, because they reduce the presentations of the senses to phenomena, turning the truth of experience into illusion [as mistakenly supposed by reviewers], they are rather the only means of guarding against the transcendental illusion, whereby metaphysics has always been deceived and misled into childish endeavours to grasp at soap-bubbles, by taking phenomena, which are mere presentations, for things in themselves [...] For what is by me termed idealism, does not touch the existence of things (the doubt of the same being what properly constitutes idealism in the opposite sense), for to doubt them has never entered my head, but simply concerns the sensuous presentation of things, to which space and time chiefly belong; and of these and of all phenomena I have only shown that they are neither things (but only modes of presentation), nor determinations belonging to things in themselves. But the word transcendental, which with me never implies a reference to our knowledge of things, but only to our faculty of knowledge [the Understanding] should guard against this misconception. Rather, however, than occasion its further continuance, I prefer to withdraw the expression, and let it be known as critical (idealism). If it be indeed an objectionable idealism, to change into mere presentations real things (not phenomena), what name shall be applied to that which conversely turns mere presentations into things? I think we may term it the dreaming idealism, in contradistinction to the foregoing, that may be termed the visionary, but both of which ought to have been obviated by my elsewhere so-called transcendental, but better, critical, idealism. [PTAFM]

. . . But when all progress in the field of the supersensible has thus been denied to speculative reason, it is still open to us to enquire whether, in the practical knowledge of reason, data may not be found sufficient to determine reason's transcendent concept of the unconditioned, and so to enable us, in accordance with the wish of metaphysics, and by means of knowledge that is possible a priori, though only from a practical point of view, to pass beyond the limits of all possible experience. [CPR]

. . . But as will be shown, reason has, in respect of its practical employment, the right to postulate what in the field of mere speculation it can have no kind of right to assume without sufficient proof. For while all such assumptions do violence to [the principle of] completeness of speculation, that is a principle with which the practical interest is not at all concerned. In the practical sphere reason has rights of possession, of which it does not require to offer proof, and of which, in fact, it could not supply proof. The burden of proof accordingly rests upon the opponent. But since the latter knows just as little of the object under question, in trying to prove its non-existence, as does the former in maintaining its reality, it is evident that the former, who is asserting something as a practically necessary supposition, is at an advantage (melior est conditio possidentis). For he is at liberty to employ, as it were in self-defence, on behalf of his own good cause, the very same weapons that his opponent employs against that cause, that is, hypotheses.

These are not intended to strengthen the proof of his position, but only to show that the opposing party has much too little understanding of the matter in dispute to allow of his flattering himself that he has the advantage in respect of speculative insight. Hypotheses are therefore, in the domain of pure reason, permissible only as weapons of war, and only for the purpose of defending a right, not in order to establish it. But the opposing party we must always look for in ourselves. For speculative reason in its transcendental employment is in itself dialectical; the objections which we have to fear lie in ourselves. We must seek them out, just as we would do in the case of claims that, while old, have never become superannuated, in order that by annulling them we may establish a permanent peace. [CPR]

Re: On the nature of the soul

Posted: Sat Jun 06, 2015 7:55 pm
by Hobbes' Choice
Definitions and assertions about "the soul" are invariably assertions about supernatural, extra somatic, and immaterial subjects.
As such they are definitively un-natural ideas.
Consequently the thread title is a contradiction.