Do humans have a soul?

Is the mind the same as the body? What is consciousness? Can machines have it?

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Immanuel Can
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Re: Do humans have a soul?

Post by Immanuel Can » Fri May 10, 2019 10:33 pm

Justintruth wrote:
Fri May 10, 2019 7:16 pm
Here is what I get from your last post:

Two vs one:

Your position is that there are two real entities required for experiencing to possibly occur.
Not quite, but you're close. Two coordinated aspects are involved.
My position is that there is no entity logically required for experiencing to occur. However, as a matter of contingent fact, I hypothesize that all experiencing does physically require a single entity to occur.
That's clearly problematic, I would say.

A rock has all that is necessary for it to exist as a real, physical entity. But it has no ability to "experience" anything. If mere physicality is all that is required, how is that?
Physical vs Non-physical:

Your position is that the entity that experiences must be non-physical.

My hypothesis is that the entities that experience are in fact all physical
Again, problematic, in my view.

Remember the old problem about, "If a tree falls in the forest, and no one hears it, does it make a sound?" Of course, the answer is that the tree falling makes a "noise," but it doesn't constitute a "sound" unless the auditory processing mechanism of a sentient creature is engaged.

If pure physicality is sufficient for an "experience" then there is no difference between the tree falling unheard and the tree falling and being heard. But that looks obviously wrong, obviously incomplete. Something new is indeed added to the event (tree falling) when a sentient being is conscious of it (hearing the sound of the falling tree). And that is, it's not just an "event" but an "experience": a thing "experienced" by the sentient entity.
External Stimulus Required:

Your position is that for experiencing to occur some external stimulus must be internalized by the conscious entity.

My position is that experiencing is a function of the state of the entity alone and that therefore no external stimulus is necessary.
If that were true, though, then "experiences" would happen without an external stimulus. But we know that ordinarily, the opposite is true: ordinarily, people "experience" only when something in their external world causes an "experience." And ordinarily, we say that people who have "experiences" without the requisite external cause are "deluded," or "having a hallucination," or, in the case you point out, "seeing flags where none actually exist."

Of course, the weakness of your "flag" illustration would potentially be this: that without the pre-experience stimulus of the staring at the off-coloured flag, the persistent vision of a flag would not occur. So it's not a case of an experience without an external stimulus, but merely the retention of the effects of an external stimulus.
Comments on above:

Two vs one:

The burden of proof is on the position with the higher number of posits.
Not necessarily.

I will accept that stipulation in this case, but it's not obvious that's so. I should point out that the idea of Ockham's Razor depends on two things: first a ceteris paribus condition ("all things being equal," which they are not, in this case), and secondly, that we should not multiply explanations beyond that point necessary to explain them. That last phrase is the key.

The question we're begging right now is whether we can explain "experience" with only one entity ("physics"). My suggestion, as you can see above, is that physics alone are not a sufficient entity to justify an explanation.
There does not seem to me to be any instances of ghosts or zombies. What is your reason for requiring the second posit of a separate conscious entity instead of one that has properties like position, temperature etc and also that experiences?
Oh, very simple.

Temperature, position and so forth are not cognitive attributes. They're merely physical. And you can locate both merely mechanically, with a high degree of accuracy (a thermometer, and a compass or GPS, for example). But there is no "experience-ometer," no instrumental means to predict or interpret the nature of experiences. And there are obvious reasons for that, such as the problem of criteria and the problem of calibration.

So something vastly different is clearly there.
Physical vs Non-physical:

Is your position that an entity must not be “merely physical” or that it cannot be physical at all?
Not really. This would be a difference between my position and strict Dualism.

I'm more interested in the fact that the two are coordinated in some way. They're clearly not identical, but they're not exactly separable either.

What do I mean? Well, for example, one needs a body to have an experience. One's experience is launched with reference to a specific location and time. But it's also particular to the person: a different person would not have quite the same experience, regardless of space and time.

We can see this even more starkly if we consider different types of cognition by different cognizers. Nagel talks about humans versus bats. He says that no human knows what it is to experience things as a bat does. If both are genuine experiences, then why is that? If experiences are strictly physical, they ought to be the same.

So that's interesting.
Physics will not be able to do this without positing in addition to the current postulates that physics can experience. I agree that no physical device that operates “merely under current physical law” would be aware – but that is just the problem that needs correction in physical laws.
That's purely assumptive, not demonstrated. I think it's highly implausible.

It's all too tempting, once one is onto a one-explanation view, to gloss over the serious reductional problems in that view by issuing a kind of "promissory note" that these problems will be solved in the future. But we have to admit that that's an act of pure prophecy, not a scientific answer. Until the problem has a full solution in terms of physicality, there is no complete physical solution.

And if you ask for my prophecy, I think that's never going to happen, because I don't see any way mere physicality corresponds to the inner experience of the "experiencer."

But I find your thoughts on this interesting. I'm not sold, but I'm intrigued by the attempt, for sure.
Last edited by Immanuel Can on Sat May 11, 2019 2:43 am, edited 1 time in total.


Justintruth
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Re: Do humans have a soul?

Post by Justintruth » Sat May 11, 2019 11:17 am

Immanuel Can wrote:
Fri May 10, 2019 10:33 pm
Justintruth wrote:
Fri May 10, 2019 7:16 pm
Here is what I get from your last post:

Two vs one:

Your position is that there are two real entities required for experiencing to possibly occur.
Not quite, but you're close. Two coordinated aspects are involved.
Then we agree? Two coordinated aspects of one entity?
My position is that there is no entity logically required for experiencing to occur. However, as a matter of contingent fact, I hypothesize that all experiencing does physically require a single entity to occur.
That's clearly problematic, I would say.

A rock has all that is necessary for it to exist as a real, physical entity. But it has no ability to "experience" anything. If mere physicality is all that is required, how is that?
Because your statement that it has no ability to experiencing anything is false. Imagine I take a large rock, break it down and then reassemble it as a brain with life support. Don't you think that it would then experience? It seems it is only the particular arrangement of the material that prevents the rock from experiencing. Now if it does experience, and if any matter can be arranged so as to experience they we need to start including that in the science of matter. It is a real fact of matter.
Physical vs Non-physical:

Your position is that the entity that experiences must be non-physical.

My hypothesis is that the entities that experience are in fact all physical
Again, problematic, in my view.

Remember the old problem about, "If a tree falls in the forest, and no one hears it, does it make a sound?" Of course, the answer is that the tree falling makes a "noise," but it doesn't constitute a "sound" unless the auditory processing mechanism of a sentient creature is engaged.

If pure physicality is sufficient for an "experience" then there is no difference between the tree falling unheard and the tree falling and being heard. But that looks obviously wrong, obviously incomplete. Something new is indeed added to the event (tree falling) when a sentient being is conscious of it (hearing the sound of the falling tree). And that is, it's not just an "event" but an "experience": a thing "experienced" by the sentient entity.
I agree. Where we disagree is whether a physical entity could be the entity that experienced the event. Remember now that "a physical entity" as I just used it is not a "mere physical entity" meaning not an entity whose only properties are those that are described in the current physics. Rather I am assuming that we posit that matter can experience and generate a function that maps the "merely physical" onto the set of "physically producible experiencings". Then, if I move a "normal functioning human", or a "normally functioning dog", near to the tree, and I take the state vector of that system the operators would say that there should be an auditory sound of such pitch etc. which is best described as a "tree falling hearing".

Absent the presence of some physical being capable of hearing there would still be the sound wave but if I ran the operators for all possible experiencing on that situation's state vector it would yield a zero probability of any experiencing. And if by "sound" we meant a type of experiencing they we would have the answer. A tree falling in the forest without a physical entity having properties that cause its state to be in the inverse image of the experiencing operators that indicate sound hearing would make no sound. But we would also have much better resolution on what "someone" being around meant. Some artificial entity, perhaps silicon based, designed to experience and *in fact* experiencing whenever sound waves impacted a sensor and you have "sound hearing" by the device.
External Stimulus Required:

Your position is that for experiencing to occur some external stimulus must be internalized by the conscious entity.

My position is that experiencing is a function of the state of the entity alone and that therefore no external stimulus is necessary.
If that were true, though, then "experiences" would happen without an external stimulus. But we know that ordinarily, the opposite is true: ordinarily, people "experience" only when something in their external world causes an "experience." And ordinarily, we say that people who have "experiences" without the requisite external cause are "deluded," or "having a hallucination," or, in the case you point out, "seeing flags where none actually exist."

Of course, the weakness of your "flag" illustration would potentially be this: that without the pre-experience stimulus of the staring at the off-coloured flag, the persistent vision of a flag would not occur. So it's not a case of an experience without an external stimulus, but merely the retention of the effects of an external stimulus.
Exactly. The fact that we have sensory devices connected to our brain is what causes the experiencing to be sensory. If you sever those connections you do not eliminate experiencing. Black seeing, for example, probably can be introduced to a normally sighted person whose optic nerves are carefully severed, and I believe that internal to the brain other colors could be generated. Perhaps on an internal clock. The whole notion of perception is just the way that experiencing is connected to external signals that carry information from their source or what they are reflected on.

I just may be that a device could be constructed that could receive a television signal from a satellite and, oh let's say be "CNBC hearing and seeing". In fact it probably is possible to transmit into the brain. In fact we sort of know that that is possible because if we take the television set and consider it "sensory apparatus" then it is already happening.

We really don't know how many senses there possibly are are given an arbitrary device.
Comments on above:

Two vs one:

The burden of proof is on the position with the higher number of posits.
Not necessarily.

I will accept that stipulation in this case, but it's not obvious that's so. I should point out that the idea of Ockham's Razor depends on two things: first a ceteris paribus condition ("all things being equal," which they are not, in this case), and secondly, that we should not multiply explanations beyond that point necessary to explain them. That last phrase is the key.

The question we're begging right now is whether we can explain "experience" with only one entity ("physics"). My suggestion, as you can see above, is that physics alone are not a sufficient entity to justify an explanation.
Oh I think we have "ceteris paribus" as both situations describe the same result. It is just how the entitative-ness is parsed out. Also, neither explanation is sufficient. There is no "explaining" done here. Once the posits are set out then one can "explain" using them. For example you can explain that the reason there is sound in the forest is because there is a experiencing entity there somehow "sitting" on that other mechanical entity and that's why there is a sound. I could then explain that in fact there is only one entity that man over there. He is hearing because he is a physical being and we know from the physics then when we arrange matter in such and such a way it hears, and, well, that man's matter is arranged that way. Neither of us could do any explaining without our posits and we are looking at which posits to make.

There does not seem to me to be any instances of ghosts or zombies. What is your reason for requiring the second posit of a separate conscious entity instead of one that has properties like position, temperature etc and also that experiences?
Oh, very simple.

Temperature, position and so forth are not cognitive attributes. They're merely physical. And you can locate both merely mechanically, with a high degree of accuracy (a thermometer, and a compass or GPS, for example). But there is no "experience-ometer," no instrumental means to predict or interpret the nature of experiences. And there are obvious reasons for that, such as the problem of criteria and the problem of calibration.

So something vastly different is clearly there.
I agree with: "So something is vastly different" not "Something vastly different is there". The latter is a non-sequitur. But note that something is different between a thermometer and a compass also. There is a difference between temperature and electromagnetism.

I will also grant that there is something the same between a thermometer and a compass that is different from experiencing. But on principle there is no problem because assuming matter can experience, then we could construct a kind of switch in the system that would allow you to remember what it is like to "be him", meaning I connect a "him" to your memory. There are other possibilities. But even absent those, unless you are solipsistic about it we already just ask the person what they are experiencing and assume that the answer is based on the fact that they are. That is how neuroscience proceeds now. There is something called "meta-cognition" that get's involved. A good Occupational Therapist will have been trained on how to spot those impairments that extend to impairment of knowledge of the impairment. Unfortunately, human brains can be disabled that way.
Physical vs Non-physical:

Is your position that an entity must not be “merely physical” or that it cannot be physical at all?
Not really. This would be a difference between my position and strict Dualism.
Oh?! I am not sure then that I understand your position. What is "strict Dualism" and how does it differ from what you are saying?
I'm more interested in the fact that the two are coordinated in some way. They're clearly not identical, but they're not exactly separable either.
Well an electron has charge and mass. Now the electron is not identical with its charge, nor is it identical with its mass, nor is charge, mass, but the electron is the entity that is charged and massive. Why won't that work here? Not for an electron but for the right assembly of matter?
...about the bat... If experiences are strictly physical, they ought to be the same.
That is a non-sequitur. Different experiences can be had by different configurations of matter. It's not like matter experiences independent of its configuration. Smash a brain and it stops experiencing. Anesthetize one and it stops also.

Physics will not be able to do this without positing in addition to the current postulates that physics can experience. I agree that no physical device that operates “merely under current physical law” would be aware – but that is just the problem that needs correction in physical laws.

That's purely assumptive, not demonstrated.
I think it's highly implausible.
Well we already have a lot of the pieces. We know it is the brain. We know certain areas generate certain types of experiencing. We have a good description of neurons, action potential etc. We have the surprising recent success of neuronal networks to beat, or at least come close to beating image recognition by humans. That does not mean they are conscious but it does mean that we are getting farther and farther toward understanding the one piece of matter that seems to experience - the brain.

If I am wrong it is because we will find something as simple as two brains that are identical in all ways we can measure with physical instruments but that report different experiencing or for which we can determine that they are experiencing differently. If then we find some link to previous experiencing and it is not random then we may have cause to introduce the "ghost" entity and look at its history independent of the history of its other physical parameters.
It's all too tempting, once one is onto a one-explanation view, to gloss over the serious reductional problems in that view by issuing a kind of "promissory note" that these problems will be solved in the future. But we have to admit that that's an act of pure prophecy, not a scientific answer. Until the problem has a full solution in terms of physicality, there is no complete physical solution.
It is very important that you distinguish what I am saying from reduction and explanation. I am not saying that experiencing reduces to the current physics. I am saying you can and should augment the physics with additional properties for matter and make it explicit that by matter we mean something that can be configured to experience. That is not reduction, nor is it explanation. If you say that about me its a strawman ok?

What I am really talking about is how to model what we experience. Once modeled correctly you don't need reduction and you can then use the model to explain falling trees etc.
And if you ask for my prophecy, I think that's never going to happen, because I don't see any way mere physicality corresponds to the inner experience of the "experiencer."
Ok. Not "mere physicality". But I am not proposing that. Why not "re-defined physicality". As I have said, no way a device whose only functions are those described in the current physics no matter how complex the design can be said to experience. It is self contradictory because you are saying it "only functions as described in the current physics" and then saying "it experiences" and "it experiencing" is not "described in the current physics" at all, so without equivocation those claims cannot be made the same.
But I find your thoughts on this interesting. I'm not sold, but I'm intrigued by the attempt, for sure.
Likewise. Here are two sentences: "That human brain sees." "That human brain has created a consciousness that sees" What decides which is more true than the other? Especially since you are not claiming that one could inspect the "consciousness" somehow. In other words you do not think you can open the brain and find in it some other thing that one could claim was the "consciousness that experiences". I really think this is what Occams razor is for. If there are ghosts or zombies then I am wrong. There could be but I don't think they are.

One other thing. We can run operators in the physical sciences only for very simple states. I do not think we could actually define the operators within physics easily. We would, as we do now, need the higher level physical sciences. Neurology to be specific, and computerscience. So there is not "Airplane" operator in quantum physics now. Still we believe that the operation of an airplane could be described by the current quantum operators. We couldn't do that for experiencing. Still we might continue Husserl's program of classifying phenomenon and maybe find some approach to augmenting the operators we have. Perhaps some neural network will one day be able to assess whether a piece of matter is experiencing and what it is experiencing and we could reverse engineer it.

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Immanuel Can
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Re: Do humans have a soul?

Post by Immanuel Can » Sat May 11, 2019 2:12 pm

Justintruth wrote:
Sat May 11, 2019 11:17 am
Not quite, but you're close. Two coordinated aspects are involved.
Then we agree? Two coordinated aspects of one entity?
I think so. The entity we call "Justintruth" operates on two coordinated levels at once: the physical and, for want of any other term, "the spiritual." Which causes which is not the question, so much as "Why and how are they coordinated?" and "What does this mean for our understanding of reality?"
A rock has all that is necessary for it to exist as a real, physical entity. But it has no ability to "experience" anything. If mere physicality is all that is required, how is that?
Because your statement that it has no ability to experiencing anything is false. Imagine I take a large rock, break it down and then reassemble it as a brain with life support. Don't you think that it would then experience? It seems it is only the particular arrangement of the material that prevents the rock from experiencing. [/quote]
I don't think that's right. And here's a reason for thinking it's not: that brains can exist with none of this consciousness quality in them. Take a look in any morgue, and we find examples. Those are brains, all properly arranged, and which fully exist in a physical sense. But they lack the animating energy that creates consciousness.

Now, you can say, "That's just because they lack the life support." But there's no reason to imagine that even if you could hook them up, post mortem, and flow into them all the essentials, that any consciousness or identity would return to them. And the burden of proof to show that that could be done would surely rest on the Materialist side.
Now if it does experience, and if any matter can be arranged so as to experience they we need to start including that in the science of matter. It is a real fact of matter.
I don't think it can. A rock is a non-experiencing entity. But a pile of rocks is not more experience-capable. An infinite pile of rocks is more complex, but not more experience-capable than a single rock. The problem is not merely one of complexity.

Admittedly, we're into thought experiments here. But these thought-experiments give us good reason to doubt that the case would be a simple as you suggest it would.
Physical vs Non-physical:

Your position is that the entity that experiences must be non-physical.

My hypothesis is that the entities that experience are in fact all physical
Again, problematic, in my view.

Remember the old problem about, "If a tree falls in the forest, and no one hears it, does it make a sound?" Of course, the answer is that the tree falling makes a "noise," but it doesn't constitute a "sound" unless the auditory processing mechanism of a sentient creature is engaged.

If pure physicality is sufficient for an "experience" then there is no difference between the tree falling unheard and the tree falling and being heard. But that looks obviously wrong, obviously incomplete. Something new is indeed added to the event (tree falling) when a sentient being is conscious of it (hearing the sound of the falling tree). And that is, it's not just an "event" but an "experience": a thing "experienced" by the sentient entity.
I agree. Where we disagree is whether a physical entity could be the entity that experienced the event.
Well, say "merely physical," and I think I agree with that. Remember that I don't deny the physical and spiritual are coordinated aspects of a single phenomenon. There is a sense in which we can say "the physical experiences" but a sense in which we definitely cannot. That is, we cannot say that the merely physical has experiences.
Remember now that "a physical entity" as I just used it is not a "mere physical entity" meaning not an entity whose only properties are those that are described in the current physics. Rather I am assuming that we posit that matter can experience and generate a function that maps the "merely physical" onto the set of "physically producible experiencings". Then, if I move a "normal functioning human", or a "normally functioning dog", near to the tree, and I take the state vector of that system the operators would say that there should be an auditory sound of such pitch etc. which is best described as a "tree falling hearing".
Again, though, you've got sentient entities to receive the phenomenon or event (falling tree) and process it into an "experience" (one hearing a tree falling).
Some artificial entity, perhaps silicon based, designed to experience and *in fact* experiencing whenever sound waves impacted a sensor and you have "sound hearing" by the device.

But we swallow too much when we say "designed to experience." How do we know that a silicon based, designed entity actually "experiences"?

Are you familiar with Searle's Chinese Room experiment? It illustrates really well how easy it is for human beings to pass something on the Turing Test, and yet it absolutely not to be sentient. We could think the silicon based entity was manifesting everything we expect of an experiencing entity, and yet be completely fooled. It could be just "running its program," and not actually interpreting the event at all.

We just don't have criteria for distinguishing between real and expertly-reproduced manifestations of other entities "experiencing." We know about our own selves, but not about other entities. So we're best to tap what we know, ourselves, for the answers; not to look to speculative models or constructs and just assume what they seem to be "experiencing" is real experience. We just can't know, at present.

This is a big problem in AI, of course. When is "experiencing" just artificial, and will it ever be capable, even in principle, of crossing over into genuine consciousness? Or are we just adding rocks to the pile, or rearranging the rocks and putting them through more and more sophisticated arrangements, and thinking that if enough fall into place then spiritual vitality will suddenly spring out of the pile?

And irritatingly for us, the "pile" is already becoming something that looks animated, but (at present, for sure) we know is not -- the (conventional) computer. We already know we can be fooled by that "pile of rocks," at least temporarily. And it's getting worse for us every day, as the technology sophisticates.
The fact that we have sensory devices connected to our brain is what causes the experiencing to be sensory. If you sever those connections you do not eliminate experiencing. Black seeing, for example, probably can be introduced to a normally sighted person whose optic nerves are carefully severed, and I believe that internal to the brain other colors could be generated. Perhaps on an internal clock. The whole notion of perception is just the way that experiencing is connected to external signals that carry information from their source or what they are reflected on.
The process isn't that simple. If it were, it would be uniform. But instead, "experiencing" is qualitatively particular, and changes with the entity or person having the experience. It's clearly far more than "stimulus 1 = response 1."
...if we take the television set and consider it "sensory apparatus" then it is already happening.

Oh, we know it's not.

Consider not the modern, sophisticated, programmed TV's, but the '60s clunker TV's. Is there any real sense in which we can say that a '60s TV "experienced" anything, or "sensed" anything? I think that's far too much of a stretch. But then we've got to ask, "What innovation between those TVs and now suddenly produced "sensory awareness"? I don't think there are any candidate systems.
Two vs one:

The burden of proof is on the position with the higher number of posits.
Not necessarily.

I will accept that stipulation in this case, but it's not obvious that's so. I should point out that the idea of Ockham's Razor depends on two things: first a ceteris paribus condition ("all things being equal," which they are not, in this case), and secondly, that we should not multiply explanations beyond that point necessary to explain them. That last phrase is the key.

The question we're begging right now is whether we can explain "experience" with only one entity ("physics"). My suggestion, as you can see above, is that physics alone are not a sufficient entity to justify an explanation.
Oh I think we have "ceteris paribus" as both situations describe the same result.
I think we don't. You think we do.
I could then explain that in fact there is only one entity that man over there. He is hearing because he is a physical being and we know from the physics then when we arrange matter in such and such a way it hears,

Actually, that's what we DON'T know.

We cannot "arrange" matter so that it "hears" in the unique, personal, conscious way required for genuine "experience." We can set up mechanical "receptors" designed to imitate one feature of our own experiencing process, but we cannot produce the cognition in them that is requisite to call that "experiencing."
There does not seem to me to be any instances of ghosts or zombies. What is your reason for requiring the second posit of a separate conscious entity instead of one that has properties like position, temperature etc and also that experiences?
Oh, very simple.

Temperature, position and so forth are not cognitive attributes. They're merely physical. And you can locate both merely mechanically, with a high degree of accuracy (a thermometer, and a compass or GPS, for example). But there is no "experience-ometer," no instrumental means to predict or interpret the nature of experiences. And there are obvious reasons for that, such as the problem of criteria and the problem of calibration.

So something vastly different is clearly there.
I agree with: "So something is vastly different" not "Something vastly different is there". The latter is a non-sequitur.
Like what?
But note that something is different between a thermometer and a compass also. There is a difference between temperature and electromagnetism.

Yes, but not the same difference. Thermometer and compass are both mechanical, and both only measure physical properties. They are, thus, in the same "category," though not identical. But if "experiencing" were in that category, then the "experience-ometer" would be just about as easy to create as the compass or the thermometer. It is not.

It's not by way of a mere difference of degree, but of a complete difference of category.

In your theory, "experience-ability" has to equate to "more (sophisticated?) physicality. I think that's implausibly presumptive: and unless we had a purely-physical entity that had verified "experience-ability" we would have absolutely no reason to suppose such a think is even rational to expect.
But even absent those, unless you are solipsistic about it we already just ask the person what they are experiencing and assume that the answer is based on the fact that they are.

The Chinese Room experiment shows why this isn't true.

Essentially, we could be fooled by your test, which is essentially the Turing Test, and yet there could be no genuine cognition or experiencing involved at all.
Physical vs Non-physical:

Is your position that an entity must not be “merely physical” or that it cannot be physical at all?
Not really. This would be a difference between my position and strict Dualism.
Oh?! I am not sure then that I understand your position. What is "strict Dualism" and how does it differ from what you are saying?
Strict Dualism insists on the real existence of two utterly different types of things -- physical and spiritual. But it can also stop right there, and may not be impressed by the coordination between them. I think the coordination is an important fact, but I'm not reductive about it: I don't think the right answer is to "reduce" the physical to the spiritual (as in Pantheism, for example) or the spiritual to the physical (as in Eliminative Materialism, for example).

I would insist that any complete answer to the question, "What is an experience?" Must satisfy us not merely in one "realm" but in both, and in neither by merely dismissing the other as unimportant. So that nexus of coordination is very important to me. I want to know about that, but not rely on eliminativist or reductional explanations, which seem to me like excuses for not taking the question as seriously as it deserves.

My idea of Dualism, then, is more a Dualism-of-Coordination than a Dualism-of-Distinction, if that makes it any clearer.
I'm more interested in the fact that the two are coordinated in some way. They're clearly not identical, but they're not exactly separable either.
Well an electron has charge and mass.
Really? Electrons are Catholic?

(Sorry, old joke. Go on...)
Now the electron is not identical with its charge, nor is it identical with its mass, nor is charge, mass, but the electron is the entity that is charged and massive. Why won't that work here? Not for an electron but for the right assembly of matter?
Because all you've got is two physical properties. That analogy would hand the Eliminative Materialist an easy "win"...far too easy a "win," in my view, because it fails to recognize the qualitative difference between physical events and their interpretation into experiences.
I agree that no physical device that operates “merely under current physical law” would be aware – but that is just the problem that needs correction in physical laws.
That's like saying, "I've never fixed this watch by hammering, but that's just because I haven't hammered hard enough yet." We're still just "hammering" away at the idea that the physical laws will eventually produce something for which they have so far, admittedly, produced no progress at all.

One thing Philosophers of Mind seem to agree on is that if "mind" exists it exists "superveniently," not mechanically. It doesn't "come on by degrees," but "emerges" suddenly, without us being able to understand a normal causal chain that would produce it. Those who think consciousness "emerged" in this way (I'm not one of them, by the way) think it's a kind of "jump of evolution," in which that which was utterly uncognitive at one point becomes suddenly cognitive at another -- not like an oven warming up, but like a light switch suddenly being turned on..

There was none, then there was some...that's how they think it was.
Well we already have a lot of the pieces. We know it is the brain.

No: we know it is "with" or "in" the brain. We do not know it IS the brain.
We know certain areas generate certain types of experiencing.
This is the "coordination" aspect that interests me.
We have a good description of neurons, action potential etc. We have the surprising recent success of neuronal networks to beat, or at least come close to beating image recognition by humans. That does not mean they are conscious but it does mean that we are getting farther and farther toward understanding the one piece of matter that seems to experience - the brain.
But all this is only the physical side. We're not making any progress at all on consciousness there.
It's all too tempting, once one is onto a one-explanation view, to gloss over the serious reductional problems in that view by issuing a kind of "promissory note" that these problems will be solved in the future. But we have to admit that that's an act of pure prophecy, not a scientific answer. Until the problem has a full solution in terms of physicality, there is no complete physical solution.
It is very important that you distinguish what I am saying from reduction and explanation. I am not saying that experiencing reduces to the current physics.
I know that.

But the "promissory note" is not for the present physics. It's almost always offered as a tender that in future a new kind of physics will appear that will do what our present physics seems to fail to do.

This too is mere prophecy...a different promise of "emergent" science that has not yet existed, but springs like Zeus from the head of mere Chronos (time).
If you say that about me its a strawman ok?
I don't make ad hominem arguments. You can rest easy on that point.
And if you ask for my prophecy, I think that's never going to happen, because I don't see any way mere physicality corresponds to the inner experience of the "experiencer."
Ok. Not "mere physicality". But I am not proposing that. Why not "re-defined physicality". [/quote]
Because it's a prophecy.

I know science is, in a certain regard, "aspirational" as a pursuit...that is, it aims at discovering things we admittedly have not yet discovered. And that's legitimate. But it also has to stay modest, and not make claims for which not only does the evidence not yet exist, but even the type of science or methodology does not exist. We have no reason to believe in any "new physics" that will supersede our conventional physics, until we have such a thing in hand.

Time (chronos) is not an automatic producer of all currently non-existent things. The world still works only within the limitations of reality.
As I have said, no way a device whose only functions are those described in the current physics no matter how complex the design can be said to experience.
That's the problem I'm pointing out.
It is self contradictory because you are saying it "only functions as described in the current physics" and then saying "it experiences" and "it experiencing" is not "described in the current physics" at all, so without equivocation those claims cannot be made the same.
I'm not catching the sense of this concern. Maybe you can put it with quotations, so I can see your point better. I may have misspoken, or I may have an explanation, but at present, I can't figure out what's bothering you.
Likewise. Here are two sentences: "That human brain sees." "That human brain has created a consciousness that sees" What decides which is more true than the other?
Why do we think either is true? I would say neither, actually.
Especially since you are not claiming that one could inspect the "consciousness" somehow.
Well, you agree with me about that -- if our basis is current physics, you say.
If there are ghosts or zombies then I am wrong.

If Materialism were right, then every one of us would be a kind of zombie -- a mere mobile physical entity with no genuine consciousness. But I too don't think they exist, of course.

But here again is where my kind of Dualism is better: I don't want to argue for ghosts and zombies...I want to consider the whole person as a body-soul complex, without having to pretend one of them doesn't really exist or can be simply dismissed as a form of the other. I want to ask, "What does the body bring to the equation, and what does the soul bring?" not "How can I get rid of one of them by relying entirely on explanations from the other."

Justintruth
Posts: 161
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Re: Do humans have a soul?

Post by Justintruth » Thu May 16, 2019 6:21 pm

Immanuel Can wrote:
Sat May 11, 2019 2:12 pm
Which causes which is not the question, so much as "Why and how are they coordinated
Why are they coordinated? Do you think there is a reason that they are coordinated? How they are coordinated is important in the sense of description but not in the sense of some answer that explains without posits.
Take a look in any morgue, and we find examples. Those are brains, all properly arranged, and which fully exist in a physical sense. But they lack the animating energy that creates consciousness.
Well surely the head wound gunshot victims don’t have their brains properly arranged. But even take, oh, a cancer victim. The brain of a dead person does not have the same state vector as a living one. In addition to consciousness a competent neurologist can declare a brain dead or alive based on measurements. Just look at a brainwave display for example. Dead brains don’t have alpha waves …in fact they don’t have waves because there cells are not firing.

When you say “…properly arranged…” about dead brains I almost cringe. My understanding is that dead brains are not properly arranged at all and I would take action to prevent my brain, or should I say me, from becoming so arranged. What do you mean?
Now, you can say, "That's just because they lack the life support." But there's no reason to imagine that even if you could hook them up, post mortem, and flow into them all the essentials, that any consciousness or identity would return to them.
My father was actually in a medical ethics study where they exposed ordinary people to certain things that happen in a hospital and see how they react. My dad saw a guy dead on a table and the doctor went over and started ventilation and chest massage and my father was amazed to see him return to looking normal. Now he did not regain consciousness but the doctor repeated the process several times. He also said they could hook him up to a machine and his body could live for years.

The medical community can declare brain death and it really means that that brain will not again be conscious.
And the burden of proof to show that that could be done would surely rest on the Materialist side
What? Why? Makes no sense. You’re not giving an argument here. The burden of proof is on the ones making the additional posit. Do you agree with that? And do you agree that you are making an additional posit?

And it is not a proof exactly. They must just show that the additional posit is needed. You must answer why we need to say that there is a person there that is conscious not just a brain there that is conscious. If the person could somehow be separated from the brain (ghost or zombie) without changing the brain then you would have it. But given we don’t have that circumstance factually, there is no need for the posit of something else. The brain itself, if it is posited that matter arranged in certain ways experienced, would be all that is needed and that same posit, the brain, also is what has things like a temperature and other physical properties so there does not seem to be a need for two.

Perhaps you can say that positing additional properties is no better that positing and additional entity. I disagree because you have two additional posits, that of experiencing – the property – and that of the additional substance, the “spirit” or “soul” or “consciousness” which then experiences.
Re: …any matter can be arranged so as to experience …..
I don't think it can. A rock is a non-experiencing entity. But a pile of rocks is not more experience-capable.
No, but a pile of rocks is not a brain – it’s just a different arrangement though. A pile of rocks can be changed into the right elements and reassembled into a brain in current theory.

We arrange matter by inserting a sperm into and egg and letting it develop in a female. It reliably produces human brains. What makes up their brains is mostly from carbon harvested from ordinary CO2 in the atmosphere by plants. Surely you realize that a pile of rocks can be transmuted into CO2. Again, what do you mean we can’t arrange matter into a brain? If we had some mom breathing only CO2 of the right isotope, we could prove that the brain tissue came from that CO2. No one does that experiment because it is so obvious that it does. See Hooke’s experiment and the reality of the food chain into the mother.
Admittedly, we're into thought experiments here. But these thought-experiments give us good reason to doubt that the case would be a simple as you suggest it would.
The thought experiments clearly show it can be done.
If pure physicality is sufficient for an "experience" then there is no difference between the tree falling unheard and the tree falling and being heard. But that looks obviously wrong, obviously incomplete. Something new is indeed added to the event (tree falling) when a sentient being is conscious of it (hearing the sound of the falling tree). And that is, it's not just an "event" but an "experience": a thing "experienced" by the sentient entity.
Yes, but the sentient entity is a brain and we already have discussed that the sensory pathways are irrelevant. The sensation can be said to occur without any consciousness in the same way your garage door opener. What is different is the fact that it experiences. And as far as I know that is only an event. Like all events it becomes “frozen” into the past but there doesn’t seem to be any objective ontology other than the brain. The sentient entity that you talk about always seems to be a brain.

Can you say why, if there is some sentient being that hears, why there always seems to also be a brain there? That is the weakness of your theory. It can’t explain the need for the brain to be there. Or conversely why if you have a brain there and a tree falls there is always a falling tree hearing? In fact there is a hearing of a tree falling and a tree falling hearing both. The sound waves constitute the signal to the ear, which feeds it into the brain where the tree falling hearing occurs.
Remember that I don't deny the physical and spiritual are coordinated aspects of a single phenomenon.
You lose me here. One phenomenon not two? I thought you were saying we needed two? What do you want to call that one phenomenon? The one phenomenon that is both brain and experiencing if not a brain experiencing?
There is a sense in which we can say "the physical experiences" but a sense in which we definitely cannot. That is, we cannot say that the merely physical has experiences.
Again. We talked about this. Exactly what do you mean by “merely”?
Again, though, you've got sentient entities to receive the phenomenon or event (falling tree) and process it into an "experience" (one hearing a tree falling).
Of course you do! The brains, the brains are sentient! The question is not whether there is a “sentient entity”. The question is why, given that no ghost, no zombie is true, you would need a second entity to be sentient. Why you can’t have a brain that has “mere” physical properties and also is experiencing? No one says you don’t need a sentient entity. Now you don’t need perception. Hearing a tree fall needs tree falling hearing but tree falling hearing can be created using the right neural stimulus even if there is no tree falling!
How do we know that a silicon based, designed entity actually "experiences"?

There are three ways and they are the same for silicon as carbon. First, by analogy. If you have a silicon duplication of every function of the brain then the burden of proof shifts and you have to explain why you think it is not conscious. Especially if it were talking to you and telling you it was and was even trying to defend itself from you. Second way is a mind meld. Being able to somehow surgically connect two devices. We can’t do that yet but it is a possibility. We could also take a human and replace a neuron at a time and then re-replace one and see what they report.
Are you familiar with Searle's Chinese Room experiment? It illustrates really well how easy it is for human beings to pass something on the Turing Test, and yet it absolutely not to be sentient.

Ok, first I agree that the Turing test can be false positive. But the thrust of the Chinese room experiment is not that. The Chinese room experiment just says that you can’t create a consciousness of something solely by having that something perceive the syntax of a language that has said that thing like in text. So I can’t get red from “red”. There is no way to derive semantics from syntax. Look at the need for the rosetta stone. Look also at the history of the Chinese room experiment. Searle originally deployed it to show that a computer that only had type written input could not be made to be conscious of what was typed in. If I type “red” it can’t get red. Now if you add vidcams and microphones the Chinese room experiment of Searle does not apply. You need to look very carefully at the history of the Chinese room. Semantics cannot be derived from syntax. It is impossible. The Chinese room is more about language than it is about computers. If you have access solely to the syntax of a language you can’t decipher.

Now can you see where that is false! It is sooooo interesting because Turing was involved. It is false if you think of enigma. They were able to decode the messages without knowing the semantics of the syntax originally. But the way that did that was by comparing what was happening outside of the language to what was happening in the semantics. So if you have some language which is deployed in a real setting that you can observed – and that is a really, really big if, then you can derive semantics from the syntax. But if you ONLY have the syntax you are done for. They did the same in the Pacific in WWII. They inserted a message on an open channel saying that Midway was low on water and were able then to monitor the syntax and see what the syntax for Midway was in the Japanese code. This allowed US carriers to be in place to ambush the Japanese. It was crucial. The Chinese room actually fails to apply because the Japanese know what “Midway” meant in the open text.

I know this sounds crazy and I can’t establish it but I think that Turing just thought the question was stupid and he was making fun of everyone asking by saying something like “Oh just do what you usually do, stupid” I honestly believe he was joking. But I am not a historian so I wouldn’t take what I am saying too seriously.
We just don't have criteria for distinguishing between real and expertly-reproduced manifestations of other entities "experiencing." We know about our own selves, but not about other entities. So we're best to tap what we know, ourselves, for the answers; not to look to speculative models or constructs and just assume what they seem to be "experiencing" is real experience. We just can't know, at present.
Well, at least you include me in “ourselves”. I wonder how that will make the other machines feel. Especially when I can replace a neuron at a time. So when exactly do we disqualify the silicon / carbon entity? Half way? We do have a criteria and it is by a kind of analogy. It is a poor criteria, with large ambiguity but it works sufficiently for you to believe that I am experiencing.
When is "experiencing" just artificial, ….”
Actually “artificial” just means that we made it in some way other than coitus. That is all.
….and will it ever be capable, even in principle, of crossing over into genuine consciousness? Or are we just adding rocks to the pile, or rearranging the rocks and putting them through more and more sophisticated arrangements, and thinking that if enough fall into place then spiritual vitality will suddenly spring out of the pile?
There is no reason at all to think it will ever spring into the pile if you use the current properties of matter. But, as an example look at synesthesia. We now know how it works. We can probably artificially induce it into a brain.

There is just no reason to believe that the current result of evolution has had any “springing out of the pile” …. except one. Each one of us can see that we ourselves are experiencing. So we know it sprang out of the pile.
Consider not the modern, sophisticated, programmed TV's, but the '60s clunker TV's. Is there any real sense in which we can say that a '60s TV "experienced" anything, or "sensed" anything?
You missed my point. I was just saying that a current television system can be considered part of the same sensory apparatus as the eye and the optic nerve. The experiencing still occurs in the brain but what is experienced can be remoted not just in space, but also in time, using TV systems and recordings. How many of us born after President Kennedy was shot and not there at the time have failed to see his head blown apart, then in reverse, then blown apart again!

The burden of proof is on the position with the higher number of posits.
Not necessarily.
Well, here is really where we disagree. You don’t believe in Occam’s razor? What is your argument against “ceteris paribus” in this case?

He is hearing because he is a physical being and we know from the physics then when we arrange matter in such and such a way it hears,
Actually, that's what we DON'T know.
Ok, but if there is matter arranged just as in my body when I am hearing and it is not hearing then there is a zombie, and I immediately yield the need for an additional posit of a spirit or soul or something else. But we agreed I thought that we are assuming no zombies and no ghosts?
We cannot "arrange" matter so that it "hears" in the unique, personal, conscious way required for genuine "experience."
Do you have children? How are children conceived. We “arrange” not only coitus but we feed and shelter them, make sure they do not drink poison or fall out of a tree, and do all kinds of other physical things over decades so that some person can stand and can hear in a forest. We do not “arrange”? We do not arrange?!!!!”

What is your reason for requiring the second posit of a separate conscious entity instead of one that has properties like position, temperature etc and also that experiences?
Temperature, position and so forth are not cognitive attributes. They're merely physical.
There is that word again! Because they are not “merely” physical?

Ok, I agree, but what are they in addition to being “merely” physical? What other properties are you talking about if you don’t’ believe that it is possible to have a cognitive attribute assigned to the merely physical.
Let me rephrase: “What is your reason for requiring the second posit of a separate conscious entity instead of one that has both merely physical properties and also non-merely physical properties like experiencing?” Does the rewording help?

So something vastly different is clearly there.
I agree with: "So something is vastly different" not "Something vastly different is there". The latter is a non-sequitur.
Like what?
That the matter is experiencing.

Yes, but not the same difference.
Yes but so what. It is a difference still!
Thermometer and compass are both mechanical, and both only measure physical properties.
True
They are, thus, in the same "category," though not identical.
True
But if "experiencing" were in that category, then the "experience-ometer" would be just about as easy to create as the compass or the thermometer.
True
It is not. It's not by way of a mere difference of degree, but of a complete difference of category.
True it’s a different category of property. So what? The question is not whether the properties are in different categories, the question is what entity the properties are to be posited of. Why cannot two entirely different categories of properties be posited to be of the same entity instead of requiring a separate entity for each category?
In your theory, "experience-ability" has to equate to "more (sophisticated?) physicality.
Wrong. I have already stipulated that no matter how complicated a device, how sophisticated its design, it will not be predicted to be conscious without additional posits, posits of a different category, true, but posits such that the same entity that has the first category of properties also has the second.
I think that's implausibly presumptive: and unless we had a purely-physical entity that had verified "experience-ability"
But we have examples. Us. Dogs. Etc. You have just swapped “purely” for “merely” that is all. I am not talking about the existing models. I have told you that over and over.

Please write:

“I think that's implausibly presumptive: and unless we had a physical entity that had verified ‘experience-ability’…”

Don’t write:

“I think that's implausibly presumptive: and unless we had a purely physical entity that had verified ‘experience-ability’…”

…when representing my position.

I will stipulate that if by “purely” or “merely” we mean the current models in physics then you are right. The issue is NOT whether a “purely or merely physical” entity by that definition can experience but whether a properly described and properly modeled physical entity can experience. I do believe you have lots of examples of that. Us. Dogs. Etc.


But even absent those, unless you are solipsistic about it we already just ask the person what they are experiencing and assume that the answer is based on the fact that they are.
The Chinese Room experiment shows why this isn't true.
So if the Chinese Room experiment shows that, and you have only read what I have written, why do you believe I exist and am experiencing your typing!
Strict Dualism insists on the real existence of two utterly different types of things -- physical and spiritual. But it can also stop right there,….
It can stop right there or does stop right there? Are you saying if there is coordination between each entity it’s not strict dualism? Ok, neither of us believe that there is no coordination. But is it strict dualism if there are two entities AND coordination?
I think the coordination is an important fact, but I'm not reductive about it: I don't think the right answer is to "reduce" the physical to the spiritual (as in Pantheism, for example)
Pantheism? That is a kind of belief in God if I remember? Pan psychism? That is the belief that your garage door opener is conscious. I am not saying that nor are you.
or the spiritual to the physical (as in Eliminative Materialism, for example).
Neither of us is describing Eliminative Materialism.

So the question still stands. You have described what you are not but you are still a dualist? That is the question? Are you substance dualist?
I would insist that any complete answer to the question, "What is an experience?" Must satisfy us not merely in one "realm" but in both, and in neither by merely dismissing the other as unimportant.
So. Just positing that such and such a class of devices experiencing satisfies us in both realms from then on. If you think you can derive the additional posits forget it. Can’t happen given the current physics.
So that nexus of coordination is very important to me. I want to know about that, but not rely on eliminativist or reductional explanations, which seem to me like excuses for not taking the question as seriously as it deserves.
I am not offering an eliminativist or reductional explanation. I have told you before that is a strawman if you say it is my position.
My idea of Dualism, then, is more a Dualism-of-Coordination than a Dualism-of-Distinction, if that makes it any clearer.
Not really. In order to coordinate you need to be distinct entities no? Else why call it “co” ordination and not just normal function.
I'm more interested in the fact that the two are coordinated in some way. They're clearly not identical, but they're not exactly separable either.
No, they are not separable as a matter of contingent fact. Non-separability is the “no ghost / no zombie” hypothesis. So if they are not separable why do you require separate entities?
….all you've got is two physical properties. That analogy would hand the Eliminative Materialist an easy "win"...far too easy a "win," in my view, because it fails to recognize the qualitative difference between physical events and their interpretation into experiences.
I agree that no physical device that operates “merely under current physical law” would be aware – but that is just the problem that needs correction in physical laws.
That's like saying, "I've never fixed this watch by hammering, but that's just because I haven't hammered hard enough yet."
No it is not. If I was just hammering I would be trying to derive the types of consciousness that occurred from the physical posits of the existing physics. I am saying you can’t just keep hammering but we can add posits that show under what conditions matter becomes conscious.
We're still just "hammering" away at the idea that the physical laws will eventually produce something for which they have so far, admittedly, produced no progress at all.
“The physical laws”? The current ones or ones that posit that matter can experience. We have not tried the latter yet except informally.
One thing Philosophers of Mind seem to agree on is that if "mind" exists it exists "superveniently," not mechanically.
Not true.
It doesn't "come on by degrees," but "emerges" suddenly, without us being able to understand a normal causal chain that would produce it.
Now we have a third word: “Merely” “Purely” “Normally” All are deployed to limit physical law to its current descriptions.
Those who think consciousness "emerged" in this way (I'm not one of them, by the way) think it's a kind of "jump of evolution," in which that which was utterly uncognitive at one point becomes suddenly cognitive at another -- not like an oven warming up, but like a light switch suddenly being turned on..

There was none, then there was some...that's how they think it was.
Ok, but that makes you a pan-psychist because it started where? In a star when the atoms were formed? In the big bang? If it didn’t start somewhere then there was consciousness during cosmic inflation when matter and energy were in equilibrium at fantastic temperatures. Sure you want to go there?

Well we already have a lot of the pieces. We know it is the brain.
No: we know it is "with" or "in" the brain.
And how is it we know it is not the brain but is with or in the brain? If it is with or in why can’t we separate it? Why are there no ghosts, or zombies? And if there are none, doesn’t that mean we shouldn’t speak of separate entities? If they are not separable how are they separate? After all what would the “separateness” be constituted by? Not the properties now… don’t get distracted by the categories….we are not talking about the difference between the categories of things like temperature and red seeing. We are asking whether the fact that red seeing occurs requires that there be some separate entity from the brain that the red seeing is a property of. Not that red seeing is a different category of property but that you cannot say a brain is seeing at some time.

We do not know it IS the brain.
We know certain areas generate certain types of experiencing.

This is the "coordination" aspect that interests me.

But the "promissory note" is not for the present physics. It's almost always offered as a tender that in future a new kind of physics will appear that will do what our present physics seems to fail to do.
Yes, exactly. I think I can prove that the current physics can’t do it. You need to predicate experiencing.
This too is mere prophecy...a different promise of "emergent" science that has not yet existed, but springs like Zeus from the head of mere Chronos (time).
Well, no. Not exactly. Remember, Galileo pointed one end of his telescope at his eye and the scientists at CERN all turn their heads toward their screens. It does spring like Zeus in once sense though… it cannot be derived…this is contingent fact that must be accounted for in the modeling not some derivation that can be done from the current physics by improved use of the current models.

If you say that about me its a strawman ok?
I don't make ad hominem arguments.
A straw man argument is not an ad hominem argument.
You can rest easy on that point.
And if you ask for my prophecy, I think that's never going to happen, because I don't see any way mere physicality corresponds to the inner experience of the "experiencer."
Nor do I. And I have repeatedly and elaborately said that. That is why what you are doing when you deploy “merely” is a strawman.

Ok. Not "mere physicality". But I am not proposing that. Why not "re-defined physicality".
Because it's a prophecy.
Ok, you are saying that you can’t say “Let’s build a house here” because it’s a “prophecy” that the house will arrive? Of course it is about the future. But characterizing an idea about the future as a prophecy is not the same thing. I am not using some sitting of birds or the entrails of some beast to divine new rules. I am just saying we need to learn to express the fact that matter experiences somehow in the rules. We already do in a sense. When a neuroscientist says that the brain sees not the heart then he has a law. Note that there are no legal rules like declaring someone “hand dead”. It is “brain dead”. So, we already have these rules somewhat. We just need to work them further into more explicit modelling so we can more generally predict what it is about the state vector of a system that allows us to tell that it is experiencing.
I know science is, in a certain regard, "aspirational" as a pursuit...that is, it aims at discovering things we admittedly have not yet discovered. And that's legitimate. But it also has to stay modest, and not make claims for which not only does the evidence not yet exist, but even the type of science or methodology does not exist. We have no reason to believe in any "new physics" that will supersede our conventional physics, until we have such a thing in hand.
But, as I have already noted we do have a lot of it in hand. Ever since the first caveman ducked a chucked rock, or used his hand to block it we have demonstrated some of this knowledge.
Time (chronos) is not an automatic producer of all currently non-existent things. The world still works only within the limitations of reality.
What? The world works within the limitations of reality? What? The world is real.
It is self contradictory because you are saying it "only functions as described in the current physics" and then saying "it experiences" and "it experiencing" is not "described in the current physics" at all, so without equivocation those claims cannot be made the same.
You completely miss me. You say I am saying it “only” functions as described in the current physics but if you re-read you will see that I say it cannot function only as described in the current physics and that is why we need to posits. We now have another word: “merely”, “solely”, “normally” and now “only” is added. You keep failing to express what I am saying by using those words.

When you imply that I am saying that some device that “merely”, “solely”, “normally” or “only” operates according to current physical law can experience, and then say that you don’t believe that because “merely”, “solely”, “normally” or “only” operating according to physical law is not experiencing, then that is a strawman. I totally agree that such a device can’t experience but it has nothing to do with what I am saying. You misrepresent what I say and then argue against it. That is what a strawman argument is.

Likewise. Here are two sentences: "That human brain sees." "That human brain has created a consciousness that sees" What decides which is more true than the other?
Why do we think either is true? I would say neither, actually.
Ok, so you don’t believe that human brains create the consciousness that sees? It is just some accidental coincidence then? And why, if I interrupt the brain chemically does seeing cease?
If Materialism were right, then every one of us would be a kind of zombie
Non-sequitor
But here again is where my kind of Dualism is better: I don't want to argue for ghosts and zombies...I want to consider the whole person as a body-soul complex, without having to pretend one of them doesn't really exist or can be simply dismissed as a form of the other.
You can do what you are trying to do by saying that the whole person is a brain that’s experiencing. We will disagree on “soul” as I think that they are eternal and therefore not conscious but leave it for another argument.
I want to ask, "What does the body bring to the equation, and what does the soul bring?" not "How can I get rid of one of them by relying entirely on explanations from the other."
There is no need to posit that a soul brings anything. You can just posit that matter if arranged in certain ways experiences. One less posit required. Still have to have the additional posits as properties of the one posted entity but not those and a new entity. A single entity with both “mere” physical properties those like red seeing.

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Immanuel Can
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Re: Do humans have a soul?

Post by Immanuel Can » Fri May 17, 2019 1:43 pm

Justintruth wrote:
Thu May 16, 2019 6:21 pm
Immanuel Can wrote:
Sat May 11, 2019 2:12 pm
Which causes which is not the question, so much as "Why and how are they coordinated
Why are they coordinated?...
Congratulations on the most complete and serious answer I've seen on these boards. :D

I want to see if I can do it some justice, but it's going to take me awhile. But wow, it's long. I'm going to try to break it into pieces a bit, and I'll try not to re-quote it in its entirety, for the very simple reason that if I did it would make my response twice as long as yours. There's probably a limit to how big a single post should be.

That being said, if I miss something you consider important, please feel free to prompt me to consider it again. I won't try to dodge anything deliberately, but I might miss a piece you want me to pick up, since I'm going to cut-and-paste a bit, for brevity's sake.

I can't respond as your response deserves at the present minute, but will get back to the first bit as soon as I can. Meanwhile, thanks for your reflective and worthwhile thoughts. I do have some further ideas.

Justintruth
Posts: 161
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Re: Do humans have a soul?

Post by Justintruth » Fri May 17, 2019 3:14 pm

Immanuel Can wrote:
Fri May 17, 2019 1:43 pm
...But wow, it's long...
Maybe best to use this summary:

Need to represent what I am saying correctly: You can’t say that we need to posit an entity other than material on which to predicate consciousness just because the predicate of consciousness is not “merely physical”. The whole idea is that matter itself is not “merely physical”. The idea is not that consciousness is “merely physical.

Separability:

One or two? You write: “The physical and spiritual are coordinated aspects of a single phenomenon.” Do you think that there are two different entities, a brain and a soul, with merely physical properties predicated on the brain, and experiencing predicated on the soul, or do you think there is one entity on which both the merely physical properties and experiencing can be predicated?

Matter and experiencing are not separable as a matter of contingent fact. (Non-separability is the “no ghost / no zombie” hypothesis.) So, if they are not separable why do you require separate entities?

Can consciousness be created by physical action:

We can currently create consciousness by physical actions - by creating a brain. In fact, it’s the only way. A pile of rocks can be converted to the right elements and assembled theoretically if we had the technology, but we also have the good old fashion way of inserting a sperm into an egg and letting it develop in a female. The brain of the child ultimately comes from CO2 in the air ingested by plants that the mother eats or animals that eat those plants. “Artificial” intelligence just means that we made it in some way other than coitus. Not that the way we currently do it is not a physical process.

If matter is arranged into a functioning brain and it is not conscious at that point, then there are zombies but we are assuming there are none so you can’t arrange matter into a functioning brain and not have it be conscious by assumption.

There are important differences between live brains and dead brains. Neurologists routinely establish “brain death”.

Epistemology:

How do we know that a silicon or carbon-based entity experiences? We have the similarity between our physical bodies and others that leads us to believe they too are conscious. In the future we may be able to connect to other consciousness directly. We also can in theory in the future replace one neuron at a time and let you see what happens when you become silicone. But even if we did not know the fact of the matter would be there.

Where the burden of proof lies: Does someone positing an entity need to show why the posit is needed? You are positing a separate entity from the brain that has the same properties that I am positing that brains have. So you have an extra posit.

Searle's Chinese Room: Turing test can be false positive. But the Chinese room experiment is about language: Semantics cannot be derived from syntax.

Miscl:

A current television system can be considered part of the same sensory apparatus as the eye and the optic nerve.

Pantheism? That is a kind of belief in God if I remember? Pan psychism is not pantheism? You probably already know this and it’s a typo. So just ignore it.

Whether an idea to modify the notion of matter to include the fact that it can be conscious is a “promissory note” and therefore invalid. Remember, Galileo pointed one end of his telescope at his eye and the scientists at CERN all turn their heads toward their screens. But why has never been included in the science.

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Immanuel Can
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Re: Do humans have a soul?

Post by Immanuel Can » Fri May 17, 2019 5:34 pm

Justintruth wrote:
Fri May 17, 2019 3:14 pm
You can’t say that we need to posit an entity other than material on which to predicate consciousness just because the predicate of consciousness is not “merely physical”. The whole idea is that matter itself is not “merely physical”. The idea is not that consciousness is “merely physical."
One might ask, "What is it, then?" If consciousness is not physical, how is it a 'real' thing at all?

Of the fact that consciousness exists, we can be sure: we are using it at this very moment. But how it exists, and what it consists of, that is much harder to say.

Now, you ask why we need to posit an entity other than the material. The answer is straightforward: because none of the materialist attempts to explain consciousness are any good. They don't seem to give us any traction on consciousness itself. Our knowledge of the brain is vast and growing, using materialist analytic suppositions; but our understanding of consciousness (or mind, or identity, or any number of other related metaphysical realities) is not improving as we ought to expect, if brain and mind were identical.

Ergo, there is something that is known to be real, but is not yielding at all to materialist analysis. Ergo, our current theory is not working, and it's time for a paradigm shift.

At some point, it's time to start entertaining the question of why materialist analysis is failing here. And I just suggest that there is a freshness date on the idea of waiting for materialism to step up and do the job.
Separability:

One or two? You write: “The physical and spiritual are coordinated aspects of a single phenomenon.” Do you think that there are two different entities, a brain and a soul, with merely physical properties predicated on the brain, and experiencing predicated on the soul, or do you think there is one entity on which both the merely physical properties and experiencing can be predicated?

I do not know. I do feel certain that brain and mind are distinct. I am also convinced they are coordinated with one another, and any "eliminativist" answer (i.e. one which dismisses brain as a mere projection of mind, or dismisses mind as a feature of brain) is a very weak one. But so specify the mechanics of how they are connected is a very hard thing to do.

Yet I'm very interested in that.
Matter and experiencing are not separable as a matter of contingent fact. (Non-separability is the “no ghost / no zombie” hypothesis.) So, if they are not separable why do you require separate entities?
I'm not saying "separate." I'm saying "coordinated," but the exact nature of that coordination I cannot precisely explain at present. We just don't know how the physical thing (brain) produces the non-physical thing (mind), but it's a heck of an interesting problem. Our first difficulty is finding the right inquiry method.
Can consciousness be created by physical action:

We can currently create consciousness by physical actions - by creating a brain.
In fact, this is not the case. We cannot create a brain. We do have computers, but they are not sentient. As for human reproduction, we aren't really in control of the process, but rather depend on it working without our constant intervention or ongoing manipulation: so we might say it's God (or the anthropomorphic substitute, "Nature") making a brain, not us. We certainly have precious little control over the mechanics.
In fact, it’s the only way. A pile of rocks can be converted to the right elements and assembled theoretically if we had the technology,
I think not. We could make a computer, sure. But we cannot make consciousness.
“Artificial” intelligence just means that we made it in some way other than coitus. Not that the way we currently do it is not a physical process.
That's not what AI is in fact, though. AI is actually just a loose metaphor. What we currently have is not actually intelligent, but rather ever more effective mechanics for beating the Turing Test. That's clearly not the same thing. To say, "I can't tell whether I'm emailing to a person or a bot" does not meet the rational criteria for adding, "Since I can't tell, it must be the person, not the bot." All it implies is, "Gee, I can be fooled more easily than I knew."

There's a great anecdote about this in Nicholas Carr's book, The Shallows. He illustrates there how that way back at the beginning of speech simulators, a guy named Joseph Weizenbaum ended up accidentally fooling a lot of people into thinking they were talking to a real therapist instead of a very simple algorithm Weizenbaum had created. It's funny, but it's also alarming, and shows that we all-too-soon like to imagine we've encountered a genuine intelligence or personality when indeed we have not. That means that we are very likely to overestimate how successful we've been in creating an AI, because we are really, really gullible on that point, it seems. So we must be cautious of our enthusiasms there. In the matter of thinking we've actually attained AI, we are very prone to rejoice far too soon.

The Chinese Room experiment is also extremely important in modifying such enthusiasms. I say this because of an application of that you didn't happen to mention in your last response. That is, that the Chinese Room illustrates how inclined we are to see the wanted "outputs," the "right answers" or the symptoms we were looking for," and blithely then to assume that intelligence had to be involved, when in fact, zero intelligence was.

When I taught, I used to run a similar experiments with my students. I would first send all the Mandarin-speaking students out of the room. Then I would provide written instructions to my other students, things like, "Draw a triangle," and "Put two lines below this figure" and "Put a circle above the straight line". Then I would invite the Mandarin-speaking students to return, and to their great surprise, they would see that there was a Chinese phrase written perfectly on the chalkboard. And they could read its message instantly.

The important thing was this: none of the in-class students had even the slightest idea of the actual meaning of what they were composing. And yet, exactly the right "outputs" were produced, such that my Mandarin students were instantly able to get intelligent communication out of the results.

Just so, it would be quite possible to produce a computer program of sufficient sophistication to fool every person in any group; and yet that would not justify any conclusion that the program was, itself, intelligent or conscious. It would not be real "AI," but only a very convincing kind of "A."

Until we know what REAL consciousness is, we have absolutely no way to verify whether anything we produce by technological means is actually conscious, or only complicated enough to fool us. Manipulation of materials may give us additionally convincing fakes, but since we don't know how to identify what consciousness itself actually consists in, it will never give us confirmation we've succeeded in creating AI.
There are important differences between live brains and dead brains. Neurologists routinely establish “brain death”.
Yes, quite so: but are those "differences" merely material, or something else? That's the essential question.
Epistemology:

How do we know that a silicon or carbon-based entity experiences?
It's even worse than that: it's "How do we know a silicon or carbon based construct HAS any experiences?"
We also can in theory in the future replace one neuron at a time and let you see what happens when you become silicone.

This is what the Extropians think. But again, we don't know if we can do this. And the problem is not merely that we lack the technology at present, but that even if we had the technology to do it, we would not know if what we were doing was replacing mere parts or effectively "killing" the consciousness and replacing it with a very convincing replicant.

How would we even test that?
Where the burden of proof lies: Does someone positing an entity need to show why the posit is needed?

I think that's easy to establish.

A couple of basic axioms, if I may: 1. any explanation that includes additional entities that have no, or redundant, explanatory value should be simplified to eliminate the extraneous elements. Fair enough? Okay, then, 2. Any explanation that contains too few entities to explain the phenomena under investigation should be rejected as reductional. Also fair?

So that leads to a third idea: any GOOD explanation is going to be one that has enough entities in it actually to explain the phenomenon, and not so many as to complicate that explanation unnecessarily. Also fair?

But that means that it is wrong to say that the simplest explanation is always the best. As Ockham suggested, we should not multiply explanations beyond necessity: but that "beyond necessity" clause is absolutely crucial to his law. Ockham was not saying that we could reduce explanations beyond the point at which they managed to explain well at all.

If we imagine some problem or area (let's say, not the issue of consciousness, because we still have to work on that one) in which three entities are actually needed to make a full explanation, then in that case a three-entity explanation would be the best. There, a four-entity one would be excessive, and a one or two-entity one would be too reductional. Fair enough?

My contention is that Materialism is a reductional explanation, when it comes to the mind. It's clumsy and unexplanatory when we get to widely recognized phenomena like identity and consciousness. And we need to accept into our explanation something more than the mere materials. Exactly what that is, is the matter of investigation at the moment; but what's clear is that Materialism alone is not doing enough explaining.
You are positing a separate entity from the brain that has the same properties that I am positing that brains have. So you have an extra posit.
Yes. But I would say that I have an "additional" posit more than you do; but not an "extra" one. And I would suggest in reply that at present you have a reductional explanation, one with TOO FEW posits to qualify as an explanation at all.

Miscl:

A current television system can be considered part of the same sensory apparatus as the eye and the optic nerve.
I know of this. That's a phenomenon called "proprioception," in which a mechanical entity is treated as part of the biological whole. But you get the same phenomenon when you drag a stick across a stucco wall: you can "feel" the wall through the stick. But that does not actually make the stick "part of your hand." Tool use has always been attended by the experience of proprioception.
Whether an idea to modify the notion of matter to include the fact that it can be conscious is a “promissory note” and therefore invalid.

Not "idea to modify," since that implies that the base theory is essentially sufficient in the first place. There's nothing wrong with wanting to make wider use of a theory one already has, IF one can know in advance it has further possibilities.

The problem is of a different kind, well-illustrated by Materialism and consciousness, I would say. It comes up when a base theory has essentially played out its full hand, and lost. It's the kind of "promise" that though an inadequate theory will somehow become adequate if we just wait for enough of it to be fleshed out. And that's nothing but a gratuitous prophecy of a future event that, by admission of the promiser, hasn't happened yet, and with no basis for optimism that it ever really will.

It's a theory of the wrong type to explain the phenomenon in question, which is nevertheless given by the promiser an infinite lease on critique, with the promise that if it is left long enough, it will become the right type. And, of course, it won't.

But in conclusion, let me offer a new thought, if I may.

Let's go back to the evolutionary story of the universe, and use that to think about consciousness.

There are a couple of facts upon which that story is founded. One is that at one time the universe had no life in it. Zero. Nil. None. And the reason was that they universe itself didn't exist, so of course there was no life in it. There wasn't any "it" in it either. :wink:

Okay, now, here the story gets sketchy, but let's gloss over its first major fault: it is generally maintained that our universe commenced with the Big Bang, no? Okay, well, one difficult question is "What exploded?" There must have been something that existed...something volatile, and capable of reaction. And, of course, conventional explanations have those things...hydrogen, perhaps oxygen, quark-gluon plasma...whatever. Let's accept all that, and start our story there.

So the universe is about to begin with a bang. A big one. But there is no life in this universe. Everything, we might say, has as much sentience in it as do rocks. Less, even, since basic elements are simpler than rocks. We don't believe that hydrogen, oxygen or quark-gluon plasma, or whatever, are sentient entities, do we? They are mere materials. They are, we might say, "dead." They do not have opinions, experiences, personalities, consciousness or whatever -- not even a little bit.

Good so far?

Well, then, there are two sudden and inexplicable things that happen next. Somehow, after the Bang, life appears. (I'm compressing time here, of course) Not only that, but as it eventually turns out, some of it is conscious. And here we are.

The question: How did we get from a state of, so to speak, "nothing but rocks" -- "dead" stuff, basic elements, non-sentient matter -- to matter plus sentience, with nothing else, nothing different from mere materials, being added?

In other words, the "pile of rocks" got very big; but how did they stop being "rocks" and start being "Mozarts" and "Einsteins"? To say, "Well, it got complex" doesn't solve that problem one bit: a complex pile of rocks is nothing but a complex pile of rocks, and just as "dead" as one rock, or as a couple of rocks in simple arrangement.

That's what I mean about Materialism being the wrong TYPE of explanation, not just an insufficiently-modified explanation. It just does no work on this fundamental question at all.

Or so I would suggest.

I hope that does some justice to at least your shortened version of your response. I feel like I haven't given you as much as perhaps you would like, but I hope it will be enough to be interesting. Again, depending on the timing of your response I may be out of circulation for a few days: I trust you won't take that as a sign of lack of interest. I promise to get back to you when I can.

P.S. -- If I may ask, what's your personal interest in AI? Is it professional, scholarly, religious, or merely a hobbyist's interest? I'm just curious, because you seem to have spent considerable time thinking about these things, so they must have some personal importance to you, I would assume.

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RCSaunders
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Re:

Post by RCSaunders » Sat May 18, 2019 5:07 pm

henry quirk wrote:
Fri May 03, 2019 1:17 am
10,000 years ago, when electricity was unknown, was lightning a fiction?

No one could describe lightning's 'function' or that such a function existed.

Same with the sun, the moon, or any other -- at the time -- ineffable 'thing'.
Lightning, the sun, and moon were never been ineffable. They may not have been explained, but they were certainly obvious, evident, and described.

The, "soul," is the conscious reasoning aspect of human nature which exists as an attribute of a living individual. The dead, and the yet to be born, have no attributes, including a soul.

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RC

Post by henry quirk » Sat May 18, 2019 8:56 pm

"The dead, and the yet to be born, have no attributes, including a soul."

The dead, sure; the unborn, I don't know...seems to me, the unborn have at least two attributes: 'being alive' and 'being human'...mebbe 'being ensouled' is in there too.

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Re: Do humans have a soul?

Post by Belinda » Sun May 19, 2019 9:36 am

Immanuel Can wrote:
The entity we call "Justintruth" operates on two coordinated levels at once: the physical and, for want of any other term, "the spiritual." Which causes which is not the question, so much as "Why and how are they coordinated?" and "What does this mean for our understanding of reality?"
The usual terms are subjective and objective. They "are coordinated" because they are aspects of the same thing.

Brains are objectively measured and minds are directly experienced.

Your elbow joint, Immanuel, is directly experienced and also objectively observed in action by yourself.
Unlike your elbow joint your brain has no proprioceptors so you cannot observe your own brain in action.

If your brain had proprioceptors you would no more attribute a spirit to your physical brain than you attribute a spirit to your elbow.

Justintruth
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Re: Do humans have a soul?

Post by Justintruth » Mon May 20, 2019 11:43 am

We seem not to be making progress because of a lack of focus. So let's focus.
Immanuel Can wrote:
Fri May 17, 2019 5:34 pm
Now, you ask why we need to posit an entity other than the material. The answer is straightforward: because none of the materialist attempts to explain consciousness are any good.
Anesthesia is a great counter example. Here is the theory: Introducing a general anesthetic into the brain causes loss of consciousness. Note that the action is what you call "merely physical" and the effect is a loss of experiencing

Now that works. Why do you say none of our attempts are any good?

What do you need for an attempt to be "successful"?

Justintruth
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Re: RC

Post by Justintruth » Tue May 21, 2019 12:06 pm

henry quirk wrote:
Sat May 18, 2019 8:56 pm
"The dead, and the yet to be born, have no attributes, including a soul."

The dead, sure; the unborn, I don't know...seems to me, the unborn have at least two attributes: 'being alive' and 'being human'...mebbe 'being ensouled' is in there too.
I thought that the soul was eternal. If so, the dead have souls as the facts of their identity, being eternal, are immutable.

The yet to be born have material existence and then at some point are conscious. To the extent that they make decisions, oh, say wether to kick their mother, and maybe even personality, they may have a soul. An innocent one for sure.

The idea of the dead having no attributes? Hmmm, so if she is dead and he is dead it's the same exactly? If Hitler is dead and Mozart is dead it's the same? If you are dead and I am dead it's the same?

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henry quirk
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Justin

Post by henry quirk » Tue May 21, 2019 2:20 pm

Well, I was thinkin' when Joe kicks off, Joe's soul, that intangible/eternal bit, goes off to Valhalla leavin' the dead meat behind.

As for the dead havin' attributes: I guess they do, putrefaction bein' chief among them.

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Re: Do humans have a soul?

Post by gaffo » Thu May 23, 2019 1:42 am

philosophic nature wrote:
Thu May 02, 2019 7:30 am
Dear members,

sometimes humans talk about, that they would have NO soul.
Thats not understandable for me, because i think everybody must have a soul!
So i cant explain, why we should have no souls.

Soul is the aura, thé comprehensive part of our body.
The body of us is underlined with body, mind and soul.
To integrate those three parts is very interesting for me in my life.
So my aim is, to focus to bring those three parts in one way together to be lucky.

So the mind is not the soul, and the sojul is not the mind. The mind is under our soul.

What do you think bout those thinkings?

Best greetings
Dominik
breath is soul, if you breath you are a soul.

if you do not breath you are dead and so no longer a soul.

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