Do humans have a soul?

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

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henry quirk
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flimsy & idiosyncratic

Post by henry quirk » Sun May 05, 2019 6:43 pm

Harbal,

You asked: What reason is there to think that there is such a thing as "the soul"?

Here's how it works for me...

I'm a free will (an agent as described by libertarian agent causation theory). My experience of myself, in the world, convinces me of this.

Thing is: Reality appears to be deterministic; cause & effect appears to rule the roost.

My autonomy/agency (my 'self') and Reality therefore are at loggerheads.

Possibilities: c & e is (in some way) wrong, there's sumthin' about the human individual that -- at least partially -- sets him apart from c & e, or I'm just bioautomation and what I 'think' is just complex reaction (not action or response), and ultimately meaningless.

The first is possible but unlikely; the third is possible but -- to me -- doesn't seem to be the case.

For me, as a reconcillation of two incompatible facts (agent causation and a deterministic Reality), the second (there's sumthin' about the human individual that -- at least partially -- sets him apart from c & e) is what works.

So: as I say up-thread, I believe wedged deep into the meat of me is a 'sumthin'. Call it soul or spark or spirit or a nondeterministic algorithm or aiúa or philote or pneuma or... *shrug* ...and I believe this 'sumthin' is what sets me (and you and him and her) apart (at least partially) from c & e, makes me sumthin' more than a domino or a roomba.

That's the root of it for me. There's more but that'll do as basic explanation.

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Immanuel Can
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Re: Do humans have a soul?

Post by Immanuel Can » Sun May 05, 2019 7:24 pm

Harbal wrote:
Sun May 05, 2019 3:27 pm
I would be most grateful.
Done.

Not to worry: we've all had spelling-corrector disasters of our own. Everybody understands, I'm sure.

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Immanuel Can
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Re: Do humans have a soul?

Post by Immanuel Can » Sun May 05, 2019 7:30 pm

Belinda wrote:
Sun May 05, 2019 3:47 pm
I guess by 'consciousness' you mean fully waking awareness.
Not necessarily. As you rightly point out, consciousness has variations.
There are two sorts of identity.There's how I feel myself to be the same person who is in my memories of me. And there is also how others identify me by their memories, my thunb prints, my DNA, dental record, and my personal identification papers.The former is not fixed because there are people who have more than one set of memories, and also there are people who lose their memories.
The question of identity, like the question of "soul," is large and complex. And they're related. But the idea that an identity is the same as a memory pattern is a fairly implausible one, given the shifts and errors of memory. That doesn't mean memories don't matter. or even that they don't feature in some role related to identity: it just means that they're not a firm basis upon which to constitute the whole of identity.
I have heard of 'soul' as a reference to a music genre, and also as a synonym for sensibility.
Some people even use it for mere sentiment. It's used several ways.
I really think that you would do more for your cause if you would stop trying to prove it and if you would stop assigning a fixed meaning to a word which ,unlike scientific and mathematical terms, has no fixed meaning.
I disagree.

That argument would be a rationale for giving up scientific progress itself, let alone rational improvement of our knowledge of things. "There are many meanings, therefore there is no fixed meaning, therefore we cannot talk about it or improve our understanding," is a pretty shaky sequence of non-sequitur assumptions. And if science went that way, it would stop finding out anything at all.

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Immanuel Can
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Re: flimsy & idiosyncratic

Post by Immanuel Can » Sun May 05, 2019 7:42 pm

henry quirk wrote:
Sun May 05, 2019 6:43 pm
Thing is: Reality appears to be deterministic; cause & effect appears to rule the roost.
"Appears to be," Henry?

Might that "appearing" be not so much a product of looking at "reality," but rather of the presumption that materiality and cause-and-effect of material kinds are the only kinds of things there really are?

Doesn't the picture change a bit once we integrate an idea of a rational agent? I don't mean one that floats entirely free of causality, but one that is not strictly chained to it in a Deterministic way...in other words, somebody who could make his mind up between alternatives, rather than simply having his/her will dictated by material conditions?
Possibilities: c & e is (in some way) wrong, there's sumthin' about the human individual that -- at least partially -- sets him apart from c & e,
I like that one. It seems more likely to explain our observable differences from strict causality than does a belief that thought we have very, very strong intuitions we're making decisions, these intuitions are all just plain wrong (and to boot, a totally inexplicable epiphenomenon or weird side-effect of evolution that has no real survival value, unless we think being deluded has survival value, and so couldn't be selected-for by natural selection anyway).

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Harbal
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Re: Do humans have a soul?

Post by Harbal » Sun May 05, 2019 7:54 pm

henry quirk wrote:
Sun May 05, 2019 6:43 pm

For me, as a reconcillation of two incompatible facts (agent causation and a deterministic Reality), the second (there's sumthin' about the human individual that -- at least partially -- sets him apart from c & e) is what works.
I can see why you think there is something about the human individual that sets him apart, henry, I think that feeling is intuitive in most, if not all, us humans. But, putting that intuition aside, I don't see humans as being any different from anything else as far as being subject to the laws of nature or the Universe is concerned. To me, it seems that the difference between us and, say, a hamster, is only quantitive, not qualitative. I'm not being disingenuous or contrary here, I honestly don't get the soul thing. There is much that is still not known about the nature of mind and how it interacts with the body but, as our knowledge of the subject progresses, I don't expect the soul to make an appearance at any point.

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Harbal
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Re: Do humans have a soul?

Post by Harbal » Sun May 05, 2019 8:00 pm

Immanuel Can wrote:
Sun May 05, 2019 7:24 pm

Done.

Not to worry: we've all had spelling-corrector disasters of our own.
Thank you, Immanuel.

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Immanuel Can
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Re: Do humans have a soul?

Post by Immanuel Can » Sun May 05, 2019 8:15 pm

Harbal wrote:
Sun May 05, 2019 8:00 pm
Thank you, Immanuel.
"De nada" as they say in South America. Don't mention it.

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henry quirk
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Post by henry quirk » Sun May 05, 2019 8:22 pm

Mannie,

"Might that "appearing" be not so much a product of looking at "reality," but rather of the presumption that materiality and cause-and-effect of material kinds are the only kinds of things there really are?"

Seems to me: this formal push toward materialism is recent. Ten thousand years ago, when a spirit lurked behind every bush, lived in every rock, c & e was still evident. I say 'appears' but -- really -- c & e rules.

#

"Doesn't the picture change a bit once we integrate an idea of a rational agent?"

I don't think so. Simply: I think we are agents living in an event. The event is interesting, but unremarkable. We, sometimes, are boring as a cold tv dinner, but are remarkable. Reality, I think, doesn't allow for us; we live as embodied defiance of Reality.

##

Harbal,

As I say: my reasoning is flimsy and idiosyncratic.

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Harbal
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Re:

Post by Harbal » Sun May 05, 2019 8:33 pm

henry quirk wrote:
Sun May 05, 2019 8:22 pm

Harbal,

As I say: my reasoning is flimsy and idiosyncratic.
And I wouldn't have you any other way, henry.

PS. my reasoning is flimsy and idiosyncratic too, but don't tell Immanuel. ;-)

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Immanuel Can
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Re:

Post by Immanuel Can » Sun May 05, 2019 8:39 pm

henry quirk wrote:
Sun May 05, 2019 8:22 pm
Seems to me: this formal push toward materialism is recent. Ten thousand years ago, when a spirit lurked behind every bush, lived in every rock, c & e was still evident. I say 'appears' but -- really -- c & e rules.
Right. I think it was probably mostly a result of the over-excitement generated by the scientific method. The scientific method was really a wonderful breakthrough, and gave power to people over questions to do with everything from transportation, to medicine, to engineering...and so forth. The Industrial Revolution and the subsequent Technological Revolutions would have been impossible without it.

But here's the danger, as I see it: when you discover a method that works for one kind of thing, you have a natural tendency to try to use it on other things. That makes sense. But what do you do when you have an amazing method that works super well on one kind of thing, and you find out there's something it isn't helping you to understand at all?

I think there are two human reactions: one is disappointment with discovering the limitations of the method. But the other, the more common reaction, is to imagine that because the method didn't "work" on the new subject, the new subject must be unreal. Only those things the scientific method works on can be considered part of reality.

Hence, there is a feedback loop between the scientific method and Materialism. Materialism allows that science is the primary and only method that counts for anything -- and anything on which it finds itself stymied, even for a time, is deemed probably illusory anyway. But that's not the only conclusion, nor, would I suggest, is it the right conclusion.

The right conclusion is that science is amazing: but it's amazing at working only on what it truly purports to work on, the Material world. Keeping science duly modest is a very hard thing to do...especially for a scientist.
"Doesn't the picture change a bit once we integrate an idea of a rational agent?"

I don't think so. Simply: I think we are agents living in an event. The event is interesting, but unremarkable. We, sometimes, are boring as a cold tv dinner, but are remarkable. Reality, I think, doesn't allow for us; we live as embodied defiance of Reality.
I don't see how the Determinist picture of the world allows that this is possible. How can we live "in defiance of (causal) reality, if that reality is all that exists in reality?

We would surely be the most extraordinary of creatures, if we could live in defiance of the only reality there is supposed to be.

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Immanuel Can
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Re: Re:

Post by Immanuel Can » Sun May 05, 2019 8:40 pm

Harbal wrote:
Sun May 05, 2019 8:33 pm
PS. my reasoning is flimsy and idiosyncratic too, but don't tell Immanuel. ;-)
That's alright. I can't really read anyway.

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Post by henry quirk » Sun May 05, 2019 10:13 pm

Mannie,

"I think it was probably mostly a result of the over-excitement generated by the scientific method."

Agreed. I've had conversations with folks who deny their own existence as persons simply cuz 'mind' or ' self' is not measurable.

#

"We would surely be the most extraordinary of creatures, if we could live in defiance of the only reality there is supposed to be."

We are.

##

Harbal,

Mum's the word.

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Immanuel Can
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Re:

Post by Immanuel Can » Sun May 05, 2019 10:22 pm

henry quirk wrote:
Sun May 05, 2019 10:13 pm
We are.
Yep.

Justintruth
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Re: Do humans have a soul?

Post by Justintruth » Mon May 06, 2019 12:56 pm

Immanuel Can wrote:
Fri May 03, 2019 1:03 pm
Justintruth wrote:
Fri May 03, 2019 10:35 am
"No zombies, no ghosts." It's a good working hypothesis at least for now.
Well, either you've got bodies with no souls (zombies), or souls with no bodies (extreme Idealism, ghosts), or you've got Dualism, meaning both exist together somehow.
Had a very long debate a while ago on this. I came up with a verbal formalism to handle it. Maybe you can tell me what you think of it.

It started with the American Flag illusion.

https://www.moillusions.com/american-fl ... -illusion/

....quickly became a discussion of the reality of qualia and the nature of dualism.

So here was the problem. We use the notion of "reality" to distinguish sometimes between someone "just seeing" something and so it is said that what is seen is not real, and there being something there that someone then sees and what is seen is real.

When someone is "just seeing something" and it therefore not real we tend to say that what they are seeing is not real or "isn't really". Nor is some experience of something the reality as the the term "reality" is applied only to the thing that is seen - at least in some sense.

I was convinced that the seeing itself and its content were real in that they were actual contingent events that factually occurred and therefore some distinction needed to be made between their occurrence and the absence of their occurrence. I was also convinced that this difference either somehow involved being or else we would need a new word to substitute for the superset which is inconvenient at best.

But I did not think that there really was some rightly colored American flag that looking at that looking at the badly colored American flag on the screen for a while allowed us to see.

So I started saying that I was "American flag seeing" instead of "seeing an American flag". So if I look up at the capitol building in Washington and see an American flag I say that "I am seeing an American flag" but if I look at the after image of the illusion I say "I am American flag seeing".

What do you think?

In both cases the content can be defined. We can even say things like "Whenever I am seeing an American flag, I am American flag seeing" and the sentence makes sense. They allow us to describe what can be generated in a device like a brain say with electrodes by scientists. This stimulation produces red-seeing this loud trumpet hearing etc and no one will say that one is saying that some qualia are there and are then caused subsequently to be seen.

The argument was further developed as to whether "American flag seeing" was physical or not. It turned out that if, by physics you mean the current science then it is not, as the models that current physics has neither predict nor specify that any seeing let alone American flag seeing occurs, and under what physical circumstances it will occur.

However, it is possible to posit that their exists a set of types of experiencing definable phenomenologically as the set of possible experiencing producible in an arbitrary physical device. This would be the total superset set of possible experiencing capable of being produced by an any physical assembly. Those operators would operate on a state vector as it evolves with the Schrodinger equation and produce some probiblity for the types of experiencing to occur.

In no case would what was experienced be independent of the brain (no ghosts) nor would one have a significant probiblility that the experiencing would not be produced. (The probability is introduced in order to allow the uncertainty inherent in physics to be expressed. Not different than position measurements etc. re Heisenberg)

Defining the spectrum of those operators is a key task, as well as establishing the operators.

Is that dualism? In the sense that the operators measure the probability of occurrence of events that are not the same as those currently defined then yes. But we have different operators now (angular momentum, energy, position etc). This would just be more of them and we do not say for example that the fact that a measurement of energy and position can be made means that there is dualism. The fact that there is charge and strangeness for example is not cause for dualism. Why then red seeing or rose smelling?

Ok, dualism in a sense that some operators produce probabilities of a particular experiencing while others do not. But remember that that experiencing would not necessarily be every ones. In other words, the experiencing produced is not something that a second experiencing of it can be produced except in mind meld when the experiencors are merged into something like one experiencer.

Memory becomes a big part of it also as that is required in order to record the fact of an occurrence.

So why would a situation where we had a quantum mechanical operator operating on the state vector of a system in a Hilbert space of sufficient dimension to allow complexity be dualism?

That kinds of experiencing occur, is not in question. Whether that experiencing is, appears to be. What isn't is some intentional object other than the experiencing. In the flag illusion there is no objective rightly colored flag there is only "rightly colored flag seeing" occurring as a result of the objective brain. I don't see how you can exclude it without adding some other term and relegating "being" to be a kind of subclass of this other term.

We would have to say that "American flag seeing ____s", and "American Flags are", and this third phrase "-----", is the word for all that "---s" both what "is" an what "___s". Seems like a bad way to go!

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Immanuel Can
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Re: Do humans have a soul?

Post by Immanuel Can » Mon May 06, 2019 3:59 pm

Justintruth wrote:
Mon May 06, 2019 12:56 pm
Maybe you can tell me what you think of it.
It's interesting.

The phenomenon in biology is called "persistence of vision."

Actually, all filmstrips work on the same principle: a series of still shots merge into what seems like fluid motion but it not, because they eye cannot adjust quickly enough to detect the variances. But in the case you use, it involves the colour-detecting structures in particular, and the "ghosting" effect they induce.
So I started saying that I was "American flag seeing" instead of "seeing an American flag". So if I look up at the capitol building in Washington and see an American flag I say that "I am seeing an American flag" but if I look at the after image of the illusion I say "I am American flag seeing".
I get the distinction there. It's an interesting one.
In both cases the content can be defined. We can even say things like "Whenever I am seeing an American flag, I am American flag seeing" and the sentence makes sense.
Yes, but it's a bit ambiguous. By "American flag seeing," do you mean "actually imagining I am seeing an American flag and only an American flag," or do you mean "the type of seeing I experienced first when seeing an American flag, but now can deduce I experience in other contexts as well"?
...one is saying that some qualia are there and are then caused subsequently to be seen....
See, this suggests maybe you mean that latter. It applies to all kinds of different qualia, not just to American flags.
In no case would what was experienced be independent of the brain (no ghosts)...
Well, yes, I think nobody but pure Idealists dispute the existence of a coordination between mind and brain; the problem is how to establish whether that is a causal relationship, and if so, in which direction the causality operates. The mere observation of coordination doesn't give us enough information to know that for sure, of course.
Is that dualism? In the sense that the operators measure the probability of occurrence of events that are not the same as those currently defined then yes.
You lost me a bit here. It seems we've lapsed into a pure machine metaphor, but if so, I'm not sure how we justify that move.
So why would a situation where we had a quantum mechanical operator operating on the state vector of a system in a Hilbert space of sufficient dimension to allow complexity be dualism?

Complexity isn't, in itself, dualism, obviously. A rock is simple, and a pile of rocks is more complex...but it's not more dualistic.

It seems to me we've accidentally imported the assumption that the mechanical elements are all there is, and the conscious percipient has been reduced to a mere receptor here. Or have I missed your main point?

If that's what we're doing, how did we arrive at the conclusion that the right description of a human percipient was mechanistic? I'm not seeing that.
That kinds of experiencing occur,...
"Experiences occur"?

See, this is the kind of oxymoron that signals uncertainty. "Occur" seems to pertain to statement about events in the material world, like "happen" does. But "experiencing" is different: it requires a conscious "experiencer," which is not a mechanical process but a personal and cognitive one. Absent a personal "experiencer," what we have is merely another kind of "occurrence." But "occurrence occurs" is simply redundant and nonsensical; so we've got to keep "experience" involved in our explanation, and that requires a non-material thing to be genuinely real...that non-material but real thing would be a consciousness capable of turning the mere occurrence into an actual experience.

Things "occur"; but only people "experience," if you can see my point.

Consequently, I think we've got to be careful about jumping to the counterintuitively reductive view that it's mechanics on both the "occurrence" and "experience" side of the equation. The natural supposition is that something more dualistic and personal is going on there.

So again, unless I've missed a step, I do have a hesitation about framing the problem that way. But I think you have an intriguing thought experiment in hand there, and thanks for sharing it.

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