In what sense is Descartes's dualism wrong?

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

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Satyavan
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In what sense is Descartes's dualism wrong?

Post by Satyavan » Mon Jan 27, 2020 11:39 am

I read of everyone saying that modern neuroscience has shown Descartes was wrong on the mind-body problem. As I understand it he posited mind as a non-material substance that is not identical with the brain. I don't want to convince anyone to take a particular metaphysical position, but I don't see how science has falsified this point of view. The mind-body problem remains a highly controversial and debated issue among philosophers of science and scientists. But when it comes to Descartes they seem all to agree he was wrong. So, this seems to me contradictory. Can someone explain?

Impenitent
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Re: In what sense is Descartes's dualism wrong?

Post by Impenitent » Mon Jan 27, 2020 11:37 pm

https://www.cliffsnotes.com/cliffsnotes ... to-dualism

if the "mind" and the brain were truly separate, lobotomies wouldn't appear to work...

maybe lobotomies don't actually work (but the person who has one isn't able to communicate otherwise)…

-Imp

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henry quirk
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Re: In what sense is Descartes's dualism wrong?

Post by henry quirk » Tue Jan 28, 2020 12:35 am

Impenitent wrote:
Mon Jan 27, 2020 11:37 pm
https://www.cliffsnotes.com/cliffsnotes ... to-dualism

if the "mind" and the brain were truly separate, lobotomies wouldn't appear to work...

maybe lobotomies don't actually work (but the person who has one isn't able to communicate otherwise)…

-Imp
If the mind is *software and the brain/body is *hardware, then a lobotomy only prevents the mind from executing.









*two very different things but each useless without the other

Satyavan
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Re: In what sense is Descartes's dualism wrong?

Post by Satyavan » Tue Jan 28, 2020 6:07 am

I rephrase my question.
I'm not looking for arguments for or against dualism. I ask why ***also dualists*** reject Descartes' dualism?

Scott Mayers
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Re: In what sense is Descartes's dualism wrong?

Post by Scott Mayers » Tue Jan 28, 2020 7:33 am

Satyavan wrote:
Mon Jan 27, 2020 11:39 am
I read of everyone saying that modern neuroscience has shown Descartes was wrong on the mind-body problem. As I understand it he posited mind as a non-material substance that is not identical with the brain. I don't want to convince anyone to take a particular metaphysical position, but I don't see how science has falsified this point of view. The mind-body problem remains a highly controversial and debated issue among philosophers of science and scientists. But when it comes to Descartes they seem all to agree he was wrong. So, this seems to me contradictory. Can someone explain?
Descartes treated the sense of consciousness, as many still do, as a centralized essense. Obviously, its seems, I am not in your mind and you are not in mine. What we infer in general is that this is because we are not in the same material reality. But given matter is also something that occupies space, it also implies that we cannot be in the same place or position in space.

Given a similar argument but more specific to our body, how can any part of the body know another part if they are of different exact matter.... and thus of different places? If the mind is spread out through the organ of the brain, consciousness would seem to require the whole brain for this to be true. That is, it would occupy more than one point in space. If this is possible, then why might we not be able to sense others no matter how far in space they exist?

So he, Descartes, would reason that the brain likely has to have some non-local point to contain the complexity of thought but could also not be in multiple points in space at the same time. This contradiction, he hypothesized, would then require mind to be divorced from physical space but must have some physical point of interface to this 'mind' elsewhere. This location, though not proven to him, was guessed to be at the pituitary gland.

It is likely that this was guessed by the fact that given many brains of any species, the brain parts that exist in all apparently conscious beings at least had this area in common. It DOES happen to be a part that is more older and essential.



We know that we can lose part of the brain and still be conscious today. But the pituitary gland nor any other particular part of the brain's removal on a small scale doesn't necessarily remove the capacity of consciousness. It also seems evident that the parts of the brain are still significantly needed in some measure to BE the same. That is, we lose something for removing some part of the brain regardless. This means that all the brain's parts, right down to the smallest scale, contribute to what consciousness is. This then implies that the brain is needed for consciousness both in its whole and in its parts. Thus, consciousness is not 'localized' but spread out.

We now don't 'need' a theory about mind separate from the brain. It is more about the 'energy' exchanges that occur throughout the brain and how this energy is traded among the cells. It doesn't rule out 'mind' in some other place but is just not necessary to explain what we know AND it is also not able to be disproven that mind elsewhere doesn't exist. As such, it cannot be 'scientific' to treat consciousness as something beyond the domain of the brain or its activity.



The debate still exists because consciousness seems to act like a multiple complex 'entanglement' of points in space...something we cannot yet agree on without overcoming the difficulty of quantum mechanical explanations that are still contentious in the field of physics itself regarding entanglement.

Gary Childress
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Re: In what sense is Descartes's dualism wrong?

Post by Gary Childress » Tue Jan 28, 2020 9:11 am

Satyavan wrote:
Mon Jan 27, 2020 11:39 am
I read of everyone saying that modern neuroscience has shown Descartes was wrong on the mind-body problem. As I understand it he posited mind as a non-material substance that is not identical with the brain. I don't want to convince anyone to take a particular metaphysical position, but I don't see how science has falsified this point of view. The mind-body problem remains a highly controversial and debated issue among philosophers of science and scientists. But when it comes to Descartes they seem all to agree he was wrong. So, this seems to me contradictory. Can someone explain?
I've always heard it said that the main problem with dualism is with how a non-material substance can affect a material substance. As far as seems to be known material substances are essentially kind of mechanical, particles bumping into each other sort of thing, etc. How does this vaporous, ethereal thing, the mind, cause a neuron to emit a neurotransmitter that causes the arm to raise? By what mechanism does it cause a mechanical thing to move? It's something that is very difficult to wrap our heads around, so people have generally sought to somehow merge mind and body into just one type of entity. However, I too often wonder whether dualism just isn't the right answer. Ultimately, how do we know that ghostly entities like mind cannot affect material entities? Quantum physics seems to endorse "spooky action at a distance" and all that sort of stuff, so who knows?

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Re: In what sense is Descartes's dualism wrong?

Post by Sculptor » Tue Jan 28, 2020 10:56 am

Satyavan wrote:
Mon Jan 27, 2020 11:39 am
I read of everyone saying that modern neuroscience has shown Descartes was wrong on the mind-body problem. As I understand it he posited mind as a non-material substance that is not identical with the brain. I don't want to convince anyone to take a particular metaphysical position, but I don't see how science has falsified this point of view. The mind-body problem remains a highly controversial and debated issue among philosophers of science and scientists. But when it comes to Descartes they seem all to agree he was wrong. So, this seems to me contradictory. Can someone explain?
One problem is to ask how do two distinct things communicate? How can an immaterial "substance" retain any thing worthwhile such as knowledge or character?
What problem does the dualism serve? Surely dualism is a solution for which there is no problem - and a bad one at that!
Having a separation has produced zero answers ans zero results. It is nothing more than a fudge to assert a claim about the afterlife.
Ask yourself what does the soul/mind do? And when you realise that you can cut out PHYSICALLY any of these functions with a scalpel from the brain you are forced to ask where is the soul and what is it doing?
Does the soul/mind contain personality, memory,- what exactly. Since you can easily change and modify human characteristic normally associated with the mind with nothing more than drugs, or surgery - where is the "soul" in all of this?

You have only to ask what function is this theory supposed to achieve; what question the theory seeks to answer to see that it is an empty theory.
I'm not saying that we know all there is to know about the brain, but all the answers we are achieving have all been achieved with no reference to any kind of dualism.

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Re: In what sense is Descartes's dualism wrong?

Post by Sculptor » Tue Jan 28, 2020 10:57 am

Satyavan wrote:
Tue Jan 28, 2020 6:07 am
I rephrase my question.
I'm not looking for arguments for or against dualism. I ask why ***also dualists*** reject Descartes' dualism?
You have already asked why is it wrong.
Ask yourself what it is supposed to answer.

Satyavan
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Re: In what sense is Descartes's dualism wrong?

Post by Satyavan » Tue Jan 28, 2020 12:19 pm

So, as I understand it, the only reason why dualists discard Descartes is that he believed that mind was all concentrated in the pituitary gland while we know that mind manifests in all the brain areas.

Scott Mayers
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Re: In what sense is Descartes's dualism wrong?

Post by Scott Mayers » Tue Jan 28, 2020 1:06 pm

Satyavan wrote:
Tue Jan 28, 2020 12:19 pm
So, as I understand it, the only reason why dualists discard Descartes is that he believed that mind was all concentrated in the pituitary gland while we know that mind manifests in all the brain areas.
More like THROUGH the pituitary gland as a kind of portal to 'elsewhere'. It becomes contentious because it references a place that can't be determined, like a religious heaven. The modern duality is altered or updated since then. The 'mind' to some is the 'soul' and often reduces to religious discussions rather than science.

Today, you CAN argue a kind of dualism that is not religious: the state versus the dynamics of the brain. That is, matter versus energy or combinations of them. OR....with respect to Quantum physics, the single position and state of something particular versus the entangled particles. This is then about whether the 'feeling' of our neural activity at various different places in the brain that is active does or does not imply some power to alter something at a distance. Even if you look at two neurons side by side, if consciousness is the feeling of both of these simultaneously, is the information swapped between the two by connections required?

Epileptic patients who have their brains split to stop the seizures split the consciousness in two distinct minds. This says that both the present/simultaneous states of the activity of neurons may need a path between them even if the information is yet to be relayed(due to the limits of the speed of light, for instance).

There is also experiments that measured people's responses in a way that anticipate the persons thoughts in time. That one might 'think' about a reaction AFTER the body acts upon it. This weirdness may help at least present what I believe is the case: that the simultaneous states of identical structures share a common 'conscious' state but do not 'feel' it if it is not confirmed by some energy exchange.

For instance, if two identical twins are in the same room, given their neurons can be 'identical' in structure, their may be a "consciousness" that feels both simultaneously but cannot be shared until or unless the information is relayed. The rate of such exchange then would also contribute to HOW 'conscious' two or more things are to one another. If you have two identical pendulum structured clocks on the same wall, however you begin any of the clocks swings, they will eventually fall in sync with one another but out of phase [if the pendulum of one is at its highest to the left, the other is highest to its right; both meet simultaneously at the middle.] For more than two clocks, the phase is split among them. Then, if you attempt to alter or interrupt one of the pendulums, this eventually affects the other but by a delay in time as the energy is transmitted through its common wall.

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Re: In what sense is Descartes's dualism wrong?

Post by Satyavan » Tue Jan 28, 2020 1:47 pm

Scott Mayers wrote:
Tue Jan 28, 2020 1:06 pm
Epileptic patients who have their brains split to stop the seizures split the consciousness in two distinct minds.
As far as I know the mind and consciousness remains intact: https://www.uva.nl/en/content/news/pres ... sness.html
How could we reasonably explain this if consciousness is in the brain? Why doesn't the personality split either?
Scott Mayers wrote:
Tue Jan 28, 2020 1:06 pm
For instance, if two identical twins are in the same room, given their neurons can be 'identical' in structure, their may be a "consciousness" that feels both simultaneously but cannot be shared until or unless the information is relayed. The rate of such exchange then would also contribute to HOW 'conscious' two or more things are to one another. If you have two identical pendulum structured clocks on the same wall, however you begin any of the clocks swings, they will eventually fall in sync with one another but out of phase [if the pendulum of one is at its highest to the left, the other is highest to its right; both meet simultaneously at the middle.] For more than two clocks, the phase is split among them. Then, if you attempt to alter or interrupt one of the pendulums, this eventually affects the other but by a delay in time as the energy is transmitted through its common wall.
I don't see why this explains consciousness? Are then a couple of pendulums swinging in phase conscious?

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henry quirk
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"How does this vaporous, ethereal thing, the mind, cause a neuron to emit a neurotransmitter that causes the arm to rais

Post by henry quirk » Tue Jan 28, 2020 5:27 pm

Circling back to my comment up-thread: how does a program (information, immaterial, ethereal) cause a computer to work?

Scott Mayers
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Re: In what sense is Descartes's dualism wrong?

Post by Scott Mayers » Tue Jan 28, 2020 5:44 pm

Satyavan wrote:
Tue Jan 28, 2020 1:47 pm
Scott Mayers wrote:
Tue Jan 28, 2020 1:06 pm
Epileptic patients who have their brains split to stop the seizures split the consciousness in two distinct minds.
As far as I know the mind and consciousness remains intact: https://www.uva.nl/en/content/news/pres ... sness.html
How could we reasonably explain this if consciousness is in the brain? Why doesn't the personality split either?
That is one person's paper and from what I read (insuffient to determine the actual experiments) the conclusion doesn't follow. The brain is not cut all the way through and thus communication between them still exists but through more basic parts of the lower brain. If you placed those clocks I mentioned as an example I gave above on the wall, you could assure them quicker rates of getting in sync from randomized initial conditions when closer to each other. This is like the period when one is just initiating consciousness (from sleep, say) to when they awaken. But by the time of the sync, the rest of consciousness is connected. The connections only confirm the activity later about what occurred in separate parts of the body. But once they are in sync, the brain 'feels' the whole. The activities of thought then operate together and apart for split brains. The degree of the split to core significant responses, like movement of muscles and basic senses are still shared because these are NOT split. The split is of the part of the higher part that deals with 'data' and associations.

I'd have to see the exact experiments to believe what those images are expecting one to believe meaningfully without. But as to the conclusion given, those suffice to tell me something is fault. The connections of the upper brain relate to data storage one might think of in a computer where the lower ordered portions deal with the logical essential functions, like the CPU and cache.

I urge you to also look at the people who had these split brains react when the right side is in conflict with the left. [Example: https://www.bbc.com/news/uk-12225163]
Scott Mayers wrote:
Tue Jan 28, 2020 1:06 pm
For instance, if two identical twins are in the samewith one another but out of phase [if the pendulum of one is at its highest to the left, the other is highest to its right; both meet simultaneously at the middle.] For more than two clocks, the phase is split among them. Then, if you attempt to alter or interrupt one of the pendulums, this eventually affects the other but by a delay in time as the energy is transmitted through its common wall.
room, given their neurons can be 'identical' in structure, their may be a "consciousness" that feels both simultaneously but cannot be shared until or unless the information is relayed. The rate of such exchange then would also contribute to HOW 'conscious' two or more things are to one another. If you have two identical pendulum structured clocks on the same wall, however you begin any of the clocks swings, they will eventually fall in sync

I don't see why this explains consciousness? Are then a couple of pendulums swinging in phase conscious?
In demonstrates the capacity of non-thinking activity to become in sync. "Consciousness" is something we refer to by animals like us. As to calling the underlying physics "consciousness" might be like comparing a protein to a whole cell's activity demonstrating organized life. But the physics are the same and why we'd have to defer to quantum mechanics to deal with and understand. The clock example is related to the brain's activity as having a common frequency formula. Where the lengths of the pendulum differ, this effect doesn't occur. [By implication given the experiments only assert THAT they go in phase when having the same exact structure and pendulum lengths, there may be degrees of this and effects of harmonic frequencies that might trigger some resonant effects.]
Last edited by Scott Mayers on Tue Jan 28, 2020 5:47 pm, edited 1 time in total.

Scott Mayers
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Re: "How does this vaporous, ethereal thing, the mind, cause a neuron to emit a neurotransmitter that causes the arm to

Post by Scott Mayers » Tue Jan 28, 2020 5:47 pm

henry quirk wrote:
Tue Jan 28, 2020 5:27 pm
Circling back to my comment up-thread: how does a program (information, immaterial, ethereal) cause a computer to work?
Is this a rhetorical question to the OP to think of? ...or is it a sincere question to anyone on this topic?

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Post by henry quirk » Tue Jan 28, 2020 6:12 pm

me wrote:Circling back to my comment up-thread: how does a program (information, immaterial, ethereal) cause a computer to work?
Scott wrote:Is this a rhetorical question to the OP to think of? ...or is it a sincere question to anyone on this topic?

A bit of both, inspired by this, from Gary, How does this vaporous, ethereal thing, the mind, cause a neuron to emit a neurotransmitter that causes the arm to raise? By what mechanism does it cause a mechanical thing to move?, and my own comment further up-thread.

I think the notions of software & hardware are germane.

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