The problem of self under materialism

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bahman
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The problem of self under materialism

Post by bahman » Mon Sep 19, 2016 2:33 pm

1) Materialism is a system of belief that claims that everything is made of matter or it is matter's state
2) The self is a brain state in materialism
3) Any subject matter turns into a brain state in order to be experienced
4) This means that the self (brain state) experiences another brain state (subject matter) in materialism which this is absurd
5) This means that the self cannot be a brain state

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henry quirk
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Post by henry quirk » Mon Sep 19, 2016 2:46 pm

The 'self' is not a brain state.

The 'self' is a brain in a body in the world.

'I think'...what is 'I'? 'I' is a particular brain situated in a particular body in a place.

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bahman
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Re:

Post by bahman » Mon Sep 19, 2016 3:00 pm

henry quirk wrote: The 'self' is not a brain state.
Look, plain matter doesn't have self. Why? Because it cannot have the particular physical state to allow the experience.
henry quirk wrote: The 'self' is a brain in a body in the world.
That is not correct. You can experience your Iness which is separate from your brain and body.
henry quirk wrote: 'I think'...what is 'I'? 'I' is a particular brain situated in a particular body in a place.
You can experience your Iness, couldn't you? You cannot experience your brain but only your body which this means your brain is different from your self.

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henry quirk
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Post by henry quirk » Mon Sep 19, 2016 3:16 pm

The brain is not a static brick, but a complex, chemically and electrically active, on-going event. There's nuthin' plain about it.

Speakin' only for me: I experience myself and the world as a physical entity...My I-ness 'is' me, my body. Seems to me, any experience of 'self' as apart from body and brain is the result of a disorder.

Again, speakin' only for me: I am not a collection of parts but a whole, a brain irrevocably embedded in a body in the world, so I don't experience my brain; instead, I'm aware of all of me, the whole thing that is 'me'.

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Re: The problem of self under materialism

Post by Terrapin Station » Mon Sep 19, 2016 3:20 pm

bahman wrote:3) Any subject matter turns into a brain state in order to be experienced
Everything seems fine up until this point. It's not clear to me what this is even saying. You'd have to define how you're using "subject matter" for one. The idea of "subject matter turning into a brain state" seems very wonky to me.

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Re:

Post by Terrapin Station » Mon Sep 19, 2016 3:31 pm

henry quirk wrote:The 'self' is not a brain state.
I'd say it's a brain state, or a series of them rather.

There can be different things that we're referring to with "self" though. We can talk about the "sense of self," or the mental phenomena of being a continuous, "unified," thinking/experiencing self, which is the connotation that I'd say is a series of particular brain states (or more specifically, a series of parts of brain states--it's not as if every molecule in a brain is involved with this, some parts of one's brain are doing other things at the same time), but there's also a connotation of "self" where we say, "My arm is part of myself (or "my self" less commonly)." Re that connotation, yeah, one's self isn't just brain states.

It's not that anyone is saying that the brain state connotation is isolated from anything else. It's just that when we tell someone what a turntable is, say, we don't usually describe the room it's in, too, even though it's usually going to be in a room (if it's not outside somewhere).

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Immanuel Can
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Re: The problem of self under materialism

Post by Immanuel Can » Mon Sep 19, 2016 3:35 pm

bahman wrote:1) Materialism is a system of belief that claims that everything is made of matter or it is matter's state...

4) This means that the self (brain state) experiences another brain state (subject matter) in materialism which this is absurd
For me, this is the most important part of your observation. Can I try to give an example of why I think you're onto something important there?

If we say, "I see a rock,"

We are not saying, "The rock sees me."

It cannot. For it is mere materials. Mere materials cannot "see" or "understand" anything.

But somehow, we CAN say it about "I."

So how is that? If materialism is true, what does it mean to say that SOME arrangements of materials (like rocks) cannot "see" and cannot be expected ever to "see"?

And yet to say that another collocation of mere materials (i.e. "I") not only routinely DOES so, but can be expected to do so?

What is the missing variable, the difference between a rock and me? It's not complexity, for I can make a huge, huge pile of rocks, one even more complicated than my body -- but I have no greater expectation of that complex mass than I had of the one rock. Neither "sees," nor can be expected to -- no matter how I multiply its complexity.

So what is it? If we are merely materials, what makes some materials capable of sentience, and other materials not at all? :shock:

There must be some additional factor not present in materials qua materials, but what is it?

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Re:

Post by bahman » Mon Sep 19, 2016 3:36 pm

henry quirk wrote: The brain is not a static brick, but a complex, chemically and electrically active, on-going event. There's nuthin' plain about it.
That we know.
henry quirk wrote: Speakin' only for me: I experience myself and the world as a physical entity...My I-ness 'is' me, my body.
What do you mean with "I experience myself"? Do you mean that "I" is your self or "myself" is your self?
henry quirk wrote: Again, speakin' only for me: I am not a collection of parts but a whole, a brain irrevocably embedded in a body in the world, so I don't experience my brain; instead, I'm aware of all of me, the whole thing that is 'me'.
Yes, you are aware of all of you but what decide in a occasion, your brain or you? ? If it is your brain then what is you? What is the advantage of experiencing a self if your brain make all the decisions that your self cannot perform?

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henry quirk
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Post by henry quirk » Mon Sep 19, 2016 3:48 pm

I'll say it again: I am brain, in body, in world.

There is not 'self' as distinct entity apart from brain. Self, mind, I-ness is what brain 'does' as legs 'do' walking.

Would it make sense to talk of walking as an event separate from legs? Of course not. In the same way it makes no sense to talk about self without talking about that which 'does' self.

Part of your problem seems to lie in language: "What do you mean with "I experience myself"? Do you mean that "I" is your self or "myself" is your self?", for example, asks a nonsense question. 'I', 'myself' both refer to the one using the words, so when I say 'I experience myself' what I'm saying is I self-reference, am self-aware, am aware of that which is me and how it differs from, is separate from, that which is not me.
Last edited by henry quirk on Mon Sep 19, 2016 4:06 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: The problem of self under materialism

Post by Terrapin Station » Mon Sep 19, 2016 4:01 pm

Immanuel Can wrote:So how is that? If materialism is true, what does it mean to say that SOME arrangements of materials (like rocks) cannot "see" and cannot be expected ever to "see"?
Forget about the mind/body issue for a moment.

Different materials, in different structures, undergoing different processes, have different properties.

So, for example, something very different is going to happen if we light a match against a balloon full of hydrogen at room temperature versus if we do the same thing against a balloon full of water at room temperature. And we're even talking about hydrogen in both cases. It's just that that material, when it's bonded with oxygen atoms in the right way, doesn't have the property of easily catching fire, whereas it does when we're only talking about gaseous hydrogen by itself.

Everywhere you look around you, different materials, in different structures, undergoing different processes, have different properties.

So it shouldn't be a surprise, and it shouldn't seem inexplicable, when we say that two different materials, in different structures, undergoing different processes, have different properties.

Coming back to mind/body now, that doesn't mean that you have to accept that "mind" is a property that some materials, in some structures, undergoing some processes has, but it wouldn't make sense to treat the idea that different materials (etc.) have different properties as something with no justification, something out of left field, etc.

And we can ask this: "what makes some materials capable of x, and other materials not at all" about every single property that matter has. Some materials, in some structures and processes have that property. Some do not. The difference appears to be just what we keep saying--the materials, structures and processes. That's what properties ARE after all. So difference is difference.
Last edited by Terrapin Station on Mon Sep 19, 2016 4:08 pm, edited 3 times in total.

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henry quirk
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Post by henry quirk » Mon Sep 19, 2016 4:01 pm

"when we tell someone what a turntable is, say, we don't usually describe the room it's in, too, even though it's usually going to be in a room (if it's not outside somewhere)."

Here's the thing: it's wholly possible to find a working turntable in all manner of places, but a working brain is only gonna be found in one place, and that place is wholly dependent on the brain's presence and the brain is wholly dependent on that place, so it's not unreasonable to see the brain and the place (the body) as 'one'.

In the same way: the peculiar processes of the brain and body produce 'self'. Self cannot be without that peculiar brain and body, and that particular brain and body cannot help but produce 'self' (as legs cannot help but 'do' walking) so it's -- again -- not unreasonable to see brain (and body) as 'self'.

Are there any naturally existing, working brains without bodies?

Show me just one brain floppin' around in the real world, thinking and whatnot, without a body to support it.

Are there 'selves' without brains and bodies?

Show me one 'self' that isn't inextricably tied to a fleshy body and brain.

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Re:

Post by Terrapin Station » Mon Sep 19, 2016 4:07 pm

henry quirk wrote:Here's the thing: it's wholly possible to find a working turntable in all manner of places, but a working brain is only gonna be found in one place, and that place is wholly dependent on the brain's presence and the brain is wholly dependent on that place, so it's not unreasonable to see the brain and the place (the body) as 'one'.
A turntable doesn't work as a turntable without being connected to some sort of power amplifier, speakers, etc. That doesn't make the power amplifier, speakers, etc. a turntable.

And selves can be inside rooms, outside etc. just as well as turntables can be.

Selves can't exist very well inside of active volcanoes. But neither can turntables.

So no, there's really no difference there that makes even the slightest bit of sense for blurring selves into environments, too. That trend seems to have started because there was a belief that people were thinking of selves as existing somehow separately from environments. And maybe some people were saying that. But I don't think there are many people saying that any longer, and even if there were, that wouldn't justify blurring the term in a nonsensical way like that.

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Post by henry quirk » Mon Sep 19, 2016 4:18 pm

I don't think I was blurring anything.

Again: a self is a brain in a body, in the world. If that comes across as world being the third leg of a table, then I've been imprecise. World is more like the floor the unicycle that is self rides around on, it's necessary for self but is not self itself.

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Re:

Post by Terrapin Station » Mon Sep 19, 2016 4:25 pm

henry quirk wrote:I don't think I was blurring anything.

Again: a self is a brain in a body, in the world. If that comes across as world being the third leg of a table, then I've been imprecise. World is more like the floor the unicycle that is self rides around on, it's necessary for self but is not self itself.
But then why say that self isn't x because it's y, where y includes things that you're now saying are "not self itself"? When we say "self is x," we're saying that self is identical to x, so that everything mentioned in x should be self itself.

Of course self is dependent on a bunch of other things. I mean, everything is dependent on a bunch of other things, and arguably, everything is really dependent on everything else--at least in a "six degrees" sort of way. After all, we could say that everything is dependent on the big bang, for example. But that doesn't make every x everything.

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Post by henry quirk » Mon Sep 19, 2016 4:35 pm

As I say, I was imprecise (in my descriptors).

For me, this is a conversation I'm having as I work, not a rigidly defined academic debate or investigstion, so I'm not gonna spend a whole whack of my time crafting my responses to negate every jot of ambiguity.

*shrug*

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