Contemporary Philosophy of Mind

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

Moderators: AMod, iMod

Post Reply
zefan13
Posts: 18
Joined: Fri Jul 26, 2013 3:28 am

Contemporary Philosophy of Mind

Post by zefan13 » Sat Aug 03, 2013 5:48 am

I'm curious about the current trend among academics in the philosophy of mind. It appears that non-reductive physicalism (NRP) is the orthodoxy, and it suggests that the mental is something fundamentally different from the physical (though I might be wrong about this). Also, NRP can come in one of two forms: panpsychism--the thesis that mentality is ubiquitous (everything as a mind or a mental component, whether conscious or not)--and emergentism--the thesis that the mental supervenes on the physical (hence the mental is not ubiquitous, but rather arises only after particular conditions are met by the physical body, however vague or mysterious those conditions may be).

Is NRP necessarily a form of dualism, just not the radical Cartesian form (i.e., is it incompatible with substance physicalism)? Last I knew materialism was still the mainstream view, but it seems it has given in to the problem of consciousness and qualia a little.

Do I have this right so far, or am I in the dark? I ask because the philosophy of mind is one area of concentration for me (not in school, just reading on my own), but I have been focusing on its history so far, so I have not seen much on what currently holds reign over philosophical academia.

Ginkgo
Posts: 2583
Joined: Mon Apr 30, 2012 2:47 pm

Re: Contemporary Philosophy of Mind

Post by Ginkgo » Sat Aug 03, 2013 11:18 am

zefan13 wrote:I'm curious about the current trend among academics in the philosophy of mind. It appears that non-reductive physicalism (NRP) is the orthodoxy, and it suggests that the mental is something fundamentally different from the physical (though I might be wrong about this). Also, NRP can come in one of two forms: panpsychism--the thesis that mentality is ubiquitous (everything as a mind or a mental component, whether conscious or not)--and emergentism--the thesis that the mental supervenes on the physical (hence the mental is not ubiquitous, but rather arises only after particular conditions are met by the physical body, however vague or mysterious those conditions may be).

Is NRP necessarily a form of dualism, just not the radical Cartesian form (i.e., is it incompatible with substance physicalism)? Last I knew materialism was still the mainstream view, but it seems it has given in to the problem of consciousness and qualia a little.

Do I have this right so far, or am I in the dark? I ask because the philosophy of mind is one area of concentration for me (not in school, just reading on my own), but I have been focusing on its history so far, so I have not seen much on what currently holds reign over philosophical academia.

It depends who you talk to. Most of the theories of consciousness you have listed are generally regarded as ranging from being, not quite accurate, inadequate, false or misleading by mainstream science. In the end science wants to know to what extent do these theories have empirical validity? In other words, can they be tested by experimentation.

As I understand it the research at the moment seems to be focusing on the role of attention in consciousness.Jesse Prinz is reasonably famous in this field. He tends to bring together various studies that have been conducted over the years and unifies them into a theory of consciousness.

The other area of interest is quantum consciousness and a leader in this field is Steward Hameroff. I have made mention of him and Penrose in other threads. However, be aware that quantum consciousness is treated with some hostility by mainstream science.

User avatar
chasw
Posts: 65
Joined: Sat Sep 08, 2012 1:21 pm
Location: Seattle USA
Contact:

Re: Contemporary Philosophy of Mind

Post by chasw » Tue Aug 27, 2013 1:17 pm

zefan: I've just begun to delve into this subject. My local university offers a Philosophy of Mind course I intend to take. Meanwhile, I subscribe to a model of mental activity patterned after computers:

The universe is made up of matter and energy that behave according to the laws of physics, including some laws humans don't understand yet. Layered on top of this foundation are lifeforms, a wholly different realm of existence which cannot be explained by physics alone. That's where biology come in. Among these lifeforms are the higher order animals on Earth, whose brains have evolved to the point where consciousness is present. Hegel claims this last stage is where the fundamental Idea, which existed from the beginning of creation, became aware of itself.

Using the computer analogy, the animal (human, dog, pig, et al) and its brain support a form of cyberspace which again is a whole new realm of existence which biology cannot explain. That's where psychology, and ultimately philosophy, come in. This organic cyberspace has unique characteristics that amount to a life of its own. The mind depends on the brain for support in the same way an application program depends on its infrastructure. Aside from its instinctual inputs, the brain does not determine what the mind does, instead, the mind is independent. The computer analog would be an artificially intelligent machine like Hal 9000 that cogitates and makes decisions, sometimes arbitrarily.

In my own mind, I perceive the universe as a layer cake, with inorganic matter on the bottom, lifeforms in the middle and conscious minds at the crown of creation. Energy is present throughout. I also believe the mind is a gateway to an even higher form of existence - the spiritual realm - but that's a different topic. - CW

Ginkgo
Posts: 2583
Joined: Mon Apr 30, 2012 2:47 pm

Re: Contemporary Philosophy of Mind

Post by Ginkgo » Wed Aug 28, 2013 11:20 am

sorry double post
Last edited by Ginkgo on Wed Aug 28, 2013 11:24 am, edited 1 time in total.

Ginkgo
Posts: 2583
Joined: Mon Apr 30, 2012 2:47 pm

Re: Contemporary Philosophy of Mind

Post by Ginkgo » Wed Aug 28, 2013 11:22 am

Ginkgo wrote:
chasw wrote:zefan: I've just begun to delve into this subject. My local university offers a Philosophy of Mind course I intend to take. Meanwhile, I subscribe to a model of mental activity patterned after computers:

The universe is made up of matter and energy that behave according to the laws of physics, including some laws humans don't understand yet. Layered on top of this foundation are lifeforms, a wholly different realm of existence which cannot be explained by physics alone. That's where biology come in. Among these lifeforms are the higher order animals on Earth, whose brains have evolved to the point where consciousness is present. Hegel claims this last stage is where the fundamental Idea, which existed from the beginning of creation, became aware of itself.

Using the computer analogy, the animal (human, dog, pig, et al) and its brain support a form of cyberspace which again is a whole new realm of existence which biology cannot explain. That's where psychology, and ultimately philosophy, come in. This organic cyberspace has unique characteristics that amount to a life of its own. The mind depends on the brain for support in the same way an application program depends on its infrastructure. Aside from its instinctual inputs, the brain does not determine what the mind does, instead, the mind is independent. The computer analog would be an artificially intelligent machine like Hal 9000 that cogitates and makes decisions, sometimes arbitrarily.

In my own mind, I perceive the universe as a layer cake, with inorganic matter on the bottom, lifeforms in the middle and conscious minds at the crown of creation. Energy is present throughout. I also believe the mind is a gateway to an even higher form of existence - the spiritual realm - but that's a different topic. - CW
Very broad topic. You would probably start out with the substance dualism of Descartes, then possibly Spinoza, Melebrache and Leibniz. Depends a lot on how the topic is approached and from what perspective.

Your computer analogy sounds a lot like supervenience.

Impenitent
Posts: 2824
Joined: Wed Feb 10, 2010 2:04 pm

Re: Contemporary Philosophy of Mind

Post by Impenitent » Wed Aug 28, 2013 9:28 pm

ask yourself, if the ethereal mind is not connected to the physical brain, why do lobotomies work?

and no, it isn't in the pineal gland...

-Imp

Greylorn Ell
Posts: 855
Joined: Thu Jan 02, 2014 9:13 pm
Location: SE Arizona

Re: Contemporary Philosophy of Mind

Post by Greylorn Ell » Fri Feb 07, 2014 3:40 am

zefan13 wrote:I'm curious about the current trend among academics in the philosophy of mind. It appears that non-reductive physicalism (NRP) is the orthodoxy, and it suggests that the mental is something fundamentally different from the physical (though I might be wrong about this). Also, NRP can come in one of two forms: panpsychism--the thesis that mentality is ubiquitous (everything as a mind or a mental component, whether conscious or not)--and emergentism--the thesis that the mental supervenes on the physical (hence the mental is not ubiquitous, but rather arises only after particular conditions are met by the physical body, however vague or mysterious those conditions may be).

Is NRP necessarily a form of dualism, just not the radical Cartesian form (i.e., is it incompatible with substance physicalism)? Last I knew materialism was still the mainstream view, but it seems it has given in to the problem of consciousness and qualia a little.

Do I have this right so far, or am I in the dark? I ask because the philosophy of mind is one area of concentration for me (not in school, just reading on my own), but I have been focusing on its history so far, so I have not seen much on what currently holds reign over philosophical academia.
You are drifting at the event horizon of an academic whirlpool. Inside, academics who do not know squat are trying to suck you into their belief system, which is a black hole of ignorance supported by their status as "authority" figures, meaning that they are professors because they sucked up to other professors until they got their Ph.D.

That you have some doubts about their insights suggests that you have a mind. Use it. Read Descartes and figure out for yourself that dualism and NRP are unrelated. Also get that there is no such thing as a "radical" form of dualism in Cartesian philosophy. It is as Descartes described it.

If you want to look at a radical form of dualism, read "Digital Universe -- Analog Soul," my book. Unless you are willing to spend at least two weeks on each chapter, don't bother with it. It is a shitty book, way too full of its author's irrelevant opinions about the course of human politics, but nonetheless contains concepts that you will not find elsewhere. Some of these are pertinent to your curiosities.

Post Reply

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 2 guests