Mind: flavors of monism/dualism | Page 3 | INFJ Forum

Mind: flavors of monism/dualism

Discussion in 'Philosophy and Religion' started by charlatan, Jun 19, 2019.

Share This Page

Watchers:
This thread is being watched by 6 users.
More threads by charlatan
  1. Ren

    Ren Pin's android / The Maker / ≅ INFP

    Joined:
    Oct 10, 2017
    Threads:
    56
    Messages:
    12,060
    Featured Threads:
    30
    Likes Received:
    91,861
    Trophy Points:
    4,246
    Location:
    Dublin
    MBTI:
    INFJ
    Enneagram:
    4-5-8
    Don't worry about it at all, I've been enjoying the (destructive) ride :D

    Long story short, according to your definition, I think the physical and the experiential are reducible to the neutral, and are the expressions of the actualization of the neutral. They do not 'happen' as long as the neutral remains merely virtual but not actual. For example, what is captured in the following state of affairs: "Donald Trump being re-elected POTUS" is neutral but only virtual, and thus the physical/experiential do not supervene on it. But when a state of affairs is actual, it emerges as both physical and experiential necessarily. And it is not possible for the physical/experiential to be anything other than higher-order 'properties' of the factual. It is only when conceived as virtual (i.e. potential) that the neutral is nothing else than just neutral – that is, factual. This entails that what is considered to be a "fact" in this ontology is not just an obtaining state of affairs but any state of affairs that can obtain. A state of affairs that obtains is an event and is therefore by definition both physical and experiential.

    It does not seem to be possible for the physical or experiential to be the case without – well, indeed, being the case. But what is the case is synonymous with what is a fact. It is in this sense that I conceive of the reducibility of the higher-order 'properties' of the neutral/factual to the neutral/factual itself. By contrast, like you said, mathematics can be the case without positing the physical. But note that within this 'system', mathematics has to be taken as a 'mere' formal language and not as a regional ontology in its own right, since presumably, a factualist ontology cannot admit of abstract objects. Thus the physical and the experiential emerge (reductively) from the factual; while mathematics formalizes the former. Maybe we could say that psychology, phenomenology, and even literature formalize the latter – that is, provide a language for it.
     
    Stop hovering to collapse... Click to collapse... Hover to expand... Click to expand...
    charlatan and Sandie33 like this.
  2. OP
    charlatan

    charlatan I Like this Place

    Joined:
    Jan 5, 2015
    Threads:
    1
    Messages:
    1,001
    Featured Threads:
    1
    Likes Received:
    1,910
    Trophy Points:
    787
    Gender:
    Male
    MBTI:
    Ne-ILE
    Enneagram:
    614? spsx
    I think I'm getting the idea now -- one thing I'm curious of is this 'virtual' idea, just because it reminds me of modal 'possibility', and I would think that's not what you mean here, because I doubt you'd want to make the foundation for what exists (usually identified with what is actual) with what is possible. So when you appeal to these primitive facts that, once actualized, must be via physical and experiential aspects, should I think of this kind of virtuality/possibility as more akin to the kind we associate to time?

    Note the difference: what is possible in the sense of time is what is consistent with the laws of physics, e.g. I MIGHT drop my pen on the floor. What is possible more generally though is that the world might not have had physical objects at all, or the laws of physics could have been different. The former notion tells me something about what the actual world is like, and thus seems like what one would mean if one were describing what exists.


    Anyway, on the formal vs attributing genuine existence to mathematics, as you probably can guess/tell by this point, I strive to make my own 'destructive' arguments independent of that issue, in the sense that all one needs for my point is to say that we can't distinguish our mathematical concepts or language adequately from physical counterparts without some concept of the concrete properties of the world. So the idea is that mathematics by itself isn't a sufficient language. One at least has to distinguish the activity of doing mathematics from that of doing physics somehow or another.

    Whether one wants to say mathematical concepts refer to abstract objects or to say they refer to nothing, and are useful fictions like 'Sherlock Holmes' is no biggie.
     
    Ren likes this.
  3. OP
    charlatan

    charlatan I Like this Place

    Joined:
    Jan 5, 2015
    Threads:
    1
    Messages:
    1,001
    Featured Threads:
    1
    Likes Received:
    1,910
    Trophy Points:
    787
    Gender:
    Male
    MBTI:
    Ne-ILE
    Enneagram:
    614? spsx
    I was also thinking that even if one adopts illusionism about qualia, one could make the case that something beyond a mathematical account would at least have a better chance to explain the illusion.
    Properties that conceivably can belong to abstract objects seem hard-pressed to even account for the illusion.
     
  4. OP
    charlatan

    charlatan I Like this Place

    Joined:
    Jan 5, 2015
    Threads:
    1
    Messages:
    1,001
    Featured Threads:
    1
    Likes Received:
    1,910
    Trophy Points:
    787
    Gender:
    Male
    MBTI:
    Ne-ILE
    Enneagram:
    614? spsx
    On @Ren's recommendation, since he has more thoughts, just bumping!

    Having revisited my thoughts, I think a lot of what I've said neighbors an old issue in metaphysics, namely the distinction between dispositional and categorical properties (the former are defined in terms of causes/effects, the latter are more intrinsic). I think a common criticism leveled by neutral monists and other similar flavored views is that the description of physics is exclusively dispositional apart maybe from mathematical notions -- it involves nothing but mathematical notions and references to laws of nature, at rock bottom. Various famous *physicalists* actually see this as too thin a metaphysics. David Lewis is, I think, one example.

    But independently, it does seem like if it were to refer to anything in the world, conscious experience of qualia/ 'what it's like to be in a certain state' would refer to a categorical property -- this is because it is meant to be purely subjective, and thus not refer to objects outside of itself, hence it can't be dispositional, which would involve referring to the effects.
    I think if such a notion doesn't make sense, it's better to call qualia an illusion than to try to fit them into our world.

    Anyway, neutral monism might be said to offer insight into what the categorical properties are that ground the mathematical-causal ones covered in physics, and to suggest the problem of consciousness is related to the failure by physical science to discover, as yet, any non-mathematical categorical ones.

    How does this fit into my ponderings from above? Laws of nature have a strange place in-between mathematical notions and characterizations of the metaphysical nature of something. It's quite common to hold that the same properties could've followed different laws, meaning the laws are in some sense 'accidental' and not essential to the properties like 'being an electron', though some suggest that couldn't be the case. At the same time, they aren't purely mathematical either -- there are a plethora of mathematical relations one could draw among the properties of physics, but not all these describe laws.

    My own views seem to involve both some epistemic and some metaphysical worries.
    On the epistemic level: I tend to worry that, to the extent we *discover* laws from facts that don't presuppose them, I worry we're getting something concrete from stuff that we know utterly nothing non-mathematical about. We discover laws as regularities among stuff, whether or not one has a different metaphysical view on them. If there were regularities in *experience* and we thought experience was metaphysically concrete, that would at least give us some suspicion that we need concrete laws to explain them. As is, orthodox physicalism tends to be forced to presume things like our being totally clueless as to the real nature of experience and it's a completely colloquial concept we invent (or, alternately, that qualia are illusory) for something physical.
    I don't see why I should believe there are any laws of nature on this view.

    On the second level, which is about an adequate metaphysics: part of the issue relates to the above. On some views, laws of nature can not only be discovered from facts not presupposing them, but in fact, are nothing over and above those facts about regularities. This runs into obvious worries, as once you delete the notion of a law of nature/ the causal powers of particles, there's nothing concrete left!!
    I think this might be close to the view Lewis had.
    And I have a feeling I'm generally reluctant to be less conservative about what a law of nature is... it tells you the Bs follow once you have As, things like that. If it really were the case that, once one instantiated the big bang, the rest of the universe had to follow, then I'd say it's either a further fact that one had to instantiate the laws of nature, or there is something to the nature of the particles at the start you have not told me (since the description is fully formal before you mention any causal powers).
     
    #44 charlatan, Dec 24, 2019
    Last edited: Dec 24, 2019
    Skarekrow, Ren and Sandie33 like this.
  5. OP
    charlatan

    charlatan I Like this Place

    Joined:
    Jan 5, 2015
    Threads:
    1
    Messages:
    1,001
    Featured Threads:
    1
    Likes Received:
    1,910
    Trophy Points:
    787
    Gender:
    Male
    MBTI:
    Ne-ILE
    Enneagram:
    614? spsx
    The strange thing is I actually sympathize with some of the reasons the people who favor a very causal-profile exclusive (vs more categorical) metaphysics have, which is basically that otherwise, you can't really access the properties in question (not surprisingly, that tends to be what happens with some accounts of mental phenomena, where some aspect is apparently inaccessible).

    However, I think there's a kind of obvious line to take there, namely that what really matters to provide access to a property is to set up *some* relation to it -- it needn't be so thin a relation as just a law of nature/causal relation as to be something that arguably can be reduced away to something more basic.
    Ideally, it gives a sense of why you can't have one property without the property that is supposedly caused by it -- maybe something of the form 'both are part of a more expansive property, and neither can exist without the more expansive property which entails both'
     
    Skarekrow and Ren like this.
  6. Ren

    Ren Pin's android / The Maker / ≅ INFP

    Joined:
    Oct 10, 2017
    Threads:
    56
    Messages:
    12,060
    Featured Threads:
    30
    Likes Received:
    91,861
    Trophy Points:
    4,246
    Location:
    Dublin
    MBTI:
    INFJ
    Enneagram:
    4-5-8
    The thing is that your distinction between dispositional and categorical properties seems to lead again to some kind of property dualism, and thus to the idea that consciousness is epiphenomenal. Do you side with those who think consciousness is causally inert? It seems to me there is a bottomless tank of counterexamples from experience. The simplest example I can mention to illustrate is that I had a desire to resume the conversation about monism/dualism here and this 'caused' me to type on my keyboard to write this message. When you look at one or your posts and think 'hmmm, this is not quite correct, let me edit the post' this is once again an example of a 'mental state' disposing you to actually edit the post.

    This reminds me that I've been reading a lot of Searle lately, and he has interesting things to say about consciousness. Very quickly, here's what he rejects first, and why. He rejects substance dualism on the basis that it offers no tools to critically examine the nature of consciousness and worse, uses terminology and concepts that prevent such advances. He rejects property dualism on the basis that it leads to epiphenomenalism, which runs counter to the empirical observation that consciousness is not causally inert. He rejects orthodox physicalism on the basis that it is silly to reject the idea that first-person, subjective qualitative experiences are real, and that orthodox physicalism basically confuses two different types of reduction: ontological reduction and causal reduction. Consciousness can be causally reduced to the neuronal substrate but cannot be ontologically reduced to it. Lastly, he rejects nonreductive physicalism on the basis that it does not really explain anything about the nature of consciousness nor provide any tools in that direction. Basically he says it's just a rephrasing of supervenience theory: sure, consciousness supervenes on the neuronal substrate but it is causal supervenience rather than constitutive supervenience. And we kind of already know that. So he agrees with what nonreductive physicalism says in a way, but he denies that it makes a truly positive contribution to the study of the nature of consciousness.

    You might know this, but he calls his alternative biological naturalism. I'm not yet completely familiar with the nooks and crannies of it but I will try to do the theory some justice. In essence, he suggests that the brain is like a biological system and that the neuronal substrate is lower-order, while consciousness is higher-order. But ultimately the biological brain is all that there is: the neuronal substrate and consciousness just relate to different levels of description. He uses an interesting analogy with, say, a table. We know that really it's all molecules deep down; nevertheless the solidity of the table is real. It does entail impenetrability, and so on, and the impenetrability of solidity is causal: if you drive your first into the table you won't pierce through it. Nevertheless, solidity is only a higher-level state of what is at bottom just a bundle of molecules. The same goes for consciousness. He does admit that the case of consciousness is different in that it has a first-person ontology, and also that it remains an open question whether it can be said that conscious states are in spacetime. He argues that they are, and that we will sooner or later become used to that idea with the progress of science, the updating of our terminologies, etc. (To be fair to him, that is the only instance where he resorts to the argument from ignorance, and I think he does it with some justification in this case.)

    What do you think of Searle's proposal as a solution to the mind/body problem?
     
    Stop hovering to collapse... Click to collapse... Hover to expand... Click to expand...
    Arcadia, Skarekrow and charlatan like this.
  7. OP
    charlatan

    charlatan I Like this Place

    Joined:
    Jan 5, 2015
    Threads:
    1
    Messages:
    1,001
    Featured Threads:
    1
    Likes Received:
    1,910
    Trophy Points:
    787
    Gender:
    Male
    MBTI:
    Ne-ILE
    Enneagram:
    614? spsx
    Definitely am very far from that myself, in that basically one of the whole points of resorting to Russelian / neutral / whatever monism *over* property dualism is actually to avoid causal inertness of consciousness. For example, panpsychism, which is close to stuff Russell adopted, avoids causal inertness by saying the categorical essence behind the particles physics describes dispositionally is precisely consciousness and the point is that physics tells you what the electrons do purely on a mathematical-causal structural account, but the categorical nature of the electron is what is doing the doing so to speak -- what concrete thing is being modeled (contrast that with epiphenomenal property dualism, where the consciousness is considered IN ADDITIOn to anything doing the doing, rather than the culprit itself). The point of this view is that it's saying all the physics has done is modeled causal relations mathematically and given no positive account of what physical things are, so it's no surprise it doesn't explain something like consciousness.

    The only thing property dualism and something like panpsychism share in common is that they're relatively colorful metaphysics, compared to something like very orthodox physicalism. But in terms of their actual technical solutions they are very far apart. They're definitely on the same side in terms of 'take consciousness very seriously/dont' water it down' but have almost the opposite approaches to solving the problem.

    There are of course lots of reasons people worry about the metaphysics of an account with solely mathematics + laws of nature/causal relations. For one thing, on some accounts, laws of nature are reducible to regularities, so that leaves just mathematics, which is quite absurd (ie physics is NOTHIng but mathematics, as I've said before -- but even if one beefs up one's metaphysics, there's a worry this issue remains at an epistemological level i.e. even if the world consists of mathematics + causal relations, since causal relations are discerned in avery aposteriori way, how are we deducing them from 'regularities' among apparently purely mathematical things????)
    ... on the middle ground account, laws are contingent, but hold in a stronger sense than merely describing repetition among particulars (rather, the law-relation is a necessitation relation between universals). But of course, this view still leaves categorical properties, because it admits laws are contingent/thus do not describe the essence of the properties they hold among... Finally, the most metaphysically extreme view is that laws are essential to the metaphysical nature of whatever they hold among. I think this type of view that causal powers exhaustively characterize something is a beefed up enough metaphysics to support very austere physicalism.
    But it's also quite problematic-seeming as a solution by itself, in that it seems very reasonable that some laws are contingent. That makes it seem like to prove a law really is more than contingent, you'd need to describe some further deeper nature to the property in question that the law is supposed to hold on. But that brings us back to the idea that there's something more to the property in question than the mathematics and law-of-nature language captures.
    Alternately, it is just a brute fact the law holds with necessity. Usually, though, we justify positing brute facts on an empirical basis or on the basis that they're very basic anti-skeptical starting points like that I wasn't made 5 mins ago...with these memories implanted... I'm not sure how one justifies calling a law of nature holding with metaphysical necessity a brute fact when there are so many alternatives to look at the moment. The idea that a law is metaphysically essential is hardly anywhere close to the sort of thing you discover empirically. It seems at least as epistemically suspect as the idea that there are these crazy neutral undiscovered properties (more so to me in the subtle sense that one is just a speculative theory, not something that seems basica, and in fact more so when you realize you went down this rabbit hole to avoid explaining consciousness with anything fancy or epistemically suspect.

    By the way, due to his whole 'ontological subjectivity' stuff, I think some people would accuse Searle of being dualist to some extent, but I don't find the accusation too interesting, in the sense that the main thing he does affirm is the causal efficacy of the mind, and he's very happy to identify consciousness with a brain state.

    The one thing I am not sure about Searle's views on is things like neutral monism -- the central point in common to all the views I tend to be most sympathetic to is that they deny the explanatory framework of physics the way it's been done will suffice as a complete metaphysics, and this turns on the categorical thing.
    I realize he dislikes panpsychism, in the sense of finding it blatantly just denies the basic distinction that seems to hold between conscious and unconscious systems, but then again, many varieties of monism that aren't any traditional physicalism don't posit consciousness at the base/do honor that it's higher level.

    So it's a little tough for me to discern if I don't agree with him/if there's much of a difference at the end in my flavor of view from his. I tend to take the causal efficacy thing seriously, and I'm open to identifying consciousness with a brain state. What I'm not sympathetic with is that such conscious brain states are themselves likely captured in entirety by current physical science's tools -- in particular they are captured entirely in terms of their effects on other things. That type of vocabulary may tell you something, but it seems to me it misses the main thing making consciousness hard, the what it's like to *be* in a state. That's precisely the type of thing that would be categorical and not defined exclusively in causal terms (even if it *in addition* has causal effects).

    It's worth noting that illusionists often agree with this. And they endeavor to show there are no categorical properties/that our judgment of subjective experience involves an illusion.
    But for what it's worth, I think that's a better strategy than the one most physicalists take.
     
    #47 charlatan, Dec 27, 2019
    Last edited: Dec 27, 2019
    Arcadia, Skarekrow and Ren like this.
  8. OP
    charlatan

    charlatan I Like this Place

    Joined:
    Jan 5, 2015
    Threads:
    1
    Messages:
    1,001
    Featured Threads:
    1
    Likes Received:
    1,910
    Trophy Points:
    787
    Gender:
    Male
    MBTI:
    Ne-ILE
    Enneagram:
    614? spsx
    OK, having refreshed my memory, I think what Searle emphasizes is that consciousness is causally reducible to the appropriate brain state, but it's not ontologically reducible.
    Now, that strikes me as fairly similar to the kinds of things I've said, so it's tough to say where exactly he diverges from the kinds of monism I discuss.
    He seems to say

    - there is nothing causally to consciousness over and above the causal powers of neurobiological processes. (This, all the monisms I ever consider accept.)
    - however, there is something to the brain state ontologically over and above the causal powers of that brain state. This is ontological subjectivity: the what it's like aspect is not reducible to the causal properties.

    Seems fairly compatible with things I say.

    I have a feeling Searle might not ultimately identify himself as one of these fancier monisms (but perhaps I would identify him with those, and/or say that's the most plausible way to make his view work), but what seems clear from this passage is he seems to be giving consciousness a fancier place than a lot of more traditional physicalists -- particularly by saying it does not undergo an ontological reduction on the basis of causal reduction. Basically, that there's a dimension to the conscious state that is given in causal terms and a dimension that is not.

    But anyway, I'm more as of now sympathetic to pan*proto*psychism than panpsychism where the base is some as-yet undiscovered level (neither explained in classically phenomenal nor causal-mathematical terms). I wonder what Searle thinks of that.
     
    #48 charlatan, Dec 27, 2019
    Last edited: Dec 27, 2019
    Skarekrow and Ren like this.
  9. OP
    charlatan

    charlatan I Like this Place

    Joined:
    Jan 5, 2015
    Threads:
    1
    Messages:
    1,001
    Featured Threads:
    1
    Likes Received:
    1,910
    Trophy Points:
    787
    Gender:
    Male
    MBTI:
    Ne-ILE
    Enneagram:
    614? spsx
    Something to emphasize though from the post from the other thread --- I'm personally more committed to being suspicious of orthodox physicalism than any other view. I'm not at all that convinced a clearly 'dual aspect' theory of neutral monism is the right one. I'm quite open to it being significantly more deflationary towards the so-called two aspects and a significantly new substrate.

    Once you admit there's plausibly something more than a mathematical-causal description of the world (which Searle clearly does), I'm more or less open to any view. Illusionism included! Illusions involve systematic misrepresentations, and representation via a neutral base plausibly offers more scope for explaining the misrepresentation than a purely mathematical-causal one.
     
    Skarekrow and Ren like this.
  10. Ren

    Ren Pin's android / The Maker / ≅ INFP

    Joined:
    Oct 10, 2017
    Threads:
    56
    Messages:
    12,060
    Featured Threads:
    30
    Likes Received:
    91,861
    Trophy Points:
    4,246
    Location:
    Dublin
    MBTI:
    INFJ
    Enneagram:
    4-5-8
    I don't think Searle would identify with any of the fancier monisms. The fact that he calls his position biological naturalism is key here, I think. This seems to suggest that he rejects any kind of a priori theorising when it comes to philosophy of mind. In the book that I'm reading he insists that the mind/body problem and other such problems can't be resolved, in his view, as long as we keep to the old vocabulary — substances, the opposition between the 'mental' and the 'physical', and probably the very notion of property as well, as least in its traditional philosophical sense. He basically says that physicalism makes the mistake of positing physical properties and from the moment it's done that, it inevitably spawns mental properties as well. Sure it tries to show that mental properties don't really exist, that they reduce to physical properties but it fails to do that for reasons we've already discussed on this thread. So he's saying instead of sticking to that old vocabulary that is in a way the source of all the confusion, let's just focus on nature and biological processes. There are different 'systems' to be observed empirically with different levels of description and the brain is just one of them.

    So I'd say he wouldn't have much time for a neutral monism that thinks itself in terms of having neutral properties. It is a legitimate question though, whether he is consistent when he embraces a pluralism of ontologies — first-person, third-person, etc. I guess the basic question is what does he exactly mean by 'ontology'? As long as he hasn't specified that and made sense of it in naturalistic terms, he remains open to the objection that he's just displacing the dualist framework on another level but not really resolving it. I haven't read enough of his work to have a definite answer as of yet.
     
    Stop hovering to collapse... Click to collapse... Hover to expand... Click to expand...
    Skarekrow and charlatan like this.
  11. OP
    charlatan

    charlatan I Like this Place

    Joined:
    Jan 5, 2015
    Threads:
    1
    Messages:
    1,001
    Featured Threads:
    1
    Likes Received:
    1,910
    Trophy Points:
    787
    Gender:
    Male
    MBTI:
    Ne-ILE
    Enneagram:
    614? spsx
    I have a feeling he wouldn't identify with those monisms either, but basically for this exact reason you mention, I'm super suspicious it's not just motivated by squeamishness to some extent. Saying that you don't think consciousness is ontologically reducible (only causally reducible) to neuronal firings seems to be embracing precisely the motive for something like neutral monism .... namely to take both the causal closure from physics seriously and yet acknowledging seriously that the reality of consciousness is not just a causal reality.

    It's fine if he has some very fine-tuned, idiosyncratic but insightful commentary on using or not using metaphysical vocab, but he certainly does to the extent of talking of 'ontologies,' and I'm not sure it's a fundamentally different approach.

    Also, for what it's worth, he uses the word 'biological' -- I can't currently imagine why that's better than using the word 'physical' !! To me, biological screams 'higher-level-physical'.... and it makes me want to call Searle a nonstandard/non-austere physicalist.
    Which certainly gets subsumed in the monisms I take seriously.

    If he really doesn't want to be classified, I'd say he has to distance himself from making distinctions between the first-person and the causal.

    Saying "Let's just not make any distinctions...let's just describe nature!!" is a little misleading. In the end, you will describe nature in some conceptual way, unless you just describe it in the trivial sense as 'everything there is' ... and the thing on physical vs mental is that they are clearly different concepts/descriptions. The question is whether one can achieve a complete description of all there is using only one concept, or one needs both or some newer kind.

    Beyond that, I'm open to there being a better way to draw distinctions than with the notion of 'properties' but this seems a bit like the debates on universals, tropes, etc -- a lot of philosophy of mind has to go invariant of those disputes.

    The important thing is whether a mathematical-causal description is complete.
     
    #51 charlatan, Dec 29, 2019
    Last edited: Dec 29, 2019
    Ren and Skarekrow like this.
  12. OP
    charlatan

    charlatan I Like this Place

    Joined:
    Jan 5, 2015
    Threads:
    1
    Messages:
    1,001
    Featured Threads:
    1
    Likes Received:
    1,910
    Trophy Points:
    787
    Gender:
    Male
    MBTI:
    Ne-ILE
    Enneagram:
    614? spsx
    Hmmm something clicked/ just occurred to me as to why my specific presentation of the various monisms I consider is perhaps especially independent of the criticism Searle might make of 'neutral' monism. Searle perhaps wants to say that the very idea of MENTAL and PHYSICAL is pretty useless.

    I agree, actually (to the extent that really is his point -- if his point is something else more idiosyncratic, not sure).... if you notice, I always talk of 'neutral' as neutral between qualia and the mathematical-causal, not really mental and physical. (And again, there are two versions here -- the reductionist project, and the nonreductionist one, here I'm open to both)

    In other words, what I think is the real focus is whether physics as has been practiced till this point is adequate to the task of explaining qualia -- and one can't deny till now it's been written in mathematical-causal terms (i.e. finding the laws of nature and so on).
    Many leading austere 'physicalist' (the self-identification of the authors) theories of mind are functional in their presentation -- suggesting once you map out the behaviors and causal powers of the brain, you're done. You don't have a further datum to explain.

    It seems pretty strongly to me that Searle IS drawing that distinction between qualia (the first-person ontology of the brain state) and the mathematical-causal (third-person ontology). If he thinks calling that mental v physical is distracting, I'm basically all with him.

    But I think if one does not draw any kind of distinction at all, one is ignoring the key issue -- which is what is it to explain consciousness? In other words, why am I NOT done when I simply map out the causal powers of your brain? As Searle himself says, that's because causally, there is nothing there over and above neurons firing, but there is a first-person ontology to be reckoned with.
    This, the 'neutral monisms' I consider all agree with -- we don't want to change the causal profile physics has identified, because it is mega-good at that. We just want to acknowledge reality is metaphysically richer than that relatively basic explanatory project suggests, and we'd better make sure our explanations actually are explaining the first-person part.
     
    #52 charlatan, Dec 30, 2019
    Last edited: Dec 30, 2019
    Ren likes this.
  13. OP
    charlatan

    charlatan I Like this Place

    Joined:
    Jan 5, 2015
    Threads:
    1
    Messages:
    1,001
    Featured Threads:
    1
    Likes Received:
    1,910
    Trophy Points:
    787
    Gender:
    Male
    MBTI:
    Ne-ILE
    Enneagram:
    614? spsx
    Yeah, Mr. @Ren, I don't see, agonizing over this line, how to view it as significantly (or even insignificantly) different from a neutral monism type theory. Yet, at least.

    Things that have a 'third person ontology' are exactly what 'austere' physicalism is all about. If one reads the work of the austere physicalist, it's very clear -- they want a functional/causal reduction of consciousness.

    The idea that consciousness is a higher level feature of the brain, not reducible to the causal features, seems precisely to suggest that there is more to the brain than the causal features.....in other words, neutral between the causal and the subjective. Whether one calls the causal features 'physical' and the subjective ones 'mental' is a matter of terminology -- you could say the former are traditionally physical.

    It's interesting Searle was accused of being a property dualist, when I am currently feeling neutral monism seems a better accusation, precisely because in it, consciousness is functioning causally (because it is a higher level feature of something which is functioning causally -- but whose nature is not exhausted by its causal powers).
    Indeed, this is Searle's main differentiation of himself from a property dualist -- that he can't stand the idea consciousness causes nothing.
     
    Ren likes this.
  14. Ren

    Ren Pin's android / The Maker / ≅ INFP

    Joined:
    Oct 10, 2017
    Threads:
    56
    Messages:
    12,060
    Featured Threads:
    30
    Likes Received:
    91,861
    Trophy Points:
    4,246
    Location:
    Dublin
    MBTI:
    INFJ
    Enneagram:
    4-5-8
    Searle claims that biological naturalism provides a causal reduction of consciousness. But not an ontological reduction of it. I agree that the use of terminology is rather confusing, except maybe to Searle himself.

    The thing that bothers me about identifying biological naturalism as Searle's version of neutral monism is that it seems to leave out inert matter from BN's ontology. Basically it doesn't seem to be enough for a complete metaphysics—rather it's a theory in the philosophy of mind that would have to be integrated into a larger metaphysics, it seems to me.

    By the way, Searle wrote an essay called 'Why I am Not a Property Dualist'. Just discovered that. I will definitely be reading that soon—might give us some more clues as to what would differentiate BN from property dualism and neutral monism.
     
    Stop hovering to collapse... Click to collapse... Hover to expand... Click to expand...
    charlatan likes this.
  15. Ren

    Ren Pin's android / The Maker / ≅ INFP

    Joined:
    Oct 10, 2017
    Threads:
    56
    Messages:
    12,060
    Featured Threads:
    30
    Likes Received:
    91,861
    Trophy Points:
    4,246
    Location:
    Dublin
    MBTI:
    INFJ
    Enneagram:
    4-5-8
    To be honest, Searle ridicules that view in the book I'm reading at the moment, and he does it pretty successfully imo.
     
    Stop hovering to collapse... Click to collapse... Hover to expand... Click to expand...
    charlatan likes this.
  16. OP
    charlatan

    charlatan I Like this Place

    Joined:
    Jan 5, 2015
    Threads:
    1
    Messages:
    1,001
    Featured Threads:
    1
    Likes Received:
    1,910
    Trophy Points:
    787
    Gender:
    Male
    MBTI:
    Ne-ILE
    Enneagram:
    614? spsx
    I'm just a bit confused on the wording there -- do you mean that biological naturalism isn't intended to be a complete metaphysics, only a more limited treatment of the specific issue of consciousness/its relation to science?
    That is totally fine -- maybe all there is isn't neutral stuff. Maybe there are abstract objects, and some kind of dualism holds (with numbers and neutral things being the only ones), and BN itself claims nothing about that.

    But my point is BN seems to agree with the claim that at least as the metaphysics of mind is concerned, the fundamental reality of brain states is neutral between causal-mathematical and first person ontological features.

    Perhaps it should also be clarified that I am not really proposing the final metaphysics either. I'm more just interested in the answer to the mind-body problem.
    I think Searle's view entails a certain neutrality.

    The quote I shared of Searle is from the "Why I'm not a Property Dualist," and he unfortunately says in that paper that he is actually not commenting on neutral monism. I've tried to find his writing on that, and have not been successful.

    Suffice it to say that neutral monism is a very different view from property dualism -- it's only similar to people like austere physicalists, who all consider it too airy-fairy to include anything but very bread-and-butter physics. But Searle already ridicules the austere physicalism, as we've seen.
    I couldn't in Searle's criticism of property dualism see anything that I couldn't imagine a neutral monist also criticizing property dualism for..

    Yeah, so I honestly think given my project is mostly negative, I'm probably not committed to one of the neutral/panpsychism/etc any more than Searle is. My main goal is to take consciousness seriously while trying to keep the causal efficacy of it.
    I think that implies my view is 'neutral-flavored' but less that it agrees with any specific proposition for a complete metaphysics calling itself neutral-monism.
    It seems to me Searle's view at least shares the central motivations of something like neutral monism regardless the more detailed points.

    I should say I'm probably less dismissive than Searle of that type of view. I still take austere physicalism very seriously. I just can't say I find it plausible as of now/strongly suspect there's something more reasonable going on.... but there is a part of me that does wonder if it is just fine/there's no need to go beyond.
    The main thing to that would be if a purely dispositional metaphysics is reasonable. Let me use a different post to explore my issues with such a metaphysics that I think are good points but don't kill the view they are criticizing so much as lay fire.
     
    #56 charlatan, Jan 6, 2020
    Last edited: Jan 6, 2020
    Ren likes this.
  17. OP
    charlatan

    charlatan I Like this Place

    Joined:
    Jan 5, 2015
    Threads:
    1
    Messages:
    1,001
    Featured Threads:
    1
    Likes Received:
    1,910
    Trophy Points:
    787
    Gender:
    Male
    MBTI:
    Ne-ILE
    Enneagram:
    614? spsx
    Anyway, I think a-la this thread, one of my biggest worries with positing a totally mathematical-dispositional metaphysics (the kind Searle is ridiculing presumably) is epistemic: how on earth could we justify it? After all, laws of nature and/or causal relations are inferred from non-causal information (things like regularities). On some views, there is nothing to laws of nature besides regularities, but even allowing there's more, at least epistemically, we do get at them through noticing repetition in nature.

    However, reptition in what? It would have to be categorical (i.e. non-dispositional -- not involving causal) properties, since we're trying to justify the idea there are causal relations, for which we can't invoke them.
    If there is nothing but causal powers in nature, attached to otherwise abstract mathematical stuff, it seems epistemically, it is pretty reasonable to think we're in an abstract world/we couldn't really be justified in telling we're not.
    That seems to be what I was getting at throughout this thread.

    It should be noted that philosophers often note that, just because it seems rationally coherent to imagine everything of our world holding sans any laws of nature between them, that doesn't mean it's really possible -- perhaps it's a brute fact that this is not so. Even so, I have a very hard time justifying such a brute fact -- traditionally, brute facts are justified empirically. But here, the very relations (causal ones) that are traditionally invoked in positing such brute facts are themselves in question -- whether they are essential or not to the masses, charges, and so on of the world can't be justified empirically, because empirical investigation would be equally consistent with those properties being accidental and not essential (i.e. not holding in every possible world).

    So we have a relation (causal relations) which it seems coherent to imagine not holding between the things it relates, and while we can't rule out that it is essential to the things it relates, it seems pretty tough to justify why it would be as well. Given consciousness seems if anything a non-dispositional property, I cannot but help thinking this is a great reason to be very suspicious of purely-dispositional metaphysics.
     
    Ren likes this.
  18. Ren

    Ren Pin's android / The Maker / ≅ INFP

    Joined:
    Oct 10, 2017
    Threads:
    56
    Messages:
    12,060
    Featured Threads:
    30
    Likes Received:
    91,861
    Trophy Points:
    4,246
    Location:
    Dublin
    MBTI:
    INFJ
    Enneagram:
    4-5-8
    Yeah, I agree that it entails a certain neutrality. In fact, the more I think about it, the more it seems to me that his theory does point towards neutral monism. He seems to think he doesn't need to posit any neutral stuff because he can show that consciousness is causally reducible to brain processes, but really his writing on the distinction between first- and -third person ontologies is very unconvincing. He's almost saying something like: 'It's obvious, there are different ontologies involved at the different levels of the biological system' but it is precisely not obvious how these different ontologies obtain. I think Searle would likely retort that asking 'Why are there two ontologies?' is an impossible question that only confuses, and that instead we should ask: 'How do those ontologies work out the way they do in practice, according to the facts that we know?' — But in my opinion this is tantamount to an argument from ignorance, because it defers the discovery of the working out of those distinct ontologies to a stage where scientific progress will have allowed us to see it transparently. But there is really no reason to assume that empirical observations will give such an ontological answer.

    I think it is quite clear that whenever Searle talks about the ontological side of biological naturalism, he is less sure of himself than he would like us to believe. It can even be felt in his writing—he doesn't seem to know how to make a good case for his view not being ontologically dualist. Notice, for example, how circular his point is in the following passage from Mind: An Introduction (2004):

    'The ontological irreducibility of consciousness comes from the fact that conciousness has a first-person ontology and is thus not reducible to something that has a third-person ontology' ... This is really pretty bad! When you think that he published that in 2004, it's quite possible that it is one of his last statements on the matter.

    It would make more sense to posit a neutral stuff. First of all it would avoid the circularity of the above argument. (I don't think there is any other way if Searle wants to avoid property dualism or hardline reductionism.) But of course Searle might be very attached to the idea that his undertaking is naturalist, whereas he'd likely have to abandon that with neutral monism. Unless you argue back that 'in the future science might discover neutral etc.', but this would be another derivative of argument from ignorance so I'm suspicious of that kind of approach. We have actually no idea whether it is within the remit of science to discover neutral.
     
    Stop hovering to collapse... Click to collapse... Hover to expand... Click to expand...
    #58 Ren, Jan 7, 2020
    Last edited: Jan 7, 2020
    charlatan likes this.
  19. OP
    charlatan

    charlatan I Like this Place

    Joined:
    Jan 5, 2015
    Threads:
    1
    Messages:
    1,001
    Featured Threads:
    1
    Likes Received:
    1,910
    Trophy Points:
    787
    Gender:
    Male
    MBTI:
    Ne-ILE
    Enneagram:
    614? spsx
    I think when you put these 3 tenets together:
    (1) honor that the mind is causally effective, i.e. isn't a separate feature but integrated into the single kind of property that is doing the causal work in the world...
    (2) refuse to perform a causal reduction of mind ... this leads to a kind of neutrality between causal and qualitative
    (3) refuse to say mind goes all the way down (this rules out the version of neutrality where the two are just side by side, instead suggesting mind probably emerges from certain higher level interactions of the neutral)

    To my mind, you've more or less reached panprotopsychism/neutral monism -- where panpsychism is also a kind of neutral view, since it would agree brain states have both first person and third person aspects, it's not quite neutral monism, in that those two are kind of sitting side by side, rather than being cast in terms of a more fundamental thing.



    [I'm rewriting this post instead of adding one more, just to save you a little :D]

    I think what I'd say to this is that neutral monism AGREES that mind is causally nothing more than the brain. It's just that there is more to it than its causal nature! Basically, the brain state is an expansive property, with both causal features and features that can't be defined causally.

    The problem is I need to see him critique those views -- a lot of what he says seems only an effective distinction between him/dualism.
    I'm well aware of his finding panpsychism absurd due to seeing it as clear consciousness is a high level feature. I think that's more dismissive than I'd go, but I'm also sympathetic in the sense my first instinct is to look at higher levels as well.
    But none of those critiques apply to neutral monism/panPROTOpsychism, where the bottom reality is neutral, and mind emerges at the higher levels through complex interactions of the neutral (whether that's strong or weak is left open).



    On the issue of being scientific -- I must say I don't have a problem with the idea that the problem may be hard/unsuccessful. I think it's highly unobvious to us why mathematics models nature, and the fact we discovered physics seems fortunate rather than necessary. Whether we'll stumble on a way to uncover more about the neutral or not, that's a factual question. We might, and we might not. The arguments for neutral monism should be from what we do know very well, and if we don't end up being able to say any more than that the underlying reality is neutral, nothing about what exactly it is like beyond that, that's a shame, but hardly a criticism of the view!

    The key thing is the view does take science seriously as providing the causal-mathematical structure of the underlying reality.
    It does not posit weird, spooky supernatural things disturbing the causal-mathematical predictions of science, more like it suggests given the two hard data we have: the success of science and the reality of consciousness, both very non-spooky, evident things, unlike evidence for reincarnation or theories of supernatural abilities, do we think there is a deeper underlying reality behind the causal structure, or is the causal structure all there is?

    I'm with you there. I'm all for embracing the possibility that we simply won't be able to figure it out using our existing methods. I do agree Searle tends to be overoptimistic that science will figure it out. I think this is going to involve serious metaphysics, as do many philosophers, which is scary as hell, since to be frank, science has always been easier to do ... I have plenty of pessismism though I think there are plenty of good approaches to at least try to investigate.
    And that is a POWERFUL motivation for the austere physicalists to push against both him and the neutral monists. But unfortunately, when they do so, it seems a lot like they're saying "We'd like it to be true that there's nothing left to explain. Why don't you sit down, grit your teeth, and try to convince yourself of it."

    I always find that strange.
     
    #59 charlatan, Jan 7, 2020
    Last edited: Jan 7, 2020
    Ren likes this.
  20. OP
    charlatan

    charlatan I Like this Place

    Joined:
    Jan 5, 2015
    Threads:
    1
    Messages:
    1,001
    Featured Threads:
    1
    Likes Received:
    1,910
    Trophy Points:
    787
    Gender:
    Male
    MBTI:
    Ne-ILE
    Enneagram:
    614? spsx
    I just also wanted to emphasize something -- unlike Searle and many others on the 'consciousness-is-something-significantly-above-causal-vocabulary' side, I think I'm less intrinsically convinced that we should more or less trust the datum and that's enough. I feel like Searle generally ridicules the austere physicalists a little too freely without trying to argue against them.

    I'm more of the following flavor -- the datum of experience does beg explanation, and it seems there is a pretty big burden on the person claiming to easily explain it away in austere physical terms.

    But what really convinces me to further move forward in favor of something like neutral monism (or maybe secondarily panpsychism) is that I think the metaphysics that accompanies a purely causal view of the world seems quite unreasonable, almost like I can't see how someone would feel justified in believing it.

    The main worry I keep running into is the epistemic worry that starts from Humean considerations: causal relations/laws of nature are not directly perceived. They are inferred. That means they must be inferred from something. Some seem to be very happy with the idea that we have to more or less assume that the world we are encountering is concrete, not abstract, and the postulate the laws of nature to explain the repetitions/regularities.

    That is where I struggle a lot. I would like there to be regularities in something concrete -- such as experience -- that we have a nontrivial grasp of. But austere physicalists are forced to deny the underlined part!! Either by saying there's an illusion at work or that in experience, we are just conceptualizing our own brain states in a way that conveys essentially nothing about them beyond just pointing to them, hence why we find it so surprising that experiences and brain states are the same thing. I take very seriously that when I see a rock or water, it presents itself to me through experience, and my sense of judging that it is concrete is precisely because I grasp it through this apparent 'feel' it has to me. On a view where the only concrete thing about a property is its causal powers, when I first encounter the property, it is conceived of entirely in non-causal terms, and it's only when noticing repetition etc that I find it theoretically justified to suppose there may be causal powers. But if I don't even feel justified that these repetitions are occurring among things that seem concrete to me, why would I feel tempted to infer any concrete properties like causal powers in the first place?!

    Austere physicalists are forced to this strange view that we form a conception of rocks, etc, prior to inferring causal powers they have, that tells us no concrete description of the rocks. It tells us stuff about the rocks that may as well conceivably refer to an abstract object.

    I think that's the more developed version of why I was going on about 'we can't rule out the world is entirely mathematical on the model of austere physicalism' ...it technically does provide us with a description of properties with causal powers, hence it's not just mathematical, but the problem is I feel unjustified in BELIEVING that there are causal powers.

    This discussion motivates why I think we need to take the datum of consciousness seriously. To a Humean on laws of nature, in fact, laws of nature are nothing over and above matters of fact, and even to a non-Humean, at least epistemically we have nothing but matters of fact to work with.
    I think we basically need at lest some kind of grasp of non-purely dispositional properties to get off the ground!
     
    #60 charlatan, Jan 10, 2020
    Last edited: Jan 10, 2020
    Ren likes this.
Loading...

Share This Page