| What does it mean in? Exploring the domain of materialism.|
|16 Dec 2004 @ 19:40, by nednednerb|
Hello there, you with eager free minds that some philosophers would tell you that you don't have. I've been busy busy with my second year of university, but I've written lots and would like to share. Here is my final essay for Phil 361 - philosophy of mind!
In this paper I intend to show that certain arguments about the nature of the mind need careful revision in their thinking of the world's substrate – that which we call the 'material.' I think that materialism can help make sense of this world and of minds, but not in the current state it finds itself. In this essay, I challenge the notion that materialism needs to mean that minds cannot exist in an efficacious way, and I challenge, for materialism to adequately make sense of the world and our place in it as made of matter, it will need to accommodate more in the concept of matter than a descriptive account of only physical structure colliding and moving around. I argue in the paper that there is an adequate material account, in the workings, for a world that behaves much as we physically observe and predict it to while at the same time conceiving that this material world can allow the decisions and awareness of an experience that we at least undeniably have linguistic descriptors and a sense of being in for. I think those descriptors are accurate and that the sense of being is beautiful and personal, and this shapes the intent behind the words of my essay to proceed in a such a way as to find that our sense of our life as developed can reflect the natural way we really are in the cosmos, that is indeed made of matter.
What does it mean to propose as contemporary science might that the understanding is sufficient that every human is "nothing but a physico-chemical mechanism" like philosopher David Armstrong does (Morton, 206)? It is bold of materialism to suppose all including mind consists of matter and its energetic and lawful state such that we could give "an account of the nature of the mind which is compatible" with materialism (Morton, 225).
However, it is a little reckless and, to be shown in this paper, unscientifically presumptive of materialism to suppose that 'matter', 'energy', 'material energy', or at any rate 'the effective and integral substance at hand' can only be physically mechanical and classically describable in its natural process – i.e. that statements about conscious selves, who are observed conjoined to a physical bodily structure yet who seemingly choose to act, are meaningless and irrelevant to the real dynamic mechanisms underlying the necessary processes of anything in existence. More than that, whatever the case may be our quite undeniably biological/living existence includes in the stronger use of the word a sense of entanglement of things that feel and think they are, and materialism needs to accommodate our experience of the world. In understanding a universe of matter, I wonder what 'a world inhabited by beings' means – what 'feeling music' might mean...
For lack of better terms, in my being and thoughts I contend that materialism is accurate insofar that it is ontologically compatible with the negative constraint upon any theory of a material world that it must formally contain a potential for (or be conceptually compatible with) the existence of real unities that feel that they're a certain way how one is occupying and aware of a physical existence almost like music being in. Science must not only be able to predict observations, but be consistent with all available observations, so that includes the observation of sentience, active conceptualization of events that occurs when interacting with the world, as occurs in the perspective of what we generally recognize as the sentient living. We need this conceptualization to know how to walk around a place, for instance. Sight of things is used to navigate. And things are matter. It needs to fit somehow.
This is not to say that all observations and concepts are of a physical world represented in forms made apparent to senses: our existence includes observations of an ideal world of events represented in forms apparent to another level than bodily sense, a different level of conscious content than the level of biologically structural sensations (e.g. retina rainbows, nose roses). Our empirical experience includes a sense of existing persons and meaningful, emotional relationship in addition to what are just observably structural (physical=enduring of spatial dimension, apparent beyond yourself) aspects of this world, all this energy. Keep in mind, no physicist can tell you what energy is that is said to underlie or become all things. Is it at least also an ability to change something, like we think of the dispositions of matter underlying the observations of something physical or like we appear to do from within our own bodies? I contend for materialism to be true that consciousness needs to be deemed an inherent and natural form of material energy in a state that is legitimately described as having awareness and self-direction, and I find it implausible to entertain notions that every sense of 'the world as material energy' excludes persons, feelings, desires as eliminative materialists pose.
If this is a problem, making a distinction between energies when either physically observable or conscious, we should observe that meaning and structure are evident in this world and are evidently energetic; both the structure and meaning of others that interact with us have the potential to change our body and mental consideration, as energy was roughly conceptualized above. To be ontologically compatible with persons, the specific task of materialism is then to understand how transforming, enduring physical matter can accommodate and transform because of flexible consciousness that is expressly non-physically observable yet still conceived of as essentially 'material' and that allows our bodies and social lives to endure, a matter of direct experience.
The question may be, for some, how matter the world we have may arise into forms that we can call conscious. How does matter function in a particular sentient way, as we evidently have human bodies interactive with reflection and seeming options for being ways; not just being such as seen: physical – how can matter be more than that, more than observable structure? Undeniably, matter must involve (at least seemingly) sentient choices; the world of matter is observed to be and sentience makes sense of the human world of art and emotion lived materially as we know it; we are materially conscious entities, by all reports and observations. Mental states exist and correlate with behaviour in a sensed meaningful way but the world is material and observations of the brain correlate to observed and reported behaviour as well; therefore mental states seem to be brain states, related to them somehow at least. There seems with the neurological evidence to be a necessary relationship implied between what is observed as structure in space and what we all have to be aware of. But what is the actual state of the brain – i.e. what is the form or nature of the material energy that is associated with our perceptions of the physical brain?
To answer this question we must first adequately understand what we mean by matter, because linking the mind to the brain requires understanding how certain forms of matter simultaneously exist with observable structure while sensing a conscious unity – i.e. forms of matter we call aware creatures. Understanding the nature of matter is to the materialist a way to have insight into the nature of mental states about one being in the material world – that is, knowledge of matter gives insight into our lives, i.e. finding out the nature of observably structural processes that are holistically organized into what's considered an individual that senses interactions of those structural processes as specially and meaningfully united in relationship and function. Thus, understanding matter's correlation to unities is the key to understanding how "matter dreams", as physicist and writer Fred Alan Wolf spoke in an interview about his book The Dreaming Universe, which is the logical implication entailed by a materialist view since the world includes real persons as we are conscious of ourselves as being.
I'm obviously taking to heart the arguments of consciousness and intentionality and proceeding in argument as though these are automatically the case. I seemingly can't help but feel and articulate that I'm purposefully connected to and aware of my experience as a human being, and I think materialism has done a weird thing by considering these feelings of consciousness and intentionality as problems to fit in somehow to the view that all is material energy. I think that functional unity is similarly a problem for these 'weird' materialists, and I also think these problems are rooted in a mistake of the 'weird' materialist. They have exceedingly believed Newton's paradigm, that all is particles bouncing around independently of any holistic, conscious, or intentional organization. His view of matter is simply inadequate as accounted by contemporary physics, and it's only within that old theory that our sense of ourselves having beliefs and intentions is not allowed a causal manner in behaviour. In today's physics unlike Newtonian physics, the ability for holistic organization that is required by consciousness is present, so materialism has another course in dealing with the philosophy of the mind: Instead of the old problem of reconciling a seeming paradox of fitting a particles- that-bounce-around physics with a unity-that-functions-intentionally psychology, we have the task of seeing how the new physics is constituted for the existence of consciousness.
Since matter is seen today as quantum in nature, by all relevant experiments and as explored in neat technologies, and since our (material) bodies rest at night and produce worlds for us to dream, we must conclude that the essence of materialism's substance – what's beneath the 'observable structure': the quantum state – that this essential matter in our reality has properties making consciousness capably achieved. Further, to make a natural sense of such things as human art, emotion, and sensuality, it must be somehow that in living forms the material existence includes a genuine personal interactivity with conscious representations. Complex material organisms must be somehow self-reflectively whole in order to naturally and simply explain why humans might do a thing that can easily be described in terms of, for instance, desires. What I'm saying here is that when considering the collections of physical particles that are seen to make living things up and when considering that these collections have evolved on Earth to feel and work with aspects of themselves and their surrounding environment, then we must allow the notion that some specially evolved ensembles of physical particles just have consciousness and interactivity as naturally emergent material behaviours; I'm saying here that, in addition to the laws of physics, certain ensembles also naturally behave like we humans do.
To use a different meaning of the word matter with an obvious connotation to my ideas, I'm assuming that life matters as much to the underlying dynamics of our bodily actions as do those physical laws holding our bodily actions. It might seem strange to some materialists that I could speak of matter this way, but I insist. It seems undeniable to suppose that our physical systems materially project individuals, persons who are whole. To see how a physics could entertain such wildly contrary terms such as 'sentience as a material process of wholeness' there is a specific task.
For this task, a historical review and its revision: we must discover why the materialist concept has become associated with a universal deficit of efficacious mental processes. The state of the material brain is thought of (even to this day) by some materialist philosophers in exceedingly simple models that are quite formally inadequate for understanding matter's unity in consciousness. The brain can be observed as specialized regions of activity composed of neurons and complex pathways enmeshed into a whole organism's metabolism, which in turn dissected can be observed a composite of molecules composed of protons, neutrons, and electrons that simply move and react with each other. There is a destructive audacity (with concern to scientific inclusion of minds) of some materialist philosophers to suppose we can adequately consider these dynamic building components in this way as "logically independent local entities", as a physicist I am about to talk about describes, that have no holistic relationship like the kind our empirical experience of wholes requires, as I have argued (Stapp 6.1).
Many materialist philosophers speak of the nature of the mind as though we need to conceive it as necessarily a mysterious tag-on to blind matter that just collides and melts together mechanically until weird forms of as-yet-unaccountably organized chemical reactions say they feel it happening to them, but that it happens totally without reference to the desires that they say they have, they who are these organized machinelike mechanisms feeling sentient mechanism, according to this retired view of 'necessarily blind and broken-to-pieces world'. Materialism like this, proceeding from the notion that matter observed of parts and separation cannot be whole between our discrete observations, doesn't know where to go but to deny our sensed place of commanding our lives, but paradoxically anyways, 'minds' watch their bodies behave and successfully mechanically describe those observations, so that we could think we were even ghostlike in the matter that we always see behave with order. This problem with minds is because this kind of mechanical understanding only allows small structural parts to affect their immediate neighbours by means of regular rules, and this understanding has no possible description relevant to the sense of unities, things that work as wholes, like a person.
But wait! This is materialism applied to the mind as per the classical understanding of physics. Henry Stapp, an established physicist of the University of California, stresses several relevant points about the mind/brain relationship in his essay Why Classical Mechanics Cannot Accommodate Consciousness but Quantum Mechanics Can, the central point namely being in the title of the essay. In the first line of the introduction, he writes that "classical mechanics arose from the banishment of consciousness from our conception of the physical universe. Hence it should not be surprising to find that the readmission of consciousness requires going beyond that theory" (Stapp 1.1). Of classical mechanics in the next section, he writes "The fundamental principle in classical mechanics is that any physical system can be decomposed into a collection of simple independent local elements each of which interacts only with its immediate neighbors" (Stapp 2.2).
However, "it has become clear that the revolution in our conception of matter wrought by quantum theory has completely altered the complexion of problem of the relationship between mind and matter" (Stapp 1.3). He stresses that the classical understanding of matter is in conflict with understanding of the mind as capable of holding or beholding unity, and he stresses the inadequacy of the view that "the simple empirical fact of the matter is that brains are made out of neurons and other cells that are well described by classical physics" (Stapp 5.1). Instead, "the processes that make brains work the way they do depend upon the intricate physical and chemical properties of the materials out of which they are made: brain processes depend in an exquisite way on atomic and molecular processes that can be adequately understood only through quantum theory" (Stapp 5.3).
To see how philosophers have confused the classical model into their ideas of the mind, it is necessary to understand the limit, reach, and origin of the classical models. In the space around us containing the objects of the world that are apparent to us, they are observed in such a way as proceeding 'mechanically' – i.e. precise things happen such as apples falling on our heads when we sit under apples trees in harvest season. The sense of the word 'mechanical' is very different when one shifts from classical to quantum understanding, and the quantum understanding indeed gives us better predictions of when and how those apples will fall. At the present moment however, there is no genuinely clear consensus on how to interpret the implications and mechanisms of quantum mechanics, but regardless, accomplished physicists are insisting that the classical view is inadequate for understanding subatomic physics and hence the human brain, and Henry Stapp argues that the contemporary mind/body problems about machine vs. human as we have them have actually arisen because of belief in the fundamentally inadequate classical model of matter. Moreover, Stapp uses math to demonstrate that the quantum description is holistic in nature and argues that in this way it seems that quantum mechanics might be quite conceptually compatible with a sense of whole persons than the classical model. It still needs work, however, to see how it might fit and one may ask of my ideas why the classical model could be wrong, in the sense that there are just blind parts bumping each other around. To show this, I'll talk about the nature of classical description and discuss how it was derived.
In Newtonian/classical physics we symbolize our perceptions of apples (i.e. the weight of one in our hand) as mass, m, and symbolize our perceptions of their motion as acceleration, a. In our perceptions and language, forces move matter. Sitting under the apple tree, and having an apple fall on your head will illustrate that a force on an apple accelerated it. Newton went on to describe a universal law of gravitation, that all free-falling material bodies in the universe are observed to be attracted together in an orderly and precise manner. This is to say, in the most empirical sense, that we have always perceived the same relationships when observing matter. No matter how we subjectively see it, the matter itself is seen changing precisely around us; that's what classical physicists have stressed, correctly mind you.
This means that transformations occurring within our observations of matter are describable in mathematical terms and relationships. Carefully, the observed things of the universe put in mathematical terms refer to employing measurements of observed things, which are only symbolically used delimitations of acts of perception – i.e. a legitimate but unlikely measurement standard could be that the symbol "a metre and a half" is stipulated to represent the perception of the height of some arbitrarily selected human, so that every subsequent act of perception may measure (or compare by empirical resemblance with another perception) to find the length of an object in metres. Nearly everything we can perceive with our bare eyes, ears, and hands and instruments is classically describable in some way, which means mathematical terms can be created of events that are always in themselves consistently continuous and punctuated with changes. This is an important way to articulate what 'scientific knowledge of objects' is, because even though we are considering real objects, the classical description refers only to the fact that, like the apple falling, the world has been sequentially ordered insofar that we can symbolize our perceptions of its motion and change.
Consequently, to say some event within perception proceeds classical mechanically is to say that changes in observable structure happen as though it were a mathematical machine, and in a deep sense this says only that there is a regularity to our perceptions of any event's process that has already begun. Reasoning from just the domain of classical description, scientists cannot reasonably assert that consciousness is entirely excluded from the essential dynamic mechanisms and existential nature of the real substance that all life on Earth is occupying and transforming for life's growth. Empiricist David Hume, for one, would not let the assumed view of classical physics be rationally and universally attributed to the causality of all things. That goes too far, and indeed contemporary physics has shown that classical mechanics only well describes events at the level of objects we immediately perceive, like apples. It also well describes the 'physical machinery' of computers and any discrete state system. However, classical mechanics was shown early in the twentieth century to utterly break down when applied to the atomic scale. It was seen that there is genuinely no regularity of the classical sort in the underlying scales of matter, indeed it was even seen that in quantum activity there is no way any longer to even adequately conceive of the material state as being just physical, as meaning just observably structural following definite courses.
Instead of seeing observable particles just bouncing around, the quantum mechanical aspects of matter are modelled in terms of "objective tendency" and "actual event", which will be talked about later because of required depth to do so adequately, but Stapp says "Bohr resolved this problem of reconciling the quantum and classical aspect of nature by exploiting the fact that the only thing that is known to be classical is our description of our perceptions of physical objects" (Stapp 5.4; his italics). The processes underlying our actions are not classical and we need to expand our views to see how consciousness may be naturally the way we feel it is, while matter is it somehow. Stapp argues that our quantum conception naturally accommodates our notion of consciousness, because unlike in classical models, the description of systems of matter is necessarily holistic, like our thoughts and beliefs, which means:
In this [new quantum] theory [of the brain] there is no abandonment of the normal psychological conception of our mental life. It is rather the classical theory of matter that is abandoned. In the terminology used by Churchland, folk psychology is retained, but folk physics is replaced by contemporary physics (Stapp 4.7).
With this in mind, we may ponder on what answers might be feasible to the many questions historically asked about the nature of human life and the nature of matter that must as I have argued be understood as accommodating us, or that we must understand how the form of material existence in humanity's case is consciousness. There is an obvious old question to ask of this view: in what way would the consciousness of human matter be distinguishable from the non-human-consciousness of ocean, star or rock matter? Do we have a special dignity of choice that other material forms do not have?
Henry Stapp has an insight into this direct question given in an appendix of his essay, but a little more about the nature of quantum mechanical description is necessary. Quantum mechanics is an account of material processes. In classical mechanics, there were just static entities moving with utterly deterministic absolute inevitability, but Heisenberg's uncertainty principle and Schrödinger's equation illustrate that the connection between particular states of matter is not linear and direct in the same way as classical models do. Instead, Schrödinger's equation describes matter with probabilities where, between particular states, matter is in a flux of "objective tendencies" each with a similar ability to be the case until Schrödinger's wave function of probabilities collapses and an "actual event" occurs (Stapp 4.6). Stapp says "contemporary quantum theory does not have any definite rule that specifies where the collapses occur" (Stapp B.1). It is assumed that in quantum systems like radioactively decaying matter that these collapses are occurring randomly. So the question for human status in the material cosmos becomes the question of whether this potentially random decision- swerving of a system of subatomic matter can somehow become the choice of a sentient entity inherent in that system, say, a brain.
To realize our dignity, Stapp employs a principle inter-crossing his discipline of physics into evolutionary biology and asks a question of survival advantage; an argument can be constructed like this:
1. The choice of matter's collapse into "actual events" is left physically open, free of determinism in any kind of classically mechanical sense of necessary outcome, of absolute inevitability (Stapp 4.6). 2. There is a great deal of evidence for the evolutionary principle, stated in its most general sense that traits eventually emerge in life forms which confer adaptability and success to them. 3. "The question arises: Is the placement of the collapses at high-level classical branches, as specified in our model, favorable to survival of the organism? If so, then there would be an evolutionary pressure for the collapse location to migrate, in our species, to this high-level placement. . . .It would be advantageous to its survival for the organism to be organized so that whatever fundamental property induces collapses occurs in conjunction with the top- level templates for action" (Stapp B.2).
In other words, for survival of life forms the "fundamental property" or reason that changes occur in each of the physical parts we are reducible to might "migrate" so that the reason our whole life form changes "occurs in conjunction" with possibilities relevant to our whole life form's survival. In Stapp's view of the mind, "top-level templates for action" would be these sets of material possibilities that we perceive with a sense of volition and involvement, and the quantum collapse is the effect of our choice: we see a particular action. We can adequately suppose "the determination of where the collapses occur is fixed not by some a priori principle but by habits that become ingrained into nature" (Stapp B.2, his italics). Thus far, it would seem the state of physical uncertainty between positions of matter might be actually, in higher organisms at least, the state of sentient decision-making. It would help us survive to not be utterly random, to be aware and in command of a little bit of the process of our lives, it would strongly seem, wouldn't it? Most of biology would stand as is, because so much of our living process could be entirely 'habitual' in Stapp's view, like the beating of our hearts and digestion of food. What we breathe for our heart and eat for our gut to move around our body, however, might as argued here be left up to us in the form of a genuinely mental choice.
This view of the philosophy of mind draws together physics and evolutionary biology in a way that speaks of an elevated universe that has it in itself to be alive and feel that: it seems a function of material states to be either unbound by life (being perhaps random) or to be bound as a living whole (being perhaps wild or willing) while this living whole/unique material state becomes conscious as a feature of the evolution of a world with a profound material nature. Stapp argues that a more coherent and encompassing account of the world is arrived at if we expand from the classical view where consciousness is "non-efficacious and hence of no relevance to the survival of the species" (Stapp B.4). Instead, conscious dignity might be a natural outcome of the basic rules that allow all things to occur, just like all the nifty physical effects we've discovered from those rules that some philosophers have heralded as the beginning of liberation from mental concepts; instead, we have a simpler understanding of how minds might operate than the classical model requires. The impression of an 'idea for action A or B' or of a 'choice A or B to make' might be akin, materially, to a quantum state that as described before has similarly arise-able possibilities for physical state A or B; then the collapse occurs where we want it to because the potential for collapse has somehow become a sentient event. This would, at least, seem to possess some kind of naturalistic sensibility; it fits with our view of us and our very successful view of matter, and these views are joined in a way to be yet far more vastly explored by scientists and philosophers.
If all this indeed has relevance to the materialist philosophies of mind, we should look at how three such theories cope with the idea of natural psychology that I evidently assume viable. "Supporters of the identity theory argue that psychology will be reduced to neuroscience. Functionalists claim that psychology will be autonomous of neuroscience. And a third answer… psychology will be eliminated by neuroscience" as said by Peter Morton (Morton 335). Neuroscience is the description of physical observables correlated to experiential contexts; it is the fitting of what we see the brain doing to what we say is going on, in a gist. For instance, two precise spots in the left side of your head (Broca's speech center) will each light up on magnetic scans at different times you are aware of the words 'cup' and 'orange'. The 'you are aware of' part is the language of psychology.
The identity theory's reduction to neuroscience would mean there is some 'spot' or process in the matter of the brain that is identical to our minds so that the brain can have "a purely electro-chemical account" as David Armstrong says in The Nature of Mind" (Morton 225). The concepts I've been developing can clearly criticize the philosophical foundation of such a claim, namely the assumption that neuroscience (as purely electro-chemical) is the proper account, but current neuroscientific description is mainly limited to the classical level description that is bunk. I have been arguing that the 'material' account of the brain is deeper than a "purely electro-chemical" account or the account of physical observables. Armstrong himself says "this [pure account] is not to say that in the future new evidence and new problems may not come to light which will force science to reconsider the physico-chemical view of man" (Morton 225). I have argued, along the lines of Henry Stapp, that the quantum understanding forces this already, and have even in this essay attempted to begin to describe hypothetically what that quantum material process of the brain that we call ourselves might be like. Identity mind-matter theory need not reduce psychology, but rather expand neuroscience to the level of quantum brain-nature; "it would seem imprudent to ignore the holistic aspect of matter that lies at the heart of contemporary physics when trying to grapple with the problem of the connection of matter to consciousness" (Stapp 3.12).
Saul Kripke responds to and also criticizes the suppositions of the mind/brain identity theory in Identity and Necessity. To go about this, he introduces the conception of various expressions as rigid or nonrigid designators, and he does this in order to clarify what kind of identity the mind/brain must be. An example of a rigid designator that Kripke gives is 'the square root of 25', which is rigid because 5 is necessitated by the expression; the square root of 25 could not be other than 5, as long as we are not arbitrarily using language. The rigid designation of an expression forces some other concept to be the case; it's about necessarily linked concepts. In Kripke's example, we are using a concept of a number's 'square root,' a concept which involves finding the dimensions of a square that has the original number's area. One way to schematize finding 'the square root of 25' is thus:
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There are 25 dots arranged in a square (the number 25 represented as a square, if you will,) and letting the 'root' of a square be considered its side in mathematics, lo and behold there are 5 dots on each side; therefore 'the square root of 25' rigidly designates '5' because of the necessity of the concepts that have been formed about numbers. Even though this is all made up by a meaning and relationship we give to words like number, square and root, the concepts are necessary beneath the words, rigidly, because of their reasonable meaning. A rigid designator is "a term that designates the same object in all possible worlds" (Morton, 244). No matter what world one is in, 5 x 5 (will always) = 25. Rigid designation is about understanding the only possible way there is to understand given the existence of objects referred to by concepts – i.e. if numbers exist, then Kripke's rigid example is also true.
This is the opposite from nonrigid designators. Before introducing the example Kripke uses, I'll approach the idea from what it entails conceptually in contrast to rigid designation. If a rigid designator means that an item is always necessarily referred to by an expression, then a nonrigid designator means what is referred to by an expression does not need to be the case, or that the identity of the referred object is contingent on something but is not necessary because of the idea of the first expression that does the referring. The rigid designation of mathematical expressions is contingent on nothing because they are necessary given the concepts. Nonrigid designators refer to something actual that could have been other than it was given an alternative way things happened to occur. Nonrigid designation is not to do with concepts fitting with concepts like rigid designation is. Kripke's example is 'the inventor of bifocals.' Even though this statement refers in particular to Benjamin Franklin, someone else could conceivably have invented bifocals instead of him and this stands in contrast to 5 only that must be the square root of 25.
Kripke applies these designations to scientific claims of identity such as "mind is brain" and that 'heat is molecular motion.' Kripke notes that in scientific conventions, identity statements about the nature of the world are viewed as contingent, that heat could have been something else, and this means, by Kripke's terms, that 'heat' is a nonrigid designator of 'molecular motion.' In other words, conventional science might say that the concept of heat does not necessarily entail the concept of molecular motion, as highlighted by the antiquated caloric theory of heat, and this goes for the mind-brain identity too. To say mental states are contingently identical to brain states is to suppose that it could rather have been the case that the mind is a disembodied homunculus that unnaturally forces otherwise blind matter into a marionette-like life-form. The supposition is that concepts such as heat/motion and mind/brain are not rigid like 'the square root of 25'/5 is.
The supposition that Kripke directly criticizes in his essay is that heat can be adequately conceived as a caloric fluid rather than molecular motion, which would extend to other scientific claims about the world. He attempts to realize how the concept of molecular motion is necessitated by the concept of heat instead of contingent upon, which would solidify and ground scientific claims while highlighting that we can interpret things incorrectly by thinking in terms of 'what could or might cause something' instead of 'what needs to fit what we observe as orderly and think of as reasonable'. Kripke says heat's contingency doesn't follow because circumstances cannot be adequately imagined such that heat is not molecular motion. He says that some thinkers only thought that heat could be different, and only because, Kripke claims, the sensation of heat was confused with the concept of heat. Those who would say the caloric theory is conceivable are only thinking about the sensation of heat.
When we rub our hands together quickly (moving), the sensation of heat develops as some of our energy is literally 'moved' between our palms. When we light a fire (by moving sticks and dry grass or flint and rock, for example) and watch the burning matter move more quickly into the air with light that moves into our vision as well, the sensation of heat develops again. What's going on here are empirical experiences of motion that have customarily been associated with heat for the sensation they produce. The sensation of heat we acquire necessitates nothing, but we attribute the concept of molecular motion to all occurrences of heat. The caloric theory of heat was only accounting for another substance that would possibly cause a sensation of heat. The concept we have of molecules with lots of kinetic energy causing slower molecules to speed up is necessarily identical to heat, because that is how our concept of it works. This is just his example, and this argument extends to all claims of scientific discovery; if a thing is actually existent, it is necessarily ordered and the terms of any identity statements concerning things in the world must be conceptually entailing of other in rigid designation, like those square roots.
In the arguments for strict identity of the mind and brain, an identity between what we feel in the inside and what we see from the outside, Kripke then says that because the things in the world are necessary, mental states also are necessarily identical to brain states. With this said, the problem is widened for conventional materialist arguments about the mind and brain, as I have attempted to overcome, for the arguer "has to show that these things which we can imagine are not in fact things we can imagine" (Morton 248). He says this because he concludes the concepts of mind and brain as necessarily identical must necessarily entail each other and conventional materialism "can't imagine" in small independent parts the holistic concepts of personhood. If the mind/brain identity is true in some unconventional way such that it is the case, then mental states rigidly designate brain states in a clear-conceptual way like heat/motion. Kripke is actually saying that the identity theorist's position is that the concept of brain states necessarily lead to mental states and that mental states without brain states would be inconceivable. Therefore "it would have to be a deeper and subtler argument" for materialists to show that our built-up concepts of minds, thoughts etc "are not in fact things we can imagine" because these are what conventional materialism expressly denies ontological existence of. I hope to have proposed such a deeper and subtler argument or at least a start for one.
We "can't imagine" how the square root of 25 would not be 5, given the meaning of the words, but we can imagine minds whose choices create actions and whose reasons form concepts, given the meaning of the words. Thus for Kripke, "the conclusion of this investigation would be that the analytical tools we are using go against the identity thesis and so go against the general thesis that mental states are just physical states" (Morton 248; my italics). The identity between mind and brain must be necessary, Kripke argues, but it doesn't seem to be as direct as an A stands for B when one says mental states are brain states, when as concepts mind entails feeling and brain entails observable structure. These basic concepts must be inseparable as neuroscience does indeed show, but they are also not definitional of each other as is, no matter how one conceives them, at least looking through what "has ever appeared in any materialist literature" except for recent strides by Stapp, Wolf, and many contemporaries I have read (Morton 248). So again, the neuroscience in the identity theory needs to evolve. The quantum theory of the mind comes closest so far as any materialist theory in finding a conceptual linkage between physical and conscious states of matter.
To go on to another materialist theory, the functionalist says the language of psychology is autonomous of neuroscience. Functionalists say that cognition and awareness are functions of living matter processing information in a certain computational way that produces representation. If the function is such that the brain's processing is both observable as behaviour/actions/etc to the outside, thus being the output of the living function, and intentional with selecting choices, thus being the input of the living function, then this theory is somewhat coherent with what I've been proposing in terms of the quantum state of wholeness. That might be the function for any material system and would indeed be autonomous of neuroscience because it merely considers our particular structure; other systems of matter might conceivably be psycho-functional if they can be quantum wholes as we are. Because neuroscience deals in classical descriptions, the psychology of language is autonomous of neuroscience; in this way what I'm saying coheres with some of the claims of functionalism. However, the psychology of language by the presently explored theory would not be autonomous of quantum behaviour. We just don't have that kind of neuroscience yet though, except that the quantum understanding of mind likely involves, as explored, the way our thoughts and quantum descriptions both speak of holistic relationships, and conceptual linkages will hopefully arise that will allow us to discover that our sensed existence is a reasonable one in a universe of abundantly and profoundly behaving material.
This function of abundant material making mind might be like a quantum "probabilistic automaton", to borrow the term of Jerry A. Fodor used in What Psychological States Are Not and apply it in the context I've been working with (Morton 333). The nature of the brain as a quantum "probabilistic automaton" may be such to overcome the problem that "psychological states of an organism cannot be put into correspondence with the computational states of an [non-quantum] automaton" (Morton 333, 334). This problem comes from the notion that our computational states (thinking through 3 plus 11 for instance) are unlike those of an automaton because "the mental states of a person can at best be specified by a finite approximation" (Morton 334). When we choose between alternatives, we don't select from a list of infinite potential computations, like computers essentially have at their disposal save for memory limitations. Moreover, we don't store our knowledge or compute by working in lists such as " 'the belief that 1 1=2,' 'the belief that 2 2=4,' 'the belief that 3 3=6' and so forth" like a mechanical automaton like conventional computers would (Morton 334).
In going with the idea that we're functions of matter, we may be "quantum automatons" (which incidentally is a term also found in Wolf's The Dreaming Universe in the concluding chapter that discusses what he speculates is the consciously material state that we are, it seems.) The brain considered by a quantum-educated functionalism would not quite be a discrete state system although all its states are observed by us as classical events in the world, i.e. actions like coming to be in the state of running are seen by observations to be classically describable, but asked, "they chose to run." Not a discrete state system or an automaton like that, the quantum-computational function of the brain would involve our sentient selection from the "habits ingrained into nature" like Stapp speculates (B.2). An implication of this is that a computer could conceivably be built to function in a quantum manner and perhaps have strong A.I., but the task will become like cellular biologists trying to recreate the conditions for the origin of life; a huge time of evolution came before us to reach to our level of consciousness. Training a quantum system to learn with a sense like us at any communicative level to a human would require immense complexity, presumably as things have turned thus far, with us. I think we might have to build a 'thinking computer' slowly by adding more matter to a system trained a certain way from the start like our cells must have behaved while evolving into multi-cellular organisms that have holistic behaviour and representation.
Then there is the materialism that seeks to eliminate the language of psychology. The language of psychology is a language of unities, of individuals, thoughts, choices, behaviours, and so also is the language of quantum mechanics about selection, unities – thus there may be a theory of matter compatible with ordinary mind, classical mechanics the language needing to be eliminated when dealing with the mind. An adequate language may be in human cases a language of vast symmetry with what is still being discovered of the language of matter that works well for technological pursuits, this deep quantum sense that deems processes as "automatically holistic" (Stapp 3.11). Such a language may be quite familiar, while we might even see that our natural language about ourselves will evolve so in our mind's eye its meaning will reflect our material knowledge that fits with us.
On the other hand, in Neurophilosophy: Toward a Unified Science of the Mind-Brain Patricia Smith Churchland sees the way we naturally talk about the mind as "folk psychology" and claims that we need to "revise and improve upon" it (Morton 356). She also calls this "intuitive psychology" and says that it is what "shapes our conception of ourselves" (Morton 355). It is the language of how we explain the 'inside' of human "behaviour as the outcome of beliefs, desires, perceptions" etc. that consist in the conscious objects inside the holistic entity I have argued for (Morton 355). This psychology is viewed by Churchland in a similar vein as how I've described "folk physics" or classical physics as arrived at in attempts to similarly shape a conception of things we saw 'outside' us; Churchland writes that "insofar as it enables us to make sense of and explain a certain range of phenomena, folk psychology resembles the folk physics" (Morton 356).
We remember what Stapp said about folk physics being replaced by contemporary physics and that the folk psychology was only stipulated to be ruled out and expelled from conception of the material universe in the extension of the classical paradigm to all levels. Churchland speaks of Newtonian physics in her essay as the better system from folk physics, but that's not quite up to date and what is perceived as her newer ideas have been shown to be what's inadequate, that consciousness needn't have been banished in the first place.
Churchland goes on about these folk theories: "what is important is not that they originated in self-conscious construction, but that in their explanatory and predictive role they function as theories" as Churchland writes; in other words, specific ways we talk about ourselves are similar to the level of description of "folk physics" in that the way these theories talk is as a theoretical account, a conceivable explanatory paradigm only (Morton 357). Therefore, she argues, it is possible that our current psychological language arose to a similar inadequate extent as classical mechanics, and that we might have no grasp on the actual dynamic mechanisms of living and worldly events when employing either folk physics or psychology.
However, I would like to add that our music, poetry, and spontaneous intellectual/emotional contributions do originate in self-conscious construction, in a way that these theories are capable of being known only after being alive and feeling alive. I don't think our concepts and psychological language arose as just a theoretical account. I have been arguing for the case that conceptualization is an energetic state in the form of awareness, in the material world and in a material entity. In other simpler words, I think feeling alive or feeling a world, things, others, the barest sense of anything at all is enough for us of reason to realize that what is a material world being eaten and turned into biological life has livid awareness of this fact, indeed we do! While I disagree with some of Churchland, there is value to be had as in nearly every being's perspective and articulation of what they feel.
In particular Churchland speaks about the relation between our folk psychological explanations (such as linking "believes that p" to a behaviour) and between "numerical attitudes", for instance, that can be mathematically related (such as linking "has a masskg of n" to an observation of momentum) (Morton 358). When we have beliefs and desires about behaviour, there is a rational connection instead of a causal connection between them; there is a "rational-in-the-light-of" relation between my knowledge of how light switches operate, my desire to read at night, and the behaviour of turning the light switch on (Morton 359). For Churchland, the causal conditions of these rational actions are neuroscientific, and she also notices how our "mental states referred to in the explanation of behaviour" are alleged as "indispensable for psychology but unfathomable by neuroscience" because "they form a semantically coherent system, as opposed to a causally interconnected system" (Morton 359). She says mental states "are about things, they can be true or false of the world, and they stand to one another in logical relationships such as entailment and contradiction (Morton 359). She writes that if the semantics of mental states conform to logical relations, and since "logical relations cannot be reduced to causal relations", then the psychology of mental states is autonomous of the causal relations that are deemed materially based.
Kripke's critique of the identity thesis meshes here in that 'logical relationships such as entailment' must apply to the mental states in relation to the brain or 'causally interconnected' states because of the rigid designation of scientific concepts about the world, as he argues. It seems then that logical relations indeed cannot be reduced to causal relations but instead be required by them. Therefore, the logical relations between mental states as known might be required by our brain's state. Indeed, Churchland distinguishes that "the generalizations of psychology are emergent with respect to neurobiological theory" and in the theory I present this is blaringly evident, considering the discussion about survival advantage, for instance (Morton 360). There are "biological relations" to consider as the causal interconnections for our mental states and an element of consciousness would do well for living things, and seems to perhaps fit well, as per quantum materialism (Morton 360).
This essay has expounded that the dynamic process of the brain is quantum-mechanical and thus, it would seem that with contemporary physical theory there is allowance for some minds of the sort we are familiar with. Materialism needs to be structured and understood so it allows us to realize that it is the case that we have real mental lives within our metabolic connection and interplay to life and the environment that is beyond. It seems fundamental in our reality that life and consciousness embody a material of vast potential for intricacy and sentient representation. The concept of material life is not so strange; considering our nourishments and sensualities and they way living bodily seems quite good, we need to be aware material, for any sense of reasonability to last. If this is the case – I mean, if it is rigidly the case that we are naturally in active participation with our material being that lives rationally and metabolically – then the whole universe naturally and necessarily instantiates life and emergent consciousness. Instead of to call it 'just observable', Life lives to really feel something.
Morton, Peter, Ed. A Historical Introduction to the Philosophy of Mind – Readings With Commentary. Broadview Press Ltd.; Peterborough, Ontario: 1999.
Stapp, Henry. "Why Classical Mechanics Cannot Accommodate Consciousness but Quantum Mechanics Can." PSYCHE 2(5) May 1995. .
Wolf, Fred Alan. Common Ground Interview – The Dreaming Universe. the link is hosted on under the name "What are dreams made of?" No date posted.
14 Feb 2005 @ 04:22 by photovore @126.96.36.199 : whoa
THat's alot to grok!
Grok on brother...
8 Dec 2005 @ 17:00 by : There could be a dimension
missing here. And Classical functionalism is a contradiction in terms, because Classical is in the dimension of Constant time and Functional, by definition, is Linear time (one cog linking the next etc). Therefore to compare Classical ..whatever (already explained functional, so delete) to compare Classical with Quantum is comparing Cheddar with Cheddar.
It is the linking of the two time scales that lifts Art off the ground and elevates the audience mentally, into other dimensions, momentarily, and what makes the world go round in the non spiritual realms, or the aspirational spiritual realms!!! Architecture can do so even more so.
This means that the academic who is stuck in linear time must use many complicated self limiting references and many pages to conclude a thesis.
9 Dec 2005 @ 11:49 by : Second reading
day later, esp. ultimate para. - Very pleased to see this. Smiling alot. Yes the materialist world certainly transports being therefore can be venerated as such. First time seeing this in another's writing. Like chocolate praline, bit at a time suffices to achieve full realisation! (My illness affected an ability to read long passages, now all enaction is recovery!). Will return.
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