> > I accept that there is more than one way to describe reality, and I
> > accept the concept of supervenience, but where I differ with you
> > (stubbornly, perhaps) is over use of the word "fundamental". The base
> > property seems to me more deserving of being called "fundamental" than
> > the supervenient property. If you were to give concise instructions to
> > a god who wanted to build a copy of our world you could skip all the
> > information about values etc. confident in the knowledge that all this
> > extra stuff would emerge as long as the correct physical information
> > was conveyed; whereas the converse is not the case.
> >
> > [If the mental does not supervene on the physical this changes the
> > particular example, but not the general point.]
> Refer the brief definition of property dualism referenced by the link
> Bruno gave:
> http://www.jimpryor.net/teaching/courses/mind/notes/supervenience.html
> Be careful to draw a distinction between 'substances' and
> 'properties'.  I accept that the underlying *substance* is likely
> physical, but *properties* are what are super-imposed on the top of
> the underlying substance.  The physical *substance* may be the base
> level, but the physical *properties* aren't.  From the mere fact that
> aesthetic properties are *composed of* physical substances, it does
> not follow that aesthetic properties themselves are physical.  Nor
> does it follow from the fact that physical substances are *neccessery*
> for aesthetic properties,  that they are *sufficient* to fully specify
> aesthetic properties.
> Here's why:  Complete knowledge of the physical properties of your
> brain cannot in fact enable you to deduce your aesthetic preferences
> without additional *non-physical* assumptions.  That is because,as I
> agreed with Bruno (see my previous post), all the explanatory power of
> reason is *mathematical* in nature.  In short, in order for you to
> know how a complete specification of your brain state was correlated
> with your aesthetic preferences, you would have to use your own
> *subjective experiences* as a calibrator in order to make the
> correlation (ie When brain state X, I feel/experience Y).  And these
> subjective experiences are not themsleves physical, but, as I have
> explained again and again, *Mathematical* properties.

There is this special quality of subjective experience: that which is
left over after all the objective (third person knowable) information
is accounted for. Nevertheless, the subjective experience can be
perfectly reproduced by anyone who has at hand all the relevant third
person information, even if it can't be reproduced in his own mind.
You can build a bat which will to itself feel like a bat if you know
every scientific detail about bats and have appropriately capable
molecular assemblers at your disposal. I believe this is a matter of
physical necessity unless you are a substance dualist, since the usual
definition of supervenience says that same brain state implies same
mind state. (It isn't a matter of logical necessity because property
dualism is logically possible.) In this sense, the mental properties'
dependence on the physical properties is asymmetrical, which is why I
say the physical properties are more fundamental. You might agree with
this analysis but simply have a different definition of "fundamental".

> > They have to be in there somewhere, since it appears that a particular
> > brain state is necessary and sufficient for a particular aesthetic
> > preference. In the same way, cardiovascular system activity is
> > necessary and sufficient for the circulation of the blood. The
> > difference between the two cases is that with circulation it is
> > obviously so but with mind it is not obviously so: we can imagine the
> > appropriate brain activity without mind but not the appropriate
> > cardiovascular activity without circulation. But maybe this is just a
> > problem with our imagination!
> Ah, but there is a difference!  In the example you gave, circulation
> is *defined* by the specific physical characteristics of
> cardiovascular activity.  But the mind is *not* defined by specific
> physical characteristics of the brain (this is the error that
> philosopher John Searle keep making).  In the example of circulation
> you gave, you can take direct objective measurements of the physical
> characteristics of cardiovascular activity.  But as Ray Kurzweil
> pointed out in his book 'The Singularity Is Near', you cannot take
> direct objective measurements of a mind.  That's because the workings
> of a mind are not defined by any specific physical characteristics of
> the system, but are *mathematical* properties ('patterns') as
> explained by 'Functionalism'.  Further, these mathematical properties
> are not just fictions (words we use to explain things better) but
> appear to be dispensable to our explanations of reality.  These points
> indicate a big and real difference between your example (circulation)
> and mind/brain.

What if someone simply claimed that they couldn't see how circulation
was the same as cardiovascular activity: they could understand that
the heart was a pump, the blood a fluid, the blood vessels conduits,
but the circulatory system as a whole was something emergent and not
at all obvious, in the same way that mind was emergent. Alternatively,
a superintelligent being could claim that the mind was as obviously
the result of brain activity as circulation was the result of
cardiovascular activity.

Stathis Papaioannou

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