2009/7/28 Brent Meeker <meeke...@dslextreme.com>:

> It is not legitimate to object, for example, that
> weather is *just* an added on description or else requires an addition to the
> ontology.

Firstly, I agree with Rex and Bruno that the sense in which you're
using ontology can be confusing and it would be more helpful to talk
in terms of descriptive categories instead. Moving on, the examples
you give illustrate the point I'm making perfectly.  Under the
standard usage I certainly agree that we don't need to add to the
ontology to understand what we mean by weather, because we all know
it's just another way of referring to the underlying material
entities.  There are arbitrarily many ways of describing the behaviour
of any physical collection.  For example, 'computer program' is just
another way of describing the electronic behaviour of a physical
computer 'at a different level', but this is merely optional.

Removing 'weather' or 'program' from the situation *makes no
difference* to what is happening: this is the acid test.  Consequently
you may say if you want that mind  - in the relevant behavioural or
functional sense (could we but find it) - might in principle be
rendered as a description of physical brain events 'at a different
level'.  Removing a mere 'mind-description' of this sort from the
physical brain events would again make no difference.  This of course
is Dennett's whole line of attack, but then he goes and uses it as a
hammer to hit himself in the head.

But there's the rub: we already know that removing the *mind itself*,
uniquely in all these examples, results in removing *ourselves* from
the situation; and this makes all the difference in the world.  This
should tell us infallibly that we are not dealing with a merely
optional descriptive category referring to some primarily material
entity.  To get out of this trap we have no alternative but to reverse
the quotidian assumption of the primacy of a material monism, because
it is betraying us: mind is given; the precise status of matter is
still moot at this stage of the analysis.  Any coherently monistic
account must begin with these facts as the primary ontological clue,
as indeed you go on to remark:

> That was pretty much Bertrand
> Russell's theory of neutral monads - there's only one kind of thing but they 
> can
> be described in mental-causal terms or material-causal terms.

Yes, but not quite.  Russell's neutral monism was of course a
recognition by the master of category theory that the two different
*appearances* (not descriptions - a crucial distinction) of mind and
matter imply a monism based, not on an empty 'identity' postulated on
the ad hoc assumption of the primacy of either, but on 'something
else' that is not reducible to one or the other.  Hence 'neutral',
though not quite so neutral as to lose its ability to manifest in
these radically divergent appearances.  However, he advanced no
detailed theory, to the best of my belief, of how this could go.  As
it happens, COMP is an effort to provide such a theory, and moreover
one to which the understanding of why it cannot be complete is
intrinsic: although it seeks to justify why 'qualia' must exist, and
why 1-person experience must occur in terms of them, it remains
(necessarily) mysterious - in the Wittgensteinian sense - on what they
*are*.

David

> David Nyman wrote:
>> 2009/7/27 Brent Meeker <meeke...@dslextreme.com>
>>
>>> That's a bit of a straw man you're refuting.  I've never heard anyone claim 
>>> that
>>> the mind is the brain.   The materialist claim is that the mind is what the
>>> brain does, i.e. the mind is a process.  That's implicit in COMP, the idea 
>>> that
>>> functionally identical units can substituted for parts of your brain 
>>> without any
>>> untoward effects.
>>
>> Yes indeed.  But what do we mean by a process in materialist ontology?
>>  To speak of what the brain 'does' is to refer to actual changes of
>> state of physical elements - at whatever arbitrary level you care to
>> define them - of the material object in question.  So now you have two
>> options: either the 'process' is just an added-on description of these
>> material changes of state, and hence redundant or imaginary in any
>> ontological sense, or else you are implicitly claiming a second -
>> non-material - ontological status for the mind-process so invoked. As
>> I said, it would be difficult to imagine two states of being more
>> different than minds and brains (i.e. this is the classic mind-body
>> dilemma).
>
> I think that's a misuse of "ontology".  When we discuss the atomic theory of
> matter the ontology is a set of elementary particles, including their 
> couplings
> and dynamics.  We then regard molecules and stars and planets, etc, as
> consisting of these things.  It is not legitimate to object, for example, that
> weather is *just* an added on description or else requires an addition to the
> ontology.  It's a description at a different level.  Similarly, material 
> changes
> in the brain may be described as mental events also.  Compare a computer 
> running
> some AI program.  The events have a description in terms of electrons and 
> gates
> and also in terms of decisions and computations.  That was pretty much 
> Bertrand
> Russell's theory of neutral monads - there's only one kind of thing but they 
> can
> be described in mental-causal terms or material-causal terms.
>
>>
>> This is the insight in Bruno's requirement of the COMP reversal of
>> physics and mind as described in step 8 of his SANE2004 paper.  It's
>> aim is to deal a knockdown blow to any facile intuition of the mind as
>> the computation (i.e. process) of a material brain, and IMO the
>> argument more than merits a direct riposte in that light.
>> Furthermore, in a platonic COMP, the question of the level of
>> substitution required to reproduce your mind is unprovable, and has to
>> be an act of faith in any 'doctor' who claims to know.
>
> The difficulty I have with COMP is in step 8, where some measure is invoked to
> make sense out of a computation that computes everything.  What is this 
> measure?
>  and what does it actually predict.  As I said before, an *everything*
> hypothesis is a cheap way to explain anything - unless you can explain why 
> this
> rather than that.  Bruno promises to be able to do that - so I'm waiting to 
> see.
>
> Brent
>
>
>>
>> AFAICS, until these 'under-the-carpet' issues are squarely faced, the
>> customary waving away of the brain-mind relation as a simplistic
>> functional identity remains pure materialist prejudice, and on the
>> basis of the above, flatly erroneous. To say the least, any such
>> relation is moot, absent a radically deeper insight into the mind-body
>> problem.
>>
>> David
>>
>>> Bruno Marchal wrote:
>>>> On 26 Jul 2009, at 16:52, David Nyman wrote:
>>>>
>>>>> Thanks to everyone who responded to my initial sally on dreams and
>>>>> machines.  Naturally I have arrogated the right to plagiarise your
>>>>> helpful comments in what follows, which is an aphoristic synthesis of
>>>>> my understanding of the main points that have emerged thus far.  I
>>>>> hope this will be helpful for future discussion.
>>>>>
>>>>> THE APHORISMS
>>>>>
>>>>> We do not see the mind, we see *through* the mind.
>>>>>
>>>>> What we see through the mind - its contents - is mind-stuff: dreams.
>>>>>
>>>>> Hence dream content - i.e. whatever is capable of being present to us
>>>>> - can't be our ontology - this would be circular (the eye can't see
>>>>> itself).
>>>>>
>>>>> So the brain (i.e. what the eye can see) can't be the mind; but the
>>>>> intuition remains that mind and brain might be correlated by some
>>>>> inclusive conception that would constitute our ontology: Kant's great
>>>>> insight stands.
>>> It's more than an intuition.  There's lots of evidence the mind and brain 
>>> are
>>> correlated: from getting drunk, concusions, neurosurgery, mrfi,...
>>>
>>>>> It is similarly obvious that 'identity' theories and the like are
>>>>> non-sense: it would indeed be hard to think of two descriptions less
>>>>> 'identical' than brain-descriptions and mind-descriptions: hence
>>>>> again, any such identification could only be via some singular
>>>>> correlative synthesis.
>>>>>
>>>>> Hence any claim that the mind is literally identical with, or
>>>>> 'inside', the brain can be shown to be false by the simple - if messy
>>>>> - expedient of a scalpel; or else can be unmasked as implicitly
>>>>> dualistic: i.e. the claim is really that 'inside' and 'outside' are
>>>>> not merely different descriptions, but different ontologies.
>>> That's a bit of a straw man you're refuting.  I've never heard anyone claim 
>>> that
>>> the mind is the brain.   The materialist claim is that the mind is what the
>>> brain does, i.e. the mind is a process.  That's implicit in COMP, the idea 
>>> that
>>> functionally identical units can substituted for parts of your brain 
>>> without any
>>> untoward effects.
>>>
>>> Brent
>>>
>>>
>>
>> >
>>
>
>
> >
>

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