2009/7/31 1Z <peterdjo...@yahoo.com>:

> Since the mental is uncontroversially not a fundamental item in physics. it 
> has to be
> higher-level or emergent in some way, like shoes and ships and sealing-wax.

Blimey!  Thanks, Peter - you couldn't have expressed a circular
argument more succinctly!  However, my reformulation is inevitably
equally circular (retaining the - presumably intentionally - ironic
use of 'uncontroversially') viz:

"Since the physical is uncontroversially not a fundamental item in
mentality, it has to be
higher-level or emergent in some way, like shoes and ships and sealing-wax."

So you pays your money.....?  But no: the insuperable (AFAICS)
advantage of the second formulation is that 'mentality' (i.e. what is
real in the sense that I am real) is uniquely given - it is the fons
et origo of any inference, and hence justifies its direction in the
second case, whilst annihilating it in the first.

> But you haven't said what the problem is in the emergence of the
> mental
> from the physical

On the contrary, I've said it repeatedly.

> For dualism you need materalism AND the
> mental AND an unbridgeable gap. You keep leaving the gap out.

I'm left with the nagging sense that perhaps we're just violently
agreeing and the confusion is over semantics.  We both require a
justification for reality-in-the-sense-I-am-real.  Obviously this
requires an account of shoes and ships and sealing-wax not only on the
basis of our direct knowledge of them in these terms, but also in the
multiplicity of other ways that directly given elements can be
re-ordered - including of course those concerned with the heuristics
of their behaviour, such as whatever version of theoretical physics is
currently in favour.  Neither of us believes that a coherent account
in terms of more than one ontological mode of subsistence is either
necessary or possible.  But an entity is more than the mere sum of
whatever properties we can abstract from it.  So if what you're saying
could be reduced to the claim that there must be a unique ontology
that is consistent with all of the foregoing, and that you prefer to
call it physical, we could agree.

One caveat however - and I think this is at the root of your permanent
disagreement with Bruno.  If we are to accept the 'physical' narrative
as the fundamental justification of what it is to be RITSIAR, then the
explanatory entities and relationships deployed for this purpose must
be justified explicitly and exclusively in terms of 'really physical'
entities and relations.  Consequently, it is incoherent to postulate
'functional' relationships across such boundaries as constitutive of
anything RITSIAR, because this opens up a veritable infinity of
alternative, arbitrarily abstracted, 'causal' inferences.
Consequently, and - I can't help adding - *obviously*, since we cannot
credit *all* of these abstractions with the needful causal potency, we
are all the more unjustified in privileging any *one* of them.

So Bruno's point, fundamentally, is that if we're going to argue for
functional justification of the mental - in the sense of RITSIAR -
then said functional entities and relations must be postulated to be
'really real'.  COMP just axiomatises the functional entities and
relations that are held to be RITSIAR.  Bruno is sometimes a little
difficult to pin down on the foundational RITSIAR-ness of the 'number
realm', perhaps because his attention is focused more on what he can
do with it.  But if one simply can't stomach the idea that 'platonic
numbers' are what is really real, then fair enough.  But then one must
abjure functional-computational justifications for the 'mental':
again, fair enough (it's probably closer to my own prejudice).  But
unless you're an eliminativist about the mental, you can't have it
both ways.

> Idealism does not save appearances. It cannot explain
> how there was a mindless universe for millions of years before
> life evolved, for instance. Idealists usually have to flatly deny that
> particular
> appearance.

But I think we can save them quite handily.  First, calling something
'idealism' just pumps the intuition that there have to be sort of
bright images everywhere independent of 'minds'.  The problem here is
that we're stuck with folk vocabulary that drags in extraneous notions
left, right and centre causing an implosion of the imagination.  We
need to fix this, and I have a couple of suggestions.  The first was
in my reply to Rex, where I suggest, in answer to your implicit
question above, that the universe has to take things just as
personally as it needs to exist.  That, if you like, is the degree of
'mentality' (one of the terms that probably should be retired) you
might expect to exist before life evolved.  And you're right to
specify 'evolved' because whatever we mean by mind in the organic
sense would of course be vacuous if in constitution and function it
offered no evolutionary advantage.

This leads to the second suggestion: what we call 'mind' is the
evolved capacity for representation, memory and intention directed
towards an environment, resulting from selected-for elaborations of
primitive but critically-similar potentials.  Of course, this is the
standard direction of any explanatory thrust, but with the critical
stipulation that we must be able to preserve the appearances from soup
to nuts: this is, as you point out, the nub.  Again, I don't insist on
any particular vocabulary, only the necessary sense.  As Popper
remarks, debate about words is futile - just clarify your terms until
the problem emerges precisely, or goes away.

Of the above factors, the one that bears, I think, most on the
'appearance of mindlessness', is memory (a point made by Russell in
his neutral monist guise).  Essentially, we're 'conscious' of what we
can remember - this is inherent in the sense of re-presentation.  So
it may not in fact meet the case to hold that we're 'unaware' of what
we don't remember so well, but rather that 'primitive' awareness is
swamped in our memory by repeated re-presentation of dominant
higher-order themes.  In fact, introspection reveals the constant
coming and going of 'awarenesses' of every type and degree, shading to
ultimate forgetfulness.  IOW, 'consciousness' is just taking
particular things *so* personally that everything else is forgotten.

So that, if you like, is the 'appearance' of mindlessness.

David

>
>
>
> On 30 July, 23:55, David Nyman <david.ny...@gmail.com> wrote:
>> 2009/7/30 1Z <peterdjo...@yahoo.com>:
>>
>> > Cart before the horse:
>> > Why should anyone believe in an ontological gap that isn't backed by
>> > an explanatory gap?
>>
>> Why indeed?
>
> Weren't you arguing for one?
>
>> > The mere existence of the mental implies nothing whatsoever
>> > about any dualism any more than the simultaneous existence
>> > of cabbages and kings.
>>
>> Well, I don't disagree with that, although I'm not quite sure what you
>> intend by the dismissive 'mere'.  Our disagreements haven't usually
>> been about the necessity of dualism, which I think we both abjure, but
>> rather whether mind is an abstraction from from matter or vice versa.
>> I'm not sure we'll ever agree on that.
>>
>> > Dualism requires an ontological divide--not
>> > a mere difference of kind--and an ontological divide requires
>> > explanatory irreducibility.
>>
>> Couldn't agree more.  However, my starting point is that the existence
>> of the mental (not to struggle over terminology) is indubitable, which
>> makes the direction of abstraction mandatory if we want to save
>> monism.
>
> That doesn't follow at all. The epistemic fact that we are more sure
> of A than B doesn't imply any metaphysical fact that B is reducible to
> A rather
> than vice versa. The epistemic arrow and the metaphysical arrow are
> two different arrows. Since we are macroscopic, we are constructed to
> have
> better access to high-level phenomena such as chairs and rocks than
> the
> fundamental particles that comprise them.
>
>> Unless one denies reality to the mental (i.e. eliminativism)
>> I'm saying that further insistence on a material ontology in the usual
>> sense is an implicit commitment to dualism.
>
> THat doesn't follow either. For dualism you need materalism AND the
> mental AND an unbridgeable gap. You keep leaving the gap out.
>
>> Specious relationship
>> terms such as 'functional equivalence', 'identical to', 'inside of'
>> and the like just mask this, IMO, and under examination can be seen to
>> imply two-ness, not one-ness.
>
> Those positions have thei critics, but calling them
> 'specious' is not criticism
>
>>  Further, in addition to its obvious (at
>> least to me) merit of 'saving the appearances',
>
> Idealism does not save appearances. It cannot explain
> how there was a mindless universe for millions of years before
> life evolved, for instance. Idealists usually have to flatly deny that
> particular
> appearance.
>
>> this narrative seems
>> to serve the rest of the story at least as handily as the
>> 'externalised reality' version.  But I don't imagine we'll ever agree
>> on this either.
>>
>> BTW, perhaps I should clarify what I mean by 'the usual sense' of
>> materialism, because it may be that this is part of any confusion.
>> This sense is, I take it, the doctrine that reality is 'nothing but'
>> the material.  Stating it this way of course commits you, under
>> monism, to a purely abstract conception of the mental.
>
> I am not sure what you mean by abstract. Since the mental
> is uncontroversially not a fundamental item in physics. it has to be
> higher-level
> or emergent in some way, like shoes and ships and sealing-wax.
>
> But you haven't said what the problem is in the emergence of the
> mental
> from the physical
>
>>The
>> unsatisfactory nature of this conception feeds the intuition of a
>> 'neutral' (perhaps not the best term) monism which could instantiate a
>> spectrum of states spanning a mental-material 'dichotomy' now more
>> apparent than real.  Any better?
>>
>> David
>>
>>
>>
>> > On 28 July, 01:30, David Nyman <david.ny...@gmail.com> wrote:
>> >> 2009/7/27 Brent Meeker <meeke...@dslextreme.com>:
>>
>> >> >>> 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,...
>>
>> >> Yes, sorry - am I REALLY being so unclear?  Obviously, as you say, it
>> >> is all too easy  to see that mind and brain are *correlated*: my point
>> >> was that such correlation can't be conceived as a simple one-to-one
>> >> mind-material identity of any sort without doing violence to mind as
>> >> an uneliminable primary reality. I think the problem here is with the
>> >> all too easy - but flatly wrong - analogy of 'the same thing under two
>> >> different descriptions', because here we need to be concerned not with
>> >> mere description but with apparently incommensurable modes of
>> >> existence: nobody, I take it, could seriously claim that the
>> >> manifestly radical ontological dichotomy between 'material-existence'
>> >> and 'mind-existence' is exhausted merely by description.
>>
>> > Cart before the horse:
>> > Why should anyone believe in an ontological gap that isn't backed by
>> > an explanatory gap?
>>
>> >> Because - and with justification - for many quotidian and scientific
>> >> purposes we focus on the 'material' characterisation of our shared
>> >> 'externalised' reality, it is fatally easy to lose sight of the fact
>> >> that any reification of the material description ineluctably invokes
>> >> dualism in the face of the indubitable existence of the mental realm.
>>
>> > The mere existence of the mental implies nothing whatsoever
>> > about any dualism. any more than the simultaneous existence
>> > of cabbages and kings. Dualism requires an ontological divide--not
>> > a mere difference of kind--and an ontological divide requires
>> > explanatory irreducibility.
> >
>

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