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Old 04-25-2013, 06:13 AM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Gaylenwoof View Post
My claim is that subjectivity cannot be modeled by a theory that is composed of purely objective theoretical constructs and laws.
Can you give an example of what a scientific theory containing non-objective theoretical constructs and laws might look like? Is it just one which includes objective observation of reports of people's internal mental states (such as the research you say is already ongoing) or is there something more?
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Old 04-25-2013, 06:37 AM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Gaylenwoof View Post
[color=black][font=Verdana]Just to be clear: Subjectivity does not imply a dualism of substance, it only implies a dual “way of knowing,” or dual aspects. Subjectivity arises from the indexical nature of quantitative identity. No "other" rock can BE this rock. Other rocks can be qualitatively identical to this rock, but only this rock can be quantitatively identical to this rock.
Great. What does the fact that rocks are different have to do with the idea that materialist theories will never explain subjective experiences?

Quote:
I presume that, as a materialist, you will want to say that I am a physical process. You will also want to say that my experience of blue is a physical process, and that this experience of blue is part of the process that we have agreed is "me." So, what I'm saying is that this subjective experience of blue is part of what it is like to BE me at this moment of time. The subjective experience of blue is, thus, not the sort of thing that can be observed objectively in some other physical process.
I'm not sure what you mean here. Are you saying that it can't be observed in any physical process, or are you saying the exact configuration of your brain isn't reproduced in any other situation?

The former is true only if you assume this subjective experience of blue is something different than normal physical processes of the brain at work. Sure, it feels different, but research has shown that thinking about what our brain is doing is a poor way to actually learn about what is is doing (e.g. http://www.wjh.harvard.edu/~wegner/p...eatley1999.pdf).

The latter is irrelevant. The exact makeup and behavior of any individual star isn't reproduced elsewhere in the universe, but this tells us nothing about the ability of materialist theories to predict how stars work.

Quote:
In fact, your subjective experience of blue - as such - cannot even be objectively observed by you. Now, of course you could observe your brain and study your own neural processes objectively. You could even watch a computer screen while a neuroscientist points and says: "Here, this is your neural correlate of blue." But when you do this, what you see on the computer monitor won't necessarily appear to be blue.
Just like you can't see letters on a computer hard drive no matter how much you zoom in with a microscope. Doesn't mean that you can't store a book there.

Why would you expect a brain state experiencing a thing to become that thing? Do you really think people are proposing that you create an actual physical elephant in your mind when reading this sentence?

Quote:
The subjective experience of blue is the experience of what it is like to BE a particular physical process, and no other process can BE this process.

Just like no fire is any other fire, and no other fire can be this fire. Heck, if you want to be this picky the same fire isn't even the exact same fire moment to moment since each instance of it exists at a unique and different bit of time.

Like your rock example above, this doesn't have anything to say about the limits of materialism to explain how fire works.

Quote:
The only way to know the subjective experience of blue is to be a physical system in the process of subjectively experiencing blue.
Which says nothing about whether or not an objective materialist theory can explain and predict the workings of a physical system operating in such a manner.

Last edited by KCfromNC; 04-25-2013 at 06:52 AM..
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Old 04-25-2013, 06:45 AM
 
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I got the impression that it is a philosophical construct and theory and not a scientific one, (though Mystic had made an interesting and impressive job of putting his views in the scientific context).

That is why I don't yet see that the theory or philosophical explanation get anywhere near to proving dualism or proving monism, let alone unseating the materialist default and (by extension) the logical basis for atheism.

Philosophy or at least abstract thinking about problems (and we get that is science, too) can come up with useful theories which then await proof. Scientifically demonstrated proof. Until then theories they must remain.

It appears to me that we have (if my clumsy - concrete efforts to put this stuff into terms that mean something to me are not way off - beam) identified the material and non- theoretical aspects of Qualia - the wonder (1) of the zombie at the waterfall and the atoms of the sweetness entering the bod.

The dualistic theory depends on materialism being unable to explain what there remains of qualia apart from that. That it is not the explainable materialist aspects puts it very much in the theoretical area, even if it I can be convinced that it is something existent and not just subjective that is not part of either of the materialist aspects.

Theory is the area of supposition and hypothesis and thus had to await proof. If it can never be proven then unproven it must remain. But to say that materialism can never explain it (which is as close to 'science will never be able to discover this' as makes no difference,) is, to my thinking, trying to hornswoggle us into having a theory imposed on us as fact, thus opening the floodgates for an overturning of monism, the materialist default, the burden of proof being on the god - claim and thus God taken as the a priori given presupposition to be disproven which we goddless bastards can never do do.

Because I see this clearly with Deep Suspicion, only begotten son of Athe, is why I cannot leave this be and allow our theist philosophers to walk away with the win by tying us up in an an incomprehensible book of rules which, interpreted by them, gives them the win for free.

(1) sorry - I mean the lack of wonder of the zombie at the waterfall.
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Old 04-25-2013, 08:50 AM
 
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How is this thread 40 pages long, the answer is a very simple one: the burden of proof lies with the party making the claim. Anything that can be asserted without evidence can be dismissed without evidence. Simply because the assertion is a popular one does not make it any more true, it's simply an appeal to authority, a logical fallacy.

/thread
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Old 04-25-2013, 01:11 PM
 
Location: Kent, Ohio
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Quote:
Originally Posted by KCfromNC View Post
Can you give an example of what a scientific theory containing non-objective theoretical constructs and laws might look like? Is it just one which includes objective observation of reports of people's internal mental states (such as the research you say is already ongoing) or is there something more?

I mostly have just psychology and neuroscience in mind, but since you ask: Some interpretations of QM explicitly incorporate subjectivity, e.g. John von Neumann argued that QM allows for the collapse of the wave function to be at the point of "subjective perception" of the human observer. Eugene Wigner proposed that the consciousness of an observer actually collapses the wave function. And then there is the “many-minds” interpretation proposed by David Albert and Barry Loewer. I’m not saying that I’m adopting these approaches, I’m just offering them as examples of some ways in which subjectivity can be incorporated into physics. Most physicists today avoid these sorts of interpretations, but there is really nothing to disprove any of them. They are all still consistent with the QM math. Thus, in some ways, my proposal to incorporate subjectivity into physics is not completely unprecedented. Of course the particular speculative way in which I propose to explain qualia is beyond anything these folks suggested.

Quote:
Originally Posted by KCfromNC View Post
Great. What does the fact that rocks are different have to do with the idea that materialist theories will never explain subjective experiences?
Again I want to emphasize: I believe that materialist theories CAN address qualia. My only caveat is that, in order to address qualia, physics must join psychology and neuroscience in detaching itself from objective verificationism. To some extent, physics has already gone beyond verificationism with QM and with various exotic hypotheses in cosmology, although generally not is such a way as to embrace subjectivity. (e.g. indeterminism of QM, unbound quarks, the BB singularity, eternal inflation, etc.)


Quote:
I'm not sure what you mean here. Are you saying that it can't be observed in any physical process, or are you saying the exact configuration of your brain isn't reproduced in any other situation?
Qualia are empirical - in fact, they are the basis for ALL empirical data - but the "essence" of an actualized quale is logically grounded in this particular process at this particular moment and, furthermore, it can only be experienced as such from a particular perspective, namely, the perspective that stems from BEING the aforementioned particular process at this particular moment.


What makes the subjective attribute supremely "weird" is that the perspective of a quale as a quale cannot be directly shared. You and I can both view a collection of neurons from a certain point in space, but only I can experience what it is like to BE this particular collections of neurons at this moment in time because no other proces can be this process. The perspective that stems from BEING a process is always necessariliy unique.

Quote:
The exact makeup and behavior of any individual star isn't reproduced elsewhere in the universe, but this tells us nothing about the ability of materialist theories to predict how stars work.
I agree. But if, as I propose, there is a subjective aspect of energy (i.e., an "internal perspective" for certain sorts of processes), then the fact that this perspective is a material perspective implies that it cannot, as you say, be reproduced elsewhere in the universe. The uniqueness of this subjective perspective is NOT inconsistent with materialism; in fact, it is a direct logical consequence of materialism, if we allow my two earlier proposals, namely:


(1) qualia exist
(2) qualia are known subjectively.

If qualia exist, then according to materialism they are material processes (e.g., brain activity of a certain sort). If qualia are subjectiverly known, then it follows that some material processes are subjectively known. If subjectivity stems from being this process here and now, then qualia cannot be "reproduced elsewhere in the universe" just as this particular star cannot be reproduced (there cannot be "two" of this one particular thing).

But just as we can understand the objectively accessible properties of a particular star without BEING that particular star, we can understand the objectively accessible properties of qualia without being the qualitative system that we study. (We can study the neurons, etc.)

All physical processes can be known objectively.
Some physical processes (e.g., a living brain) can also be known subjectively.
If X is a living brain, then X can be known either objectively or subjectively, but the only process that can know X subjectively is X itself (because to know a process subjectively is to BE the process, and only X can BE X).

All of us know our own brains subjectively, and this subjective experience is the only experience that we know without inference. From this non-inferential subjective experience we infer the existence of an external world. (I agree with Arequipa that this is an excellent - evolutionarily advantageous - inference, but it is nonetheless an inference.) We can use inferential knowledge of the external world (e.g., neurons, etc.) to understand the dynamics of qualia, but we cannot deductively derive everything that can be known about the nature of non-inferential knowledge purely from our inferential knowledge. (Induction goes beyond deduction, and therefore cannot be reduced to pure deduction.)

Again I insist: None of this is incompatible with materialism, so long as materialism is understood as claiming that the "one kind of stuff" is energy. None of this implies any sort of dualism that threatens monism. We already know that the "one stuff" of which the universe is made has many, many attributes, so admitting subjectivity as an attribute should not cause materialists to get their undies in a bunch. There is nothing about the concept of "perspective" that should threaten materialism. All that we have to admit, as materialists, is that there is one sort of perspective that cannot be reproduced, and thus cannot be held up for repeatable objective measurement. This perspective is the subjective perspective of BEING a physical process. Qualia are not extra stuff; qualia are the subjectively known attributes of THE stuff.


Last edited by Gaylenwoof; 04-25-2013 at 01:24 PM..
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Old 04-25-2013, 01:33 PM
 
Location: Northeastern US
14,197 posts, read 9,094,403 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MysticPhD View Post
Step back from BEING the producer and try to see them as the universe sees them from afar . . . as energy composites.
Do you mean that the universe / existence / god sees them from afar, or are you simply suggesting I imagine them from that perspective? If so, to what purpose?

I can understand that everything is ultimately energy but saying that this puts any two beings in some particular relationship other than random happenstance is like saying that everything in the ocean ultimately swims in water. It's kind of meaningless in terms of connecting, say, two sea creatures thousands of miles apart in any way that matters to the existence of either creature. Nor does it explain the subjective experience of being either creature. Nor does it point to a common higher reality for both other than the obvious fact that they are both water-breathers and the trivial fact that they might just possibly at some point breathe some of the same molecules of water at different times. To me this is all "so-what" information, not "ah-ha I get it" information.
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Old 04-25-2013, 01:36 PM
 
Location: Lower east side of Toronto
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These are a very big batch of lengthy posts. Typical for this kind of thread. We could have these little digital talks for a 100 years and nothing will be agreed upon or resolved...have fun - but remember all of you will tire and bail out of this useless one up man ship.
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Old 04-25-2013, 01:44 PM
 
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we have been arguing about the validity of the religious claims for 300 years plus, atoms for 2,500 years and evolution for 200 years. Qualia is relatively new.
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Old 04-25-2013, 02:18 PM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Oleg Bach View Post
These are a very big batch of lengthy posts. Typical for this kind of thread. We could have these little digital talks for a 100 years and nothing will be agreed upon or resolved...have fun - but remember all of you will tire and bail out of this useless one up man ship.
To be honest, out of all the many things I fail to understand in this thread, this is the most incomprehensible to me. Just because we cannot arrive at the one true universal answer, or even agree if such an answer exists doesn't make the exercise of thinking about and discussing such ideas useless or futile. I still don't understand why qualia are special, what makes them different form any other abstract idea, but it has provoked me to think. I guess I find that the most important part of the discussion. If I have had to think, to reason, and to stretch my understanding, if GaylenWoof has had to wrack his brain for vocabulary to communicate his ideas, then regardless of how the conversation ends up, it has done both of us some good.

Some of the snark and impatience in the thread may not be so helpful, but some amount of it is part and parcel of this process. Better to wade through it and really make our minds work, than to just ignore it and metaphorically stuck our fingers in our ears.
-NoCapo
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Old 04-25-2013, 06:18 PM
 
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Well said, Capo. I am sure the heated exchanges are more to do with frustration at the difficulty of communicating ideas through the somewhat makeshift medium of language rather than any personal animosity towards the erudite philosophers who are spending their valuable time trying to bring laybods like me up to speed in this difficult but interesting and potentially important subject.
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