• SUPPORT THE SHOW AND ENJOY A PREMIUM PARACAST EXPERIENCE! Welcome to The Paracast+! For a low subscription fee, you will receive access to an ad-free version of The Paracast, the exclusive After The Paracast podcast, featuring color commentary, exclusive interviews, plus show transcripts, the new Paracast+ Video Channel, Classic Episodes and Special Features categories! We now offer lifetime memberships! You can subscribe via this direct link:
    https://www.theparacast.com/plus/

    The Official Paracast Store is back! Check out our latest lineup of customized stuff at: The Official Paracast Store!

    Subscribe to The Paracast Newsletter!

Consciousness and the Paranormal — Part 12


marduk

quelling chaos since 2352BC
Again, there are different interpretations of the word "physical". So it's not that there is necessarily a problem articulating what "physical" means within each respective context. Rather, it's been my experience that when discussing it, people tend to skip that part, which can result in assumptions that are different between participants because they are each starting with a different premise.
Exactly. To be clear the definition of physical I am using is:
I think you need to understand that what you refer to in the cited text as a 'paradox' is indeed not a paradox,
I was referring to this:
This simple distinction would seem to resolve the apparent paradox according to which humans are both part of nature and estranged from it

though it is a more complex idea than you have apparently ever entertained.
Lol.

Allow me to express a caution: 'scientists', engineers, and 'technologists' should not be let loose upon the world we live in and struggle to understand without having studied modern philosophy as prerequisite to their receiving their degrees.
Again, lol. Why do you assume I haven't?

You immediately go to personal attacks like it's some kind of argument, when all it does
 

marduk

quelling chaos since 2352BC
Only for someone who adopts the same presuppositions you have accepted and propagate.
I have made assertions and the logic for my assertions. I struggle to see where you've done the same.

Attack my logic as you see fit, we both win that way.


Phenomenology is not a dualistic philosophy. Understood, it overcomes the errors of Cartesian dualism, which seem to continue to vex many scientists, particularly in the so-called 'hard' sciences. A grounding in phenomenological philosophy has, however, enabled many theorists in the 'hard' sciences to recognize the hardest problem: the hard problem of consciousness.
When did I say it was? What I was asserting is that there is only the physical universe, and everything you are and you think you are is part of that, including the thing thinking right now.

I'm also an empiricist by nature, so if you're calling yourself a phenomenologist, then we have at least something somewhat in common.

Do you experience yourself as a 'noun' then, @marduk? I experience myself as a verb in both transitive and intransitive states.
Huh? You asked what I meant by mind. That's the definition of mind, and what I meant.
 

marduk

quelling chaos since 2352BC
You agree that the future and past do not physically exist... ok... (ignoring QM) and that time's arrow is a thing. In this physical realm of non existing and existing things you have no room for the idea that a mind might be a physical thing one moment and a non-physical thing the next - Popping out of existence, like the present from the past, and then evaporating in a puff of smoke into the non existent future?
Say what? What would your mind be if it's not physical?

FYI entropy is a concept. It doesn't actually exist. To claim that informaiton exists (like some pervasive ether) on the basis that entropy exists is like saying that pig wings must exist because of flying pigs. It's like numbers... They help us model the world, but they don't exist. So... information does not exist.
Again, provably incorrect.

You can try to prove me wrong, of course. Take a broken egg, and put it back together. Move a room's air into thermal disequilibrium while using no energy to do so. Become younger just because you decided to do so.

Entropy is measurable. It's one of the founding bits of architecture of the universe. You know, laws of thermodynamics and all that. Entropy is one way of measuring the information in a system. Therefore, information also exists.
 

Constance

Paranormal Adept
You agree that the future and past do not physically exist... ok... (ignoring QM) and that time's arrow is a thing. In this physical realm of non existing and existing things you have no room for the idea that a mind might be a physical thing one moment and a non-physical thing the next - Popping out of existence, like the present from the past, and then evaporating in a puff of smoke into the non existent future?

FYI entropy is a concept. It doesn't actually exist. To claim that informaiton exists (like some pervasive ether) on the basis that entropy exists is like saying that pig wings must exist because of flying pigs. It's like numbers... They help us model the world, but they don't exist. So... information does not exist.
I agree. We, our species like any locally evolved species of 'intelligent' life, is relegated by nature in its temporally unfolding expressions to a position in a hermeneutic circle of interpretation concerning the nature of 'reality'/'what is' based on that which we 'understand' at the moment and on the background of what our species' thinkers and scientists have settled on as adequate interpretation in the past. Historically, our concepts and conceptualizations fall away repeatedly as we learn more about the 'world' in which we have our actual and temporally bounded existence. Heidegger's writings enable us to see where we enter this hermeneutic circle of interpretation, and how we are unable to escape it in the space and time of our own being and thinking.

The scientific effort in our time to define the nature of 'what-is' in Being as a whole in terms of fixed concepts (indeed assumptions and presuppositions we historically take up and discard) such as 'information' and 'entropy' is an effort to support a wholly objectivized description of the world from a point beyond the world, outside of the world, which is beyond our capacities for knowledge and understanding of what-is. Phenomenological philosophy in general has been an attempt to call our attention to the actual nature of what we experience existentially, and to postulate what we can from that basis concerning the nature of Being as a whole.
 
Last edited:

Pharoah

Paranormal Adept
Say what? What would your mind be if it's not physical?


Again, provably incorrect.

You can try to prove me wrong, of course. Take a broken egg, and put it back together. Move a room's air into thermal disequilibrium while using no energy to do so. Become younger just because you decided to do so.

Entropy is measurable. It's one of the founding bits of architecture of the universe. You know, laws of thermodynamics and all that. Entropy is one way of measuring the information in a system. Therefore, information also exists.
When you say entropy is measurable, what you mean is that scientists can assign to a system a numerical value and that that value can facilitate the concept of a system's entropic value. That doesn't mean entropy exists anymore than that the number exists. It's just an idea!... like God is an idea.
 

smcder

Paranormal Adept
When you say entropy is measurable, what you mean is that scientists can assign to a system a numerical value and that that value can facilitate the concept of a system's entropic value. That doesn't mean entropy exists anymore than that the number exists. It's just an idea!... like God is an idea.
I'm cringing...but I'll wait and see where you're going with this...

P.S. (hurry up!!) :)
 

smcder

Paranormal Adept
What features are non-emergent? don't know
Time's influence? Suspect comment by me...
@smcder you understand fully what I mean of kinds of mind etc...
I will add, that physics states that there are kinds of matter, say, atoms of hydrogen are of a kind. Physics does not distinguish one from another except through the function of spatiotemporal occupancy, ie, they are identicwl except for the fact that they occupy different spatial and temporal locations. Minds are of a kind but are located in different spatiotemporal locations, and different esperiential 'locations'. Although physics might facilitate a satisfactory model for these facts in kind, it doesnot drill down to specifics
"you understand fully what I mean of kinds of mind etc..." I do?

"Minds are of a kind but are located in different spatiotemporal locations, and different esperiential 'locations'. Although physics might facilitate a satisfactory model for these facts in kind, it does not drill down to specifics."

Biological theories of personality and subjective experience do drill down to specifics.

1. Physics cannot account for my individuality - doesn't seem to follow from 2. physics distinguishes between electrons only spatio-temporally

The objective/subjective divide that Nagel points to seems to me a better argument against the (in principle) complete physicalist account of the universe, though he didn't draw that conclusion at the time.

Perhaps that's the argument you are making: that a physicalist account is incomplete because it cannot account for subjective experience?

But I hope not.
 

smcder

Paranormal Adept
I didn't mean for us to return to WAIMANSE. I was meaning trying to point out that physicalism has a problem in articulating what it deems to be physical, existing, having physical influence...
physical features seem to emerge... physical explanation tends to entail inventing concepts to validate itself... physicalism looks to generalisations, to unify complexity through identifying nifying principles.
That fact that I am me is a fact that cannot be clarified with general rules or principles. It doesn't matter if I say that if I were someone else I would address this issue in exactly the same way, or if I come up with a physical explanation for the existence of mind. I am still the unique example of such kind and physicalism must be radically different to, or wrong, to provide an adequate account
"or if I come up with a physical explanation for the existence of mind."

Wouldn't a physical explanation of mind account for subjectivity?

A counter argument to your argument above is that the fact that you are you is not a fact to be clarified with general rules or principles...or at all, because it is not a contingent fact. You are the unique example of such kind, I am the unique example...everyone is. Were it not so or if you could have been someone else, then that would need ...clarification ... at the least! :)

Another way is to ask exactly what an adequate account would account for?

Fill in the blank: we would know we have an adequate account when...
 

Pharoah

Paranormal Adept
I'm cringing...but I'll wait and see where you're going with this...

P.S. (hurry up!!) :)
lol. I am merely trying to get @marduk to question his beliefs and assumptions about the nature of physical explanation and the limitations of the physicalist doctrine. I basically pursue physicalist answers to things, but I recognise limitations and question orthodoxy. To claim information exists illustrates the absurdity of blind physicalism ... I suggest it is no less so than claiming God exists.
@marduk Remember "ether"? Well, information is your ether.
@smcder Your recent responses to my comments... I am currently trying to decipher what you are saying exactly..
 
Last edited:

USI Calgary

J. Randall Murphy
Staff member
Phenomenological philosophy in general has been an attempt to call our attention to the actual nature of what we experience existentially, and to postulate what we can from that basis concerning the nature of Being as a whole.
I suppose that statement depends on what one means by "actual" and "nature" and "Being as a whole". For example given that we accept the premise ( as noted here ) that phenomenology and existentialism are both concerned with subjective experience, discarding the rest, how can they in any way substantiate the position that they have anything to say about "Being as a whole"? The only way I see that being possible is by arbitrarily denying the evidence for the existence of anything but one's self, which takes us back to subjective idealism, which IMO is pure nonsense.
 

Pharoah

Paranormal Adept
"you understand fully what I mean of kinds of mind etc..." I do?

"Minds are of a kind but are located in different spatiotemporal locations, and different esperiential 'locations'. Although physics might facilitate a satisfactory model for these facts in kind, it does not drill down to specifics."

Biological theories of personality and subjective experience do drill down to specifics.

1. Physics cannot account for my individuality - doesn't seem to follow from 2. physics distinguishes between electrons only spatio-temporally

The objective/subjective divide that Nagel points to seems to me a better argument against the (in principle) complete physicalist account of the universe, though he didn't draw that conclusion at the time.

Perhaps that's the argument you are making: that a physicalist account is incomplete because it cannot account for subjective experience?

But I hope not.
Ok... no you don't. ha ha ha.
Nagel paraphrased:
You can potentially explain subjectivity in objective terms. In doing so, your explanation would be a view from nowhere i.e., it would be a general explanation of why objectivity leads to subjectivity. It would bridge the gap between objctivity and subjectivity.
But... and this is the important point and is why his book's title is 'A View from Nowhere', it would not explain 'The view from somewhere'. WIAMANSE in some ways does, and in some ways does not express the nature of the view from somewhere. Yes, whatever view you have, will be your 'view from somewhere' and if you were someone else, that would still constitute your 'view from somewhere'. But your view, nonetheless, is your view and not another's and there is no getting round that. I have been arguing that the physicalist paradigm cannot address this because physics is about generalised principles... even when and if those general principles do uncover the answer as to why there are subjective views of the world. Physicalism cannot account for my view from where it is, therefore, I will not kneel to it as religiously as @marduk does.
 

USI Calgary

J. Randall Murphy
Staff member
To claim information exists illustrates the absurdity of blind physicalism ... I suggest it is no less so than claiming God exists.
Information and gods can both exist as subjective experiences of material things or of subjective experiences alone. Either way they both exist. Whether that makes physicalism absurd depends on what flavor of physicalism you choose. There doesn't appear to be any justification for assuming any one version is the only one that is philosophically valid.
 

Pharoah

Paranormal Adept
Information and gods can both exist as subjective experiences of material things or of subjective experiences alone. Either way they both exist. Whether that makes physicalism absurd depends on what flavor of physicalism you choose. There doesn't appear to be any justification for assuming any one version is the only one that is philosophically valid.
Well, saying information exists as subjective experiences of material things is a completely different claim. To that claim you are ascribing to information a semantic status; you are saying that a view of the world can be deemed to be informational in virtue of an individual's experiences having meaning. As such, the information exists in the eye of the beholder as a meaningful interpretation of the world. But, from this stance, it is incorrect to then ascribe to the world the status of being made up of 'bits of information' in virtue of your informed view that the world actually is as it appears to be. To do this is to claim that you have found Hume's secret connexion:
"We learn the influence of our will from experience alone. And experience only teaches us, how one event constantly follows another; without instructing us in the secret connexion, which binds them together, and renders them inseparable."
information is not the secret connexion.
 

USI Calgary

J. Randall Murphy
Staff member
Physicalism cannot account for my view from where it is, therefore, I will not kneel to it as religiously as @marduk does.
Logically, if a physicalist view accounts for the existence of any given subjective view, then all individual views must be included in the set. Therefore, logically, your view ( as well as mine ) would also be "accounted for" whether we happen to agree with it or not.
 

USI Calgary

J. Randall Murphy
Staff member
Well, saying information exists as subjective experiences of material things is a completely different claim.
The claim was that, "claiming information exists reveals the absurdity of physicalism." That implies that if information exists, then physicalism is absurd. I simply pointed out that information can exist as a combination of the subjective and material or of the subjective alone, therefore either way it exists, and therefore if one's particular physicalist model can account for that, then there wouldn't be anything absurd about it. And if I understand the view @marduk takes correctly, I don't see a problem with it.

Specifically his claim appears to be based on the axiom that non-physical things cannot affect physical things, and therefore if we accept that consciousness affects the behavior of the body, then both consciousness and the body must be physical, even if we don't yet know what all the physical components are and exactly how they interact.

This seems to amount to an acknowledgement that there exists a "secret connexion" without knowing exactly how it works rather than actually "finding it" ( explaining it ). However someday perhaps that secret will be known. After all, if there is indeed a secret, then it must be knowable. So if I have Marduk's view right, it provides a direction for further inquiry that has promise for practical application.

Aside from the ethical questions of creating a new consciousness ( that's a whole other can of worms ), I don't think research along those lines should be discouraged. There seems to be a good chance that the relationships between the materials of the body and the emergence of consciousness can be identified and used to help people with related problems.

I'd even go so far as to suggest that at some point in the future these relationships will be understood as well as the relationships between conductive materials, electricity, and magnetism. The danger IMO is in assuming that there isn't such a connection, and that a sufficient number of cogs, wheels, and logic gates that behave in a way that is indistinguishable from a conscious being must also be conscious. Passing the Turing test is not sufficient.
 
Last edited:

Pharoah

Paranormal Adept
Logically, if a physicalist view accounts for the existence of any given subjective view, then all individual views must be included in the set. Therefore, logically, your view would also be "accounted for" whether you happen to agree with it or not.
yes it would account for the fact of individual views and for the fact that my view is individual, but it would not account for my individual view.
From my perspective, all other views are unique and are of a kind for being unique views. I can deduce that I too am one of such kind. But my view, though being an example of one of such kind for being unique, is different still... for being mine. No explanation behind the uniqueness of the views of the members that make this set can account for this. I am one of a set, but unique in an extended way. I suggest that physicalism cannot succeed in explaining the distinction
 

Pharoah

Paranormal Adept
The claim was that, "claiming information exists reveals the absurdity of physicalism." That implies that if information exists, then physicalism is absurd. I simply pointed out that information can exist as a combination of the subjective and material or of the subjective alone, therefore either way it exists, and therefore if one's particular physicalist model can account for that, then there wouldn't be anything absurd about it. And if I understand the view @marduk takes correctly, I don't see a problem with it.

Specifically his claim appears to be based on the axiom that non-physical things cannot affect physical things, and therefore if we accept that consciousness affects the behavior of the body, then both consciousness and the body must be physical, even if we don't yet know what all the physical components are and exactly how they interact.

This seems to amount to an acknowledgement that there exists a "secret connexion" without knowing exactly how it works rather than actually "finding it" ( explaining it ). However someday perhaps that secret will be known. After all, if there is indeed a secret, then it must be knowable. So if I have Marduk's view right, it provides a direction for further inquiry that has promise for practical application.

Aside from the ethical questions of creating a new consciousness ( that's a whole other can of worms ), I don't think research along those lines should be discouraged. There seems to be a good chance that the relationships between the materials of the body and the emergence of consciousness can be identified and used to help people with related problems.

I'd even go so far as to suggest that at some point in the future these relationships will be understood as well as the relationships between conductive materials, electricity, and magnetism. The danger IMO is in assuming that there isn't such a connection, and that a sufficient number of cogs, wheels, and logic gates that behave in a way that is indistinguishable from a conscious being must also be conscious. Passing the Turing test is not sufficient.
i agree on much of what you say here. And ignore my accusations of absurdity...
Information is a useful concept but claiming that it exists independently of the observer—informatinal realism—doesn't have much going for it and just does not respond well to close scrutiny..
 

USI Calgary

J. Randall Murphy
Staff member
yes it would account for the fact of individual views and for the fact that my view is individual, but it would not account for my individual view.
Logically if any view ( physicalism or some other model ) can account for all views, then it is hypothetically possible that there could be only one such view in the set, and that it could be your view, in which case, it would account for your view. This means that the number of views that are accounted for isn't relevant to the issue. One or many. It makes no difference.
From my perspective, all other views are unique and are of a kind for being unique views. I can deduce that I too am one of such kind. But my view, though being an example of one of such kind for being unique, is different still... for being mine. No explanation behind the uniqueness of the views of the members that make this set can account for this. I am one of a set, but unique in an extended way. I suggest that physicalism cannot succeed in explaining the distinction
I would say that the distinction isn't relevant to the issue of "accounting" for the mind as a physical phenomenon. I would only agree that the external world is separated from one's subjective experience, and therefore they cannot be one in the same from a contextual perspective. However those who are of the view that the only things that exist are subjective experiences would argue otherwise.
 

USI Calgary

J. Randall Murphy
Staff member
i agree on much of what you say here. And ignore my accusations of absurdity...
Information is a useful concept but claiming that it exists independently of the observer—informatinal realism—doesn't have much going for it and just does not respond well to close scrutiny..
That seems perfectly logical. That is why I said previously that information could exist in material and conceptual form ( e.g. a symbol carved into a rock that is observed by someone who assigns it meaning ). But in the absence of an observer to assign it meaning as information, I can't see how a mere rock carving qualifies as information.

In this respect, I also agree on you analogy with God. A thing ( anything ) is only divine because it has been deified, and the the only way for that to happen is for some devotee to ascribe it that status. In the absence of such a devotee there can be no God, whether it's a statue, a star, or a universe creator. Well I suppose a universe creator could deify itself, but your point remains intact ( if I interpreted it right ).
 

Top