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Source: (consider it) Thread: The Neuroscience of Belief in God :)
itsarumdo
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quote:
Originally posted by IngoB:
quote:
Originally posted by OliviaCA:
First person data is frequently very unreliable, even when many people swear to it: eg. just because thousands of people believe in homeopathy doesn't mean it works in any way other than as placebo.

Once more then, with feeling: there is nothing in all of science, knowledge, wisdom and intuition that is more reliable than the experience of self. All else can be doubted, but to doubt this is simply self-contradictory (in a double meaning of the word). Furthermore, this experience is perfectly objective, affirmed a billionfold this very second by independent observations that can be shared freely and are understood easily. To compare this with false theories like homeopathy is a category error. The self is not theory, it's data. Data that eliminative materialism cannot explain. Hence eliminative materialism must be false somehow.
I'd add that - if first person data is unreliable, how do you verify that the dials and meters and digital output being read by the operator are not being mis-read? So this reduces to machines having a "perfect" view of the world, but humans being incapable of even reading their machines properly. OK - so then we huddle in a corner and everyone compares notes and the common denominator is considered "truth". This is an attempt to impose an idealised scientific method onto the whole of human experience. What about the red-blind person who does see a real pattern in subtle shades of green? The consensus is that he is crazy. There are a gazillion other ways that individual experience deviates from the "norm" and is still valid.

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"Iti sapis potanda tinone" Lycophron

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OliviaCA
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quote:
Originally posted by Jack o' the Green:
That wasn't what I asked. Much of what you describe in this post is bog standard neurological and psychological development. However, it fails to address the distinction between the intrinsic and secondary properties of consciousness.

I have no idea how much anyone here understands of neuroscience and psychology; it seems to vary immensely. What is your question ( if it isn't, as I understood it to be, about early infant modeling of "self" etc )? :? [Smile]

quote:
So if there isn't an "I", how can there be an I which wants to identity with the I which doesn't exist? ... The question is how we can meaningfully talk about it, and cogently justify describing it in a particular way.
Ref. "an "I" wanting to identify with ..." etc: Noted; I should not make light-hearted/somewhat flippant remarks even at the end of a post.

Ref. "meaningfully talking about it": I don't understand what it is you don't understand in my previous explanations. You will have to be more precise.

I agree that it appears to be incredibly difficult to arrive at a clear set of terms to use to discuss the subject.

quote:
My experience of my own existence is an intrinsic experience, utterly different in principle to my memories, emotions, ability to recognise faces, ... [ etc ] . Secondly, your jump from general neuroscience to something else without any evidence or cogent philosophical reasoning.
"Experience of my own existence" is what our brain reads the combination of the model of itself and of its attention processes as when you are paying attention to yourself. ie. the object in the "sentence"/series of models is different to when you are concentrating on/"aware of" your memories, etc

By the "jump from general neuroscience to something else" do you mean from Graziano's neuroscientific explanation for/theory of consciousness/conscious self experience ( ie. his "attention model/schema theory" ) to my own extrapolations re. a "real self", this understanding present in Genesis and the Gospels, and rational reasons for belief in God etc? Or some other jump?

[ 23. May 2015, 09:48: Message edited by: OliviaCA ]

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OliviaCA
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quote:
Originally posted by itsarumdo:
There are a gazillion ways that individual experience deviates from the "norm" and is still valid.

Yes, ( valid ) but only so long as the models work/function/are fruitful. That is the final measure of a model, its fruit.
.

[ 23. May 2015, 09:55: Message edited by: OliviaCA ]

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Jack o' the Green
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quote:
Originally posted by OliviaCA:
quote:
Originally posted by Jack o' the Green:
That wasn't what I asked. Much of what you describe in this post is bog standard neurological and psychological development. However, it fails to address the distinction between the intrinsic and secondary properties of consciousness.

I have no idea how much anyone here understands of neuroscience and psychology; it seems to vary immensely. What is your question ( if it isn't, as I understood it to be, about early infant modeling of "self" etc )?


Simply, is a baby aware of its own existence albeit in a rudimentary undifferentiated way?


quote:
"Experience of my own existence" is what our brain reads the combination of the model of itself and of its attention processes as when you are paying attention to yourself. ie. the object in the "sentence"/series of models is different to when you are concentrating on/"aware of" your memories, etc


There may be times when I am more focused on my inner world e.g. emotions, daydreams, memories etc, but even when I am utterly focued on the outside world, I am still conscious (ie still aware of my own existence). If I weren't, I wouldn't be aware of an external world.

quote:
By the "jump from general neuroscience to something else" do you mean from Graziano's neuroscientific explanation for/theory of consciousness/conscious self experience ( ie. his "attention model/schema theory" ) to my own extrapolations re. a "real self", this understanding present in Genesis and the Gospels, and rational reasons for belief in God etc? Or some other jump?
Yes, that. Not that I regard Graziano's theories to be remotely coherent though. I think you put the modeling cart before the consciousness horse. For an entity to experience hallucinations, memories, true perceptions, misperceptions etc it must first experience itself. My brain certainly does create models. However,to say again, whatever my brain is modelling, or how it is using the information it is receiving, I can't be wrong about existing, because I am aware that I exist. The thing perceiving and the thing perceived are identical. It isn't a secondary experience or perception like my memories of going shopping this morning or looking at the chair opposite as I type this, but utterly fundamental to what consciousness is.
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OliviaCA
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quote:
Originally posted by IngoB:
There is nothing ... that is more reliable than the experience of self. ...To doubt this is simply self-contradictory. ... This experience is perfectly objective ... . ... The self is ... data ...

This "self" you refer to, and "conscious self experience", is a description in your brain, a model or simulation, saying/"spelling out" "IngoB is aware of x, y or z", which the brain cannot help inevitably/almost irresistibly "believing in".

"Your experience" is the result of your brain, ( part of it anyway ), attributing a model of attention, "awareness"/experience, to a model of itself. Data, as you said yourself. [Smile]

The only objective thing about it ( normally ) is that people talk about it, write about it, refer to it, claim that they have it, etc.

Something real is happening in the brain to make that happen, but there is no objective evidence for the real nature of that thing, nothing that explains it as efficiently and completely and predictively as Graziano's "attention model of consciousness".

Nothing else can be objectively discerned/established about it, other than that it can be/often is altered/disturbed by certain head injuries, disorders/illnesses etc, ie. under abnormal conditions.
.

[ 23. May 2015, 12:18: Message edited by: OliviaCA ]

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OliviaCA
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PS. When I say ( above ) "believing in": think "processing as "truth"/as "real"".
.

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Porridge
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OK, bottom line: theories are usually developed in an effort to explain something.

What does this theory explain, or what apparent problem does it potentially solve?

Many posters here are operating on the premise that we have actual selves, which pay authentic attention, and accumulate genuine experience (granted, through assorted mental filters and interpretations -- no one here is arguing that all our perceptions are, or can be, objectively "accurate," whatever that might mean).

How would we better off assuming that these selves, processes, and data are all illusory? What problem will we have solved?

--------------------
Spiggott: Everything I've ever told you is a lie, including that.
Moon: Including what?
Spiggott: That everything I've ever told you is a lie.
Moon: That's not true!

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OliviaCA
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quote:
Originally posted by Porridge:
OK, bottom line: theories are usually developed in an effort to explain something.

What does this theory explain, or what apparent problem does it potentially solve?

Many posters here are operating on the premise that we have actual selves, which pay authentic attention, and accumulate genuine experience.

How would we better off assuming that these selves, processes, and data are all illusory? What problem will we have solved?

We do have actual selves, "real selves", they are just not where we tend to think they are, and that authentic self pays real attention to real things, and gathers data about authentic things and events.

From my own experience I think that one important positive effect of Graziano's theory might be changing the quality of the "conscious self experience" with respect to the world ( the model one ) that we seem to live in, because believing that it is created makes me appreciate it more than when I think that it is "just there". It feels very different, suffused with life, joy, etc , whenever I happen to remember that it is made/built/created. It's like a sort of wow factor at the smallest most banal surroundings etc.

And perhaps it might help with social interaction too, maybe, if more people generally were aware that what they "see" of other people is a model, built by themselves/their real selves, therefore somehow part of themselves, and perhaps also not a very good model either ... It certainly helped me when I stopped believing in free will and realised that everyone is doing what they are programmed to do, like me, the people doing badly and the people doing well, alike; that there was no reason to look up to or envy anyone nor to look down on and feel contempt for anyone either ...

And it might perhaps help people achieve greater detachment, more calm, worry less, etc, to know that their real self is the one handling things; we're just taking part in/acting in the "attention-modeling bit" of things. All the things that the Gospels talk about really, [Smile] about the lilies of the field that toil not, nor spin, and don't worry about how to clothe themselves, and also about the tiny sparrow that falls; we are being watched at all times, cared about by our real self, monitoring its attention processes, needing our "acting".

Basically I'm saying that this theory is actually the modern translation of the Gospels, ( and early Genesis ), for those with eyes to see! [Biased] ie. there's a chance that lots of good things could come of it.
[Smile]

[ 23. May 2015, 13:48: Message edited by: OliviaCA ]

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OliviaCA
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PS. And that's not including the possible cures for/treatments of disabling mental/neurological disorders that it might enable, and the extra time lots of scientists and philosophers will have to think about something other than the so called "hard problem of consciousness" from now on. [Smile]

[ 23. May 2015, 13:52: Message edited by: OliviaCA ]

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Jack o' the Green
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quote:
Originally posted by OliviaCA:
We do have actual selves, "real selves", they are just not where we tend to think they are, and that authentic self pays real attention to real things, and gathers data about authentic things and events.

But there is a problem here. If I am being 'fooled' into thinking that I am an aware self, with an inherent, primary property of awareness which can't be false, how does your 'true self' know that it isn't being similarly fooled? Your position creates an inescapable epistemological problem.
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OliviaCA
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quote:
Originally posted by Jack o' the Green:
If I am being 'fooled' into thinking that I am an aware self, with an inherent, primary property of awareness ... how does your 'true self' know that it isn't being similarly fooled? Your position creates an inescapable epistemological problem.

I have no idea what my "real self's" experience is like. It is almost unimaginably vast and infinitely more complex than my little "me"/"conscious self experience". It is, to this combined model of "me" and "awareness" ( "conscious self experience" ) omniscient, omnipresent, omnipotent, indescribable, God basically.

I don't understand what you mean about there being an "epistemological problem". :?
[Smile]

[ 23. May 2015, 14:17: Message edited by: OliviaCA ]

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Jack o' the Green
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By epistomological problem, i.e. a problem regarding how we can be said to know things, I was summing up the previous part of the post.
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mousethief

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I'm late to this discussion, but if I have no access to this "real self," how do I know it's there?

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OliviaCA
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quote:
Originally posted by mousethief:
I'm late to this discussion, but if I have no access to this "real self," how do I know it's there?

My experience is that you know as soon as you accept/grasp/believe that your "conscious self experience" is a model, a representation of "self" and "attention processes", being run by a small part of the brain.

In other words as soon as realise that "conscious self experience" "is" Jesus; born in a humble corner of things; not as powerful or central as are taught/encouraged to think; "killed off" periodically by new data, sometimes very painfully, before being born again in new form/model which incorporates that fresh data, and a representative of a greater infinitely more complex almost unknowable "being"/"real self"; etc.

As soon as I understood that the "conscious self experience" is "programming", running, like a recording, or a statement ( a string/series of models ) which the brain "has" to read as "Olivia is aware of x, y z" ... and thus it is "true", ( like "let there be light" etc ), then it follows, surely? [Smile] that this programming is "produced" or created by something far greater, but which is still somehow "me", if I am its representative ...

In scientific terms my model "me"/conscious-self-experience is created by part of the brain, the temporo-parietal junction, etc, but to the "me"/"conscious self experience", ( which is a program inside a small part of the far larger and infinitely more complex brain, and the body connected with it/that it is part of, and the environment acting on that ) ... that "being" creating/giving rise to "me" is my "real self" and God all at once.

That is how I know, and probably has a lot to do with the fact that I have been believing in God on and off for 7 years now, and haven't believed in free will for nearly as long. The combination of Graziano's theory and my belief in God just "sang" together, made total and perfect sense. [Smile]
.

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Jack o' the Green
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"The Gospel According to Eliminative Materialism"?

On a more serious note, your position regarding consciousness, freewill and our true selves being elsewhere seems an abrogation of ethical and existential responsibility, a denial of being able to truly live and experience in this life. It seems to almost fall into the category of a psychological defence mechanism to avoid feeling or acknowledge the significance or reality of feelings, our moral choices, failings and vulnerabilities.

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itsarumdo
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Olivia - To repeat an earlier post, What is the difference between "Spirit" (which in a body is called a soul) and what you are calling your "real self"? It seems the qualities, attributes, capabilities are similar.

--------------------
"Iti sapis potanda tinone" Lycophron

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OliviaCA
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quote:
Originally posted by itsarumdo:
What is the difference between "Spirit" (which in a body is called a soul) and what you are calling your "real self"? It seems the qualities, attributes, capabilities are similar.

My "real self" is made up of particles, waves, energy; it is totally physical.

What makes you say that it seems similar to the traditional/conventional concept of spirit or souls?
.

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mousethief

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quote:
Originally posted by OliviaCA:
My experience is that you know as soon as you accept/grasp/believe that your "conscious self experience" is a model, a representation of "self" and "attention processes", being run by a small part of the brain.

In other words as soon as realise that "conscious self experience" "is" Jesus; born in a humble corner of things; not as powerful or central as are taught/encouraged to think; "killed off" periodically by new data, sometimes very painfully, before being born again in new form/model which incorporates that fresh data, and a representative of a greater infinitely more complex almost unknowable "being"/"real self"; etc.

So it sounds like this "knowledge" is theoretical. If you accept this theory as an axiom, then you "know" the theorems that follow from it. Head knowledge, not experience, as the kids say.

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This is the last sig I'll ever write for you...

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OliviaCA
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quote:
Originally posted by Jack o' the Green:
... Your position regarding consciousness, [ lack of ] freewill, and our true selves being elsewhere seems an abrogation of ethical and existential responsibility, a denial of being able to truly live and experience in this life. It seems to almost fall into the category of a psychological defence mechanism to avoid feeling or acknowledge the significance or reality of feelings, our moral choices, failings and vulnerabilities.

Obviously I don't agree with you. [Smile]

Would you like to explain why it seems like that to you?
.

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Jack o' the Green
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So if your true self is also physical, it could also be deceived into falsehoods like those of us who think of ourselves as experiencers, since its selfhood is also dictated by the state of its physical composition and structure as ours is.
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OliviaCA
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quote:
Originally posted by mousethief:
So it sounds like this "knowledge" is theoretical. If you accept this theory as an axiom, then you "know" the theorems that follow from it. Head knowledge, not experience, as the kids say.

I think it's both actually. The two of them meeting. [Smile] That's what it feels like anyway.
.

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Jack o' the Green
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quote:
Originally posted by OliviaCA:
quote:
Originally posted by Jack o' the Green:
... Your position regarding consciousness, [ lack of ] freewill, and our true selves being elsewhere seems an abrogation of ethical and existential responsibility, a denial of being able to truly live and experience in this life. It seems to almost fall into the category of a psychological defence mechanism to avoid feeling or acknowledge the significance or reality of feelings, our moral choices, failings and vulnerabilities.

Obviously I don't agree with you. [Smile]

Would you like to explain why it seems like that to you?
.

No freewill negates any moral responsibility either for yourself or others. Our feelings of moral revulsion, empathy, appreciation of beauty lose any real significance since they aren't encounters with anything real. They're simply our brains playing a program or presenting us with models we have no control over - falsehoods rather than truth. If our sense of being conscious isn't to be trusted, then how can anything else we perceive?
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Boogie

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quote:
Originally posted by OliviaCA:
My "real self" is made up of particles, waves, energy; it is totally physical.

What makes you say that it seems similar to the traditional/conventional concept of spirit or souls?

Show me a photo.

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OliviaCA
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quote:
Originally posted by Jack o' the Green:
So if your true self is also physical, it could also be deceived into falsehoods like those of us who think of ourselves as experiencers, since its selfhood is also dictated by the state of its physical composition and structure as ours is.

I think "falsehoods" belong to the model world, are artefacts of the model world, a product of the simplifying/modeling "mechanics" and/or aka a "social construct". I don't think that "falsehood" exists in the kingdom of heaven of waves, particles, energy etc.
.

[ 23. May 2015, 17:42: Message edited by: OliviaCA ]

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Jack o' the Green
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quote:
Originally posted by OliviaCA:
quote:
Originally posted by mousethief:
So it sounds like this "knowledge" is theoretical. If you accept this theory as an axiom, then you "know" the theorems that follow from it. Head knowledge, not experience, as the kids say.

I think it's both actually. The two of them meeting. [Smile] That's what it feels like anyway.
.

Apologies, double post, but related. From what you've said, you have no reason to trust "how it feels". You seem to have developed a self refuting hypothesis.
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Beeswax Altar
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How do you know that?

X-posted with above

[ 23. May 2015, 17:46: Message edited by: Beeswax Altar ]

--------------------
Losing sleep is something you want to avoid, if possible.
-Og: King of Bashan

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OliviaCA
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quote:
Originally posted by Boogie:
Show me a photo.

That would be a representation of a representation, even further away from the real thing.
.

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OliviaCA
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quote:
Originally posted by Jack o' the Green:
From what you've said, you have no reason to trust "how it feels". You seem to have developed a self refuting hypothesis.

Dead right, that's why Graziano's attention model/schema theory of consciousness is so important to me; it is the objective science to support my subjective "conscious self experience"; the two together.
.

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OliviaCA
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quote:
Originally posted by Jack o' the Green:
No freewill negates any moral responsibility either for yourself or others. Our feelings of moral revulsion, empathy, appreciation of beauty lose any real significance since they aren't encounters with anything real. They're simply our brains playing a program or presenting us with models we have no control over - falsehoods rather than truth. If our sense of being conscious isn't to be trusted, then how can anything else we perceive?

Why do you think that not having free will "negates moral responsibility"? It's a common reaction, but always, in my experience, mistaken.

I will have to reply to the rest of your post tomorrow as I don't have more time now/this evening.
.

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Jack o' the Green
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Presumably he wouldn't go with you to the full extent of your ideas, and biblical scholars probably (for very good reasons) wouldn't support your interpretations of scripture, so presumably you are left with your own experiences to bridge that gap. Experiences which are (according to you) are anything but reliable on questions of truth. Like I said, a self refuting hypothesis. You need a model of consciousness which can provide reliable experiences and data - which you don't have.
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Porridge
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quote:
Originally posted by OliviaCA:
quote:
Originally posted by Porridge:
OK, bottom line: theories are usually developed in an effort to explain something.

What does this theory explain, or what apparent problem does it potentially solve?

Many posters here are operating on the premise that we have actual selves, which pay authentic attention, and accumulate genuine experience.

How would we better off assuming that these selves, processes, and data are all illusory? What problem will we have solved?

We do have actual selves, "real selves", they are just not where we tend to think they are, and that authentic self pays real attention to real things, and gathers data about authentic things and events.
Granted that I could have phrased my question with more precision, it seems to me that you fairly often, and perhaps deliberately, misunderstand questions in order to avoid addressing their point.

Surely, by page 4 of this thread, you understand that the majority of posters here, myself included, think that the "self" you have labeled illusory is in fact a real self, and that this is a major point of disagreement between these posters and yourself. So to return to the question which I was actually asking -- a version of one raised by Jack o' the Green on p. 3 -- what problem is solved by positing that the "self" I think of as "real" actually isn't; by positing that the attention I believe I'm paying is illusory; by positing that the "data" I suppose myself to be collecting and labeling as "experience" has no reality?

You have several times referred to selecting the data which "works." The items I've mentioned above have "worked" quite well for me for many years. What advantage do we gain by adopting the notion that this is all a sham which somehow prevents me from knowing my "real self?"

quote:
Originally posted by OliviaCA:
From my own experience I think that one important positive effect of Graziano's theory might be changing the quality of the "conscious self experience" with respect to the world <snip>

As it happens, I've made some study of, and regularly practice, mindfulness meditation. Here and below, what you describe strikes me as very similar to the changes in awareness (both in myself and in others with whom I sometimes practice) that I have noticed as a result of this practice.

While (as I practice) benefits from some small knowledge of very elementary neuroscience, the practice makes no demand that I reject the reality of my "self," my attention, or my experience. Rather, it requires that I attend more carefully and fully to these phenomena, so as to respond more congruence to what is happening here-and-now, as opposed to responding to assumptions I might make about what is happening. Example: I pass a co-worker as each of us, walking in opposite directions, cross the parking lot between our buildings. My coworker, frowning, appears to glance my way and doesn't respond.

I could react to this incident in a variety of ways. Several years ago, before taking up mindfulness meditation, I'd have immediately concluded he was angry with me. I'd have been upset, would have rummaged through my memories of our recent interactions, probably have found a reason for his anger, gone through assorted mental role plays trying to justify whatever I'd said or done, etc. and likely have avoided him.

Now, though, I'd seek him out, ask if something was bothering him, and probably learn that he was feeling poorly or worrying about the budget cuts we face when our paths crossed and had completely failed to see or hear me.

I really don't see how assuming there's some mysterious, all-but-inaccessible "real self" can help in such a situation.

--------------------
Spiggott: Everything I've ever told you is a lie, including that.
Moon: Including what?
Spiggott: That everything I've ever told you is a lie.
Moon: That's not true!

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Jack o' the Green
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quote:
Originally posted by OliviaCA:
quote:
Originally posted by Jack o' the Green:
No freewill negates any moral responsibility either for yourself or others. Our feelings of moral revulsion, empathy, appreciation of beauty lose any real significance since they aren't encounters with anything real. They're simply our brains playing a program or presenting us with models we have no control over - falsehoods rather than truth. If our sense of being conscious isn't to be trusted, then how can anything else we perceive?

Why do you think that not having free will "negates moral responsibility"? It's a common reaction, but always, in my experience, mistaken.

I will have to reply to the rest of your post tomorrow as I don't have more time now/this evening.
.

Because if I have no choice over my actions for good or bad, how can I be held responsible for them? And again, we come back (Or I do!) to the central problem of your idea. How can you rely on your experience to tell you if it is mistaken or not?
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OliviaCA
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quote:
Originally posted by Porridge:
Granted that I could have phrased my question with more precision, it seems to me that you fairly often, and perhaps deliberately, misunderstand questions in order to avoid addressing their point.

:? [Frown] You are mistaken.
quote:
Surely, by page 4 of this thread, you understand that the majority of posters here, myself included, think that the "self" you have labeled illusory is in fact a real self, and that this is a major point of disagreement between these posters and yourself. So to return to the question which I was actually asking ... snip.
Yes, I have understood that by now, ( but have wanted to always make absolutely sure that we are talking about the same thing, after so many misunderstandings right from the start ) ...

... and it is also now very clear that the answer to my question at the start of this thread, ( OP "Does anyone else here see God as ... ? ), is a resounding "No".

I had really hoped to find some people here with whom I could explore the parallels that I have been drawing, and find so fascinating, ( because among other things they suggest that the thinkers responsible for Genesis and the Gospels understood what psychologists and neuroscientists have only just begun to in the last couple of decades ), but unless they are hiding out/on holiday or whatever it appears that there really isn't anyone else here who ... etc.

So, one last time thank you all very much, everyone who has participated in this thread, for your time and energy.

I really appreciated the discussion, but I am off now back to the Naturalists, [Smile] who, among other things, already no longer believe in free will, which I have been realising is probably a rather fundamental step in my thesis.

quote:
I really don't see how assuming there's some mysterious, all-but-inaccessible "real self" can help in such a situation.
I take it that you don't believe in God then?
.

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Jack o' the Green
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I hope you still continue to post on the Ship - either on this thread or on others. The debate on here has been more 'combative' than most in my opinion. Even if you have been unable to find people who agree with your theories, it is still a great place to learn, debate and on other boards, get support.
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mousethief

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I'm sorry you only came here to discuss one thing, and only with people who agree with you. There are so many interesting people here and we discuss so many interesting things.

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This is the last sig I'll ever write for you...

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Porridge
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quote:
Originally posted by OliviaCA:
I take it that you don't believe in God then?
.

As I noted upon entering the thread (p.2), this is a topic on which I'm agnostic. There may be a god; there may be no such entity. I don't know.

At one time, I did believe, and was active in the lay leadership of a "liberal" mainline US Christian congregation.

WRT to other, non-quoted aspects of your post from which the above was quoted, you persist in labeling disagreement as "misunderstanding," despite several posters' assertions that what's happening on this thread is in fact disagreement and not misunderstanding.

It is perfectly possible for people to understand a theory thoroughly (it's my view that several posters on this thread understand and have discussed what you've presented far more thoroughly than I), and still not agree with it. You seem to be laboring under the misapprehension that complete understanding leads automatically to agreement, and/or that disagreement is simply the result of incomplete or mis- understanding. That isn't the case.

I wonder if there's some selective attending going on here. Mindfulness meditation can be helpful in correcting (at least some of) this habit.

[ 24. May 2015, 15:25: Message edited by: Porridge ]

--------------------
Spiggott: Everything I've ever told you is a lie, including that.
Moon: Including what?
Spiggott: That everything I've ever told you is a lie.
Moon: That's not true!

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OliviaCA
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quote:
Originally posted by mousethief:
I'm sorry you only came here to discuss one thing, and only with people who agree with you. There are so many interesting people here and we discuss so many interesting things.

Yes, I'm sure there are, but I'm only interested in discussing this one thing at the moment, ( current "special interest"/obsession ) and I wasn't looking for an argument ( more for a club/association for people into the same things, a bit like a church perhaps ).
.

[ 24. May 2015, 15:38: Message edited by: OliviaCA ]

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Porridge
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quote:
Originally posted by OliviaCA:
quote:
Originally posted by mousethief:
I'm late to this discussion, but if I have no access to this "real self," how do I know it's there?

My experience is that you know as soon as you accept/grasp/believe that your "conscious self experience" is a model, a representation of "self" and "attention processes", being run by a small part of the brain.

Italics added by me.

OliviaCA, can you not see how self-contradictory this statement is? If we (that is, our selves) are not real, and our "experience" is illusory, how can we (or in this case, you) then also trust it to lead to this truth you're claiming?

--------------------
Spiggott: Everything I've ever told you is a lie, including that.
Moon: Including what?
Spiggott: That everything I've ever told you is a lie.
Moon: That's not true!

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Barnabas62
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Lord, I missed this as a result of a spot of shore leave. Maybe I was lucky.

After a very quick and admittedly shallow scan, my intuitive reaction was "Postmodernism is so over".

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Who is it that you seek? How then shall we live? How shall we sing the Lord's song in a strange land?

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Jack o' the Green
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It was frustrating at times (which I suspect shows in one or two of our posts!). However, it did help crystallise a few ideas for me, and I enjoyed it.
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Grokesx
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@ Dafyd
quote:
Either the conscious I is an illusion or it is not an illusion.

Suppose: the conscious I is an illusion. We think there is such a thing, but there isn't.

No, to say the conscious I is an illusion is to say that it is not what it seems to be to human beings. There is something else going on. Dennett says, "Consciousness is an illusion of the brain, for the brain, by the brain." If this is true, no amount of protestation of the primacy of experience makes any difference to anything, they are just Mandy Rice Davies Applies moments.

What your analysis (and others here) boils down to is the problem of the brain/mind whatever analysing its own processes. Denying the conscious I without coming up against self refutation and/or paradoxical statements is a tricky business, but it’s an epistemological matter, not an ontological one. And anyway, with a bit of jiggery pokery with deflationary semantic theories, apparently you can get round the problem, for what it’s worth.

It’s not as if any exploration of the mind/body problem is without its difficulties and there is even a school of thought that treats the whole thing as a conceptual confusion that should just dissolve, since it is a linguistic problem not an actual one. And of course there is McGinn’s idea of cognitive closure, which says the human mind is simply not equipped to deal with the matter at all. Personally I think that’s an overly pessimistic view, but when he says, of free will in this case but it applies equally to other things, “… we try to find some conception of it that permits its existence, but this conception always turns out to be dubiously reductive and distorting, leaving us with the unpalatable options of magic, elimination or quietism... so we hop unhappily from one unsatisfactory option to the next; or dig our heels (squintingly) into a position that seems the least intellectually unconscionable of the bunch,” he pretty much nails what goes on in discussions like this, bar the shouting, posturing and sheer bloody mindedness, naturally, for this is the interwebs.

@IngoB
quote:
There's more than one kind of dualism...
Indeed there is. We have predicate dualism and property dualism, which are both physicalist/materialist ideas. As I said before, I incline towards emergentism, the strong version of which is a property dualist position. If these are not what you have in mind, and given your comments on materialism on this thread and others, I don't see why they would be be, that leaves us with substance dualism - the idea that the mind and body are two different entities and which is compatible with most theologies. As far as I know, modern non goddy versions aren't exactly thick on the ground, one appeals to quantum woo IIRC. So, embroider "woo" or "magic" on the blanket if the fancy takes you.

quote:
Then I reject your (unmodified) analogy. Illusion is disagreement of experience with reality. Consequently, experience as such cannot be an illusion, because that would deny the basis of the definition at the same time as applying it. Your analogy does not match this pattern of self-contradiction, and hence is fundamentally flawed.
I refer you to the reply I made earlier to the honourable Dafyd. Relying on a philosophical point that is not uncontested in the field is not really an answer to my mind.

In my analogy the only difference between a persistent visual illusion like the moon illusion and the claim that consciousness is illusory is that the former is due to the mind/brain making a mistake about an external stimulus and the latter, if true, would be due to the brain making a mistake about its own processes.

quote:
Well, my critique is more that she claims that a third person analysis can somehow undermine the primacy of first person data.
Well if it can't, how could we reject the first person account of say, a delusional person who thinks they are Jesus? And how about the personality states of someone with dissociative identity disorder? Apparently patients with up to 4,500 "alters" have been reported - do we accept the primacy of all those first person experiences in the same body? Or do we allow a third person analysis to undermine them?

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For every complex problem there is an answer that is clear, simple, and wrong. H. L. Mencken

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Dafyd
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quote:
Originally posted by Grokesx:
@ Dafyd
quote:
Either the conscious I is an illusion or it is not an illusion.

Suppose: the conscious I is an illusion. We think there is such a thing, but there isn't.

No, to say the conscious I is an illusion is to say that it is not what it seems to be to human beings. There is something else going on. Dennett says, "Consciousness is an illusion of the brain, for the brain, by the brain."
You talk about the conscious I, and then you quote Dennett talking about consciousness.
Are you making a distinction here between the conscious I and consciousness? Are they the same thing according to you? Or do they seem to be the same thing (but might not be)?

So what you're saying is that there really is a conscious I (just other than what it seems to be)?

quote:
And anyway, with a bit of jiggery pokery with deflationary semantic theories, apparently you can get round the problem, for what it’s worth.
You may be apparently able to get round the problem, but that's an illusion. What's really going on is something else.

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we remain, thanks to original sin, much in love with talking about, rather than with, one another. Rowan Williams

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Porridge
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quote:
Originally posted by Dafyd:
You may be apparently able to get round the problem, but that's an illusion. What's really going on is something else.

[Angel] [Killing me] [Angel]

[code]

[ 25. May 2015, 06:17: Message edited by: Eutychus ]

--------------------
Spiggott: Everything I've ever told you is a lie, including that.
Moon: Including what?
Spiggott: That everything I've ever told you is a lie.
Moon: That's not true!

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Grokesx
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quote:
You may be apparently able to get round the problem, but that's an illusion. What's really going on is something else.
Touche, but as I've said before, I don't have a dog in this fight. I just don't think you or Ingo or anyone else has engaged with what is actually being said. Just wibbling around the conceptual and linguistic problems. Hey ho.

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For every complex problem there is an answer that is clear, simple, and wrong. H. L. Mencken

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Dafyd
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quote:
Originally posted by Grokesx:
quote:
You may be apparently able to get round the problem, but that's an illusion. What's really going on is something else.
Touche, but as I've said before, I don't have a dog in this fight. I just don't think you or Ingo or anyone else has engaged with what is actually being said. Just wibbling around the conceptual and linguistic problems. Hey ho.
Touche? It was a cheap quip. (There was some serious point underneath, but I was tired, and I thought you might actually engage with a cheap quip.)
Anyway, I might very well say the same about you. I don't have a dog in the fight. I don't think you've been actually engaging with what IngoB is saying. Certainly, IngoB hasn't described what is actually being said as 'wibbling around', which suggests that he's engaging more than you are.
In any case: saying something is expressing concepts by linguistic means. So if you take away the conceptual problems and you take away the linguistic problems, what is left to count as what is actually being said?

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we remain, thanks to original sin, much in love with talking about, rather than with, one another. Rowan Williams

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MSHB
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quote:
Originally posted by OliviaCA:
but I'm only interested in discussing this one thing at the moment, ( current "special interest"/obsession ) and I wasn't looking for an argument ( more for a club/association for people into the same things, a bit like a church perhaps ).

Well, if "special interest" is a reference to the autism spectrum - which it is where I come from, - then you will find a number of people here who are also on the spectrum (self included).

That doesn't mean, however, that any Aspies here will necessarily have the same special interest or obsession that you have.

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MSHB: Member of the Shire Hobbit Brigade

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IconiumBound
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There was a faith healer of Dehl
Who said "Although pain isn't real
When I sit in a pin and punctures my skin
I dislike what I fancy I feel,"

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quetzalcoatl
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Reminds me of Zen stories about monks trapped in burning houses, when onlookers enquired how it felt, answer: fucking hot.

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I can't talk to you today; I talked to two people yesterday.

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IngoB

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quote:
Originally posted by Grokesx:
Dennett says, "Consciousness is an illusion of the brain, for the brain, by the brain."

Dennett is an intelligent, educated fool. If you ask how this possibly could be, then the answer is ideology, or if you like, quasi-religion. I really think that there is a practical symmetry here, however much one might protest that HAM (humanist atheist materialism) is theoretically not a faith. HAM is a quasi-religion in the same sense that Stoicism was a quasi-religion. The symmetry is that Dennett presumably would say that I am the intelligent, educated fool (I'm sure about the "fool" bit...) who is blinded by ideology deriving from a quasi-philosophy (Thomistic Christianity). Anyway, arguments from authority on topics like these merely preach to the choir. Quoting Dennett at me hence doesn't impress me in the slightest. I assume a priori that his handling of these delicate matters will be HAM-fisted...

quote:
Originally posted by Grokesx:
What your analysis (and others here) boils down to is the problem of the brain/mind whatever analysing its own processes.

No, exactly not! What we can understand in mechanistic terms (at least speculatively) is precisely how the brain/mind analyses its own processes. That is not the problem. The problem is pretending that that is the same as experience. One more, a task manager is not mysterious to us in the same way as our consciousness and experience. You can really boil it all down to the point that descriptions of self-reference in the brain, however sophisticated (including OliviaCA's quasi-mystical "real self" stuff), do not address the problem posed by the experiential data.

quote:
Originally posted by Grokesx:
Personally I think that’s an overly pessimistic view, but when he says, of free will in this case but it applies equally to other things, “… we try to find some conception of it that permits its existence, but this conception always turns out to be dubiously reductive and distorting, leaving us with the unpalatable options of magic, elimination or quietism... so we hop unhappily from one unsatisfactory option to the next; or dig our heels (squintingly) into a position that seems the least intellectually unconscionable of the bunch,” he pretty much nails what goes on in discussions like this, bar the shouting, posturing and sheer bloody mindedness, naturally, for this is the inter webs.

I would agree with this, basically. However, I would say this in favour of the "magic" approach: it is not so much an explanation, but really more a specification, a narrowing down of the problem by re-casting it into better-defined terms. If there is a hole in our mechanistic explanations, it has value to say: "Look, there is hole there. It has about this size and shape." It is wrong to critique the "magic" explanation as proposing no alternative mechanism, they are really more providing a set of labels for the problem. For example, I have never encountered any proper explanation of the function of the "soul". That's OK though. Assigning this word to certain gaps in our understanding allows us to meaningfully discuss these gaps. For example, we can then ask whether the Cartesian conception of "soul" interacting with some brain structure a bit like an electromagnetic field interacts with an antenna makes any sense. (I think not BTW, but the point is that we need to specify matters before we can discuss them.)

quote:
Originally posted by Grokesx:
If these are not what you have in mind, and given your comments on materialism on this thread and others, I don't see why they would be be, that leaves us with substance dualism - the idea that the mind and body are two different entities and which is compatible with most theologies. As far as I know, modern non goddy versions aren't exactly thick on the ground, one appeals to quantum woo IIRC. So, embroider "woo" or "magic" on the blanket if the fancy takes you.

Well, I would favour hylemorphic dualism (more as a philosophical specification than a mechanistic explanation, see above). It is a kind of substance dualism, I guess, but not really as you know it from Descartes. Obviously it is compatible with theism, but then I would claim that the existence of God is metaphysically certain. Hence that to me is a point in its favour. Be that as it may, as noted, there is no necessary connection to God there. One could be an atheistic hylemorphic dualist.

quote:
Originally posted by Grokesx:
In my analogy the only difference between a persistent visual illusion like the moon illusion and the claim that consciousness is illusory is that the former is due to the mind/brain making a mistake about an external stimulus and the latter, if true, would be due to the brain making a mistake about its own processes.

No, that's really not it. Imagine a blind person learning about colours in the world. They get told that coffee is brown, snow is white, and perhaps even learn fairly complicated colour arrangements, like the colour structures on a UK flag. One day that blind person takes a walk with a friend in the park, and the friend says "Oh, there are swans swimming in the pond today." To which the blind person respond "A beautiful scene, white swans on blue water under a yellow sun." And the friends say: "Actually, the trees block the view of the sun, and the swans are black - the pond is blue though." Now, my point here is that whatever we may say about the blind person's statement, it did not express a visual illusion. The statement was about visual features, colours, and it was (partially) wrong. But a blind person does not see - so no matter what they say about anything, it cannot amount to a visual illusion. Note that once the friend has spoken, and the blind person has received presumably accurate feedback, then the blind person will be able to make correct statements about the current situation and better statements in future (the blind person now knows that "black" is a possibility for swans). But that does not mean that the blind person had any kind of visual perception.

To talk about a visual illusion here would be trading on an ambiguity. The blind person is wrong about something visual, so in that sense they have a "visual illusion". But when we talk about "visual illusions" we really mean that somebody who actually has vision is wrong in their perception. In a qualitative sense, a blind person cannot have visual illusion. In a similar way, a task manager may accurately report what is running on a computer, including that itself is running. But that is not a (self-)experience, just because it operates on process data (on the right quantitative domain). There is something qualitative missing there.

And that's the problem with typical mechanistic descriptions of our interior mental lives. No matter how much quantitative explanation is provided, there remains the suspicion that that merely papers over a qualitative gap.

quote:
Originally posted by Grokesx:
And how about the personality states of someone with dissociative identity disorder? Apparently patients with up to 4,500 "alters" have been reported - do we accept the primacy of all those first person experiences in the same body? Or do we allow a third person analysis to undermine them?

The "first person" issue we are discussing here is in no way affected by such personality disorders. The stress is on the "first", not on the (single) "person". Even if there would be a billion "alternative persons" looking through the same bodily eyes, every single one of them would experience world and self, and thereby do something that is deeply problematic to mechanistic explanations in a qualitative sense. For sure, there are interesting questions to be asked from such mental illnesses to say classical concepts of "soul". But the continuity and coherence of personhood is not what concerns us here. What concerns us is that persons do something we have trouble explaining in terms of brains.

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They’ll have me whipp’d for speaking true; thou’lt have me whipp’d for lying; and sometimes I am whipp’d for holding my peace. - The Fool in King Lear

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Grokesx
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@Dafyd

Tired also. I was aknowledging both the funny and addressing the underlying point.

quote:
I don't think you've been actually engaging with what IngoB is saying.
As far as I'm concerned Ingo has been banging on variations of the same theme with not that much variation from the beginning.

quote:
In any case: saying something is expressing concepts by linguistic means. So if you take away the conceptual problems and you take away the linguistic problems, what is left to count as what is actually being said?
We don't have to take them away, we can acknowledge them, we can lay aside our own interpretation and run with the other person's for a while. We can consider what it would be like to be wrong about how we think about what it is like to be a bat.

@IngoB
quote:
Anyway, arguments from authority on topics like these merely preach to the choir. Quoting Dennett at me hence doesn't impress me in the slightest. I assume a priori that his handling of these delicate matters will be HAM-fisted...
It wasn't meant to impress you, it was meant to give an idea (actually to Dafyd) of where a particular eliminitive materialist is coming from when he says consciousness is an illusion.

quote:
No, exactly not! What we can understand in mechanistic terms (at least speculatively) is precisely how the brain/mind analyses its own processes. That is not the problem. The problem is pretending that that is the same as experience. One more, a task manager is not mysterious to us in the same way as our consciousness and experience. You can really boil it all down to the point that descriptions of self-reference in the brain, however sophisticated (including OliviaCA's quasi-mystical "real self" stuff), do not address the problem posed by the experiential data..
Hm... Speculatively understand? So you can assert what is not the problem with such great vigour based on speculation? I think I am beginning to see where the problem really lies.

quote:
If there is a hole in our mechanistic explanations, it has value to say: "Look, there is hole there. It has about this size and shape."
I'd say there's value in saying, "There may well be a hole there of this size and shape, so lets speculate." Also there is value in saying, "There might not be a hole there at all, so lets speculate." Admittedly at times like this there seems greater value still in quietism, but we are where we are.

quote:
Well, I would favour hylemorphic dualism
So, I go handwave handwave emergence drumroll TA DA, you go handwave handwave substance and form drumroll TA DA. [Smile]

quote:
No, that's really not it. Imagine a blind person learning about colours in the world...
This is a simplified Mary the super scientist and her room. I personally think yes, when she steps from her room into the full technicolour world, she does learn something new, but the eliminative materialist would say that provided she understood the subject of colour perception perfectly, she'd go, "Yes, just as I thought." Interestingly, the bloke who came up with it as an argument against physicalism changed his mind years later. Be that as it may, it's speculation either way and your suspicion is simply that. Or seems to be, of course.
quote:
The "first person" issue we are discussing here is in no way affected by such personality disorders. The stress is on the "first", not on the (single) "person". Even if there would be a billion "alternative persons" looking through the same bodily eyes, every single one of them would experience world and self, and thereby do something that is deeply problematic to mechanistic explanations in a qualitative sense. For sure, there are interesting questions to be asked from such mental illnesses to say classical concepts of "soul". But the continuity and coherence of personhood is not what concerns us here. What concerns us is that persons do something we have trouble explaining in terms of brains.
And one of those things persons seem to do is have continuity and coherence of personhood. Otherwise there would be nothing you could call a person to do the thing we have such difficulty in explaining in terms of brains. In other words, the distinction is irrelevant.

Anyway, you seem to be able to appeal to third person experience when it suits you and complain bitterly about it when you don't. In your once more with feeling post, you said:

quote:
there is nothing in all of science, knowledge, wisdom and intuition that is more reliable than the experience of self. All else can be doubted, but to doubt this is simply self-contradictory (in a double meaning of the word). Furthermore, this experience is perfectly objective, affirmed a billionfold this very second by independent observations that can be shared freely and are understood easily.
So, when it reinforces your argument it is fine and dandy, but not when it undermines it.

--------------------
For every complex problem there is an answer that is clear, simple, and wrong. H. L. Mencken

Posts: 373 | From: Derby, UK | Registered: Jul 2012  |  IP: Logged



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