The Implications of the Subjective Prison of Mind

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Philosch
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Re: The Implications of the Subjective Prison of Mind

Post by Philosch » February 26th, 2017, 5:26 pm

Belindi, I might actually concede that if all of creation were to be proven to be conscious and it's sense of self bounded all that exists, then I suppose there would be no distinction behind subject and object. The only trouble with such a statement is that it stretches the meaning of consciousness beyond what is generally accepted or considered the actual meaning of the word. As is true for all discussions in any forum, when the meanings of words are skewed and stretched beyond convention then it's possible through rhetorical gymnastics to make any statement true or false.

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Re: The Implications of the Subjective Prison of Mind

Post by Greta » February 26th, 2017, 6:04 pm

PuerAzaelis wrote:Furthermore, consciousness is not a simple property, like "blue". It has intentionality. Consciousness is always consciousness of something. This means that all objects of consciousness are known by means solely of its contents. But since this is so, this divorces consciousness from certainty regarding any real existence either of subject or object. Why? Since the status of external objects are known only as contents of consciousness, their ontological status as truly external is undecidable. This was Descartes' problem. But likewise, because of this same intentionality, the subject itself is not known as such by the contents of consciousness. This is so because the contents of consciousness are what is known, they are not what knows. Thus the ontological status of the subject as internal is likewise undecidable. That is, the intentionality of consciousness divorces us from certainty as to the existence of the subject just as much as it divorces us from certainty as to the existence of external objects.

Since, as a result of the intentionality of consciousness, the existence of both subject and object are ontologically undecidable, there is neither a "subjective" nor an "objective" definition that could be applied to it.
I like it. In other words, in studying systems in which we are a part we will necessarily find that some things are inaccessible, just as we cannot experience ourselves in the third person or others in the first person.

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Re: The Implications of the Subjective Prison of Mind

Post by Philosch » February 26th, 2017, 9:28 pm

Greta, I agree with your post and I think PuerAzaelis's post above is a better, more articulate intimation of what I was attempting to get at so thanks for posting it. Consciousness is self limiting so to speak and anything else one might want to say is just beyond it's grasp and as stated above, indeterminable or inaccessible as you said. It seems to me the main value of such statements is to try and get people to realize the limits of their own experience and perspective and not be so certain of that which is beyond knowing. This does not mean of course that we ignore rationality and that which we can know with certainty within our limited context. For instance I can be certain that if I step in front of a speeding train I will be squashed. So we need the utility of rationality despite the above realization

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Re: The Implications of the Subjective Prison of Mind

Post by Greta » February 27th, 2017, 3:15 am

Philosch wrote:It seems to me the main value of such statements is to try and get people to realize the limits of their own experience and perspective and not be so certain of that which is beyond knowing. This does not mean of course that we ignore rationality and that which we can know with certainty within our limited context. For instance I can be certain that if I step in front of a speeding train I will be squashed. So we need the utility of rationality despite the above realization
One may chip away like waves against the cliff face of certainty but the project of instilling humility into humanity appears to be a long term one. Throughout history "experts" have assumed that their current models are largely sound, with only detail to be filled in. It never seems to occur to many of them (highly intelligent people who you'd think might know better) that every current model is eventually superseded, or at least recontextualised, by updated models that describe reality a little less sketchily.

Ideally, those subscribing to superstitions and conspiracy theories would not use our uncertainty to re-ignite interest in their discredited ideas. However, they do, so we need to achieve a balance between humility and avoiding of rank mysterianism. So, for instance, while we may not know what energy is, we know about about it to manipulate it in numerous ways. To know how something inputs and outputs environmental influences is to know something of its reality.

As regards natural phenomena, aside from consciousness, the scientific understanding of reality is deeper in many respects than that of those who throw up their hands, declare reality to be a "mystery" and then rely on intuition. Instead of giving up when their inquiries into reality become difficult, researchers make a concerted effort to get to know the phenomena better. They are aware that a full understanding will always elude them but they hope to add something to a body of knowledge to be passed on, and built upon, by future thinkers.

The exception is consciousness is where intuition and emotion are far more sophisticated and sleek (if not so reliable) as compared with science's clunky approach to consciousness. Consider the common scientific view that other species may be entirely automatic, their consciousness lacking any of the qualities found in humans. When numerous pet owners objected, their complaints were dismissed as "emotional" and "anthropomorphism".

Today, neuroscience and testing that takes into account different species' sensory modalities, have not only proved pet owners to be right all along, they have shown that even simple animals like bees have much more going on mentally than we imagined: phys.org/news/2017-02-ball-rolling-bees ... mplex.html.

The findings of repeated experiments demonstrating sometimes startling levels of sentience in other species have ethical implications as regards human behaviour towards the rest of nature. However, since plenty of suffering is also meted out on H. sapiens, it's fair to say that humanity as a whole is not only sketchy with its science, but also its ethics. Our various atrocities, both innocent and cynical, appear destined for the "stuff happens" basket as the great (and often harsh) adventure of life continues.

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Re: The Implications of the Subjective Prison of Mind

Post by Consul » February 27th, 2017, 12:24 pm

PuerAzaelis wrote:The brain is extended in space. Therefore it has parts. Its parts also have parts, ad infinitum. Since the brain is divisible ad infinitum, it is composed of an infinite number of infinitesimals, it is infinite, unlimited. Since the object is unlimited, so is its properties.
For an object to be spatially extended isn't necessarily for it to be mereologically nonsimple in the sense of having (proper) parts (components/constituents). There's nothing incoherent about the concept of extended simples. However, there are different kinds of parts: substantial parts, spatial (formal, geometrical) parts, temporal parts. The kind of parts extended simples lack are substantial parts, i.e. parts which are themselves objects or substances that can exist independently of or separately from the wholes whose parts they are. For example, the atoms of which molecules are composed count as substantial parts. But extended simples have spatial (formal, geometrical) parts at least such as the lower half of a brain.
Whether space or regions thereof are infinitely divisible is an open question. According to some physical theories (e.g. loop quantum gravity), there are minimal (nonzero) volumes of space.

"According to loop quantum gravity, space is made of discrete atoms each of which carries a very tiny unit of volume. … One consequence of this is that there is a smallest possible volume. This minimum volume is miniscule – about 1099 of them would fit into a thimble. If you tried to halve a region of this volume, the result would not be two regions each with half that volume. Instead, the process would create two new regions which together would have more volume than you started with. We describe this by saying that the attempt to measure a unit of volume smaller than the minimal size alters the geometry of the space in a way that allows more volume to be created."

(Smolin, Lee. Three Roads to Quantum Gravity. New York: Basic Books, 2001. p. 106)

Whether matter or material objects/substances such as brains are infinitely divisible is an open question as well. If there are truly fundamental particles—be they zero-dimensional or minimally three-dimensional—, then there is a fundamental level of material reality.
But the question of the infinite divisibility of matter is ambiguous, for the following reason:

"Borrowing a term from David Lewis (…), let us say that an object is made of ‘atomless gunk’ if it has no (mereological) atoms as parts. If something is made of atomless gunk then it divides forever into smaller and smaller parts—it is infinitely divisible. However, a line segment is infinitely divisible, and yet has atomic parts: the points. A hunk of gunk does not even have atomic parts ‘at infinity’; all parts of such an object have proper parts."

(Sider, Theodore. "Van Inwagen and the Possibility of Gunk." Analysis 53 (1993): 285-289. p. 286)

That is, there is a relevant difference between saying that matter is ultimately mereologically atomic (in the sense of being fundamentally composed of objects which do not themselves have proper parts such as 0D objects) and saying that matter is ultimately mereologically non-atomic or "gunky" (in the sense of being composed of objects all of which have proper parts)

-- Updated February 27th, 2017, 11:34 am to add the following --
Philosch wrote:Consciousness is decidedly dependent on brain tissue and nothing in science indicates otherwise. Unfortunately this notion of the "earth" being conscious or the "universe" being conscious are popular ideas that are nothing more than distortions of the meaning of the word consciousness. If a larger cosmic system could be shown to have self-awareness and other markers of sentience then that would be a different matter but so far no such indication exists. I'm with Searle on this. As much as I would like to believe conscious can survive the death of neural tissue because it has a non-physical component(dualism), I just can't rationally justify that position, I think it's wishful thinking, nothing more.
You're right. Natural consciousness is animal consciousness, and animals brains are the (only) natural organs of consciousness; so consciousness is located in and confined to those volumes of space which are occupied by brains.

"A second view that I think equally implausible is that perceptual consciousness can exist outside the brain. One example is in the article by Alva Noe, 'Experience without the Head'. Noe gives several examples and arguments to attempt to show that the content, i.e. the intentional content of our perceptual experiences, is very often determined by very complex relations between ourselves, our dispositions and the environment. He concludes with the following thought (p. 419), 'Upshot: it is an open empirical possibility that our experience depends not only on what is represented in our brains, but on dynamic interactions between brain, body and environment. The substrate of experience may include the non-brain body and the world.' The problem with this is that the first sentence does not imply the second sentence. It is indeed the case that our experience depends not only on what is represented in our brains, 'but on dynamic interactions between brain, body and environment.' I take that as an obvious point. But the fact that the content of our experiences depends on these 'dynamic interactions' in no way implies anything about the substrate of experience. If the substrate of experience means what it is supposed to mean—namely, how the experience is realized—there is no way that qualitative conscious subjectivity could be realized, for example, in the table that I now see or the air that surrounds the table.

Remember, when you talk about conscious states, you are talking about actual empirical physical events that have spatial locations, temporal beginnings and ends, spatial dimensions as well as electro-chemical properties of various kinds. There just is not any question about that. And these are indeed the result of 'dynamic interaction', though of course that is not in conflict with the idea that the dynamic interactions are 'represented in the brain'. The mistake is to think that this would go any way towards showing that qualitative subjectivity, so to speak, floats around. It does not. It is located in human and animal brains. The first sentence contains an implicit opposition which is false. What is represented in our brains can well be dynamic interactions between brain, body, and environment. Specifically the dynamic interactions between the body and the environment produce effects on our nervous systems. Different neuronal structures in different neuronal architectures fire at different rates, for example. Such processes are sufficient to produce all forms of consciousness. What is the problem supposed to be?

The decisive argument against consciousness existing outside the brain is that like any other higher-level biological feature of the world, such as digestion, photosynthesis, or lactation, consciousness has to be in some biological system. It has to be realized, for example, in some system composed of cells. Perhaps we can create consciousness in non-organic systems, but the biological principle is an instance of a much more general principle which states that any higher-level features at all—such as the liquidity of water, the solidity of the table, and the elasticity of the steel bar—have to be realized in lower-level elements. If we think of consciousness as existing outside human and animal nervous systems as, so to speak, floating around in the air or in the structure of the table, then we have to suppose that the air molecules and the table molecules are realizing consciousness. The idea is not worth serious consideration."


(Searle, John R. Seeing Things As They Are: A Theory of Perception. New York: Oxford University Press, 2015. pp. 50-1)
"We may philosophize well or ill, but we must philosophize." – Wilfrid Sellars

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Re: The Implications of the Subjective Prison of Mind

Post by Belindi » February 27th, 2017, 1:19 pm

Greta wrote:
PuerAzaelis wrote:Furthermore, consciousness is not a simple property, like "blue". It has intentionality. Consciousness is always consciousness of something. This means that all objects of consciousness are known by means solely of its contents. But since this is so, this divorces consciousness from certainty regarding any real existence either of subject or object. Why? Since the status of external objects are known only as contents of consciousness, their ontological status as truly external is undecidable. This was Descartes' problem. But likewise, because of this same intentionality, the subject itself is not known as such by the contents of consciousness. This is so because the contents of consciousness are what is known, they are not what knows. Thus the ontological status of the subject as internal is likewise undecidable. That is, the intentionality of consciousness divorces us from certainty as to the existence of the subject just as much as it divorces us from certainty as to the existence of external objects.

Since, as a result of the intentionality of consciousness, the existence of both subject and object are ontologically undecidable, there is neither a "subjective" nor an "objective" definition that could be applied to it.
I like it. In other words, in studying systems in which we are a part we will necessarily find that some things are inaccessible, just as we cannot experience ourselves in the third person or others in the first person.
Greta, I like it too. It's a fact of neuroscience that consciousness is consciousness of something. The something , the object of consciousness, is information. Information source may be either the human's memory or the human's simultaneous environment. During dreaming for instance the information source is the dreamer's memory.

"---the contents of consciousness are what is known, they are not what knows. Thus the ontological status of the subject as internal is likewise undecidable. "

The differential ontological status of the subject is both internal and external. Why try to select one or the other, subjective or objective? You and I, Greta, can each view our self from what-it -feels-like or alternatively from objectively perceiving those thoughts as in "I know that I think or perceive such and such". There is neither a subjective nor an objective definition that can be applied to the Greta self or the Belindi self because subjective and objective definitions together apply to Greta and to Belindi.

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Re: The Implications of the Subjective Prison of Mind

Post by Philosch » February 27th, 2017, 2:52 pm

Greta wrote:
Philosch wrote:It seems to me the main value of such statements is to try and get people to realize the limits of their own experience and perspective and not be so certain of that which is beyond knowing. This does not mean of course that we ignore rationality and that which we can know with certainty within our limited context. For instance I can be certain that if I step in front of a speeding train I will be squashed. So we need the utility of rationality despite the above realization
One may chip away like waves against the cliff face of certainty but the project of instilling humility into humanity appears to be a long term one. Throughout history "experts" have assumed that their current models are largely sound, with only detail to be filled in. It never seems to occur to many of them (highly intelligent people who you'd think might know better) that every current model is eventually superseded, or at least recontextualised, by updated models that describe reality a little less sketchily.

Ideally, those subscribing to superstitions and conspiracy theories would not use our uncertainty to re-ignite interest in their discredited ideas. However, they do, so we need to achieve a balance between humility and avoiding of rank mysterianism. So, for instance, while we may not know what energy is, we know about about it to manipulate it in numerous ways. To know how something inputs and outputs environmental influences is to know something of its reality.

As regards natural phenomena, aside from consciousness, the scientific understanding of reality is deeper in many respects than that of those who throw up their hands, declare reality to be a "mystery" and then rely on intuition. Instead of giving up when their inquiries into reality become difficult, researchers make a concerted effort to get to know the phenomena better. They are aware that a full understanding will always elude them but they hope to add something to a body of knowledge to be passed on, and built upon, by future thinkers.

The exception is consciousness is where intuition and emotion are far more sophisticated and sleek (if not so reliable) as compared with science's clunky approach to consciousness. Consider the common scientific view that other species may be entirely automatic, their consciousness lacking any of the qualities found in humans. When numerous pet owners objected, their complaints were dismissed as "emotional" and "anthropomorphism".

Today, neuroscience and testing that takes into account different species' sensory modalities, have not only proved pet owners to be right all along, they have shown that even simple animals like bees have much more going on mentally than we imagined: phys.org/news/2017-02-ball-rolling-bees ... mplex.html.

The findings of repeated experiments demonstrating sometimes startling levels of sentience in other species have ethical implications as regards human behaviour towards the rest of nature. However, since plenty of suffering is also meted out on H. sapiens, it's fair to say that humanity as a whole is not only sketchy with its science, but also its ethics. Our various atrocities, both innocent and cynical, appear destined for the "stuff happens" basket as the great (and often harsh) adventure of life continues.
I get what you are saying here and I recognize that consciousness is a very unusual property which we may not ever fully understand because "it" is "us", but that doesn't mean we have to ascribe super-natural or "other-worldly" qualities to it. That falls under the category of the same old process that humans seem to use whenever we run into a mystery. I used to be one of those people who argued against animal consciousness as I thought human consciousness was more isolated than it is. I've since learned to not be so certain and I recognize that consciousness as a unified field property of neural tissue exists along a continuum of depth (for lack of a better term) through species. I also think it's obvious there are many other mysterious biological phenomena that have yet to be fully explained, natural selection is not the end all and be all of biology. But let's not make those same mistakes of the past and every time we run into a hard problem, insert the latest cosmic genie into the mix. I know that's not what you are saying personally, for the most part I agree with your post. The one exception or caveat I will make is I do believe that anthropromorphization is a big problem. It has great social utility but it also causes great damage. Ah well subject of another post.

-- Updated February 27th, 2017, 3:05 pm to add the following --

To Consul: Thanks for the affirmation, I thought I was right, or rather Searle was right too! LOL. I wish at this point some discovery or event would occur and we could all get on the dualist bandwagon, it would make us all feel better to believe in a non-physical realm (spiritual plane, heaven or whatever) as an actual separate place outside our sandbox so to speak. Unfortunately I will remain stuck with the rest of rational humanity playing in our own sand.

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Re: The Implications of the Subjective Prison of Mind

Post by Killosopher » February 28th, 2017, 8:20 am

Philosch wrote:
It does not preclude society or science from making practical statements about what is objectively true for a given context which is in fact how we operate as a society anyway.
The only difference between the average person and a scientist is that one is an amateur while the other is a professional. The later has the opportunity, ability, and tools for systematically isolating and controlling certain variables in order to repeatedly observe certain relationships. This becomes increasingly difficult when faced with complex relationships between many variables and their interaction as well as the presence of significant heterogeneity in the population. In such cases, even the best implemented experiment has limitations in its generalizability. Certain types of scientific research methods on the other hand, are less effective in controlling and isolating the variables to be observed. Which reduces their ability in observing cause and effect relationships. Doesn't this prove that science has difficulties in making these "practical statements about what is objectively true" let alone attaining absolute objectivity to establish absolute truth?

So then if science has the above mentioned limitations, which you have also admitted, then why do you attempt to reveal absolute truths (the great super natural being) using science as a tool?
Philosch wrote: It's just that there are many people who do not recognize the limits of their own experience and indeed put way to much stock in their personal experience and point of view
Are you not doing the same thing in this very post?
Your statement below is an example.
Philosch wrote: But let's not make the same mistakes of the past and every time we run in to a hard problem, insert the latest cosmic genie into the mix.
So you are sure it is a mistake to believe? Just how much personal experience have you gathered to make such a statement?
Philosch wrote: it would make us all feel better to believe in a non-physical realm (spiritual plane, heaven or whatever) as an actual separate place outside our sandbox so to speak. Unfortunately I will remain stuck with the rest of rational humanity playing in our own sand.
It seems like you are equating consciousness and soul. The first as you have described has been viewed by some as a biological process and though my experience, knowledge and observations are limited I agree with this view. Soul on the other hand in my personal belief and religion can exist in unconscious states. It is that life giving energy which science fails to prove or understand. Does the concept of a soul seem unscientific? Perhaps because science is too limited. Does it seem irrational? Every thing seems irrational when you have limited yourself to certain narrow perspectives, assumptions and philosophies.

I could never understand why atheists and agnostics are so obsessed with religion. Not believing would be fine if only they would just move on. It feels like they're all going through a perpetual identity crisis. Like they keep asking themselves the same questions the answers of which they will remain oblivious to. Oh and the incessant rude attacks on religion, what is that about? Any way, enjoy your sand box.

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Re: The Implications of the Subjective Prison of Mind

Post by Philosch » March 4th, 2017, 9:37 pm

Killosopher wrote: Certain types of scientific research methods on the other hand, are less effective in controlling and isolating the variables to be observed. Which reduces their ability in observing cause and effect relationships. Doesn't this prove that science has difficulties in making these "practical statements about what is objectively true" let alone attaining absolute objectivity to establish absolute truth?
No it doesn't as I stated it's objective truth is limited to context and no where do I say science can answer absolute truth so don't know what your objection is.
Killosopher wrote:
So then if science has the above mentioned limitations, which you have also admitted, then why do you attempt to reveal absolute truths (the great super natural being) using science as a tool?
I don't, I have no idea what you are talking about? I am an igtheist and maintain the position that the existence of a god is neither provable nor disprovable so again I don't know what you are objecting to in my post.
Philosch wrote: It's just that there are many people who do not recognize the limits of their own experience and indeed put way to much stock in their personal experience and point of view
Killosopher wrote:
Are you not doing the same thing in this very post?
Your statement below is an example.
No I'm not at all...The statement below is to say the exact opposite from what you are claiming it says so I don't think you've understood this post. It is to say don't insert beliefs just because you have run into something that is inexplicable at that point in time. That is the "god of the gaps" argument.
Philosch wrote: But let's not make the same mistakes of the past and every time we run in to a hard problem, insert the latest cosmic genie into the mix.
Killosopher wrote:
So you are sure it is a mistake to believe? Just how much personal experience have you gathered to make such a statement?
Never said it's a mistake to believe, only it's a mistake to conflate a believe with what can rationally be proven. You seem to be picking a fight with me without understanding what I'm saying or deliberately mischaracterizing it. You can have all the beliefs you want and I'm sure you find them quite useful in justifying your behavior, have at them. They have no bearing on the subject of this post. This post was about the subjective limit that is our experience.
Philosch wrote: it would make us all feel better to believe in a non-physical realm (spiritual plane, heaven or whatever) as an actual separate place outside our sandbox so to speak. Unfortunately I will remain stuck with the rest of rational humanity playing in our own sand.
Killosopher wrote:
It seems like you are equating consciousness and soul. The first as you have described has been viewed by some as a biological process and though my experience, knowledge and observations are limited I agree with this view. Soul on the other hand in my personal belief and religion can exist in unconscious states. It is that life giving energy which science fails to prove or understand. Does the concept of a soul seem unscientific? Perhaps because science is too limited. Does it seem irrational? Every thing seems irrational when you have limited yourself to certain narrow perspectives, assumptions and philosophies.

I could never understand why atheists and agnostics are so obsessed with religion. Not believing would be fine if only they would just move on. It feels like they're all going through a perpetual identity crisis. Like they keep asking themselves the same questions the answers of which they will remain oblivious to. Oh and the incessant rude attacks on religion, what is that about? Any way, enjoy your sand box.
I'm not saying anything about "soul", that would be the same as talking about god and my discussion is about what we can know rationally and how our subjective experience is the limit of what we can know. Your beliefs as well as my beliefs about souls and spiritual realms are irrelevant to this discussion. The concept of a soul is unscientific. Your belief in a soul and a god is not rational. That is not a qualitative judgment that is statement about the rationality of the provability of such beliefs. In other words your belief is perfectly fine, you can attend to it however you like but it's beyond the limits of rationality. Not sure why you think I'm obsessed with religion as it has nothing to do with my post nor does most of what you seem to be objecting to. This is a philosophy forum and I posted about some philosophical concepts and NOT (I might add) in the philosophy of religion section so that makes your attack on my post even more ridiculous. I made no such rude attack on religion however you are choosing my post to launch a rude attack against atheists which has nothing to do with the subject of my post whatsoever. I will enjoy my sandbox while you enjoy your fairytale. Maybe you should stay in the religious section of this forum if you are interested in injecting religion into every discussion instead of accusing atheists of the same.

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Re: The Implications of the Subjective Prison of Mind

Post by Consul » March 5th, 2017, 3:38 pm

Killosopher wrote:Soul on the other hand in my personal belief and religion can exist in unconscious states.
I fail to see how this is possible. By definition, all states of an immaterial soul are mental states, and I even fail to see how it could have any (conscious or unconscious) mental states at all. For to be an immaterial substance is to be spatially unextended, i.e. to be zero-dimensional. What is more, the divine immaterial substance is also spatially unlocated. So, given this conception, God is a mathematical point with mental properties (a mind/consciousness) that exists nowhere. This alone should strike a rational thinker as absurd!
How could an absolutely simple thing such as mathematical point be the substratum, the producer and supporter of a mind, especially of God's mind, which is the most complex mind of all? (Rhetorical question!)

By definition, a mathematical point has no surface, form, or structure; and nothing can happen or take place inside it since there is no inside. So, given that a point lacks any internal dynamics and no productive processes can take place in(side) it, it cannot produce anything, including (conscious) mental states (feelings and thoughts). Therefore, a zero-dimensional immaterial/spiritual substance couldn't possible have a mind or (self-)consciousness, a mental/experiential life. But an immaterial/spiritual substance without mental attributes isn't one, and so such substances cannot possibly exist.

Another point is that a soul-point wouldn't have any sensory organs and no sensory surface where external signals or stimuli could be received. To speak of a perceiving or sensing soul-point is nonsensical.

The conclusion is that the very concept of a spatially or even spatiotemporally unlocated mathematical point with a mind and self-consciousness makes no coherently intelligible sense whatsoever. It is an absurd pseudo-concept. Therefore, God doesn't exist because there cannot be any such thing.

"[T]o take away all extension is to reduce a thing only to a mathematical point, which is nothing else but pure negation or non-entity[.]"

(More, Henry. The Immortality of the Soul. 1659. Pref., §3)

Conscious mental states are mental occurrences, as opposed to nonconscious mental states which are mental dispositions. But how could an immaterial soul possibly have any mental dispositions (memories, beliefs, desires, knowledge, interests, preferences, personality traits, etc.)?

So what about dispositional mental states such as beliefs and knowledge? When these are not part of the occurrent content of consciousness, where are they, where are they stored? In the pure mind's memory? This cannot be the case, because pure minds lack any objective "hardware" that could function as a transconscious carrier or medium of information. They just cannot have any memory, which means that they cannot have any non-occurrent beliefs or knowledge, or any other dispositional mental properties. As pure subjects pure spirits are essentially memoryless; they cannot remember anything or retrieve any beliefs or knowledge of which they are not presently aware. For the being of pure subjects is exhausted by the present, occurrent content of their consciousness, i.e. their being is exhausted by their experiential/phenomenal states: for them to be is for them to be conscious. They cannot have any nonconscious mental states such as nonoccurrent beliefs or knowledge.

According to theism, God is omniscient; but God is a pure spirit and so a pure subject, which means that there is nothing transsubjective wherein his infinite knowledge could be stored when he is not presently conscious of it. So how could God be omniscient?
"We may philosophize well or ill, but we must philosophize." – Wilfrid Sellars

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Re: The Implications of the Subjective Prison of Mind

Post by Belindi » March 6th, 2017, 5:52 am

Consul wrote:
I fail to see how this is possible. By definition, all states of an immaterial soul are mental states, and I even fail to see how it could have any (conscious or unconscious) mental states at all. For to be an immaterial substance is to be spatially unextended, i.e. to be zero-dimensional. What is more, the divine immaterial substance is also spatially unlocated. So, given this conception, God is a mathematical point with mental properties (a mind/consciousness) that exists nowhere. This alone should strike a rational thinker as absurd!
How could an absolutely simple thing such as mathematical point be the substratum, the producer and supporter of a mind, especially of God's mind, which is the most complex mind of all? (Rhetorical question!)
A mathematical point is an imaginary entity which an axiom, a self evident truth.

Ontological substances are axiomatic too. The axiom that mind is better than , superior to, body was once taken for granted .It is now an axiom that few people cling to .

Nevertheless I like to salvage the notion of God from the wreckage of the almost defunct axiom of the superiority of mind over extended matter.

The way I argue for God is to abandon the probability or the faith that transcendent God exists, and retain the faith that there is in this mostly evil world a force for good, or a will towards good and towards truth. Man come of age and wholly adult is responsible for nurturing the force of good and truth.


As for "the subjective prison of mind" , no power , no transfer of energy,can exist without constraints. Look at levers for instance. Subjectivity is like a lever that embodies a constraint to the effect that the differential forces exert energy. Without the constraint there can be no transfer of energy. There may be an engineer here who can explain leverage .

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Re: The Implications of the Subjective Prison of Mind

Post by Greta » March 6th, 2017, 6:39 am

Belindi wrote:
Greta wrote: (Nested quote removed.)

I like it. In other words, in studying systems in which we are a part we will necessarily find that some things are inaccessible, just as we cannot experience ourselves in the third person or others in the first person.
Greta, I like it too. It's a fact of neuroscience that consciousness is consciousness of something. The something , the object of consciousness, is information. Information source may be either the human's memory or the human's simultaneous environment. During dreaming for instance the information source is the dreamer's memory.

"---the contents of consciousness are what is known, they are not what knows. Thus the ontological status of the subject as internal is likewise undecidable. "

The differential ontological status of the subject is both internal and external. Why try to select one or the other, subjective or objective? You and I, Greta, can each view our self from what-it -feels-like or alternatively from objectively perceiving those thoughts as in "I know that I think or perceive such and such". There is neither a subjective nor an objective definition that can be applied to the Greta self or the Belindi self because subjective and objective definitions together apply to Greta and to Belindi.
Belinda, subjectivity and objectivity are practical matters as far as I can tell, honed by evolution. How much does the fact that viewing reality the way we do - as subject and other - is efficacious mean about its ontological truthfulness and to what extent may the conception serve as blinkers that promote survivally helpful behaviours?

-- Updated 06 Mar 2017, 05:52 to add the following --
Consul wrote:By definition, a mathematical point has no surface, form, or structure; and nothing can happen or take place inside it since there is no inside. So, given that a point lacks any internal dynamics and no productive processes can take place in(side) it, it cannot produce anything, including (conscious) mental states (feelings and thoughts). Therefore, a zero-dimensional immaterial/spiritual substance couldn't possible have a mind or (self-)consciousness, a mental/experiential life. But an immaterial/spiritual substance without mental attributes isn't one, and so such substances cannot possibly exist.
Søren Kierkegaard claimed that the timeless and dimensionless deity is consciousness, is subjectivity itself, rather than being something that produces consciousness or is conscious.

-- Updated 06 Mar 2017, 05:58 to add the following --
Philosch wrote:I get what you are saying here and I recognize that consciousness is a very unusual property which we may not ever fully understand because "it" is "us", but that doesn't mean we have to ascribe super-natural or "other-worldly" qualities to it.
There's much that is everyday in today's world that would have once been thought of as supernatural. I think it perfectly possible that the future will bring things that we currently think of as impossible, the supernatural.

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Re: The Implications of the Subjective Prison of Mind

Post by Fooloso4 » March 6th, 2017, 2:26 pm

I know that the topic has moved off the OP but I would like to ask why subjectivity should be seen as a prison?

Wittgenstein said:
A man will be imprisoned in a room with a door that's unlocked and opens inwards; as long as it does not occur to him to pull rather than push.

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Re: The Implications of the Subjective Prison of Mind

Post by Consul » March 6th, 2017, 3:20 pm

Belindi wrote:Consul wrote:
I fail to see how this is possible. By definition, all states of an immaterial soul are mental states, and I even fail to see how it could have any (conscious or unconscious) mental states at all. For to be an immaterial substance is to be spatially unextended, i.e. to be zero-dimensional. What is more, the divine immaterial substance is also spatially unlocated. So, given this conception, God is a mathematical point with mental properties (a mind/consciousness) that exists nowhere. This alone should strike a rational thinker as absurd!
How could an absolutely simple thing such as mathematical point be the substratum, the producer and supporter of a mind, especially of God's mind, which is the most complex mind of all? (Rhetorical question!)
A mathematical point is an imaginary entity which an axiom, a self evident truth. Ontological substances are axiomatic too. The axiom that mind is better than , superior to, body was once taken for granted .It is now an axiom that few people cling to.
By definition, an immaterial/spiritual/mental substance is a mathematical point with psychical properties but without non-psychical/physical properties, and my contention is that the very concept of such a substance is ontologically incoherent and inacceptable. A mental substance qua substrate (supporter, producer, and sustainer) of a mind (and consciousness) is not reducible and not identical to the complex of its mental properties, so it is something over and above it, ontologically speaking. But in order for it to be something over and above the complex of its mental properties, it must also have some nonmental characteristics which constitute its nature and function as a substrate (of a mind/consciousness). However, mental substances lack nonmental properties by definition, so we end up with an incoherent conception of them: they both lack and have nonmental properties in addition to their mental ones.
The consequence is that there is no ontologically coherent position between the spiritualist view that a mental substance is reductively identifiable with its mind or consciousness, i.e. with a nonsubstantial, substratumless complex or "bundle" of mental/experiential properties, and the materialist view that there are no mental substances but only material ones with mental properties.

To say that a mental substance (a pure mind/soul/spirit) consists of some immaterial stuff is nonsense, and to say that it consists of its mental attributes is nonsense, too. And to say that it consists neither of some immaterial stuff nor of its mental attributes, and is yet ontically distinct from these is nonsense as well, because such a mental substance is nothing in itself and thus a nonentity, an empty metaphysical fiction. So, we have no rationally comprehensible idea of what a mental substance is, which gives us a very good reason to deny that such pseudo-substances could possibly exist in reality.
"We may philosophize well or ill, but we must philosophize." – Wilfrid Sellars

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Re: The Implications of the Subjective Prison of Mind

Post by Belindi » March 6th, 2017, 5:11 pm

Greta wrote:
Belinda, subjectivity and objectivity are practical matters as far as I can tell, honed by evolution. How much does the fact that viewing reality the way we do - as subject and other - is efficacious mean about its ontological truthfulness and to what extent may the conception serve as blinkers that promote survivally helpful behaviours?
Greta, claims about the ontological reality of subjective mind and objective extended matter have to remain metaphysical speculations. I very much like that nature is what exists and is all that exists, without recourse to any supernatural entities such as mind is sometimes presumed to be.

The fact that it's natural that we don't know subjective experience of each others' thoughts does promote survival of all conscious life forms. Without the unassailable privacy of individuals' thoughts there could be no prey and no predators, no nurtured and no nurturer, no giver and no receiver, no human comparing of ideas and so advancing learning by thesis, antithesis, and synthesis, no friends and no foes.

Unless there is at least one constraint there cannot possibly be any transfer of energy.

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