Whatever Consciousness is, it's Not Physical (or reducible to physical).

Discuss any topics related to metaphysics (the philosophical study of the principles of reality) or epistemology (the philosophical study of knowledge) in this forum.
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Halc
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Re: Whatever Consciousness is, it's Not Physical (or reducible to physical).

Post by Halc » August 11th, 2018, 3:04 pm

Thought I would jump in again. We have a list of five premises, and they're not called 'logical premises', which is good because I think there is no such thing. A premise is just that, a supposition supported by empirical evidence or not. Logic is used to draw conclusions from the premises, and the conclusion is only as strong as the premises.
Consul wrote:
August 11th, 2018, 11:31 am
Tamminen wrote:
August 11th, 2018, 8:52 am
In spite of the happy agreement on one point, this is where we disagree, because:

1. There is only one world.
2. There are subjects in the world.
3. Only subjects can use logic.
4. The scope of logic is the same as the scope of using logic.
5. The limits of the logical space where a subject can posit possibilities are defined by the subject-world relationship.
6. Therefore, because there is only one world, a subject cannot consistently imagine a world without subjects, because it lies outside of the limits of logic.

Where does this reasoning fail?
As for 1: I don't believe in the existence of mere possibilia or merely possible worlds, so I accept the premise that the actual world is the only existent/real world.
I also accept this first one, but only because it fits in with my (probably different than yours) definition of being real. Somebody else might assume a contrary premise and they would not be necessarily wrong for that.
As for 2: Obviously true. However, it doesn't follow that there have always been (and will always be) subjects in the world.
If 'the world' includes all of history (not just the state at some given moment), then the world contains subjects, period. Adding a restriction that the subjects to be present at all times is as unreasonable as requiring subjects to be present at all locations.
And even if this were true, it still wouldn't follow that the world depends for its existence on the existence of subjects. (Actual existence doesn't entail necessary existence!)
Tamminen hasn't given the definition of exists in his list, so yes, this point is true. In a way he has. There is only the one world (by [1]), so no other world exists. The whole conclusion can be drawn by just premise 1 and 2. There is only this world, and it has subjects. A world without subjects would thus be a separate world, and that violates premise 1. If there is only one world, of course other worlds don't exist. There isn't much logic to it. It was just assumed as a premise, which certainly does not render proof of the impossibility of (1) not being the case.
OK, the point was not that such a world doesn't exist, the point was that it could not be posited.
As for 3: True—unless logical processes (reasoning) can be implemented by nonconscious machines (computers). Of course, only subjects are capable of conscious reasoning (logical thought).
A simple wooden device can use logic. This premise seems blatantly false.
I also don't see how this premise is necessary. It seems the conclusion doesn't rely on the inability of logic being performed by something that doesn't qualify as a subject.
As for 4: This I do not understand.
Ditto. No idea what it was supposed to convey.
As for 5: Again, I'm not sure what this means. Are you talking about the epistemology of modality—in particular, about the relationship between imaginability or conceivability and possibility?
Again, ditto. It seems evident that all one has to do to posit such a world is to propose a modified form of premise 1 such as: "There may be more than one world". Many proofs rely on positing (imagining) the thing they want to disprove. Posit not-X (sqrt(2) is rational), and from that demonstrate a logical inconsistency. Therefore X (sqrt(2) is irrational). But all those proofs would be rendered invalid if it was not logically possible for the contrary position to be posited.
As for 6:
As for 6, my reply is more directly to Tamminen:

No logic has been demonstrated connecting the premises to the conclusion. Just straight to 'therefore'. OK, I can sort of see the line of reasoning, but it should be spelled out so we can see how the unclear pieces fit.

So you have a conclusion drawn from 5 assumptions, only one of which has empirical evidence, which means if any of the assumptions are mistaken (and at least two demonstrably are), then the conclusion doesn't follow. Your statement just says that if you believe these five premises, then maybe you can believe that it is impossible to posit a world without subjects.

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Re: Whatever Consciousness is, it's Not Physical (or reducible to physical).

Post by Tamminen » August 11th, 2018, 5:09 pm

Consul:
As for 1: I don't believe in the existence of mere possibilia or merely possible worlds, so I accept the premise that the actual world is the only existent/real world.
This can be taken as part of the definition of the world, and it is important for the conclusion of my reasoning.
As for 2: Obviously true. However, it doesn't follow that there have always been (and will always be) subjects in the world. And even if this were true, it still wouldn't follow that the world depends for its existence on the existence of subjects. (Actual existence doesn't entail necessary existence!)
By the world I understand a spatiotemporal totality. So either there are subjects in the world or there are not. This does not depend on time or place. And I argue that there are necessarily subjects in the world because the being of the world indeed depends on the being of subjects, or to be precise, on the “metaphysical” subject which Wittgenstein spoke about in Tractatus, a kind of a reference point for the facts of the world. All individual subjects are concrete manifestations of this fundamental ontological principle of subjectivity.
As for 4: This I do not understand.
I only mean that logic has no meaning outside of its usage. It does not precede the being of the world, although it precedes the facts of the world.
As for 5: Again, I'm not sure what this means. Are you talking about the epistemology of modality—in particular, about the relationship between imaginability or conceivability and possibility?
This is the key point. We can posit the possibility of all kinds of abstractions, such as unicorns, and all kinds of possible worlds as long as they fit into the limits of the logical space defined by the subject-world relationship. But we cannot posit the possibility of the world without subjects, because it does not fit into that logical space. The possibility of another world without subjects could be posited and imagined parallel to our world, but there is no other world, as was postulated and defined in point 1. So the impossibility of using logic prevents us from positing the possibility of the world without subjects.
As for 6: This is simply a non sequitur. The imaginability or conceivability of a world doesn't require its actuality, since we can imagine all sorts of non-actual/non-existent/non-real things, even impossible ones. But the crucial point is that there is nothing about logic which prevents us from consistently imagining or conceiving a subjectless world. Of course, there is no possible subjectless world where a subjectless world is imagined or conceived, since all imaginations and conceptions are subject-dependent; but it certainly doesn't follow that there is no possible subjectless world.
All we can consistently imagine must fit into the logical space, the space of possibilities, and this space is necessarily within the limits of the subject-world relationship. As I said, unicorns fit perfectly into that space, but the world without subjects does not. Remember that we try to posit the universe, not an object.

When you say it is easy for you to imagine the world without subjects, I could ask you to describe what such a world might look like. You could describe a desert, for instance, and say that this is the whole universe, and you see how easy it was to imagine. But you are there, and you cannot take the position of an outsider even if you wanted. Even science cannot take that position.
(Idealists always make the basic mistake of confusing the subject- or mind-dependence of world-representations [world-perceptions/-conceptions/-descriptions/-imaginations] with a subject- or mind-dependence of the world.)
This is not confusing, and this is not a mistake. It is deliberate and fundamental.
Moreover, you don't have to think of other possible worlds, because you can alternatively think of subjectless (past or future) temporal parts of the actual world. That is, you can consistently imagine past times when there weren't any subjects yet, and you can consistently imagine future times when they aren't any subjects anymore.
On this see my reply to point 2.

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Re: Whatever Consciousness is, it's Not Physical (or reducible to physical).

Post by Tamminen » August 12th, 2018, 4:52 am

My argument was: it is impossible to consistently posit the possibility of the world without subjects.

I thought you were familiar with the concept of logical space, but it seems it is not the case. If I say that I saw a green cow this morning, this fits into the logical space of colors. But if I say that the universe is green, that is nonsense. Now my premise is that the widest logical space where we can posit possibilities is the space within the limits defined by the subject-world relationship. We can posit all kinds of possibilities into that logical space, as parts of possible worlds, and also all kinds of possible worlds as long as there are subjects in them. If the only subjects in the possible alternate world were rats, and we assume that rats are conscious beings, we can posit such a possible world without problems. But the world without subjects cannot be posited into that space. It is "too large". To say that the world is subjectless is nonsense in the same way as saying that the universe is green. This reasoning is somewhat circular, I admit, but I think we cannot avoid that, because a straightforward logical proof is not possible due to the fact that we are moving on the frontiers of logic. We can only try to understand the idea of this argument, and we can approach this understanding from several directions, until the insight of its truth comes, if it ever comes.

Another approach is based on the on/off nature of consciousness, which Consul and I agreed on. We can extend this idea to the universe as a whole. Let us imagine that all subjects are suddenly removed from the universe. What is left? Nothing. There is no meaningful way of speaking of the existence of the universe after the "lights are switched off". This is obvious but needs a certain kind of intuition for seeing its self-evidence. But, on the other hand, the sudden disappearance of the world is not possible, it is absurd and paradoxical. Everything cannot just vanish away with switching the light off. The paradox can be resolved only by concluding that there are necessarily subjects in the world. This is a version of reductio ad absurdum.

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Re: Whatever Consciousness is, it's Not Physical (or reducible to physical).

Post by Greta » August 12th, 2018, 6:04 pm

For mine, a universe before biology only has subjects if we speculate on the beingness of stars, black holes and other ostensibly nonconscious entities. Where are the subjects in the early universe of hot plasma clouds? I don't understand and wonder if I ever will.

If all biology is suddenly removed from the universe, there's still countless celestial objects remaining (life in potentia), even if there's no one around to notice it at the time. A tree still falls in a forest whether anyone's there to witness it or not.

Tamminem, I appreciate that this is almost certainly the wrong way to look at it but I cannot seem to get past the "commonsense" view that, while "subjects" (celestial objects) have long existed, subjects that are awake emerged more recently. Rather than seeing the universe as intrinsically awake it seems more likely that it's in the process of awakening.

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Re: Whatever Consciousness is, it's Not Physical (or reducible to physical).

Post by Halc » August 12th, 2018, 6:34 pm

Tamminen wrote:
August 12th, 2018, 4:52 am
Now my premise is that the widest logical space where we can posit possibilities is the space within the limits defined by the subject-world relationship.
But the logical space becomes much wider by those of use not confined by this subject-world relationship limit you have decided to impose on yourself. That's why the rest of us have no problem positing a world unobserved. We don't self-impose that limit.

As for idealism, there is no world with which a subject can have a relationship. There is only experience, and since one cannot experience the presence of another, there are no other subjects. If there is a world common to multiple subjects, then you're not describing idealism.

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Re: Whatever Consciousness is, it's Not Physical (or reducible to physical).

Post by BigBango » August 12th, 2018, 7:24 pm

Greta wrote:
August 12th, 2018, 6:04 pm
For mine, a universe before biology only has subjects if we speculate on the beingness of stars, black holes and other ostensibly nonconscious entities. Where are the subjects in the early universe of hot plasma clouds? I don't understand and wonder if I ever will.
Of all people on this forum Greta has shown the most facility of imagination and we know how Einstein ranked imagination above knowledge. Get the tee shirt Greta and wear it proudly.

There were subjects before the Big Bang. They were technologically adept, they escaped the Big Crunch/Big Bang. They returned to their universe after the plasma cooled and found their world of galactic centers had become our atoms. They found planets with active chemistry. They animated that chemistry by building cellular generators full of genetic mechanisms that could automate the production of organic chemicals. With this tampering they created artificial bots that we call living organisms. The real question is how much of their vital subjectivity is required to animate these bots in order to say that the bots are also subjects in their own right? Or is the subjectivity of the bot creators required to be present and this new instantiation just a continuation of the subjectivity that has always existed?

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Re: Whatever Consciousness is, it's Not Physical (or reducible to physical).

Post by Atla » August 12th, 2018, 8:20 pm

Here's an annoying post:

The dualistic thinker can fill 50+ pages with every possible wrong idea, quote past philosophers with hundreds of years of wrong ideas, and not get anywhere. Because it's not possible. The whole paradigm is defective.

Phenomenal consciousness is the same thing as the physical world, and is all there is, which is why neuroscience will never, ever pin down where phenomenal consciousness is coming from.

The "mental" and the "physical" are two completely nonsensical, made-up categories, that are so culturally ingrained that they can cause a mild split in the human mind. Since almost everyone is projecting this split onto reality, we think that reality itself is split. We tend to percieve reality twice, but the two fragments appear to be different. Then we argue about which one of the two is real or more fundamental, and how they could interact. We build our civilization around a dichotomy that doesn't exist.

Phenomenal consciousness is not some on/off system; it's just the individual brain/mind that appears to be an on/off system. However even the apparently blank, empty, "unconscious" states are part of phenomenal consciousness. They are just different.

There are of course also no actual subjects and objects in the world, the independent self is illusory, but we can't see through this illusion since thousands of years either. All proofs about distinct subjects and objects follow some basic circular reasoning.

Whether it's substance dualism or substance monism or neutral monism or property dualism or dual aspect monism or substance pluralism or panpsychism or whatever, there is always some dualistic thinking in it, in some cases right upfront, in other cases more deeply hidden. Reality is indivisible, and we are reality. But we always manage to apply some conceptual divisions to it anyway, it starts as a stupid idea and then a few generations later people start to think and feel like the divison is ontologically very real. Then it becomes common sense and so fundamental that eventually people can sometimes no longer even notice it.

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Re: Whatever Consciousness is, it's Not Physical (or reducible to physical).

Post by BigBango » August 13th, 2018, 3:03 am

Atla wrote:
August 12th, 2018, 8:20 pm
Here's an annoying post:

The dualistic thinker can fill 50+ pages with every possible wrong idea, quote past philosophers with hundreds of years of wrong ideas, and not get anywhere. Because it's not possible. The whole paradigm is defective.
Welcome to the conversation Atla.

Yes they can but so can the pure physicalists. You need to argue your point by pointing out the fallacies not just saying the dualists are wrong.
Atla wrote:
August 12th, 2018, 8:20 pm

Phenomenal consciousness is the same thing as the physical world, and is all there is, which is why neuroscience will never, ever pin down where phenomenal consciousness is coming from.
You say that but do not argue it!
Atla wrote:
August 12th, 2018, 8:20 pm
The "mental" and the "physical" are two completely nonsensical, made-up categories, that are so culturally ingrained that they can cause a mild split in the human mind. Since almost everyone is projecting this split onto reality, we think that reality itself is split. We tend to percieve reality twice, but the two fragments appear to be different. Then we argue about which one of the two is real or more fundamental, and how they could interact. We build our civilization around a dichotomy that doesn't exist.[/qute]

You say the dichotomy doesn't exist but you do not offer any arguments,
Atla wrote:
August 12th, 2018, 8:20 pm

Phenomenal consciousness is not some on/off system; it's just the individual brain/mind that appears to be an on/off system. However even the apparently blank, empty, "unconscious" states are part of phenomenal consciousness. They are just different.
I would agree
Atla wrote:
August 12th, 2018, 8:20 pm

There are of course also no actual subjects and objects in the world, the independent self is illusory, but we can't see through this illusion since thousands of years either. All proofs about distinct subjects and objects follow some basic circular reasoning.
If you follow Taminem you should realize he makes very good points. A world not experienced cannot exist in any meaningful way even if it does exist, so what!
Atla wrote:
August 12th, 2018, 8:20 pm

Whether it's substance dualism or substance monism or neutral monism or property dualism or dual aspect monism or substance pluralism or panpsychism or whatever, there is always some dualistic thinking in it, in some cases right upfront, in other cases more deeply hidden. Reality is indivisible, and we are reality. But we always manage to apply some conceptual divisions to it anyway, it starts as a stupid idea and then a few generations later people start to think and feel like the divison is ontologically very real. Then it becomes common sense and so fundamental that eventually people can sometimes no longer even notice it.
If I am not mistaken you are asserting substance monism and yet you attack that as "dualistic thinking."
You are attacking your own position. Sure we are reality but whether this reality is substance dualism or not has to be argued not just dismissed as you have done.

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Re: Whatever Consciousness is, it's Not Physical (or reducible to physical).

Post by Tamminen » August 13th, 2018, 4:26 am

Greta wrote:
August 12th, 2018, 6:04 pm
Rather than seeing the universe as intrinsically awake it seems more likely that it's in the process of awakening.
Those two expressions denote the same thing, in my thinking.
Halc wrote:
August 12th, 2018, 6:34 pm
But the logical space becomes much wider by those of use not confined by this subject-world relationship limit you have decided to impose on yourself. That's why the rest of us have no problem positing a world unobserved. We don't self-impose that limit.
Yes, it is intuition vs. intuition, premise vs. premise. I have given reasons for mine in recent posts and almost all of my 600 posts on this forum, and I cannot do more. It is hard to understand views that are so radically different from one's own, and I must confess that I do not understand yours or Consul's, but I try. And I do not know what you mean by "the rest of us".
Halc wrote:
August 12th, 2018, 6:34 pm
As for idealism, there is no world with which a subject can have a relationship. There is only experience, and since one cannot experience the presence of another, there are no other subjects. If there is a world common to multiple subjects, then you're not describing idealism.
OK, I am not describing idealism.

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Re: Whatever Consciousness is, it's Not Physical (or reducible to physical).

Post by Halc » August 13th, 2018, 7:49 am

Tamminen wrote:
August 13th, 2018, 4:26 am
Halc wrote: That's why the rest of us have no problem positing a world unobserved. We don't self-impose that limit.
And I do not know what you mean by "the rest of us".
I mean those of us who have no trouble positing a world without an observer, who do assert that this necessarily is the only world/universe by definition. I even said my definition was close to that, but I can posit another world without problem.

P1 This is the only world
P2 There is a world uninhabited by anything with presence
P3 This world is inhabited by something with presence
C1 The uninhabited world is not this world (by P2, P3)
C2 The uninhabited world both exists (P2) and does not exist (C1, P1)
C3 At least one of P1, P2, P3 is wrong (law of non-contradiction)

Notice that I was able to posit the uninhabited world in premise 2 no problem, even when driving the whole logic to inconsistency. I only proved that one of the three premises is wrong. I didn't render any proof of which one is wrong.
Halc wrote: As for idealism, there is no world with which a subject can have a relationship. There is only experience, and since one cannot experience the presence of another, there are no other subjects. If there is a world common to multiple subjects, then you're not describing idealism.
OK, I am not describing idealism.
This exchange from pages back makes me wonder on that point.
I had to reformat it since this forum seems to discard quotes beyond a certain depth.
Tamminen: An uninhabited universe is an abstraction beyond being and non-being.
Halc: No, an uninhabited universe is an uninhabited universe. An abstraction is a mental construct, and an uninhabited universe is not such a thing.
Tamminen: I disagree. An uninhabited universe is a mental construct, nothing more.
Halc: It cannot be a mental construct. It has no mental to construct it. That was the point of the example
Tamminen: It is our mental construct. It is an abstraction from our inhabited universe, which is the only universe there is, by definition.
This inability to separate abstraction from the thing in itself is the idealism that prompted this exchange. You might agree that there is an actual apple in addition to each subject's abstraction of that apple, and yet in the exchange above you cannot separate the two. I find this highly inconsistent. You seem to alter your own view as is convenient to the example at hand.

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Re: Whatever Consciousness is, it's Not Physical (or reducible to physical).

Post by Tamminen » August 13th, 2018, 8:54 am

Halc wrote:
August 13th, 2018, 7:49 am
Notice that I was able to posit the uninhabited world in premise 2 no problem
I think that we speak of different things. When I said that I cannot imagine the world without subjects, I meant that I cannot consistently posit the possibility of its existence as an alternative to our world.

It is easy to think of the world without subjects, but impossible to think of its existence. If you understand this difference, you understand my point.
Halc wrote:
August 13th, 2018, 7:49 am
This inability to separate abstraction from the thing in itself is the idealism that prompted this exchange. You might agree that there is an actual apple in addition to each subject's abstraction of that apple, and yet in the exchange above you cannot separate the two. I find this highly inconsistent. You seem to alter your own view as is convenient to the example at hand.
Now I do not understand. A unicorn is a mental construct with no real correlate even if the possibility of its real correlate were posited. It is the same with the mental construct of the world without subjects, with the difference that even the possibility of its existence cannot be consistently posited. But there are real cows in our real world. What did I miss?

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Re: Whatever Consciousness is, it's Not Physical (or reducible to physical).

Post by Halc » August 13th, 2018, 11:23 am

Tamminen wrote:
August 13th, 2018, 8:54 am
Halc wrote:
August 13th, 2018, 7:49 am
Notice that I was able to posit the uninhabited world in premise 2 no problem
I think that we speak of different things. When I said that I cannot imagine the world without subjects, I meant that I cannot consistently posit the possibility of its existence as an alternative to our world.
Yes, yet I posited exactly that in P2. It was driven to inconsistency mostly because it conflicts with P1, but P1 is just a premise that begs the conclusion you're trying to demonstrate.
Now I do not understand. A unicorn is a mental construct with no real correlate even if the possibility of its real correlate were posited. It is the same with the mental construct of the world without subjects, with the difference that even the possibility of its existence cannot be consistently posited. But there are real cows in our real world. What did I miss?
No, the mental construct of a unicorn is indeed just a mental contruct, but the unicorn itself is what is being posited, not the mental abstraction. The mental construct is necessary for a human to consider this thing, but the existence of the unicorn itself doesn't depend on it being mentally constructed by a human (except under idealism).

We're repeating the same words over and over. You speak of cows existing common to both of us, but you refuse to do the same for something else when used as a counterexample to your assertions. It's not like there is a specific cow that both of us has experienced in common (which is why the moon is so often referenced), and yet you can talk about real cows, and not just about our (not-shared) individual mental constructs of them.

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Re: Whatever Consciousness is, it's Not Physical (or reducible to physical).

Post by Felix » August 13th, 2018, 11:54 am

Greta: For mine, a universe before biology only has subjects if we speculate on the beingness of stars, black holes and other ostensibly nonconscious entities. Where are the subjects in the early universe of hot plasma clouds?
In a finite temporal universe, the same problem applies to physical objects, from whence did their being arise? They have no more primacy than do subjects, and less if they are simply the necessary foundation for the existence of subjects. And we can't be sure that consciousness requires our particular brand of biology. If you hanker after intelligent star clusters, read Olaf Stapleton's sci-fi novel 'Starmaker'.
"We do not see things as they are; we see things as we are." - Anaïs Nin

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Re: Whatever Consciousness is, it's Not Physical (or reducible to physical).

Post by Tamminen » August 13th, 2018, 12:52 pm

Halc wrote:
August 13th, 2018, 11:23 am
Yes, yet I posited exactly that in P2. It was driven to inconsistency mostly because it conflicts with P1, but P1 is just a premise that begs the conclusion you're trying to demonstrate.
P1 and P3 are true, so P2 must be false. P1 is part of the definition of the world.
Halc wrote:
August 13th, 2018, 11:23 am
No, the mental construct of a unicorn is indeed just a mental contruct, but the unicorn itself is what is being posited, not the mental abstraction. The mental construct is necessary for a human to consider this thing, but the existence of the unicorn itself doesn't depend on it being mentally constructed by a human (except under idealism).
You are right. I think this is what I said above.

But the possibility of the existence of the world without subjects cannot be posited as real, because it is not an object in the world, not in any possible world. It is the world itself, and that makes the situation completely different. The existence or nonexistence of the world without subjects has nothing to do with what the world looks like, because it is not a possible world. Unicorns are different in this respect. They are or are not part of the world and their being or non-being makes a difference.

My view can perhaps be described as some kind of objective idealism. There is an objective world independent of an individual subject, but its being depends on the basic ontological structure of reality, which is the subject's relationship with the world. Therefore the world without subjects is impossible. This is only a description, I am not trying to prove it is the only possible metaphysical position. Just to clarify this idealism topic.

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Re: Whatever Consciousness is, it's Not Physical (or reducible to physical).

Post by Tamminen » August 13th, 2018, 1:30 pm

Halc wrote:
August 13th, 2018, 11:23 am
No, the mental construct of a unicorn is indeed just a mental contruct, but the unicorn itself is what is being posited, not the mental abstraction. The mental construct is necessary for a human to consider this thing, but the existence of the unicorn itself doesn't depend on it being mentally constructed by a human (except under idealism).
Maybe I missed your point here. Of course unicorns belong to our fauna, in their conspicuous absence! But the same cannot be said of the world without subjects.

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