Spiritual versus Religious

Discuss philosophical questions regarding theism (and atheism), and discuss religion as it relates to philosophy. This includes any philosophical discussions that happen to be about god, gods, or a 'higher power' or the belief of them. This also generally includes philosophical topics about organized or ritualistic mysticism or about organized, common or ritualistic beliefs in the existence of supernatural phenomenon.
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Tamminen
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Re: Spiritual versus Religious

Post by Tamminen » February 7th, 2018, 5:40 am

Consul wrote:
February 6th, 2018, 6:11 pm
Tamminen wrote:
February 6th, 2018, 5:40 pm
…And the subject is the key for all this. Without it everything would vanish away. The universe is there for the subject. Sounds mystical?
Yea, and false. Perceptual consciousness of the universe "is there for the subject," but the universe itself isn't.
I am experiencing the universe, directly or indirectly, and without my being in the universe there is no universe. Even the big bang has been there because I am now experiencing something that has a spatio-temporal connection to it. And when I die, there will be others to experience the universe. My personal non-being does not change the situation which constitutes the basic structure of reality: the subject-object relation. The subject is always there already, wherever it happens to be concretely. As I said, without it everything would vanish away. I do not see why this is so difficult to understand. For me it is self-evident.

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Re: Spiritual versus Religious

Post by Tamminen » February 7th, 2018, 9:07 am

Frost wrote:
February 6th, 2018, 9:41 pm
Experiential states are necessary, however, otherwise, quite literally, nothing ever happens.
True. What physicalism in fact claims is that everything is transcendent. For that is what physics is all about: it tries to describe in a logically consistent way how transcendent reality, the material world, appears to us. And it does a good job in doing that. But physics, as well as physicalism, forgets to ask what transcendence is. It forgets that transcendence is transcendence only in relation to immanence, our immediate reality, subjectivity, or consciousness. Physicalism makes the fatal mistake of trying to explain subjectivity by the objects of that very same subjectivity. This is a Münchhausen's trick, trying to lift oneself by one's own hair. Nobody believed him, but some of us still believe in physicalism. It is a metaphysical belief, a blind commitment to an ontological position that works well in physics, biology and even neuroscience, which are its own territory, but fails totally if it tries to extend itself to psychology or analysis of subjectivity and consciousness as they immediately present themselves in us.

What is ontologically closest to us makes us often blind.

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Consul
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Re: Spiritual versus Religious

Post by Consul » February 7th, 2018, 2:14 pm

Frost wrote:
February 6th, 2018, 11:42 pm
Experience is qualitative, not quantitative.
Of course, if all phenomenal properties are qualitative and all physical properties are non-qualitative (by definition), then phenomenal properties cannot be physical properties; but I reject the premise that all physical properties are non-qualities. Anyway, aren't quantities just quantifiable or measurable qualities? There's the famous distinction between secondary qualities and primary qualities, the latter of which are physical qualities.
Frost wrote:
February 6th, 2018, 11:42 pm
Why is physicalism incoherent? A physicalist cannot differentiate what is experiential and what is not experiential, and this results in either denying experience like Dennett or claiming experience is everywhere like Peter Strawson. The problem is, panexperientialism is incoherent since there is no sense to saying a photon has experience when from its inertial frame there is no time or space, and it can be in a superposition.
(I guess you mean Peter Strawson's son Galen.)

I reject eliminative materialism about consciousness, and I count Dennett among the eliminative materialists (even though he himself denies being one).

Of course, a (reductive) "physicalist cannot differentiate what is experiential and what is not experiential" in terms of non-physical/physically irreducible phenomenal properties/qualities that experiences have and non-experiences lack, but he can alternatively and reductively do so in terms of structural and functional physicochemical differences between experiential neural processes and non-experiential ones (and the respective neural properties involved therein).
Frost wrote:
February 6th, 2018, 11:42 pm
Consul wrote:
February 6th, 2018, 11:24 pm
Physicalists reply that this is a mere seeming, a false appearance. For example, here's David Armstrong's Headless-Woman-Illusion argument, which is meant to illustrate their point that it's fallacious to interpret our introspective non-awareness of the physicality of our minds/consciousnesses as an introspective awareness of their non-physicality:
A false appearance for whom? An experiencer that is having an experience.
Yes, where there is experience there must be a subject of it; and for physicalists, subjects exist but they are material entities of some sort ("hardware": bodies/organisms/brains, or materially realized "software": (informational) brain processes).
"We may philosophize well or ill, but we must philosophize." – Wilfrid Sellars

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Consul
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Re: Spiritual versus Religious

Post by Consul » February 7th, 2018, 2:31 pm

Tamminen wrote:
February 6th, 2018, 5:01 pm
I have said many times that I do not see consciousness as any kind of substance or substrate. Consciousness is the immanent side of the relation of the subject to the material world, and therefore it is on a different ontological level than the body, but it is not a spiritual stuff of any kind. In fact, because of the correlation between body and mind, they can also be thought of as the same thing seen from two different perspectives, so that they are two conceptually incompatible levels of description of the same relation. If we say that our brain creates our consciousness, it is true in the sense that the material world is the basis for its being, but there is no conceptual bridge between the two.
There is a conceptual or terminological dualism between psychology/phenomenology and physiology/neurology, but it doesn't follow that there is also an ontological dualism that makes physiological/neurological reductionism about the mind/consciousness impossible in principle.
Tamminen wrote:
February 6th, 2018, 5:01 pm
Immanence and transcendence can never be on the same level of description. Consciousness is close to us ontologically, it is our immediate reality, whereas our brain is part of the transcendent world. Our brains, our bodies and the rest of the material universe are objects of consciousness, and consciousness cannot be explained by its objects. Consciousness is fundamental although it needs the whole material universe for its being.
And the conclusion of all this is that it is you who reify consciousness, not me.
No, because I don't regard it as a substance but as a non-substantial occurrence (state/event/process), which occurs in and depends on a (material) substance or substrate.

I fail to see why it should be impossible in principle to explain the contents of consciousness in terms of (physical) objects of consciousness.
"We may philosophize well or ill, but we must philosophize." – Wilfrid Sellars

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Consul
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Re: Spiritual versus Religious

Post by Consul » February 7th, 2018, 2:44 pm

Frost wrote:
February 6th, 2018, 9:50 pm
The problem is, science cannot, in principle, provide positive metaphysical evidence, though it can falsify certain metaphysical concepts. The common claim that physicalism is supported by science is abject nonsense.
That's a good one! :wink:
As Jack Smart rightly says, rational plausibility in the light of total science, especially natural/physical science, is a central criterion for the (probable) truth of a metaphysical (world)view; and in this respect, materialism/physicalism fares much better than all dualisms and spiritualist/idealist monisms.
"We may philosophize well or ill, but we must philosophize." – Wilfrid Sellars

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Consul
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Re: Spiritual versus Religious

Post by Consul » February 7th, 2018, 3:11 pm

Frost wrote:
February 6th, 2018, 11:51 pm
Consul wrote:
February 6th, 2018, 11:29 pm
"The argument from introspection is a much more interesting argument, since it tries to appeal to the direct experience of everyman. But the argument is deeply suspect, in that it assumes that our faculty of inner observation or introspection reveals things as they really are in their innermost nature. This assumption is suspect because we already know that our other forms of observation—sight, hearing, touch, and so on—do no such thing. The red surface of an apple does not look like a matrix of molecules reflecting photons at certain critical wavelengths, but that is what it is." – Paul Churchland
Apparently the matrix of molecules reflecting photons at certain critical wavelengths DOES look like an apple and DOES look red. At the scales involved, why would the apple not look like an apple? It it supposed to look like it would under an electron microscope?
:?:
He doesn't say that red apples don't look like red apples, but that the physical microstructure of their red-looking surfaces is hidden from (technologically unaided) vision. Analogously, he's arguing that the physical microstructure of experiences is hidden from inner "vision" (introspection). "I don't see it, so it's not there" is not a valid argument, is it?
Frost wrote:
February 6th, 2018, 11:51 pm
Consul wrote:
February 6th, 2018, 11:29 pm
If one's pains and hopes and beliefs do not introspectively seem like electrochemical states in a neural network, that may be only because our faculty of introspection, like our other senses, is not sufficiently penetrating to reveal such hidden details.
This is deeply confused. It is equating physical properties with the experience generated from them. Pains and beliefs are not just electrochemical states because if there is no experience they don't exist and are therefore ontologically incomplete.
Of course, those kinds of electrochemical states which are experiences cannot exist unexperienced; but, again, his point is that when we subjectively experience certain electrochemical processes in our brains, we are not introspectively aware of their electrochemical nature and structure; but it doesn't follow that they don't have an electrochemical nature and structure.
Frost wrote:
February 6th, 2018, 11:51 pm
Consul wrote:
February 6th, 2018, 11:29 pm
Which is just what one would expect anyway. The argument from introspection is therefore entirely without force, unless we can somehow argue that the faculty of introspection is quite different from all other forms of observation. On the face of it, the only difference would seem to be that its focus is on states inside the skin, whereas our other sensory faculties focus on states outside the skin. Why that should make any philosophical difference needs to be explained, since what is inside my skin is already known to be my brain and nervous system."
(Churchland, Paul M. Matter and Consciousness. 3rd ed. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 2013. pp. 24-5)
Yes, it is quite different from all other forms of observation. One is feeling the feeling state of being, experiencing one's experiential states, not making an external observation of physical properties. Paul Churchland is deeply confused on this.
No, he's not. The physical/physiological objects of outer observation/perception (extrospection) are different from the psychological objects of inner observation/perception (introspection), but it doesn't follow that they are essentially, radically different sorts of observation/perception, or that introspection is no sort of observation/perception at all.

Of course, there is a difference between merely or simply experiencing (having/undergoing) an experience, which doesn't require a cognitive act of introspection or reflection, and introspecting (innerly observing/perceiving) it.

Dualists argue that the psychological objects of introspection (= sensations, emotions, mental images, thoughts, beliefs, desires, etc.) are nonphysical entities or occurrents, because introspection reveals their nonphysical nature and structure. Churchland's reply is that it does no such thing!
"We may philosophize well or ill, but we must philosophize." – Wilfrid Sellars

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Consul
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Re: Spiritual versus Religious

Post by Consul » February 7th, 2018, 3:20 pm

Tamminen wrote:
February 7th, 2018, 5:40 am
I am experiencing the universe, directly or indirectly, and without my being in the universe there is no universe. Even the big bang has been there because I am now experiencing something that has a spatio-temporal connection to it. And when I die, there will be others to experience the universe. My personal non-being does not change the situation which constitutes the basic structure of reality: the subject-object relation. The subject is always there already, wherever it happens to be concretely. As I said, without it everything would vanish away. I do not see why this is so difficult to understand. For me it is self-evident.
I don't understand why it's self-evident for you—when it's so (philosophically and scientifically) implausible, counterintuitive, and anti-commonsensical. I do not see why it is so difficult to understand that there is neither a logical nor an ontological dependence of being or nature on being perceived or conceived by sensing and thinking beings—that the natural/physical universe exists independently of (human or nonhuman) percepts or concepts or any other representations of it. Berkeley was wrong: esse non est percipi!
"We may philosophize well or ill, but we must philosophize." – Wilfrid Sellars

Tamminen
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Re: Spiritual versus Religious

Post by Tamminen » February 7th, 2018, 6:16 pm

Consul wrote:
February 7th, 2018, 3:20 pm
esse non est percipi!
Right. I am not a subjective idealist. I am saying that the being of subjects depends on the being of the material universe, and the being of the material universe depends on the being of subjectivity - but not on the being of any individual subject of course, only on the being of experiencing subjects that bring the rationality and meaning of being with them. I do not believe in an absurd universe, especially as it is evident that such a universe cannot exist. An uninhabited universe is self-contradictory when you think of it thoroughly. As I said, looking close is sometimes very difficult.

Another point: if science one day detects consciousness in our brains, how can it claim it is consciousness that it has found? Consciousness is private by definition! This is also valid concerning the question of possible consciousness in robots. The only way the existence of consciousness can be verified in an organism or computer is through the common language we have or certain features of behaviour, but never looking into our brains or the algorithms of our computers.

Tamminen
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Re: Spiritual versus Religious

Post by Tamminen » February 8th, 2018, 11:29 am

Consul wrote:
February 7th, 2018, 2:31 pm
There is a conceptual or terminological dualism between psychology/phenomenology and physiology/neurology, but it doesn't follow that there is also an ontological dualism that makes physiological/neurological reductionism about the mind/consciousness impossible in principle.
If mind can be reduced to matter, then there must be a conceptual bridge between them. Isn't that the whole point? I say there is no such bridge. What do you say?

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Consul
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Re: Spiritual versus Religious

Post by Consul » February 8th, 2018, 12:38 pm

Tamminen wrote:
February 8th, 2018, 11:29 am
Consul wrote:
February 7th, 2018, 2:31 pm
There is a conceptual or terminological dualism between psychology/phenomenology and physiology/neurology, but it doesn't follow that there is also an ontological dualism that makes physiological/neurological reductionism about the mind/consciousness impossible in principle.
If mind can be reduced to matter, then there must be a conceptual bridge between them. Isn't that the whole point? I say there is no such bridge. What do you say?
If reductive physicalism about mind/consciousness is true, it is possible in principle at least, if not in practice (because of problems of descriptive complexity), to alternatively describe all psychological facts/truths by means of physical/chemical/neurological concepts/predicates. This is not to say that psychological concepts/predicates are synonymous with physical/chemical/neurological ones, because physical reductionism is ontologically, not semantically reductive.
As Gottlob Frege has taught us: difference in meaning doesn't mean difference in reference. That psychological concepts/predicates are not synonymous with physical ones doesn't mean that they refer to non-physical entities.
"We may philosophize well or ill, but we must philosophize." – Wilfrid Sellars

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Consul
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Re: Spiritual versus Religious

Post by Consul » February 8th, 2018, 12:55 pm

Tamminen wrote:
February 7th, 2018, 6:16 pm
Right. I am not a subjective idealist. I am saying that the being of subjects depends on the being of the material universe, and the being of the material universe depends on the being of subjectivity - but not on the being of any individual subject of course, only on the being of experiencing subjects that bring the rationality and meaning of being with them.
There is a distinction between rigid and generic existential dependence: To say that the universe is rigidly existentially dependent on the existence of subjects is to say that it depends on the existence of one particular subject, whereas to say that it is generically existentially dependent on the existence on subjects is to say that it depends on the existence of some subject or other, of at least one subject.
I see no plausible reason to believe that the material universe is rigidly or generically dependent on subjects.

Ontological Dependence: https://plato.stanford.edu/entries/depe ... tological/
"We may philosophize well or ill, but we must philosophize." – Wilfrid Sellars

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Re: Spiritual versus Religious

Post by Consul » February 8th, 2018, 12:59 pm

Tamminen wrote:
February 7th, 2018, 6:16 pm
Consciousness is private by definition!.
It normally is, but it is doubtful whether it is essentially/necessarily so. See: http://onlinephilosophyclub.com/forums/ ... 90#p304790
"We may philosophize well or ill, but we must philosophize." – Wilfrid Sellars

Tamminen
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Re: Spiritual versus Religious

Post by Tamminen » February 8th, 2018, 12:59 pm

A thought experiment:

Imagine you are observing your brain. You see what happens in your brain as you are looking at it. You see the neurological correlates of your seeing your brain. But if physicalism is true, what you should in fact see there is your seeing itself, your perception of your brain. But of course you cannot see it, not even a delayed version of it. That would be absurd. You are it, at the moment it is experienced. Now we see the relation of mind and brain and the impossibility of applying physicalism to consciousness.

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Re: Spiritual versus Religious

Post by Tamminen » February 9th, 2018, 9:01 am

To continue the monoloque:

Consciousness is consciousness of transcendent, material objects. This is the basic structure of our being in the world. And we cannot break this structure, look at it from outside and try to explain consciousness of objects by the objects themselves. We are not gods.

Material objects, the Kantian noumena, need explaining, but consciousness of those objects, our immediate reality, cannot and need not be explained. Transcendence needs explanation, immanence needs phenomenological analysis. This is what Husserl so clearly saw.

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Re: Spiritual versus Religious

Post by Consul » February 9th, 2018, 10:11 am

Tamminen wrote:
February 9th, 2018, 9:01 am
Consciousness is consciousness of transcendent, material objects. This is the basic structure of our being in the world. And we cannot break this structure, look at it from outside and try to explain consciousness of objects by the objects themselves. We are not gods.
Material objects, the Kantian noumena, need explaining, but consciousness of those objects, our immediate reality, cannot and need not be explained. Transcendence needs explanation, immanence needs phenomenological analysis. This is what Husserl so clearly saw.
Self-conscious beings capable of introspection are psychologically conscious of their consciousness/mind too.

Consciousness is part of the natural/physical world and an outcome of natural/physical evolution. That its experiential contents are subjective doesn't mean that their becoming and being cannot possibly be explained objectively by natural/physical science. This doesn't mean that we don't need introspection and phenomenology for an analysis and description of the subjective content of consciousness, but introspection-based phenomenological analysis cannot reveal anything about how consciousness is realized by the brain. (There can no longer be any serious scientific doubt that it is in fact realized by the brain, that the brain is the organ and locus of consciousness.) The objective neurological mechanisms or processes underlying subjective experiences are totally inaccessible to and unanalyzable by introspective psychology and phenomenology.

What we need is a psychoneurology, a brain science of the (cognitive & conscious) mind, which explains mental/experiential states and contents in physico-scientific (physical/chemical/biological/neurological) terms; and such a science is not impossible in principle. Of course, it needs both the third-person data of neurophysiology and behavioral psychology, and the first-person data of introspective psychology and phenomenology.

"The fact that conscious states are ontologically subjective, in the sense that they exist only as experienced by a human or animal subject, does not imply that there cannot be a scientifically objective study of conscious states. …The mode of existence of conscious states is indeed ontologically subjective, but ontological subjectivity of the subject matter does not preclude an epistemically objective science of that very subject matter. Indeed, the whole science of neurology requires that we try to seek an epistemically objective scientific account of pains, anxieties, and other afflictions that patients suffer from in order that we can treat these with medical techniques. Whenever I hear philosophers and neurobiologists say that science cannot deal with subjective experiences I always want to show them textbooks in neurology where the scientists and doctors who write and use the books have no choice but to try to give a scientific account of people’s subjective feelings, because they are trying to help actual patients who are suffering."

(Searle, John. Mind: A Brief Introduction. New York: Oxford University Press, 2004. pp. 135-6)
"We may philosophize well or ill, but we must philosophize." – Wilfrid Sellars

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