Gertie wrote: ↑
October 15th, 2020, 7:57 pm
I just don't have a bias against panpsychism. I suspect our attraction to monism might be more about us than the way the universe necessarily has to be. Monism is tidy, and unity is 'elegant' and satisfying, but maybe it's just us bringing those type of criteria to the table.
Well, I agree with your assessment of monism. In my view it is as wrong-headed as dualism. Any view that strives to "reduce" existents to one or a few "basic" or "fundamental" substances is wrong-headed; there is no need for any "basic" substances, and efforts to identify and characterize them only lead to dead-ends.
We have to keep in mind that all ontological theories are conceptual constructs --- verbal structures we can use to communicate information about, and explain, our experiences. Explanation consists in noting relationships and regularities that permit us to predict future experience. We're entirely free to postulate as many existents or categories of existents as we wish, none of which need be any more "basic" than any other --- whatever works to improve our ability to anticipate (and thus control) future experience.
That's true. But Philosophy of Mind has to take certain things as implicit in order to provide a framework for discussing the issue. It mostly roughly assumes there is a real world we share, we can know things about (in a flawed and limited way), about brains, evolution and so on. Otherwise if we end up questioning every thing, we ultimately end up in the dead end of solipsism, with absolutely everything else being utility based. (A problem which I think Idealism has to face, in its rejection of materialism).
As long as we realise we're dealing with a flawed and limited model which we also model ourselves as inhabiting, we can coherently categorise existents, infer causality from patterns, identify reducibility and so on. And also recognise what we've learned about our own flaws and biases from the model.
So when we compare notes inter-subjectively about our shared model, we can come up with a materialist model whereby material stuff is reducible, and interacts based on forces. And note this model doesn't account for experience. Which results in concepts like substance dualism or panpsychism, or identity theory. These concepts give us a handle on how to adjust our model to include all existents and their relationships. But that this is a model should always be the caveat.
I also agree that we "bring unity to the table." That demand, that whatever entities and processes we postulate exhibit some coherence, some unity, is built into our conceptual apparatus; it is what Kant called the "unity of apperception." Unity is also an axiom of ITT, with regard to percepts. But it extends to concepts also. We don't like "nomological danglers" --- phenomena that seem to have no relationships to anything else. (Term popularized in J. C. C. Smart's classic paper, "Sensations and Brain Processes":
But unity does not presume, or require, a "basic substance." A correlative/causative relationship between brain processes and mental phenomena is sufficient to unify them.
How so? There has to be something which is a relationship with another something, a relationship isn't a thing in itself.
The utility of a theory, however, is a function of its explanatory power --- the extent to which it permits us to predict future experience. A theory that postulates phenomena forever inaccessible to observation --- to experience -- has no explanatory power.
Then we say we don't know. There is a state of affairs regardless of us knowing it. If we accept material stuff exists (as something other than experience), and experience exists, we can say we observe a correlated relationship, and also that we can't explain the nature of that relationship within our (current) model.
Then there's the Hard Problem. If experience is fundamental its existence and nature doesn't need explaining (except in terms of why is there something rather than nothing). What is still left unexplained is the details of the mind-body relationship, but with panpsychism perhaps a science of consciousness becomes potentially doable, like IIT is trying to come up with.
I agree with Tononi (and Kant, of course) that experience is fundamental, in the sense that it is the raw material, the starting point, of all conceptualizing and theorizing. But being fundamental in that sense doesn't imply that it is universal, or a "basic" substance or constituent of the universe at large.
Right. Those are two different issues, epistemological and ontological. We need to be clear which we're talking about. I think you and I diverge here, I see you sometimes blurring that, re AI for example, while at other times talking as if brains etc are real/material stuff. I'm thinking which framework we're using at any time nedds to be explicitly stated, and divergences signalled.
It is only fundamental for conscious creatures endeavoring to explain their experience. To be sure, any such explanation requires an external world --- but one we can never experience directly, and thus are in no position to speculate on what might be its "basic" components or structure. All we can do is construct theories that help us better predict and control our own experiences
But to do so we use a model of stuff and processes. If our notion of what stuff and processes are changes (via better technology/more knowledge/paradigmatic conceptual shifts/whatev), our explanations change, and we have better explanations which we have reason to believe better represents the actual ontological state of affairs.
Without checking in on that ontological actual state of affairs in the 'real world' beyond our experience, I think (not sure) all roads inevitably to lead to solipsism and simply ''acting as if'' a real world exists beyond 'my' experience.