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Ontology of Mind

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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Prothero
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Ontology of Mind

Post by Prothero » August 13th, 2017, 8:21 pm

The Ontology of Mind

[C]onsciousness, however small, is an illegitimate birth in any philosophy that
starts without it, and yet professes to explain all facts by continuous evolution.
If evolution is to work smoothly, consciousness in some shape must have been
present at the very origins of things” (James 1890/1950, 149).

According to Brüntrup and Jaskolla, “panpsychism is the thesis that mental being is an ubiquitous and fundamental feature pervading the entire universe,”

https://platofootnote.wordpress.com/201 ... npsychism/
The genetic argument is based on the philosophical principle ‘ex nihilo, nihil fit’ – nothing can bring about something which it does not already possess. If human consciousness came to be through a physical process of evolution, then physical matter must already contain some basic form of mental being. Versions of this argument can be found in both Thomas Nagel’s Mortal Questions (1979) as well as William James’s The Principles of Psychology (1890).”
Sir Bertrand Russell who noted in his Human Knowledge: Its Scope and its Limits (1948): ‘The physical world is only known as regards certain abstract features of its space-time structure – features which, because of their abstractness, do not suffice to show whether the world is, or is not, different in intrinsic character from the world of mind.’ (Russell 1948, 240)

Sir Arthur Eddington formulated a very intuitive version of the argument from intrinsic natures in his Space, Time and Gravitation (1920): ‘Physics is the knowledge of structural form, and not knowledge of content. All through the physical world runs that unknown content, which must surely be the stuff of our consciousness.’ (Eddington, 1920, 200).”

Mathews puts it: “the materialist view of the world that is a corollary of dualism maroons the epistemic subject in the small if charmed circle of its own subjectivity, and … it is only the reanimation of matter itself that enables the subject to reconnect with reality. This ‘argument from realism’ constitutes my defense of panpsychism.” (Mathews, 2003, 44)

OUP post:“Panpsychism paints a picture of reality that emphasizes a humane and caring relationship with nature due to its fundamental rejection of the Cartesian conception of nature as a mechanism to be exploited by mankind. For the panpsychist, we encounter in nature other entities of intrinsic value, rather than objects to be manipulated for our gain.”

“Whatever consciousness is, it is a process, not stuff or the momentary configuration of stuff or knowledge of the way stuff is arranged or even knowledge of what process is being done.”
Plato:This world is indeed a living being endowed with a soul and intelligence ... a single visible living entity containing all other living entities, which by their nature are all related.[6]

Strawson “Physicalism Entails Panpsychism”
“Experiential phenomena are emergent phenomena. Consciousness properties, experience properties, are emergent properties of wholly and utterly non-conscious, non-experiential phenomena. Physical stuff in itself, in its basic nature, is indeed a wholly non-conscious, non-experiential phenomenon. Nevertheless when parts of it combine in certain ways, experiential phenomena ‘emerge’. Ultimates in themselves are wholly non-conscious, non-experiential phenomena. Nevertheless, when they combine in certain ways, experiential phenomena ‘emerge’.

Does this conception of emergence make sense? I think that it is very, very hard to understand what it is supposed to involve. I think that it is incoherent, in fact, and that this general way of talking of emergence has acquired an air of plausibility (or at least possibility) for some simply because it has been appealed to many times in the face of a seeming mystery

I finish up, indeed, in the same position as Eddington. ‘To put the conclusion crudely’, he says, ‘the stuff of the world is mind-stuff’—something whose nature is ‘not altogether foreign to the feelings in our consciousness’. ‘Having granted this’, he continues,

the mental activity of the part of the world constituting ourselves occasions no surprise; it is known to us by direct self-knowledge, and we do not explain it away as something other than we know it to be—or, rather, it knows itself to be. It is the physical aspects [i.e. non-mental aspects] of the world that we have to explain.[54]
Eddington puts it as follows. ‘Our knowledge of the nature of the objects treated in physics consists solely of readings of pointers [on instrument dials] and other indicators’. This being so, he asks, ‘what knowledge have we of the nature of atoms that renders it at all incongruous that they should constitute a thinking object?’ Absolutely none, he rightly replies: ‘science has nothing to say as to the intrinsic nature of the atom’. The atom, so far as physics tells us anything about it,

”the idea that phenomenal consciousness emerges from an utterlyinsentient physical background. Neo-panexperientialists maintain that carefulscrutiny reveals that such radical emergence—a complete breach of ontological continuity, the sudden appearance on the scene of something wholly unprecedented, devoid of any primitive forerunners, and of which no traces can be detected prior toits ultimate surge—is hopelessly unintelligible.

When does experience, mind, consciousness, first appear in nature?

Does consciousness not require evolution in nature, just like the evolution of physical structure?

Should mind not have first appeared as some primitive form of non-conscious experience followed by increasing degrees of complexity and self-awareness?

Could matter, if entirely devoid of sensation, feeling or experience, give rise to thinking feeling creatures?

What is you notion of the first appearance in nature of “mind” of mind like qualities and of its subsequent evolution and development?

In all fairness, my proclivities are process philosophy, neutral monism and panexperientialism (a form of panpsychism).

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JamesOfSeattle
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Re: Ontology of Mind

Post by JamesOfSeattle » August 13th, 2017, 10:21 pm

Mind and consciousness-type events first appeared in nature when entities that could reproduce in some fashion first appeared. These entities probably were cell-like structures with a lipid bilayer. In any case, once you have self-reproducing entities which can incorporate a change to their material organization, and this change is then reproduced with the entity, then natural selection kicks in. Any such physical changes which increase fitness make it more likely that the entity will be reproduced.

So where does the mental come in? The mental comes in at this point because a self-reproducing entity can gain value (fitness) from information. If an entity can physically produce something that can recognize information in the environment, and the result of that recognition is some sort of activity that is useful to the survival of that entity, then the ability to produce that something increases the fitness of the entity. The paradigm for such a something is a cell surface receptor that recognizes some molecule in the cell's environment and generates movement toward or away higher concentrations of that molecule, depending on whether the source of the molecule is a good thing (food) or bad thing (poison/predator).

And so it begins.

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Prothero
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Re: Ontology of Mind

Post by Prothero » August 13th, 2017, 10:25 pm

And what would the nature of this primitive sort of "mind" be? Would be explainable entirely in terms of physics, measurement, empirical observation? or is there some aspect of it that is not measurable in this way?

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JamesOfSeattle
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Re: Ontology of Mind

Post by JamesOfSeattle » August 13th, 2017, 10:59 pm

It's all physical events. No new physics. No magic. Various capabilities, starting with communication and memory, "emerge" when you combine such entities in the correct way.

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Prothero
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Re: Ontology of Mind

Post by Prothero » August 14th, 2017, 12:14 am

JamesOfSeattle wrote:It's all physical events. No new physics. No magic. Various capabilities, starting with communication and memory, "emerge" when you combine such entities in the correct way.*
So would you consider your position to be Materialistic monism) (Physicalism)?
Would you consider this view to be one of strong emergence.
I have no trouble by the way with the emergence of novel physical features from novel arrangements of matter, but the strong emergence of mental features from non mental matter seems somewhat more difficult.
With regard to your view of the relationship between mind and matter, do you consider yourself an identist? a functionalist? a epiphenomenalism?
I gave my metaphysical proclivities. I should say I am a big fan of science and well educated in the sciences but I find scientific explanations in many regards partial and incomplete especially with respect to mind and experience.

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JamesOfSeattle
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Re: Ontology of Mind

Post by JamesOfSeattle » August 14th, 2017, 1:00 am

I guess I am a materialist/physicalist/functionalist. Pretty sure I'm not an epiphenomenalist. I have no idea what an identist is. Actually I consider myself a poetic naturalist (see Sean Carroll's book The Big Picture).

I'm not absolutely clear on strong v. weak emergence. Consciousness is about patterns and relationships, and certain patterns and relationships cannot be instantiated without certain precursors. It take two to tango.

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Spectrum
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Re: Ontology of Mind

Post by Spectrum » August 14th, 2017, 1:21 am

Your concept of 'ontology' for mind is a non-starter.
There is no absolute ontology of mind.
An ontology of mind will falsely lead of an ontological independent soul that survives physical death.
In the Abrahamic religion such a soul is at the mercy of a God where in Islam Allah condone the killing of infidels in exchange for special favors in Paradise.

What we have is a Spontaneous Emergent Reality.
I have often used this example [3D Mask of Einstein] to demonstrate a spontaneous-emergent-reality.
In the above experiment a convex-3D-Mask of Einstein emerged to be perceived out of nowhere when in reality it is a concave mask. Point is no matter how one blinks one's eye the unreality of the mask is always presented as a real perception to the perceiver.
On analysis we understand it is a natural illusion that can be explained via neuroscience and evolutionary psychology, etc.

My proposition is the above mechanics of perceiving the convex-3D-Mask of Einstein is along the same principle for humans perceiving what is deemed to be real [empirical and reasoned]. The explanations of this Spontaneous Emergent Reality is more complex than the above convex-3D-Mask demonstration.

It is like there is a "soup of basic elements" that provide a basis for a Spontaneous Emergent Reality to emerge onto consciousness.
What is this "soup of basic elements?" It is an emergence out of Spontaneous Emergent Reality. This is seemingly circular. To get out of this circularity we need to introduce the Buddhist concept of Emptiness.
There is no ontological mind, what is mind again is an emergence from the Spontaneous Emergent Reality.

Why people want more explanation than what is Spontaneous Emergent Reality, e.g. an ontological God or ontological mind exists is due to one's existential psychology. Resolve and secure the psychology, that's it!
Not-a-theist. Religion is a critical necessity for humanity now, but not the FUTURE.

Prothero
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Re: Ontology of Mind

Post by Prothero » August 14th, 2017, 1:43 am

Spectrum wrote:Your concept of 'ontology' for mind is a non-starter.
There is no absolute ontology of mind.
An ontology of mind will falsely lead of an ontological independent soul that survives physical death.
In the Abrahamic religion such a soul is at the mercy of a God where in Islam Allah condone the killing of infidels in exchange for special favors in Paradise.!
Do not agree with that at all.
I personally do not believe the human mind can be separated from the human brain. Nor do I believe in a separate soul that survives the death of the mind.
Non the less I remain curious about the relationship between mind (or experience) and the physical. In my view they are inseparably linked.
As long as one's notion of the physical is one that includes elements of relationship, interaction and experience, I don't see a problem.
If ones notion of the physical is one of insensate non experiential matter blindly moved about by external forces, I think it is difficult to explain the emergence of mind.
I of do reject absolute idealism as an explanation, as I am fundamentally a realist.
In detail, I am a process philosophy fan (primarily Whitehead) so reality is not composed of just mind or just matter, but of events "droplets or occasions of experience) in time and space, so the experiential and the physical are aspects of the one monistic reality (neutral monism or panexperientialism if one prefers).

Spectrum
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Re: Ontology of Mind

Post by Spectrum » August 14th, 2017, 3:01 am

Prothero wrote:I of do reject absolute idealism as an explanation, as I am fundamentally a realist.
In detail, I am a process philosophy fan (primarily Whitehead) so reality is not composed of just mind or just matter, but of events "droplets or occasions of experience) in time and space, so the experiential and the physical are aspects of the one monistic reality (neutral monism or panexperientialism if one prefers).
You may reject absolute idealism, but in reality your philosophical realism is indeed a type of absolute idealism as explained below.

If you are a realist, I presume you are a philosophical or metaphysical realist, i.e.
wiki wrote:Realism (in philosophy) about a given object is the view that this object exists in reality independently of our conceptual scheme. In philosophical terms, these objects are ontologically independent of someone's conceptual scheme, perceptions, linguistic practices, beliefs, etc.

Realism can be applied to many philosophically interesting objects and phenomena: other minds, the past or the future, universals, mathematical entities (such as natural numbers), moral categories, the physical world, and thought.

Realism can also be a view about the nature of reality in general, where it claims that the world exists independent of the mind, as opposed to anti-realist views (like some forms of skepticism and solipsism, which deny the existence of a mind-independent world). Philosophers who profess realism often claim that truth consists in a correspondence between cognitive representations and reality.[1]

Realists tend to believe that whatever we believe now is only an approximation of reality but that the accuracy and fullness of understanding can be improved.[2]

In some contexts, realism is contrasted with idealism. Today it is more usually contrasted with anti-realism, for example in the philosophy of science.

" Realists tend to believe that whatever we believe now is only an approximation of reality but that the accuracy and fullness of understanding can be improved."


We have discussed this before;
Philosophically, all a realist can ever know is merely an approximate of reality or at the most a closer approximation of reality but never real reality.
This is why I claimed in the other thread, realism is never realistic.

As such philosophical realism is not an effectively philosophical view.
Philosophical realism is effective and useful in the restrictive sense, e.g. qualified to the Scientific Framework and Methods.

In fact a philosophical realist is actually a empirical idealist because what is empirically real to a philosophical realist is only in the mind [idealist = all is in the mind only] and the real reality cannot be known at all. So what is supposedly real to be approximate is merely a speculation.

Your "one monistic reality" [in a philosophical realist view] can only be approximated. Bottom line it is a speculation just like God to the theists.

Aside from unreal philosophical realism human are intuitively conscious they are existing within some real reality. This real reality [not a speculated one] is the Spontaneous Emergent Reality.
Not-a-theist. Religion is a critical necessity for humanity now, but not the FUTURE.

Prothero
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Re: Ontology of Mind

Post by Prothero » August 14th, 2017, 11:48 am

When I search for "spontaneous emergent reality" on Google, I get exactly seven results (2 of them are you, three of them are from the shine box). There is one from the Edge, I will read that one, and get back to you, but the term seems much less than mainstream.
Irrespective of our ability to completely "know" the independent reality (science does seem to do a reasonable job, better than mere reason alone or uncritical sense perception), I (and the vast majority of humanity including the highly educated and intelligent) believe there is such a "reality".
Is "our reality" a mental construct based on categories of thought? Well yes, but those mental constructs seem to allow us to navigate the world, quite well enough and so there must be some reasonable and significant correlation or we would all be dead in short order.

-- Updated August 14th, 2017, 12:11 pm to add the following --

And I don't count optical illusions as reflective of "reality", rather they are proof that perception is sometimes not "reality".

-- Updated August 14th, 2017, 12:20 pm to add the following --
JamesOfSeattle wrote:I guess I am a materialist/physicalist/functionalist. Pretty sure I'm not an epiphenomenalist. I have no idea what an identist is. Actually I consider myself a poetic naturalist (see Sean Carroll's book The Big Picture).

I'm not absolutely clear on strong v. weak emergence. Consciousness is about patterns and relationships, and certain patterns and relationships cannot be instantiated without certain precursors. It take two to tango.

*
Of course the terms experience, mind and consciousness are open to some difference of meaning. In general I regard "consciousness" as that self reflective, self aware form of "experience" which may be limited to humans and higher animals (although birds are a good candidate). Mind generally is a form of integrated, unified experience (and any biological structure with a centralized information center) probably has a mind of sorts (there are probably many forms of mind). Experience is the most primitive form of mind, an I adopt the notion of non-conscious experience which I would argue is virtually universal.

The poetic naturalism theme of Carroll is a little condescending (poetry for the poets, art for the artists) but the real world is the world revealed by science. Although I think science is extremely interesting and very useful, I think the picture revealed by science alone is a partial, incomplete and in many respects unsatisfactory as an entire world view. I don't think the description of mind as a firing of selective groups of neurons is a complete description of the "experience" which accompanies it. Actually I don't think the scientific description of an "electron" is a complete view of that phenomena either.

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Re: Ontology of Mind

Post by JamesOfSeattle » August 14th, 2017, 6:57 pm

I think poetic naturalism addresses both Spectrum and Prothero. Reality involves levels of abstraction (think physics, chemistry, biology, psychology, etc.). The "poetic" part is simply a reference to the different language used at each level, but "reality" applies at each level. The tree in my back yard is real, even though it is made up of cells. The cells are real, even though they are made up of molecules. The molecules are real, even though they are made up of atoms, etc. Whether this regression continues indefinitely or has a bottom is irrelevant. It doesn't matter. Consciousness can be explained with what we know of reality now.

Prothero, the main thing I think you need to understand is that given the basic model of

[input] -> [agent] -> [output]

agents can be combined by applying the output from one as the input of another, thus creating new agents. Depending on how such combinations are made, various new (emergent) events become possible. For example, it's possible to have an agent whose output becomes available as new input for that same agent. I think this is how you begin to get capabilities like self-reflection. And when you reference "non-conscious experience", I would suggest there is no such thing. There are only conscious events which are performed by other agents in the environment whose output is available to the agent in question.

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Re: Ontology of Mind

Post by Spectrum » August 16th, 2017, 12:50 am

Prothero wrote:When I search for "spontaneous emergent reality" on Google, I get exactly seven results (2 of them are you, three of them are from the shine box). There is one from the Edge, I will read that one, and get back to you, but the term seems much less than mainstream.
Irrespective of our ability to completely "know" the independent reality (science does seem to do a reasonable job, better than mere reason alone or uncritical sense perception), I (and the vast majority of humanity including the highly educated and intelligent) believe there is such a "reality".
Is "our reality" a mental construct based on categories of thought? Well yes, but those mental constructs seem to allow us to navigate the world, quite well enough and so there must be some reasonable and significant correlation or we would all be dead in short order.
I coined the phrase myself. At least it show I prefer to be an original thinker rather than follow the crowd.

Note the crowd [majority] once believe in the flat Earth, the Sun revolve round the Earth, etc. So crowd beliefs is not necessary = truths.

"spontaneous emergent reality" emerges from a complex interactions of whatever elements, higher thoughts and philosophy from various sources.
And I don't count optical illusions as reflective of "reality", rather they are proof that perception is sometimes not "reality".
What I am trying to convey is a parallel analogy.

Illusions can occur within the different levels of the brain and mind.
There are optical and other sensual illusions of "reality".
The senses is a lower level of the mind. There are the higher levels like intellect, conceptual, rationality, wisdom, etc.

Now what I am proposing is, that "reality" you think is very real is itself an "illusion" of the higher human intellect and consciousness.
If you can understand the mechanics of that optical illusion I linked, then you can apply the principles the 3D-Mask that emerged out of nowhere within the human mind to the emergence of every day reality.
Not-a-theist. Religion is a critical necessity for humanity now, but not the FUTURE.

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