Announcement: Your votes are in! The January 2019 Philosophy Book of the Month is The Runaway Species: How Human Creativity Remakes the World by David Eagleman and Anthony Brandt.

Can we solve the mind-body problem?

Discuss any topics related to metaphysics (the philosophical study of the principles of reality) or epistemology (the philosophical study of knowledge) in this forum.

Can we solve the mind-body problem?

No, the "hard problem" of consciousness will never be solved
19
22%
Yes, a future revision of science/physics will allow us to solve it
37
43%
Other-please specify
31
36%
 
Total votes: 87

User avatar
Present awareness
Posts: 1285
Joined: February 3rd, 2014, 7:02 pm

Re: Can we solve the mind-body problem?

Post by Present awareness » September 18th, 2017, 11:55 pm

Atreyu wrote:
Steve3007 wrote: So you're saying that more than 50% of scientists know, but refuse to admit, that the act of observation affects the thing being observed, yes?
No. I'm saying that most scientists (actually people in general) assume that they can be objective. They know that our direct perceptions and sensations are subjective, but they like to think that they can sort of "get around" that subjectivity by thinking objectively about what they perceive. They fail to see that their cognition (how they think about what they perceive) is just as subjective as everything else.

In other words, they fail to see that "being objective" would actually entail a fundamental change in their being, a fundamental change in how they perceive and cognize the world. As we are we cannot become objective. Objective consciousness cannot be attained via subjective thinking, no matter how "clever". It's attained by learning to think objectively, and knowledge of how to do that cannot be found via ordinary thinking. One could only learn to think this way by learning from a Mind which has already attained this state. The subjective Mind, on its own, cannot get outside of its boundaries...
Mind IS body and body IS mind, there is no division. The problem only exists in abstract thought. No thought, no problem.
Even though you can see me, I might not be here.

Tamminen
Posts: 749
Joined: April 19th, 2016, 2:53 pm

Re: Can we solve the mind-body problem?

Post by Tamminen » September 19th, 2017, 3:47 am

Atreyu wrote:In other words, they fail to see that "being objective" would actually entail a fundamental change in their being, a fundamental change in how they perceive and cognize the world. As we are we cannot become objective. Objective consciousness cannot be attained via subjective thinking, no matter how "clever". It's attained by learning to think objectively, and knowledge of how to do that cannot be found via ordinary thinking. One could only learn to think this way by learning from a Mind which has already attained this state. The subjective Mind, on its own, cannot get outside of its boundaries...
We need not attain a state of "being objective", because we are there already. I would put it this way: The being of the material world depends on the being of subjectivity, but subjectivity is in relation to the world, and therefore there must be the subjective side and the objective side of that relation, just because the world is material and the subject, or consciousness of the world, is not material. So there are mind-body correlations, two conceptually incompatible levels of description in our relation to the world.

There cannot be a world without subjectivity, but subjectivity must "find" the world. We call this scientific progress.

User avatar
Atreyu
Posts: 1737
Joined: June 17th, 2014, 3:11 am
Favorite Philosopher: P.D. Ouspensky
Location: Orlando, FL

Re: Can we solve the mind-body problem?

Post by Atreyu » September 20th, 2017, 7:50 pm

Present awareness wrote: Mind IS body and body IS mind, there is no division. The problem only exists in abstract thought. No thought, no problem.
Of course, ultimately everything is one. But in practice, a man can learn to clearly differentiate between his "body" and his "mind". His "mind" is his thoughts, and his "body" is the physical object he sees in the mirror, along with his movements and instincts. The functions of the physical body and the functions of the mind are independent of one another, controlled by separate "psychic centers".

And this is psychology....
....just because the world is material and the subject, or consciousness of the world, is not material.
Well, apparently, yes. But actually, everything is composed of some kind of material, both the tangible and the intangible. It's just that the "matter of the mind" is too "fine" to be recognized as such by science. But there is always some kind of matter present in all psychic functions. Awareness and cognition depend on a certain material being present, and if it isn't, those functions will simply stop.

The general idea that if something exists, then it must be composed of some kind of matter/material/"stuff", known or unknown, defined or undefined, is not an errant one. That's simply the way we cognize things. The world is a world of matter and force, or matter and energy, energy and force acting on matter. But it's an established principle that both are really one - it's "matter" or "energy"/"force" depending on the perceiver. So everything, from thoughts and feelings, to rocks and trees, can be said to be "matter" or "energy", depending on the context.

Tamminen
Posts: 749
Joined: April 19th, 2016, 2:53 pm

Re: Can we solve the mind-body problem?

Post by Tamminen » September 21st, 2017, 4:03 am

Atreyu:

Sometimes I agree with you in almost all you say, but now it seems that we are from different planets.

You say the functions of mind and body are independent of each other. I say they are the very same functions, only described on different, incompatible conceptual levels.

You say body and mind are both some sort of matter. I say mind is the realization of the subject's relation to the material world and therefore has nothing to do with matter. So you seem to be an ontological monist, whereas I am an ontological dualist in the sense that I think subjectivity and consciousness are fundamental and unreducible "reference points" of reality. And because the subject has a relation to the world, the mind-body is the relation. So there is one relation and two ways of describing this relation, and therefore the mind and the body are identical in their functions but totally different in the description of those functions. That is why there is no "hard problem" with the relation of mind and body, only the scientific problem of finding the correlations between them.

User avatar
Atreyu
Posts: 1737
Joined: June 17th, 2014, 3:11 am
Favorite Philosopher: P.D. Ouspensky
Location: Orlando, FL

Re: Can we solve the mind-body problem?

Post by Atreyu » September 24th, 2017, 8:55 pm

Tamminen wrote: You say the functions of mind and body are independent of each other. I say they are the very same functions, only described on different, incompatible conceptual levels.
That's because you've never learned to differentiate between the two within yourself. Lots of things sound good in theory, but in practice many theories fall apart. The functions of the physical body - voluntary movements (picking up a glass of water), and instincts (the beating of one's heart) - are quite different and discreet functions than the functions of our thinking apparatus (the "mind"). Thinking about things is a completely different function, and is controlled by a completely independent psychic center, than picking up a glass of water, or moving enzymes around the body. And self-observation can show this quite clearly and convincingly. All one has to do is learn to observe oneself with this classificatory scheme in mind, and one can easily verify its truth. If you observe your thoughts, and then observe yourself picking up a glass of water, and then observe the beating of your heart, you will see that they are quite different functions, not attributable to the same psychic apparatus (mind). The "mind" which controls the simpler functions of the physical body is a quite different mind than the one that considers the propositions of quantum theory, and this is a hard fact for those who have learned to observe it in themselves.
Tamminen wrote: You say body and mind are both some sort of matter. I say mind is the realization of the subject's relation to the material world and therefore has nothing to do with matter. So you seem to be an ontological monist, whereas I am an ontological dualist in the sense that I think subjectivity and consciousness are fundamental and unreducible "reference points" of reality. And because the subject has a relation to the world, the mind-body is the relation. So there is one relation and two ways of describing this relation, and therefore the mind and the body are identical in their functions but totally different in the description of those functions. That is why there is no "hard problem" with the relation of mind and body, only the scientific problem of finding the correlations between them.
Nothing of what you say here will hold up in the face of rigorous self-observation. You can observe the existence and functions of the physical body without thinking anything at all. And we can imagine the physical body existing even if one was not aware of it themselves, i.e. had no awareness. The two cannot be the same. That which the mind perceives and cognizes as existing (and this includes the physical body) cannot be the same thing as that which is doing the perceiving and cognizing. In this case, there is no difference between the physical body and any other object existing outside of the self. No one would say that that rock I'm looking at is the same thing as my mind which is perceiving it. Similarly, the body I perceive and cognize is not the same thing as that which is doing the perceiving and cognizing, in spite of the fact that allegedly it is a representation of it. The representation of the object is not the same as the object itself, anymore than the movie screen is the same thing as the objects on the screen. Actually, it's just a bunch of colored pixels, regardless of how good the representation is.

The "hard problem" is that we cannot directly see ourselves, cannot directly see our own minds. And attempts to reduce it all to physiology is simply a "cleverly" constructed, but inherently false, solution. That which is perceiving and cognizing the existence of a nervous system cannot be said to be the same thing as the nervous system itself, anymore than that which is perceiving a rock or tree could be said to be the rock or tree itself...

Tamminen
Posts: 749
Joined: April 19th, 2016, 2:53 pm

Re: Can we solve the mind-body problem?

Post by Tamminen » September 25th, 2017, 9:52 am

Atreyu wrote:The functions of the physical body - voluntary movements (picking up a glass of water), and instincts (the beating of one's heart) - are quite different and discreet functions than the functions of our thinking apparatus (the "mind").
It seems that we are speaking of different things here, as is often the case with philosophical discussion. It all depends on what we mean by 'mind'.

I use the word 'mind' here in a very general sense, as a synonym with 'subjectivity'. It contains all modes of subjectivity, including the mind of an ant, for instance, and the mind of a scientist, everything that participates in subjective temporality.

The subjective content of this experiencing is not material, because a content cannot be material. But because this subjective experiencing is realized by a material organism, there must be a material counterpart for each content. This is my hypothesis.

So an event, like thinking, has a content and the corresponding brain event, and they are the same thing described on different conceptual levels.

-- Updated September 25th, 2017, 3:29 pm to add the following --

I can make an experiment: always when I see yellow, I observe feature X among my brain events, and always when I observe feature X among my brain events I see yellow. Now I can say that seeing yellow is X, i.e. it is one event, described as "seeing yellow" or "X". These two ways of describing the event go parallel, neither of them is an explanation of the other. And my hypothesis is that every feature of consciousness has this material counterpart which can be described on the physiological level. I see no other mind-body problem.

User avatar
Atreyu
Posts: 1737
Joined: June 17th, 2014, 3:11 am
Favorite Philosopher: P.D. Ouspensky
Location: Orlando, FL

Re: Can we solve the mind-body problem?

Post by Atreyu » September 25th, 2017, 7:08 pm

Tamminen wrote:I can make an experiment: always when I see yellow, I observe feature X among my brain events, and always when I observe feature X among my brain events I see yellow. Now I can say that seeing yellow is X, i.e. it is one event, described as "seeing yellow" or "X". These two ways of describing the event go parallel, neither of them is an explanation of the other. And my hypothesis is that every feature of consciousness has this material counterpart which can be described on the physiological level. I see no other mind-body problem.
This isn't how I understand the "mind-body problem". I see it as the problem of the mind not being able to definitively define itself, which forces it to reduce itself to its physiological counterpart, as you've just done above. Obviously, one would think there would be some physical correlation for all the doings of the mind, observable or not.

The whole problem is that the mind cannot actually be the same thing as the objects and images (physiological or otherwise) which it perceives/cognizes as itself ....

Tamminen
Posts: 749
Joined: April 19th, 2016, 2:53 pm

Re: Can we solve the mind-body problem?

Post by Tamminen » September 26th, 2017, 2:56 am

Atreyu wrote:I see it as the problem of the mind not being able to definitively define itself, which forces it to reduce itself to its physiological counterpart, as you've just done above.
No, I do not reduce mind to body, because I think the mind, or consciousness, or subjectivity, is fundamental and the key for all being whatsoever. It only "needs" the material organism for its being.

-- Updated September 26th, 2017, 8:12 am to add the following --

We can say that the subject is "thrown into the world" and is therefore in relation to the world. Because the world is material, the relation is also material, consisting of the material organism we call the body. But because the subject is not material, the very same relation is also a relation of meanings, intentions etc., a relation we call the mind. There is nothing mysterious in the mind although it contains interesting phenomena.

User avatar
Atreyu
Posts: 1737
Joined: June 17th, 2014, 3:11 am
Favorite Philosopher: P.D. Ouspensky
Location: Orlando, FL

Re: Can we solve the mind-body problem?

Post by Atreyu » September 26th, 2017, 4:40 pm

Tamminen wrote:No, I do not reduce mind to body, because I think the mind, or consciousness, or subjectivity, is fundamental and the key for all being whatsoever. It only "needs" the material organism for its being.
Perhaps it's more correct to say the material organism needs the mind/consciousness for its being.
Tamminen wrote: We can say that the subject is "thrown into the world" and is therefore in relation to the world. Because the world is material, the relation is also material, consisting of the material organism we call the body. But because the subject is not material, the very same relation is also a relation of meanings, intentions etc., a relation we call the mind. There is nothing mysterious in the mind although it contains interesting phenomena.
What's mysterious about it is that the phenomenon in question is entirely intangible, impossible to "pin down" into a tangible form, impossible to express by an equation, impossible to define, impossible to measure, impossible to see (at least the way we see a tree), impossible to even describe definitively, and yet....

we know it must exist!

Tamminen
Posts: 749
Joined: April 19th, 2016, 2:53 pm

Re: Can we solve the mind-body problem?

Post by Tamminen » September 27th, 2017, 4:12 am

Atreyu wrote:What's mysterious about it is that the phenomenon in question is entirely intangible, impossible to "pin down" into a tangible form, impossible to express by an equation, impossible to define, impossible to measure, impossible to see (at least the way we see a tree), impossible to even describe definitively, and yet....

we know it must exist!
I think you make the same mistake as Descartes did when he thought that the 'I' is the same as the soul and the soul is some kind of substance. He reified the mind. When we try to catch the mind, we see nothing there, only the 'I am' in reflection, and thoughts, feelings, memories, dreams etc. But that is all there is, there is nothing behind them. We try to make the Munchausen's trick if we seek some peculiar substance behind what we see already. The mind is not substance, it is our way of being in the world. We can study the mind phenomenologically and make interesting observations, but we cannot explain it from outside, because there is no outside.

-- Updated September 27th, 2017, 8:19 am to add the following --
Atreyu wrote:Perhaps it's more correct to say the material organism needs the mind/consciousness for its being.
No, because that would suggest that the mind is a servant for the body, whereas I think the mind is the master and the reason for the being of the body. This is connected with the question of the rationality vs. irrationality of the universe. Rationality presupposes subjectivity.

User avatar
Atreyu
Posts: 1737
Joined: June 17th, 2014, 3:11 am
Favorite Philosopher: P.D. Ouspensky
Location: Orlando, FL

Re: Can we solve the mind-body problem?

Post by Atreyu » September 27th, 2017, 11:24 pm

Tamminen wrote:I think you make the same mistake as Descartes did when he thought that the 'I' is the same as the soul and the soul is some kind of substance. He reified the mind. When we try to catch the mind, we see nothing there, only the 'I am' in reflection, and thoughts, feelings, memories, dreams etc. But that is all there is, there is nothing behind them. We try to make the Munchausen's trick if we seek some peculiar substance behind what we see already. The mind is not substance, it is our way of being in the world. We can study the mind phenomenologically and make interesting observations, but we cannot explain it from outside, because there is no outside.
I subscribe to the view that, behind the manifestation of psychic phenomena, there lies some kind of substance or material, only this particular material is not known or defined by science (and cannot be). This idea has a bit in common with the ordinary scientific idea of "dark matter".

The idea here is that our basic cognition that things must be composed of some kind of "stuff" is not erroneous, but is simply how we cognize things. The problem is not in this basic cognitive construct, but rather in the fact that our ability to perceive matter is greatly limited. And this limitation is precisely why we have the "mind-body problem" in the first place.
Tamminen wrote:
Atreyu wrote:Perhaps it's more correct to say the material organism needs the mind/consciousness for its being.
No, because that would suggest that the mind is a servant for the body, whereas I think the mind is the master and the reason for the being of the body. This is connected with the question of the rationality vs. irrationality of the universe. Rationality presupposes subjectivity.
I concede this point. True. I only threw that out there as a means of getting the reader to question his own position.

But yes, we are a mind before we are a body. The psyche is a more "real" and important part of ourselves than the physical body is. When we think of ourselves as some kind of awareness encapsulated in a body, we are closer to understanding ourselves objectively, than when we think of ourselves as merely a collection of molecules and atoms, and nothing more.....

Wayne92587
Posts: 1756
Joined: January 27th, 2012, 9:32 pm
Favorite Philosopher: Hermese Trismegistus

Re: Can we solve the mind-body problem?

Post by Wayne92587 » October 6th, 2017, 2:18 pm

Man's Destiny is for he and she to mimic the Christ and to walk the Planet Earth having both Spiritual
Body and a Flesh Body, as an Entity having a Mind and Body that functions as the Whole of a Single Reality.

Chili
Posts: 359
Joined: September 29th, 2017, 4:59 pm

Re: Can we solve the mind-body problem?

Post by Chili » October 6th, 2017, 2:49 pm

Bohm2 wrote:
A_Seagull wrote:IMO: Mind exists, body exists; no problem.
You find nothing wrong with dualism (which you appear to be arguing for), particularly given the indefinite nature of 'body/matter' (e.g. physics/science has not been completed).
Science strives to complete itself by showing all phenomena as causally interrelated with other phenomena.

One's own mind floats above phenomena and that is a individual problem for oneself but not for science per se.

The other guy's mind, likewise is inferred or intuited to exist by the individual, but not by science per se.

And never the twain shall meet?

#Solipsism

Wayne92587
Posts: 1756
Joined: January 27th, 2012, 9:32 pm
Favorite Philosopher: Hermese Trismegistus

Re: Can we solve the mind-body problem?

Post by Wayne92587 » October 8th, 2017, 12:43 pm

Tamminen
whereas I think the mind is the master and the reason for the being of the body.
The Mind is the Helpmate of and was created to be subservient to the Flesh Body.

-- Updated October 8th, 2017, 11:31 am to add the following --

The Mind Body Problem was known and spoken of, but not thoroughly understood before Animal, Mortal Man became civilized, became a Humane Being.


In times past even before the Sumerians, man had a sense of Realities that he and she did not have a firm grasp on, because said Realities have no substance, did not exist in the Physical sense of the word; the knowledge spoken of as being Sacred, hidden, secret, Forbidden Knowledge, said Knowledge being spoken of in Metaphor, Ancient Myth, Religion, and Philosophical, Astrological, Materialistic terminology.

This resulting in the Abomination of Sacred Knowledge.

Any and all Knowledge spoke of reference to Immaterial Reality using Materialistic Terminology results in the Abomination of said Sacred, Hidden, Secret, Forbidden Knowledge, Lies, Self-ish Righteousness and Hypocricy.

The Emerald Tablet of Hermes Trismegistus, the father of Thoth “Thought”, the purveyor of Knowledge” who speaks of that which is below, which must be the same as that which is above, and that is above is to be the same as that which is above, is speaking the Mind Body problem and the solution there of.

Upon the creation of the mind, Man, he and she, then issue forth having a dual quality, which is spoken of and explained as being a Duality, Two; a duality being a Singularity having a dual quality.

The goal of mankind is for the duality, that which is above, the numerator be equal to that which is below, the denominator.

A Fractal, fraction, a Singularity having both a numerator and a denominator, is a proper fractal, fraction, as long as the numerator, that which is above, the mind, is no more than equal to, but is not greater than the denominator, that which is below.

Mankind as a Duality exists as the duality of Mind and Body, as a Numerator, that which is above and a denominator, that which is below, Mankind, he and she function as a proper Fraction; should that which is above, the Numerator, the Mind, become Greater than that which is below, the denominator, the Flesh Body, Man kind, he and she begin to Rationalize, become Irrational Beings.

-- Updated October 9th, 2017, 1:56 pm to add the following --

When the numerator in a fraction, Fractal, In a Singularity having a Duality, if that which is above, the numerator, the mind, becomes greater, more significant, than that which is below, than the denominator, the Flesh Body, the Whole remains a Fractal, a fraction, a duality, a Singularity having a dual quality, however become an Irrational Fraction.

User avatar
Consul
Posts: 1344
Joined: February 21st, 2014, 6:32 am
Location: Germany

Re: Can we solve the mind-body problem?

Post by Consul » October 10th, 2017, 10:27 am

Tamminen wrote:I think you make the same mistake as Descartes did when he thought that the 'I' is the same as the soul and the soul is some kind of substance. He reified the mind. When we try to catch the mind, we see nothing there, only the 'I am' in reflection, and thoughts, feelings, memories, dreams etc. But that is all there is, there is nothing behind them.
Yes, there is: the subject. Necessarily, where there are items of mentality/experientiality, there are subjects of mentality/experientiality. You cannot have mental/experiential properties or states without anything having or being in them. The subject or ego isn't itself part of the content of its mind/consciousnes, being "content-transcendent" rather than "content-immanent"; so it cannot discover itself introspectively. Nevertheless, the subject or ego must be there, and it must be different from its mind/consciousness. This is acknowledged even by Berkeley, who thought that subjects/egos are immaterial/spiritual substances rather than material ones:

"Besides all that endless variety of ideas or objects of knowledge, there is likewise something which knows or perceives them; and exercises divers operations, as willing, imagining, remembering about them. This perceiving, active being is what I call mind, spirit, soul or myself. By which words I do not denote any one of my ideas, but a thing entirely distinct from them, wherein they exist, or, which is the same thing, whereby they are perceived; for the existence of an idea consists in being perceived."

(Berkeley, George. Principles of Human Knowledge. 1710. Part 1, §2)

Note that, here, by "mind" he means "mental substance" and not "complex of mental attributes". There is a corresponding distinction between being a mind and having a mind: minds qua mental substances have minds qua mental atttributes.

(Philonus:) "How often must I repeat, that I know or am conscious of my own being; and that I myself am not my ideas, but somewhat else, a thinking active principle that perceives, knows, wills, and operates about ideas. I know that I, one and the same self, perceive both colours and sounds: that a colour cannot perceive a sound, nor a sound a colour: That I am therefore one individual principle, distinct from colour and sound; and, for the same reason, from all other sensible things and inert ideas."

(Berkeley, George. Three Dialogues between Hylas and Philonus, Third Dialogue. 1713.)
"We may philosophize well or ill, but we must philosophize." – Wilfrid Sellars

Post Reply