Qualia–The Hard Problem?

 

David Chalmers, a leading philosopher of mind and consciousness, tells us that the “hard” problem is qualia, that is, explaining the subjective experience of experience.  Explaining the sensation of seeing the color red, for example. How do we explain the subjective internal experience of seeing the color red?

The philosophers always seem to choose the color red, for unclear reasons. First of all, I object, because I am partially red/green color blind. I can’t see any numbers in those Ishihara plates with all the colored dots. So my experience of red is not exactly the same as that of other people. In medical school, when we had to identify gram-negative organisms under the microscopic, I saw grey. My classmates saw vivid bright red. I aced the exams because the gram-positive organisms that we had to distinguish from the gram-negative organisms was easy: distinguish grey from blue. No problem.

But, putting that aside, I have to wonder on what one-dimensional planet these philosophers are living.  They seem to have no understanding of consciousness at all, despite being the supposed deep-thinking experts on consciousness. Chalmers has written books on the subject. Seems to me like the blind trying to lead the deaf.

What’s my beef?  Chalmers’ problem of qualia stems from a simplistic model of the brain, a linear, mechanical, deterministic system, an electrical/synaptic entity composed of electric wires with synaptic connections that are activated by neurotransmitters. The brain is seen as a hardwired computer, nothing more, nothing less. That view has led to Chalmers’ dictum that a computer software system that reproduces the functioning of the brain will itself be conscious. Which itself is complete nonsense.

The human nervous system is far more than a wiring system with synapses. Given that the human nervous system has some 100 billion neurons with roughly 100 trillion synapses, even that simplistic view of the human nervous system as a wired system gives us arguably the most complex entity in the universe. There is nothing like it, except other species’ brains. How do scientists study this?  One way is by doing experiments on C. elegans, an organism with 302 neurons and some 5000 synapses. That’s going to tell us what’s going on in the human brain, right?

Not exactly.

But, based on these primitive to specious notions that, as Wolfgang Pauli might have said, are concepts that aren’t even wrong, Chalmers has pronounced his dictum that computers that model the brain will be conscious. The complexity of the computer system that would have to be built to mimic the brain is beyond the capacity of humans to construct. So Chalmers is safe. His dictum can never be disproven. Can’t be proven either. But the chutzpah based on ignorance that is Chalmer’s dictum is almost infinite.

Consider just one additional aspect of the human nervous system:  The cytoplasm of all of the neurons in the human nervous system is directly connected via gap junctions, sites of connections between neurons, where cell membranes merge and create small channels between the neurons, connecting the cytoplasm. The human nervous system is a plasma, a continuous cytoplasm that is entirely and directly connected, beyond nerves and synapses. Hameroff, an anesthesiologist in New Mexico, has pointed out this plasma system, a with Roger Penrose has proposed and entirely different model of the human nervous system. And then there is additional function of individual neurons that can be pulsatile in a very complex way, influenced by many factors. Neurons in the hypothalamus that produce Gonadotropin hormone-releasing hormone (GnRH) demonstrate pulsatile activity that is affected in a complex fashion by both GnRH itself and by cyclic adenosine monophosphate (cAMP).  These are neurons that affect the menstrual cycle.  The understanding of neuronal systems, let alone the nature of gap junctions on nervous function, is primitive, which is the understatement of the millennium.

Wilder Penfield, working at McGill in the 1940s, developed a surgical technique to treat epilepsy in which the patient was awake after the skull had been opened. Penfield could probe the exposed brain to identify the area causing seizures, and ablate it. He worked with various individuals, including a neurophysiologist, Libert, who did a few experiments of his own on these awake patients. One of those experimental approaches involved assessing the time to awareness of various stimuli done at a site on the body, such as the toe, and then stimulating directly the site in the brain that medicated sensation in the toe. What Libert found was that the awake patient became aware of the stimulus at that toe faster than he or she became aware of the stimulation applied directly at the site of the brain that medicated sensation in the toe.

That finding is completely inexplicable in traditional neurophysiology. It has never been explained. It has been resoundingly ignored. The point? Neurophysiogists, and the philosophers they influence, ignore the evidence that doesn’t fit their understanding or their mechanics-causal system. They discard evidence if they have no means of including it in their model, i.e., they cheat. They ignore. They demand we accept their profound insights when they have no idea what they are talking about and refuse to consider the evidence.  Descartes would be appalled. They function more like medieval theologians, without the strict logic of the Schoolmen, than like scientists.

Descartes, for example, famously pronounced: Cogito ergo sum. I think, therefore I am. This gave rise, somewhat inadvertently, it would seem, to mind body dualism, although this wasn’t exactly implied by his pronouncement. Today, Cartesian dualism, so-called, is a hiss and a byword. Long since rejected by scientists, who, alas, function less productively than did Descartes (he gave us a coordinate system, analytic geometry, and the law of refraction, although the fuller understanding of light awaited Newton, Maxwell, Planck, and Einstein and beyond).

Descartes, and all who have followed him, have actually missed the import of his pronouncement. The fuller implication is that not only did he think, HE WAS AWARE THAT HE WAS THINKING.

As far as we know, this is a unique characteristic of humans: They are aware of their mental processes. Other species are obviously conscious, but don’t appear able to consider, or analyze, their own consciousness. Humans are cognitively self-aware. You might say they exhibit a meta-awareness. This would immediately explain qualia. We are aware of our neurophysiological state and able to contemplate it. We can consider the experience of seeing red, and compare it to seeing blue, and green, and consider the implications of these colors. We can blend them to see what happens, and come to understand primary vs. other colors and how they come to be. We even come to understand the electromagnetic nature of light, explore its wavelengths and behavior, measure its speed, form elegant mathematical representations of the behavior of light, and even discard the idea of the ether once the recognition of light as a photon, a particle, and a wave, is extant. What a piece of work is Man, indeed! Certainly far more than Chalmers or the philosophers, or the neurophysiologists say we are.

Probably the best representation of this self-awareness is found in one of the ancient  human stories, that of Genesis, when Adam and Eve partook of the fruit of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil. What happened? They became aware of themselves. And developed a conscience, which can only result when one is able to contemplate one’s own actions, as well as thoughts and ideas. Self-awareness, particularly conscious awareness of consciousness, is necessary for a conscience, e.g., the knowledge of good and evil. Or even the ability to grasp the idea of good and evil, of moral capacity.  Funny that the scientists never seem to consider such things in their theorizing. Maybe they should spend a little time reading the Bible. It would obviously help their thinking. Maybe get them past their one-dimensional perspective.

This being aware of being aware, this consciousness of being conscious, is like second-order logic. First-order logic is logic that is based on predicate statements only. Second-order logic allows predicate statements about predicate statements.

Euclid’s geometry is first-order logic. Predicate statements and theorems proven from those predicate statements. Set theory gets to second-order logic. As does most of mathematics. Only Euclid’s geometry and simple arithmetic involve first-order logic. So with set theory, with second-order logic, we get into self-contradiction and paradox. Consider Bertrand Russell’s paradox: Is the set of all sets that are not members of themselves a member of itself? The set of all shoes is not a shoe, so that set is not a member of itself. So it is included in the set of all sets that are not members of themselves.  But how about the set, itself, of all sets that are not members of itself? If it is not a member of itself, then it is included in the set of all sets that are not members of themselves, but then it becomes a member of itself and is not the set of all sets that are not members of themselves, if you follow my drift. So it is a paradox. It can’t not be a member of itself and be a member of itself and still be the set of all sets that are not members of themselves.

At the end of the 19th and beginning of the 20th centuries, logicians and mathematicians were trying to prove the validity of logic. Russell and Whitehead made a major effort with their Principe Mathematica. David Hilbert, the great German mathematician, suggested that meta-mathematics (sort of, but not exactly, like metaphysics) be used to prove such tenets. As a surprise to everyone, Kurt Godel, having just finished his graduate work, did exactly that.  He used a metamathematical approach, to present his incompleteness proofs. As a warmup he proved that first-order logic, as in Euclid’s geometry and simple arithmetic, is complete and consistent, valid in all respects. Then, however, he proved that second-order logic is Incomplete. That is, any axiomatic system of second-order logic, with a finite number of axioms has provable true theorems that contradict each other, e.g., is inherently flawed, and the remedy can only be to start with an infinite number of axioms.

When John Von Neumann heard the original presentation by Godel, his statement was: The jig is up. That is, mathematics was not the surefire approach to understanding reality that everyone had assumed.

He wasn’t exactly right. Godel’s interpretation of his own work, with which most disagreed, but which he espoused to the end of his life, is that this indicated that human cognitive capacity is “transfinite,” (one might just as well say transcendent) and indicated that humans can verify truths that they can not formally prove. Mathematicians, logicians, scientists and philosophers, still kick against these pricks, these Godelian proofs with frustration and pique. But they have not buried Godel’s work or his interpretation of it. (They generally ignore it.) When asked if his work was in the mainstream of modernity, Godel became upset and vehemently denied that it was. In fact, he said, it is completely contrary to the mainstream of thought in the 20th century. And right he was. He considered his work transcendent.

And the neuroscientists and philosophers of mind are continuing to attempt something that is so far off-base as to be completely risible. Chalmers’ dictum about a computer modeling the brain being conscious is a case in point. Godel maintained throughout his life (and his work led to the Turing Church halting hypothesis) that AI could never equate to human consciousness, as human consciousness is transfinite (transcendent) which a computer can never be. (Could a computer match the prophecies of Isaiah?)

But Heidegger effectively closed the door on any notion of human transcendence, and demanded that human transcendence be barred from polite, or rather all, philosophical (and by extension, all scientific) conversation. Never mind that such transcendence had already been mathematically proven by Godel. Hence, philosophy, and the science that is aligned with it in modernity, refuses to consider that its foundational ideas have been disproven. So much for philosophy, science, and modernity. The epitaph for the disastrous 20th century could well be Stephen Weinberg’s observation: The more the universe seems comprehensible, the more it seems pointless. And yet he titled his last book, “To Explain the  World.”  He missed the point. Science may, to a small degree, describe the world, but it never has, and never will, explain it.

So what are we to do?  Penrose and Hameroff have proposed another model of the human nervous system, as a high-temperature superconducting quantum computational system (more with computer analogies). So with that, we get into hyper-fast computation, as with, say, savants. Savant phenomena can potentially be explained by a quantum computational capacity. Daniel Kahnemann of course, even in his book, Thinking Fast and Slow, fails to consider savant phenomena. Again the ‘scientists’ or philosophers refuse to consider the evidence, and pick and choose and discard as they are led by their half-baked theories. (And their theories can at most be half-baked, given the almost infinite complexity of the human nervous system).

We also get into quantum entanglement as well as the interaction of consciousness directly with the physical world, in the sense of conscious observation collapsing the wave equation. Mind and matter directly interact, suggesting that mind is material. But what kind of material?  Perhaps a consciousness field, with which our brains have evolved to interact. A noosphere, in the term of Pierre Tielhard de Chardin (long since discredited).  But one preceding our consciousness, rather than being produced by our consciousness. A quantum field with which we are all entangled.

What mind and consciousness may be (products of a universal quantum field?) is nowhere near entering the lexicon of the philosophers and scientists. Thus the beauty of Marilynn Robinson’s little book, “Absence of Mind.”

So the actual hard problem is not qualia at all, but how to explain our awareness of being aware. Our ability to contemplate the neurophysical state that we experience when we see red. Or our awareness at all. The idea of explaining qualia is indicative of an avoidance of considering what consciousness actually is, looking at ALL of the evidence, not the infantile experimentation of someone like Kahnemann or his ilk.

When will we ever learn? When will we ever learn?

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  1. kedavis Coolidge
    kedavis
    @kedavis

    These seem like crucial issues with AI as well, which the various… acolytes… seem to dismiss as unimportant.

    • #1
  2. Douglas Pratt Coolidge
    Douglas Pratt
    @DouglasPratt

    If I had been able to read something this lucid in 1972 I would have gotten much better grades in college. Thank you.

    • #2
  3. Barfly Member
    Barfly
    @Barfly

    Very well reasoned. The study of philosophy failed, not by ignoring or misunderstanding physics, but by ignoring neurobiology. Have you read On Intelligence? I think the memory-prrdiction model explains meta-awareness well.

    • #3
  4. Nanocelt TheContrarian Member
    Nanocelt TheContrarian
    @NanoceltTheContrarian

    Barfly (View Comment):

    Very well reasoned. The study of philosophy failed, not by ignoring or misunderstanding physics, but by ignoring neurobiology. Have you read On Intelligence? I think the memory-prrdiction model explains meta-awareness well.

    I haven’t. I will. Thank you for the reference

    • #4
  5. Barfly Member
    Barfly
    @Barfly

    I question the “transcellular” aspect of the microtubules theory. Wikipedia says

    Hameroff then proposed that condensates in microtubules in one neuron can link with microtubule condensates in other neurons and glial cells via the gap junctions of electrical synapses.[35][36] Hameroff proposed that the gap between the cells is sufficiently small that quantum objects can tunnel across it, allowing them to extend across a large area of the brain.

    Yeah, I know, Wikipedia. I tried to read one of Penrose’s papers on the subject, but I can never get thru Penrose. He always says things I can’t verify or don’t even understand, and I don’t know if that’s because I’m not smart enough. Almost nobody is smart enough to question Penrose, which to me implies he gets away with BS. But I don’t know.

    Anyway, we know how signals move across synapses. We know that neurons are arranged in hierarchies and cooperating regions. We know that many kinds of neurons have “predictive” synapses that prime the cell to fire more readily. We know that even tiny dendrites are functional units, because the linear arrangement of their synapses makes them sensitive to a particular sequence of inputs. I think this is enough to explain intelligence (almost certainly) and (maybe) consciousness.

    Your explanation of qualia is good; I hope it prompts some philosophers to read more broadly. Consciousness is the hard problem. What if all bird and mammal brains actually are self-aware?

     

    • #5
  6. Bob Thompson Member
    Bob Thompson
    @BobThompson

    Nanocelt TheContrarian: As far as we know, this is a unique characteristic of humans: They are aware of their mental processes.

    This is one of two attributes taken together that living human brains have for differentiation from other known physicality, the other is the connection to a living organism. 

    • #6
  7. Nanocelt TheContrarian Member
    Nanocelt TheContrarian
    @NanoceltTheContrarian

    Barfly (View Comment):

    I question the “transcellular” aspect of the microtubules theory. Wikipedia says

    Hameroff then proposed that condensates in microtubules in one neuron can link with microtubule condensates in other neurons and glial cells via the gap junctions of electrical synapses.[35][36] Hameroff proposed that the gap between the cells is sufficiently small that quantum objects can tunnel across it, allowing them to extend across a large area of the brain.

    Yeah, I know, Wikipedia. I tried to read one of Penrose’s papers on the subject, but I can never get thru Penrose. He always says things I can’t verify or don’t even understand, and I don’t know if that’s because I’m not smart enough. Almost nobody is smart enough to question Penrose, which to me implies he gets away with BS. But I don’t know.

    Anyway, we know how signals move across synapses. We know that neurons are arranged in hierarchies and cooperating regions. We know that many kinds of neurons have “predictive” synapses that prime the cell to fire more readily. We know that even tiny dendrites are functional units, because the linear arrangement of their synapses makes them sensitive to a particular sequence of inputs. I think this is enough to explain intelligence (almost certainly) and (maybe) consciousness.

    Your explanation of qualia is good; I hope it prompts some philosophers to read more broadly. Consciousness is the hard problem. What if all bird and mammal brains actually are self-aware?

     

    Penrose makes conjectures, leaps of intuition if you will. One of the points of his and Hameroff’s model is to attempt to explain general anesthesia effects. General anesthesia disrupts conscious functioning, but once the anesthesia is removed, normal function resumes. Hameroff postulates that the anesthesia disrupts the microtubules in the neurons, which he postulates as necessary in their fibonacci arrangement, to neuronal functioning. The tubules resume function once no longer disrupted by the anesthesia.

    One of Penrose’s points is to explain how consciousness collapsed the wave equation. IN this he goes way beyond the “Copenhagen” interpretation of Quantum mechanics (which, as Feynman noted pointedly, no one understands–Quantum mechanics, that is, because of the interaction of consciousness with the wave equation). Penrose is a hard core Platonist, believing in the ultimate reality of number. Or more correctly perhaps (I am correcting Penrose about himself, which is foolhardy, obviously) he might be called a Pythagorean, as the Pythagoreans were the original mystical numerologists, believing everything to be composed of number. In my uninformed view, I think Plato got his idealism from the Pythagoreans. 

    At any rate, Penrose postulates what he calls  an Objective Orchestrated Reduction, or Obective OR, in which consciousness somehow or other affects local gravitation just enough to unbalance the wave equation and collapse it. 

    One might wonder why he would invoke Gravity here. It would be more direct to postulate the existence of a consciousness field, with a fundamental particle (the disgraced Sir Cyril Burt proposed the term “psychon” for the fundamental particle of the Consciousness field, and was ridiculed mercilessly for that term) that might be (in a less loaded fashion) termed, the Cogniton. One or more of these may be involved in the conscious observation that induces the collapse of the wave equation. Postulating a Consciousness field, with a fundamental particle that may be lighter than a graviton (still being sought, not clear even that such should exist) and have very weak effects at distances greater than even gravitation. Obviously, detecting such a particle is beyond our capacity now and likely will be for a very very long time. 

    So, I am trying to improve on Penrose. Insane, I know. 

    Physicists postulate Quantum fields readily. With the recognition of Inflation (Guth, Linde) in the early Universe, they have postulated an Inflation field and designated the Inflaton as the fundamental particle. Because of the mathematics they are sure such a field and particle must exist. This would be orders of magnitude heavier than the Higgs Boson and is far beyond our power to detect. Now or ever. But exist it must, according to Brian Green et al.

    So why not a consciousness field? Then you would have a way of understanding the evolution of consciousness, the central nervous system, under the influence of a field, as the vertebrate eye developed under the influence of an electromagnetic field. If that were the case,  Consciousness would then be a Quantum field phenomenon, and humans (and other species) may have  a capacity for perceiving things beyond the five senses. Hence, mystics, prophets, clairvoyants, precognition, Australian aborigines (who seem to have a capacity for distant communication via mind alone), and etc.  “Scientists”  such as Kahnemann for example, Daniel Dennett, etc.etc., of course reject any such things. Many ordinary people have personal experience with such things and tend to discount the scientists, philosphers, or psychologists who tend to treat humans as SKinnerean automatons, essentially zombies. My wife, for example, living in the US at the time, knew the exact moment when her mother, living in Brazil, was being taken to the hospital with terminal cancer. She panicked and rushed home to try and call her. She managed to get a phone call through an speak to her mother as she was being wheeled out of her apartment, and had a crucial few minutes to reconcile with her mother who died within hours. 

    There is a great deal of data accumulated on distant viewing, in which two individuals who know each other well are placed in distant locations and one is shown a picture. The other is asked to describe the picture. This data was apparently collected by the CIA in the 1970s roughly. Those who have assessed it tell us that there is less that one change in 10 Billion that remote viewing dose not occur. How to explain that?

    There are more things on heaven and earth than are dreamt of by the philosophers, or scientists. 

    • #7
  8. Bill Berg Coolidge
    Bill Berg
    @Bill Berg

    Anyone interested in questions about consciousness would be well served to read “The Matter with Things” by Ian McGilchrist.

    The core of the matter seems to be that there is no “matter”. Its waves all the way “up” (QWT). 

    The set of waveforms we perceive to be our brains are more like smart TV sets. McGilchrist is a psychologist, so a lot of the first volume is full of left/right brain observations that will likely be appealing to @NanoceltTheContrarian.

    • #8
  9. Saint Augustine Member
    Saint Augustine
    @SaintAugustine

    Hylomorphism is best. But it’s still useful to know some basic Descartes. He’s partly right.

    • #9
  10. Saint Augustine Member
    Saint Augustine
    @SaintAugustine

    Here’s what I think, more or less, happened with the debate over qualia.

    First, people like Descartes said, “Consciousness is a thing! It’s real, and it’s not made of matter!”

    Second, some materialists failed to grasp the obvious and asked, “What is this consciousness of which you speak? I don’t understand.”

    Third, the first group did not say, “Consiousness is consciousness. Here, try reading this dictionary.”

    Instead, fourth, they said, “Ok, there are these tiny little units of experience called qualia. That’s what we’re talking about.”

    Fifth, the second group said, “Aha! These tiny little things aren’t real! Thus I prove materialism to be the One True Philosophy. Now shut up, you religious wackos.”

    Sixth, physics discovered that no one knows what matter even is, and the second group didn’t notice because they were sure they’d proved that all is matter anyway, so whatever.

    • #10
  11. Nanocelt TheContrarian Member
    Nanocelt TheContrarian
    @NanoceltTheContrarian

    Saint Augustine (View Comment):

    Hylomorphism is best. But it’s still useful to know some basic Descartes. He’s partly right.

    Thanks. Yes, I am extending and revising the implications of Descartes’ famous dictum.

    Also, I see Hylomorphoism as Aristotle’s attempt to discredit Platonic idealism. Hardly adequate for understanding consciousness and the persistence of the self, memory, or the soul. Indeed, it seems to me that Aristotle’s concept of the soul is not of a non material entity, but simply the nature of a material something. May work for cups or boats though.

    What if mind is  material? Of a material that we at this point are unable to detect?  Sort of like dark matter or energy? Or something else?

    One of the great conservation insights that has started to develop among scientists is that not only are matter, motion,  charge, parity, and energy conserved, as in CPT conservation, but also what arguably is most conserved is information. And that is underpinned by the Quantum “no xerox” rule that once information is generated in the quantum realm, it cannot be duplicated nor destroyed.  E.g. there is truth.  And the self is information. And if the self is both material and information, by conservation principles promulgated by Science, the soul (self, the conscious being, etc) cannot be utterly destroyed. But from this perspective, the soul is also material; hence the postulation of a Consciousness field, out of which our individual consciousness emerges. But then thinking is embodied in some sort of a material entity. So this would not conform to Descartes’ idea of thinking existing apart from the material body or a material entity of some sort.

    Of course, Descares has been savaged by such as Dennett, who, in his book, “Consciousness Explained”  (not), rails against Cartesian dualism and utterly demands that it be disregarded, and proclaims that dualism is cheating.

    I would argue that Dennett’s concept of mind as computer software, multiple narratives, a central signifier, etc., expanding on Hume’s bundle theory of the self, (which Hume advanced, repudiated,  and continued to use), fails to consider most of the phenomena associated with consciousness and cannot come close to explaining consciousness.

    Comments? critiques?

    • #11
  12. Saint Augustine Member
    Saint Augustine
    @SaintAugustine

    Nanocelt TheContrarian (View Comment):

    Saint Augustine (View Comment):

    Hylomorphism is best. But it’s still useful to know some basic Descartes. He’s partly right.

    Thanks. Yes, I am extending and revising the implications of Descartes’ famous dictum.

    Also, I see Hylomorphoism as Aristotle’s attempt to discredit Platonic idealism.

    Plato is also a hylomorohist.

    Hardly adequate for understanding consciousness and the persistence of the self, memory, or the soul. Indeed, it seems to me that Aristotle’s concept of the soul is not of a non material entity, but simply the nature of a material something. May work for cups or boats though.

    It’s a non-physical thing.

    I would argue that Dennett’s concept of mind as computer software, multiple narratives, a central signifier, etc., expanding on Hume’s bundle theory of the self, (which Hume advanced, repudiated, and continued to use), fails to consider most of the phenomena associated with consciousness and cannot come close to explaining consciousness.

    Yes.

    • #12
  13. Nanocelt TheContrarian Member
    Nanocelt TheContrarian
    @NanoceltTheContrarian

    Saint Augustine (View Comment):

    Here’s what I think, more or less, happened with the debate over qualia.

    First, people like Descartes said, “Consciousness is a thing! It’s real, and it’s not made of matter!”

    Second, some materialists failed to grasp the obvious and asked, “What is this consciousness of which you speak? I don’t understand.”

    Third, the first group did not say, “Consiousness is consciousness. Here, try reading this dictionary.”

    Instead, fourth, they said, “Ok, there are these tiny little units of experience called qualia. That’s what we’re talking about.”

    Fifth, the second group said, “Aha! These tiny little things aren’t real! Thus I prove materialism to be the One True Philosophy. Now shut up, you religious wackos.”

    Sixth, physics discovered that no one knows what matter even is, and the second group didn’t notice because they were sure they’d proved that all is matter anyway, so whatever.

    I tend to espouse Reid’s common sense philosophy, which is the one used by most scientists, though they don’t realize it, that there is a material world in which we exist and that we have the capacity to study and understand to a degree. In my view, Reid was the philosopher behind the Scottish Enlightenment, more so than Hume, who was as confused as it is possible to be. Reid is now mostly ignored, it seems to me, likely because he was a Christian cleric, which is the kiss of death for a philosopher today. Reid’s philosophy in my view comports with what is now called “Scientific Realism” (See Thomas Nagel, “Mind and Cosmos”) as opposed to 
    “Scientific Naturalism” which results in a greater skepticism (and undermines the whole project of “Science”)  than even Hume would likely espouse. 

    • #13
  14. Saint Augustine Member
    Saint Augustine
    @SaintAugustine

    Nanocelt TheContrarian (View Comment):

    Saint Augustine (View Comment):

    Here’s what I think, more or less, happened with the debate over qualia.

    First, people like Descartes said, “Consciousness is a thing! It’s real, and it’s not made of matter!”

    Second, some materialists failed to grasp the obvious and asked, “What is this consciousness of which you speak? I don’t understand.”

    Third, the first group did not say, “Consiousness is consciousness. Here, try reading this dictionary.”

    Instead, fourth, they said, “Ok, there are these tiny little units of experience called qualia. That’s what we’re talking about.”

    Fifth, the second group said, “Aha! These tiny little things aren’t real! Thus I prove materialism to be the One True Philosophy. Now shut up, you religious wackos.”

    Sixth, physics discovered that no one knows what matter even is, and the second group didn’t notice because they were sure they’d proved that all is matter anyway, so whatever.

    I tend to espouse Reid’s common sense philosophy, which is the one used by most scientists, though they don’t realize it, that there is a material world in which we exist and that we have the capacity to study and understand to a degree. In my view, Reid was the philosopher behind the Scottish Enlightenment, more so than Hume, who was as confused as it is possible to be. Reid is now mostly ignored, it seems to me, likely because he was a Christian cleric, which is the kiss of death for a philosopher today. Reid’s philosophy in my view comports with what is now called “Scientific Realism” (See Thomas Nagel, “Mind and Cosmos”) as opposed to
    “Scientific Naturalism” which results in a greater skepticism (and undermines the whole project of “Science”) than even Hume would likely espouse.

    Preach.

    • #14
  15. Nanocelt TheContrarian Member
    Nanocelt TheContrarian
    @NanoceltTheContrarian

    Bill Berg (View Comment):

    Anyone interested in questions about consciousness would be well served to read “The Matter with Things” by Ian McGilchrist.

    The core of the matter seems to be that there is no “matter”. Its waves all the way “up” (QWT).

    The set of waveforms we perceive to be our brains are more like smart TV sets. McGilchrist is a psychologist, so a lot of the first volume is full of left/right brain observations that will likely be appealing to @ NanoceltTheContrarian.

    But waves are energy and there is an equivalence of matter and energy related by the speed of light squared. So matter is energy and energy is matter. The Higgs boson is involved in the inter transformation of matter and energy. Waves would not exist without a physical medium or a particle representing the wave (wave particle duality) so materiality is not avoided.

    Saint Augustine (View Comment):

    Nanocelt TheContrarian (View Comment):

    Saint Augustine (View Comment):

    Hylomorphism is best. But it’s still useful to know some basic Descartes. He’s partly right.

    Thanks. Yes, I am extending and revising the implications of Descartes’ famous dictum.

    Also, I see Hylomorphoism as Aristotle’s attempt to discredit Platonic idealism.

    Plato is also a hylomorohist.

    Hardly adequate for understanding consciousness and the persistence of the self, memory, or the soul. Indeed, it seems to me that Aristotle’s concept of the soul is not of a non material entity, but simply the nature of a material something. May work for cups or boats though.

    It’s a non-physical thing.

    I would argue that Dennett’s concept of mind as computer software, multiple narratives, a central signifier, etc., expanding on Hume’s bundle theory of the self, (which Hume advanced, repudiated, and continued to use), fails to consider most of the phenomena associated with consciousness and cannot come close to explaining consciousness.

    Yes.

    Is Aristotle a Platonic Idealist?

    Hylomorphism seems to me a fancy word for information. As material parts are replaced the information remains. Like a heraclitean standing wave. The information is embodied in material things. Mind is also embodied. Is there information without material? Can the human mind create information? Are ideas completely nonmaterial and capable of existing with no material substrate? Did the resurrected Christ have a material body? Will the New Heaven and New Earth be material? Is there a mind body duality in which we are both,  in the sense of wave particle duality? Is there matter that we cannot detect? The physicists claim there is, both matter and energy that comprise some 96% of the Universe that we know not what it is. Is Galen Strawson on to something with his pan-psychic materialism?

    Aristotle’s idea of the soul seems to me to refer simply to the information contained in the physical human. Does the soul for Aristotle persist,after the death of the body, as a vital entity? His ideas seem to me as dissatisfying as his concept of Gravity (which underpinned medieval cosmology).

    • #15
  16. J Climacus Member
    J Climacus
    @JClimacus

    Nanocelt TheContrarian (View Comment):

    Is Aristotle a Platonic Idealist?

    Hylomorphism seems to me a fancy word for information. As material parts are replaced the information remains. Like a heraclitean standing wave. The information is embodied in material things. Mind is also embodied. Is there information without material? Can the human mind create information? Are ideas completely nonmaterial and capable of existing with no material substrate? Did the resurrected Christ have a material body? Will the New Heaven and New Earth be material? Is there a mind body duality in which we are both, in the sense of wave particle duality? Is there matter that we cannot detect? The physicists claim there is, both matter and energy that comprise some 96% of the Universe that we know not what it is. Is Galen Strawson on to something with his pan-psychic materialism?

    Aristotle’s idea of the soul seems to me to refer simply to the information contained in the physical human. Does the soul for Aristotle persist,after the death of the body, as a vital entity? His ideas seem to me as dissatisfying as his concept of Gravity (which underpinned medieval cosmology).

    The difference between the modern concept of information and Aristotelian hylomorphism is that our concept of information is extrinsic to being, where for Aristotle  his concept of form is intrinsic to being. It includes our idea of information but also goes deeper than it.  The modern view is that information “rides along” on top of being, which is itself purely material in nature.  The same being can remain the being it is while carrying different information. The telephone wire remains what it is whatever information is being communicated down it. 

    Aristotle permits this concept of information, but proposes that information, besides riding along on being, is also an aspect of being as fundamental as matter; in fact, being is a composite of form and matter. For instance, I can write the word “rectangle” on a rectangular piece of paper. The word on the paper is information in the modern sense, riding along on the being of the paper. But the paper itself is rectangular. The “rectangularity” of the paper is not something riding along on it, it expresses the nature of the being of the piece of paper itself. 

    The soul for Aristotle is something like that. It isn’t something “carried along” in a being that would otherwise be physical. It is the organizing, intelligible principle that makes a being who and what he is. Movies like Freaky Friday make no sense under Aristotle, because if your soul were somehow transferred to another body, that body would necessarily look like you because it would literally be you.

     

     

     

     

     

     

    • #16
  17. Saint Augustine Member
    Saint Augustine
    @SaintAugustine

    Nanocelt TheContrarian (View Comment):

    Is Aristotle a Platonic Idealist?

    No.

    And by that I mean only that he does not think the Forms exist. But he still believes in non-Form universals. He rejects materialism.

    Hylomorphism seems to me a fancy word for information.

    No.  No. Not at all.

    Hylomorphism is the view that my teacup and your desk are not made of matter only, but of a combination of matter and non-physical form (Greek morpheh, not the same word for the Platonic Forms).

    It’s the standard premodern view: Plato, Aristotle, Plotinus, Augustine, and Aquinas.

    Applied to humanity, it means . . .

    . . ., try looking over Some Metaphysics: Point by Point.

    Is there information without material?

    Yes–in the mind of G-d if nowhere else.

    Can the human mind create information?

    Yes–unless you prefer to say that it’s in the mind of G-d already and we’re only discovering it.

    Did the resurrected Christ have a material body?

    YES.  A thousand times–yes.

    Will the New Heaven and New Earth be material?

    Yes.

    Aristotle’s idea of the soul seems to me to refer simply to the information contained in the physical human.

    No.

    • #17
  18. Saint Augustine Member
    Saint Augustine
    @SaintAugustine

    J Climacus (View Comment):

    The soul for Aristotle is something like that. It isn’t something “carried along” in a being that would otherwise be physical. It is the organizing, intelligible principle that makes a being who and what he is. Movies like Freaky Friday make no sense under Aristotle, because if your soul were somehow transferred to another body, that body would necessarily look like you because it would literally be you.

    And so is answered the ancient question who gets my particles at the resurrection.

    • #18
  19. Nanocelt TheContrarian Member
    Nanocelt TheContrarian
    @NanoceltTheContrarian

    Saint Augustine (View Comment):

    Nanocelt TheContrarian (View Comment):

    Is Aristotle a Platonic Idealist?

    No.

    And by that I mean only that he does not think the Forms exist. But he still believes in non-Form universals. He rejects materialism.

    Hylomorphism seems to me a fancy word for information.

    No. No. Not at all.

    Hylomorphism is the view that my teacup and your desk are not made of matter only, but of a combination of matter and non-physical form (Greek morpheh, not the same word for the Platonic Forms).

    It’s the standard premodern view: Plato, Aristotle, Plotinus, Augustine, and Aquinas.

    Applied to humanity, it means . . .

    . . ., try looking over Some Metaphysics: Point by Point.

    Is there information without material?

    Yes–in the mind of G-d if nowhere else.

    Can the human mind create information?

    Yes–unless you prefer to say that it’s in the mind of G-d already and we’re only discovering it.

    Did the resurrected Christ have a material body?

    YES. A thousand times–yes.

    Will the New Heaven and New Earth be material?

    Yes.

    Aristotle’s idea of the soul seems to me to refer simply to the information contained in the physical human.

    No.

    Is the mind of God material?

    Hylomorphism is sounding more and more like a tautology: It is what is is. Perhaps Popeye said it best: I am what I am and that’s all that I am, I’m Popeye the sailor man. 
    Who knew that those cartoons were inculcating us with Aristotelian philosophy.

    Or maybe it was definitively stated out of the burning bush.

    At any rate hylomorphism seems like a philosophers trick, there is no there there,  and brings to mind Pope’s Essay on Man, eg the section in which he is burlesquing the extant ideas regarding the emergence of virtues from vices, and leaves the best for last:  ‘…and from sloth, philosophy”

    • #19
  20. Saint Augustine Member
    Saint Augustine
    @SaintAugustine

    Nanocelt TheContrarian (View Comment):

    Saint Augustine (View Comment):

    Nanocelt TheContrarian (View Comment):

    Is Aristotle a Platonic Idealist?

    No.

    And by that I mean only that he does not think the Forms exist. But he still believes in non-Form universals. He rejects materialism.

    Hylomorphism seems to me a fancy word for information.

    No. No. Not at all.

    Hylomorphism is the view that my teacup and your desk are not made of matter only, but of a combination of matter and non-physical form (Greek morpheh, not the same word for the Platonic Forms).

    It’s the standard premodern view: Plato, Aristotle, Plotinus, Augustine, and Aquinas.

    Applied to humanity, it means . . .

    . . ., try looking over Some Metaphysics: Point by Point.

    Is there information without material?

    Yes–in the mind of G-d if nowhere else.

    Can the human mind create information?

    Yes–unless you prefer to say that it’s in the mind of G-d already and we’re only discovering it.

    Did the resurrected Christ have a material body?

    YES. A thousand times–yes.

    Will the New Heaven and New Earth be material?

    Yes.

    Aristotle’s idea of the soul seems to me to refer simply to the information contained in the physical human.

    No.

    Is the mind of God material?

    No.

    Hylomorphism is sounding more and more like a tautology: It is what is is.

    No, it doesn’t.

    At any rate hylomorphism seems like a philosophers trick, there is no there there, . . .

    It’s Aristotle. And Aquinas and others. Of course there’s a there there. It’s just not something everyone can easily understand.

    • #20
  21. Nanocelt TheContrarian Member
    Nanocelt TheContrarian
    @NanoceltTheContrarian

    Saint Augustine (View Comment):

    Nanocelt TheContrarian (View Comment):

    Saint Augustine (View Comment):

    Nanocelt TheContrarian (View Comment):

    Is Aristotle a Platonic Idealist?

    No.

    And by that I mean only that he does not think the Forms exist. But he still believes in non-Form universals. He rejects materialism.

    Hylomorphism seems to me a fancy word for information.

    No. No. Not at all.

    Hylomorphism is the view that my teacup and your desk are not made of matter only, but of a combination of matter and non-physical form (Greek morpheh, not the same word for the Platonic Forms).

    It’s the standard premodern view: Plato, Aristotle, Plotinus, Augustine, and Aquinas.

    Applied to humanity, it means . . .

    . . ., try looking over Some Metaphysics: Point by Point.

    Is there information without material?

    Yes–in the mind of G-d if nowhere else.

    Can the human mind create information?

    Yes–unless you prefer to say that it’s in the mind of G-d already and we’re only discovering it.

    Did the resurrected Christ have a material body?

    YES. A thousand times–yes.

    Will the New Heaven and New Earth be material?

    Yes.

    Aristotle’s idea of the soul seems to me to refer simply to the information contained in the physical human.

    No.

    Is the mind of God material?

    No.

    Hylomorphism is sounding more and more like a tautology: It is what is is.

    No, it doesn’t.

    At any rate hylomorphism seems like a philosophers trick, there is no there there, . . .

    It’s Aristotle. And Aquinas and others. Of course there’s a there there. It’s just not something everyone can easily understand.

    How do you know the mind of God is not material? Were Aristotle and Aquinas and others always right? If Plato were right, we might have the philosophers demanding to rule our sorry carcasses. Which would be as disastrous as the faculty of Harvard ruling us. 

    If hylomorphism depends on material form, but is something more than form, how does hylomorphism not devolve entirely from and depend completely on material objects? The mind of God did not create an immaterial world. How does the mind of God interact with matter? Obviously it does.  And hylomorphism seems to be a sort of linguistic confusion of no apparent value in understanding the nature of reality. And seems to be to be a way of belaboring the obvious. Aristotle notwithstanding. 

    If it doesn’t matter what particles you have in the resurrection, how does hylomorphism account for the identical nature of the atoms of each element, and the nature and structure of the atoms of individual elements?  How does hylomorphism aid the understanding of the atomic table? Or the Standard Model? Or aid in the understanding of consciousness? Obviously, I can’t understand hylomorphism as you do. I hold it in about the same estimation as I do Hume’s bundle theory of the self. Even in growth and development. It doesn’t really help in understanding. for example, embryological development. Which is about as miraculous a process as I can think of. Those 100 billion neurons come in to being in about 8 weeks. Beyond stunning. Hylomorphism doesn’t help me understand the development and differentiation of the neural tube or the cellular levels that develop into an unbelievably intricate organism in such a short period of time. Or subsequent growth and development. 

    What does Hylomorphism imply regarding the fact that conscious observation collapses the wave equation? How does consciousness directly influence potentiality becoming actuality? And if consciousness is indeed material, what does that mean about hylomorphism? How does human conscious observation creating actuality out of potentiality relate to the Divine act of Creation? 

    You are right. I can’t really see how hylomorphism relates to anything useful or significant.

    Consider the example of a wire conducting telephonic signals, eg, information. That doesn’t seem to me to exemplify hylomorphism vs information. The nature of the wire, its hylomorph, is its capacity to transmit electrical signals.  The nature of the wire is (intentionally constructed) to conduct electrical signals that can be manipulated to transmit voices (as can air transmitting radio waves) that convey information. Which inheres in language. But that information is not its hylomorph, and its hylomoph, which contains information, eg, the atomic structure of the wire that underlies its capacity to transmit electricity, is due to both the atomic structure of the atoms comprising the wire but also on the collective nature of the atoms and their form as a wire. But that hylopmorph did not exist until the element was shaped into a wire that would allow the transmission of electrical signals over a wire for an extended distance. So that was entirely a human creation and the hylomorph did not exist until humans understood electricity and elements and speakers and the behavior of electromagnetism, well enough to combine them all in a device with a particular shape and structure. So is that a Universal? Or a human creation? Or both? And what is the consciousness that underwrote those inventions? 

    Is Emily Dickinson’s poem, “The Brain is Wider than the Sky” based on hylomorphism? Consider the last lines, regarding the brain being the weight of God:  “..and they will differ, if they do, as syllable from sound.” What does that mean? 

     I could go on interminably. But you are right. i don’t get it. 

    • #21
  22. Saint Augustine Member
    Saint Augustine
    @SaintAugustine

    Nanocelt TheContrarian (View Comment):

    Saint Augustine (View Comment):

    Nanocelt TheContrarian (View Comment):

    Saint Augustine (View Comment):

    Nanocelt TheContrarian (View Comment):

    Is Aristotle a Platonic Idealist?

    No.

    And by that I mean only that he does not think the Forms exist. But he still believes in non-Form universals. He rejects materialism.

    Hylomorphism seems to me a fancy word for information.

    No. No. Not at all.

    Hylomorphism is the view that my teacup and your desk are not made of matter only, but of a combination of matter and non-physical form (Greek morpheh, not the same word for the Platonic Forms).

    It’s the standard premodern view: Plato, Aristotle, Plotinus, Augustine, and Aquinas.

    Applied to humanity, it means . . .

    . . ., try looking over Some Metaphysics: Point by Point.

    Is there information without material?

    Yes–in the mind of G-d if nowhere else.

    Can the human mind create information?

    Yes–unless you prefer to say that it’s in the mind of G-d already and we’re only discovering it.

    Did the resurrected Christ have a material body?

    YES. A thousand times–yes.

    Will the New Heaven and New Earth be material?

    Yes.

    Aristotle’s idea of the soul seems to me to refer simply to the information contained in the physical human.

    No.

    Is the mind of God material?

    No.

    Hylomorphism is sounding more and more like a tautology: It is what is is.

    No, it doesn’t.

    At any rate hylomorphism seems like a philosophers trick, there is no there there, . . .

    It’s Aristotle. And Aquinas and others. Of course there’s a there there. It’s just not something everyone can easily understand.

    How do you know the mind of God is not material?

    That’s what God is. That’s what minds are.

    Were Aristotle and Aquinas and others always right?

    No.

    If Plato were right, we might have the philosophers demanding to rule our sorry carcasses.

    Don’t leave out Book II and Book I. Republic may or may not be about political policies. But it is definitely about the soul, and whether being good is a good plan for my personal happiness.

    If hylomorphism depends on material form, but is something more than form, how does hylomorphism not devolve entirely from and depend completely on material objects?

    Hylomorphism is a theory. The thing it describes, a hylomorph, depends on matter and form, and more so on form.

    How does the mind of God interact with matter? Obviously it does.

    Any way He wants. He has the power.

    But hylpmorphism is your only hope of explaining how non-matter can interact with matter. Materialisms don’t try. Redefining non-matter as matter is a failure from the outset. Cartesian dualism makes it impossible by definition.

    Hylomorphism is the only game in town. And we don’t need to get fancy with minds. A teacup is already the result of form acting on matter.

    If it doesn’t matter what particles you have in the resurrection, how does hylomorphism account for the identical nature of the atoms of each element, and the nature and structure of the atoms of individual elements?

    They have forms too.

    Or aid in the understanding of consciousness?

    See above.

    I hold it in about the same estimation as I do Hume’s bundle theory of the self.

    Wrong move. Exactly the opposite of the correct heuristic. Hume bad. Aristotle good.

    I could go on interminably. But you are right. i don’t get it.

    Yes. Hold the other questions till you do. If you want to learn and have time, watch Phil and Sophy. I can get you a URL.

    • #22
  23. J Climacus Member
    J Climacus
    @JClimacus

    Nanocelt TheContrarian (View Comment):

    If it doesn’t matter what particles you have in the resurrection, how does hylomorphism account for the identical nature of the atoms of each element, and the nature and structure of the atoms of individual elements? How does hylomorphism aid the understanding of the atomic table? Or the Standard Model? 

    Hylomorphism is a philosophical understanding of reality, not a scientific theory in competition with other theories. It’s an explanation for why science is possible in the first place, not one empirical scientific theory among others.

    Hylomorphism is the fact that atoms of a given element have the same nature. That’s why science can make general laws about atoms. Materialist philosophies have a serious problem insofar as matter is individuating rather universalizing. The matter of this particular atom is entirely independent of the matter of that particular matter. To what, then, does a universal scientific law concerning atoms refer? Philosophers since the dawn of the modern era have wrestled with this dilemma, and they find it very hard to avoid ending up in some version of skepticism or nominalism.  Kant, perhaps the greatest of modern philosophers, solved it by saying that scientific laws don’t refer to nature itself (the “noumenal”) but only to how nature appears to us (the “phenomenal.”)  The “universal” aspect of scientific law, says Kant, is really an expression of the fact that our minds are the foundation of experience, and so is universally present in that experience in a virtual manner. Scientific laws are but expressions for how our minds organize what is otherwise a pure chaos of phenomenal experience. Kant rescues the universality of scientific law but at the price of restricting the reach of science to appearances rather than the reality of things.

    Some version of what Kant says must be accepted if we deny what hylomorphism claims, which is that the intelligible aspect of the nature of things is not just in our minds, but is at the same time an aspect of the very things themselves. That copper is a good conductor is an idea in our mind, but is also an intelligible aspect of copper itself, independent of my mind. Being has both intelligible and material aspects. That is all hylomorphism says. But it insists that the intelligible aspect is a fundamental aspect of being, just as fundamental as matter.

     

    • #23
  24. Nanocelt TheContrarian Member
    Nanocelt TheContrarian
    @NanoceltTheContrarian

    J Climacus (View Comment):

    Nanocelt TheContrarian (View Comment):

    If it doesn’t matter what particles you have in the resurrection, how does hylomorphism account for the identical nature of the atoms of each element, and the nature and structure of the atoms of individual elements? How does hylomorphism aid the understanding of the atomic table? Or the Standard Model?

    Hylomorphism is a philosophical understanding of reality, not a scientific theory in competition with other theories. It’s an explanation for why science is possible in the first place, not one empirical scientific theory among others.

    Hylomorphism is the fact that atoms of a given element have the same nature. That’s why science can make general laws about atoms. Materialist philosophies have a serious problem insofar as matter is individuating rather universalizing. The matter of this particular atom is entirely independent of the matter of that particular matter. To what, then, does a universal scientific law concerning atoms refer? Philosophers since the dawn of the modern era have wrestled with this dilemma, and they find it very hard to avoid ending up in some version of skepticism or nominalism. Kant, perhaps the greatest of modern philosophers, solved it by saying that scientific laws don’t refer to nature itself (the “noumenal”) but only to how nature appears to us (the “phenomenal.”) The “universal” aspect of scientific law, says Kant, is really an expression of the fact that our minds are the foundation of experience, and so is universally present in that experience in a virtual manner. Scientific laws are but expressions for how our minds organize what is otherwise a pure chaos of phenomenal experience. Kant rescues the universality of scientific law but at the price of restricting the reach of science to appearances rather than the reality of things.

    Some version of what Kant says must be accepted if we deny what hylomorphism claims, which is that the intelligible aspect of the nature of things is not just in our minds, but is at the same time an aspect of the very things themselves. That copper is a good conductor is an idea in our mind, but is also an intelligible aspect of copper itself, independent of my mind. Being has both intelligible and material aspects. That is all hylomorphism says. But it insists that the intelligible aspect is a fundamental aspect of being, just as fundamental as matter.

    So what does hylomorphism say consciousness is?  What is language? What does hylomorphism say about why something has a given form or hylomorph, why does it not have a different form or hylomorph. Why does hylomorphism always seem to treat things that humans have invented or designed as somehow being extant before someone invented it or designed it?

    Kant was not a scientist and had no direct experience with scientific investigation. Why should he have anything pertinent to say about what scientists are doing or can do?
    Is the inflation field a reality? Are mathematical constructs of such things as the Inflaton field possessed of a hylomorph.

    Nothing material exists without some form. Why is it necessary to mystify that form as something above and beyond the existing thing?
    If God can interact with matter any way He chooses, who is to say that he doesn’t interact with matter via a quantum conscious field, which he included as a universal consciousness field contiguous with the known universe, within which our consciousness operates as well? That we might be able to describe mathematically as we do an electromagnetic field.
    Or, why are things as they are and not otherwise? Does hylomorphism speak to that?

    • #24
  25. J Climacus Member
    J Climacus
    @JClimacus

    Nanocelt TheContrarian (View Comment):

    J Climacus (View Comment):

    Nanocelt TheContrarian (View Comment):

    If it doesn’t matter what particles you have in the resurrection, how does hylomorphism account for the identical nature of the atoms of each element, and the nature and structure of the atoms of individual elements? How does hylomorphism aid the understanding of the atomic table? Or the Standard Model?

    Hylomorphism is a philosophical understanding of reality, not a scientific theory in competition with other theories. It’s an explanation for why science is possible in the first place, not one empirical scientific theory among others.

    Hylomorphism is the fact that atoms of a given element have the same nature. That’s why science can make general laws about atoms. Materialist philosophies have a serious problem insofar as matter is individuating rather universalizing. The matter of this particular atom is entirely independent of the matter of that particular matter. To what, then, does a universal scientific law concerning atoms refer? Philosophers since the dawn of the modern era have wrestled with this dilemma, and they find it very hard to avoid ending up in some version of skepticism or nominalism. Kant, perhaps the greatest of modern philosophers, solved it by saying that scientific laws don’t refer to nature itself (the “noumenal”) but only to how nature appears to us (the “phenomenal.”) The “universal” aspect of scientific law, says Kant, is really an expression of the fact that our minds are the foundation of experience, and so is universally present in that experience in a virtual manner. Scientific laws are but expressions for how our minds organize what is otherwise a pure chaos of phenomenal experience. Kant rescues the universality of scientific law but at the price of restricting the reach of science to appearances rather than the reality of things.

    Some version of what Kant says must be accepted if we deny what hylomorphism claims, which is that the intelligible aspect of the nature of things is not just in our minds, but is at the same time an aspect of the very things themselves. That copper is a good conductor is an idea in our mind, but is also an intelligible aspect of copper itself, independent of my mind. Being has both intelligible and material aspects. That is all hylomorphism says. But it insists that the intelligible aspect is a fundamental aspect of being, just as fundamental as matter.

     

    So what does hylomorphism say consciousness is?

    The human intellect knowing itself and the world.

    • #25
  26. Barfly Member
    Barfly
    @Barfly

    J Climacus (View Comment):

    Nanocelt TheContrarian (View Comment):

    J Climacus (View Comment):

    Nanocelt TheContrarian (View Comment):

    If it doesn’t matter what particles you have in the resurrection, how does hylomorphism account for the identical nature of the atoms of each element, and the nature and structure of the atoms of individual elements? How does hylomorphism aid the understanding of the atomic table? Or the Standard Model?

    Hylomorphism is a philosophical understanding of reality, not a scientific theory in competition with other theories. It’s an explanation for why science is possible in the first place, not one empirical scientific theory among others.

    Hylomorphism is the fact that atoms of a given element have the same nature. That’s why science can make general laws about atoms. Materialist philosophies have a serious problem insofar as matter is individuating rather universalizing. The matter of this particular atom is entirely independent of the matter of that particular matter. To what, then, does a universal scientific law concerning atoms refer? Philosophers since the dawn of the modern era have wrestled with this dilemma, and they find it very hard to avoid ending up in some version of skepticism or nominalism. Kant, perhaps the greatest of modern philosophers, solved it by saying that scientific laws don’t refer to nature itself (the “noumenal”) but only to how nature appears to us (the “phenomenal.”) The “universal” aspect of scientific law, says Kant, is really an expression of the fact that our minds are the foundation of experience, and so is universally present in that experience in a virtual manner. Scientific laws are but expressions for how our minds organize what is otherwise a pure chaos of phenomenal experience. Kant rescues the universality of scientific law but at the price of restricting the reach of science to appearances rather than the reality of things.

    Some version of what Kant says must be accepted if we deny what hylomorphism claims, which is that the intelligible aspect of the nature of things is not just in our minds, but is at the same time an aspect of the very things themselves. That copper is a good conductor is an idea in our mind, but is also an intelligible aspect of copper itself, independent of my mind. Being has both intelligible and material aspects. That is all hylomorphism says. But it insists that the intelligible aspect is a fundamental aspect of being, just as fundamental as matter.

     

    So what does hylomorphism say consciousness is?

    The human intellect knowing itself and the world.

    More, please. If that’s all hylomorphism is, then it’s just a trivial definition with no explanatory power. I doubt that’s the case, but I guess it could be.

    • #26
  27. J Climacus Member
    J Climacus
    @JClimacus

    Barfly (View Comment):

    J Climacus (View Comment):

    Nanocelt TheContrarian (View Comment):

    J Climacus (View Comment):

    Nanocelt TheContrarian (View Comment):

    If it doesn’t matter what particles you have in the resurrection, how does hylomorphism account for the identical nature of the atoms of each element, and the nature and structure of the atoms of individual elements? How does hylomorphism aid the understanding of the atomic table? Or the Standard Model?

    Hylomorphism is a philosophical understanding of reality, not a scientific theory in competition with other theories. It’s an explanation for why science is possible in the first place, not one empirical scientific theory among others.

    Hylomorphism is the fact that atoms of a given element have the same nature. That’s why science can make general laws about atoms. Materialist philosophies have a serious problem insofar as matter is individuating rather universalizing. The matter of this particular atom is entirely independent of the matter of that particular matter. To what, then, does a universal scientific law concerning atoms refer? Philosophers since the dawn of the modern era have wrestled with this dilemma, and they find it very hard to avoid ending up in some version of skepticism or nominalism. Kant, perhaps the greatest of modern philosophers, solved it by saying that scientific laws don’t refer to nature itself (the “noumenal”) but only to how nature appears to us (the “phenomenal.”) The “universal” aspect of scientific law, says Kant, is really an expression of the fact that our minds are the foundation of experience, and so is universally present in that experience in a virtual manner. Scientific laws are but expressions for how our minds organize what is otherwise a pure chaos of phenomenal experience. Kant rescues the universality of scientific law but at the price of restricting the reach of science to appearances rather than the reality of things.

    Some version of what Kant says must be accepted if we deny what hylomorphism claims, which is that the intelligible aspect of the nature of things is not just in our minds, but is at the same time an aspect of the very things themselves. That copper is a good conductor is an idea in our mind, but is also an intelligible aspect of copper itself, independent of my mind. Being has both intelligible and material aspects. That is all hylomorphism says. But it insists that the intelligible aspect is a fundamental aspect of being, just as fundamental as matter.

     

    So what does hylomorphism say consciousness is?

    The human intellect knowing itself and the world.

    More, please. If that’s all hylomorphism is, then it’s just a trivial definition with no explanatory power. I doubt that’s the case, but I guess it could be.

    For more on they hylomorphic understanding of human nature I suggest Aristotle’s “On the Soul”, Aquinas’s Summa Contra Gentiles or, for a more modern treatment, the works of the philosopher Edward Feser.  It’s not appropriate to give a complete disquisition here.

    I’m always surprised when people think that a concise answer to a specific question implies that a philosophy has nothing at all more to say on a subject. It’s like if someone asks me what a triangle is, and I say “a three sided geometrical figure”, and they respond “if that’s all geometry has to say about triangles, it’s not worth much.” 

    • #27
  28. Nanocelt TheContrarian Member
    Nanocelt TheContrarian
    @NanoceltTheContrarian

    J Climacus (View Comment):

    Nanocelt TheContrarian (View Comment):

    J Climacus (View Comment):

    Nanocelt TheContrarian (View Comment):

    If it doesn’t matter what particles you have in the resurrection, how does hylomorphism account for the identical nature of the atoms of each element, and the nature and structure of the atoms of individual elements? How does hylomorphism aid the understanding of the atomic table? Or the Standard Model?

    Hylomorphism is a philosophical understanding of reality, not a scientific theory in competition with other theories. It’s an explanation for why science is possible in the first place, not one empirical scientific theory among others.

    Hylomorphism is the fact that atoms of a given element have the same nature. That’s why science can make general laws about atoms. Materialist philosophies have a serious problem insofar as matter is individuating rather universalizing. The matter of this particular atom is entirely independent of the matter of that particular matter. To what, then, does a universal scientific law concerning atoms refer? Philosophers since the dawn of the modern era have wrestled with this dilemma, and they find it very hard to avoid ending up in some version of skepticism or nominalism. Kant, perhaps the greatest of modern philosophers, solved it by saying that scientific laws don’t refer to nature itself (the “noumenal”) but only to how nature appears to us (the “phenomenal.”) The “universal” aspect of scientific law, says Kant, is really an expression of the fact that our minds are the foundation of experience, and so is universally present in that experience in a virtual manner. Scientific laws are but expressions for how our minds organize what is otherwise a pure chaos of phenomenal experience. Kant rescues the universality of scientific law but at the price of restricting the reach of science to appearances rather than the reality of things.

    Some version of what Kant says must be accepted if we deny what hylomorphism claims, which is that the intelligible aspect of the nature of things is not just in our minds, but is at the same time an aspect of the very things themselves. That copper is a good conductor is an idea in our mind, but is also an intelligible aspect of copper itself, independent of my mind. Being has both intelligible and material aspects. That is all hylomorphism says. But it insists that the intelligible aspect is a fundamental aspect of being, just as fundamental as matter.

     

    So what does hylomorphism say consciousness is?

    The human intellect knowing itself and the world.

    Is the intellect the same as consciousness? If so you are defining consciousness as consciousness doing what consciousness does. Sort of like Forest Gump’s refrain that stupid is as stupid does. Am I understanding correctly?

    • #28
  29. J Climacus Member
    J Climacus
    @JClimacus

    Nanocelt TheContrarian (View Comment):

    J Climacus (View Comment):

    Nanocelt TheContrarian (View Comment):

    J Climacus (View Comment):

    Nanocelt TheContrarian (View Comment):

    If it doesn’t matter what particles you have in the resurrection, how does hylomorphism account for the identical nature of the atoms of each element, and the nature and structure of the atoms of individual elements? How does hylomorphism aid the understanding of the atomic table? Or the Standard Model?

    Hylomorphism is a philosophical understanding of reality, not a scientific theory in competition with other theories. It’s an explanation for why science is possible in the first place, not one empirical scientific theory among others.

    Hylomorphism is the fact that atoms of a given element have the same nature. That’s why science can make general laws about atoms. Materialist philosophies have a serious problem insofar as matter is individuating rather universalizing. The matter of this particular atom is entirely independent of the matter of that particular matter. To what, then, does a universal scientific law concerning atoms refer? Philosophers since the dawn of the modern era have wrestled with this dilemma, and they find it very hard to avoid ending up in some version of skepticism or nominalism. Kant, perhaps the greatest of modern philosophers, solved it by saying that scientific laws don’t refer to nature itself (the “noumenal”) but only to how nature appears to us (the “phenomenal.”) The “universal” aspect of scientific law, says Kant, is really an expression of the fact that our minds are the foundation of experience, and so is universally present in that experience in a virtual manner. Scientific laws are but expressions for how our minds organize what is otherwise a pure chaos of phenomenal experience. Kant rescues the universality of scientific law but at the price of restricting the reach of science to appearances rather than the reality of things.

    Some version of what Kant says must be accepted if we deny what hylomorphism claims, which is that the intelligible aspect of the nature of things is not just in our minds, but is at the same time an aspect of the very things themselves. That copper is a good conductor is an idea in our mind, but is also an intelligible aspect of copper itself, independent of my mind. Being has both intelligible and material aspects. That is all hylomorphism says. But it insists that the intelligible aspect is a fundamental aspect of being, just as fundamental as matter.

     

    So what does hylomorphism say consciousness is?

    The human intellect knowing itself and the world.

    Is the intellect the same as consciousness? If so you are defining consciousness as consciousness doing what consciousness does. Sort of like Forest Gump’s refrain that stupid is as stupid does. Am I understanding correctly?

    No, I said that consciousness is the “human intellect knowing itself…” That’s an activity. Consciousness is the intellect in act. It’s the difference between legs and running.  Running is the legs in action but legs are not always running, but you can’t be running without legs. 

    • #29
  30. Saint Augustine Member
    Saint Augustine
    @SaintAugustine

    Barfly (View Comment):
    More, please.

    “What Are Things?”

    • #30
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