Materialism, Determinism, Free Will

September 2021 Forums General discussion Materialism, Determinism, Free Will

Viewing 15 posts - 16 through 30 (of 108 total)
  • Author
    Posts
  • #89747
    Young Master Smeet
    Participant
    robbo203 wrote:
    Can you please explain  how “the mind is matter”?  How is the thought that I am thinking right now that I fancy a cold beer and a pizza , “material”?  For sure it might be influenced by  material considerations – I am hungry , I am thirsty,  the weather is hot etc etc  – but does that make my thought , “matter” as such? What, for that matter,  is “matter”?  

    Mind states = Brain states. We know brains are there.  We know that mind states can be altered by chemical influence on brains, and by physical interference.  We have no evidence, whatsoever, of a none material mind beyond the brain.

    #89748
    ALB
    Keymaster

    Here’s Anton Pannekoek’s take on this, on the basis of the view that all that exists is the ever-changing universe and that knowledge and science consists in describing and analysing parts of this and detecting patterns in it, with a view to predicting what will happen in similar circumstances and using this knowledge to improve human life:

    Quote:
    Modern science, in an analogous way, in the theory of relativity renders the motions in space not by gravitational force, but by prescribing the shortest road (the “geodesic”) in the distorted four-dimensional space-time. Now again physicists came to consider this warped space as a “reality” behind the phenomena. And again it must be stated that, like Newton’s gravitation, it is only a mental abstraction, a set of formulas, better than the former, hence more true, because it represents more phenomena which the old law could not explain.What is called “causality” in nature, the reign of natural laws-sometimes one even speaks of the “law of causality,” i.e. in nature the law holds that laws hold – simply comes down to the fact that the regularities we find in the phenomena are expressed in the form of prescripts absolutely valid. If there are limitations, exceptions, conditions, they are expressly stated as such, and we try to represent them by correcting the law; this shows that its character is meant to be absolute. We are confident that it holds for future use; and if it fails, as often happens, or does not hold precisely, we represent this by additional “causes.”We often speak of the inexorable course of events, or of the necessity in nature; or we speak of “determinism,” as if this course had been determined and fixed by somebody in advance. All these human names chosen to express the antithesis to the arbitrariness and free choice in human actions, denoting a kind of compulsion, are a source of much confusion and cannot render exactly the character of nature. Rather we say that the entire nature at this moment depends entirely on what it was a moment before. Or perhaps better still: that nature in its totality and history is a unity, remaining identically itself in all its variations. All parts are interrelated as parts of one whole, and the laws of nature are the humanly imperfect expressions of these interrelations. Necessity can be ascribed to them solely in a partial imperfect degree; absolute necessity may be affirmed for the entirety of nature only. Phenomena may be imperfectly rendered by our laws; but we are convinced that they go on in a way which can be ultimately reduced to simple description, and could not be otherwise than they are. (from Lenin as Philosopher — http://www.marxists.org/archive/pannekoe/1938/lenin/ch03.htm)

    In other words, “causality” and “determinism” are concepts we use to describe parts of “nature” (the whole universe of changing phenomena), of which we ourselves are part. They are in nature itself, but are only of our description of it  So, when we are discussing “free will” and “determinism” we are discussing the best way to describe patterns of individual human behaviour. Since these cannot be predicted with anything like complete precision, the word “determined” in their respect would seem to be out of place. Whether or  not “free will” is the appropriate word, in view of how it has been used by some in the past, is another matter. “Indeterminate” perhaps?”Determinism” is still appropriate to describe the patterns in other parts of nature, including human societies and their evolution, than the behaviour of an individual human. Incidentally, just like the theory of relativity, the theory of quantum physics is also “only a mental abstraction, a set of formulas, better than the former, hence more true, because it represents more phenomena which the old law could not explain.”  It’s only a way of describing a part of the universe, how sub-atomic participles are observed to move. It doesn’t have relevance outside the field of sub-atomic particles, and in fact is not an accurate description of other parts of the universe. The fact that human behaviour could also be described as “uncertain” and “indeterminate” is just a co-incidence.

    #89750
    Anonymous
    Inactive
    robbo203 wrote:
    TheOldGreyWhistle wrote:
    How can mind be anything other than matter? What is wrong with determinism? The case for socialism depends on it? Without ‘crude determinism’ there  is no science. In fact without ‘crude determinism’ we wouldn’t have the confidence  to move or get up out of bed. The attack on ‘determinism’ is a defence of capitalism. 

     Well no  – I would have thought it was exactly the other way round. It is the belief that our future is not  predetermined that give us hope that there can be an alternative to capitalism. Otherwise what you are advocating is teleology and this is specifically what Marx rejected.  Thus  he welcomed Darwin’s Origin of the Species  precisely because “it deals a death blow to teleology in the natural sciences” (Marx’s letter to Engels , January 16, 1861 Selected Correspondence Moscow 1975).  In The German Ideology he dismissed the notion that “later history is…the goal of earlier history” as a “speculative distortion”.Of course things are “determined” in the sense that something  happens because of something that happened before.  But “crude” determinism purports to explain the total picture and not just individual events. This is why I recommended Castoriadis’ text – because it has some rather useful things to say about determinism and its scope.  A rejection of teleology does not mean a rejection of causality as such and this is perhaps where the confusion arises. ThusContrary to what the idealist philosophers said , history is the area par excellence where causality makes sense to us for it assumes there at the very outset, the form of motivation.  We can  therefore understand the “causal concatenation” in it, something we can never do in the case of natural phenomena.  An electric current makes the bulb glow.  The law of gravity causes the moon to be in such and such a place in the sky at such and such a time.  These are, and for us, will always remain , external connexions: necessary, predictable , but incomprehensible.  But if A treads on B’s toes, B swears at him, and A responds with blows, we understand the necessity of the links even if we consider them contingent”  (History as Creation p.14-5)However when comes to consider history in general terms, unpredictability or indeterminacy expresses itself as  “an emergence or creation of which cannot be deduced  from what was there before, as a conclusion which exceeds the premisses or  positing of new premisses” (ibid p.17).  Hence , my  suggestion that we need to think instead in terms of emergence theory.  David Graeber, in summing up the broad outlines of Roy Bhaskar’s “critical realist” approach, alludes to emergence theory thus:Reality can be divided  into emergent stratum: just as chemistry presupposes but cannot be reduced to physics so biology presupposes but cannot be reduced to chemistry, or the human sciences to biology.  Different sorts of mechanisms are operating on each. Each, furthermore, achieves a certain autonomy from those below: it would be impossible to even talk about human freedom were this not the case, since our actions would simply be determined by chemical and biological processes.(Graeber D, 2001,  Towards and Anthropological Theory of Value: The False Coin of Our Own Dreams, Palgrave p.52-3)You might want to ask yourself – if our actions were simply determined by chemical  and biological processes what then would become of the Marxian claim that “men make their own history” albeit under conditions not of their own making.  Is it rather that chemical and biological processes make history and human beings are just means by which they do so?The point is not only that different sorts of mechanisms operate at each stratum of reality but  also most and especially in the case of society, within society.  There is not just one “master mechanism” that  determines how we think and pushes society in a given directionThere is a great quote from Carolyn Merchant  which kind of sums up rather well how I see the relationship between the ideas people hold and the nature of the society they live in.  Note that at the individual level the ideas are not strictly predetermined by society – “crude determinism”  – as a whole but rather it is  that  at the aggregate level a that a “determined” pattern begins to emerge:An array of ideas exists available to a given age: some of these for unarticulated  or even unconscious reasons seem plausible to individuals or social groups; others do not.  Some ideas spread; others die out.  But the direction and accumulation of social changes begin to differentiate between  among the spectrum of possibilities so that some ideas assume a more central role in the array, while others move to the periphery.  Out of this differential appeal of ideas that seem most plausible under particular social conditions, cultural transformations develop (The Death of Nature: Women , Ecology and the Scientific Revolution,  Harper and Row 1980 p.xviii)

    Replace ‘crude determinism’ which no one can seriously argue, with ‘determinism’.  I wrote that after a full bottle of Merlot, Lol

    #89751
    stuartw2112
    Participant

    Says Chomsky: Nobody knows what material is, or what physical is, let alone what mind is, or what else there might be or might not be. Modern science has expelled the machine, and left the ghost. Most of the discussion on here, by these standards, is pre-Newtonian!http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=D5in5EdjhD0

    #89752
    Anonymous
    Inactive
    stuartw2112 wrote:
    Says Chomsky: Nobody knows what material is, or what physical is, let alone what mind is, or what else there might be or might not be. Modern science has expelled the machine, and left the ghost. Most of the discussion on here, by these standards, is pre-Newtonian!http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=D5in5EdjhD0

    Well that is an intellegent comment from Chomsky, ‘I don’t know’! Perhaps he should think about it. But wait he can’t as he doesn’t know what a mind is, let alone how it thinks. I think Chomsky is wrong. Science has not ‘expelled the machine’.http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mind

    #89749
    Anonymous
    Inactive
    Young Master Smeet wrote:
    robbo203 wrote:
    Can you please explain  how “the mind is matter”?  How is the thought that I am thinking right now that I fancy a cold beer and a pizza , “material”?  For sure it might be influenced by  material considerations – I am hungry , I am thirsty,  the weather is hot etc etc  – but does that make my thought , “matter” as such? What, for that matter,  is “matter”?  

    Mind states = Brain states. We know brains are there.  We know that mind states can be altered by chemical influence on brains, and by physical interference.  We have no evidence, whatsoever, of a none material mind beyond the brain.

    Thomas Hobbes of Malmesbury (5 April 1588 – 4 December 1679) referred to mind as ‘internal motion’. We now know that mind is synaptic action in the brain. The mind does not exist outside of the brain. The Consequence of ‘internal motion’ can be observed outside of the brain but the mind never leaves the brain. Or there is no evidence that it ever has. Mind is not separate from matter, it is matter. If you observe a group of monkeys can we seriously argue that their thought has left their brainAs for determinism – part of our  case against Lenin, for example, is a determinist analysis. To say ‘socialism was not possible in Russia in the early 20th century’ is a determinist argument. I am a materialist and a determinist. You cannot make a silk purse out of a sow’s ear. Material conditions determine our limitations. We have a free will only within its limits

    #89753
    stuartw2112
    Participant

    Old Grey,Chomsky’s comment is not “I don’t know” but “We don’t know”, ie, science doesn’t know. As he discusses in the video which you didn’t watch, the problem of consciousness is considered in the relevant branches of philosophy and science to be the “hard problem”. If you’ve thought about it and got it all sussed, then you’re wasting your talents on here – please do send in a submission to a relevant journal, which I shall read with interest when it is published.

    #89754
    Anonymous
    Inactive
    stuartw2112 wrote:
    Old Grey,Chomsky’s comment is not “I don’t know” but “We don’t know”, ie, science doesn’t know. As he discusses in the video which you didn’t watch, the problem of consciousness is considered in the relevant branches of philosophy and science to be the “hard problem”. If you’ve thought about it and got it all sussed, then you’re wasting your talents on here – please do send in a submission to a relevant journal, which I shall read with interest when it is published.

    Why the attitude? I don’t understand? My name is OldGreyWhistle – as in the name of my band – not Old Grey. Would you talk to me like that face to face? I know you wouldn’t. You only talk like that from the safety of your laptopI dont accept what Chomsky says just because he is Chomsky. If you had read my link – which you didn’t – you would have found that science does know what mind is. Philosophers spend their time looking for something deeper.In future when you talk to people on forums assume some basic respect.

    #89755
    stuartw2112
    Participant

    OldGreyWhistle,You read an intolerable attitude in my post, I read an intolerable attitude in yours. It’s part of the hazards of this kind of communication, I’m afraid. No offence was intended.I did in fact read your link, which was a Wikipedia post introducing the subject, but there was nothing I could find of pertience on this topic.I don’t agree with what Chomsky says because he is Chomsky. I don’t even agree with Chomsky, nor disagree, having no knowledge of the subjects he was talking about – I just assume a position of “basic respect” towards what he has to say. 

    #89756
    Anonymous
    Inactive
    stuartw2112 wrote:
    OldGreyWhistle,You read an intolerable attitude in my post, I read an intolerable attitude in yours. It’s part of the hazards of this kind of communication, I’m afraid. No offence was intended.I did in fact read your link, which was a Wikipedia post introducing the subject, but there was nothing I could find of pertience on this topic.I don’t agree with what Chomsky says because he is Chomsky. I don’t even agree with Chomsky, nor disagree, having no knowledge of the subjects he was talking about – I just assume a position of “basic respect” towards what he has to say. 

    Why should I read or listen to what Chomsky has to say about the mind? The Pope has a lot to say about God but I don’t believe in God,so I am not interested in listening to the Pope, I have better things to do. . I have already dismissed the idea. The same applies to the mind existing outside of the head.. I have read lots of books on the subject and discussed it with other scientists and I have concluded, (like the existence of God,) that it is rubbish.  It is ‘nonsense on stilts’. I don’t need Chomsky, I can think for myself. You really do need to think for yourself. Why don’t you bring your own ideas to the forum instead of Chomsky’s? You are probably a lot more interesting.By the way if you or Chomsky, have ideas outside of your head, let me know. I can get hold of some anti psychotic drugs  :o)

    #89757
    Anonymous
    Inactive
    TheOldGreyWhistle wrote:
    stuartw2112 wrote:
    Old Grey,Chomsky’s comment is not “I don’t know” but “We don’t know”, ie, science doesn’t know. As he discusses in the video which you didn’t watch, the problem of consciousness is considered in the relevant branches of philosophy and science to be the “hard problem”. If you’ve thought about it and got it all sussed, then you’re wasting your talents on here – please do send in a submission to a relevant journal, which I shall read with interest when it is published.

    In future when you talk to people on forums assume some basic respect.

    On another thread here just three days ago………

    TheOldGreyWhistle wrote:
    Moron
    #89758
    Anonymous
    Inactive
    gnome wrote:
    TheOldGreyWhistle wrote:
    stuartw2112 wrote:
    Old Grey,Chomsky’s comment is not “I don’t know” but “We don’t know”, ie, science doesn’t know. As he discusses in the video which you didn’t watch, the problem of consciousness is considered in the relevant branches of philosophy and science to be the “hard problem”. If you’ve thought about it and got it all sussed, then you’re wasting your talents on here – please do send in a submission to a relevant journal, which I shall read with interest when it is published.

    In future when you talk to people on forums assume some basic respect.

    On another thread here just three days ago………

    TheOldGreyWhistle wrote:
    Moron

    It was a direct response to DJP referring to what I said as ‘crap’. DJP did not offer a reasoned argument so how else could I respond? I responded in kind. You have taken it all out of context. You did not point out that I apologised to DJP.  Have you nothing better to do? Have you a contribution to this discussion? Thought not,. Ghome Gnome!

    #89760
    ALB
    Keymaster
    stuartw2112 wrote:
    Says Chomsky: Nobody knows what material is, or what physical is, let alone what mind is, or what else there might be or might not be. Modern science has expelled the machine, and left the ghost. Most of the discussion on here, by these standards, is pre-Newtonian!http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=D5in5EdjhD0

    Let’s not forget that what we are really discussing here is the most adequate way of describing observable events from the point of view of human survival. It doesn’t strike me that saying “nobody knows what material is, etc” is useful from this perspective. At the time of Newton Samuel Johnson already dismissed a similar idea put forward by Bishop Berkeley by simply kicking a stone.

    #89759
    robbo203
    Participant
    Young Master Smeet wrote:
    robbo203 wrote:
    Can you please explain  how “the mind is matter”?  How is the thought that I am thinking right now that I fancy a cold beer and a pizza , “material”?  For sure it might be influenced by  material considerations – I am hungry , I am thirsty,  the weather is hot etc etc  – but does that make my thought , “matter” as such? What, for that matter,  is “matter”?  

    Mind states = Brain states. We know brains are there.  We know that mind states can be altered by chemical influence on brains, and by physical interference.  We have no evidence, whatsoever, of a none material mind beyond the brain.

     But mind states don’t equal brain states!  This is old fashioned “Identity theory”  you are talking about which has long been  overtaken by “emergence theory” in the cognitive sciences – at least  since the 1970s if not earlier It is pretty easy to refute the proposition that there is a “type  identity” between brain states and mind states. For example, identical cognitive tasks can be performed by different individuals – whose brains may not be exactly identical in their biochemistry and neuro-anatomical make-up – even using different parts of the brain to perform these tasks.  Similarly, identical cognitive tasks can be performed by the same individuals at different times in their life despite the neurophysical re-configuration that would have occurred in the process of aging.  I could go on piling up many more examples which would completely undermine the case for identity theory Of course mind states can be altered by chemical influences but  in no way does that demonstrate  mind states = brain  states.  Causation and correlation do not in themselves constitute evidence that a mental state is ontologically identical – and, hence, reducible – to a brain state.   As Max Velmans notes: Ontological identity is symmetrical. If A is ontologically identical to B, then B is ontologically identical to A.  Ontological identity also obeys Leibniz’s Law which states that if A is identical to B then all the properties of A are also properties of B and vice versa (A and B must exist at the same time, occupy the same location in space and so on. A classic example of apparently different entities being shown by science to be one and the same are the “morning star” and the “evening star” which are just the same planet Venus (viewed in the morning and evening) (Velmans, Max, 1996 “Goodbye to Reductionism” In S. Hameroff, A Kaszniac, A.Scott (eds), Towards a Science of Consciousness: The Second Tucson Discussions and Debates, MIT Press, pp.45-52, 1998This is simply not the case with brain states and mind statesYour problem is that you think that if mind states do not equal brain states then somehow this suggests there must be a “non material mind beyond the brain”. But it doesn’t!   Indeed,  this is whole point about non-reductive physicalism. It is actually a monistic materialist theory – ironically enough  – that asserts that there is no mind without the brain but,  unlike identity theory , argues that the mind cannot  possibly be reducible to the brain or to neurophysical activity 

    #89761
    Young Master Smeet
    Participant
    robbo203 wrote:
    It is pretty easy to refute the proposition that there is a “type  identity” between brain states and mind states. For example, identical cognitive tasks can be performed by different individuals – whose brains may not be exactly identical in their biochemistry and neuro-anatomical make-up – even using different parts of the brain to perform these tasks.  Similarly, identical cognitive tasks can be performed by the same individuals at different times in their life despite the neurophysical re-configuration that would have occurred in the process of aging.  I could go on piling up many more examples which would completely undermine the case for identity theory

    Birds and bats have different shaped wings, but wing states equal flying states, and similar effects in general can be achieved through different means.We know in this day and age that CAT scanners can see the response to stimuli in the brain, and we can even have computer interface technology that can ‘read’ to a certain extent the minds of the users.http://www.extremetech.com/extreme/134682-hackers-backdoor-the-human-brain-successfully-extract-sensitive-data 

Viewing 15 posts - 16 through 30 (of 108 total)
  • You must be logged in to reply to this topic.