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'Self' is a social construct
Posted: 27 August 2007 07:58 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 16 ]  
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[quote author=“SaulDeOhio”]And exactly what is all this argument about “cognitive or moral-ethical domains” aimed at, if not my mind?

[quote author=“CanZen”]I guess you haven’t noticed the self-contradictory attitude in your own statement:

“You are trying to appeal to my mind in order to persuade me”

It’s not surprising, really, given the considerable commitment in the remainder of Saul’s philosophy to the power of mind over matter. It may be a little bit ironic, though, that Saul could contemplate the power of another mind over his own.

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Posted: 27 August 2007 08:19 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 17 ]  
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[quote author=“CanZen”]I didn’t think it was all that difficult to grasp that these arguments are NOT aimed at your mind, but they are aimed at you.  You are an intelligent, living body who uses language, and if you use this language to imagine that you have that extra thing called a mind, then of course our plea is going to look self-contradictory to you. 

What do you call that, my intelligence, what makes it possible for me to use language, if not a mind?

Someone brought up Plato’s metaphor of a chariot, horse, and driver. The problem is that it sees the body and mind as separate things. They are aspects of one whole.

I guess you haven’t noticed the self-contradictory attitude in your own statement:

  “You are trying to appeal to my mind in order to persuade me”

Notice how you (the intelligent, conscious being that you are) appear to possess this other thing called a mind . . . what the hell is that?

You say I have intelligence. That IS the mind. To say that I am an intelligent being is the same as saying I have a mind. Maybe there is a bit of confusion because the word mind is a noun, which to some may imply an object. Running is often used as a noun, but it is not a thing. The mind is what we do when we use our intelligence. There’s another noun, intelligence. To put is simply, I have a brain (with all the sense organs connected to it), and what it does is called the mind.

Why would I wish to appeal to this apparent ghost that you imagine you have some kind of ownership over in order to convince you?

Who said anything about a ghost? This sounds to me like a strawman argument.

If your ability to use a language is this thing you call mind, perhaps that’s just you (as body subject) minding your linguistic capability - minding is an action that you, as intelligent body, perform.  It is SELF-contradictory (the self against language use . . .  contra - diction) what you are arguing.

Bob

You aren’t making sense. Consciousness, mind, intelligence, these are all pretty much synonyms. My ability to use language is one expression of having a mind.
From The Objectivist Center’s FAQ

What we call the mind is the set of capacities to be aware, to perceive the world, to think about it, to feel, to value, to make choices. How do these capacities arise? In many respects, the answer to that question must come from science, not philosophy. But everything we know indicates that they are the product of biological evolution and that they depend on our physical sense organs and brain, as well as on the many other support structures that the body provides.

What we call our spiritual needs, moreover, are not in conflict with our physical or biological needs. They are rooted in the same basic need to maintain our lives through purposeful action. Human beings lack sufficient instinctive drives to survive without thinking, learning, and making choices. Reason is our most important tool for survival. But it is a complex and highly demanding tool. According to Objectivism, our spiritual needs for values, principles, ideals, aesthetic experience, and love are requirements for the healthy functioning of a rational, volitional mode of cognition.

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- George Sutherland, Associate Justice of the United States Supreme Court, 1921.

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Posted: 27 August 2007 08:51 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 18 ]  
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[quote author=“Salt Creek”]
It’s not surprising, really, given the considerable commitment in the remainder of Saul’s philosophy to the power of mind over matter. It may be a little bit ironic, though, that Saul could contemplate the power of another mind over his own.

Salt Creek: You have no clue. See my post following your own.

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“The three great rights are so bound together as to be essentially one right. To give a man his life, but deny him his liberty, is to take from him all that makes his life worth living. To give him his liberty, but take from him the property which is the fruit and badge of his liberty, is to still leave him a slave.”

- George Sutherland, Associate Justice of the United States Supreme Court, 1921.

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Posted: 27 August 2007 12:31 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 19 ]  
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I guess that you are unable to grasp the value of not referring to “your mind” as if IT is something that you actually possess.  I see that you are not a cartesian so that your belief that mind exists is about as weird as those people who believe that god is love.  Trouble is that your beliefs are easily confused with those who think that mind is some sort of disembodied consciousness. 

The proper way to speak the true meaning of what you have explained above is to use the words ‘my minding’ as opposed to ‘my mind.’  For example you might say, “Today my minding is not as sharp as it usually is” (equating it to running or some other activity).  You may think that this small semantic correction makes hardly any difference at all, but I think that it sends out the message that you are not a dualist and also it helps to remind (a verb) you that you are a complex arrangement of neuro-biological actions and substances.  Perhaps you find that referring to our bodies as being intelligent misses out on something that needs to be expressed, but equating intelligence with mind is just a way of reintroducing a duality into our descriptions of ourselves.

You seem to agree that mind (to mind) is an action that happens within us, yet you insist on setting “your” mind in semantic opposition to “your” body.  It seems that you want to have it both ways, you keep saying that each of us is a fully integrated being yet you also want to set mind apart as something extra.  This extra existence allows for much confusion and it also allows people to imagine their self as being extra from their bodily being.  I find that all those who believe in god MUST necessarily believe in a disembodied mind - they cannot imagine that the totality of them SELVES could be entirely described by an account of the embodied brain and all of the complex functions that this fantastic organ can manipulate.

Losing one’s mind is the biggest step in becoming a true atheist in my own quaint perspective, but what am I but an intelligent, feeling, biological body that uses a language to its great advantage.

Bob

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Posted: 27 August 2007 06:49 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 20 ]  
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ONe more point from my perspective, if ‘mind’ is just the action of attending to (minding) some particular phenomena (the sensations, the emotions, the memory, the language, etc.), then what is it that is doing this attending?  Would you agree that it is the brain part of the living body that attends to (minds) all these other phenomena?  Or would you say that it is the mind that performs the attention (minding)?

Bob

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Posted: 27 August 2007 11:30 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 21 ]  
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[quote author=“CanZen”]ONe more point from my perspective, if ‘mind’ is just the action of attending to (minding) some particular phenomena (the sensations, the emotions, the memory, the language, etc.), then what is it that is doing this attending?  Would you agree that it is the brain part of the living body that attends to (minds) all these other phenomena?  Or would you say that it is the mind that performs the attention (minding)?

Bob

Did you read what I quoted from The Objectivist Center?
“But everything we know indicates that they are the product of biological evolution and that they depend on our physical sense organs and brain, as well as on the many other support structures that the body provides.”

Are you paying attention to anything I am saying?

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“The three great rights are so bound together as to be essentially one right. To give a man his life, but deny him his liberty, is to take from him all that makes his life worth living. To give him his liberty, but take from him the property which is the fruit and badge of his liberty, is to still leave him a slave.”

- George Sutherland, Associate Justice of the United States Supreme Court, 1921.

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Posted: 28 August 2007 02:35 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 22 ]  
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[quote author=“SaulDeOhio”]Did you read what I quoted...? Are you paying attention to anything I am saying?

If you yourself had anything to say, Saul, maybe you wouldn’t have to expend so much effort quoting Objectivist websites, with gibberish such as:

According to Objectivism, (what we call) our spiritual needs for values, principles, ideals, aesthetic experience, and love are requirements for the healthy functioning of a rational, volitional mode of cognition.

(and get this)

are not in conflict with our physical or biological needs

This leaves us pondering the mystery of why just about every post you make here accuses your interlocutors either of making ad hominem remarks or of not listening to what you yourself are saying.

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Posted: 28 August 2007 03:56 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 23 ]  
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Salt Creek comits the fallacy of believing that simply repeating what someone else said and scoffing at it is enough to disprove an opponents beliefs. Is there a name for that fallacy?

The FAQ I posted only presents the basic principles involved. It doesn’t make a full presentation of the reasons Objectivists believe what they do. For a full explanation and proof, you need a full discussion of the nature of value, the aspects of human nature that lead to it, and the nature of emotion.

But I have to admit, most of this does seem so obvious to me that it shouldn’t need much discussion.

So could you at least explain what you think is so wrong with any of it? Or is just stating it and calling it gibberish supposed to convince anyone?

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“The three great rights are so bound together as to be essentially one right. To give a man his life, but deny him his liberty, is to take from him all that makes his life worth living. To give him his liberty, but take from him the property which is the fruit and badge of his liberty, is to still leave him a slave.”

- George Sutherland, Associate Justice of the United States Supreme Court, 1921.

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Posted: 28 August 2007 04:26 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 24 ]  
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[quote author=“SaulDeOhio”]But I have to admit, most of this does seem so obvious to me that it shouldn’t need much discussion.

The fact that it is obvious to you and not obvious to some others should serve as a sort of warning sign. I don’t know which logical fallacy claims that something should be obvious and abandons the argument there. You are trying to convey the Objectivist concept of value, and are not succeeding. When theists tell unbelievers they are simply being stubborn, the effect is very much the same. Neither theists nor Objectivists seem able to comprehend how their opponents “don’t get it”.

A claim that nature has no intrinsic value is only a claim. Even the concept of value has not really been established here. Even “money” is a shaky concept for people who think deeply about it.

Why don’t you spell it out so that even an amoeba could “understand” it? An amoeba takes nature at face value, to coin a phrase. Although phrases can be coined, they do not necessarily have value. Get it?

They are rooted in the same basic need to maintain our lives through purposeful action.

Not everybody has exactly the same “needs”. I think whoever wrote that is talking about “wants”, i.e., desires, which are limitless.

[ Edited: 28 August 2007 04:33 AM by ]
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Posted: 28 August 2007 04:28 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 25 ]  
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Hi, Bob.

I’ve been following (and enjoying) this thread and I think I grasp your point. I can’t take it as far you do, though.
I would also describe mind as a do thing requiring continuous and smoothly running brain activity. Any mental experience requires some kind of action taken by the brain. No brain action, no mind, or minding.

If that makes the mind a ghost, than the body is not far behind.

Any physical experience requires some kind of action taken by the nervous system. Ever awakened with a dead arm? It’s still your arm, even if there is no experience of it. Or is it? Those cells and molecules come and go over time. All that’s holding you together is your body’s insistence that these materials maintain actions that result in a human being. As that body accumulates life experiences and records them as memories, a presence of someone to whom all these things happened can result. Experience becomes leading a life. A useful illusion of identity will occur as longer the body keeps it up. Repetition of identity will create a self. We can debate its purpose if any. Sure it’s an illusion. So what. So is the Sam Harris forum.

“You are trying to appeal to my mind in order to persuade me”

Can’t this be taken in the same context as “you are trying to appeal to my stomach in order to persuade me”?
Only actual parts of us can have appealing interactions with the world. Like an invitation to dinner or chess. What other part of the body would want to play chess?

If one says, “I can enjoy my linguistic ability but there no such thing as a mind.”

Mustn’t one also say, “I can enjoy playing tennis, but there is no such thing as a tennis player.”

Identity emerges from experience of the nervous system. All the necessary signals for physical experience occur locally and present experience quickly even if the basic brain is involved in creating them. Some physical stimuli take longer to produce experience because they involve more complex processing that takes longer. As more complex processes are developed and performed, the experience of them becomes so much later than physical experience that it is cut off from it. Physical experience fades into mental experience. The ghost is moving deeper into the functions of the nervous system. Mental experience is disembodied because any coincidental body signals have already occurred.

We experience doing things like thinking and deciding on dinner without moving any of our parts. We engage in activities that don’t involve our bodies and some that require them to do nothing or do something uncomfortable. The illusion of self that emerges from this kind of experience is of a perceptibly different nature than the illusion that emerges from experience that involves more of the body parts. We have apparent reason to categorize them as mind and body.

Intelligence doesn’t separate mind and body. Our bodies are intelligent in ways that we have no mental awareness of. Do you know how to digest dinner?

I maintain that this crossover point occurs a second time. As brain activity becomes more complex, and takes more time, parallel functions organize into serial functions and create a third category of experience that we perceive as the conscious self or ego. That allows the ghost to experience reading.

The brain activity that produces conscious experience develops gradually, and with difficulty for some, well after we’re born. Without the benefit of civilization, this second mental structure produces the illusion of god. If civilized, this becomes the illusion of the social self, and god disappears into a supernatural explanation that may take hundreds of generations to shake off.

The ghost would seem to be drawn to whatever nervous system complexity is the loudest at any moment. We experience whatever is the most dominate task performed by our nervous system from instant to instant. That task is the experience of identity. That sends the ghost dodging back and forth through time relative to the actual instant of now that surrounds it.

That does not explain the ghost. But it haunts three kinds of self.

Losing one’s mind is the biggest step in becoming a true atheist in my own quaint perspective, but what am I but an intelligent, feeling, biological body that uses a language to its great advantage.

Not being possessed by one’s conscious ego is a very big step in not being possessed by a deity.
That’s my spin on it, but what am I but a ghost that uses biology to its great advantage.

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Posted: 28 August 2007 04:38 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 26 ]  
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[quote author=“Nhoj Morley”]If that makes the mind a ghost, than the body is not far behind.

What a striking phrase. I wonder if Shakespeare ever played around with that one.

Actually, it could go something like this:

If that makes the mind the ghost behind the body, then the head cannot be far ahead. Nor can it be far ahead of the behind.

I’m beside myself with grief here because I’ve gotten too far ahead of myself.

Nhoj, there may be such a “thing” (a non-process, really) as not reifying enough. You know, that old chestnut about the brain being the organ with which we think that we think. Bierce, I think I think.

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Posted: 28 August 2007 04:50 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 27 ]  
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[quote author=“Salt Creek”] If that makes the mind the ghost behind the body, then the head cannot be far ahead. Nor can it be far ahead of the behind.

I’m afraid you have the polarity wrong.

Body before mind.
Ghost before body.
Head up behind.
Doesn’t seem godly.

Or so it seems.

Goodnight, pal.

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Posted: 28 August 2007 06:25 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 28 ]  
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Saul, why would you lecture me on not paying attention to your post when I specifically responded to that “Objectivist blurb” you posted?  I was confused as to how you could accept the explanation of the objectivist subject and then maintain your other belief in the subjectivist object (mind).  Perhaps that’s how the objectist project constructs their world view . . . built on innate counter-positions?  (Sometimes out of a bunch of self-contradictions a person can contruct an apparently viable ediface.)

So let me re-remind you of how I referenced your “Objectivist” quote

1)  “I see that you are not a cartesian . . .”

2)  “. . . of what you have explained above . . .”

3)  “You seem to agree that mind (to mind) is an action that happens within us . . .”

How you so conveniently ignored those words and the quote they reference appears to show me that you have a specific agenda in mind and that when you read someone’s opinion you only manage to catch those phrases that do NOT support your ideology.  I guess this is what happens to most ideologues, they perceive very selectively and ALWAYS believe that the other person is attempting to destroy them or their fervently held beliefs.

To Nhoj, I enjoyed your response and most of it made good sense to me, especially helpful was speaking to the various speeds at which our body/brain are able to process information.  In that whole velocity argument, there’s a lot goes a long way to explaining who and what we are in terms of embodied conscious beings.

Yet, you lost me in several places and especially when you introduced the “ghost” into the “machine,” well that nearly ruined everything else you wrote. 
When you say

“The ghost is moving deeper into the functions of the nervous system. Mental experience is disembodied because any coincidental body signals have already occurred.”

I take that to mean that in some of our conscious activities we depend on illusary notions (like memories or anticipations) to make sense of our world.  I merely refer to all of this as our ability to use a language rather than introducing imaginary objects to help us to construct our world view.

But then you utter the real clunker for me

  “We experience doing things like thinking and deciding on dinner without moving any of our parts. We engage in activities that don?t involve our bodies and some that require them to do nothing or do something uncomfortable.”

Now I simply can’t imagine myself doing something “without moving any of our parts.”  Parts of our brain MUST move (even in a neuro-chemical-biological sense only) in order for some deciding to take place.  This seems to be where your ghost emerges and screws up your otherwise reasonable program.  Are you sure this is where you wish to go or did you mean to say that we exclusively use our brain only and not our body (when I say body I usually mean it as a whole with the brain included)?

Bob

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Posted: 28 August 2007 08:13 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 29 ]  
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Saul, haven’t we already gone over all of this? I entered this thread not realizing you were “guest.”

In any case, use of the word “mind” is certainly up for grabs, and I would recommend you keep on using it in whatever way you choose. My point is that it’s a word that has failed to evolve in its everyday meaning, perhaps due to a relatively quick evolution in the cognitive sciences. Therefore, the word can tend to call up connotations that have been demonstrated to be out of sync with biological functioning as it’s currently thought to be.

I still use the word idiomatically, as well as other such terms, i.e., “homunculus.” People once argued with each other about specific attributes of the homunculus, as though it actually aligned with literal biological reality. I like to play with such words, but I consider them to be fiction-based because when their definitions are examined and scrutinized, the words dissolve into poetry. In scientific discussions about cognitive function, they have little or no value.

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Philosophy may in no way interfere with the actual use of language; it can in the end only describe it. For it cannot give it any foundations either. It leaves everything as it is.
Ludwig Wittgenstein

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Posted: 29 August 2007 03:11 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 30 ]  
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Greetings, Bob. Would you indulge me again?

I’ll start with an easy one.

…you utter the real clunker for me:
Now I simply can’t imagine myself doing something “without moving any of our parts.” Parts of our brain MUST move (even in a neuro-chemical-biological sense only) in order for some deciding to take place.

For someone who is familiar with neuro-chemical-biological stuff, my phrase falls short. Of course, we know that blood must be flowing or moving for the brain to work. This was not always common knowledge.
My point was that it is easy to see how people arrived at the mind-brain dichotomy. On the face of it, it sure seems like two different things. Many amusing explanations have been made for it. Most give the mind too much weight, I agree.

In my mind, sorry, I see it as more of a sliding scale that can be divided into three ranges of distinctly different experiences. (I like The Velocity Argument. Sounds serious. May I use that?)
Roughly described-
1- The more or less direct experience of the nervous system as a whole, with some processing done by the basic brain in some instances, and using the full range of sensory perception. (very fast)
2- Experience that is more or less confined to the brain with processed and filtered sensory perception. (less fast)
3- Experience that is entirely confined to serial processes in the brain with extremely processed and filtered sensory perception. (much slower or later)

To me, this suggests one body doing three different things, not three different things living in one body.

I take that to mean that in some of our conscious activities we depend on illusory notions (like memories or anticipations) to make sense of our world.

Yes. I would go as far as to say that #3 is entirely dependent on illusory notions. It has no direct perception of the world.
And worse, I say that language (not verbal communication, but language) is one of the notions.

I don’t have a neuro-chemical-biological explanation nor am I qualified to make one. In brain research, I am an enthusiastic layman. I just read. I hate the pictures. My model is based on my own experiences and descriptions of the experiences of others. I have found nothing in my research so far that I contradict or complicate. But I know that it has a fatal flaw…

Bob:
…when you introduced the “ghost” into the “machine,” well that nearly ruined everything else you wrote. … your ghost emerges and screws up your otherwise reasonable program.

Dave:
I like to play with such words, but I consider them to be fiction-based because when their definitions are examined and scrutinized, the words dissolve into poetry. In scientific discussions about cognitive function, they have little or no value.

Yeah, let’s talk about the ghost.

I seem to have reached the ghost camp from a back road. Little did I realize that a tale of perception, thinking and feeling would have to include morality, the afterlife and that pesky eternal soul thing. I may have interesting opinions on any of those subjects, but I didn’t expect them to arise from describing my vision symptoms to doctors or pretty much anyone else. My description implies a ghost of some kind. I don’t think your model escapes the ghost either.

I am aware of how that ghost has been used and abused by every social authority system since the beginning. If the ghost has “somewhere” to be, than God can be there too, and that means we answer to Him. And on and on.

I don’t care for supernatural weirdness any more than you do. If we ever discover that there is more to physical reality than we now know, we will then have more physical reality. We’ll probably muck that up, too.

Step one is to free the ghost from the clutches of the church. Then give it another look. Maybe.

No hurry. Gotta go.

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