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Summary

Logic for some views of consciousness and question.

Main Argument

We can explain motor behaviours with a clear causal path back to the brain. Each step involves the interaction of matter with matter; and may involve some transformation of matter.

But thoughts, dreams, illusions; taste, seeing and hearing; subjective experiences or qualia, seem to be non-material by definition.

Then a stimuli (matter or light) can't produce a non-material entity, can they ?

The best we can reach to is how does an external stimuli produce an electric pattern and this may correlate to thoughts, but do some postulate that this are thoughts ?

A similar idea can be applied to illusions.

I see 3 different approaches:

  1. "Thoughts explain thoughts" and "matter explains matter" sort of dualism (we all know the problems of this theory.)
  2. Thoughts (or feelings etc.) are produced by matter and are matter (or energy)
  3. Thoughts (or feelings etc.) are illusory.

Question

Is this logic correct in a philosophy of mind sense ? (surely not in all the theories, but at least in some?) Or maybe is completely flawed logic ?

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  • The best we can reach to is how does an external stimuli produce an electric pattern and this may correlate to thoughts, but do some postulate that this are thoughts ? - I wouldn't personally feel qualified to commit to any specific thing being a thought, but broadly speaking, some physical state or process or "pattern" as you put it may in fact BE a thought - that when that thing happens, there's a thing we would call a "thought" there. Defining the exact boundaries of that seems immensely difficult, but in principle I think there's a good chance that thoughts are something in the area
    – TKoL
    Jan 2 at 9:22
  • Yes, it seems that thought is more like a movement. Movement on its own does not have a material nature, but it's traced back to matter, of course. Maybe all feelings are like movement @TKoL
    – Mah Neh
    Jan 2 at 10:13
  • That might be a fair analogy.
    – TKoL
    Jan 2 at 10:31

2 Answers 2

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The flaw is in your assumption that feelings are non-material. If you assume that, and if you assume material things only exert causal influence on material things, then of course material things cannot cause your feelings. But what basis do you have to assume it?

Certainly it seems that by changing material things, we can change your feelings. If you eat a sandwich, you feel satiated afterwards. Do you really think there is no causal link between the two events?

The events do follow each other in time, and you could set up a controlled experiment for yourself. At lunch time you could flip a coin, and if it is heads you eat the sandwich, if it is tails you do not eat lunch. You could repeat this over several days, and of course you would find that the feeling of satiation follows the sandwich, and on the days you do not have the sandwich you do not get the feeling of satiation. What more do you require to establish causation?

I favor the panpsychist view: Feelings are material because everything material is a feeling. The laws of physics are laws of thought. In this perspective we simplify things, by reducing two kinds of substance (material and qualia) to one.

Notice that you do not have any sensory evidence that inanimate objects don't have some sort of feeling. You just assume that. What you see of the world is in the form of subjective experience; why would you assume the rest of the world is secretly of a different kind from what you see?

Of course, it is understood that subjective experience is different from intelligence. You do not need to use your intelligence to have subjective experience. You may clear your mind in the Zen fashion, and just sit and look at a scene, so that you are not using your human faculties of reason or language, and you will still have subjective experience of what you are looking at. So, the fact that a proton lacks a brain means it cannot be intelligent, but does not mean it cannot have some form of experience, likely very simple and indescribable to humans.

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  • No, it's not that they can not cause it, but they can not turn into it and that's a condition if they exist. What is a feeling composed of ? Can you make it out of matter in your opinion ? Take a few atoms and make a feeling? (In any case, thanks for the interesting views, +1)
    – Mah Neh
    Jan 2 at 9:06
  • From 3rd person PoV intelligent is just an external description of a behaviour, and intelligence a property that those showing intelligent behaviour can be postulated to have; from 1st person it is a directed-feeling (using directed only descriptively.)
    – Mah Neh
    Jan 2 at 9:17
  • @MahNeh In your question you talk about "tracking the nature of the changes" and how feelings could be "produced." To me this means tracking causation. No one argued that matter would "turn into" feelings; the question is whether matter causes feelings, or whether matter and feelings are just the same thing.
    – causative
    Jan 2 at 9:32
  • the second part is more important, the first one is fine, I included that but I call it correlation for exactly that reason, and what i meant is tracking that nothing that was not put in appears i.e thoughts have to be matter then (I'd call a thought supernatural otherwise.)
    – Mah Neh
    Jan 2 at 9:33
  • Even concepts like, say, temperature, in the end are, for example, the expansion of a fluid in a thermometer, so all of the quantities created by science/materialism can be "tracked to" matter, imho.
    – Mah Neh
    Jan 2 at 9:38
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Dependence of thinking , feeling , perceptions, choices and consciousness on physiology can not be denied. But this relationship is impermanent. Relationship arises , changes and vanishes. Relationship arises when birth takes place, relationships change while ageing and relationships vanish when death occurs. In other words , thinking ,feelings , perceptions, choices and consciousness materialise in the form of body and it’s parts , including brain. If brain changes then thinking changes. If thinking changes brain changes. If feelings change heart changes. If heart changes , feelings change.

There is no absolute existence of thoughts , feelings , perceptions, choices and consciousness. Thoughts , feelings , perceptions, choices and consciousness are result of combination of body, external forms and consciousness. All three are needed to generate thoughts , feelings , perceptions, choices and consciousness.

Therefore we don’t say matter came first or thoughts came first. We say combination of body , external forms and consciousness leads to thoughts , feelings , perceptions, choices and consciousness.

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