Is there a philosopher of mind in the house?

Discussion in 'General Chat' started by truestorytravis, Oct 4, 2006.

  1. truestorytravis

    truestorytravis Senior member

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    Is anyone familiar with DM Armstrong's objection to Gilbert Ryle's use of disposition to explain how mental events can be defined as behavioral events even when there is no observable behavior? From The Mind-Body Problem (Nestview, 1999) pp. 55-65

    How about the Smith and Jones "many minds" objection to substance dualism in their The Philosophy of Mind (Cambridge, 1986) pp. 47-49?

    I would like to construct a detailed analysis of either of these positions (in favor of Armstrong, against Smith and Jones), but I'm really struggling to tease out the details of their argument (their assumptions, premises and logical moves) from the cited works above. Any help?
     
  2. caelte

    caelte Senior member Dubiously Honored

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    Since your question has been awaiting an answer for some time,I would guess the answer is no.

    I wonder if it is an appropriate question for a group that is so concerned with the material.

    I find myself thinking about the question,"Can AE Park Aves. be worn with chinos?" I'm not sure. If they have a spit polish ,no, I keep mine matted out with shoe cream.It might work if you are young,working out and wearing a hoodie,otherwise,the look is too military.Of course ,I'm assuming we're talking flat front chinos.It would work with jeans.

    Ask a question that deals with the very cornerstone of the present day conflict of civilizations and my brain starts to wilt quickly.

    Ther are two ways to see the concept of God.

    One is that God is unknowable.No matter how much knowledge we gain the concept will always be out of reach.

    The other is that God is everything including the space between.
    This would make God so ubiquitous that we probably wouldn't notice.
    I tend to lean toward this view.

    The mind body problem has led to the construction of an after life and the neglect of life as we live it. There is is always the reward for the redeemed sinner or the suicide bomber.

    Maybe we would pay more attention to the suffering of the world if we saw it as a blight on the body of God rather than something to get as distanced from as possible.

    Sorry I didn't answer your question.
    Dualism made me do it.[​IMG]
     
  3. Saucemaster

    Saucemaster Sized Down 2

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    It's been too long. [​IMG] Once upon a time I could have given you my $0.02. Sorry.
     
  4. denimdestroyedmylife

    denimdestroyedmylife Big Winner

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    yeah... i'm more a philosopher of fancy footwork.
    sorry.
     
  5. faustian bargain

    faustian bargain Senior member

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    i think a metaphor is a bridge between epistemology and metaphysics.
     
  6. truestorytravis

    truestorytravis Senior member

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    After two days I just stopped bothering to check if anyone had responded. I've actually got it figured out, so it's not a big deal. Thanks anyway guys.

    caelte, why limit the possible nature of God to these two options?

    faustian bargain, do you know anything about philosophy of language or logical behaviorism in particular?
     
  7. faustian bargain

    faustian bargain Senior member

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    ....

    faustian bargain, do you know anything about philosophy of language or logical behaviorism in particular?


    no, i'm an architect not a philosopher. [​IMG]

    i know only the eensy weensiest bit about structuralism.
     
  8. caelte

    caelte Senior member Dubiously Honored

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    caelte, why limit the possible nature of God to these two options?

    About the best I can muster is a concept.The two mentioned are the ones I've manged to construe .

    What is the nature of God? You've piqued my interest by intimating there are multiple possibilities.
     
  9. globetrotter

    globetrotter Senior member

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    strangly enough, this happens to be what I majored in in school. it is a tribute to the level of attention I paid my studies that I read your post and all I could think was "huh?"

    good luck
     
  10. Rome

    Rome Mr. Chocolates Godiva

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    I would be interested in hearing others opinions on the nature of God. I find the Christian-Judea concept of God quite boring. Here are some I’ve pondered.

    -God as being who has long since died-
    -A communal consciousness-
    -A black man dressed as Superman with the crotch cut out of his costume (Not making this one up, Downtown NY is a weird place)-
    -God is incomprehensibly simple-
    -The Mayans got it right-

    Any one else?
     
  11. denimdestroyedmylife

    denimdestroyedmylife Big Winner

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  12. truestorytravis

    truestorytravis Senior member

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    About the best I can muster is a concept.The two mentioned are the ones I've manged to construe .

    What is the nature of God? You've piqued my interest by intimating there are multiple possibilities.


    Well, one question is whether God is eternal or everlasting.

    If God is eternal, then he exists outside of time which creates a lot of problems when we want to talk about God acting. All of our actions take place in physical space and time, that's the only way we can understand them. How can God act if he can't operate within normal time and space? You could say that since He's God He can do anything, well that still doesn't explain how.

    If God is everlasting, that means he's in time and has been around for a long time and will be around for a long time. That means God has a beginning and an end. If God is in time it would mean that He wasn't around when time began and didn't create time or the universe. That's kind of a problem.
     
  13. caelte

    caelte Senior member Dubiously Honored

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    Well, one question is whether God is eternal or everlasting.

    If God is eternal, then he exists outside of time which creates a lot of problems when we want to talk about God acting. All of our actions take place in physical space and time, that's the only way we can understand them. How can God act if he can't operate within normal time and space? You could say that since He's God He can do anything, well that still doesn't explain how.

    If God is everlasting, that means he's in time and has been around for a long time and will be around for a long time. That means God has a beginning and an end. If God is in time it would mean that He wasn't around when time began and didn't create time or the universe. That's kind of a problem.


    If you believe in the postulate of time, God, as the creator of time and space, would be both eternal and everlasting.

    I have a problem with this idea, I don't see any evidence time exists.

    Time is a very useful construct for those that would like to assign an anthropomorphic quality to God.

    God is, and is part of, a mechanistic universe where actions have reactions. "Let there be light." and there is light. God has made us in his image, so somehow we must look like God. Anyone who is not like me is not like God.

    Enter the redeemed sinner and the suicide bomber.

    If you believe in this, you would have to ask, "What part of us is like God?"

    I guess the answer is self-evident because I've never heard the question asked.

    I'm not sure what you mean, "the only way we can understand " our actions is because our actions take place in space and time.

    The process of understanding doesn't take place in space and time. That is, if you believe in the separateness of mind and body.

    I think that God, as unknowable, or God, as ubiquitous, are concepts.

    If God is unknowable, than we have no way to determine a nature for God.

    If God is ubiquitous, than we already know God but haven't really taken notice.

    I wonder if it is possible to verbally express the nature of God?[​IMG]
















    .
     
  14. trogdor

    trogdor Senior member

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    I'm actually a philosopher of mind. Seriously. I've been moving jobs (and homes and continents) so I've not been on SF as much as I'd like, so I never saw your post.

    I'm very familiar with the Armstrong objection (it's a cracker, but I don't think it works -- and I've said as much in print -- because it's the first step in a potentially infinite regress for the behaviourist. Or something like that).

    I don't know the Smith & Jones argument.

    Nonetheless, I'm happy to talk more about this. How did your analysis of Armstrong work out?
     
  15. truestorytravis

    truestorytravis Senior member

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    I'm actually a philosopher of mind. Seriously. I've been moving jobs (and homes and continents) so I've not been on SF as much as I'd like, so I never saw your post. I'm very familiar with the Armstrong objection (it's a cracker, but I don't think it works -- and I've said as much in print -- because it's the first step in a potentially infinite regress for the behaviourist. Or something like that). I don't know the Smith & Jones argument. Nonetheless, I'm happy to talk more about this. How did your analysis of Armstrong work out?
    Hi Trogdor, sorry if there are typos here, it's a long post and I didn't feel like proofreading. I'm pretty convinced by the Armstrong objection, though admittedly I don't have the best understanding of it. The whole idea of putting a disposition in place of a mental state seems weak. I was most moved by his statement that Ryle goes no further than to attribute the dispostions to us--he doesn't explain what makes them true. I don't see how they could be true of us without our actually possessing metal states that create the dispostions. Just like a glass window has a disposition to break when enough force is applied at any one point. This is true in virtue of the chemical structure of the glass. My disposition to carry an umbrella when I believe that it's raining outside is a result of mental states like my desire to avoid getting wet and my belief that carrying an umbrella is the best way to avoid getting wet (that's not begging the question, is it?) Anyway, dispositions may seem to work for emotions, but what about things like the belief that 2+2=4? What is the behavior linked with that belief? Is it just the disposition to answer "4" when asked "what is 2+2?" So how does Armstrong's objection lead to an infinite regress for the behaviorist? I'm also curious why you say it doesn't work, because isn't it a good thing to show that the behaviorist falls into an infinite regress? As far as my paper goes, I actually chose to do an analysis of the Smith and Jones article. It dealt with the Many Minds 'argument' against substance dualism which is really just a general objection based on the fact that we can't really tell how many minds we have. So yeah, this is pretty much the condensed form of my short paper. The set-up goes like this: Descartes says that immaterial minds are genuine entities. S&J ask, "What is a genuine entity?" Well, one thing we can say is that you can ask "How many?" of a genuine entity. So, they use PF Strawson's example which goes something like this: Suppose I were to suggest that when a man speaks there are a thousand minds simultaneously thinking the thoughts his words express, having qualitatively indistinguishable experiences such as he, the man, would claim, how would he persuade me that there was only one such soul? S&J claim that the only way that the only defense the dualist can claim for his position is to appeal to theoretical simplicity, but that this is no guarantee of truth. He can't appeal to any spatial terms or 'non-physical spatial relationships', whatever those might be. They think he's kind of screwed. I attacked their view of what a genuine entity is. It's unclear that you can ask "How many?" of anything that's a genuine entity. You can ask that of ideas, and it's pretty contentious whether ideas are entities. There's also the problem of how they mean the question to be applied. If they mean that's it's a property of a genuine entity that you can ask "How many?" of them, then this statement is subject to the same objection as Descartes' use of Leibniz's law in his Sixth Meditation. Moving on to the idea that simplicity isn't good enough to prove that there's only one mind per person. . . I agree with them. However, positing a thousand minds seems gratuitous, explanatorily useless and is even more difficult to elucidate then a single mind. Scientific practice has shown us that emilinating superfluousness from our theories is a good thing and it shouldn't be any different when we're theorizing about the mind. Next, I believe that the set-up of the problem actually forces S&J to take the dualists' one-mind position. If the thousand minds are qualitatively indistinguishable and are thinking the exact same thoughts, then how can they be distinguished at all? It seems that they share all of their properties. If this is the case, then they are subject to the principle of the Identity of Indiscernibles, X and Y are identical if for any property X has, Y also has that property, hence there is no longer a thousand minds, but one. S&J can't appeal to any 'non-physical spatial relationships' to differentiate the minds (this comes from Jaegwon Kim's Pairing Problem). Last, the over-arching problem with the Many Minds problem is that it doesn't find dualism to be contradictory or flat-out false. It just raises more questions about the nature of the mind. Even if there are a thousand immaterial minds bound to one body, it doesn't make dualism false.
     

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