Remainders

Ilion, a regular poster at Uncommon Descent, linked to an argument for God that he makes on his blog, here. I found it interesting because it was exactly the argument (though more succinctly expressed, I think) that kept me a theist for most of my life):

The reality of minds in a material world (thus, every human being who has ever existed) is proof that atheism is false. If atheism were indeed the truth about the nature of reality, then we would not — because we could not — exist. But we do exist. Therefore, atheism is not the truth about the nature of reality.

 

My position was that as every one of us (I assume) has the experience I have of being aware – being a mind – and thereby of being a unique self – there must be something unique to me, that inhabits me, that is not simply a material body, which, I assumed, could carry on perfectly well, zombie-fashion, were that essential self to go on vacation for a bit. Which made an after-life perfectly reasonable: (I knew my body would cease to function, but as my self seemed to be unarguably independent of the body it inhabited, there seemed no reason to assume that it would not continue to exist independently once that body ceased to function).In other words, the conceivability of Philosophical Zombies seemed to me to be a powerful argument: if a body can exist without a mind, then minds and bodies are somewhat independent, in which case it’s reasonable to postulate that a mind can exist without bodies. I wasn’t sure how much they could actually do of course, because it seemed that bodies have important information-gathering, decision-making, and executive functions, but I figured that the entity morally responsible for those the body’s actions (which would otherwise be merely mechanical outputs from a morally neutral, if complex, machine) must be this self thing, and must have some sort of control – at least emergency control – of the levers. And, if morally answerable beyond the grave, answerable to some comparable megaself thing, the self of the entire universe, perhaps, the self whose body was the entire universe but whose mind pre-existed it (if you can use the suffix “pre-” in the absence of time), even transcended it, but kept it in being and was responsible, ultimately, for its actions, in an analogous fashion to me and my body. So there was my starter-pack God, which seemed to work pretty well in most theologies.

As I say, Ilion puts it more starkly, but in so doing so, I think, he exposes the flaw more clearly than I did to myself.

He goes on to say:

GIVEN the reality of the natural/physical/material world, IF atheism were indeed the truth about the nature of reality, THEN everything which exists and/or transpires must be wholely reducible, without remainder, to purely physical/material states and causes.

and adds, in an edit:

But, since there exist entities and events in the world which are not wholly reducible, without remainder, to purely physical/material states and causes, then it is seen that the denial that ‘God is’ is a false proposition.

So the proof that “God exists” depends on the existence of “entities and events in the world that are not wholly reducible, without remainder etc”.

And his paradigm case of such an entity is: “our minds and all the functions and capabilities of our minds — including reason”.

Ilion’s argument takes the form of a reductio ad absurdum:

Now, specifically with respect to reasoning, what inescapably follows from atheism is that it is impossible for anything existing in reality (that included us) to reason.

When an entity reasons, it chooses to move from one thought or concept to another based on (its understanding of) the content of the concepts and of the logical relationship between them.

But, IF atheism were indeed the truth about the nature of reality, THEN this movement from (what we call) thought to though (which activity or change-of-mental-state we call ‘reasoning’) *has* to be caused by, and must be wholely explicable in terms of, state-changes of matter. That is, it is not the content of, and logical relationship between, two thoughts which prompts a reasoning entity to move from the one thought to the other, but rather it is some change-of-state of some matter which determines that an entity “thinks” any particular “thought” when it does.

Now, I’m no philosopher, as will be obvious, so let me try to parse this in a way that makes it clearer, at least to me:

  • Reasoning involves mental state-to-mental state transitions.
  • Under atheism (or the position that everything is “wholely reducible, without remainder, to purely physical/material states and causes”), these mental state-to-mental state transitions must be triggered by the “change-of-state of some matter”, not the content of the thought itself.
  • This is absurd because we would then have to say that reasoning has nothing to do with the content of the reasoning.
  • Therefore atheism (or the position that everything is “wholely reducible, without remainder, to purely physical/material states and causes”) is false

Let’s stipulate that by “reducible to” we mean the postulation that if we start with a brain in physical State A, in which it is about to present itself with a problem, it will get to State B, in which it has just completed solving the problem, we can (assuming a deterministic universe, for ease of imagining, and no external inputs between State A and State B) reproduce that process simply by starting again with a brain in State A .  In other words, we can “reduce” the reasoning process to a reproducible cascade of brain states in which each state automatically follows the previous one, until the final state (“State B”) spits out the answer.

So in what sense would “content” be missing from such a process?  Let’s say we made a robot that could do this, in just the way we propose that brains do it – we set the starting state of the robotic brain in such a manner that it is just about to formulate our problem, and switch it on, so that after a few milliseconds it reaches State A, and outputs the words: “hmm, if I had five apples and I gave away 2 what would happen?” and then we wait until that state cascades through another series of states until the  robot reaches State B and outputs the words: “I’d have three left”.

Now, clearly, State A and State B have <i>content</i> in a straightforward sense – we set the robot so that it will articulate a problem “with content” for us and we will later receive answers “with content”.  So I have to assume that Ilion means that the cascade of states that the brain in question (whether robotic, or the brain as conceived by an “atheist”) undergoes cannot have “content” from the point of view of the entity-with-the-brain.  If so,  Ilion has, in effect, reposed the zombie argument as:

  • If we subtract from a person all the things that a zombie/robot could do (e.g. a reasoning task), we are still left with something for which the results of reasoning have content i.e. a remainder. Therefore atheism (or at least reductionism) is false.

And presumable that remainder is the thing I call “I” or “me”.  But is it really a remainder?  To assume that, is to assume that the mechanics that enable an entity-with-a-brain to spit out the answer to a reasoning problem are inadequate to account for any experience a thing-with-the-brain has of posing the problem to itself and figuring out the solution, and we know that people, namely things-with-brains, to have this experience. In other words, it is to assume that those mechanics cannot  explain why there is an “I” who can appreciate the content of a person’s reasoning, even when nobody else is there.  To assume, in fact, that producing a self-conscious robot is impossible.

Which seems to me to be assuming the consequent, and is thus fallacious.

This is always a problem with reductio ad absurdum arguments, of course, which are, essentially, arguments from incredulity.  It’s easy to miss a bit, and think you’ve exposed an absurdity, when all you’ve exposed is your own unchallenged premise, and rendered your syllogism circular.

But is Ilion’s conclusion nonetheless correct?   Is there a “remainder” when you subtract from a person all the mechanics that result in the cascade of mental states that follow the presentation of a reasoning problem to the states in which she spits out the answer (at least to anyone who cares to listen)? Or can we postulate a cascade of physical states in which a thing-with-a-brain can pose a question to itself, work through a reasoning process and appreciate the answer?

Well, yes, I think we can. But maybe we can figure that out, below 🙂

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137 thoughts on “Remainders

  1. Lamont:
    When it comes to the mind, I have been defending the Augustinian / Thomistic view that ideas or concepts exist only in the mind.
    So, since concepts are immaterial they can only be created by something immaterial,the mind is immaterial. How does the immaterial mind arrive on the scene?
    The skeptics here will say; “what is a mind if it is not the product of the brain?”
    I don’t know about other “skeptics” but I wouldn’t ask that. I might ask ” is the only thing that points toward the mind not being physical manifestation of the brain the ability “to create an abstract thought “? ” or maybe ” my mind seems to have inputs from the material world, this on the surface seems to contradict axiom 1, a material act/ enity creating a state in an immaterial being”.
    My response is that we know what a mind is in the same way that we know what anything else is. By what it does.
    This still seems unhelpful, the mind creates immaterial thoughts(this is what it does) so therefore the mind is a creator of immaterial thoughts. This
    Material things cannot act in an immaterial way. To think that they could would be like believing in magic. may be true but maybe not.

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  2. “Lamont on August 23, 2011 at 2:51 pm said:

    Professor Weirdo,

    There are two basic positions on the origination of the human soul. One view is that the soul is eternal and just gets reincarnated over and over again until it reaches its final resting place.

    The monotheistic religions generally hold that God creates each individual soul. The exact moment that the soul is joined to the body is not known. If the theistic view is correct, then I am sure God can deal with the other situations you mention.

    Animals have an emergent sentient soul that is dependent on the body for its existence. This is what many atheists also believe is true for the human mind/soul if they acknowledge that there is such a thing.”

    What is your position?

    “Animals have an emergent sentient soul that is dependent on the body for its existence.” How do you know that?

    “The exact moment that the soul is joined to the body is not known.” What evidence is there that souls exist? What is “known” about souls?

    By “body”, do you more specifically mean the brain? Which comes first, the body (brain) or the soul, the body (brain) or the mind?

    My questions about twins, conjoined twins, and people with two heads, (or even animals with two heads I suppose) should be taken seriously by anyone talking about souls, or the “mind”, or the “body”. Whenever people talk about souls, minds, Gods, and other philosophical things they never include the abnormal people or animals. They always base what they say on what they perceive as normal beings. Why is that? Why aren’t abnormal people or animals considered, and what about people (or animals) that are considered to be abnormal mentally, but physically normal? How do they fit in with a God and minds and souls?

    My oldest brother died at birth or very shortly thereafter. He was born breech (like me) and the doctors couldn’t get him to breathe. Did he have a “mind”, or a soul?

    “If the theistic view is correct, then I am sure God can deal with the other situations you mention.”

    The usual all encompassing non-answer. Theists believe that their God can and does deal with anything and everything somehow, and that he (why “he”?) has a purpose for anything and everything, but theists don’t have anything other than their beliefs, which are based on antiquated, handed-down gibberish.

    Do plants have souls or minds? If not, why not? They’re as alive as any person or animal, aren’t they? If they don’t have souls or minds, why did “God” exclude them? Do all animals have souls or minds that are equal in value? In other words, does an elephant have a more valuable (to God) soul or mind than a slug? Does a human have a more valuable (to God) soul or mind than an elephant or a slug? Are the answers to those questions dependent on egotistical human opinions, or on something that can be tested and demonstrated? Has anyone ever asked an elephant, a slug, or a plant?

    Do all people have equally valuable souls or minds (to God)?

    What exactly is the requirement for having a soul or a mind? Are souls and/or minds only for things that some humans have determined are worthy? Are souls and/or minds only for things with what some humans call a brain, or a body? Who is the authority (amongst humans) on defining a brain, a body, a soul, and a mind?

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  3. Velikovskys,
    The one important point you raise which I have not yet addressed is the question of how something immaterial (the soul) can interact with something material – the brain and the rest of the body. For a Cartesian dualist this is a major problem because Descartes thought the soul was a separate substance and had to interact with the body in some way which he never explained.

    The better alternative is to follow Aristotle and Thomas Aquinas and hold that the soul is the substantial form of the body. In this view the body-soul composite is one substance – the human person. It is the whole person that acts. Not the soul acting here and the body over there.

    But you might well object that an immaterial concept still has to interact with a material brain whenever we think and act. That is true.

    Aristotle and Aquinas provide a detailed metaphysical analysis of how this occurs. The important point that sometimes gets lost in the metaphysics is that words are what connect the mind to the brain. Words are stored in the language center in the brain so words are material. Concepts are forms or ideas that have been abstracted from sense perceptions. You cannot see or feel a concept you just know what it means. In human beings consciousness extends to the meaning of immaterial concepts and to material states that are present in our brains, bodies, and the world around us. When you have a thought your consciousness connects the meaning of the concept with the words that signify the object, feelings, relations, etc. that you are thinking about. This connection is a formal connection not an efficient causal relation so the immaterial mind does not have to supply any energy to fire the neurons in your brain. That is something it cannot do because it is immaterial. Rather, it works like a switch to connect the concept with the right words. The brain does all the physical stuff. This is important because if your brain is not working right the whole process breaks down.

    I suspect the reason why you and many others have are perplexed by the “interaction problem” is that you think that the only type of real relation is an efficient causal relation.

    So I ask you, do the wings of an airplane cause it to fly? Does the pilot of the airplane cause it to fly? Do the engines of the airplane cause it to fly? Since all three are necessary for the airplane to fly, the correct answer to all three questions is yes. The engines are the efficient cause. The pilot is the final cause. And the wings, which are a part of the overall design, are the formal cause. You can no more explain why people act the way we do without referring to the formal and final causal contribution of the soul, than you can explain how an airplane could fly without wings or a pilot.

    In the human person the soul is the substantial form. It acts with the body. The soul directs the actions of the body formally and to particular ends. The body supplies the energy that physically moves the whole person, but it is the soul that brings order to that motion (formal cause) and uses that mobility to accomplish specific goals (final cause).

    How does the mind do this? When you think a thought the language centers in the brain respond harmoniously and supply the words that signify the meaning you wish to express.

    The interaction problem is solved by language. Words trigger neurons that move my fingers to type these words. The brain and your body do all the physical stuff. Your thoughts do not have to supply any energy to physically move the brain anymore than the pilot or the wings of an airplane have to supply the energy that moves the airplane. The interaction problem only arises when formal and final causality is eliminated from the explanation of how the process works.

    Have you ever had a thought but could not find the words to express it? If your mind can’t find the right words the whole process grinds to a halt. The opposite is also true, if you read or hear a word and you do not know what it means, it just causes confusion. The mind can connect with the brain, but it needs to have the right words and know what they mean.

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  4. Lamont:
    A quick thought, my dog certainly understands certain words, does he have a soul?

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  5. They reject the concept for some reason.

    Maybe because extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence?

    Rejecting a story requires only a lack of evidence.

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  6. Velikovskys,
    Every material substance has a form that makes it be what it is. Otherwise it would just be a heap of matter (formless).

    In living things the form brings order to all the biological processes necessary for life. Aristotle called the forms of all living things “anima”. Translated into english as “soul”. So yes your dog and every other living thing has a soul.

    Just as the soul of a plant is different from the soul of a dog, the soul of a dog is different from the soul of a human being. The soul of a plant is biological, the soul of higher animals is sentient (grounded in the senses), and the soul of humans is intellectual (grounded in the mind).

    When a dog hears a word and connects it with an object or a behavior, a neural connection is established, and the dog can reconnect the word with the object whenever it hears the word again.

    To say that the dog understands what the word means is just to project onto dogs what humans do with words. There is no evidence to indicate that dogs understand what words mean. Dogs remember some words and connect them with specific objects or actions. It is a straight forward neurological process. That is why we train dogs and all other animals. We do not try to teach them, or try to explain to them what words mean.

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  7. Professor Weirdo,
    I have tried to answer some of your questions below. My opinions on some of the other issues are really not that important. Question need to be asked in a proper order, and opinions should only be expressed if the other person is willing to take your perspective seriously.

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  8. Thanks for the answer, hope you don’t mind the slight tangent from the human soul. There is no evidence to indicate that dogs understand what words mean. Dogs remember some words and connect them with specific objects or actions. It is a straight forward neurological process.
    I agree that it is a material process. Since the dog’s soul is grounded in the senses, is it a material object? Since the human soul is immaterial due to being grounded in the immaterial intellect, it would seem souls grounded in the material would be material.

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  9. Lamont, not sure if you want to continue this but your posts offer lots of lines of discussion. I still have questions about the proposed interface between the material and the immaterial.

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  10. I dipped into this discussion of the soul after watching an episode of Alphas on TV which is about a group of people with super- or paranormal powers. It made me think how cool it would be to have such powers as X-ray vision or the ability to fly unaided or to be invulnerable to bullets. By the same token, it would also be great to have a soul, to know that, in some form, I would survive after death and enter eternity.

    The problem is that being able to imagine things and finding them very appealing does not necessarily mean they exist. I appreciate that a lot of very clever people have gone through considerable intellectual contortions to demonstrate the existence of souls but the stubborn fact is that we have no empirical evidence for them at all.

    So why bother?

    Other than comforting us in the face of personal annihilation, what does it add to our scientific explanations of ourselves and this world? Shouldn’t we just apply Occam’s razor and cut an unnecessary entity out of our hypotheses?

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  11. Seversky:
    . . .
    I appreciate that a lot of very clever people have gone through considerable intellectual contortions to demonstrate the existence of souls but the stubborn fact is that we have no empirical evidence for them at all.
    . . .
    Shouldn’t we just apply Occam’s razor and cut an unnecessary entity out of our hypotheses?

    I’ve been reading this thread without being able to summon the mental energy to participate. You’ve identified the core issue, thank you. Unless and until someone provides some empirical evidence for this “soul” concept, there’s no point in talking about it.

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  12. This is a dog chasing its tail. the soul is substantiated by words. The soul must understand the meaning of words.

    I’m sure if a computer understands words it will be argued it has no soul — for some other reason. What does “understand” mean?

    The dog has feelings and consciousness, and the computer doesn’t.

    Blah, blah, blah. An endless circle of ad hoc definitions.

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  13. Patrick,
    True enough, but just because something is pointless doesn’t mean it can’t be entertaining.

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  14. Petrushka:
    off the pointless blah, blah topic
    Terms like love, duty, faith are abstractions of real behaviors and experiences. They are not things. Creating a name for a class of behavior or experience does not make the name anything other than a conversational placeholder. Placeholders are functional, but they are not the things they represent.
    Nicely put

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  15. Not sure I’m entirely with this idea that just because a word exists that doesn’t mean the referent is “real”.

    At the very least that claim needs some serious unpacking. I think words like “soul have referents that have some kind of reality.

    Just as the word “I” does. The reality just isn’t always what we think it is.

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  16. While it’s often possible to come up with a definition that allows a term to have an objective referent, I’m not sure that is always the case. “Soul”, for example, has two essential characteristics as generally used:

    1) It persists after the demise of the physical body housing it.
    2) It does not require instantiation in a material substance.

    Redefining the word such that these two characteristics are not included would not reflect the idea being discussed.

    Now, there is absolutely no empirical evidence to support such a concept. Unless and until there is, it is eminently reasonable to treat it as nonexistent.

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  17. Lamont:
    Professor Weirdo,
    I have tried to answer some of your questions below. My opinions on some of the other issues are really not that important. Question need to be asked in a proper order, and opinions should only be expressed if the other person is willing to take your perspective seriously.

    Lamont, I am serious, and you should be too. Unless you consider and include, in your musings, every individual of every species that has ever existed, or ever will live, on Earth or anywhere else, you aren’t taking your own assertions or opinions seriously. My points and questions are relevant.

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  18. To say that the dog understands what the word means is just to project onto dogs what humans do with words. There is no evidence to indicate that dogs understand what words mean.

    Actually, most human communication conveys connotation rather than denotation. emotion and intention rather than formal syntactical meaning.

    Dogs are as good as and sometimes better than humans at understanding intention. And there are quite a few humans that lack syntactical understanding.

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  19. “Soul”, for example, has two essential characteristics as generally used:1) It persists after the demise of the physical body housing it.2) It does not require instantiation in a material substance.

    I’m not convinced that those two characteristics are essential to the word as generally used.

    This is testable: If you wander into a forum where nearly everyone takes for granted the existence of souls, and you assert the negation of one of those two statements (e.g. by saying “the soul does not persist after the demise of the physical body housing it”), how will the denizens repond? Will they treat your assertion as a contradiction in terms, or will they merely disagree (i.e. treat your assertion as a coherent but false statement)?

    I predict the latter. If my prediction is right, then that would refute your suggestion that those characteristics are essential.

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  20. I think we may be in violent agreement but using the term “essential” differently.

    If, as I claim, the concept of a soul includes the two characteristics I noted, then a “mortal soul” would not be the same concept.

    The core point I was attempting to make is that there is no empirical evidence for the existence of a referent for the word “soul” as commonly used. Unless and until such evidence is provided, the concept deserves no credence.

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  21. It seems to me that the word “soul” as commonly used (except when discussing art) is practically synonymous with “mind”. Not something whose existence is in dispute.

    The notion that the soul can continue on existing after the death of the body isn’t a defining characteristic of the soul. It’s just something that some people believe about it.

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  22. Brother Daniel: It seems to me that the word “soul” as commonly used (except when discussing art) is practically synonymous with “mind”. Not something whose existence is in dispute.

    It has always seemed to me to be synonymous with personality, rather than with mind. We tend to credit the mind with rationality and the soul with emotion.

    I’m inclined to think of mind, soul, personality as metaphors.

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  23. Between the two of us, through polite discourse, we have identified the core issue of our disagreement. Lizzie’s optimism is vindicated!

    My view is that the persistence of the soul after death and the idea that it does not require instantiation in a material substance are exactly what distinguish it from the concept of “mind.” Obviously, since these are definitions, neither is right or wrong. It is important, however, to clarify which is being used in any given discussion.

    Based on my upbringing in the Congregationalist church and being exposed to more . . . intense denominations, I would argue that my definition is more aligned with their beliefs. I have never seen any empirical evidence to support the existence of a “soul” so defined.

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  24. I can see no reason why a man-made brain, with the same physical capabilities as our own could not be just as conscious.

    I see no conflict between man-made and evolved. Google “brains in silicon” and look what’s being done with man-made.

    Any capability that is going to rival consciousness is going to have to evolve, but we might be able to build the infrastructure that allows consciousness to evolve.

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  25. Lizzie’s optimism is vindicated!

    Gotta like it when that happens. 🙂

    It is important, however, to clarify which is being used in any given discussion.

    Agreed.

    And it may be that “soul” is an entirely dispensable word: That any statement involving the “soul” could be made using different words, without loss.

    Based on my upbringing in the Congregationalist church and being exposed to more . . . intense denominations, I would argue that my definition is more aligned with their beliefs.

    I was raised Baptist. (I think it’s fair to use “fundamentalist” in its classic sense to refer to my upbringing.) I once saw “soul” explicitly defined as “mind+will+emotions”, along with the declaration that of course animals also have souls, but they (unlike us) don’t have a spirit. FWIW.

    Of course, it’s sometimes hard for a kid in church to discern between an “official” teaching and one preacher’s opinion! I can’t really say how widespread such a view is; it was the only more-or-less coherent (within Christian assumptions) view of souls and spirits that was ever spelled out to me; perhaps the more mainstream Christian position is vagueness. 😉

    I have never seen any empirical evidence to support the existence of a “soul” so defined.

    Agreed.

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  26. I’m inclined to think of mind, soul, personality as metaphors.

    Would it be fair to ask: Metaphors for what?

    This is a tantalizing thought, and I’d love to see you elaborate on it, if you’re willing.

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  27. * waves madly *

    The argument is a simple form of TAG amd is therefore, to put it rather bluntly, bullshit! The conclusion simply assumes the premise; namely, that disembodied minds exist in direct contradiction to available evidence. It is thus viciously circular and the same can be said of any form of TAG argument.

    In part this is a problem with philosophical argument in general. There is simply no way of reasoning something into existence. More prosaically, if you want to know what the world is actually like, then you simply have to go look. There is no other way.

    As for comments about your intellectual honesty, I will refrain from my usual utterances. I will simply say to the UD denizens that Lizzie is one of the most intellectually honest people I know.

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  28. I’m way late to this party, but here’s the way I look at it. Presumably, on the assumption that consciousness arose sometime after the Universe began, all arrangements of matter blindly and obediently followed physical law (quantum mechanical or otherwise) before consciousness appeared. Presumably, according to materialist metaphysics, all arrangements of matter continued to blindly and obediently follow physical law after consciousness arose.

    Given that consciousness in and of itself thereby made no difference to the behavior of arrangements of matter, it is impossible to see why it should bother to “emerge” at all. It makes no difference to anything, cannnot cause anything that wasn’t perfectly able to take place without it, and therefore is not even implied by considering the physical state of things alone. No explanation that says in effect: “This unconscious thing interacted with that unconscious thing and that’s why consciousness ’emerged’.” can even be coherent. A physical explanation of consciousness is thereby a logical impossibility. Unless consciousness can act as a separate cause of things its “emergence” can only be a non-sequitur.

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  29. Matteo: “No explanation that says in effect: “This unconscious thing interacted with that unconscious thing and that’s why consciousness ‘emerged’.” can even be coherent.”

    A single brain cell cannot be said to be conscious, but the billions of cells that make up our brain are collectively conscious.

    You can see the effect of removing matter, (brain cells), in the case of patients who have had a lobotomy. They still seem to be conscious, but different.

    Matteo: “A physical explanation of consciousness is thereby a logical impossibility.”

    There is nothing that “logically” prevents a physical explanation of consciousness, it’s our lack of knowledge that limits us.

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  30. Given that consciousness in and of itself thereby made no difference to the behavior of arrangements of matter, it is impossible to see why it should bother to “emerge” at all.

    Excuse me, but your teleology is showing.

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  31. Matteo:
    Given that consciousness in and of itself thereby made no difference to the behavior of arrangements of matter, it is impossible to see why it should bother to “emerge” at all. It makes no difference to anything, cannnot cause anything that wasn’t perfectly able to take place without it, and therefore is not even implied by considering the physical state of things alone.

    Why shouldn’t consciousness have just emerged from unconscious matter when the conditions were right like, say, random water molecules arranging themselves into the exquisite patterns of snowflakes when the conditions of humidity and temperature are just right?

    Obviously there is a profound mystery about the origins of all that we see around us. If we had been able to observe the primordial singularity before the Big Bang or the blisteringly hot “quark soup” that is supposed to have followed or the immense clouds of hydrogen and the fundamental forces that ‘condensed’ out of it all could we have predicted that our Universe would eventually emerge? It’s a long way from simple hydrogen to immensely complex humans. Was all this complexity somehow inherent in those relatively simple beginnings or was something added after? If it was added after how did it happen and where did it all come from?

    The simple answer is that no one knows. It’s a big gap in our knowledge but it’s way too early to give up and say that the only way to plug it is with God. It doesn’t really help as an explanation anyway because it answers a different question. It tells us ‘who’ not ‘how’, which is the question being asked of science.

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  32. J-Dog,

    Lets cut to the chase. They don’t. Your description of what they believe fails to capture the essential elements and contains extra uneccessary elements.

    Your comment is about as perspicacious as someone who says “Why do people still believe stupid things like ‘We evolved from monkeys’ when there are still monkeys?” – both your comment and that one create a strawman of what “they” believe then sets it on fire.

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