A Physicalist Theory of Mind

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Sherab
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Re: A Physicalist Theory of Mind

Post by Sherab » Tue Jul 01, 2014 3:42 pm

Malcolm wrote:
Sherab wrote:
Malcolm wrote:The four or five elements apply at all levels of matter, whether molecular, atomic, subatomic and so on...
Really? What then is the meaning of solidity, liquidity, motility, fire and dimension for a bunch of free electrons or for the electrons within an atom?
Do I really have to spell it out for you?
Yes, if you can. Maybe you can also expound the relationship between the five elements and electric charge and magnetism of an electron as well.

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daverupa
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Re: A Physicalist Theory of Mind

Post by daverupa » Tue Jul 01, 2014 4:24 pm

duckfiasco wrote:Isn't rupa a term for material objects?
At AN 5.100, a rupadeva arises with a rupa that extends two or three farmers/farm fields in size, but it is immaterial such that it doesn't harm anyone or interfere in any way.

So no, despite the dogmatic assertions here, rupa - as has been demonstrated - is a category that is often physical, but encompasses more than that to include even an immaterial extension in space, as above. Only arupa states are wholly nonphysical; the gross/subtle rupa distinction oughtn't to be glossed over, because it leads to a subtle misunderstanding of the aggregates and, ultimately, very problematic ontological gyrations.
Last edited by daverupa on Tue Jul 01, 2014 4:25 pm, edited 1 time in total.
  • "And how is it, bhikkhus, that by protecting oneself one protects others? By the pursuit, development, and cultivation of the four establishments of mindfulness. It is in such a way that by protecting oneself one protects others.

    "And how is it, bhikkhus, that by protecting others one protects oneself? By patience, harmlessness, goodwill, and sympathy. It is in such a way that by protecting others one protects oneself.

- Sedaka Sutta [SN 47.19]

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Sherab
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Re: A Physicalist Theory of Mind

Post by Sherab » Wed Jul 02, 2014 1:46 am

Malcolm wrote:
Sherab wrote:
Malcolm wrote:The four or five elements apply at all levels of matter, whether molecular, atomic, subatomic and so on...
Really? What then is the meaning of solidity, liquidity, motility, fire and dimension for a bunch of free electrons or for the electrons within an atom?
Do I really have to spell it out for you?
Yes, if you can.

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Sherab
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Re: A Physicalist Theory of Mind

Post by Sherab » Wed Jul 02, 2014 6:34 am

Malcolm wrote:
Sherab wrote: Yes, if you are able.

Electrons have mass, motion, etc.,
[Test posting. I've been getting message of General Error for past days when I tried to post a reply. Now I suddenly see all my attempts at posting on this thread.]

Ya, you might as well reduce the 5 elements to 2: movement and space. Little or no movement = solidity. Some movement = liquidity. Lots of movement = motility. Even more movement = heat (but wait, heat is movement too!) and dimension = space. Still can't account how the five elements feature in electric charge and magnetism of an electron. This should flag the inadequacy of the traditional interpretation of the five elements if you wish to have the traditional interpretation correspond with the interpretation of modern science.

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catmoon
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Re: A Physicalist Theory of Mind

Post by catmoon » Sat Jul 05, 2014 8:00 am

I just re-read the first page of this thread and it got me thinking.

In mathematics there are some exceedingly simple equations whose output is chaotic. This is crazier than it sounds. Predictability lies at the very heart of math. If we could not be sure that 5x7 will equal 35, every time, we wouldn't have any useful math at all. Yet these crazy chaotic functions exist.

The same applies to physics. If we could not rely on the strength of steel being constant and predictable, we could not build a nut and bolt, let alone a Ferrari. But we have established the probabilistic behavior of particles, which makes the details of their behavior pretty much unpredictable. Unpredictability permeates all of science and even math, but we get around it by focusing on the kind of situations where predictability does arise and sort of ignoring the rest.

So science has nothing to say about mind really. As far as we can trace them, thoughts manifest in the real world as electrical phenomenae in the brain, on a very small scale where quantum effects become significant. And the trail ends there. A deep, comprehensive and predictive understanding of thought would require a different kind of universe from the one we live in.

This doesn't mean we can say nothing about thought and mind. It does however, mean that almost any such statement is essentially a probabilistic prediction and we need to keep a very sharp eye on the values of those probabilities when we start pontificating on the nature of mind.

I personally believe that this means materialist theories of mind are practically impossible.
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Wayfarer
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Re: A Physicalist Theory of Mind

Post by Wayfarer » Sun Jul 06, 2014 5:10 am

Catmoon wrote: thoughts manifest in the real world as electrical phenomenae in the brain, on a very small scale where quantum effects become significant
I don't think it is really possible to specify what 'thought' is or 'mind' is in a general sense at all.

If you say that 'thought is something the brain does', I think you're making a category mistake. A thought is not a material object or thing at all. Certainly the act of thinking is correlated with some neural activity, but the correlation is not one of identity. Otherwise the meaning of a book, for example, would be dependent on the composition of the paper on which it is written, which it obviously isn't. Rather it is the case that 'meaning' and 'matter' exist on different levels. That is why to explain one in terms of the other is a category mistake.
Andrew108 wrote:There were schools of thought in Buddha's time that saw consciousness as an emergent property of matter, much in the same way that alcohol is a property of fermentation of ingredients that do not contain alcohol. It's an interesting point of view in that it goes against Vedic teachings in such a direct way.
That school of thought was 'the Carvaka', who were indeed materialist, in exactly the same way that Dennett and Dawkins are now.It also goes against Buddhism in a direct way.

It was stated by more recent materialists as 'the brain secretes thought as the liver secretes bile'.

Of course one of the consequences of such views is that they are meaningless, by their own definition. If they are true, there is nothing for them to mean, so they are not really even worth stating.
Andrew108 wrote: At one level science has worked out all of the mechanisms that make up the world we experience.
Science has not the remotest idea of how, or if, matter gives rise to mind, or how, or if, matter even gave rise to living beings. The way it proceeds is to reduce such questions to the kinds of questions it can deal with, namely, those concerning measurable entities or force relationships. Then it wishes to find explanations for everything, in those terms. It is exactly as Abraham Maslow said, that if the only type of tool that you have is a hammer, then the only kinds of problems you're interested in involve nails.
Andrew108 wrote:There are laws or invariances that govern the universe.
Not so. The laws you are referring to are presumably those of physics, but what they describe - which is not the same as 'governing' - is the behaviour of mass and energy. But to say that these laws 'govern the universe' is the essence of materialism, which is basically to put physical laws in the place of divine commandments. There is a clear historical process by which this emerged.
Last edited by Wayfarer on Sun Jul 06, 2014 5:12 am, edited 1 time in total.
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catmoon
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Re: A Physicalist Theory of Mind

Post by catmoon » Mon Jul 07, 2014 1:19 pm

Good post but I wonder a bit about this:
I don't think it is really possible to specify what 'thought' is or 'mind' is in a general sense at all.
You could try it in subjective terms.

Thought: a phenomenon believed to exist because we all experience it.
: a subjective experience, usually highly analogous to, but not bound to, reality
: A secondary, infinitely manipulable facsimile of reality, perceived by a single individual and roughly transmittable via language

others could probably do it better
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catmoon
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Re: A Physicalist Theory of Mind

Post by catmoon » Mon Jul 07, 2014 1:20 pm

Double post
Last edited by catmoon on Mon Jul 07, 2014 1:22 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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garudha
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Re: A Physicalist Theory of Mind

Post by garudha » Wed Jul 16, 2014 11:17 pm

Sherab Dorje wrote:
dude wrote:of course gravity is physical.
physicality is material, and mind is spiritual.
Gravity is not physical, it's not like a hand that grabs you by the legs and holds you down or nails that pin your feet to the ground. It is caused by physical phenomena, mass, and it's effect is physical, but as a force it is not physical.
What? by the same token, is magnetism spiritual ?

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garudha
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Re: A Physicalist Theory of Mind

Post by garudha » Wed Jul 16, 2014 11:17 pm

Sherab Dorje wrote:
dude wrote:of course gravity is physical.
physicality is material, and mind is spiritual.
Gravity is not physical, it's not like a hand that grabs you by the legs and holds you down or nails that pin your feet to the ground. It is caused by physical phenomena, mass, and it's effect is physical, but as a force it is not physical.
double post
Last edited by garudha on Wed Jul 16, 2014 11:19 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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garudha
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Re: A Physicalist Theory of Mind

Post by garudha » Wed Jul 16, 2014 11:18 pm

Sherab Dorje wrote:
dude wrote:of course gravity is physical.
physicality is material, and mind is spiritual.
Gravity is not physical, it's not like a hand that grabs you by the legs and holds you down or nails that pin your feet to the ground. It is caused by physical phenomena, mass, and it's effect is physical, but as a force it is not physical.
triple post
Last edited by garudha on Wed Jul 16, 2014 11:20 pm, edited 2 times in total.

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