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Jo Edwards replied 16 years ago (Oct 28th 2007, 10:54:14 pm)
Dear Brent, I think we share a lot of common ground. However, my view is the result of a long struggle to get beyond the usual dualism/monism debate and out the other side to safe ground. It entails a radical, but by no means new, approach. It think it is the view that Leibniz held, although I cannot be sure. It seems to be common amongst modern physicists, but they tend not to like to talk metaphysics and often seem to drop into inconsistencies when considering the human mind. Let me add some comments; Firstly, I agree that Chalmers ran into trouble in 1996, having identified some important issues but then taken the wrong way out (particularly his invariance principle). You distinguish 'behaviour on the scientifically observable side' with the phenomenal. For me this is only half way to the true dichotomy or complementarity. The phenomenal is in contrast to, and complemented by, a dynamic account which itself has no appearance or imaginable form - such as Maxwell's or Schrodinger's equations. However, in order to talk about the relation between the dynamic account and the phenomenal we have to set up ontologically bogus accounts of the world, variously describable as geometric, kinematic, or historic accounts. We tend to think there is one consistent 'physical' account of this sort but there is an infinite variety of these hybrids. In general terms the dynamic and the geometric differ in that the dynamic is an account of potentialities (which becomes crucial for quantum theory) and the geometric is an account of actualities, treated as observed, even if only by proxy. The geometric account differs chiefly from the experiential in being a 'third person objective' account rather than a first person experiential account. However, these rules get bent in all sorts of ways. Science has always used two accounts - an observational account and a dynamic account which predicts what the observational account should be. Science is about testing hypotheses and so always relates the potential to the actual. There never was one sort of account. What few people realise is that the potential and actual are fundamentally incompatible. For instance there is no now in the potential account. It might seem that we should compare the potential dynamic account with the experiential but to be any use to a community we have to use agreed geometric accounts. Moreover, the experiential account plays tricks, which we want to iron out. The experience of time, for instance, cannot be what it seems to be, so we need to 'sanitise' it. I agree that a phenomenal sense of red is not going to come out of pipes. I am a bit doubtful about invoking the periodic table since I suspect phenomenal properties relate to physical entities at a much bigger level than the chemical. Moreover phenomenal properties always relate to observations, which are interactions, events, or Whitehead's 'actual occasions'. Things cannot have phenomenal properties as isolated things, but only through their interactions with other elements of the universe. You talk of unification of phenomenal properties into a single consciousness across two hemispheres, yet I know of very few people who overtly suggest this occurs, nor seen any evidence that it does. Descartes suggested that the pineal was the seat of consciousness because he realised that it made no sense for it to spread across both hemispheres. For me (like WIlliam James) no theory has ever been proposed that begins to make sense of such an idea so I see it as no more than lay folklore. I agree with James that the only explanation of consciousness which is not self contradictory is that each cell is aware separately. People find this idea unfamiliar and hard to take, but it goes back centuries and has the bonus that is resolves many paradoxes. The fading qualia story is no problem since each time you replace a cell you lose that awareness, but the others remain the same. When I say that quantum theory 'shows that these (dynamic) rules cannot have any sort of reality with an appearance' I am simply referring to the fact that the dynamic account in quantum theory defies any 'geometric' or experiential account. There is no meaning to the question 'where is a photon halfway from its source to its point of absorption'. It has no halfway existence separate from its total existence, nor any position at any specific time. We simply cannot think of a mental image that corresponds to this. This is in itself not a big issue because Leibniz knew for reasons of fundamental logic that the dynamic account of the world cannot have any appearance. Moreover, modern neuropsychology shows that our experiential account of the world is a contrived mock up that cannot possibly have a direct relation to the dynamic account. And at the end of the day it is simply illogical to think that the rules that determine appearances should have appearances. Quantum theory simply gives us no way to wriggle out. In summary I would say that your statement sounds a fairly traditional dual aspect monism or property dualism in which things have 'physical' and phenomenal aspects. My approach is very different in that there are no things. There are experiences and dynamic rules which determine those experiences. There are further levels to the analysis which may bring it back closer to things, I admit. An experience in my current model belongs to an instance of operation of the rules (operating on, or interacting with an environment) , so that the instance becomes almost a thing but not in the lay sense. For anyone interested further I recommend Bilodeau, D. (1996) Journal of Consciousness Studies 1996, 3, (5-6), 386-401. as an introduction to the dynamic approach. I think things need taking further and have found agreement with Henry Stapp on this, in terms of the potential/actual complementarity. My short book 'How Many People Are There in My Head? And in Hers?' (Imprint Academic or Amazon) gives the whole story although things have moved on a bit. My next article for Journal of Consciousness Studies - "Are our spaces made of words" should appear in the New Year. An earlier article touching on these issues is at my website (Google; Jonathan Edwards UCL). With best wishes Jo
Brent_Allsop replied 16 years ago (Oct 26th 2007, 5:26:44 am)
Jo, I've been reading through and trying to digest your statement. I think there is a good chance that you and I are saying the same thing, in very different ways. What I believe is specified in the nature has phenomenal properties camp here: http://test.canonizer.com/topic.asp/23/2 Have you been able to read and understand what I we have there? Is there a chance we are saying the same thing? About the only thing I have a question about is what do you mean by "quantum theory shows that these rules cannot have any sort of reality with an appearance or 'physical form'"? Specifically, what does quantum theory have to do with any of it? Everything else seems like it could be interpreted to be the same thing as I am saying in my camp? What do you think? That would be wonderful if we are in the same camp!! And if we could show such to the world, don't you think? Brent Allsop