Results 1 to 11 of 11

Thread: Eliminative Materialism - The fake universe.

  1. #1

    Eliminative Materialism - The fake universe.

    Eliminative Materialism has some core beliefs. The main belief is that the universe is made of matter/mass.

    A believer in Eliminative Materialism, would see the world as objects. The mind therefore does not exist at all. Thoughts do not exist at all. There is no soul. The entire universe is made up of objects.

    Like Feyerabend, Quine also endorsed the idea that mental notions like belief or sensation could simply be abandoned in favor of a more accurate physiological account. In a brief passage in Word and Object (1960), Quine suggests that terms denoting the physical correlates of mental states will be more useful and, as he puts it, "[t]he bodily states exist anyway; why add the others?" (p. 264). However, Quine goes on to question just how radical an eliminativist form of materialism would actually be, implying no significant difference between explicating mental states as physiological states, and eliminating mental state terms in favor of physical state terms. He asks, "Is physicalism a repudiation of mental objects after all, or a theory of them? Does it repudiate the mental state of pain or anger in favor of its physical concomitant, or does it identify the mental state with a state of the physical organism (and so a state of the physical organism with the mental state)" (p. 265)? Quine answers this question by rejecting it, suggesting there is no interesting difference between the two cases: "Some may therefore find comfort in reflecting that the distinction between an eliminative and an explicative physicalism is unreal" (p. 265).

    Here we see a tension that runs throughout the writings of many early eliminative materialists. The problem involves a vacillation between two different conditions under which mental concepts and terms are dropped. The first scenario proposes that certain mental concepts will turn out to be empty, with mental state terms referring to nothing that actually exists. Historical analogs for this way of understanding eliminativism are cases where we (now) say it turned out there are no such things, such as demons and crystal spheres. The second scenario suggests that the conceptual framework provided by neurosciences (or some other physical account) can or should come to replace the common-sense framework we now use. Unlike the first scenario, the second allows that mental state terms may actually designate something real -- it's just that what they designate turn out to be brain states, which will be more accurately described using the terminology of the relevant sciences. One possible model for this way of thinking about eliminativism might be the discontinuance of talk about germs in favor of more precise scientific terminology of infectious agents. Given these two different conceptions, early eliminativists would sometimes offer two different characterizations of their view: (a) There are no mental states, just brain states and, (b) There really are mental states, but they are just brain states (and we will come to view them that way).

    Now, it's not that the science is wrong. Eliminative materialism is just a way to interpret the science, and it's a language. Neuro-scientists can speak in the materialist language, or the spiritualist language, depending on who they are speaking to. If you are an athiest, of course the mind is not real, and of course there is no soul, everything is objects, and there is no difference between objects because they are all made up of the same particles. That means there is no difference between a human body, and a bag of sand. There are no "thoughts", and there is no difference between a man and a machine if they both function in the same way. Materialism is simple really.

    Spiritualism is also simple, instead, if you are a spiritualist, you do believe that there is a difference between the animate human body, and the inanimate bag of sand. You do believe consciousness is real, and that there is a possibility of a soul, a God, or just that there is a "mind". So the difference here is that eliminative materialists follow a certain set of rules towards how they frame their theories, very much like spiritualists follow a set of certain rules towards how they frame theres, and both sets of theories might be explaining the exact same phenomena to two different groups of people.

    Assess the view that consciousness can be dispensed of entirely


    This essay assesses eliminative materialism, a material monist theory of mind proposed by Paul and Patricia Churchland in the 1960s. The basic tenant of the theory is that consciousness does not exist and talk of it is merely 'folk psychology'

    The view that consciousness can be entirely dispensed with is associated with a theory called eliminative materialism. Paul and Patricia Churchland proposed eliminative materialism or eliminativism in the 1960s. As with all materialist theories it supposes that all phenomena are physical (in contrast to substance dualism and idealist monism).

    The Churchlands dismissed consciousness as 'folk psychology'; describing it as simply a term ascribed to a phenomenon that couldn't be understood, in much the same way as ancient peoples ascribed spirits to things that they couldn't understand. They argued that the only way to understand anything is via a physical description and that consciousness clearly could not be captured in such terms.

    Thus the conclusion is simply that what we call consciousness does not exist and is hence eliminated. Our concepts of mental states can be re-framed in terms of a physical neurological description and the advancement of science will make talk of mental states obsolete by fully understanding the physical processes that cause our perceptions of mental states.

    The Churchlands were not only concerned with providing a description of the mind that eliminated consciousness to the philosophical community, but they were also concerned with removing mental language from vocabulary. Essentially they argued that natural language was a poor model for what goes on inside the head because it used semantics (i.e. meaning) and syntax (i.e. structure).

    They proposed 'new language'. New language would use scientific understanding of the structure of the brain to allow a much more powerful language for deeper communication and thus replace the concepts of beliefs, consciousness, etc. This can be compared with the old talk of alchemical essences being replaced with talk of chemical elements following the discoveries of science.

    The problem with common language is that the use of semantics (i.e. meaning or interpretation of a word) implies (or exists as a result of) folk psychology. The Churchlands argue that it is inaccurate and misleading to talk of the mind in a scientific sense using semantic classifications the; semantics are essentially not scientific. The way in which new language should be constructed is using the same rules as science itself. Scientific investigation of the brain will reveal the standard rules of cause and effect at work, the Churchlands believe. Thus, as the mind follows a set of rules in a known structure so should language and thus new language should be syntactic (i.e. a systematic arrangement) and not semantic.

    A commonly used illustration of this set of concepts is to compare our talk of consciousness and mental states to talk of gods by the ancient Greeks. In a similar way the ancient Greeks had a semantic classification of phenomena that was not rooted in scientific examination of the phenomena.

    It was the scientific investigation of the physical phenomena in the brain that can be argued to have lead to the development of eliminativism. At the time scientific progress was very fast in some fields; many serious questions had been answered and chemistry, physics, and biology seemed to be nearing a conclusion with regards to understanding life. The advancing fields of neuroscience, linguistics, computers and cybernetics all combined to make consideration of consciousness as much a scientific field as a philosophic one for the first time.

    Another key driver for the development of the theory was the march of progress in philosophy: previous materialist theories had been posited in response to dualism and idealist monism, and eliminative materialism provided a response to the problems of reductive materialist theories. Essentially, reducing consciousness to a purely physical form was the source of many objections to reductive materialist theories, by simply eliminating consciousness these were thus solved.

    Having now examined the content and context of the theory let us now turn to the responses for and against the theory.

    A significant plus point is that the theory has scientific roots, basing the theory more in fact than abstraction or assumption. This also allows for the theory to be empirically verified.

    Eliminativism not only describes the process of the mind as purely physical, but also rejects the notion of any other non-reductive explanations. This will allow for the direct observation of other peoples mind processes, thus solving the issue of other minds.

    By responding to reductive materialist theories of the mind, eliminativism can also be said to respond to the problems of dualism, idealist monism, etc although it should be noted that it does this by default as all materialist theories respond to these theories.

    The critical plus point is that eliminativism responds to reductive materialist accounts of the mind. Reductionist theories share a common problem in struggling to explain how consciousness might emerge from a purely physical system or how any explanation of consciousness can be reduced to physical terms. Eliminativism solves this by simply doing away with consciousness - declaring it an error and attempting to consign it to the linguistic dustbin along with other superseded terms.

    However, the theory also has its detractors (aside from offending many psychologists!). The 'common-sense' reaction is that the theory does not capture what the mind is; it has not explained the experienced phenomena even if it has explained some observed phenomena.

    As with other materialist accounts of the mind the reliance on the purely physical implies determinism and thus attacks free will, intentional action, etc. In addition, in asserting that everything is physical the theory denies the existence of anything that cannot be explained purely in physical terms. An example of this might be a concept. The idea of cause and effect has no existence; it is simply a concept held in people's minds. Perhaps in this way eliminativism itself might inadvertently deny its own existence?

    Another attack arises from this point. Eliminativism solves the problem of other minds by essentially denying the existence of minds. This is because eliminativism does not simply explain mental states in terms of physical states, but denies that mental states exist at all and seeks to remove all talk of them from our language. This approach is ad hoc in that it doesn't answer the problem; it simply denies the problem. If this approach worked, I could solve the problem of my student loans by simply declaring all loans are 'folk debt'.

    Thomas Nagel proposed a further objection by asking what it would be like to be a bat. Essentially his argument is not dissimilar to Frank Jackson's 'What Fred knew and Mary didn't' arguments, and like Jackson, Nagel's argument can be used to counter all materialist theories. However, it is most commonly associated with eliminativism because it was created in response to that theory.

    Nagel's argument is that a bat has a significantly different ontology from that of a human being. Next he assumes that only physical processes exist and that there is no difference between consciousness and the physical brain (as in eliminativism). Thus, Nagel argues, it logically follows that observing an experience and observing a physical brain process are one and the same thing. This then follows that if we physically examine a bat in sufficient detail that we could then experience the world as a bat does. Nagel proposes that this is patently absurd and as a result the argument of eliminativism fails.

    The final argument against eliminativism brings us back to a discussion of language again. John Searle proposed the 'Chinese room' thought experiment as a counter argument to eliminative materialism and artificial intelligence in general. His driving themes are that brains cause minds (brains are not minds in themselves) and that syntax is not a replacement for semantics.

    In the experiment a person who neither knows nor understands any Chinese is placed in a room with a large volume of Chinese symbols on cards and a set of rules for match one set of symbols with another. These rules are purely syntactical because the person has no comprehension of the meaning of the symbols.

    Someone outside the room writes questions in Chinese on cards and delivers them into the room. The person inside then matches the symbols using the rules and 'replies' with another set of cards. Although the answer might seem reasonable to the person outside the room we can see that there is no actual thinking taking place, merely the following of rules. The Chinese room is obviously a metaphor for a computer. Computers also run solely on syntax and the manipulation of symbols without ever having any concept of meaning (sematics).

    Thus Searle concludes that eliminativism fails as a description of the mind because a purely syntactical approach prevents intentional and meaningful human states.

    Therefore in conclusion to this review of the view that consciousness can be dispensed with entirely we can say that although the argument is compelling and based in science, empirical analysis has not yet proved its truth. Furthermore, eliminativism fails to answer a key attack on materialism, that of the apparent impossibility of making experience public from observation of internal physical processes. The argument is most certainly useful in advancing our understanding of the philosophy of mind, but fails to answer the central question of what is consciousness.
    http://www.arrod.co.uk/essays/elimin...aterialism.php


    Now, the key difference is, Eliminative Materialists believe that consciousness is not real. My question to the Eliminative Materialists who are here, if consciousness is not real, what exactly is real? Because I interpret that to mean that the universe is fake. Fake meaning, an artificial bunch of objects, very much like a hologram, with no real existence or essence.

  2. #2
    Eliminating elimanative materialists - the Quantum double-slit experiment....

  3. #3
    Plutarch (Mickey's Dog)
    Posts
    9,214
    Move this to philosophy, moderators.

    TimeTraveler:

    A telephone rings. Why do you stand up and go get it?

  4. #4
    tending tangentially glaucon's Avatar
    Posts
    5,501
    P_J is of course correct; this thread should be moved.

    TimeTraveler, you've got at least one incorrect premiss, and one certain erroneously drawn conclusion.

    Firstly, it is incorrect to say that the position that the universe is made of matter is a core belief of EM.
    If anything can be said to be a 'core belief' of EM, it would be a belief in the verification principle. That being said, matter is a sufficiently verified concept that can and is made use of within the scope of the scientific method to such an extent that to discard it would be much less pragmatic than to not do so. It's not a question of belief in anything.

    Secondly, you draw the conclusion that, according to the EM position, it follows that consciousness is not real.
    This is simply not true, and moreover, it is an illicitly drawn conclusion.
    Contingent upon your definition of "conscious", there is nothing in the EM position that necessarily disallows consciousness.
    Take a look at David Armstrong. I did my undergrad thesis on his "A Materialist Theory of Mind".

    Regardless, even if one did take the position that consciousness cannot be real within an EM pov, how do you then move to conclude that this means that nothing else can be real? What's your working definition of real? Why are you assuming that 'real' is somehow inextricably linked to consciousness?

    Simply put, your interpretation that this then means that the universe is fake, is nothing but an incorrect interpretation.

  5. #5
    Quote Originally Posted by glaucon View Post
    P_J is of course correct; this thread should be moved.

    TimeTraveler, you've got at least one incorrect premiss, and one certain erroneously drawn conclusion.

    Firstly, it is incorrect to say that the position that the universe is made of matter is a core belief of EM.
    If anything can be said to be a 'core belief' of EM, it would be a belief in the verification principle. That being said, matter is a sufficiently verified concept that can and is made use of within the scope of the scientific method to such an extent that to discard it would be much less pragmatic than to not do so. It's not a question of belief in anything.

    Secondly, you draw the conclusion that, according to the EM position, it follows that consciousness is not real.
    This is simply not true, and moreover, it is an illicitly drawn conclusion.
    Contingent upon your definition of "conscious", there is nothing in the EM position that necessarily disallows consciousness.
    Take a look at David Armstrong. I did my undergrad thesis on his "A Materialist Theory of Mind".

    Regardless, even if one did take the position that consciousness cannot be real within an EM pov, how do you then move to conclude that this means that nothing else can be real? What's your working definition of real? Why are you assuming that 'real' is somehow inextricably linked to consciousness?

    Simply put, your interpretation that this then means that the universe is fake, is nothing but an incorrect interpretation.
    It says so in my articles, and eliminative materialists specifically have said the consciousness is not real.
    The Churchlands dismissed consciousness as 'folk psychology'; describing it as simply a term ascribed to a phenomenon that couldn't be understood, in much the same way as ancient peoples ascribed spirits to things that they couldn't understand. They argued that the only way to understand anything is via a physical description and that consciousness clearly could not be captured in such terms.
    http://www.arrod.co.uk/essays/elimin...aterialism.php

    If consciousness is real how can you claim to be an eliminative materialist?
    It's like being an athiest yet believing in the concept of a soul. If there is a soul there can just as likely be a God and it ruins the entire arguement of an athiest to believe in a soul.

    The way I personally move to the "fake universe", is based no the theories of eliminative materialism, if you keep following to it's conclusion, once you pass the point in which consciousness is not real, nothing is real. I mean what can be real outside of reality itself? It's a paradox. I don't think most eliminative materialists worship matter, or see matter as being the universe itself, but I could be wrong.

    All I'm saying is that if I follow the theory in my mind it breaks down at the point of consciousness not being real. In my opinion nothing can be defined as "real", if consciousness itself is not more/most "real." You cannot say that fire is real simply because it's hot. You cannot say that the sun is real simply because it's big and hot, because these are all measured by consciousness.

    What can something that is unconscious measure to determine it as reall? To a robot, nothing is real, everything is predetermined, and equally fake. How can a robot even have a concept of real if it's a robot and it knows it's not real itself?

  6. #6
    tending tangentially glaucon's Avatar
    Posts
    5,501
    Quote Originally Posted by TimeTraveler View Post
    It says so in my articles, and eliminative materialists specifically have said the consciousness is not real.
    Ad Verecundiam fallacy.

    Which is to say: improper appeal to authority.

    Regardless, I did not say that all EM thinkers support the concept of consciousness. There are indeed a number of strict EM people who do deny consciousness, but that doesn't mean they represent the entire position, as I've pointed out.


    Quote Originally Posted by TimeTraveler View Post

    Yep, the Churchland's are of the previously mentioned strict camp.


    Quote Originally Posted by TimeTraveler View Post
    If consciousness is real how can you claim to be an eliminative materialist?
    Because there's no contradiction in that position.


    Quote Originally Posted by TimeTraveler View Post
    It's like being an athiest yet believing in the concept of a soul. If there is a soul there can just as likely be a God and it ruins the entire arguement of an athiest to believe in a soul.
    lol

    Not at all. I have no idea what kind of logic you're using there, but it's not sound.
    An atheist can believe in the soul; souls and god are not necessarily linked.


    Quote Originally Posted by TimeTraveler View Post
    The way I personally move to the "fake universe", is based no the theories of eliminative materialism, if you keep following to it's conclusion, once you pass the point in which consciousness is not real, nothing is real.

    Nope.
    As I've pointed out, you cannot necessarily deduce irreality from the EM position. And again, what's with your insistence that reality overall is somehow linked to consciousness????


    Quote Originally Posted by TimeTraveler View Post
    All I'm saying is that if I follow the theory in my mind it breaks down at the point of consciousness not being real. In my opinion nothing can be defined as "real", if consciousness itself is not more/most "real."
    But that's your problem, not a problem of the EM position.


    Quote Originally Posted by TimeTraveler View Post
    You cannot say that fire is real simply because it's hot.

    Of course you can.


    Quote Originally Posted by TimeTraveler View Post
    What can something that is unconscious measure to determine it as reall? To a robot, nothing is real, everything is predetermined, and equally fake. How can a robot even have a concept of real if it's a robot and it knows it's not real itself?

    You seem to be arguing that 'real' is contingent upon some sort of reflexive sensibility.
    That's just silly.
    "Real" is defined not by an ability to perceive things, but moreso just the opposite.


    Again, I must reiterate: if you want to make your position clear, and make sound arguments, you must define your terms.

  7. #7
    Quote Originally Posted by TimeTraveler View Post
    A believer in Eliminative Materialism, would see the world as objects.
    I object.

    Where's the bathroom?

  8. #8
    Plutarch (Mickey's Dog)
    Posts
    9,214
    Glaucon:

    If you deny the means whereby we affirm "fire is hot", or "protons have a mass of x^-y", then you also deny the validity of said measurements. That is to say, if one is to claim we are not conscious, then all results of our consciousness must be discarded, including the very premise that we are not conscious.

    It behooves this type of materialist to coherently put forth how anything is deduced without consciousness.

  9. #9
    tending tangentially glaucon's Avatar
    Posts
    5,501
    Quote Originally Posted by Prince_James View Post
    Glaucon:

    If you deny the means whereby we affirm "fire is hot", or "protons have a mass of x^-y", then you also deny the validity of said measurements. That is to say, if one is to claim we are not conscious, then all results of our consciousness must be discarded, including the very premise that we are not conscious.

    It behooves this type of materialist to coherently put forth how anything is deduced without consciousness.
    I don't understand your point P_J.

    As I said above, I do not deny that we are conscious.
    Nor do all EM thinkers, again, as I said above.

    Nevertheless, just for fun I'll say this much:

    I fail to see how a result of our purported consciousness is necessarily related to that consciousness. This brings up a classic line of thought: "Fire is hot", for example, can quite validly be concluded by means of a process that does not in any way involve consciousness: a thermometer.

    In any case, to be clear: I am not a member of that group of EM thinkers who deny consciousness (of course, this is contingent upon the definition thereof that one is making use of...).

  10. #10
    Plutarch (Mickey's Dog)
    Posts
    9,214
    Glaucon:

    As I said above, I do not deny that we are conscious.
    Nor do all EM thinkers, again, as I said above.
    Yes, I was just writing against this point of some EMs. The "radical ones", at the very least.

    I fail to see how a result of our purported consciousness is necessarily related to that consciousness. This brings up a classic line of thought: "Fire is hot", for example, can quite validly be concluded by means of a process that does not in any way involve consciousness: a thermometer.
    Put one hand in hot water, one hand in cold water, and have a bowl of tepid water between them. Let one hand heat up, the other cool down, and then put your hand in the tepid water.

    What do you feel? (I think Berkley was the one who first purposed this.)

    Thermometres tell us certain data on heat, clearly. It tells us what degree in a system of measurement we have determined what it is. But in order to read this, do not we have to be conscious? For surely, the thermometre says nothing to a rock? Or the semantic content of the measurement system surely is beyond anything but a conscious being, educated in science, to understand?

    In any case, to be clear: I am not a member of that group of EM thinkers who deny consciousness (of course, this is contingent upon the definition thereof that one is making use of...).
    I didn't mean to imply such if I did!

    Also: Sorrya bout the three day late response. I was banned.

  11. #11
    tending tangentially glaucon's Avatar
    Posts
    5,501
    P_J,

    I was wondering what had happened.....
    Now that I know, I can only imagine you're directing a fair amount of time towards the fight against oppression.

    :-)




    In any case.....


    Quote Originally Posted by Prince_James View Post
    Yes, I was just writing against this point of some EMs. The "radical ones", at the very least.


    I simply cannot agree with those 'radicals' simply because the logic doesn't necessarily rule out a consciousness.




    Quote Originally Posted by Prince_James View Post
    Put one hand in hot water, one hand in cold water, and have a bowl of tepid water between them. Let one hand heat up, the other cool down, and then put your hand in the tepid water.

    What do you feel? (I think Berkley was the one who first purposed this.)
    I do remember this Berklian thought-experiment, though for the life of me I can't recall what the point was. Again, all I can say is that our sensations are clearly explained without recourse to any non-material entity. Nevertheless, this doesn't rule one out.


    Quote Originally Posted by Prince_James View Post
    Thermometres tell us certain data on heat, clearly. It tells us what degree in a system of measurement we have determined what it is. But in order to read this, do not we have to be conscious? For surely, the thermometre says nothing to a rock? Or the semantic content of the measurement system surely is beyond anything but a conscious being, educated in science, to understand?
    The thermometer of course says nothing to a rock, just as it says nothing to a human observer. It is a component of a human-designed system that, within that context, is made, by us, to give meaning.

    We could just as easily change our temperature measurement system tomorrow thusly: the new scale is measured in units called pickles, where the entire range from 0 to 40 degrees Fahrenheit is now mapped to 6 to 240 pickles.
    Now, the key thing to notice here is that this re-mapping does nothing to change the nature of heat. It is only our granting of meaning that can vary.

    So, that being said, I do believe that it is a semantical issue. Which is why I maintained in the first place, that the question as a whole is moot; we can never determine the 'true nature' (sic) of anything.

Bookmarks

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •