Could our actions be decided by our conscious mind?

Discussion in 'General Philosophy' started by Speakpigeon, Dec 23, 2018.

  1. iceaura Valued Senior Member

    Premise 1 is false. We know better, under standard interpretations of the term "state".
    Premise 2 is not directly coupled to premise 1 without further restrictions on the reference "state".
    The conclusion is of course true without the word "therefore", but including "therefore" renders the whole thing confused. If the premises are tweaked appropriately, interpreted to the purpose, the argument can read as "sound".
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  3. Speakpigeon Valued Senior Member

    One iceaura isn't enough as empirical facts go for assessing what people think. So, we'll have to leave it at that.
    Too bad, but.
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  5. Speakpigeon Valued Senior Member

    Ah, apparently, I wasn't the first...

    "(...) some philosophers have accepted the identity of particular sensations with particular brain states (...)"
    Saul Kripke, Naming and Necessity, 1980

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  7. Sarkus Hippomonstrosesquippedalo phobe Valued Senior Member

    Wow, does your overinflated ego really have no limits? Seriously: "apparently, I wasn't the first..."??
    Here's a tip for any budding philosopher: if you've read a few books and think you've come up with a new philosophy... you haven't. Your idea will have already been thought of, considered, discussed, published, rejected or built upon, and probably more than 100 or 200 years ago.
    That's not to say that new philosophies are not arrived at, of course, but it is certainly arrogant in the extreme for someone to think that they have come up with one when it seems they have little more than a wiki-based education in the matter.

    Anyhow, I suggest you do some reading on type identity theory, which isn't widely held from what I can gather, due to the concern of multiple realisation. I.e. if multiple brain states can realise the same sensation, then identity of one with the other is wrong.
  8. Yazata Valued Senior Member

    Addressing the question in the subject line, "Could our actions be decided by our conscious mind", I'm inclined to say 'yes, of course'.

    But before we spin big metaphysical conclusions out of that, we need to think about what "our conscious mind" is referring to. What is a conscious mind, and what is the relationship between a conscious mind and physical reality and biological brains.

    A short summary of various positions in the philosophy of mind.

    As for me (I have no authority in these matters), I'm inclined to think that most of these options have some plausibility.

    I accept the identity theory as a first approximation. But multi-realizability and some other objections move me towards functionalism, I guess. I'm inclined to identify mind not with the brain or its states per se, but rather with what the brain is doing, with the information processing tasks that it's performing. Since organisms (human or otherwise) might perform functionally similar tasks in very different ways, mental states probably shouldn't be identified in a strong logical sense with particular physical states of particular organs.

    I don't believe in the existence of mind-substance, so I'm an eliminative materialist in that sense. I'm also inclined to think that our psychologistic vocabulary might not map directly onto brain states very easily. It might be more of a higher level language that we use to make sense of ourselves and others, our running mental model so to speak. Our Windows running atop machine language (brain states) and assembly language (functional states).

    I have to say that I'm largely unmoved by David Chalmers and his "hard-problem" argument (it's less a philosophical argument than an intuition that he wants others to share). I think that in the end, the 'hard-problem' won't prove so hard at all.

    The SEP's article on Mind-Brain identity theory (by Australia's own JJC Smart!)
    Last edited: Feb 4, 2019
  9. iceaura Valued Senior Member

    The conscious mind is a pattern of activity (fact of observation) - using a misleading term such as "state" will tend to abet analogies with the preloaded languages of a computer, or discussions of the status of neurons.

    Analogy: would you describe music as a state of the air? Of a piano?

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