The Instigator
TheSkeptic
Pro (for)
Winning
14 Points
The Contender
JustCallMeTarzan
Con (against)
Losing
13 Points

Dualism is probably not correct about the relationship between mind and matter.

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Started: 7/14/2009 Category: Miscellaneous
Updated: 4 years ago Status: Voting Period
Viewed: 2,153 times Debate No: 8969
Debate Rounds (4)
Comments (27)
Votes (6)

 

TheSkeptic

Pro

The resolution is simple: I am arguing that the dualist view concerning the philosophy of mind is probably false. I will give two definitions of dualism (each from different sources) to make it clear what I am arguing against.

[Dualism]
[http://www.thefreedictionary.com...]
The view that the world consists of or is explicable as two fundamental entities, such as mind and matter.
[http://philosophy.uwaterloo.ca...]
In philosophy of mind, the belief that the mental and physical are deeply different in kind: thus the mental is at least not identical with the physical.

I intentionally include the word "probably" because I am not saying dualism is certain to be false, but likely to be. As you see, I'm trying to avoid semantics so let's not have this debate boil down to such.

Since this is going to be 4 rounds, I offer two options my opponent can consider:

He can decide to simply post the type of dualism he is arguing for, give a brief description, and end it as such. I will then start my 2nd round by attacking this type of dualism, and a normal debate will go on from there. Examples of different types of dualism are substance dualism, property dualism, and predicate dualism.

Or, if my opponent isn't consciously ascribed to any specific school of dualism but is a dualist anyway, he can give his arguments for dualism in general during his 1st round and a normal debate will go on from there.

I await a great debate.
JustCallMeTarzan

Con

Ok - so I'm not going to subscribe to Cartesian dualism or anything like that, but I think I can come up with a successful rebuttal to Skeptic's position, and then defend it against his counterattack.

The "meat" of this position concerns the nature of reality. The rest of the position concerns perception.

Fortunately, Skeptic is concerned with "mind and matter" and not something silly like "mind and soul." Just keep that in mind ;)

**********************************************************************

First, for the sake of debate, let us assume that what we feel and see around us is real, and we're not dreaming. There's no real good answer to the dreaming objection, and surely Skeptic recognizes as well as I do that it's simply a dishonest cop-out. But if you want to argue this point, my position is that until we are given reason to believe otherwise, it makes best sense to behave in a way as though we assume our experiences to reflect reality.

Second, we must also recognize that perception and reality are linked, but not the same. For example, no matter how much I wish the screen in front of me to contain sexy pictures of Megan Fox, it continuously displays the job-tracking system for my job. Thus, we must accept that we cannot control stimulus with the mind.

Furthermore, the fact that multiple people are capable of independently experiencing the same thing shows that the event cannot be a mere creation of the two minds. For example, if we have a room that contains something highly unusual (say a pink elephant with a tutu copulating with a lime-green 1950's style refrigerator) and multiple people who do not previously know what is in the room describe the same gruesome scene, it shows that the event is not a creation of their minds. This proves (or at least satisfies "probably") that what is actually taking place is separate from what is taking place in the mind.

So, given that we have independent perceptions of identical situations and cannot control these perceptions, it follows that the processes of perception in the mind are fundamentally different (a reaction) to the stimuli that create them.

NEGATED.
Debate Round No. 1
TheSkeptic

Pro

I thank my opponent for accepting this open debate.

"Fortunately, Skeptic is concerned with "mind and matter" and not something silly like "mind and soul.""
---->I'm concerned with the relationship between mind and matter; obviously dualism proposes they are ontologically separate categories while I propose they are not. I'm not sure what the phrase "mind and soul" is supposed to refer to, unless it's when someone believes the soul is equivalent to the mind. If this is so, then obviously this means they are completely different phrases depending on how you use it.

I agree with my opponent's first two paragraphs. We will both assume that we aren't dreaming, being deceived, or aren't disillusioned brains in vats. Talking about radical skepticism or solipsism does nothing but to sidetrack the resolution. I also agree that what you perceive (psychedelic drugs, mental illness, fallibility of sense) is not necessarily reality, and that we can't control stimulus' with our mind.

So really, it is the third paragraph that is the crux of my opponent's paragraph:

====================
"Processes of perception in the mind are fundamentally different (a reaction) to the stimuli that create them."
====================

I ask of my opponent - why would the process of perception be fundamentally different from stimuli? Or in other words, why would the process of perception be ontologically different from stimuli? I argue that the process of perception is still a "physical process", meaning it is not categorically different from the stimuli (which is obviously physical). The processes that allow for perception, whatever that may be, is composed of physical parts that allow for such an ability - namely parts of the brain.

My opponent's only reasoning for this claim is that "we have independent perceptions of identical situations and cannot control these perceptions". To be honest, I'm not entirely sure what my opponent is trying to argue. It's hard to tell from his example of the pink elephant/refrigerator and his final paragraph as to what his argument boils down to. I can only see two alternative as to what he is arguing:

On one hand, he states that because "multiple people who do not previously know what is in the room describe the same gruesome scene (pink elephant/refrigerator), it shows that the event is not a creation of their minds." Yes, I would agree that such a scene is not a product of their mind. However, to conclude that somehow the stimuli is categorically different has no merit. Of course when I see a red apple I don't have an actual red apple in my head - but the process of perceiving that red apple (or a pink elephant copulating with a refrigerator) is still physical.

However, if it's the case that he is saying that since people have different perceptions of an identical situation, thus perception is different from stimuli, then it's obviously a different issue. I would argue that if two people where to have identical physical makeups, then they would have the same experience/perception.

====================
Conclusion
====================

I haven't put too much into my counterargument simply because I"m not entirely confident as to what my opponent's argument is. To prevent unnecessary strawmen, I have pulled back needless content until my opponent can be more clear with his arguments.
JustCallMeTarzan

Con

Thanks to Skeptic for not plunging in head over heels... I'll grant that my first round was a little unclear... I'll try to clarify it a little bit here.

Skeptic says he's concerned with whether or not the relationship between mind and matter is that of ontologically separate categories or not. He proposes that they are one and the same - I propose that they are not.

I am very pleased that skeptic has agreed to not muck about with the problems of dreaming, deception, or the matrix - it makes the whole argument much simpler and easier to comprehend.

As he has aptly recognized, my contention is that the processes of perception in the mind are fundamentally different (a reaction) to the stimuli that create them.

***************************************************

I will grant that perception itself is a physical process - that much is obvious because everything in the brain is just chemicals and neurons firing and such. However, perception qua perception is not a physical process.

Let's consider an apple. When we perceive an apple, we take in certain properties like red light bouncing off the skin, a spherical-ish shape, a stem/leaf on top, etc... all of which can be considered properties XYZ of the apple, or predicates of apple-ness.

When these elements enter my brain, chemicals and electrons move about, none of which could properly be described as predicates of an apple. In other words, none of the processes my brain uses during perception of an apple have anything to do with apple-ness.

A non-dualistic framework that holds that the apple and my perception of it are one and the same seeks to secure the idea that the predicates of the apple are only extant in the brain, thus, breaking the posited dualism. However, there are several problems with this:

1) The fact that "apple-ness" and our perception of an apple contain different "metadata" (by this I mean that brain chemicals and red skin are not the same medium) shows that reality and perception are not of the same type.

2) Kant's notion of metaphysical lenses answers the objection of why perception conforms to reality - basically, we are hard-wired to perceive the world in spatial, temporal, and physical ways, regardless of how reality actually is.

3) Independence of shared experience (elephant/refrigerator example) shows that the stimuli for these experiences is independent of the experiences themselves. This is further demonstrated by the fact that one cannot control experiences of external stimuli.

******************************************************************

Some Responses:

>> "Why would the process of perception be ontologically different from stimuli?"

Because that which makes up perception is ontologically different from that which makes up stimuli. Consider my earlier example about apple-ness. If the apple is our stimuli, and the perception of the apple our experience of it, then to be ontologically equivalent, both would have to have identical predicates, which they obviously do not.

>> "I would argue that if two people where to have identical physical makeups, then they would have the same experience/perception."

Supposing such a circumstance, this poses no danger to a dualistic framework. If two identical people have identical experiences of the same stimuli, it's simply the case that you replicated the medium through which we observe the reaction to stimuli - it's as though you made a computer model of a pool game, ran it, and then ran it again with the same parameters and were surprised to see the same results.

**********************************************************

Conclusion:

Perhaps the best way to explain why perception and reality are different is probably the types of "is" - predication, existence, and identity.

Predication - Superman is a man with a red cape; Superman has strange powers.
Existence - Superman is; Superman exists.
Identity - Superman is Clark Kent.

In the case of dualism, we have a problem with trying to confuse the is of predication with that of identity. Given that both stimuli and reaction actually exist, we are concerned with discovering their predicates. Identity-dualism, or the idea that perception and reality are the same because they concern the same process (physicality) ignores predication and focuses on the is of identity.

However, the fact that two things exist in the same medium does not mean they are comprised of the same predicates. Attempting to equate perception and reality solely on the basis of physicality is analogous to calling a dog's tail a leg, and then then saying you proved it is so.

In other words, to show that perception and reality are the same, it must be done on the basis of predication, NOT identity.

NEGATED.
Debate Round No. 2
TheSkeptic

Pro

I thank JCMT for his response - he's definitely a challenging opponent. Since we both agree that the focal point of this debate is about perception qua perception, which is just the fancy Latin way of saying perception in general, there is no further discussion needed about other issues.

As a convenient side note, I will use the example of the red apple as the de facto term for stimuli. So when I refer to , redness, "leaf-on-a-stem-ness", and so on, it is all synonymous to the predicates of apple-ness. This is just to make the debate easier to read and comprehend.

My opponent makes an interesting case for dualism, and it's comprised of a main argument - that the processes that the brain uses during perception are not the same type as the predicates of stimuli; they are ontologically different. His main reason for this argument is that the process of perception, which is a complex array of interacting chemicals and electrons, is not the same as the predicates of apple-ness, which include spherical-ish shape, redness, etc.

So in reply, my main counterargument is that this is too "shallow" of a view of perception. I argue that fundamentally, the predicates of a red apple is still the same type or 'medium' as the processes of perception - namely in some sort of physical data.

====================
Relationship between the process of perception and stimuli
====================

A key paragraph in my opponent's argument is as follows: "when these elements enter my brain, chemicals and electrons move about, none of which could properly be described as predicates of an apple."

Yes, of course. The neurochemical activity perception does when interpreting stimuli can't sensibly be categorized as being red or sphere-like; it would just be plain absurd. However, to take the extra step and say therefore perception is ontologically different from apple-ness is flawed, because even though they don't share the same predicates (properties XYZ of the apple), this wouldn't make them ontologically different. This is actually something my opponent espouses in one of his responses to my argument - he states that "to be ontologically equivalent, both would have to have identical predicates, which they obviously do not."

When you perceive a red apple, the chemicals and neurons in your head do not have to contain the properties of redness or sphere-ness because the physical information of redness that one perceives when seeing a red apple gets' changed or interpreted otherwise. Essentially, I'm arguing that the predicate will change when the physical properties/substances/entities that it accompanies is transferred through different mediums, namely the the light gleaming off the apple, then being detected by the eye, and finally being received by the brain.

For example, all the properties of an apple are all fundamentally physical data. The color red, the figure of a sphere, the image of a stem, and such. These concrete particulars are ontologically physical, so it's no problem for the sensory organs in this case to perceive them and subsequently "translate" them into neurochemical activity. So even though we would attack different properties or adjectives to the processes of the brain and the properties of the red apple, they are both still ontologically the same - they are both physical. True, in different forms, but still the same.

====================
Conclusion
====================

My opponent states in his conclusion that in fact I cannot equate perception and stimuli on the basis of identity (in respects to them both being physical) but rather predication. I would ask why this is so, since it seems folly to do so.
JustCallMeTarzan

Con

JustCallMeTarzan forfeited this round.
Debate Round No. 3
TheSkeptic

Pro

Unfortunately, my opponent has forfeited his previous round. For what reasons he did this, I don't know. However, I do want the audience to realize that even if JCMT forfeited one round, you shouldn't simply vote him down for this (though it becomes more likely to). At least read the arguments people, instead of scrolling through the page looking for forfeits :P.

Since I have nothing refute, and since repeating my arguments will simply be redundant, I have nothing else left to say. VOTE PRO.
JustCallMeTarzan

Con

My apologies for missing a round. I was in New York City helping my girlfriend look for an apartment. So... while running about the Big Apple, I must confess DDO was not foremost in my mind =(

The meat of my opponent's response is contained in this one statement:

"I argue that fundamentally, the predicates of a red apple is still the same type or 'medium' as the processes of perception - namely in some sort of physical data."

Let's see if I can break down my argument a bit more... I think there's still some misunderstanding at play here...

**********************************************

Let's say that in the process of perception, reaction to the presence of the apple causes a situation wherein predicates ABC of the apple cause reaction XYZ in the brain. However, as a simple thought experiment will demonstrate, reaction XYZ cannot be described as belonging to the stimuli.

Look at the object nearest you. Predicates ABC of that object have just caused reaction XYZ to take place in your brain. Now close your eyes. Imagine that object. Reaction XYZ just took place again without the object, and without predicates ABC. Of course, one may object on the grounds that imagining the object delivers an imaginary set of predicates, but this is easily shot down by the response that you can perform the same sort of "imaging" (or imagining) process as you read a book or think about a fictional object. In other words, your brain has the ability to create a list of predicates for an object. However, at the end of the day, ESPECIALLY with non-existent items, we are forced to agree that whatever predicates we created in our head were NOT those of the actual object.

Thus, it is very clear that there is a disconnect between what we perceive and what actually is.

However, my opponent argues that these are still the same type of "data" - physicality. I suppose what he wants of me is the assertion that there is both a physical and non-physical component to reality. There are a couple of good positions to back this position up. The best of these arguments is below:

It is usually held that perception conforms to objects (i.e. if we perceive a red apple, it is because a red apple is there). However, in certain instances, one can say that it is objects that conform to perception. Kant explored this theory in his "Copernican Revolution" in "The Critique of Pure Reason," holding that certain truths about perception grant us license to make synthetic, a priori judgments about reality. For example, we perception is ordered spatially - this is why we say things like "The water bottle is ON the desk" or "The CD is three meters TO THE SOUTHEAST of the chair." However, this truth allows one to say things like, "If there are objects in the next room, they are spatially organized."

Such a claim involves describing one aspect of the nature of these objects without actually interacting with them.

Thus, it can be shown that there is a fundamental disconnect between perception and reality. In the case of the red apple, data is delivered to the brain via the physical processes responsible for perception. In the case of describing things spatially, data is created in the brain via the employment of perceptual processes alone..

Another example: Everyone acknowledges that 1+2=3. However, there is nothing about the predicates of 1 and the predicates of 2 that suggest anything about the predicates of 3. The expression does not deliver any new information - it is self-evident, giving us the distinction between:

1) That which delivers information
2) That which is self-evident.

And if we think about this for only a very short time, one can see that this could easily be interchangeable with:

1) The predicates of the apple
2) Appleness qua Appleness

***********************************************************************

Why does The Skeptic (ha! a play on words) need to demonstrate a predicative equality and not merely an identical equality?

Easy... because it is begging the question to say that that which is involved in perception is in and of itself a predicate of appleness.

NEGATED.
Debate Round No. 4
27 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 10 records.
Posted by JustCallMeTarzan 4 years ago
JustCallMeTarzan
Yay!
Posted by abromwell 4 years ago
abromwell
Ah.

Sure, though I thought Skeptic argued his point about as well as it can be argued.
Posted by JustCallMeTarzan 4 years ago
JustCallMeTarzan
... I can haz vote?
Posted by abromwell 4 years ago
abromwell
....yes...

As I said, I have no intention of refuting dualism.
Posted by JustCallMeTarzan 4 years ago
JustCallMeTarzan
>> "as we seem to have consented, the hearing of a sound is an extrinsic representation of the wave itself."

... Which indicates a dualistic framework...
Posted by abromwell 4 years ago
abromwell
I think our initial disagreement was based on a differing strictness of terminology, then, because I have no objection to your contention. I do think, however, that sound is a unique sensory phenomenon for the reason I stated at first (perceptual frequencies in the auditory cortex correspond to actual pitch frequencies). This point may speak more to the relative "accuracy" of our sense of hearing, as compared to our other senses, but as we seem to have consented, the hearing of a sound is an extrinsic representation of the wave itself.
Posted by JustCallMeTarzan 4 years ago
JustCallMeTarzan
It sounds like we're straying from dualism into synesthesia...

My basic contention is that the process by which we perceive something is not intrinsic to the object itself. So, like you say, if we define sound as that which can be heard from a wave, there is a fundamental difference between waves and sound.

If perception of a sound wave was intrinsic to the sound itself, then the existence of a sound would include perception. Considering that there are many different ways to negate the perception of sound, we cannot describe perception as being intrinsic to the sound.
Posted by abromwell 4 years ago
abromwell
The necessity is the perception by a organism, not a particular organism. So I would choose #3.

American Heritage Dictionary defines sound as:
"A traveling wave which is an oscillation of pressure transmitted through a solid, liquid, or gas, composed of frequencies within the range of hearing and of a level sufficiently strong to be heard, or the sensation stimulated in organs of hearing by such vibrations."

I therefore still contest that sound is an extrinsic (anthropomorphic) property of a wave, because we have defined it as such. I anticipate you emphasizing that a sound need only possess the potential to be heard, but I must emphasize that the existence of a sound is only known to humans when it is actually perceived. Yes, we may "hear" an ultrahigh frequency via technological aid, but the neurological perception differs from the physical reality. We don't, for example, see the rippling of sound vibrations traveling through the air, though an organism that could detect this phenomenon might very well have a different perception of sound.
Posted by JustCallMeTarzan 4 years ago
JustCallMeTarzan
I disagree - let's use 30,000 hz, because that's well above the range of human hearing...

A 30,000hz wave is still a sound. We just can't hear it. Likewise, radio waves are still an EM wave. We just can't see them. When a tree falls in the forest, it makes a sound, regardless of whether or not someone heard it.

Thought experiment:

I clapped my hands at my desk moments ago. You didn't hear anything. As far as you're concerned... did:

1) I not make a sound.
2) I make a sound.
3) I make a sound that you couldn't hear.
4) I only make a sound FOR me.

Be careful with #4 ;)
Posted by abromwell 4 years ago
abromwell
The distinction is to be made in the terming of a vibration. Your point that the predication is not centered about the stimulus is well-taken, but the predication of sound is different from the predication of longitudinal vibration. My comment was not intended to argue against dualism, but rather to expound on the ambiguity of the issue.

We would not classify an extremely high frequency (say, 9000+ Hz) wave as "sound", though no one is denying its existence as a wave. To use the classic example, if no one hears a tree fall in the middle of a forest, we must acknowledge the displacement of air molecules, but we cannot attribute that event a "sound", because the inception of a "sound" is dependent on a nearby ear drum.
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