The Instigator
Rational_Thinker9119
Pro (for)
Winning
3 Points
The Contender
TrueScotsman
Con (against)
Losing
1 Points

One's mind and one's brain are not identical

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Post Voting Period
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after 1 vote the winner is...
Rational_Thinker9119
Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 11/18/2013 Category: Philosophy
Updated: 3 years ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 2,347 times Debate No: 40743
Debate Rounds (4)
Comments (21)
Votes (1)

 

Rational_Thinker9119

Pro

Some say that your mind is your brain, or that your mind and your brain are the same. I believe that I can logically prove that to be false... Your mind and your brain are not completely the same thing, and there is difference between your mind and your brain.

The burden of proof is on me to prove my case. First round for acceptence.
TrueScotsman

Con

Hi Rational_Thinker9119,

Interesting topic, and I assume this deals with metaphysical possibilties. :)

Look forward to reading your argument, and I expect to be challenged a bit on this matter myself.

Kind Regards,
TrueScotsman
Debate Round No. 1
Rational_Thinker9119

Pro


Introduction

I thank my opponent for accepting this debate. He is absolutely correct in that my argument deals with metaphysical possibility and possible world semantics.

Clarifications

There are different types of possibilities and impossibilities, and there are many times when people confuse them. If something is physically impossible, that means that the proposition violates the laws of physics, or the way we know nature to work. If something is metaphysically impossible, that means that it is internally and/ or externally contradictory, or violates metaphysical principles in some fashion. However, something physically impossible can still be metaphysically possible. For example, going faster than the speed of light may be physically impossible, but it is metaphysically possible. Gravity producing cubed planets instead of spherical planets is physically impossible, but metaphysically possible.





Different Kinds of Situations

Therefore, any arguments about how mental states X existing without brain states X is physically impossible does not effect its metaphysical possibility.

The Argument

P1: If the mind is identical to the brain, then whatever is true for the mind is true for the brain

P2: There is something that is true for the mind, that is not true for the brain

C: Therefore, the mind is not identical to the brain

Defense of P1

This is based on the logical law of the Indiscernibility of Identicals[1]. The law states that if A is identical to B, then whatever is true for A is also true for B. For example, if "George Bush" and "the 41st president of the United States" are identical (which they are), then if it was possible for George Bush not to go to Iraq, then it was possible for the 41st president of the United States not to go to Iraq. If George Bush got punched in the face yesterday, then it is necessary that the 41st president of the United States got punched in the face yesterday. If it is impossible for George Bush to turn into an angel, then it is impossible for the 41st president of the United States to turn into an angel. I think you get the point... If A and B are truly the same, then whatever is true for one should be true for the other. Therefore, if I can show that there is something true about your mental states that is not true about your brain states; it follows necessarily that your mental states and brain states are not the same.

Defense of P2

Lets take your mental states X and brain states X. Imagine you woke up tomorrow in a beetles body, in this case you would have your mental states X, but not your brain states X (you are in a completely different body, with a different brain in this scenario). Even if this is physically impossible, it is not logically contradictory, there doesn't seem to be anything external which contradicts this possibility, and it is a perfectly conceivable scenario. Thus, it is reasonable to conclude that it is metaphysically possible for your mental states X to exist without brain states X. It is not possible for brain states X to exist without brain states X however (that is contradictory). Thus, there is something that is true for your mental states X, but not your brain states X:

P: Exists in some possible world without brain states X

Since P is true for your mental states X, but not your brain states X; your mental states and brain states cannot be identical.

Conclusion

If the mind is identical to the brain, then whatever is true for the mind is true for the brain. It is true for the mind that it can conceivably exist without the brain, but it is not true for the brain that it can conceivably exist without the brain. Since there is something true for the mind that is not true for the brain; they are not the same.

Sources

[1] http://www.oberlin.edu...
TrueScotsman

Con

Hi again,

Again, very interesting argument, I am very interested in seeing how this pans out.

As you noted in your defense of P1, the whole argument is built off of the acceptance of the Indiscernibility of Identicals. If this "law" (your wording) is therefore undermined then it will be found to be an invalid argument. It is therefore necessary on my part to argue against the Indiscernibility of Identicals primarily in this debate.

Argument #1: Symmetrical Spheres

The most common objection to the Indiscernibility of Identicals comes from the very link you provided. Which I will present that argument here.

"Imagine a possible world that contains just two perfectly round symmetrical spheres. The spheres have the same diameter, they are an equal distance from each other, they are the only inhabitants of a completely symmetrical universe, they are both made of solid iron, etc. Intuitively, such spheres in such a world would have all and only the same properties; they are qualitatively identical. Yet, by stipulation, there is supposedly two of these spheres, not one. But if "they" are qualitatively identical, then by the Identity of Indiscernibles, "they" are numerically identical; "they" are one, not two. Thus, either (i) there cannot be a world where there are two qualitatively identical objects or else (ii) the Identity of Indiscernibles is false. Since it seems that we can imagine a world with two numerically distinct yet qualitatively identical objects, then (by disjunctive elimination) the Identity of Indiscernibles must be false."[1]

In the link you provided it then goes through list of responses and problems with those as well, but ultimately I do not think this is a problem that can be answered for those who hold to the Indiscernibility of Identicals.


Argument #2: Secret Identity

Again, these arguments are nothing new on the matter but I will present them here and defend them because I do not believe the objections are strong enough.


(i)Clark Kent is Superman's secret identity; that is, they're the same person (identical) but people don't know this fact.

(ii)Lois Lane thinks that Clark Kent cannot fly.

(iii)Lois Lane thinks that Superman can fly.

(iv)Therefore Superman has a property that Clark Kent does not have, namely that Lois Lane thinks that he can fly.

(v)Therefore, Superman is not identical to Clark Kent.[2]

Your own listing of the law states the following:

"The law states that if A is identical to B, then whatever is true for A is also true for B."

This example would refute that notion because of the contradiction found in P1 and P5, namely that one lets us know that they are the identical (one being a secret identity), and the other revealing that they cannot be identical according to this law because of what Lois Lane believes. This is also linked in the source you provided for a reference in in your opening argument, where it states, "seeing if there is a property that one has that "the other" doesn't, will aid us in determining whether Clark Kent is in fact idenitcal to or distinct from Superman." As I have provided a relational property, and belief about these two identities I assert that according to this kind of logic it cannot be demonstrated they are identical.

Concluding Statements:

If one absolutely affirms Leibniz's law, which is the Law of Indiscernibility of Identity, then I agree that it is difficult to disagree with the logic. However, if my two arguments stand and remain unrefuted throughout this debate, then the foundation this argument is built on cannot support it's ultimate conclusion.

Look forward to your response on the matter, and I hope to learn a thing or two throughout the course of this debate. :)

Kind Regards,
TrueScotsman

[1] http://www.oberlin.edu...
[2] http://en.wikipedia.org...

Debate Round No. 2
Rational_Thinker9119

Pro

Introduction


I thank my opponent for his last response. In this round, I will show why all of his arguments fail.


Symmetrical Spheres


My opponent has made a magnificently huge error here. He has confused two completely different principles:


(i) The Indiscernibility of Identicals


(ii) The Identity of Indiscernibles


If you look at the link I posted in the first round (the one he also referenced in attempt to undermine my argument), you will notice that the argument from symmetrical spheres only tries undermines the The Identity of Indiscernibles, not The Indiscernibility of Identicals. Since my argument only assumes that The Indiscernibility of Identicals (not The Identity of Indiscernibles); my opponent's objection is easily dodged.


Secret Identity


The secret identity argument doesn't seem to work because Clark Kent and Superman are not exactly the same. This makes the "secret identity" argument a non-starter. Clark Kent for example doesn't wear a suit and cape, but Superman does. These are two facts which make them different. Clark Kent also has different types of thoughts than Superman. Because the argument from secret identity presupposes they are exactly identical to derive the contradiction; it fails.


Either way, if the argument only works for relational properties. My argument presumes modal properties, which are monadic properties. This completely dodges the argument according to my opponent's own wikipedia source:


"A response may be that the argument in the Meditations on First Philosophy isn't that Descartes cannot doubt the existence of his mind, but rather that it is beyond doubt, such that no being with understanding could doubt it. This much stronger claim doesn't resort to relational properties, but rather presents monadic properties, as the foundation for the use of Leibniz's law. One could expound an infinite list of relational properties that may appear to undermine Leibniz's law (i.e., Lois Lane loves Clark Kent, but not Superman. etc.) but nonetheless any approach focused on monadic properties will always produce accurate results in support of Descartes' claim."[1]


Conclusion


The argument from symmetrical spheres at best undermines The Identity of Indiscernibles, not the The Indiscernibility of Identicals. Since my argument only assumes the latter, we can call this a sniper's miss on my opponent's behalf. The second argument is based on an unjustified first premise; Clark Kent and Superman are identical. Not only that, at best the argument works with regards to relational properties. The properties I assume are modal properties. Therefore, the second argument fails just as bad as the first.


Since all of Con's objections fail; the resolution has been affirmed.


Source


TrueScotsman

Con

Hi Rational_Thinker9119,

Great rebuttal, and a huge mistake on my part for getting those principles mixed up, I concede the symmetical sphere argument as it does not apply and Secret Identity argument does only apply to relational attributes.

However, I am not ready to concede just yet and will present my next round of arguments if you will permit me. I suspect you are wanting to test out the validity of this argument by having it challenged?

Argument #3: Question Begging?

In your defense of P2 you mention this, "Imagine you woke up tomorrow in a beetles body," this argument assumes from the onset that the mind is something separate from the body, and this separate quality can awake "in" something else. If physicalism is true, and the subjective experience of the "self" is merely an illusion then applying this argument to try and conceive of it being separate betrays the objective understanding in favor of the subjective and incorrect understanding.

Therefore, because the framing of your argument assumes a dualistic understanding in order to support a dualistic conclusion, I believe the resolution should be rejected.

Argument #4: Science versus Philosophy

This kind of argument completely leaves the testimony of science about the mind out of the picture, it's trading reality for modal fictionalism. While it is a clever use of logic and philosophy, I believe it places too much merit in the ability of Modal fictionalism to let us know definitively about something as complicated as the mind. The problem with the setup of this particular kind of argument is that it is dependant on an author in order to be true.

Without the existence of sentient beings, such as humans, modal fictions are impossible, unless of course that person posited the existence of a deity. However, if the mind is something that developed as an evolutionary biproduct of the anatomically modern humans, then that would inform that there isn't really any meaningful distinction between the brain and mind.

This to me points to the idea that this argument would logically be held by a theist, as it's conclusion would point to the existence of a mind that has always existed apart from any physical entity. Else, I have a hard time seeing the usefulness of this logic if the person was not a theist attempting to argue for dualism.

Going back to fact that this argument requires an author, it essentially entails that it requires the author's understanding of the terms provided. Which as I pointed out earlier, this argument seems to employ a dualistic understanding of the mind within the content of it's arguments and thus I do not believe puts it on the same standard for objective truth, like science is able to provide.

I motion that we should prefer scientific inquiry on the subject of the mind over arguments built on modal fictions.

Concluding Statements:

Mostly I am just testing this contention myself to see if it really stands up to the test, so please forgive me if I don't have truly excellent rebuttals to your claim as my primary goal in this debate is to learn.

Kind Regards,
TrueScotsman
Debate Round No. 3
Rational_Thinker9119

Pro

Introduction

I thank my opponent for his last response. It seems as if he concedes that all of his first round rebuttals failed, but he presents new arguments that I will refute.

Begging The Question

I don't see how the argument begs the question. I could ask you to conceive that the mind is separate from the brain in one possible world, but I am completely fine with asking you to conceive that they are the exact same in another possible world. If one asked you to conceive of both (a world where they are distinct, and a world where they were identical) then its hard to see how I am begging the question in favor of one over the other. Now, Con states:

"In your defense of P2 you mention this, 'Imagine you woke up tomorrow in a beetles body,' this argument assumes from the onset that the mind is something separate from the body." - Con

However, this is like saying that asking one to imagine themselves as a banker already assumes that that person is a banker! Surely, that is absurd. If I ask you to imagine, or conceive without contradiction that you are a banker, that in no way presupposes that you are a banker. Similarly, just because I ask one to conceive of your mind being separate from your brain, that in no way presupposes that your mind is separate from your brain. We can conceive of the mind being the exact same as the brain as well so I don't see how this is begging the question.

My opponent also states:

"If physicalism is true, and the subjective experience of the "self" is merely an illusion then applying this argument to try and conceive of it being separate betrays the objective understanding in favor of the subjective and incorrect understanding." - Con

Even if physicalism is true in the actual world, that wouldn't mean it was true in other possible worlds. Something physically impossible can still be metaphysically possible. Since my claim is that something is metaphysically possible (not necessarily physically possible), my argument still goes through.

Science Vs Philosophy

The arguments aren't dependent upon an author to be true, they are just dependent on an author to know them to be true. Something is possible, or impossible regardless of anybody who is there to deduce that. My opponent also says:

"[I]f the mind is something that developed as an evolutionary bi product of the anatomically modern humans, then that would inform that there isn't really any meaningful distinction between the brain and mind." - Con

At best this shows that the mind is dependent on the brain, this doesn't mean they are the same thing (the mind could be something that emerges from the brain). Also, if one reviews the chart I provided in the first round, they will see that even something physically impossible can still be the case in some possible world. Lastly, my opponent says:

"I motion that we should prefer scientific inquiry on the subject of the mind over arguments built on modal fictions." - Con

The problem is that the two aren't mutually exclusive. Something can be physically impossible (scientifically impossible) but still be metaphysically possible. For example, an object going faster than the speed of light is physically impossible, but it is still metaphysically possible. Thus, physical limitations do not harm my argument here.

Conclusion

I thank my opponent for his new arguments. However, they seem to fail just like the last batch.
TrueScotsman

Con

Hmm... well I don't think there is a way to refute this argument without trying to destroy the bedrock to some of the fundamental constructs of modern philosophy, such as modal fictionalism, which I believe is expertly employed here. I have to hand it to my opponent and Alvin Plantinga for the strength of this argument, and in my efforts to see if there was a way to undermine, I have failed.

I concede to the resolution made by Pro, and thank him for a respectful and constructive debate.

Kind Regards,
TrueScotsman
Debate Round No. 4
21 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 10 records.
Posted by zmikecuber 3 years ago
zmikecuber
" I'm just reasoning that because we can kill certain brain states which causes corresponding mental states to be killed as well (and do this with extreme accuracy), then if ALL your brain states were to be killed, it seems as if the same holds for the mental states. We have strong evidence that the mind is dependent on the brain, so it is reasonable to assume that when the brain goes then so does the mind."

Ok, that does seem reasonable. However is a "mental state" a state *of* the mind, or identical to the mind? Also, how do we know that the mental states aren't just completely inaccessible to the mind when the corresponding brains states are destroyed? Perhaps they still exist in some sort of immaterial sense, but need the corresponding brain parts to access them, rather like a key and a locked room.

"What is the difference between a non-functioning mind and a mind that doesn't exist?"

For all practical purposes, none. A mind without any mental states it could possibly go into, doesn't sound much different than a non-extant mind, but I think that in reality there is a difference between the two...

So if we view mental states as potentials which the mind could actualize (or be actualized) destroying brain states seems to destroy the immediate possibility to actualize that potential, but not necessarily permanently destroy it. Could brain damage be repaired, and the mind get those mental states back? I mean, like, is that even theoretically possible? If you took out the part of my brain that recognizes faces, and then replaced it with a different one, and all of a sudden I'm able to recognize faces... Would that mean the mental states went out of being, and then came back into being?
Posted by Rational_Thinker9119 3 years ago
Rational_Thinker9119
"@R_T wouldn't that be bad ettiquette to discuss your argument while the debate is still ongoin?"

Fair enough.
Posted by Rational_Thinker9119 3 years ago
Rational_Thinker9119
"Ok, that makes sense. I can see how you'd reach that conclusion, but doesn't this sort of affirm the consequent? I may be misunderstanding..."

I'm not sure how I'm affirming the consequent. I'm just reasoning that because we can kill certain brain states which causes corresponding mental states to be killed as well (and do this with extreme accuracy), then if ALL your brain states were to be killed, it seems as if the same holds for the mental states. We have strong evidence that the mind is dependent on the brain, so it is reasonable to assume that when the brain goes then so does the mind.

"And how do we know that when we destroy part of the brain, we're not just making it permanently impossible for the mind to function in the same manner any more?"

That is what we are doing. We are taking away parts of the mind (like the parts that let you recognize faces) by damaging or tinkering with certain brain states. Damage and destroy the entire brain, then bye bye to the mind.

"I mean, if the mind were non-functional, but still extant, none of the mental states would exist, since mental states only exist in a functional mind. Perhaps I'm not getting what you mean by mental states. Can't a mind exist, yet not have mental states, and thus be non-functional?

If I'm completely be missing the point, I apologize"

What is the difference between a non-functioning mind and a mind that doesn't exist?
Posted by popculturepooka 3 years ago
popculturepooka
@R_T wouldn't that be bad ettiquette to discuss your argument while the debate is still ongoin?
Posted by zmikecuber 3 years ago
zmikecuber
"The reason we believe this is because if you kill a certain brain states, then the certain mental state goes with it. If you kill multiple brain states, then you kill the mental states that correlate with it. For example, if I take out a part of your brain and you won't be able to recognize faces. If I turn off another part of your brain, you wont be able to understand language. All these states of conscious and mind are gone upon damaging the brain states. This indicates that if all the brain states are gone, then all the mental states are gone as well. Take for instance a piano... Imagine that every time you cut a string to the corresponding key, it makes that not impossible to hear if you press the key. If you cut all the strings, then the music doesn't exist anymore! Similarly, we know through science that killing certain brain states kills certain mental states. Logically, it seems that if you kill all the brain states, you have just killed all the mental states. It seems reasonable enough."

Ok, that makes sense. I can see how you'd reach that conclusion, but doesn't this sortof affirm the consequent? I may be misunderstanding...

And how do we know that when we destroy part of the brain, we're not just making it permanently impossible for the mind to function in the same manner any more? I mean, if the mind were non-functional, but still extant, none of the mental states would exist, since mental states only exist in a functional mind. Perhaps I'm not getting what you mean by mental states. Can't a mind exist, yet not have mental states, and thus be non-functional?

If I'm completely be missing the point, I apologize.
Posted by Rational_Thinker9119 3 years ago
Rational_Thinker9119
*it makes that note impossible to hear if you press the key"
Posted by Rational_Thinker9119 3 years ago
Rational_Thinker9119
" I'm sure that the function of the brain affects the function of the mind, that's pretty obvious (from drugs and whatnot), but I'm finding it hard to go from that to saying that the existence of the mind is dependent upon the existence of the brain. "

The reason we believe this is because if you kill a certain brain states, then the certain mental state goes with it. If you kill multiple brain states, then you kill the mental states that correlate with it. For example, if I take out a part of your brain and you won't be able to recognize faces. If I turn off another part of your brain, you wont be able to understand language. All these states of conscious and mind are gone upon damaging the brain states. This indicates that if all the brain states are gone, then all the mental states are gone as well. Take for instance a piano... Imagine that every time you cut a string to the corresponding key, it makes that not impossible to hear if you press the key. If you cut all the strings, then the music doesn't exist anymore! Similarly, we know through science that killing certain brain states kills certain mental states. Logically, it seems that if you kill all the brain states, you have just killed all the mental states. It seems reasonable enough.
Posted by zmikecuber 3 years ago
zmikecuber
"I think that science tells us that our minds our dependent on our brains, but that only has to be true in this possible world, and doesn't seem to be metaphysically necessary."

I guess this is what I don't see reason to agree with. I'm sure that the function of the brain affects the function of the mind, that's pretty obvious (from drugs and whatnot), but I'm finding it hard to go from that to saying that the existence of the mind is dependent upon the existence of the brain. I'm not saying this isn't the case, but I see them both as possibilities, and I'm not sure how we establish that the mind's *existence* is dependent upon the brain...

I think this would be tricky for science to show, since if the function of a mind is dependent upon the function of the brain, how could science tell the difference between a non-extant mind, and a non-existent mind? I mean... wouldn't the both look the same?
Posted by Rational_Thinker9119 3 years ago
Rational_Thinker9119
"Hmm... I'd agree that if the mind's existence depends on the brain's existence, then this would follow, but I don't see how this exactly ties in with the same mind existing with a different brain (the beetle brain)..."

It doesn't. The issue of whether or not the mind is the same as the brain, is not the same issue as whether the mind is dependent on the brain.

"If A (the mind) can exist and function in a beetle body, I don't exactly see how the existence of A is dependent upon either the human brain or the beetle brain."

This only means the mind is not dependent on the brain in some possible world, that doesn't mean it isn't true for the actual world. If it is not dependent on the brain in some possible world, then them not being the same thing follows. What doesn't follow is one not being dependent on the other.

"I mean, it's quite obvious that affecting the function of the brain affects the function of the mind, but I can't see the connection between existence, and the whole idea of one's mind existing in a beetle seems to contradict this..."

It doesn't contradict it because I believe the scenario with the beetle is physically impossible, not metaphysically impossible. I think that science tells us that our minds our dependent on our brains, but that only has to be true in this possible world, and doesn't seem to be metaphysically necessary.
Posted by zmikecuber 3 years ago
zmikecuber
"The mind's existence depends on the brain's existence. If the brain dies, the mind dies. Seems reasonable enough."

Hmm... I'd agree that if the mind's existence depends on the brain's existence, then this would follow, but I don't see how this exactly ties in with the same mind existing with a different brain (the beetle brain)...

If A (the mind) can exist and function in a beetle body, I don't exactly see how the existence of A is dependent upon either the human brain or the beetle brain.

I mean, it's quite obvious that affecting the function of the brain affects the function of the mind, but I can't see the connection between existence, and the whole idea of one's mind existing in a beetle seems to contradict this...
1 votes has been placed for this debate.
Vote Placed by Magic8000 3 years ago
Magic8000
Rational_Thinker9119TrueScotsmanTied
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Total points awarded:31 
Reasons for voting decision: Concession stand.