The Instigator
serp888
Pro (for)
Losing
0 Points
The Contender
CriticalThinkingMachine
Con (against)
Winning
12 Points

The conscious mind only exists physically

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Post Voting Period
The voting period for this debate has ended.
after 3 votes the winner is...
CriticalThinkingMachine
Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 6/2/2013 Category: Philosophy
Updated: 4 years ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 1,154 times Debate No: 34453
Debate Rounds (4)
Comments (4)
Votes (3)

 

serp888

Pro

My position is that consciousness and the human mind are a direct product of the synergy between neurons in the brain, which in turn depend on chemical substances and genetic variables. I will let my opponent begin the debate.
CriticalThinkingMachine

Con

Thank you to serp888 for instigating this debate. I will be arguing against the resolution.

[1] Law of Identity
There are three basic laws of logic. The first one states that a thing is what it is, and is not something else. In other words, a book is a book, a table is a table, and a fish is a fish. A fish is not a table, a table is not a book, and a book is not a fish. The way that philosophers define something is by listing predicates or properties of that thing. In order so say that something denoted by one name is actually the same thing as something else denoted by another name, you must demonstrate that all the properties shared by the referent of one term are the same properties shared the other term. If you want to say that A is B, then we must show that A and B share all the same properties.

Pro wishes to show that consciousness, usually referred to as a mental phenomenon, is actually a physical phenomenon. For him to do this, he must show that consciousness and physical world share all the same properties. If we find even one property that either consciousness has but that physical things do not, or that physical things have but that consciousness does not, then consciousness and the physical are not to be identified with each other.

Now I’m assuming that Pro is not defending materialism, which states that everything in the world is made of matter. It is not taken seriously today and many materialists have retreated to physicalism, which seems to be Pro’s viewpoint, since he says that the mind is the result of synergy, which is not made of mater. Physicalism says that all things are physical, not necessarily material. This is probably what my opponent means. So while I could refute materialism by pointing out that the mind is not perceptible by any of the senses, a necessary property of any material thing, that would not work for physicalism, for phsyicalism admits of immaterial substances. But there is a property the mind has that the physical world does not, and that is (subjective) experience. A classic distinction in philosophy is the one between the objective world and the subjective world. A table is an objective entity since we can objectively talk about it. Our minds however, are subjective. We can’t observe anyone’s mind. We can observe their brain, their behavior, but not their mind. We can talk about someone’s mind and study it, but this is always inferential. Synergy and chemicals the mind, and all its actions (desires, beliefs, reflections, projections, thoughts, etc) are all understood from an “I” perspective: I think, I reflect, I desire. The brain and all its actions are understood from an “it” perspective. I touched the brain, the brain reacted, the brain was crushed. Since there is this difference of property between the subjective mind and the objective brain, the two cannot be identified with each other. One of them has something that the other does not. (1)

[2] Free Will
If the mind were only a physical substance, then it would have to obey physical laws. If the mind obeys physical laws, then the actions caused by the mind cannot be free, and hence cannot be the result of free will. But experience confirms every day that many of our actions are the result of free will, of a non-physical, rational, reflective agent.

Pro might respond that even physicalists admit that the existence of indeterminism, that some actions have no cause, but it does no good to appeal to indeterminism since, as far as we know, that only exists on the subatomic level, not on a psychological level. And even if indeterminism were true on a psychological level, it would still not be enough to give us free will, for free will requires not only a lack of causation but rational reflection on the factors involved in the free decision and the ability to think about the future. So the physicality of the mind implies the absurdity that agent causation does not exist.


[3] Causation Does Not Entail Necessitation or Identity
It is probably true that the mind interacts with the physical world, that the correlations are in this causations as well. But the mere fact that two things interact with each other does not prove that they identical. The mind interacts with the brain, but that does not mean that the mind is the brain. Pro might object that two things can only interact if they are in the same category. The mind could only interact with the physical world if it were physical. But we have no problem accepting that immaterial things like synergy could interact with material things like chemicals, so why would there be a problem accepting that non-physical things like desires or thought could interact with physical things like synergy? To accept one while denying another is arbitrary.

CONCLUSION

The contention that the mind is physical contradicts experience, free will, basic laws of logic, and relies on fallacious reasoning. There is no reason for accepting it and hence it should be rejected.

(1) “What Is It Like To Be a Bat?” Thomas Nagel Mortal Questions 1979
Debate Round No. 1
serp888

Pro

Thanks con for accepting this debate.

I'll address this debate by refuting con's statements as well providing my own evidence and logic.

"There are three basic laws of logic. The first one states that a thing is what it is, and is not something else. "

This statement, besides being scientifically wrong, is also baseless. My counter evidence is derived from a property of nature called the wave particle duality, from Quantum mechanics. The wave particle duality says that a small enough object is both a wave and a particle simultaneously, and can switch between the two. By con's logic, a electron is a wave, or an electron is a particle. This is false. An electron is a wave and an electron is a particle at the same time, or it is a wave, or it is a particle, or it is unknown. A thing is what it is as well as possibly something else at the same time, and can also be what it is and what it is not separately, or it can be unknown as to what it is. That is more accurate.
http://en.wikipedia.org...

"For him to do this, he must show that consciousness and physical world share all the same properties."
Con attempts to force me to provide evidence for the physicality of consciousness. I argue that con, in fact, needs to prove that there is some "spooky action", which is not explained by any chemical, or molecular processes that occur in the brain. Con supports the notion of magical thinking"that the mind and consciousness somehow exists separately from the brain and defy the laws of physics. However, I will of course supply evidence supporting my assertions that the mind is entirely explainable physically.

Because we live in a world that can be accurately modeled by the laws of physics, thus it is logical to assume that everything in the brain can be modeled based on information( I.E. the quantum state of the brain), which contains the locations and momentum of all fundamental particles in the brain. In other words, since nature has often been proven to follow fundamental laws, such as conservation of energy, then logically, the human mind should also follows these laws on a base level since it exists in the brain, which is in the universe. If any information is removed from the brain, such as in a lobotomy, then consciousness changes proportionally. This is particularly evident in individuals such as Phinneas Gage. There is a proportional link between consciousness and the modification of brain matter, which implies the physicality of the mind.
http://en.wikipedia.org...

"The brain and all its actions are understood from an "it" perspective. I touched the brain, the brain reacted, the brain was crushed. "
Human semantics do not prove that the brain and mind are separate. I am my brain is more accurate.

"if the mind were only a physical substance, then it would have to obey physical laws. If the mind obeys physical laws, then the actions caused by the mind cannot be free, and hence cannot be the result of free will"

Neurons in the brain function identically to physical laws of nature, and can be modeled on a computer program, which I will provide evidence for in an argument below. The brain is made of neurons and the mind is in the brain. Con makes a claim that the mind cannot have free will when it made entirely of physical substances, but provides no evidence supporting this.

". If the mind obeys physical laws, then the actions caused by the mind cannot be free, and hence cannot be the result of free will."

Con believes purely in the classical laws of physics"that every cause has a predetermined outcome that is exactly predictable. This is another faulty assumption"the quantum universe depends solely on probability and chance, and thus so does the brain since the brain is made of quantum particles. Probability and chance allow the human mind/brain to make new decisions (free will). However, free will may or may not be an illusion due to complex, incomplete science.

" So while I could refute materialism by pointing out that the mind is not perceptible by any of the senses"
Wrong, there is a device called an MRI machine, which makes active areas of the mind available to our sense of sight. It is also faulty logic to assume that because you can't perceive something, it somehow means that refutes something. I can't perceive an electron, but electrons are not refuted.

In fact, brain scans determine what decisions you will make 7 seconds before you make them. Thus, it is fairly obvious to conclude that decisions made by the mind are a result of the physical brain.
http://exploringthemind.com...

"It is probably true that the mind interacts with the physical world"

it is absolutely true that the mind interacts with the physical world. My mind controls my hand; the only way my mind can move my hand is if it sends an electrical impulse. Electrons are physical.

" But we have no problem accepting that immaterial things like synergy could interact with material things like chemicals"

Synergy, in this case, is a complex chemical cascade in the brain, determined by genetics as well as the neurophysiology, which alters the state of information in the brain, similar to how a computer manipulates information through a complex cascade of transistors turning on and off. By con's logic, a computer program also doesn't exist physically because it uses synergy, which is obviously a fallacious statement. Synergy does not imply non physicality. Everything in a computer can be explained by physical processes, and analogously, so can the human brain. Con needs to provide evidence to the contrary.

"The mind could only interact with the physical world if it were physical."
Yes, thank you for supporting my claims, since I have proven that synergy is physical in the brain.

This actually leads into my strongest argument--that the human mind is entirely physical because it can be simulated on a physical system such as a computer.

The recently announced blue brain project will simulate individual neurons on a super computer in order to emulate a human mind. This has already shown it's proof of concept by simulating the neocortical column. Thus, since computers are entirely physical, and since a human mind can exist on a computer, we can infer from transitive logic that the human mind is also entirely physical.

http://bluebrain.epfl.ch...

In conclusion, con argues from faulty, evidence deprived philosophical logic.
CriticalThinkingMachine

Con

Pro made so many mistakes in his last post that in my response I was 4000 characters over the limit and had to delete or shorten many of my objections, including my conclusion. Here is my abridged version.

[1] Law of Identity

(a) Quantum Physics The law of identity is scientifically wrong and baseless.

Irrelevance The paradoxical behavior of things in the quantum world is irrelevant to whether or not the brain and mind are identical. That Pro has given a single instance of something defying the laws of logic does not mean that everything else can, or that the mind can.

(c) Spooky Action I argue that con, in fact, needs to prove that there is some "spooky action", which is not explained by any chemical, or molecular processes that occur in the brain. Con supports the notion of magical thinking"that the mind and consciousness somehow exists separately from the brain and defy the laws of physics.

Straw Man I do not support the notion of magical thinking that the mind exists separately from the brain. I believe it is intertwined with the brain. I support the notion of logical and empirical thinking that the mind is logically distinct from the brain, which I supported by arguing that there are at least two aspects that are true of the mind but not of the brain, first-person experience and free will.

(e) Semantics Human semantics do not prove that the brain and mind are separate. I am my brain is more accurate.

Baseless Pro has given no argument that the distinction I made is based on semantics, and he has to argue that "I am my brain" is accurate" and not merely assert it.

[2] Free Will

(a) No Evidence Con makes a claim that the mind cannot have free will when it [sic] made entirely of physical substances, but provides no evidence supporting this.

Obvious Pro is right here, although I didn"t think it was necessary to provide evidence for this. It"s kind of obvious, but I"ll do so anyway now. Physical laws by definition constrain what can happen. They ensure that one event follows from another event. While not predicting what an outcome will be, laws determine what the outcome will be. Alternatively, a free action by definition is one whose outcome is determined or constrained. To say that I acted freely in some instance means that I could have done otherwise. There was no law forcing me to do what I did. Hence saying that an action was free and an action was determined are contraries.

(b) Predictable Con believes purely in the classical laws of physics "that every cause has a predetermined outcome that is exactly predictable.

Straw Man Tell you what. Since I am me and you are you, why don"t you let me tell you what I believe instead of you tell me what I believe, okay? Good. Now I don"t believe that if the laws of physics were universal, everything would be predictable. My argument was that if everything were physical, then free will would not exist, not that predictability would not exist. I agree that chaos would still exist if everything were physical. You have to address the argument that I was making, not some other made up claim.

(c) Chance Probability and chance allow the human mind/brain to make new decisions (free will).

Confusion Between Indeterminism and Free Will I already explained what was wrong with this view. Free will by definition includes rational reflection, not just the presence of forces or the lack of predictability. (2)

(d) MRI Wrong, there is a device called an MRI machine, which makes active areas of the mind available to our sense of sight.

False Wrong, MRI"s makes active the areas of the brain available to our sense of sight. That MRI"s show anything about the mind is what you have to prove, not assume. I have had an MRI procedure recently. It did not read my mind, only my brain. The thoughts going through my head at the time of the procedure remain private.

(e) Faulty Logic It is also faulty logic to assume that because you can't perceive something, it somehow means that refutes something. I can't perceive an electron, but electrons are not refuted.

Straw Man It is faulty logic to assume that a thing itself is refuted if you can"t perceive it, but that was not my argument. I never argued that something doesn"t exist because we can"t perceive it. I"m only talking about categories, in this case the categories of the physical and the mental. The fact that something is true of category of the mind but not true of the category of the brain proves that the two categories are not be equated.

(f) Determine In fact, brain scans determine what decisions you will make 7 seconds before you make them.

Irrelevance There is no evidence for this claim, and Pro has misinterpreted the evidence. I read the article. It asks participants to choose to hit a button with their right or left hand, but this study is highly contrived, because the "choice" to use one"s right or left hand does not involve any rational or reflective factors involved in a real choice. It is completely random. It does not involve consequences or the individual"s personality, two inherent attributes of agent causation. It"s an interesting study, but it has no application in the real world, or to what we deem to be genuine choices. It only relates to indeterminism (freedom) but not libertarianism (freedom of the will). (3)

[3] Causation and Identity

(b) Support Yes, thank you for supporting my claims, since I have proven that synergy is physical in the brain.

Refute I did not support your claim. I mentioned your claim as a hypothetical of what you might say and subsequently refuted it. I never denied that synergy was physical. I denied that it was material. My argument was that since physical immaterial things can interact with physical material things, the non-physical, immaterial mind can interact with either. And synergy cannot be material because it is not a thing; it is an action between things. Actions or events are not made of matter, they can only be physical. My body is material, and the running of my body is physical, but the running of my body is not a material thing.

(c) Computer The human mind is entirely physical because it can be simulated on a physical system such as a computer.

Causation Does Not Entail Identity This is a repeat of Pro"s point before about the close link between the mind and the brain, but as I already explained, the fact that the brain can be simulated on a computer, a trivial and accepted fact, does not mean that the mind is physical. It means again that the mind interacts with the physical world, not that it is identical to the physical world. Pro has given strong evidence of intertwinement between mind and brain, but he has yet to give any evidence for identify of mind and brain.

The life of a fictional character can be written about by real people on real paper, but that doesn"t imply that the character itself is real, does it?

Total Available Evidence Now while it is true that the fact that two things interact strongly does not necessarily entail that they are the same thing, the question remains as to whether they are probably the same. I admit that looking at only the evidence of interaction, it would be reasonable to believe that the mind is physical, but that a piece of evidence E confirms X over Y does not entail that X is true, for we must consider total available evidence. E might confirm X over Y, but D and F might confirm Y over X. My evidence proves that it is logically impossible for the mind to be physical, while coupled with Pro's evidence proves that it the mind is deeply intertwined with the physical world.


CONCLUSION

Pro has misunderstood or misrepresented my arguments several times and has raised irrelevancies to my case. He continually falsely assumes that if A is involved in B, then B is A. This is called the nothing but fallacy, and asserting it over and over again does not make it valid.


Sources are in comments
Debate Round No. 2
serp888

Pro

serp888 forfeited this round.
CriticalThinkingMachine

Con

Another one bites the dust. Extend all arguments to this round.
Debate Round No. 3
serp888

Pro

serp888 forfeited this round.
CriticalThinkingMachine

Con

I extend my arguments to this round. My opponent forfeited the debate once I made it clear to him where he was mistaken. I have effectivley argued against the resolution that the conscious mind only exists physically and have shown that it does not stand up to scrutiny. Vote Con.
Debate Round No. 4
4 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 4 records.
Posted by CriticalThinkingMachine 4 years ago
CriticalThinkingMachine
My Sources:

(1) Logic: A Very Short Introduction
Graham Priest (2000)

(2,3) Ten Philosophical Mistakes
Mortimer J. Adler (1985)

(4) The Power of Critical Thinking: Effective Reasoning About Ordinary and Extraordinary Claims
Lewis Vaughn (2008)
Posted by serp888 4 years ago
serp888
Well it looks like this is gonna be a battle between philosophy and science, not that im against it.
Posted by ClassicRobert 4 years ago
ClassicRobert
I'm insanely busy this week, but if this is still on Thursday, I'll take it in a second.
Posted by StevenDixon 4 years ago
StevenDixon
I look forward to seeing this debate.
3 votes have been placed for this debate. Showing 1 through 3 records.
Vote Placed by Maikuru 4 years ago
Maikuru
serp888CriticalThinkingMachineTied
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Reasons for voting decision: Arguments and conduct conceded due to forfeits
Vote Placed by MassiveDump 4 years ago
MassiveDump
serp888CriticalThinkingMachineTied
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Reasons for voting decision: I only vote on forfeited debates because I'm dumb.
Vote Placed by 1Devilsadvocate 4 years ago
1Devilsadvocate
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Reasons for voting decision: F.F. :( Good debate con l