The Instigator
zmikecuber
Pro (for)
Winning
11 Points
The Contender
guendoleona
Con (against)
Losing
0 Points

The mind is probably not entirely physical

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Post Voting Period
The voting period for this debate has ended.
after 2 votes the winner is...
zmikecuber
Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 1/15/2014 Category: Philosophy
Updated: 3 years ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 1,012 times Debate No: 44032
Debate Rounds (3)
Comments (10)
Votes (2)

 

zmikecuber

Pro

Definitions
Mind: the first person point of view, and the experiences therein.

Physical: matter/energy

Rules
BOP is on Pro (me) to demonstrate that the mind is probably not entirely physical.
Remain respectful at all times.
9000 character limit.
3 rounds.
R1: Challenge/Acceptance only
R2: Pro's case/Con's objections
R3: Pro answers Con's objections/Con's response
No new arguments in R3.

This is meant to be a fun debate!
guendoleona

Con

Interesting topic, I gladly accept the challenge.
Debate Round No. 1
zmikecuber

Pro

Introduction
Many thanks to guendoleona (hereafter referred to as "Con" or "my opponent") for accepting this debate. I would like to ask any readers to consider the arguments I shall present with an open mind; this debate is not that the mind is non-physical, beyond a doubt. Rather, I shall argue that it is more probable, or more plausible, that the mind is at least somewhat non-physical. Con shall attempt to refute my arguments.

Leibniz's law argument
My first argument shall invoke Leibniz's law of the Indiscernibility of Identicals. (1) This law states that if two things are, in reality, the same thing, then whatever is true of one is true of the other, and vice versa.

We can state Leibniz's law thus:

"If x is identical to y, then for any property x has, y has and for any property y has, x has."

This may seem obvious and irellevant. But it is important to notice, that if we compare two objects, and there is something which is true of one, but not the other, then they are not the same object in the first place.

Hence, my argument:

P1: IF the mind and the physical matter of the brain are identical, THEN there is nothing true of one, not true of the other. (Leibniz's law)
P2: There are some things true of the mind, which are not true of the physical matter of the brain.
C: .'. The mind and the physical matter of the brain are not identical.

This is a logically valid modus tollens argument; so if it is unsound, one of the premises must be false. (2)

I shall now proceed to argue that P2 is more plausibly true than false.

(i) The mind is first-person (has a self), the physical matter of the brain is third-person (has no self).
(ii) Real images exist in the mind, but real images do not exist in the brain.
(iii) The "mind" has no weight and no apparent lenghth, but the brain does.

Each of these seem intuitively, and plausibly true. Thus, the second premise stands as more plausibly true than false.

The conception argument
If two things are identical, it is metaphysically impossible for them to exist without each other. For example, my pet rabbit is named Thumper. Now it is metaphysically impossible for "my pet rabbit" to exist while "Thumper" does not exist, since they are the same thing.

Furthermore, conception gives us grounds for accepting something as metaphysically possible. That which is metaphysically impossible, is also inconceivable, such as "square triangles" or "the part is greater than the whole". Thus it follows that if something really is conceivable, then it is at least metaphysically possible.

P1: IF the mind and the physical matter of the brain are the same, THEN it is metaphysically impossible one to exist without the other.
P2: IF it is metaphysically impossible for one to exist without the other, THEN it is impossible to conceive of one existing without the other.
P3: We can conceive of the mind existing apart from the physical matter of the brain.
C: .'., The mind and the physical matter of the brain are not the same thing.

This is a logically valid modus tollens (2)

I can easily conceive of not having a body. I can conceive that all this physical world I see is merely an illusion, and that in fact, no physical world exists at all, and consequently neither does my brain.

But if this is the case, then we have grounds for accepting that it is metaphysically possible for my mind to exist without my brain.

But if my mind could, in a metaphysical sense, exist without my brain, then they cannot be the same thing, and the mind is not entirely physical.

The zombie argument
On the flip side of the conception argument, I would like to present the zombie argument.

Imagine that you were to clone yourself. But don't stop there. Imagine that your clone is particle for particle, exactly identical to you. Physically, it's the same. But now I present this possibility: Is it possible for your clone to not have consciousness?

In other words, your clone acts exactly like you, talks exactly like you, and would fool anyone. But "inside" it is all dark so to say.

If this is possible, then why do you have consciousness? Physically, you're both identical, but one has a mind, and one does not. Thus, the mind cannot be physical.

P1: IF that which is physically identical to me could possibly not have awareness, THEN awareness (the mind) is not physical.
P2: It is possible that something could be identical to me, yet not have awareness.
C: .'., Awareness (the mind) is not physical.

Once again, since we can conceive of something being physically the same as me, yet lacking consciousness, this shows that such a situation is at least metaphysically possible.

An argument from experiences
We perceive colors, sounds, feelings, tastes, etc. Yet each of these things is known only to us, and no one else.

If, however, one were to analyze my brain while I smelling a delicious lasagna, one would not find the smell of lasagna in my brain. (Hopefully not, since I do not want my brain to smell like lasagna.) I will admit that one might see the neuron firing patterns in my brain of the lasagna smell, but the smell itself wouldn't be there.

But wait a minute, if the smell of the lasagna is purely physical, how come it isn't present in my brain? The answer is: because the sensations we experience cannot be explained in physical matter.

P1: IF my experiences are purely physical, THEN they would be able to be viewed by a third person.
P2: My experiences are not able to be viewed by a third person.
C: .'., My experiences are not purely physical.

The experiences or sensations we have, are inherently first person. However, nothing physical is first person; everything physical is third person. Thus, the experiences or sensations I have cannot be purely physical.

Argument from free will
Finally, I would like to make a quick argument from free will.

P1: If the mind is purely physical, THEN there is no free will.
P2: There is free will.
C: .'., The mind is not purely physical.

If the mind can be explained in purely physical means, then the actions of these physical means can be shown to be determined by some sort of physical cause. But if this is the case, then we never really "choose" anything. Rather, I eat lasagna because of my hunger for lasagna, not because I choose to do so.

But free will seems intuitively true. In fact, it seems so true that society, and all forms of punishment, assume free will. To deny free will seems extremely counter-intuitive, and demands extreme amounts of evidence. For if there really is no free will, why do we have an experience of it which seems so obviously true?

Conclusion
In conclusion, I'd like to stress something. Namely, that if even one of my arguments is more plausibly true than false, then the resolution has been affirmed. My opponent must show that every single one of my arguments are more plausibly false than true. If even so much as one argument remains at the end of this debate, it has been established that the mind is probably not purely physical. Also, I am not burdened to show that the mind is probably not physical at all, but rather that it is not entirely physical. Please keep this in consideration.

Thank you! Now over to Con!

(1) http://www.unc.edu...
(2) http://en.wikipedia.org...;
guendoleona

Con

Thank you pro, for a very well structured round.

I would like to begin with introducing the Oxford dictionary definition of the brain: "an organ of soft nervous tissue contained in the skull of vertebrates, functioning as the coordinating centre of sensation and intellectual and nervous activity; a person's mind". Much of pro's argument presented the mind and the brain as two separate entities. For the purpose of my argument I will treat them as the same thing: both because of the above definition and because scientific evidence points at their oneness.
I will address each of pro's arguments below.

Leibniz's law argument: "if two things are, in reality, the same thing, then whatever is true of one is true of the other and vice verse."

I would argue that this argument cannot be applied to the dilemma of the mind and the brain. My opponent uses the argument to prove that because certain things are not true of the mind and the brain then they cannot be the same thing. I would like to argue against the validity of this in this particular case because for that argument to be applicable then all brains must be the same, following Liebniz's law. Therefore:

P1: If all brains are identical then there is nothing true of one, not true of the other. (Leibniz's law)
P2: All brains are not identical- they vary in volume, genetics etc.
P3: As all brains are not identical pro's argument is not logically valid.

The conception argument:

According to pro " if two things are identical, it is metaphysically impossible for them to exist without each other."
The examples provided to prove the point are is flawed. Arguing that it is impossible for "my pet rabbit" to exist while "Thumper" doesn't is logically unsound as it denies the potential existence of my pet rabbits Fred and George. Furthermore, the examples of metaphysical impossibility you provide are also false. It is perfectly possible for "the part to be greater than the whole"- imagine a circle made up of overlapping smaller circles- the surface area of the overlapping smaller circles is greater than the surface area of the "whole" circle proving that it is conceivable for the part to be greater than the whole.

The zombie argument:

You are making assumptions about the clone's consciousness that do not rely on scientific evidence. It is similar to this:

P1: If I have awareness other people must also have awareness that is the same as mine
P2: My neighbour John killed his dog, something I can never conceive
P3: Therefore my neighbour John does not have awareness.

There is no scientific evidence that the clone does not have consciousness and it is perfectly possible to conceive that it does.

The argument from experience:

Just as the smell of lasagna in not physically present in the brain it is also not physically present in the mind. When you touch a surface with your fingers that surface is not physically present inside your hand, the sensation is. As I argued above, no two brains are the same and therefore no two brains can experience the same things (be it lasagna smells or something else). There are plenty of studies out there on the way people experience things, be it smell, touch, sight etc and all of these register in the brain: it is the brain that produces images and controls our sense of smell. The reasons those differs from person to person is because no two brains are the same- it has nothing to do with the mind.

The argument from free will

This is the only logical leap in your argument so far that escapes me. Where do you come onto the assumption that if the mind is purely physical then we have no free will? As far as I have read there is no scientific evidence that free will is anything more than a combination of chemistry and biology conducted through the body by the brain and must therefore be purely physical. When people make decisions, certain centres of their brains light up pointing at where those decisions stem from.

Conclusion:

As I have demonstrated above, some of your arguments do not follow the rules of the various schools of philosophy you are relying on as a basis to your argument and therefore I have proven the logic itself wrong, rendering the argument invalid.

In others you have made leaps based on philosophy as supposed to scientific fact. There is nothing inherently wrong in that, philosophy like science is another way we use to learn more about and make sense of the world. Where possible, I have introduced scientific arguments to combat that. Ultimately, this falls into the category of questions such as "Does the soul exist?"- there are plenty of schools in both philosophy and science that support it and plenty more that don't. I would like to take the opportunity to say that I've really enjoyed reading all your points- all of which are well made if somewhat pedantic.
Debate Round No. 2
zmikecuber

Pro

Introduction
I'm very glad that my opponent has provided a response to my arguments! Unfortunately, many of her rebuttals simply misunderstand the arguments presented. Thus, they provide no refutation of the arguments. Furthermore, the rebuttals which do actually refer to the five arguments I have presented are very weak, and easily dealt with.


First things first... definitions
To begin with, Con presents a definition of the brain, stating:


"the brain: "an organ of soft nervous tissue contained in the skull of vertebrates, functioning as the coordinating centre of sensation and intellectual and nervous activity; a person's mind""

The first half of the definition, I can agree fully with. The brain does play a key role in the functioning of sensation, intellectual, and nervous activity. However, it's not clear that "mind" in this particular definition means the agreed upon definition of this debate. If by "mind" is meant the agreed upon definition of mind, then I would argue that "the brain", defined as such, is not entirely physical.


Leibniz's law
My opponent seems to concede the second premise of my argument, saying:


" My opponent uses the argument to prove that because certain things are not true of the mind and the brain then they cannot be the same thing"

However, she seems to think that Leibniz's law cannot be applied to particular situation (the first premise), and that my argument is invalid, arguing thus:


"P1: If all brains are identical then there is nothing true of one, not true of the other. (Leibniz's law)
P2: All brains are not identical- they vary in volume, genetics etc.
P3: As all brains are not identical pro's argument is not logically valid."

First of all, my opponent does not demonstrate how her conclusion, (which she unwisely names "premise 3"; an incorrect logical terminology, but may be overlooked) actually follows from her premises. In fact, her first two premises seem to deny the antecedant-a logical fallacy. (1)

Furthermore, my opponent simply does not understand Leibniz's law. When Leibniz says "identical" he means the exact same thing. So that if the mind and brain really are the exact same thing, just different names, then there is nothing true of the mind, not true of the brain.

Finally, I can happily admit that not all brains are identical. I've never said this anywhere, and why my opponent brings this up is beyond me. This objection completely misses the mark.

I shall rephrase the argument slightly:

P1: IF the mind and the physical matter of the brain are the exact same thing, THEN there is nothing true of one, not true of the other. (Leibniz's law)
P2: There are some things true of the mind, which are not true of the physical matter of the brain. (Conceded by Con)
C: .'. The mind and the physical matter of the brain are not the exact same thing.

Once, again, this is logically valid by modus tollens. (2)


Thus, the argument from Leibniz's law remains.

The conception argument
Con once again misunderstands the argument, and tries to pick apart the examples I have given (which fail, but I won't get into that).


The point is that, if two things, really aren't "two different things" and are actually one thing (the exact same thing), then the one cannot exist without the other.

It's like saying: "X" can exist, while "X" does not exist.

Since Con does not dispute any of the other premises, I shall assume that she concedes them. Thus, the argument remains:

P1: IF the mind and the physical matter of the brain are the exact same thing, THEN it is metaphysically impossible for one to exist without the other. (misunderstood by Con-self evident)
P2: IF it is metaphysically impossible for one to exist without the other, THEN it is impossible to conceive of one existing without the other. (Undisputed by Con)
P3: We can conceive of the mind existing apart from the physical matter of the brain. (Undisputed by Con)
C: .'., The mind and the physical matter of the brain are not the exact same thing.

Thus, the conception argument remains.

The zombie argument
Con also objects to the zombie argument. However, this is by far Con's most embarassing rebuttal.


Once again, Con presents a counter-argument:

"P1: If I have awareness other people must also have awareness that is the same as mine
P2: My neighbour John killed his dog, something I can never conceive
P3: Therefore my neighbour John does not have awareness."

And once again, it's not clear how Con's conclusion follows from her premises.

However, Premise 2 is clearly false. Anyone can conceive of killing a dog. Close your eyes and imagine yourself killing a dog. Finally, even if you cannot conceive of something, this doesn't demonstrate that it is metaphysically impossible. I've never argued that (I would dispute that argument), and Con should not imply that I have. This reasoning affirms the consequent of the true statement "IF something is metaphysically impossible, THEN it is inconceivable", and is fallacious. (3)

While it does follow that if something is metaphysically impossible, then it is inconceivable, it doesn't follow that if something is inconceivable, then it is metaphysically impossible. Our lack of imagination does not dictate metaphysical possibility; however, our ability to imagine something does show it is metaphysically possible.


Con also argues:

"There is no scientific evidence that the clone does not have consciousness and it is perfectly possible to conceive that it does."

I happily concede this. But it is still irellevant, and does not affect the argument. The point is that it's also conceivable for something to be physically the same as me, but not have consciousness. Since this is metaphysically possible, it demonstrates that the consciousness cannot be the same as the physical matter of my brain, since if they were, we could not even conceive of one without the other. The mind and physical matter of the brain have different modanic properties.


Thus, the zombie argument remains.

The experience argument
Con equivotates on the meaning of "smell." When I say the "smell" of lasagna is in my mind, I do not mean the physical odor of lasagna is in my mind. Rather, there is a particular sensation in my mind. Namely, "what lasagna smells like." But nothing physical is like this.


Con also argues:

"There are plenty of studies out there on the way people experience things, be it smell, touch, sight etc and all of these register in the brain: it is the brain that produces images and controls our sense of smell. The reasons those differs from person to person is because no two brains are the same- it has nothing to do with the mind."

But this is simply a non-sequitur. Just because the brain may cause our mental states, it doesn't follow that my mental states are my brain states. While certain neuron patterns in my brain may cause certain experiences in my mind, it doesn't follow from this that the neuron patterns in my brain are the exact same thing as the mental states I experience.


And once again, Con's arguments that no two brains are the same are irellevant, and have nothing to do with the argument at hand.

P1: IF my experiences are purely physical, THEN they would be able to be viewed by a third person.
P2: My experiences are not able to be viewed by a third person.
C: .'., My experiences are not purely physical.

Once again, the argument stands.


The free will argument
Con argues that I have not justified the first premise of my argument. However, if the mind is purely physical, then free will seems very dubious. Any actions I make can be explained as being caused by something physical, since that's all they are.


Finally, free will seems more plausibly true than false.

The free will argument remains.

Summary
Unfortunately, Con's responses all miss the point entirely. One cannot possibly hope to respond to an argument if one does not understand the arguments in the first place, but this is precisely what Con has done. She particularly does not understand Leibniz's law of the Indiscernibility of Identicals, and does not see how since the mind and brain have different actual properties, as well different modanic properties, then they cannot be the exact same particular thing.


Finally, Con's remarks about "schools of philosophy" and "the soul" are irrelevant. I am not arguing for a "soul" or a particular philosophical view. Rather, I am arguing that the mind is probably not entirely physical. These arguments could support substance dualists, property dualists, or even idealists.

The resolution remains affirmed (and then some): Please vote Pro!

REMEMBER: No completely new arguments please!

(1) http://en.wikipedia.org...
(2) http://en.wikipedia.org...
(3) http://en.wikipedia.org...
guendoleona

Con

guendoleona forfeited this round.
Debate Round No. 3
10 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 10 records.
Posted by guendoleona 3 years ago
guendoleona
@Seeginomakata

I think regardless of what you think of the subject, Pro made well structured and well expressed arguments. Personally, I'd say debating should be more about the strength of a person's argument at that point in time than about agreeing with them and while I may disagree on some points in this particular case Pro did make a better argument overall.
Posted by zmikecuber 3 years ago
zmikecuber
If you really do honestly think that Con won the debate, and can give a valid RFD though, I'd be interested to hear what you think!
Posted by zmikecuber 3 years ago
zmikecuber
@Seeginomakata

Regardless of whether or not my arguments really *do* work, the point is that I presented five arguments, my opponent misunderstood them, thus did not correctly refute them, I showed this to be the case, and then she had to forfeit due to other circumstances. I don't see how you can legitimately argue that Con won the debate.

Please don't vote bomb just because you disagree with me... lol...
Posted by hiroki01 3 years ago
hiroki01
@Seeginomikata: Care to elaborate?
Posted by Seeginomikata 3 years ago
Seeginomikata
Looks like Pro does not understand how the human brain works. I'll vote con as soon as I can.
Posted by zmikecuber 3 years ago
zmikecuber
No problem. Thanks for debating! I hope everything is alright for you and turns out well.
Posted by guendoleona 3 years ago
guendoleona
Many apologies pro, I wont be able to post the answer the debate deserves as something unexpected came up. Due to that and because of general strengths in your argument, I would say that you win.

Again, sincere apologies and thanks for debating.
Posted by zmikecuber 3 years ago
zmikecuber
Sorry, Guendoleona, I should have made this 4 rounds instead of 3. No offense to you at all, (I'm very happy we've been able to have this debate), but you didn't understand most of the arguments.
Posted by zmikecuber 3 years ago
zmikecuber
Abnewstein,

This debate is more to show that viewing the mind as at least partly immaterial is much more intuitive and straightforward than a materialistic point of view. That being said, it demonstrates that there is an immense burden of proof on the materialist. If the materialist's argument is shown to be faulty (as I think it is), then we fall back on some sort of dualism, since it is clearly more intuitive.
Posted by Abnewstein 3 years ago
Abnewstein
Pro will clearly win this debate.
Why? Because there is a probability involved in the resolve.
Since we humans are clueless in the consciousness department, there is no way to prove or disprove pro's claim. So he will just get away by saying its still probable.
Actually the fault lies on Con, who shouldn't have accepted the debate in the first place.

My Personal belief regarding this resolve:
I believe in Rene Descartes' Mind-Body dualism. Because it is much more plausible than Materialism or Idealism.
Materialism fails to explain qualia and Consciousness.
Idealism also fails at one thing, which i cant tell here, it will take too long.
Dualism is the way to go.
Have no clue about monism and pluralism.
2 votes have been placed for this debate. Showing 1 through 2 records.
Vote Placed by janetsanders733 3 years ago
janetsanders733
zmikecuberguendoleonaTied
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Total points awarded:50 
Reasons for voting decision: Ff, but Pro used logically valid modus tollens. Good job by the way to both debaters.
Vote Placed by hiroki01 3 years ago
hiroki01
zmikecuberguendoleonaTied
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Total points awarded:60 
Reasons for voting decision: Conduct to Pro as Con forfeited the last round. Minor S&G slippages by both parties but they aren't obtrusive. Sources to Pro. Overall, Pro made a better anti-physicalist case for the mind, as there were few "classic" moves made in his argument that Con did not satisfactorily respond to, especially Pro's points about qualia. I thought that out of Pro's arguments, the "free will" point was the weakest, as a lot hinges on its definition to begin with (as in almost all compatibilism debates), and it can be tweaked to either preclude the argument entirely or admit the argument as a trivial consequence. Still, it's a good debate. Great job!