…or Physicalism vs. panpsychism vs. pantheism: Death Match Doom
I’ve opened this thread primarily to differentiate three of us: Myself, || Gyan ||, and Aeschines, specifically on the subject of “mind”, “consciousness”, this “first person subjective experience” which all of us waking, mentally developed humans have (no solipsist I!), and maybe other individuals as well. For the purposes of this thread I am not distinguishing between the words mind, consciousness, sentience, awareness, subjective experience, first person perspective, Point Of View or any other nominally similar term, unless there is some fundamental distinction anyone wishes to establish.
I will try as best I can in my OP to summarise the three positions, as I understand them. If I misrepresent them in any way, I will happily stand corrected. Then, I will explore five different issues which I consider to be vitally important in clarifying those three positions.
[ul][li]SentientMeat is a physicalist. However, since panpsychism can also be categorised as a form of “dualistic physicalism”, in this thread I will refer to myself as a supervenience physicalist, or SP. This is a monistic thesis, that only physical things like atoms, waves/photons, fundamental forces and spacetime, and their necessarily accompanying spatial configurations or processes, are necessary. “Consciousness” is a physical process whereby atoms, waves/photons or forces are continually input to a certain kind of cognitive apparatus, itself made out of atoms and located somewhere in spacetime. Consciousness is caused by those computational processes, and does not occur or exist without that cognitive apparatus.[/li]
[li]Gyan is a panpsychist. His is a dualistic thesis, that everything in the universe has a mental and physical component, and that that fundamentally distinct mental component can never be observed. [/li]
[li]Aeschines is a pantheist. His is a monistic thesis, that everything is God (or “the Divine”).[/ul][/li]
I await any corrections or clarifications, but will press on to the five issues. I will ask you to number which of the 12 propositions of mine you don’t agree with (not necessarily disagree with), in your opinion (ie. your guess, your position, your “If I had a gun to my head” fence-jump).
[ul][li]Death: Today I am alive, not dead. I started being alive in 1973. Let us hypothesise that at midnight on this New Years Eve, cephalic necrosis occurs and I am brain-dead, ie. non-alive. My period of life would be 1973<t<2005. For the period 1973>t>2005 I would be non-alive. Now, what about the consciousness? [/li]1) I contend that some transition in the status of my consciousness occurs at midnight. Agreed, Gyan and Aeschines?
2) I further contend that that transition is such that my consciousness is diminished in my non-alive period. Agreed?
3) Indeed, I say that it becomes absent, ie. diminishes to nothing, when I am non-alive. Yes?
[li]Anaesthetic: Let’s say that instead of undergoing cephalic necrosis at midnight, a quantity of sevofluorane is administered, and I undergo an operation. Again, I contend that some transition in the status of my consciousness occurs at midnight. It becomes diminished. I become unconscious. (I won’t say completely absent at this point since some basic brain function is still extant).[/li]4) Agreed?
[li]Babies: Just as midnight 2005 signalled some transition in my consciousness, so did the year 1973 (or, perhaps, the period 1973-1977, say).[/li]5) Agreed?
6) It intensified.
7) It emerged where there was none before 1973.
[li]Animals: I, an adult human, have this thing called “consciousness”. [/li]8) There are some things on this list whose consciousness is different to that which we adult humans have.
9) Some things on that list have diminished consciousness compared to us.
10)Some don’t have any.
[li]Sonic and camcorder-Doom: I can control a bulldozer, a real machine, in a real environment. I can also control Sonic the Hedgehog on my computer screen: he is a virtual machine which is caused by (not merely “correlated with”) the physical processes in the silicon chips and memory of my computer. Similarly, when I play Doom, the computer causes a virtual environment to appear on the screen solely by physical processes. The computer can also “autoplay” these games, controlling those virtual machines (Sonic, or the gun-wielder) in those virtual environments. I could, conceivably, have a first computer building the virtual environment and a second, connected, computer running the virtual machine in it. That virtual environment could be extremely detailed.[/li]11)Agreed?
I could replace the first computer with a digital camcorder (or even two), thus providing visual and auditory sensory input from the “real” world.
12) The second computer would then be functionally equivalent to some of the organisms on the list.[/ul]Please understand that I’m not out to … A-HAA! … trick you with small print here. This is a genuine attempt on my part to pinpoint exactly how we disagree: indeed, we may even find that we are, utterly trivially, using different linguistic referents for our cognitive outputs - ie. we’re saying the same thing with different words.
I am, ultimately, trying to establish the limits of your imagination - and I don’t mean this in any derogatory way. I am asking you to imagine “what it is like to be” a corpse, or an anaesthete on the operating table, or a newborn, or a chimp/bird/fish/bee/plant/amoeba/RNA molecule, or Sonic the Hedgehog playing camcorder-Doom (noting that the solipsist’s imagination is so poor that he cannot even imagine consciousness in other people). I personally imagine that being some of those entails “nothing” by way of subjective experience, some “something”. We might explore my reasons after I have identified where we differ in those 12 propositions, but I suspect we’ll have enough to deal with in this thread just from the OP and a further thread will be necessary in due course.
Anyone else who disagrees with any of the 12 can join in, too, but I will probably only have time to respond to my two friends Gyan and Aeschines.