Thought vs Matter/Energy

Discussions on the philosophical foundations, assumptions, and implications of science, including the natural sciences.

Re: Thought vs Matter/Energy

Postby doogles on July 5th, 2020, 6:20 pm 

lateralsuz summarised the OP of this thread thus "

"So to me, as things stand, the underlying questions from the OP are:

1 - whether Thought is truly non-deterministic (not inevitable), and
2 - if Thought doesn't result in one inevitable outcome: whether Matter/Energy can truly be non-deterministic (ie. result in non-inevitable outcomes), in order to explain Thought; or whether Thought involves a factor beyond Matter/Energy if the latter is strictly deterministic at all levels."


I feel that in order to discuss this thread any further, we need to discuss what represents a 'thought'. I see that as a huge problem in this forum.
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Re: Thought vs Matter/Energy

Postby charon on July 5th, 2020, 6:24 pm 

we need to discuss what represents a 'thought'. I see that as a huge problem in this forum.


If you mean it'll end up being the usual nonsense of confused, competing opinions, you're probably right!

What do you mean 'represents' a thought? Why not what is a thought?

In any case, we've already been though what thought is.
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Re: Thought vs Matter/Energy

Postby doogles on July 6th, 2020, 12:59 am 

You received the meaning correctly Charon, and your title "What is a thought?" is okay by me.

I did check the Search box under 'THOUGHTS', but no such title came up for any thread.

When you say "In any case, we've already been though what thought is. ", have you found evidence of a thread on this forum?
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Re: Thought vs Matter/Energy

Postby charon on July 6th, 2020, 2:15 am 

I don't think there's a particular thread but I've posted a lot on it. There's no dispute about what thought is. It's not some personal theory I've cooked up, it's completely observable in oneself and others. It's also accepted scientifically.

(These posts were to other people so never mind the asides, just take the bits that apply)

viewtopic.php?f=51&t=28417&p=351448#p351448

viewtopic.php?f=10&t=35708&p=351389#p351389

God, it takes so long to get anywhere with anything here... it's all been done before. No one runs with it, it just goes round and round, off on a tangent, back again... We could have answered so much by now. It's just like sand and time dribbling away. Even the moderator thinks I'm an idiot :-)
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Re: Thought vs Matter/Energy

Postby doogles on July 6th, 2020, 5:18 am 

I had a look at those two comments you made in the two different threads Charon and note that in the first thread you said "So thought is not only material but also mechanistic. It can't ever be more than it is or go beyond its own boundaries, any more than the computer can. It simply is what it is."

I was thinking more in terms of trains of thought involving mental imaging in particular in a thread on 'Thought' or 'What is a thought?'.

Like you, I find that many posts "just go round and round, off on a tangent, back again ... "


I wouldn't like to start a new thread, but I'll ask lateralsuz to see if she can define what she has in mind as the concept of 'thought', as it applies to this thread. It may be too hard, but I can't see any progress unless some working definition is supplied.
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Re: Thought vs Matter/Energy

Postby charon on July 6th, 2020, 6:21 am 

I was thinking more in terms of trains of thought involving mental imaging


But that's what thought is or, rather, what it does. It's precisely a chain of images. Words and their sensations are also images or thought-forms, linked through association.

if she can define what she has in mind as the concept of 'thought'


Ah, but why a concept of thought? You see what happens, a concept of thought isn't what thought is. The concept will be yet another thought, another image, another set of words. So we never get away from thought!

Why can't we just observe thought factually? If we can see the process clearly we can understand it, what it is and how it arises.

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

Incidentally, do you see how we're always breaking everything up into separate parts? Thought, consciousness, volition, intelligence... they're all treated separately. But aren't they all linked? Isn't our consciousness itself composed of thought, memory, knowledge, volition, and so on? We don't see all this holistically, as a single phenomenon.

This separating things is also the work of thought, isn't it? It wants to understand something so it takes it apart, breaks it down into its components. Thought is trying to understand itself, which is good, but it's using one part of itself to investigate the other parts. When it does that, will it ever get the complete answer? Or only a partial answer, an incomplete understanding all the time?

This is why I feel we should just watch, observe, see, the whole thing without separating anything. As soon as there's a move to dissect, break it down, we're right back in the thing we're trying to understand. We always want to interfere, we never just watch and let the thing tell us its story from beginning to end.
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Re: Thought vs Matter/Energy

Postby doogles on July 6th, 2020, 5:20 pm 

Charon -- "This is why I feel we should just watch, observe, see, the whole thing without separating anything. As soon as there's a move to dissect, break it down, we're right back in the thing we're trying to understand. We always want to interfere, we never just watch and let the thing tell us its story from beginning to end".

Unfortunately/Fortunately, it appears that most of us have inquiring minds, and the only way we have been able to get answers to many of our self-administered questions is to 'dissect, break down' the matters or issues in question, and to re-phrase them in a variety of ways, so that others may understand them from their own frames of reference. I'm talking about 'things' like microbiology and its applications to medicine, the structure of matter and its applications to everything structural and energetic, biochemistry and its application to health etc etc.

One of our biggest failings on this planet seems to me to be interpersonal, intergroup and international conflict with one another. In this context, I see that we really need a better understanding of our own behaviours and motivations. I can't see how anything will change unless we attempt to analyse the elements of our own personalities and make some sense of ourselves.

I see that philosophers have attempted to do that for millennia without any meaningful consensus. Today, we have biochemistry and physiology. I can't see how we can make any progress without dissection/breakdown. I spent much spare time in libraries over 50 years putting together a crude universal theory of motivation and behaviour, using animal science as the main basis, in producing such a theory in 'Animals, Brains and Cultures'.

But I'm glad you see that thought involves a 'chain of images' to some extent.

But you can see what's happening here again. We are ourselves taking this thread off-track. So, in order not to do what we accuse others of doing, we'll need to stop our chat here and wait till someone opens a thread about 'thought'.

I'll leave it to lateralsuz to explain what she has in mind as her basic notion of 'thought' in this thread. It may involve something quite different from a 'chain of images'.
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Re: Thought vs Matter/Energy

Postby charon on July 6th, 2020, 6:32 pm 

Unfortunately/Fortunately, it appears that most of us have inquiring minds, and the only way we have been able to get answers to many of our self-administered questions is to 'dissect, break down' the matters or issues in question, and to re-phrase them in a variety of ways, so that others may understand them from their own frames of reference. I'm talking about 'things' like microbiology and its applications to medicine, the structure of matter and its applications to everything structural and energetic, biochemistry and its application to health etc etc.


When something is objective that's not a problem. But the whole issue with thought is it's not objective.

One of our biggest failings on this planet seems to me to be interpersonal, intergroup and international conflict with one another.


Absolutely.

I see that we really need a better understanding of our own behaviours and motivations. I can't see how anything will change unless we attempt to analyse the elements of our own personalities and make some sense of ourselves.


Quite, that's the whole point.

Today, we have biochemistry and physiology. I can't see how we can make any progress without dissection/breakdown. I spent much spare time in libraries over 50 years putting together a crude universal theory of motivation and behaviour, using animal science as the main basis, in producing such a theory in 'Animals, Brains and Cultures'.


We never start with ourselves. We live with ourselves and our behaviours and reactions all the time. All we need to do is be aware of what's going on.
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Re: Thought vs Matter/Energy

Postby lateralsuz on July 7th, 2020, 11:40 pm 

Hi Charon & Doogles

I'm not sure how you want me to define Thought, other than by saying that it represents the ideas and experiences that we have in life. But in the context of this thread the question being posed is fairly basic : not what they are precisely, (as we don't know), but more simply - whether these things can be fully explained by Matter/Energy, (ie. thoughts and feelings are effectively tangible things), or whether they are, to some degree, non-physical.

I wouldn't know what Finipolscie thinks, other than through what he has written. The fact that I like his ideas doesn't mean that I am his spokesperson.

(Having been pointed towards the 'Goodreads' site by one of the other contributors here, I gather that Finipolscie is contactable there as a resident author, if you want to get in touch with him).

My interpretation of his writings is this basic set of points:-
If you accept what your mind tells you, physical Matter/Energy is the reality of the physical environment around us, plus the make up of our bodies. If science is correct, then at the level of atoms and larger - Matter/Energy operates in a largely deterministic way, and therefore anything that comes from it must also be driven by those same constraints. (As discussed elsewhere - Matter/Energy seems to have very different properties when we go to the sub-atomic level of existence).

We generally associate mental activity and the thoughts/feelings that we have, with our brain - which is perceived to also be a physical thing.

However if we find examples where we recognise that thoughts and feelings do have capabilities which seem to go beyond the properties of Matter/Energy, there must be a suspicion that at least in part, Thoughts and feelings may be generated by something other than the physical material of the brain.

If so, the brain is not the entirety of our minds, and if there are other factors, then the function of the brain may be partially reinterpreted as a means by which the non-physical mind may interact with the physical realm.
But all the author is doing is allowing the reader to explore ideas. He is not saying that it is one way or another. He poses questions in the context of what we actually know.

That much is clear from the books because he spends a fair number of pages discussing it, in different contexts.

If I run with these notions, then he is not saying that the physical environment has to have the influence of thought, but if it does, it will not follow the same path that it would otherwise have taken.

If we speculate that our thoughts are not physical, they would still seem to be capable of generating physical effects through the actions of both our bodies, and those of others (ie. through the spreading of ideas to other people).

In this context, a lot depends on the examples given which purport to demonstrate that Thoughts/Feelings go beyond the capabilities of Matter/Energy. I was hoping that the debate would test whether there are clear examples which go beyond physical capabilities.

In another thread on this website, I have argued that the complex controls, analysis, and co-ordination shown by chemicals within a cell, (that have no brain or computerised control mechanism), are clear examples of logical capabilities that go way beyond the defined chemical abilities of proteins & enzymes as defined by science.

I can sympathise with the view that these observed 'control factors' may be a more simple form of the thing we call consciousness. To say that these are all manifestations of the same unexplained capability, but with different levels of sophistication, does not seem unreasonable to me - but it would just be speculation as there is no proof - we don't actually know how things are achieved.

However, Finipolscie's constant point is that if you see characteristics that go beyond the defined and accepted capabilities of Matter/Energy, we should seriously consider whether it does represent something very different.
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Re: Thought vs Matter/Energy

Postby doogles on July 8th, 2020, 4:45 am 

Thanks for that response lateralsuz. Although you did not personally have a clear response to the concept of how the word 'thought' is conceived in this thread, I think it was enough to indicate that we've gone as far as we can with the chat. Well at least, that's my position. Charon may have more to say.
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Re: Thought vs Matter/Energy

Postby charon on July 8th, 2020, 5:00 am 

Suz -

not what they are precisely, (as we don't know)


Oh, yes, we do. They're a bio-physical response in the brain and therefore material.

whether these things can be fully explained by Matter/Energy, (ie. thoughts and feelings are effectively tangible things), or whether they are, to some degree, non-physical.


Anything material is matter/energy. I feel as though I've written this now in so many posts it's unbelievable. We're not making progress at all. What's the point of this?

The fact that I like his ideas doesn't mean that I am his spokesperson.


Of course you're not his spokesperson. Good lord.

My interpretation of his writings


He's alive, ask him directly. Your interpretation may be all twisted!

Don't interpret other people, especially the living. Have your own ideas.
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Re: Thought vs Matter/Energy

Postby lateralsuz on July 11th, 2020, 8:01 pm 

Charon

Clearly there are sensible people who disagree with your conclusion that thoughts are entirely a product of matter/energy. When there are examples of thought and control that seem to break the fundamental principles of Matter/Energy that you do not explain, and are not explained by anyone else, your claims cannot be a certainty.

Simply repeating your assumption doesn't make it a fact either.

If you want to prove your case, begin by answering how the examples of thought and control I have given are explained by Matter/Energy alone.

I am interested in debating the issues and seeing the different perspectives. If you think that Finipolscie has a different perspective you are more than welcome to ask him yourself, but that is what I got from his writings and also by applying those ideas to my own knowledge base. (However if you do contact him it might be better to actually read the book so you know what he actually says).
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Re: Thought vs Matter/Energy

Postby charon on July 11th, 2020, 10:11 pm 

Suz -

If you think that Finipolscie has a different perspective


First, from everything I've read about F's books so far, it appears that he's just made a sort of compendium of every idea known to man and then - according to one written section - let the reader make their own mind up.

'This is part of a short series which presents the strengths and weaknesses of the different viewpoints side by side, allowing the reader to judge where their beliefs lie, but with the knowledge of what science can verify at this time. Others in this mini-series deal with Life and the Mind. It is then down to you to decide what our reality may actually be'

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/355 ... nce-part-1

Sorry, but is this man a thinker or an an encyclopaedist?

I also notice that, apart from various sites selling his books, there's nothing about him at all. No Wiki page, no references, nothing. And apparently Christophe Finipolscie is a pseudonym anyway so he's guarding his anonymity. I don't know why. I don't believe the reasons he's given. And yet there's a nice photo of him...

It all sounds very strange to me. A lot of BS, probably. I think he's doing the equivalent of throwing some bait into the sea and standing back to watch the feeding frenzy. In other words it's just an amusement for people who like playing around with ideas. It's like a game, and I don't regard it as serious.

There is a biog of sorts, except it's not a biography and it was written by him:

https://www.goodreads.com/author/169964 ... /questions

He comes over to me like a fence-sitter. And I'm tempted to use stronger words than that!

It's you, Suz, who are interested in him, not me. And even if he were the most brilliant person on earth (which he definitely isn't) what I said about interpretation still applies... except that in his case there's nothing to interpret because it's all other peoples' ideas.

So, with all due respect, I'll get back to discussing the subject in hand.

Clearly there are sensible people who disagree with your conclusion that thoughts are entirely a product of matter/energy


Who are they? How do we know they are sensible?

I'd deny that what I say is a conclusion. Anything produced by a material organ is material. The only way they could not be is if they come from somewhere immaterial and only appear to originate in the brain. And I see no evidence for that.

Is there an immaterial 'somewhere else' that could produce thought in the brain? Let me know.

And what do you mean by not entirely material? What percentage is or isn't? 50-50? 70-30? I'd like to know. And I'd like to know how thought can be both material and immaterial at the same time.

how the examples of thought and control I have given are explained by Matter/Energy alone
.

But I'm not sure you have given actual examples of this. There are many fairly dense posts here, and not just from you. But there's a lot of talk about isms, theories, and QM. They aren't actual examples.

Tell you what, rather than me trying to go through all those posts, which I'm loathe to do for obvious reasons, just give me one actual, real life example of immaterial thought. Just one. Would that be too much to ask?

***********

By the way, just a reminder. I've asked at least five definite questions in this post. Would you mind actually answering them as they're presented? It would make all this a lot easier and I'd be obliged. Thanks.
Last edited by charon on July 11th, 2020, 10:17 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Thought vs Matter/Energy

Postby Dave_C on July 11th, 2020, 10:12 pm 

Hi lateralsuz. When I google Finipolscie and mental causation, I don’t come up with anything. I’d like to suggest that Finipolscie is not widely known for his/her views on mental causation, which is the basis for this thread regarding thought and its causal efficacy. I can say however, there are many who delve into this concern in a number of different ways if you’re interested.

One avenue of attack regards what’s often called “overdetermination”. Suppose for example, we have a brain with 80 billion interacting neurons. Suppose we can know exactly how the neurons are connected and how they function. We should therefore, be able to predict all the purely physical interactions between them given a physical state P at some time t and with inputs I(t). Here, I’m neglecting outputs since as long as inputs are correct, outputs are inconsequential.

Given this, overdetermination points out that we have a complete, causal picture and a complete physical understanding of what the brain is doing at the level of each neuron and what it will do at any future time as long as we have that complete physical information.

If we can know why the brain goes through all physical states over some time (t), then overdetermination states that no other cause can be the reason for the brain’s change in states. Philosophers often argue over this in confusing ways but it’s a solid argument given that the other “cause” which we are supposed to believe is making this brain perform as it does, regards a phenomenon which is not objectively observable and not in any way subject to scientific scrutiny (ie: phenomenal consciousness or in the case of this thread, “thought”).

Stephen Yablo (1992) “Mental Causation” puts it this way:
(1) If an event x is causally sufficient for an event y, then no event x* distinct from x is causally relevant to y (exclusion).
(2) For every physical event y, some physical event x is causally sufficient for y (physical determinism).
(3) For every physical event x and mental event x*, x is distinct from x* (dualism).
(4) So: for every physical event y, no mental event x* is causally relevant to y (epiphenomenalism).

http://www.mit.edu/~yablo/mc.pdf

I also like the way Sidney Shoemaker (1975) “Functionalism and Qualia” talks about the problem (from a slightly different perspective):
To hold that it is logically possible (or, worse, nomologically possible) that a state lacking qualitative character should be functionally identical to a states having qualitative character is to make qualitative character irrelevant, both to what we can take ourselves to know in knowing about the mental states of others, and also to what we can take ourselves to know in knowing about our own mental states.

https://www.jstor.org/stable/4318939?seq=1

Think about what these two are trying to say. Basically, if we are able to know exactly why everything is happening, then why should we posit some additional cause that isn’t observable nor even necessary to explain what is physically happening? If our causal explanation is complete, if our causal explanation is able to produce a full and exhaustive description of all physical interactions without remainder, then how can we know that some other phenomenon which isn’t objectively observable supervenes on those physical states?

This argument is especially powerful when you consider that neuron interactions ‘do not make use of any of the special features of quantum mechanics’ which is the primary basis for what is believed to give rise to phenomenal consciousness. Neuron interactions are utterly reducible, or at least we believe they are and I would subscribe to that belief. However, I would NOT subscribe to the belief that neuron interactions (which interact locally and are based on the separability of classical physics) are the basis for phenomenal consciousness. It’s the wrong substrate and this concept results in numerous other, even more aggravating breaches of natural science. But those for another day.

Best regards,
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Re: Thought vs Matter/Energy

Postby charon on July 11th, 2020, 10:18 pm 

And I wish the forum would warn us when another post has appeared so we can avoid the edit message! Looks as though I corrected myself. I didn't.

When I google Finipolscie and mental causation, I don’t come up with anything.


Join the club :-)
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Re: Thought vs Matter/Energy

Postby charon on July 12th, 2020, 7:05 am 

By the way, we've been here before in 2017:

http://www.sciencechatforum.com/viewtop ... 16&start=0
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Re: Thought vs Matter/Energy

Postby TheVat on July 12th, 2020, 11:31 am 

Thanks, Charon. Unfortunately, this brings to light a violation of SCF rules. The OP of that earlier thread appears to have been banned. I'm not sure if the OP of this thread is aware that admins have access to IP addresses. (letting that sink in for a moment) Both OP authors arrive bearing a torch for the uncredentialed Mr. Finopolscie, and both reside in Nottinghamshire UK, and both have strikingly similar posting styles. Shortly after the arrival of the newer member, several threads highly similar to earlier closed threads appear, and remarkably similar debates on conscious molecules and crypto-dualism ensue. These threads turn into longish arguments that circle endlessly, just as their predecessor threads did. Wow.

Sorry, but it's time to enforce our rules regarding dual registration and recycling locked threads. You all have 24 hours to make closing statements.
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Re: Thought vs Matter/Energy

Postby charon on July 12th, 2020, 12:13 pm 

Ah... got it. I thought the phraseology was absurdly similar.

No closing statement.
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