Do feelings matter?

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Re: Do feelings matter?

Postby Braininvat on June 18th, 2017, 9:55 am 

Good stuff, Noships. Anything Phil tends to have participants who may not be widely read in analytic philosophy, so it may help to break your posts down into smaller pieces and define jargon as you go.

A couple posters (including me) mentioned phantom limb syndrome, which is a good case for pain as a brain process, rather than requiring a brain/body synergy. The ontologically subjective pain in my arm is epistemically objective, regardless of whether the arm is there or not. What matters is the neurons firing in my noggin, not having an actual arm. Just as I can have phantom band pain, if forced to listen to Nickelback. Even if it's just a digital recording, and I am just recreating the event in my head of hearing said recording in 1996, the pain is still real. Like my darling Kate, in "Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind," I may wish to have my synaptic memory scrubbed Nickelback-free.

And if do take that procedure, then epiphenomenalism is rejected, as I am a causal agent in altering my own brain. Hehe!
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Re: Do feelings matter?

Postby NoShips on June 18th, 2017, 10:00 am 

Braininvat » June 18th, 2017, 10:55 pm wrote:Good stuff, Noships. Anything Phil tends to have participants who may not be widely read in analytic philosophy, so it may help to break your posts down into smaller pieces and define jargon as you go.

A couple posters (including me) mentioned phantom limb syndrome, which is a good case for pain as a brain process, rather than requiring a brain/body synergy. The ontologically subjective pain in my arm is epistemically objective, regardless of whether the arm is there or not. What matters is the neurons firing in my noggin, not having an actual arm. Just as I can have phantom band pain, if forced to listen to Nickelback. Even if it's just a digital recording, and I am just recreating the event in my head of hearing said recording in 1996, the pain is still real. Like my darling Kate, in "Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind," I may wish to have my synaptic memory scrubbed Nickelback-free.

And if do take that procedure, then epiphenomenalism is rejected, as I am a causal agent in altering my own brain. Hehe!


Consider this for now:

I have a pain in my thumb. I suck my thumb. The pain is now in my mouth. QED.

Hmm, thought only Limeys said "noggin" lol. Try to be more scientific.
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Re: Do feelings matter?

Postby NoShips on June 18th, 2017, 10:06 am 

To be more serious... all you hard-nosed scientist MacGyver types will take it, I assume, that pain is caused by the brain. But in the vernacular, pain refers not to brain processes, but a sensation, right? Pain is that kinda ...well, you know, fingernails on blackboards and organic chemistry. But how does our vernacular concept of pain relate to our scientific worldview?

You're gonna hear a lot more about Kripke unless I get a life between now and tomorrow.
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Re: Do feelings matter?

Postby NoShips on June 18th, 2017, 10:09 am 

Braininvat » June 18th, 2017, 10:55 pm wrote:
A couple posters (including me) mentioned phantom limb syndrome, which is a good case for pain as a brain process, rather than requiring a brain/body synergy.


Do you see the implications here, BiV? If pain is a brain process, nothing without a brain can feel pain.

Dunno about you, but me and my computer are madly in love. Pain will come later when he catches me messing around with another laptop. Tee hee. Whoops, I mean she.
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Re: Do feelings matter?

Postby NoShips on June 18th, 2017, 10:36 am 

The issue in a nutshell:

"I have a pain in my lower right quadrant. I suspect a hernia, doc"

"All pain is in the brain"

"My lower right quadrant says otherwise. My brain doesn't hurt."

Where have we gone so terribly wrong? Pain, as traditionally understood is a sensation. Pain, the physicalist demands, is a physical state like any other. "You think the pain is in your hernia. Science says otherwise. We reduce this kinda stuff."

"Ok, got any morphine kinda stuff?"

See also color, heat, water, sobriety, and Saul Kripke.
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Re: Do feelings matter?

Postby NoShips on June 18th, 2017, 10:45 am 

Braininvat » June 18th, 2017, 10:55 pm wrote:
And if do take that procedure, then epiphenomenalism is rejected, as I am a causal agent in altering my own brain. Hehe!


Aye! It's about as silly as positions come, except the porcupine position.

You never voted because of rational consideration? That's what we're told is true by the epiphenomalist. Mental events have no casual powers. Think I'll do a beer run.

Sillier than grue. Tee hee. And they say philosophers have problems!
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Re: Do feelings matter?

Postby Braininvat on June 18th, 2017, 11:03 am 

NoShips » June 18th, 2017, 7:09 am wrote:
Braininvat » June 18th, 2017, 10:55 pm wrote:
A couple posters (including me) mentioned phantom limb syndrome, which is a good case for pain as a brain process, rather than requiring a brain/body synergy.


Do you see the implications here, BiV? If pain is a brain process, nothing without a brain can feel pain.

Dunno about you, but me and my computer are madly in love. Pain will come later when he catches me messing around with another laptop. Tee hee. Whoops, I mean she.


I'm not a Searle-ish bio chauvinist. I use "brain" to encompass anything that processes information, and that does what a neural network does. A silicon substrate could do just as well as wet bags of organic chemicals, IMO. For all we know, electrostatic fields in thunderstorm clouds could form feeling and thinking brains, if they can self- perpetuate a structure, process inputs from their environment, form desires, etc.

With tablets, it's okay to look, but don't touch their touchscreens.
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Re: Do feelings matter?

Postby NoShips on June 18th, 2017, 11:07 am 

Braininvat » June 19th, 2017, 12:03 am wrote:
I'm not a Searle-ish bio chauvinist. I use "brain" to encompass anything that processes information, and that does what a neural network does. A silicon substrate could do just as well as wet bags of organic chemicals, IMO. For all we know, electrostatic fields in thunderstorm clouds could form feeling and thinking brains, if they can self- perpetuate a structure, process inputs from their environment, form desires, etc.

With tablets, it's okay to look, but don't touch their touchscreens.


Then you define brain functionally. Right, monsieur? That makes you a functionalist. A brain is defined by what it does, not its physical instantiation (per you, good sir)
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Re: Do feelings matter?

Postby NoShips on June 18th, 2017, 11:25 am 

[quote="Braininvat » June 19th, 2017, 12:03 am"
I'm not a Searle-ish bio chauvinist. [/quote]

Sigh, hate to see my hero abused. I don't think he is a bio-chauvenist, BiV. In fact, I'm sure (yes, even at this hour), Searle explicitly states that whether or not a non-biological brain, and only that, results in the mental (consciousness and all that) is an empirical question, yet to be determined.

I have quotes. And if you're lucky and my lack-of-anything-better-to-do continues, I'll post them tomorrow.

Screwed up the quote function. Can't imagine why :-)

Did you evah?!
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Re: Do feelings matter?

Postby Braininvat on June 18th, 2017, 12:30 pm 

Yes, I have long identified myself here as a functionalist. It makes the android sex better, believe me!

And yes, Searle later abandoned his mind-is-for-pink-jelly-only position, so I was somewhat jestingly referring to his early years and all that stuff about how a weather simulation in a computer isn't really rain and a stomach simulation doesn't digest actual food, etc. He was right about those things, but in the 80's didn't see a problem with his analogies. I think he recanted later and was more open to possible silicon minds in the future. As far as 70s and 80s AI goes, he was quite right, in that technological context. Simple linear Turing machines were not noted for their self-awareness.
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Re: Do feelings matter?

Postby Athena on June 19th, 2017, 10:21 am 

Braininvat » June 18th, 2017, 7:55 am wrote:Good stuff, Noships. Anything Phil tends to have participants who may not be widely read in analytic philosophy, so it may help to break your posts down into smaller pieces and define jargon as you go.

A couple posters (including me) mentioned phantom limb syndrome, which is a good case for pain as a brain process, rather than requiring a brain/body synergy. The ontologically subjective pain in my arm is epistemically objective, regardless of whether the arm is there or not. What matters is the neurons firing in my noggin, not having an actual arm. Just as I can have phantom band pain, if forced to listen to Nickelback. Even if it's just a digital recording, and I am just recreating the event in my head of hearing said recording in 1996, the pain is still real. Like my darling Kate, in "Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind," I may wish to have my synaptic memory scrubbed Nickelback-free.

And if do take that procedure, then epiphenomenalism is rejected, as I am a causal agent in altering my own brain. Hehe!


What does synergy mean? Would looking at a mirror image of the right hand, and moving it, resulting in ending the pain in the phantom hand be synergy?
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Re: Do feelings matter?

Postby Athena on June 19th, 2017, 11:07 am 

NoShips » June 18th, 2017, 12:17 am wrote:
Paul Anthony » June 18th, 2017, 3:04 pm wrote:
Emotions are the result of chemical imbalances in the brain. Since chemicals are physical, then yes.


But that's only to say that emotions are caused by chemical imbalances in the brain, and those chemicals, we can all surely agree, are physical.

What about the emotions themselves? Physical or not?


Welcome aboard. To the best my knowledge no one has answered this question. Where do you feel anger? I think a failure to the answer this question is a lack of self-awareness?
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Re: Do feelings matter?

Postby Athena on June 19th, 2017, 11:38 am 

NoShips » June 18th, 2017, 8:36 am wrote:The issue in a nutshell:

"I have a pain in my lower right quadrant. I suspect a hernia, doc"

"All pain is in the brain"

"My lower right quadrant says otherwise. My brain doesn't hurt."

Where have we gone so terribly wrong? Pain, as traditionally understood is a sensation. Pain, the physicalist demands, is a physical state like any other. "You think the pain is in your hernia. Science says otherwise. We reduce this kinda stuff."

"Ok, got any morphine kinda stuff?"

See also color, heat, water, sobriety, and Saul Kripke.


In another science forum, the first response to my question about feelings was to say we evolved with sensors touch, sight, hearing, taste, smell, and these sensations are about our survival. They all give us information about what is outside of us, and some essential about what is going on inside of us, like warning us of heart attack, or informing us we were bit by a snake. For sure the brain processes all this information. The brain also remembers this information, our brains can trick us, and we can use things like positive thinking and distraction to reduce our sensation of pain or awareness of it.

This thread began with a question about emotional feelings, and I am distressed by what appears to be a denial of the physical aspects of our emotions. The physical aspects of our emotions can mean living years longer or being sickly and dying early. This denial is a health problem for many reasons, but it also contributes to our insensitive when engaging with one another. Logic requires we give this some thought so that we may achieve a better standard of living. But back to the health problem, I just heard a train pass and that reminded me, even though people may not be aware of sound pollution, it can cause health problems. Constant noise is not good for us. Maybe it would be intelligent to become more aware of our physical surroundings and our physical response to our environment, including the one we create in conversation. Emotions and our physical well-being are one and the same thing.
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Re: Do feelings matter?

Postby Athena on June 27th, 2017, 5:39 pm 

How do sensation terms like 'pain' function? How do they acquire their meaning?

When we first start to think about these questions, most of us find ourselves quickly drawn to a certain sort of picture. To be in pain, we suppose, is to be in a certain mental state - a state from which other people are necessarily excluded. It is as if our mental life takes place behind an impenetrable barrier.


From "The Great Philosophers" Stephen Law

Chapter on Ludwig Wittgrnstein

I am not sure but I think it has been argued in this thread that pain is all in our heads, so it doesn't really matter. Is that right?
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Re: Do feelings matter?

Postby nameless on June 27th, 2017, 7:57 pm 

Athena » Wed Mar 22, 2017 7:57 am wrote:It has been said that I obsess over the need to be respectful, and three threads that I have enjoyed have been closed. I am trying to understand what is happening, so I am asking do feelings matter?

'Feelings'/thoughts/ego 'matters' in that they are experienced by all. They exist to be experienced/known! They 'matter' even more to those insane enough to 'believe' them! Feelings come and go as do clouds. You cannot flee, attach, just observe. Because 'feelings/thought/ego = identity, who we imagine ourselves to be, they 'matter' to us.


"...to the feelings of others?"

~~~ I generally do not deliberately attempt to hurt the feelings of others, but in delivering Truth, your delicate feelings are your own grown-up problem, not mine.
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Re: Do feelings matter?

Postby Athena on June 28th, 2017, 1:01 pm 

Paul Anthony, Nameless was banned. Why? I really do not know, but I bet he said something that gave a moderator a bad feeling and the moderator acted on that feeling. Forums have rules to keep them reasonably pleasant. I remember in the beginning when they did not. I remember getting sucked into the insults and thinking that is not the kind of person I want to be.

I much rather be with people who are considerate of others, than those who are not. I think it is important to be discriminating about whom we associate with because some people can pull us down and others lift us up. This is especially important when children are involved. How we experience life is strongly influenced by what we experience in our families, and children who grow up with negative experiences are disadvantaged and may be less likely to succeed in school, or in college, or do well in life.

I spent yesterday morning with a retired professor. We began our trip to the bookstore with a talk about suicide and I learned he has a gun and was considering using it. I am quite pleased that after having coffee in the bookstore and buying some books, he was in a completely different frame of mind on the way home. I think there are two other retired professors where I live and I will see if I can get a discussion group going because these men seriously need the intellectual and social engagement. I like the idea that I can make an important difference in their lives. Yes, I think feelings are important and there are few things I like more than being a part of others feeling good. That is better than eating ice cream, and eating ice cream is pretty good.
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Re: Do feelings matter?

Postby Athena on June 28th, 2017, 1:17 pm 

NoShips » June 18th, 2017, 9:07 am wrote:
Braininvat » June 19th, 2017, 12:03 am wrote:
I'm not a Searle-ish bio chauvinist. I use "brain" to encompass anything that processes information, and that does what a neural network does. A silicon substrate could do just as well as wet bags of organic chemicals, IMO. For all we know, electrostatic fields in thunderstorm clouds could form feeling and thinking brains, if they can self- perpetuate a structure, process inputs from their environment, form desires, etc.

With tablets, it's okay to look, but don't touch their touchscreens.


Then you define brain functionally. Right, monsieur? That makes you a functionalist. A brain is defined by what it does, not its physical instantiation (per you, good sir)



Oh, Noships, I could run with your wonderful statement...

"A brain is defined by what it does, not its physical instantiation"

I bought a book on justice yesterday and the introduction is so much about how thoughts are so fluid, more like a kaleidoscope than the right or wrong thinking that usually appears in forums. Our brains are not like the on/off switches of a computer, we can see things in many different ways and can see something is both good and bad, desirable and not desirable. Before education for technology, we were more focused on teaching concepts and conceptual thinking is very fluid and much more about reasoning than concrete fact based thinking.

We need be careful of the fact that we are usually in fast thinking mode, not really thinking at all but just reacting to stimulus with little more sophistication than the primates. Especially when we are young, we tend to react to stimulus without much thinking. The thrill of our later years is some of us get more into slow thinking and contemplating what we think, and I think this is what brought us from primates to very complex civilisations. Our brain is defined by what it does, not its physical instantiation Beautiful!
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Re: Do feelings matter?

Postby Athena on June 28th, 2017, 1:22 pm 

NoShips » June 18th, 2017, 9:07 am wrote:
Braininvat » June 19th, 2017, 12:03 am wrote:
I'm not a Searle-ish bio chauvinist. I use "brain" to encompass anything that processes information, and that does what a neural network does. A silicon substrate could do just as well as wet bags of organic chemicals, IMO. For all we know, electrostatic fields in thunderstorm clouds could form feeling and thinking brains, if they can self- perpetuate a structure, process inputs from their environment, form desires, etc.

With tablets, it's okay to look, but don't touch their touchscreens.


Then you define brain functionally. Right, monsieur? That makes you a functionalist. A brain is defined by what it does, not its physical instantiation (per you, good sir)


Brainvat, I think, the function of the human brain is a bit too awesome for a functionalist definition.


Oh, Noships, I could run with your wonderful statement...

"A brain is defined by what it does, not its physical instantiation"

I bought a book on justice yesterday and the introduction is so much about how thoughts are so fluid, more like a kaleidoscope than the right or wrong thinking that usually appears in forums. Our brains are not like the on/off switches of a computer, we can see things in many different ways and can see something is both good and bad, desirable and not desirable. Before education for technology, we were more focused on teaching concepts and conceptual thinking is very fluid and much more about reasoning than concrete fact based thinking.

We need be careful of the fact that we are usually in fast thinking mode, not really thinking at all but just reacting to stimulus with little more sophistication than the primates. Especially when we are young, we tend to react to stimulus without much thinking. The thrill of our later years is some of us get more into slow thinking and contemplating what we think, and I think this is what brought us from primates to very complex civilisations. Our brain is defined by what it does, not its physical instantiation Beautiful!
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Re: Do feelings matter?

Postby Braininvat on June 28th, 2017, 3:03 pm 

The line you say is beautiful is a summation of functionalism. Perhaps you are unfamiliar with the term as used in philosophy. It doesn't say the human mind can't be awesome.
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Re: Do feelings matter?

Postby Paul Anthony on June 28th, 2017, 3:44 pm 

Athena » Wed Jun 28, 2017 10:22 am wrote:

We need be careful of the fact that we are usually in fast thinking mode, not really thinking at all but just reacting to stimulus with little more sophistication than the primates. Especially when we are young, we tend to react to stimulus without much thinking. The thrill of our later years is some of us get more into slow thinking and contemplating what we think, and I think this is what brought us from primates to very complex civilisations.


Heed your own advice. You have presented a very good argument against feelings and for rational thought. If you present your opinions with no more sophistication than that of the primates, you may not be taken seriously by people who think.
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Re: Do feelings matter?

Postby Athena on June 28th, 2017, 10:51 pm 

Paul Anthony » June 28th, 2017, 1:44 pm wrote:
Athena » Wed Jun 28, 2017 10:22 am wrote:

We need be careful of the fact that we are usually in fast thinking mode, not really thinking at all but just reacting to stimulus with little more sophistication than the primates. Especially when we are young, we tend to react to stimulus without much thinking. The thrill of our later years is some of us get more into slow thinking and contemplating what we think, and I think this is what brought us from primates to very complex civilisations.


Heed your own advice. You have presented a very good argument against feelings and for rational thought. If you present your opinions with no more sophistication than that of the primates, you may not be taken seriously by people who think.


Do I understand you correctly, you have said I present my opinions with no more sophistication that a primate?
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Re: Do feelings matter?

Postby Paul Anthony on June 28th, 2017, 11:47 pm 

Athena » Wed Jun 28, 2017 7:51 pm wrote:
Paul Anthony » June 28th, 2017, 1:44 pm wrote:
Athena » Wed Jun 28, 2017 10:22 am wrote:

We need be careful of the fact that we are usually in fast thinking mode, not really thinking at all but just reacting to stimulus with little more sophistication than the primates. Especially when we are young, we tend to react to stimulus without much thinking. The thrill of our later years is some of us get more into slow thinking and contemplating what we think, and I think this is what brought us from primates to very complex civilisations.


Heed your own advice. You have presented a very good argument against feelings and for rational thought. If you present your opinions with no more sophistication than that of the primates, you may not be taken seriously by people who think.



Athena wrote:Do I understand you correctly, you have said I present my opinions with no more sophistication that a primate?


Based on your own explanation of feelings, it's what you are saying.
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Re: Do feelings matter?

Postby Athena on June 29th, 2017, 12:08 pm 

Paul Anthony » June 28th, 2017, 9:47 pm wrote:Based on your own explanation of feelings, it's what you are saying.


Was that a "yes" or a "no" answer to my question? "Do I understand you correctly, you have said I present my opinions with no more sophistication that a primate?"

What is my explanation of feelings? Seriously can you recite from memory or copy and paste my explanation of feelings? Are we speaking of physical feelings or emotional feelings and what feelings have to do with making humans the most successful species? What have I said that you are referring to?
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Re: Do feelings matter?

Postby mitchellmckain on June 29th, 2017, 12:20 pm 

Athena » June 27th, 2017, 4:39 pm wrote:I am not sure but I think it has been argued in this thread that pain is all in our heads, so it doesn't really matter. Is that right?

Wrong.

It has been demonstrated that feelings like pain only require the brain alone. But the conclusion is not that it is all in our head but only that it could be. It could be and most often is a result of accurate messages from some source in the body reporting damage or distress there, but not always and so it might not be.
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Re: Do feelings matter?

Postby mitchellmckain on June 29th, 2017, 12:33 pm 

NoShips » June 18th, 2017, 9:09 am wrote:
Do you see the implications here, BiV? If pain is a brain process, nothing without a brain can feel pain.


No, it does not follow.

It has only been argued that when a brain is involved then pain only requires the brain because it can result from direct stimulation or central pain like phantom limb syndrome. But no this does not mean that without a brain no pain is experienced. It has not even been established that those WITH a brain only experience pain in the brain. It could very well be that if messages from some source does not make it to the brain then no pain is experienced by an organism with a brain. But this does not rule out the very likely possibility that organisms without a brain can and do process/experience pain differently.
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Re: Do feelings matter?

Postby Athena on June 30th, 2017, 6:00 pm 

mitchellmckain » June 29th, 2017, 10:33 am wrote:
NoShips » June 18th, 2017, 9:09 am wrote:
Do you see the implications here, BiV? If pain is a brain process, nothing without a brain can feel pain.


No, it does not follow.

It has only been argued that when a brain is involved then pain only requires the brain because it can result from direct stimulation or central pain like phantom limb syndrome. But no this does not mean that without a brain no pain is experienced. It has not even been established that those WITH a brain only experience pain in the brain. It could very well be that if messages from some source does not make it to the brain then no pain is experienced by an organism with a brain. But this does not rule out the very likely possibility that organisms without a brain can and do process/experience pain differently.


Plants sense things as animals do and can communicat to each other.

https://www.wired.com/2013/12/secret-language-of-plants/

How does one leaf know it’s being eaten, and how does it tell other parts of the plant to start manufacturing defensive chemicals? To prove that electrical signals are at work, Ted Farmer’s team placed microelectrodes on the leaves and leaf stalks of Arabidopsis thaliana (a model organism, the plant physiologist’s equivalent of a lab rat) and allowed Egyptian cotton leafworms to feast away. Within seconds, voltage changes in the tissue radiated out from the site of damage toward the stem and beyond. As the waves surged outward, the defensive compound jasmonic acid accumulated, even far from the site of damage. The genes involved in transmitting the electrical signal produce channels in a membrane just inside the plant’s cell walls; the channels maintain electrical potential by regulating the passage of charged ions. These genes are evolutionary analogues to the ion-regulating receptors that animals use to relay sensory signals through the body. “They obviously come from a common ancestor, and are deeply rooted,” Farmer said. “There are lots of interesting parallels. There are far more parallels than differences.”


Last night I watched an experiment proving dogs and human babies instinctively feel jealousy. The babies demonstrated this by crying and hitting when their mothers gave attention to another baby. The dogs would bark and bite their competitor dog getting from their human owner. I think this can be developed into an argument that the body can know somethings, before the brain begins to think about the meaning of the sensory information.

I think these things put our feelings on a different level than we spoken of them so far. Such as the repeated comments that our feelings are only in our heads and we can deny them because they are not physical experiences in our bodies.

But for pain signals not being perceived by our minds, this is common and is particually a problem for people with diabetes or leprosy. Both diseases cause nerve damage resulting in the body being wounded and the person not being aware of this because of nerve damage. This can lead to infections and the need to amputate a limb or death. There are also some people who just do not feel pain and don't know when they have been wounded. Sort of like, does the falling tree make a sound when no one is around to hear it? A lot goes on that we may or may not perceive. Our inability to perceive something does not equal there being nothing to perceive.

How about the possibility of having more than one brain? How would we organize information if we had more than one brain?

Leeches Have 32 Brains. The surface of the leech's body can be divided into 102, but the internal structure is divided into 32 segments. Each of these 32 segments has its own segment of brain. Every leech also has two reproductive organs and 9 pairs of testes.
Leeches Have 32 Brains
https://curiosity.com/topics/leeches-have-32-brains/
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Re: Do feelings matter?

Postby NoShips on July 1st, 2017, 8:13 am 

mitchellmckain » June 30th, 2017, 1:33 am wrote:
NoShips » June 18th, 2017, 9:09 am wrote:
Do you see the implications here, BiV? If pain is a brain process, nothing without a brain can feel pain.


No, it does not follow.


It follows as night follows day. Compare : "If water is (identical with) H20, then nothing that is not H20 can be water."

I suggest what you mean to say, instead, is that you deny the truth of the antecedent in the conditional (i.e., "pain is a brain process").



What you've been doing repeatedly, and you're not alone, is to equivocate between pain (a bad, bad feelin', baby) and its physical correlates in the brain, the latter of which, pending completion of the reductionist program, is not pain -- it's stuff happening in the brain. Apart from a very rare few who apparently feel no pain whatsoever, all of us know very well what pain is ("Ouch!"). Neurologists presumably know a great deal about the physical correlates of pain in the brain. What no one knows, 'cept God perhaps, is the nature of the relationship between the former and latter. Many, though, are keen to throw some light on the nature of this relationship, and by extenson, to the nature of the relationship between mental and physical states in general.

Perhaps, in line with the dominant philosophical position at present, pain is a functional state (hence not identical to any given brain state). Perhaps, one might claim somewhat effetely, the relationship is one of supervenience (there can be no change in a mental state without a change in the physical plumbing in the basement). Or perhaps something else...

"Pain is a brain process" is a claim that the relationship is one of identity: every type (or token) of pain is identical with a particular type (or token) of a brain process/state. This is an extremely radical and hugely counterintuitive claim, one I sense you have not fully grasped yet. The claim is not that pain is caused by, or correlated with, brain states; rather, pain (the feeling) just is that brain state. Yes, that's right, the claim is that that awful gut wrenching agony (ladies, look the other way, please) of a kick in the goolies and certain events in your brain are one and the same thing. Imagine being told that a thought and a carrot are actually the same thing and you might get some idea of what is being asserted.


mitchellmckain » June 30th, 2017, 1:33 am wrote: It has only been argued that when a brain is involved then pain only requires the brain because it can result from direct stimulation or central pain like phantom limb syndrome.


Fair enough. But this is tame fare indeed compared to a claim of identity. You're saying nothing more than pain (the feeling) can be caused by, perhaps among other things, the brain. Actually, what you're saying, if read literally, is that in cases where pain is caused by the brain, it is not caused by something else; a vacuous truism. Moreover, a brain-can-cause-pain claim of this type does nothing to shed light on what pain is vis-à-vis the physical. No need for alarm; no one else knows either!

And that goes for the emotions too. Hello Athena. I find it regrettable that other members, no more apprised of a solution to the mind-body problem than yourself, or anyone else, continue to treat you in such a contemptuous manner. The questions you pose are good ones. Put briefly, if someone thinks he has a definitive answer, he almost certainly has not even grasped the problem.

Also (back to Mitch again), beware of the equivocation I mentioned. To repeat with highlights:

mitchellmckain » June 30th, 2017, 1:33 am wrote: It has only been argued that when a brain is involved then pain only requires the brain because it can result from direct stimulation or central pain like phantom limb syndrome.


Appropriately pruned: "pain can result from pain"


mitchellmckain » June 30th, 2017, 1:33 am wrote: But no this does not mean that without a brain no pain is experienced.


Quite so. If the psychophysical identity theory (i.e., pain = a brain state) is wrong, and few pledge their allegiance these days, then pain may be "multiply realizable". The option is left open that pain (the feeling) may result from causes other than brain processes; e.g., brainless (no offence) extraterrestrials might also feel pain.

mitchellmckain » June 30th, 2017, 1:33 am wrote: It has not even been established that those WITH a brain only experience pain in the brain.


Well, who ever thought pain was experienced only in the brain? No one I know. We experience pain all over the body, even, as you and BiV have pointed out, in parts of the body that no longer exist ("phantom limb syndrome").

Now where, if anywhere, is the pain really? That's the reductionist mission, chaps. The identity theorist, for example, would assert that no matter where you happen to experience the pain (real body parts, hacked-off limbs, etc), pain being identical with a physical brain state is spaciotemporally located ... where else, but in the brain!

mitchellmckain » June 30th, 2017, 1:33 am wrote: It could very well be that if messages from some source does not make it to the brain then no pain is experienced by an organism with a brain.

Ok

mitchellmckain » June 30th, 2017, 1:33 am wrote: But this does not rule out the very likely possibility that organisms without a brain can and do process/experience pain differently.


Within very narrowly prescribed limits perhaps. How differently did you have in mind? Organisms that experience pain as a pleasurable sensation? Following Kripke's rigid designator modal argument, I'd argue that would not be pain.

Pain is essentially that unpleasant sensation we suffer when we stub our toe, catch the ole willy in the zipper, or are forced to watch Hugh Grant films as a North Korean torture. Therefore, other organisms -- Triffids, say -- might also feel bona fide pain associated with quite different biological correlates and causes. Conversely, any organisms like us -- SPCF members on Twin Earth, say -- for whom exactly the same neural processes that induce pain in us induce in them a feeling of pleasure ... are not feeling pain. They might even call it "pain". Nonetheless it is not pain; we're speaking different languages. What they call "pain" is not what we call "pain".

When I say "chips" or "football" and an American does, we're probably talking about different things.
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Re: Do feelings matter?

Postby Braininvat on July 1st, 2017, 9:43 am 

I've been fascinated by the various responses to Fodor and Putnam's idea of multiple realizability - that what we might call pain can be the result of different structures across a range of different platforms. From Putnam's famous "C-fibers firing" account of pain to a meshing of cogs in a very complex sort of Babbage engine to an electrical signal in silicon chips to a quite different neural structure in the body of an extraterrestrial. This guy..

https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jaegwon_Kim

...made quite a career of pushing back against a physicalist account of the mind, arguing an irreducible aspect of the phenomenal experience that would never yield to a purely physical account of functional structures in a brain or computer. For him, the higher-order aspects of consciousness included qualia, the feelings of pain and the redness of red and so on, and seemed to lead towards a kind of aspect dualism (or "property dualism") in which only a more holistic narrative of these events could capture their essence. We could observe something very like a C-fiber (Putnam's pesky pain maker) firing in the brain of an alien, but a complete causal map of the event would not tell us if it generated hurt the way it does in a human. We would have to learn the alien's language and ask, "Did that hurt?"

Or is pain a specific causal scheme? Could we watch any brain, an alien's, an AI's, and say, "Oh, yes, that's pain happening right there! We now know all we need to know about what it is experiencing right now. No need to ask questions." Seems unlikely, doesn't it?
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Re: Do feelings matter?

Postby NoShips on July 1st, 2017, 10:09 am 

Braininvat » July 1st, 2017, 10:43 pm wrote:I've been fascinated by the various responses to Fodor and Putnam's idea of multiple realizability - that what we might call pain can be the result of different structures across a range of different platforms. From Putnam's famous "C-fibers firing" account of pain to a meshing of cogs in a very complex sort of Babbage engine to an electrical signal in silicon chips to a quite different neural structure in the body of an extraterrestrial. This guy..

https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jaegwon_Kim

...made quite a career of pushing back against a physicalist account of the mind, arguing an irreducible aspect of the phenomenal experience that would never yield to a purely physical account of functional structures in a brain or computer. For him, the higher-order aspects of consciousness included qualia, the feelings of pain and the redness of red and so on, and seemed to lead towards a kind of aspect dualism (or "property dualism") in which only a more holistic narrative of these events could capture their essence. We could observe something very like a C-fiber (Putnam's pesky pain maker) firing in the brain of an alien, but a complete causal map of the event would not tell us if it generated hurt the way it does in a human. We would have to learn the alien's language and ask, "Did that hurt?"

Or is pain a specific causal scheme? Could we watch any brain, an alien's, an AI's, and say, "Oh, yes, that's pain happening right there! We now know all we need to know about what it is experiencing right now. No need to ask questions." Seems unlikely, doesn't it?



Just to focus on your final paragraph for now, BiV. (And yes, I love Jaegwon Kim: one of the clearest writers out there on these topics).

One answer might be: "Yes, we could come to learn a dude is in pain even though he reports no pain."

But first, that would require a successful reduction first. For now, we decide if we're in pain or not, right?

Secondly, Kripke's claim, if I understand him, is that there can be no such reduction.

It's a difficult argument, but I paraphrase thus:

Premise 1: For pain to be reduced to a physical state, pain would have to be necessarily identical with a physical state.

Premise 2: Pain is not (unless you have a very good argument) necessarily identical with a physical state. i.e. we can imagine a world with pain and without C-fiber firings (or whatever)

Conclusion: Pain is not identical with a physical state
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Re: Do feelings matter?

Postby Braininvat on July 1st, 2017, 10:11 am 

Within very narrowly prescribed limits perhaps. How differently did you have in mind? Organisms that experience pain as a pleasurable sensation? Following Kripke's rigid designator modal argument, I'd argue that would not be pain.
-- NS

I'll admit I'm a bit rusty on modal logic and all the uses of possible worlds, but I like this example. Is there a possible world where creatures experience pain (say, their pants on fire - that example comes to mind whenever I follow the news from Washington) but find it a pleasurable sensation? Maybe it would be okay with David Lewis, I don't know (had a Lewis link in my clipboard, but the machine I'm on right now seems to eat clipboard entries), but most of us feel that we are doing violence to the honor of language and word meanings when we hear stuff like that. We would have to start equivocating - should we really call it pain at all? Or narrow the parameters to "pain, but of a masochistic variety that has pleasurable elements in that alien culture"? But it's a stretch because we already have some specific requirements for experiences to meet the criteria for pain or pleasure. Pain is a signal that things are not good, that the body may be under attack or suffering some kind of degradation or breakdown of boundaries that are vital to our wellbeing. Pleasure is a signal that things are good, that the body is getting quite positive feedback, that no harm is looming (at least until we wake up the next morning, or until the delicious oysters turn out to be toxic....). IOW, the meanings we assign to these words are grounded in being a complex mammalian creature that needs to maintain a delicate physical equilibrium to persist for any length of time. OK, gotta go, but will return later, after some domestic pain avoidance.....
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