Mental Content: The Argument from Illusion

General philosophy discussions. If you are not sure where to place your thread, please post it here. Share favorite quotes, discuss philosophers, and other topics.

Mental Content: The Argument from Illusion

Postby Asparagus on December 24th, 2017, 10:28 pm 

Merry Christmas! I have a couple of reasons for pondering mental content. One is that I've come to a place in my Plotinus reading where the concept of absolute indefiniteness is appearing. As I recall, something similar lurks around the Argument from Illusion. The other reason is Badger's bringing up Husserl in regard to empiricism.

The Argument from Illusion is pretty simple. We just look at any case where the content of the visual field conflicts with objective facts (which is most of the time) and conclude that visual images do not provide us with an accurate account of the world. Visual images are something other than the chemical and electrical impulses associated with vision. These images are mental content.

Am I explaining that correctly? Do you accept the conclusion of this argument?
Asparagus
Member
 
Posts: 259
Joined: 16 Dec 2017
Blog: View Blog (2)


Re: Mental Content: The Argument from Illusion

Postby Dave_C on December 25th, 2017, 10:27 pm 

Asparagus » December 24th, 2017, 9:28 pm wrote:Merry Christmas!

The Argument from Illusion is pretty simple. We just look at any case where the content of the visual field conflicts with objective facts (which is most of the time) and conclude that visual images do not provide us with an accurate account of the world. Visual images are something other than the chemical and electrical impulses associated with vision. These images are mental content.

Hi Asparagus. Merry Christmas to you too!

So how does the content of the visual field conflict with objective facts? Is that only because that content is subjective?
User avatar
Dave_C
Member
 
Posts: 306
Joined: 08 Jun 2014
Location: Allentown


Re: Mental Content: The Argument from Illusion

Postby Serpent on December 25th, 2017, 11:22 pm 

Another way of looking at it is that the visual field doesn't display all of reality, but only one facet of reality. That's not a conflict; that's a point of view. If we want to expand that pov to include more of reality, we can learn objective facts regarding the parts of reality that we cannot see. All of that knowledge will then be preserved in memory; will become mental content.
The problem is that all of the objective, factual information going into memory encounters information from various sources, some of which are inaccurate, emotionally charged, biased or false; all of which, to some degree, influence the mental content and alter the perception of any particular field of vision.
Once we are aware that this happens, we can at least guess the relative accuracy of our knowledge on any given subject before making fatal commitments.
Serpent
Resident Member
 
Posts: 3109
Joined: 24 Dec 2011
Dave_C liked this post


Re: Mental Content: The Argument from Illusion

Postby BadgerJelly on December 26th, 2017, 1:26 am 

Asparagus -

If we're only going to think of objects as "visual objects" then we're ignoring that our eyes don't see anything.

The reason I brought up Husserl regarding empiricism was because when we're exposed to unique phenomena that defies objective reasoning, we experience the emotional content of being. Once the phenomena is objectively confirmed within the community then we look past the phenomenological aspect of the experience and try to fix it to objective science. The act of how this is done is not brought into play by the objective sciences, but psychology gives some vague outline of what is going on; but even psychology is being drawn more and more into the field of neuroscience.

Husserl's position in regard to "illusion" was quite simple. If you visually see a dog in front of you then you see a dog there in front of you. It makes no difference to the phenomenon whether or not there is a dog there or not. This is not a concern for Husserl because phenomenology is about what it is that "gives" the "aboutness" of the dog. It is also best not to get caught up in the human tendency toward the "visual" being of things. We can say this about many other things in life such as the sound of a dog barking, we don't hear a raw noise, we hear the sound of something, we hear a dog, a car, or a person speaking.

We can then think about our hands. The common thought proposed here is to ask the Theseus question, and say how many parts of me need to be removed before I become "not me." The bodily extension of me into the world is in many ways how we view the wholeness of the world, as parts that we can feel our way around and know ourselves as at a distance from by bringing them into the immediateness of experience. Recognition and such merely reveal that part of us that throws us backward in time (or rather presents the illusion as doing so in order to make the presentation in immediacy available as the horizon of our experience.)

It is in the above case that some of Heidegger's terminology is useful for presenting one facet, of endless facets, of the phenomenological reduction.

Basically "empiricism" is a kind of bracketing. All knowledge and human understanding is essentially brought about through the phenomenological procedure. This Heidegger tried to make explicit with "Dasein", but (IMO) failed badly and through people off what Husserl was unable to, and we are all unable to, get to the heart of, because we're in an unending procedure. To explicate some phenomenological goal is like trying to explicate the purpose of science. There is no "purpose" to this procedure, it is just a procedure we naturally find about ourselves as acts of being about the world in a variety of different ways (which Husserl tried desperately to outline with terms such as "noesis" and "noema", but many still take these ideas on board as if presenting something about the world as sensibility.)

In short, phenomenology is not saying to bracket out what is true, it is about removing brackets we don't even realise we have put there. Empiricism is the bracketing out of innate knowledge in order to explore the world from that perspective - it is an "act". Ratinoalism is an "act" of bracketing in a different way.

I see many things that frame Husserl as an idealist or a realist, or this or that. My understanding is he wasn't concerned with any of these positions other than as mere markers of a general historicity of understanding.

Serpent -

Objects are seen because they are emotional objects. The falsity of visions (illusions) are not false illusions. All illusions are real.
User avatar
BadgerJelly
Resident Member
 
Posts: 5383
Joined: 14 Mar 2012
Asparagus liked this post


Re: Mental Content: The Argument from Illusion

Postby mitchellmckain on December 26th, 2017, 2:21 am 

Asparagus » December 24th, 2017, 9:28 pm wrote:The Argument from Illusion is pretty simple. We just look at any case where the content of the visual field conflicts with objective facts (which is most of the time) and conclude that visual images do not provide us with an accurate account of the world. Visual images are something other than the chemical and electrical impulses associated with vision. These images are mental content.

Am I explaining that correctly? Do you accept the conclusion of this argument?


You must be confusing illusion with hallucination. Illusions are very real visual data which is simply misinterpreted by the naive and ignorant. The visual images in this case DO provide an accurate account of the world when they are correctly understood. For example, a mirage provides an accurate account of the refraction of light due to layer of hot air near the ground. Only the very ignorant or mentally impaired would think that this visual image was reporting the presence of water. The example which Wikipedia uses is that of a stick which looks bent in the water. But again this is providing an accurate account of the refraction of light from the stick which is properly understood as a stick which is partially in the water.

A hallucination, on the other hand, is indeed presumed to be in the mind only, since only the affected person sees them.

The argument from illusion is flawed because it confuses the process of perception with the object of perception. The process of perception is of course not an absorption of the object itself but rather a gathering of sense data from the object. To be sure this data can be misinterpreted or even distorted by preconceptions. But the flaws in the process of perception do not change the object of perception from the real object out in the world to something in the mind only. To say that the object of perception is the sense data itself would be like saying that a camera is not taking a picture of the objects it is pointed at but of the photons which happen to be in the camera while the shutter is open. It's just silly.

Nor should the object of perception be confused with the conceptual image that rational beings often construct in their mind as a part of their thinking process which rationalizes the world around them. This would be like saying a security camera is only watching the contents on the video recording it is making -- which is beyond silly. Just as the camera is watching what is happening in front of it and making a recording of what it sees, so does a rational man perceive things out in the world and build a mental construct in the process of understanding what he sees.
User avatar
mitchellmckain
Active Member
 
Posts: 1327
Joined: 27 Oct 2016


Re: Mental Content: The Argument from Illusion

Postby BadgerJelly on December 26th, 2017, 2:29 am 

Mitch -

Nope. That is the realist position. Your camera analogy shows the flaw in your presentation. THe camera doesn't "see" any more than an eye can "see".

The confusion here of your own making by adhering to a particular aspect of bracketing out certain doubts and creating an illusion of meaning which is nothing more than distanced measurements devoid of all relevant emotional content.

There is no difference between an hallucination and an illusion unless your grounding this difference within the scope of empiricism. This is precisely what shows up the limitation of empiricism - it is a good example I never thought of so thanks for bring it up.
User avatar
BadgerJelly
Resident Member
 
Posts: 5383
Joined: 14 Mar 2012


Re: Mental Content: The Argument from Illusion

Postby Asparagus on December 26th, 2017, 10:18 am 

Dave_C wrote:
So how does the content of the visual field conflict with objective facts? Is that only because that content is subjective?


The time honored example is the bent stick. The content of the visual field is in conflict with the actual state of things. It's a straight pencil.

Image
Asparagus
Member
 
Posts: 259
Joined: 16 Dec 2017
Blog: View Blog (2)


Re: Mental Content: The Argument from Illusion

Postby Asparagus on December 26th, 2017, 10:28 am 

Serpent » December 25th, 2017, 11:22 pm wrote:Another way of looking at it is that the visual field doesn't display all of reality, but only one facet of reality. That's not a conflict; that's a point of view.

True. A sibling argument might be that since, in terms of sensation, we're always bound to a point of view, we can conclude that mental representation is a mediary between the subject and the world.

Since Husserl is in the background of this discussion, the possibility that the objective narrative is also from a particular point of view is there as well.

But I take it you accept the conclusion of the argument? That we have to consider sense data as something distinct from the world itself?
Asparagus
Member
 
Posts: 259
Joined: 16 Dec 2017
Blog: View Blog (2)


Re: Mental Content: The Argument from Illusion

Postby Asparagus on December 26th, 2017, 10:41 am 

BadgerJelly » December 26th, 2017, 1:26 am wrote:In short, phenomenology is not saying to bracket out what is true, it is about removing brackets we don't even realize we have put there. Empiricism is the bracketing out of innate knowledge in order to explore the world from that perspective - it is an "act". Rationalism is an "act" of bracketing in a different way.


Well said. I was reaching for that insight in the OP of that other thread. I mentioned medicine and John Locke: two cases of ground zero for empiricist bracketing. In both cases, it's an attempt to protect. In the case of medicine, it's to protect people from misguided treatment. For John Locke, it's to protect society from religious strife.

So as Lomax was saying, in some circumstances empiricism becomes a life-line in the face of enveloping delusion. Yes...
Asparagus
Member
 
Posts: 259
Joined: 16 Dec 2017
Blog: View Blog (2)


Re: Mental Content: The Argument from Illusion

Postby Asparagus on December 26th, 2017, 10:48 am 

mitchellmckain » December 26th, 2017, 2:21 am wrote:[quote="[url=http://www.sciencechatforum.com/viewtopic.php?p=331406#p331406] To say that the object of perception is the sense data itself would be like saying that a camera is not taking a picture of the objects it is pointed at but of the photons which happen to be in the camera while the shutter is open. It's just silly.

That probably would be silly. That's not the conclusion of the Argument form Illusion.
Asparagus
Member
 
Posts: 259
Joined: 16 Dec 2017
Blog: View Blog (2)


Re: Mental Content: The Argument from Illusion

Postby mitchellmckain on December 26th, 2017, 1:18 pm 

BadgerJelly » December 26th, 2017, 1:29 am wrote:Mitch -

Nope. That is the realist position. Your camera analogy shows the flaw in your presentation. THe camera doesn't "see" any more than an eye can "see".

Our positions are indeed different. That yours has you claiming the eye cannot see and the camera cannot take pictures of things demonstrates the absurdity to which your unrealistic ideology has driven you.

It is true that I acknowledge that insisting things are really there with absolute certainty is as useless as insisting that the world existed before this morning (rather than having just appeared with all our memories and evidence as it is). And yet I will claim that such speculations and skepticism (about things and the past not existing) is ultimately useless and meaningless, for all that matters is that these assumptions are the most useful and meaningful ways of living our lives because they are consistent with the senses and the evidence.

Thus I am effectively a scientific realist, as I have said, even though I am not absolutely so. This allows me to draw the line when it does come to the things such as hallucinations, invisible friends, and the beliefs in fairies and gods where absolute scientific realism would have us put such things as only in the mind. Then I acknowledge this is only a presumption of a particular point of view, and instead insist we have no evidence to claim that reality is purely objective and good pragmatic reason for suggesting that there is an irreducibly subjective aspect to reality as well.

BadgerJelly » December 26th, 2017, 1:29 am wrote:The confusion here of your own making by adhering to a particular aspect of bracketing out certain doubts and creating an illusion of meaning which is nothing more than distanced measurements devoid of all relevant emotional content.

Yes, I refuse the rationally empty elimination of meaning by unrealistic philosophers as those who have wandered so far from the realities of human existence that their thinking has become meaningless. Thus, I reject the foolish ideological extremes and seek balance in human thought which offers the most meaning.

BadgerJelly » December 26th, 2017, 1:29 am wrote:There is no difference between an hallucination and an illusion unless your grounding this difference within the scope of empiricism. This is precisely what shows up the limitation of empiricism - it is a good example I never thought of so thanks for bring it up.

I certainly do take the scientific view of the world quite seriously for good reason. It works, and this has been demonstrated too repeatedly and universally for doubt to be reasonable. I only draw the line at equating it with reality itself and thus as a matter of philosophical fine points reject the excesses of empiricism.
User avatar
mitchellmckain
Active Member
 
Posts: 1327
Joined: 27 Oct 2016


Re: Mental Content: The Argument from Illusion

Postby Serpent on December 26th, 2017, 1:28 pm 

Asparagus » December 26th, 2017, 9:28 am wrote:True. A sibling argument might be that since, in terms of sensation, we're always bound to a point of view, we can conclude that mental representation is a mediary between the subject and the world.

I would rather say that it's a response to the world.
I dislike fanciful notions of human thought. We are a physical product of the physical world, just like seagulls and rocks. We live in that physical world, or we don't live at all. If your perception of reality is too badly skewed (by hallucination or misinformation or misinterpretation or whatever mental dysfunction) you will take inappropriate actions that will cause you to die in a very real and physical manner.

the possibility that the objective narrative is also from a particular point of view is there as well.

The objective world doesn't narrate, it simply exists. Take it, leave it, or invent stories about it - reality doesn't care.
But I take it you accept the conclusion of the argument? That we have to consider sense data as something distinct from the world itself?

I didn't know there was an argument. Sensory data ---
All right, I have to add here, that sensory data arrives at the brain via nerves from a number of different receptive organs. Vision is only one. Before you can interpret information regarding the world outside your skin, you have to add touch, sound, taste and smell, plus whatever memories and convictions you already possess ---
is distinct from the world as an egg is distinct from the nest or a cyst is distinct from the body: it's encapsulated by your skull. But the egg, the cyst and brain are still part of the world, and whatever they contain will interact with the world in some way, both directly and indirectly.
Serpent
Resident Member
 
Posts: 3109
Joined: 24 Dec 2011


Re: Mental Content: The Argument from Illusion

Postby Asparagus on December 26th, 2017, 7:39 pm 

Serpent » December 26th, 2017, 1:28 pm wrote:
Asparagus » December 26th, 2017, 9:28 am wrote:True. A sibling argument might be that since, in terms of sensation, we're always bound to a point of view, we can conclude that mental representation is a mediary between the subject and the world.

I would rather say that it's a response to the world.
I dislike fanciful notions of human thought. We are a physical product of the physical world, just like seagulls and rocks. We live in that physical world, or we don't live at all. If your perception of reality is too badly skewed (by hallucination or misinformation or misinterpretation or whatever mental dysfunction) you will take inappropriate actions that will cause you to die in a very real and physical manner.

No doubt. So you accept indirect realism?

Serpent wrote:The objective world doesn't narrate, it simply exists. Take it, leave it, or invent stories about it - reality doesn't care.

Objective is a property of narratives, not worlds. Specifically, it's from the third person, and much more so than any subjective narrative, it's a mental construct (some parts of which are abstract.)


Serpent wrote:I didn't know there was an argument.

There are several of them.

Serpent wrote:All right, I have to add here, that sensory data arrives at the brain via nerves from a number of different receptive organs. Vision is only one. Before you can interpret information regarding the world outside your skin, you have to add touch, sound, taste and smell, plus whatever memories and convictions you already possess ---
is distinct from the world as an egg is distinct from the nest or a cyst is distinct from the body: it's encapsulated by your skull. But the egg, the cyst and brain are still part of the world, and whatever they contain will interact with the world in some way, both directly and indirectly.

Encapsulated by your skull? What makes you think that?
Asparagus
Member
 
Posts: 259
Joined: 16 Dec 2017
Blog: View Blog (2)
Braininvat liked this post


Re: Mental Content: The Argument from Illusion

Postby BadgerJelly on December 26th, 2017, 8:04 pm 

Mitch -

It is not absurdity. It is absurd to say a camera can "see". The fault in your wording was minor, but it was still a fault.

I agree with you about meaning. All -isms have useful application. I think humans are generally naively pragmatic (meaning very unlikely to question the way things work if they work well enough.) If it was any other way I imagine the species would be long dead by now.
User avatar
BadgerJelly
Resident Member
 
Posts: 5383
Joined: 14 Mar 2012


Re: Mental Content: The Argument from Illusion

Postby Braininvat on December 26th, 2017, 9:01 pm 

Encapsulated by your skull? What makes you think that?
- Gus

When looking at intentional states, this is always a problem for me. If consciousness is intentional, if it is about something - let's say a stream of photons from the sun bouncing off the chrome handle on an old fridge - then it is difficult to locate because we are talking about a rather smooth and seamless causal chain that begins in the sun, leaves the photosphere, spangs into retinal pigments, excites electrons that hop off and initiate chemical processes that start signals down the optic nerve...and so on. There is no causal gap, so there is a sense in which "I see sun gleaming on chrome" is a process of intentionality that stretches 93 million miles, plus change. The process includes nuclear fusion and chromium alloy steel as much as it includes neural firings in the occipital region. For the convenience of explanatory schemes in neuroscience, we ignore most of what isn't "encapsulated" cranially. We cordon off part of this whole causal process of seeing the photons from the sun when we start to speak in terms of mental content. Mind is a process, not a container. Sometimes the process extends far into the trans-cranial world, sometimes it doesn't. We, as humans, learn over time to tell the difference.
User avatar
Braininvat
Forum Administrator
 
Posts: 6787
Joined: 21 Jan 2014
Location: Black Hills
DragonFlyAsparagus liked this post


Re: Mental Content: The Argument from Illusion

Postby BadgerJelly on December 26th, 2017, 10:30 pm 

Biv -

That is what I was alluding to by saying an eye doesn't "see". If the eye is not connected to the visual cortex then it seems strange to say the eye can "see". We could even say that legs don't "walk", but in such a case the legs can "walk" without conscious effort (or control - at least in regard to the cerebral cortex), and then we could revert back to the eye and say that it may well be the case that the eye does "see" in the same way that the legs "walk", because we do not consciously operate the mechanism of the eye ... and this is where I look to phenomenology and explore the "manner" of consciousness rather than the "mechanism/s."

I am curious about how you've used the term "intentionality" here. Can you explain? (referring to 'process of intentionality')
User avatar
BadgerJelly
Resident Member
 
Posts: 5383
Joined: 14 Mar 2012


Re: Mental Content: The Argument from Illusion

Postby mitchellmckain on December 26th, 2017, 11:31 pm 

BadgerJelly » December 26th, 2017, 7:04 pm wrote:Mitch -

It is not absurdity. It is absurd to say a camera can "see". The fault in your wording was minor, but it was still a fault.

The reason I did not see you making such nitpick is probably because it is wrong. The usage of the word "see" in the English language includes what cameras do and this is largely because there are many similarities in operation to that of the eye. If you had simply pointed out the differences between cameras and eyes then the misunderstanding would not have arisen.

BadgerJelly » December 26th, 2017, 9:30 pm wrote:Biv -

That is what I was alluding to by saying an eye doesn't "see". If the eye is not connected to the visual cortex then it seems strange to say the eye can "see".

Not really. If a doctor says the eyes can see just fine but the information isn't reaching the brain then we understand what he means just fine, and it is also well within the range of usage for the word "see" in the English language.

...

OK, so I shall discuss the difference between the camera and a person. And frankly, there is a word which summarizes the difference and it is the word "perceive" not "see." The camera and the eye alone does not perceive (not at least what psychologists mean by the term), for that is a much more complex process which attaches meaning to the visual data. Now if the camera is connected to a computer running something like facial recognition software then perhaps it would be getting much closer to some of what the human eye and brain together does in the process of perception, but it does not include what the mind contributes to the process for that is in the realm of ideas and concepts -- all quite physical in the symbolization of human language.
Last edited by mitchellmckain on December 27th, 2017, 12:50 am, edited 2 times in total.
User avatar
mitchellmckain
Active Member
 
Posts: 1327
Joined: 27 Oct 2016


Re: Mental Content: The Argument from Illusion

Postby Serpent on December 27th, 2017, 12:37 am 

Asparagus » December 26th, 2017, 6:39 pm wrote:[S-- We are a physical product of the physical world, just like seagulls and rocks. We live in that physical world, or we don't live at all. If your perception of reality is too badly skewed (by hallucination or misinformation or misinterpretation or whatever mental dysfunction) you will take inappropriate actions that will cause you to die in a very real and physical manner. ]
No doubt. So you accept indirect realism?

Not knowing know what that means, I have no basis on which to accept or reject it.

[The objective world doesn't narrate, it simply exists.]
Objective is a property of narratives, not worlds. Specifically, it's from the third person,

Who? And how did this narrator get between reality and your perception?

S -- Sensory data ..is distinct from the world as an egg is distinct from the nest or a cyst is distinct from the body... encapsulated]
Encapsulated by your skull? What makes you think that?

Was this not clear? The brain is where you keep sensory data and memories and consciousness, and that organ lives inside a skull (Except for Braininavat). You asked whether mental content was distinct from the world. Yes, insofar as it's a discreet bundle of something identifiable as an entity or object in its own right. The same way you are distinct from the world, encapsulated in your skin, the inside of which is Asparagus, and everything on the outside is non-Asparagus. But all of Asparagus is in the world and of the world, so in that sense, you are not distinct from the world. You distinction is limited.
Serpent
Resident Member
 
Posts: 3109
Joined: 24 Dec 2011


Re: Mental Content: The Argument from Illusion

Postby Serpent on December 27th, 2017, 12:47 am 

Braininvat » December 26th, 2017, 8:01 pm wrote:[Encapsulated by your skull? What makes you think that?] - Gus

When looking at intentional states, this is always a problem for me.

It was a response to something more specific: mental content. By the time all that input becomes mental content, it's already been separated from the matter, processes and phenomena that produced the stimuli; the incoming sensations have been passed through the receptive organs and nervous system; have been sorted, matched with previous experience, processed, tagged and archived.
Intention doesn't need to have entered - this is just what happens every second of living, whether we want it to or not. Why d'you suppose they had to invent a forgetting pill?
Serpent
Resident Member
 
Posts: 3109
Joined: 24 Dec 2011


Re: Mental Content: The Argument from Illusion

Postby Braininvat on December 27th, 2017, 1:01 am 

BadgerJelly » December 26th, 2017, 7:30 pm wrote:Biv -

That is what I was alluding to by saying an eye doesn't "see". If the eye is not connected to the visual cortex then it seems strange to say the eye can "see". We could even say that legs don't "walk", but in such a case the legs can "walk" without conscious effort (or control - at least in regard to the cerebral cortex), and then we could revert back to the eye and say that it may well be the case that the eye does "see" in the same way that the legs "walk", because we do not consciously operate the mechanism of the eye ... and this is where I look to phenomenology and explore the "manner" of consciousness rather than the "mechanism/s."

I am curious about how you've used the term "intentionality" here. Can you explain? (referring to 'process of intentionality')


I'm just using the basic modern definition, as coined by Brentano, of "consciousness of." I.e. consciousness that is about a thing or state of affairs. I wasn't ruling out non-intentional states (and several recent philosophers, as I recall, allow for them in either a mystical context or a phenomenological one...). But usually where perception is involved, there is intentionality in the philosophic meaning of the term. I hear a lark. I feel something fuzzy. I see sunshine. Without the final causal stages - routing through higher cortical centres, hippocampus, and so on - there is no real perception. At least not in the usual meaning, in which the perceiver has a belief about something. I believe a lark is singing. I believe the sun is shining. Perception is inseparable from having beliefs about the world. A thermostat registers temperature, but registering is not perceiving, it doesn't involve beliefs about the world.

Then there is the ontology of intentional objects, and folks like Fodor, Kripke, Putnam. Epistemological realism - the world exists independently, and what you know about it exists independently of your mind. The mind is innately designed to capture objective facts about the world and have beliefs that correspond to the world as it exists independently of us. Inter-subjective verification is the means by which the beliefs are tested and then deciding which ones to keep and discard.

Late here. Tired. Hope this helps. Serpent, I should have indicated I was using the philosophy of mind definition of "intention," not the common usage. That always breeds confusion.
User avatar
Braininvat
Forum Administrator
 
Posts: 6787
Joined: 21 Jan 2014
Location: Black Hills


Re: Mental Content: The Argument from Illusion

Postby Braininvat on December 27th, 2017, 1:03 am 

User avatar
Braininvat
Forum Administrator
 
Posts: 6787
Joined: 21 Jan 2014
Location: Black Hills


Re: Mental Content: The Argument from Illusion

Postby Serpent on December 27th, 2017, 1:21 am 

If St. Anselm and God are in, I'm out. But thanks for clearing that up.

Still, at some point, intentionally or not, symbolically or not, narratively or not, a curtain is drawn between raw input (whatever the lark, the caterpillar and the sun are doing to our nerve-endings) and the long-term memory (after perception, awareness, etc.) to which we refer when making decisions, identifying things, or manipulating images. Whatever each discreet consciousness "owns" is still contained separately from the physical world outside our volition.
Serpent
Resident Member
 
Posts: 3109
Joined: 24 Dec 2011


Re: Mental Content: The Argument from Illusion

Postby BadgerJelly on December 27th, 2017, 4:09 am 

Mitch -

In all honesty I have never heard someone say a camera can "see". I would also argue that my I don't see and I have never heard anyone say such a thing before (in the frame of this kind of discussion), but I would have accepted you saying "someone sees with their eyes", this would account for blind-sightedness too, because the brain is still perceiving even though the perception is not brought directly into conscious knowledge.

To me if someone says "nitpicking" I general take this to mean someone has made a trivial point. I think this is far from a trivial point because the distinction of how we use words in philosophical discourse should be brought to question as often as possible in order to clarify any slight difference in opinion/understanding. Pedantry is a mainstay of philosophy. I was not trying to confuse any understanding only make clearer distinctions.

You don't even need eyes to see at all. It is possible (and there are examples) to see with your ears. Others sensory organs can adjust, and literally rewire, in order to replace the function of the eye. What is fascinating in neurogenesis is the eye and the brain develop a chain of neurons that meet up. If the connection never happens then the eyes are never used to see. People who've gone blind can learn to translate visual data that has been transformed into sound back into visual data again (of course this is done in a simplistic way and hardly has much detail - and it can easily be argued that the eyes have to have functioned to some degree in order for this to happen in the first place. Refined echo-location works for many creatures though, and some humans can use this to navigate the physical world too to some degree.

My eyes do not see, my hand doesn't write and my mouth doesn't speak. It is hardly nitpicking when the discussion involves Husserl and empiricism to make such a thing explicit.
User avatar
BadgerJelly
Resident Member
 
Posts: 5383
Joined: 14 Mar 2012


Re: Mental Content: The Argument from Illusion

Postby BadgerJelly on December 27th, 2017, 6:00 am 

Biv -

I can maybe point out something that will better help you frame what phenomenology is about. That is phenomenology is "something" about itself, or in the sense Heidegger reframed in his parse, "the being of the being in beingness"; which is possible to connect to what you said above in terms of "intentionality", but the phenomenological explication of this term does not take on the physical realist position. The "thing" of intentionality is not, but it can be, a physical "thing".

Your example shows an adherence tp physical phenomenon, or rather phenomenon as physically given. Phenomenology is not concerned directly with this, nor doe sit deny the physicality or reality of the "something". This can be further looked into when we declare the realm of "ontology" and it is where Heidegger felt the need to make the problem of ontology more explicit (I think he failed in many ways.)

It is in this sense that ontology doesn't matter other than as a whole expanse of interest. Meaning the reality of any comprehensible item of experience or thought is "real".

What Husserl tried to do with his use of Noema and Noesis, and Real and Irreal, was to show the limited field of the objective perspective, not to dismiss it (or to stop believing in science - a hollow and ignorant attack some people make which has very little foundation to it.)

A book and what a book is need not be explicated. We all understand it. We do not understand as a physical item though, the physicality of the "book" is more of s symbolic form of what "book" is an an intentional "something".

Phenomenology, as Neri seemed to have framed, is about appearances. This is simply false. Phenomenology is not concerned with only appearances, that is the limited field of interest of the physical sciences.
User avatar
BadgerJelly
Resident Member
 
Posts: 5383
Joined: 14 Mar 2012


Re: Mental Content: The Argument from Illusion

Postby Asparagus on December 27th, 2017, 10:28 am 

Braininvat » December 26th, 2017, 9:01 pm wrote:
Encapsulated by your skull? What makes you think that?
- Gus

When looking at intentional states, this is always a problem for me. If consciousness is intentional, if it is about something - let's say a stream of photons from the sun bouncing off the chrome handle on an old fridge - then it is difficult to locate because we are talking about a rather smooth and seamless causal chain that begins in the sun, leaves the photosphere, spangs into retinal pigments, excites electrons that hop off and initiate chemical processes that start signals down the optic nerve...and so on. There is no causal gap, so there is a sense in which "I see sun gleaming on chrome" is a process of intentionality that stretches 93 million miles, plus change. The process includes nuclear fusion and chromium exalloy steel as much as it includes neural firings in the occipital region. For the convenience of explanatory schemes in neuroscience, we ignore most of what isn't "encapsulated" cranially. We cordon off part of this whole causal process of seeing the photons from the sun when we start to speak in terms of mental content. Mind is a process, not a container. Sometimes the process extends far into the trans-cranial world, sometimes it doesn't. We, as humans, learn over time to tell the difference.

And into the distant past as we look out at the night sky... boundless? That's an amazing thought.
Asparagus
Member
 
Posts: 259
Joined: 16 Dec 2017
Blog: View Blog (2)


Re: Mental Content: The Argument from Illusion

Postby Asparagus on December 27th, 2017, 10:39 am 

Serpent wrote:Who? And how did this narrator get between reality and your perception?

Who is the third person? "It was a dark and stormy night...", "The euglena has a photoelectric spot near its flagellum."

It's a party who isn't in the story, all-knowing and all-seeing (or at least we never hear the third person admitting to being ignorant.)

Serpent wrote:Was this not clear? The brain is where you keep sensory data and memories and consciousness, and that organ lives inside a skull (Except for Braininavat). You asked whether mental content was distinct from the world. Yes, insofar as it's a discreet bundle of something identifiable as an entity or object in its own right. The same way you are distinct from the world, encapsulated in your skin, the inside of which is Asparagus, and everything on the outside is non-Asparagus. But all of Asparagus is in the world and of the world, so in that sense, you are not distinct from the world. You distinction is limited.

Well, suppose I'm thinking of the number 7. Is the number 7 in my skull?
Asparagus
Member
 
Posts: 259
Joined: 16 Dec 2017
Blog: View Blog (2)


Re: Mental Content: The Argument from Illusion

Postby Serpent on December 27th, 2017, 11:21 am 

Asparagus » December 27th, 2017, 9:39 am wrote:[Who? And how did this narrator get between reality and your perception?]
Who is the third person? "It was a dark and stormy night...", "The euglena has a photoelectric spot near its flagellum."

It's a party who isn't in the story, all-knowing and all-seeing (or at least we never hear the third person admitting to being ignorant.)

Oh. The omniscient narrator. The Recording Angel. The Moving Finger. OK....
"Then when we retire, we can write he gospels,
and they'll all talk about us when we die."

Well, suppose I'm thinking of the number 7. Is the number 7 in my skull?

Easy way to find out. Try taking off your head and thinking of the number 7 without it.
Seriously, there is no such thing as a number. There are quantities of things and there is the ability to quantify and there is the desire to keep score and there is the concept of making symbols for the record. You have had to learn all these ideas separately, then put them together in the same drawer in your synaptic cupboard, note its co-ordinates so that you can navigate there at will. Only then can you think of the number 7. That's why few children under three years, and even fewer dogs, can think of the number 7, or seven, or VII or even iiiiiii. However, both will notice the absence of their blue ball, even though the green, orange, yellow, white, purple and pink balls are present.
Serpent
Resident Member
 
Posts: 3109
Joined: 24 Dec 2011


Re: Mental Content: The Argument from Illusion

Postby Asparagus on December 27th, 2017, 12:00 pm 

Serpent wrote:"Then when we retire, we can write he gospels,
and they'll all talk about us when we die."

That's first-person, dude. Anyway, objective narrative, subjective narrative: they're supposed to be narratives about the same world. If you think it's two different worlds, I'd think you'd have more to say about the OP.


Serpent wrote:Seriously, there is no such thing as a number.

Missed the first grade?
Asparagus
Member
 
Posts: 259
Joined: 16 Dec 2017
Blog: View Blog (2)


Re: Mental Content: The Argument from Illusion

Postby Dave_C on December 27th, 2017, 3:27 pm 

Hi Asparagus. I did some reading online so I think I grasp your OP better. From SEP:
2.2. The Argument from Illusion

The Argument from Illusion is the best-known and most historically influential argument for the existence of sense data. An illusion is a case in which one perceives an object, but the object is not the way it appears in some respects. For instance, when one views a straight stick half-submerged in water, the stick may appear bent. Since it is not in fact bent, this is an illusion. Some philosophers have argued that the possibility of such sensory illusions shows that what we are directly aware of in perception is never the real, physical object (Ayer 1963, pp. 3–11). Using the bent-stick illusion as an example, one might argue:
1.When viewing a straight stick half-submerged in water, one is directly aware of something bent.
2.No relevant physical thing is bent in this situation.
3.Therefore, in this situation, one is directly aware of something non-physical.
4.What one is directly aware of in this situation is the same kind of thing that one is directly aware of in normal, non-illusory perception.
5.Therefore, in normal perception, one is directly aware of non-physical things.

A background assumption is that there is only one stick-like thing that one sees in the example, and that thing is either an actual, physical stick, or a sense datum of a stick. The argument concludes that it is not the physical stick, so it must be a sense datum.

Step (4) seems plausible, since one can imagine first perceiving the stick normally, and then moving it into the water. It would be implausible to maintain that one is seeing the physical stick up to the moment when it touches the water, at which point the object of one's awareness suddenly changes to a sense datum.

Opponents of sense data object to premise (1) on grounds similar to those considered in section 2.1: namely, it may be that what one is directly aware of merely appears bent but is not in fact bent. Sense data theorists and their opponents, again, disagree over whether an object of direct awareness must have exactly the features it appears to have.

https://plato.stanford.edu/entries/sense-data/#ArgIll

Asparagus » December 24th, 2017, 9:28 pm wrote:The Argument from Illusion is pretty simple. We just look at any case where the content of the visual field conflicts with objective facts (which is most of the time) and conclude that visual images do not provide us with an accurate account of the world. Visual images are something other than the chemical and electrical impulses associated with vision. These images are mental content.

Am I explaining that correctly? Do you accept the conclusion of this argument?


Not sure if that's explained correctly or not. I understand mental content to be made up of phenomenal experiences (ie: qualia) and our phenomenal experiences of the world are what we use to interpret the world. So our 'mental content' (mental states?) are made up of our phenomenal experiences and are used to interpret the world. Definition of phenomenal consciousness (ie: phenomenal experience) here:
viewtopic.php?f=51&t=28417

Your question then seems to be, does the argument from illusion as given for example by the above Stanford reference, provide a logical (indisputable?) argument that proves: 5.Therefore, in normal perception, one is directly aware of non-physical things.

Is that your interpretation of the argument? It sounds to me like it's an argument that concludes that mental content is non-physical or a non-physical phenomenon. Similarly, it seems to say mental states or phenomenal experience is non-physical.

Personally, I fail to see that the argument has achieved any proof of this. I don't disagree that mental states are non-physical in some way but I fail to see that the argument has accomplished its mission. The pencil in water trick doesn't do it for me for all the reasons Wikipedia provides:
Criticism of the argument[edit]

A critical argument would be as follows: Because the stick provides a contrasting surface in the surrounding water, the bent appearance of the stick is evidence of the previously unaccounted for physical properties of the water. It would be a mistake to categorize an optical effect resulting from a physical cause as sensory fallibility because it results from an increase in information from another previously unaccounted-for object or physical property. Unless the water is not taken into consideration, the example in fact reinforces the reliability of our visual sense to gather information accurately. This criticism, which was most strongly voiced by J.L. Austin,[2] is that perceptual variation which can be attributed to physical causes does not entail a representational disconnect between sense and reference, owing to an unreasonable segregation of parts from the perceived object.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Argument_from_illusion

I'd prefer to make sure we're on the same page before discussing which is the main point here. Hopefully I've interpreted your OP correctly.
User avatar
Dave_C
Member
 
Posts: 306
Joined: 08 Jun 2014
Location: Allentown


Re: Mental Content: The Argument from Illusion

Postby Serpent on December 27th, 2017, 5:06 pm 

Asparagus » December 27th, 2017, 11:00 am wrote:That's first-person, dude.

It's no person at all; it's a chorus from a musical- that is, actors impersonating fictional characters impersonating fictional characters.
Anyway, objective narrative, subjective narrative: they're supposed to be narratives about the same world. If you think it's two different worlds, I'd think you'd have more to say about the OP.

Why would I think that any two real (Kroll, Google, Hubble, Gallup) or imaginary (Santa Claus, Big Brother, History) narrators were spinning yarns about the same world? Their subject matter and their mandates are various: they are charged with recording specific types of event around different designated targets. None of them records or interprets the entire world.
So, 1. The narratives of these putative third party interlopers are about different aspects of the world.
and 2. None of them are necessarily between my own perception and the world.

[S - Seriously, there is no such thing as a number.]
Missed the first grade?

School-teachers, however, do play an interpretive part between the student and his understanding of the world.
Serpent
Resident Member
 
Posts: 3109
Joined: 24 Dec 2011


Next

Return to Anything Philosophy

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 9 guests