> From: "Roberts, Craig" <CRAIG92@psy.soton.ac.uk>
> Date: Fri, 24 Feb 1995 12:37:27 GMT
> After reading your reply, we remain a little confused over the issue
> You say that you are a monist and yet in your final paragraph you
> seem to suggest that there is more to the mind than just matter and
> energy. Have we misinterpreted your reply?
I happen to be an epiphenomenalist, for what it's worth, which is
monistic about what there is (there's only matter and energy) but
exacting about what counts as an explanation -- and the matter/energy
explanation of mind just is not sufficient in the way the matter/energy
explanation of matter/energy is.
I'm not saying there's another, better explanation to be had (and
certainly not one that goes BEYOND matter/energy), giving mind any
causal power independent of matter/energy. I'm just saying that
matter/energy explanations don't succeed in the way they do in other
> If the mind is a function of the brain as a mind-brain identity
> theorist would maintain, does the mind-body problem remain???
The identity theorist can SAY it, but what can it MEAN to say mind and
brain are the same? That a toothache is the same as the activity in
certain parts of my nervous system? I'll take your word for it, but that
sure doesn't do the trick for me in the way telling me that heat is the
same as average molecular energy, or water is the same as H2O does.
Why not? The main reason is the Turing Test: The pain system in the
brain has a function: It signals injury and triggers behaviours that
protect against injury (I simplify, but the same would would be true
if I told a fuller story of nociception, adaptation and learning). Those
behaviours can be described and understood functionally, as can the pain
mechanisms that generate them. But once you want to say: "And that's it;
that's all there is to it; feeling pain is simply identical with the
activity of the system I've just described," there always remains that
niggling question: "But why can't you have all those FUNCTIONS [injury
avoidance, etc.], so admirably generated by this system, WITHOUT FEELING
ANYTHING AT ALL, indeed, without anyone being at home in the there?"
What would be DIFFERENT about a Turing-Indistinguishable system that was
just a Zombie?
Nothing in explanations of this sort will answer such questions, and
this is bad news for facile "identity" theory, which then reduces to a
mysterious article of faith, whereas the mystery was what the brain
story was meant to dispel!
By the way, more in fashion among monists these days than identity
theory is "functionalism," which does not say, like the identity
theorist, that mental states are identical with physical states, but
rather that mental states are functional states (which could be
physically implemented in many different ways, as long as the
functional properties were preserved).
> One last point pertains to your example of the Lottery message
> elating the depressive. Are you sure that material well being has
> such a strong bearing on happiness?
Maybe, maybe not, but that wasn't the point. The point was that just as
ordinary spoon bending can be seen as telekinesis, order news bearing
can be seen as psychopharmacology (likewise telekinesis)...
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