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Monday Night Philosophy Talks (monthly)

Hello there,

This is Session 1 of the Philosophy of Mind Series.

For the next few months we're going to focus out attention on the UC Berkeley lectures (Spring 2011) by Philosopher John Searle. We'll try to cover approximately 7/month. Don't worry if you can't listen to them all. Closer to the event I will be posting a few themes from the lectures that we will use to structure our discussion.

Here are the links to this month's lectures:

Lecture 1:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zi7Va_4ekko

Lecture 2:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=c14ZI80-gPo

Lecture 3:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qJ9YQ5IHzrI

Lecture 4:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qivOmLRn5Oc

Lecture 5:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yYU6x1kzNXU

Lecture 6:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zLQjbACTaZM

Lecture 7:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9STv-O520UU


If you'd like to download the lectures they are also available on iTunes U for free.

Hope you enjoy!

-Julie

Join or login to comment.

  • Laurent L.

    Yes, it is a subjective question. It is related in that you argued passionately for science as the best way of knowing how the world works and I was curious about what was behind that passion. If others could weigh in on this, especially if they were party to the conversation, it would be interesting to see the range of answers that you (and I) anticipate. I would also say that deriving pleasure from life through a knowledge of nature adds to my pleasure. For example, I got a lot of pleasure from reading Lewis Thomas' "Lives of a Cell". I also get a lot of pleasure in that scientific knowledge provide grist for philosophical thought. For others it could be the various technological items available through science.

    Your answer, although general, leads me to wonder why you would see science as a preferred way to derive pleasure from life. It seems that you could get a good deal of pleasure from the arts as well, as Babar argued. And get them more directly than through science.

    1 · February 26, 2013

    • Laurent L.

      I just spent 20 mins. looking for your Feb 26 post but was not able to see it. I did see some posts of that day but not the one you mention immediately above

      March 28, 2013

    • Anthony D.

      This is the *actual thread* where my message (that you can't find) appears. Try clicking on the link that says View all replies (it's in very tiny font, top-left corner of the first Reply in this thread).

      March 28, 2013

  • Laurent L.

    Just found it, Tony, on the discussion page. Yes, direct realism.

    Now that is a very interesting (and minority) position. I admire those who hold minority positions because you have to work hard to defend it. As a viable realist, I know how it feels, too.

    I think this is the source of the misunderstanding, cross-talk and frustration so perhaps a new thread on direct realism. Is this the first time you mention this, Tony. If you did mention it earlier, I missed it completely. I thought you were a naive realist (as Searle claims to be) who assumed some form of representationalism.

    March 28, 2013

    • Anthony D.

      Searle calls it "naïve realism"; I learned it as "direct realism"... but the two terms are synonymous. Under this view, both Searle and I flat-out reject ALL forms of representationalism. I say why this is the case, in another post (which I can't find at the moment, but I remember saying it has to do with being able to explain the relationship between objects you can't sense and the objects you can. A tough task, for anyone who holds a representational theory of perception!!)

      March 28, 2013

  • Laurent L.

    Tony, I read somewhere last night on this site that you were a direct realist. But I couln't find the post again. So was I dreaming or did you say it? And if so, where would I find it.

    March 28, 2013

  • Laurent L.

    You have pointed out, Tony, that you have now identified a logical contradiction in my views three times and seem frustrated that i have not accepted this criticism. The reason for this is that we were working away at the four fold distinction you made and to which I had a number of questions for clarification. You did clarify my first set of questions. But your responses raised further questions. I posted a message below saying that I had entered these further questions in the discussion series you had started. I also want to point out that you have not yet answered the question i have asked several times about what grounds your thinking about reality. Thus, it seems to me that while I have made efforts to understand you and your position, you have not done likewise.

    The question about what grounds the scientific enterprise is connected to the earlier question where I was under the impression (incorrectly you said) that your views were theological.

    Let's re-engage on this.

    March 26, 2013

    • Anthony D.

      Laurent,

      If I failed to answer one of your questions, it was unintentional. This is why I regret not being able to attend the last MeetUp in person (alas, I'm selling my house and had to entertain offers that night).
      I scanned the posts and couldn't find anything that I did not answer, so all I can offer is this (as I did to Babar):

      Start up a new thread under Discussions and be clear about what view you're trying to promote (or critique) and then express it as clearly and concisely as possible. Discussion threads are easier to read than these Comment threads... so I suspect we'll have an easier time reaching a resolution. Thanks.

      March 28, 2013

    • Laurent L.

      Thanks for the suggestion and for clarifying your situation. There are a number of questions, Tony, but after I posted comment to which you responded immediately above, I received an email that showed for the first time that you had, in fact answered, in th epast two days. So you did answer the clarification questions I had on your four way distinction. There, are however, several other items that have been unanswered by you. I also understand the limitations of this platform and/or my lack of experience. So, I will do as you suggest and start a new thread.

      March 28, 2013

  • Babar

    Hi, (Laurent, Anthony, others), my point is not that "all truth is relative". Following Searle's Philosophy of Mind, which is what we're talking about here, my point is that there is such a thing as reality, there is a ground of pure being or existence, what Searle calls "ontological objectivity", but that it's not the same thing as "objective reality". "Objective reality" is a fallacy, and Anthony and David were confusing "objective reality" with "ontological objectivity". Please re-read my posts below. And Laurent, I was not trained by Jesuits. :) I have a B.A. in French Literature from the University of Toronto, and studied Literature and Translation at the graduate level at the Sorbonne (University of Paris IV). And although it's in Europe, and the Sorbonnne was probably originally founded as a Jesuit institution back in the 14th cent., my profs were definitely not Jesuits! ;) More like poststructuralists, Hegelians, lapsed existentialists, decadent novelists,

    March 26, 2013

    • Laurent L.

      I was refering to the high school comment you made and my own experience of the teaching arm of the Jesuits who are highly trained in philosophy and bring it to their students in lower grades. In Belgium, I had Faust in grade school. My mother was so worried about what they were telling the kids that she met with the priest.

      March 27, 2013

    • Anthony D.

      >> "Objective reality" is a fallacy, and Anthony and David were confusing "objective reality" with "ontological objectivity". <<


      Yeah. Nouns can't be fallacies.

      In any case, the only reason we're so "confused" (according to you, not me) is that you keep offering varying and differing explanations. It certainly doesn't help that you'll say "there is such a thing as reality" and then Laurent speaks on your behalf saying "The point Babar is making is that there is no such thing as a mind-independent objective reality".

      I suggest you start up a new thread under Discussions and label it "Objective Reality vs Ontological Objectivity". Try to get your point across in a few clear sentences and then I'll be better able to see what you're driving at.

      March 28, 2013

  • A former member
    A former member

    Barbar,
    Sorry I misspelled your name but I haven't had my iPod long and didn't realize it would autofill names. So again, forgive me.

    Now I hope we can focus on the mind/body problem without a lot of emotions. But I have a nagging suspicion that, with all the debate about whether or not there is an objective-ontological-reality, we might not get too far.

    Laurent, I do not understand "the 'presupposition that there is an objective reality' is a presupposition that is based on the understanding that God created the universe." What does thinking that there is an objective reality have to do with believing that a god created the universe? Could we not have a god created objective-ontological-reality, or a none-god-created objective-ontological-reality.

    I also am doubtful that any of us are on the same page about what 'objective-ontological-reality' means.

    March 27, 2013

    • Laurent L.

      The theological point was discussed on Monday. Briefly, it is the starting point of modern science. The Royal Society was formed out of an understanding that the universe, having been created by God (an intelligent being), was intelligible. Humans, created in the image of God, could use their intelligence to 'discover' God. The idea was aptly put by Thomas Browne's poetic reference... <There are two books from where I get my divinity. There is the written one of God and the other by God's servant, Nature, that public and universal manuscript that lies expansed befor ethe eyes of all. Those who could not see god in the one, can see God in the other> This is a paraphrase from memory so may not be quite accurate. The scientific enterprise subsequently sidelined the theological part but still holds on the the presupposition of a created universe.

      March 27, 2013

  • Fred B.

    Panpsychism was mentioned at the Monday night meeting, and several people were interested in in. There are two new articles by David Chalmers on the topic at this link:

    http://fragments.consc.net/djc/2013/03/two-articles-on-panpsychism.html

    March 27, 2013

  • Angelina

    Here is some background information on the 3rd culture I mentioned yesterday
    http://www.edge.org/3rd_culture/index.html

    and if you have time check out the edge annual question page

    http://www.edge.org/annual-question

    March 27, 2013

  • Babar

    [cont'd from below] neo-Surrealist poets and other assorted beret- wearing, Gauloises-smoking radicals... Probably the kinds of people that Anthony has nightmares about ;) (joking).

    March 26, 2013

  • Laurent L.

    David.

    The point Babar is making (please note the spelling of his name) is that there is no such thing as a mind-independent objective reality. Whatever sentient beings come up with in terms of so-called objective reality comes up through our knowing process. We have no access to a reality that is independent of our knowing it.

    March 25, 2013

    • Laurent L.

      I will try to respond from the earliest to the latest postings. Let me see if I understand this: Are you saying it is a contradiction because if truths are, indeed relative, then they would not be absolute? And if not absolute they could not be truths?

      March 26, 2013

    • Anthony D.

      Laurent (and others),

      The reason that "all truth is relative" is a logical contradiction is because if you claim that the proposition itself ("all truth is relative") is TRUE, then you've already identified at least ONE universal truth - namely, that "all truth is relative"! And if you've got at least ONE universal truth, then you cannot say that ALL truth is relative. You can say that SOME truth is relative, without contradiction. So long as you grant me that at least ONE truth is objective, then that's sufficient to win the "objective reality" argument. No professional philosopher (that I know of) is skeptical of this, and that's why I'm saddened that we've wasted so much time trying to build a case against it.

      March 26, 2013

  • Babar

    David, if you can't even spell my name right, then maybe you shouldn't be in this group at all, let alone pretend to talk intelligently about topics in Philosopy of Mind. Maybe I should call you "Data", the android from Star Trek Next Generation, because that's who you remind me of, except that you likely don't have even a trillionth of his processing capability. It's like that episode in which various humans are trying convey to Data what a sense of humour is, but his approach is to download a series of 2 line jokes and try to understand in a hopelessly limited binary way what humour is. Julie and I met for drinks a few weeks ago at a live music venue, (something that you could probably only conceptualize as a "subjective" experience, hahahahahahaha) and I mentioned that I was astounded that you and Anthony still believed in absolute "objective reality". Most people learn or figure out back in high school that this is a concept that even scientists no longer use. OK, I'll only

    March 25, 2013

    • Laurent L.

      I do not know, but I suspect Babar was educated in Europe and likely had teachers that were philosophically trained. Perhaps Jesuits. Just a guess. Also, I'm not sure if 'voting' tells us much in this regard. New ideas take many decades to be accepted and those who hold them are overwhelmingly outvoted by their peers. Think continental drift. How many decades did it take for that idea to become mainstream? Keep in mind that the 'presupposition that there is an objective reality' is a presupposition that is based on the understanding that God created the universe.

      March 26, 2013

    • Laurent L.

      I agree with Tony, as I said earlier regarding ad hominem. It is important to respect each other and we can do this even white challenging or questioning the view presented.

      March 26, 2013

  • Babar

    In other words, even though it enunciates what appear to be objective truths within that particular framework and parameters, it is in fact a subjective statement, since it's formulated within those subjective, circumstantial parameters. That's why there's a distinction to be made between "epistemic objectivity" and ontological being itself, what Searle calls "ontological objectivity", which we cannot grasp in its totality. Do you understand?

    March 25, 2013

    • Anthony D.

      Sorry. In all his posts, I couldn't find a single coherent philosophical argument.

      March 26, 2013

    • Laurent L.

      There seems to be a good deal of ad hominem going on here. This makes me uncomfortable. It actually undermines the point, position or argument. In respect for the intent of this group as well as the person who started it, could we focus on the argument in a thoughtful and considerate manner?

      1 · March 26, 2013

  • Fred B.

    Laurent asked me to post the URL for the survey of philosophers.

    Very intriguing survey of the views of professional philosophers on major points of difference among them. Also has tables of correlations between the the different viewpoints.

    http://philpapers.org/surveys/

    Results are here:

    http://philpapers.org/surveys/results.pl

    March 26, 2013

    • Laurent L.

      Thanks, Fred. What do you make of the fact that 30% of the questions have "other" as the response?

      March 26, 2013

  • Babar

    "Sorry. In all his posts, I couldn't find a single coherent philosophical argument."

    Hahahahaha, Anthony, you're too much, you DO realize you've become the laughingstock of the group? Do YOU have any coherent arguments whatsoever in response to my posts? In your replies to Laurent and to me you've demonstrated an unbelievable level of closedmindedness, as well as a lack of conceptual ability. One has to wonder why you joined a philosophy club, maybe an accounting or an insurance club would be better suited to your intellect and personality.

    March 26, 2013

  • Babar

    Ontological objectivity" is the realm of reality itself, pure existence outside of any conceptual frameworks. So, for example, I can say that the moon appears to me as a round, white orb, given that I as a human am observing it, that I'm observing it on a full moon night, that I'm observing it from somewhere on Planet Earth, etc., this is a statement that I can make within an "epistemic objective" framework, and it would be true within that framework given those parameters that I've mentioned. HOWEVER it would not be universally true, that statement would not be part of the entire ontological existence of the moon, since given other parameters and other subjects or beings experiencing it, the moon could have radically different characteristics.

    March 25, 2013

  • Babar

    Hi, Anthony, please see my relply to Data below (David). Again, both of you are confusing "objective reality" with ontological reality. It is a bit confusing, granted, because Searle calls ontological reality "ontological objectivity", so you're tempted to think it's the same thing as "objective reality", but it isn't. I think it would be less confusing to call it "ontological presence" or "ontological being", but I think Searle didn't anticipate that there would still be people in the 20th/21st century who still believe in "objective reality". It's a classic "category error", a confusion between what Searle calls "epistemic objectivity" and "ontological objectivity". "Epistemic objectivity", from my understanding of it, concerns statements that you can make and validate within various epistemic frameworks, in other words, within various frameworks of knowledge or approaches to reality, such as science or art

    March 25, 2013

  • Babar

    [cont'd from above] does exist, it's more accurate to call it "ontological reality", since "objective reality" is a fallacy. Do you understand? For example, according to this theory at least, the moon exists, it has being outside of our perception of it, but we can only perceive it through subjective frameworks, therefore there is no such thing as absolute "objective reality".

    March 25, 2013

  • Babar

    [cont'd from above] explain this once more, so here goes: you are confusing the epistemic notion of "objective reality" with ontological reality itself. Ontological reality is being itself, existence, what you falsely call "objective reality". There is a difference. "Objective reality" is a fallacy, it's a term that is incorrect, since there is no way for us to apprehend reality other than through subjective frameworks, that is to say epistemic discourses such as science (within which the term "objective reality" has been long since discredited, even by scientists themselves) and art. When we try to look at being itself, ontological existence, what we are looking at is fundamentally conditioned by how we look at it, in other words, by subjectivity. So, it's wrong to say that ontological existence is the same thing as "objective reality", since "objective reality" does not exist, there are only subjective versions of reality. But that's not to say that reality doesn't exist, it

    March 25, 2013

  • Laurent L.

    Wow! Somehow that last posting turned me magically into a bear!

    March 25, 2013

  • Babar

    [cont'd from below] "objective reality". So, to recap, according to this particular theory, things have ontological being, they exist outside of conscious agents, but that being cannot be entirely accessed by any kind of naive, absolutist illusions of "objective reality" such as what you and David were positing a month ago. Particular aspects of ontological being can be mediated or accessed by various epistemic discourses at our disposal, such as the scientific method or art, but that should never lead you to believe that you are grasping the full range and complexity of absolute ontological reality. You should always be aware that what you are looking at is framed, focalized, limited by the particular parameters of the epistemic discourse that you're using to look at it. You should not think that the map is the territory. Do you see the distinction?

    March 24, 2013

    • Laurent L.

      Glad to finally hear from you, Babar. One early thinker you left out is Vico. However, Tony did say he was not familiar or not too familiar with the continental tradition. Unfortunately, neither is Searle.

      March 25, 2013

  • A former member
    A former member

    Barbara,
    Your idea that different beings with different sensory apparatus will perceive objects differently is well put. But what they are experiencing is their subjective reality.

    I am speaking about 'one objective reality' - regardless of how various sentiant beings perceive it.

    March 25, 2013

  • Babar

    [cont'd from below] mean that they form any kind of absolute "objective reality" as you termed it. For example, even at a very basic level, the moon's characteristics and appearance change radically depending on who or what is observing it (a being that can observe electromagnetic spectra at higher or lower frequencies than humans will have a completely different experience of the moon), how the moon is being observed, from where it's being observed (e.g. human astronauts walking on the moon will see it as a barren rock), when it's being observed, etc., and this applies to all other things as well, so any kind of notion of absolute "objective reality" completely falls apart, even at this very fundamental level. And I'm not even mentioning the enormous weight of 300 years or so of Western philosophical tradition after Kant that has utterly torn apart the illusion of "objective reality". Even hard scientists, physicists obviously, but others have well, have long abandoned the idea of

    March 24, 2013

  • Babar

    Hi, sorry to get back into this discussion after such a long time. Life (fortunately) intervened. Anyway, to address Anthony and David's argument from last month that there definitely is such a thing as "objective reality" and that science is the best way to apprehend it (Anthony: "There is a channel for discovering how the world objectively works (namely, science)." David: "From my experience, if someone says to me "There is no objective reality" I assume any conversation we might have will be unproductive."), it seems to me that there was a confusion among both of you between the notion or episteme of "objective reality", that is to say a discourse or method for apprehending "reality" that came out of rationalism and 19th cent. positivism,etc., and actual, ontological existence or being itself. Anthony, you mentioned something somewhere about "tables, chairs, cars, trees, the moon, etc.", these things are part of Searle's "Ontologically Objective" category, but that does not

    March 24, 2013

  • Laurent L.

    I posted two responses on the discussions page, one to Tony on his helpful four-way approach to the subjectivity/objectivity distinction and the other to Fred for his contribution and realism and constructivism.

    March 5, 2013

  • Laurent L.

    Somewher, Tony, you commented on my Bateson paraphrase but can't locate it at the moment. I believe you said that since we are nature, then learning about nature is learning about ourselves. This is from memory but let me know if I have misunderstood you. In any event, I do think there is an important difference between the way we work and the way nature works. This is because nature works in an extra-conscious sense (without dreams and guesses, so to speak) while human projects are the products of certain wishes and desires and we can bring huge forces to bear in achieving those. Some scientists are seeing human activity as a geologic force. So Bateson's question is designed to keep us mindful that, yes, we are nature and we have the power to shut down, perhaps not nature in its entirety, but a good deal of biospherical regulating systems and cycles on which more complex life forms depend for their existence. And that includes us.

    March 3, 2013

  • A former member
    A former member

    From my experience, if someone says to me "There is no objective reality" I assume any conversation we might have will be unproductive. You have to have some foundation upon which to build a philosophical discussion.
    As per science and poetry, I think science is the best tool we have to gain an accurate picture of reality. Poetry is one means of expressing ourselves, like prose, math, painting, sculpture, conversation etc., but I do not think poetry provided any information to increase the accuracy of our world view. It's a nice activity if you like it, but it is not a tool to learn about the world in which we live. I suppose analysing poetry might give you some insight into the psychology of the poet, but that's as far as poetry could go.
    If anyone has any empirical evidence for consciousness, other than 'it seems nonphysical', I'd like to hear it. As far as I know, whenever consciousness is altered there is a concomitant alteration in the physical brain. Contrary evidence?

    1 · March 1, 2013

    • Laurent L.

      What is your criteria for reality? I asked my son this question when he was 10. His reply was (If I can shout it!) At that time he was learning how to fire a rifle in scouts. Canadian philosopher B. Lonergan builds his philosophical system on a person's experience of having an insight and he examines how this is done in common sense knowing, mathematics and in science. All this to avoid the problem of Godel's therom of incompleteness. There is also nonfoundationalism and even antifoundationalism. So the field is quite broad.

      March 3, 2013

  • Laurent L.

    Okay, Annette, happy to see you joining the conversation. To respond to you I need to know what you mean by spirituality. The brackets suggest you mean to say that spirituality is self-knowledge. If so, how is that different from the philosophical injunction, "Know thyself"? Then, whatever the answer to that is, it would need to be distinguished from knowledge (as in knowledge vs. spirituality.)

    With respect to the primary objective in life, I can only ask (as I did ask of Tony in starting this conversation), what would you do with the self-understanding you achieve? The answer to that question might suggest a further goal beyond knowledge of self, as it did for Tony.

    I agree with your take on knowledge as subjective if you mean that it is created by the subject (in relation to something coming from outside) and also by other subjects, with whom we share, or can share, a consensual domain.

    Finally, if you could achieve absolute truth, how would you do it?

    February 28, 2013

    • Anthony D.

      >> The answer to that question might suggest a further goal beyond knowledge of self, as it did for Tony. <<

      I answered nothing of the sort.
      You asked what I would do with a better understanding of the way the world works.

      My exact reply was:

      -----
      I would do any number of things; most likely I would use that "better understanding" to derive more pleasure from life. It's a rather subjective question. What would /you/ do with a better understanding of the universe? I suppose if you ask 10 people you'll get 10 different answers ranging from "help others" to "nothing at all".
      -----

      Nowhere do I state any goals, particularly not one of self-knowledge. Self-knowledge for me is not a goal; it is a feature built-in to my consciousness of which I am intimately aware.

      March 1, 2013

    • Laurent L.

      Well, isn't your ultimate goal pleasure and derived from your better knowledge? I did not say nor imply that your goal was self-knowledge; only that I posed the general question and I interpreted your answer as seeking different sorts of pleasure (unspecified) from knowledge of how the world works.

      March 3, 2013

  • Laurent L.

    Tony, I'm not asking you to support a claim about science as the best tool, etc. I only ask you for the foundation of your belief in objective reality. Descartes had the helping hand of God; you rejected that. So it must be something else.

    But I thought Descartes' cogito ergo sum was subjective, not objective as you claim in your post.

    March 1, 2013

    • Laurent L.

      As I stated before, I don't believe in objective reality. While I can say I beieve in something outside me, I do so only to the extent that I can interact with it in a more or less adequate manner. But I can not say, and have no basis for believing, that there is a one to one mapping of what is outside me (including this laptop) onto something inside me. I remain a sceptic on that point. You appear to accept representationism without stating your reasons for so doing. If you have stated your foundation, then I missed it.

      March 3, 2013

    • Laurent L.

      BTW, I am not a solisist (nor an idealist) because I functionally interact with others in a more or less adequate manner. That cogito "reveals" a truth about ontological reality can only be the case if Descartes assumes that God exists and guarantees that his mind image represents the outside.

      March 3, 2013

  • Babar

    It was a stimulating discussion and definitely "passionate" towards the end ;). My point was never that art is a better or an equal method of discovering "objective" facts. I had a problem with the very notion of "objective", or "external objective reality", as Anthony put it. All three of those terms are severely problematic, and have been extensively critiqued, by all kinds of philosophers from at least the 17th century (in the Western tradition) to the present, from Kant to Schopenhauer to Nietzche to Kierkegaard to Bergson to Sartre to Husserl to Heidegger, and, closer to the contemporary era, Derrida, Foucault and Leotard. These are major figures in Western thought, and not part of some sort of pinko leftist conspiracy against "the Truth", as Rob Ford might say.

    February 27, 2013

    • Laurent L.

      Tony, I don't know why you are side-stepping my question above. Your answer would help in resolving our differences. Instead, you continue to dispute what I say. Nevertheless, I'll do my best to respond: 1. I agree we are part of nature; indeed, that part of nature that can reflect on itself. There is a difference between describing nature and explaining nature. And there is a difference between humans and extra-human nature. When I said "works" I mean to include not just scientific work but also all human activity, intended or unintended; conscious and unconscious (biology) 2. Because I question an objective out-there world, I also do not subscribe to the truth validation process. to be continued...

      February 28, 2013

    • Laurent L.

      Knowledge is true and valid as long as it survives; as long as it is not demolished through experiment or experience. I agree with Popper who sets the bar high with his insistence on falsification. Scientific constructions can not be proven; they can only be disproven. The best we can do in our science is to know what the world is not. Ditto for biology; the species is not selected for particular traits, it is simply that a species that fails to fit into an environment, dies. Nature selects negatively.

      March 1, 2013

  • Laurent L.

    The answer to your first question seems to be a definite affirmative if spiritual is equated to mind as in Descartes and Searle. But I have a sense that you mean spiritual as something distinct from mind. Can you elaborate on that? ...to the question I posed to you earlier?

    February 28, 2013

  • A former member
    A former member

    For a little clarity re: monism vs dualism

    If you think there is only one type of fundamental 'stuff' of which the entire universe is composed, including consciousness, then you are a monist.

    If not, you are a dualist of some sort (or possibly even a triplest is you think soul is different from mind or a quadruplist, or ....)!

    If you are a monist then you must agree that in principle we could, with sufficient technology, create consciousness.
    Whether it would be imbedded in a biological structure, or a silicone structure, is irrelevent to the point.

    Cheers

    February 27, 2013

    • Anthony D.

      That is a good starting point. Dualism (substance or property) is an unsatisfactory theory for many reasons (if needed, I can provide). So, that leaves most professional philosophers adopting some sort of monistic stance. I notice in your analysis above that you take materialism to be the only type of monism (because "technology" and "create" are only valid in a material world). How do you account for idealism (the /other/ type of monism) on your view? Personally, it doesn't seem very plausible to me, but I'd like to hear what others think about this view. In theory, it would seem that idealism is the most logically sound theory of mind, so I wonder how others discount it before settling into a materialistc viewpoint.

      February 27, 2013

  • Laurent L.

    Welcome to the online conversation, Babar, and for clarifying your point about "objective reality". I would add Vico to the philosophical tradition that you list.

    In reading what you and Tony have said, I suggest a paper available on the web titled "An introduction to radical constructivism", by Ernst von Glasersfeld. All those following this conversation might find it helpful in thinking about the contents of Searle's lectures.

    February 27, 2013

  • Martin J.

    I really enjoyed the meeting and the conversation. Thanks to Julie for getting us organized and taking the lead in discussing the Searle lectures. I believe that science will never get to the bottom of the puzzle of consciousness for a number of good reasons - and last night's discussion helped me to think through it more carefully. I am on vacation for the next meeting, but look forward to the meeting after that.

    February 26, 2013

    • Anthony D.

      Martin, why do you believe science will never solve the "puzzle of consciousness"? (By that, I assume you mean "how does consciousness arise?")

      February 26, 2013

    • Martin J.

      Anthony - I do want to respond to your question, but am somewhat overwhelmed by work at the moment. I will get back to you in a few days.

      February 27, 2013

  • Babar

    also gone on for too long, so I'll end here. But, just to let you know, I also derive aesthetic and conceptual pleasure from science, in fact, my first short book of poems, titled Biscuit Galaxy, published last year, incorporates elements from astrophysics (from a layman's perspective), entomology, mathematics, and other sciences. Surprise!!! But, I'm also aware of the limitations of science and scientific discourse...

    Anyway, thanks to everyone, and particularly to Anthony, for engaging with me in this wonderful debate, it's inspired me tremendously (as you can probably tell, since I'm almost writing an essay here in what is essentially a Meetup comment section), and thanks to Julie for organizing the whole thing. Cheers, Babar

    February 27, 2013

  • Babar

    they incorporate the irrational, the emotional, the intuitive, they envelop paradoxes, they speak the shadow language of the Unconscious, which they embody in openended symbols and metaphors and contemporary reworkings of mythic archetypes, themes and inner conflicts, which are often drawn from the common ancestral knowledge of all human cultures, that's partly why great works of art resonate with millions across cultures. To use a very mundane, almost cliche example, think of Da Vinci's "La Gioconda" (The Mona Lisa), even reams upon reams of rationalist discourse would not be able to convey the enigma, the phenomenological richness, the complexity that her supposedly famous smile conveys in the painting in almost an instant. Or, to use a painting that I much prefer, Hieronymous Bosch's "The Garden of Earthly Delights", or, in poetry, T.S. Eliot's "The Waste Land", or the Taj Mahal, or the Alhambra, or Miles Davis' "Kind of Blue", and the list goes on...

    Anyway, this post has

    February 27, 2013

  • Babar

    significant other turns you on, light exists as waves and/or/either particles at the same time, but not contiguously, if you know the velocity of a quantum particle, you cannot know its location, and vice-versa (wtf?), according to relativity theory, all the space and time that we know was created along with the Big Bang, but how can Everything emerge from Nothing, and so on, ad infinitum...

    I think that science and the scientific method is a wonderful and useful tool, it enables us to do and make all sorts of things, but to claim that it's the best thing that we have, or worse, the ONLY thing that we have that can apprehend "reality", particularly "reality" in all its irreducible, paradoxical, organic, irrational, beautifully, marvellously, terrifyingly enigmatic phenomenological isness, is far fetched, to say the least. That's exactly where art (poetry/literature, music, visual art, etc.) and even religion or spirituality, can be useful, because in their very form and content,

    February 27, 2013

  • Babar

    (Please read my comments starting from the ones at the bottom to the top.) Since we were talking about the best method for discovering "the true nature of reality" or "discovering objective facts" or "how the world objectively works", as Anthony has stated in his comments below, my point was precisely that "reality" does not work "objectively", so it's absurd to take something like the scientific method, based as it is on rationalism and Aristotleian logic, in other words on a strictly formulaic epistemological framework, namely if premise 1,2, 3, 4 etc., then conclusion X, and claim that this is the best method for apprehending or describing "reality" since, as we all know, "reality" is infinitely more complex than that, paradoxes abound, chaos exists, the Unconscious is there, the irrational is everywhere, people chain smoke even though they know they will likely live 20 years less, people listen to Kylie Minogue, the idea of spreading Black Forest cake all over your

    February 27, 2013

  • Fred B.

    I enjoyed it, and thought we made a fairly good start into the philosophy of mind, and it seems there was no shortage of eager participation.

    February 26, 2013

  • Anthony D.

    Laurent:
    I would do any number of things; most likely I would use that "better understanding" to derive more pleasure from life. It's a rather subjective question. What would /you/ do with a better understanding of the universe? I suppose if you ask 10 people you'll get 10 different answers ranging from "help others" to "nothing at all". How, exactly, is that question related to my point about using science to understand our world?

    February 26, 2013

  • Laurent L.

    I have a question for Tony about his point that science is the best way for understanding how the world works:

    What would you do with an increased understanding understanding or better understanding of the way the world works?

    February 26, 2013

  • Anthony D.

    Feb 26 - Good meeting, overall. I felt we went off topic at times (and I'm probably guilty of it myself) but it would have been nice to get through, in sufficient detail, Searle's Phil Mind lectures instead of side-tracking to philosophy of science, philosophy of religion, etc. Other than that, good MeetUp! :-)

    February 26, 2013

  • Angelina

    Great meetup! - enjoyed hearing all. Thanks Julie and Laurent for inciting such stimulating discussion.

    February 25, 2013

  • A former member
    A former member

    Excellent. Great people. Thanks for the visual experiment Lauren.

    February 25, 2013

  • A former member
    A former member

    FYI, anyone attending (or waitlisted for) this Feb. 25 discussion of the philosophy of mind might also be interested in a book discussion being held two days later by the Non-fiction Book Club Meetup Group (http://www.meetup.com/Non-fictionBookclubToronto) on "Who's in Charge: Free Will and the Science of the Brain" (2011) by the cognitive neuroscientist Michael Gazzaniga.

    February 20, 2013

  • Martin J.

    If a spot opens, I look forward to joining the group.

    February 20, 2013

  • Linda C.

    Would be willing to give a presentation on a book we recently completed titled "Consequences of Christianity"

    January 13, 2013

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