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Thursday, September 24, 2015

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Bill,

You say, "one can know a priori that matter so conceived cannot think or feel."

May I see the argument?

More specifically, may I see a good argument for the following claim? No pain is a physical particle, a field of force, an n-dimensional manifold, a string as conceived in string theories, or a combination of these (and nothing else).

If you argue that (a) none of these physical items is subjective (i.e., exhausted in their appearing, if their appear at all) but (b) pain is, don't you beg, in (b), the question against the physicalist? The physicalist hypothesis is that there is more to pain than what appears: its physical, albeit hidden, nature.

As I previously said, "matter in the sense we currently understand," if it means that it includes only things discussed by mathematical physics, does not include many things that real matter obviously has.

Apart from that, if you object that "If I am told that someday items like this will be exhaustively understood from a third-person point of view as objects of physics, I have no idea what this means," then a person can equally object that it is unintelligible to think that someday items like this will be exhaustively understood from a third-person point of view as immaterial beings, I have no idea what this means.

In other words, the problem is that subjective experiences cannot be described from a third-person point of view at all, not that they cannot be described as material objects in particular. They can't be described as immaterial objects either.

And I agree that subjective experience will never be exhaustively described from a third-person point of view. But I do not agree that it is not an objective reality, i.e. a "third-person thing".

V,

1. Every pain has a first-person ontology.
2. Every physical item has a third-person ontology.
3. Nothing having a first-person ontology has a third-person ontology.
Therefore
4. No pain is a physical item.

(The jargon will be familiar if you have read Searle.)

You will of course say that this begs the question. And I will return the compliment: you are begging the question against me. But I am in a better position since I am not illicitly inflating 'physical' to cover both mental and physical items.

Give me an argument that justifies this inflation.

>>The physicalist hypothesis is that there is more to pain than what appears: its physical, albeit hidden, nature.<<

You understand, I hope, that by pain here we mean the pain quale, the felt pain, the pain as a Feiglian raw feel, as a phenomenological datum under phenomenological reduction, as a Nagelian what-it-is-like, the pain precisely as it is lived through and experienced by a subject and in just the manner in which the subject experiences it.

That item has no hidden nature. If you think it does, prove it! You are going beyond the given, so isn't the onus probandi on you?

Bill,

Thanks, but no. I do not beg the question against you. For I do not _claim_ that (3) _is_ false, or that pain _has_ a hidden, physical nature. I, rather, want to see a good argument that it does not have it, or that (3) is true. Until that moment, I don't regard your previous argument as a good one.

Quote Searle if necessary.

(3) is innocent until proven guilty. Give an argument against it.

In any case, where are you coming from? Which authors are you basing yourself on?

Physical particles, a field of forces, n-dimensional strings etc are formal objects that are defined in physical theories. Physical theories are arrived at after long chains of inference whose starting point is registering of some thing by a person. By "thing" is meant any directly perceived object such as everyday objects we are familiar with.

Many people disregard the logical priority of "things" and instead ground their world-conception on the entities that are posited in physical theories. So quite apart from subjective mental phenomena such as pain, even "things" can not be fully explained or understood by quarks, electrons and strings. The physical theories are designed to capture only the quantitative aspects of the things and leave other aspects untouched.

Bill,

Why is (3) innocent until proven guilty?

I am coming from McGinn. See the reference in my "Mysterianism about Consciousness and the Trinity", nt. 15.

For I do not _claim_ that (3) _is_ false, or that pain _has_ a hidden, physical nature. I, rather, want to see a good argument that it does not have it, or that (3) is true. Until that moment, I don't regard your previous argument as a good one.

If you make no claims about 3 whatsoever, you're incapable of mounting criticism against 3 - that would require claims. All you've given is a statement of your personal psychology. The argument remains standing, because nothing's been said to criticize it.

I'll add, appeals to a 'hidden nature' seem to be suicidal for the physicalist. The only way it makes sense to appeal to such a thing is to argue that our knowledge of the world, particularly this thing called 'the physical', is or likely is radically incomplete. So incomplete that it's no longer clear that what 'the physical' really is would fail to cash out in ways normally regarded as non-physicalist.

Crude,

I claim neither that (3) is true, nor that (3) is false.

But here's a meta-claim of mine that might finally provoke somebody to offer a positive argument for (3):

There's no good argument for (3).

Why? Because there's no good argument against this claim: Some n-dimensional manifold, or some string as conceived in string theories, or some combination of these, has a first-person ontology.

There are only good arguments against this claim: Some physical particle or some combination of physical particles has a first-person ontology.

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