For much of human history, most people thought the seat of the soul was in the heart. There were some ancient thinkers who managed to figure out the role of the brain, but widespread acceptance of it is an early modern development from the scientific revolution. But it seems like something a lot of people … Continue reading The urge to downplay the brain
In the last post, I pondered the idea that the real difference between a realist and anti-realist stance toward a scientific theory is about how broad or narrow the scope of the theory might be, about it's domain of applicability. An anti-realist takes a narrower view on scope; such as that the theory can be … Continue reading The debate between phenomenal realism and illusionism, and the scope of perceptual properties
I've been thinking again about the realism vs anti-realism debate, about what scientific theories actually tell us about the world. Historically in the philosophy of science, the debate is between realists, who see scientific theories being at least an approximate representation of reality, and instrumentalists or anti-realists, who see those theories as mere prediction frameworks … Continue reading The debate between scientific realism and anti-realism seems like it’s about theory scope
I usually have to wait for the audio version of these Mind Chat podcasts, but this one seemed a reasonable length and I had some time this weekend. Keith Frankish, an illusionist, and Philip Goff, a panpsychist, interviewed Noam Chomsky for his views on consciousness. (The video is about 72 minutes. You don't necessarily need … Continue reading Russellian monism, the same as illusionism?
Jim Al-Khalili has an article at OpenMind attacking Occam's razor, at least in the form it's typically articulated, that the simplest explanation should be preferred. Al-Khalili correctly points out that there are a lot of problems with that version of the principle. Simply preferring the explanation we think is the simplest is often just favoring … Continue reading Don’t throw out Occam’s razor just yet
This Kurzgesagt video is interesting. It discusses the possibility of civilization collapsing and how it might affect the long term fate of humanity. It's about 11 minutes. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=W93XyXHI8Nw Kurzgesagt: Is Civilization on the Brink of Collapse? One of the things the video gets into is how we should think about our present day decisions, decisions … Continue reading The possibility of civilization collapsing and longtermism
This week, while working through my podcast backlog, I came across an interview of Jacy Reese Anthis. We discussed Anthis' paper on consciousness semanticism a few months ago. Like me, Anthis sees the term "consciousness" as ambiguous, one that has had a variety of different meanings over the centuries, and continues to have a range … Continue reading Philosophical semanticism
I've discussed many times that the word "consciousness" has a variety of meanings. But most commonly, the various meanings can be grouped into two broad categories. One refers to some combination of functionality, typically the information processing that happens in the brain enabling an organism to take in, assess, and use information about itself and … Continue reading Consciousness, illusions, and definitions
When it comes to my philosophy of consciousness, I've noted many times that I'm a functionalist, someone who sees mental states, including conscious ones, as being more about what they do, their causal roles and relations, than what they are. Since functionalism focuses on functionality exclusively, it often gets lumped in with illusionism, which typically … Continue reading What does it mean to be “like something”?
The idea of objectivity gets a lot of criticism. One common complaint is that it's a fantasy viewpoint, a God's eye view that doesn't exist, a view from nowhere that we can never take. This is a common complaint I've seen from people who think studying consciousness in a third person manner is misguided. It … Continue reading A thought about objectivity