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Rebirth of Reason

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Post 80

Saturday, July 30, 2005 - 10:31amSanction this postReply
  You wrote:
     "I have come across some arguments by Objectivists that consciousness is not physical (and even that Rand posited this). Apparently that would mean that it is not measurable - which thus would mean that it does not exist."

   I have to take a bit of an issue with this. I'm not aware of anything Rand said/wrote re any 'physicality' of consciousness (which would mean brain=mind here, no?); 'sfarasIknow, she said nothing about such. However, she implied that presently there is no argument for an identification of them with each other. Where? In her chronic arguments about the mind-body non-dichotomy and  'their' (as in *2* subjects to deal with) integration: integration does not imply synonomousness or identity as in 'morning-star/evening-star,' where difference is only superficially apparent.

   Re the mind's possible total physicality, I have little problem with that idea (other than some interpreters of such seeing ONLY mechanistic-determinism implied therein.) Even given such, I do believe that there's more to understanding the very idea of 'causality' in physics beyond the mere 'billiard-ball' view than we think we know even now (including those of us who see beyond that view.)

   As to consciousness' possible non-physicality, I really don't see what problem you have regarding 'measuring.' Consider: 'color' is measurable (comparable to others in hue, shade, etc.) without getting into Angstrom units, no? 'geometric shapes' are so, also, non? We can also meaningfully talk (ONLY 'metaphorically'?) about 'degrees' of Justice...or even 'knowledge,' without getting into numerically-quantified (is that redundant?) comparisons, no?

   Then there's the 'meaning' itself of 'physicality' to consider. A magnetic-field is 'physical' to certain types of matter...but...not to all. How does a magnetic-field affect the 'physical' matter of a cork, or a cotton ball? Granted, I'd guess at a certain intensity the fields energy might affect them...but...not it's magnetism per se, sfarasIknow.

   Further, Rand showed that 'love' (thereby implying that other 'abstract' concepts) are measureable without resorting to showing their physical comparings.

   Indeed, I'm having a problem even understanding just how physical the concept of 'concept' is, as well as what it's physical consequences (even brain-state-wise) would be by mere virtue of it's existence.

   Anyhoo, just consider all above as 'food-for-thought.'



Post 81

Saturday, July 30, 2005 - 11:53amSanction this postReply
Sarah says:
   "Any claim that a non-physical entity can have any influence on a physical entity is outright bullshit"

   (I prefer the term "cowplop" myself, but...)

   This raises a rarely asked question: "Just what do we...consensually...mean when we use the term 'physical'?"

   Clearly, anything that we can agree consists of atoms is 'physical.' This would include ions. Electrons, well, ok...but there's some ambiguity about just how 'physical' photons are (yes, I know, they're affected by gravity; I'll get to that.) And as for electrical, magnetic, or gravitional fields go, can we say there's ambiguity there also?

   How does one determine the 'physicality' of a field APART from it's effects on an atomic structure? One can empirically observe an 'atom-built' structure (nowadays, even an atom!) But...a field? This, so far, is an induction. (Lewis Little's idea of 'Elementary Waves' which seems to coherently overturn the old, weird interpretation-'theories' put on QM experiments seems to imply that there's no such thing as fields, Einstein [my favorite genius] nwst...but I may be wrong there.)

   Anyhoo, any 'physicality' of a magnetic field clearly seems to be so for only some atomically-structured matter...but not other matter. If the magnetic field IS 'physical' yet has no affect on some atoms (directly, that is), ergo, to these atoms the magnetic field does not appear to be directly 'physical,' then conceivably some other things may be 'physical'...yet not appear directly to be so also, no? If so, this implies that maybe we need to amplify our meaning of 'physical'  beyond consisting of mere atoms.

   Alternatively, we may need to incorporate into our philosophy-of-physics a meaning for 'non-physical' entities (which, granted, have some metaphysical dependency for existence on physical entities.) In which case...we're back to consciousness not ='brain state.'

   Just food-for-thought.     :)


(Edited by John Dailey on 7/30, 3:51pm)

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