Saturday, March 25, 2006

A response to unenlightened (kind of reminds me of Socrates)

“What it is like” appears to be a linguistic account, not a separate ontological entity (some unique stuff non material or energy based that the soul/mind/&c. is made of). But you are right to talk about W. Have you read the bit about the beetle in the box? From what I can tell, qualia is like that, but my knowledge of W is sourly lacking.

unenlightened said... “we need to have some common, shared experience to liken things to”, I agree. I can describe the action of knitting as the repetitive motion of the hands and how it involves two needles and some yarn. I can go into more detail until you can imagine exactly what it is like, but you still would not have the experience of knitting. Qualia appears to differentiate between the experience and the description of the experience (the “what it is like”). It is impossible (apparently) to derive an experience from a description; yet, it is possible to arrive at a description from an experience. But, still that description lacks some essential nature inherent in the experience. Since descriptions are of cause, effect, potentialities, in short about physical things, people say that since the description is incomplete (you cannot go from it to the experience, one way causality, which leads to epiphenomenalism &c. see Jackson’s knowledge argument) then physicalism is incomplete. Therefore, there must be more than one basic stuff that the universe is made of.

But I don’t think this is a sound argument. Any account of experience must be linguistic, as that is the public method of communication and the general structure of rational thought. Yet experience do not take place in a linguistic environment (see Huxley on train of feeling vs train of thought). Therefore, of course any explanation of an experience, any attempt to describe ‘what it is like’ will be deficit in some way, but not because of an ontological deficit (a failure for physicalism to describe the universe) but because a deficit in the nature of language.

But that is just my take on things.

About knitting and philosophy – you are correct, only, all good arguments in philosophy are circular, in knitting, the ends are not tied together. Everything else is logically isomorphic (the same in structure).

4 comments:

unenlightened said...

Of course you're right, it's not a sound argument. It's (like)a map and territory thing. When you talk about experience it's not obvious whether you mean the act (of observation or whatever) or the reflection in thought- experience as the past, memory. My mind is a map of the world as I experience(second sense) it. It exists in and is (a mobile) part of the world; it also contains an image of the world and an image with the label 'you are here'. I confuse the world with it's image, which is actually part of me - my mind. Are you experiencing (first sense) this with me, or just reflecting on it? All the stuff I know is the past and this is something new; I need a new mind to reflect on it.

And now I have to go to work and my daughter is hassling for the computer - so called reality intervenes. Typical! Have you read Krishnamurti, The Ending of Time? bye for now, bob.

Jenshine said...

No time to read your blog, but I caught bits and pieces of it. You're so crazy, you with your crazy philosophy. I love it. Man, I miss you/Victoria/Leanne/your dad/my parents/other friends/your cat/F&W/all things canadian.

Tell the mechanics people to hurry up with your bike! And then you should bring it over here and we'll double up and cycle around Europe. It'll be fantastic!

I'm slacking off at work again...ugh, so much going on in my mind, I can't concentrate. Better go though. Miss you and love you lots!

sell said...

I see you have a nice blog. I found it quite unique.
Hope it works well for you!
Phil

Jenshine said...

I'll have to give you updates on your blog...because I'm at work again and I don't want to sign into my email.

Okay, I told work today that I won't be staying on and I also called the land lady that that one flat and told her I wouldn't be moving in. I seriously have no idea what in god's name I'm doing. But, I have enough money to get by for now. I'll just continue to putter along here. Next step, get a better job and then find a flat with a shorter lease or sans lease altogether.

Don't you love how I just come here and spill my life's story? You need to start a Dear E'Bert blog. You don't even have to post back. Just make a soundboard for all my woes.