Thursday, May 30, 2013

Carts and Horses, Follow-up

A recent Guardian article expands upon a premise (conundrum) near and dear to us, here:
Beyond these domestic problems there is the failure of physics to accommodate conscious beings. The attempt to fit consciousness into the material world, usually by identifying it with activity in the brain, has failed dismally, if only because there is no way of accounting for the fact that certain nerve impulses are supposed to be conscious (of themselves or of the world) while the overwhelming majority (physically essentially the same) are not. In short, physics does not allow for the strange fact that matter reveals itself to material objects (such as physicists).
 Full article, "Philosophy Isn't Dead Yet."
Is our consciousness intrinsically tied to the electrochemical goo inside our skulls? Yes, it certainly seems that way. Can we thereby reduce all issues to a quantifiable, strictly behaviorist, materialist, (even positivist) science, and finally “solve” all philosophical quandaries through scientific measurement? Hardly.
To explain why would take us on a long journey through the history of both the past 100 years in science and philosophy. We might consider some major steps along the way to include the works of Neils BohrLudwig WittgensteinJacques DerridaWerner Heisenberg (though let's be honest: nobody truly  understands Quantum mechanics,) and of course Albert Einstein. The questions relevant to this particular inquiry seem simple enough, but they remain as perplexing today as they were in the age of the Ancient Greeks: what is the nature of mind? what is the nature of matter?
It is a criticism of ventures in this direction that such questions often lead to semantic arguments. We are no longer concerned with such "fluff," the modern consumer of pop science literature clearly wants "hard answers."
Semantic arguments are not necessarily just semantic arguments. Our presuppositions about consciousness, how we define it, how we define concepts such as “will” or “freedom,” are far more important than neuroscans when it comes to our consideration of whether our actions are “free” or “determined.” It is highly probable that our our nervous system has made up its mind about something before we become consciously aware of that decision—or so neuroscientists tell me—but that is merely “passing the buck” as they say. (For non-English natives, that idiom means "deferring responsibility." I'm told that idioms are "bad writing" because they don't translate well. So there you go.)
Within the context of the conundrum of consciousness, free will seems merely a footnote. What these articles, and those like them, seem to be proclaiming is actually this: "Philosophy and myth are dead. Long live science."
Few would argue that our consciousness is brought about by brain and nerves, but the question remains, can we have a unified theory of mind and matter, or must we continue to think of carts and horses? Is it our language itself that creates this delineation, which says “my body,” as if it was a bio-mechanical walker that my brain is floating in, and within that, a mind. (And within that? It’s “turtles all the way down.”) 
Full article, "Carts and Horses, The Deification of the Brain"


[Where is the fucking counterculture? Mythos Media.]

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