Substance dualism, why is it still a thing?
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02-09-2015, 06:40 AM
RE: Substance dualism, why is it still a thing?
(02-09-2015 06:20 AM)epronovost Wrote:  
(01-09-2015 10:26 PM)GirlyMan Wrote:  I read it when you said it before DrRocket. I'm not convinced that it is strong evidence against dualism. The problem I'm having with it is I don't know what to make of a counterexample of a stroke victim whose Wernicke or Broca area are devastated and yet they regain the ability to speak. Not sure what to make of that. Different areas of the brain picked up the slack. How the fuck that happen? Don't know what that means metaphysically but I'm not sure it is a particularly strong argument against dualism.

It's a process called brain plasticity. A very intersting field in neuroscience. We are still working on it.

Is that how we'd explain terminal lucidity as well?

"The unexpected return of mental clarity and memory shortly before death in patients suffering from severe psychiatric and neurologic disorders, which we have called "terminal lucidity", has been reported in the medical literature over the past 250 years, but has received little attention. We review a range of terminal lucidity cases in order to encourage investigation of the mechanisms involved and possible insights into both the neuroscience of memory and cognition at the end of life and treatment of terminal illness. These examples include case reports of patients suffering from brain abscesses, tumors, strokes, meningitis, dementia or Alzheimer's disease, schizophrenia, and affective disorders."

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21764150

"Tell me, muse, of the storyteller who has been thrust to the edge of the world, both an infant and an ancient, and through him reveal everyman." ---Homer the aged poet.

"In Him was life, and the life was the Light of men. The Light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not comprehend it."
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02-09-2015, 06:46 AM
RE: Substance dualism, why is it still a thing?
(02-09-2015 06:32 AM)epronovost Wrote:  
(02-09-2015 06:12 AM)Tomasia Wrote:  But is that Physicalism (Materialistic Monism), or Property Dualism that you believe?

Property Dualism puts you in the camp with the Nagels and the Chalmers, were Physicalism puts you on the camp of Coynes, Dennetts, and Rosenbergs of the world. I'm trying to get a clearer idea as to where you stand.

That doesn't have any impact on substance dualism which is the the thing that has been debunked and discussed here. If you believe in Property Dualism, you don't beleive Substance Dualism which we refered to has Dualism since the former also sit in the middle of the road with emergent materialism.

There's a very thin line between Property Dualism, Aristotelianism, and the views of Scholastic Theism. In fact if a person who believes in Property Dualism, were to provide reasons as to why they do as opposed to accepting Physicalism, the reasons for why substance dualism is still a thing becomes even more apparent.

You don't have to see why there's a parallel between property and substance dualism. But I would like to know which alternative you, and others here believe?

Materialistic Monism (Physicalism) or Property Dualism?

"Tell me, muse, of the storyteller who has been thrust to the edge of the world, both an infant and an ancient, and through him reveal everyman." ---Homer the aged poet.

"In Him was life, and the life was the Light of men. The Light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not comprehend it."
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02-09-2015, 07:06 AM
RE: Substance dualism, why is it still a thing?
(01-09-2015 10:26 PM)GirlyMan Wrote:  
(01-09-2015 09:57 PM)RocketSurgeon76 Wrote:  As I said before, I think the strongest evidence against dualism (at least, dualism of body and spirit-energy) comes from the fact that damage to a specific region of the brain causes specific types of changes in personality; this is indicative of a multi-processor computer which can still function despite damaged regions, not a single, unified "spirit" (or soul) that creates our unique personality.

I read it when you said it before DrRocket. I'm not convinced that it is strong evidence against dualism. The problem I'm having with it is I don't know what to make of a counterexample of a stroke victim whose Wernicke or Broca area are devastated and yet they regain the ability to speak. Not sure what to make of that. Different areas of the brain picked up the slack. How the fuck that happen? Don't know what that means metaphysically but I'm not sure it is a particularly strong argument against dualism.

I hear you, but Epronovost hit the nail on the head. A big chunk of the Human Brain Project, aside from the mechanics of simply scanning each pathway, is figuring out how humans build the pathways in the first place.

But the question is not, to me, how the brain manages to "re-wire" damaged sections together to regain function after traumatic damage, but the fact that it has sections, which change the overall function when damaged. If you are then to believe that we have a soul, you'd have to believe we are dozens of souls "wired together" into a single overall personality. Whether or not it can repair enough to regain functions lost in an injury, there is no reason a soul should (I am using this region because the soul is often connected to our moral behavior and resulting eternal fate) cease to show empathy as a result of damage to the ventromedial cortex, specifically:

"The ventromedial prefrontal cortex processes feelings of empathy, shame, compassion and guilt. Damage to this part of the brain, which occupies a small region in the forehead, causes a diminished capacity for social emotions but leaves logical reasoning intact."

As Epronovost pointed out, much more research needs to be done, but it's clear that we evolved this area of the brain specifically to have the social capacity we do, and it is connected to older regions that give us the visceral "feels" that people often attribute to their soul, or conscience:

"The ventromedial area is a primitive part of the cortex that appears to have evolved to help humans and other mammals navigate social interactions. The area has connections to deeper, unconscious regions like the brain stem, which transmit physical sensations of attraction or discomfort; and the amygdala, a gumdrop of neural tissue that registers threats, social and otherwise. The ventromedial area integrates these signals with others from the cortex, including emotional memories, to help generate familiar social reactions."

They can use the complex terminology all they want, make up very fine, specific concepts of theology and bat them around like a shuttlecock, but in the end the claim of the theists is that there exists such a thing as the "soul", separate from our bodies in such a way that it is eternal while we are not (and, in this religion, meaning we are heaven- or hell-bound depending on our moral choices and/or adherence to the group-faith), so I think the brain damage studies, especially in the ventromedial prefrontal cortex, are extremely important evidence against that concept.

"Theology made no provision for evolution. The biblical authors had missed the most important revelation of all! Could it be that they were not really privy to the thoughts of God?" - E. O. Wilson
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02-09-2015, 07:26 AM
RE: Substance dualism, why is it still a thing?
(02-09-2015 06:40 AM)Tomasia Wrote:  
(02-09-2015 06:20 AM)epronovost Wrote:  It's a process called brain plasticity. A very intersting field in neuroscience. We are still working on it.

Is that how we'd explain terminal lucidity as well?

"The unexpected return of mental clarity and memory shortly before death in patients suffering from severe psychiatric and neurologic disorders, which we have called "terminal lucidity", has been reported in the medical literature over the past 250 years, but has received little attention. We review a range of terminal lucidity cases in order to encourage investigation of the mechanisms involved and possible insights into both the neuroscience of memory and cognition at the end of life and treatment of terminal illness. These examples include case reports of patients suffering from brain abscesses, tumors, strokes, meningitis, dementia or Alzheimer's disease, schizophrenia, and affective disorders."

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21764150

Yes, that is how we'd explain terminal lucidity. There are many chemicals that activate (or activate in unusual amounts) during the death process, most famously DMT, which cause unusual changes in "normal" function. Original studies on this actually came from the US Air Force because pilots in combat situations, pulling high-G maneuvers, would fool their brains into thinking they were undergoing death-stresses, and the brains would release DMT, with... shall we say, odd results.

The brain is a network, not a serial processor, and has shown the ability to rewire itself after damage. But the point is that the changes occur at all, not that they can be repaired. This shows that the soul is an emergent physical property, not a transcendent, separate thing.

"Theology made no provision for evolution. The biblical authors had missed the most important revelation of all! Could it be that they were not really privy to the thoughts of God?" - E. O. Wilson
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02-09-2015, 08:08 AM (This post was last modified: 02-09-2015 08:20 AM by Tomasia.)
RE: Substance dualism, why is it still a thing?
(02-09-2015 07:26 AM)RocketSurgeon76 Wrote:  The brain is a network, not a serial processor, and has shown the ability to rewire itself after damage. But the point is that the changes occur at all, not that they can be repaired. This shows that the soul is an emergent physical property, not a transcendent, separate thing.

Earlier you defined the soul along the line of that thing that creates our unique personality.

With that it mind, a more precise reading of what you said here would be in my option, that personality, or that thing that creates our personality is not a transcendent, separate thing?

While I have trouble articulating what is meant by a "soul", I don't really know folks besides you who define it along the lines of a thing that creates our personality.

If my mother says to me she worries about my soul. Or if I say that to my friend the same thing. We seem be able to understand what it is we're speaking of. There's never really seems to be any confusion as to what we're referring to. Though trying to articulate or define what it is, to someone who doesn't really get that thing we're referring to, seems rather difficult. I guess it similar to the problem of defining a chair.

While the soul doesn't seem to have any association with our unique personality, it does tend to an have association with our moral dimension. That there's something that's effected in a positive way by being kind, and in negative way by being cruel, that damages or enriches who I am, at that level of a thing we call a soul. Which is not particularly something affected by a poor diet. I'm losing something in being cruel, which doesn't correspond to a loss of my personality.

"I think that a lot of us, whether we are religious or not - there are no words to express some things except religious words. For instance, 'soul.' - Salmon Rushdie

"Tell me, muse, of the storyteller who has been thrust to the edge of the world, both an infant and an ancient, and through him reveal everyman." ---Homer the aged poet.

"In Him was life, and the life was the Light of men. The Light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not comprehend it."
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02-09-2015, 08:13 AM
RE: Substance dualism, why is it still a thing?
(02-09-2015 06:40 AM)Tomasia Wrote:  
(02-09-2015 06:20 AM)epronovost Wrote:  It's a process called brain plasticity. A very intersting field in neuroscience. We are still working on it.

Is that how we'd explain terminal lucidity as well?

"The unexpected return of mental clarity and memory shortly before death in patients suffering from severe psychiatric and neurologic disorders, which we have called "terminal lucidity", has been reported in the medical literature over the past 250 years, but has received little attention. We review a range of terminal lucidity cases in order to encourage investigation of the mechanisms involved and possible insights into both the neuroscience of memory and cognition at the end of life and treatment of terminal illness. These examples include case reports of patients suffering from brain abscesses, tumors, strokes, meningitis, dementia or Alzheimer's disease, schizophrenia, and affective disorders."

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21764150

No, from my understanding of brain plasticity, it's completly unrealated. We don't know enough about alledged NDE/terminal lucidity yet either. These events are extremely rare, frequently spoiled by bad reports, exagerations, frauds, medical error and misdiagnostics. We need more clear cut data. Has of now, several NDE/terminal lucidity experience could be caused by synapse misfiring and creating illusions of sensation, shape and sound for a brief moment. Basically, it's a small brain seizure that causes small damage and produce strange effect. But that's still just an hypothesis.
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02-09-2015, 08:24 AM
RE: Substance dualism, why is it still a thing?
(02-09-2015 06:46 AM)Tomasia Wrote:  
(02-09-2015 06:32 AM)epronovost Wrote:  That doesn't have any impact on substance dualism which is the the thing that has been debunked and discussed here. If you believe in Property Dualism, you don't beleive Substance Dualism which we refered to has Dualism since the former also sit in the middle of the road with emergent materialism.

There's a very thin line between Property Dualism, Aristotelianism, and the views of Scholastic Theism. In fact if a person who believes in Property Dualism, were to provide reasons as to why they do as opposed to accepting Physicalism, the reasons for why substance dualism is still a thing becomes even more apparent.

You don't have to see why there's a parallel between property and substance dualism. But I would like to know which alternative you, and others here believe?

Materialistic Monism (Physicalism) or Property Dualism?

Let me rephrase that so that it's very clear.

Property Dualism and Materialistic Monism are far from being the only two choices. These may be the two you know about, but they are far from being the only ones. Neither does our thoughts on the matter needs to be categorised in any categorie at all should we wish not to attach ourselves to some specific aspect of each philosophical group. I am rather close to an emergent materialist on that specific debate which makes me a de facto physycalist, but closer to Property Dualist than some other form of Physicalism. This is, yet again, not a black and white issue.

Has you might know, dualism isn't necessary for religion. Vedic religion believe in the most hardcore form of monism so are pantheists, Jedi and Buddhists. There is even a notion of Christian monism. This leads me to my question for you that you keep avoiding. God can exist without you having a soul, without you having a dual nature of mind and body. Why do you think you have a soul since the existence of a God doesn't mean you do have one?
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02-09-2015, 08:45 AM
RE: Substance dualism, why is it still a thing?
Tomasia - You're getting all tangled up in the various possible definitions, which is moot. Yes, we do tend to understand the "moral agent" element, and that it is tied in with the construct we call the "soul". The soul is, especially in a debate about dualism, that idea of the part of us which "goes to heaven" (or not), and if we did not have the seat of our personality "in there", then what would be the point of going to heaven?

To answer your question: I don't think there exists a soul. Being able to recognize and discuss a fictional construct, like dragons or Darth Vader, doesn't mean I think dragons or Sith Lords are real things.

My responses address the clear evidence that our seat of moral decision making, and personality in general, is rooted in specific regions of the brain, and even though there is evidence that other regions of the brain can "re-wire" to give some of a lost function back, and there are strange events that happen when the brain starts flooding itself with chemicals in times of extreme stress (like death), the clear implication for our new understanding in neurology is that our personalities and decision-making (morals/conscience) are the product of 100% physical causes, specific regions of the brain, and its associated chemistry.

"Theology made no provision for evolution. The biblical authors had missed the most important revelation of all! Could it be that they were not really privy to the thoughts of God?" - E. O. Wilson
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02-09-2015, 09:36 AM
RE: Substance dualism, why is it still a thing?
(02-09-2015 08:45 AM)RocketSurgeon76 Wrote:  Tomasia - You're getting all tangled up in the various possible definitions, which is moot. Yes, we do tend to understand the "moral agent" element, and that it is tied in with the construct we call the "soul". The soul is, especially in a debate about dualism, that idea of the part of us which "goes to heaven" (or not), and if we did not have the seat of our personality "in there", then what would be the point of going to heaven?

To answer your question: I don't think there exists a soul. Being able to recognize and discuss a fictional construct, like dragons or Darth Vader, doesn't mean I think dragons or Sith Lords are real things.

My responses address the clear evidence that our seat of moral decision making, and personality in general, is rooted in specific regions of the brain, and even though there is evidence that other regions of the brain can "re-wire" to give some of a lost function back, and there are strange events that happen when the brain starts flooding itself with chemicals in times of extreme stress (like death), the clear implication for our new understanding in neurology is that our personalities and decision-making (morals/conscience) are the product of 100% physical causes, specific regions of the brain, and its associated chemistry.

You are your brain. Your brain is you. Those chemicals in the brain? They are your feelings. The neurons? They facilitate communication and memory storage.

Hell, we can even take big magnets and simulate NDE's (near death experiences) and out of body experiences because it is all happening in the brain, not outside the brain.

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02-09-2015, 10:00 AM (This post was last modified: 02-09-2015 10:29 AM by Tomasia.)
RE: Substance dualism, why is it still a thing?
(02-09-2015 08:24 AM)epronovost Wrote:  Property Dualism and Materialistic Monism are far from being the only two choices. These may be the two you know about, but they are far from being the only ones. Neither does our thoughts on the matter needs to be categorised in any categorie at all should we wish not to attach ourselves to some specific aspect of each philosophical group. I am rather close to an emergent materialist on that specific debate which makes me a de facto physycalist, but closer to Property Dualist than some other form of Physicalism. This is, yet again, not a black and white issue.

Sure, property dualism and Materialistic Monism are not the only two choices, they just tend to be the predominant options. There’ a variety of other categories as well, which accommodate a variety of different options. So you could have answered I don’t subscribe to either, I subscribe to neutral monism.

But what seems to be the case, as it always is here, is that your average individual doesn’t think too much about where they stand here, and think it’s perfectly fine to flirt with Physicalism when convenient, and then flirt with Property Dualism when convenient, even though these positions are mutually exclusive.

In reality what it amounts to is the person is confused, and is in this limbo state in which he doesn’t know what to believe. He sees some parts agreeable on both sides, and flaws on both sides, and can’t decide between the two, so he just remains uncommitted. There’s nothing wrong with this, except when you try and criticize a position like substance dualism, or suggest that someone such as myself should not believe in substance dualism.

Because in reality if you can’t commit to any position because you see flaws in all of them, all you’d be suggesting as that we should be reluctant to believe any of them, just like you’re reluctant to believe in any of them.

If you’re saying the flaw with substance dualism is that it can’t be reduced to neuroscience, well neither can property dualism, and than imply that the problem with physicallism is that it reduces everything physics, you can perhaps see where it starts to venture into the absurd, in which at best it amounts to no more than a confusion on what to believe.

Maybe lacking a belief in all these positions is preferable to you, because you want to avoid holding beliefs with flaws of their own. But it’s not appealing to me one bit. I hold a belief, and tend to cease holding it only when an alternative belief arises that I find more compelling, that takes it’s place. I don’t really do the whole “lack of belief” thing.

Quote:This leads me to my question for you that you keep avoiding. God can exist without you having a soul, without you having a dual nature of mind and body. Why do you think you have a soul since the existence of a God doesn't mean you do have one?

I don’t believe in a soul because I believe in substance dualism. I believed in a soul long before I even knew what dualism even meant. It’s because I believe in a soul, and variety of other things that I believe in substance dualism, not the other way around.

Why do I believe in a soul? Because it means something, which is not easy to describe, which may just not correspond to some particular area of the brain, in which referring to it by any other term other than the soul would not suffice (see the Rushdie quote).

When my mother tells me she’s worried about my soul, or if I tell my friend that I’m worried about his, we all seem to know what that thing is that we’re talking about, even though defining it is elusive, and trying to reduce in to the material, or something that can be eventually discovered by neuroscience might just not ever happen. That even if neuroscience cannot find a trace of that thing we’re referring to as the soul, that we’d still continue believe in that thing, because we know what we mean exists, even it’s not reducible to chemistry in the brain.

"Tell me, muse, of the storyteller who has been thrust to the edge of the world, both an infant and an ancient, and through him reveal everyman." ---Homer the aged poet.

"In Him was life, and the life was the Light of men. The Light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not comprehend it."
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