Substance dualism, why is it still a thing?
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02-09-2015, 11:27 AM
RE: Substance dualism, why is it still a thing?
Now if you'll kindly explain to me the difference between "a soul" (religionists) and "an aura" (hippies), about which people occasionally worry, I can have some grasp of what you're talking about beyond the assertion, apparently, that you think a soul exists because you think it exists.

When your mom says, "I am worried about your soul", it traditionally means the eternal destination of that soul is questionable, in their mind; it is a statement of where your personality will reside after the death of your body.

As such, the question of whether or not the soul is something that can be removed from the body (is a separate entity) or is an emergent property of the body, specifically the brain and endocrine system, becomes the only relevant question. Present neuroscience strongly suggests that no, it cannot.

The rest of the "feels" remain side-issues, or are completely irrelevant.

"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, 11:28 AM
RE: Substance dualism, why is it still a thing?
(02-09-2015 06:12 AM)Tomasia Wrote:  But is that Physicalism (Materialistic Monism), or Property Dualism that you believe?

Physicalism.

But, again, they are not necessarily exclusive positions. You need to define precisely what form of physicalism or property dualism you are referring to for the question to have any meaning.

(02-09-2015 06:46 AM)Tomasia Wrote:  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.

It is trivially easy to define the term "chair".

(02-09-2015 06:46 AM)Tomasia Wrote:  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.

No. There is something that affects you at the level of the brain.

(02-09-2015 10:00 AM)Tomasia Wrote:  ...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

Ah. Well. At least you admit that you're being silly, then.

"Owl," said Rabbit shortly, "you and I have brains. The others have fluff. If there is any thinking to be done in this Forest - and when I say thinking I mean thinking - you and I must do it."
- A. A. Milne, The House at Pooh Corner
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02-09-2015, 11:29 AM
RE: Substance dualism, why is it still a thing?
(02-09-2015 11:27 AM)RocketSurgeon76 Wrote:  Now if you'll kindly explain to me the difference between "a soul" (religionists) and "an aura" (hippies), about which people occasionally worry, I can have some grasp of what you're talking about beyond the assertion, apparently, that you think a soul exists because you think it exists.

When your mom says, "I am worried about your soul", it traditionally means the eternal destination of that soul is questionable, in their mind; it is a statement of where your personality will reside after the death of your body.

As such, the question of whether or not the soul is something that can be removed from the body (is a separate entity) or is an emergent property of the body, specifically the brain and endocrine system, becomes the only relevant question. Present neuroscience strongly suggests that no, it cannot.

The rest of the "feels" remain side-issues, or are completely irrelevant.

Difference between those things and "chakra/chi" may also help as well. Or the combined similarity if it is all one mischaracterized concept.

"Allow there to be a spectrum in all that you see" - Neil Degrasse Tyson
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02-09-2015, 11:32 AM
RE: Substance dualism, why is it still a thing?
Well said, Unbeliever. It is why I went to the trouble to focus on the studies that demonstrate that our moral decision making is linked to a very specific part of the brain, and that damage to that section has been proven to destroy moral decision making ability.

Since their concept of "soul" (a thing that can be endangered) seems to hinge on that aspect of ourselves, it seems strange that a person who is brain damaged in a precise area will have a predictable change in their moral decision-making process, if their claim that the soul is some other thing aside from just the brain itself.

"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, 11:35 AM
RE: Substance dualism, why is it still a thing?
(02-09-2015 11:29 AM)ClydeLee Wrote:  Difference between those things and "chakra/chi" may also help as well. Or the combined similarity if it is all one mischaracterized concept.

That's why I went with the useful sub-definition "that which survives our death and goes somewhere as a result of our moral decision-making"; we're focusing on the Christian version here, but there are certainly other concepts (into what creature will I reincarnate?), and I wanted to define our term as broadly as possible while still retaining a definition specific enough to be pertinent to our discussion here.

"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, 11:41 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".

It’s not so much about being tangled up in definitions. But when you define something in a certain way, it can be apparent that we’re not really talking about the same thing. When it comes to something like the “soul” , this problem seems to only exists when it comes to atheists, where as if I was talking to a Muslim, or Hindu, that when we speak of the soul we tend to be speaking of the same thing, even if none of us can adequately define the thing we’re talking about.

Where for many atheists they just seem confused, and never really comprehend that thing we’re talking about, not because of a lack of adequate definition, but a lack of a sense of that thing in which we’re trying to define.

Salman Rushdie seems to understand what’s meant by it, when he concedes there “are no words to express” the soul expect religiously. He seems to understand that corresponding thing in which defining eludes us.

So when you attach “personality” to the soul, it appears that we are not talking about the same thing. Because the soul encapsulates something about who am, a me underneath that personality. An authentic me beneath my quirks and tendencies, beneath the one that appears here on stage on the forum, beneath that one parading in public, even beneath the one I deceive myself into believing in private, beyond all the illusions I have of myself. It’s the me that I often try to hide from, pretend that its not there, the one I cannot lie to, but always try to lie to. A part of me that can often be lost and broken, and be left unnoticed by me as I carry on my everyday life. And perhaps even deeper than all this, but the thing that encapsulates this.

Quote: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?

Questions of heaven elude me. I couldn’t tell you if my quirky personality travels up there along with my soul, in fact I don’t even know what my relationship with my wife would be. Jesus dodged a bullet on that question. Can I play football in heaven? Will I be taller, with a fuller head of hair, will I have better hand eye coordination? Jesus response to those folks inquiring more about the afterlife, seems to frown in these sort of speculations. He proclaims that whatever life in Heaven is like is neither here nor there, but within us.

Quote: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.


But in this case we’re discussing without recognizing. We’re not even discussing the same thing, even though we give it the same name. Something is being entirely lost in translation, and I wouldn't even know where to begin to resolve it.

"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, 11:48 AM
RE: Substance dualism, why is it still a thing?
(02-09-2015 11:41 AM)Tomasia Wrote:  It’s not so much about being tangled up in definitions. But when you define something in a certain way, it can be apparent that we’re not really talking about the same thing.

cough

(02-09-2015 11:41 AM)Tomasia Wrote:  When it comes to something like the “soul” , this problem seems to only exists when it comes to atheists, where as if I was talking to a Muslim, or Hindu, that when we speak of the soul we tend to be speaking of the same thing, even if none of us can adequately define the thing we’re talking about.

Yes, because you all presuppose that it exists and is, in some undefined way, a non-physical, "transcendental" force or energy which is tied to your "true self".

It's like Heywood Jahblome's definition of God. It is a non-phrase. It is a bunch of vaguely impressive-sounding words bunched together with no regard for actually conveying a coherent concept.

(02-09-2015 11:41 AM)Tomasia Wrote:  Questions of heaven elude me. I couldn’t tell you if my quirky personality travels up there along with my soul, in fact I don’t even know what my relationship with my wife would be. Jesus dodged a bullet on that question. Can I play football in heaven? Will I be taller, with a fuller head of hair, will I have better hand eye coordination? Jesus response to those folks inquiring more about the afterlife, seems to frown in these sort of speculations. He proclaims that whatever life in Heaven is like is neither here nor there, but within us.

Yes, because Heaven is, likewise, an incoherent non-definition.

"Owl," said Rabbit shortly, "you and I have brains. The others have fluff. If there is any thinking to be done in this Forest - and when I say thinking I mean thinking - you and I must do it."
- A. A. Milne, The House at Pooh Corner
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02-09-2015, 12:08 PM
RE: Substance dualism, why is it still a thing?
(02-09-2015 11:48 AM)Unbeliever Wrote:  
(02-09-2015 11:41 AM)Tomasia Wrote:  Questions of heaven elude me. I couldn’t tell you if my quirky personality travels up there along with my soul, in fact I don’t even know what my relationship with my wife would be. Jesus dodged a bullet on that question. Can I play football in heaven? Will I be taller, with a fuller head of hair, will I have better hand eye coordination? Jesus response to those folks inquiring more about the afterlife, seems to frown in these sort of speculations. He proclaims that whatever life in Heaven is like is neither here nor there, but within us.

Yes, because Heaven is, likewise, an incoherent non-definition.

And Heaven is, likewise, what Tomasia's mom is talking about when she says she's "worried about his soul". I have never heard that phrase used in any other context, and I can't imagine one that would make sense, other than joking that you're doing something sinful as a way of saying "what's WRONG with you, son?", as my mom occasionally did, but only in jest. The latter definition has little to do with what we're discussing, so I ignored it.

And it doesn't matter how we define Heaven because that's not the point. We could be discussing reincarnation with the same set of definitions. Most people think our personalities (at least most aspects of it; enough that we would be able to "recognize" our own survival of death) "go somewhere" after death, implying duality of body and soul.

It's a little bit fucked up that you seem to think that because we're atheists, we can't grasp the full nature of the concept called soul.

It's a little bit like listening to some superfan tell me that even though I've loved Star Wars all my life, have read most of the novels and of course seen all the films more times than almost all other movies combined (yeah, sadly true), that somehow I still don't fully understand Lord Vader because I say he's fictional.

"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, 01:21 PM
RE: Substance dualism, why is it still a thing?
(02-09-2015 11:28 AM)Unbeliever Wrote:  Physicalism.

But, again, they are not necessarily exclusive positions. You need to define precisely what form of physicalism or property dualism you are referring to for the question to have any meaning.

They are mutually exclusive, regardless of which category of Physicalism (Materialistic Monism) or Property Dualism you fall under.

Quote:It is trivially easy to define the term "chair”.

"“So…what comes to mind when you hear the word chair?”
To which one of my fellow scholars replied, “A chair.”
“Aha,” rejoined our section leader.
“But do you think of a specific chair? Wittgenstein says you don’t. He says that when you hear the word chair, your brain accesses an abstract symbol representing the essence of chair, or what Wittgenstein calls chair-ness.””


A chair is not something you sit on
-yet you can sit on your bed, and that’s not chair. If you accidentally fell and sat on your hat, that doesn’t make it a chair either.

A chair is something that you sit on and has four leg, so bar stools are not chairs? etc…etc…

The triviality of being able to speak of chairs and know exactly what it is someone is speaking of is not a product of a clear definition, but because of corresponding “chair-ness”, the abstract thing that comes to mind, that lumps beanie bags, bar stool, or classic wooden chairs as one thing.

The triviality of the meaning of a chair is provided by a sense of what chair represents, not the existence of clear and comprehensive definition of it.

When my mother says to me, she’s worried about my soul. I don’t have to ask her to define a soul. I already know what it is, that thing about me she’s referring to as the “soul”, as opposed to worrying about my physical health.

If you don’t have a corresponding sense of what it represents, than any attempts by you to define it will correspond to something else, other than the thing we’re talking about.

This is not to say that an atheists can’t understand what is that people are speaking about when they speak of a soul (that thing which my mother has real and intimate sense of) but they can only do see if they have a real intimate sense of the same thing as well. Only than can they go on to say it amounts to more than chemical reactions in the brain, or even point to where those chemical reactions occur.

Quote:No. There is something that affects you at the level of the brain.

Maybe. But my belief in it is not dependent on whether it reduces to neuroscience or not, just like my belief in free-will, rational thinking, is not dependent on whether it’s reducible to neuroscience either. It would have to be if I were a physicalist, but i'm not a physicalist.

"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, 01:36 PM
RE: Substance dualism, why is it still a thing?
(02-09-2015 01:21 PM)Tomasia Wrote:  The triviality of being able to speak of chairs and know exactly what it is someone is speaking of is not a product of a clear definition

Yes, it is.

(02-09-2015 01:21 PM)Tomasia Wrote:  The triviality of the meaning of a chair is provided by a sense of what chair represents

In other words, by knowing what the definition is.

The fact that many people are bad at articulating themselves does not alter the fact that "chair" is a very clearly defined term.

(02-09-2015 01:21 PM)Tomasia Wrote:  
Quote:No. There is something that affects you at the level of the brain.

Maybe.

No, definitely. We know this. This isn't something that you can argue against. It has been proven.

(02-09-2015 01:21 PM)Tomasia Wrote:  But my belief in it is not dependent on whether it reduces to neuroscience or not, just like my belief in free-will, rational thinking, is not dependent on whether it’s reducible to neuroscience either.

I reiterate my previous point regarding your willingness to admit to being extremely silly.

"Owl," said Rabbit shortly, "you and I have brains. The others have fluff. If there is any thinking to be done in this Forest - and when I say thinking I mean thinking - you and I must do it."
- A. A. Milne, The House at Pooh Corner
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