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Mental Entities and Causality

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Eliminative materialists claim consciousness is an illusion.  That the apparent duality is solved by repudiating consciousness. Dualists of all types I think have the converse illusory view that

Sorry all, I have something else to add that is relevant.   Inefficacious Nothing A claim to any existent with no causal consequences in reality is an assertion of the arbitrary which m

I'll double check it when I read the other pages you noted, as I think she labels them as -existents- (like actions or concepts) and not things or entities. Or that she clarified they are not independ

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13 minutes ago, Plasmatic said:

Remember that what exists in the primary sense are entities.

Rand, in the appendix referenced earlier by MisterSwig, stated she was against neologisms. Given the degree of difficulty of the subject, are mental entities/mental somethings just a matter of agreeing on the terminology, or is more needed to flesh out in order to warrant a unique conceptual vocabulary for articulating "entities" within the mental realm? I'm leaning toward more clarifying differentiation is needed.

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55 minutes ago, MisterSwig said:
  1 hour ago, itsjames said:

When you call something an "entity", or even when you say "content" (as in "mental content"), you're suggesting that the thing you are talking about is somehow being perceived first, and is identified afterwards.

 

55 minutes ago, MisterSwig said:

Exactly. Weird, isn't it?

But the point is that this is not what happens. You are only aware of these "mental entities" so long as you are in the process of creating them. (If you are remembering some thought you had earlier, you are thinking it again, in a sense.) Hence, they are not entities, because they are not grasped as being independent things. You know that you are creating them in the same moment you are aware of them.

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5 minutes ago, dream_weaver said:

Rand, in the appendix referenced earlier by MisterSwig, stated she was against neologisms. Given the degree of difficulty of the subject, are mental entities/mental somethings just a matter of agreeing on the terminology, or is more needed to flesh out in order to warrant a unique conceptual vocabulary for articulating the mental realm? I'm leaning toward more clarifying differentiation is needed.

Where she mentions abhorring neologisms she specifically says that she doesn't mean mental "entity" in the sense of primary substance qua Aristotle. Meaning its not the kind of thing that constitutes a cause.

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10 minutes ago, dream_weaver said:

Given the degree of difficulty of the subject, are mental entities/mental somethings just a matter of agreeing on the terminology, or is more needed to flesh out in order to warrant a unique conceptual vocabulary for articulating "entities" within the mental realm? I'm leaning toward more clarifying differentiation is needed.

I think the disagreement Eiuol and I (at least me) have with MisterSwig is not just a matter of the terminology. MisterSwig seems to believe that these "mental entities" are grasped initially as being independent things whose dependence and full nature is discovered later on. I think that these "mental entities" can only be grasped as dependent things, in a sense -- things that we have created, or maybe things that we have done. So, I think the issue lies in how these things are initially grasped.

 

 

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3 minutes ago, Plasmatic said:

Where she mentions abhorring neologisms she specifically says that she doesn't mean mental "entity" in the sense of primary substance qua Aristotle. 

Abhorring is not precisely the adjective she chose. It does suggest that she is calling for greater precision in the agreement on terminology.

Let me rephrase my question: Do you think that a unique conceptual vocabulary is warranted, or new discoveries have to be made in the mental realm in order to sanctify it?

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19 minutes ago, dream_weaver said:

Abhorring is not precisely the adjective she chose. It does suggest that she is calling for greater precision in the agreement on terminology.

Let me rephrase my question: Do you think that a unique conceptual vocabulary is warranted, or new discoveries have to be made in the mental realm in order to sanctify it?

I don't think that the primary axiomatic concept of entity changes with context....

I think we have all the info we need to understand how concepts are only entities in a derivative, non primary sense.

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I wrote a post but then my PC froze. So, I'll do bullet points of pages Swig mentioned. I reread all the pages and more in those same sections.

These bullets are a summary:
-mental entities are distinctive
-metaphysically, only concretes exist
-mental concretes are mentioned, but only in the sense of "mental something"
-mental entities are not made of a separate substance as Aristotle probably thought
-attributes don't "adhere" to entities as if the entity is on a substratum as Locke seemed to say
-mental entities are metaphorical so we can talk about them easier; they are not the same kind of entity as an apple is an entity
-mental entities are phenomena of consciousness

(it looks like, but I'm unsure) Rand meant Prof. F's error was somewhat Platonic


Volition is a type of causation according to Rand, and she probably means that it's just a narrower context than (physical) causality. It's causation when choice and decisions are involved. We could call a computer's software"electric causation" but it's still physical.

Note: We know elsewhere that Rand thinks of consciousness as an activity.
Note2: I didn't know why Rand didn't just say "mental existent".

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12 hours ago, itsjames said:

We are the ones who act, not the mental "entities" in our heads.

Yes, but what are we? We must act in accordance with our nature. And if our nature involves causing mental entities to cause nervous activity in our bodies, how does that violate the law of causality?

It's really a matter of accepting the introspective evidence available. Clearly I am the one who acts. But what exactly am I doing? And how many links are in the causal chain between me and that which I do?

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1 minute ago, MisterSwig said:

Yes, but what are we? We must act in accordance with our nature. And if our nature involves causing mental entities to cause nervous activity in our bodies, how does that violate the law of causality?

This would be a characteristic "adhering" to an entity, as opposed to inseparable from an entity. Only the entity acts, i.e. the whole thing. This isn't "Inside Out".

 

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3 hours ago, itsjames said:

Hence, they are not entities, because they are not grasped as being independent things.

Ok. But you're treating a mental entity as if it were in the physical realm where spatial relationships exist. Such a thing does not occur in my perception of the mental realm. If there is no space in the mental realm, why should we expect to perceive a mental entity as an independent thing, separate from some other mental entity?

From my experience with introspection, I seem to perceive only one distinct mental unit at a time. I perceive one thought, one concept, one memory. Sometimes I sort of cycle through them, as they pop in and out of my awareness one after another. 

It seems impossible to focus on two distinct mental units and place them side by side in my mind. If I close my eyes and focus on the concept tree, I can think of the various attributes of a tree. Its roots, and trunk, and branches, and leaves. I might even get a vague image of a tree in my "mind's eye." But if I tell myself to hold that concept in mind along with the concept of a whale, I start to immediately lose the tree and begin thinking of the whale's attributes and image. No matter how hard I try, I can't clearly hold both concepts in mind at the same exact time. One of them will fade away as I turn my focus to the other one.

I could put both concepts together in a thought, like, "A whale in a tree." Then I might get a vague image of that idea. But now I have a single thought in mind, not two separate concepts.

So it seems that the mental realm is without space, and thus without dependence or independence among its various mental entities. Which is not to say, however, that mental entities cannot have an existential dependence upon physical entities such as the human body.

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On November 19, 2016 at 7:02 PM, MisterSwig said:

Consciousness is not "all action." It's mental entities in action.

If you accept the mental realm, then you must accept mental existence. And if you accept mental existence, then you must accept the mental units (or entities) from which you abstracted the concept of mental existence. 

Here is the fundamental mistake swig is making. Oism is not a metaphysical dualist philosophy. There is no "mental realm" if you intend to mean by that a ontological category apart from concretes. Even the linguistic tools used that transform concepts into "mental entities" are concrete physically causal aspects of the only metaphysical realm there is. 

Yes swig is presenting a platonic view in his ontology of consciousness.

 

It follows from swig's view that abstraction is a taking out from the physical into a platonic, spiritual realm. 

Swig, do you also think that the self, or will, inhabits the physical body like a soul but is not causally derived from it?

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7 hours ago, Plasmatic said:

I don't think that the primary axiomatic concept of entity changes with context....

I think we have all the info we need to understand how concepts are only entities in a derivative, non primary sense.

One should attempt to avoid false dichotomies between body and mind.  Rand was not a dualist and Objectivism does not point towards dualism. It also does not point toward mechanical determinism.

Volitional Consciousness is fundamental to all of Objectivism, its very concept of consciousness, any intelligibility to its epistemology, the very meaning of ethics.  Careful integration of volition with nature which makes it possible is what is required.

Stray away from consciousness being a first cause in human action and all of its consequences, and you have not just had a quibble with Objectivism and Rand, you have utterly rejected both.

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2 minutes ago, StrictlyLogical said:

One should attempt to avoid false dichotomies between body and mind.  Rand was not a dualist and Objectivism does not point towards dualism. It also does not point toward mechanical determinism.

Volitional Consciousness is fundamental to all of Objectivism, its very concept of consciousness, any intelligibility to its epistemology, the very meaning of ethics.  Careful integration of volition with nature which makes it possible is what is required.

Stray away from consciousness being a first cause in human action and all of its consequences, and you have not just had a quibble with Objectivism and Rand, you have utterly rejected both.

Did you mean to direct this at me? I don't see how you could derive this from what Ive said. 

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4 minutes ago, Plasmatic said:

Here is the fundamental mistake swig is making. Oism is not a metaphysical dualist philosophy. There is no "mental realm" if you intend to mean by that a ontological category apart from concretes. Even the linguistic tools used that transform concepts into "mental entities" are concrete physically causal aspects of the only metaphysical realm there is. 

Yes swig is presenting a platonic view in his ontology of consciousness.

 

It follows from swig's view that abstraction is a taking out from the physical into a platonic, spiritual realm. 

Swig, do also think that the self or will inhabits the physical body like a soul but is bit causally derived from it?

Honestly I think you and Swig are arguing past each other.

Swig you need to dispel the erroneous interpretation of what you are trying to say.  Say it more plainly.

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7 minutes ago, Plasmatic said:

Did you mean to direct this at me? I don't see how you could derive this from what Ive said. 

 

8 hours ago, Plasmatic said:

Meaning its not the kind of thing that constitutes a cause.

Meaning and mental content in general constitute the premises which inform decisions which are the substance of choice and free will, the generator of human action... if you have not by this already repudiated consciousness as causative in the universe you are at the very least building a slippery slope toward it.

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9 minutes ago, StrictlyLogical said:

 

Meaning and mental content in general constitute the premises which inform decisions which are the substance of choice and free will, the generator of human action... if you have not by this already repudiated consciousness as causative in the universe you are at the very least building a slippery slope toward it.

My point is very simply that actions are actions of entities that entities are their attributes. We dont need a seperate metaphysical realm to except that man does what he does consciously, because of what he thinks.

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40 minutes ago, Plasmatic said:

My point is very simply that actions are actions of entities that entities are their attributes. We dont need a seperate metaphysical realm to except that man does what he does consciously, because of what he thinks.

Of course there is no "separate metaphysical realm".  This I think is either a result of misunderstanding or miscommunication or both.  For myself I did interpret this from Mr. Swig's posts (and I certainly do not claim it myself) as alleging this.

There is however something unique about our view of the one metaphysical realm.  In real ways we are not cut off from reality, but ALL things other than what we ARE, are cut off from what it is like to BE what WE are.  This follows from identity. 

The fact that a bat or a machine or an alien intelligence can NEVER know what it is like to be a human, have a human feeling, have a human thought process, be humanly conscious, means there IS something about reality which WE see and experience as humans which is unique and are not viewable from any other point of view.  NO third person description of it can be adequate to a non human to cause such a knowledge, nothing short of a supernatural temporary transformation of identity would suffice, and such is impossible. In this and perhaps other ways the mental is completely distinct from the "out there", we CAN and DO see it, and nothing else could.  Introspection and mental content are a special kind of thing happening, amongst the vast multitude of various things happening,  in the one metaphysical realm.

This reality is unavoidable... it should not be dismissed.

 

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5 minutes ago, StrictlyLogical said:

Of course there is no "separate metaphysical realm".  This I think is either a result of misunderstanding or miscommunication or both.  For myself I did interpret this from Mr. Swig's posts (and I certainly do not claim it myself) as alleging this.

There is however something unique about our view of the one metaphysical realm.  In real ways we are not cut off from reality, but ALL things other than what we ARE, are cut off from what it is like to BE what WE are.  This follows from identity. 

The fact that a bat or a machine or an alien intelligence can NEVER know what it is like to be a human, have a human feeling, have a human thought process, be humanly conscious, means there IS something about reality which WE see and experience as humans which is unique and are not viewable from any other point of view.  NO third person description of it can be adequate to a non human to cause such a knowledge, nothing short of a supernatural temporary transformation of identity would suffice, and such is impossible. In this and perhaps other ways the mental is completely distinct from the "out there", we CAN and DO see it, and nothing else could.  Introspection and mental content are a special kind of thing happening, amongst the vast multitude of various things happening,  in the one metaphysical realm.

This reality is unavoidable... it should not be dismissed.

 

Yes, what you are referring to is called the first person nature of consciousness. I explicitly accept that as true. However, swig has attached something else to this premise which is false. I am sure of it. Perhaps reread his comments?

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1 hour ago, StrictlyLogical said:

 

Meaning and mental content in general constitute the premises which inform decisions which are the substance of choice and free will, the generator of human action... if you have not by this already repudiated consciousness as causative in the universe you are at the very least building a slippery slope toward it.

I think you interpreted "meaning" in my comment in a way I didn't "mean"..... I wasn't talking about meaning itself, the subject of semantics. 

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24 minutes ago, Plasmatic said:

Yes, what you are referring to is called the first person nature of consciousness. I explicitly accept that as true. However, swig has attached something else to this premise which is false. I am sure of it. Perhaps reread his comments?

I'm really just a bystander... who has injected himself a bit over much here as regards what others are saying...  I do hope what I am saying by way of addition is at least somewhat useful.

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1 hour ago, StrictlyLogical said:

Meaning and mental content in general constitute the premises which inform decisions which are the substance of choice and free will, the generator of human action... 

Be careful to note that this can be taken as meaning substance dualism. Particularly in the context of a conversation with someone who is expressing a dualist ontology. 

I'm really just a bystander... who has injected himself a bit over much here as regards what others are saying...  I do hope what I am saying by way of addition is at least somewhat useful.

Hope I don't sound like I am beating you up. 

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7 hours ago, MisterSwig said:

From my experience with introspection, I seem to perceive only one distinct mental unit at a time. I perceive one thought, one concept, one memory. Sometimes I sort of cycle through them, as they pop in and out of my awareness one after another.

This isn't perception though, perception is through sense organs. You equated awareness with perception, thus anything you notice mentally is a metaphysical thing. We'd expect distinct mental existents still because there is your internal experience and representations alongside probably.

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8 hours ago, MisterSwig said:

So it seems that the mental realm is without space, and thus without dependence or independence among its various mental entities. Which is not to say, however, that mental entities cannot have an existential dependence upon physical entities such as the human body.

Consciousness is spatially located in the human body/brain.  Are you saying that mental phenomenon are a separate ontological realm inhabited by mental entities but that is causally dependent on the physical? Or do you think that the mind is ontologically separable from the physical?

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