Three Seas Forum

the archives

dusted off in read-only


The Case of the Blind Brain and Other Strange Tales posted 30 June 2004 in Philosophy DiscussionThe Case of the Blind Brain and Other Strange Tales by TakLoufer, Candidate

Finally some time for a more proper reply, though nothing, I'm afraid, that would justice to all the points you raise.

I'm not sure how you could get around the 'unexplained explainer' problem - certainly not with philosophy anyway.

Well, modern cosmology suffers from the same sort of problem:

Where did the universe come from? - The big bang.

Where did the big bang come from? - Quantum fluxations or quantum foam or something.

Where did that come from?

At least mental monism/panexperientalism can avoid the infinite regress: the rock bottom of reality is the irreducible archetypes.

Also, an evolving process hypothesis is analogous to cosmological and biological evolution and shouldn't generate any more nagging questions then they do.

As it stands, you and I both agree 'there must be more,' but for me that 'more' must remain a blank posit. I don't share your optimism regarding philosophy's ability to make anything stick.

Well, if the philosophical model can coherently account for the phenomena, then it (pragmatically, at least) "works".

Regarding the Blind Brain hypothesis, I think I understand why you might raise the old 'Cartesian Theatre' objection, but it really doesn't apply. I pursued the argument, in fact, to TROUBLE my 'there must be more' stance, which means that you're quite right to point out the automaton model of consciousness it seems to entail. What it does is provide a naturalistic explanation of the why and how of intentional phenomena - explaining them away in effect.

I don't think it really explains away intention so much as it shows the inadequacy of materialism. We can't really "see" ourselves as part of the world; but if we are part of the world, and the world is insentient, then we should be insentient as well. But because we are sentient, and if we are part of the world, then the world must be, in at least some "proto-conscious" form, sentient as well - it's either that or we declare dualism (which would make us separate from the world).

I feel this should be fairly obvious; but let me give an analogy. Over on the "On the Warrior Prophet" thread, someone earlier mentioned that our "blind spot" could be compared to a duck who cannot fathom why it can fly. I'm going to resurrect this concept.

Suppose a society of ducks exist that have a simple language and a penchant for philosophical musings. However, their tiny duck brains don't allow them to conceive certain concepts. For example, the concept of "air", or "atmosphere", will permanently elude them. It's not that they think the space around them is a vacuum, they don't think about the space around them at all. Anyway, the ducks have a problem. The current metaphysic of the ducks does not seem to account for the existence of flight. The nagging questions haunts them: "How can the mere flapping of wings produce flight?" The eliminativists among the ducks maintain that flight doesn't really exist, or is simply "folk aviation", where as the less extreme mainstream philosophers declare that flight is somehow an emergent phenomena of wing flapping, even though they have no idea how this occurs. The old dualists conjure up spirits that supposedly carry ducks when they fly.

The debates continue.

One day, a duck puts forward that perhaps they are incapable of understanding how flight occurs and that they should all just give up. This starts a commotion until one duck steps (er, waddles) forward and says that while the details of the ontology may elude them, they can say one thing for certain: The world (ontology) about them must have some undiscovered characteristic which accounts for the phenomena that they employ by necessity. They may not know what it is, but it should be obvious that there is something missing from their current world view that will allow flight. It's not that they can't see how wing-flapping causes flight, it's some factor beyond the wings themselves (air) that allows flight to exist.

This can be transplanted to your Blind Brain hypothesis. It's not so much that we are incapable of seeing how insentient, en soi particles of matter can create a POV - the nature of materialism necessarily does not allow for consciousness, save for an outside agency - we created the rules of the materialist metaphysic, and it denies us the tools necessary to explain consciousness. It should be obvious that, while we may not know (and may be incapable of knowing) the details, there must be some ontological factor unknown to us that is beyond the materialist deterministic model of the brain (panexperientalism? idealism?) that accounts for the phenomena (consciousness and volition) that we employ by necessity in our lives.

I feel this shows that the materialist paradigm, at least in its current form, is inadequate. Like the ducks' metaphysic, it lacks the tools to allow for an obstinate phenomena to exist.

But that's another story. If you want to explore it, we should probably start a different thread - one with a big warning sign!

And here we are --- no warning sign, though the title may scare people away <!-- s;) --><img src="{SMILIES_PATH}/icon_wink.gif" alt=";)" title="Wink" /><!-- s;) --> view post


The Three Seas Forum archives are hosted and maintained courtesy of Jack Brown