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panpsychism (philosophy)

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panpsychism (philosophy)

Postby wildfunguy » Fri Sep 27, 2013 2:49 pm

Maybe there is somebody else who wonders about the mind/body problem, or maybe even someone who studies it. Panpsychists point out the uncertainty about how, when, or if mental properties arose in the course of evolution. Panpsychists hold that mental properties don't arise from non-mental properties, and that mental properties and physical properties are the same (mind/body monism). Like most philosophical viewpoints, it has problems. For example:
- Many "physical properties" have a more abstract 'existence'. A physical law does not exist at any specific location, yet it clearly exists. How could mind, which seems to be bound by locality, give rise to something so diffuse?
- What is it that separates my mind from your mind if there is only mind?
It seems that, in order for panpsychism to work, the barrier between minds must be some sort of illusion that arises from cognitive inadequacy.

I am not convinced of panpsychism, but I think I would formulate it differently. I think we can speak of our brains from two perspectives, the first-person or third-person perspective.
Language must have some meanings that can be understood without definition, or else language could not arise. This is not to say that those meanings are indefinable, merely that understanding of them doesn't depend on definition. Once we understand some of these fundamental meanings, we can use them to formulate complicated definitions.
To each of us, language is a subjective phenomenon occurring in the mind. It shouldn't surprise us if these fundamental meanings are themselves subjective mental phenomena. Wittgenstein actually criticized those who tried to talk about feelings because there seemed to be no criteria for judging whether the feeling of one moment was the same as the feeling of another moment. We see the same problem with the experience of color. I have no idea how I judge a thing to be red, but my intuitive judgment of color seems to be accurate enough to serve as a basis for understanding of the objective world. So language is based on subjective experience, but it provides a gateway into the objective world.
I can talk about my brain, and I could use a brain scan to observe the connection between my brain and my mind. From there, I would infer that my mind is brain matter, that "brain matter" is more or less the third-person term for mind, and vice versa. Different sense, same reference. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sense_and_reference
Then I would infer that all my third-person understandings of the world are actually arising from my brain. From there, I might ask myself what it means for a thing to exist. Obviously, there's more to the existence of my laptop than the mere impression it makes upon my mind. That is to say, there's more to it than its third-person existence. Maybe it also has a first-person existence, like my brain does. Of course, it may be a total mystery whether my laptop's first-person existence resembles my brain's in any respect. So the question of whether it has a mind depends on your definition of "mind". Does "mind" only refer to the first-person existence of certain animalia brain structures, or does it refer to any sort of first-person existence?
wildfunguy
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