FW: Dualism

From: Brent Meeker <meekerdb.domain.name.hidden>
Date: Thu, 23 Jun 2005 23:03:04 -0000

Can anyone explain http://chu.stanford.edu/guide.html#ratmech to me. Stephen
seems to think Pratt has solved the "Caspar" problem of dualism. It also
dy.htm by someone whose nom-de-internet is "Cassiels Sophia".

Below is our exchange which Stepen agreed to take back onlist.

Brent Meeker

-----Original Message-----
From: Stephen Paul King [mailto:stephenk1.domain.name.hidden]
Sent: Tuesday, June 21, 2005 3:41 PM
To: Brent Meeker
Subject: Re: Dualism

Dear Brent,

    I will be writing this response over several sittings so I apologize in
advance if it seems a bit discontinuous.

----- Original Message -----
From: "Brent Meeker" <meekerdb.domain.name.hidden>
To: "Stephen Paul King" <stephenk1.domain.name.hidden>
Sent: Saturday, June 18, 2005 3:39 PM
Subject: RE: Dualism

>>-----Original Message-----
>>From: Stephen Paul King [mailto:stephenk1.domain.name.hidden]
>>Sent: Saturday, June 18, 2005 2:12 PM
>>To: Brent Meeker
>>Subject: Re: Dualism
>>Dear Brent,
>> I can try but a tyro can do not better than a professional.
> Often a tyro can do better because he recalls the difficulties that have
> become intuitive to the professional.


    I have noticed that. ;-)

> [SPK]
>> Do you know what relation exists between linear functionals and an
>>appropriate vector space? A duality, but somehow I suspect that you will
>>not be capable of imagining this mathematical duality as having anything
>>all to do with a mind-body duality; especially since you seem fixated on a
>>particular set of words and have a hard time grasping the outline of the
>>idea that those words represent.
> [BM]
> You're right that I have difficulty imagining that; but I don't think I
> should have to "imagine" it.


    I was being hopeful. ;-)

> Whoever is putting forward a theory of mind should be
> able to explain how the mathematics they use to describe it relates to the
> mind. For example, duality relates things pairwise. I'm now imagining a
> pink elephant. What is the physical thing dual to that imagining? If you
> say
> some pattern of neuron activity in my brain, I'd say that's a good
> hypothesis.


    The information structure is the dual to the "physical thing".
Information is "not" physical, but does require some physical structure to
interact with other information. This is what Pratt meant when he points out
that Cartesian dualism and the monist hypothesis have a problem when trying
to consistently explain how bodies interact with bodies and minds with other

    Let me back up my argument that Information is *not* physical.
Information is the "stuff" of representations.

    To begin let me point out that the claim that information is physical
implies, unassailably, that for each and every physical state there is *at
most* one datum (let us assume that this datum is the Kolmogoroff string)
associated with it because the relationship between object and . This
implication is contradicted by basic facts: Given any physical object, there
is *at least* one representation of the object.
    The object, when considered in terms of its states, that has only one
possible representation is a strange object indeed, Kolmogoroff's argument
notwithstanding, because there are more than one symbolic system (grammar -
contra Chomsky!) that can be used in the representation and there is more
than one way that the symbolic representation can be arranged (semantics).
    This points us to the conclusion that it is a mistake to assume that
information "bits" and physical states, which are the "stuff" of physical
objects, are one and the same and thus to the need of an alternative.

> [BM]
> But then why should I not regard the neural activity as the physical
> correlate of the imagining, "weak dualism" as the author (Cassiel Sophia?)
> you cite below denominates it.


    I am proposing that there is a "physical correlate" of the information
aspect of the "imagining", but in a way that is different from Sophia's.
BTW, I pasted that link as a way to present some background not as an
advocation of his thesis.

>> If we consider minds and bodies, not in terms of *static substances*
>> but in terms of the transformations that their existence entails, the
>> nature of the duality that Pratt explains is both obvious and
>> unavoidable.
>> As to its predictiveness,
>> let me point out that it solves the epiphenomena problem
>> of both mental and material monism.
> [BM]
> Pratt says that there is no direct interaction between physical events,
> they are always mediated by a common mental event (and vice versa). So
> how does carbon get produced in the Sun? Is God thinking about about
> those
> atoms so they can interact?


    Well, let's be clever and throw out a challenge in the form of a very
complex situation and then wait for a misstatement in the reply to be a
counterpoint in your favor. Is this Rhetoric 101 practice or a discussion?

    But to try to answer the point about "no direct interaction"; that is
the meat of Pratt's thesis. What he points out is that direct interaction
requires that both of the entities involved share a common substrate such
that they can exchange substances. This is the basic assumption in physics
for the past 2,000 years, but contains a contradiction that has been
overlooked: that substances must have all of their properties a priori
    This assumption is at the heart of classical determinism and only since
the advent of QM has it begun to be questioned. The problem that it entails
for any notion of interaction is that it makes it impossible to consider
information in anything other than the same a priori specified way.
    This a priori specificity is not problematic if and only if one never
considers exactly how to represent time and related transitivity in one's
ontology. IMHO, the paradox that appears when noting that there is a
distinction between the "past" state of an object and its possible "future"
state. Classical determinism would have us believe that the relationship
between states at t_1 and t_2 are strictly reversible and thus representable
by bijective maps between them. The problem with such, even before we get to
QM, is that it gives us no explanation of the origin of thermodynamic

    If we are proposing hypothesis about the nature of the Universe we must
be very careful that the hypothesis does not contradict itself!

    If the theory of properties of objects are required to be a priori
specified or just pre-specifiable (ala the Universe is a Turing Machine
idea), then there must be some consistent way to account for how the
specific properties of states obtain such that we have a predictive model
that is faithful to our experience and experimental evidence.
    We know now, from such experiments as the delay choice experiment, EPR,
and others, that is it inconsistent to assume a priori specifiability! Given
this falsification of the hypothesis we are in need for alternatives. Pratt
offers one such alternative. If we are going to seriously consider the
question as to how carbon is produced in the sun we do not have to add more
to the current model that exists, we only need to look carefully at how the
amplitudes of the wavefunctions involved evolve.
    Pratt's model is completely consistent with QM formalism and, no, does
not require any kind of "God thinking about it" for it to happen. You seem
to be conflating your own straw dog argumentatives about what dualism is
with Pratt's account. It may be safe to claim that you did not understand
the content of his paper at all.

>> [SPK]
> [BM]
> That at least I can understand. And since I can understand it, I can see
> that it is full of holes. First, Sophia preemptorily dismisses idealism;
> but
> I've heard a much better defense of idealism than the one he provides of
> dualism.
> Second, he assumes a false dichotomy between determinism and free will.
> Dennett has done a good job of explicating the compatibilist position in
> "Elbow Room".


    It is not my job to defend Sophia and I will not waste my time trying.

> Third, Sophia, mischaracterizes mind-brain identity "Be that as it may,
> from
> our present point of view we can take it as just another affirmation of
> weak
> dualism, the dualism which denies any autonomy whatsoever to mind." This
> 'weak
> dualism' could just as well be regarded as denying autonomy to the brain.
> The
> brain, as matter in a physical state, doesn't constitute a mind - only a
> brain
> as the substrate of a physical process constitutes a mind. I see no
> problem in
> looking at a process as something more than the elements involved.
> Sophia cites the zombie planet as a refutation of WD; but it is more of a
> problem for dualism. Under WD a zombie is impossible - the "epiphenomena"
> is a
> consequence of the phenomena. He says, "For an epiphenomenalist, it can
> be
> only a brute fact that consciousness supervenes when the cortex of the
> brain is
> appropriately innervated. There is no conceivable reason why this should
> happen
> for it serves no purpose that would favour it from an evolutionary
> standpoint."
> But what account can a dualist give of this? Why doesn't mind enter into
> it's
> relation with matter when the matter consists of a dog, or a cucumber, or
> a
> rock.
> Then he makes some more fallacious characterizations of weak dualism:
> "Nothing
> whatsoever that makes a difference to what goes on in the real world
> follows
> from the supervenience of the mental upon the cerebral." In WD, mind is
> not
> supervenience; the neural processes constitute the thoughts - as voters
> voting
> constitute an election.
> He continues, "We might just as well have evolved, therefore, as totally
> insentient automata. Thus, when we ourselves design artificial
> intelligence,
> however sophisticated, we do not reckon on their becoming conscious."
> Actually, we *do* reckon on AI machines being conscious to whatever degree
> we design them to be.
> See John McCarthy (the father of AI) website.


    Pratt's proposal does not seem to argue against AI at all. In fact, the
roots of his work are in Computer Science and the "mechanism" that he uses
in his dualism would work the same for any kind of system.

> Sophia also
> seems to have forgotten his earlier observation that consciousness is
> sporadic
> and cannot be more than a small part of mind. Now he is arguing as if
> consciousness is the whole of mind. Having the inner narrative of
> consciousness is not at all inexpicable on evolutionary grounds; consider
> Julian Janes "The Origin of Consciousness in the Breakdown of the
> Bicameral
> Mind" as well as John McCarthy's explanation of why we wouldn't want to
> give much consciousness to a robot.
> WD has the advantage of explaining why we have
> no conscious memories prior to a certain age that happens to correlate
> with beginning to learn language.
> It explains why we lose memories due to concussion and brain lesions.


    That does not conflict with Pratt's thesis! The correlation between
brain state and mind event that he proposes is such that the physical
aspects constrain its dual; there is no separate and independent
spirit" here!

> [BM]
> Sophia's "argument" against WD based on 'free-will' isn't even an honest
> argument. It's like arguing that we can't give up the idea of a flat
> earth because it will make navigation impossible.


    I did not see that discussion. Thank you for pointing it out.

> It's obvious that Sophia's heart is really with the psi. He refers to,
> "...accumulating experimental evidence of high quality,..." Something
> only a true believer could swallow.
> After at least sixty years of scientific attempts
> to discover psi, it remains a ephemeral as ever. It's always there until
> you look carefully and the more controls the less the effect.


    That disabuse of psi assumes that the mechanical model (of mind) is
correct! I confess to being sanguine about the understanding of psi, if only
because I have had my own experiences with it and have close friends that
are deeply involved with physics that have as well. Does 1st person
experience make one a "true believer"? Whatever...

> [BM]
> By the way, do you mind if we take this back to the everything-list?
> Maybe someone there can explain Pratt for me.
> Brent Meeker
> The plural of "anecdote" is not "data".
> --- David Ramey


    Sure, I would be happy to take this back to the list.

Kindest regards,

Received on Fri Jun 24 2005 - 02:54:53 PDT

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