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If two people share a thought influenced by their shared experiences, would this

If two people share a thought influenced by their shared experiences, would this be considered telepathy? For example, if two people see a stimulus and instantly link that stimulus to a situation experienced with the other person, does it become telepathy because they both think it at the same time, and have some time of relationship?

No. At least, not if by "telepathy," you mean what most people mean. Usually when people talk about telepathy, what they have in mind is one person's thoughts influencing another person's thoughts without usual means of influence such as speaking, telephoning, etc. What you've described is a case of "common cause." It's not a matter of one person's thoughts influencing another person's. It's a matter of a common stimulus influencing each person's thoughts.

To give a clearer example: suppose you and I are, as it happens, both watching the same TV program, though in different cities. An image of a mushroom cloud appears onscreen and we both think of Hiroshima. That's not telepathy. Nor would it be telepathy if the two of us had also once met and talked about the history of the atomic bomb.

No. At least, not if by "telepathy," you mean what most people mean. Usually when people talk about telepathy, what they have in mind is one person's thoughts influencing another person's thoughts without usual means of influence such as speaking, telephoning, etc. What you've described is a case of "common cause." It's not a matter of one person's thoughts influencing another person's. It's a matter of a common stimulus influencing each person's thoughts. To give a clearer example: suppose you and I are, as it happens, both watching the same TV program, though in different cities. An image of a mushroom cloud appears onscreen and we both think of Hiroshima. That's not telepathy. Nor would it be telepathy if the two of us had also once met and talked about the history of the atomic bomb.

Can you choice what to belive in?

Can you choice what to belive in?

A good question. Usually we can't just choose what to believe. For example, I can't decide to believe that there's an elephant in the room with me, no matter how hard I try. That's likely because we're wired in a way that won't usually let us override the evidence of our senses. But the words "believe in" are typically applied to things that we can't check on simply by looking around—things like belief in God, or belief in the trustworthiness of a friend. (It's not that the evidence of our senses is simply irrelevant to such things, but it's seldom definitive.) In matters where the senses don't just settle things, it's a genuine question whether we can decide to believe, and my sense is that we often can.

A comparison might help. Suppose my friend has been accused of something, and he asks me to speak for him as a character witness. I can certainly decide whether I'm going to do that. The decision might be easy, but the more interesting cases are the ones where it doesn't just seem obvious what to do. There we have a real feeling of deciding. Now suppose I ask my friend about the accusation. He tells me his version of events, and if his story is true it's clear that he's innocent. I think that in cases like this we sometimes have the sense of deciding to believe. In particular, I might decide to believe my friend's story. If that's something I really can do, then I'm not just deciding to do something, I'm deciding what to believe.

There are other cases that aren't quite so direct. Think about belief in God. Pascal long ago observed that if I start going to Mass, taking holy water, spending time with believers, I may well come to believe myself. Of course, this won't work unless I'm at least open to the belief, but the point is that I can choose actions that make belief more likely.

So there's no hard and fast answer here, but it's plausible that at least sometimes and to some extent we really can choose what to believe in and even what to believe.

A good question. Usually we can't just choose what to believe. For example, I can't decide to believe that there's an elephant in the room with me, no matter how hard I try. That's likely because we're wired in a way that won't usually let us override the evidence of our senses. But the words "believe in" are typically applied to things that we can't check on simply by looking around—things like belief in God, or belief in the trustworthiness of a friend. (It's not that the evidence of our senses is simply irrelevant to such things, but it's seldom definitive.) In matters where the senses don't just settle things, it's a genuine question whether we can decide to believe, and my sense is that we often can. A comparison might help. Suppose my friend has been accused of something, and he asks me to speak for him as a character witness. I can certainly decide whether I'm going to do that. The decision might be easy, but the more interesting cases are the ones where it doesn't just seem obvious what to do....

Hello,

Hello, My name is Kyle, I'm a physics student. I have zero training in philosophy, save for an introductory philosophy course in my freshman year. I've been thinking about something quite frequently, and would like to hear an opinion from somebody who is knowledgable in the subject; The mind and the ego is a construct of the brain( at least as far as I know), and it's experiences. And I think it's fair to say that the brain is a clever organization of atoms, in what is essentially a computer. It has memories, which I think forms the ego, in a seemingly contiguous storyline. The hardware of the brain is however constantly changing, with atoms being lost and gained, through cell death, reproduction, respiration, and other biochemical functions, and yet our subjective experience remains. Suppose this effect is recreated in hypothetical setting where it is possible to create an exact replica of a person(A) to an artificially constructed person (b). Now, the copy is an exact replica, with every...

Good for you! You've stumbled on a central question in contemporary philosophy, and the thought experiment you offer is very similar to ones proposed by (among others) philosopher Derek Parfit, whose views on this question are much-discussed. The problem is what makes someone the same person over time. Put another way, what makes a person at one time the same person as a person at another time? The standard term for the bundle of questions here is the problem of personal identity. Usually, having the same body/brain is enough; your example points out that this might not be the only thing that matters. In particular, someone might think that continuity of consciousness is what's needed. The 17th-century philosopher John Locke held a view like this.

As you'd expect, different philosophers have come to different conclusions. Parfit thinks that identity is shallow and not what we really care about. On Parfit's view, psychological continuity is what matters, and he would say that in the case you've offered, we could say that A has survived; the copy, for all purposes that matter, is A. But Parfit thinks that the "is" here doesn't matter as much as we might think. Suppose the process doesn't destroy the original A-body. In that case, Parfit would say that the person in the original A-body and the copy are both psychologically continuous with the earlier stages of person A. A's consciousness has, n effect, divided. On Parfit's view the question of which person is "really" A is a shallow one. We could say that nothing have equal claim to being A. But they can't both be A, because two people can't be one person. So on Parfit's view, neither of them is A. Nonetheless, since both of them carry A's consciousness forward, what's happened is at least as good as ordinary survival from A's point of view.

My own view is that we understand all this less well than many philosophers tend to think, but that's neither here nor there. One place to start exploring the question further is by reading the article on personal identity in the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy. You can find that HERE

Good for you! You've stumbled on a central question in contemporary philosophy, and the thought experiment you offer is very similar to ones proposed by (among others) philosopher Derek Parfit, whose views on this question are much-discussed. The problem is what makes someone the same person over time. Put another way, what makes a person at one time the same person as a person at another time? The standard term for the bundle of questions here is the problem of personal identity . Usually, having the same body/brain is enough; your example points out that this might not be the only thing that matters. In particular, someone might think that continuity of consciousness is what's needed. The 17th-century philosopher John Locke held a view like this. As you'd expect, different philosophers have come to different conclusions. Parfit thinks that identity is shallow and not what we really care about. On Parfit's view, psychological continuity is what matters, and he would say that in the case you've...

Does what I think affect what I do or does what I do affect what I think?

Does what I think affect what I do or does what I do affect what I think?

Both, surely. Is there any reason to think otherwise?

If I think there's a mugger around the corner, I won't go there. (What I think affects what I do.)

If I'm prejudiced against midwesterners and I end up working with several smart, interesting, friendly people from that part of the country, what I think about midwesterners is likely to change; what I do affects what I think.

We could multiply examples indefinitely, but this should do.

Both, surely. Is there any reason to think otherwise? If I think there's a mugger around the corner, I won't go there. (What I think affects what I do.) If I'm prejudiced against midwesterners and I end up working with several smart, interesting, friendly people from that part of the country, what I think about midwesterners is likely to change; what I do affects what I think. We could multiply examples indefinitely, but this should do.

What characteristics essentially define an immaterial soul? I've heard

What characteristics essentially define an immaterial soul? I've heard philosophers define a soul as being an immaterial substance which possesses a range of mental capacities or dispositions, but they never really define its internal structure. Immateriality is merely a negative attribute, but I am looking for a positive characterization of the soul. Souls have the essential capacity to have consciousness (as souls can be unconscious or conscious), but what intrinsic feature(s) of the soul explains this?

The term "soul" is a sort of a place-holder for a certain kind of something-we-know-not-what that may well not exist. That's the reason why there's not much to be said. The "definition" you cite is really just a way of fleshing out what people have in mind when they use the word "soul." It's not a stab at a theory.

If there is anything fitting this "definition" of a soul, then what internal structure it might have is a further and puzzling question. Since souls are supposed to be immaterial, it's not clear what it would mean to say that they have internal structure. Internal in what sense? Structure in what sense?

If someone asked me what features souls have that explain their supposed capacity for consciousness, my answer would be "How the h*ll would I know?" By insisting that souls are immaterial and yet still have physical effects, we've put ourselves in a hard spot: we can't call on any of the resources we usually use when we try to explain the goings-on of things in the world. Physics, biology, neurology, chemistry... are all out. What's left is anyone's guess.

For pretty much these reasons, most philosophers don't talk much about "souls." Understanding consciousness is hard; positing a non-physical thing to do the explaining doesn't really help.

The term "soul" is a sort of a place-holder for a certain kind of something-we-know-not-what that may well not exist. That's the reason why there's not much to be said. The "definition" you cite is really just a way of fleshing out what people have in mind when they use the word "soul." It's not a stab at a theory. If there is anything fitting this "definition" of a soul, then what internal structure it might have is a further and puzzling question. Since souls are supposed to be immaterial, it's not clear what it would mean to say that they have internal structure. Internal in what sense? Structure in what sense? If someone asked me what features souls have that explain their supposed capacity for consciousness, my answer would be "How the h*ll would I know?" By insisting that souls are immaterial and yet still have physical effects, we've put ourselves in a hard spot: we can't call on any of the resources we usually use when we try to explain the goings-on of things in the world. Physics, biology...

Does our mind alter our perception of taste from the way things look and/or

Does our mind alter our perception of taste from the way things look and/or previous experiences?

The answer certainly seems to be yes. One example: learning to like something you didn't like at first. (Olives, beer, strong cheese…)

Taste isn't the only sense modality that's subject to these shifts. Most of us, I'd guess, have found that people sometimes come to look different to us as we get to know them well, for example. As we think about our earlier reactions to some musicians and some music, we may be struck by how different the same piece sounds to us now than it once did.

Obviously there are lots of interesting questions we could ask here. It seems plausible that sometimes these shifts are a matter of learning to notice things we didn't focus on at first. But as others have pointed out, this phenomenon raises more peculiarly philosophical questions. Daniel Dennett considers a pair of possibilities that seem maddeningly hard to disentangle: one might say: I used to like parsnips, but they taste different to me now. Or one might say: parsnips taste the same to me as they always did, but I don't like the taste anymore. Just what, if anything, the difference is, and what this tells is about sensory experience are issues that might well reward further attention. Some of the work to be done is almost certainly empirical, but some of it is conceptual and philosophical.

The answer certainly seems to be yes. One example: learning to like something you didn't like at first. (Olives, beer, strong cheese…) Taste isn't the only sense modality that's subject to these shifts. Most of us, I'd guess, have found that people sometimes come to look different to us as we get to know them well, for example. As we think about our earlier reactions to some musicians and some music, we may be struck by how different the same piece sounds to us now than it once did. Obviously there are lots of interesting questions we could ask here. It seems plausible that sometimes these shifts are a matter of learning to notice things we didn't focus on at first. But as others have pointed out, this phenomenon raises more peculiarly philosophical questions. Daniel Dennett considers a pair of possibilities that seem maddeningly hard to disentangle: one might say: I used to like parsnips, but they taste different to me now. Or one might say: parsnips taste the same to me as they always did, but I...

It is known that our thoughts are energy and originate from the mind. Our mind

It is known that our thoughts are energy and originate from the mind. Our mind and thoughts are seperate from our brains and our physical body. So my question is what keeps the whole unit together, what's keeps our thoughts and mind attached to our physical brain and body?

You say "Our minds and thoughts are separate from our brains and our physical bodies," but in fact that's controversial, and I dare say that most of the philosophers on this panel don't believe it. Roughly, the view that's widely held among philosophers these days is that thinking, feeling, etc. are actually complex activities of the brain/body. Whether or not thinking, feeling, etc. is the same as computing, the analogy is useful. The computing is realized in/embodied in/amounts to a complicated set of physical goings-on in the computer. If we look at the mind in this way, then your question doesn't arise. What keeps the thoughts "attached to" our brains and bodies is that the thinking amounts to physical events in those bodies.

If you reject this sort of view and say that minds are distinct from bodies, then there is an obvious puzzle: what keeps the body and the mind in sync? The most plausible general answer is that the two are causally related to one another: the brain/body has a causal influence on the mind and vice-versa. But while causal links can explain in general how various sorts of things stay coordinated, we typically can say something about the details of the causal links. The problem for the picture of the mind that you're assuming is that the links seem completely mysterious. If the mind is a non-physical thing (I take it that's what you're assuming) then more or less by definition we won't be able to specify some sort of mechanism that accounts for how the mind influences the body and vice-versa. And in fact, this is one of many reasons why dualism (roughly, the view that the mind is non-physical) is not a popular view among philosophers these days: it raises more questions than it answers.

You say "Our minds and thoughts are separate from our brains and our physical bodies," but in fact that's controversial, and I dare say that most of the philosophers on this panel don't believe it. Roughly, the view that's widely held among philosophers these days is that thinking, feeling, etc. are actually complex activities of the brain/body. Whether or not thinking, feeling, etc. is the same as computing, the analogy is useful. The computing is realized in/embodied in/amounts to a complicated set of physical goings-on in the computer. If we look at the mind in this way, then your question doesn't arise. What keeps the thoughts "attached to" our brains and bodies is that the thinking amounts to physical events in those bodies. If you reject this sort of view and say that minds are distinct from bodies, then there is an obvious puzzle: what keeps the body and the mind in sync? The most plausible general answer is that the two are causally related to one another: the brain/body has a causal...

Are dreams an instance of the imagination, hallucination or something else?

Are dreams an instance of the imagination, hallucination or something else?

There is an interesting discussion of this question in a recent paper by Jonathan Ichikawa. You can find a downloadable pre-publication version at

http://philpapers.org/rec/ICHDAI

Briefly, Ichikawa sees dreams as a form of imagination.

There is an interesting discussion of this question in a recent paper by Jonathan Ichikawa. You can find a downloadable pre-publication version at http://philpapers.org/rec/ICHDAI Briefly, Ichikawa sees dreams as a form of imagination.

In philosophy there's supposed to be a "problem of other minds". But sometimes

In philosophy there's supposed to be a "problem of other minds". But sometimes our own minds are problems. Is it possible for others, say my friends and family, to know me "better" than I know myself? Might I have a sort of blind-spot where I'm (my self is) concerned that others are able to see more clearly?

It's a good question and the answer seems pretty plausibly to be yes. The impression that people have of themselves can often be off the mark, and that can be shown by how they actually behave. Someone who thinks he's generous might really be stingy, always finding excuses not to contribute his fair share. Someone who thinks she's not very smart might actually have a lot of insight, as those who know her can plainly see. And on it goes. We're complicated beings. There's no reason a priori to think that the part of our minds that tries to make sense of ourselves overall is likely to be especially good at it. No doubt there are some things about ourselves that we're in a better position than others to know, but when it comes to the larger patterns and dispositions that go into making us who we are, disinterested outsiders may well be in a better position than we are to get things right.

It's a good question and the answer seems pretty plausibly to be yes. The impression that people have of themselves can often be off the mark, and that can be shown by how they actually behave. Someone who thinks he's generous might really be stingy, always finding excuses not to contribute his fair share. Someone who thinks she's not very smart might actually have a lot of insight, as those who know her can plainly see. And on it goes. We're complicated beings. There's no reason a priori to think that the part of our minds that tries to make sense of ourselves overall is likely to be especially good at it. No doubt there are some things about ourselves that we're in a better position than others to know, but when it comes to the larger patterns and dispositions that go into making us who we are, disinterested outsiders may well be in a better position than we are to get things right.

is Jungs' theory of synchronicity simply nonsense? I can make neither head nor

is Jungs' theory of synchronicity simply nonsense? I can make neither head nor tail of it. It is often quoted by 'new agers' as sign that we are all in a way "connected" (i.e networks for a higher consciousness, etc) and I feel that they have abused the original concept, but I myself can't even understand it.

Perhaps we might start with a distinction between two things the accusation of nonsense might mean. One is that it's patently false; the other is that there's no coherent idea. Your worry is pretty clearly the latter, and I'm sympathetic: whatever exactly Jung meant, it's hard to be sure that one has gotten hold of it. With that in mind, my sense is that there's an interesting idea behind the notion of synchronicity, though not one I'm inclined to believe.

Insofar as I understand it, synchronicity is meaningful coincidence. More particularly, it's meaningful coincidence between an inner state of mind and an occurrence in the outer world. By saying that synchronicities are coincidences, Jung meant that neither of the events causes the other. By saying that the coincidence is meaningful, Jung seems to mean two things. The first, and more obvious, is that the outer event corresponds in a meaningful way to the inner state. In one of Jung's well-known examples, a patient is recounting a dream about a golden scarab. At that moment, Jung heard a noise outside his window. He opened it, and a beetle flew in - one with an iridescent coloring that suggested the golden beetle of the woman's dream. Jung grabbed and and presented it to the patient, with the words "Here is your beetle." According to Jung, this led to a breakthrough in the woman's treatment. The apparently meaningful correspondence is clear enough. The second aspect of this meaningfulness is that such events are not accident or chance; not coincidence in the sense of what we might call mere coincidence.

This obviously raises a good many questions. One is why we should believe that cases like tjis are not mere coincidence. Jung seems to have thought that apparently meaningful coincidences happen more often than chance would predict. If that were true, it might provide some evidence for the existence of genuine synchronicities, though how one would go about collecting the evidence, let alone calculating the relevant probabilities is very hard to say. And even if we were able to establish that meaningful coincidences happen more often than chance would predict, it would take yet further argument to decide whether that such "connections" were cases of one event causing the other, or cases of both events having a common cause or yet some other sort of relationship.

Of course what Jung had in mind fits into a broader picture in which meaning is woven into the universe itself. In fact, Jung's outlook has more in common with the views of, say, Renaissance figures such as Marsilio Ficino or Heinrich Cornelius Agrippa than with the way those of us who admire science look at things. This is part of what makes it hard to get a grip on; we aren't used to thinking that way. For my own part, I don't share Jung's outlook, but I find the exercise of trying to grasp its outlines a fascinating one. I'm deeply skeptical of Jung's view, but I'm not prepared to say that the idea of synchronicity is simply unintelligible.

Perhaps we might start with a distinction between two things the accusation of nonsense might mean. One is that it's patently false; the other is that there's no coherent idea. Your worry is pretty clearly the latter, and I'm sympathetic: whatever exactly Jung meant, it's hard to be sure that one has gotten hold of it. With that in mind, my sense is that there's an interesting idea behind the notion of synchronicity, though not one I'm inclined to believe. Insofar as I understand it, synchronicity is meaningful coincidence . More particularly, it's meaningful coincidence between an inner state of mind and an occurrence in the outer world. By saying that synchronicities are coincidences, Jung meant that neither of the events causes the other. By saying that the coincidence is meaningful, Jung seems to mean two things. The first, and more obvious, is that the outer event corresponds in a meaningful way to the inner state. In one of Jung's well-known examples, a patient is recounting a dream about a...

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