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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.

Let's say when we measure the brainwaves of someone who is actually deluded and

Let's say when we measure the brainwaves of someone who is actually deluded and the brainwaves of someone who is fervently religious, they match up to an extraordinary degree. Are we justified to say that the religious person is deluded base on this observation of matching brainwaves alone? Can we judge the propositional content of a belief as to its truth value by brain activity? Can scientific neurological experiments determine the truth and falsity of propositional content or are arguments the only way to determine the truth and falsity of propositional content? Can we appeal to brainwave activity to invalidate theism? Galen O.

Interesting question(s)! I'm afraid that it will be very difficult to replace arguments and the different "tools" philosophers use with neurological data. First, I assume that in identifying a subject as "deluded" we would have to know the falsehood of her belief and perhaps identify which fallacies she has committed. We would also need to think through ideas of mental causation and the degree to which a person's beliefs may be linked to neurological events (are we going to assume a reductive account of the mental? or are we going to allow that propositions, mental acts such as 'believing' are irreducible to the physical, in particular, brain states and processes?. We also need more than neurology to identify and define what is a 'religion.' You seem particularly interested in theism, but some important religions are non-theistic (most forms of Buddhism), and some theists are not religious (Richard Taylor may have been a good case of this).

Still, there are some common sense ways in which philosophers have regularly assumed that certain physical and mental conditions are more or less conducive to production philosophical reflection. In ancient Greece, when wine was sometimes consumed during philosophical dialogues, they were careful to mix water and wine to insure that the philosophers remained fit for disciplined inquiry. And today, most of us are aware that philosophical acuity is not enhanced by sleep deprivation, starvation, extremely high heart racing, migrain headaches,organ failure, and (among other things) brain injury. But even in the midst of all these conditions, we still have to study the arguments and reasons that are relevant. Imagine a graduate student stumbles into a seminar. He has not slept in five days, he has not eaten in three days, his heart rate is off the charts, his organs are failing, he has a splitting headache and he sustained brain injury from a car crash, and yet he manages to say: "G.E. Moore's refutation of idealism is spurious." Even though we have some reason for thinking the fellow is not fit for clear philosophical reflection, the best thing for us as philosophers would (so long as the fellow is sufficiently stable to talk) be to hear his reasons rather than to rush him out to give him an MRI.

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.

Is it a common view among philosophers that human beings are simply biological

Is it a common view among philosophers that human beings are simply biological computers? Doesn't this view reduce philosophy of mind to solely neuroscience?

It is a common view among philosophers that human beings are biological entities--that, in some sense, our minds (including our conscious mental processes) are our brains (are based on neural processes). There are few substance dualists (who think the mind is a non-physical entity). But in which sense the mind is the brain remains a topic of great controversy (some fancy terms for the relationship between the mental and physical include identity, supervenience, and functionalism).

It should not be controversial that information from neuroscience will inform debates in philosophy of mind. But it is unlikely that neuroscience alone will answer all questions about the nature of mind. Notice that just the way you phrased your question suggests complications. If we did think the brain were a biological computer (this view is one form of functionalism), then many of the details of neuroscience might turn out to be irrelevant. The interesting facts about computers are about their programs (software), but those programs do not depend on the details of the hardware on which they run. That is, computer science is not going to reduce to physics. So, if our minds are like computer programs, then everything about the mind will not be best explained by neuroscience (understood as the study of neural processes).

Conversely, our minds might not be best understood as computer programs that can 'run' on any old hardware. Particular facts about our brains may be crucial to the particular nature of our minds (e.g., consciousness). If so, neuroscience might be crucial for understanding those facts, and consideration of the mind as a computer would not be sufficient to understand the mind.

At a minimum, philosophy of mind will continue to play a crucial role in framing these questions and these theoretical possibilities, and typically philosophers of mind, informed by the relevant scientific information, can help develop new ways of doing the relevant science and can help integrate and interpret the relevant results.

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.

Are we responsible for forgetting things? It certainly doesn't seem like it,

Are we responsible for forgetting things? It certainly doesn't seem like it, since we don't seem to have control over what we forget, but we are often held to the standard of always remembering all pertinent facts.

I think we often are, since it is remarkable how often people forget things they think relatively unimportant. Forgetting is not entirely outside our control, and if we think we have a tendency to forget things we then surely have a duty to take steps to ensure that we jog our memories. Hence the existence of diaries.

How far we are morally obliged to know ourselves is an interesting issue, but there is some duty to understand how far we are likely to fall below a reasonable standard of behavior. For example, if when I drink alcohol I have a tendency to become bellicose and attack people, I cannot shrug my shoulders after emerging from a fight and say that there was nothing I could do about it. Not once it becomes a familiar experience. Similarly if I keep on forgetting things this is an indication that I need to take control over this part of my life, in so far as I can, rather than smile and wonder what I can do about it.

Is Searle's 'chinese room' internally consistent? Does it not presuppose an

Is Searle's 'chinese room' internally consistent? Does it not presuppose an agent who can understand the manipulation of symbols? If so, why not conceptualize our consciousness analogously to a computer's more fundamental structures bestowing it the capacity to 'run' softwares?

If the article portrayed our consciousness analogously to a computer's more fundamental structures bestowing it the capacity to 'run' softwares then it probably would be internally inconsistent. But it doesn't.

Is the relation of the mind to the brain analogous in some way to the

Is the relation of the mind to the brain analogous in some way to the relationship between a magnetic field and a magnet? I have in mind the way in which a magnetic field clearly depends on the physical state of an object--the magnet--but is distinct, and quite different from this object. Thanks!

Yes. I like to think of the mind as being or being like a computer program or ensemble of programs. A program is a pattern. Programs... patterns ... clearly depend on the physical make-up of the patterned material, but are distinct, and quite different from this material. Of course the material itself is just made of more patterns of smaller things. Magnetic fields are patterns too.

Can a thing being distinct from something else be considered a property of that

Can a thing being distinct from something else be considered a property of that thing? (If my mind is distinct from my body can "being distinct from my body" be considered a property of my mind. It seems to me that if something is distinct from something else it is separate from it and therefore cannot somehow be considered a property of it. But I have a feeling I am missing something. Thank you Samantha R.

It depends what you mean by ‘property’. If a property of a thing cannot be separate from it, and ‘being distinct from a thing’ is not itself separate from the thing, then ‘being distinct from my body’ would not count as a property of my mind. But why use the term ‘property’ so restrictively? One might try to distinguish between intrinsic and extrinsic properties. An intrinsic property of a thing would be one that is not separate from the thing – whatever that might mean. An extrinsic property of a thing would be one that is separate from the thing – whatever that might mean. Examples of extrinsic properties might be ‘being a daughter’, ‘being the daughter of a queen’, ‘being a princess’, ‘being outside France’, ‘being smaller than the garden of my uncle’. ‘Being distinct from my body’ could then be an extrinsic and not an intrinsic property of my mind. There is nothing wrong with extrinsic properties.

When I look at the room I'm sitting in, I am consciously aware of it as existing

When I look at the room I'm sitting in, I am consciously aware of it as existing outside my body and head. So, for example, I can walk towards the opposite wall and I appear to get closer to it until I reach out and touch it. Now I understand that light is being reflected off a wall, travelling across a room, entering my eyes and this process creates nervous impulses. (In fact a physics would correctly point out that the photons that hit my retina are not even the same as the photons 'reflected' by any object). I understand that these impulses are processed in various parts of my brain, some unconsciously but eventually a mental "schema" representing the room is created. I also understand that there are other processes going on in my brain that create my awareness of different types of "self"s, that continually shift my awareness and that attempt to always produce a self-consistent view of myself and the world. However, my question is not about these (well not directly!). My question is simply how does...

Your answer may be in the question: "how does the representation of the room that my brain is creating, not appear within me but instead outside?" The representation itself is in your brain. But what it represents is the room outside your head, and that representational content is how the representation presents things to to you, how it makes things appear to you.

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