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Cartesian dualism relies upon two substances, body and mind, which are totally

Cartesian dualism relies upon two substances, body and mind, which are totally distinguished by their properties. While the characteristic nature of body is Extendedness, the mind is known with its capability of thinking. So, Cartesian Dualism is founded on these two basic propositions: 1. All bodies are extended. And 2. All minds are thinkable. Abandoning the latter, the former (1) seems acceptable to all physicalists. But if so, then its contraposition might be true equally. In other words, physicalists should be agreed with this proposition too: 3. All non-extended are non-body The question is how physicalists justify this proposition? In other hand, the unavoidable consequence of this proposition (and its truth) is existence of a non-extended (entity) which isn't body, which isn't justifiable in reductive physicalism approach. So, considering this proposition that in reductive physicalism approach: 4. everything has identify with physics. But, isn’t paradoxical acceptance of (3) and (4)...

Dear Borhan,

The answer to your question requires some deductive logic. Let's start with (1) all bodies are extended, which is Descartes' premise. It follows logically that if something is not extended, then it is not a body. Thus (3) follows logically from (1). You are worried because you think that (3) assumes that something is not extended. But it does not. It only claims that IF something is non extended then it is also not a body. So physicalists can agree with the claim.

how do i get out of the depression i am in???

how do i get out of the depression i am in???

Certainly consulting a physician is a good idea. There is a smattering of knowledge of some of the brain chemistry underlying some forms of depression and anti-depressants do work for some people. A physician might be able to offer some advice about different forms of therapy, such as CBT which is now popular. In any event also look into other forms of therapy, ask around, look on the net. If you are on facebook go to Depressives Anonymous and ask your question there, where you will probably get several informed responses and will be able to discuss your problem in more detail. Meantime try to do stuff you enjoy, try not to worry and chill out as well as you can.

Psychosis is often characterized as 'loss of contact with reality.' Three

Psychosis is often characterized as 'loss of contact with reality.' Three questions. (1) What is this 'reality' of which they speak? (2) Does anybody (even psychatrists) really know enough about this 'reality' to be able competently to deliver a diagnosis under that characterization? (3) What is this 'contact' of which they speak

It is a good question. It is possible that a sane personmight believe that the government is controlling him by means of radio signalssent to his dental filling when in fact that is far from the truth, and that apsychotic person might believe such a thing and the belief be true. Someapparently sane thinkers believe that the commonsense world as we normallythink of it, as populated with people, teeth, tables, chairs and governments isnot real. Notions like that of a government are too vague and confused to pickout genuine denizens of reality. Only science tells us what is real. Ifthat or some other skeptical hypothesis turns out to be right, then perhapsmost of us do not have contact with reality in respect of most of our beliefs.But that doesn't mean that we are all psychotic. We might be very badjudges about the justification of beliefs about empirical issues. So perhaps judgementsabout whether someone is psychotic should not require us to make judgements inrelation to other, tangential empirical issues. Similarly it is not clear thatpsychosis is best understood in terms of imperviousness to evidence of acertain kind. Evidence is an epistemic notion bound up with the idea of truth,of a way of cognitive functioning that is likely to arrive at true beliefs andavoid false ones. Questions about ways in which one ought not to be impervious to evidence seem to be questions forscience and philosophy of science, not psychiatry, psychology and philosophy ofpsychology or medicine. So perhaps the kind of cognitive disorder orabnormality associated with psychosis, if there is any such thing, is best notunderstood in terms of loss of contact with reality at all, but rather in somequite different way

I wonder about the notion of a masochist as somebody who enjoys suffering.

I wonder about the notion of a masochist as somebody who enjoys suffering. Is it possible, logically, to enjoy suffering? Doesn't suffering necessarily preclude enjoyment and vice-versa? Would it be more accurate to say that a masochist enjoys something that non-masochists consider suffering?

I think that one definition of suffering is 'pain'. And someone could gain pleasure from pain, physical, or indeed psychological. So to say that a masochist enjoys suffering sees fine to me.

In December of 2011, I was invited to speak to the police concerning a former

In December of 2011, I was invited to speak to the police concerning a former roommate of mine who has been accused of murder (and posted a question concerning that here on the site). Just this week, I received a notification that I am to appear again, this time in court, to testify as a witness. Having heard horror stories of people with faulty memories being imprisoned for a year or more because they provided false testimony without knowing they did so, or because their testimony didn't overlap with what they told the police, I am now very worried (I am an expat living in Germany, and I've not yet been able to talk to a proper lawyer to determine how strict the laws concerning court testimony are). Perhaps that is somewhat narcissistic of me, given the circumstances, but the fact remains. I wonder, then, what kind of "truth" I am supposed to tell the court. The truth seems to be that I *believe* that my former roommate behaved in way X, spoke of topic Y and didn't speak of Z, with my only...

Yes, something the court has to take account of is the passage of time since the event and it is entirely reasonable for your memory to be an issue that has to be taken into account. You may be closely questioned on this and to be honest you will have to be frank on how reliable at this stage you think your memory is. You gave evidence in the past nearer the event, and if you still think that evidence was true the fact that you now no longer have the same relationship with it is not that relevant, I should have thought. It is what you said then that is probably most significant, even if now your memory of those events, or even if now what you then thought they were, is rather vague.

Nothing to worry about legally, although don't quote me if you are sent off for hard labor!

Sigmund Freud told of a Jewish women who dreamt that a stranger handed her a

Sigmund Freud told of a Jewish women who dreamt that a stranger handed her a comb. The women desired to marry a Christian man which triggered an emotional argument with her mother on the night prior to her dream. When Freud asked her what memories she associated with the word comb the woman told him that once her mother had once told her not to use a separate comb because she would "mix the breed." Freud then revealed that the meaning of the dream was an expression of her own latent wish to "mix the breed." Examples such as this seem like very persuasive evidence of Freud's theory that dreams are a form of wish fulfilment but many scientists and philosophers of science say that Freud's theories can't be scientifically falsified or that he lacks scientific evidence. But what constitutes scientific evidence? Surely Freud is a scientist because he grounds his theories in specific empirical clinical examples that he expresses clearly in a way that even the most uneducated person can understand them? The...

I don't myself think the term 'scientific' is a scientific term, nor have philosophers, such as Grunbaum or anyone else given it a very interesting or useful interpretation. Freud had a lot of ideas. So do contemporary psychoanalysts 100 years on. Psychoanalysis is no monolith. We can ask of any of the many many claims that psychoanalysts have made (under the heading of psychoanalysis, forgetting about what they say about other things): are they well backed by evidence and argument? Do they prove clinically useful and successful. Asking those questions is useful and interesting. Asking whether psychoanalysis is scientific is not.

The idea underlying many concepts of illness is that something has gone wrong

The idea underlying many concepts of illness is that something has gone wrong with a biological system and some part of that system which has gone awry must be restored to it's proper function. The proper function of a biological systems is usually whatever allows that entity to live, breathe, exerts it muscles freely and vigorously without pain. When it comes to mental illness we extend that idea of proper functioning to anything that causes mental distress and is presumably due to biological problems with the brain. However there seems to me that something about that way of thinking is flawed because while it seems obvious when biological systems are disrupted rather than acting their natural course it does not seem obvious that mental distress is a product of biological aberrations. It seems rather like it is plausible that that is the normal course of life for humans even if that misery has a biological explanation.. So isn't mental illness essentially a flawed concept?

Hi, Miriam. I completely agree. The concept of illness is very flimsy. It is something like: an abnormality or disorder of a mental or physiological organ or system. Attempts to give a serious scientific account of 'normal' or 'orderly' have proved unsuccessful. Illness is just a vague folk notion and probably does not correspond to anything more scientifically or philosophically solid. Questions about the true underlying nature of specific mental illnesses (psychiatric disorders as they are now called), their treatment etc. are best deal with case by case. The same applies to physical illnesses though. There is nothing special about physiology here.

What would a robot have to be able to do, or what would it have to be, for us to

What would a robot have to be able to do, or what would it have to be, for us to consider it a sentient being as opposed to a non-sentient automaton? Please note I am using the term "robot" here in a broad sense, including such obviously sentient (fictional) constructs such as C-3PO of Star Wars fame. I don't consider "robot" and "sentient being" to be mutually exclusive terms. I'm interested in what fundamentally distinguishes sentient beings from automatons that merely mimic sentience.

Somewhat in line Searle's arguments in "Minds, Brains and Programs" I would say that the key is: original intentionality. Intentionality means something like 'aboutness' or 'representation', in the way that the sentence 'Hesperus is a planet' is about Venus, or represents Venus ('Hesperus' being a name for Venus). In some sense the rings on a tree represent its age: one ring per year. In some sense the written wordforms, the mere physical shapes, 'Hesperus is a planet' represent Venus. But our minds seem to represent things in a much deeper and more fundamental way. The tree rings merely correlate with its age in years. The mere wordforms only represent because we take them to do so. The intentionality of the wordforms is derived from us, whereas the intentionality of our thought that Hesperus is a planet is not derived from anything else: it is original intentionality. I would suggest, as a crude first move, that sentience is intentionality. Searle's thought was that no matter how sophisticated a computer might be, if it was made out of silicon, or a man running around very very fast shifting large numbers of bits of paper around (following a program that was written on a blackboard), it would not be doing anything like genuine thinking or cognition. Suppose the computer was one for making a Chinese meal. It would only be about Chinese food in the derived sense. We could see it as telling us how to cook a meal because we have ways correlating its activity with things we want to know about Chinese food. But it would not in any deeper or more real sense be about, or represent, Chinese food. Its intentionality would be derived, not original. Searle's view was that only a brain or something suitably like a brain could have original intentionality. While I do not myself agree with Searle that we can be sure that the silicon computer or the very fast man with his bits of paper, do not have original intentionality, I do agree that we cannot be sure that they do have it. I don't think we know in virtue of what some physical systms have original intentionality and some do not. But there lies the key to sentience, when we find it.

If thoughts depend on memories and memories are unreliable then how can we trust

If thoughts depend on memories and memories are unreliable then how can we trust any thought? I assume thoughts require memories because thoughts seem to require at least some time to compute, even with very simple thoughts we think thing one at a time - if it's not quite like that I think it's very close to something like that, maybe my whole doubt depends on a dubious connection between thought and memory, I don't know. I think the unreliability of memory is more obvious, memory seems to be something just given to us and we simply have to "trust" it but the possibility of doubt is still there. I recognize that there is some not inconsiderable paradox in doubting the very idea of being able to form a thought and using thought to achieve that doubt but alas... I wonder if this suggests that thought in its truest form is something more intuitive and directly related to a grasp of the present moment than reason as it is generally understand as a discursive process.

"I recognize that there is some not inconsiderable paradox in doubting the very idea of being able to form a thought and using thought to achieve that doubt". Well spotted! Suppose that your doubts about memory lead you this: "I cannot trust any thought, including this one". Where do you go from there? It doesn't look as though the paradoxical nature the thought undermines it in such a way that you can conclude that it is false, and proceed to trust some thoughts. It sort of leaves you with nowhere to go.

I agree with Stephen. Memory is not that unreliable. It is much less reliable than we think. When we seem to remember things our brains seem to do a lot of construction and interpretation, and present to us a partly made-up image of some past even as if it were a perfectly accurate representation. This can get us into trouble. But our short-term memory is pretty good and serves its purpose. It is not hard to keep track of the thoughts involved in a short line of reasoning. It also gets a lot easier if we write them down. We can the create longer lines of reasoning by understanding shorter ones and stringing their conclusions together, keeping track of the overall structure. Memory, combined with pen and paper (or today's equivalents) is good enough to support reason as a discursive process.

What is the difference between the idea that we can control our bodies in

What is the difference between the idea that we can control our bodies in conformity with our will and magic? Aren't they suspiciously similar ideas?

Wonderful question!

There are some philosophers who are very committed to a form of determinism that rules out free agency and a thesis that seems quite contrary to common sense, namely that the self is an illusion or construct and not a real, substantial individual thing. For some of these philosophers, the idea that one might freely control one's body or one's agency is the equivalent of thinking we can do magic. I think Owen Flanagen believes that radical free will (in which a person could engage in libertarian free will) is like magic, and Daniel Dennett as well. But many of us are on the other side and believe that it is natural and plausible to think that we can act and have the power not to act in ways that are morally responsible or blameworthy. For a great book on this, check out Mawson's Free Will; A Guide for the Perplexed or Daniel Robinson's book On Praise and Blame.

Going on a bit further on the themes in you question magic and control I suppose the concept of the magical today is treated along the lines of miracles. A magical event (of the Harry Potter variety) is probably thought of as an event that someone brings about intentionally in a way that supersedes or goes beyond the non-magical, ordinary laws or course of nature. Magic, in this view, would involve a kind of extension of one's powers, so that under ordinary conditions it is not magic when I type this response, but it would be magic if I made these words appear to you in a dream (without using anything more than an incantation)! But you are right that what we think of as magic and control over our bodies does involve something in common: intentionality. In both cases, we intentionally bring about some state of affairs. In that sense, maybe they are "suspiciously similar ideas" though I suspect that there is nothing suspicious per se about acting intentionally.

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