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Archive for February, 2012

Kant’s Phenomena and Noumena

Posted by allzermalmer on February 26, 2012

This blog will be based on what Immanuel Kant had to say about Phenomena and Noumena. Immanuel Kant was a German philosopher who lived from 1724 to 1804. The views are presented in his books Critique of Pure Reason and Prolegomena to any Future Metaphysics.

One of the big points that Kant made was about the structure of the Human Mind. What he pointed out was that there are certain, what we can call rules, that govern our mind. For example, one of them is causality. This is one of those rules that runs the human mind. There are other rules, but that is one of them that he used as an example. Think of it like a clock that there are certain rules that it follows in order for it to work, or some box that has an internal way in which it works and certain rules that it follows. Now these rules are a priori, which means they aren’t derived from experience. For example, Time and Space are those rules that also govern our minds, and these are a priori, and not something that is learned from experience, a posteriori.

Now Kant held that there is a world that is external to us, which is to counter some forms of idealism and especially of that of David Hume who showed that there’s no way we can come to know of it through experience or through thought. This external world affects our senses, and we form a representation of what we take this external to be like. A simple picture can help show the Representational theory of Perception.

Now, as a basic idea, anything that is logically possible can exist external to our senses and affect our senses. There is something out there, but with the representational theory, we don’t know exactly what it is. We don’t directly perceive these things, but our mind creates a representation of it. But here is the thing, we can only experience those logically possible things in the external world that meet with our internal structure of mind, or the internal rules of how our mind is structured. For example, imagine that you have a box with a 5 inch circular hole in it. We are throwing objects at it, which are logically possible things in the external world. This means that only those objects that can fit through the whole, which are logically possible, would get through. And yet there are other objects that are logically possible and in the external world that wouldn’t be able to get through into the box. More importantly, the 5 inch circular hole is what constitutes the structure of our mind, and those rules of the mind. It can only work with those things that those rules can work with. If it can’t, then we don’t experience it.

Here is another point, Rudolph Carnap once said that what is logically possible doesn’t mean that we can think of it. What he is pointing out is that there are things that we just can’t psychologically think about or visualize. This is partially what Kant is talking about. The Phenomena are those things that are possible for us to experience and that we do experience, because they are in agreement with our mental structure. The Noumena are those things that are external to us, but we can’t experience them because they don’t fit in with our mental structure. One of the points is that we look in the mirror and see what we take to be our bodies. Now take it that we somehow jump outside of our mental structures and see things as they are, and see how our bodies look at it as the noumena, then would look completely different than what we take it to be.

Let me try to give another loose analogy. Take a new planet that is supposedly discovered by NASA. Now, we can possibly experience it because it fits in with our mental structure. We might not be experiencing it now, but it is within the confines of our mental structure to experience it at some time. This is a Phenomena. But now take something like a new particle similar to that of a quark. We can’t experience this at any time because it doesn’t fit into our mental structure in which we can ever experience it. Now this new particle is logically possible, but it’s not possible for us to experience it because it doesn’t fit into our mental structure to experience it. That means it’s not possible for us to experience. Phenomena are what is possible for us to experience (based on our mental structure), and Noumena are what’s impossible for us to experience (based on our mental structure).

As a side note, Kant said that everything we experience is experienced in space and time. But what Kant said was that what we experience, our mental structure makes it so that it’s experienced in space and time, even if there is no space and time outside of our mental structure. In other words, what we experience, or impinges on our senses from the external world, is adjusted so that it fits into our mental structure. This is how the mind adjusts things for us to have as perceptions, even though what we experience isn’t how they are in the external world.

What Kant is saying is that we don’t’ know what objects are in the external world, and we can’t know. All we know is that there is an external world, not what is out there or what it looks like or any of it’s qualities. With the picture of the Representational theory of perception, the “object” is the noumena. The “perception” is the phenomena, and we experience after our structure of our mind has manipulated things in order to present them to the “perceiver”.

There was an episode of the NBC show called Grimm, which had an episode called “Organ Grinder”. There was a certain scene at the opening of the show that slightly touches on this episode. Here’s a link to the show, and watch from the time stamp of 2:00 minute to 4:05. It deals with the part in where one of the characters says “Their brain turns to mush”.



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Alleged Cartesian Circle

Posted by allzermalmer on February 24, 2012

This blog is based on a paper I once had to do for a philosophy class. The paper is about Renee Descartes and his book Meditations on First Philosophy. When this book came out, or right before it came out, Descartes gave a copy of the book to other intellectuals of his time. He wanted them to give feed back, and so some presented objections to certain parts of his book. One of the allegations made was that Descartes argued in a circle. The teacher asked us to give a defense of Descartes against this allegation. There were three things that had to be done in the paper: 1. State what the Cartesian Circle is suppose to be, 2. Give Descartes response to this allegation of a circle, and 3. Defend Descartes against this allegation. But the teacher wanted us to focuse more on the Evil Demon as part of the problem than the Memory. I received a B+ on the paper, which doesn’t mean much.

The Cartesian Circle is an alleged circle between Descartes idea of God and his truth rule, which he calls the Clear and Distinct rule. The Clear and Distinct rule states that something is true if and only if we clearly and distinctly think about it. Desecrate, supposedly, says that we are sure about what we clearly and distinctly perceive to be true because God exists, and we are sure that God exists because we clearly and distinctly perceive that God exists.

Descartes tries to formulate a theory of truth, and this theory of truth is to help him escape some skepticism that was set up in the First Mediation. These were skeptical arguments based on methodological doubt. The skeptical arguments, raised by Descartes are the argument from illusion, the dream argument, and the evil-demon argument. Descartes tries to escape these problems with his idea of clear and distinct ideas. Whatever can be clearly and distinctly is true, and this means we are not being deceived when we say that they are true. However, at the same time, God helps guarantee that whatever is clearly and distinctly perceived is true.

Antoine Arnauld, who read Descartes First Mediation, was the first to raise what is termed the Cartesian Circle. He states, in the second objection, in regards to the chapter of 5th mediation: “You are not yet certain of the existence of God, and you say that you are not certain of anything, and cannot know anything clearly and distinctly until you have achieved clear and certain knowledge of the existence of God. It follows from this that you do not yet clearly and distinctly know that you are a thinking thing, since, on your own admission, that knowledge depends on the clear knowledge of an existing God; and this you have not yet proved in the passage where you draw the conclusion that you clearly know what you are.”[1]

Descartes responds by trying to point out that he was only talking about knowledge of conclusions that we are no longer attending to with our thinking. This is pointing out that he was talking about knowledge while we are no longer currently thinking them. Descartes pointed out “I think, therefore I exist” only when thinking. That means that when we are not thinking, we do not exist. Moreover, when we are not thinking of some conclusion now, we are not certain of them. Nevertheless, this was specifically concerning a conclusion based on argument from which we deduced them, even though we are not thinking of those premises that lead to that conclusion. This is all dealing with “knowledge”, but not with “First Principles” or metaphysics.

Descartes says, “When I said that we can know nothing for certain until we are aware that God exists, I expressly declared that I was speaking only of knowledge of those conclusions which can be recalled when we are no longer attending to the arguments by means of which we deduced them. Now awareness of first principles is not normally called “knowledge” by dialecticians…”[2]

Descartes response is that God is a self-evident, or, as he says, “For what is more self-evident than the fact that the Supreme Being exists, or that God, to whose essence alone existence belongs, exists?”[3] In addition, it is from God that we are guaranteed the Clear and Distinct rule which forms the basis of knowledge. We, more easily, state that he holds that God is a First Principle.

A defense of Descartes could go something like this. Descartes called his work “First Philosophy”, and during the time at which he wrote, and even in modern times, is known as metaphysics. Metaphysics is about ontology, or reality qua reality. We can take reality as existing before we even have knowledge of it. So take a baby, reality exists before the baby has knowledge of this reality.

Descartes uses a method of doubt, which is methodological doubt. He brings up arguments from illusion, argument from dreams, and argument about an evil-demon that is constantly deceiving us by presenting things to our senses that do not exist independent of us. However, with all of these things, there is one thing that we do know which is that we think and so we exist, or that a thinking thing exists. This means that no matter what, we cannot be deceived that we exist because we are thinking.

There is one idea that Descartes has, which is that of God. This idea of God contains that God is not a deceiver because God is good and fraud and deception are a defect. God being good means that God does not deceive. God is also perfect, and this is the highest of all ideas, that of God. God forms the foundation of the world, in some sense. Moreover, all our faults in reasoning rely on ourselves because we do not clearly and distinctly perceive our ideas. We form faulty ideas.

The faulty ideas we form are not because of God, because God is not a deceiver. It is because of our own limitations that we form mistakes, not because of God. It is because of God that we can ignore the evil-demon. The evil-demon is not perfect and is not good. While God is, perfect and is good. God forms the “First Principle” from which we form and build our knowledge. We first come to find that we exist, and when we find that, we exist and come to find the idea of God in our thoughts or mind. This idea is greater than any other idea that we can form.

The Clear and Distinct rule comes after we find God to be self-evident. In addition, it is because of God that the Clear and Distinct rule obtains its force. Without God, we would not be able to use the Clear and Distinct rule. This is because we would have to contend with an evil-demon that is constantly deceiving us, except for our own existence, because it would need something to exist to be deceiving. The evil-demon could fool us into believing something like 2+2=4, even if we Clearly and Distinctly come to this idea. This would make all knowledge we have, besides our own existence, to be faulty.

Moreover, some might say that God is not self-evident to them. However, there are some things that most of us Clearly and Distinctly know, while others might not. “Some of the things I Clearly and distinctly perceive are obvious to everyone, while others are discovered only by those who look more closely and investigate more carefully; but once they have been discovered, the latter are judged to be just as certain as the former.”[4] In other words, all people who know geometry would find that the square on the hypotenuse is equal to the square on the other sides of a right-angled triangle. This is self-evident, if not clear and distinct. While others might not have discovered it, when they are taught it becomes self-evident to them. This too would be with the case of God.

However, those who do not come to this self-evident truth are set on all sides with knowledge that could change like the tides of the sea, and would be constantly deceived. It is for this reason that Descartes comes up with arguments for the existence of God in order to bring them to the self-evident that they themselves have not investigated more carefully.

Now take the example of God being the Earth, the foundation. This is reality or the ground of reality. Now that we have reality, we want to come to know of reality further. The Clear and Distinct rule is what we use to build knowledge of reality upon this foundation, and it gives us certain knowledge of the world. It is like a crane that picks up the pieces of cinder block and puts them together to form a building. Without this foundation for the crane to stand on, the crane would fall apart, we would have no knowledge of reality qua reality, and there would be no building. This building would be the building of knowledge.

Further, those who do not believe in God would have a building of knowledge without a sturdy foundation and would collapse as if it was hit by a earthquake without a sound foundation. Without God, no matter how many Clear and Distinct ideas you have, this would only be based on psychological certainty and not epistemological certainty. This means that one would only be psychologically certain that 2+2=4 and not epistemologically certain that 2+2=4. No one who knows of that the building isn’t sturdy would want to go to live in that unsturdy building. This is why Descartes uses arguments to present the self-evident to those who are not aware of it, which they might not be aware of the self-evident, like to construct an equilateral triangle on a given finite straight line.

For example, in the book done by Spinoza called Principles of Cartesian Philosophy. Spinoza tries to lay out the philosophy of Descartes from his Meditations, which is laid out in a geometrical form. He defines some terms, and gives some axioms. From this, Spinoza derives the Cartesian philosophy. One thing to be noticed is that the first four propositions deal with things related to the “I am” or “I think”. The next eight propositions deal with God. Now, the first 12 propositions don’t deal with the Clear and Distinct rule. It is not till the 13th proposition that Spinoza brings up the Clear and Distinct Rule. Now if we are to consider Spinoza to be faithful to the Cartesian philosophy set out in the Meditations, then that means that there is no Cartesian Circle of needing God to prove the Clear and Distinct rule and needing the Clear and Distinct rule to prove God.

[2] Ibid. pg. 139

[3] Ibid. pg. 109

[4] Ibid. p. 108

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On the Nature of Things-In-Themselves

Posted by allzermalmer on February 19, 2012

This blog is based on a paper done by W.K. Clifford. It was a paper in the philosophical journal called Mind, Vol. 3, No. 9 (Jan., 1878), pp. 57-67. His paper was called On the Nature of Things-In-Themselves.

Meaning of the Individual Object

Clifford points out that his feelings, and presumably ours, come in two different ways. He says he has the internal/subjective kind that he finds when he hears about some “bad news” and the feeling of sorrow, or the abstraction of “dog” accompanies many different dogs. He also says that he has the external/objective kind that he finds when he has the sensation of letting go and sight of seeing the ball fall from his hand and the sound it makes. The basic point, it would seem, is that he has certain feelings in which he can control in his experience, and the other is where he has no control over what happens in his experience.

“Here the word object (or phenomenon) is taken merely to mean a group of my feelings, which persists as a group in a certain manner; for I am at present considering only the objective order of my feelings. The object, then, is a set of changes in my consciousness, and not anything out of it.”

So the objective portion is what forms some sort of pattern and is outside of his control, and this is all a change that takes place in his consciousness. Those things that form this objective pattern or group that persists in a certain manner, is what he calls an “object”. So far, in what Clifford has brought up, he brings up no metaphysical doctrine of meaning, but only fixing what he means by the word of “object”. And Clifford holds that science comes to study the “objects”, but Clifford also brings up that these “objects” in his consciousness may correspond, but not necessarily, with something else, but that’s not necessary for what he is talking about. He eventually comes to say that, “The inferences of physical science are all inferences of my real or possible feelings; inferences of something actually or potentially in my consciousness, not of anything outside it.” (Italics are my emphasis).

Distinction of Object and Eject.

Remember that Clifford brings out that “objects” in his consciousness, and physical science studies those things in his consciousness or what are possible things to be in his consciousness. But there is one thing that isn’t an object of physical science, because it isn’t a possible object of his consciousness, which he sums up this way:

“When I come to the conclusion that you are conscious, and that there are objects in your consciousness similar to those in mine, I am not inferring any actual or possible feelings of my own, but your feelings, which are not, and cannot by any possibility become, objects in my consciousness.”

Now he does bring up what the “objects” of his conscious is. The process of your body motions, like your brain and nervous system, are inferred from anatomical research, are all possibly visible to him. This means that what you experience isn’t possibly visible to him, but what your body does are all objects of his study. He later goes on to bring up what he calls the “Eject”, which is to be different from the “Object”.

“However remote the inference of physical science, the thing inferred is always a part of me, a possible set of changes in my consciousness bound up in the objective order with other known changes. But the inferred existence of your feelings, of objective groupings among them similar to those among my feelings, and of a subjective order in many respects analogous to my own,-these inferred existences are in the very act of inference thrown out of my consciousness, recognised as outside of it, as not being a part of me. I propose, accordingly, to call these inferred existences ejects, things thrown out of my consciousness, to distinguish them from objects, things presented in my consciousness, phenomena.”

This points out that he has the objects of his consciousness, and he “ejects” out the existence of something which isn’t part of his consciousness. He throws out, from his consciousness, something else that is held to exist but isn’t possible for it to be an object of his consciousness. And there will be objects which will become symbols of the ejects, which will be called the the conception of you. In other words, he has the object of his consciousness which will be of bodily motion, which can be like that of the brain and nervous system, and this will become the symbol of what he considers to be the eject of other people’s consciousness.

“The existence of the object, whether perceived or inferred, carries with it a group of beliefs; these are always beliefs in the future sequence of certain of my feelings. The existence of this table, for example, as an object in my consciousness, carries with it the belief that if I climb up on it I shall be able to walk about on it as if it were the ground. But the existence of my conception of you in my consciousness carries with it a belief in the existence of you outside of my consciousness, a belief which can never be expressed in terms of the future sequence of my feelings.”

This helps present one of the fundamental ideas about what is the difference between “Object” and “Eject”. The object is something in our consciousness, while the eject is something that we project out from our consciousness onto what is an object of our consciousness. The Object carries within it a set of other beliefs that have been found to be an object or act in our consciousness. Like walking on the table is something that has been an object of our consciousness, and so when we think of the object of table, it carries with it other sets of beliefs about the object based on them being part of our consciousness. But when it comes to an eject, this can’t really hold. For ejects aren’t possible observations in our consciousness. But we still project things out, like other beliefs, onto the eject.

Formation of the Social Object

Ejects are things that dominate our thoughts and lives. We typically believe in the existence of other minds, and we interact with them. With Ejects, it profoundly alters the objects. In other words, the existence of other minds, which are ejects, helps to alter the way we view objects. C.K. Clifford tries to give us an example of how ejects help alter how we view objects.

“This room, the table, the chairs, your bodies, are all objects in my consciousness; as simple objects, they are parts of me. But I, somehow, infer the existence of similar objects in your consciousness, and these are not objects to me, nor can they ever be made so; they are ejects. This being so, I bind up with each object as it exists in my mind the thought of similar objects existing in other men’s minds; and I thus form the complex conception, ” this table, as -an object in the minds of men,” or, as Mr. Shadworth Hodgson puts it, an object of consciousness in general.”

Clifford is pointing out that he has certain “objects” in his consciousness, and thinks that there are other minds which also have similar objects in their consciousness. Now these objects in other people’s consciousness would also be ejects themselves, but an indefinite number of ejects. As Clifford said, “ejective in respect of what it symbolises, but mainly objective in respect of its nature.” It’s object in respect to its nature because he has it in his consciousness, which gives it an objective nature. This complex conception, which is the ejective objects in other minds, is what Clifford calls the Social Object.

“…an object is formed in my mind, a fixed habit causes it to be formed as social object, and insensibly embodies in it a reference to the minds of other men. And this sub-conscious reference to supposed ejects is what constitutes the impression of externality in the object, whereby it is described as not-me.”

What he goes on to point out is that language seems to help us form the idea of external objects, or the not-me. We come to think of the language that we speak to be a sign of consciousness. But the point he comes to make is that language, it seems, to help us form the idea of externality or the not-me. The point of the social object is also based on language, and this helps to form the idea of the social object.

Difference between Mind and Body

As Clifford points out, “Your body is an object in my consciousness; your mind is not, and never can be.” Your body is objective, and so it can be studied and follows the laws of physics, chemistry, and etc. This can all be observed, and that’s because it is an object of someone’s consciousness, or my consciousness. As Clifford says, “every question about your body is a question about the physical laws of matter, and about nothing else.”

“A certain variable quality of matter (the rate of change of its motion) is found to be invariably connected with the position relatively to it of other matter; considered as expressed in terms of this position, the quality is called Force. Force is thus an abstraction relating to objective facts; it is a mode of grouping of my feelings, and cannot possibly be the same thing as an eject, another man’s consciousness.”

What is objective is what is present to your consciousness, and these objects in your consciousness are connected with relative positions of other things in your consciousness. This helps to form the idea of Force, or the quality that is called force. This idea of force isn’t an eject, and that’s because it doesn’t deal with other peoples objects in their consciousness, which we can never find out. And the basic point is that body is an object of consciousness while the mind isn’t an object of other people’s consciousness. And here’s how Clifford takes it.

“But the question: “Do the changes in a man’s consciousness run parallel with the changes of motion, and therefore with the forces in his brain ?” is a real question, and not primd facie nonsense. Objections of like character may be raised against the language of some writers, who speak of changes in consciousness as caused by actions on the organism. The word Cause…and misleading as it is, having no legitimate place in science or philosophy, may yet be of some use in conversation or literature, if it is kept to denote a relation between objective facts, to describe certain parts of the phenomenal order. But only confusion can arise if it is used to express the relation between certain objective facts in my consciousness, and the ejective facts which are inferred as corresponding in some way to them and running parallel with them. For all that we know at present, this relation does not in any way resemble that expressed by the word Cause.”

Clifford points out something interesting, which is that cause has no place in science and in philosophy, and only finds itself in our language and not the world. He next points out that if we do use the idea of cause, it only shares itself in a relation between the objects of our consciousness. But the brain of someone else is in our consciousness, but their consciousness is itself not in our consciousness. Thus, we can’t say that the brain is the cause of someone’s actions in the sense that the brain caused them to have certain conscious experiences. Cause, at all, can only work in the phenomenal world, and consciousness of others is outside of the phenomenal world. So, in a sense, he seems to be bringing up that the world of the objective and ejective (others consciousness, if not our own) run parallel with the objective kind.

Clifford tries to make it clear the difference between eject and objective world, as follows: “To sum up, the distinction between eject and object, properly grasped, forbids us to regard the eject, another man’s mind, as coming into the world of objects in any way, or as standing in the relation of cause or effect to any changes in that world.”

Correspondence of Elements of Mind and Brain-Action

A certain ejective fact is change in your consciousness, which isn’t viewable by anyone else, or shut off from the rest of the world. But there is a certain objective fact which is a change in your brain, and these two facts run parallel from one another. This is a parallelism of complexity, or an analogy of structure. Clifford gives an analogy with sentences and words for what he means.

“A spoken sentence and the same sentence written are two utterly unlike things, but each of them consists of elements; the spoken sentence of the elementary sounds of the language, the written sentence of its alphabet. Now the relation between the spoken sentence and its elements is very nearly the same as the relation between the written sentence and its elements. There is a correspondence of element to element; although an elementary sound is quite a different thing from a letter of the alphabet, yet each elementary sound belongs to a certain letter or letters. And the sounds being built up together to form a spoken sentence, the letters are built up together, in nearly the same way, to form the written sentence. The two complex products are as wholly unlike as the elements are, but the manner of their complication is the same.”

Me saying something isn’t the same thing as me writing it down. But both of these things have elements that they are built up from. These things are very nearly the same, but the point is that they’re not exactly the same thing, but only similar. Your shirt and my shirt are similar in that they are polo shirts, but they are of different colors, if not of different sizes. As Clifford points out, the mind and body are of the same manner of their complication, but they are products of wholly unlike elements from one another. That becomes the bottom line, and that’s how they run parallel.

Clifford goes over the complexity of things in his consciousness. We are constantly bombarded by things in our consciousness, and we find that those objects of our consciousness are made up of simple parts that become complex. For example, the apple (which is complex) has a size, taste, feel, color, and sound going with it. Our consciousness is filled with complex things, or are objects of our consciousness. But, this is basically in agreement with what David Hume had to say on issue like this. Clifford says, “Not only are my objective perceptions, as of a man’s head or a candlestick, formed of a great number of parts ordered in a definite manner, but they are invariably accompanied by an endless string of memories, all equally complex. And those massive organic feelings with which, from their apparent want of connection with the objective order, the notion of consciousness has been chiefly associated,-those also turn out, when attention is directed to them, to be complex things…Under these circumstances, it seems to me that consciousness must be described as a succession of groups of changes, as analogous to a rope made of a great number of occasionally interlacing strands.”

Clifford goes on to point out that, in agreement with Hume, there is no Ego, or no Self. What he finds is that this only comes about when we reflect on the past, which is done by the memory. Thus, memory helps to form this Ego that we have, which is all found in our consciousness. Take the example of pain when it is before consciousness, that is not a feeling of pain that I myself feel. But when I reflect on it, it becomes my pain.

“A feeling, at the instant when it exists, exists an und fur sich, and not as my feeling; but when on reflection I remember it as my feeling, there comes up not merely a faint repetition of the feeling, but inextricably connected with it a whole set of connections with the general stream of my consciousness. This memory, again, qua memory, is relative to the past feeling which it partially recalls; but insofar as it is itself a feeling, it is absolute, Ding-an-sich.”

Memory, as a feeling, is a Thing-in-Itself. Memory, in some sense, helps us to form consciousness as Clifford would have it. He lists three things that helps to form it, or that consciousness helps for form something complex. We have a stream of things that come to become compacted with one another, or these simple things become compacted to become complex. They consist of 1.) new feelings, 2.) fainter repetition of previous feelings, 3.) links connecting these repetitions. These three things help to form consciousness. 2 and 3 are based on memory, in some sense, and this memory is the thing-in-itself. This helps, it would seem, to form consciousness.

“The conceptions of a particular object, as object, is a group of feelings, symbolic of many different perceptions, and of links between them and other feelings. The distinction between Subject and Object is twofold; first, the distinction with which we started between the subjective and objective orders which simultaneously exist in my feelings.; and secondly, the distinction between me and the social object, which involves the distinction between me and you. Either of these distinctions is exceedingly complex and abstract, involving a highly organised experience. It is not, I think, possible to separate one from the other; for it is just the objective order which I do suppose to be common to me and to other minds.”

Now the distinction, as he stated, are between Subject and Object. But you’ll notice that he brings up “highly organised experience”, which is based on memory. This memory is the thing-in-itself, and helps to form the basis of the Subject and Object distinction.

The Elementary Feeling is a Thing-In-Itself

This section is where Clifford comes on to make a big point.

“The conclusion that elementary feeling co-exists with elementary brain-motion in the same way as consciousness co-exists with complex brain-motion, involves more important consequences than might at first sight appear. We have regarded consciousness as a complex of feelings, and explained the fact that the complex is conscious, as depending on the mode of complication. But does not the elementary feeling itself imply a consciousness in which alone it can exist, and of which it is a modification? Can a feeling exist by itself, without forming part of a consciousness? I shall say no to the first question, and yes to the second, and it seems to me that these answers are required by the doctrine of evolution.”

So he says that elementary feelings don’t exist in consciousness, or there isn’t any consciousness when there’s an elementary feeling. This means that consciousness only exists when there are complex feelings. But he does say that there are feelings when there is no consciousness. Clifford said that consciousness was a little more complex, like the type that we have now. But with the theory of evolution that Clifford is talking about, consciousness of latter times before us or further into the past, the consciousness that was had was of a simple nature. We can infer consciousness of other human beings because they look to be as complex as us, and so we infer that they have a consciousness that is similar to ours. But we’ve evolved from simpler things, and Clifford is saying that there was simpler consciousness in the past.

“As we go back along the line, the complexity of the organism and of its nerve-action insensibly diminishes; and for the first part of our course, we see reason to think that the complexity of consciousness insensibly diminishes also. But if we make a jump, say to the tunicate molluscs, we see no reason there to infer the existence of consciousness at all. Yet not only is it impossible to point out a place where any sudden break takes place, but it is contrary to all the natural training of our minds to suppose a breach of continuity so great. All this imagined line of organisms is a series of objects in my consciousness; they form an insensible gradation, and yet there is a certain unknown point at which I am at liberty-to infer facts out of my consciousness corresponding to them!”

This helps point out how when we go back from the complex to the simpler and simpler, that he seems to hint at consciousness to get simpler and simpler than what we have. So he points out that Consciousness, which he earlier pointed out was complex, or our consciousness, is made up of the simpler. This simpler stuff is also a feeling that we don’t feel. But in an earlier evolutionary state, it existed as well, or at least in past evolutionary steps with something like a mollusc. “Such elementary ejective facts go aloug with the action of every organism, however simple; but it is only when the material organism has reached a certain complexity of nervous structure (not now to be specified) that the complex of ejective facts reaches that mode of complication which is called Consciousness.”

Here is a very telling point that he me makes. “But as the line of ascent is unbroken, and must end at last in inorganic matter,
we have no choice but to admit that every motion of matter is simultaneous with some ejective fact or event which might be
part of a consciousness.” Remember that an ejective fact is part of an other mind, which isn’t ours. So these things that are in motion also have some sort of simple feeling, or some simple consciousness that is not like ours because ours is a complex one. This in turn means that those things we find in motion, even inorganic things, have some feelings that are very simpler than ours. And we are built off of these simpler things through our evolutionary history, and all these simple things add up to form something complex, which forms our consciousness. He lists two corollaries.

“1. A feeling can exist by itself, without forming part of a consciousness. It does not depend for its existence on the consciousness of which it may form a part. Hence a feeling (oran eject-element) is Dinzg-an-sich, an absolute, whose existence is not relative to anything else. Sentitur is all that can be said.

2. These eject-elements, which correspond to motions of matter, are connected together in their sequence and co-existence by counterparts of the physical laws of matter. For otherwise the correspondence could not be kept up.”

The simpler elements are Ding-an-sich, or a thing-in-themselves.

Mind-stuff is the reality which we perceive as Matter

“That element of which, as we have seen, even the simplest feeling is a complex, I shall call Mind-stuff. A moving molecule of inorganic matter does not possess mind, or consciousness; but it possesses a small piece of mind-stuff.”

So it would seem that Mind-Stuff form the simplest of things, and he points out that when these simple things come together, they start to form sentience. It is only when these things come together more and more, they can form consciousness like us. We can take the example of a bacteria, which is form of simple things, or formed of some mind-stuff. When more and more mind-stuff comes together, and through constant evolution, they come to form sentience like us.

When inorganic things take a complex form that is called the living human brain, there is a corresponding mind-stuff, because mind-stuff is the simplest of things that is the basis from which complex things are built off of, these mind-stuff in that form take on human consciousness like having intelligence and volition.

Let us say that person X sees person Y looking at a candle stick. Both Y looking at the candle stick and the candle stick are objects of person X’s consciousness or mind. An image of this candle stick, which is of the optical variety, is formed in the retina which sends never messages to form a cerebral image inside of the brain of person X. The cerebral image forms part of the complex disturbances in the brain. This cerebral image is just as much a possible sensation, sensation of the brain disturbances, as the image of the candle stick itself that person X is having. The cerebral image itself is an imperfect copy of the candle stick image itself, that person X is having. Person X is having in their body a cerberal image, but the candle stick image is something that they have present to their consciousness. But the cerberal image and visual image represent one another, but in an imperfect way.

“Now the candlestick is not the external reality whose existence is represented in the man’s mind; for the candlestick is a mere perception in my mind. Nor is the cerebral image the man’s perception of the candlestick; for the cerebral image is merely an idea of a possible perception in my mind. But there is a perception in the man’s mind, which we may call the mental image; and this corresponds to some external reality. The external reality bears the same relation to the mental image that the (phenomenal) candlestick bears to the cerebral image.”

The candle stick is not the external reality, in which the candles existence is represented in person Y’s mind. That is because the candle stick in person X’s mind. Remember, X can’t see if the candle stick is in anyone elses mind, because that is just an eject and isn’t possible for that image to be present to person X. And the cerebral image in person Y’s brain a perception of the candlestick, that’s because the cerebral image is a possible perception in person X’s mind. (This is a very important point).

The candlestick image and the cerebral image are made both of the same stuff. And so external reality is made up off the same stuff as person X’s mental image, which is mind-stuff. “As the physical configuration of my cerebral image of the object is to the physical configuration of the object, so is my perception of the object (the object regarded as complex of my feelings) to the thing-in-itself.”

Cliffords conclusion comes down to this: “Or, to say the same thing in other words, the reality external to our minds which is represented in our minds as matter, is in itself mind-stuff.” This means that the world external to us, and what causes our mental images, if not cerberal images, are mind-stuff. But we don’t have perfect representations of the external world, and these imperfect representations are called the material universe. This comes down to that the thing-in-itself is the mind-stuff. The mind-stuff is what affects our consciousness, or that mind-stuff affects our consciousness. And as we paid attention, the mind-stuff is what makes up the simple stuff from which our consciousness is a complex growth of, through evolution.

Clifford lists these two things as the two chief points of his doctrine.

“Matter is a mental picture in which mind-stuff is the thing represented.

Reason, intelligence, and volition are properties of a complex which is made up of elements themselves not rational, not intelligent, not conscious.”


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Thomas Hobbs view of Morality

Posted by allzermalmer on February 19, 2012

This blog will be based on Thomas Hobbs view of morality. This derives from certain sections of his book Leviathan.

Hobbes holds that there isn’t anything that is absolutely good or evil, which means that there’s nothing that is objectively good or objectively evil. What he believed was that what is good and what is bad is based on our appetite or desire. What meets our personal desire we call good and what goes against our personal desire we call evil. He also holds, because of this, there is no common rule for what is good and what is evil. For if there were, then there would be objective good and evil, but he’s already denied this. It should be kept in mind that Hobbes is dealing with us in our State of Nature when he says there is no common rule for good or bad, which means this is before we form a society.

“whatsoever is the object of any man’s appetite or desire; that is it which he for his part calleth good; and the object of his hate, and aversion, evil; and of his contempt, vile and inconsiderable. For these words of good, evil, and contemptible, are ever used with relation to the person that useth them: there being nothing simply and absolutely so; nor any common rule of good and evil, to be taken from the nature of the objects themselves; but from the person of the man (where there is no commonwealth;) or, (in a commonwealth,) from the person that representeth it; or from an arbitrator or judge, whom men disagreeing shall by consent set up, and make his sentence the rule thereof.”

Hobbes brings up that the power of man is the present means to obtain some future apparent goods. And as he previously stated, goods or good is what ever that person desires. Therefore, the persons power is the means that they have right now to obtain whatever they desire.

The value, or worth of man, is his price. The price of the person is based on how much would be given for the use of the power of a person, but this isn’t absolute either. And this is dependent on the judgement and need of another. Thus, the value or worth of man, is based on how much another person values the power of another person. This person could use another, because this second individual can obtain something for another, and what can be obtained is looked upon favorable by this original person. So your value to me is based what you can obtain for me that I desire. In other words, your value is based on how much I can use you in order to obtain those things that I desire for myself.

Hobbes says that the basis of all human action is to obtain those things that they desire, and they continue on to do these things until that death comes for them. One of the basis of human actions is to stay alive, and so peace is something that is sought because it helps stave off their death, and “desire of such things as are necessary to commodious living; and a hope by their industry to obtain them.”

Now Hobbes tries to come up with some of the natural conditions of mankind. He holds that man is roughly equivalent in body and mind, and holds that the strongest person can be killed by the weakest person. They also don’t differ much in their ability to find the means to ends that people desire. With this, Hobbes assumes that other people are aware of this equality between one another as well.

With this, there are three things causes of quarrel between people, which are 1. competition, 2. diffidence,  and 3. glory. The first makes man fight over gain, the second for safety, and the third for reputation. In these conditions, man lives without some common power to keep them all under control. Instead, they are all in a state of war.

“they are in that condition which is called war; and such a war, as is of every man, against every man… The life of man in a condition of war is “solitary, poor, nasty, brutish, and short.””

Hobbes points out that there is no sin in man or any sin done by man, in the state of nature. In other words, the passions of men are not, in themselves, sin. Their actions, that follow from these passions, aren’t sins either. This means that the passions of people aren’t, in themselves, sin. This also means that their actions, in themselves, aren’t sin. What also follows is that when it is war of all against all, the actions of people aren’t unjust. This is all because there is no common law, or none that people recognize. When there is no objective morality, let alone any that people recognize, there is no good or evil actions in themselves. Justice, injustice, good, and evil, have no place in the state of nature.

Hobbes points out that there are two things, one that is called Rights of Nature and the other is Laws of Nature. Here is how he states what a Right of Nature is, or what the Right of Nature is.

“The Right of Nature . . . is the liberty each man hath, to use his own power, as he will himself, for the preservation of his own nature; that is to say, of his own life; and consequently, of doing any thing, which in his own judgment, and reason, he shall conceive to be the aptest means thereunto.”

This means that man can do anything that they want, in order to reach any ends that they want. But don’t forget, anything that people do under their power, they are doing what they consider to be good. Anything, in the state of nature, is permissible. What is within your power is good, because power is the ability to reach any end that you desire, and what you desire is what is good. We have to remember that there was on thing, that we understand to be the most good of things, which is the preservation of our own life. The Right of Nature is summed up, when in the state of nature, to be “By all means we can, to defend ourselves.” Our liberty, or Right of Nature, “consists in liberty to do, or to forebear.” This means our liberty is to do anything we like in the state of nature, and to forebear our own death by any means that we can or is at our disposal.

Now that we know what the Right of Nature is, there is also a Law of Nature. He states it as follows.

“A Law of Nature, (lex naturalis) is a precept, or general rule, found out by reason, by which a man is forbidden to do, that, which is destructive of his life, or taketh away the means of preserving the same; and to omit, that, by which he thinketh it may be best preserved.”

So the Law of Nature is found out by reason, and it is through reason that we find out what is forbidden for us to do. And one of these is that which is destructive to our lives, or taking away means that preserve our lives. Thus, a law of nature, at least in the moral realm, is based on doing things that wouldn’t take our lives away, or lead to our deaths. Reason forbids us to do anything that would lead to our death.

There are at least two major laws of nature. One of them is to seek peace and follow peace. A second law is “That a man be willing, when others are so too, as far-forth, as for peace, and defense of himself he shall think it necessary, to lay down this right to all things; and be contented with so much liberty against other men, as he would allow other men against himself.”

There is moral obligations, and they follow from when we form into a society. This society is formed when we give up some of our liberty, which was abundant in a state of nature. Thus, when we give up some of our liberty, we are confined to keep these agreements once we set them up in society. It is in society that we give up our liberty that was found in nature, and we are obliged to keep these agreements that we’ve set up upon entering into a society. We are “not to make void that voluntary act
of his own: and that such hindrance is injustice”. In other words, you sign a contract and you do injustice when you don’t follow that contract that you signed. Another injustice is to grant away or give up our right to defend ourselves when someone is trying to kill us or take our lives.

The main point of Hobbes is that we are not moral creatures until we have formed into a social contract in which we are obliged to follow that contract. When we don’t follow this contract, we have done injustice. But without these social contracts, and in a state of nature, there is no right or wrong when we act against other people or do any type of action. In fact, the only good things are those that we desire, and the only bad things are doing those things that we don’t desire.

There does seem to be one obvious problem, of course, which is that he says that all people are on equal standing in a state of nature, and that there are laws of nature. One of these is to seek peace. But this would seem to also be applied in a state of nature. But he says that we are in a constant state of war of all against all. But reason would dictate not to be at war with one another, but to seek peace. Thus, Hobbes does seem to be obviously inconsistent in his stance. But this is one typical response that some make to someone who says that there are no objective right or wrong.

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