Life, the Universe, and Everything

A Course Blog for GET1029/GEK1067

Category: Consciousness

Quiz 09 Debrief

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W10 Q/A

Update: A few items from the archive added to the end.

Here goes…

Is there a clearer and stricter definition of ‘mental’ and ‘physical’ and what it means for something to be a mental state or a physical state?

Unfortunately, no. And there’s a reason too–it’s actually an extremely complicated topic, how the “physical” in “physicalism” should be defined (for those sleepless nights). Nonetheless, there is a sort of method to the madness here–at the end of the day, the theories are meant to illuminate basic and intuitive notions we already have. Those notions might need to be revised given a more rigorous analysis and empirical investigation, but they are the starting points. If we don’t already notice that some things have mind, or mental attributes, and others don’t, we won’t even be in this conversation at all. For our purposes, that more basic and intuitive understanding is thus all that we need to get the topic off the ground. It won’t stop there of course, if you are pursuing this more deeply.

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Listverse: 10 Fascinating Ways Our Brains Can Be Manipulated

10 Fascinating Ways Our Brains Can Be Manipulated


Supervenience and Reduction

Just some additional notes from the archive. As I said in Slide #15, by Physicalism or Materialism, or more accurately, Reductive Physicalism, I mean the combination of three distinct ideas.

We are Physical Things—We are basically a physical thing with both mental and physical characteristics rather than a composite of a purely mental thing and a purely physical thing.

Mind-Body Dependence—What mental characteristics we have depends on what physical characteristics we have.

Mind-Body Reductionism—Mental characteristics are just (configurations of) physical characteristics , with other names.

And Mind-Body Dependence (Slide #17) itself is a composite of the following three ideas:

(1) Physical characteristics are more fundamental than and explain mental characteristics.

(2) Mental characteristics supervenes on physical characteristics–Two things have different mental characteristics only if they have different physical characteristics.

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Crash Course Mind-Body Problem, etc.

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