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 Dualism — should we accept it?

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Shynaku
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Shynaku

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PostSubject: Dualism — should we accept it?   Thu May 27, 2010 10:37 pm

Let's define Dualism: The idea that the body and mind are two, distinct entities. Many things follow from acceptance of dualism, there seems to be a draw to the majesty of dualism, and it appears that the concept is something that is innate to humans; so, should we accept this idea?

My answer is: no. The consequences of accepting dualism are too many, the majesty quickly fades with scrutiny, and the innateness holds no value over whether the idea is real.

I'll start off with a single argument against it, and the debate can spread from there. The main problem with dualism is on how the two existences interact. Both would seem to affect one-another: the will of the mind causes my fingers to move while typing; physical altering of the brain alters the state of the mind. But how does this process take place? One doesn't answer the question if they take the fast route by saying: "I just works." And if one cannot provide a function of the mind that cannot be explained without dualism, then one is left with a seemingly burdening hypothesis — we have more "things" than we need for explaining everything, so why bother accepting it?
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empowers

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PostSubject: Re: Dualism — should we accept it?   Thu May 27, 2010 11:25 pm

I think it's a mistake to regard anything as two distinct entities. Everything is interdependant and interrelated. It's difficult to draw a line to say where one thing 'ends' and another 'begins'. Dualism is just the way our brains tend to deal with this world but it is not the ultimate truth.

(Anyone correct me if I've missed the point, I'm new to the concept, trying my best to understand Smile)
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Shynaku
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PostSubject: Re: Dualism — should we accept it?   Thu May 27, 2010 11:48 pm

I'm not sure if it is hard to regard things as distinct entities. For example, there is no such thing as half an electron, and there are boundaries of what is and what is not an electron. But since we're talking about people, I still say that we can meaningfully talk about them as individuals. It's true that the boundary of what does and does not physically constitute a human is fuzzy at times, but there are hard cases where we would not falter on making a decision on it — you can quickly tell the difference between two people in the same room on a macroscopic scale, even if you would have some difficulty on a microscopic one.

Anyway, am I to assume you are agreeing with me in that dualism is wrong?
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empowers

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PostSubject: Re: Dualism — should we accept it?   Fri May 28, 2010 12:58 am

Um, yeah, I think so.

I think I'm gonna have to bomb out on this topic and the cogito ergo sum topic as well at this point. I regard myself as being pretty good with philosophy but you clearly know and understand more than me, and I am starting to get a gigantic headache haha. Even though I have a high IQ, I'm having trouble wrapping my head around this stuff.

Anyone out there who can keep up with Shynaku, I officially tag you in! Cool
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mbacolas

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PostSubject: Re: Dualism — should we accept it?   Fri May 28, 2010 2:08 am

i beleive in two seperate entities. I beleive that we derive our emotions and logic or spirituality from our souls. As far as what souls are i dont have a complete definition, but simply because we cannot prove or disprove spirits does not mean they should be disregarded, but not taken 100% seriously either. I always ask myself that if there werent souls why is it that we humans are the only creatures that experience free will, or communicate as intelligentaly as we do? Why are we the only advanced species on this planet. There must be a reason we humans are the only species that are as evolved as we are now. My conclusion is that we are either foreign to this planet all together or we have spirits and we created uniqely (not nesseccarily in the image of the maker).
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Shynaku
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PostSubject: Re: Dualism — should we accept it?   Fri May 28, 2010 10:21 am

mbacolas
When we are looking at whether to believe something, the best path is to start with the 'null hypothesis', then let the evidence sway you from it. I'll admit that my position is the easy one to defend, because I simply have to find rejection of other arguments; I will never have to put forward a positive case. I think that this point is shown brilliantly in 'Russell's Teapot': "If I were to suggest that between the Earth and Mars there is a china teapot revolving about the sun in an elliptical orbit, nobody would be able to disprove my assertion provided I were careful to add that the teapot is too small to be revealed even by our most powerful telescopes. But if I were to go on to say that, since my assertion cannot be disproved, it is an intolerable presumption on the part of human reason to doubt it, I should rightly be thought to be talking nonsense." The context this was written in was over the null hypothesis in religion, but I think it applies to this case as readily. Thus, I would defend the idea that, as long as someone else cannot explain an necessity — that is, a function of the soul that something else cannot fill — we should not accept dualism.

In my rejection of dualism, I will say that the brain, in its complexity, is capable of these things you point to as the processes of the soul; and I will also reject your raising of humans to greatly above animals. First, we see strong correlation between the size/complexity of an animal's brain and its intelligence. A fluke is dumber than an ant, which is dumber than a bird, which is dumber than a bonobo, which is dumber than a human. If intelligence had to do with the soul, and not with the brain, then we would not expect this system. As for why humans are so smart, I'm not sure if the scientific body has any general consensus yet, but my hypothesis is that our ancestors found a niche that favored intelligence, and as we grew, socially, as a species, this intelligence was selected for more and more often. By the time we got to advanced tools, there was a need for our species to have strong abstract reasoning, and we have only ever augmented the need to be smart with things such as agriculture since. Second, I don't see why animals do not exhibit the same level of free will as humans. Clearly, and ant does not seem to do that, but bonobos, given a form of communicating with us, will ask for things such as going for walks, which would imply a form of will they wish to enact.


empowers
I really wish you would not drop out of the conversation. You can always bring in something interesting. There may be a point that I had not thought of, and not including that would be a detriment to us all. It is very true that sometimes the most simple questions are the most complex to answer, so don't be afraid to ask anything if things don't make sense — even a quick "could you define x" can be helpful for those both viewing and participating in the debate. Also, there is nothing to fear from engaging (except for your opinions being changed, and that's not something to fear at all). This is informal, and no-one's going to judge you for any perceived ignorance.
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mbacolas

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PostSubject: Re: Dualism — should we accept it?   Fri May 28, 2010 10:55 am

I agree with the teapot theory, its sound and reasonable. In fact we probably all dont have souls. I Guess i like to think we might have souls do to our ability to have spiritual experiences, but then again those could just be endorphins being into the body by the brain giving us the "religous" or "spiritual" experience. But then i wonder why do humans fear the end of their life, or have thoughts from the end of their exsistance? Why do we crave social interaction? Why are we humans who according to evolution and science are so primal, why do we desire such pityful things? Why do we want to beleive in heaven or hell? Why do we want to have online interactions or play Lords? how does science prove our motivations as a species to do even the simplest of things? Im not giving a definate answer just asking questions. There are some things even science can answer. When i live in a world where i am constantly deceived or lied to by the government its hard for me to just take everything i am told to beleive. Although i would love answers, it seems as though religion is too widely promoted by our leaders, and maybe as a means to control us? I dunno.
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PostSubject: Re: Dualism — should we accept it?   Fri May 28, 2010 12:32 pm

I'll preface this by saying that I will link to Wikipedia simply because it usually has a fairly concise overview. I never use Wikipedia as my first source, but if what I know from other places is the same as what is on Wikipedia, I'll link it.

The spiritual experiences can be explained by neurochemistry. The God Helmet is an excellent example of our ability to replicate these experiences using only physical means. I think the fear of death is something that is semi-ingrained. Self-preservation is ingrained into us through natural selection — those that do not wish to survive are less likely to pass on that trait — and the conscious fear is just an extension of that. And the ability to think about it is a result of general intelligence. I am not saying that nature programed us to be able to think about death, it ended up being a spandrel — a byproduct of some other, truly beneficial trait. Social interaction was also built into us — most mammals have some form of social co-operation, and humans are simply no exception. I also don't see why you would call social interaction "pityful". Society requires a drive to have interaction amongst one-another, so I fail to see why it's at all a bad thing to have that. And online interactions are another form, just not a physical one. Finally, an afterlife is not the final goal. Jews don't have a definite afterlife, and Buddhists are trying to escape reincarnation, so calling that, in any way, universal would be a grave misstatement.

As for where to find reliable information, that will always be a question. You could go to one extreme and say that no source is credible, so don't believe anyone; however, this will end in an inability to do anything (the boss may be lying to you on how to do a job properly, so might as well not listen to them, right?). I go with a utility and experience system: Don't trust the government on their word alone; science has given us the computer we communicate on, so a healthy bit of skepticism, but general acceptance is what I use; the senses tell us a bunch of things, but where science has said my senses may be deceiving, I'll defer to science; religion, as a whole, works with self-preservation, but the individuals in it are generally just doing what they think is the best thing, so listen to them with an open mind, but don't take their words super-seriously, because their main ground for their belief is tradition and the untestable.
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mbacolas

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PostSubject: Re: Dualism — should we accept it?   Fri May 28, 2010 5:11 pm

you see, you will win this debate because it makes sense logically. Since we cannot disprove or prove the exsistance of an after life, or spiritual world, then ill chose to beleive in me having a soul. It depresses me to think of not exsisting, becuase quite frankly i like exsisting. If our purpose in life is to just exsist then disappear, then that proves that there is no intelligent designer. But that in itself means nothing to me. I see exsistance as being cruel if there is no divine purpse. I thiink it better to just never exsist to begin with.
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PostSubject: Re: Dualism — should we accept it?   Fri May 28, 2010 7:42 pm

First, I'll disagree with you that having a finite existence lessens life. Here's an example: In Hindi texts, Shiva tells someone that killing is not that bad, because that person will being reincarnated, and their life will continue on. The same thing would apply to heaven and hell: it diminishes the importance of our life here if we know it is not unique. The endless bottle of a fine wine is not as cherished as the one that will dry. And I think believing in something just because it feels good is a bad way to live life. It would be great if I was the number one player of Lords, but I am not, and it would be silly of me to go around pretending I was, just for the sake of it feeling good. This is coming from a point of view that favors correctness, though.


In the interest of keeping this discussion from dying, I will play devil's advocate. Probably the biggest support of dualism is 'qualia': the "what it's like" of an experience. Two readings would be the Definitions of Qualia section of Wikipedia and the Qualia section on the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy. Start with the Wikipedia entry to get a rough outline, and if you want something in-depth, read the SEoP entry. Qualia seems to pose a problem for physicalists, as it has a hard time explaining what would be experiencing the qualia.

One argument goes as follows: Suppose we quarantine a person from the color red from birth until 40 years-of-age. In those 40 years, we explain to them all the physical characteristics of 'red'. Even if they become an expert on color, and is gone to for all questions pertaining to 'red', when she first sees a rose at age 40, she will learn something new about it. This seems to be the quale of 'red', and needs the subjective to know — it cannot be understood in a simply physical way.

Another is the 'philosophical zombie': It seems possible for us to imagine a being that displays all the characteristics of a human, but does not experience qualia. This entity may even have all the same biochemistry as the normal, qualia-experiencing human, but they still do not experience the qualia. The fact that they would be physically the same, but are different still, would indicate that there would be something more — dualism would come in and claim this as a victory.

So does anyone have objection to this, or does qualia seem to prove dualism?
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mbacolas

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PostSubject: Re: Dualism — should we accept it?   Sun May 30, 2010 12:15 am

honestly IMO it doesnt prove dualism and is a poor attempt to. I just simply dont know what happens when we die. If you use all the logic in the world and when you die you found out that you were right would it really matter? What if you found out that you were wrong, would it really matter? I personally dont think it matters either way. I think that ones opinion of whether or not there is an afterlife however should not cause them to judge others and make them feel they are better than everyone else. There are so many beleifs and if we were to beleive agree with the majority of ppl then we have to beleive in a christian or muslim faith (the two major religions claiming 30% of the worlds population). My favorite comedian george carlin made me laugh real good when i heard this-

"Religion has actually convinced people that there's an invisible man, living in the sky, who watches everything you do every minute of every day. And the invisible man has a special list of 10 things he does not want you to do. And if you do any of these 10 things, he has a special place full of fire and smoke and burning and torture and anguish where he will send *you* to live and suffer and burn and choke and scream and cry forever and ever til the end of time...but he loves you." -- George Carlin


I dont have a problem with the concept of religion, its certain beleifs in certain religions that i have a problem with. I dont care whether or not i have a soul, although id prefer like i said before to continue exsisting, because either way i have no control over my fate. All i can do is try to be as good as i beleive to be good because thats the ethical and morally right thing todo, not just so i can goto some heavenly place and escape the bounds of hell.
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PostSubject: Re: Dualism — should we accept it?   Sun May 30, 2010 7:59 am

The qualia argument was not addressing an afterlife; the argument is trying to find an action we do that cannot be explain by purely physical means. I think a common idea is that dualism immediately entails an afterlife, but Judaism had dualistic beliefs, but did not have an afterlife (in any definite way). I think it's important to first establish whether we have a soul, and then we can debate over the existence of that soul after bodily death.

I would also like to add that there are two gains from coming to a conclusion on this subject: (1) we will be getting closer to the truth, this done by weeding out the bad arguments so they don't become pervasive; and (2) it develops critical thinking, i.e. the process of discovery itself is valuable on its own merit. Given this, would you like to take another shot at qualia (given that it's not an argument addressing an afterlife) for the sake of the argument, or will you remain on the "to each their own" view on the subject?
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PostSubject: Re: Dualism — should we accept it?   Sun May 30, 2010 8:39 am

IMO if we have a soul, then we have an afterlife. Whats the point of having a soul without an afterlife?
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PostSubject: Re: Dualism — should we accept it?   Sun May 30, 2010 4:33 pm

Whether something exists or not is not based on what we would like it to be. I think we admit to the contrived nature of a hypothesis when one of our criticisms is, "What's the point?" The soul could do 1/10th of what we normally think it does, and not survive past our bodies; but that wouldn't mean it doesn't exist, just because it doesn't have utility.
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PostSubject: Re: Dualism — should we accept it?   Thu Jun 17, 2010 3:31 pm

What effects the body effects the mind.

What effects the mind effects the body.




If you eat something gross, you will feel bad, and that is a capacity of the mind. In a way most people can understand, physical or sexual violence does not leave a person unscathed. Physiologists and counselors are around because, mostly, people have mind troubles due to the something that happened to them.


If someone watches something scary, they may shiver. If someone hears someone say something rude, the mind tells the body to ignore it or fight back. The mind controls the body, yet the body effects the mind.

Dualism, thus, is wrong.
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PostSubject: Re: Dualism — should we accept it?   Thu Jun 17, 2010 7:26 pm

I'm not sure you completed your thought here. I don't think anyone doubts that there's a connexion between our personal experiences (the mind) and our physical composition (the body); the problem has always been around how this connexion functions. Descartes fully accepted the two-way street of the mind and body experiences, he simply died before saying his answer to the problem.
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PostSubject: Re: Dualism — should we accept it?   Thu Jun 17, 2010 9:11 pm

Sorry about that.

My point was that we need to add more facts to both sides. They are connected, but how much there is little proof on. I don't like debates that closely follow presumptions or something hypothetical, as they can lead to anything.
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