Friday, April 17, 2009

My Rebuttal To Keith Augustine's Response To Jim

Keith mentions psychical researchers Gardner Murphy, Douglas Stokes, C. D. Broad, and John Beloff who agree with Keith Augustine that neuroscience has proven the production theory. The problem is that appears not to be true. Why? the above four psychical researchers contented that Wilder Penfield's work gave supportable evidence for the production theory however Wilder Penfield never endorsed this theory. Nor did he think that this was the best explanation for his data. Wilder Penfield started out an materialist until he started doing work with epileptic patients. keith appeals to authority by pointed out four psychical researchers who believed that the best explanation was that consciousness is produced by the brain. The above misinterpretation of Wilder Penfield's work by these four psychical researchers should put some doubt on their view that consciousness is generated by brain processes.

Dr. Wilder Penfields writes

For my own part, after years of striving to explain the mind on the basis of brain-action alone, I have come to the conclusion that it is simpler (and far easier to be logical) if one adopts the hypothesis that our being does consist of two fundamental elements. Because it seems to me certain that it will always be quite impossible to explain the mind on the basis of neuronal action within the brain, and because it seems to me that the mind develops and matures independently throughout an individual's life as though it were a continuing element, and because a computer (which the brain is) must be programmed and operated by an agency capable of independent understanding, I am forced to choose the proposition that our being is to be understood on the basis of two elements.

Keith also says

Similarly, I would say that "the productive hypothesis" is the best explanation of the neuroscientific facts, which are indeed facts, and those other parapsychological things you might appeal to--OBEs, NDEs, CORT (cases of reincarnation type), mediumistic productions, apparitions--have nothing to do with disembodied existence, and thus the mind-brain relation, but concern different things: in some cases, perceptual tricks, in others, fraud or subconscious invention, and so on. (This is essentially what philosophers of mind take them to be, else they would look into such phenomena to learn about the mind-body relation. They don't look there because they don't believe such experiences tell us anything about the mind-body relation at all.)

You notice Keith doesn't mentioned at least some of these philosophers?.

Here's an excellent paper called " Can Consciousness survive the destruction of the brain?".

Keith also says

If we had decisive evidence of the supernatural, I'd believe in it as much as I believe that the Sun is the center of the solar system. It's just that we don't have such evidence. That's why I am a naturalist--because the only *knowledge* we have of the world, knowledge gleaned from biology, or psychology, or geology, or what have you, is knowledge of natural things. It didn't have to be that way; astronomy could have revealed that life emerged within a second after the Big Bang. That would be incredibly difficult to account for naturalistically, if it could be done at all. But this is not the world revealed to us by science. It is science that has found only natural causes where supernatural ones were once imagined to exist. That's essentially where we are today: there are many known natural causes, many believed-in but no known supernatural causes, and ambiguous causes that may or may not be natural. But among the known causes, there are only natural ones. There's not a single indisputable supernatural thing in existence. That's possible if naturalism is false--but not likely. That's why I accept naturalism.

Keith fails to understand that dualism itself doesn't argue against of the reality of matter and energy. It's very obvious that both exist, and those two are both natural. The problem i think is our conceptions of both the supernatural and the natural as they are commonly adhered to be.


André Luís N. Soares said...

Neuroscience has been proving that there are correlations. Nevertheless, correlations do not imply causality. A follower of the transmission theory also would agree that mind and brain are correlated. Moreover, Beloff is a radical dualist. Augustine insists on wrong points to validate his materialism.

Best regards.

Keith said...

Note that I never said that Stokes et al. "agree ... that neuroscience has proven the production theory." Nor did I say that any of them believe that consciousness is generated by brain processes.

I said that these four psychical researchers concede that the neuropsychological evidence provides strong evidence against dualism, despite their sympathies with dualism. Evidently the difference between suspecting view X is true and acknowledging that there is some serious evidence against view X is too nuanced for some. A person can simultaneously believe X and concede that there is some strong evidence against X.

The fact that the late John Beloff was a "radical dualist," then, should count in favor of my point, not against it. When even a radical dualist concedes that such evidence is a strong challenge to his own view, I think that says something about just how strong the evidence against his view is.

The reference to a mischaracterization of Wilder Penfield is invented out of thin air. As far as I know none of Stokes et al. had anything at all to say about Penfield's views, let alone an opportunity to mischaracterize them.

A rather ironic twist is that, in citing four psychical researchers, I supposedly make an appeal to authority, but when Leo cites one neuroscientist, he does not.

I recommend that you quit playing fast and loose with the facts.

As for not mentioning specific philosophers of mind--I have, of course, done so in the past. The fact that virtually every philosopher of mind is either a materialist or a property dualist ought to be sufficient. And that can be determined by looking at the philosophy of mind literature. Almost all of the pro-dualism literature comes from psychical research or the philosophy of religion.

As far as the natural-supernatural distinction goes, I don't think how you make the distinction matters very much. Whether you opt to label angels (say) supernatural or natural really has little to do with whether or not angels exist (however you characterize them). The issue is whether there is any good reason to think that angels, or disembodied minds, or gods exist. How you characterize such things is secondary.

André Luís N. Soares said...

Initially, forgive me for my poor english skills...

1. "I recommend that you quit playing fast and loose with the facts".

OK. But...

2. the issue is: Beloff did not "believe" in dualism, he "concluded" that it was a more complete theory rather than fisicalism, in spite of "strong" evidences in opposite. The final balance was that Beloff throw out the materialism. That's the highlight.

At any rate, whether the Beloff's "strong evidences" also are based about mere correlations, they would not be so strong this way. Again, as Emily Kelly succinctly put it: "few scientists and philosophers seem aware that ever more detailed descriptions of the correlation of mental and physical states do not amount to real progress on resolving the underlying basic problem".
The point is the argument, whoever that has said it, materialist or dualistic.

3. "The fact that virtually every philosopher of mind is either a materialist or a property dualist ought to be sufficient".

Many philosophers (almost all?) of mind don't know, study, or take into account the psychical research. They conclude without looking at a significant group of facts; facts that can sustain the human personality's nature.

4. "The issue is whether there is any good reason to think that angels, or disembodied minds, or gods exist".

I would put the issue thus: Is the mind, like, matter, a primary and fundamental characteristic of nature? Or is it a secondary phenomenon, emergent, or otherwise derivation characterstic of matter? In addition, considering the evidence to psi phenomena, the mind assumes a causal role into the nature so strong, so obvious, that it's hard to understand it "totally" dependent on our brains. Well, I think the materialism is in serious trouble...

Best regards.

Leo MacDonald said...


My point was it is evident in their writings that they supporting a theory that mainstream science holds.

The reason why i mentioned one neuroscientist was to get my point across. The four psychical researchers you mentioned didn't necessarily concede the production theory. Some of them conceded that the combination theory which would still be oblivion, accounted for the facts as they seen it.

You forgot to mentioned their is also some that support neutral monism, idealism.

Not all substance dualists are psychical reseachers or from the philosophy of religion. For example, Wilder Penfield, Sir John Eccles, Quantum physicist Henry Stapp.

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