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Re: [anthroposophy] Re: Hanging around

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  • Maurice McCarthy
    Ned Block (philosopher NYU) defines functionalism as the theory that mental states are constituted by their causal relations to each other and to sensory
    Message 1 of 13 , Mar 2, 2004
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      Ned Block (philosopher NYU) defines functionalism as the theory that
      "mental states are constituted by their causal relations to each
      other and to sensory inputs and behavioural outputs". He calls the
      scientific concept of kidney a function - it filters the blood. This
      lends itself well to the computer analogy in that the function is
      'software'. The mental is no longer identified with the physical but has
      a level of its own so that psychology has a content of its own divorced
      from the physical. Reductionism is out.

      I reckon that because 'causal' remains a physical notion for the
      functionalist then this is why they are attacked for no theory of the
      quality of the senses. Functionalism is a sort of hybrid
      realist-dynamist theory. They are sure to reject any proposal that
      concepts and ideas have an objective validity but will see them as
      linguistic description only (They use Wittgenstein's theory of meaning.)
      This is the battle to win through for a proper epistemology, that
      concepts have a formative influence. They put language as the generator
      of the conceptual. In terms of time they have a point but not in terms
      of explanation. Explanation has a priority in being.

      Maurice
    • joksu57
      Hello Maurice! In the 70 s when I studied Steiner s Philosophy of Freedom, philosophy became very interesting subject to me. Inspired by Dr. Steiner s views I
      Message 2 of 13 , Mar 3, 2004
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        Hello Maurice!

        In the 70's when I studied Steiner's Philosophy of Freedom,
        philosophy became very interesting subject to me. Inspired by Dr.
        Steiner's views I started studying theoretical philosophy in a
        university in late 70's. Of course academic philosophy was some sort
        of a disappointment after PoF. But the history of philosophy was
        worth the trouble and from "new philosophy" e.g. the paradigm-concept
        of Thomas S. Kuhn was a helpful tool. After the "university years" I
        have propably been too lazy in studying philosophy and scientific
        subjects (there are just too many esoteric subjects to mess with!).

        It is nice to hear that consciousness is nowadays not treated as a
        mere attribute of matter. But still there are grave differences. We
        can take again the example of a "human being". So some modern
        thinkers can take the attitude, where the mind is almost accepted as
        a reality. When we think what man is after Saturn-, Sun-, Moon- and
        Earth-periods, the "accuracy-level" is remarkably different. Of
        course a human being is extremely large and difficult concept to
        study, because "we are the microcosm". What makes the subject even
        more harder is the fact, that we are in a "halfway position" and
        probably in Vulcan-period we can see, what it really means to be a
        human being. So there remains a lot of work in "bridging" the
        different paradigms.

        It is fine that you have interest and capability in this "philosophy-
        business". Please keep on reporting about your research!

        Warm Regards
        Joksu

        --- In anthroposophy@yahoogroups.com, Maurice McCarthy
        <maurice.mccarthy@n...> wrote:
        > On Mon, Mar 01, 2004 at 01:46:27PM -0000 or thereabouts, joksu57
        wrote:
        > >
        > > I also have my doubts about the outcome of those debates, when
        the
        > > paradigms are so different. E.g. a human being in "anthro-
        paradigm"
        > > means something totally different compared to "scientific-
        > > materialistic" paradigm. When even the basic concepts used in a
        > > discussion can mean different things, it is hard to come to some
        > > reasonable conclusion. My respect, though, to everyone, who have
        the
        > > patience to explain the basics of spiritual science to critics
        (who
        > > obviously have some other agenda than understanding AP or Waldorf
        > > education).
        > >
        >
        > With respect to materialism and how it has changed since Steiner's
        time
        > I've recently read Colin McGuinn's philosophical biography and am
        now
        > reading Paul Churchland's "Matter and Consciousness". Both are
        intended
        > for the lay reader but the latter especially is challenging.
        >
        > The big change is that the mind is almost accepted as a reality,
        > distinct from matter. Almost all cognitive scientists, neurologists
        and
        > Artificial Intelligence folk are funtionalists. In the terms of
        Human
        > and Cosmic Thought this is a form of dynamism and is adjacent to a
        > Leibnitzian-type monadology - which definitely affirms the
        existence of
        > subjective entities.
        >
        > Chomsky is the man most responsible for this change - that the mind
        is
        > born with a pre-configured modularity. As I see it this is within
        an ace
        > of declaring the soul.
        >
        > Maurice
      • Maurice McCarthy
        Dear Joksu Thanks for the encouragement. I battle on as best I can to understand and I ve always had an interest in the Big Issues. Years ago I played chess to
        Message 3 of 13 , Mar 3, 2004
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          Dear Joksu

          Thanks for the encouragement. I battle on as best I can to understand
          and I've always had an interest in the Big Issues. Years ago I played
          chess to a minor international level and though I lost more than I won
          there is perhaps only a single game in my recollection which I lost
          through a lack of strategy oversight. It was in the details that I lost
          my way - and 'the devil is in the details', as the saying goes.

          Essentially what I am trying to say in these little words is that RS
          died a whole human life-time ago teaching us the principle that reality
          alters and alters continually, even though some things appear more
          stable than others. It is a common human failing to stay with habit of
          thought rather than re-think afresh and we anthroposophists have just
          this failing as much as anyone else. This does not mean that RS is
          irrelevant (words from the spirit are the most stable of all and when
          Christ says 'verily, I say unto ye' then listen because what comes next
          is true for every level of consciousness and all time. This is why it is
          put 'verily'.) RS is not irrelevant but habit ossifies his words which
          slowly lose contact with living reality. It is up to us to rework the
          truth in our changed circumstances.`

          McGinn is a "monkey-hanger" - a term of endearment for a chap from
          Hartlepool in the North East of England. During the Napoleonic Wars they
          famously hung a monkey there for being a French spy ... ?!? (True story)
          In "The Making of a Philosopher" he writes to the effect that:
          In the technical works such as Syntactical Structures Chomsky argued
          that a child could not learn a language by the Behaviourist's stimilus
          and response but had to come pre-prepared with an implicit grasp of
          grammar. One of the key arguments was the limited resources a child
          posseses to develop rich grammar.

          Functionalism now easily arises from the observed necessity to
          thrust the mind into stimulus and response. Jerry Fodor is McGinn's
          colleague at Rutgers and McGinn says that he is generally acknowledged
          to be the best philosopher of mind in the world. (Anglo-Saxon philosophy
          is still a very male-ego oriented thing today.) Fodor's Language of
          Thought 1975 is considered one of the first robust statements of
          Functionalim which now puts the first, if still physicalised, emphasis
          on the How as opposed to the what.

          From our position we generally think that Computer Intelligence is just
          baloney from first inspection. I still agree but this speaking from
          habit. Be warned - there is a lot more credit to AI than we at first
          give it.

          Maurice




          On Wed, Mar 03, 2004 at 08:11:00AM -0000 or thereabouts, joksu57 wrote:
          > Hello Maurice!
          >
          > In the 70's when I studied Steiner's Philosophy of Freedom,
          > philosophy became very interesting subject to me. Inspired by Dr.
          > Steiner's views I started studying theoretical philosophy in a
          > university in late 70's. Of course academic philosophy was some sort
          > of a disappointment after PoF. But the history of philosophy was
          > worth the trouble and from "new philosophy" e.g. the paradigm-concept
          > of Thomas S. Kuhn was a helpful tool. After the "university years" I
          > have propably been too lazy in studying philosophy and scientific
          > subjects (there are just too many esoteric subjects to mess with!).
          >
          > It is nice to hear that consciousness is nowadays not treated as a
          > mere attribute of matter. But still there are grave differences. We
          > can take again the example of a "human being". So some modern
          > thinkers can take the attitude, where the mind is almost accepted as
          > a reality. When we think what man is after Saturn-, Sun-, Moon- and
          > Earth-periods, the "accuracy-level" is remarkably different. Of
          > course a human being is extremely large and difficult concept to
          > study, because "we are the microcosm". What makes the subject even
          > more harder is the fact, that we are in a "halfway position" and
          > probably in Vulcan-period we can see, what it really means to be a
          > human being. So there remains a lot of work in "bridging" the
          > different paradigms.
          >
          > It is fine that you have interest and capability in this "philosophy-
          > business". Please keep on reporting about your research!
          >
          > Warm Regards
          > Joksu
        • Maurice McCarthy
          Bradford asked about modules Chomsky holds intelligence to be of separate compartments and not an infinitely plastic unity. There is one for language but to
          Message 4 of 13 , Mar 3, 2004
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            Bradford asked about modules

            Chomsky holds intelligence to be of separate compartments and not an
            infinitely plastic unity. There is one for language but to him it is
            specifically human. Animal or alien tongues may easily be
            unintelligible to a human. Intelligences are separate things - I think
            he is saying species specific.

            McGinn finds this relevant to what he calls Metaphilosophy, the
            philosophy beyond philosophy or philosophy of philosophy. I ask what is
            the love of knowledge for the love of knowledge? The pure willingness to
            understand - Christ as Anthropo-sophia, human wisdom. He say
            metaphilosophy is the most neglected and difficult aspect in all
            philosophy.

            Maurice.
          • Maurice McCarthy
            Children do not imitate speech, they create it: Lap me, Nanny! (My daughter at about 2 years old) Maurice
            Message 5 of 13 , Mar 3, 2004
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              Children do not imitate speech, they create it:

              Lap me, Nanny! (My daughter at about 2 years old)

              Maurice
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