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Consciousness

pavan03 Monsieur_Lynx at brown.edu
Thu Nov 20 00:07:50 EST 2003


"Wolf Kirchmeir" <wwolfkir at sympatico.can> wrote in message news:<jbysxveflzcngvpbpna.hockjw1.pminews at news1.sympatico.ca>...
> On 13 Nov 2003 12:04:49 -0800, pavan03 wrote:
> 
> >Why is there SOO much reluctance to think of the existence of
> >consciousness as a substance?
> 
> "Existence ... [is] a substance"? That's nonsense. I'll assume that pavan03
> actually meant "consciousness [is] a substance."
> 
> If consciousness is a substance, it must have the properties of a substance -
> it must occupy space, have mass, acquire and lose momentum, etc.

I'm sorry, I thought you understood. The concept of substance is not
restricted to things that are made of matter & energy. That is, think
of Cartesian dualism, a dualism between mind & matter (unfortunately,
Descartes wasn't able to bridge that matter-consciousness gap, so
close, yet so far--pineal gland? He should have thought in terms of
what designs a body...)
  Only things that are made of matter occupy space, have mass, etc.
Such properties do not hold for "non-physical" substances. How do you
know such substances exist? Well, take your own existence for example.
That thing that's conscious of the world around it, that's what you
are. Are you made of matter (see my extensive post on philosophy). The
answer quite clearly is no, for the following reasons
1)The cells that make up your body are continuously being replaced.
That is, you might think that that hand you're typing with, well,
that's a part of you, however 10 years ago or so, not one of the cells
making up your body was there.
So, scientists and philosophers alike are stumped over this problem of
"personal identity" through time. Well, if they thought of an
individual as a non-material soul in a body, then you could have the
cells in that body replaced, and the person's still there!
2)All the matter in my body is present in a corpse, however quite
clearly, I am not.  What am I composed of? Again, this must be
something non-physical so we can account for the presence of some sort
of life force in a living body, and the lack thereof in a dead body.
3)Matter is determinate!! This is fairly obvious. Any physical
substance mechanically obeys physical laws. It has no capability to
desire or choose. You, quite clearly, are capable of doing so. Thus
you are distinct from matter.
4)Matter can't experience. You're capable of experiencing, but the
cells and molecules and what-not that make up your body are no
different from the matter found in the external world (indeed they
actually do come from the food i eat). No part of my body is not
capable of feeling/knowing/etc., however I am (that is, that
non-physical substance is called a soul).

So, I suppose I could go into a more in depth analysis of this, but
essentially what you have to do is think about this distinction I'm
making between body (what's studied in a science book) and soul (the
lifeforce in a body--non-physical, not something you _have_ but what
you are).
   Because a lot of scientists don't understand that, they try to do
all kinds of weird things, like for example, they see the brain
functioning and producing electricity and imagine how the brain can
"store" knowledge, or "produce" consciousness. Yes, changes to the
brain result in me(the soul) experiencing, and my desires cause the
brain to send signals to certain parts of the body. So there's an
obvious interconnection, which is the topic of much debate in
philosophy, but don't brush aside the concept of consciousness as a
substance without sufficient analysis

> 
> Even pavan03 should be able to see that this is silly.

What's silly is that you're not able to grasp the concept of things
existing that are neither composed of matter nor energy.  The problem
is quite obvious. Let's say that I'm made of either. Well, such forms
of energy are found in nature--are they self-conscious? Or if I'm made
of matter, then after death, since all the matter in my body is right
there, can I say that I'm right there.
Yes the brain stopped functioning, but it stopped because that life
force is no longer there. If I'm not in this body any more, why should
it continue to function?  Yeah, this requires viewing the brain as
dependent on the soul, rather than viewing consciousness as a
byproduct of the brain.



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