philosophy of mind

Mathew Guilfoyle guilfoylemr at cardiff.ac.uk
Thu Jan 3 10:32:32 EST 2002

On the issue of free will:

I really do not understand the difficulty of the problem that people
face in believing that our actions are deterministic i.e. within the
'laws of nature'.  We decide what to do in any situation based on the
integration of our current perception of the world and our reaction to
it, which is in turn caused by our lifetime experience of the world. 
Our desires, dreams, goals, hates etc.. are all 'encoded' in the
machinations of the brain thus our actions are goverend by our brain. 
What you are and I am is the totality of our desires etc..., there is
and need be nothing more.  Thus our actions are goverend by us because
that is all we are.

It would not feel like an outer force controlling us, all our actions
would be in perfect accordance with our desires and hence feel like we
originated them and indeed we did, but not in the strongest sense that
dualism proposes#

Some people try and cut this down by questioning how desires can be
'in the brain'.  How can intentionality be encoded?  Though
behaviourism had its flaws, it did reduce consciousness to its reality
- behavioural dispositions.  A more sophisticated notion might be that
of judgement.  If your mind makes the judgement that you hate
something then you will act accordingly and you will feel like you
hate it.

The same goes for qualia.  Imagine you were a philosophical zombie
with no qualia.  However you visual system did give you all the
information it had about the world for you to roam around frightening
people in safety. So you would know that there is a tree in front of
you and that its leaves are green and its bark has a texture, and
there is a bird in the tree.  Take this as far as you can, and in the
end you have qualia - knowing the world around you.  But nothing
special or mystical.  No representation to a soul - just judgements
and knowledege of the world

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