Mind Matters Reporting on Natural and Artificial Intelligence

CategoryPhilosophy of Mind

Photo by Josh Marshall

What Is the Difference Between “Soul” and “Spirit”?

Neurosurgeon Michael Egnor explains the subtle distinction between the meaning of the two, often confused, terms

Loosely speaking, the soul is the principle of life in a body and the spirit refers more to the immaterial aspects of the soul, which are the ability to reason and the ability to make decisions based on reason.

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How Can We Study Consciousness Scientifically?

Tam Hunt offers some ideas at Scientific American but his dismissal of objectivity is cause for concern. There is a better way.

Hunt is right that the scientific study of consciousness using merely third-person objective data is flawed—it is the idiotic flaw of behaviorism—but the notion that “objective” data needs scare quotes opens the door to a deconstruction of our knowledge of the natural world that is every bit as idiotic and dangerous as the crude materialist objectification of consciousness.

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The Mind’s Reality Is Consistent with Neuroscience

A neglected “dualist” theory offers some insights

Neurosurgeon Michael Egnor thinks that the explanation of the relationship of the mind to the brain that best fits today’s neuroscience is that certain powers, particularly the intellect and will, are not generated by matter but are immaterial. However, other properties of the mind, like perception, memory and imagination are physical, generated by brain matter.

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A Philosopher Explains Why Thinking Matter Is Impossible

He’s right but Captain Kirk tumbled to it before him. So did a medieval poet

According to analytical philosopher Richard Johns, we cannot represent ourselves completely mathematically so we cannot generate fundamentally contradictory thoughts about ourselves. Some part of us lies beyond mathematics. An android would not be so lucky, as Captain Kirk realized in an early Star Trek episode.

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Why the Mind Cannot Just Emerge from the Brain

The mind cannot emerge from the brain if the two have no qualities in common

In his continuing discussion with Robert J. Marks, Michael Egnor argues that emergence of the mind from the brain is not possible because no properties of the mind have any overlap with the properties of brain. Thought and matter are not similar in any way. Matter has extension in space and mass; thoughts have no extension in space and no mass.

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AI(Artificial Intelligence) concept.

Why Eliminative Materialism Cannot Be a Good Theory of the Mind

Thinking that the mind is simply the brain, no more and no less, involves a hopeless contradiction

How can you have a proposition that the mind doesn’t exist? That means propositions don’t exist and that means, in turn, that you don’t have a proposition.

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Is Transhumanism Uncomfortably Tempting?

An ethicist asks us to stop and reflect

Jacob Schatzer identifies three issues in the essay, “The Allure of Transhumanism,” that might prompt some queasy recognitions in all of us, at times.

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man inside man

Kastrup: No, Consciousness CANNOT Be Just a Byproduct

Philosopher Bernardo Kastrup responds to biologist Jerry Coyne’s claim that consciousness could be a mere by-product of a useful evolved trait

In response to Biologist Jerry Coyne’s claim that consciousness is merely a byproduct of a useful evolved trait, computer engineer and philosopher Bernardo Kastrup points out that consciousness, which requires vast organized, underlying complexity, is one of the most difficult unsolved problems in science. It cannot be a mere accidental byproduct of something else.

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Spandrels within the interior arches of the Sagrada Familia

Did Consciousness Evolve?: A Darwinist Responds

Jerry Coyne argues that consciousness is a mere byproduct of useful traits that are naturally selected. But wait…

The critical problem that consciousness poses for Darwinian evolution is that there is no survival advantage for subjective first-person existence over objective third-person existence.

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Bernardo Kastrup: Consciousness cannot have evolved

How many joules of consciousness would make you a human instead of a chimpanzee? How many more joules of consciousness would make you a genius?

Computer scientist and philosopher Bernardo Kastrup argues that evolution deals with things that can be measured quantitatively but consciousness cannot be quantified. 

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Teaching Computers Common Sense Is Very Hard

Those fancy voice interfaces are little more than immense lookup tables guided by complex statistics

Researchers at the Allen Institute for Artificial Intelligence (AI2) published a paper recently, deflating claims of rapid progress toward giving computers common sense.

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Quantum Mechanics Shows That Our Universe Has Purpose

Not only can two physically separated particles influence each other, they can influence each other through time

Recent experiments in entanglement of particles in time as well as space show that our entire universe is imbued with final causality within its very fabric. This final causality must come from some source beyond the universe.

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Meat has no opinions

Why you can't actually deny free will

If we are just meat, as evolutionary biologist Jerry Coyne insists, we cannot have a true opinion of the matter. Meat is neither right nor wrong. To have an opinion about free will implies that we accept it.

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Could Information Be — at Long Last — the Missing Dark Matter?

Materialist thinkers may need to see information as material, whether that approach fits information or not

There is no evidence that information is dark matter or that consciousness is physical but materialists understandably long for evidence that would make their theory more viable.

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Will an AI Win a Nobel Prize for Science All by Itself One Day?

No, but Support Vector Machines (SVMs) can allow scientists to frame questions so that a comprehensible answer is more likely

AI can certainly help scientists. But to understand why AI can’t do science on its own, we should take a look at the NP-Hard Problem in computer science. The “Hard” is in the name of the problem for a reason… 

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Why Would Philosophers Deny That Consciousness Is Real?

Because, says computer scientist Bernardo Kastrup, the materialism they are committed to makes no sense and that’s the best they can do

A Dutch computer scientist and philosopher who has reflected deeply on the mind–matter problem finds himself asking, how can serious scientists or philosophers convince themselves that their own consciousness “doesn’t exist” or is a “mistaken construct”? What, exactly, is thinking the thought that their consciousness doesn’t exist? I want to understand what makes the consciousness of an intelligent human being deny its own existence with a straight face. For I find this denial extremely puzzling for both philosophical and psychological reasons. Don’t get me wrong, the motivation behind the denial is obvious enough: it is to tackle a vexing problem by magically wishing it out of existence. As a matter of fact, the ‘whoa-factor’ of this magic gets eliminativists and…

Photo by Bret Kavanaugh

Yes, Split Brains Are Weird, But Not the Way You Think

Scientists who dismiss consciousness and free will ignore the fact that the higher faculties of the mind cannot be split even by splitting the brain in half

Patients after split-brain surgery are not split people. They feel the same, act the same, and think the same, for all intents and purposes. Materialists like Jerry Coyne focus on subtle differences and distort the big picture.

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Scientific American Explores Panpsychism… Respectfully

This is a major change. At one time, a science mag would merely ridicule the idea of a conscious universe

Make no mistake, panpsychism—as Goff elucidates it—is a purely naturalist view (“nothing supernatural or spiritual”). But, unlike the village atheist, he goes on to ask, but then what is nature? Matter is all there is? But what is matter? It turns out, no one really knows.

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Futuristic Robot Arm Touches Human Hand in Humanity and Artificial Intelligence Unifying Gesture. Conscious Technology Meets Humanity. Concept Inspired by Michelangelo's Creation of Adam

Can Machines Be Given Consciousness?

A prominent researcher in consciousness studies offers reasons for doubt

Two theories of human consciousness are about to be tested in a historic contest. Integrated Information Theory (IIT) of consciousness and rival Global Workspace Theory (GWT) have sharply different implications for consciousness in machines.

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Man caressing a tame black fox

Tame Animals, Not Wild Ones, Are Mysterious

A recent discovery about tame foxes sheds some light but deepens the larger mystery

New research puts us back where we started. The foxes are tame. But why are they tame? Other foxes are decidedly not tame. Why is it so easy to “tame” dogs and cats but not wolves and bobcats? 

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