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I can see how private language does not make sense in Wittgensteins eyes, in that a language in its true sense cannot be with one person, but I don’t see how this is relevant to mind/body dualism? I see lots of people saying that a ‘language’ that is ‘private’ suggests mind/body dualism is not real, but all I see is the feeling of senses cannot be described in a (soliloquised, for lack of a better word ‘language’) doesn’t mean anything except a private language is not possible. Note: I’ve never asked a philosophical question online before, and I’ve also had a couple of beers as England have just got to the QFs of the World Cup so if this makes no sense I will try to reword!

You should study Wittgenstein's arguments against a private language more closely, because I don't think that his view is quite that language "cannot be with one person", although that is really a wonderful way of putting it. It seems to suggest merely the view that the nature of language is that of a interpersonal communication, which is a bit uninteresting, and yet your phrasing is profoundly interesting. I also didn't quite follow why thinking that there can be a private language goes against psychophysical dualism. Surely it's the other way round. Descartes, for example, has to think he can give sense to his words privately, because he can intelligibly doubt the existence of everyone else. And Wittgenstein himself has been thought to be a behaviourist, or closer to behaviourism than to psychophysical dualism. I am very sorry about Croatia too. I imagine you had some more beers. I did.

I have a mother with alzheimer dementia in a very advanced stage and she is unconscious about anything is happening around her. I think she is alive phisically but not a conscious being, she acts by instincts, grabbing a piece of bread or crying when she needs something, like a baby or an animal. Cant talk, dont know who she is or anything... I cant stop asking myself wether she is "alive", alive here meaning as a conscious human being. If I was religious I would ask where did her soul go?? Is it still there? Is it only her body what is left? Is all mad people also "alive"under this terms? What about very young children (who hasnt developed self awareness yet)? What about people who lives in auto pilot all their life and never question ther existence? Actually when do we start being "alive" under this concept? "I think therefore I am" Sorry for the long lines, I hope I explained myself. Thank you in advance. Juan C.

It is very sad to hear your story. I can give a guess about the awfulness of what you are going through, but I am more certain that I cannot appreciate the full daily horror for you. Your question is a most reasonable one. Is your mother "alive"? It is interesting that you feel obliged to put this word in scare quotes. It is something that "you can't stop asking yourself". So there is something very important here, an important issue. But you have also answered your own question, or part of it. Let us distinguish between the mental and the physical. Is your mother alive physically? Her body is not dead, if we can put it that way. Is she alive "as a conscious being"? Here you give your own answer: ' . . . she is unconscious about anything [that] is happening around her.' I think perhaps you should say that she is conscious only of the most immediate and restricted domain. That perhaps is part of the reason the question is difficult. She is conscious, but not in a full sense. The whole difficulty about...

Don't many of us regard that "vision" is something like the headlights of a car, casting a beam of light on objects, originating inside the eye? Which is of course completely wrong and the truth is the opposite. Its fairly present in many cultures and even though it is just a mere figure of speech it feels wrong doesn't it?

Do the perceptual systems work from the environment in, or from the perceiver out? In English there are famously two very different groups of perceptual words, one active and one passive: look/see, listen/hear, touch/#feel, smell/smell (i.e. "smell" has two meanings, one for the activity of sniffing out - ('The dog was smelling my shoes'), and the other for a more passive kind of reception of some smell.) In his celebrated 1966 The Senses Considered as Perceptual Systems J.J. Gibson argued that the active seeking out of "information" is more fundamental than passive sensing, and his famous cookie-cutter experiment showed this. If you actively move your hands relative to the object of perception, the percentage of correct identifications is very high. If the stimuli are given to you passively, the percentage drops to under half of what it was. The senses have to be active, and without activity even the passive sensation degrades. This was also shown by some early phenomenological experiments by Katz on...

Hi, I'm a biology student who often uses biology as a framework for understanding thought. I've come to a really tough crossroads of thought. What differentiates cognitive biases from logical fallacies?

The difference between the cognitive biases and the logical fallacies is that the biases can be taken to be common built-in tendencies to error of individual judgements , whereas the fallacies, both formal and non-formal (so-called "informal", badly named because "informal" actually means "casual" or "unofficial" or "relaxed") are types of argument . The point is that the biases can be said to have causes, and are hence of psychological but not logical interest, whereas the fallacies do not have causes (though the making of a fallacy on a particular occasion may have) and the reverse is true. There is more to be said, of course, because a psychologist might take an interest in the fallacies.

Here is a question. Say I want to live forever and constantly move my brain from one body to another, so I never age. I also replace non functioning parts of my brain with new ones made with stem cells. Eventually after living for a long enough time my brain is no longer anything like the original except for its collective memories. Would that thing still be me? To take it a step further I create clones of myself and each of them has a small part of my originals brain. Would I still exist? Or I created a collective consciousness in which I am able to communicate to each of my clones and we are able to share our experiences in one big cloud. What does that even mean for me? Am I even the same person or something completely different? These problems have been really bugging me and I am just trying to see if anyone has any answer.

Often with questions that are composed of multiple further questions ("Here is a question", you write . . . - it's not - I count four question marks!) it helps to take just one, and deal with it carefully, before moving on to the next. Of course some of the sub-questions will generate further questions, but that simply means that some patience is required. For example, 'I move my brain from one body to another, so I never age.' Why does it follow that you never age? If you retain your memories (line 3) and add to them, then you are changing and aging, psychologically. So you must mean that you don't physically age. But the brain does age. And why is it that 'I never age' follows from 'I move my brain from one body to another'? That seems to assume that who you are is a matter of having the same brain. Is that right? And if it is, then if as you say 'after living for a long time my brain is no longer anything like the original' then you are not after all the same person, so the question goes away. A...

What is the ”I” who watches what the mind does? When reading about philosophy of mind, I encounter expressions like ”I (or we) think”, ”I percieve”, ”I remember”, ”I see red”, ”I feel pain” etc. Isn´t it the mind that performs these actions, not the "I"? What is this ”I”? Is it some separate compartment of the mind, identical to the mind, or outside the mind? Should we modify Descartes and say: ”The mind thinks, therefore it is”?

I'm not sure I'm getting your second question. Why should the I that says 'I feel pain' be the mind and not the I? Unlike Descartes, who thinks that both of these things are the same as consciousness, and as himself, not to mention his soul (Berkeley makes these equations too) I would prefer to reserve the words "mind" and "mental" to describe two things that are not me. (i) The intellect. We say, 'He has a good mind' and things like that. (2) The imagination. We say, 'It's all in your mind; you're just imagining it. Snap out of it.' The mind and the imagination are two different things, obviously. But neither of them is me. What is meant by "I" and "me" and so on? It certainly is not the same thing as "mind", and nor could my mind, in my two senses, be me. I have a healthy appetite, especially for Italian food, but the same is not true of my mind or imagination. I have just had lunch. But my mind and my imagination, poor things, never eat. So neither of them is me. They are things or whatever that I ...

Hi, I am working on a story which revolves around the idea of memory implantation. So, I am wondering: If Person A commits a crime, then they have the full memory and emotions of that crime erased from their mind and then that memory is placed into the mind of Person B so they believe they committed the crime (Even remembering the thoughts and feelings as they committed it) who is guilty of the crime? Kind Regards, Lee

It seems that you have answered your own question. You write, "If Person A commits a crime . . . who is guilty of the crime?" Person A, certainly, since you write on the supposition that "Person A commits a crime . . ." Of course A isn't legally guilty until he's found guilty by a court. But I think you mean, 'Who committed the crime?' That was A. Should A be tried? He is suffering some kind of memory loss, so there are issues of competence. On the whole, if I have forgotten about a crime I have committed, it doesn't seem enough to make me innocent. A faulty memory is hardly a good defence.

If we as professional and amateur philosophers are to accept psychology as a science (see question 5362 answered by Charles Taliaferro), then what does that make psychiatry? Even if a person fits all the criteria for having a mental disorder according to principles of psychology yet he refuses treatment, why should medical or pseudo-medical psychiatrists intervene so long as that individual decides to refuse to concur with the diagnoses or more importantly refuses to to acknowledge the treatment while accepting the diagnoses? Isn't psychiatry then just a mostly futile exercise in normative ethics to the whim of the patient?

I don't think much depends here on whether psychology or psychiatry is a science. What matters is whether they are doing good or not for patients. Supposing we think they are, a commonsense criterion seems to be that even if patients do not accept the diagnosis or the treatment, things change if they are contemplating harm to themselves or others, as the jargon has it. The jargon persists and is more than jargon because it has a real role; it is a criterion. A second criterion or perhaps test might be this. Can the patients get through the day or week to their own satisfaction, or look after themselves OK? If I have a friend who never gets up, doesn't bathe, won't look me in the eye, can't work and doesn't eat, and has gone down to eighty pounds, then I feel justified in intervening, because of this second criterion, over the stated wishes of the patient. Something is wrong, and I have an obligation, or some responsibility anyway, to help, especially if I am a psychiatrist. Most people in trouble do want...

Hi, I'll just share my experiences as below and would just like to ask what principle or theory that could possibly explain the phenomenon? And what term you call it? I'm a computer programmer. Sometimes there are program logic related problems that I was trying to solve for hours, and yet cannot figure out the answers. But when I ask a colleague regarding the problem, in an instant, even before my colleague answers my question, I was able to draw the answer from my mind. Then, I'm going to tell my colleague, "uhm, ok, I know already! Thanks". It always happen. Sometimes, just the presence of another person would help you to resolve your problem.

You have described a fascinating phenomenon that I think is remarkably common, though I don't agree that it always happens It certainly happens frequently in my experience. Perhaps we both have very bright colleagues whom we happen to know very well, and can anticipate what they will say! I am delighted to see "the phenomenon" so well described. However, in the form you present it, I think most philosophers and psychologists would say that the question you ask is a psychological one, not a philosophical one, and that no doubt it is amenable to empirical research. Still, it does prompt a philosophical thought or two. I am put in mind of Wittgenstein's observation that 'In philosophy it is not enough to learn in every case what is to be said about a subject, but also how one must speak about it. We are always having to begin by learning the method of tackling it.' Perhaps when you ask a colleague about your problem, you have to decide not just what to say but how to say it, and that is enough...

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