Re: Irreducibility of subjectivity (was Re: Levels of explanation (was Re: Determinism))

Date: Thu Apr 26 2001 - 01:16:25 BST

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    Subject: Re: Irreducibility of subjectivity (was Re: Levels of explanation (was Re: Determinism))
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    On 25 Apr 2001, at 20:22, Robin Faichney wrote:

    > On Tue, Apr 24, 2001 at 09:43:48AM -0400, Wade T.Smith wrote:
    > > On 04/24/01 08:50, Robin Faichney said this-
    > >
    > > >In fact, some people will insist that to suggest that subjectivity
    > > >is irreducible is mysticism. I say they are wrong.
    > >
    > > That does appear to be the main stumble/hurdle/disagreement between
    > > you two worthy adversaries,
    > That's funny. I think it's by far the most important point we agree
    > on.
    > > but, I must admit I'm not quite to the point of
    > > understanding it, so, humor me.
    > >
    > > Here, from the dictionary, 'subjectivity' -
    > >
    > > 1.a. Proceeding from or taking place within a person's mind such as
    > > to be unaffected by the external world. b. Particular to a given
    > > person; personal. 2. Moodily introspective. 3. Existing only in the
    > > mind; illusory. 4. Psychology. Existing only within the
    > > experiencer's mind.
    > >
    > > - there is what looks like an obsolete meaning at #8 -
    > >
    > > 8. Relating to the real nature of something; essential.
    > >
    > > - that I think we are all ignoring.
    > I think we should go on ignoring it.
    > > I think, and hope, that you two are speaking about #3, and its
    > > extension at #4.
    > Nope. The mind/real world dichotomy is a false one. We only know the
    > world through the mind. Which is not to say it doesn't "really" exist
    > -- just that mind/world does not map onto appearance/reality. Your
    > dictionary, probably like most or all others, follows common thinking
    > and is wrong. "Subjective" means "associated with the subject", and
    > (properly understood) has no implications as to false/real etc.
    > Objectivity is built up out of many subjective impressions, and
    > nothing else but subjective impressions. An individual impression
    > might be misleading, but then so might the result of a scientific
    > study. And in our personal lives, subjectivity is not only
    > unavoidable, but very highly desirable -- without it, there would be
    > no desires, much less their fullfilment.
    Actually, our perception of reality would have to bear a part/whole
    relation to the reality we are perceiving, for it to have evolved and
    been selected. Those who saw tigers that were not there, or
    missed tigers that were, simply didn't survive to reproduce, and as
    Leakey has maintained, the history of the evolution of life on this
    planet has been the history of the evolution of the capacity to more
    precisely and inclusively act upon our environment, which required
    the evolution of the capacity to more precisely and inclusively
    represent it as well. Whatever the thing-in-itself might be as a
    whole, it has to be such that it noncontradictorally includes the
    thing-for-us as a component or aspect. Our perception of our lived
    world is forever incomplete, as any empirically perceived object is
    phenomenologically inexhaustible, but it is not incorrect.
    > > Robin thus says that the emergent phenomenon we call self (the
    > > engine of subjectivity) is irreducible,
    > No way, Jose. Subjectivity is irreducible. "Self" equivocates so
    > that little if anything unqualified can be said about it.
    It can be said that self is dynamic, recursive, intentional, and
    perceptually, volitionally, conceptually and symbolically capable. It
    desires, values, chooses and judges.
    > > and Joe says, from what I can figure out,
    > > quite the same thing, in that the activity of 'mind' that has as its
    > > vantage an 'I' (the engine of subjectivity) is not possible without
    > > the complex of brain and body and experience that evolution has
    > > created for it.
    > Joe can speak for himself, but I'm struggling to see how these are
    > "the same thing".
    A being necessary (but not sufficient) for B is not the same thing
    as A equalling B. The material substrate brain and its body, in the
    absence of environmental interaction, somatic, perceptual and
    social, is insufficient for the emergence of self.
    > > >From the little I know, we can minimalize this subjectivity
    > > >(constrain
    > > the experiences of the person, find animals that have rudimentary
    > > forms, study the serendipitous accident victims with injured brains
    > > and sensory systems, study the morphologically altered, etc.), or
    > > limit the response area (through experiments with sensory
    > > deprivation or limited stimuli) to discover patterns or models of
    > > behavior that we can apply to fully activited persons.
    > I'm having trouble understanding "minimalize this subjectivity". Of
    > course, in science, we try to maximise objectivity, but you seem to
    > mean something more.
    Check out the book MINDBLINDNESS, a study of autistics, for one
    example, and THE CONTEXT OF SELF, a phenomenological
    exploration using medicine as a clue, for another.
    > > And there are unethical ways to study these things as well.
    > >
    > > If the self is the motion of a mound of grains at the (topologically
    > > continuing) instant of its deconstructing, then, I for one, agree
    > > that, at one level, it is not possible to look at anything but the
    > > movement of this deconstruction, as the structure underneath must
    > > remain.
    > I think you might be taking the tipping point too literally. Joe has
    > been claiming it illustrates "top-down causation", but no one has
    > suggested that it's a useful model for the mind. And there's a *very*
    > big difference between deconstruction as in the collapse of a sand
    > pile, and deconstruction as in either conceptual analysis or
    > reductionism.
    Yeah; in the sand pile, the reductionism is both less obvious and
    more possible, due to differing complexities.
    > > I'm not sure, though, that studying things such as animals and
    > > damaged humans, is not a study of the reduction of this structure
    > > that could yield (and has yielded) data capable of being expanded.
    > > This seems to me to be the reason behind such studies, as they offer
    > > ethical means of defining this structure without intentional damage.
    > >
    > > So this engine of subjectivity will not run without all its
    > > cylinders, but, there are badly performing engines.
    > >
    > > I know that is not 'reducibility', but is it not _not_
    > > irreducibility?
    > Obviously, subjective phenomena can be studied (though not as
    > straightforwardly as can objective ones). But what is irreducible is,
    > for want of a better word, the "essence" of subjectivity. This is the
    > incontrovertable fact that I'm not just a zombie or a replicant,
    > typing blindly as neurons compute like the transistors on a silicon
    > chip, but a person who feels quite strongly about these issues, and
    > many others, who has an "inner life". It is absolutely impossible
    > that any discovery of science could take that away. It cannot,
    > logically, be delusion, because, as Joe says, without that "essential
    > I" there is nothing to be deluded.
    Yeah, either conscious self-awareness is self-evidently there or it
    > Actually, of course, it's not quite that simple, otherwise I wouldn't
    > have devoted a website and (bits of) 20 years of my life to trying to
    > understand this and closely related issues, and I wouldn't have said
    > things in the past that *seem* to contradict some of the things I just
    > said there. But basically, at least as a starting point for
    > discussion, I'm relatively happy with that paragraph as making the
    > case that subjectivity is irreducible.
    I will give you credit for having moved quite a deal over the time we
    have corresponded; you once insisted that the self itself was a
    delusion, until you realized the point you presented, that in the
    absence of a deludee, no delusion is possible. Now if you'll just
    meditate on the fact that Siddhartha messed up when he
    attempted to split the self into components, then claimed not to be
    able to find the self in any of them, like demolishing a wall and
    being unable to find it in any brick, perhaps an enhanced
    understanding of the emergence of self from complex interrelations
    will result. And then again, perhaps not.
    > --
    > Robin Faichney
    > Get your Meta-Information from
    > (CAUTION: contains philosophy, may cause heads to spin)
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