Other Minds

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Reply Tue 8 Dec, 2009 07:36 am
How do we know there are minds other than our own? This is not meant to be a skeptical question. I am assuming that we do know others have thoughts and feelings like our own. I am asking about reconstructing the argument for other minds.
 
Camerama
 
Reply Tue 8 Dec, 2009 09:20 am
@kennethamy,
Cerebral activity can be shown right?
 
kennethamy
 
Reply Tue 8 Dec, 2009 09:29 am
@Camerama,
Camerama;109227 wrote:
Cerebral activity can be shown right?


Yes. But how does that show there is a mind? What is the argument from cerebral activity to consciousness?
 
Emil
 
Reply Tue 8 Dec, 2009 09:42 am
@kennethamy,
By analogy with myself I suppose. I am human. I act in certain ways. I have a mind. There are other humans. They act in similar ways. Therefore, they have minds too.
 
kennethamy
 
Reply Tue 8 Dec, 2009 10:06 am
@Emil,
Emil;109237 wrote:
By analogy with myself I suppose. I am human. I act in certain ways. I have a mind. There are other humans. They act in similar ways. Therefore, they have minds too.


That analogy may cause me to believe there are other minds. But does it justify my belief that I know there are other minds? One objection has been that there is no way to check whether the conclusion of the argument is true.
 
Emil
 
Reply Tue 8 Dec, 2009 10:45 am
@kennethamy,
kennethamy;109241 wrote:
That analogy may cause me to believe there are other minds. But does it justify my belief that I know there are other minds? One objection has been that there is no way to check whether the conclusion of the argument is true.


What does it mean to have a mind anyway?

The other humans tell me that they have a mind. That gives additional reason.
 
kennethamy
 
Reply Tue 8 Dec, 2009 11:41 am
@Emil,
Emil;109253 wrote:
What does it mean to have a mind anyway?

The other humans tell me that they have a mind. That gives additional reason.


I just mean, to be conscious.

That they tell you they have a mind is really just something else they do. Which is part of your argument by analogy.

As I said, (or rather, as Hume argues) the objection is that arguments by analogy are sound only if it is possible to check the result. Differently put, we can argue from the observed to the observable, but not from the observed to the unobservable. So, we can argue that when we observe smoke, we can infer fire, because in the past, when we have observed smoke, we have been able to observe fire. But we cannot argue that when we see behavior of a certain kind, there is mind, because there is only one case (our own) when we have observed behavior, we have observed mind. The sample is too small. The fallacy of hasty generalization has been committed. (At least this seems to be Hume's argument. Or rather what Hume might argue). So, although it may very well be true that the analogy causes you to believe there are other minds, that does not mean it justified that there are other minds. Although it is legitimate to argue from the observed to the unobserved, Hume argues that it is illegitimate to argue from the observed to the unobservable.
 
Zetherin
 
Reply Tue 8 Dec, 2009 11:49 am
@kennethamy,
kennethamy wrote:

But we cannot argue that when we see behavior of a certain kind, there is mind, because there is only one case (our own) when we have observed behavior, we have observed mind.


But what else would cause behavior, if not mind? Couldn't we narrow down the possibilities, and make this generalization a lot less 'hasty'?

Just like we could consider all the possibilities for why smoke might arise.
 
kennethamy
 
Reply Tue 8 Dec, 2009 11:57 am
@Zetherin,
Zetherin;109272 wrote:
But what else would cause behavior, if not mind? Couldn't we narrow down the possibilities, and make this generalization a lot less 'hasty'?

Just like we could consider all the possibilities for why smoke might arise.


JFK once said, "where there is smoke, there is a smoke machine". Robots don't have minds.
 
Zetherin
 
Reply Tue 8 Dec, 2009 12:07 pm
@kennethamy,
kennethamy;109273 wrote:
JFK once said, "where there is smoke, there is a smoke machine". Robots don't have minds.


The only mind machine I know of is consciousness.
 
Reconstructo
 
Reply Tue 8 Dec, 2009 02:12 pm
@kennethamy,
To some degree, it's a leap of faith. I don't think its provable. But we both consider it quite justified, do we not?
 
kennethamy
 
Reply Tue 8 Dec, 2009 03:44 pm
@Zetherin,
Zetherin;109274 wrote:
The only mind machine I know of is consciousness.


If you read Karl Capek's play, "RUR" you will be reminded that it is possible for mind-like behavior to occur, and it not be at all sure that there is a mind that causes it. Then, of course, there is all the fuss about A1. (artificial minds). And then, the Zombie hypothesis. The issue is, of course, whether it is possible for something to act in every way like something that has a mind, and not have a mind. You might read about the Turing test, too.
 
Reconstructo
 
Reply Tue 8 Dec, 2009 03:47 pm
@kennethamy,
Rorty writes a slick chapter on this issue in the Mirror of Nature.
 
kennethamy
 
Reply Tue 8 Dec, 2009 03:48 pm
@Reconstructo,
Reconstructo;109325 wrote:
Rorty writes a slick chapter on this issue in the Mirror of Nature.


What did he argue (I mean write)?
 
Reconstructo
 
Reply Tue 8 Dec, 2009 03:53 pm
@kennethamy,
He writes a sort of sci-fi, you might say. He presents a being that manifests all sorts of behavior that could be construed as mind-caused but there is a skeptical being (like Satan in the book of Job?) that demands more conclusive proof. It's been awhile, but I remember enjoying it. Forgive the foggy description. I was more into other chapters of the book. I view the issue of Other Minds almost as art, because it's not really a live issue for me in a practical sense. Still, it's an exciting territory.
 
kennethamy
 
Reply Tue 8 Dec, 2009 04:02 pm
@Reconstructo,
Reconstructo;109327 wrote:
He writes a sort of sci-fi, you might say. He presents a being that manifests all sorts of behavior that could be construed as mind-caused but there is a skeptical being (like Satan in the book of Job?) that demands more conclusive proof. It's been awhile, but I remember enjoying it. Forgive the foggy description. I was more into other chapters of the book. I view the issue of Other Minds almost as art, because it's not really a live issue for me in a practical sense. Still, it's an exciting territory.


And, his conclusion is? Of course it is not an issue "in the practical sense", As Hume wrote about whether the external world, the issue is not whether we know whether there is one, but how we know there is one. So, Hume did not even think it was an issue in the theoretical sense.

"We must do away with all explanation, and description alone must take its place". Wittgenstein.
 
Reconstructo
 
Reply Tue 8 Dec, 2009 04:10 pm
@kennethamy,
I would say he dissolves the issue linguistically. What do we mean by minds, etc. He zooms in on the descriptions we use, looks at what they are good for.

I can't do it justice. It's been too long. You can find it on google books.

As you may know, he thinks we are beings that endlessly redescribe ourselves are our experience. He's very much a linguistic philosopher.
 
kennethamy
 
Reply Tue 8 Dec, 2009 06:23 pm
@Reconstructo,
Reconstructo;109332 wrote:
He's very much a linguistic philosopher.


He used to be when much younger, but not in his middle and later years. He is now dead.
 
Leonard
 
Reply Tue 8 Dec, 2009 06:30 pm
@kennethamy,
If only you had a mind, you would find no need to call it a 'mind'. Or attempt to define it.
 
validity
 
Reply Tue 8 Dec, 2009 06:33 pm
@kennethamy,
kennethamy;109273 wrote:
Robots don't have minds
The toolkit that you use to determine this would become less and less useful as the level of robot complexity goes up. If there is a toolkit sufficient enough to decide there is no mind then the toolkit must be capable of detecting a mind. If the toolkit can not detect a present mind, then how can you know that the result "there is no mind" is not "there is a mind but the toolkit has failed to find it". If there is a toolkit to detect a present mind then do you need to construct an argument? Can you not just rely on empirical fact?

Sorry I am not much help in reconstructing the argument for other minds as the arguements I am familiar with are weak. It is seemingly impossible to devise an objective appraisal of something that, as far as I know, is purely subjective.
 
 

 
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