PHI101_71013_Lecture11_Oct06

PHI101_71013_Lecture11_Oct06 - Thomas Nagel: What is it...

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Unformatted text preview: Thomas Nagel: What is it like to be a bat? October 6, 2009 Nagel: consciousness is overlooked in the materialist explanations of the mind. But what is consciousness? Human weakness of explaining the incomprehensible in terms of the familiar, the well-understood water H 2 O Lightning electrical discharge Genes strands of DNA Each of these models is unsatisfactory for explaining the mind-brainrelation. Without consciousness the mind-body problem would be much less interesting. With consciousness it seems hopeless. (329) Is the most important and characteristic feature of conscious mental phenomena poorly understood? How widespread of a phenomenon is conscious experience? How would one determine this? Fundamentally, an organism has conscious mental states if and only if there is something that it is like to be that organism something it is like for the organism (330) Conscious mental states (CMS) =df. something it is like for the organism to be that organism. Not captured by any of the reductive analysis of the mental why not? Not analyzable in terms of any functional states why not? Claim: it is not that CMS cannot be analyzed in terms of their functions just that this analysis is not exhaustive. Requirement for materialist/physicalist theories: need a physical account of the phenomenological features of experience. Other models of reduction will not help here why not? Consider: lightning electrical discharge. The phenomenal features (what lightning looks like, what is it to experience lightning) are explained as effects on the minds of human observers. Why does it seems impossible to give an objective account of the phenomenological features of experience? Every subjective phenomenon is essentially connected with a single point of view. An objective, physical theory seems to abandon this point. Why bats? Bats have experience Thus, bats have a subjective point of view There is something it is like to be a bat Bats as alien life form (echolocation) Is there anything in our experience we can use to extrapolate to the inner life of bats? Our range of possible experiences (which is the source of our imagination) is limited.the source of our imagination) is limited....
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PHI101_71013_Lecture11_Oct06 - Thomas Nagel: What is it...

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