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Midterm

AHSS*1100 Study Guide - Midterm Guide: Double-Slit Experiment, Reductionism, Physicalism


Department
Psychology
Course Code
AHSS*1100
Professor
pathak
Study Guide
Midterm

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Plsp of the Mind
- awareness = consciousness and is what makes the mind body problem not easily resolved
(intractable)
- w/o it, the mind body would be less interesting + with consciousness it seems hopeless
Nagel's goals
- define consciousness ( = subjectivity )
- to argue against any reductive approach to it. reductionism: every mental concepts/phenomena can be explained by
physical concepts/phenomena;
ex. a reductionalist regarding math might take any given theory to be reducible to logic or
- reductionalist about cells might take them to be reducible to collections of physiochemical entities like atoms + molecules
Nagel's 4 claims on consciousness
1) C is what makes mind body problem not easily resolved
2) C exp a widespread phenomenon. It occurs at many lvls in animal life and now even at
subatomic lvl (double slit experiment)
3) Main Thesis: An organism has conscious mental states only if there is smth it is like to be that
organism (subjective character of exp)
4) Our own exp gives us basic material for imagination so the range is limited. ex: I only know
how to behave like a bat, and not how it would be like to actually be a bat.
Nagel's refutation of reductionism
- reductionism based on analysis of what is to be reduced + if the analysis leaves smth out,
problem will be falsely posed. It is useless to base defence of materialism on any analysis of
mental phenomena that fails to deal explicitly w/ their subjective character.
Physicalism aka Materialism
All aspects of human nature + perception can be explained from a neurobiological view so a
physicalist or materialist think that all mental phenomena can be reduced to physical phenomena.
problems: electrical vs lightening discharge
Nagel's first Arg: What it's like
1) if an org has conscious exp, there is smth it is like to be that org (x's having conscious exp = there is smth it is like
to be x)
2) subjective character of exp is what it is like to be that org
3) Any reductive analysis of the mental is logically compatible with absence of subjective
character of exp (you can study the neurobiology of a bat's exp w/o knowing what it's like to be a bat)
4) So, any reductive analysis of the mental would fail to capture the subjective
character of exp
Nagel's second Arg: subjective POV
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