Philosophical realism

An object exists independent of our perception or conception of it. Michael Dummett is against this stance and calls it “colourless reductionism”.

Interestingly it is, in my opinion, precisely that reality is “colourless” that our minds colour it. It is the necessary part of our being conscious of our reality. And again, it is precisely because we erroneously supplement to the reality with minds that perhaps we need to reduce (remove) what was added to it.

The soul

On the soul. – today, the soul has lost its presence. Even if we are to accept it in some form it is as a metaphor or as a construct to further give us a purpose or meaning. We are undoubtedly purpose-seeking, meaning-making entities. And that is our characteristic. Our imagination is our greatest gift and our ultimate curse.

The mind

On the mind. – There is no metaphysics, that is, there is no mind. It “exists” insofar as a concept and as a process. It has no physical existence that can be found other than physical procedural evidence.

Space is an object

Just as light behaves like a wave and a particle, space “behaves” like an object. A position cannot be occupied by both space and an object, two objects, or two spaces at the same time. We infer space from objects. We cannot directly observe space. We can only ever infer its behaviour from things (objects).

What is a thought?

In this Radiolab podcast about Einstein’s brain is an interview with a neurologist named Sebastian Song (spelling?). He says forget about relativity we cannot even explain what a thought is. We can point to where a thought occurs in the brain but we cannot say how a thought is made there.

If a thought is a thing then something should remain and dissipate at death. But nothing “dissipates”. Only the process called thinking and life ends. The body remains without the process of thought, that is, when thinking ends we are no longer alive.

Type/token

A type is a word who’s general meaning is derived from its sum token usages. Types are similar to universals and innate ideas which seemingly have a stable unchanging meaning when in fact they are derived categorisations of concepts. This error in understanding has been the root of the problem with Western philosophy from the very beginning. The ground of contention is in thought which is grounded in language. The nature of meaning, form, thought, and communication has to clear in order to understand the problem at hand.

What Phineas Gage can tell us about what the self is

Today, we know a lot about the brain from case studies of brain damage of specific areas and the cognitive functions associated with these areas.

It was not all that long ago that we had no idea what the brain was. Although we must had some clue we were never completely sure. Damage to the eye would impair vision, to the ear, hearing, and so on. Lose an arm and you still function as cognitively. We must have guessed that the “seat” of thinking was in the head. Sometimes the mind has been placed in the heart. We knew the functions of these – the brain and the heart – were vital to life. Often they are confused.

The case of Phineas Gage [warning: gruesome details in link] was one of luck for neuroscience (but not for him). [warning: more gruesome details ahead] In 1848, he was injured in a railroad accident. An iron rod was driven through his prefrontal cortex by an explosion, causing him to severe social impairments. Since then thousands of case studies have been documented to pinpoint the functions of which were affected by the neurological damage. The point being, if we were not physical neurological beings, then the damage to the brain should be no different to damage to the arm, leg, or stomach – our personalities would not be affected.

But how we act and how we think of people ultimately comes down to their brain function. The personality, self, and soul ultimately resides in the brain as a product of the brain. To think that damage to the physical self would not cause neurological change would contradict the evidence. Nothing of the self exists after death, only our thoughts of those who have died remain as our thoughts of them as a self.