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An Argument for the Existence of Mind and Intentional Consciousness

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Consciousness and mind are uniquely human attributes. They allow us to reason and act intentionally. But what establishes the claim that consciousness and mind exist if they are immaterial? I have a few arguments for the claim, and I will also add a semi-updated version of the argument I made against animal mentality. So I will combine the argument that humans possess a mind (that is, that the mind is real and has referents) with the argument that nonhuman animals lack propositional attitudes and so they lack language and intentional states, and so they lack minds like humans. So the conclusion will be guaranteed—minds exist and only humans are in possession of them. First I will provide the argument that the mind exists since the existence of consciousness implies the existence of a nonphysical entity. After defending the premises, I will then shift to the argument that the problem of mental causation isn’t a problem for dualism. Then I will argue that only humans have minds and, due to the nature of intentionality and normativity of psychological traits, nonhuman animals lack minds like humans since they lack the prerequisites that entail having a mind.

An argument for the existence of mind

P1: Consciousness is a real, undeniable phenomenon that cannot be fully explained by physical or material processes.
P2: If consciousness cannot be fully explained by physical or material processes, then it must be a nonphysical phenomenon.
C1: Thus consciousness is a nonphysical phenomenon.
P3: The existence of a nonphysical phenomenon requires the existence of a nonphysical entity that can support or generate such phenomena.
C2: So the existence of consciousness implies the existence of a nonphysical entity.
C3: This nonphysical entity is the mind, so the mind exists.

Call this the argument from consciousness. Consciousness is a subjective, first-personal experience that everyone has and which cannot be reduced to physical or material processes. It is an experiential fact that each and every one of us is aware of their experiences and their thoughts, feelings, and perceptions; these cannot be explained by material or physical brain processes, due to the explanatory gap argument.

Premise 1: Of course we can study NCCs (neural correlates of consciousness), and this is what neuroscience does, but that’s not the same as studying the mind. The actualization of mind is not the same as that of digestion; gastroenterologists can study the physiological process of digestion, but neuroscientists can’t study the mind, since the mind isn’t merely brain physiology or brain/CNS (central nervous system activity) activity.

Premise 2: We can study material and physical processes, like brain states/physiology/CNS, using scientific inquiry. But if consciousness cannot be fully explained by physical or material processes, then it must be explained by the existence of a nonphysical entity and this also suggests that consciousness is an irreducible, nonphysical phenomenon.

Conclusion 1 then logically follows from P1 and P2.

Premise 3: Like P2, if consciousness is a nonphysical phenomenon, then it must be explained by a nonphysical entity since physical accounts cannot fully account for consciousness.

Conclusion 2 then logically follows from P3 and P4, and then conclusion 3 then follows from C2. So the argument is established on the grounds that consciousness exists and cannot be explained by material or physical processes, and if something exists which cannot be explained by physical or material processes then this implies the existence of a nonphysical entity that can support or generate such consciousness, and this nonphysical entity is referred to as MIND.

The limitations of material and physical explanations entail that the mind isn’t a physical process or a function of physical processes. The Knowledge Argument concludes that everything can’t be explained by physical or material processes, which would then strengthen the overall argument for the existence of an immaterial substance that explains consciousness. So there is a knowledge gap between physical explanations and subjective, individual explanations, and this is what the Knowledge Argument gets at. (Morch’s explanatory knowledge argument against physicalism establishes that some facts are nonphysical, which establishes the existence MIND.)

If the mind is immaterial, then how does it interact with the physical brain?

This question has been said to be a knockdown argument against dualism. If M and P are two different substances, how can they be said to interact? How, then, can the mind cause things to happen in the physical world? This is known as the problem of mental causation. How can mental events have any causal efficacy on physical events?we then need to establish between event causation and intentional causation (Lowe, 2001, 2009).

Intentional causation is mental causation (fact causation), and bodily causation is physical causation. Mental causation doesn’t reduce to physical causation, and this is because mental causation is intentional whereas physical causation isn’t. We have voluntary control over our actions, and so, we can intend to do things. So in Lowe’s (2006, 2010, 2012) non-Cartesian substance dualism (NCSD), persons or selves are distinct from their physical bodies and parts of their physical bodies. NCSD can better explain mental causation than the alternative materialist/physicalist theories, and so it can’t explain the intentionality of mental causation. The self is not the body, mental states aren’t physical states/processes (nor are they reducible to physical states/processes). The intentional content of mental states explains their uniqueness in contrast to physical states and event causation (Lowe, 1999).

P1: If M events cause P events, then mental causation isn’t a problem for dualism.
P2: Mental events do cause physical events.
C: So mental causation isn’t a problem for dualism.

So this is based on Lowe’s distinction between event and agential causation. Agential causation means that an agent can cause events that mere physical event causation cannot and agential causation cannot be reduce to event causation. Agents aren’t events nor are they processes, al they are entities with powers that can enact causal chains. So mental events which are caused by agents can cause physical events sans violating any laws of nature, and this doesn’t require that mental events are identical to or reducible to physical events. Thus if mental events can cause physical events—which we have experiential and empirical evidence that they do—then the problem of mental causation does not pose a problem for dualism.

Premise 2 now needs defense. Mental events like thoughts, beliefs and desires can cause bodily movements. If you desire to go to the store and buy something, then your desires are directing your actions; the mental intention to move the body is then carried out. Also, experiencing pain (a mental event) can cause a reaction, which would then cause the avoidance of the source of the pain. Furthermore, we also deliberate on what to do, while considering different outcomes and options and then act based on our mental states at the time. Lastly, if mental events did not cause physical events, then we wouldn’t be able to hold people responsible for their intentional actions. So P2 is true and the conclusion then follows that mental causation isn’t a problem for dualism.

Then we have Krodel’s (2013) counterfactual argument for mental causation which can be formed like this:

If the mind were different, then the physical world would have been different, al M events cause P events in the world. Krodel (2013: 3) puts it like this:

My headache caused me to take an aspirin. This claim sounds as natural as any. A dualist too can make it. More importantly, a dualist can provide a rigorous argument for it. Nothing depends on the specifics of headaches and our reactions to them, so let m be some actually occurring mental event and b it’s actually occurring later behavioral effect (‘putative behavioral effect’, if you like, to quell any suspicion of begging the question). The argument has a complicated part with the conclusion that if m had not occurred, then b would not have occurred, and a simple part with the conclusion that m caused b. Let us start with the complicated part:

(1) If none of m’s physical bases had occurred, then b would not have occurred.
(∼∪P → ∼B)

(2) If m had not occurred, then none of m’s physical bases would have occurred.
(∼M → ∼∪P)

(3) If none of m’s physical bases had occurred, then m would not have occurred.
(∼∪P → ∼M)

———————
(4) If m had not occurred, then b would not have occurred.
(∼M → ∼B)

It can also be put like this:

P1: If a mental event didn’t occur, then a physical event wouldn’t have occurred.
P2: If a mental event didn’t occur, then a different physical event would have occurred.
C: So the mental event causally contributed to the physical event.

So mental events make the difference to the counterfactual dependence of the physical events on the mental causes. So the mental event is causally relevant to the instantiation of the physical event, even if the mental event isn’t causally necessary. So again, the problem of mental causation isn’t a problem for dualism.

The argument for the uniqueness of human intentional consciousness

This is going to be a long argument, so bear with me.

P1: Humans are capable of intentional action, which involves the use of reason and purpose to achieve goals.
P2: Intentional action requires a mental capacity to represent and reason about the world.
P3: This mental capacity is what we refer to as MIND.
C1: Thus, humans possess a mind. (modus ponens, P1, P2, P3)
P4: Humans have intentional consciousness which involves being aware of thoughts, beliefs, and desires along with the ability to form and pursue goals.
P5: Intentional consciousness requires the ability to represent and reason about mental states.
P6: The possession of a mind is necessary for intentional consciousness.
C2: So humans have intentional consciousness (modus ponens, P6, C1).
P7: To be able to think, an organism must have a full range of propositional attitudes like beliefs, desires, intentions, and knowledge.
P8: Having a full range of propositional attitudes rests on having language.
P9: Nonhuman animals lack language.
P10: Nonhuman animals lack a full range of propositional attitudes.
P11: Since a full range of propositional attitudes is necessary for thinking, then nonhuman animals can’t think.
C3: So nonhuman animals lack MIND. (modus tollens, P3, P10, P11)
P12: Nonhuman animals have phenomenal consciousness, that is, there is something it is like to be a certain animal.
P13: Phenomenal consciousness does not require the ability to represent and reason about mental states.
P14: Intentional consciousness is a higher level of consciousness that requires both phenomenal consciousness and the ability to reason about and represent mental states.
C4: Therefore, no nonhuman animal possesses intentional consciousness. (modus tollens, C2, P12, P14)

P1-P6 establish that humans possess a mind and intentional consciousness and that nonhuman animals lack intentional consciousness. P7-P11 build on this and introduce the ideas that in order to think, an organism needs to have a full range of propositional attitudes, and since a full range of propositional attitudes rests on having language, and nonhuman animals lack language, then nonhuman animals can’t think which then leads to the conclusion that nonhuman animals lack MIND because thinking is a necessary component of MIND. P12-P14 state the distinction between phenomenal and intentional consciousness, and show that nonhuman animals have phenomenal consciousness but not intentional consciousness. Phenomenal consciousness does not require the ability to represent and reason about mental states, which is necessary for intentional consciousness.

So, minds exist and humans have them, humans have intentional consciousness (since humans can reason to achieve goals), nonhuman animals lack mind (since they lack language and therefore propositional attitudes) and nonhuman animals lack intentional consciousness (since they have phenomenal consciousness and no nonhuman animal can have intentional consciousness).

Conclusion

I have argued that humans have consciousness and that consciousness isn’t reducible to physical or material processes. Consciousness is a nonphysical phenomenon and since it is nonphysical, then only an immaterial, nonphysical thing can support or generate nonphysical consciousness and this immaterial thing is the mind. Mental causation isn’t a problem for dualism, since mental events can and do cause physical events. Krodel’s counterfactual argument for mental causation was provided to help establish the claim. Lastly, I argued that humans are capable of intentional action and so they possess minds, while arguing that humans have intentional consciousness nonhuman animals lack mind and so nonhuman animals lack intentional consciousness. This is due to the fact that nonhuman animals lack language and so they lack propositional attitudes and therefore intentional states.

So the ultimate conclusion here is that humans are special, a part of our constitution is nonphysical and irreducible (MIND), and so nonhuman animals don’t share MIND since they lack language and propositional attitudes, so they lack intentional consciousness.

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17 Comments

  1. Some minds can hold more propositional attitudes than other minds.

    These minds have more causal power to effect the world by having a higher amount of thinking capacity.

    Like

    • RaceRealist says:

      Sounds like nonsense.

      Like

    • Lurker says:

      Why the hell would it be nonsense? It is clearly true. For example, when you are asleep you have almost no propositional attitudes, when you are groggy you have more, and when you are wide awake you have a lot.

      You just won’t admit that measurable intelligence differences CLEARLY exist. Sad.

      Like

    • RaceRealist says:

      “measurable intelligence differences CLEARLY exist.”

      That’s nonsense too.

      The claim is nonsense because thoughts are propositional attitudes and people have numerous PAs throughout the day. So of course the implication is that those who have more PAs are more “intelligent” to you IQ-ists. That’s the implication that I said is nonsense.

      Like

    • rr does not know what intelligence is so he says that PAs are all that humans are capable of which is not that we can achieve them but that we want things and intelligence is not about achieving goals better or worse that other people.

      Like

    • Lurker says:

      We’re literally giving you an “object of measurement” and a unit of measurement for intelligence (not that we haven’t before) and you keep just saying “DURR UR A RACIST IQist!!!”

      Retard.

      Like

    • RaceRealist says:

      Yea that’s nonsense. What’s the specified measured object? Again, psychological traits are immaterial and you’ve told me before that you don’t know the measurement unit. Number of PAs isn’t an “object of measurement”, and certainly isn’t a measurement unit. It’s nonsense to say that it’s an “object of measurement” and “measurement unit.” People have numerous PAs throughout the day, PAs are a kind of thought and thoughts are immaterial (not physical), so PAs (thoughts) are immeasurable too. Of course, Ross’ immaterial aspects of thought plays a role here too.

      Like

    • @Lurker

      PA = I want this – This is that – I see this – What if this

      intelligence = given this, achieve that

      translation: combine intelligence with PAs = people can do more than others.

      Like

    • RaceRealist says:

      Yea this doesn’t address what I wrote in my previous comment. What’s the theory and definition of “intelligence”? What’s the specified measured object, object of measurement and measurement unit for IQ? How can something immaterial be measured?

      Like

    • @rr

      no measurement object = intelligence does not exist?

      Like

    • Lurker says:

      “Number of PAs isn’t an “object of measurement”, and certainly isn’t a measurement unit. It’s nonsense to say that it’s an “object of measurement” and “measurement unit.” People have numerous PAs throughout the day, PAs are a kind of thought and thoughts are immaterial (not physical), so PAs (thoughts) are immeasurable too. Of course, Ross’ immaterial aspects of thought plays a role here too.”

      If you don’t like using PAs, I’ve already given examples of the number of meaningful distinctions a mind either holds subconsciously or consciously as a measure of brain power.

      The fact that one can hold more PAs than someone else, even conceivably, shows that meaningful and useful intelligence differences could exist. And they obviously do, if you actually pay attention to people in the world who seem to be capable of vastly different things intellectually.

      You’re stating that because PAs are not tangible, they cannot be compared or measured. That is your false belief, as there is no law of the universe that states this…

      because it wouldn’t make sense, since physical things are not actually tangible except to other physical things in the first place, meaning they are also relative. And mental intentions, feelings, thoughts, concepts, etc. are all tangible to the mind. So they can be compared to other mental things.

      Fundamentally, reality is made of actualized properties, and properties are just information, which is what the mind also works with. That’s why they can actually work together (unlike with your dualism which offers no reason why mind can actually correspond with and affect matter and vice versa). Information and intentions are fundamental aspects of both the physical and mental universe.

      Saying a mental property is not measurable because it is “immaterial” would be like saying physical properties are not observable because they are “material”. If measurability depends on the material universe, then observability depends on the immaterial mind, and you are at an impasse.

      If I can say X has more distinctions/information in their mind than Y, that is a meaningful difference in intelligence, that is relatively measurable. Just like Hit Points in a RPG are not tangible and don’t represent anything specific in the physical world, but can be compared numerically, so could intelligence.

      “How can something immaterial be measured?”

      Uh, how about relative to other immaterial things? You know, how we measure material things relative to other material things?

      Material measurements are only “absolute” because they are consistent with other material measurements among many observers. So the idea that material measurements are absolute DEPENDS on mental observations being absolute and consistent, and so comparable and MEASURABLE. Saying “the physical world would exist even without humans” does not refute the fact that the only way anyone has ever measured the physical world is through the mind. Therefore, it is up to you to show that the mind has no measurable components, because all the properties that make the physical measurable are properties of the mind.
      Thoughts are observable (by the mind),
      quantifiable,
      repeatable,
      standardized (you can choose what specific aspect is the standard unit, like PAs/information/distinctions/etc.),
      and reliable (since we literally rely on them to interact with the physical world).

      We know the mind consists of information and the framework that interprets/accepts/processes that information (which is information itself), and since everything in reality, mental or physical, is literally defined by information, including length, mass, energy, etc. there is no reason the mind would not be measurable. The mind/subjective being malleable or self-defined is a cop-out that doesn’t work when we can compare to other minds that have the same potential but taken further along some parameter (which is literally how we measure things, by taking “all else being equal” and comparing one parameter that differs).

      Like

    • RaceRealist says:

      If you’re saying that a psychological trait is measured, then you need a specified measured object, object of measurement and measurement unit. End of story. There doesn’t need to be a “law of the universe” which states this.

      “unlike with your dualism which offers no reason why mind can actually correspond with and affect matter”

      The problem of mental causation isn’t a problem for dualism at all.

      An Argument for the Existence of Mind and Intentional Consciousness

      “If measurability depends on the material universe, then observability depends on the immaterial mind”

      Observability is dependent on the physical properties of the universe while measurability is a property of physical phenomena.

      “how about relative to other immaterial things? You know, how we measure material things relative to other material things?”

      Except material things are in space, have a specified measured object, object of measurement and measurement unit. Again, this isn’t a thing for immaterial substances like psychological traits (the Berka-Nash measurement objection).

      The mind has no measurable components because it is immaterial. What is immaterial is immeasurable.

      (1) Measurement requires a physical or empirical process.
      (2) Immaterial things aren’t physical or empirical.
      (3) So immaterial things cannot be measured.

      “Thoughts are observable”

      Thoughts are immaterial, per Ross’ immaterial aspects of thought, thoughts can’t be a physical process or function of physical processes.

      AK,

      No measurement object means that the claim “X is measurable” is false. Nevermind the fact that there needs to be a measurement unit, and even Richard Haier admitted a few times that there is no measurement unit for IQ like there is for weight and height. The argument that “intelligence” doesn’t exist is here.

      Click to access Myth%20of%20Intelligence.pdf

      Like

    • You are a faggot, kill yourself. says:

      “If you’re saying that a psychological trait is measured, then you need a specified measured object, object of measurement and measurement unit. End of story. There doesn’t need to be a “law of the universe” which states this.”

      That’s not what I was referring to about law of the universe. Already gave an object of measurement. Learn how to read you moron.

      “The problem of mental causation isn’t a problem for dualism at all.”

      Yes it is you retard. There is nothing to link the mental with the physical, as they are two separate substances. Fucking moron.

      “If measurability depends on the material universe, then observability depends on the immaterial mind”

      “Observability is dependent on the physical properties of the universe”

      No you stupid faggot, it’s dependent on an observer and hence, a subjective lens.

      ” while measurability is a property of physical phenomena.”

      Citation needed.

      “Except material things are in space, have a specified measured object, object of measurement and measurement unit. ”

      And immaterial things are in the mind, you faggot.

      “Again, this isn’t a thing for immaterial substances like psychological traits (the Berka-Nash measurement objection).”

      Kill yourself.

      “The mind has no measurable components because it is immaterial. What is immaterial is immeasurable.

      (1) Measurement requires a physical or empirical process.
      (2) Immaterial things aren’t physical or empirical.
      (3) So immaterial things cannot be measured.”

      The mind can empirically measure itself, you fucking retard. Any measure depends on a MIND, you dipshit.

      “Thoughts are immaterial, per Ross’ immaterial aspects of thought, thoughts can’t be a physical process or function of physical processes.”

      Thoughts are NOT immaterial with respect to the mind, you low IQ race cuck.

      Now shut the fuck up and learn to think for yourself.

      Like

    • RaceRealist says:

      “Already gave an object of measurement”

      No you didn’t.

      “There is nothing to link the mental wkth the physical, as they are two separate substances”

      Krodel’s counterfactual argument for mental causation shows how MC isn’t a problem for dualism, along with the other argument I provided.

      “It’s dependent on an observer”

      Right, and if I measure a stick and give you the ruler and we come to the same measurement, then we are measuring the same thing. Remember that sticks have a specified measured object, object of measurement and measurement unit. Psychological traits don’t.

      Physical phenomena exist without our perceiving of them.

      The Argument from Causality and the Argument from Prediction for a Mind-Independent World

      “The mind can empirically measure itself”

      Sounds like nonsense.

      Thoughts ARE immaterial. What’s the response to Ross’ argument? 

      Like

    • rr just needs a straight white male gentile role model...like hitler. says:

      rr and lurker need to hookup.

      rr: but what about muh…BRAIN DUMP!?

      lurker: but what about MUH…BRAIN DUMP!?

      here’s a great movie about anal philosophy.

      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UQkZGpKy_mU

      Like

    • Lurker says:

      I apologize for my harsh language, not to RR, who often wastes time without actually thinking about my arguments, but mostly because I was pissed off for other reasons somewhat unrelated. It doesn’t really help people evaluate the arguments.

      Anyway, Mugabe, no one cares.

      “The mind can empirically measure itself”

      “Sounds like nonsense.”

      Why don’t you try actually THINKING about it instead of repeating yourself? It’s literally what we do all the time while comparing our own mental states with other mental states.

      “Thoughts ARE immaterial. What’s the response to Ross’ argument? ”

      Thoughts are NOT immaterial since they are made of mental substance, according to your own dualism. Why is a mental substance considered “immaterial” but a physical substance “material”? I don’t remember Ross’ argument because it is clearly false if it is dualistic.

      Again, physical things are simply properties. They have an “immaterial” or “subjective” aspect by definition. Yes what’s in our mind is not always what’s in the physical universe. It’s up to you to describe how that makes them a different substance, or incompatible with than the physical world. You’re simply naively asserting that mental phenomena are fundamentally different because you don’t know what it actually is, while forgetting no one knows what the physical world actually is.

      Like

    • RaceRealist says:

      “It’s literally what we do all the time while comparing our own mental states with other mental states”

      That’s not a measurement. What do you take “measurement” to be? How do you define it?

      “I don’t remember Ross’ argument”

      1) All formal thinking is incompossibly determinate
      2) No physical process or functions of physical processes are incompossibly determinate
      ∴Thoughts aren’t a physical or functional process; no physical process is formal thinking; therefore functionalism and physicalism are false

      And science can study properties and physical phenomena but not first-personal subjective states.

      Like

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