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Re: Some Responses/Chalmers-Bart

Dec 14, 1999 07:51 AM
by Hazarapet

In a message dated 12/14/99 7:07:51 AM Central Standard Time, writes:

> Prof. David Chalmers, considered to be one of the top philosophers
>  in the world

Except he is a physicalist.  Consciousness, ultimately, is a
by-product of matter.  He is a unique kind of what is called
"token-identity functionalist physicalist" but he is still physicalist.
The type-identity physicalist, also called the reductive physicalist,
thought that minds states and brain states are two aspects of
the same _physical_ process.  So, for every _type_ of mental
event, there was a _type_ of physical event.  And all mental
events were really physical events.  Then computers came along.
Hilary Putnam realized that a computer's software could put
it in a computational state and that any two computers could
be in the same computational state or program state while being in
different hardware/physical states.  So, there was not a correspondence
between _types_ of computational states and _types_ of hardware states
even though every computational state is a electrical/physical hardware
realization.  This was token identity functionalism.  Every token of
a computational state is a physical state but there is no _type_
correspondence between _types_ of computational states and
_types_ of physical states.  They are, it is said, multi-realizable.
Similarly, people's brains (hardware) are wired slightly differently.
The idea behind token identity functionalism applied to mind was
mental events were like software.  The same software could
run on different kinds of hardware and each run would be slightly
physically different so there while mental events were physical
events (identity) there was no correspondence between _types_
of software states and _types_ of physical states.  Chalmers
is token-identity theorist.

Two points: first,the fact that I know about him and I'm a theosophist
(plus I'm physicist not enamored of 19th century physics) seems to
be a counter-example to your generalization, and second, the dominant
trend in contemporary Anglo-American philosophy is materialism,
which is what Chalmers is, and that would run counter to theosophical
interests.  So far as I know, there is only one contemporary philosopher
of mind, fully up on latest theories and cognitive science, who (as the
materialists admit) defends a dualist and idealist philosophy of mind
where mind is independent of matter and can survive death of brain.
He is Professor John Foster of Brasenose College (SP?) Oxford.
And I agree with your assessment of Ken Wilbur.  I saw him at a
book signing party at Shambhalla Bookstore in Berkeley.  He was
disappointed at the small turn out.  Actually, the problem was
there was no room.  Shambhallah is small shop and his ego
was very big.  There were hardly any room for others in place.


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