Philosophy Dictionary of Arguments

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Brain states: In philosophy, "brain state" refers to the specific configuration and activity of neurons and synapses at a given moment, corresponding to mental experiences and functions. See also Brain, Thinking, Consciousness, Experiences.
Annotation: The above characterizations of concepts are neither definitions nor exhausting presentations of problems related to them. Instead, they are intended to give a short introduction to the contributions below. – Lexicon of Arguments.

Author Concept Summary/Quotes Sources

Peter Bieri on Brain/Brain State - Dictionary of Arguments

I 65
Brain/Bieri: e.g. suppose there is a tour guide through our brain, who explains everything to us during a visit.
"It is a principle of nature that, when certain processes take place here, the human feels certain things".
Bieri: that is not our problem, we do not doubt that there are laws and necessities. What we do not understand is why they exist. We cannot see what makes it necessary in the brain for the human being to experience something.
The tour guide asks, what do you want to know? (a) why a particular happening here just brings about this experience, or (b) why there is an experience at all?
Bieri: the two questions are the same problem
I 69
Brain/consciousness/Bieri: our guide could give us a detailed circuit diagram of the brain. "Functional architecture". "They could also be realized with a different material". (Turing machine).
>Turing machine, >Consciousness, >Thinking, >Brain.
I 70
There is no more inner connection between the function and the quality of experience than between material structure and quality of experience.
Tour guide: "one must not look at the brain in isolation from the body"
Bieri: then one could say VsLeibniz:
1. the happening in the "factory" gets a cognitive content in that it is legally connected to events outside, which represents it by virtue of this connection
2. by the fact that the event in question assists the whole human being in a situation-appropriate behavior.
But: our problem is not meaning, not cognitive content, but experience content!
I 71
Brain/Consciousness/Experience/Bieri: cannot we be satisfied with what we have: covariance, dependency, determination?
>Covariance, >Dependence, >Determinism.
No, if we do not reach the questionable understanding, then we do not understand how our experience can be causally effective in our behavior, so we do not understand our own subject-being.
>Understanding, >Causal explanation, >Subjectivity, >Subjects.
The physiological process is causally complete. There is no place in the clockwork where episodes of experience would be necessary for it to continue.
That is, there is a complete causal explanation for everything that takes place in our brain, in which we as subjects and humans do not occur at all!
Therefore, consciousness seems to be of no importance to any causation. It could just as well be missing, and we would stumble through the world just as we do.
((s) We need to recognize the consciousness on something else).
Our whole behavior could be alienated. This cannot be excluded because of the causal completeness.
I 72
Causation/Bieri: If we build it purely physiologically, we know how to continue it, that is, always becoming smaller.
This is not possible, however, when the explanation begins with an experience. Then we have to change somewhere on the physiological level. But then we have changed the subject!
I 74
Brain/Bieri: the problem is not that we do not see something in the "factory". From this one could conclude that it is caused by something else ...
Vs: but nothing else is conceivable! But that is precisely the hypothesis that we cannot think otherwise. We cannot disprove this hypothesis.
But it would sound adventurous that the facts which are relevant for the experience have nothing to do with the facts which are otherwise relevant for the functioning of the brain.
We have considered:
Causal understanding,
Structural understanding,
Functional understanding,
Understanding the whole from parts.
>Understanding, >Function, >Structure, >Parts, >Causality, >Causal explanation.

Explanation of symbols: Roman numerals indicate the source, arabic numerals indicate the page number. The corresponding books are indicated on the right hand side. ((s)…): Comment by the sender of the contribution. Translations: Dictionary of Arguments
The note [Concept/Author], [Author1]Vs[Author2] or [Author]Vs[term] resp. "problem:"/"solution:", "old:"/"new:" and "thesis:" is an addition from the Dictionary of Arguments. If a German edition is specified, the page numbers refer to this edition.

Bieri I
Peter Bieri
Was macht Bewusstsein zu einem Rätsel?
Bewusstein, Thomas Metzinger, Paderborn/München/Wien/Zürich 1996

Bieri III
P. Bieri
Analytische Philosophie des Geistes Weinheim 2007

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Ed. Martin Schulz, access date 2024-02-27
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