The Naked dialogue w/ joscha bach & sanjana singh

Following is an intellectually stimulating conversation I had with the brilliant Joscha Bach!

On Spotify-

On Apple Podcasts-

On Anchor-

-Sanjana Singh//22.03.2021

On Cartesian Dualism, Qualia & Searle’s Chinese Room Thought Experiment

Consciousness of Shock, Victor Brauner (April, 1951)

I. Cartesian dualism entails that the body is essentially material made of matter, whose essence is extension and the mind as a non-material substance whose essence is thinking. This thinking component is non-spatial while matter occupies space and hence, body is spatial in essence. Human minds are the only substance in the physical natural world which are not mechanical and materialist wherein human beings constitute of a conscious-mind and a non-conscious physical body whose interaction pose a mind-body dualist problem to consciousness. Hence, the human mind constituters of mental parts imagination, sensations and feelings whereas the non-conscious components of the brain as part of the body constitutes of the neural networks that aid the processing of external stimuli in the brain. Therefore, it’s the difference between these characteristics that pose the very mind-body problem within certain dualist theories. 

II. Hypnagogic transcendental states of consciousness produces subtle to intense visual, auditory and even synesthetic hallucinations in human consciousness. Dualist theories have always expanded on the split between the body and soul i.e., in this case, the act of sensing vs the act of perceiving or hallucinations and delusions vs truth and reality. The dualist theoreticians have located persona i.e., our personal conscious identity within the ‘continuous mind’ as opposed to the ‘fleeting body’. Descartes’ rationale towards melancholia entails a correlation between the outer sensorial world and inner thought, and although hypnagogic mental imageries doesn’t necessarily favor objects seen with eyes, it dictates a complete disintegration between the mind and the body as the dualism persists (Meditations on First Philosophy). 

III. Qualia is the subjective conscious experience that constitutes elements of sensibility and emotivity i.e., sensible and aesthetic conscious presentations. Most reductionist materialists would reject the very existence of qualia, even though it’s merely another name for non-conceptualized experience, at least standardly (CI Lewis). Being a subjective conscious experience, qualia are only a part of consciousness as a whole i.e., qualia reside within the broader compounds of consciousness, and hence, is irreducible to physicality or materialism. Physical or materialist properties cannot be equated with a mentality, and hence it would be an unintelligible categorical mistake on the part of western scientific and analytical traditions to non-functional terms. Reductionist physicalism, however, poses a broader problem wherein the subjective aspect of the mind cannot be categorized within the objective methods of reductionist science. It would pose another hard problem for consciousness if physical theories of mind are framed without speculating the general problems of subjectivity and objectivity (Nagel). 

IV. Gilbert Ryle’s argument, famously known as “the myth of the ghost in the machine” poses a behaviorist view of the concept of mind and thus critiques Descartes’ bifurcation of a person’s life into two separate careers i.e., external and internal. His argument against this metaphor rests upon the theoretical struggles between the influence of mind and body which further pose categorical mistakes due to positing both mind and body within the same logical category. Therefore, Ryle argues that the cartesian dogma presents mind and matter’s polar opposition and rejects this dualism by establishing that physical processes may not necessarily be determined by mental acts. 

V.  Searle’s Chinese Room thought experiment concludes that programming a digital computer may make it appear to understand the language but doesn’t produce any real understanding, hence, the Turing test is inadequate. Therefore, as the whole argument depends upon strong appeals towards intuition, it only follows that the Chinese room follows a purely Syntactic i.e., symbol manipulation process as opposed to a Semantic i.e, that of an understanding one. Thus, the Chinese room argument is unconvincing to those who don’t share Searle’s intuitions as it counts be solely accepted on Searle’s expertise, due to other philosophers disagreement. However, it is true that humans follow semantic processes.

-Sanjana Singh//05.02.2021

The Sole Principle towards The Art of True Sentience

The first and only principle, the Principle of Elimination of Assumptions, is the basic principle to the art of true sentience which further allows the true nature of investigations of the things within the compounds of any spatial reality that runs with time. Now, this is a hard one to stick to, because, ‘we’re born in a society’. This principle is hard to establish, because of the years of devotion or conformation into the constructs of society. But when harnessed, it is the first and the only basic step towards the art of true investigation into the nature of everything. Think of it this way, think of existing independent of this present society, think of a soul born independent of the present constructs of society and culture.

Sure, you can identify differences in gender, color; differences between different planta or anima; but would one be able to assume things like sexuality (heterosexuality; homosexuality; bisexuality; asexuality; etc). The answer is not complex, as when it comes to reproduction one can conceive the notion of a true ‘sexuality’; but again, investigating the nature of ‘love’ and ‘sexuality’ as compared to ‘reproduction’; it is the very conceiving of the notion of a true ‘sexuality’ in relation to reproduction that halts the phenomenology of the true nature of love or sexuality. Hence, following the same chain of thought, one can realize the free will that comes with the conflict of these two elements.

Now, think of color. The name of the color or the description exists purely because of the constructs of the present society. Black can be white, white can be orange, orange can be blue- it’s all about how you perceive or identify or label color and it’s constituents. And again, with this chain of thought, black can be dark or bad or light or good; depends on your perception and your free will when it comes to conforming to certain ideas or constructs. Here, think of black or white or orange as nothing other than a distinction, attach no other meaning to it because rationally, it doesn’t exist.

This can be applied to any present societal concepts like nationality, race, religion, etc.

The first and foremost principle i.e., The Principle of Elimination of Assumptions, hence, requires you to see the sentient as sentience i.e., as seeing another human as just another existing being. Regardless of all the proposed notions of this reality or the reality that is the result of a history of a construct.

A pure interaction with another sentience, hence, becomes pure when one is able to eliminate the current perceptions given to us by society.

As soon as a person assumes a thing, be it anything, the truest and purest doors of perception are closed. If one wants to transcend with another sentience in terms of interaction, without the elimination of assumptions, the pure interaction itself would cease to exist, and hence transcendence in terms of emotions would again just be a result of a construct, and therefore, false by nature.

Ideas are evolutionary, life is a process and within this process, change is constant. And for this change to be possible in the freest and the purest manner, one has to get rid of the assumptions of the society – a principle one can acknowledge, but hardly ever tries to truly accept, only because of mere ignorance.

Hence, just like to understand the ‘higher knowledge’ of a certain subject, one needs to fully grasp the basics of that subject, to fully experience sentience within any realm of possible realities, one has to eliminate the primary notions of the deemed society first. 

That’s the only first step towards the free conscious or even unconscious self.