I have spent several hours reading over the book discussions on SWIF. I see little progress over previous discussions besides the dubious distinction of their being more convoluted and jargon laden.
There remain two sides to the debate: materialist and non-materialist. Both sides agree that our experiential intuition strongly favors the non-materialists. This fact forces the materialists to take the offensive, but there are only a very limited number of logical moves open to the materialists.
- dwell on the allegation that non-materialism subverts the scientific enterprise
- rationalize or deconstruct the counter-intuitive nature of materialism
- construct a theoretically plausible physical model for the mind
Let's take the last item first. No such model existed until Alan Turing proposed the concept of a universal computing machine in 1936. The possibility of Artificial Intelligence has been with us ever since. The mind-body debate closely parallels the debate on natural vs. artificial intelligence. The hypothesis that there is no fundamental distinction is labeled 'Strong AI'.
Despite occasional reversals of fortune, the lay advocates of Strong AI remain active, many of them under the banner of Transhumanism. There are many gradations of transhumanism, up to and including aspects of theism, eschatology and immortality. Needless to say, the philosophical or academic materialists do not engage in such speculation.
In this current discussion, two models of the mind are considered: representationalist and functionalist.
I have spent some hours lost in the discussions of representationalism, while not able to grasp the relevance to the mind-body debate. However, I have just come across Naturalism Without Representationalism by Huw Price. By page five he seems on the verge of addressing the larger issues.
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