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[Xmca-l] Re: Fate, Luck and Chance

I have to go bed now, Martin, so xmca-ers will be relieved of my nagging voice for 8 hours or so, but ...

The point is: *how* do you study consciousness, which is, after all, the subject matter of psychology. History and atomic physics face the same problem. None of these sciences (or any science actually) have unmediated access to their subject matter. You would have heard the epigram that "physics is the science of meter readings". So, like any other science, psychology has to reconstruct the illusions which are its subject matter from knowledge of the objective processes which produce the illusions, unlike physics and history which aim to eliminate the illusions and rec9onstruct the objective processes.

Consciousness is an illusion, but I am not deluded in believing that I experience consciousness.

*Andy Blunden*

Martin John Packer wrote:
Yes, Andy, we're in agreement on the need to distinguish between what is appearance and what is reality. And on the proposal that science studies reality, in order to explain appearances. Where we appear to disagree is that in your interpretation, LSV claims that consciousness is an illusion. In my interpretation, consciousness is an objective process, and so can be studied scientifically. Surely the central argument of Crisis is that psychology should be the scientific study of consciousness, properly understood as a material process? If LSV had argued that consciousness is an illusion, he would not have suggested that we can study it, would he? Only that we could *explain* it by studying objective processes.

On Nov 26, 2014, at 9:47 AM, Andy Blunden <ablunden@mira.net> wrote:

Exactly! There is a difference between the objective processes (which can be studied by science) which produce, or as you say, yield the illusion and the illusion itself. That is the *whole* point. To deny this difference in the name of "embedded consciousness" or rejecting "some kind of mental process" as "mysterious" is to retreat into absurdities. We *do* indeed experience consciousness (i.e. mental processes), i.e., we experience illusions, but these illusions arise from objective, material processes which we can understand and study. But the illusion *in itself*, the product, cannot be studied scientifically. And for the same reason - that is, that the illusions arise from from objective material processes, they are *useful guides to those material processes* for the beings which enjoy those illusions and have to live by them.

Vygotsky calls them "phantoms". Do a search on "phantom" in that web page.


*Andy Blunden*

Huw Lloyd wrote:
It may not be clear to foreign readers.  When I read the english phrase, "one has only to apply the formula to see what is the matter", I understand it as "one has only to apply the formula in order to see what is wrong with it".

This seems quite consistent with LSV's follow on point about separating direct experience from knowledge.  In terms of studying consciousness a useful distinction could be made between the system yielding consciousness at any given time and the experience of consciousness itself.  (Note that I don't consider these to be distinct things, but rather distinct foci).


On 26 November 2014 at 14:13, Andy Blunden <ablunden@mira.net <mailto:ablunden@mira.net>> wrote:

   In physics we try to eliminate the subjective factor from what we
   perceive as an object. In psychology, when we study perception it
   is again required to separate perception as such, as it is, from
   how it seems to me. Who will study what has been eliminated both
   times, this /*appearance*/?

   But the problem of appearance is an apparent problem. After all,
   in science we want to learn about the /*real*/ and not the
   /*apparent*/ cause of appearance. This means that we must take the
   phenomena as they exist independently from me. The appearance
   itself is an /*illusion*/ (in Titchener’s basic example:
   Muller-Lyer’s lines are physically equal, psychologically one of
   them is longer). This is the difference between the viewpoints of
   physics and psychology. It /*does not exist in reality*/, but
   results from two non-coincidences of two really existing
   processes. If I would know the physical nature of the two lines
   and the objective laws of the eye, as they are in themselves, I
   would get the explanation of the appearance, of the illusion as a
   result. The study of the subjective factor in the knowledge of
   this illusion is a subject of logic and the historical theory of
   knowledge: just like being, the subjective is the result of two
   processes which are objective in themselves. The mind is not
   always a subject. In introspection it is split into object and
   subject. The question is whether in introspection phenomenon and
   being coincide. One has only to apply the epistemological formula
   of materialism, given by Lenin (a similar one can be found in
   Plekhanov) for the /*psychological subject-object*/, in order to
   see what is the matter:

   the only ‘property’ of matter connected with philosophical
   materialism is the property of being an objective reality, of
   existing outside of our consciousness ... Epistemologically the
   concept of matter means nothing other than objective reality,
   existing independently from human consciousness and reflected by
   it. [Lenin, Materialism and Empirio-Criticism

   Elsewhere Lenin says that this is, essentially, the principle of
   /*realism*/, but that he avoids this word, because it has been
   captured by inconsistent thinkers.



   *Andy Blunden*

   Martin John Packer wrote:

       Where does LSV say that consciousness is an illusion, Andy?


       On Nov 26, 2014, at 8:58 AM, Andy Blunden <ablunden@mira.net
       <mailto:ablunden@mira.net>> wrote:

No, no! And we are close to agreement here!
           LSV says that consciousness is an illusion, and science
           does not study illusions, but that this illusion arises
           from the "noncoincidence" of two objective, material
           processes, physiology and behaviour, both of which can be
           studied by science (just as light rays and the things
           reflected by light rays can), therefore we can study
           scientifically how these illusions arise and how they
           mediate human activity! This is called psychology. I
           completely agree with Vygotsky. Don't you?

           *Andy Blunden*

           Martin John Packer wrote:
Andy, LSV argues in Crisis that a science does not,
               cannot, study illusions. Science studies what actually
               exists, and in doing so seeks to *explain* how
               illusions occur. Science studies the real candle and
               the real mirror, in order to *explain* how an image of
               a candle appears in the mirror.

               By saying that consciousness is an illusion, you
               appear to be suggesting that it cannot be studied
               scientifically. Or perhaps you find some flaw with
               LSV's argument?


               On Nov 26, 2014, at 8:21 AM, Andy Blunden
               <ablunden@mira.net <mailto:ablunden@mira.net>> wrote:

Huw, don't misunderstand me. By saying
                   "consciousness is an illusion" I am saying
                   something very positive about it. It is an
                   illusion which proves more or less adequate for
                   guiding my activity, just as for example, my rear
                   vision mirror is adequate for guiding my driving,
                   because I am "educated" about mirrors. It is
                   useful I think to frankly say that consciousness
                   is an illusion - an illusion with survival value
                   for humans - because it opens a point of agreement
                   between the positivists and the psychologists. We
                   both can say "consciousness is an illusion." OK,
                   let's discuss that.

                   But consciousness differs from a material process
                   like stimuli-response, that is, an unmediated
                   relation between an organism and its environment,
                   between physiology and behaviour. This is what the
                   neuroscientist typically overlooks. We say "yes,
                   the mediating element is just an illusion, which
                   is why you can't find it, but hey! it's a very
                   useful illusion." :)

                   *Andy Blunden*

                   Huw Lloyd wrote:
I would concur with Andy that 'mysterious' is
                       not useful, but I'd say
                       Andy's use of 'illusion' has this problem too,
                       because any such illusions
                       are materially manifested.