Re: [xmca] XM, C's and H's

From: Derek Melser <derek.melser who-is-at>
Date: Tue Dec 16 2008 - 01:14:22 PST

Andy, and anyone else?
Well, I would say heat is a relative physical state, immediately objectively
observable, scientifically specifiable and measurable... real as, man. I
mean, put your hand in the fire. Who would think heat is 'a metaphor', a
'fiction'? And just because heat is such a ground-level physical reality in
our lives, it seems odd even to raise the question whether it 'exists' or

Consciousness, if it is conceived as a light inside someone's head (or
brain) or as, really, any kind of goings-on inside people's heads, is a
fiction, and a metaphor. But conceived in a more sophisticated way, as an *
action* -- in the sense of someone being conscious of the lateness of the
hour, being conscious of that tiny fracture in the windscreen, or someone
carefully thinking what he is doing -- consciousness is not going to attract
any reality doubts. No-one would think of denying the 'existence' (at least,
the existence as a practice) of consciousness. You can see people doing it
all the time, and one knows what it is like to do, to be conscious of
something, or to be conscious of doing something, to be self-aware in the
act of doing something.

Well, what's the difference between the reality of physical states and
properties such as heat, and the reality of actions? Is that what you're
keen to know, Andy? Which is the more 'real'? Which exists more 'strongly',
Really, Andy, if you want examples of metaphor you should look at
expressions like "his patience was wearing thin", "pushing shit up hill",
and so on...

2008/12/16 Andy Blunden <>

> I promise to follow up on those essays Derek, but let me ask you one more
> question.
> Do you think heat exists, or is it a metaphor or fiction or something, like
> consciousness. And what's the difference?
> Andy
> Derek Melser wrote:
>> Thanks Andy,
>> I knew of the book, and have actually skimmed it, but didn't notice the
>> quality of his account of folk theory. I've had a good look at it now. It's
>> a lot more interesting, as a defence of folk psychology, than the other
>> stuff I read on the subject for my PhD. But I think, if this of Bruner grabs
>> you, that you would find my own account of folk psychology (alias 'theory
>> theory') interesting too. It makes up the first part of the first of two
>> chapters ('Where our notion of the mind comes from 1' & '2') in that
>> stunning feat of anti-cognitivism, /The Act of Thinking... /(browseable on
>> Google books aussi).
>> I remember having to bone up on the Grice stuff about reciprocal
>> communicative intentions some decades ago. In my view (see:
>> ) the cooperative
>> aspects of verbal communication are relatively superficial and,
>> fundamentally, verbal communication is a /concerted/ activity (of speaker
>> and hearer).
>> I still think the Santa analogy holds good. 'It's just a children's
>> story.' As long as the child knows what really goes on at Christmas, who it
>> is who is really giving the prezzies, the realisation that Santa is a myth
>> shouldn't be too difficult. But, you're right, it's very different, in
>> practice, with 'mind' (etc.). Even if you can point precisely to what the
>> metaphor is about, what the reality underlying the metaphor consists of,
>> what 'mind' is a metaphor /for/, people are still going to be incredulous,
>> even indignant.
>> I remember as a young philosophy tutor steeped in Ryle, commenting to a
>> psychiatrist (a friend's father, head of a large institution) that I had a
>> lot of trouble getting my tutorial class to even understand the idea that,
>> really, there is no such thing as 'the mind'. His expression suddenly became
>> grim. He said, "Do they really let you teach that?"
>> One last thing. I'm not an atheist any more than I am a behaviourist.
>> (Nor, of course, am I a naive theist, or a naive realist about folk
>> psychology). Hopefully, my views in both areas are a bit more sophisticated.
>> Not going along with the folk myths doesn't necessarily imply a defection
>> from whatever solidarity is around, though. For example,
>> Merry Christmas.
>> Derek
>> 2008/12/16 Andy Blunden < <>>
>> At last! I've been driving myself crazy over this one. The
>> discussion of "Folk Psychology" I liked was in:
>> *Jerome Bruner. Acts of Meaning: Four Lectures on Mind and Culture*
>> It's on Google books, so you can check it out there. Sorry for all
>> that! :(
>> Andy
>> Andy Blunden wrote:
>> Derek, I should sleep some more, and then maybe I'd remember not
>> only how to spell an author's name, but also which author I was
>> reading! My apologies. I will continue trying to discover in
>> which book I found this interesing argument.
>> But in the meantime, I was not absolutely completely deceiving
>> you in that Tomasello has an extended argument about what he
>> calls "Gricean Communicative intention," the drift of which is
>> that you can only make sense of people's speech and actions on
>> the basis that the speaker assumes that the listener knows what
>> the speaker's intention is, and that the speaker knows that the
>> listener knows that the speaker knows that the listener knows
>> the speaker's intention, and so on ad infinitum. In my words a
>> rational knowledge of "folk psychology" is presupposed in
>> communicative action.
>> Andy
>> Derek Melser wrote:
>> Andy,
>> I was looking up Tomasello's 'Origins of Human
>> Communication' on google books -- as you were writing this
>> last email of yours, as it happens -- hoping to browse the
>> bit on folk psychology, but it assures me there is no
>> reference to 'folk psychology' in the entire book. How can
>> this be???
>> DM
>> 2008/12/16 Andy Blunden <
>> <> <
>> <>>>
>> Oops, I meant Michael Tomasello. (I realised this while
>> asleep last
>> night! Isn't that weird?)
>> Andy
>> Andy Blunden wrote:
>> Michael Thomasino has a nice bit about "folk
>> psychology" in his
>> "Origins of Human Communication" where he points out
>> that folk
>> psychology exists as a real force in human life and
>> goes from
>> there into a very interesting argument. You should
>> have a look
>> at it.
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Received on Tue Dec 16 01:15:56 2008

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