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[answered] Lecture note: Supervenience and Consciousness Q: What is su

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Lecture note: Supervenience and Consciousness Q: What is supervenience?


The notion of superveneicen expresses a relation between two sets of properties at two different


levels of description: the macrolevel and the microlevel.


Examples (1) Smile supervenes on certain muscle movements of lips, (2) Beauty supervenes on


Van Gogh?s Starry Night, (3) Goodness supervenes on certain deed or action.


Applied to the mind and body problem, the thesis of supervenience considers psychological or


mental phenomenoma as macro-phenomena which supervene on neural micro-phenomena. That


is, all psychological states and properties supervene on neurological states and properties. [Mind-body supervenience] The mental supervenes on the physical in that any two things


(objects, events, organisms, persons, etc.) exactly alike in all physical properties cannot


differ in respect of mental properties. That is, physical indiscernibility entails


psychological indiscernibility. Supervenience shows that any change at the psychological level entails a corresponding change


at the neural level. No difference in M without difference in P. Three ideas associated with supervenience:


(1) Property covariation -- if two things are indiscernible in base properties, they must be


indiscernible in supervenient properties.


(2) Dependence -- supervenient properties are dependent on, or determined by, their


subvenient bases.


(3) Non-reducibility -- property covariation and dependence involved in supervenience can


obtain even if supervenient properties are not reducible to their base properties.


The supervenience principle does not logically imply physicalism. Strictly speaking, the


supervenience principle as stated only makes a claim about how mental properties covary with


physical properties; it doesn?t say that the former are dependent on the latter.


But this dependency thesis, as we might call it, is also important:


1 [Mind-body dependence] What mental properties a given thing has depends on, and is


determined by, what physical properties it has. That is to say, the psychological character


of a thing is wholly determined by its physical character. The Dependence thesis shows that all that is mental is wholly and entirely dependent on the


physical. The dependence thesis is an explicit affirmation of the ontological primacy, or


priority, of the physical in relation to the mental, thereby opening the possibility of explaining


the mental in terms of the physical. This thesis is for the minimal physicalism.


Q: Is Supervenience different from causal relation?


Yes. Causal relation is the relation between (1) two different events, a cause and an effect. A


cause occurs prior to its effect. Causation thus has (2) temporal gap, which implies that it is


already possible to intervene a causal relation. Whereas supervenience has neither of them (1)


and (2). Supervenience is the relation between two different properties and these two properties


exist at the same time. Q: Does consciousness supervene on physical?


Some believe that consciousness supervenes on physical, i.e., brain. Consciousness covaries


with brain; and it also depends on brain.


If you think of ?dependence? as ?strong determination?, consciousness is determined by


physical. Without brain, no consciousness. It may then imply that consciousness has no power,


that is, it is epiphenomenalism.


If you think of ?dependence? as ?co-dependence?, consciousness depends on physical, yet


physical is also dependent upon consciousness. What does it mean? It means that you do not


want to ignore the power of consciousness. You would reject the idea that consciousness is


epiphenomenal. Where do you then go? You could interpret ?co-dependence? as ?identity?.


Consciousness and physical are nothing but identical. Power of consciousness is nothing but that


of brain.


Do you think these interpretation so as to claim that consciousness supervenes on physical?


Many philosophers believe that qualia do not supervene on physical/biological fact. For there


may be a possible world that is a total physical replica of our world but in which there are no


phenomenal mental states. Ex. ?Inverted spectra? - The metaphysical possibilities of switched


qualia seem to refute the mind-body supervenience.




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