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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.

 

2

 


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