Two Handles To Handle A Priori

Some rough thoughts about a priori understanding…

Need to learn to handle the idea that I can understand things without blaming anything else for it.
We need to deal with the fact that we can simply understand some things, without ‘blaming’ it on some things like analyticity, pure forms of intuition and pure concepts of understanding, evolution, and so on…

Need to know when I’ve won, and… enjoy it.
What I want in philosophy is understanding. It is weird when instead of respecting our ability to comprehend complex things, we want to push this understanding in some alternative form for it to count. To do that is begging the question against philosophy from the very start.

A Priori Without Analytic

Given that we agree with Quine that the analytic/synthetic distinction, at least as traditionally conceived, doesn’t work (I gave my reasons why I think it doesn’t in a previous post, which mainly have to do I think with wrong theory of concepts.), are we left just with sentences which we have to check against the world to see if they are true?

Of course, if we think that a priori coincides with analytical, we should be bound to think so. But, don’t you understand that if you have two things, you have one and one more thing? That if you have three things, you have two things and one more thing, or one thing, and one more and one more thing?

Is THIS something that you need to check the world to see if it is right? HOW do you check the world for these kind of things? We are talking about two aspects of *one and the same* state of affairs. That given that we have two things in the state of affairs, we have one and one more thing in the same state of affairs, and vice versa.

How do we check this against the world? Do we get two things, and by pointing say “one”, then point to the other and say “another one”; and then count them by saying “one, two”? How many times we need to do that to confirm that when we have two things, we have one and one more thing? Does doing something like this strikes you as silly? I think it should :)

Based on this previous thought, maybe we will give this kind of explanation why when there is two there is one and one more thing and vice versa… The practice of counting to two can’t be done if there aren’t one thing (to which we will point and say ‘one’), and then another one (to which we will point and say ‘two’). And when we have one thing, and another one, those can be simply counted as first and second, and hence, we have two things.

But this has nothing to do with counting, pointing and language really. Could this complex statement I gave really be a defense of the simple statement that when there are two things, there is one and one more thing? What is meant by that simple statement has nothing to do with language, nothing to do with our practices, with our words ‘two’, ‘counting’, ‘one’, ‘another’, and so on (except of course the simple fact that we need words to express what we mean). Put attention there on what is meant, that when you have two things (we can think of two things qua two, right?), there is one and one more thing (you can now still staying with the two things, mentally focus on the one of them, or on the other, right?). So, there is that simple awareness which we express by saying that when we have two things we have one and one more thing and vice versa.

This is the same awareness that very young children show when they expect that when you hide one thing behind the screen, and then hide one more such thing, when you open the screen there should be two things. They don’t have words, that is true, but just because they can’t express what they are comprehending, doesn’t mean that they aren’t comprehending it. Maybe they are just tracking one thing, and track another thing? But how do you track one thing and another thing when they are behind the screen? How do you recognize which was which when they open the screen?

Of course, no real-world test like this can point to that actual comprehension, as when one introduces real two things which are observed through time, those might interact with one another becoming one or three things (who knows what could happen behind the screen). The simple comprehension that when you have two things you have one and one more thing abstracts from changes. It isn’t about changing things. I guess if children are aware that those occluded things multiply or reduce in numbers, they won’t tend to abstract from changes, and hence neither of the simple determinations – ‘one and one more thing’, or ‘two things’ won’t be seen as applying. The usual mistake which is made when people think about apriority of ‘if there are two things there is one and one more thing, and vice versa’, is that they think of adding sign in ‘1+1=2’ as standing for some procedure which is supposed to happen in time – of bringing one and one more thing together somehow- joining them somehow. They think that ‘1+1’ expresses something that happens in time, and ‘2’ as some kind of result. But, of course the identity can be written the other way around ‘2=1+1’. Nothing happens! The both sides of the equality are determinations of one and the same thing. Of those one and one more thing, or which is same those two things. That simple comprehension of identity of determinations, has nothing to do with changes. It is simple and abstract (meaning abstracts from changes), about a changeless pair, or changeless one and another thing.

Let’s say that you accept that when you have two things, you have one and another thing, and that it isn’t sensible to check the world to see if it is true. And also, that you accept that this is not analytical truth in the sense that Quine attacked (analyticity of math as far as I know, was also shown inconsistent by Godel’s incompleteness theorem), nor a truth which is solely dependent on linguistic facts (if that was so, infants wouldn’t be able to be aware of this truth)  Though, of course, when we express it, the truth of the sentence is dependent to some amount on linguistic facts, because of simple fact that what we mean by that sentence depends on linguistic facts. But what we mean is true or false, independently of the words used to say it. (Same as people existence is independent on the issue if we have names for them or not).

If you accept those two things, then what are those a priori truths? Where they come from? Why is that when we have two things, we have one and one more thing, and vice versa? Are they about the world? Can we come to know something about the world by ‘discovering’ those a priori truths?

I guess I will write more thoughts on this in the next post.

For more on analyticity, apriority and other dangerous things check the posts at DuckRabbit and SOH-Dan.

About a Dogma

Both N.N. over at Methods of Projection and Daniel over at SOH-Dan discuss Grice and Strawson’s opposition to Quine’s attack on analytic/synthetic distinction in In Defense of a Dogma.

I will write my opinions on this matter, though somewhat more disconnected from Grice/Strawson’s article. For more info on  In Defense of a Dogma, please check both mentioned posts (which are great BTW). Anyway, some of my opinions are in this post, and probably there will be some more in the following…

First, I agree with Quine that analytic/synthetic distinction in a certain sense is problematic. That is, this distinction often goes (or went) together with a view which I think one can safely characterize as wrong (though I’m sure there will be people with different oppinion). In that (wrong) view, words like common nouns refer to concepts, and concepts are further reducible to a combination of some other concepts. So, for example, concept of BACHELOR is reducible to (or in its “structure” contains) concepts UNMARRIED and MALE. Different philosophical views can differ in the details here, one view might use for example genus/differentia view where MALE is genus and UNMARRIED is differentia (which as I was told by Brandon from Siris in another post, was the standard view in the times in which Kant worked and which came from “Wolff’s scholasticized Leibnizianism”); or might imagine the concepts as simply being a set of necessary and sufficient conditions in terms of other concepts (which I guess was standard for conceptual atomism of Russell and of first half of 20th century empiricism in general).

Anyway,  to this structure of the complex concept which is made from simpler concept, in the realm of language there will be a corresponding definition. So, to the structure of the concept BACHELOR, there will be a corresponding definition “bachelor is an unmarried male”. In those views then, to learn what bachelor means is to grasp its definition, and we end up in situation where ‘bachelor’ means ‘unmarried man’. The judgment that any bachelor is an unmarried male, or the proposition that any bachelor is an unmarried male, are then taken as analytic, having in mind those particular types of theories. In those theories, analytic truths are also a priori, as the definition ‘A is B’ has to be grasped by the mind to know what A means, and once that it is grasped it never ‘leaves the mind’ so to say. Or we can say, that semantic facts which are important for the sentence being true, in the case of analytical sentences, given this theory, are in our possession, given simply that we are competent speakers of the language.

In this sense then analytic/synthetic distinction is a cover under which we have specific theory. It is in this sense (or with this burden) that I don’t think that distinction works as I don’t think those kind of theories work.

We can put forward another sense of ‘analytic’ though, where we can say that a sentence is true solely in virtue of certain linguistic facts.

To start with an example… In this sense ‘Hesperus is Phosphorus’ is analytic because both names refer to the same object – Venus. And that they refer to the same object is a part of the linguistic facts – which include the history of the usage of the names, going back to and including the baptizing of something which appeared as intentional content of intentional acts of people in certain linguistic community. That is, in simple words, in certain society people were seeing Venus in the morning sky, baptized it Phosphorus, were seeing also Venus in the evening sky and baptized in Hesperus. This with addition of the other linguistic facts of the usage of those names until their use today (in which use I take part with this post) is enough facts to proclaim the sentence true. We don’t need anything else.

In this sense however (to contrast it with that previous sense) linguistic and other facts needed to determine the truth value of the sentence doesn’t have to be possessed by us. By the way, that is why I didn’t use more standard “it is true in virtue of its meaning” – given the standard meaning/reference distinction, it doesn’t seem right to say that Phosphorus is Hesperus, if we limit ourselves just in the realm of meaning, and exclude the reference. The meaning might determine the reference, but that is further linguistic fact which doesn’t seem to be included in the meaning of ‘Hesperus’ or ‘Phosphorus’. So, instead, it is better to say that a sentence is analytic if it is true in virtue of certain linguistic facts. If you ask me what those linguistic facts would be, my first thought probably would be a) linguistic facts about the words used in that sentence and b) the facts about linguistic practices performed in certain way by certain combining of the worlds.

In this way analytic sentences don’t have to be a priori. ‘Analytic’ here is doing quite a different work than it was when related to the specific theories that were mentioned. There, analytic, as I can see, was supposed to serve to point to independence of the truth of the sentence from empirical matters, and it was either supposed to be one kind of a priori, or merely identical with a priori. However in this other sense, it is used to point to independence of the truth of the sentence from empirical matters other than certain linguistic facts.

Having given this place to the the analytic/synthetic distinction, is it the distinction to which Strawson and Grice point to when they say that that there is obviously difference between “My neighbor’s three-year-old understands Russell’s Theory of Types.” and “My neighbor’s three-year-old is an adult.”? I don’t think so, as they say that we can’t understand what the later could mean (which means I guess that we can’t imagine what could count as making this sentence true). So, what they are pointing, seems to me have more to do with some kind of a priori/a posteriori distinction.

Is the distinction that they are drawing related to the classical view of concepts? It might be.

Is the matter settled if we agree that Grice and Strawson were really defending a dogma which is wrong (related to the bad theories mentioned)? Not even close! Well, at least me as a good idealist, I have to believe that we can get to new truths about the world solely by thought, and express those truths and the conclusions through words of which we don’t know anything else but their meaning. Hope that I will be able to put something sensible on this in the next post.

The Being And Its Predicates

I hope I’m not becoming boring to everyone with this ‘consciousness is nothing but being such and such system’, but I keep thinking about it and thinking what follows from it.

I mentioned in the previous post, that the physicalist will say that the ‘problematic’ features of consciousness like the qualitative aspect, the subjectivity and the unity of consciousness can’t be found in the description, as the description is a predicate, and those things are nothing but the being of such system to which the predicate can be given.

Based on this, (if needed) the reductive physicalist can give an answer why for example there won’t be consciousness when we are doing calculations on paper of what will happen with some brain system. That is, in the process of calculating what will happen with certain system, by e.g. taking the state of the system at some time, and then figuring out what will happen with the system in the time after that, there is no actual system with actual being, what we are doing is merely calculating the predicates. The predicates are usually not predicates of the system which calculates the predicates. In usual case the predicates are represented in this calculating system, and are not really predicates of that calculating system. Symbols mean predicates, and are not predicates.

Of course, there is another option open. There possibly can be predicates which are predicates of the system which calculates the predicates of another system. If we predicate implementation of some computation to the original system, by building another system which calculates the predicates of that system, we would end up with a system which also has the predicates that certain computation. IF the brain’s BEING (assuming again consciousness as being idea) is related to implementing some computation, that is IF the ontology of the universe is somehow related to ‘implementing certain computation’, then we might expect that doing calculations on paper might BE, and hence be conscious. Or, which is similar, having a computer which will do the calculations, in that case might have being (and consciousness).

If we think of what ‘implementing a computation’ might mean, we will probably go into the discussion of physical systems with parts, that have specific causal structure, something like Chalmer’s “A physical system implements a given computation when the causal structure of the physical system mirrors the formal structure of the computation.” (here). For sure, we don’t want to take a disconnected systems all over the universe, each of which might happen to perform some part of the whole computation, and say that there is some kind of being there. (for some discussion of those issues see my previous posts Can we digitize the brain and retain consciousness and Consciousness and Special Relativity). There are certainly lot of questions, if one goes that way.

I’m more inclined to think that there is some other metaphysical criteria for being (which would answer the question, which of the things we think of as being are actually being?). Saying that calculating what will happen in some brain, will be being on its own, sounds, well… weird to me. I’m more inclined to go with saying that similarly to how when a computer calculates what will happen with a drop of rain the computer will not be a rain, if it calculates what happens with a brain, it will not BE brain (nor have consciousness). The whole idea seems to me to remove the distinction between reality (what is) and fiction.

Related posts:
Consciousness And Being
Disappearing Being (and Consciousness)
Consciousness as Being and Binding Problems

Tracking Discussions in the Comments of the Blog Posts

Sometimes you might forget where did you left your comments, and miss response to that comment. Or you are just interested what people will say in the comments of certain post. One way to do this is to subscribe to the ‘comment feed’ through some feed reader. As I’m not using feed readers (I’ve covered my need to track what is happening in the philosophy blogs through power-blogroll page), I checked what was the way to track comments.

Seems that there are two most popular online comment tracking systems. One is co.mments and the other is coComment. After reading what they provide, coComment seemed as a better choice. Because…

a)it provides a plug-in (extension) for Firefox which catches the cases when you add a comment, so it automatically starts to track that conversation where you added comments (there is also options to add comment without tracking, or to track without adding comments and to add tags to the conversation). On another side co.mments doesn’t provide that. It gives you just a bookmark (which you drag to your bookmarks, or to your bookmarks toolbar), so you need to click to say ‘I want to track comments to this conversation’ (BTW coComment also gives such option)
b)there are some advanced social features in coComment, such that you can make your comments public, people can follow where you comment, you can follow other people, and so on…

Anyway, given those things, I decided to install coComment. Alas, it would be good if it worked in first place. I added several conversations, but the comments were not shown. Or, 5 comments were shown, and there were for example 10 comments. So, I removed coComment, and went to try co.mments. And it worked. And it is simple. After trying it, I don’t even think I need all those bells and whistles from coComment. When you want to track the comments to some post, you just open the post and click the bookmark on your toolbar. When you go to your page, you see something like this. You mark some conversations as read if you want (‘Clear’ button), or remove them altogether.

And as a good thing  you have a public RSS feed in the form –;feed (where tgjorgoski is my username), which you can add to your blog if you have one, so that other people can see where you commented also. If you want to check, I added the RSS widget for that feed to this blog in the left-side column of my blog.

For WordPress, you go to to your Presentation options, then to the Widgets, drag/drop RSS widget to your side bar, click on the ‘configure’ part of that button, and add the RSS url there.
For Blogger, in the Template , click ‘add a page element’ in the side bar, choose the Feed element, and then set the feed URL.

If you leave lot of comments, and want a way to track them, I think you should try co.mments.

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Across The Universe

Watched ‘Across the Universe‘ the other day. It’s been long time before I’ve seen a movie with so much charm. Especially the characters of Jude and Max, I thought they were really cool (they got me in the ‘I want to be 20 again!’ feeling). Add to the things that I enjoyed also The Beatles’ great music, artistically painted picture of the changing spirit of the times, lot of hidden references to Beatles’ music and the times, the wonderful performance of Bono of I Am The Walrus. I think I’m gonna watch that movie few more times. If you haven’t see it, it is a musical based just on Beatles’ hits, so might not be for everyone… Here are two parts of it (both start with little dialogs, and the songs are afterwards)…

UPDATE: Argh, just my luck. YouTube decided to clean itself from ‘Across the Universe’ (illegal) videos in the same day that I decided to write a post and include two of those…  Here is the trailer instead:

Concsiousness as Being and Binding Problems

What I said in the previous post was that the way for the physicalists to deal with subjectivity and qualitative features of consciousness, is to deny that those are anything else but the being of the system which additionally has abilities of perception and thought. So, when the physicalist gives the description of the system, and somebody asks her to point to the consciousness, she will just say that THAT is not in the description, as it is nothing else but being that system (And that is what distinguishes the actual being from the description, as the description is not a being but a predicate). (It is at this point, where I usually would part ways with physicalism, arguing that the physical description is only one of the possible predicates, that it is related to the specific nature of the physics as science, that the being has other predicates which are non-reducible to the physical description, that more abstract predicates are secondary (ontologically dependent) on less-abstract ones, but I will just shut down those my beliefs, and see where this thinking about ‘being as consciousness’ will get me).

This kind of equating consciousness with being, allows the physicalist to address one other problem – so called ‘Unity of Consciousness’ and ‘The Binding Problem’. That is, when we have experience, for example of a cow, we see the cow as a unity of all those properties that it has, also we see the cow in specific place in its environment. Also we are aware of ourselves being there, probably we are aware how we got there and so on. But all those things are represented in different locations in the brain. So the problem goes – how do all those things ‘come together’ in the consciousness, how are they united? The easy way out, when the physicalist equates the consciousness with the being, is saying there is no such thing as ‘binding’ or ‘coming together’, we *are* this whole system with all the representations which are in it. So, there is no need for additional binding. Or, said in somewhat more weird way – the unity of consciousness is about nothing but the fact that this system has one being. (I guess it is clear what I mean?)

Another ‘binding problem’ that is present is not related to the different things which we are aware of in ‘a moment’ of time, but to our awareness of changes. Namely, I am aware of the changes as they happen. It is *I* (conscious I, or this being) that enjoy the music, and the music is not in a moment, it is this I that watch the movie from the start to the end. I can’t be aware of changes (and of the very notion of change) if my being doesn’t ‘last’ at least through the time of that change. My awareness is kept through all kind of changes through the daily life, they never stop. There is no moment through my daily life in which I disappear (Now at nights, I don’t know, can it be that when every time my body wakes up in the body there is some other being which is there, under the illusion that it is the same being of yesterday? It surely intuitively doesn’t seem so. That would basically mean that we are dying (disappearing) as beings every day. [camera towards myself: I must stay awake! I must stay awake!]).  Back to the daily life -They say that consciousness can’t be an illusion, as it takes consciousness to be subject of illusion, and I think it is similar here, unless consciousness exists through time, it can’t be under the illusion that it lasts through time.

Anyway, what we got to now, in relating consciousness with being is that: a)we need a being of a complex system AND b)we need being of complex system which lasts through time.

In the last post, I discussed few others things, but I think they might be formulated better now. One is the issue of multiple consciousnesses: if we take that certain being a physical system *to be* consciousness, we can imagine taking its subsystem and it will be conscious too (take away one neuron for example, or even one electron, and we don’t expect that consciousness will be lost). But, if that is so, why shouldn’t we be able to talk about being of the whole system as consciousness, but also talk about being of any of the arbitrary subsystems (and take the super-system as a environment of some kind) as a consciousness too? But as said, this is hardly an option, because if any such subsystem has its own ‘being’ (and hence consciousness), the consciousness of the super-system should disappear when the neuron is lost or something, which on other hand means (as we don’t know which of those systems we are), there is a chance that this *I* will disappear any moment now. (Well, I don’t know…it certainly is logically possible, and the being that disappears will hardly be able to testify it’s disappearance, and me [which me writes this anyway?] being one of those that haven’t disappeared is nothing special, but this line of thought doesn’t strike me as plausible. Hence it is false :) ).

OK, so we need to find different kind of being then being which will be connected to certain parts which are in certain configuration. We need a being, which a) doesn’t disappear if it looses a part or it’s part is changed with another part and b) whose different parts don’t have the same kind of being (which being will be there if the super-system with loosing one neuron becomes equal with the sub-system? Maybe they will become one being? Two consciousnesses becoming one? *shrug*).

The problematic thing here is that we want to give being to the complex system, which is in certain way not equal with the beings of it’s constituent parts.  (Neither with the sum of it, as they leave the system, other things enter the system and so on…)

We can remind ourselves to the ship of Theseus issue.  The old planks of the ship of Theseus were changed little by little as they decayed while it was out at the sea, so at the end when the ship returned all the planks were changed. The question is, is it still the same ship? When we talk about ships it is easy for us to say that there is no such being as the ship which is more than the sum of it’s parts (or that there is no ontological identity which the ship kept), so that the identity of the ship is preserved only in our minds. But here, talking about the consciousness as being, we got to a situation, where we need to claim ontological identity of the thing, even all the parts are changed.

This post is getting too long, so let me just ask at the end…
Any ideas how physicalists can go (or do go) in addressing this?

Disappearing Being (and Consciousness)

Let’s suppose that so called ‘phenomenal experience’ or ‘conscious experience’ is nothing but but being such and such physical system in such and such conditions. (something I wrote about in the last post)

By replacing talk about consciousness with talk about being a such and such configurations, we move from the philosophy of mind to metaphysics.

Namely the starting move implicitly assumes that there is such thing as ‘being such and such physical system’ (and this is related to consciousness). But do all physical systems have such being, or is this a special case.

First lets note that if we want to say that some physical systems don’t have being and some do, it means that we would need to claim of some physical system that *it is not* (anything). Of course this sounds weird. If we take likely things of which we might say such things, like ‘my nose’, ‘left part of the cake’, it really sounds weird to say “my nose isn’t anything” or “left part of the cake isn’t anything”.

But the alternative, that is, saying that anything that we can think of is being something, related to our identifying consciousness with being something produces weird result that it is not just me being conscious, but that there is astronomical number of other consciousnesses in this same body. So for example whole person is being something, the whole brain is being something, the brain without specific neuron – N1 is being something too (as all those are physical configurations of which I can think), etc… And certainly if the brain looses neuron N1 there still be consciousness, so it means that to the same body, there corresponds an astronomically  (given the number of possible combinations of neurons, and even molecules or atoms we can loose and still be conscious) huge number of consciousnesses.

And the weirdness doesn’t stop here. If we relate being with any configuration, and equate this being with consciousness, if this configuration disappears the consciousness should disappear also (as we are assuming identity). So with any dying of one neuron, and even an electron leaving, one of those consciousness would disappear. Given that, and given that we don’t know which ‘being such and such configuration’ relates to our consciousness, it would be possible for our consciousness (*this* ME) to disappear any of those moments just because some electron left the configuration which is me.

So, it seems that indeed we might want to deny being to some things of which we think. Things like the left side of the cake or my nose.

I guess the easiest way to go here, is to say that we are talking about two different kinds of being – which we might equate with ‘thinking of something as being’ and ‘being something’. We might point that thinking of something as being can be done even for things which are imaginary or that have disappeared. We think of Napoleon as being something, but he is not actually anything.

I’m not sure that this is quite enough linguistic disentanglement, but let’s say that we have some sense of this distinction between ‘being something’ and ‘though of as being something’.

So, we now ask, in virtue of what does something of which we think actually be something. What are the criteria?

Getting back to the identity between ‘conscious/phenomenal experience’ and actually being something, we can say that whatever the conditions are, they are satisfied for the physical system that is me. So, some NCC should be there which relates to some causal/spatiotemporal or other conditions (I guess it is important that this is in the pretty fundamental ontological categories, because we are talking BEING after all).

Anyway, there are interesting things we can ask then…

Are the conditions for a system that thinks and perceives necessarily coextensive with conditions for actually being something? Or is this just coincidence?

One approach is to deny that formulated thus the question makes sense, because it is hard to make sense of the possibility for a system which thinks and perceives but isn’t actually anything. Can we say about a system that it perceives and thinks , while it being just thought by us as being something (but it is not really)? Wouldn’t it be more fair to say for such system that we only think of it as a system (which thinks and perceives)?

But if this previous objection is problematic, we can probably reformulate the question and ask – are the conditions for a system *being thought by us* as perceiving and thinking coextensive with the conditions for that system actually being something? Here is a more concrete example to get the sense of the question… If we create a perfect simulation of a brain in a computer, because of it having exactly same behavior, we can think of it as thinking and perceiving (we might throw in here some talk about derived intentionality). But will this computer have being? Will it BE something, and hence be something which thinks and perceives, and hence can we speak about consciousness there? I would go with NO, but I’m not a physicalist in first place, so my intuition shouldn’t really matter here.

Further question could be, does this ‘actually being something’ appear on level of creatures (which would go with our intuitions that we are this body), brains, parts of brains, or something else?

Anyway as lot of the times, I guess in this post I did nothing but succeeded in confusing myself. Serves me right for thinking about a way in which physicalism might make sense :)

Consciousness And Being

I think one interesting option for the reductive physicalists to address the mind/body problem is through pointing to the difference between acquaintance and being.

That is, in our thinking of (existent) things we always relate to them indirectly – we don’t become those things nor in some other way get hold of their being, but we can think of them in terms of our acquaintance with them (the thing that I saw, touched, perceived then and there), hearing about those things (the thing that John told me about), or rightly assuming those things (the person who committed Whitechapel murders.) Even we think of them as beings, it is being of something else – not being me.

So, if we think in those terms about subjects, we think of any person through some kind of acquaintance, information or assumption, but separately from this every person has his/her own being. When we approach people, and examine them, we are examining their properties on different levels, but apart from this we can’t see what it is like to be such and such system in such and such conditions. So the way to resolve the mind-body issue for a physicalist would be to say that what we call consciousness IS nothing but this being – the being of such and such physical system.

I think this would go nicely with anti-Cartesianism (especially in relation with our language), because any so called ‘phenomenal experience’ would be in fact specific being such and such specific physical system in such and such specific conditions. For example the phenomenal experience of seeing a rabbit, would be nothing but – being a person (expand to the full physical description of what kind of system the person is) that sees a rabbit (expand to the physical facts of how this kind of cognitive system is related to the outside environment).

It would also nicely address the issues of illusion and hallucinations… Let’s mark being the person from the previous example with B1. We could then say that the phenomenal experience of hallucinating a rabbit is nothing but – being a person that hallucinates a rabbit (expand to full physical description), and then point that being the B2 is like being B1 in some way (the physical descriptions of the subjects in both cases will correspond).

An ontological question here appears – what does it take to have a being? If consciousness is nothing but being of some special kind of system, why it is this kind of system that has being, and not some sub-system or super-system?  I see two possibilities:
1.It is possible that from the lowest to the highest physical levels systems have being (which of course intuitively makes sense, our brain has being, but also every part of it have being, and the whole planet which includes our brain has being), but only on this level (being this kind of system) there appears perception and thought, so being this kind of system is being a subject which perceives and thinks.
2. The other possibility is that there is some kind of property which makes some part of the material world to have being as a whole. For example, Richard in his presentation  on what is a brain state (to which I already pointed in the previous post) talked about synchrony – the case where “neuron cells fire in unison, but also they are phase locked with each other”.  This might be a direction in which to search for some ontologically more fundamental spatio/causo/temporal characterization,  which would be a condition for talking about system with being (and hence for a system to have consciousness).

Anyway… maybe this is how reductive physicalists actually think about the issue, and I’m just uninformed.
And I better stop now before I convince myself into reductive physicalism. :)