Do we have any control over what we believe?
I can think of countless things that I hold to be true that for all the tea in China I couldn’t make myself think otherwise. When we’re presented with good grounds for believing something, is it possible to not believe it? Do we have any choice on the matter? I realize that some people can enter a state of denial over something, but isn’t this just acting as if they didn’t hold that particular belief? Is it possible in theory to be caused (perhaps through hypnosis or indoctrination) to believe or not believe something contrary to what would normally seem obvious to us?
I frequently hear physician's voice the following argument with respect to sexual disorders and anxiety/depression, and I wonder of its validity: If there's a chemical treatment (e.g. pharmaceuticals) and it's successful, then the problem is physiological, not psychological. The argument appears invalid to me, because it seems to assume too large of a rift between one's psychology and one's brain. More exactly, if a chemical treatment works, and if one's psychology (i.e. thought-patterns and emotions) can have an effect on one's brain chemistry (and vice versa), then couldn't the problem still have a psychological source? It seems as if these physicians view psychology as having a basis in a something (a soul perhaps) that is causally independent of the brain. But that seems like an odd view for a Western physician to hold. I'd greatly appreciate any thoughts on this.
I just picked up the book "What does it all mean? - a very short introduction to philosophy" by Thomas Nagel...
In the third chapter - Other Minds - the author brings up the thought that we should assume our consciousness is the only thing that exists. If we make this assumption, then how can we explain this? How can we explain exactly what our thoughts are? Furthermore, how can we explain the fact that other people will assume the same thing (that theirs are the only existing thoughts, and I am some sort of non-existing thought form)?
If I assume that I have the only existing thought in my universe, then shouldn't the man who wrote this book - who agrees with the same assumption - have the same assumption: that HIS is the only existing thought ... which should prove that we both exist in relation with the same assumption.
(This can get really confusing to me as I am only 17 and don't know too much about philosophy yet, but can you please shed some light...)
What is the philosophical take on the subconscious and who came up with the idea? It seems highly problematic to me in that its existence can never be established because of its very nature. It is rather like positing Pluto to account for wobbles in other known planets' orbits except that Pluto can be demonstrably found!
This is different from the unconscious mind which keeps you breathing, etc. which works rather like the programmes running in the background on your PC. No mystery here.
And where do dreams enter into this debate?
I can't ever recall having had a 'symbolic' dream, just ones dramatising traits and memories I am well aware of.
A statement like 'I hated her but I now realise I subconsciously loved her' is surely just hindsight. Knowing and not knowing something at the same time has to be impossible?
Before a computer is assembled, it's a pile of useless wires and hardware. Put it all together and the whole is much greater than its parts, in that it can do things like beat the best chess player in the world. Conversely with the human brain, severe enough head injuries can cause profound changes in personality. Doesn't this "whole much greater than the sum of parts" not prove that dualism fails Occam's razor? I mean, if there was a soul independent of brain matter, where does it go after severe head injuries? By all accounts, people are not who they used to be after such unfortunate losses.
Many years ago someone asked a question I'm still unable to answer. I think it falls under 'perception'. I traveled quit a bit and had many interesting experiences as a woman working for a multi-national corporation. While in Pakistan, I met a co-worker's wife. We got along very well and had a great time discussing something we both enjoyed very much - cooking. She turned to me and asked, "What does an avocado taste like?" They just weren't available to her in Lahore. She had seen pictures and read recipes but never had one.
I couldn't relate the taste through comparison because avocadoes are unique. I could talk about colour or texture but that didn't satisfy her question about flavour. I asked many people when I got home. The answers all related to texture or colour. I had an interesting disagreement over the answer, "It tastes green." How do you express or talk about flavour without a base to compare against? How can someone share perception without a common experience?
I was walking down my school hall today and was thinking about just some random things, such as how this hallway smells, who that person looks like, etc. Then, about 2 minutes later I began to think the same basic thoughts, just in a seperate location and at a later time. Since nobody else heard these thoughts the first time, maybe my mind did not really think of them 2 minutes ago but was just telling myself that 2 minutes ago I thought those things. What I mean to say is, how can I be sure that I thought of something earlier if my mind may have just fabricated its own memories?