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Mind Meaning and Metaphysics


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Student Name:

Family Name Zizys

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Given Name Joseph

Exam for PHI130

Joseph Zizys


What philosophical conclusions did Pythagoras draw from his study of music?

Pythagoras is said to have discovered the relationship between relative lengths of vibrating
strings and the harmonies they make together, and to have discovered the mathematical
relationships that account for those harmonies. Pythagoras claimed that this deep significance
of number in explaining harmony existed throughout the phenomenal world, and even to the
heavenly spheres and he claimed that number was therefore the fundamental principle of the
world. His insight was both physically grounded, in that harmonics is still a legitimate branch of
mathematical physics today, and incredibly prescient, for while the Greek atomists are often
credited with having been visionaries, the atom as they understood it is all but unrecognizable in
contemporary physics while number, and mathematics of the most abstract kind, combined with
the use of instrument and experiment, and intuitive insight, are still the bedrock from which
physical explanation emanates.


What argument did Plato use in the Republic, Book X, to justify his theory of the Forms?

What critique did Aristotle level at this argument?

Plato argues that the idea precedes the example, using the analogy of the carpenter who makes
a bed needing to have an idea of the form of beds in his mind in order to make one. Aristotle
criticizes this view, in a way that seems very hard to explain clearly, because i've never heard
anyone explain it well. The notes say that Aristotle uses a kind of infinite regression argument,
that if we allow an actual bed and an ideal bed then we must posit a third bed that provides the
ideal for the ideal and the bed, and so on, this is not a clear criticism for mine, why do we need
an ideal for the ideal? And I am not sure that Aristotles own solution avoids his own critique,
that is he says that the essence is within the physical example, but how does that avoid the
problem? the essence of any given bed will be identical to the essence in all, and different from
each, so there is still an example bed, and a different essential bed, so do we not still need a
third bed, embedded, if you will, in the essence that is embedded in the actual, to explain the
connexion between the essence and the example?


What is the hard problem of consciousness?

The hard problem of consciousness is explaining the qualitative, phenomenal aspect of

consciousness, not explaining that a being can be conscious of such and such a thing, but that
there should be anything at all that it is like to be conscious of things at all. This is also known as
the qualitative problem of consciousness, that is consciousness is said to have Qualia,
qualitative aspects. A thought experiment used to illustrate this is the idea that a scientist might
study color all their life while living in a black and white world, then be introduced to actual color,

and have a qualitatively different experience, no amount of color concepts could replace the
actual experience of color. The hard problem does not seem obviously amenable to reductive
explanations with recourse to things like brain states for example, because there might be two
totally different qualia related to identical brain states and we would have no way of knowing that
fact from the reduction, this is exemplified in the inverted spectra thought experiment.

12. What conclusion does Derek Parfit draw from divided-brain experiments?

Parfit concludes that our concept of person cannot be explained by unity of consciousness,
because when we split a brain we appear to be able to have multiple consciousness, unaware of
one another, and nevertheless do not conclude that there are different persons acting. Parfit
further urges us to think of the stream of consciousness, rather like an actual stream, to be
capable of splitting into separate streams and reuniting down the line. All this implies for Parfit
that we should not explain experience with recourse to a reified person and that the unity of
consciousness can be explained without recourse to such concepts. That is to say that unity of
consciousness is not to be explained by recourse to an experiencer.

13. Explain Freuds distinction between the manifest content of a dream and latent dreamthoughts.

the manifest content of a dream is what appears to happen in it. the latent dream thoughts are
the underlying thought, of which the dreamer is unaware, that are being worked through in the
dream. This explanation becomes all the more radical when Freud extends it to waking life in
explaining things like slips, the manifest content might be to lose ones keys before an important
meeting, while the latent, unconscious thought being worked through is a feeling of
emasculation at the hands of ones wife. What is even more marvelous about Freud's
explanation is that it gives us a reason why the public will resist acknowledging the theory as
correct, that is, the latent thoughts are "repressed" by the unconscious, and cannot become
conscious without a struggle, therefore any theory that attempts to draw to conscious attention
the fact that losing ones keys means that one is being emasculated by ones wife will be resisted
and repressed just like the latent thoughts are themselves. neat.