[lit-ideas] Re: [lit-ideas]

  • From: Donal McEvoy <donalmcevoyuk@xxxxxxxxxxx>
  • To: "lit-ideas@xxxxxxxxxxxxx" <lit-ideas@xxxxxxxxxxxxx>
  • Date: Sat, 24 Jan 2015 09:08:23 +0000 (UTC)

>the anglosphere are excited by having found the way to claim that the dog does 
>not have 'pain' that the feeling is "in" the brain, that the pain is not "in" 
>the hand, etc.>
None of these alleged idiots suggested "that the dog does not have 'pain'". It 
may be idiotic to suggest they did given the whole discussion accepted that 
dogs may, like humans, experience pain - even, more specifically, toothache.

The suggestion that pain is not located in the part of the body 'in which it is 
felt' is supported by modern neurophysiology - and by facts like patients 
experiencing great pain in limbs that have been amputated etc. and by our 
ability to remove 'the experience of pain in a part of the body' [an expression 
that itself may mislead] without treating that part of the body but by giving 
painkillers to the part of the brain that creates the pain-experience.
There is a more general point here about the nature of consciousness (of which 
pains may form a part) - consciousness is not a mere mirror to nature or 
imprint from external reality but is a product of a very complex set of 
processes that simulate a 'reality' for us. When I touch this keyboard so that 
I experience it as if "it is there", the keyboard "is there" but my experience 
of it being there is a simulation of its being there. 

What misleads us is that we do not experience our experience as if it is a 
simulation but as if it is giving us direct access to reality - but we are 
wrong to be mislead, by the immediacy and apparent "realism" of experience, 
into thinking it gives us direct or unmediated access to reality. Our 
consciousness of the external world - including our sense of external W1 
objects by sight or touch - is located in W2 and not in W1: when I touch an 
external W1 object it may appear that my touch-experience is 'out there' in W1 
(at the border of my W1 fingertips and the W1 object they connect with), but in 
truth this W1 interface is not where my touch-experience is but is merely a W1 
source that is elaborately processed so as to create my touch-experience in W2.

So the derogatory remarks about empiricism are misplaced in the case of Popper: 
for Popper is not an empiricist in the tradition of Hume et al but a critical 
empiricist in a tradition that derives from Kant. 

Speaking of dogs, Pavlov's famous dog is a behaviourist fiction based on 
misinterpreting the dog's responses using the idea of a reflex arc, an idea 
that is derived from traditional and uncritical empiricism of Hume's sort - the 
Pavlovian "reflex arc" is merely the dogmas of associationist psychology in the 
disguise of an empirical test ("disguise" because Pavlov's work does not 
falsify a non-associationist interpretation of the same experiments, and so 
does not constitute a proper empirical test since it provides no differential 
prediction to test between an associationist and a non-associationist 
interpretation). Popper is very clear that in his theory of knowledge, which is 
supported by modern neurophysiology, there is no such thing as a "reflex arc" - 
there is no such thing as a "conditioned reflex" or an "unconditioned reflex". 
It is traditional empiricism that is blind to the truth that toothache as an 
experience is not located in the tooth, no matter how vivid the experience 
appears to suggest that the pain is located in the tooth. The clear way of 
thinking about these things is to disentangle the W1 aspects that go to create 
the experience of toothache from the W2 experience of having a toothache, 
rather than confusedly thinking the W2 experience means the toothache is 
located in W1 (which is what, uncritically, we are wont to do).


     On Saturday, 24 January 2015, 6:11, Adriano Palma <Palma@xxxxxxxxxx> wrote:

 It is indeed embarrassing this constant exhibition of idiocy on the part of 
this people.
A, not really -- but let me be generous, quasi noble while stupid tradition of 
empiricism slips into behaviourism and all of sudden all assholes in the 
anglosphere are excited by having found the way to claim that the dog does not 
have 'pain' that the feeling is "in" the brain, that the pain is not "in" the 
hand, etc.

-----Original Message-----
From: lit-ideas-bounce@xxxxxxxxxxxxx [mailto:lit-ideas-bounce@xxxxxxxxxxxxx] On 
Behalf Of dmarc-noreply@xxxxxxxxxxxxx
Sent: 24 January 2015 01:42
To: lit-ideas@xxxxxxxxxxxxx
Subject: [lit-ideas] Wittgenstein's Toothache

In a message dated 1/23/2015 11:52:34 A.M. Eastern Standard Time, 
donalmcevoyuk@xxxxxxxxxxx writes in "Re: Facing the Music": Take a dog with 
toothache. The dog has no access to W3 in Popper's conception. The dog may 
experience pain as if the pain is emanating from the tooth with caries. We  
humans may know this is an illusion: the pain is not located in the tooth at 
all rather the pain is in the brain or is a product of the brain, and the brain 
then  'locates' the pain as if it is in the body where the tooth is. The dog 's 
 experience of toothache involves a complex interaction of W1 states (including 
 links between the W1 action of caries and the W1 of the central nervous 
system)  and W2 states (including the conscious state which 'locates' the pain 
as if is  emanating from the tooth). A human can experience toothache in a way 
that  involves just W1 and W2 in a way similar to the dog. But the dog will 
have no  conscious understanding that its brain is 'locating' the pain in the 
tooth (when  the pain is actually located in the brain rather than in the 
tooth), and the dog  will have no grasp of the issue of caries or its effect on 
its central nervous  system (for "caries" and "CNS" here involve W3 theoretical 
knowledge), nor will  the dog grasp in W3 terms that there is a potential 
solution to its plight in  the form of a veterinary dentist:- conversely, the 
human understanding of  toothache, where it encompasses all these things that a 
dog cannot grasp, may be  a W3-dependent understanding. 
So there is a merely W1/W2 sense in which a human  might experience and know 
that they are having a toothache, but there is also a  W3-dependent sense of 
experiencing and knowing that they are having a toothache  which goes beyond 
this. We may also speculate as to the downward causation of W3-dependent 
experience on experience in its W1/W2 form: for example, a person's experience 
of a toothache may be altered by their W3-dependent knowledge, for example that 
the pain is simply a figment of the CSN/brain or that dental treatment is 
available to cure it - so we may for example speculate (and even subject to 
psychological tests) that the experience of having a toothache may  differ if 
we are in the position to get immediate treatment from how we experience it 
when there is no possibility of getting any treatment. 
This  kind of speculation and testing abandons the idea that 'experience' 
is always  one simple level of entity for the idea that experience is a complex 
product of  many interacting layers, including different layers that belong or 
derive from  W1, W2 or W3. 

I don't know if it was Moore who instilled in Witters a  fascination with 

He (Witters) used to say, to echo Aune, that  

i. I have a toothache.

is incorrigible, and H. P. G. makes a few  interesting points about

a. incorrigibility


b.  privileged access 

(borrowing from Witters and Anscombe) in "From the  banal to the bizarre" 
(one of his publications: his presidential address to the  American 
Philosophical Association, Pacific Division).

It may different,  it seems, with POPPER having a toothache.

Since McEvoy mentions dogs, it  may do to mention Witters on lions, and 

Androcles, however,  apparently did understand the lion's ache -- and was 
nicely rewarded for it  (from being eaten by the animal).

For Witters says,

"If a lion  could talk, we could not understand him."

This is  elucidatory:


It  is this emphasis on becoming attentive to the social backdrop against which 
 language is rendered intelligible that explains Wittgenstein's elliptical  
comment that "If a lion could talk, we could not understand  him."

Witters' claim is _general_ (while he denied it, he craved for  them). An 
instance would be of a lion saying:

i. I have a  toothache.


ii. I have an ache in my right anterior foot,  Androcles.

(Androcles: Mmm. Let me see. No wonder. You have a big thorn  on the pad there. 
Let me remove it, force pus from the wound, and bandage  it.)
Mutatis mutandis, McEvoy's dog:
"Take a dog with toothache. The dog has no access to W3 in Popper's conception. 
The dog may experience pain as if the pain is emanating from the tooth with 
In summary, while
iii. I have an ache in my tooth.
may be _literally_ false.
ii. I have a toothache.
may IMPLICATE that
iii. It seems to me AS IF I have an ache in my tooth.
-- for dogs, lions, and humans alike. (Cfr. H. P. G., "Can I have a pain in  my 
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