The Scientific Image of Man


The Scientific Image of Man
Discussion page –



Daniel Kaufman (Missouri State University, The Electric Agora) and Massimo Pigliucci (CUNY Graduate Center, Plato’s Footnote, How To Be a Stoic)


The Scientific Image of Man


_______ The underappreciated philosopher Wilfrid Sellars _______ 


Today we’re going to talk about something really interesting, it’s a very important paper by the philosopher Wilfred Sellars, it’s called “philosophy and the scientific image of man,” and it was based on two lectures that were given at the University of Pittsburgh in 1960. And the paper is very interesting, in that I would argue it’s both very influential and almost completely ignored. So I know people, on whom it’s had a tremendous influence, one of your colleagues David Rosenthal is a big Sellars fan. And Rosenthal is a major player in consciousness and of that related series of areas in the philosophy of mind.

He also is a professor of mine when I was at the graduate centre, so there’s a number of people I think who would sight Sellars as a major influence and this paper as being one of the reasons, but he also is not one of the people that’s typically brought up in the history of analytic philosophy, he’s not brought up in the way that Equine or a Hilary Putnam, or even a Kirkby is brought up. And I wonder maybe some of the reasons will come out in the discussion of the paper, the paper is quite difficult, but I think Massimo, let’s see if you’ll agree with me, it provides a really remarkable framework within which to express a whole number of problems, that I think is really useful.

Yes, oh I completely agree, so I didn’t study Sellars in graduate school, and I actually came across the distinction between scientific and the manifest image of which we will talk about in a few minutes, I think reading Dan Dennett of all things because I think we should go back to that as well, and then I used to eventually traced back to the source, and then when I read the paper, thought holy crap, this is really good stuff and I think you’re right that everybody, in the living tradition, in philosophy and beyond sort of recognizes Sellars importance, but his name doesn’t come up, hasn’t become an household name, although rereading recently the entry about Sellars in the Stanford encyclopida of philosophy I agree with the claim of the author there that actually, that there’s been a revival of interest in Sellars ideas and therefore hopefully in its broader philosophy.

I would go as far as saying that when I read some of his stuff, a lot of things for me clicked because as you know, I’m probably sure some of our viewers will know, my background is a dual one in science and philosophy, and so ever since I moved profession, to do philosophy I looked for sort of a framework from which making sense of my two careers, as well as my two different ways of looking at the world, right? As a philosopher and as a scientist, and I think that Sellars actually provides a pretty much perfect ready-made sort of framework.

And I would actually go as far as saying that actually Sellars to me, may help make sense of what the whole point of modern philosophy actually is and that may be going further than even maybe you want to go, but I think there is something to be said there on that behalf, and you know of course no individual thinker has ever had the last word ever. So I’m sure there are things that that will need to revise and improve upon, but I think that Sellars contributions are really ideas that ought to be taken seriously and read more widely now, which is why we have this conversation to begin with.

Yeah I would say, I mean tell me if you think this is maybe part of the reason, it’s part of the reason for the revival of fortunes of Sellars and particularly this piece, is because people have become increasingly frustrated with the seeming intractability of the reduction program, and they’re looking for other ways, and the sort of the appeals to superveiniance have seemed less than satisfying, in so far as they really don’t say very much. Other than that, you know, one thing supervenes or another, if you were to replace one particle by particle, you would wind up with the same thing, which doesn’t say very much about the relationship between the two.

No in fact it says very little, and so I think you’re right that one of the problems here, is that on the one hand again as a scientist, you know if you were to tell me, well this conversation that we’re having is made possible by the laws of physics, and it’s really a bunch atoms you know swinging around, and I’ll say yeah sure of course, but that tells me nothing about the conversation, it tells me nothing about you as a person, or about me as a person or as professional philosophers or what we’re talking about.

So yeah, in a sense that’s true, I would say at this point it’s trivially true, but it’s not helpful at all, and so the question is how do you reconcile as you know the scientific view or image as Sellars puts it with the evolving understanding of the world, we have as some particularly thinking human beings, so perhaps we should start with…


_________ The “manifest image” vs. the “scientific image” _________


Yeah why don’t you go ahead and tell me how you see the difference, so that the major distinction that this paper makes, and then we’ll link to the paper obviously, that Sellars makes between what he calls the manifest image and the scientific image, and then you want to give your account of what you think it is and if I agree entirely I’ll just nod and if I think that something needs to be added I’ll say so afterwards.

Well actually we have a quote from Sellars himself it’s very short and then we have a short commentary immediatly following that quote that you can find in the Stanford encyclopedia of philosophy. Then I’ll tell you what I think about it

Okay sounds good.

So the quote from Sellars is:

The aim of philosophy, abstractly formulated, is to understand how things in the broadest possible sense of the term hang together in the broadest possible sense of the term.


Thus, philosophy is a reflectively conducted higher-order inquiry that is continuous with but distinguishable from any of the special disciplines, and the understanding it aims at must have practical force, guiding our activities, both theoretical and practical.


So I take this to mean that what Sellars was aiming at and he thought the point of philosophy was, you know modern philosophy, is to develop a sort of a stereoscopic vision, where we can see simultaneously and integrate in a good way, you know satisfactory way, the scientific image and the manifest image.

Which means that even though Sellars was a naturalist, he said explicitly that when it comes to understanding the natural world, well that science is the only game in town, that’s it, there’s nothing else that can replace it.

But that does not mean that one can do a useful reduction or elimination of concepts, such as normativity, you know meaning and things like that. Most concepts have to stay, not in the sense that there are some kind of mystical, you know hanging around above or beyond science or you know whatever people sometimes seem to think. But just in the sense that they are irreducible to the scientific discourse, we simply cannot do without them and we should not try to do without them, and the way to proceed in our understanding of the world is to keep these two views in mind. And therefore I would say the aim or a major aim of philosophy is you know to see how these two things hang together.

You know how is it that every new discovery of science, what kind of import does it have on our manifest image because manifest image does changed over time, you know we don’t have the same image today in the 21st century that people had you know a thousand years ago.

Yes that’s right, that’s right.

But at the same time, you know we are human beings, we’re limited in understanding, we want to understand things and so to get the idea that we can eliminate somehow, talk of meaning and purpose and normativity, and all that kind of stuff in favors of talk of atoms and neural-fibers and things like that is just nonsense. And I think that is what Sellars is saying and then I’m completely on board. What’s your take?

Yeah so on, we probably in order to do this well, we need to sort of give the definition of each for him because it’s important to note that he emphasizes that the manifest image is not unscientific, meaning that in the sense that it’s not it’s not necessarily un-rigorous or even it does not necessarily preclude things like enumerative induction, right? I mean he specifically talks about, he says that “the manifest image is subject to empirical refinement,”


And so he calls it under the heading of “correlational induction.” He says what really distinguishes the scientific image from the manifest image, is that there is nothing in the manifest image that corresponds to the scientific images use of theoretical entities. In other words you’re right that the manifest image changes, but one way in which it does not change, is that it does not change by way of the introduction of theoretical entities and theoretical concepts in the way that it does in the scientific image, right?

Yes that’s right.

And so I don’t want people to think that the manifest image is just an ordinary folk view of the world.


It includes a lot of philosophy for one thing,


It includes a lot of what we would call, let’s say casual social science, in the sense and I would even argue maybe that if you took social science, about half of it is working in the manifest image and then the other half is at least trying to work in a scientific image.

Yeah I think that’s right, and in fact one of the reasons, so I found this other thing, right at the end of the article, which I thout was interesting, it says that Stellar studies are dominated by a clash between the right-wing Selarsians and left-wing Selarsians and it’s interesting what the distinction is.

So the right wing is exemplified by people like the Churchland’s, Ruth Milligan, J Rosenberg, these are people who emphasize Sellers scientific realism and nominalism, while the left-wing is people like Rorty and McDowell and random who emphasize instead that Sellars insistence on the irreducibility and sociality of rules and norms.

And I can’t believe I’m going to say this, but i find myself closer to the Rortian angel.

Yeah we’re on the left wing aha!

And I can say this honestly, as somebody who doesn’t actually have a lot a lot of sympathy for Rorty, I think that you know Rorty went over the deep end towards the end of his career, with too much weird stuff about rejecting philosophy itself and pragmatism that wasn’t really pragmatism.

But nonetheless, I think he’s definitely closer to what I think is a sensible interpretation of Sellars, than the Churchland’s, I mean the classic example of the Churchland’s approach to things, is that eventually neuroscience would allow us to do away with talk of mental states and pain and things like that, because pain really is “you know the firing of C-fibers and things like that.”

Well no, pain isn’t really the firing of C-fibers, C-fibers are the material biological basis, by which we feel pain, but pain is a subjective experience that is typical of humans and other animals and not of anything else. And that needs to be described on its own terms and the two terms, in fact going back into, this is the perfect example I think of the stereoscopic vision, as a scientist, particularly as a biologist, I can easily switch between these two versions and say; “oh! I’m in pain,” I have the subjective state and that description is meaningful, it need not to be eliminated, in fact it cannot be eliminated. I cannot talk sensibly…

And there’s certainly all sorts of modes of discourse, in which that’s the way you have to talk about it, in order for the discourse to make sense, right?


Where talking about it in the scientific language so to speak, would makes no sense in the kind of conversation you’re engaged in and that’s why I think it’s important to note that one of the things he notes about the manifest image, and I actually think this is at its heart, I mean people focus on the point about theoretical entities, and I think that’s important because I think that is a very distinctive way in which science does its business, that is sometimes defining. But I think that really the more important element of the manifest image, that distinguishes it from the scientific one, is that the manifest image includes people and their point of view in it.


In other words, it’s not just about the world from a neutral description, from a neutral vantage point, it’s about the world as represented by people, all right? And that’s why a world that has normativity in it, that has agency in it. In the neutrally described world of science, there is no agency, that dryer, there is no normativity to me and are no values.

That’s right and I think that’s why, the tension there I think comes out, still out of the fact that even though other scientists, even today in the 21st century suffer from physics envy. And so the physics has been, since Galileo and Newton, you know the paragon of science, and yes it is a great science, is a great approach to reality, but it is in fact the furthest away from the subjective point of view, from the normative point of view and so on and so forth. What biology gets closer and then definitely the social sciences get right there, and that’s why we have a plurality of Sciences, that’s why we’re not going to do away with the social sciences and reduce it to biology and then when we’ve got just biology reduce it to physics, that project to me is a non-starter, it makes no sense.

“Norms are not reduced away in Stellars naturalism…” and it’s important to remember that he is in fact a naturalist, he does accept the scientific image, doesn’t question it, doesn’t reject it, he’s not a mysticist, you know nothing like that. “He accommodates normativity, not as a basic ontological feature of the world, but whether as a conceptually irreducible indispensable aspect of the distinctively human activity, that ground’s those human activities,” so that I think is a very reasonable way of looking at them. [2]

I agree

Right, and the more I think about it, the more it bothers me that it isn’t painfully obvious to others, there are others like the Churchland’s and even Dan Dennet…

17:53 – Dialogue continues…





Under ‘things in the broadest possible sense’ I include such radically different items as not only ‘cabbages and kings’, but numbers and duties, possibilities and finger snaps, aesthetic experience and death. To achieve success in philosophy would be, to use a contemporary turn of phrase, to ‘know one’s way around’ with respect to all these things, not in that unreflective way in which the centipede of the story knew its way around before it faced the question, ‘how do I walk?’, but in that reflective way which means that no intellectual holds are barred

2. Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy on Wilfrid Sellars

Norms are not reduced away in Sellars’s naturalism; he accommodates normativity, not as a basic, ontologically independent feature of the world, but rather as a conceptually irreducible, indispensable aspect of distinctively human activity grounded in the collective institution of principles and standards. We will return to the question of norms later in this article.


Automatic transcript from 17:53

runs are even been damaged or painful on your blog but I fight with all the time yeah or a hundred people but I really get you have to fill me for being mean to because i don’t have you stoic got patience um yeah but you know on the other hand is kind of subtle right i mean it’s kind of especially if you were brought up in a very sciency way of looking at things right um you don’t and you know i think also once you want to make a mistake the part that you write about it not being fundamental it’s not fundamental optically right but it is fundamental in another sort of way right and in other words and maybe that way is a little hard to articulate in that um look I mean you you can’t go below it and if you’ll be talking about what you were talking about right that’s that’s why the quote that I just mentioned uses the way a reusable irreducible as opposed to show me that yes these is the bottom level of beasts course not the bottom of the logical level we always read the bottom of electrical energy to this corn is right and neutrinos in general whatever the hell please agree you know today as opposed to tomorrow what basic auth illogical level that is very illogical but at the level of these scores and the level of understanding there are some things there simply are irreducibly conceptually that you’re not going to be able to replace talk of pain with neurobiology and you’re not gonna be able to displace talk of valuing and normativity with fundamental physics not even in principle this isn’t a question of oh well we’re not able to do it Yeah right sure we’ll get there no there it makes no sense to even think about the fact that you could possibly do something yeah yeah and that’s because I mean I would argue that that’s because all of these notions are only intelligible when one looks at the world from the point of view of agents right and and so and so because you can’t talk about social reality let’s call it that okay we conclude agents and agency and thus norms and values you can’t talk about the but from points of view um it’s simply you are no longer than talking about those things anymore and so you know if you want to talk on geologically you know you know an accent you know you wonder whether there are elements of sort of social reality they’re not ontological irreducible beyond a certain point as pipes right i mean once you get once you get below the certain point all you can do is is give a lesbian animistic account of so for example i could give an atomistic account of the motor movements that are involved in my arms coming together like this and my adopting a certain posture all right but I couldn’t give that account of praying right yeah right yeah right and so and so there is something irreducible there and I don’t know that it’s just explanatory irreducible right Oh once you get below a certain level the thing you were talking about isn’t there anymore right the app isn’t there anymore maybe that’s the difference between an action and an event right all right right yeah I idea what you’re saying I the reason I don’t want to go is very same disagree sorta logical possibility to reduction ontological to meet over action because then then you need to actually situate very circle is what what do you mean by ontological right so I talking about entities that you talked about you know what is it is that that’s going on there and I don’t think we need you that is in order to block the what I would water with consider the scientific moves which is no no everything can be right we’re actually at least in theory to science and scientific and emphasizing image right way this way back so let me go back for a second one of the reasons i find sellers analysis interesting is because it finally makes sense for me what is it really bothered me about sciences right i mean other than there are sort of attitudinal aspects of sciences that bother me right this reduces of cocky you know attitude of which i am dissolved in the end of all and should not a diet is that you’re having doing anything interesting and sean’s with that but that’s a psychological thing that just annoyed me and as edgy boy does is estoy guy try not to get annoyed by thing but that’s not the problem i’m trying to figure out i’d be to go for a while what if waste actor is it conceptually the father meets about about a scientist and I think sellers provides the answer there that is what science scientism is trying to do or one way to on the same scientists is as the program that eliminates the manifest image in favor of the scientific image right so that’s that’s one way to I think that very constructive way actually to understand what science admit and I can point out what people actually really do want to do that an effort to replace the replace in other words to eliminate the manifest image and just time to sign the vehement dress correct and there are people work on board clearly with that program at least in philosophy people like the churchland that we already mentioned chair Oliver not rose I’ll children are ya yeah i think the identity point especially off the latest things that we might want to talk about that consciousness is an illusion right in the country whose that illusion kind of thing so all the people are funded us seem to be on board at this point with that kind of program and what’s not difficult to find you know physicist like Lawrence Krauss and and I’m sure sure yet get out the same the same bored chillin and I think about it sell it finally made it clear to me what is it other than the psychological aspect that bothered me about it saying that I think there are very good reasons and some of several which are still out by selling himself for white that program is nonsensical you’re not going to happen is not what you want you don’t want to have that sir things not possible to that you go out the year joining and prayer and your system is that you that if you go get some sort of in the vending to those your objective perspectives you cannot make sense of what’s going on I say they go for most humanities yes all action I would actually say that that’s what distinguishes an action from a mere event that an action is something that can be understood from a person’s point of view right that makes sense from a point of view so I can get a description of every action that I do you have a better day doing a procedure day right and from an entirely physical perspective or biological perspectives you will or both right and those are the third person independent you know you young with all kind of thing not subjective basically description the problem and those descriptions once month said I we interpret my actions doing a day through the physics then those actions are no difference at all from anything else is going on in universe from the planet earth rotating around the Sun from a rock falling down the tritak from an animal doing something or a plane doing something at Daisy’s no difference now is the scientific a machine capable of recovering the difference between me in Iraq then I say it’s a problem yeah and more substantially it’s a problem because all the elements are significant to me and value that attracted the action attached to it insofar as it is an action not insofar as it is right you know what makes something an active aggression yeah is the fact that it involves me representing you a certain way right if not that it involves atoms colliding in various in various fashions and you could have to to it to things that are identical in terms of the underlying events but one of which is an act of aggression and one which is not right and and unless people want to say none of that matters all right right and I don’t think that they do I mean I mean that’s that’s the thing that bothers me the most is that these are people these are anarchists who want to get rid of law and morality and and and all these chosen they think that they’re just going to be able to have it all I mean this is harris right yeah this sort of glib I can just get rid of all these things but i still can cheat civilization yeah right now so they don’t they want they seem to be one wanting to get rid of the manifest image it no service did it change the lecture exercise cheaply yeah yeah intellectually but then keep all the all the stuff that actually matters in that they do they like so even at an example oh you know being interested as a biologist for a long time into the research on the neurobiology and physiology of falling in love right so they don’t do things these talk about oh well this is the same of influential psychologist who is Rusted in Stony Brook University L&T sure i think is her name who wrote love been interesting articles about oh you know what happens people keep you guys they fall into certain sort of famous first nobody lost which you have to almost indiscriminately toward it but you know a bunch of different people run ten days those are romantic involvement which becomes you know that i say one particular person and then if things keep going you have sort of attachments into the long-term relationships and all that stuff in those places are marked by different hormonal profile certain sister woman alleged rain when you are you experiencing you know sort of sexual attractions or somebody a different settlement is letting your brain or threats eyes in your brain pattern when you’re in a romantic space or when you’re an abduction graph now these are interesting to me as a biologist and actually it does help me make sense of the manifest image of what it is that people find why is it people find attractive certain people white people you know phone are no less but if I wait so five sang-ho then falling in lab or having a romance or attachment is just and that or all or mono profiles there i will be making a huge mistake because it isn’t it is under in part physiologically by those or more pop-ups but if i take out if i strip out the social context the fact that there are social expectations about how to behave with other people and the fact that there are values are involved in formation lab or knock on your logical person the fact that adds or subtracts meaning from your life and all that’s all of that is entirely missing from a neurophysiological under you know study or and what happens will be performed well that does not mean that the science is somehow irrelevant of course this relevant I like to know you know that’s part of the story but def are the story is not the full story and if I think that a beautiful story then I’m missing at you the more important part you know because you know all you’re saying after all the use of the day all that isn’t Fisher and others are saying is that look when people have certain emotions those emotions are underpinned by some kind of brain function you know their brain machine one locate your body and your brain I don’t have a motion superhero right so that’s the consequences are being embodied or any mean I need subject I mean I mean that’s that’s a constant to the fact that actions involving ents right and that love involves physical interaction between people but how else would it go what makes it love is the way those people represent those physical actions exactly as physical event and what the significance of those representations are from which is why although I do I mean you’re right of course that the biological thing do tell you something about the manifest thing yes I would say that that the reasons the person tells you tell you a lot more right about the love about the love not about the underlying correct physics physiology but about the love itself uh you know the person what the person tells you the reasons why he loves this person I think tell you a lot more than the hormonal account um I would agree that doesn’t the way which we talk and explain what happened to up to our own subjective self and the doors condition is much more informative yeah and then the underlying conduct as much as i said as i find interesting that started about i think it’s fascinating and actually it just makes me amazing just how bizarrely complete complicated the biological world is right i mean value namba um i don’t want to say it almost always seems to me a little rude goldberg like but but but yeah i don’t i don’t know me you you’re the scientist is biology actually efficient oh that’s a good question maybe with this because whenever people give me arguments from designed for god i said the thing looks like a fucking Rube Goldberg to me that’s and actually I think a lot of biologists I’ve come to see natural selection existence or recite topic here but but a lot of islands come to have come to see natural selection nanas optimizing process but as what he called it what they call a savvy sizing problems process Bernama so I’m shooting happened this is famous paper that came out of decades ago now that was presenting natural selection as a tinkerer as something that the process that takes whatever materials are about around in the in the garage and put them together in some kind of creative when I give you a Rube Goldberg and a lot of work a lot of times yeah yeah well looking for another one other we can do another one on that that’s again let’s do it good necessarily here’s another quote that I want to protect our work to our living it and dick and get your take on this is against from the Stanford treatment of the topic which is very good as as usual at all significant so he says sellers treatment of mental a sixth concept and also inspired eliminated philosophies of mine such as those expired five churches the idea of those of that approach is that if folk psychology is like a theory then like any theory it could be superseded and replaced by a better theory as scientific psychology and neuroscience progresses but several himself Simmons not a scientific be spread out later that I yourself crucially was unmoved by this idea because the concepts of folk psychology is therefore the manifest image but not focused solely or even maybe principally on the description and explanation of phenomena the language of agency to which we will shortly returning the article is indispensable and cannot be replaced by the language of an offensive experience so first I thought is something that when I studied the church one in graduate school I saw that ought to consider folk psychology a similar or equivalent to attend it’s clearly not yes it does have an explanatory aspect to it sure in that sense it has a component that is kind of really like but unlike scientific theories that’s not the major work that it does now when you’re working in terms of meaning and good night and it isn’t yeah not your bday d internal support you know to be fair to the Churchill’s though this is something that folks cycle effects folk psychology enthusiasts that partly brought on themselves because I think people like folder yeah how to try to take intentional psychology and claim that it is causal explanatory in the manner of a sea of matter of theory and so then of course it’s not a surprise that you know people who are even more science fetishistic than voter is are going to come along as they well but you know and point out to all these flaws um but look I mean this cooks to an even deeper argument that’s been going on that sort of been swaying back and forth you know prior to the reasons so when I mean my reasons I mean when we give when somebody gives a reason for an action right yeah or a reason for a belief were not typically understood as causes right because the influence done was victims died yes it was Davidson who in his very influential papers on action argue that reasons our causes yeah and that then led us into this into this theory that were in now in which reasons are taking as cause enough reasons or causes and the explanations that we give of actions when we cite reasons have to be taken as quasi scientific explanations now in my opinion as I wrote in this essay that you very kindly linked you and your in your blog it might have been that just lends you right in the freewill problem billion and you’re not going to get out of it and I think that it’s a mistake to go there to begin with I don’t think that actions are events or at least they’re not just events and I don’t think reasons it causes in the census or at least they’re not just causes maybe their causes maybe that causes at all but once you once you do I don’t see I don’t see how you get out of it and you accelerate something that sellers warned against in the paper and you set you use the word stereo stereoscopic now several times and that’s crucial to him he says what you must never do is try to piecemeal introduce concepts on the scientific image into the manifest image you can put you could hold them up as to hold here are two ways of looking at the world and ask yourself what is the relationship between the two right what you can’t do is start Rick and I think that maybe seventy percent of contemporary analytic philosophy is piecemeal importing the little pieces of the scientific image so bringing the notion from classical mechanics of a cause into psychological explanations what in the sense of giving a reason for something you did well is exactly that sort of move and it gets you nothing but trouble I agree I be that was the crucial mistake that say it’s still reverberating analytical philosophy and they’re cleaning to a lot of things that are to you here yeah she’s actually then it own classification these kind of thing is in flames math instead of chess yes yes yeah it’s a lot of very very clever arguments because you know the church lens and a bunch of the other people that we mentioned it these are really seriously few philosophers you’re very clever and all that stuff except at all most of what they’re saying you do relevant because they start out with the wrong move they write made a wrong turn and all of that stuff is playing schmess which is this game according to dennis that injures like shed except for one little different and i was like it except for those people right right right and that’s why you know nope look nobody really doesn’t believe that people have agency yeah we got it that’s evident from the way we speak and behave towards each other um but but i think that it’s not a few philosophers that are doing it down sizes there is a danger because we are increasingly I don’t know if you agree with this but we are increasingly more and more trying to medical eyes behavior yeah in a way that seems to me at least could run the risk of inducing a culture wide loss of belief in genuine agency now I don’t know if you think that that’s true no I actually am worried about that as well that’s one of the consequences of the scientistic confusion of defense of the sanctity versus those estimates I mean just just a specific example he’s all these articles which fortunately sdx against asylums a bit but there was a period of several years during which she couldn’t open a magazine or a newspaper or a website without looking at a neural scan of a brand and what I like your brain on whatever right mobile thinking in a letter self and it was a lot of pushing that being a lot of pushing until until then later on a little bit of boy sex but yeah there’s a couple of books out there now on whatever Google miss there is an insect to be there in number neurosciences themselves as being too I’m trying to push sciences and rightly so scientists will have to or else it will never get pushed back on I mean no one’s going to listen to the philosophers who are pushing back right yeah so but Dad that’s boring because then it does present things that people also this is your brain on Malati let’s say a mole thingy oh so that means that i’m not doing them all thinking migraine like what right what do you talking on your plane is part of the sea geological machinery by way of which you thinking we should I owe you my friend you can’t blame the damned brain boy right that’s right I thought you should put a brain riding a bicycle and a brain to the beautiful or rain on writing in that way in job let’s say oh you know the brains of things right happy to be something like the tweak the Twinkie defense I was told at some point if I had oh I I had sugar a high sugars that maybe behave in a certain way and now it’s becoming of the brain defect lady said in Virginia discipline of noodle noodle wall or yes we serve it’s terrifying and part of me that’s terrifying is that actually I think the law is one of the areas that has resisted making this mistake let me give you an example i’m thinking of the legal notion of insanity is not a medical notion right so what gets you out of legal responsibility is not simply being mentally ill it is showing that one has an inability to recognize the difference between right and wrong or how that is an intentional characterization right that is not a biological or a medical characterization and I think it’s telling that the law least as it currently stands says you are not removed from responsibility simply for having an illness for your body having an illness if you have to be able to show that you the person don’t recognize a certain crucial distinction right right now that strike when your glides in three such a thing is you diversify perfectly now I want to go back for a second young to the thing of constant talk of code alley may be waiting please that should be another a separate you know my take notes on all these there are reasons and causes yeah yeah but we think causes in cotati more general because as you know economy the big field in philosophy skeleton metaphysics and epistemology it’s lots of stuff about bring about what I’d ever since take you and actually as it turns out recently I was working on working on a presentation and a book chapter that I have to do in Vienna and a couple of months ahead of meeting about our theoretical biology and philosophy and the meeting in the finite causality in biology hmm and so I had to reread some of the basic computer on causality and it’s a mess it’s a complete mess I mean they do it there’s so many different philosophical kinda literature in biology isn’t no it was in philosophy yeah I invited is usually don’t don’t think too much about it is they just use the word cause instead of our intuitive fashion and you know they say you know this is phenomenon called that or that best kind of action by Epicure organism cause that sort of thing yeah but but in body philosophy there are many many different can’t accounts of causality so which are completely decoupled as far as i can tell from anything is going on in sciences i mean a scientist would recognize some of many of these accounts as anything to do what they’re doing and instruction it struck me as probably what’s going on there is that causality actually refers to a multiplicity of things and that should be kept distinct and we should be using different words for it which is I think why there is so much confusion about what Audrey’s and causes or not reasons are certainly explanation for behaviors it is might cause you mean something like explanations run that it’s a cause right and it’s not a hard on a sense of a cause in classical mechanics exactly yeah you know one of the popular on the standing of causes which actually have a lot of sympathy for is clearly based on physics and it is that a car no cause of interaction basically is transferring of a conserved quantity from one object to another right so controlling these are things like energy momentum things like that right so yeah I would say that if I thank my my fists on my desk at this moment what is happening there you are causing a noise and causing a preparation and yes that cause can be described very nicely as a transference of conserved quantity physical quantity from my body to the desk absolutely that is very very good description what’s going on now try to translate that to [Music] the reason or cause while Massimo last night went out to dinner after the movie is because you wanted to enjoy a nice meal with is containing now that these are in terms of conserved quantities that somehow changed the system set up your hot appetizer no that’s not started writing talking about right but now does that mean that might might behavior than what time cause that you know they had no reasons for doing why they of course I did but those reasons are actually not describable in terms of causality understood in that particular physical eastway there’s not to say of course this was something non-physical going on well as you know i’m right of it I don’t believe in nothing and even though a lot of the underlying motor movements involved we’re cause and precisely x rays you’re talking about but the acts of going to the dinner was not caused in that way and unless you want to say there are no active going to dinner right we all anything almost wonder whether it’s right it’s an illusion right I know you can’t even believe people say these things I’m they’re doing things yeah right I mean which brings us to Dennis so he hands it mean that struck me I would I la this is this recent book that Dennis wrote that Stefan was used by thomas nagel in the new york review of books which we will link to i don’t think it’s behind a paywall so linked to not anymore yeah yeah yeahs anything out but none more so you know Nagel didn’t let me finish the decorator named Anita two liters and characters as far as I’m breathing Englishman I actually think they’re both very interesting philosophers I think there are seriously he’s taking for different reasons and when I my red-hot needles live- own latest book which I’d rather thought was mine and cosmos staff night you know you should usually lead to yeah well you know that one also struck me as soon as we meet guiding in short of the opposite way we’ve said it yeah did you do reviews huh well did you know any d informal comes with something about economics what book sorry um I think that I think actually one good way of understanding that the discrepancy in differences in the opposition debt and nagle get that is something i wanted to always be we buy it what they’re doing but some eccentric a negative too far on the way that you need to be my best image and juice category scientific one and then if you got to the opposite he’s going home full reductions at this point on the scientific image and surely going or big meeting at illusion much of the my document but what Dad was doing in these ratings book is no sir articulating the idea that consciousness is quoting voice an illusion nah what the hell do you mean by that so some other commenters already what was your are you going you’re already annoying it’s only the first day which is what I behind so if you just get out today and he wasn’t even a post as you know it’s please the links to articles that are interested to be four weekend and yet that generated a lot of comments already some of those come in two number lines of well let’s see what what does you need to have an illusion so our conclusion broadly speaking can be simply a misperception what’s going on right well that’s not I think then if not what then it means because it’s not an interesting at all in its an existing it up because it level everything pretty much becomes an illusion you know so right now for instance i’m looking at you through a computer center or not is a screen of my ipad but instead of course all this is an illusion is no electrons that are put together in a particular way by the underlying mechanism of the ipad right so it’s early i’m looking in an illusion nah not for us and the turkey but they’re not helpful at all nobody would be you know first you don’t get any explanatory inside when you say that i am putting in an illusion right now and second of all nobody would disagree yes of course in that sense it is illusion but it’s not useful what then it actually says comes out but by by way of one of these analogies he says that consciousness is a lot like the little icons of folders that you have on a desktop computer right so those fogies so you look if you hear user of a computer you have to alter it is on your desktop and you click on them make open just a detail or folders and then inside quote of course they stop then you can look at and transfer copy and sorry for price but of course that really is an illusion there is nothing like a folder there is no inside there’s no inside it’s not an actual container right that’s a future the micro scanner did nothing inside and therefore death really qualifies as a solution rather useful engine because this is something that allows me to move things and do operate with thing on my computer but that really needed that illusion but to say that consciousness is like death ah to quote a famous phrase by John CR o ye of the Chinese room is like that denying the data the data there is that of course discussion is unconscious right now but I work hard to explain right good that’s what we need to explain right we say that that’s an illusion because you know really what it is it some kind of neural machinery at the bottom you’re not saying anything you’re really not selling anything that I don’t know yes of course they stuff you’ve been dodging me you’re just saying I refuse to explain it is what you’re really saying right you’re saying well I understand them through the noodle machining the bomb that that makes cause responsible questioning how does that work and you don’t say you don’t explain how it works by telling me that nut we did not happen criminally of course we’ve talked earlier about the church one approach to pain in terms of C fibers right telling me that pain is really the key fibers of my neurons unifying it’s not making pain go away right the pain is an illusion I have an undeniable irreducible experience of pain from the systems are conducted and that’s not going to go away it’s not an illusion it’s a perfectly valid description of a psychological state of a subjective thing if you tell me yes but what’s really going on is a certain particular am in a particular way of buying your your friend responding a stripped away I would say that is not what is really going on that is a part of what’s going on that is nice that’s a physical job straight yeah it makes it possible for me to feel pain yeah yeah so let me ask you this then because this is this ring goes back to sellers on all that really talk now it’s a way of expressing the view that the scientific image is primary right and sellers at least the general consensus is that sellers thought that in an important way the scientific image was primary but nonetheless insisted on ultimately a synoptic vision that included both decide to begin to manifest image now I don’t think it matters as much what sellers meant by it is what we can do with it from it seems to me impossible to say that one or the other is primary in any absolute sense it seems to me that the only what Noah sent you can make of anything being primary is relative to a set of interests or relative to a frame of reference yes are you of that view also do you think there is a way with the scientific image is properly primary no I don’t think that and I think that actually feathered from what I understand me I know Celtics color of course but for my name is anything that so it wouldn’t say that thanks big image is from earning an absolutely what it is is if your goal is to understand at bottom how the world works mechanistically then the way to go is the scientific image if I want to know how galaxies are put together how human beings evolved how you know anything else physical happen in the world then yes scientific image is the way to go because that gives the a better this could not be correct prescription music so it’s still a description you know we can forget that science is still human activity and therefore expounded by human rationality humanity set accommodations and joins of work but nonetheless if I if my goal is to understand how the world works yes that then ascended image experiment but in my goal is to interact with other people in a meaningful way to run my life to make priority publish priorities should have chilled relations to engage in normative statements and so on sport then the scientific image is not from it tells me better little it just gives me dekha information you know like like the examples of neural nets or the depends in my brain that are going on when I fall in love yes but that’s secondary that’s just a curiosity now you know it’s not like I go out with somebody in a developer relationship and I keep thinking well you know certain normally might by finding my brain right now that that tells me I’m zessica god that’s just a proper thing it’s like not a trick but it’s but it’s a conversation then we can have over dinner but that is no in no way influences the way in which I interact whether people so if the goal is to interact with other people to choose goal for your life to figure out where meaning in your life goes comes from an earnings report but you always need an online service up that makes the Fabbrica you apply then the manifest images primary not the not the same thing anyone so that’s why I’d like the idea of you serious coming vision yeah now it is another way which I would probably but he actually makes some sense to me here’s no language to thank for article put it on he said that the distinction between the scientific image in the and the manifest image is analogous to can’t distinguish between the phenomenal and aluminum yeah and and he’s currently because square cos would say oh yeah but we don’t have any activism all right but that’s not the sense in which it’s analogous I don’t think I mean it’s analogous instance of the numeral in the world as not not as represented right perfect write it the world is editing itself without the presentation right from a neutral point the way we put it from a non personal point of view from from a nerd neutral perspective yeah yeah yeah and I find that very useful I find that very very very appealing again because and and especially as a scientist philosopher I really appreciate these these idea of the gyroscopic region because I do like the idea that I’m able to switch back and forth and then integrate also whenever it’s necessary whenever it’s useful the two images because that we were saying earlier sometimes the scientific image studies that influence the manifest imagery we change our view of the world game part as a result of major insight from science right i mean what was that science witnesses demonstrated that the universe is much much larger than we thought you know that people doctors people forget that galaxies will not discovered guilty early part of the th century which is amazing it really sucks how recent right most of our understanding is right i mean i mean yeah right now but we thought there was just one galaxy yeah we thought it was just one the university was the Milky Way galaxy yeah what is or isn’t the bus but you know these nebulae they were called nebulae originally and they were thought to be in trouble active object it was only in the ER be executed the s with research by Hubble and others that it was it became clear that bees actually actually very very far apart from them and they are exacting just like our Milky Way now Dan seems to me that change or should change my money says because now I feel part of a much broader cotton was much larger cotton with and let that change the way in which I saw broadly think about things I mean is the way you represent everything it seems to me I mean I didn’t even affect the significance you attached to things and and and and yeah no I agree with that um do you think it goes it away though I mean maybe some of the reason why people think and I’m not not talking about crude science isthmus but more thoughtful people think that there’s a certain product primacy to the scientific image is because while the scientific image can inform the manifest image perhaps they think that it can’t go the other way then the manifest image does not ever inform the scientific image now what do you think of that I mean do you think the manifest image ever informs the scientific image oh that’s a good question I’m not sure to be that the money regiment informed offended image as much as it was constrained on it and then I agree with that right yeah find that in doing so it yeah he said he says look without a manifest image there would be no scientific in with showed a sense but geologically and methodologically the Thunder begin which is dependent upon the manifest on but it purports to give an independent account of all of reality on at least all the reality from no perspective so to speak I mean one way it happened yeah look so I think let me do one example let’s take one them again which is you know the quintessential example of specific image of the world but quantum world is so real that in fact it is very weird but we have trouble and because of that weirdness we have trouble understanding it beyond sir the calculation right there’s a big hole there’s a whole school of thought in fundamental physics that sort of excuse any interpretation of quantum mechanics and is referred to often jokingly as the shut up and calculate school right that no quantum mechanics is a mathematical theory and all you need to do with it is to plug in the numbers and you very precise that these interpretations are innocent fantasies right they don’t get into a metaphysics yeah they’re unnecessary and their shirt them that’s how incredible don’t you think oh that that seems credible don’t you think it is credible now the problem is that a lot of times you just are not happy with that why are they not happy with that because they want to understand the world not just to describe it right science isn’t just in the business of making positions that they experimental around you can use that word a gate that we were just all do statistics no one depending on your lying providing online but not as I say what they want to bring it into the manifest image they want to be able to understand they want to be able to represent it exactly yeah why we get all these discussions about you know metaphors don’t get many world and wait a more simply Oh life is both a particle and our way that is an attempt to reduce the scientific image to the manifest image be laughing we can think about particle their metaphors ma’am every we can think about particles invisible way we can’t think about what light actually excited neither particle Norway it’s something else if you don’t think that behaviors think they resizing based no clearly understood way from political perspective but it is the metaphor we are we keep insisting in using metaphors we cannot do we all miss the country people do science right exact science is an activity right we cannot do without matter where I needed in science right right so jeans at blueprints for instance which I think it’s actually a flawed at the port button but again it I better go because it’s really in today so you’re you’re you’re saying that if you wanted to see what science would look like if it wasn’t being in some ways interpreted in terms of the manifest image it would just be pure statistics as what you’re saying okay yeah oh you’re mad yes that’s right there will be no interpretation if you make a great hero in a sense what you’re doing is to bring you have to bring in metaphorical language and why is that because we’re human being we want to same thing we don’t just want to describe things we run you know we don’t have an instrumental do you assign on the guest sciences over to Metro Court but we want to understand you don’t get you know when I got into science as a young you know kid growing up in Delhi I didn’t get into it because so i could make very precise predictions about things in the world I got into it because i went to understand but to make sense of things yeah but when they stand make sense means that to some extent you have to reconcile the Sun is a big project that involves interpreting it involves interpreting the material that you’re that you’re young interpretations we can do on in terms of this mighty fast image yeah I how we think that’s right there yeah yeah so I generally the only way to do science and the other way was perhaps machines do them right but you got so when a computer when we hand over tasks to a computer so but you know still we interpret the we interpret birthday what’s his computer then tells us right I mean it’s still size for someone right yes and I think they recorded at us it is true that I think it’s very sad to the scientific image constantly implanted and hopefully update the my best image I don’t take the money much does the same but what the money best image does it constrains the way in which we make sense of the scientific yeah it’s done it in a different way I mean they both affect each other i mean the side of again which actually contributes information yep the manifest image can make use of although it has to be careful not to do these sort of piecemeal importing of a notions like mechanistic causality over into human action let’s say right but what amount of has divx does is this the frame in which we interpret everything that we talked that we discover my time science and I get a meaningful talks yes exactly and we cannot do without it because we’re human beings and you mean want to understand things and put meaning to it yeah your meaning understanding valleys all the stuff those are part those are good then the money sexy much not the Ben typically oh maybe yeah I sentencing I realize now and I don’t know whether even you realize that because you say it so often if you realize that this was the point and that is I can’t say how many times I’ve heard you say to people that size of the human activity right and I wonder if you realize the full like residents of what that meant when you say that the people right i mean not not until nine on until i started thinking in terms of me so it has not become one of my favorite philosophers this paper is just amazing for that reason yeah yeah it helped me make sense of a lot of things that i had some kind of intuitions about it and I felt some discomfort about buddy I was missing the gentle over oceans or different framework you no sense of them and now I think I had them and I hope that work our listeners and you know will actually go out and check it Lisa the Stanford article and Eve not as you say the paper in our but I don’t think it’s unreadable for and if you read it with the Stanford article I think you can probably get through it pretty well well this is really fascinating this is really good stuff Massimo and I appreciate it very much and we have to postpone a taping we’re going to do another one that’s been with Massimo and another person’s sky Cleary on the subject of Stoicism and existentialism we had some cousin and I’m going to be moderating as a disembodied voice so you won’t have to look at this go away um but one of my students actually told me it was cute which sort of bolstered me a little bit cuz she was quite attractive morning but uh so that we’re going to be doing that on Monday yeah I know a Tuesday Tuesday excuse me oh yeah oh and going up that’ll double go up not too long after this one and your book is cut is going to be out May nice man I’m so that’s how do you start go pre order it yeah damn it oh my god I check the other day how are you how do preorders yeah it would number one new release in Greek and Roman philosophy so on Amazon so yes if people keep pre-ordering inventing we’ll keep it there we shall get me I’m told by my publishers that pre-orders now are actually crucial to make or break it for book because if they did not preorder then people stopped paying attention it gets high on the rankings reviewer staying at achievements are talking about it and sort of yeah yeah great well we’ll be sure to talk about that when it comes out alright Massimo take care of yourself you too all right talk soon