Mind and Language

Truth and Facts

Abstract: In the following short piece some general observations on the place, purpose, and qualities of “truth” and “facts” are discussed, firstly from the default vernacular position and thereafter from the perspective which would eventually come to be termed the postmodern point of view. In this process truth as correspondence or signification is considered, especially as when supported by facts claimed from empirical sources. Such a basis is, however, found to be too limiting for the human condition, and so we then turn to philosophical resources, especially with regards to phenomenological modes of thought that take internal experience as evidentiary. If truth is freed from representative constraints, and if one’s own inner life is allowed to present data personally accepted as facts, then what conclusions about these categories might be drawn? Some tentative responses are offered.

Keywords: Continental philosophy; facts; interpretation; phenomenology; truth

Truth and Facts_Andrew Oberg

This is an Author's Accepted Manuscript of an article published in the journal Humanismus, 34 (2023), 33-41.

Souls and Selves: Querying an AI Self with a View to Human Selves and Consciousness

Abstract: The question of self-aware artificial intelligence may turn on the question of the human self. To explore some of the possibilities in play we start from an assumption that the self is often pre-analytically and by default conceptually viewed along lines which have likely been based on or from the kind of Abrahamic faith notion as expressed by a “true essence” (although not necessarily a static one), such as is given in the often vaguely used “soul.” Yet we contend that the self is separately definable, and in relatively narrow terms; if so, of what could the self be composed? We begin with a brief review of the descriptions of soul as expressed by some sample scriptural references taken from these religious lineages, and then transition to attempt a self-concept in psychological and cognitive terms that necessarily differentiates and delimits it from the ambiguous word “soul.” From these efforts too will emerge the type of elements that are needed for a self to be present, allowing us to think the self in an artificial intelligence (AI) context. If AI might have a self, could it be substantively close to a human’s? Would an “en-selved” AI be achievable? I will argue that there are reasons to think so, but that everything hinges on how we understand consciousness, and hence ruminating on that area – and the possibility or lack thereof in extension to non-organic devices – will comprise our summative consideration of the pertinent theoretical aspects. Finally, the practical will need to be briefly addressed, and for this some of the questions that would have to be asked regarding what it might mean ethically to relate to AI if an “artificial self” could indeed arise will be raised but not answered. To think fairly on artificial intelligence without anthropomorphizing it we need to better understand our own selves and our own minds. This paper will attempt to analyze the self within these bounds.

Keywords: artificial intelligence; consciousness; identity; mind; personhood; self; soul

Souls and Selves: Querying an AI Self_Andrew Oberg

This is an Author's Accepted Manuscript of an article published in the journal Religions 14(1): 75, January 05, 2023. (DOI:; available here.

Talking about consciousness

Abstract: One of the most intractable problems in the philosophy of mind today – and in philosophy generally – is that of consciousness. Some think that it cannot be accounted for and must somehow be an extra element of the universe, while others reject such thoughts as ludicrous and maintain that a reductionist and purely physical account can provide all the answers necessary. The present piece (prudently perhaps) does not try to solve that debate but instead argues that fault is to be found in the manner in which the debate is being conducted, that it is the dialogical terms and approaches that are at the root of the troubles. In exploring this position thinking, intent, feeling, experience and qualia are all considered and the beginnings of a multi-layered model are presented.

Keywords: consciousness; experience; feeling; intent; qualia; thinking; what it is like

Talking about Consciousness_Andrew Oberg

This is an Author's Accepted Manuscript of an article published in the journal Bulletin of the University of Kochi, 67 (2018), 1-11.

Dreaming of AI lovers

Abstract: The vision of building machines that are or can be self-aware has long gripped humankind and now seems closer than ever to being realized. Yet behind this idea lie deep problems associated with the self, with consciousness, and with what it is to be a being capable of experience. It is the aim of this paper to first explore these important background concepts and seek clarity in each one before then turning to the question of artificial intelligence and whether or not such is really possible in the manner in which we are approaching it.

Keywords: artificial intelligence; consciousness; ontology; qualia; the self

Dreaming of AI lovers_Andrew Oberg

This is an Author's Accepted Manuscript of an article published in the journal Philosophy in the Contemporary World, 24:1 (2017), 15-28.

Thinking unempirically

Abstract: Empiricism has become the default standard of our age, and only that which can be appropriately measured and assigned is now thought to be true. Objectively true. Fully true. In the short piece below I argue that this position, this approach to the world and our manner of being in it, needlessly restricts how we live and harmfully narrows our future possibilities. What follows is a case for thinking differently, for thinking unempirically.

Keywords: being; empirical; imagination; objectivity; scientific method; truth

Thinking Unempirically_Andrew Oberg

This is an Author's Accepted Manuscript of an article published on Philosopher, July 03, 2017. <>.

Our present absence: Some thoughts on space

Abstract: The availability of open areas around us is something that we often take for granted, only really noticing empty space when there is a lack of it. Yet this can have a major impact on our feelings of well-being, our connection with others and our surroundings, and even our appreciation of beauty. The following examines this notion of emptiness through some considerations of living space, the psychology of crowding, transcendental and aesthetic experiences, and posits the idea of a language of space. The argument is made that the nothing around is better considered a something.

Keywords: Haidt’s hive switch; Ike no Taiga; Kuniyoshi Utagawa; language of space; living space; overpopulation

Our present absence: Some thoughts on space_Andrew Oberg

This is an Author's Accepted Manuscript of an article published in the journal
Surugadai University Studies, 48 (2014), 133-145.

Don’t put mouths in my words: Intuitive moral judgments and the quest for a factual vocabulary

Abstract: Although philosophers as a group may be skilled at making rational moral judgments, nearly everyone else is not (discussed in Haidt (2001); see below), and this disconnect has important implications for how we should approach our use of language in philosophy. In the following, the intuitive basis of the vast majority of moral judgments is explored, as well as the default evaluative layer this process gives to our languages when they are used in their day-to-day aspect as communicative tools. However, a purely factual vocabulary is not impossible, and taking a lead from Carnap’s work on formal idioms three general aspects of what such would entail are briefly examined. Finally, the role that philosophy can offer in the practical application of knowledge gained through a research-focused use of a factual vocabulary is indicated in the hope that we who engage in philosophy will do so with the goal of helping to improve the lives of those around us.

Keywords: evaluative vocabulary; factual vocabulary; intuitive morality; language; moral judgments

Don't put mouths in my words_Andrew Oberg

This is an Author's Accepted Manuscript of an article published on
Philosopher, November 07, 2013. <>.