[lit-ideas] Re: Logical Corpuscularism

  • From: "" <dmarc-noreply@xxxxxxxxxxxxx> (Redacted sender "Jlsperanza@xxxxxxx" for DMARC)
  • To: lit-ideas@xxxxxxxxxxxxx
  • Date: Tue, 8 Sep 2015 12:44:33 -0400

We are considering if 'consciousness' is a term of art.

In a message dated 9/8/2015 10:19:58 A.M. Eastern Daylight Time,
donalmcevoyuk@xxxxxxxxxxx implicates (by the use of the acronym 'rotfl') that
it
ain't:

"As if (rotfl) "personal identity" is less of a term of art than
consciousness."

Well, there's nothing wrong with x being a term of art. Only don't expect
"artists" to use them!

Whistler (while conscious) once said, art for art's sake.

George Sand (a woman) was irritated. In a letter to her mother (dated 1872)
she wrote that she found

i. L'art est pour l'art.

"was an empty phrase, an idle sentence" -- "otiose," as Geary would say, or
"analytically false" as perhaps Omar K. would.

When Grice coined 'implicature' (he was unaware that Sidonius had used it,
vide Lewis/Short, "Latin Dictionary", 'implicatura' = entanglement) he said
he was introducing it as a 'term of art' -- which should lead us to

ii. A term of art for a term of art's sake.

Anyway, McEvoy continues:

"I well REMEMBER [emphasis mine -- Speranza] when the last ambulance came
to take me away, I heard someone say."

iii. I think [McEvoy] has lost [his] consciousness.

"only to be rebuked for using a "term of art"".

Well, according to Reid, as long as McEvoy remains without a consciousness
he is not McEvoy.

-- INTERLUDE ON REID ON MCEVOY:

Reid is interested in the notion of memory not only for its own sake but
also because of its conceptual connection to the notion of personal identity.

Reid criticizes Locke's theory of personal identity for inferring a
metaphysical hypothesis now called the Memory Theory from the conceptual
connection between memory and personal identity.

On this theory, personal identity consists in memory; sameness of memory is
metaphysically necessary and sufficient for sameness of persons.

According to Reid, memory is neither necessary nor sufficient for personal
identity, metaphysically speaking.

Indeed, Reid holds that it is impossible to account for personal identity
in any terms other than itself.

Personal identity is simple and unanalyzable.

Though memory is not the metaphysical ground of personal identity,
according to Reid, it provides first-personal evidence of personal identity.

I know that I was present when the last ambulance came because I remember
being there. (McEvoy doesn't [i.e. know that he was present, mutatis
mutandis, when the last ambulance came, because he was apparently
unconscious).

McEvoy's conscious memories do not make McEvoy the same "person".

According to Reid, there is no observational evidence of the existence of
impressions on the brain—they are merely theoretical entities (Essays, 281).

Though Reid identifies his target as having ancient origins, his primary
concern is with what he regards as its modern equivalent.

This modern theory was introduced by Locke.

If McEvoy, when conscious, remembers, episodically, the arrival of the
ambulance, then McEvoy must have existed at the time of the arrival of the
ambulance.

Unlike McEvoy's memory (if he had it) that Napoleon was defeated at
Waterloo, McEvoy's memory that the ambulance ENTAILS McEvoy's existence at the
time of the event remembered.

Reid's main criticism of Locke's theory of personal identity is that Locke
moves from truisms concerning the conceptual and evidential relations among
the notions of memory and personal identity to a hypothesis concerning the
metaphysical relations among them (Essays, 277).

In this, Reid follows Butler's influential dissertation “Of Personal
Identity,” appended to The Analogy of Religion in 1736.

Reid interprets Locke as holding what is now called the Memory Theory of
personal identity (Essays, 277).

On this theory, personal identity consists in memory; sameness of episodic
memory is metaphysically necessary and sufficient for sameness of persons.

In other words, on the Memory Theory, what makes McEvoy identical with
McEvoy over time is McEvoy's remembering (or being able to remember) the events
to which he was witness or agent -- e.g. the arrival of the ambulance, if
he was conscious at that time.

If McEvoy cannot episodically remember an event, McEvoy is NOT identical
with any of the persons who was witness or agent to the event -- the nurses
present at the event, if McEvoy was, as he says he was, unconscious.

In such a case, McEvoy would bear the same relation to that event as any
other person for whom a memory of the event could rise at best to the level
of a memory.

If McEvoy can episodically remember an event, McEvoy's recollection (or
ability to recall) that event makes him identical with the person represented
in that memory as agent or witness to the event.

But there is a secondary, more subtle line of disagreement between Reid and
Locke.

Much of Locke's chapter Identity and Diversity is dedicated to establishing
that the self is not a substance, material or immaterial.

By contrast, Reid holds that the self is a simple, unanalyzable immaterial
substance with active powers.

Reid argues that Locke cannot sustain both the thesis that the self is not
a substance and the thesis that self remains identical over time.

While Reid's criticisms of the Memory Theory are more well known, his
criticism of Locke's insistence that the self is not a substance reveals two
very different accounts of the metaphysics of identity.

While Locke argues that the identity conditions for different kinds of
things differ, so that the conditions under which a mass of matter, and an
animal, and a person are not the same, Reid holds that identity is confined
solely to substances that have a continued, uninterrupted existence and which
do not have parts.

In other words, according to Reid, strictly speaking the only real identity
is personal identity (Essays, 266–267).

“The identity…we ascribe to bodies, whether natural or artificial, is not
perfect identity; it is rather something which, for the conveniency of
speech, we call identity” (Essays, 266).

Reid begins his interpretation and criticism of Locke's theory by noting
that Locke defines the term ‘person’ as meaning “a thinking intelligent
Being, that has reason and reflection…” (Locke Essay, Book II.xxvii.9).

Reid is friendly to this characterization of the self.

But, Reid notes, Locke appears to equivocate between the notion of a person
as a ‘thinking being,’ and the notion of a person as that which is
preserved through consciousness and memory.

Reid paraphrases a passage from Locke's Essay Concerning Human
Understanding:

Reid writes:

"Locke tells us however, “that personal identity, that is, the sameness of
a rational being, consists in consciousness alone, as, as far as this
consciousness can be extended backwards to any past action or thought, so far
reaches the identity of that person. So that whatever hath the consciousness
of present and past actions, is the same person to whom they belong”
(Essays 275–276).

However, the passage in Locke differs from Reid's paraphrase:

Locke writes:

"Personal Identity, i.e. the sameness of a rational Being: And as far as
this consciousness can be extended backwards to any past Action or Thought,
so far reaches the Identity of that Person; it is the same self now it was
then; and ‘tis by the same self with this present one that now reflects on
it, that that Action was done."
(Locke, Essay, Book II.xxvii.9).

Reid's first criticism rests on his interpreting Locke's definition as
committing him to the position that a person is a subject of thought, which
Reid regards as implying that a person is a thinking substance.

At the same time, Locke appears to be committed to an analysis of personal
identity in terms of memory, or, as Locke would put it, consciousness of
the past.

Reid notes that Locke is aware of some of the consequences of the Memory
Theory.

If sameness of CONSCIOUSNESS or memory is necessary and sufficient for
sameness of person, it is possible for there to be sameness of person without
sameness of thinking being.

In other words, it is logically and metaphysically possible for a person to
be “transferred from one intelligent being to another,” or for “two or
twenty intelligent beings to be the same person” (Essays, 276).

************************************** CRUCIAL SEGMENTS *******************

Locke's response to these worries, as well as worries about periods of

INTERRUPTED CONSCIOUSNESS, as in sleep [or as in McEvoy's ambulance episode
when he was unconscious] highlights Reid's criticism:

Locke:

"[I]n all these cases…doubts are raised whether we are the same thinking
thing; i.e. the same substance or no. Which however reasonable, or
unreasonable, concerns not personal Identity at all. The Question being what
makes
the same Person, and not whether it be the same Identical Substance…”
(Locke, Essay, Book II.xxvii.10).

Reid's criticism is not that cases of transfer or fission are incoherent,
though he thinks they are -- and that McEvoy would be a different 'person'
once he recovered consciousness -- (Call it McEvoy-2).

Rather, Reid's criticism is that the possibility of sameness of person
without sameness of thinking Being that the Memory Theory allows is
inconsistent with Locke's characterization of a person as a ‘thinking Being’.

Given that Reid thinks that this initial characterization is correct, he
regards this as a reductio of absurdum of the Memory Theory.

Reid's second criticism is his most famous and is often referred to as the
case of the Brave Officer (Reid was perhaps thinking about Grice, whose
favourite example was: "I am an English officer; therefore, I am brave" (Grice
uses this example as a case of a CONVENTIONAL -- rather than
conversational -- implicature, adding that he is using 'conventional', again,
as an
adjectival 'term of art'.

Suppose a brave officer such as Grice was to have been flogged when a boy
at Clifton [I would say, School, Bristol, but Nancy Mitford says that since
Clifton is SO WELL known it is totally non-U to add anything], for robbing
an orchard, to have taken a standard from the German enemy in his first
campaign [he was involved in action in the North-Atlantic theatre of
operations], and to have been made a captain later during the war.

When I say "suppose" I don't mean the things are false: they are true!
(Geary notes this use of 'suppose' is otiose).

Suppose also, which must be admitted to be possible, that when Grice took
the German standard (from the German submarine, in the North-Atlantic
theatre of operations), Grice was CONSCIOUS of his having been flogged at
Clifton, and that when made a captain of the Royal Navy he was conscious of
his
taking the German submarine standard, but had absolutely lost (temporarily)
the consciousness of his having been flogged at Clifton for robbing a
nearby orchard.

These things being supposed, it follows, from Locke's doctrine, that

iv. He who was flogged at Clifton is the same person who took the German
submarine standard.

and that

v. He who took the German submarine standard is the same person who was
later made a captain of the Royal Navy.

When it follows, if there be any truth in logic, that the captain is the
same person with him who was flogged at Clifton.

But the captain's (i.e. Grice's) CONSCIOUSNESS does not reach so far back
as his having been flogged at Clifton for robbing a nearby orchard.

Therefore, according to Locke's doctrine, Grice-the-captain is not the
person as Grice-who-was-flogged-at-Clifton.

Therefore Grice-the-RN-captain is, and at the same time is not the same
person as him who was flogged at Clifton (Essays, 276).

Would Grice be happy with this? Grice would, because his account of
identity is relative

Grice1 =/= Grice2

but Locke perhaps wouldn't.

According to the Memory Theory, personal identity consists in memory.

That is, sameness of memory is metaphysically necessary and sufficient for
sameness of a person such as Grice.

On this account, given that sameness of memory is sufficient for sameness
of person, if a person at time tn remembers an event that occurred at time
t1 then the person at time tn is identical with the person who was witness
or agent to the event at time t1.

If Grice-the-brave-captain who has just taken the standard off the German
submarine remembers being beaten at Clifton, then Grice-the-brave-captain
is identical with the boy who was beaten.

So too, if Grice-the-captain remembers taking the German flag,
Grice-the-captain is identical with the brave officer that he was.

If the capttain is identical with the brave officer, and the brave officer
is identical with the boy, by the transitivity of identity, the captain is
identical with the Clifton boy.

However, on this account, given that sameness of memory is a necessary
condition for sameness of person, if a person at time tn does NOT remember
(episodically) -- because he goes 'unconscious' as McEvoy did when the
ambulance came -- an event that occurred at time t1, then the person at time tn

cannot be identical with any person who was witness or agent to the event at
time t1.

If Grice-the-captain cannot remember being beaten at Clifton, he cannot be
identical with the boy who was beaten.

Thus, the Memory Theory is committed to mutually incompatible theses: that
the captain (Capt. Grice) is identical with the Clifton boy and that he is
not.

There's a further criticism by Reid to Locke, which is what Popper (and
Eccles) would call "terminological" (and which are my favourite type of
criticisms).

Reid argues that Locke confounds CONSCIOUSNESS with memory — elsewhere
Reid also argues that Locke confounds consciousness with reflection (Essays,
58).

CONSCIOUSNESS (as McEvoy lost it, and which was the reason why the
ambulance was called, by someone else in the household, since McEvoy was not
'there' to call -- he was unconscious -- and memory are distinct phenomena,
according to Reid.

CONSCIOUSNESS is directed towards present mental acts and operations,
while MEMORY is directed towards PAST events to which one was agent or
witness.

If consciousness could extend to past events, according to Reid, memory
would be redundant, or as he says, 'otiose' (Essays, 277).

Geary agrees: he finds "Thanks for the memories" an otiose thing to say --
"even if less otiose than "You're welcome for thanking me for the
memories"".

According to Reid, memory is neither necessary nor sufficient for personal
identity, metaphysically speaking, despite the conceptual and evidential
relations memory bears to personal identity.

It is not a necessary condition because each us has been agent or witness
to many events that we do not now remember.

I may have other good evidence of things which befell me, and which I do
not remember.

Reid wrote:

"I know who bare me, and suckled me, but I do not REMEMBER these events"
(Essays, 264).

As it happened, it was his mother -- which the early Quine thought was
'analytic' (and 'a priori').

It is not a sufficient condition, for, as Butler showed, while having an
episodic memory of an event ENTAILS that one existed at the time of the
event remembered (vide Benjamin, "On remembering" (Mind), cited by Grice in
"Prolegomena to Logic and Conversation") it is not the recollection or the
ability to recall that makes one identical with the person who was witness or
agent to the event.

"It may here be observed…that it is not my remembering any action of mine
that makes be to be the person who did it."

"This remembrance makes me know assuredly that I did it; but I might have
done it, though I did not remember it" (Essays, 265).

A fourth criticism by Reid contra Locke is that, while memory IS tied to
personal identity conceptually and evidentially, such ties do not entail a
metaphysical connection that would license analyzing the latter in terms of
the former (Essays, 277).

Reid's final criticism is that the Memory Theory is committed to the
absurdity that identity consists in something that has no continued existence
(Essays, 278).

Reid and Locke agree that memory, CONSCIOUSNESS, thought, and other mental
operations have no continued existence.

They are fleeting and non-continuous -- witness McEvoy's losing (his)
consciousness which motivated someone in the household to call the ambulance.

But Locke and Reid agree that identity, and in particular personal
identity, requires a continued existence over time.

As Locke puts it, “one thing cannot have two beginnings of Existence, nor
two things one beginning” (Locke, Essay, Book II.xxvii.1).

But these commitments are jointly inconsistent with the thesis that
personal identity consists in memory.

A theory of personal identity is intended to account for how a person
remains identical over time.

When analyzed in terms of items that are fleeting and non-continuous—ideas,
memories, thoughts—identity is reduced to diversity; that is, it is
eliminated.

By contrast, if one locates personal identity in that which thinks and
remembers, and which has a continued, uninterrupted existence, one purchases
personal identity at the cost of admitting that the self is a substance.

Reid captures Locke on the horns of a dilemma.

Either the self is a substance (vide Gallie, cited by Grice, in "Personal
Identity") in which case it remains identical over time, or the self is not
a substance, in which case there is no personal identity.

Reid holds that this dilemma applies with equal force against any
reductionist account of personal identity that employs the theory of ideas, for

example Hume's bundle theory of the self (Essays, 473–474).

Those familiar with the contemporary literature on personal identity, with
its emphasis on the necessary and sufficient conditions under which a
person remains identical over time, may wonder.

If Reid holds that memory is not the criterion of identity, and if Reid's
substance dualism rules out bodily identity as a criterion of personal
identity, in what does personal identity consist?

Reid's answer is that identity cannot be accounted for in any terms other
than itself.

This is neither quietism nor epistemic humility on Reid's part.

Rather, Reid argues that the nature of personal identity—its simplicity and
indivisibility—rules out any reductive account that appeals to notions
other than identity in explaining how a person persists over time.

Reid holds that numerical identity is, strictly speaking, indefinable, but
it can be contrasted with other relations, such as diversity, similarity
and dissimilarity (Essays, 263).

It requires a continued existence over time—a duration—and requires that
there be no two beginnings of existence.

Because mental states are fleeting and non-continuous they cannot remain
identical over time.

A mental state may be indistinguishable from a previous mental state, but
because mental states do not have a continued existence, no mental state at
one time can be numerically identical with another at a different time.

As a result, a person such as McEvoy cannot be identified with their
thoughts, actions or feelings (Essays, 264).

However, according to Reid, thoughts, actions, feelings and all other
mental operations are had or performed by a subject that has a continued
existence and that bears the same relation to all them.

The subject is an immaterial substance that thinks, acts and feels.

According to Reid, this substantial self has no parts—it is indivisible—
which contributes to its resistance to reductive explanation.

Reid appeals to Leibniz's notion of a monad to describe the indivisibility
of this immaterial, substantial self (Essays, 264) -- but a monad is
anti-corpuscular.

Though memory is not the metaphysical ground of personal identity, it
provides first-personal evidence of it.

Reid notes that the evidence we use to make judgments about our own pasts
is different from the evidence we use to make judgments about other people
and their pasts (Essays 266).

Memory justifies first-personal reports about one's own witnessed past,
while judgments of qualitative similarity justify third-personal statements
about the identities of other persons.

I know that I was present at the club because I remember being there.

I know that a man with a strangely-coloured straw-hat was at the club
because he introduced himself as "Marmaduke Bloggs" and I remember that.

First-personal, memorial reports about one's own past are either true or
false.

If the memorial experience is a genuine episodic memory, it is impossible
for it to testify falsely concerning one's presence at the event remembered.

This aspect of episodic memory reports is often expressed by saying that
they are immune to error through misidentification.

If the memorial experience testifies falsely concerning one's presence at
the event remembered, it cannot be an episodic memory.

For example, if Grice had an experience as of having been flogged at
Clifton as a child (for robbing a nearby orchard) but he was never thus flogged

there, Grice cannot (logically) be said to "remember having been flogged at
Clifton", strictly speaking.

The upshot is that first-personal memorial reports, if they are episodic
memory reports, provide certainty concerning one's presence at the event
remembered.

Because third-personal judgments about the pasts of other persons are based
on judgments of qualitative similarity rather than episodic memory, they
are never certain (vide Grice, Intention and UNCERTAINTY, a critique of
Hart/Hampshire's essay on intention and certanity): they are only ever more or
less well justified (Reid, Essays 264–265).

It is important to notice that while Reid uses the term ‘evidence,’ when
describing the role that memory plays in first-personal knowledge of one's
own past, memory is not used by persons to justify judgments or beliefs
about their own pasts.

In other words, people do not remember events and then conclude from having
remembered them, that it was they who were witness to the events.

Rather, memory itself represents one's presence at the event remembered.

According to Reid, a memory consists in a conception of an event and a b
elief, about the event conceived, that it happened to me, where the pronoun is
indexed to the person who is represented in the memory as agent or
witness.

In other words, memory consists in part in a judgment that represents one's
presence at the event.

Any further judgment, justified by memory, to the effect that I was the
person who was there would be superfluous—memory already testifies to my
having been there.

This is why Reid calls the evidence of memory immediate: first-personal
statements about one's own past are memory statements, not statements made on
the basis of memory.

Reid's picture is one on which each of us is immediately and justifiably
aware of our own past because each of us remembers having been there.

This is the moral of the story concerning the logical relationship between
the concept of memory and the concept of personal identity.

Memories do not make me the same person as the person represented in my
memories.

Rather, memories allow me to know my own past, immediately and directly.

******************** END OF INTERLUDE ON REID AND MCEVOY'S HAVING LOST
(HIS) CONSCIOUSNESS but allegedly not his (personal) identity.

McEvoy continues:

"Then the voice said

vi. Sorry, I [meant to say that McEvoy's] personal identity isn't the
best.""

"I now think the people who took me away were Grice[i]ans."

-- whereas earlier he thought they were Reidians.

McEvoy concludes about a "running joke", to wit,

"the idea that "conceptual analysis" can advance our understanding of the
facts of the matter as to the relations between mental states and brain
states. This is like saying I can find out the time of the next train from
Waterloo to Brighton by "conceptual analysis" or discover whether atoms
contain
quarks ["merely"] by "conceptual analysis"."

Actually McEvoy would be surprised how physicians worship 'conceptual
analysis' and consider themselves (or 'their selves', as Grice prefer) as being

"closet philosophers", and "of the ordinary language school" at that!

This relates to the second example. The first, about the Waterloo-Brighton
train, surely, checking with a time-table will help, and reading it, which,
broadly speaking, involves a conceptual analysis of the diagram before
your eyes as you do check the time of the NEXT train.

Apparently, it's at 19:24 (reaching Clapham Junction at 19:32) and getting
at Brighton at 20:33 if ON TIME.

But 'next' is deictic, and there is a 'next' to the 'next' and so on ad
infinitum, as long as Waterloo and Brighton (and Clapham Junction) keep
existing!

Cheers,

Speranza




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