[lit-ideas] Re: Logical Corpuscularism

  • From: "" <dmarc-noreply@xxxxxxxxxxxxx> (Redacted sender "Jlsperanza@xxxxxxx" for DMARC)
  • To: lit-ideas@xxxxxxxxxxxxx
  • Date: Tue, 8 Sep 2015 21:27:28 -0400

In a message dated 9/8/2015 10:19:58 A.M. Eastern Daylight Time,
donalmcevoyuk@xxxxxxxxxxx writes what he thinks is the misguided "idea that
"conceptual analysis" can advance our understanding of the facts of the matter
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 by "conceptual

Well, we have to understand that, as used by Boyle (and incidentally, by
me) 'corpuscule' IS a term of art. It's not like I'm going to hear as from my

And it's also a fact that the corpuscular theory best applies to PHYSICAL
corpuscules (for what other corpuscules could there be?). When McEvoy,
feeling witty, coined "Logical Corpuscularism" he was thinking of Russell's
Philosophy of Logical Atomism", but Russell, who liked a metaphor, was
never clear as to what he meant by 'atom', and Witters would be of NO help!

Physical Corpuscularism could apply to something other than physical, say
psychological (never mind Popper's w3) in something like Grice's "CTP",
Causal Theory of Perception, another term of art. For that was the idea that
Locke borrowed from Boyle but never returned. There are corpuscules and there
are corpuscules (in the perceiver) and the causal theory of perception
holds that the corpusculus in the perceptum CAUSES the perception in the

While Popper was involved with human freedom and such, it is not clear that
one can DECIDE to see that it is raining when it is not. Hallucinations,
while some can be called 'veridical' are a beast whose nature needs
conceptual clarification.

Robert Doyle (whose surname rhymes with Boyle) has in the Information
Philosopher cite some quotes by Popper regarding downward causation and
corpuscules, if quantum theory may be said to be a derivation of Boyle's
corpuscularism (recall that unlike atomism, corpuscularism holds that
can be 'divided' by complex processes of nuclearisation). But Popper's points
(at least in Doyle's exegeses) seem minor: Popper was concerned with
quantum mechanics being ultimately probabilistic and for some reason Popper
not want to see human freedom (or free-willed decisions) as probabilistic.
Popper's conversations with Eccles perhaps were helpful TO THEM but not to
third parties. At least Doyle and I think that there are great divergences
between one and the other, and that Popper was less optimistic about the
prospects of quantum theory qua metaphysical picture (because of his qualms
against probabilism) if not research programme.

Russell's Philosophy of Logical Atomism is a bit of a mess, and it's only
understandable that the Philosophy of Logical Corpuscularism will be

If McEvoy took phrases like

i. McEvoy seems to have lost his consciousness.

as a natural thing to say (rather than as involving a 'term of art') that
is because McEvoy feels comfy with 'consciousness'. Freud didn't. Are
McEvoy's unconscious processes not part of McEvoy's qualities as a w1-cum-w2
item? I don't think so.

Consciousness, even as conceived by Campbell, was in great need of a
conceptual analysis. Some like Hintikka would take consciousness as a branch of


ii. It is raining, but McEvoy is not conscious of that.

iii. It is raining and McEvoy is conscious of that: i.e. he believes, with
justification, the true proposition that it is raining.

iii. McEvoy perceives that it is raining because his eyes are in contact
with the drops from the sky that English speakers call 'rain' and that cause
him to utter, on request or other, the utterance, "It IS raining".

iv. Moore's case, "It is raining but I don't believe it"

is thus a pragmatic contradiction because it, well, refutes logical



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