[lit-ideas] Re: Logical Corpuscularism

  • From: Donal McEvoy <donalmcevoyuk@xxxxxxxxxxx>
  • To: "lit-ideas@xxxxxxxxxxxxx" <lit-ideas@xxxxxxxxxxxxx>
  • Date: Wed, 9 Sep 2015 09:33:34 +0000 (UTC)

There are too many points to address, but I will address one.

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.>
This is wrong. First, and I make no apology for another "merely", but Popper
was not against human freedom being "probabilistic"  - in fact, he makes clear
human freedom depends on a "probabilistic" set-up as opposed to a deterministic
one (where outcomes have a probability of 1) - but he argues that it cannot be
merely "probabilistic" in a quantum mechanical sense. In other words, we cannot
adequately defend human freedom and rational decision-making merely by
appealing to quantum mechanical "probabilistic" effects. Second, this point is
not "minor".  

On Wednesday, 9 September 2015, 2:27, "dmarc-noreply@xxxxxxxxxxxxx"
<dmarc-noreply@xxxxxxxxxxxxx> wrote:

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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