[Wittrs] Re: Dancing Dualisms: Searlean Moves and Cartesian Moves

  • From: "SWM" <SWMirsky@xxxxxxx>
  • To: wittrsamr@xxxxxxxxxxxxx
  • Date: Thu, 01 Apr 2010 02:12:31 -0000

--- In Wittrs@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxx, Joseph Polanik <jPolanik@...> wrote:

> SWM wrote:
>  >Gordon Swobe wrote:
>  >>If you/Dennett want me to believe that Searle's CRA requires
>  >>acceptance of dualism then you need to convince me that it requires
>  >>acceptance of something non-physical.
>  >... the claim is NOT that Searle is an explicit dualist in which case
>  >he would be obliged to acknowledge subscribing to all the tenets of
>  >dualism.

> it seems that we have a curious double standard here.
> an explicit dualist has to subscribe to all the tenets of dualism.

There are many doctrines of dualism. All have something in common though, in 
order to be counted as "dualism" and that is that they hold that to account for 
the presence of consciousness in the universe, we must assume that there is 
more than one ontological basic where one underlies all things physical and the 
other (assuming we stop at two) underlies the phenomenon of consciousness 
(being aware, being a subject, etc.). This basic shared idea, that there must 
be at least two ontological basics to account for the presence of minds in the 
world occurs most explicitly with Descartes in the traditions of Western 
Philosophy and has been expressed in many different ways down through the 

But it is standart philosophical fare in the Western tradition to ascribe this 
way of thinking to Descartes. Nevertheless, that is not to say that ALL 
expressions of dualism consist of Descartes' specific doctrines, evolved and 
articulated on the foundation of his idea about the twofold nature of the 
physical reality and subjective experience.

> you accuse Searle of being an implicit Cartesian dualist;

An implicit ontological dualist which you equate with substance dualism and, 
yourself, traced back to Descartes. That is, I say Searle implicitly shares a 
view of mind that is one with the underlying notion Descartes maintained, even 
if Searle is at pains to deny it.

> but,
> when someone points out that there is no evidence that Searle believes
> that the human consists of a mortal body and an immortal soul which
> interact, you say that someone you accuse of *implicit* Cartesian
> dualism doesn't have to subscribe to all the key aspects of interactive
> substance dualism.

Because I am referring to the idea that we need at least two ontological basics 
to account for the occurrence of mind in a physical universe, i.e., that minds 
cannot be fully explained in physical terms.

Yes, I know Searle asserts that he believes brains cause minds in some as yet 
undiscovered physical way but his argument in the CRA vis a vis the CR hinges 
on a very different conception of mind, i.e., one that comes down to the very 
dualism he denies. So he is confused and in contradiction.

> this sort of doubletalk has an interesting consequence: if Searle
> admitted to everything you accuse him of, he would thereby prove all
> your accusations false.
> Joe

I've made my argument(s) numerous times, often in very specific step-by-step 
statements. My claim hinges on the validity of those claims and conclusions, 
not on what Searle admits to, or doesn't admit to.


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