[Wittrs] Re: Dualism Cooties: Classifying Searle

  • From: Gordon Swobe <gts_2000@xxxxxxxxx>
  • To: wittrsamr@xxxxxxxxxxxxx
  • Date: Sun, 14 Mar 2010 17:06:09 -0700 (PDT)

--- On Sun, 3/14/10, Joseph Polanik <wittrsamr@xxxxxxxxxxxxx> wrote:

> in the same article, Searle says:
> "What is the difference between consciousness and other
> phenomena that undergo an ontological reduction on the basis of a causal
> reduction, phenomena such as colour and solidity? The difference is
> that consciousness has a first-person ontology; that is, it only
> exists as experienced by some human or animal, and therefore, it
> cannot be reduced to something that has a third-person ontology, 
> something that exists independently of experiences."
> here is dividing phenomena into that which has a
> 'first-person ontology' and that which has a 'third-person ontology'. 
> that claim, plus the claim that the former is not reducible to the 
> latter, supports my belief that Searle clearly acknowledges a 
> phenomenological dualism.

I consider Searle's philosophy of mind a flavor of non-reductive physicalism, 
clearly distinct from any form of dualism. He distinguishes himself from 
dualists by denying the existence of any non-physical substances or properties. 
> opinions differ as to whether he explains this phenomenological dualism
> by postulating a property dualism or a dualism of ontological basicness

Neither, I would say. 

As Searle puts it, we lose the concept of consciousness when we deny its 
first-person ontology. But this is not to say we could not do the reduction if 
we so desired -- only that it would make no sense to do so. 

Somewhere in his writings he cites mud as an example: when we reduce mud to 
water and soil, we lose the concept of muddiness, and muddiness is what 
interests us when we use word mud. In the case of mud, then, it makes no sense 
to do a reduction. Likewise with consciousness. We can reduce it to 
third-person physics (as in identity theory), but in reducing it we lose the 
concept that interests us.



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