[Wittrs] Re: Dualism Cooties: Classifying Searle

  • From: "SWM" <SWMirsky@xxxxxxx>
  • To: wittrsamr@xxxxxxxxxxxxx
  • Date: Mon, 15 Mar 2010 00:33:33 -0000

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

> SWM wrote:
>  >Joseph Polanik wrote:
>  >>OTOH, if you take the position that properties are not reducible to
>  >>the substance of which they are a property, then the relevant
>  >>questions are 'how many fundamentally different property sets are
>  >>there' and 'how many substances are invoked to explain having that
>  >>many property sets'.
>  >I think you over intellectualize this kind of thing

> I prefer a taxonomy that recognizes more nuances in the philosophical
> landscape than your taxonomy (every philosophical position on the
> experience/brain relation is either a dualism of ontological basicness
> or it's not dualism at all).

You do and thereby end up creating a tangle of so many possibilities that you 
lose sight of the proverbial forest for the trees.

>  >>S1/P1 - substance monism / property monism - reductive physicalists
>  >>and eliminative materialists here - Dennett and Searle (according to
>  >>Searle) - also panpsychists
>  >Searle, of course, peels off subjectness from the rest of the universe
>  >by asserting that it has a "first person ontology" which cannot be
>  >dealt with in a third person way. But what does that mean, finally?

> according to you, it means that Searle is a Cartesian dualist, an
> interactive substance dualist.

Well, of course "according to [me]". Don't you write your views according to 
you? I have laid out what I take the possibilities to be, indicated where I 
believe Searle fits and why. You don't agree. Okay. One of us may be right, the 
other wrong, or one of us may be closer to being right than the other.

But it's obvious neither of us is going to budge and we both think we've got it 
right. Me, according to me, you according to you.

My view is that as long as you think consciousness isn't reducible to what 
isn't itself conscious you cannot conceive of how certain kindsof physical 
processes, not themselves conscious, can be conscious when combined in a 
certain way. It is THAT conception that controls Searle's idea of 
consciousness, that is dualist (because it posits at least two irreducible 
phenomena in the world) and that underlies his CRA. Without it, the CR cannot 
offer a generalized conclusion concerning its constituents (the types of 
physical processes in question).

>  >I think Searle's approach is confused.
> as do others. my opinion is that Searle's philosophy is either
> internally inconsistent or incoherently articulated or both.

Maybe both. Seems so to me, too.

> I agree with you that both Dennett and Searle "seem to embrace the
> physicalist view of the universe"; but, in my view, such an assessment
> makes Searle a substance monist.

He would not characterize it that way and, as you know, I think there is little 
of value to be gained in debating such positions. While I agree that we have 
positions like this underlying our way of thinking about things (sometimes more 
than one type at the same time), none of these positions is sucseptible to 
logical debate and resolution. A picture is just a picture. It's identifiable 
and even describable but it is not provable.

> obviously, you disagree; but, I am not convinced that (once the
> inconsistencies in Searle's position are resolved) he would appear to be
> an interactive substance dualist.

Well he hasn't resolved them as far as I know but I'm not arguing about 
everything Searle ever said, only about his CR and the CRA he drew from it.

> much more responsible is Chalmers' conclusion:
> "Searle [1992] admits the logical possibility of zombie, and in fact
> holds that there is merely a causal connection between the microphysical
> and conscious experience, so he is perhaps best seen as a property
> dualist." [Chalmers. _The Conscious Mind_ p. 376] {Searle 1992 is
> Rediscovery of the Mind}
> if Chalmers is right, then Searle is in class S1/P2: substance monism
> (physicalism) and property dualism.
> Joe

If Walter's articulation of property dualism is correct, then I would agree 
that Searle's position is consistent with it. I note, of course, that he has 
consistently denied being a "property dualist" and, in so doing, has argued 
that to be a real property dualist is no different than to be the sort of thing 
you like to call a substance dualist. I'm inclined to agree with him to this 
extent: Walter's version of property dualism (and maybe yours and Chalmers') 
isn't any real kind of dualism to be concerned about. It's just to use a 
particular way of speaking about what we mean by the aspects of subjective 
experience. It has no serious implications for either Searle's or Dennett's 
position (except that Searle would be wrong in denying being one if Walter's 
claim of what constitutes "property dualism" is right).


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