[Wittrs] Dualism Cooties: How to Count Substances in Ordinary Language

  • From: Joseph Polanik <jpolanik@xxxxxxxxx>
  • To: wittrsamr@xxxxxxxxxxxxx
  • Date: Wed, 17 Mar 2010 07:18:11 -0400

SWM wrote:

>Joseph Polanik wrote:

>>SWM wrote:

>>>For the record, the argument which I have made before and with which
>>>I think Dennett is in accord based on that text, goes rather like

>>>1) If you think consciousness cannot be broken down to non-conscious
>>>constituents, then you are a Cartesian Dualist.

>Premise 1 is about what it means to be a Cartesian dualist and nothing
>more than that. Many distinct doctrines are possible but there are only
>three basic possibilities:

>1) The universe consists entirely of whatever it is that underlies
>physicality and nothing more.

>2) The universe consists entirely of whatever it is that underlies what
>we call mind and nothing more.

>3) The universe consists of at least two basics, that which underlies
>mind and that which underlies the physical, which somehow co-exist.

>... none of the above three claims can be successfully argued for in
>any definitive way because, being of a metaphysical kind, they are all
>equally compatible with the way things are as we find them. That,
>indeed, is their point: to account for the world as it is.

>Wittgenstein aimed to direct us away from such inquiries because, as he
>noted, they hinge on linguistic applications that are extracted from
>their real world contexts, e.g., look at how taking a term like
>"substance" out of its everyday contexts leads us to think about the
>universe in a certain way, a way that's no longer compatible with
>modern physics theory and can thus mislead or, at least, prompt us to
>step away from physics into a realm of discourse that can go nowhere.

your constant chiding about ordinary language is laughable in view of
the monstrosity you coined: ontological basicness. that's not a phrase
you hear very often in the neighborhood sports bar.

you might want to read the SEP article about the concept of substance in
philosophy at http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/substance/. it points
out that philosophers did not take the word out of ordinary language. it
moved from philosophy to ordinary language.

in any event, you are free to propose a substitute for 'substance'; but,
any translation creates a risk of confusion resulting from the
connotations of current usage of the word(s) chosen as substitutes. for
example, the SEP article indicates that 'object' might be a good
substitute for 'substance'. however, one must qualify that in at least
two ways. first, to conduct a 'substance count', the number of different
*kinds* of objects is the crucial factor. having only one kind of
objects (e.g. physical objects) makes one a substance monist even though
there are innumerable separate objects.

secondly, only an experiencer independent kind of object would count as
a substance. so, experiencer dependent objects such as afterimages
would not count as a separate *kind* of object (for purposes of a
substance count).

inducing the experience of an afterimage does not make a distinct physical object pop into existence; but, the afterimage would be considered an intentional object or object of thought.

that's probably a big part of the linguistic sleight of hand involved in
your attempt to classify Searle as an interactive substance dualist. you
note that he has two kinds of objects, experiencer independent physical
objects and experiencer dependent objects of experience. you call this
'dualism'. you decide that the only 'real' dualist is a substance
dualist. you conclude that Searle is a substance dualist because he
advocates a real dualism.

the fallacy is that the phenomenological dualism that constitutes the
hard problem of consciousness research is a real dualism; but, it isn't
substance dualism



Nothing Unreal is Self-Aware



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