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

  • From: "SWM" <SWMirsky@xxxxxxx>
  • To: wittrsamr@xxxxxxxxxxxxx
  • Date: Wed, 17 Mar 2010 13:00:06 -0000

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

> 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
>  >>>this:
>  >>>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.
> no, it is about the Mirsky system for identifying Cartesian dualists.

No, it is about the question of what is the core picture inherent in Descartes' 
view of minds and the world.

>  >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.
> an ontology is an inventory of what there is; but, you are confusing the
> inventory of what is to be explained with the inventory of what there is
> available to do the explaining.

We can have ontologies on many levels including at a basic level. You will note 
that in that text I cited in a related post describing Cartesian dualism, 
"ontology" was prominently mentioned.

>  >... 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.

No, it's not. Neither are most terms we tend to use in philosophy. As noted, it 
is intended to characterize the idea of bottomline dualism (what most 
philosophers associate with Descartes) in a way that avoids outmoded terms like 
"substance" in this context.

> 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.

Yes, and my point is it does not find a good home there in a world in which 
physics has moved on from where it was in earlier centuries. Nevertheless, we 
can agree that by "assertions of ontological basicness" I mean what you mean by 
"substance dualism". We really don't need to get hung up on words unless you 
want to use your favored term to tie it all down to an archaic picture of the 
universe in which case I demur. As long as you don't attempt some logical ploy 
to lock me into putative logical implications that seem to derive from a belief 
in ultimate substances (which I do not have), then there should really be no 
difficulty in communicating here.

> 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.

As I've said, I think "ontological basicness" captures the point well enough 
despite its inartful appearance. In this case precision should take precedence 
over eloquence.

> 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).

I'm not interested in references to "substance" on this level and I don't care 
for replacing it with "object" because I think that looks far more misleading.

> 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.

My assertion is based on what I have already said, the fact that it is implicit 
in the CRA which I have already explicated extensively.

> you
> note that he has two kinds of objects, experiencer independent physical
> objects and experiencer dependent objects of experience. you call this
> 'dualism'.

No, I note that you cannot claim that consciousness cannot be produced by the 
constituents of the CR merely because they are, on examination, without 
consciousness in themselves, UNLESS you think that consciousness must be 
present for consciousness to be achieved. That is, unless you think that 
consciousness cannot be explained as an outcome of combining constituents that 
are not, themselves, already conscious. And THAT implies that you think that 
consciousness is not finally reducible to constituents what is not like itself, 
i.e., that it is ontologically basic.

> 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.

No, I conclude it because his CRA's conclusion requires a presumption of 
ontological basicness.

> 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
> Joe

Ah, a new allegation of yet another fallacy! Except, of course, that once again 
you misstate my argument which isn't about qualia or two kinds of objects, etc. 
It's about what's implied in the CRA. Look at the argument, rather than 
guessing or making things up!


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