[Wittrs] Re: Dualism Cooties: Is Property Dualism Always Fatal?

  • From: "SWM" <SWMirsky@xxxxxxx>
  • To: wittrsamr@xxxxxxxxxxxxx
  • Date: Sun, 07 Mar 2010 01:47:17 -0000

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

> these possibilities are all versions of substance dualism; property
> dualism may be far less pejorative.

We've had this argument before, too, and I don't know what's gained by another 
rehash, Joe. The point I've made is that, with Searle, I agree that dualism is 
only really dualism if we are talking about something bottom line. As Walter 
said in the past, though, Searle's interpretation of what property dualists 
means isn't consistent with what he believes they mean. If that's so, then it's 
not, on Searle's account, dualism and it would not be on my account either. 
That is, a dualism of appearances isn't dualism in any meaningful sense on my 
view and it isn't what I am talking about when I speak of dualism (which is why 
it is not included in the three possibilities I sketched out).

>  >I want to add here that, of course (based on many things I have said on
>  >this list and earlier), I find Dennett's thesis convincing though I am
>  >less enamoured of Edelman's explanation of how brains work or Searle's
>  >notion of how the features of mind should be understood. I am more
>  >comfortable with Hawkins and I am very sympathetic with the work and of
>  >Dehaene. But all of them (including Searle, explicitly anyway) agree,
>  >in principle that consciousness is the outcome of perfectly physical
>  >processes.

> at which point we must either embrace or evade property dualism.

It's irrelevant because if it's only about appearances, then it isn't an issue 
or a problem for the view I've described, it's just another way of talking that 
does not imply the problems dualism implies. You are very hung up on this 
distinction between "property dualism" and "substance dualism" but insofar as 
it's not about what is basic to what exists, insofar as it's not ontologically 
basic, it's not pertinent to the question of whether mind is physically derived 
or not. It's just another red herring.

> clearly, all physical objects have properties which are measurable;
> otherwise, we'd not be able to detect them. for example, electromagnetic
> radiation in the visible range has properties enabling it to interact
> with photochemicals in the retina. that would be a measurable
> phenomenon; but, not an experienceable phenomenon.

All measurement occurs in experience since it takes an expriencing subject to 
measure. Moreover insofar as anything we experience can be measured we can be 
said to be measuring aspects of experience and, if we can do that, then we are 
measuring experience. Think of measuring the time we hear a musical chord, see 
a visual image, etc. Invoking this notion of measuring is another nonmeaningful 
maneuver, a matter of playing with words. Since experience may be likened to a 
container of particular things (though that is, at best, a partial metaphor 
only) we think of it as not being referenceable in the way we reference things 
we measure.

But you and I have been over this before, too. I am quite certain you will not 
agree to any of this anymore now than before since you seem very much committed 
to this claim about measuring making the difference. But that claim is just to 
use words in different ways while not realizing it. I don't really feel 
strongly motivated to go over the same stuff with you again though (especially 
since you never responded to my posting of evidence here that Dennett 
considered Searle's argument to be an example of what you like to call 
substance dualism -- at the least you ought to have acknowledged the 
information even though it went contrary to what you were suggesting at the 

> the interaction between light and photochemicals in the eye sends a
> signal to the brain and eventually a person experiences seeing redness
> (or whatever).


> it seems, then, that some physical properties cause only measurable
> effects while other physical properties cause experienceable effects in
> addition to or instead of any measurable effects they cause.
> that's property dualism
> Joe

Insofar as all this means is that there are experiences associated with 
stimuli, it's not dualism in any serious sense. Indeed, all you've done is 
restate the common understanding of how brains and sensory organs work with the 
physical world that lies beyond the entity with the brain and sensory 
apparatus. To call that "dualism" is to completely miss the point of the 
dualist thesis regarding mind and, insofar as you do it, it merely adds 
confusion to the picture, not clarity.

But this is the same old stuff and I'm not inclined to follow through with 
another lengthy debate about this.


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