[Wittrs] Dualism Cooties: Ontologically Basic Ambiguity

  • From: Joseph Polanik <jpolanik@xxxxxxxxx>
  • To: wittrsamr@xxxxxxxxxxxxx
  • Date: Fri, 19 Mar 2010 06:56:32 -0400

SWM wrote:

>Joseph Polanik wrote:

>>I call the fallacy in question the Fallacy of Untyped Dualism, FUD.
>>your version, Mirsky's FUD has these steps

>>1. classify any basic phenomenon, property or substance as a 'basic'.

>>2. insist that all basics are basic substances

>>3. count the substances found by this procedure. if there are two,
>>attribute substance dualism

>Note, as well, that you wrongly impute the above three premised
>argument to me since I grant there are many kinds of "basic", depending
>on context, etc. Therefore, I cannot be classifying "all basics" as
>"substances" as you wrongly put it.

the claim is that you recognize many different types of 'basics' as
'ontological basics' and then you classify all 'ontological basics' as
basic substances for purposes of deciding whether to attribute substance

>First, I do not recognize a useful application of "substance" in this
>context at all ... but, second, I clearly do not classify "all basics"
>this way since I have consistently spoken of the referent I have in
>mind as an "ontological basic".

you also consistently avoid the question '*ontologically basic what?*'.
perhaps, if I restored some redundant uses of 'ontological', this would
me more clear. Mirsky's FUD has these steps:

1. classify a basic phenomenon, property or substance as an 'ontological

2. insist that all ontological basics are ontologically basic substances

3. count the substances found by this procedure. if there are two,
attribute Cartesian dualism (aka interactive substance dualism).

>>there are two 'basics' you can observe in Searle, the two types of
>>phenomena. he says that these have different ontologies, which to him
>>means that each has a different mode of existence.

>I am saying they are not two "basics" in the same way therefore he is
>making a mistake in treating them as if they are.

he is treating them both as being ontological basics; but, not being
ontologically basic in the same way. one is an ontologically basic
substance (an experiencer independent kind of object) and the other is
an ontologically basic phenomenon (an experiencer dependent kind of

>And, indeed, when it comes to claims of causality, even he agrees that
>one can causally reduce the features of consciousness to whatever it is
>brains do. However, he stumbles when he makes a distinction by
>confusing causal reduction (which possibility he affirms) with what he
>calls ontology when, in fact, the very issue at hand, causal reduction,
>IS one of ontological reduction.

in this case, causal reducibility is precisely what gives ontological

Searle says that the brain causes consciousness.

by the Law of Indiscernibility of Identicals, the afterimage can not be
identical to the brain which causes it.

since the afterimage is not itself a physical object, it must have a
different mode of existence --- it is an experiencer dependent

if the brain and the afterimage have different modes of existence, they
are each ontologically basic --- but in different ways.

the fallacy of Mirsky's FUD consists in taking these two ontological
basics that are of different types to indicate interactive substance
dualism --- a belief system with two ontologically basic kinds of

>I would say two "ontological basics" (note, again, the modifying

noting that 'ontological' is an adjective is just a cheap distraction.
my claim is that, in the phrase 'ontological basics', 'basics' is
functioning syntactically as a noun; but, that this is misleading.
semantically, 'basics' is an adjective. when we ask 'ontologically basic
what?' we can recover the implicit noun subject of the phrase
'ontologically basic [noun here]'.

>The issue remains whether recognition of these two "basics" is a claim
>that one cannot be reduced to the other, i.e., that one is
>"ontologically basic" while the other isn't, or that both are?

they are each ontologically basic --- in different ways.

>This is about the reduction, i.e., about ontological basicness, not
>about being basic in any other sense which is why there is no point in
>confusing talk of "basics" in one sense with talk of "ontological

concerning your claim that Searle is an interactive substance dualist,
the question is whether one may reasonable classify a philosopher as an
interactive substance dualist without showing that the philosophy in
question is based on having two ontologically basic substances (kinds of



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