[Wittrs] Re: Dualism Cooties: Ontologically Basic Ambiguity

  • From: "SWM" <SWMirsky@xxxxxxx>
  • To: wittrsamr@xxxxxxxxxxxxx
  • Date: Fri, 19 Mar 2010 16:33:57 -0000

Dashing in and out today. I thought I answered this but it's not showing up. 
Maybe my consciousness blinked out when I did?

--- In Wittrs@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxx, "iro3isdx" <xznwrjnk-evca@...> wrote:
> --- In Wittrs@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxx, "SWM" <SWMirsky@> wrote:
> > An ontological basic is just whatever is bottom line in a causal
> > way, i.e., that which is responsible for something else.
> Have you considered the possibility that there is nothing that is
> ontologically basic?

Yes. And there is nothing . . . in the sense of there being an object of 
observation through the senses. It's just a concept, thus an abstraction, a way 
of saying that if everything comes from something then there is always 
something beyond what we are referencing. Something that underlies it in some 
sense. A physical object has atoms and the molecules they form and what they 
do. Who knows what constitutes atoms and molecules. Forces, smaller particles, 
quantum phenomena. It's all rather theoretical when you get to that point. 
Nevertheless we don't imagine that wherever we stop in the explanation is all 
that there is. It's just about applying how we see the world to the aspect of 
the world we don't "see".

In that sense it's about determining whether it's enough to say minds are in 
the world as a product of function of brains and what they do, or that they 
represent an entirely separate phenomenon with a separate line of descent so to 

> > The universe is very diverse but all that diversity is associated
> > with what we call "physical" (either because it is made up of it
> > or manifests it, etc.).
> The trouble is, that we don't really know what we mean by "physical".
> It is a shifting target.
> Regards,
> Neil
> =========================================

Yes, we don't. And yes the way we talk is subject to change. The issue here is 
only this: is it enough to say minds exist because brains produce them, are 
conscious (in some cases), or do we have to suppose that they are so separate 
from what we mean by brains that they cannot be fully explained as the result 
of brains and what they do?

Some people want to make this a metaphsyical debate and my point of avoiding 
terms like "substance" in favor of abstractions like "ontological basics" is 
really to avoid that. But some, like Joe, want to turn THAT into a metaphysical 
debate, too. If I won't grant him "substances" he wants to know what I think 
"ontological basics" are since he expects a referent like the term "substance" 
implies. But there is no referent. It's just a way of talking, of recognizing 
that it's a dynamic story when you get beyond a certain point while my point is 
only to focus on whether brains make minds and, if so, whether they do it by 
virtue of being physical (part of the physical world) or if something else is 
being supposed, an add-on.

By noting that Searle is an implicit dualist, I'm pointing out that his CRA is 
self-contradictory because it depends on a point of view which, explicitly at 
least, he doesn't share.


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