[Wittrs] Re: Dualism Cooties: Ontologically Basic Ambiguity: Causality

  • From: "SWM" <SWMirsky@xxxxxxx>
  • To: wittrsamr@xxxxxxxxxxxxx
  • Date: Mon, 29 Mar 2010 13:38:41 -0000

Short of time this morning for a full reply but here is something:

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

> I'm challenging your claim that "the very issue at hand, causal
> reduction, IS one of ontological reduction".

>  >I know what you're "challenging". But your challenge hinges on a
>  >presumption of dualism,
>  >If you think Dennett (or any thesis like his) is wrong you have to
>  >show that it fails because:
>  >1) It is logically incoherent (unintelligible); or
>  >2) It is logically invalid (leads to a false conclusion because of
>  >flaws in the premises); or
>  >3) It is incomplete in that it leaves out some key feature of
>  >consciousness which must be included to give a full and adequate
>  >account.

> I thought it was already clear that I chose option 3.

> remember, I pointed out that Dennett's critique of the CRA changes the
> definition of the key term, 'understanding', so that he may attribute it
> to a higher tech, up-specked Chinese Room that is functionally
> equivalent to a human but lacks qualia.

> you even agreed that Dennett changed the meaning of the term
> 'understanding'.

I did indeed. But if he is changing the "definition" of "understanding" as you 
put it, that doesn't mean he is wrongly defining it or simply introducing a new 
meaning. In fact, the point is that he is analyzing and recasting what we all 
call "consciousness" (and its features) it in a way that better explains it! 
You have to show that he has failed to account for one or more key feature, not 
that his account of it doesn't match yours.

> it follows that he explains consciousness by leaving out the difference
> between humans and zombies: qualia, subjectivity and experience;
> meaning, of course, that the higher tech CR is nothing more than an
> electronic version of a Chalmersian zombie.

Again, he is offering a different account, not a redefinition in the sense of 
stipulating! You have to show how that account fails, not that it is different!

>  >You can't simply deny Dennett's thesis on the grounds that it doesn't
>  >account for the presumed duality of the universe ...
> the 'presumed' duality of the universe is the brute fact of philosophy
> of consciousness: consciousness has emerged. and, so far, no one has
> accounted for that fact.

Brains do it. How remains to be determined. But that is the job of science not 
philosophical speculation.

>  >So far you haven't shown any of the three possibilities above to be
>  >the case while you have certainly continued to exhaust a lot of
>  >rhetorical energy in trying to challenge the possibility that what we
>  >mean by consciousness or mind can be reductively accounted for in terms
>  >of the physicality of brains and such.

> given the notion that a causal explanation explains your/my choice of
> [emergence | reduction], I have no objection to waiting for researchers
> to produce an account of the emergence of consciousness "in terms of the
> physicality of brains and such".
> Joe

Neither do I nor does Dennett, who has advanced an account which he believes 
will provide the basis for such an empirical inquiry.

Again, Dennett's point is that we have to see consciousness as a system feature 
not a bottom line property of some physical events but not others that just 
somehow pops into existence when those physical events do.

It's the difference between dualism and non-dualism in accounting for the 
presence of minds in the universe.


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