[Wittrs] Re: Is "Dualism" a Pejorative Term?

  • From: "SWM" <SWMirsky@xxxxxxx>
  • To: wittrsamr@xxxxxxxxxxxxx
  • Date: Fri, 05 Mar 2010 22:28:22 -0000

Having trouble with Yahoo -- don't know if others share in that, but I have=
been trying to keep off Yahoo for that reason, hence my slowness to respon=
d. Maybe that will continue, who knows?

--- In Wittrs@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxx, "iro3isdx" <xznwrjnk-evca@...> wrote:

> --- In Wittrs@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxx, "SWM" <SWMirsky@> wrote:

> > Dualism is not a pejorative, Neil.
> The issue should be whether it contributes anything useful to the
> discussion.  I don't think it does.

I read you. I disagree, of course, since I think it shows where the bottom 
lines of the different positions get drawn and what the implications for 
drawing them where we each do are.

> > It merely denotes the idea that consciousness is ontologically basic,
> > that it cannot be derived from anything else.

> If that even means anything.  I'll admit to being a skeptic of
> ontological claims.

We can't avoid ontologoical thinking (meaning having ideas about what there is 
and what underlies what) even if we can avoid talking about such things. I 
don't think much is gained by suppressing that information in a discussion 
though merely because one has an aversion to the notion.

Note that by pointing out where something is ontological (about what there is 
or what underlies what there is), I am not arguing for metaphysical claims 
about what we can determine to be most basic, etc. There's an important 
distinction to be made.

> > It seems to me the possibilities here are:

> > 1) Consciousness is seen as a unique something that co-exists, at
> > some level, with all that we call physical in the universe (atoms,
> > energy, forces, etc.) but is of a fundamentally different type or
> > nature from all the rest.

> > 2) Consciousness is produced by some combination of the rest but,
> > once produced is fundamentally different and stand-alone. A new
> > something has been brought into the world.

> > 3) Consciousness is a parallel realm of being that peers into the
> > physical world through some physical window (the brain as lense to
> > another dimension, you might say).
> That kind of thinking is why I am an ontological skeptic.

To note these is to point out the various dualist positions that are possible 
but not to argue for the truth or primacy of any of them.

> > My view, again, is that dualism could be true.
> And what does it mean to say that dualism is true?  Or, to ask
> differently, what kind of criteria would be used to settle the question
> of whether dualism is true?

At least two ways:

1) If we could not explain the occurrence of consciousness in a physicalist=
way, then some other thesis would be required, probably a dualist (but may=
be a multiplist) one.

2) If we had evidence of ghosts and spirits and other realms of existence (=
of minds existing without bodies, of life after death, etc.) that went beyo=
nd subjective feelings and claims based on them, then I would say we needed=
to consider a dualist explanation of the phenomena of existence.

> > Dualism could be true but why do we need to rely on such fairy tales
> > when the story can be told much more simply and in keeping with the
> > way we currently understand the world? But it isn't pejorative,
> > per se, to describe certain positions as being either explicitly
> > or implicitly dualist.
> In one breath, you say it is a fairy tale.  Then in the next breath you
> say it isn't pejorative.  That seems inconsistent to me.
> Regards,
> Neil

I don't think fairy tales are necessarily false either though I do happen t=
o think they are. That some fairy tale(s) might actually be true is at leas=
t as much a possibility as disembodied spirits, life after death, etc. But =
"fairy tale" in a pejorative sense only means a story in which we have no r=
easonable basis to believe. But even fairy tales could turn out to be reaso=
nable, given the right evidence.


Need Something? Check here: http://ludwig.squarespace.com/wittrslinks/

Other related posts: