[Wittrs] Ontologically Basic Ambiguity: Identicality

  • From: "SWM" <SWMirsky@xxxxxxx>
  • To: wittrsamr@xxxxxxxxxxxxx
  • Date: Sun, 21 Mar 2010 02:05:12 -0000

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

> SWM wrote:
>  >Joseph Polanik wrote:
>  >>by the Law of Indiscernibility of Identicals, the afterimage can not
>  >>be identical to the brain which causes it.
>  >We've already been all over this identicals stuff in earlier posts. And
>  >I've told you why that isn't relevant.
> for those who came in late:
> the Law of Indiscernibility of Identicals (attributed to Leibniz) states
> that if x and y are identical then they have the same set of properties.

> if the brain causes an afterimage it can't be identical to that
> afterimage because the brain the property of being able to cause
> afterimages; a property that afterimages themselves lack. more
> generally, if the brain causes consciousness it can't be identical to
> consciousness.
> Stuart's previous attempt to deal with this issue amounts to redefining
> 'identical' so that it can mean 'identical and/or non-identical'.

Stuart's previous attempt involved pointing out that "identical" means lots of 
things and to deny that he was making a claim of logical identity which you 
characterize as "the law of indiscernibility of Identicals". It's very nice 
that you want to invoke Leibniz here but it's beside the point. Since I wasn't 
making a claim of logical identity you cannot argue that my claim is wrong 
because it violates the idea of logical identity. You seem to do this a lot, 
Joe! You like to recast others' claims in untenable ways (which they, 
themselves, didn't make) and then attack the logic.

Two fallacies come to mind. I can't decide which best describes your technique 
here. Are you setting up strawmen mainly, or relying on equivocation to alter 
meanings in mid argument? Probably both apply in most of these cases.

>  >>since the afterimage is not itself a physical object, it must have a
>  >>different mode of existence --- it is an experiencer dependent
>  >>phenomenon.
>  >Different modes of existence have nothing to do with different causes
>  >or lines of descent.
>  >>if the brain and the afterimage have different modes of existence,
>  >>they are each ontologically basic --- but in different ways.

>  >The only way that counts in the discussion about dualism is the one
>  >that asks whether we can ascribe all phenomena to the same physical
>  >universe
> Searle says 'yes'.

He does. My argument is he is confused and in self-contradiction because of 
that since his argument against computationalism is implicitly dualist.

> as you well know, he says that the brain causes consciousness.
> consequently, there is no basis for claiming that Searle is an
> interactive substance dualist. Searle is only alleging that there is one
> substance or kind of object, physical objects.

My point has to do with his CRA not with his explicit assertions about his own 
beliefs. As Dennett noted in that text, it takes a Cartesian dualist (read this 
as someone who thinks of mind in the same way Descartes did!) to think the CR 
implies the conclusion articulated in the CRA.

> on the other hand, the fact that the brain can cause both measurable
> effects and experienceable effects suggests that Searle could be a
> property dualist.
> Joe

Property dualism may be rightly ascribed to his explicit positions if Walter 
and others are right about what it entails -- and Searle is wrong, since he 
denies being a property dualist on the grounds that it amounts to the same 
thing as being a substance dualist. But then, if he's wrong on what property 
dualists really mean, then why should we think he's right on his own CRA?

Making such a basic mistake as Walter attributes to him doesn't speak well for 
his understanding of these issues though, in fairness to him, the distinctions 
can be very fuzzy at times.

Anyway, I am not arguing that he's a property dualist because, if he is and 
it's what people like Walter say it is (and it looks like Walter could be 
right), then it's of no consequence and there's no reason for Searle to bother 
denying it unless he is just hung up by any assignation of the term "dualist". 
What I am arguing is that he is implicitly (meaning he doesn't realize it!) an 
ontological dualist (what you call a "substance dualist") because that's 
implied in the CRA (you need a presumption that consciousness is ontologically 
basic to arrive at a conclusion that what the constituents in the configuration 
called the CR cannot do in the CR, they cannot do in any other configuration 

As to your distinction of measureable vs. experienceable, that is a distinction 
without significance here since, as we have seen all measuring happens within 
experience (we experience measuring) and  experiences ARE measureable. These do 
not denote different phenomena coexisting in the world on the same level. The 
terms just denote different categories of description, that's all. "Measuring" 
describes a kind of behavior while "experiencing" describes a way of being in 
the world, i.e., as a subject with states of mind, etc. There is no implication 
here for a claim that dualism is true or that it isn't.


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