[Wittrs] Ontologically Basic Ambiguity: Mode of Existence

  • From: "SWM" <SWMirsky@xxxxxxx>
  • To: wittrsamr@xxxxxxxxxxxxx
  • Date: Sun, 21 Mar 2010 13:10:32 -0000

--- In Wittrs@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxx, Joseph Polanik <jPolanik@...> wrote:
> SWM wrote:
>  >You are simply assuming that the fact that there are different modes of
>  >existence, different aspects of things in the universe, is proof that
>  >there are different ontological basics. But that is the question, not
>  >the answer.

> Searle is implicitly using 'existent' as his root predicate; meaning,
> that whatever is is an existent of some sort, or that whatever is exists
> in some sense.

Yes, "in some sense". But that doesn't mean that every sense equates to 
something that is ontologically basic (underlies other things and which, 
itself, cannot be further reduced).

> consequently, saying that an afterimage has an experiencer dependent
> mode of existence and that a stone has an experiencer independent mode
> of existence *does* indicate that experience/consciousness and brain are
> ontological basics having different modes of existence.
> --
> Nothing Unreal is Self-Aware

Of course they are different modes of existence but that doesn't imply that 
there is no reducibility in particular ways. For instance, a university is an 
institution and not just the physical buildings or the campus or the aggregate 
of staff members and students, or the activities undertaken by any of these, 
etc., that make it up. All of the things that make up what we call a university 
are physically based and if there was no physical basis you couldn't have any 
of them. (Nor do we need all of them to have a referent to which it makes sense 
to apply the term "university".)

Now just because you have the physical constituents doesn't mean you have a 
university, of course. They have to be combined in the right way. But the 
combination, itself, is not still another thing (understood as another 
constituent). After all a smile is physically based but it's not separable from 
the physical features that smile on the face. It's just something those 
features do and when they do it we call it a smile. When the right physical 
constituents do the right sort of thing in the university example, we call the 
result a university.

When a physical platofrm (like a brain) does the right sort of things, we call 
it a mind or consciousness, etc.

So asserting that there are different kinds of things in the world, and 
different levels of things (some more basic than others), is not an argument 
that there are two (or more) ontological basics in the world, i.e., it's not an 
argument for dualism.


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