[Wittrs] Re: Ontologically Basic Ambiguity: Mode of Existence

  • From: Gordon Swobe <gts_2000@xxxxxxxxx>
  • To: wittrsamr@xxxxxxxxxxxxx
  • Date: Sun, 21 Mar 2010 11:20:41 -0700 (PDT)

I see talk here of Searle's supposed different 'ontological basics',
whatever that could mean. 

But on Searle's view, subjective mental phenomena (pains, tickles and 
itches) and objective physical facts (mountains, planets and gumball 
machines) share the SAME ontology. 

For some reason people here don't understand that simple fact about 
Searle's philosophy, so I will repeat it in different words: 

Searle does not posit the existence of anything we might call different 
ontological modes of existence (different 'ontological basics'). Nor does 
he posit the existence of two substances, one physical and one 
non-physical (Cartesian dualism). Nor does he posit the existence of 
non-physical properties of matter (property dualism). 

When Searle writes of the "irreducible first-person ontology of mental 
phenomena", he means that although subjective and objective phenomena 
share one ontology, we cannot reduce the subjective to the objective 
without losing the concept of consciousness. 

Some of his fellow materialists (e.g., Dennett) go too far in their 
knee-jerk reaction to Cartesian dualism. Wrongly fearing any association 
with substance dualism, they actually *embrace* the false vocabulary of 

Under the spell of the Cartesian vocabulary, and in a misguided attempt to 
deny the reality of any supposed non-physical mental substance, they 
mistakenly reduce the subjective to the objective. In so doing they 
discard the real subjective nature of mental phenomena, and defy common 
sense. They throw the baby out with the bathwater.



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