[Wittrs] Searle: not a Cartesian Dualist

  • From: Gordon Swobe <gts_2000@xxxxxxxxx>
  • To: wittrsamr@xxxxxxxxxxxxx
  • Date: Wed, 24 Mar 2010 12:05:24 -0700 (PDT)

--- On Wed, 3/24/10, SWM <wittrsamr@xxxxxxxxxxxxx> wrote:

>> No, it is absolutely not a "cartesian move" to affirm the ontological 
>> reality of the subjective! Only someone who accepted the Cartesian 
>> categories would think so.
> Can you prove that or can you at least explicate why you would say it? 
> After all, it is Descartes' classic position that mind is different 
> ontologically, at its most basic level, from matter -- and here we have 
> Searle saying much the same thing.

Cartesian dualists and sloppy-minded thinkers who accept the Cartesian 
categories might mistake Searle's view for Cartesianism for the reason that 
Searle, like Descartes, does not do an ontological reduction of the mental to 
the physical. They might miss the fact that the comparison stops there.

On Descartes' view, mental phenomena have a *non-physical* reality. But 
Searle's idea of the irreducible first-person ontology of mental phenomena in 
no way requires or implies that mental phenomena have a non-physical reality. 
Important difference! 

Cartesian dualism has a bad name only because of the philosophical problems 
that arise when grappling with the idea of something non-physical, so even if 
it makes you/Dennett feel warm and fuzzy inside to label Searle's view 
dualistic, it really doesn't matter: Searle's philosophy does not suffer from 
the problems of Cartesian dualism.

In fact Searle offers an ingenious solution to the problem of mind/matter 
dualism. But nevermind that for now. You need first to understand that you have 
it all wrong when you suggest that Searle's philosophy entails Cartesian 



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