[Wittrs] reducing your toothache

  • From: Gordon Swobe <gts_2000@xxxxxxxxx>
  • To: wittrsamr@xxxxxxxxxxxxx
  • Date: Wed, 24 Mar 2010 06:28:55 -0700 (PDT)

--- On Tue, 3/23/10, SWM <wittrsamr@xxxxxxxxxxxxx> wrote:

>> You need a word like "toothache" to name that painful
>> feeling in your jaw, so if you reduce your toothache
>> ontologically to its third-person definition then you'll
>> need to find another word for the same thing. You will then
>> have the same problem with whatever new word you come up
>> with, so why reduce "toothache" in the first place?
> But this is not about jettisoning the language of
> experience in such discourse, it's about whether we can use
> the language of descriptive science to talk about brains and
> minds. Dennett says yes and

Searle believes so also. Science endeavors to find causal explanations of 
phenomena including mental phenomena, and Searle encourages those causal 
reductions. In fact in his essay about consciousness he chastises neuroscience 
for not working harder to develop a complete science of consciousness. But 
unlike Dennett and other eliminativists, Searle doesn't flush the baby with the 
bathwater by also encouraging an ontological reduction of those phenomena.

We can have a complete scientific theory about your toothache, one that reduces 
it to a third-person physical description its neurology, *without* denying or 
glossing over the subjective nature of that pain in your jaw. People like 
Dennett don't grasp this simple fact; they believe, mistakenly, that 
preservation of the first-person ontology of mental phenomena amounts to a 
concession to Descartes. This I believe explains why Dennett casts aspersions 
about Searle's supposed Cartesianism, and why you believe him.



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