Monday, January 17, 2011

Mapping dualism and materialism

This post is redated and expanded.

Sometimes, when I hear discussion of dualism vs. materialism, I have to wonder how, exactly, the map is being drawn between those positions. What exactly is going to count as dualism or materialism. Just as materialists wonder if defenders of dualism have read or understood the major figures in materialist philosophy, so I sometimes wonder if defenders of materialism are familiar with the different varieties of dualism that have been defended in recent years.

For example, William Hasker's defense of dualism, found in The Emergent Self, is certainly far from insensitive to the developments in neuroscience, and is attentive to the close correlation between mental states and brain states that have been mapped by neuroscientists. In fact, neuroscience provides the primary basis for Hasker's defense of an "emergent" dualism as opposed to a traditional Cartesian dualism. See especially the discussion on pp. 153-157 and 197-198, and there is even a footnote reference to D. Frank Benson's The Neurology of Thinking (Oxford 1994).

I have yet to see anyone grapple with Hasker's book from a materialist perspective, which is too bad. I guess I've done more to solicit materialist response than he has, but he really does offer an across-the-board case against materialism and a well-developed anti-materialist theory to challenge it, and I really didn't do that.

It isn't clear to me that we know, without further clarification, what is meant by terms like "materialism," "substance dualism," "property dualism," and other terms that have been used so often that we are lulled into thinking that we know exactly what they mean.

I provided a typology of positions in the philosophy of mind in my review of Kevin Corcoran ed. Soul, Body and Survival (Cornell, 2001). (Faith and Philosophy July 2004, 393-399.

Standard or Cartesian dualism is committed to these four claims:

1. The mental is sui generis, existing independently of the physical and not in any way reducible to it.
2. Mental states inhere in a thinking thing or substance, not in a bundle.
3. Mental states do not have a location in space.
4. Souls are created individually by God ex nihilo,; they do not emerge from pre-existing material states.

However, I would consider myself a dualist and have some doubts about both 3 and 4. William Hasker and Brian Leftow would be examples of non-standard dualists whose views are represented in the Corcoran volume. Hasker is an emergent dualist and Leftow is a Thomistic dualist.

Standard materialism requires three theses:
1. Physics is mechanistic and is to be described in purely non-mental terms.
2. Physics is causally closed.
3. All states that are not physical supervene on physical states.

Typically a materialism, for example, should not maintain that there is such a thing as libertarian free will, because libertarianism requires the existence of fundamental purposive explanations. But Peter van Inwagen, for instance, calls himself a materialist in the philosophy of mind but also is a defender of libertarian free will. Lynne Baker calls herself a materialist but her first book on the philosophy of mind was an attack on physicalism. So there are nonstandard forms of materialism, as well as nonstandard forms of dualism, and many "Christian materialists" actually reject one of more of the central theses of standard materialism. Good examples would be Lynne Rudder Baker, who calls herself a materialist but whose first book on the philosophy of mind was an attack on physicalism, and Peter van Inwagen, who believes in libertarian free will, (See his book An Essay on Free Will, from which is inconsistent with strict physicalism.

I keep having to say this over and over again, especially when Babinski keeps pointing out that there must be something wrong with my arguments against physicalism because there are Christian philosophers who believe in a materialist philosophy of mind. First of all, if this were true then you could refute any argument for materialism on the ground that some atheist philosophers, like C. J. Ducasse and J. McTaggart believed in life after death, and that atheist existentialist philosopher Jean-Paul Sartre was a Cartesian dualist, or that my college metaphysics teacher, Ted Guleserian, is both and atheist and a mind-body dualist. Now any of these may have good arguments for what they believe, but merely pointing out that they exist does not provide evidence for anything at all.

In my book there is a detailed definition of physicalism, and a slightly broader defintion for naturalism. My arguments are directed against just those positions. Until I get a clear idea of what a person holds, it will not be clear to me if that person is a materialist or a dualist, or maybe a little of both. I keep pointing out, but apparently some people choose not to pay attention, that I could qualify as a materialist on some definitions. (In fact I once heard a paper by a dualist accusing C. S. Lewis of being a non-reductive materialist!)

The kind of dualism William Hasker defends in his book The Emergent Self is called Emergent Dualism. I would appreciate it if people would kindly refrain from stereotyping my positions.

61 comments:

Mike D said...

This is one of those times when I am sure I should do more reading before I make a comment. There is too much I do not know. But here I go anyway.

Through some link I started to read an article by someone who considered themselves a Christian materialist in reference to the mind. He did not deny the existence of the immaterial (God, etc.) but he seemed to hold that mental processes may be completely explained by physical processes.

I am leaning toward a contingent dualism where the immaterial soul exists but requires connection to a body. This seems consistent with 2 Corinthians 5
1Now we know that if the earthly tent we live in is destroyed, we have a building from God, an eternal house in heaven, not built by human hands. 2Meanwhile we groan, longing to be clothed with our heavenly dwelling, 3because when we are clothed, we will not be found naked. 4For while we are in this tent, we groan and are burdened, because we do not wish to be unclothed but to be clothed with our heavenly dwelling, so that what is mortal may be swallowed up by life. 5Now it is God who has made us for this very purpose and has given us the Spirit as a deposit, guaranteeing what is to come.

There is somehow a need for the earthly body to be replaced by a heavenly body. There is also some need for the earthly body to be ressurected to be rejoined to the spiritual self.

I am cautious about a dualism that minimizes the need for the material.

Edward T. Babinski said...

Vic,
Bravo! That's your most "Babinski-esque" post to date. You did a marvelous job listing ATHEISTIC philosophers who oddly enough were either: dualists (of varying sorts), libertarian free-willers, or believers in an afterlife, just as I’ve listed THEISTIC philosophers who were either: physicalists (of varying sorts), determinists, or, did not even believe in an afterlife. Combining such lists and having people study the philosophic arguments of such folks should widen anyone’s mind, or at least their eyes.

But having read your blog here, and here (and also parts of the blog of philosopher of mind, David Chalmers) and some William Hasker, J. P. Moreland here, Jim Lippard here, Richard Carrier, and yourself, I’m a bit stymied as to how Christianity is going to benefit from even Hasker’s sophisticated attempts to redefine philosophy in a way that I presume he thinks may help attract more philosophers to join his brand of theism and ultimately his brand of Christianity.

Hasker is an “open theologian” (a view subject to suspicion according to many traditionatlists; a view even radical for many Arminian Molinists, just see William Lane Craig's counters to Hasker's anti-Molinist view on the web). "Open theologians" reject God’s “timelessness” and “omniscience” in the traditionally argued and understood sense. Hasker is also a theistic evolutionist like Swinburne (though I don’t know if he agrees with Swinburne that apes have souls); and Hasker seems willing to accommodate every bit of scientific evidence concerning the reliance of the mind on the brain and offering tepid comfort (not as cold as straight up materialists but a bit tepid compared with the traditional idea of the “soul” as an “eternal substance” strictly separate from the body and incapable of death or decay).

So Hasker, Swinburne, and yourself (including Lewis to a large degree as well), are examples of enhanced scholarly expertise and ability to interact with modern day thought and scholarship, and so the “evangelical mind” is not quite as “closed” as Mark Noll lamented it used to be; rather the evangelical mind is opening up to a degree even outside of insular Evangelical Christian colleges. But then comes along evangelical sociologist James Davison Hunter of the University of Virginia to rain on the party. The question he has been asking in a number of scholarly books is: "Maybe the evangelical mind is opening. But will such scholars then still be evangelicals?" And will any evangelical college that becomes filled with such scholars really be a boon to the spread of evangelical beliefs?

Indeed, judging by the latest work of evangelical historian Mark Noll--who disputes the meaning of the common evangelical idea that America was founded as a “Christian” nation—and who admits America’s Civil War was a theological battle not just a political one, with Christians inciting Christians to secede religiously and later politically from each another, and religious beliefs keeping the war going longer and more vehemently than it should have. And, judging by John Walton’s NIV APPLICATION Commentary on GENESIS; entire Evangelical institutions, like Wheaton College where Noll and Walton teach, seem to be undergoing changes leading them toward more moderate pastures.

In the end the most sophisticated Christian scholars and the most sophisticated physicalists/materialists may have more in common than the bulk of the rest of the less sophisticated nation does. *smile*

In short, it does appear to be a case of some evangelical Christian philosophers or entire evangelical institutions (like Fuller seminary to name but one recent case) moving the goal posts nearer and nearer to advances in knowledge concerning things as varied as the age of the cosmos, the evolutionary relationships between species, the relationship of the Bible to history, the relationship of brain to the mind, etc., with more accommodations to come in future I suppose, including opening doors of doubt concerning Christian issues and dogmas formerly held to be true, thus increasing distance between laity who are not as sophisticated and don’t know what the heck is going on, with scholarly teachers and their tepid innovations of traditional beliefs. Such a thing has already happened in the Catholic faith in America, i.e., after Catholic scholarship grew so pro-evolution, and pro-historical criticism, and supported higher education like at Notre Dame where a few of today’s most sophisticated evangelical Protestant minds also are employed. A lot of Catholic colleges taught kids to think so well that they simply gave up being Catholics. And the latest polls show a significant increase of people leaving religion in America, especially among Catholics.

But returning to the brain-mind question (and questions of metaphysical naturalism…)

David Chalmers, noted philosopher of mind, hazards a guess at his “fragments of consciousness” blog here “that the numbers within philosophy of mind are 50% materialist, 25% agnostic, 25% dualist.” While Andrew M. Bailey, a young philosopher at the Christian college of BIOLA lists some reasons he too is attracted to physicalism (of a non-reductive sort) here, adding in his blog here that “substance dualism remains a (miniscule) minority position among philosophers of mind, despite the traction that more modest forms of dualism have recently found. Substance dualists like J.P. Moreland (and the rest of the Biola crew) [not to forget Platinga] do not yet have reason for triumphal celebrations.”

Even the claim that Jaegwon Kim has abandoned physicalism to become a relatively weak dualist (of a sort but far from becoming a “substance dualist”) might not necessarily be what Kim sees himself has having done exactly. See the comments beginning here.

I am also reminded of the fact that physicalists/materialists and dualists/spiritualists have been arguing philosophically over such matters since the pre-Socratic era, including combining different aspects of each other’s views, as you and I mentioned in our posts. Yet what exactly has been accomplished via philosophy in such areas? It seems to me that science has led the “materialist” charge far moreso than philosophy has, beginning with the discovery of one organ in particular that is centrally linked to consciousness, the brain.

Meanwhile philosophers seem to continue mistaking maps for the territory, and mistaking words for things--words that are not truly explanatory but enormous generalizations, capable of being used and stretched in various ways by both atheistic and theistic philosophers--words perhaps incapable of a firm definition because we may never get to the variegated bottoms of either of them—including words that we define in terms of the opposites of other words whose meanings are equally uncertain, without of course proving that they ARE absolute opposites.

A jaunt through Raymond M. Smullyan’s entertaining and enlightening books (that don’t “lull one to sleep”) might help anyone recognize some of the weirder propositions and possibilities of various philosophical ideas, including personhood, spirit, nature, God, language, etc., beginning with Ray’s online piece, Is God A Taoist? just to whet one’s appetite.

Vic, you wrote, “I have yet to see anyone grapple with [the Christian philosopher] William Hasker's [pro-emergence] book from a materialist perspective.” But, Vic, I bet some materialist reviewers of Hasker’s book must have made at least a few comments grappling with his views, and other materialist philosophers I’m sure have grappled with arguments similar to Hasker’s even before Hasker wrote his book. Philosophers are grappling all the time. In fact, Hasker was grappling with the arguments of Christian philosopher friends in a book published in May 2005,
In Search Of The Soul: Four Views Of The Mind-body Problem, published by Inter-Varsity—the same Christian press that published your book, C. S. Lewis’s Dangerous Idea two years previously, though you apparently are not mentioned in this latter Christian work on the mind-body problem. Interestingly there is a “physicalist” represented among the four views, a non-reductive physicalist.

Vic, you wrote: “It isn't clear to me that we know, without further clarification, what is meant by terms like ‘materialism,’ ‘substance dualism,’ ‘property dualism,’ and other terms that have been used so often that we are lulled into thinking that we know exactly what they mean.” So true, Vic, bravo! A very Babinski-esque statement. But neither is it clear to me that philosophers know much more about such concepts even after having attempted to “clarify” them. Such clarifications are subtle to say the least, and based on the philosopher’s wish to invent some linguistic terms with which to try and subtly add or subtract from another philosopher’s view with which they disagree. Surely anyone who has studied any controversial topic from “string theory” in physics to clashing political and economic theories will recognize that philosophy in this realm is making as little or as much sense as those other disciplines when it comes to “clarifications” over controversial matters.

Vic, you wrote: “Standard or Cartesian dualism is committed to these four claims: 1. The mental is sui generis, existing independently of the physical and not in any way reducible to it.” But Vic, such a definition consists of words capable of lulling philosophers to sleep, viz., as if we already were certain what “the physical” and “the mental” in terms of the brain-mind referred to, and never the twain shall meet. Yes, we can see the grey matter of a human brain, and also contrast that with certain lines of thought exhibited by the brain-mind. But there’s far more to study concerning such broad generalizations and questions.

Vic, you wrote, “I would consider myself a dualist and have some doubts about both 3 and 4. William Hasker and Brian Leftow would be examples of non-standard dualists whose views are represented in the Corcoran volume. Hasker is an emergent dualist and Leftow is a Thomistic dualist.” But Vic, you’re just playing into my view concerning philosophers who “stretch” and philosophers who “scrunch.” And you left out the non-dualist theistic philosophers, and the atheistic dualist philosophers. Talk about the wax nose of philosophy.

Vic, you wrote: “Standard materialism requires three theses [starting with] 1. Physics is mechanistic and is to be described in purely non-mental terms.” But Vic, I think we still have much to learn about the world that the “physicalist” calls “the physical world,” and much to learn about the world that the “dualist” calls “the mental world,” and much to learn about interactions between the two as well. As things stand the dualist has no explanation whatsoever for how one entirely different thing becomes another entirely different thing, how the “metal” can be independent of the “physical” yet interact with it. How do “thoughts” grab hold of “matter-energy” in the brain, and how does “matter-energy” in the “physical world” impart information and become a pure “thought?” Nor are philosophical discussions that drag in more and more nomenclature very helpful in this respect.

Vic, you wrote, “I keep having to say this over and over again, especially when Babinski keeps pointing out that there must be something wrong with my arguments against physicalism because there are Christian philosophers who believe in a materialist philosophy of mind.” But Vic, I haven’t seen you defeat or disprove every pro-physicalist argument from either fellow Christians OR atheists. As for physicalists about consciousness, a few clear cases include Carruthers, the Churchlands, Dennett, Dretske, Lycan, Perry, Papineau, Shoemaker, Tye. Of course there are many others. Chalmer’s suggests 50% of all philosophers of mind are pro-materialism. Nor have I seen you interact very much with the philosophical discipline that centers round the study of “reasoning” itself, what “the ability to reason” means philosophically, and what it means biologically, as well as cybernetically, etc.

Vic, you wrote: “In my book there is a detailed definition of physicalism, and a slightly broader definition for naturalism. My arguments are directed against just those positions. The kind of dualism William Hasker defends in his book The Emergent Self is called Emergent Dualism. I would appreciate it if people would kindly refrain from stereotyping my positions.” Vic, I’d kindly like to not be stereotyped as someone who simply finds your arguments “wrong,” when I think of them more as part of the typical warp and woof of the “Big” questions that have been around since pre-Socratic days. You can of course read about some of my own specific questions and concerns in the many emails we’ve exchanged over the years, even in my online pieces here, and here.

I think I’d sooner give science at least a couple more centuries of patient investigation of the brain-mind. I suspect though that there is something to “emergence” since surprising phenomena do occur if and when certain things are aligned in certain ways, as both the Christian brain physiologist (also a founder of the journal, Experimental Brain Science) D. M. MacKay, and non-Christian philosopher of brain science, Roger Sperry, both pointed out. Study “emergence” scientifically will take quite some time. There’s much left to explore and consider.

Mike Godfrey said...

Hi Victor,
This possibly is off topic but here goes..
I am thinking through some really unsophisticated ideas and wanted to turn the sophistication dial up a notch.
In regard to personality I wondered if you could point me in the right direction.I realise dualism and emergent properties are possibly inconsistent as ideas.What evidence or argument is there against personality as an emergent property specifically?
Thanks,
Mike

JD Walters said...

Hi Ed,

You make some interesting comments about the status of evangelicals in the academy and wonder whether some of them deserve to be called evangelical anymore. But you obviously think that scholars like Malcolm Jeeves, Mark Noll, John Polkinghorne and institutions like Fuller Seminary are making 'concessions' and 'backing down' when they choose to revise some of their beliefs in light of new evidence and are 'diluting' their evangelical identity. I could hardly disagree more. It is the mark of a true Christian to show 'faith seeking understanding' and to be intellectually honest with respect to science and learning. Of course there is always the danger of going down the slippery slope by giving up too much, so that the faith becomes unrecognizable as such, like Rudolph Bultmann and Friedrich Schleiermacher were famous for. If as Polkinghorne says we see science as a manifestation of our being made in the image of God we should certainly "study to show ourselves approved unto God" and accept the well-established results of science, including evolution and the latest results of neuroscience. Disciplines like form criticism and historical criticism can even relive the theist of burdens that she should not have to bear, for instance by recognizing the genre that Genesis belongs to, that of a creation myth, we are relieved of the burden of taking it literally and accept that it reveals basic truths about the character of the Creator God and the place of human beings in the world. I do not see it as a 'concession' to accept evolution, rather just like William Hasker, Denis Alexander, John Polkinghorne, R.J. Berry and others I find that it enriches my conception of God and the faith. What a marvelously rich, creative Universe we inhabit! Ultimately it still points to the same Creator we know from the faith of our fathers, even if our understanding of it changes over time. And I certainly object to your claim that the reason more and more people are leaving Christianity is because they are being taught to think too clearly. "The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom" and Christianity is nothing if not an intellectually robust and satisfying worldview, as well as immensely comforing.

Victor Reppert said...

JD: I don't know how to do this otherwise, but could you resend your e-mail to me? I accidentally deleted it as junk mail, and only as your name was disappearing did I realize my error.

Edward T. Babinski said...

Dear J.D.,
The history of Christianity and science is indeed an evolving one. But as views changed from Diluvialism to old-earth geology to evolutionary theories, it was the interpretation of the Bible that changed. (And when you state that the "character of God" is still visible in the O.T. and N.T. I doubt exegetes all agree what that "character" is exactly. There are in fact a variety of ways to view the "character of God" in Genesis 1-11, not all of them highly complimentary.)

Also, the practice of scientific investigation seems to be doing pretty well on its own today, as practiced by people of all faiths or none.

Also, your quotation of "The Fear of God is the beginning of wisdom" reminded me of a saying of Andre Gide, "Wisdom begins where the fear of God ends."

Thoughts said...

Cartesian Dualism arose because Descartes could not find a place for the mind in the brain (See Dualism is a physical problem).

Descartes discovered that materialist reasoning could not explain the empirical form of the mind and so proposed a point-like Res Cogitans, or supernatural soul, to explain it.

Materialists are unable to find a place for the mind in the world and so reject the idea of mind and soul, placing their primitive materialist cosmology above the empirical truth that we have minds.

Radical Empiricists (William James - see Radical empiricism an new empiricism) and New Empiricists accept that materialism cannot explain mind and soul but do not give up on science. The mind obviously exists and contains information about the world, therefore scientific relations between mind and world must exist (See The nature of the soul).

unkleE said...

My goodness Ed, your post was as long as a book! But thanks for some useful references.

I'm a pretty unsophisticated christian, but it is clear to me that christianity has always been evolving in its emphases and interpretations. Richard Longenecker has shown how even Jesus and Paul and the other NT writers (along with their fellow Jews) used both literal and non-literal methods of interpreting the OT. Some of the early church fathers recommend non-literal approaches when addressing what we would call scientific issues. And I recall reading a scholar somewhere who said that the genius of christianity was its adaptability.

I think one of the biggest misunderstandings of many modern unbelievers is to assume that God's revelation is primarily to help us get knowledge or facts right. But christians all know that it isn't correctness that gets us into relationship with God, though great incorrectness may hinder us.

These are all interesting questions, but departing from the label "evangelical" would (IMO) be one of the best things to happen to US christianity. And not knowing exactly how mind, dualism and freewill come together in God's world is not going to harm christianity much, especially as the "other side" have even less answers.

Bets wishes.

GREV said...

One ponders the following -- education is desirable and one should always seek to grow in knowledge.

When that leads a person to become seduced by and captive to vain human philosophies; what has been accomplished?

AS I wrote in another thread, I read in this field about ten years ago. I am gathering new resources and want to do so to speak an educational upgrade.

That said; of what value is serving or seeking final answers in the created realm and ignoring the Creator who gives life?

The field of science is fascinating in what scientists who practice science seek to answer about the created realm. When they seek to postulate claims that science gives us grounds to reject the Creator, they have become vain in their thinking.

How we can understand how a pure consciousness might relate to a finite and limited conscious being is a worthy question. How this Creator has structured the inter-related of the mind and Brain, in His creation, are subjects worthy of consideration.

But it involves recognizing some limitations on our part to fully understand. My immediate limitation is being out of the reading loop which I shall now seek to remedy.

Al Moritz said...

Victor,

I take issue with the idea that Cartesian dualism is the 'standard dualism', and that 'emergent dualism' is the only main alternative (even though you mention in passing that Leftow is a Thomistic dualist). This is a lopsided presentation of things.

Dualism predates Descartes by a long time, and thus Cartesian dualism cannot be called 'standard dualism' at all. Classical Aritotelian-Thomistic dualism has none of the problems of Cartesian dualism. I will repost here what I had posted earlier on this blog (emphasis added)...cont.

Al Moritz said...

The link is:
http://edwardfeser.blogspot.com/2009/12/churchland-on-dualism-part-iii.html

The link to the other parts is:
http://edwardfeser.blogspot.com/2009/12/churchland-on-dualism-part-i.html

http://edwardfeser.blogspot.com/2009/12/churchland-on-dualism-part-ii.html

http://edwardfeser.blogspot.com/2010/06/churchland-on-dualism-part-iv.html

As the Cathecism of the Catholic Church says:
365 The unity of soul and body is so profound that one has to consider the soul to be the "form" of the body: i.e., it is because of its spiritual soul that the body made of matter becomes a living, human body; spirit and matter, in man, are not two natures united, but rather their union forms a single nature.

Al Moritz said...

Hasker was led to his considerations by rejection of Cartesian dualism. Yet Thomism does not hold to such a kind of dualism, and the Cartesian interaction problem does not exist:

http://edwardfeser.blogspot.com/2008/10/interaction-problem.html

http://edwardfeser.blogspot.com/2009/04/interaction-problem-part-ii.html

Al Moritz said...

Victor, the blogging system is screwed up. A post that I posted earlier on your blog refuses to appear, and I have to snip up my posts into little pieces.

Al Moritz said...

Ok, forget it. I wanted to post text from Feser's blogspot, but the system won't let me. Please read the link provided above for the text.

Al Moritz said...

I mean, this link:

The link is:
http://edwardfeser.blogspot.com/2009/12/churchland-on-dualism-part-iii.html


Paragraph beginning with:

"For starters, let’s take Aristotelian-Thomistic (A-T) hylemorphic dualism."

Blue Devil Knight said...

Al, care to give us a nice summary snapshot of what hylemorphic dualism is? I've never been able to wrap my head around it properly.

Shackleman said...

"One ponders the following -- education is desirable and one should always seek to grow in knowledge.

When that leads a person to become seduced by and captive to vain human philosophies; what has been accomplished?"


I was raised a "weak" atheist. My public grade-schooling reinforced this "weak" atheism.

By college, I was a "strong" atheist. My college studies, along with my appetite for works offered by the likes of Hitchens, Dawkings, Dennet, Harris, etc, and supplemented with a sort of institutional materialism peddled by the "West", and I was firmly planted in my belief in "strong" atheism. I even began to be an "evangelical" atheist, in the mold of Dawkins or Loftus. In other words, I sought out to try to deconvert the religiously brainwashed---religion after all was really bad for them.

Then one day, while pondering the question: "How can anyone with half a brain believe that shit?", I decided to search to see if indeed, anyone with half a brain believed that shit.

I was shocked to discover that, yes, not only people with half a brain believe that "stuff" (notice, it was no longer "shit" to me), but people with full brains....and brains much more learned and intelligent than mine too.

Had I stopped seeking, content to remain in the halls of my atheistic echo chambers, I can't say that I would have ever become open to conversion. (Note: Apologetics, philosophy, competing science, etc, didn't convert me. But they certainly added what I think were *necessary* bricks and mortar-- without which I could not have constructed a new house of understanding).

So, in answer to your question, at least in my case, it was precisely because I continued to pursue knowledge and truth that paved the way for my conversion.

That being said, as important as apologetics at-large were to me, they aren't "enough". One must ultimately have faith and develop a relationship with God so I empathize with your rhetorical question. Now, I don't know if that faith is a gift from the Almighty that simply needs to be received, or if there's more to it than that---whether or not one can find faith for themselves. But that's a whole different question :-)

Blue Devil Knight said...

Does your 'mechanistic' have room for weird quantum randomness, nonlocality, entanglement and such?

That would be my only little concern. Many people by 'mechanistic' mean 'classical.'

Shackleman said...

Did you know that Dawkins + Hawking = Dawkings?

:-) Please forgive that, and all others of my typos above.

Shackleman said...

"Does your 'mechanistic' have room for weird quantum randomness, nonlocality, entanglement and such?"

Funny. I'm no quantum physicist, but from the things I've read, I'm left with the impression that Quantum Theories can be interpreted in such a way to *support* some form of dualism understanding and *undermine* some understandings of materialism.

Blue Devil Knight said...

Shackleman: yes, interpretations abound of quantum phenomena, including those where consciousness is required to complete the measurement process.

But in general, if you look at the actual "textbook" QM, there isn't such weirdness. Plenty of weirdness, yes, but none of that multiple worlds or dualistic stuff.

Shackleman said...

Judging the quality of this pdf paper would be far above my pay-grade. But this paper is short enough to be appropriately linked on a blog-forum, and I think offers some interesting summaries and conclusions that are relevant to this thread topic, and includes some bits about dualism and quantum theories.

http://www.neuroquantology.com/repository/index2.php?option=com_sobi2&sobi2Task=dd_download&fid=10&format=html

Shackleman said...

BDK,

If you say so. But I don't think it's as easy to dismiss as you make it sound.

If you have the interest....take a gander at the above link and offer a quick comment if you wouldn't mind. It's hard for me a layperson to juggle all of the terms and studies and theories in it, but it seems to at least get at some of the stuff you're talking about, but concludes that a case can indeed be made linking the Quantum to Dualism.

Blue Devil Knight said...

Shackelman: that is a good representation of some of the far out stuff you'll find on the mind-quantum connection (empirically speaking, people into quantum mind tend to be into parapsychology---not a necessary connection, but one I've observed at conferences).

Blue Devil Knight said...

Shackelman: I didn't dismiss anything except saying that such interpretive overlays is not part of standard quantum mechanics, which is what I was talking about in my question for Victor (and note even standard QM has plenty of weirdness in it without adding splitting worlds or the narcissistic view that cats are alive/dead until you consciously experience them).

I shared my view on quantum effects in brains before at this thread.

Shackleman said...

LOL! Well there ya go. I was hoping for more than just a dismissing hand-wave, but then, I can't really blame you considering the para-phys stuff in there.

Did you read the paper though or were you too turned off by the title? I thought the summaries may have been decent enough. It seems both qualified philosphers and qualified QM folks would have to comment or pass judgement on the paper. I'm neither so was looking for a qualified person to offer their insights.

You're a neuro-dude, right? Does that make you qualified to dismiss all the QM stuff in that paper (likewise, are you justified in your other admonishments above).

I know that sounds like a bit of ad-hom, but I'm honestly asking. You're a staunch naturalist, and you're also a scientist, so it's hard to tell sometimes when your admonishments are coming from your field of expertise or if it's just coming from your, well, backside {wink}

Shackleman said...

Sorry. I posted before seeing your previous. Although, it *did* appear that you were simply dismissing a link or relationship between QM and Dualism. I'll gander at your link, thanks.

Blue Devil Knight said...

Shackelman yes I largely dismiss those interpretations of QM as unbelievable. I don't like views that imply that the cat isn't alive or dead until some consciousness observes it.

Right now it is a scandal, the process of measurement in QM is basically an intellectual Rorschach test that tells you what you are predisposed to believe.

That said, it is like that because it is truly a mystery of physics. All of the solutions have major problems.

This is not my area of specialization, just a hobby for a long time, it's been about 15 years since I took quantum mechanics formally. So I would defer to physicists on any physics question. This is more interpretation of physics, and it is unsolved.

Shackleman said...

Interesting. Thanks, BDK.

Al Moritz said...

Hi BDK,

here is a quite nice summary of hylemorphic dualism:

http://theblogoftheophilus.blogspot.com/2010/05/hylemorphic-dualism.html

The objection by Pasnau that he mentions is answered in Edward Feser's 'Aquinas' (which I would recommend to read).

Feser recommends the folllowing article by Oderberg:

http://snipurl.com/1vmrmr

I haven't read it yet though.

cl said...

I like the way you tend to parse through the details, and the ramifications of those details. Again, it's the whole "having a discussion with oneself" approach, as opposed to, say, Loftus' "here, let me interpret the facts for you" approach.

I keep having to say this over and over again, especially when Babinski keeps pointing out that there must be something wrong with my arguments against physicalism because there are Christian philosophers who believe in a materialist philosophy of mind.

That's fallacious as can be on Babinski's part. There are physicists who disagree with the Copenhagen interpretation; does that mean there must be something wrong with it? No. Of course, there might be something wrong with it, but that's when we need to roll up our sleeves and "punt to science", if I may. That other philosophers disagree with you on point X says nothing beyond the fact that other philosophers disagree with you on point X.

Blue Devil Knight said...

Thanks Al I look forward to learning about it.

William said...

Al,

Hyelomorphism appears to equivocate over form as the cause of the structure of the body and form as the thing that is conscious.

If the part of form that thinks is absolutely different from the form of a zombie body, then we have an interaction problem. If the form includes all that causes any biological organization, from DNA up, then we still have the usual issues with materialism, just that they apply to the form itself, not the base Aquinean matter stuff.

BenYachov said...

>If the part of form that thinks is absolutely different from the form of a zombie body, then we have an interaction problem.

I think you are inadvertently conceiving this in Cartesian terms. A Corpse, a Zombie body and a living human body each have a different essence. A Zombie would have a vegetative or sensitive soul that would be it's form.

BenYachov said...

Unless we conceive of a Zombie as a mere machine made of organic matter and not a living thing at all in which case it's form would not be a soul of any type like a corpse or a rock.

William said...

Ben,

The issue, in Aquinean terms, is why some souls are the efficient cause of consciousness and some are not. That forms of things can differ is completely acceptable, but hylemorphism seems to sneak in the subjective qualities of consciousness for some forms and not others, via mere brute fact/definition, just by saying the form is different.

The reasons (efficient causes) for things like qualia are not explained just by saying the form is different.

How is this different in explanatory value from materialism saying that qualia are simply difficult-to-explain qualities of physical objects of a certain kind?

BenYachov said...

William,

To quote Dr. Feser "Modern thought is largely defined by its rejection of two of Aristotle's four causes. For the moderns, there are no such things as substantial forms or fixed essences, and there are no ends or purposes in nature. There are just brute material elements related by purposeless, meaningless, mechanical chains of cause and effect.

As I have emphasized in my series of posts on dualism, this “mechanical” conception of nature, insofar as it stripped matter of anything smacking of either goal-directedness or sensible qualities as common sense understands them, and relocated these features into the mind, more or less automatically entailed a Cartesian form of dualism on which intentionality and qualia are immaterial as a matter of conceptual necessity. But it also automatically entailed that this form of dualism would suffer from the notorious “interaction problem.”

For the moderns, all causation gets reduced to what the Aristotelians called efficient causation; that is to say, for A to have a causal influence on B is for A either to bring B into being or at least in some way to bring into existence some modification of B. Final causality is ruled out; hence there is no place in modern thought for the idea that B might play an explanatory role relative to A insofar as generating B is the end or goal toward which A is directed..."

see here for details
http://edwardfeser.blogspot.com/2008/10/interaction-problem.html

BenYachov said...

William,

This might provide additional help

http://edwardfeser.blogspot.com/2009/04/interaction-problem-part-ii.html

and this

http://edwardfeser.blogspot.com/2010/01/interaction-problem-part-iii.html

Some more Feserism's

"For the moderns, all causation gets reduced to what the Aristotelians called efficient causation; that is to say, for A to have a causal influence on B is for A either to bring B into being or at least in some way to bring into existence some modification of B. Final causality is ruled out; hence there is no place in modern thought for the idea that B might play an explanatory role relative to A insofar as generating B is the end or goal toward which A is directed. Formal causality is also ruled out; there is no question for the moderns of a material object’s being (partially) explained by reference to the substantial form it instantiates. We are supposed instead to make reference only to patterns of efficient causal relations holding between basic material elements (atoms, or corpuscles, or quarks, or whatever).

Thus, if the mind considered as immaterial is to have any explanatory role with respect to bodily behavior, this can only be by way of some pattern of efficient causal relations – to put it crudely, in terms of a Cartesian immaterial substance (or perhaps various immaterial properties) “banging” into the material substance (or material properties) of the brain like the proverbial billiard ball. How exactly this is supposed to work is notoriously difficult to explain."END QUOTE

Cheers!

William said...

Okay, my questions of how a form does efficient causation are addressed by saying that I am emphasizing efficient causation at the expense of non-efficient types of causation.

My question is not answered by saying I should ask a different question, is it? It seems that we don't solve interactionism or emergence issues by saying that what seem to be efficient causes (in their effects) are not really efficient causes at all.

How do formal causes (the form of a human being) become efficient causes (of the qualia and thoughts of a human being)? This looks like the dualist interaction problem in terms of one type of cause causing the effects of a different type of cause. How does that causal type change happen?

BenYachov said...

>My question is not answered by saying I should ask a different question, is it?

I reply: Well if it is the wrong question(which it is) then yeh.

>It seems that we don't solve interactionism or emergence issues by saying that what seem to be efficient causes (in their effects) are not really efficient causes at all.

To Fesernate some more QUOTE "[This]is misleading and anachronistic, since it conveys the false impression that hylemorphic dualism was motivated in part by a desire to solve the interaction problem. In fact there was no interaction problem until early modern philosophers like Descartes abandoned hylemorphism and redefined matter, mind, and causation in an explicitly anti-Aristotelian way. As I show in The Last Superstition, the “mind-body problem,” like the “traditional” philosophical problems of induction, personal identity, causation, and many others, is largely a consequence of the early moderns’ mechanistic revolution.)

>How do formal causes (the form of a human being) become efficient causes (of the qualia and thoughts of a human being)?

They don't. I would start by reading all three links I gave (to get the quotes I posted here in context)and reading THE LAST SUPERSTITION, PHILOSOPHY OF MIND and AQUINAS by Edward Feser and learn about Aristotilian Metaphysics and Philosophy vs Modern Philosophy. All your questions presupose a Modern Philosophical framework and Modern Philosophical catagories. (and by Modern I mean the anti-Classical Philosophy starting with Descarte and onward).

Good luck.

Feser's blog is a good place to start.

http://edwardfeser.blogspot.com

Cheers my friend.

Blue Devil Knight said...

Great questions william. Too bad whenever hylemorphic dualism comes up people end up just citing Feser rather than having a conversation. (No offense Ben, but there seems to be a lack of good ordinary language exposition of this doctrine and lots of punting to Feser).

Is there a good example of a formal cause, a noncontroversial example, a single instance of it doing some helpful work? A case where we will all go 'OH, that's what he means, it's so obvious we need that idea, that we have been missing it.'

Or is it like Heideggar's alternate conception of being that has supposedly been buried in Western philosophy, where you have to lock into his system a bit before you find it useful or compelling?

Again, I'm ignorant of this just trying to get it clear in my head. Can you give an example where 'X is a formal cause of Y' (or whatever the jargon is), and explicate it?

William said...

>How do formal causes (the form of a human being) become efficient causes (of the qualia and thoughts of a human being)?

They don't.

------------------------

If this is so, then consciousness caused only by form is outside of any cause and effect (efficient causes by Aristotle's classical definition are any and all of those of cause and effect, sufficient or potential, material or not, right?).

So the cause of the features of consciousness by form is outside of any cause and effect.

This would include individual thoughts, as conscious thoughts.

If our consciousness, as formal cause related only, cannot be part of a causal chain, then neither can our thoughts, which means that decision making about the world is not affected by our outside world, which seems counterintuitive?

Blue Devil Knight said...

Yes, it seems without efficient causation you end up with epiphenomenalism, almost by definition.

BenYachov said...

>Great questions william. Too bad whenever hylemorphic dualism comes up people end up just citing Feser rather than having a conversation.

No offense taken my friend & no offense meant to you either when I say your are just dismissing Feser without interacting specifically with what he says & thus I have no rational basis on which to doubt his arguments via your statements.

At the heart of Feser's argument is the notion that Modern Philosophy & it's presuppositions are wrong and contrary to the hype they have not refuted the classic metaphysics. Also modern critics of classic philosophy typically read classic philosophy threw the lens filter of modern philosophical presuppositions which they uncritically presuppose and assume. Which begs the question since you have to reject modern philosophy & accept the classical to accept hylemorphic dualism.

It's like the Protestant or ex-Protestant Atheist who criticizes my interpretation of religious doctrine with the words "But that is not clearly stated in the Bible!". As a Catholic I don't presuppose Sola Scriptura thus such an objection has no meaning to me.

Thus your objections(& those of William) assume the truth of the very Mechanistic Philosophy Feser & those of us who are his partisans reject.

>Again, I'm ignorant of this just trying to get it clear in my head.

Which is why you are fast becoming one of my favorite Atheists. You ability to say "I don't understand" is refreshing compared to others(who will remain nameless) who just try to fake it.
I salute you at the risk of sounding like an arse kisser.

>Can you give an example where 'X is a formal cause of Y' (or whatever the jargon is), and explicate it?

Not if the above is a question that presupposes Mechanistic Post Enlightenment Metaphysics.

BDK one of these days I got to get you to Feser's blog to ask the challenging questions and pray Feser is not too busy to answer.

Cheers.

BenYachov said...

William,

Let me rephrase I don't see how formal causes can become efficient causes & still remain formal causes. That seems like a category mistake and an false equivocation. Thus I don't understand your question.

BenYachov said...

QUOTE"So, if materialists as well as Cartesian dualists are faced with the possibility of having to swallow epiphenomenalism, the former cannot accuse the latter of having a special difficulty in accounting for mind-body interaction."-Edward Feser

http://edwardfeser.blogspot.com/2009/04/interaction-problem-part-ii.html

I am not convinced episphenomenalism applies to Aristotelian/Thomistic metaphysical system & if it does how are the alternatives any better?

BenYachov said...

This post is also interesting.

QUOTE "What about the “monism” half? Is the mental identical with the physical, despite there being no law-like correlation between them?

My answer, which will come as no surprise to regular readers of this blog, is No, it is not. And the reason Davidson’s argument fails to show otherwise is that his conception of causation is (in my estimation) radically deficient. As I have argued elsewhere (e.g. here), the correct way to understand mental-physical “interaction” is on the model of what Aristotelians call formal causation rather than efficient causation. And one reason for thinking so is that conceiving of it on the model of efficient causation makes it hard – for materialists no less than for dualists – to avoid epiphenomenalism

To return, as promised, to Davison’s premise 1, then: If it is interpreted to mean (as Davidson himself did not mean it) that the mental and physical “interact” as formal and material cause, respectively, then this premise is certainly true (though in that case it cannot then be appealed to in an argument for materialism, since the Aristotelian conception of causation is incompatible with materialism). If instead it means (as Davidson intended) that they “interact” in the order of efficient causes, then though such a premise might be appealed to in support of materialism, it is false.

For the same reason, step 2 – what Davidson calls the Principle of the Nomological Character of Causality – is also in my view false. For it reflects a mechanistic view of nature, on which the material world is utterly devoid of any inherent goal-directedness or final causality and is governed instead entirely by (a stripped down version of) efficient causality. And as I have argued elsewhere (and at greatest length in The Last Superstition) this conception of nature is ultimately incoherent."END QUOTE

Here is the link for the QUOTE.

http://edwardfeser.blogspot.com/2009/05/davidsons-anomalous-monism.html

Forgive me for all the Feser quoting I know it's cheap but it is easier than trying to put it all in my own words when Feser as already done the heavy lifting.

Cheers!

BenYachov said...

David Oderberg on hylemorphic dualism.

http://www.reading.ac.uk/AcaDepts/ld/Philos/dso/papers/Hylemorphic%20Dualism.pdf

BenYachov said...

There is a new post over at Feser's blog on Neuro-babble.

http://edwardfeser.blogspot.com/2011/01/against-neurobabble.html

QUOTE"The A-T approach is what David Oderberg has called “hylemorphic dualism.” Unlike Cartesian dualism, which regards a human being as a composite of two substances, res cogitans and res extensa, hylemorphic dualism regards a human being as a single substance. But unlike materialism, which tends to regard material substances as reducible to their component parts and which is wedded to a mechanistic conception of matter that denies the reality of formal and final causes, hylemorphic dualism is non-reductionist, and regards human beings, like all material substances, as composites of form and matter. (The view is non-reductionist despite regarding material substances as composed of form and matter, because it does not reduce them to form and matter. A tree, for example, is a composite of a certain kind of form and matter, but the form and matter themselves cannot be made sense of apart from the tree of which they form metaphysical parts. The analysis is holistic.)"END QUOTE

Looks good. Again I apologize for all the Feser quoting.

Blue Devil Knight said...

I asked:
Can you give an example where 'X is a formal cause of Y' (or whatever the jargon is), and explicate it?

Ben responded:
Not if the above is a question that presupposes Mechanistic Post Enlightenment Metaphysics.

I'm not presupposing anything, but just want to understand formal cause. I'm hunting for one example to wrap my head around, what an advocate of this view would say is a canonical instance of a formal cause. A prototypical example that helps elucidate it. That's the way I'll best understand it.

Blue Devil Knight said...

Ben maybe I'll go over and check it out.

But I'd still like a single clear example!!!

Blue Devil Knight said...

Lots of petty squabbling at Parsons at that blog, seems I'll stick with Victor. However, I will engage with that one post on 'neurobabble'. Perhaps at least to see if Feser can give that ever elusive single noncontroversial example of a formal cause.

William said...

Let me rephrase I don't see how formal causes can become efficient causes & still remain formal causes. That seems like a category mistake and an false equivocation.

---
Okay.

The equivocation-- and I see this in Feser in several places when he contrasts with Caresian dualism--is between form and formal cause. Aristotle does not seem to mean that a form of a substance is just its formal cause. Feser uses the 'form' term to mean the soul of a person and then equivocates over form as formal cause when he is claiming that form makes the mind-body problems dissolve.


By the reductio I gave you above, the soul must be able to be an efficient cause, and indeed Aristotle says this more or less when he says that the animal soul causes an animal's motion-- see Aristotle's _De Anima_ III:10 for an example.

The issue then is that, as a non-material efficient cause, the animal soul as an efficient cause gives us the same interaction problem that is still seen in most modern forms of dualism that allow the non-physical to have a location. This is probably still better than pure Cartesian dualism because it physically locates the nonphysical soul as a cause which is co-extensive with the body and indeed is the cause of the body's structure, but it remains that the soul's non-material action means that there is in living things a huge "porosity" in the the causal closure of the (classical physics defined) physical. As a dualist (who thinks that ultimately dualism will turn out to be called physicalism, but only after the physicalists move the goal posts a few miles toward dualism) I have no problems with that, but the interaction problem remains even when we manage to state it in hylomorphic terms.

BenYachov said...

>By the reductio I gave you above, the soul must be able to be an efficient cause, and indeed Aristotle says this more or less when he says that the animal soul causes an animal's motion-- see Aristotle's _De Anima_ III:10 for an example.

Accept a Aristotelian/Thomist would say an Animal soul(i.e. sensitive soul) is material and of course humans do have sensitive souls and vegetative souls(both material) along with their Intellective soul which is not material.

So there is no "mind body problem" in the classic metaphysics.

Of course maybe you should stop by Feser's blog for a better answer assuming he has the time to answer.

(But he did respond to one of BDK's questions).

Cheers!

William said...

Accept a Aristotelian/Thomist would say an Animal soul(i.e. sensitive soul) is material and of course humans do have sensitive souls and vegetative souls(both material) along with their Intellective soul which is not material.

--

But now we have an equivocation over the meaning of 'material' to be the Aristotelian metaphysics on the one hand and then the modern meaning when we claim to dissolve the qualia emergence problem :). If I accept the material as including the soul, we create the issue of how qualia can be material things. So on the other end hylomorphism has the same problem with qualia that the materialists have.

The mind-body issues do not dissolve with changing the vocabulary to the Aquinean one without sneaking in equivocation somewhere, I'm afraid.

William said...

The other equivocation being used is on 'soul' as material animal soul and soul as intellectual soul. How does the non-material soul functionally interact with the material soul? Just brute fact?

BenYachov said...

>But now we have an equivocation over the meaning of 'material' to be the Aristotelian metaphysics on the one hand and then the modern meaning when we claim to dissolve the qualia emergence problem :)

No material=matter & matter + form equals a substance in Aristotle.

>If I accept the material as including the soul,

You mean substance including the soul?

>we create the issue of how qualia can be material things.

Or they may be either physical forms or non-physical ones. Like the round shape of a basket ball or a proposition.

I fail to see how there is an "interaction problem" between how roundness causes a ball to be a sphere.

>The mind-body issues do not dissolve with changing the vocabulary to the Aquinean one without sneaking in equivocation somewhere, I'm afraid.

I think rather there is a tendency to confuse analogy with equivalence. Thus we are talking past each other. I apologize for my part in the confusion if any.

>The other equivocation being used is on 'soul' as material animal soul and soul as intellectual soul. How does the non-material soul functionally interact with the material soul? Just brute fact?

You might as well ask how does roundness functionally interact with a sphere? Category mistake.

William I fear we will be talking past on another til you learn more & I learn to better communicate.

BenYachov said...

Also William you are treating Aristotelian composition as if it is subject to reductionism. It's isn't.

BenYachov said...

Forgive me William. As per my early analogy about Sola Scriptura sometimes to find common ground I argue Catholic doctrine will treating the Bible as the Sole rule of faith but it does lead to confusion in that I believe that assuption is wrong.

I fear I did that with you here by analogy. AT metaphysics does not in principle presuppose any type of reductionism like materialism or Cartusanism.

William said...

quote:
You might as well ask how does roundness functionally interact with a sphere? Category mistake.

----

But I can see that roundness defines the shape form of a sphere. The issue of the subjective qualities of consciousness does not seem to lend itself to structural analogy.

Can we concieve of a human without qualia-- a zombie? If so, then this is not like the a priori non-concept of a sphere without roundness.

As long as a thing can is separable in concept we should be able to discuss the whole is it would be in the absence of those features, as well as show how the parts connect, as the legs of a table connect to the top in the form of a table.

If under hyelomorphism zombies are impossible, and you cannot yourself conceive them, then I can respect your inability to conceive them, but need not agree.

BenYachov said...

William,

I'm going to pass the buck by referring you to Feser's post in the comments box under his name "Feser contra Neurobabble" on this very blog.

It's lazy I know but I'm not an expert in this subject unlike Ed.

Besides Zombie movies don't watch themselves.

(BDK knows what I'm talking about).