Wednesday, July 19, 2006

An appendix to the redated post on Carrier

Other naturalists have been more modest in the way in which they reconcile intentionality and naturalism. They maintain that intentional states may not be reducible to physical states, as Carrier appears to be arguing, but they do think that these states are supervenient upon physical states. They very often agree that there is a mystery as to how intentional states can exist in a physicalistic universe. This is certainly a possibility for the naturalist, but it runs the risk, as we shall see, of making propositional states epiphenomenal, that is, causally irrelevant. This will be a serious problem for the naturalist, since a naturalist presupposes the existence of mental causation when they argue on behalf of naturalism.


Steven Carr said...

'This is certainly a possibility for the naturalist, but it runs the risk, as we shall see, of making propositional states epiphenomenal, that is, causally irrelevant.'

When explaining why Fritz makes one move rather than another, are the laws of chess causally irrelevant?

JD Walters said...

They are under a naturalistic position, because under naturalism mental states do not cause other mental states by virtue of their propositional content, but because of the prior physical state of the system. If we want to say that the laws of chess (and other laws of logic and reasoning) do play a causal role, then the mental must be causally efficacious, which calls for a richer metaphysical system than philosophical naturalism.

Edward T. Babinski said...

I think it's far too simplistic to assume that we truly know what we are talking about when we use the phrase that jd walters has used, i.e., "mental states causing other mental states."

A "mental state" is first of all not something anyone is conceived with in the womb since brains and neurons have to evolve in species after species and finally develop in each individual organism from conception onward, and each organism's brain/mind has to continue to develop much further-- taking in data at a furious pace each second, too fast to consciously acknowledge (even adults are doing that as well, taking in far more data from the world than they can consciously acknowledge), and only then do "mental states" appear in an organism, and probably no mental state arises completely independently to begin with, but arise already linked to some things rather than others. And still later, as the connections whittle down or get refined via trial and error and practice, we are taught such things as learning how to connect our mental states and our ideas with speech and even with the written word.

Only then can we read what others have written or speak with them and consider what they are saying to us, which may then alter our own brain/mind views.

But the question remains how the world's input is taken in each minute--in words, speech, vision, hearing, and then silently unconsciously PROCESSED and then a reaction to such things, or an agreement with what you hear comes out, and all of that PROCESSING is happening silently unconsciously BEFORE we have conscious reactions, BEFORE we think each thought or type each word in response, etc. True, many such reactions come about almost immediately, since the adult brain/mind already has learned and ingrained zillions of brain/mind-routes during a lifewtime of learning and reactions and couter-reactions that it has gathered together during its entire lifetime. The brain/mind in that sense is like a trained boxer, ready to counterpunch, raring to "go think."

Another things that is amazing of course is how people can maintain the most diverse beliefs in either philosophy or religion or politics or sex, and focus on what they believe to be most central amongst their beliefs, and hold onto that particular thing, and not come to agree with someone else at all concerning it, not even after all the reasoning and logic in the world, and even in fact able to convince themselves that to believe otherwise would mean they themselves were "possibly bound for eternal hell."