Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Hylemorphic Dualism

An essay by David Oderberg.

6 comments:

David Parker said...

I have been wondering about the HD definition of "form." Thanks for the link!

Blue Devil Knight said...

Form:
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Here is a standard definition of form: "The intrinsic incomplete con­stituent principle in a substance which actualizes the potencies of matter and together with the matter composes a definite material substance or natural body." It is "intrinsic" because it is a constituent of the sub­stance and solely of the substance. It is a "constituent" in the sense of being a real part or element of it, though not on the same level as the substance's natural parts, for example, the branch of a tree or the leg of a dog; rather, it is a radical or fundamental part of the substance in the sense of constituting it as the kind of substance it is. It is a "principle" in the sense of being that from which the identity of the substance is derived — that in virtue of which the substance is what it is. It is "incomplete" in the sense that it does not and cannot exist apart from its instantiation by a particular individual, contra Platonism. (This does not, however, contra­dict the possibility of a certain kind of form's existing independently of present instantiation in matter, as we shall see.) It "actualizes the potencies of matter" in the sense of being the principle that unites with matter to produce a finite individual with limited powers and an existence circum­scribed by space and time. Together with matter, it composes the distinct individual substance.
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There are two layers of antimaterialism within the hylemorphic dualist view. First, even a tree is form/matter and so not merely a natural object, but the form is part of the full object, and is a kind of essence that naturalists won't like.

Then there's the dualism part, where the essence of thought is to grasp abstract ideas, which are not natural objects, so hylemorphic dualism is two antinaturalistic views:
a) essentialism or believe in forms (question: do forms of anything supervene on stuff in physics?)
b) dualism about conceptual thought (though not necessarily conscious experiences).

Just thinking out loud here this hylemorphic dualism is interesting, though so far I don't really see how it solves problems versus add new problems....

Doctor Logic said...

BDK,

do forms of anything supervene on stuff in physics?

Oh, no, we can't have that!

Formal essentialism doesn't predict anything different from materialism. How do we know that the atoms of branch of a tree have the form of a branch of a tree? Because we recognize it as such. Which is just the criteria we would use if form supervened on physics.

Ugh! It's so idiotic!!

Formal essentialism basically says that "recognizability as the form of X" is in the object rather than in the recognizer. If that were the case, there would be no need for brains to be able to recognize things by way of physical mechanism. Our minds would just sense that a branch had the form of a branch. And, it's conceivable that such could be the case, but we know that's rubbish because, if it were the case, we wouldn't need brains that perform that function physically. There are many more ways the world might have been without supervenience. Instead, we find ourselves in a world that looks exactly like supervenience.

Anonymous said...

Formal essentialism doesn't predict anything different from materialism.

Because all materialists reject reductionism and accept essentialism, right? That bit of falsity aside, formal essentialism doesn't need to "predict anything different" empirically to be preferable. It's a question of how the idea is developed.

If that were the case, there would be no need for brains to be able to recognize things by way of physical mechanism.

"There is nothing in the intellect that was not first in the senses." Brains are essential on the hylemorphic dualist picture.

BenYachov said...

Dr non-Logic you are just upset because your one size fits all polemics against Cartesian Dualism don't apply to the hylemorphic view at all.

Better luck next time guy.

woodchuck64 said...

Oh, Thomistic Dualism.