Tuesday, May 04, 2010

A question for neutral monism

Here is a kind of monism that was mentioned:

The world is composed of just one kind of substance, and its essence has both physical and phenomenal or protophenomenal attributes (alternatively: the one kind of substance is neither physical nor mental, but but the physical and mental are composed of it).

If this is the case, why does this stuff start behaving differently once brains show up? The AFR is supposed to show that the mental qua mental causes things to happen that wouldn't happen otherwise if matter simply obeyed the laws of matter. Because of the reasons that I have for acting, the protons, neutrons, and electrons in my body and elsewhere go to different places than they otherwise would go. Starting from the Big Bang through the formation of stars and planets, is there any evidence that the "one kind of stuff" has any mental characteristics? It looks pretty mechanistic to me before life emerges.

If theism is true, we can see a stable physical world as a backdrop for the creation of intelligent life. If neutral monism is true, why is everything so darn physical before life emerges?


Anonymous said...

Quote >> " Because of the reasons that I have for acting, the protons, neutrons, and electrons in my body and elsewhere go to different places than they otherwise would go."

Nope. They go where they must. It so happens that the 'causes' in a brain occur in a nervous system that has grown to provide accurate response to an exterior reality.

Layer of this reaction builds upon layer.
Reference upon reference.
Until there is an apparent abstraction from reality called "me who choses" .
Who, since "my life' has revolved around the success or failure of these choices, will take these judgments as "necessarily true"

Since the layers can become more an more remote from the original physical reality/situation they can be misrepresentations .. false pictures, and professors of philosophy can have concepts/words which try to explain this from the point of view that has built up.

cheers from a visitor !

Anonymous said...

Whoops... I should add >>
the ' logical choices' made or known, springing as they do from the causal flow in the brain, are therefore causal of further actions .. the moment of logical certainty is a node, or point of meeting and balance, in the flow.
The question remains, where is the consciousness in all this? How can all this possibly be what how it appears to be to us .. a conscious experience.

Could the Vedantic approach possibly be correct? That there is a single mind of the absolute ( god) which is ALL in ALL, and this world is the aforementioned conglomerate of monism.

regards, visitor,
(now retreating hastily)

Victor Reppert said...

I don't see how monism can be neutral. It has to be either at bottom mentalistic monism, or at bottom non-mentalistic monism. The four characteristics of the mental are either on the ground floor of reality, or they are not.

Anonymous said...

For help here, read ch. 4 of Chalmers' The Conscious Mind. I think he does a nice job there. The result is a view that is no less mysterious than theism re: the questions you raise.

Anonymous said...

Err -- "...no more mysterious..."

Anonymous said...

err -- "...no more mysterious..."

Steve said...

I would think neutral monists should probably bite the bullet and acknowledge that experience and intentionality are part of every physical event. Russell chose not to do this out of caution: we can't know for certain the intrinsic character of these events -- but the inference is a natural one.

Why don't we begin to notice the hallmarks of the mental until we get to living things? It must have to do with organization. Stars, rocks and dust are simple aggregates of atoms and molecules. Only living things leverage and control the coordination of their parts at a substantial enough level. How do they do it? We don't know, but I think we'll find out eventually.