• TiredThinker
    314
    https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/finding-purpose/201907/is-there-life-after-death-the-mind-body-problem

    Please help me understand this article. Is it implying that assuming dualism is a possibility that all science must be false in order for that to be the case?
  • Gnomon
    2k
    Please help me understand this article. Is it implying that assuming dualism is a possibility that all science must be false in order for that to be the case?TiredThinker
    FWIW, I interpret Dualism, not as Matter & Spirit, but as Physical & Meta-Physical (or Menta-Physical). I make that distinction because the Mental aspects of Reality are emergent & subjective Qualia from the elemental & objective Quanta. Modern Science was deliberately divorced from ancient notions of non-physical essences. But both modern Quantum Theory and Information Theory have revived the necessity for dealing with concepts that are not physical objects, such as "virtual particles" and "memes".

    However, I don't view them as fundamentally separate classes of reality. Instead I take a BothAnd perspective, which proposes essential & causal Information (the power to enform) for the fundamental "substance", as proposed by Spinoza and Aristotle, among other philosophers. From that Monistic perspective, I have derived a personal worldview for both Science and Philosophy for the 21st century.

    Since, the essential substance of the real world (Information : EnFormAction) is closer to invisible Energy than to tangible Matter, I can make sense of problems inherent to both Dualism and Materialistic Monism. But that worldview is Agnostic about the post-death state of the abstract process we call "Life". We have no evidence upon which to base such speculations, except for unverifiable anecdotal (so you say) reports that can be interpreted in various ways.

    Consequently, I think EnFormAction (like Energy) must be eternal. But Life is inherently temporal. Therefore, I'm not counting on a traditional afterlife. But, I can't absolutely rule out some afterdeath continuation of personal data (Information) -- perhaps "virtual" life?? :cool:


    Qualia : Philosophers often use the term ‘qualia’ (singular ‘quale’) to refer to the introspectively accessible, phenomenal aspects of our mental lives. In this broad sense of the term, it is difficult to deny that there are qualia.
    https://plato.stanford.edu/entries/qualia/

    Both/And Principle :
    My coinage for the holistic principle of Complementarity, as illustrated in the Yin/Yang symbol. Opposing or contrasting concepts are always part of a greater whole. Conflicts between parts can be reconciled or harmonized by putting them into the context of a whole system.
  • Manuel
    2.1k


    Well, it kind of depends on what dualism one espouses. This article argues that some people are what are called substance dualists: there are two kinds of stuff in the world one which known and understood, the physical (and this is false) and one which is not understood the mental or spiritual.

    I've said this too many times here to go into details again, but, first of all, this physical stuff which is claimed is known so well, isn't, we postulate 95% of the universe as being made of dark matter and dark energy, we don't know what they are, but if we don't postulate that, then the 5% we can describe, doesn't hold.

    If you then actually examine what the evidence says, you discover that physical stuff is waaaay stranger than our intuitions of it being "solid, touchable stuff", in fact, it's almost completely insubstantial.

    What's also insubstantial, that is, not touchable and strange? The mind, which we don't know much about, other than we have it and are acquainted with it better than anything else.

    So out the window with substance dualism. Now we have the world, with many properties (the mental, the biological, the chemical, the sociological). So one can be a monist-pluralist and say there's many kinds of things which are at bottom made of the same stuff, or you can artificially say that the mental is not physical and somehow has to be fundamentally different from the rest of the world.

    Nothing follows if there is another life after this one in terms of monism.
  • TiredThinker
    314
    So science doesn't necessarily collapse if the mind at least in part exists outside of the physical as we know it?
  • Wayfarer
    14.6k
    Is it implying that assuming dualism is a possibility that all science must be false in order for that to be the case?TiredThinker

    His description of dualism is completely fallacious. He's depicting the belief in soul as something like an ectoplasmic jelly, some amorphous stuff that exists. It's like matter, only spooky - 'mind-stuff' or something of the kind. It comes from the background assumptions that he makes, without acknowledging or possibly understanding what they are or when they were made.

    If the idea of a spiritual realm and a mind that outlives the brain turned out to be true and materialism turned out to be false, then this discovery would not just add new insights to science the way that the revolutionary theories of relativity and quantum mechanics did, it would contradict science in its entirety. — Lewis

    There is considerable documented evidence of children who remember their past lives. Such evidence comprises checking the claims of such children against contemporary reports of the lives they claim to remember, including newspaper stories, witness accounts, locations and other such records. The researchers who conducted these studies don't claim to be 'contradicting science in its entirety', although obviously such phenomena challenge scientific materialism, which is a completely different matter.

    Up until about the 19th Century there was no conception of electric fields. They were discovered as a consequence of other discoveries in electomagnetism. Nowadays it is common to read that the fundamental constituents of matter are 'really' fields of various kinds. Obviously electromagnetic fields have been detected because of the instruments that are able to detect them and the observation of effects of magnets and compass needles etc. But why should it be assumed that fields are only electro-magnetic? What if there are biological fields, or field effects that the mind is able to detect, such as morphic fields?
  • Banno
    15.7k
    Please help me understand this article.TiredThinker

    I like threads that are based on articles. They have the potential to provide far ore substance to chew on. Of course, they are dependent on folk reading the article.

    For those who persistently ignore the cited work, here is the footnote that Lewis says contains the "cogent explanation by a renowned physicist as to why this is so."

    Caltech physicist Sean M. Carroll framed the debate this way, in his book The Big Picture: On the Origins of Life, Meaning, and the Universe Itself (New York: Dutton, 2016): "Is consciousness 'just' a way of talking about the behavior of certain kinds of collections of atoms, obeying the laws of physics? Or is there something definitely new about it—either an entirely new kind of substance, as Rene Descartes would have had it, or at least a separate kind of property over and above the merely material?" (p. 319). Carroll argued persuasively for the former (just atoms obeying the laws of physics). He went on to say "If these mental properties affected the behavior of particles in the same way that physical properties like mass and electric charge do, then they would simply be another kind of physical property. You are free to postulate new properties that affect the behavior of electrons and photons, but you're not simply adding new ideas to the Core Theory; you are saying that it is wrong. If mental properties affect the evolution of quantum fields, there will be ways to measure that effect experimentally, at least in principle—not to mention all the theoretical difficulties with regard to conservation of energy and so on that such a modification would entail. It's reasonable to assign very low credence to such a complete overhaul of the very successful structure of known physics" (p. 356). Carroll explained elsewhere why physicists are extremely confident now that the Core Theory is correct, and he explained what the theory entails. He also (like many other physicists) went on to debunk popular New Age beliefs (e.g. those promoted by Deepak Chopra) that quantum mechanics somehow supports the notion that the universe is pervaded by some sort of primal innate consciousness and the notion that consciousness is primary, creating matter (vs. the scientific view that consciousness is secondary, arising from matter). For a short, simplified version of the above explanation by Carroll, see https://www.wired.com/2016/05/thinking-psychic-powers-helps-us-think-science/.
  • Agent Smith
    1.2k
    Science wouldn't be wrong per se. It could restrict its applicability to the physical side of reality. The nonphysical would require its very own couture theory in the same capacity.
  • Banno
    15.7k
    SO is the argument cogent? Let's pry it apart.

    "If these mental properties affected the behavior of particles in the same way that physical properties like mass and electric charge do, then they would simply be another kind of physical property. You are free to postulate new properties that affect the behavior of electrons and photons, but you're not simply adding new ideas to the Core Theory; you are saying that it is wrong.If mental properties affect the evolution of quantum fields, there will be ways to measure that effect experimentally, at least in principle—not to mention all the theoretical difficulties with regard to conservation of energy and so on that such a modification would entail. It's reasonable to assign very low credence to such a complete overhaul of the very successful structure of known physics

    My bolding. The argument as presented is not cogent. It is incomplete. But we might be able to piece together an improved version.

    The argument seems to be that if mental properties had physical affects then we would be able to measure them. The law of conservation of energy is mentioned - if mental properties had some physical affect we would be able to measure these and see if the result complied with conservation of energy. IF it does, then the mental properties are simply more physical properties; and this is what physicists suppose happens when we move stuff around with our hands - energy is conserved.

    If energy was not conserved, then there would be a problem for science. Conservation of energy is about as basic as a scientific principle can get. If it failed in the presence of minds, then we would indeed need to build science up from scratch, But moreover, if conservation failed, we would have no basis on which to make predictions as to the outcomes of experiments. We could never be sure that the results were brought about by physical laws or the intervention of mind.

    It would render the world unpredictable. Science depends on the world being predictable.

    So yes, dualism is anathema to science.
  • Banno
    15.7k
    That argument rests on a fundamental problem with dualism.

    IF there are two things in the world - say a physical world and mind - then how is it that mind can work to change physical stuff?

    We know that this happens - I decide to raise my arm, and low, the damn thing goes up.

    The only rational explanation is that there is a physical link of some sort between mind and arm; that they are basically the same sort of thing.

    Those who suppose otherwise - the ball is in your court. It is over to you to explain how mind can have an impact on the physical world if it is an utterly different sort of thing.

    The usual explanation is from Descartes: it just so happens that the world is set up so that at the time you decide to move your arm, the arm is caused by the laws of physics. But that is a quite useless explanation.
  • Wayfarer
    14.6k
    IF there are two things in the world - say a physical world and mind - then how is it that mind can work to change physical stuff?Banno

    That’s what begins to happen with the emergence of life. Living creatures are capable of intentional action. On planets where there is no life - most of them, as far as we know - then no such thing occurs.

    Caltech physicist Sean M. Carroll framed the debate this way

    There was an opinion piece published in Scientific American, by physicist (and physicalist!) Sean Carroll, called Physics and the Immortality of the Soul. Carroll argues that belief in any kind of life after death is equivalent to the belief that the Moon is made from green cheese - that is to say, ridiculous.

    But such an assertion is made because of the presuppositions that the writer brings to the question. In other words, he depicts the issue in such a way that it would indeed be ridiculous to believe it. But this is because of a deep misunderstanding about the very nature of the idea.

    Carroll says:

    Claims that some form of consciousness persists after our bodies die and decay into their constituent atoms face one huge, insuperable obstacle: the laws of physics underlying everyday life are completely understood, and there’s no way within those laws to allow for the information stored in our brains to persist after we die. If you claim that some form of soul persists beyond death, what particles is that soul made of? What forces are holding it together? How does it interact with ordinary matter?

    I can think of a straightforward answer to this question, which is that the soul is not 'made of particles'. In fact the idea that the soul is 'made of particles' is not at all characteristic of what is meant by the term 'soul'. (I also think the claim that 'the laws of physics underlying everyday life are completely understood' is ridiculously hubristic, but I'll leave that aside.)

    But I think the soul could more easily be conceived in terms of a field that acts as an organising principle - analogous to the physical and magnetic fields that were discovered during the 19th century, that were found to be fundamental to the behaviour of particles. This is not to say that the soul is a field, but that it might be much more conceivable in terms of fields than of particles.

    Morphic Fields

    Just as magnetic fields organise iron filings into predictable shapes, so too might a biological field effect be responsible for the general form and the persistence of particular attributes of an organism. The question is, is there any evidence of such fields?

    Well, the existence of 'moprhic fields' is the brainchild of Rupert Sheldrake, the 'scientific heretic' who claims in a Scientific American interview that:

    Morphic resonance is the influence of previous structures of activity on subsequent similar structures of activity organized by morphic fields. It enables memories to pass across both space and time from the past. The greater the similarity, the greater the influence of morphic resonance. What this means is that all self-organizing systems, such as molecules, crystals, cells, plants, animals and animal societies, have a collective memory on which each individual draws and to which it contributes. In its most general sense this hypothesis implies that the so-called laws of nature are more like habits.

    As the morphic field is capable of storing and transmitting remembered information, then 'the soul' could be conceived in such terms. The morphic field does, at the very least, provide an explanatory metaphor for such persistence.

    Children with Past-Life Memories

    But what, then, is the evidence for such effects in respect to 'life after death'? As mentioned previously in this thread, a researcher by the name of Ian Stevenson assembled a considerable body of data on children with recall of previous lives. Stevenson's data collection comprised the methodical documentation of a child’s purported recollections of a previous life. Then he identified from journals, birth-and-death records, and witnesses the deceased person the child supposedly remembered, and attempted to validate the facts that matched the child’s memory. Yet another Scientific American opinion piece notes that Stevenson even matched birthmarks and birth defects on his child subjects with wounds on the remembered deceased that could be verified by medical records.

    On the back of the head of a little boy in Thailand was a small, round puckered birthmark, and at the front was a larger, irregular birthmark, resembling the entry and exit wounds of a bullet; Stevenson had already confirmed the details of the boy’s statements about the life of a man who’d been shot in the head from behind with a rifle, so that seemed to fit. And a child in India who said he remembered the life of boy who’d lost the fingers of his right hand in a fodder-chopping machine mishap was born with boneless stubs for fingers on his right hand only. This type of “unilateral brachydactyly” is so rare, Stevenson pointed out, that he couldn’t find a single medical publication of another case.

    Carroll, again

    Carroll goes on in his piece to say that 'Everything we know about quantum field theory (QFT) says that there aren’t any sensible answers to these questions (about the persistence of consciousness)'. However, that springs from his starting assumption that 'the soul' must be something physical, which, again, arises from the presumption that everything is physical, or reducible to physics. In other words, it is directly entailed by his belief in the exhaustiveness of physics with respect to the description of what is real.

    He then says 'Believing in life after death, to put it mildly, requires physics beyond the Standard Model. Most importantly, we need some way for that "new physics" to interact with the atoms that we do have.'

    However, even in ordinary accounts of 'mind-body' medicine, it is clear that mind can have physical consequences and effects on the body. This is the case with, for example, psychosomatic medicine and the placebo effect, but there are many other examples.

    He finishes by observing:

    Very roughly speaking, when most people think about an immaterial soul that persists after death, they have in mind some sort of blob of spirit energy that takes up residence near our brain, and drives around our body like a soccer mom driving an SUV.

    But that is not what 'most people have in mind'. That is what physicalists have in mind - because that is how physicalists think. If you start from the understanding that 'everything is physical', then this will indeed dictate the way you think about such questions. And it is indeed the case that there is no such 'blob' as Carroll imagines. But that is not what 'soul' is; but what it is is something that can't be understood given his presuppositions about what is real.
  • Banno
    15.7k
    Take a look at our old friend:

    Duck-Rabbit-Ludwig-Wittgenstein-Philosophical-Investigations-p-194.ppm

    That bit sticking out to the left - what is it? Is it a bill or a pair of ears?

    Which is it really? That question doesn't work int his context. We can see it as a bill, or as a pair of ears; there's no "really" about it.

    All this to show that the one thing might be seen in quite differently for different purposes.

    The argument given above showed that in a physical explanation there is no room for a different, non-physical substance such as mind. When one is doing physics one cannot afford to allow magic without physics falling apart. So moving one's arm is presumed to have an explanation in physical terms that will set out the movement all the way from the arm going up right back to the firing of some set of neurones, without mention of a decisions being made.

    Or we could simply say that decided to lift my arm.

    These are two descriptions. One belongs to physics, the other to our intentional explanations of what we do. They are descriptions of the very same thing - me lifting my arm.

    Like the duck-rabbit, they are different ways of seeing a nd talking about the same thing.

    There's no two substances at work here, no magic interfering with the science. Instead of a physical duality, we just have two ways of talking.

    And we needn't think one of these ways of speaking has some ultimate priority over the other, as folk do when they are sometimes incline to say that our actions reduce to physical explanations. An accurate and complete physical explanation of my raising my hand, including descriptions of the neurones, muscle, bones and other bits involved, would be would be useless as an explanation of why I raised my hand. But "I wanted to scratch my eye" suffices in a few words.

    So it might be that we have two ways of talking about how things are - one physical, the other intentional. They are about the very same thing, but are quite different.

    Thinking in this way, we may be able to have our cake and eat it; retaining a belief that there are only physical occurrences in the world, while accepting that we can describe these occurrences in terms of such mental properties as beliefs, desires and sensations.
  • javra
    1.5k
    So science doesn't necessarily collapse if the mind at least in part exists outside of the physical as we know it?TiredThinker

    Absolutely not! All scientism would necessarily collapse—not all of science, if any.

    The article linked to in the OP espouses an opinion founded on a popularized but, imo, unlearned understandings of what empirical science is. (Prejudicially speaking, might have something to do with the author being an M.D. rather than a PhD.)

    Empirical science equates to neither physicalism nor to physics—no more than it equates to theoretical mathematics. Or to technology for that matter.

    Here, an impromptu working definition: Empirical science is knowledge consisting of inferred fallible conclusions derived from empirical evidence—i.e., from observations: be these the results from tests of falsifiable hypotheses (c.f., the results of any scientific test), of reoccurring processes in nature (e.g., the theory of evolution via natural selection), of one unique items found in the world (e.g., certain fossils), etc.—whose verity as empirical evidence is confirmed via consensus, such as via replication and peer review. I know this definition is imperfect but I wager that there is nothing in this definition that any empirical science lacks or does without.

    If substance dualism (or any other number of non-physicalist paradigms), then some of the fallibly inferred conclusions currently maintained by the empirical sciences will be mistaken—especially those which by now have become amongst the most generalized conclusions which contextualize all others: as an example I'm keen on, such as the currently maintained fallible conclusion that teleology is a metaphysical impossibility or else is simply unreal. However, that said, absolutely none of the empirical evidence obtained via the empirical sciences would become invalid. All the data obtained by the empirical sciences would still need to be cogently explainable, at least in principle, by the non-physicalist paradigm.

    Check out this statement of the author for example:

    Spiritual believers often accuse scientists of being closed-minded or dogmatic, for being so definite in their rejection of mind-brain dualism and a spiritual realm. So, how is it that scientists are so certain that dualism is false? Quite simply, because for dualism to be true, all of science would have to be false.

    But wait a minute, you say. There have been many scientific theories overturned in the past by better theories and new evidence, producing paradigm-shifts. Isn't it possible that dualism will replace monism just as surely as Einstein's Theory of Relativity superseded Newtonian physics? The analogy is misleading. Paradigm shifts do sometimes occur, but overturning the foundations of science is quite another matter, the likelihood of which is astronomically small.

    Dualism so fundamentally contradicts the foundations and entire accumulated evidence of modern science that in order for it to be true, we would have to start rebuilding modern science from the ground up.
    Ralph Lewis M.D.

    (Boldface mine.) No, substance dualism (and many other non-physicalist paradigms) does not contradict the “entire accumulated evidence of modern science”—all of which is empirical observations, i.e. empirical data. It in fact contradicts none of it, but instead only contradicts the “[metaphysical] foundations” of modern science, which are all conceptual rather than empirical raw data. Only the latter would need to be successfully reworked. But succeeding in so doing, “astronomically small” as the possibility might be, does not then entail that “all of science is false”—for fallible conclusions are part and parcel of what science is (part and parcel of empirical science's philosophical foundations as an epistemological endeavor)!

    I really wish people would have a better understanding of what empirical science is and consists of. Scientism is destroying science's credibility in society the world over. :shade:

    … acknowledgedly, this being just one person’s opinionated point of view. I’ll try to leave it at that.
  • Wayfarer
    14.6k
    You can feel the fear in that article.
  • Wayfarer
    14.6k
    I decide to raise my arm, and low, the damn thing goes up.Banno

    This meme is based on the way Cartesian dualism was misinterpreted to be a literal hypothesis. As if Descartes had posited an actual 'immaterial thinking thing' which was purported to 'act on' an actual 'extended non-mental body'. This then becomes an engineering problem - how to connect an actual material appendage to a non-material thingemy. Can't be done. You can't write a spec for it.

    But Descartes' dualism was never intended as a literal model or hypothesis, it's more like an explanatory metaphor or maybe an economic model, although it's possible that Descartes himself tended to literalise it. He was a genius, but he had his blind spots. (There are valuable comments on this point in Husserl's Crisis.)

    There's an insightful analysis by a scholar of Buddhism of the divide between idealism and materialism that developed subsequent to Descartes:

    The term "Idealism" came into vogue roughly during the time of Kant (though it was used earlier by others, such as Leibniz) to label one of two trends that had emerged in reaction to Cartesian philosophy.

    Descartes had argued that there were two basic yet separate substances in the universe: Extension (the material world of things in space) and Thought (the world of mind and ideas). Subsequently opposing camps took one or the other substance as their metaphysical foundation, treating it as the primary substance while reducing the remaining substance to derivative status. Materialists argued that only matter was ultimately real, so that thought and consciousness derived from physical entities (chemistry, brain states, etc.). Idealists countered that the mind and its ideas were ultimately real, and that the physical world derived from mind (e.g., the mind of God, Berkeley's esse est percipi, or from ideal prototypes, etc.).

    Materialists gravitated toward mechanical, physical explanations for why and how things existed, while Idealists tended to look for purposes - moral as well as rational - to explain existence. Idealism meant "idea-ism," frequently in the sense Plato's notion of "ideas" (eidos) was understood at the time, namely ideal types that transcended the physical, sensory world and provided the form (eidos) that gave matter meaning and purpose. As materialism, buttressed by advances in materialistic science, gained wider acceptance, those inclined toward spiritual and theological aims turned increasingly toward idealism as a countermeasure. Before long there were many types of materialism and idealism.
    — Dan Lusthaus

    Materialism is based on 'the idealisation of the object'. Galileo's science posited the ideal object as what can be precisely described in terms of the fundamental forces of physics (i.e. its primary qualities). He conveniently assigns all the other qualities to the observing mind, out of the picture, as it were (well, until the observer problem came along.) As science developed, it was assumed that the mind was itself a 'product of' the activities of those ideal objects which the new science posited (whence Dennett's 'eliminativism'.) That's why Lewis says that should dualism be true, then science would have to be re-written. He's wrong, of course - science would stand largely untouched. What might have to be re-written is what it means.
  • Tom Storm
    2.9k
    Scientism is destroying science's credibility in society the world over. :shade:javra

    Yes, I wonder what the answer to that might be. People seem to need to worship things and this cast of mind necessarily turns science into the flip side and vanquisher of religion. An old criticism.

    Your impromptu definition of empirical science is nicely done.

    You can feel the fear in that article.Wayfarer

    It's quite the mini-manifesto - one feels there was a tirigger. Who is he trying to reassure, himself or someone close?

    An accurate and complete physical explanation of my raising my hand, including descriptions of the neurones, muscle, bones and other bits involved, would be would be useless as an explanation of why I raised my hand. But "I wanted to scratch my eye" suffices in a few words.

    So it might be that we have two ways of talking about how things are - one physical, the other intentional. They are about the very same thing, but are quite different.

    Thinking in this way, we may be able to have our cake and eat it; retaining a belief that there are only physical occurrences in the world, while accepting that we can describe these occurrences in terms of such mental properties as beliefs, desires and sensations.
    Banno

    I'm not a philosopher but wouldn't one of the potential comebacks to this be: who is the I who holds those beliefs, desires and sensations? And suddenly some of us are back pondering the 'hard problem'.
  • Wayfarer
    14.6k
    Who is he trying to reassure, himself or someone close?Tom Storm

    It's 'handrail materialism'. It gives you something to cling to when you feel the ground beneath you falling away.
  • Tom Storm
    2.9k
    It gives you something to cling to when you feel the ground beneath you falling away.Wayfarer

    Hmmm. I guess I consider myself something of a handrail physicalist so I have empathy for him. It was the tone of it that stuck me, perhaps a by-product of needing to compress arguments for a such a brief opinion piece.
  • RussellA
    287
    Is it implying that assuming dualism is a possibility that all science must be false in order for that to be the case?TiredThinker

    Yes, Lewis is saying that if dualism was true, then the foundation of science would be shown to be false.

    However, Lewis is also saying that dualism is not true, even if, as he writes, "humans are instinctive dualists".

    Lewis argues that if there's no basis for dualism, then on death the self ceases to exist, writing "So what happens to the mind, or the self, after death? If there's no basis for dualism...............consciousness is lost..........self or essence ceases to exist." But Lewis concludes with his belief that the self ceases to exist on death, writing "You only live once". Therefore it follows that Lewis is arguing that there is no basis for dualism as on death the self ceases to exist.

    Lewis also said that if dualism was true, then the foundation of science would be shown to be false, writing "for dualism to be true, all of science would have to be false." It follows that Lewis is saying that as there is no basis for dualism, then dualism cannot be used to show that science is false.

    IE, Lewis is arguing that even though humans may be instinctive dualists, dualism is not true, and because it is not true, doesn't undermine science.

    The article is setting out Lewis' beliefs, rather than justifying them.
  • javra
    1.5k
    Yes, I wonder what the answer to that might be. People seem to need to worship things and this cast of mind necessarily turns science into the flip side and vanquisher of religion. An old criticism.Tom Storm

    We’re in agreement. For my part, I find that those who uphold scientism then throw babies out together with the bathwater, so to speak: e.g., allowing for even the possibility of any kind of objective purpose in life—which reeks of spiritualism to many of a scientism ilk—becomes viewed as an opening of floodgates for religious fanaticism. Most humans on earth are however not on board with nihilism, and will reject this metaphysical claim—be they religious or not—thereby becoming mistrustful of science when science is deemed equivalent to, or else necessarily resulting in, scientism (this as those who uphold scientism maintain).

    As to answers, I don’t have any ready at hand that I find to be meaningful.

    Your impromptu definition of empirical science is nicely done.Tom Storm

    Thank you.
  • Mww
    3k


    The article stipulates, “...Mind-brain dualism is the view that brain and mind are derived from entirely different kinds of things—physical stuff and mind-stuff....”, and that, “...for dualism to be true, all of science would have to be false...”

    If it be granted the initial predication for mind/body dualism arises in Descartes,1641, and that there is further elucidation of it in 1647, and included in that latter a distinction in substances for each, then it should be noted that such elucidation of “substance”.....

    “...As for corporeal substance and mind (i.e. created thinking substance), they can be understood in terms of a single common principle, all we can mean by ‘substance’ is ‘a thing that exists in such a way that it doesn’t depend on anything else for its existence....”
    (Principles of Philosophy, 1. 52., 1647)

    “....We can easily come to know that we are in the presence of a substance by one of its attributes. The nature of corporeal substance is extension in length, breadth and depth; and any other property a body has presupposes extension as merely a special case of it. The nature of thinking substance is thought; and anything else that is true of a mind is merely a special case of that, a way of thinking....”
    (Ibid) 53

    “....Thus we can easily have two vivid and clear notions or ideas, one of created thinking substance and the other of corporeal substance, provided we are careful to distinguish all the attributes of thought from the attributes of extension. (...) We must confine our idea to what we clearly perceive, not cramming into it any invented features beyond the ones that really belong there....”
    (Ibid) 54

    ....does nothing whatsoever to justify that the validity of physical science is destroyed by it.

    All that says nothing of other subsequent renditions of the stated dualism, but it’s always best to start from the beginning.
  • Banno
    15.7k
    I'm not a philosopher but wouldn't one of the potential comebacks to this be: who is the I who holds those beliefs, desires and sensations? And suddenly some of us are back pondering the 'hard problem'.Tom Storm

    Of course.
  • Banno
    15.7k
    But I think the soul could more easily be conceived in terms of a field that acts as an organising principle - analogous to the physical and magnetic fields that were discovered during the 19th century, that were found to be fundamental to the behaviour of particles. This is not to say that the soul is a field, but that it might be much more conceivable in terms of fields than of particles.Wayfarer

    The thing about a field is that it has a predictable and measurable affect.

    And it conforms to conservation laws.

    Descartes' dualism was never intended as a literal model or hypothesis, it's more like an explanatory metaphor or maybe an economic model,Wayfarer

    What is it, then? You didn't finish. You went of on a supposed criticism of materialism, a view that is also not scientific.

    You've slid from dualism to idealism, Morphic fields and past lives. What about crystal healing and chakras?
  • 180 Proof
    7k
    Substance dualism is inconsistent with physical sciences insofar as the concept entails e.g. violation of conservation laws (re: energy), inertia, causal closure of physical systems (the body half of "mind-body duality"), etc. This inconsistency calls substance dualism into question as a scientific conjecture or paradigm just as "the MBP" (& its dissolution by Spinoza re: property dualism; also rabbit–duck illusion ... compatibilism) makes its incoherence explicit as a conceptual speculation. The physical sciences could be wrong, of course, but not because of any epistemically vacuous, dualistic metaphysics (e.g. Cartesianism, Gnosticism, spiritualism, non-physicalism).

    :smirk:
  • Banno
    15.7k
    Mind can move physical things.

    When a physical thing is moved, energy is used.

    So mind uses energy.

    If the source of the energy used by a mind is to be found elsewhere in the physical world then energy is conserved. Mind would be a part of the physical world.

    If the source of the energy used by a mind is not found in the physical world, then energy has been created, and is not conserved.

    If energy can be introduced into the world from outside, then the world is no longer predictable.

    The impact here needs iteration. If the conservation laws cannot be relied on, it would not simply be the case that we need to extend the explanation to take the appearance of energy into account. Rather, the way energy functions would cease to be consistent with any laws.

    To give an example, if you drop a weight, it will accelerate towards the ground at a fixed rate. If mind can introduce energy into the world ex nihilo, then a mind could change that acceleration, and the acceleration of the weight would cease to be predictable. A mind could simply make it accelerate at a higher or at a lower velocity.

    If the world were unpredictable, this would undermines not just science, but the capacity to describe the world in a consistent fashion.
  • Wayfarer
    14.6k
    “...As for corporeal substance and mind (i.e. created thinking substance), they can be understood in terms of a single common principle, all we can mean by ‘substance’ is ‘a thing that exists in such a way that it doesn’t depend on anything else for its existence....”
    (Principles of Philosophy, 1. 52., 1647)
    Mww

    Thanks for those passages from Descartes. I often note that the notion of 'substance' in philosophy is very different from that used in everyday life, where it means 'a material with uniform properties'. Here it is derived from 'ouisia' which is nearer in meaning to 'being' or 'bearer of attributes'.

    You've slid from dualism to idealism, Morphic fields and past lives. What about crystal healing and chakras?Banno

    I've never understood the fixation with crystals. Chakras are a different matter. Acupuncture seems to work and it is based on something similar.

    As for morphic fields, they are a possible explanatory metaphor. As I said, we now know that electro-magnetic fields are real, because we have instruments that can detect them. Prior to their discovery, nothing was known of their existence. I see no logical reason to presume that there may not be fields other than electromagnetic.

    As for past life memories, they are a possible source of empirical evidence. Those who undertook that research didn't believe they were 'undermining science', in fact they attempted to observe the kinds of empirical practices that were deployed in other fields.

    Mind can move physical things.Banno

    The definition of what constitutes the physical is constantly changing. The idea of the physical is completely different now to what it was 100 years ago. We now do things every day that would have been physically impossible in the past, and the concepts involved in physics would have been likewise inconceivable a few generations ago.

    To give an example, if you drop a weight, it will accelerate towards the ground at a fixed rate. If mind can introduce energy into the world ex nihilo, then a mind could change that acceleration, and the acceleration of the weight would cease to be predictable.Banno

    A vulgar example. You don't have to prove telekinesis to challenge the claims of materialism. Psychosomatic medicine is closer to hand.
  • javra
    1.5k


    Presuming a lack of equivocation, your arguments are a tad bit circular, but this goes deep into foundational theories of physics that today are so commonplace they’re taken to be infallible: The energy you reference is purely physical and thereby quantitative (contrast this to the qualitative Aristotelian notions of energy from which modern notions of physical energy evolved) and, in substance dualism, minds are not physical - thereby being endowed with Aristotelian notions of energy but not our modern notions of physical energy. The law (more accurately, theory) of conservation of physical energy can only apply to the physical substance in substance dualism, but does not apply to psychical substance. So, as far as I can currently make out, your argument in sum: given that everything is contingent upon the ubiquitous presence of physical energy, hence given that physicalism is true, substance dualism is false, for it would contradict the tenets of physicalism, thereby demonstrating physicalism to be true.

    Preempting a possible question, don't know about Cartesian substance dualism, but something along the lines of objective idealism could well account for mind using energy to move physical things ... but, here, energy would be foundationally qualitative, rather that physically quantitative, such that the latter emerges from the former.

    If energy can be introduced into the world from outside, then the world is no longer predictable.

    The impact here needs iteration. If the conservation laws cannot be relied on, it would not simply be the case that we need to extend the explanation to take the appearance of energy into account. Rather, the way energy functions would cease to be consistent with any laws.
    Banno

    Your assertion that the world becomes unpredictable in the absence of our upholding the theory/law of the conservation of (physical) energy runs into at least one issue: it amounts to the assertion that all lesser animals and those human beings existing prior to the 17th century are and were unable to successfully predict anything. Which is patently false.

    Also, how might the law of identity be necessarily contingent on “the way [physical] energy functions”? (Other than by presupposing physicalism.)
  • Daemon
    375
    I decide to imagine a blue elephant. As I do so my brain goes through a series of states dictated by my decision and its content. It's not so much that the mind moves physical things, rather the mind is physical things. There's only one world.
  • Raymond
    649
    One can read in the article:

    "Is consciousness 'just' a way of talking about the behavior of certain kinds of collections of atoms, obeying the laws of physics? Or is there something definitely new about it—either an entirely new kind of substance, as Rene Descartes would have had it, or at least a separate kind of property over and above the merely material?"

    The only scientifically tenable way is to assume that physical matter like quarks, leptons, are not only what they are in theory: almost pointlike particles interacting by gauge fields on a curved spacetime. As we are what we eat, we are an enormous collection of them. An ordered dynamical structure, walking around, looking, reaching, smiling, and talking. As this can only happen if we are conscious, all physical stuff, by scientific necessity, has an unchanging ingredient or charge, which, when they massively and structured combine in our brain and body, give rise to consciousness. How else can it be? They have to contain something. We eat them!
  • RogueAI
    872
    I decide to imagine a blue elephant. As I do so my brain goes through a series of states dictated by my decision and its content. It's not so much that the mind moves physical things, rather the mind is physical things. There's only one world.Daemon

    If the mind IS a physical thing (i.e., mind=brain), then when you imagine a blue elephant in your mind, shouldn't there be a blue elephant inside your skull?
  • Banno
    15.7k
    The definition of what constitutes the physical is constantly changing. The idea of the physical is completely different now to what it was 100 years ago. We now do things every day that would have been physically impossible in the past, and the concepts involved in physics would have been likewise inconceivable a few generations ago.Wayfarer

    Yeah, all that. Use it to fudge whatever you need to fudge to excuse poor thinking.

    But when I decide to move my arm, my arm moves.

    So mind is part of the world.


    Yep. The construct in the argument is only there to show the incoherence of supposing otherwise.
  • Mww
    3k
    Here it is derived from 'ouisia' which is nearer in meaning to 'being' or 'bearer of attributes'.Wayfarer

    Yes, and Para 54 of Principles is prefaced with just that qualification, re: ”...each substance has one principle attribute...”, which is the same as saying each is the bearer of one principle attribute.
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