• simeonz
    79
    I just realized that the posters in this discussion may be concerned with the fact that the mind has only partial awareness of its own being. That is, that even if one assumes a materialist standpoint, there would be two states - of awareness and of being. The latter former would be a projection, i.e. a substate, of the former latter. As such, even a materialist would have to distinguish them and might call the state of awareness - the mind, and the complete state of being - the brain. Which raises the question - which state more accurately describes who you are? On one hand, neither one is truly yours to have, on the other, neither one is disassociated from you.
  • Wayfarer
    8.6k
    With the risk of sounding annoying...simeonz

    Not at all.

    Assuming one is coming from a solipsist attitude,simeonz

    Solipsism is dissolved by empathy.

    even if one assumes a materialist standpoint, there would be two states - of awareness and of being.simeonz

    I don't think materialists would acknowledge that. And by asking these questions, you're already outside the reductionist circle.
  • simeonz
    79
    First, I made a mistake above. I meant to say that a materialist would claim that the awareness is a projection of the brain, and not that the brain is a projection of the awareness. It is corrected now. (This obviously makes a huge difference.)

    Solipsism is dissolved by empathy.Wayfarer
    My point was - assuming one treats the existence of the mind, rather then the body, as a starting point, wouldn't the theory I described be equivalent to that of eliminative materialism? If it isn't, what position would that be called?

    I don't think materialists would acknowledge that. And by asking these questions, you're already outside the reductionist circle.Wayfarer
    In retrospect, projection may not have been the right term, because it implies some kind of codomain - a space to project onto. But a brain substate is a very primitive and base notion of awareness that doesn't require it to be separate from the body, and corresponds to the assumption of a medical model of psychology. Wouldn't that satisfy at least some eliminative materialists?
  • Wayfarer
    8.6k
    assuming one treats the existence of the mind, rather then the body, as a starting point, wouldn't the theory I described be equivalent to that of eliminative materialism?simeonz

    No, because it's not a theory at all. It is, as Descartes said it was, apodictic.

    The point of materialist theories of mind, is that 'mind is what brain does'. So they're saying, what we experience as a sense of self, is really better understood as the collective output of various neural processes. You have to be clear about that. This philosophy, so-called, is rooted in a very specific historical process; it was one of the French atheist "philosophes" of the Enlightenment who said that 'the brain secretes thought like the liver secrets bile'. Even though it is a very crude expression, it is really what eliminativism believes and wants to prove.

    Another one of Daniel Dennett's books is called 'Darwin's Dangerous Idea'. It spells out the philosophical implications (although again, they're actually the anti-philosophical implications) of this point of view. 'The crux of the argument is that, whether or not Darwin's theories are overturned, there is no going back from the dangerous idea that design (purpose or what something is for) might not need a designer. Dennett makes this case on the basis that natural selection is a blind process, which is nevertheless sufficiently powerful to explain the evolution of life. Darwin's discovery was that the generation of life worked algorithmically, that processes behind it work in such a way that given these processes the results that they tend toward must be so.'

    There was a similar book written called Chance and Necessity, by Jacques Monod (around 1970), a Nobel-winning biochemist and also remorseless materialist. It makes very similar points. They are both canonical works of what is called 'neo-Darwinian materialism', which is the idea that life itself is a kind of runaway chemical reaction.

    The argument I am deploying against such ideas is that reason itself cannot be understood in Darwinian terms, or reduced to anything understood by the laws of physics, or any other science*. Reason itself - the ability to argue from premisses to a conclusion - is naturally assumed by materialists to be explained by the same principles as other forms of adaptation that enable species to survive and therefore propagate. But I say that the biological theory of evolution never set out to provide an account of the nature of reason in the first place, but because of the circumstances of culture and history, the biological theory of evolution has now assumed, especially for the 'militant atheists' such as Daniel Dennett, a kind of quasi-religious status, as that which is finally going to destroy religion and any form of idealist philosophy once and for all. (Dennett refers to 'Darwin's Dangerous Idea' as a 'universal acid' for exactly that reason, and has written other polemical books to this end.)

    So the whole 'eliminative materialist' project is basically driven by the fact that the nature of the mind itself is fundamentally irreconcilable with materialism. The reality of mind can't be acknowledged. That's all there is in this argument, there's nothing else to it.

    -----
    * This is a kind of transcendental argument, basically Kantian in orientation.
  • simeonz
    79

    Well, I understand that Mr. Dennett may have overused natural selection as explanative device, and may have run overboard with his derogatory metaphors on the human condition, but that still does not render eliminative materialism as irreconcilably (Daniel Dennett aside) "mindless" position to me. If one subtracts the aspect of personal attitude, and leaves only the ontological content, I still cannot distinguish eliminative materialism from Spinozian or Leibnizian pantheism. And the latter are certainly not absent of mind phenomenon. I certainly can distinguish eliminative materialism from mind-body dualism. I will surrender my attempts to elucidate the distinction, at least for the time being. May be I just need to get familiar with the theories and give the matter further thought.
  • Wayfarer
    8.6k
    I still cannot distinguish eliminative materialism from Spinozian or Leibnizian pantheism.simeonz

    Good subject for a term paper!

    If one subtracts the aspect of personal attitude, and leaves only the ontological content...simeonz

    It might be of relevance that the origin of the term 'ontology' is derived the first person declension of the Greek verb 'to be' (namely, 'I am'); which has somewhat different connotations from today's definition.
  • bongo fury
    132
    To me - those are not logically unacceptable consequences.simeonz

    Maybe not, but see the quagmire up ahead?

    I suggest the choice, eventually, is between a physical binary distinction of conscious vs unconscious on the one hand, or a metaphysical binary distinction of mind vs matter on the other...

    Which of these seems to you potentially the more enlightening?
  • Mww
    1k
    some positions have assumptions that could actually be falsified experimentallysimeonz

    While I might agree some brain states are experimentally quantifiable, insofar as reactive indicators are present for observation, I disagree that purely abstract mental conditions, that which is theorized as reason and its integrated particulars, will ever be displayed on a screen or graph. That is to say, the result of thought may be externally witnessed, but the machinations for its implementation, won’t. I mean.....how does one even look for “understanding”? And because such is altogether quite impossible, gives rise to my position that the e.m.-ist’s position is that they don’t need to measure it because there’s no such thing as understanding, e.g., corresponding to a physical brain state. Which of course, drives speculative metaphysicians straight up a very tall wall.

    Me, I just think it’s kinda funny, that physicalists/materialists in general tend to deny the philosophical paradigm, all the while employing the very thing for which the philosophical paradigm stands. Still, one should be really careful in his declarations favoring one side or the other, for the sheer complexity of the human brain does not easily submit itself for definitive examination.
    ——————————-

    I just realized that the posters in this discussion may be concerned with the fact that the mind has only partial awareness of its own being.simeonz

    I have no such concern; I think the proposition has no meaning, because of my idea of what mind is. Mind is merely a word, a placeholder for some immaterial totality, a sort of catch-all that for which we have no better word. If I reduce my thinking to a unconditioned necessity, I arrive at mind. But I don’t need the concept of mind, in and of itself, for my reason to proceed as it does simply because I exist as a thinking subject. This modus operandi completely eliminates any possibility of partial awareness, because there is no doubt I am fully aware of that which affects my thinking, and if it was the case I was not fully aware, the very idea of the possibility of knowledge itself, becomes moot. I could never be certain of anything whatsoever, which is precisely what reason seeks.

    And the beat goes on............
  • simeonz
    79
    Good subject for a term paper!Wayfarer
    I am glad that the discussion may see some extra use.

    I should add here, that Spinoza and Leibniz are quite different - Spinoza is a more clear cut pantheist, whereas Leibniz can be considered a pantheist or an idealist. I am stretching the bracket too much already by including them both in the same category. One might say, that I cannot differentiate some varieties of pantheism and idealism between each other, which explains why I cannot distinguish eliminativism in its own right.

    It might be of relevance that the origin of the term 'ontology' is derived the first person declension of the Greek verb 'to be' (namely, 'I am'); which has somewhat different connotations from today's definition.Wayfarer
    You probably allude to the fundamental inconsistency between the pursuit of philosophy and any denial of being. But, as I said, I am not sure that eliminativists are denying the existence of the mind. I think that they deny any distinction between it and nature - they strip it of transcendence. So far, you did not say what is your position on pantheism is, Do you oppose materialism, but tolerate pantheism? Because, if you consider the co-extensiveness of matter and mind that eliminativists prescribe appalling, I assume that you feel the same about pantheists.

    My comprehension, at the moment, is that eliminativists do not think of our emotions, senses, and thoughts - to be descriptive of who we are. According to them, the proper way to describe our inner selves is to also perceive through empirical observations. But, as I said, I might be wrong.
  • simeonz
    79
    Maybe not, but see the quagmire up ahead?bongo fury
    Not really. I am accepting of the idea, that the plants that I eat, or even the doorknob on my door, may possess some extremely small amounts of consciousness. I do not think a world with clear cut distinctions is necessary for people to function in it. But I did concede that such distinctions might exist nonetheless - because, while I do believe that the relationship between the quantitative and qualitative properties of matter has to be smooth (organization, being equal), it does not have to be gradual.
  • Wayfarer
    8.6k
    the proper way to describe our inner selves is to also perceive through empirical observationssimeonz

    In other words, treat beings as objects, no?
  • simeonz
    79
    While I might agree some brain states are experimentally quantifiable, insofar as reactive indicators are present for observation, I disagree that purely abstract mental conditions, that which is theorized as reason and its integrated particulars, will ever be displayed on a screen or graph. That is to say, the result of thought may be externally witnessed, but the machinations for its implementation, won’t.Mww
    Some hypothetical states might not be empirically verifiable, but the question is - are they epistemically substantive, and if not, why would we arbitrate our philosophical position for reasons that are not purely methodological? I mean, If we can't distinguish two positions in terms of their implications what is the difference between them? (Granted, there are positions that can be distinguished from materialism on that basis, such as the immortality of the soul, the existence of divine miracles, etc, but the notion of a mind existing separately, without further qualifications, does not appear to have immediate consequences in itself.)

    I mean.....how does one even look for “understanding”?Mww
    For me, the question here is whether the mind is first and foremost a collection of unprocessed emotions and senses, aka the intentionality, or are we biased to prioritize these experiences, because they require less mental effort, whereas the more belaboring means of self reflection that involve logical inspection of the natural world, whilst much more intricate, taxing, and sometimes unreliable, can offer further detail of our state of mind, which we are not capable of perceiving directly through emotions.

    Me, I just think it’s kinda funny, that physicalists/materialists in general tend to deny the philosophical paradigm, all the while employing the very thing for which the philosophical paradigm stands.Mww
    There is indeed a complication. Empirical observations as eliminativists would have them are recursive. For the brain to observe itself, it has to already be capable of sensation. But, I am not sure that this is contradiction. After all, the brain does not purport a different image - looking at your brain scan image does imply that your neurons are processing data about themselves. Also - the same recursion does exist backwards. A person can think or emote, or they can think or emote about the nature of their thoughts and emotions. While the latter actions involve greater sophistication, they are usually assumed to be fundamentally realized (whether metaphysically or biologically) in the same way as the former. The entire process could be described as such - through nature we can observe, us observing, us observing, or, observing others, observing us, etc.

    Mind is merely a word, a placeholder for some immaterial totality, a sort of catch-all that for which we have no better word. If I reduce my thinking to a unconditioned necessity, I arrive at mind.Mww
    Still, don't you feel compelled to increase the comprehensiveness of your conceptualization? I mean, are you apathetic towards this particular type of knowledge as opposed to others, because you don't trust it is substantive? Or are you just indifferent towards the issue? I ask, because this is not how human curiosity generally operates. One could imagine what the world would be if Newton said - force is just a notion about a totality of interesting natural phenomenon and I don't have to investigate it any further.

    On the other hand, I do acknowledge that we cannot validate claims in this area with certainty, probably because we don't even have a clear understanding of what the claims are. I sure don't.
  • simeonz
    79
    In other words, treat beings as objects, no?Wayfarer
    Or treat objects as beings? Hence - pantheism and eliminativism seem the same to me..
  • Mww
    1k
    why would we arbitrate our philosophical position for reasons that are not purely methodological?simeonz

    I would say we shouldn’t. Any sound philosophical position would seem to require either subscribing to a method which grounds it, or actually being a method in itself from which something else is grounded. But from the context, it appears you are saying brain states that are not observable are hypothetical, and the epistemic substance of a hypothetical is questionable. I would substitute logical for hypothetical, from which a valid method may follow necessarily, and there arises something on which to base our philosophical positions. Still, I see the arbitrariness of epistemic substance, because one person may find such method satisfactory and another find such method faulty.
    ————————-

    don't you feel compelled to increase the comprehensiveness of your conceptualization?simeonz

    Actually, with respect to mind, no. One can use the principles of reduction and of sufficient reason only to a certain point, after which he gets himself into absurdities and self-contradictions. If one treats mind as an unconditioned necessity, then tries to elaborate on the unconditioned, which is as you say, increase the comprehensiveness of conceptualizations, he has defeated the primary logical justification of absolute necessity, which translates to making the mind conditioned by whatever the elaboration becomes. A self-contradiction, which negates the entire thesis prescribing mind as the rationally unconditioned. Maybe it’s merely the lesser of two philosophical evils: it’s better to accept one immanent possibility than to require more than one transcendent possibility. In other words, grant one unprovable hypothetical rather than regress into a morass of unprovables.

    So, yes, I suppose it could be said I am indifferent towards the issue. I really don’t care about mind that much; it is enough that I exist as a thinking subject and if I happen to think about mind, I can only think so far and no further without venturing into the irrational.
    ————————-

    A person can think or emote, or they can think or emote about the nature of their thoughts and emotions. While the latter actions involve greater sophistication, they are usually assumed to be fundamentally realized (...) in the same way as the former.simeonz

    I guess you could say there is greater sophistication, insofar as thinking about the nature of thinking is the actual dissection of the thought process itself, theoretically, that normally occurs just short of instantaneously. But, yes, thought and thinking about the nature of thought are both fundamentally realized the same way. Thinking about thinking is, after all, just thinking. And to say from that, that the brain is observing itself, may be a conventional easement, it is nonetheless philosophically bankrupt, because it invokes a categorical error. Thinking is one thing, observing is quite another.

    Still interesting.
  • simeonz
    79
    I would say we shouldn’t. Any sound philosophical position would seem to require either subscribing to a method which grounds it, or actually being a method in itself from which something else is grounded.Mww
    Every intellectual labor needs to commit itself to a manageable scope, that is true. But that does not imply, that the assumptions and methods therein are not consequently subject to further investigations or critical analysis. Furthermore, logical reductionism compels defensive thinking exactly for this reason - it tries to plant theories into sacred foundational assumptions, instead of investigating the logical interrelations between different kinds of statements. I prefer the later methodology, because it compels impartiality.

    For example - despite appearances, I don't logically oppose dualism and idealism (even if I don't believe that all variants are sound), but I challenge the distinction between pantheism (consciousness as intrinsic matter potentiality) and eliminativism (matter in its own right), because I find that such distinction lacks reasonable explanation or definite value.

    But from the context, it appears you are saying brain states that are not observable are hypothetical, and the epistemic substance of a hypothetical is questionable.Mww
    Observable, but not necessarily in the empirical sense. What I meant was that the notion should have a definite meaning and a clearly expressed value. Note that I don't consider it necessary for all notions to be of this variety, only those which are subject to critical thinking. But if they are not subject to critical thinking, how can they be subject of philosophy?

    I would substitute logical for hypothetical, from which a valid method may follow necessarily, and there arises something on which to base our philosophical positions.Mww
    Being hypothetical is not an issue for me. My problem is lacking any kind of critical evaluation - logical (because of logical independence), empirical (because of disembodiment), experiential (because of indefiniteness). I am not opposing the idea that the mind can exist independently of reason - many things do. But if it is not planted in some kind of analytical framework, as you propose, then I cannot see how it can be a component of philosophy.

    So, yes, I suppose it could be said I am indifferent towards the issue. I really don’t care about mind that much; it is enough that I exist as a thinking subject and if I happen to think about mind, I can only think so far and no further without venturing into the irrational.Mww
    You meant something more constrictive then I originally imagined. That your notion of the mind can be compared to a kind of bondage, similar to one's reaction to physical pain. Whatever its nature and substance might be, pain does provoke an adverse reaction in us, as this is its intended function.

    Edit: I should be clear here. I don't oppose the mind as an instinctive notion, as long as it is treated skeptically in philosophical discussions. I don't oppose incorporating the mind as a philosophical hypothesis either, as long as it comes with some analytical content.

    And to say from that, that the brain is observing itself, may be a conventional easement, it is nonetheless philosophically bankrupt, because it invokes a categorical error. Thinking is one thing, observing is quite another.Mww
    Actually, I was not trying to prove that sensation is recursive, but to weaken the argument that it couldn't be, because of unfoundedness. I wanted to make the argument, that if we assume that sensation cannot articulate its own structure, then we could make a similar argument that thinking about thinking or emoting about emotions is impossible. And the parallels I think hold well, because when I articulate my thoughts by thinking reflectively, the two thoughts are not incident, but the latter contains expressions of the former. I am able to investigate the nature of my thoughts, precisely because I am able to think about them, not merely to think in its own right. Similarly I would not be able to examine the nature of sadness, if I didn't feel any regret for it. But my regret for sadness, despite being a similar kind of emotion, is not coincidental with the sadness that provokes it. It is an expression of it. And our mental faculties are interwoven, such that we can think about our emotions, and emote on our thoughts. My argument is, that it would not be contrary to nature (i.e. paradoxical) if we could observe sensation through sensation. Our senses could express how our mental states work, just like the the rest of our mental faculties can self-reflect. Except that this self-reflection involves a space of greater complexity - the material world, which overwhelms our emotional and contemplative capacity.
  • Mww
    1k
    First off......good post.

    logical reductionism compels defensive thinking exactly for this reason - it tries to plant theories into sacred foundational assumptionssimeonz

    .....compels defensive thinking, yes. Tries to plant theories into sacred foundational principles, not assumptions. A theory may indeed arise from an assumption, but it can never consequently be defended by one at its foundation.

    I would have agreed if you’d said logical reductionism may try to plant an idea into a sacred foundational assumption, re: the infinite, any sort of unconditional, an uncaused cause, and so on. Still, even then, a theory developed to justify such ideas, should be grounded in something immutable, which no assumption can be.

    In addition, I would think logical reductionism would promote “logical interrelations between different kinds of statements”, by analyzing conclusions. While that in itself may not prevent partiality, it certainly shouldn’t be said to invite it.

    Maybe logical reductionism compels defensive thinking impartially. While that may seem self-contradictory, it also seems that defense-by-law must be impartial by definition. Then it becomes an issue of partiality to a particular law, but not partiality for defense by logical reductionism.

    And finally, the epitome of logical reductionism is of course, the Aristotelian laws of thought, which makes explicit any theory defended by them does try to plant it right squarely into a sacred foundational principle.
    ————————

    I don't logically oppose dualism and idealism (even if I don't believe that all variants are sound), but I challenge the distinction between pantheism (consciousness as intrinsic matter potentiality) and eliminativism (matter in its own right), because I find that such distinction lacks reasonable explanation or definite value.simeonz

    Absolutely. 1.) not all idealism is sound; 2.) matter and consciousness (as it is metaphysically described) are mutually exclusive; 3.) eliminitivism is at worst self-contradictory and at best explanatory deficient.

    And I submit, Good Sir or Madam (unabashedly stolen from “Paperback Writer”) if you try to logically oppose dualism, you’ll be met with an exercise in absolute futility. ‘Tis the nature of the rational beast, and there ain’t no way around it.
    —————————

    You meant something more constrictive then I originally imagined. That your notion of the mind can be compared to a kind of bondagesimeonz

    Constrictive yes; a kind of bondage...ehhh, ok. But any relation to pain is beyond the scope. Physical pain has purely empirical predicates and emotional pain is not a cognition, but a feeling, hence neither has to do with the intricacies of a rational mind.

    A test for you: even if an itch is not a pain, it is still the same thing in principle. Next time you have an itch.....don’t scratch. Takes awhile, a few times, but after that, the itch just goes away. Bug bites, ant walks, sweat drops included. Bacon spatters....not included. (Grin)
    —————————

    I am able to investigate the nature of my thoughts, precisely because I am able to think about them, not merely to think in its own right.simeonz

    Therein lay the key: thought without content is meaningless.

    But this.......

    if we assume that sensation cannot articulate its own structure, then we could make a similar argument that thinking about thinking or emoting about emotions is impossible.simeonz

    .....I don’t quite understand. I fail to grasp how one follows from the other. I hold that sensation cannot articulate its own structure, which implies sensation has the capacity for reason, but to reason with respect to our thoughts cannot be impossible. Right? What did I miss?

    Anyway......good stuff. Point/counterpoint. A proper philosophic dialectic. Socrates would be proud.
  • simeonz
    79

    To be honest, I think that our opinions may be irreconcilable. I feel that the majority opinion is that humanity is entitled to some kind of exceptionalism, which I never understood. I admit that people may be exceptional, but I see no certain proof of it. My arguments are apparently, and probably justifiably (due to the flaws in them), not appealing enough.

    I will however comment on this, because I thought it is interesting:
    And finally, the epitome of logical reductionism is of course, the Aristotelian laws of thought, which makes explicit any theory defended by them does try to plant it right squarely into a sacred foundational principle.Mww
    I make my assertions corrigibly. I don't believe that I am capable of obtaining immutable principles. I possess modus operandi that is subject to continuous validation and refinement, and that is what make it a comprehension. Is logic corrigible? Could be. I rely on it, because I don't know any better and if I don't foster my conviction in some sensible image of reality, I will not be able to utilize my reason. But I doubt that immutable comprehension of any kind will be obtained by simple organisms such as ourselves anytime soon.

    In any case, this was not a logical argument (obviously), just my point of view.
  • Wayfarer
    8.6k
    I feel that the majority opinion is that humanity is entitled to some kind of exceptionalism, which I never understood.simeonz

    language, technology, science, arts, literature, philosophy.....what more evidence would you need?
  • Isaac
    1.3k
    language, technology, science, arts, literature, philosophy.....what more evidence would you need?Wayfarer

    Echolocation, controlling the sea's salt content, maintaining atmospheric oxygen levels, hibernation, cloud-creation, pollination, soil-making... What more evidence do you need? Non-human life is exceptional.
  • Wayfarer
    8.6k
    Ah yes the thread is about the forgetting of being. I’d forgotten :yikes:
  • Mww
    1k
    I think that our opinions may be irreconcilable.simeonz

    Maybe.......
    ———————-

    I feel that the majority opinion is that humanity is entitled to some kind of exceptionalismsimeonz

    ......maybe not. There’s nothing exceptional about humanity. It only does what it is capable of doing, just as does every other natural object. It would be exceptional if humanity did something it wasn’t capable of doing. If anything, I suppose we’re exceptional at self-aggrandizement. Just because we’re apex-intelligensia and apex-praedator in this environment through sheer evolutionary happenstance, says nothing about any other.
    ———————-

    But I doubt that immutable comprehension of any kind will be obtained (...) anytime soon.simeonz

    If you mean by “immutable comprehension” an irreducible understanding, is there no one simple thing for which you have no doubt at all? Or, is there no one simple thing for which the doubt of it contradicts something....or possibly everything.....else?

    I see what you’re getting at, though, I think. Given that human empirical knowledge is transitory to say the least gives rise to the idea that understanding, which is always antecedent to knowledge, might be the cause of doubt of immutable comprehension. We would certainly have irreconcilable opinions on that, if you respond in the negative to the questions above.

    Just my point of view.......
  • simeonz
    79
    Just because we’re apex-intelligensia and apex-praedator in this environment through sheer evolutionary happenstance, says nothing about any other.Mww
    This seems to be an accurate interpretation of the known facts.

    f you mean by “immutable comprehension” an irreducible understanding, is there no one simple thing for which you have no doubt at all? Or, is there no one simple thing for which the doubt of it contradicts something....or possibly everything.....else?Mww
    Are you hinting that truth implies existence? That any universal statement is implicitly about a model reality, and without reality, all universal statements are equivalent, making non-existence the mathematical definition of contradiction. Or am I misreading you. On a purely technical note - what about existential statements?

    I am not able to articulate what I mean right now, but while I do believe to exist, there are qualities of existence that I question. Therefore it is difficult to analyze the relationships between existence and the particular states of being, such as reasoning, sensation (which I place in the same category as reason), rational truth, pragmatic truth, etc. Whose existence - the subject or the object - is a requirement for a statement to be true? Is truth a pragmatic or a rational quality - is the correct anticipation of your environment a sufficient operational equivalent to the ideal of truth? How does truth apply to different states of being - person with a damaged brain, baby, genius - does the notion apply to them in equal measure?

    As I said, this line of reasoning is a little overwhelming and I fail to set it in order at the moment.
  • simeonz
    79
    language, technology, science, arts, literature, philosophy.....what more evidence would you need?Wayfarer
    What I meant was, exceptionalism in its philosophical significance, which wasn't about a degree of accomplishment, which human beings obviously possess, but about fundamental differences between the species on which such accomplishment would have been predicated. That is - differences that cannot be explained in terms of gradual speciation, as Mww explained.
  • Wayfarer
    8.6k
    fundamental differencessimeonz

    I think there are genuine ontological distinctions between minerals, plants, animals and humans. Whereas, post-Enlightenment philosophy tends to reject ontological distinctions altogether.
    Because humans are free agents who are capable of making choices, their actions have consequences, and the consequences have real significance.

    A lot of modern thinking comes about because evolutionary biology occupies the place that was once occupied by religion. But whereas Western religion incorporated a sophisticated moral philosophy, derived from the Greeks as well as Biblical lore, evolutionary theory is really only a biological theory. So the attempt to shoehorn an explanation of all human nature into evolutionary theory is biological reductionism which is the default view of the secular-scientific culture. About which see this comment.
  • Isaac
    1.3k


    You do realise that the historical origins of an idea are not determinate either of its accuracy, nor its practicality?

    So often you make these claims as if they constituted an argument... "oh such and such an idea came about only after enlightenment thinking replaced religious thought". So what? What difference does it make to the quality of an idea what point in history it first became popular?

    If you actually have an argument that biological reductionism is either a less accurate or a less useful representation of reality, then just make the argument.
  • Wayfarer
    8.6k
    You do realise that the historical origins of an idea are not determinate either of its accuracy, nor its practicalityIsaac

    Of course. But it’s a comment on something specific which I believe is germane to the discussion I’ve been having with the OP.

    If you actually have an argument that biological reductionism is either a less accurate or a less useful representation of reality, then just make the argument.Isaac

    ‘Representation of reality’ already contains the assumption of representative realism. But, leaving that aside, Darwinism when taken as a philosophy can only ever be a form of utilitarianism. Why? Because there’s only one criterion for success in Darwinism, which is the ability to propagate. Everything is implicitly subordinated to the ends of the propagation of the genome. An apt comparison is the ‘Procrustean bed’. (If you’re unfamiliar, there’s a handy summary in Wikipedia.)
  • Isaac
    1.3k
    Darwinism when taken as a philosophy can only ever be a form of utilitarianism. Why? Because there’s only one criterion for success in Darwinism, which is the ability to propagate.Wayfarer

    Yes, but again you're merely describing, not reasoning. Why is measurement by the ability to propogate a bad thing? What use is the alternative? How are you justifying any claims to utility? If not utility, nor accuracy, then by what measure do you propose we judge competing philosophical positions?

    It's no good simply saying a position is shallow simply because it dismisses fields of thought. It is also necessary to argue that those fields of thought deserve not to be dismissed. To do that you must have some criteria, agreed with by your interlocutor, by which to judge these things. Their mere existence to date is not sufficient to justify their continued existence.
  • Wayfarer
    8.6k
    If not utility, nor accuracy, then by what measure do you propose we judge competing philosophical positions?Isaac

    I had assumed some background to the issues at stake which perchance you don't have. Do you know who the most well-known proponent of eliminative materialism is, and what his books are about? Do you know of his main critic, a philosopher by the name of Nagel, and what the basis of his criticism is? If you're interested, I can spell a lot of this out, but it might require a separate topic and quite a bit of writing.
  • Isaac
    1.3k


    Yes, I'm aware of both. The query I was raising was a meta-philosophical one about the approach to discussion. If the sum total of a post's contribution is to point out that there exists a counter-argument to a position, then I think we're in for a fairly boring discussion. I, and I think most other posters here, simply presume that a counter-argument exists. I don't think many of us are naive enough to think that our ad hoc thoughts have no counter.

    The point I'm making about your posts in particular, is that they seem to presume the mere existence of a counter-argument constitutes an argument in itself. You quote Nagel as if the mere fact that he has said something on the subject should close the matter, without forwarding a reason why. If I wanted to know what Nagel thought about the matter, I would read Nagel. What I want to know here is why you personally find his arguments more compelling than that alternatives.
  • Wayfarer
    8.6k
    The point I'm making about your posts in particular, is that they seem to presume the mere existence of a counter-argument constitutes an argument in itself.Isaac

    I’m suggesting lines of enquiry, that’s all. The OP is a very smart poster, I’m pointing something out.
bold
italic
underline
strike
code
quote
ulist
image
url
mention
reveal
youtube
tweet
Add a Comment