Thursday, September 15, 2011

344: Substance Dualism

After our intriguing questions about substance dualism, let's turn to the more traditional objections against this form of dualism.

The substance dualist makes two claims about the mind.
One: Mind and body are radically different kinds of substances.
Two: Mind and body causally interact.

These two claims are in tension. If mind and body are supposed to radically different, how can they causally interact?

This objection was first put to Descartes by his contemporary, Princess Elisabeth of Bohemia (1618 - 1680). Descartes' replies were highly evasive.

He couldn't do anything else because he had no answer. In an attempt to find the answer he even did physical research on brains

and in there he found the pineal gland, which he declared to be the point of connection between body and mind.

Unfortunately this is the only explanation we have got. In the physical world all kinds of different substances exist. Sunshine can heat metal, for instance.

Two very different kinds of physical substances: kind of electromagnetic radiation against an assembly of atoms. Yet physics can tell us in considerable detail about the way light affects metal.

A substance dualist like the "inventor" of this metaphysics, Descartes himself, however, can provide no details at all about the way the mind and the brain affect each other.

A good theory of mind should be able to explain a number of basic aspects of our mental states. For instance,

(1) some mental states are caused by states of the world.
(2) Some mental states are caused by actions.
(3) some mental states cause other mental states.

(4) some mental states are conscious.
(5) Some mental states are about things in the world.
(6) Some mental states are systematically correlated with certain kinds of brain states.

What is striking about substance dualism is the extend to which it fails to illuminate the items on this list. The first two can already not be answered by the substance dualist.

Substance dualism has to face more fundamental questions.
The "Cogito, ergo sum" is a kind of "Here I am" statement. But this statement has a weak point: it is only ME who is there.

Are you there too? How can I achieve knowledge of other minds? How can I know that other people have minds, since the only mind to which I have direct access is my own mind?

The body is a physical object, controlled and determined by the laws of physics. If the mind is free, but the body is determined, it looks as if the freedom of the mind, the freedom of will, makes no difference.

And there is the danger of skepticism. Everything can be a delusion, except my "cogito". It means that I am imprisoned in my own mind.

If I am locked in my own experiences, how can I really know anything of an external world.?

It may be clear that substance dualism is not an adequate explanation of what exists in our universe. Of course we know that we have a mind, that we have consciousness.

But the idea that this mind is a special substance, which only interacts with our physical body, is hard to defend, since there is not the slightest evidence, that such a mental substance exists.

The Discussion

[13:23] herman Bergson: So much for substance dualisme...
[13:23] herman Bergson: Thank you
[13:23] herman Bergson: Feel free to ask questions or give your remarks...the floor is yours
[13:25] herman Bergson: This all sounded familiar to you all...
[13:25] herman Bergson: Piece of cake?
[13:25] :: Beertje :: (beertje.beaumont): no not at all
[13:25] Doodus Moose: i took a stress relief course....
[13:25] Astronomer Somerset: ok our entire existence our experiences are unique to us because we experience and recognize each experiences according to our own internal model of the world and how we interpret them
[13:25] Mick Nerido: This mental substance is akin to soul, not physically verifible
[13:25] Qwark Allen: is there a possibility of a 3rd possibility?
[13:26] Qwark Allen: non polarized
[13:26] herman Bergson: well...
[13:26] herman Bergson: if something is not physically verifiable, how can we have knowledge of it then???
[13:26] Qwark Allen: seems a bit computer language , zero and one
[13:27] Mick Nerido: Indirect evidence?
[13:27] Astronomer Somerset: herman a fish swims in water but is it physically aware of the water in which it swims
[13:27] herman Bergson: Well Qwark, the first problem me have been that we began counting.....a body and a soul and a mind...
[13:28] Qwark Allen: it`s not really a dualism then
[13:28] herman Bergson: what do you mean by indirect evidence Mick?
[13:28] Astronomer Somerset: we as humans are currently traveling at over 400 miles an hour but we are not physically aware of the fact
[13:28] herman Bergson: If you take reality as One, as Spinoza already did, there is no dualism...
[13:29] herman Bergson: no Astro, but you could explain why that is in full detail I guess
[13:30] Astronomer Somerset: yes i can but i could not prove it without taking the observer off the planet and showing him the world revolving
[13:30] Qwark Allen: the more i think about it, more logical seems to have 3 parts
[13:30] herman Bergson: which three parts do you see Qwark?
[13:30] Mick Nerido: Dualism requires no explanation other than it is what seem to explain my personal experience.
[13:31] Qwark Allen: body, mind and soul
[13:31] herman Bergson: hmmmm MIck.....
[13:31] herman Bergson: Dualistic thinking is so deeply embeded in our culture.....
[13:31] Qwark Allen: wherever you look in nature , 3 seems to be the answer to the the all thing
[13:31] herman Bergson: religion plays an important part in that....
[13:32] Astronomer Somerset: herman is a schiziophrenic aware of their other selfs
[13:32] Qwark Allen: a tree have the body, leaves and the liquid to feed the leaves
[13:32] herman Bergson: The magic of numbers Qwark....
[13:32] Ciska Riverstone: and language
[13:32] Ciska Riverstone: i still think language separates this
[13:32] Ciska Riverstone: the 3 parts
[13:32] herman Bergson: you also could say that a tree consists of billions of cells all with their own function...
[13:33] Qwark Allen: was just a thought that dualism maybe , a little rationalist
[13:33] Qwark Allen: to simplistic to explain
[13:33] herman Bergson: the separation in three parts is a product of your brain , not a special property of the tree, I would say
[13:34] herman Bergson: yes Qwark...:-)
[13:34] Ciska Riverstone: herman - thats very buddhistic now
[13:34] herman Bergson: I dont mind labels Ciska...
[13:34] Mick Nerido: The brain has evolved to the point of conscious thought that seperates it from other physical reality
[13:34] herman Bergson: But I start with regarding reality as one matter
[13:35] Astronomer Somerset: a computer is a true dualist system it has physical hardware and seperate software and the two radically different components interact to produce something more than the two parts
[13:35] herman Bergson: Yes mick....our brain can organize our experiences of the external world...put a kind of order into it to handle it
[13:35] Mick Nerido: What is this matter that can think?
[13:36] herman Bergson: THAT is our MAIN question Mick...yes!
[13:36] Astronomer Somerset: and computers are modeled on us
[13:36] herman Bergson: Yes Astro, but only in a primitive way...
[13:36] herman Bergson: We'll get to that subject.....
[13:37] Astronomer Somerset: our physical bodies are the hardware and our thought and emmotions are the software s
[13:37] herman Bergson: You know Astro....
[13:37] Mick Nerido: Science my prove dualism wrong but there is such a difference fromhow are brain works than any other organ
[13:37] herman Bergson: through history people always have taken something from their reality to make it a model of how man is constructed...
[13:38] herman Bergson: Leibniz compared the human being with a windmill....high tech in his time....
[13:38] Astronomer Somerset: i am only offering explanations to prove dualism is a possibility
[13:38] herman Bergson: Later the brain was compared to a switchboard for telephone....
[13:38] herman Bergson: today we love to compare ourselves with computers...
[13:39] herman Bergson: Historically an interesting phenomenon....
[13:39] Mick Nerido: We build the way were are made...
[13:39] herman Bergson: Since Descartes time we love to see the human body as a machine for instance
[13:40] herman Bergson: But what does it teach us about the mind body problem....?
[13:40] Astronomer Somerset: ok so how do you explain such things as schitzophrenia in a pure singularity existence
[13:40] herman Bergson: that is a disfunction of the brain....
[13:41] herman Bergson: I don't know if we have all explanations for the phenomenon already...
[13:41] herman Bergson: But we know that there goes something wrong in the brain
[13:41] Astronomer Somerset: but each separate state is a separate interpretation of that persons existence and i have seen such people with both male and female character traits
[13:42] Mick Nerido: Joan d' Arc was probably schizo
[13:42] herman Bergson: oh yes...anything is possible if the brain starts short circuiting
[13:42] herman Bergson: Yes indeed Mick....
[13:42] Astronomer Somerset: including dualism
[13:43] herman Bergson: We have the "God Helmet" now created by that Canadian neuroscientist...
[13:43] herman Bergson: Thsi helmet can create such "religious" experiences....
[13:44] herman Bergson: Forgot the name...
[13:44] Mick Nerido: Is it always a mis function then?
[13:44] herman Bergson: I gave a lecture about that
[13:44] Ciska Riverstone: good question Mick
[13:44] herman Bergson: I would say yes....
[13:44] Ciska Riverstone: well- that is based on our values
[13:44] Ciska Riverstone: of course
[13:44] Mick Nerido: She was a great leader...
[13:45] herman Bergson: no..not based on values...but on knowledge
13:45] herman Bergson: That she was a great leader doesn't proof a thing Mick...
[13:45] Ciska Riverstone: knowledge of the past
[13:45] herman Bergson: except that she was a great leader
[13:46] Mick Nerido: Many saints died as for their belies, were they nuts?
[13:46] Mick Nerido: beliefs
[13:46] herman Bergson: On the other hand you also can say that Joan was efficiently used by those who were in power...untill she became unconvenient....and simply was murdered by those who were in power
[13:47] Astronomer Somerset: herman may i ask do you have any physical proof that dualism does not exist or are you prophiciating your own interpretation and beliefs
[13:47] herman Bergson: Well Mick...for that I have only one question....
[13:47] herman Bergson: Why aren't there saints anymore today.....
[13:47] Mick Nerido: Herman I will nominate you!
[13:48] herman Bergson: smiles
[13:48] herman Bergson: forget it..
[13:48] :: Beertje :: (beertje.beaumont): mother Teresa?
[13:48] herman Bergson: No...our view has changed....
[13:48] herman Bergson: no Beertje...
[13:48] Ciska Riverstone: well- thats exactly what i meant before herman
[13:48] Ciska Riverstone: knowledge alters
[13:48] herman Bergson: I mean saints that see Maria or Jesus himself or things like that
[13:48] Ciska Riverstone: and with alteration we judge differently
[13:49] Ciska Riverstone: some people would state the Dalai Lama as on like that
[13:49] herman Bergson: When somebody would tell us that he had spoken to Jesus personally and has a message for us, we would at least frown at the person....
[13:49] Astronomer Somerset: those are visionaries herman not saints
[13:49] Ciska Riverstone: yes - we lable them differently
[13:49] Mick Nerido: The mind can overrule what is best for our bodies and our loves, a kind of dualism
[13:49] Ciska Riverstone: just different language - agree with you there #Astro
[13:50] Astronomer Somerset: to be a saint they must have performed miricales
[13:50] Ciska Riverstone: and what is a miracal is again defined by values and knowledge at that very moment
[13:50] herman Bergson: According to ROme..indeed evenhave to have performed three miracles!
[13:50] Astronomer Somerset: yes you do
[13:51] herman Bergson: That rules me out, Mick....I haven't performed a single miracle
[13:51] Astronomer Somerset: one could call leonardo or copernicus or newton visionaries but non are saints
[13:51] :: Beertje :: (beertje.beaumont): after death Herman...
[13:51] Astronomer Somerset: michael angelo claims his image of god was a vison
[13:52] herman Bergson: I don't know what you mean by visionaries Astro, unless you mean...excellent scientists
[13:52] Ciska Riverstone: every scientist needs a vision
[13:52] herman Bergson: imagination Ciska...
[13:52] Ciska Riverstone: star trek beamer leads to scientist searching for it in swiss
[13:52] Astronomer Somerset: no a visionary is someone who experiences a sudden realisation outside of a normal experience herman
[13:52] herman Bergson: drive
[13:52] Mick Nerido: It's a miracle getting me to understand philosophy!
[13:53] Ciska Riverstone: where is the difference herman?
[13:53] Qwark Allen: ehehhe nice mick
[13:53] Ciska Riverstone: *gggg* mick ㋡
[13:53] herman Bergson: Cool Mick...two to go for me then ^_^
[13:54] Ciska Riverstone: count me in ;)
[13:54] herman Bergson: Well...were are we?
[13:54] herman Bergson: Done with substance dualism?
[13:54] Mick Nerido: Humor is only possible in higher brains, why?
[13:55] herman Bergson: That is because of self relection Mick
[13:55] herman Bergson: Humor is always making a joke of yourself...
[13:55] herman Bergson: animals have no ability to self reflection
[13:55] Qwark Allen: got to go
[13:56] herman Bergson: They can look in a mirror, but only we can laugh at the sight :-)
[13:56] Qwark Allen: was very interesting as usual
[13:56] Ciska Riverstone: bye qwark
[13:56] Qwark Allen: thank you hermann
[13:56] herman Bergson: Bye Qwark!
[13:56] herman Bergson: Give my regards to Gemma
[13:56] :: Beertje :: (beertje.beaumont): not in the mornings Herman,,pfew....those wrinkles..
[13:56] Doodus Moose: self reflection on ones' self reflection?
[13:56] herman Bergson: Just then you should laugh Beertje...
[13:57] herman Bergson: Friends....
[13:57] herman Bergson: this was again a nice discussion
[13:57] Ciska Riverstone: thank you herman - very interesting as always
[13:57] herman Bergson: I don't think we are done yet, so next Thursday same time same place !
[13:58] Mick Nerido: Very nice discussion, thanks all!
[13:58] herman Bergson: yes thank you all...
[13:58] :: Beertje :: (beertje.beaumont): thank you Herman:)))
[13:58] Doodus Moose: Thanks indeed, Professor!
[13:58] Astronomer Somerset: thank you herman
[13:58] isobelle Garnet: very interesting thank you
[13:58] Ciska Riverstone: have a great day or night everyone
[13:59] herman Bergson: You too ciska!
[13:59] Doodus Moose: byeeee!!!!!!!
[13:59] :: Beertje :: (beertje.beaumont): have a goodnight all:))
[13:59] herman Bergson: Bye Beertje
[13:59] :: Beertje :: (beertje.beaumont): bye:)
[14:01] Astronomer Somerset: bye herman
[14:02] herman Bergson: Bye Astro...
[14:02] isobelle Garnet: bye thank you
[14:02] herman Bergson: You're ok Alaya?
[14:03] herman Bergson: You are ^_^
[14:03] herman Bergson: bye
[14:03] Teleport completed from http://slu
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