Re: tools and collisions

Mon, 10 Aug 1998 10:17:49 -0700 (PDT)

Paul Arveson wrote:

> My hypothesis is that we persist in personifying nature, whether
> it is philosophically consistent or not, because our own fundamental
> essence is personal, not impersonal. This implies that personhood should
> not to be considered derivative from a long natural process, but rather
> something like the reverse. Personhood is the 'fundamental particle'
> or Leibnizian monad or something like that. It is not possible for us
> to escape personal descriptions without descending into nonsense.
> (You can see my influence from Polanyi and Neidhardt here.)

I agree with your first sentence, but I do not see how your second
follows from it. If humans are fundamentally personal, we will, I
suppose, tend to think in personal categories regardless of whether
the object of our thought is personal or impersonal. Personhood is
_our_ nature; that we think personally doesn't tell us anything about
the nature of the rest of the universe, does it? After all, we
frequently use categories (low/high, big/small, hot/cold, etc.) to
describe phenomena in ways that are strictly speaking inappropriate,
and we don't draw any metaphysical conclusions from doing so?
The fact that I think of a chili pepper as "hot" doesn't really say
anything about its temperature, does it?

Steve Schaffner