Griffin #8

From: John W Burgeson (
Date: Fri Jun 15 2001 - 15:09:04 EDT

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    #8 of my notes on Griffin's book.

    John Burgeson (Burgy)

    Griffin Notes -- chapter 6

    Science, Naturalism and the Mind-Body Problem 42 pages

    This chapter addresses the mind-body problem in detail, asserting that it
    has been the central problem for modern philosophy.

    We have some "hard common sense" (i.e. non-negotiable) beliefs about
    ourselves. Among these are:

    1. We have conscious experience
    2. We have at least partial free will
    3. Our free will can act on the body, therefore
    4. We have at least a degree of responsibility for our bodily actions

    There are those, such as Searle, Crick, Skinner and the like, who argue
    that science has proven false one or more of these ideas; the concept is
    called "eliminative materialism."

    The problem with these notions is, of course, that they are all
    pre-supposed by a religious viewpoint. If we are not a sophist, we
    necessarily assume other human beings, like ourselves, have conscious
    experiences, and therefore have intrinsic value. religion, as well as
    simple ethics, assumes free will -- responsibility, at least in part, for
    our actions. Crick asserts, in THE SCIENTIFIC SEARCH FOR THE SOUL, that
    "The scientific belief is that our minds -- the behaviour of our brains
    -- can be explained by the interaction of nerve cells... ."

    But, argues Griffin, if one eliminates his threefold belief in the
    reality, self-determination and causal efficacy of conscious
    experience,and there is no doubt that some can do so, it still remains,
    because as much as one may deny these beliefs verbally, he will continue
    to presuppose them in practice.

    Assume I tell you you should eliminate beliefs in these three things. Am
    I not assuming that

    (1) you can understand what I am saying,
    (2) you can freely choose, or reject, my advice, and
    (3) you can freely choose, in the future, to tell others of it?"

    To deny this is irrational, it is a "performative self contradiction."

    There is much more here. The book is worth reading, even if "process
    theology" is too weird for you.

    end chapter 6. John Burgeson

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