Re: [asa] scientific fact vs. ideology?

From: Schwarzwald <>
Date: Tue Mar 17 2009 - 09:19:39 EDT

Heya George,

Alright - then when does the brain 'begin to form'? Because by my sights,
that marker happens to be conception. That's precisely where it 'begins to
form' as nature (whether conceived the old fashioned way, or by
similar-enough scientific meddling) takes its course. Later on it's simply
further along the process of formation.

I have to wonder.. if it's not 'a person' - presumably not a child either,
since children are persons - what is it? Would someone be justified in
calling it a parasite? Nothing more than a blob of cells? A growth,
malignant or benign, depending on one's subjective view?

And heya Preston,

Again, 'supernatural' or 'immaterial' does not go away just because there's
a dependence on the physical. Aquinas and many others, in past and present,
did not believe this. Likely even Descartes didn't believe this. Lewis was
not reacting to the idea that human thought and mind may have some (very
important) basis in the physical. It was the idea that minds are nothing but
the material (particularly, I think, the classical material/'mechanist' view
of material), unguided and unintended in any ultimate sense, that he reacted
most strongly against. As for computers, the basic concept isn't all that
different from Leibniz's mill - and, as impressive as computers are even
nowadays, making them the 'basis for reason' in an exclusive sense is
fraught with problems. And very often the examples sound compelling because
unspoken commitments to the immaterial are snuck in through the back door.
(John Searle's particularly known for highlighting this, but others do so as
well.) I think Lewis could have easily accepted the idea that the mind has
very important and necessary physical bases, but is more than the physical.
Then again, probably the only ones who couldn't would be the thoroughgoing

And no, I don't think Lewis had any problem with modern science. Probably
modern philosophy that often championed (and in the process, heavily abused)
science. Particularly since Lewis was around at the height of some
considerable abuses of science in the service of aggressive philosophy.

On Tue, Mar 17, 2009 at 7:51 AM, George Murphy <> wrote:

> I would be willing to accept the claim that a functioning brain is a
> necessary but not sufficient condition for thought. That is a sufficient
> basis for an argument that before the brain begins to form an embryo is not
> rational, and therefore not a person, to proceed.
> Shalom
> George
> ----- Original Message -----
> *From:* Schwarzwald <>
> *To:*
> *Sent:* Tuesday, March 17, 2009 4:46 AM
> *Subject:* Re: [asa] scientific fact vs. ideology?
> I'm pretty sure C. S. Lewis was aware of the great scientific discovery
> that is 'drinking booze has a noticeable effect on subjective experience and
> reasoning.' More often, the scientifically inclined just don't know enough
> philosophy on the point.
> Moreover, the idea that dualists of all varieties (or even most) don't see
> the brain as necessary for many/most mental operations doesn't ring true.
> Hylemorphic dualists would emphatically disagree. As would, I believe, very
> many dualists of cartesian, property, emergentist, and other varieties. A
> functioning brain could be a necessary but not sufficient requirement for
> thought, and 'the classical physical can do it all!' position is fraught
> with problems, some of which make the "but what about alcohol?" objection
> pale in comparison.
> On Tue, Mar 17, 2009 at 12:43 AM, Preston Garrison <>wrote:
>> ""matter cannot think.""
>>> It may depend on your definition of "think." Can computers "think?" They
>>> do make decisions. They can even "appear" to be sentient. It may be
>>> possible to have a conversation with a computer (over the internet) and not
>>> even realize it is not a real person.
>>> ...Bernie
>>> 'm articulating this well...)
>> There's a flip side to this. Read Dilbert today. Dilbert bemoans the fact
>> that his boss keeps failing the Turing test. When our reason goes bad, do we
>> cease to be human? Is God taking a coffee break? :)
>> Does Moorad think (by whatever mechanism) that the function of the brain
>> is not necessary for reason? Then why do we get more and more confused as
>> the alcohol concentration in the brain increases? I love C.S. Lewis, but I
>> think he just didn't know enough science on the point.
>> Preston
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Received on Tue Mar 17 09:25:57 2009

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