Re: [asa] scientific fact vs. ideology?

From: Schwarzwald <>
Date: Tue Mar 17 2009 - 10:23:17 EDT

Heya George,

Who said "whatever is necessary" is formed at conception? I certainly
didn't. You said (or at least, strongly implied) that the specific point of
concern should be when the brain 'begins to form'. And I responded by
pointed out - and frankly, it's a very reasonable assertion - that the brain
'begins forming' at conception. No circularity here.

If you want to switch from 'begins to form' to something else - such as a
point of 'full' formation of the brain to the point where fully developed
rational capacities are in play - I suppose you can do so. When do you think
that is? Because Peter Singer has some interesting ideas about that.

And again - if it's not a person, and of course not a child, what is it?
Parasite? Blob of cells? Growth? "Some nebulous thing"?

On Tue, Mar 17, 2009 at 9:58 AM, George Murphy <> wrote:

> Sure, if you assume that whatever is necessary for the fullness of human
> nature is formed at conception then rational capacities are formed, & by
> virtue of our assumption of the necessity of the brain for rational thought,
> the brain begins to form then. A perfect example of circular reasoning.
> Shalom
> George
> ----- Original Message -----
> *From:* Schwarzwald <>
> *To:*
> *Sent:* Tuesday, March 17, 2009 9:19 AM
> *Subject:* Re: [asa] scientific fact vs. ideology?
> 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
> physicalists.
> 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 10:23:28 2009

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