Re: [asa] RE: (fall-away) TE and apologetics

From: Schwarzwald <>
Date: Mon Sep 21 2009 - 17:18:57 EDT

Heya all,

I'd also mention that there isn't just one type of 'dualism'. Cartesian
dualism is one option, and a (crude) form of it is likely the 'popular' view
- mind is one substance, 'everything else' makes up another, etc. But
there's also panpsychism, which views the mental as a basic property of all
matter - and it's a view which has gained some credibility in recent years,
since that too neatly "solves" a lot of problems (it's monistic on the one
hand, which nowadays is regarded as desirable due to being 'tidy', and it
'explains' consciousness by treating it as fundamental property of all
matter). There's emergent dualism (William Hasker, mentioned in the article
Ted links, defends this) where it's argued that there is a distinct
substance, if I take the view correctly, which 'emerges' from the operations
of the brain - and which also becomes a distinct substance in its own right.
There's hylemorphism, where the soul is the form of the body, and which
denies identification of a human person with their 'soul' (they are a union
of soul and body, neither one nor the other.) And there's more beyond this.

And there are more complexities and offerings than dualism too. There's
idealistic monism, in which all that exists is thought - and while this
isn't popular nowadays, it's also regarded as a difficult view to shoot down
(since most people would subscribe to an indirect realism, where our
brains/minds 'simulate' what is going on around us, rather than us directly
perceiving them.) There's neutral monism, where both the physical and the
mental aren't regarded as fundamental constituents of reality, and instead
both emerge from something distinctly other, yet more fundamental. And once
again, there's more beyond this.

Two additional comments. The first is to realize that the modern conception
of the material/physical world - namely that it's all dead, mechanistic,
lifeless "stuff" moving without purpose or aim - is itself questioned by
more than one of the above perspectives in various ways. For thomists, the
universe is suffused with formal and final causes (Which, by the way, have
modern analogues in "information", "algorithms", etc - if these things are
taken as real constituents of the world). For panpsychists, the phenomenal
is fundamental - there's a "what it is to be like" description even for an
electron on such views. And it's worth noting that physicalists have a rough
time on this question as well, since what constitutes "physical" has been
under debate ever since quantum mechanics. (Hempel's dilemma is oft-cited
here, with good reason.)

Second, all of these views could be accused of having 'problems' - and this
holds true for physicalists as well. Mental aspects like qualia and
intentionality, not to mention reason itself, are alternately taken as
extremely difficult or even impossible to account for under physicalism, and
it isn't just the religiously inclined which argue as much (McGinn, Nagel,
Chalmers, Searle, etc.) So I don't think arguing 'Oh, that particular view
as I've heard it has some serious problems, therefore I should reject it!'
works very well - you could use it to reject every view across the board.

On Mon, Sep 21, 2009 at 3:14 PM, Ted Davis <> wrote:

> Bernie,
> I appreciate your willingness to engage these issues. My own view is not
> fully formed; I don't know exactly what I think, relative to "soul" and the
> Bible, let alone what I think of consciousness--many top philosophers don't
> have a good idea about the mind/brain issue, either, so I don't feel too
> badly about that. But, since I don't have a clear view on this myself, I am
> not committed to any one model for interpreting scripture, either.
> You call for some focused discussion, which I applaud. How about this.
> Suppose we discuss this article by David Siemens, who likes to participate
> here:
> If David wants to expand on any of his points, I'd like that very much.
> But this could be a starting place. Would you agree?
> Ted
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Received on Mon Sep 21 17:19:51 2009

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