What is the mind?

John johnhkm at logicworld.com.au
Sat Dec 12 02:51:17 EST 1998

Nigel & Julie Thomas wrote in message <36710B55.6EBBCD78 at earthlink.net>...
>This, of course, is the metaphysical position known as dualism. Most
>contemporary philosophers reject it as incompatible with a scientific
>to reality.

Incompatible may not quite be the correct word. Dualism lies beyond
scientific investigation, in that sense it is incompatible. If thinkers of
the calibre of Eccles and Popper "The Self and its Brain" (a failed attempt
to give scientific credence to dualism) are any indication, I would be
reluctant to say that being scientific entails a repudiation of dualism.
Someone else can put forward the idea much better:

The Metaphoric Process: The Creation of Scientific and Religious
   Mary Gerhart and Allan Russell.
p. 176
"We can see that scientists and religious theories differ, then,a in the
frequency with which their theories point beyond themselves

Dualism asserts that there exists aspects of consciousness that lie beyond
our current understanding. No-one can deny our current ignorance. To assert
that consciousness will be understood without reference to a dualistic
perspective is to, at present at least, engage in a metaphysic speculation
as unwarranted as the claims of Popper and Eccles in their fine but flawed

>Real intellectual work is hard, isn't it. Requires study, and careful
>and even some humility and respect for people who have devoted their life
to a
>[Quantum mechanics confuses me. Gotta be nonsense, eh? I've spent years
>(other) difficult subjects, sciences even. Bet I could come up with a
>theory and put it on a wesite.]

Could still be nonsense but only in the sense Newton's cosmology is

>> Man lacks the intellectual equipment to understand the relationship
>> body and soul (mind).

Yeah but we're getting better all the time. Perhaps in time, until then we
simply must accept it as scientific faith that one day we will explain these
things scientifically.
We build theories, we destroy them, we build ...

>By the way, Galileo and Newton were, and considered themselves to be,
>philosophers, not scientists. They knew their Aristotle and their Augustine
>least as well as they knew their Copernicus (and they *needed* to know them
>succeed in what they were doing). The word "scientist" and the distinction
>between philosophers and scientists, does not go back before the mid 19th
>century and has more to do with the conveience of university administrators
>with any real intellectual divide. To treat philosophers and scientists as
>entrenched intellectual enemies with radically divergent aims is simply to
>ignorance of the history and the nature of both disciplinary areas.

Excellent point. History will one day have us all looking stupid. We can
only work with what we've got.


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