Mind Naturalism

Neurosurgeon defends Aristotelian dualism

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The Christian Scientific Society

The neurosurgeon is Michael Egnor. From David Snoke at Christian Scientific Society:

Mike Egnor gave a talk full of brain science data in support of his position of Aristotelean dualism [at the Annual Meeting last weekend]. He contrasted his position with Cartesian dualism, which has two distinct substances, one which is fully material and deterministic, and another which is spiritual and in another realm, which somehow interfaces with the brain. He argued Cartesian dualism actually just leads to materialism, as the spiritual substance gets ignored. By contrast, his view of Aristotelean dualism posits eternal “forms” associated with every material thing. For humans, the essence of this form is what we would call the spirit. I don’t fully understand this view, but here’s how I visualize it, using an example Mike brought up: a chair consists physically of atoms and molecules. If we destroy a chair, we do not destroy the atoms and molecules, that is, the material of the chair, but we destroy the “form” of the chair. What we call a chair is not the purely physical, but the particular pattern of organization of the chair. Going up one higher level, there is a general concept we may call “chairness” which transcends any individual chair. This general concept can exist, in Aristotle’s view, independent of any matter, just as one might argue the natural numbers 1, 2, 3, … “exist” whether or not I have one, two, or three actual things. At an even higher level, one could then argue that the unique nature of an individual person could exist at this level, independently of matter; in other words, not just the general concept of “person-ness,” but the essential and unique nature of “David Snoke-ness.” It’s an intriguing, and decidedly non-modern, way of thinking. More.

Some form of dualism must be true because mind obviously isn’t matter. But dualism, no matter what kind, is supposed to be a Bad idea because it isn’t naturalism. Lots of mediocre philosophy profs go to great lengths to reassure us that they are not dualists. When push comes to shove, they prefer to believe that consciousness is a  state of matter, or a user illusion or a controlled hallucination, and maybe that matter is conscious and rocks have minds. And that we live in a post-fact science and “post-truth” world. But despite all that, “they” “have” “a message” “for us.”  This stuff will collapse of its own accord. but what will it take out with it?

They prefer to believe anything except what is obvious and hope science will come to their rescue one day.

See also: Methodological dualism in psychology (johhnyb)

Confusion about dualism abated

What great physicists have said about immateriality and consciousness


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One Reply to “Neurosurgeon defends Aristotelian dualism

  1. 1
    EricMH says:

    What is described here as Aristotelian dualism is even more materialistic than the often maligned Cartesian dualism. According to this description, a computer program can have a soul, since the program itself is “information” that is independent of the physical matter that performs the execution of the program, and could be said to have some kind of timeless existence. Continuing this line of thought, the human soul can be a program in the wetware of the brain. Nothing in what I’ve written would be problematic for a materialist. Now, I’m doubtful this is actually Aristotle’s view, but either way, the only non-materialistic view in this article is Cartesian dualism.

    True non-materialism necessitates some kind of thing that can do stuff that no organization of matter can do, even if it is organized into a brain.

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