Joined: Oct. 2006
A little more on Uncommonly Denyse and John Searle. D'OL! said:
|3. John Searle on the hard problem of human consciousness (hard if you are a materialist): “We know from high school physics that in presenting an equation you have to be referring to the same dimension on both of its sides. The equation one dollar = one hundred cents can work because both sides are sums of money. But you couldn’t have one hundred cents = one month, because cents and months are in different dimensions. Mind and brain appear to be in different dimensions, because mind has qualitative subjectivity and brain does not.” |
U-Denyse would like to underscore that "mind and brain appear to be in different dimensions," providing comfort to those who would like to retain some sort of dualism.
On her blog she continues:
|But you cannot be a card-carrying materialist without attempting a materialist explanation, and Searle is uncertain what to make of all that: "... some evolutionary story about consciousness must be right. But whatever evolutionary story may be proposed is an answer to a different question from the causal question."|
By D'OL!'s lights, Searle doesn't quite know what to what to make of the relationship between evolution and consciousness.
So what does John Searle actually assert about mind-brain dualism? How uncertain is he about the relationship between biological evolution and consciousness? Here is Searle, page one, paragraph one of The Rediscovery of the Mind:
|The famous mind-problem, the source of so much controversy over the past two millennia, has a simple solution. This solution has been available to any educated person since serious work began on the brain nearly a century ago, and, in a sense, we all know it to be true. Here it is: Mental phenomena are caused by neurophysiological processes in the brain and are themselves features of the brain. To distinguish this view from the many others in the field, I call it "biological naturalism." Mental events and processes are as much a part of our biological natural history as digestion, mitosis, meiosis, or enzyme secretion.|
The operative words above are "any educated person." Somewhat later in the book (p. 90):
|Humans are continuous with the rest of nature. But if so, the biologically specific characteristics of these animals - such as their possession of a rich system of consciousness, as well as their greater intelligence, their capacity for language, their capacity for extremely fine perceptual discriminations, their capacity for rational thought, etc. - are biological phenomena like any other biological phenomena. Furthermore, these features are all phenotypes. They are as much the result of biological evolution as any other phenotype. Consciousness, in short, is a biological feature of human and certain animal brains. It is caused by neurobiological processes and is as much a part of the natural biological order as any other biological features such as photosynthesis, digestion, or mitosis.|
We can conclude that John Searle provides comfort to those interested in maintaining a mind-body dualism, and those reluctant to grant a relationship between consciousness and evolution, so long as they don't actually read John Searle. On that basis his work can be used as a springboard for the detachable ghost theory of consciousness and intentionality that D'OL! commends to our attention.
Myth: Something that never was true, and always will be.
"The truth will set you free. But not until it is finished with you."
- David Foster Wallace
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- Barry Arrington