Sunday, August 03, 2008

AC Grayling on dualism

AC da House:

"""""More reflective prompts to dualism turn on considerations about the essentially different nature of material and mental phenomena. Physical objects have locations, weights, heights, colours and odours, whereas thoughts and memories do not. A more modest form of dualism recognises that there are two kinds of things one can say about brains—that they are objects inside skulls, and that they are involved in the production of thoughts and desires. But this is not the metaphysical dualism of, for example, RenĂ© Descartes, for whom mind and matter were two essentially different substances, and this latter is what is needed for afterlife beliefs.

What has rightly been called the "hard problem" of consciousness—how it arises from brain activity—has yet to be solved. But the shortest answer anyone can give to a dualist who hopes this leaves wriggle room for minds or souls is this: hit someone hard enough on the head, and a mental function regularly correlated with the resultantly damaged part of the brain will be lost or compromised. That covariance is enough to render profoundly unpersuasive any of the reasons offered in support of dualism."""""

Heh heh. Another method of disproving the theist or mystic (even ones who know their Descartes forwards and backwards, or their quantum physics for Mormons) who insists that he inhabits some immaterial realm apart from the brain: sew up his mouth. When he begins to grunt and gesticulate for food and water, make him admit defeat.

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