2009/8/20 Flammarion <peterdjo...@yahoo.com>:
> On 20 Aug, 13:30, David Nyman <david.ny...@gmail.com> wrote:
>> On 20 Aug, 10:05, Bruno Marchal <marc...@ulb.ac.be> wrote:
>> But also - just to dispose once and for all of this particular point -
>> I want to be sure that you understand that I'm not arguing *for*
>> eliminative materialism, except as devil's advocate (I'm sure you know
>> this). But one aspect of my recent discussions with Peter has been to
>> bring to a focus the strict consequences of materialism, in precisely
>> the honest way that you attribute to Dennett. The trouble is, that
>> Dennett, having eliminated the mind and hence the notorious 'problem',
>> still cheerfully carries on deploying the same mind-dependent concepts
>> as though nothing had happened! In other words, his position is
>> inconsistent and incoherent. It's dualism for free!
> Nope. He is a reductionist, not an eliminativist.
Yep. Perhaps you haven't perused "Consciousness Explained" recently.
The whole point is that you can't be a reductionist in the Quinean
sense - which Dennett (more or less honestly) is - without being an
eliminativist. The passage that you commented approvingly actually
used the term 'eliminative materialist', for goodness sake! The
reason that anyone might imagine that they could be is simply because
of the all-too-understandable tenacity of first-person intuitions.
Despite the (imagined) 'reduction', one can't help but go on
*imagining*! IOW - since one is in fact conscious - one can't help
but deploy the same mind-dependent (i.e. first-person) concepts that
are supposed to be eliminated (i.e. made redundant) by the reductive
(i.e. third-person) account of mind. So the distinction between
reduction with and without elimination turns out to be that between
eliminative materialism (the former) and material-mental 'dual aspect'
theory (the latter).
>> So, in this context, let me try to understand your remark: "with or
>> without assuming PM (primitive matter) there is an mathematical notion
>> of computation and of computability". I would say - per Dennett, but
>> understood *consistently* - that under the assumption that there is
>> *only* primitive matter (i.e. material monism) - there strictly can be
>> no appeal to such a notion as computation, because mathematics itself
>> is eliminable per Qine.
> That isn't elimination in the sense of eliminativism.
What other sense do you have in mind?
>>Don't misunderstand me - this is what is
>> *wrong* with material monism - because to be consistent, one is either
>> honestly forced to such an eliminativist conclusion (but then you must
>> deny your own consciousness and all mental concepts), or you tacitly
>> accept a form of dualism (but again without noticing!) So I suppose
>> that when you say "with primitive matter" that you don't mean
>> "**only** with primitive matter", but rather "with primitive matter +
>> computation" - which is in effect a dualistic assumption. Again,
>> please don't misunderstand me - I regard comp as a coherent *monistic*
>> approach to both mind and matter that seeks to 'eliminate' neither,
>> and which brings the mind-body issues into full focus. But the
>> assumption of PM *in addition* would transform it into a type of
>> epiphenomenal dualism.
> You are still confusing reduciton/identity with elimination
Thanks for the excellent summary, but I assure you I'm not confusing
them, I just want to know which is intended in a given case. I'd
always assumed that your materialism went hand-in-hand with some
identity-based hypothesis of mind (or at least the possibility of
such). I was surprised - and consequently commented - when you
appeared to endorse a passage citing physical reduction as an approach
to elimination of human concepts. If I misunderstood what you meant
by "I agree", please just correct the misunderstanding.
That being said, I do in fact think that 'identity' - even 'dual
aspect' - theories can't really avoid being an unacknowledged back
door to dualism. It's part of the 'sweeping under the rug' of the MBP
I think, because the attempt to stretch the notion of 'identity' to
the point of literally *equating* consciousness with 'primitively
material' processes is ultimately to rob either of any sense. I
suspect you may wish to respond that consciousness is not a matter of
ontology, but epistemology. But in fact this is directly contradicted
by the identity hypothesis itself: though we may differentiate the
contents of consciousness from the context in which they are
immediately apprehended by use of the term 'epistemological', that
very container is ex hypothesi *identical* to that of the material.
IOW: content = epistemology, but context+content = ontology.
As you correctly remarked, it is rare for anyone to have a new idea,
so I don't indulge the fantasy that I'm proposing anything original.
Schrödinger, for example, articulated it rather clearly, commenting
that if as monists, we must choose a singular ontology, then it would
be curiously blind to reject the one of which we have indubitable
> Early eliminativists such as Rorty and Feyerabend often confused two
> different notions of the sort of elimination that the term
> "eliminative materialism" entailed. On the one hand, they claimed, the
> cognitive sciences that will ultimately give people a correct account
> of the workings of the mind will not employ terms that refer to common-
> sense mental states like beliefs and desires; these states will not be
> part of the ontology of a mature cognitive science. But critics
> immediately countered that this view was indistinguishable from the
> identity theory of mind. Quine himself wondered what exactly
> was so eliminative about eliminative materialism after all:
> “ Is physicalism a repudiation of mental objects after all, or a
> theory of them? Does it repudiate the mental state of pain or anger in
> favor of its physical concomitant, or does it identify the mental
> state with a state of the physical organism (and so a state of the
> physical organism with the mental state)?  ”
> On the other hand, the same philosophers also claimed that common-
> sense mental states simply do not exist. But critics pointed out that
> eliminativists could not have it both ways: either mental states exist
> and will ultimately be explained in terms of lower-level
> neurophysiological processes or they do not. Modern
> eliminativists have much more clearly expressed the view that mental
> phenomena simply do not exist and will eventually be eliminated from
> people's thinking about the brain in the same way that demons have
> been eliminated from people's thinking about mental illness and
You received this message because you are subscribed to the Google Groups
"Everything List" group.
To post to this group, send email to firstname.lastname@example.org
To unsubscribe from this group, send email to
For more options, visit this group at