Theo Todman's Web Page
For Text Colour-conventions (at end of page): Click HereAnimadversions - Haldane - Naturalism and the Mind
Note last updated: 18/12/2010 19:58:05
- Haldane had an extensive hand-out ("Haldane (John) - Naturalism and Mind") but didn’t stick to it, being deflected by the (rather unsurprising) things Papineau had to say (in "Papineau (David) - The Argument for Naturalism about the Mind").
- Papineau’s arguments belong to a family2 (from Donald Davidson, David Lewis, and so on). Mind makes a difference, but both cause and effect are physical. Haldane thinks that the argument is less straightforward than it might seem.
- Scientific Explanation is a “privileged” route to knowledge.
- The “integral unity of substances”. Effects flow from the nature of things – which are not just lumps of stuff.
- The rejection of the supernatural – but another Haldane – an atheist – claimed that the world is stranger than we can3 think.
- In contemporary usage supernatural is really praeternatural4 – the miraculous – ie. beyond the ordinary powers of substances. Strictly, supernatural is the operation of grace.
- If we depart from physicalism, does this mean that we need to view the mind in praeternaturalist terms? No.
- There are three views of metaphysics:-
- Metaphysics as science - Quine – scientism.
- Metaphysics as a priori etc. This view is deflationary about ontology. Does whatever we talk about in a regulated and well-ordered manner exist? If so, then what we mean by saying that numbers exist is that there exists a well-ordered discourse that involves them. For realism about minds, we need more than just talk about them – we need them to make a difference.
- Third5 option – not discussed?
- Arguments6 against physicalism in the philosophy of mind:-
- a. Sensibility: Eg. consciousness. Not persuasive.
- b. Intelligibility: Modality, etc.
- Substances (eg. water) are identified by their causal powers – whether active (abilities) or passive (liabilities). Eg. Acid has the ability to dissolve.
- Haldane is not impressed by the arguments from consciousness (as arguments against physicalism). It’s not obvious that consciousness isn’t part of the physical world. It’s “isomorphic” to the physical world – can turn up the volume. Consciousness is just a mode of receptivity to the physical.
- Aquinas: unpack. We have powers of categorisation into kinds. Universals are not material. There’s no such thing as the organ of thought. Deliberation is not over particulars (= actuals) but over possibles.
- To be continued7?
Footnote 2: Track down the references in these philosophers.
Footnote 3: According to Wikipedia (Wikiquote: Arthur Eddington (https://en.wikiquote.org/wiki/Arthur_Eddington)), “Though sometimes attributed to Eddington without citation, this seems to be derived from a statement by J. B. S. Haldane (Wikiquote: J. B. S. Haldane (https://en.wikiquote.org/wiki/J._B._S._Haldane)) in Possible Worlds and Other Papers (1927), p. 286: The Universe is not only queerer than we suppose, but queerer than we can suppose.“
Footnote 4: See, for instance, Wikipedia: Preternatural (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Preternatural).
Footnote 5: The hand-out has:-
Footnote 6: Haldane had a (non-distributed!) hand-out with 20 arguments against physicalism.
- Metaphysics as science
- Metaphysics as prior to and independent of empirical knowledge
- Metaphysics as interpretative of empirical and other knowledge.
Footnote 7: My notes run out at this point, but don’t indicate that there was more said – they run straight on to the Q&As. I’ve no idea what the point of Haldane’s talk was.
References & Reading List
||Naturalism and Mind
||Paper - Cited
||Religion and Naturalism, Heythrop College, 12 July 2010
Text Colour Conventions
- Black: Printable Text by me; © Theo Todman, 2020
- Blue: Text by me; © Theo Todman, 2020
Return to Home page
Timestamp: 28/05/2020 15:40:10. Comments to firstname.lastname@example.org.