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An Argument against Substance Dualism

Discuss any topics related to metaphysics (the philosophical study of the principles of reality) or epistemology (the philosophical study of knowledge) in this forum.
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Mosesquine
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An Argument against Substance Dualism

Post by Mosesquine » March 11th, 2018, 7:57 am

I am going to offer an argument against substance dualism. Substance dualism is the view that there are fundamentally two kinds of substances of entities: soul and body. Descartes' version of substance dualism defines them as follows:

Soul = Soul is non-spatio-temporal, and it is directly related to thought.

Body = Body is spatio-temporal, and it is characteristically extended in spatio-temporal realms.

I think that Descartes' version of substance dualism is flawed. According to Descartes, soul and body are two distinct substances. It's because body is always located in space-time points anyway, but soul is always not located in space-time points at all. I think that all causal processes nomically occur in space-time points. I also think that all interactions of anything are happening in space and time. According to Descartes' version of substance dualism, soul is not located in space-time points, so soul cannot interact with body causally! The argument is formulated more structurally as follows:

(1) All causal processes (i.e. processes of causes and effects) occur in space-time points.
(2) All interactions occur in space-time points.
(3) No soul occurs in space-time points (by the definition of Descartes' version of substance dualism).
Therefore, (4) No soul is in a causal process.
Therefore, (5) No soul is in an interaction.

We know that our mental activities interact with our body performances. This follows that Descartes' version of substance-dualistic-assumption that soul is non-spatio-temporal and body is spatio-temporal is false.

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Frost
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Re: An Argument against Substance Dualism

Post by Frost » March 11th, 2018, 11:33 am

I think there are a couple fundamental issues with this argument.

What is a causal process? What are the mechanisms? How does anything occur at all?

What is the nature of spacetime? Is it emergent?

What I'm getting at is that there is a good argument that the non-physical is critically linked with the physical that allows for such an interaction.

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Re: An Argument against Substance Dualism

Post by Tamminen » March 11th, 2018, 5:41 pm

There may be various definitions of substance. This is Spinoza's definition in Ethics:
By substance, I mean that which is in itself, and is conceived through itself: in other words, that of which a conception can be formed independently of any other conception.
According to this definition neither matter nor mind can be substance, because they are interdependent. The concrete reality is the subject-object relation. Spinoza says that mind and body are attributes of one and the same substance which he calls Nature or God, and the body is the object of the mind.

When I see a tree, physical causality goes from the tree to my brain with photons hitting my retina and so on. This chain of events is expressed as my perception of the tree. If this is called causation is a matter of definition, but it is not physical causation. The same applies when I do something because I want to do it.

But the point is that my perception of a tree is not located in physical spacetime, not even in my brain. It is part of my subjective world and subjective time where I am conscious of the physical world.

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Frost
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Re: An Argument against Substance Dualism

Post by Frost » March 11th, 2018, 6:23 pm

Tamminen wrote:
March 11th, 2018, 5:41 pm
There may be various definitions of substance. This is Spinoza's definition in Ethics:
By substance, I mean that which is in itself, and is conceived through itself: in other words, that of which a conception can be formed independently of any other conception.
According to this definition neither matter nor mind can be substance, because they are interdependent. The concrete reality is the subject-object relation. Spinoza says that mind and body are attributes of one and the same substance which he calls Nature or God, and the body is the object of the mind.

When I see a tree, physical causality goes from the tree to my brain with photons hitting my retina and so on. This chain of events is expressed as my perception of the tree. If this is called causation is a matter of definition, but it is not physical causation. The same applies when I do something because I want to do it.

But the point is that my perception of a tree is not located in physical spacetime, not even in my brain. It is part of my subjective world and subjective time where I am conscious of the physical world.
In your description, you described the perceptual process. But what does it mean for a photon to cause something? You said it is not physical causation, so what is it? Doesn't a photon have to have a cause in order for it to be omitted? And doesn't the absorption in the rental cells cause other physical effects?

Duckrabbit
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Re: An Argument against Substance Dualism

Post by Duckrabbit » March 11th, 2018, 9:47 pm

Mind/Body. Where exactly is the problem?

I have things. I have opinions. I have toes. I have a pet pig. I have patience. I have time. I have a watch. I have a body. I have a mind.

Our language - our use of words ("have", "thing", "facts") - tricks us into thinking we have a metaphysical problem here. My body can be seen; my mind cannot. My toes can be seen; my opinions cannot (necessarily). But aren't all these things? We are free to call them all things. There is a convention of our language that allows us to do so. But then we give up our freedom and allow the language, the word use, the grammar, to oppress us, to gain supremacy, control. What kind of things, we ask, are things that cannot be seen or observed with bodily senses? Much head-scratching has ensued over millennia. There must be two separate (perhaps equal) kinds of things. Then a move is made that is crucial though its importance seems mostly overlooked. We replace "thing" with "substance".

We speak of the substance of, e.g., an argument. But most would be willing to accept this as a metaphorical use of "substance". Why do we not want to look at speaking of mental or spiritual substances as also metaphorical? No, it is insisted, they are just as real as physical substances. So we are rather desperate to find something about non-physical substance that is as solid (so to speak) as physicality, since, we have concluded, they are just as real. Hence, materialism and physicalism and ghosts.

Are physical objects all there are? Look at the question. What is it asking? There are lots of things. There are pigs, opinions, toes, anxieties, terms of art, trees, people, questions and words, words, words. They all are. They all exist. But this a matter of how we speak, not of perplexing metaphysical mysteries. There is only a mind/body problem because philosophers insist on it. Then they can argue with one another over solutions to it.

I think that religion has played a major role in promoting this controversy. Not only is the mind/spirit/soul a thing/substance, it is an eternal substance. Why do we suppose it is eternal? Well, it's not a body, something made of matter; therefore it does not need to deteriorate/rot/die. (Importantly, it is, at least in Christianity, the individual, personal, soul which is most important and most worthy of fretting over).

My personal joy cannot be seen by someone observing my brain. Not because they are separate but equal things, mutually inaccessible to each other, but because my joy and my brain are no more related than my time and my watch. Joy is not reducible to activity in the brain. But not because it dwells in an invisible, mysterious realm not accessible to others. My joy is not equivalent to, say, my foot. It is no more equivalent than, say, my circumspection, or may aquisitiveness. These are concepts formed by the convention of turning activity into nouns. As in : people are laughing; there is laughter. I think; there is thinking, i.e., I have a mind. I don't think anyone would call laughter a substance. Why give that honor to mind?

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Frost
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Re: An Argument against Substance Dualism

Post by Frost » March 11th, 2018, 10:18 pm

Duckrabbit wrote:
March 11th, 2018, 9:47 pm
Mind/Body. Where exactly is the problem?

I have things. I have opinions. I have toes. I have a pet pig. I have patience. I have time. I have a watch. I have a body. I have a mind.

Our language - our use of words ("have", "thing", "facts") - tricks us into thinking we have a metaphysical problem here. My body can be seen; my mind cannot. My toes can be seen; my opinions cannot (necessarily). But aren't all these things? We are free to call them all things. There is a convention of our language that allows us to do so. But then we give up our freedom and allow the language, the word use, the grammar, to oppress us, to gain supremacy, control. What kind of things, we ask, are things that cannot be seen or observed with bodily senses? Much head-scratching has ensued over millennia. There must be two separate (perhaps equal) kinds of things. Then a move is made that is crucial though its importance seems mostly overlooked. We replace "thing" with "substance".

We speak of the substance of, e.g., an argument. But most would be willing to accept this as a metaphorical use of "substance". Why do we not want to look at speaking of mental or spiritual substances as also metaphorical? No, it is insisted, they are just as real as physical substances. So we are rather desperate to find something about non-physical substance that is as solid (so to speak) as physicality, since, we have concluded, they are just as real. Hence, materialism and physicalism and ghosts.

Are physical objects all there are? Look at the question. What is it asking? There are lots of things. There are pigs, opinions, toes, anxieties, terms of art, trees, people, questions and words, words, words. They all are. They all exist. But this a matter of how we speak, not of perplexing metaphysical mysteries. There is only a mind/body problem because philosophers insist on it. Then they can argue with one another over solutions to it.

I think that religion has played a major role in promoting this controversy. Not only is the mind/spirit/soul a thing/substance, it is an eternal substance. Why do we suppose it is eternal? Well, it's not a body, something made of matter; therefore it does not need to deteriorate/rot/die. (Importantly, it is, at least in Christianity, the individual, personal, soul which is most important and most worthy of fretting over).

My personal joy cannot be seen by someone observing my brain. Not because they are separate but equal things, mutually inaccessible to each other, but because my joy and my brain are no more related than my time and my watch. Joy is not reducible to activity in the brain. But not because it dwells in an invisible, mysterious realm not accessible to others. My joy is not equivalent to, say, my foot. It is no more equivalent than, say, my circumspection, or may aquisitiveness. These are concepts formed by the convention of turning activity into nouns. As in : people are laughing; there is laughter. I think; there is thinking, i.e., I have a mind. I don't think anyone would call laughter a substance. Why give that honor to mind?
While I am sympathetic to your position, there is empirical evidence that does indicate the ontological reality of a mind-matter type of dualism and interaction:

Radin, D., Michel, L., Galdamex, K., Wendland, P., Rickenbach, R., & Delorme, A. (2012). "Consciousness and the double-slit interference pattern: Six experiments." Physics Essays, 25(2), 157-171.

Radin, D., Michel, L., Johnston, J., & Delorme, A. (2013) "Psychophysical interactions with a double-slit interference pattern." Physic Essays, 26(4), 553-566.

Radin, D., Michel, L., & Delorme, A. (2016) "Psychophysical modulation of fringe visibility in a distant double-slit optical system." Physics Essays, 29(1), 14-22.

All of these papers are published in a mainstream peer-reviewed physics journal and indicate that the mind can non-locally impact physical systems. These data also align with the research published in parapsychology journals that are also peer-reviewed. Evidence of psychokinesis is certainly indicative that there is a mind-matter interaction that we are unaware of the mechanisms, although I suspect it is intimately related to how Intentional causation operates in our moving our bodies.

Tamminen
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Re: An Argument against Substance Dualism

Post by Tamminen » March 12th, 2018, 5:45 am

Frost wrote:
March 11th, 2018, 6:23 pm
In your description, you described the perceptual process. But what does it mean for a photon to cause something? You said it is not physical causation, so what is it? Doesn't a photon have to have a cause in order for it to be omitted? And doesn't the absorption in the rental cells cause other physical effects?
What I meant was that physical causation happens within the physical world: tree, photons, retina, brain. My perception is not really caused by these in the physical sense of the term, but goes parallel with them, being an expression of them. My perception is not conceptually compatible with the physical events that "cause" them in another meaning of the term. And therefore there cannot be a mechanism that would connect them. The physical events are the necessary material conditions for the perception. And I agree with Duckrabbit: the "mind/body" problem is a pseudo problem. My view is that it is caused by unjustified commitment to materialistic ontology.
Duckrabbit wrote:
March 11th, 2018, 9:47 pm
My personal joy cannot be seen by someone observing my brain. Not because they are separate but equal things, mutually inaccessible to each other, but because my joy and my brain are no more related than my time and my watch. Joy is not reducible to activity in the brain.
Joy is not reducible to brain activities, but there are correlations between them, so they are related in a non-physical way. Joy cannot be totally independent of brain events.

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Frost
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Re: An Argument against Substance Dualism

Post by Frost » March 12th, 2018, 3:01 pm

Tamminen wrote:
March 12th, 2018, 5:45 am
What I meant was that physical causation happens within the physical world: tree, photons, retina, brain. My perception is not really caused by these in the physical sense of the term, but goes parallel with them, being an expression of them. My perception is not conceptually compatible with the physical events that "cause" them in another meaning of the term. And therefore there cannot be a mechanism that would connect them. The physical events are the necessary material conditions for the perception. And I agree with Duckrabbit: the "mind/body" problem is a pseudo problem. My view is that it is caused by unjustified commitment to materialistic ontology.
What is physical causation, precisely? It must cause perception or else how would it occur? Why cannot there be a mechanism which links them? The orthodox quantum formalism provides an explicit psycho-physical interaction, so this seems to indicate that there be a causal relation between the physical and the experiential.

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Re: An Argument against Substance Dualism

Post by Tamminen » March 12th, 2018, 5:50 pm

Frost wrote:
March 12th, 2018, 3:01 pm
What is physical causation, precisely? It must cause perception or else how would it occur? Why cannot there be a mechanism which links them? The orthodox quantum formalism provides an explicit psycho-physical interaction, so this seems to indicate that there be a causal relation between the physical and the experiential.
I think that quantum mechanics describes only physical phenomena, despite its indeterminism and dependence on the measuring apparatus.

My being in the world means that I am related to the material universe by being conscious of it. The subjective side of this relation is my consciousness or mind, and its objective side is my body. But the relation is one and the same, only seen from two perspectives. So the relation is not one of causation but identity, only seen from two conceptually incompatible points of view. When photons hit my retina, they cause something to happen in my body, and I experience this effect as seeing a tree, for instance. So there is no link, no bridge, between body and mind. The subject-object relation is fundamental. This is how I see the situation.

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Frost
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Re: An Argument against Substance Dualism

Post by Frost » March 12th, 2018, 6:28 pm

Tamminen wrote:
March 12th, 2018, 5:50 pm
I think that quantum mechanics describes only physical phenomena, despite its indeterminism and dependence on the measuring apparatus.
The orthodox formalization describes the dynamics of a conscious choice and a response from nature. In other words, the conscious choice enters the dynamics of the physical world; conscious thought can result in physical effects not determined by the laws of physics.
Tamminen wrote:
March 12th, 2018, 5:50 pm
My being in the world means that I am related to the material universe by being conscious of it. The subjective side of this relation is my consciousness or mind, and its objective side is my body. But the relation is one and the same, only seen from two perspectives. So the relation is not one of causation but identity, only seen from two conceptually incompatible points of view. When photons hit my retina, they cause something to happen in my body, and I experience this effect as seeing a tree, for instance. So there is no link, no bridge, between body and mind. The subject-object relation is fundamental. This is how I see the situation.
How does that awareness arise? What makes a physical system have an internal awareness?

Does the world exist prior to awareness of an organism? Does it have an absolute independence from the awareness? If so, how could conscious thought enter the dynamics of the physical world as in orthodox quantum theory?

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Re: An Argument against Substance Dualism

Post by Namelesss » March 12th, 2018, 9:21 pm

Mosesquine wrote:
March 11th, 2018, 7:57 am
I am going to offer an argument against substance dualism. Substance dualism is the view that there are fundamentally two kinds of substances of entities: soul and body.
Easy to do.
Usually it is called 'mind - body' dualism ("hard problem" for Chalmers).
The reason that it is a 'hard problem' is the ignorance of those who don't know that;
All that exists, whether rocks or the sun or thoughts or dreams... is ALL comprised of PERCEIVED information waves, quantum wave field, "undifferentiated potential" (Bindu).
So, essentially, thoughts/mind' is no different than rocks or the moon!
Being confused by the duality of the mind, believing it, is a huge error.
That is why any real philosopher is also up on the cutting edge (and further) of science (QM)!
There is neither 'substance', nor is there 'dualism', other than as appearance, only! Some fall for appearances...

Schizophrenia is the (dualistic) fragmentation of that which is One! *__-

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Re: An Argument against Substance Dualism

Post by Tamminen » March 13th, 2018, 5:29 am

Frost wrote:
March 12th, 2018, 6:28 pm
The orthodox formalization describes the dynamics of a conscious choice and a response from nature. In other words, the conscious choice enters the dynamics of the physical world; conscious thought can result in physical effects not determined by the laws of physics.
It is an interesting question whether quantum mechanics has something to do with the fact that our decisions and doings go parallel with and in this sense have an effect on the material world. I have not a clear answer to this. But I think the physical effects cannot happen against the laws of physics.
How does that awareness arise? What makes a physical system have an internal awareness?

Does the world exist prior to awareness of an organism? Does it have an absolute independence from the awareness? If so, how could conscious thought enter the dynamics of the physical world as in orthodox quantum theory?
As I said, the subject-object relation is fundamental, and both sides are equally original ontologically, though not in physical spacetime. So awareness does not arise from matter, it only needs matter for its basis of being. Therefore I do not ask what makes a physical system have an internal awareness, but what must the physical system be like in order for me to be conscious of it. This is my version of the mind/body problem.

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Re: An Argument against Substance Dualism

Post by Atreyu » March 13th, 2018, 7:02 pm

I agree with the OP's reasoning.

However, Descartes is really trying to define the 'psyche' or 'mind', not the 'soul'. Too often the word 'soul' is thrown out as another term for mind/psyche/awareness, when in reality it was historically defined differently.

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Re: An Argument against Substance Dualism

Post by BigBango » March 20th, 2018, 8:20 pm

Just don’t forget that the absence of evidence of a connection between known objects and hypothesized stuff of a different nature is not evidence of the absence of any connections between the physical and mental.

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Re: An Argument against Substance Dualism

Post by BigBango » March 20th, 2018, 8:28 pm

Don’t forget that the absence of evidence of any connections between known objects and hypothesized more mental substance is not evidence that no connections could exist.

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