Re: Determinism

From: Bruno Marchal <>
Date: Fri, 16 Jan 2004 12:18:40 +0100

At 22:25 15/01/04 -0500, Doug Porpora wrote:

>There have been two main reductionist strategies to deal with mental
>states, and they both -- to say the least -- have stalled. The two
>strategies are:
>1. Eliminative materialism
>2. Identity theory

Well, that is the two *materialist* strategies. Buddhism, Hinduism, Plato,
Berkeley and many others have proposed what we could
  call Eliminative spiritualism or immaterialism, sometimes called
"objective idealism" (sometimes confused with subjective idealism, i.e.
solipsism). I think the 20th century (perhaps by the dazzling success of
physics) is the first (and probably the last too!) during which
immaterialism has no more been defended (with some exceptions).
My work shows that comp entails a form of Eliminative immaterialism, and
also that comp (but actually this works for Everett formulation of QM too)
is incompatible with identity theory. We can still ascribe a mind (a first
person with her private life) to a body (a third person describable
object), but we cannot ascribe a body to a mind, we can only ascribe an
infinity of "possible bodies" to a mind (like our counterparts in the QM
parallel "universes": i.e. the mind body relation is not one-one.
In this setting the word "reductionism" is misleading: comp *reduces* both
minds and bodies to arithmetical relations between numbers, but
it leads also to a machine psychology (or theology) which is everything but
reductionist, for that psychology/theology is a sort of
"negation theology" (to use the theologians expression) in the sense that
the machine self is able to "diagonalize" against any proposed and well
defined definition of the self. The real self being necessarily undefinable
by anyself. This looks weird and perhaps even somehow mystical, but can be
related to the incompleteness phenomena, even easily so once we work a
little bit on the modal logic formalization of those incompleteness
phenomenon (cf Solovay's work).
A lot of problems in the "modern" philosophy of mind are due to a
reductionist conception of machines which is just impossible since Godel&Al.
In some sense Godel's theorem is the big killer of any reductionist
conception of machines. And as I said, some quasi dogmatic attachment to
materialism (even in the weaker sense of a doctrine reifying matter) will
not help.
Of course, just to mention them, there are also the dualist approaches (cf
"the brain and its self" by Popper and Eccles, or even Chalmers).
But I don't think a lot in this list adhere to dualist positions, but
please correct me if I'm wrong).

Received on Fri Jan 16 2004 - 06:54:07 PST

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