RE: Dualism and the DA

From: Jonathan Colvin <>
Date: Sat, 18 Jun 2005 11:23:56 -0700

Russell Standish wrote:
>On "What would it be like to have been born someone else", how
>does this differ from "What is it like to be a bat?"
>Presumably Jonathon Colvin would argue that this latter
>question is meaningless, unless immaterial souls existed.
>I still find it hard to understand this argument. The question
>"What is it like to be a bat?" still has meaning, but is
>probably unanswerable (although Dennett, I notice considers it
>answerable, contra Nagel!)


"What is it like to be (or have been born) a bat?" is a *very* different
question than "Why am I me rather than a bat?".

Certainly, assuming immaterial souls or a similar identity dualism, (and
that "I" am my soul, not my body), and that bats have souls like people, it
is a meaningful question to ask "why am I me rather than a bat", or to state
that "I could have been a bat", because my soul could have been placed in a
bat rather than a human body. The universe would be objectively different
under the circumstances "I am Jonathan Colvin" and "I am a bat".

If you want to insist that "What would it be like to be a bat" is equivalent
to the question "What would the universe be like if I had been a bat rather
than me?", it is very hard to see what the answer could be. Suppose you
*had* been a bat rather than you (Russell Standish). How would the universe
be any different than it is now? If you can answer that question, (which is
the key question, to my mind), then I'll grant that the question is

Jonathan Colvin
Received on Sat Jun 18 2005 - 14:29:08 PDT

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