RE: subjective reality

From: Lee Corbin <>
Date: Wed, 17 Aug 2005 06:31:22 -0700

Chris writes

> I admire Descartes as a man [I would have said scientist and mathematician],
> not so much as a philosopher. I admire his method more than his results,
> he looked inwards.

He also did a tremendous amount of good work in science and math.

> Like Hume, Berkley , Locke and countless others. These people were the
> forefathers of science, not the resistance to it. Europe, having been freed
> from the authority of dogma by commerce and free enterprise, these people
> voiced a challenge that had been long suppressed.


> Brent wrote
> > I think you are attacking a straw man "realist".
> Im challenging comments and attitudes I saw on this board. Introspection was
> deemed an archaic relic of pre 16th century superstition, when in fact the
> cogito was the cornerstone of the enlightenment and has been important ever
> since.

Interesting that you denigrate the guy's philosophy (so do I), but
then say this. Yes, he did contribute to the foundations of rationalism.

> Not just in substance but in method too. People might not be happy
> about 'souls' and worse 'soul stuff', but really Descartes participated in
> putting thinking and rationalising back on the map.


> I doubt very much for instance that there would be cognitive psychology were
> it not for the work of Descartes filtered through Chomskian Linguistics. Our
> ‘conscious’ robot is a product of the idea that there are innate mental
> structures. It’s the pattern and/or process – computable function - that has
> become important in philosophy of mind - even if its at the most basic level
> of a stimulated neural nets, weighted sums et al. We have reached this point
> because in a subjective sense we all experience these intractable
> ‘processes’ first hand, like finding a word once lost at the tip of your
> tongue. How do we know about that? Because we experience it!

Yes, that's right. That's how we first knew something was going on
in humans. So far as I know, the best way to then investigate the
phenomenon is not through further introspection---however helpful
that may be in suggesting hypotheses---but by actual lab work in

> It’s the method that’s worth saving, not the indivisible soul languishing
> somewhere near the penal gland. Its not even whether souls provide a good
> account of identity, it’s the method that Im defending, and the method that
> I saw attacked. So far, I’m still convinced Im right, which is very rare.

Might you say a few more words about the method you refer to?

I know that I may be asking a lot with the following so please ignore
it if inconvenient: about this "method": is there a body of work
based upon this method? Is it at all falsifiable? (perhaps an
unfair question---I don't know.) What other practitioners have
there been?

Received on Wed Aug 17 2005 - 09:30:56 PDT

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