Friday, 15 January 2016

Quote of the Day: The fallacy of Cartesian Dualism


“As to the materialist’s straw man, he is [French philosopher René] Descartes. ‘Cartesian dualism’ is the accusation hurled at anyone who recognizes that consciousness is real and has real effects. But the error in Cartesian dualism lies in its reification of consciousness—in making it into a substance, res cogitans, rather than in merely acknowledging the existence of consciousness and its causal efficacy.
    “Consciousness is not an entity, not in the sense that a stone or an organism is. Consciousness is a faculty of an entity, a man or animal; the operation of consciousness is a process of that entity.
    “Actually, Descartes’ mistake here lies, ironically, in his being too affected by materialism: he attempts to apply to consciousness a category derived from the physical world: the category of substance or entity. In dividing reality into res cogitans and res extensa, he forgets that res means ‘thing,’ a concept that derives from perceiving solid, physical objects. Nothing but confusion and contradictions can result from likening consciousness to physical objects.”

~ Harry Binswanger, from his book How We Know; Chapter: 'The Causal Efficacy of Consciousness'

[Hat tip The Verma Post]

1 comment:

  1. Well that is a pretty low brow definition of "thing". What exactly is electricity or gravity. (hint: it is not a side effect of "matter" Moreover, what role does electricity as a property (a again, a physical property, of thought.

    But beyond that, he is putting words in Descartes mouth. It is fairly obvious that he was talking about "phenomena". In an event this was more rigourly discussed by the German Idealist (and the English Pragmatists) than this rather insipid "analysis by someone whose knowledge of philosophy (and, evidently the physical sciences too) is rather shallow given that he has a PhD in it (but from Columbia, so that figures). He no doubt thinks that Rand was a "Philosopher" too. This is particularly hilarious: "the operation of consciousness is a process of that entity". I do not know which to guffaw at more loudly, the construction "operation of consciousness" or the notion that that fuzzy self contradictory "idea" is a "process of that entity". Too funny. He should ask Columbia for his money back.

    Fairly typical of the physicalist, materialist horse blinders and naivete of Libertarians.


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