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Victor M.
user 12752879
Seattle, WA
Post #: 138
A thread for discussion of the metaphysics of the mind/body problem

Pat commented on the mind/body issue:

On first glance it would seem matter is prior to mind because we observe mindless matter but never matter-less mind. (Or can someone think of an example of the latter?)

My own personal preference is for Neutral Monism to be true--that mind and matter are two facets of some more inclusive substance. And that matter-less mind, mind not inhering in matter, is also possible but we just haven't found a way to observe or experience it yet."

Hi Pat, thanks for your comment.

Regarding your first point asking for an example of matter-less mind. There are all kinds of questions here. To begin, who or what observes when you say "we observe mindless matter"? Does matter observe itself? If so, what exactly does "observation" mean here? Is it an act? Do mindless things "act"? Or rather do they "behave"? And regardless of which it is, who or what comes to the judgment that it is one or the other?...

An idealist would ask, can you show me an example of "mind-less matter"? By which is meant matter whose perception is unmediated by a mental act. And if you respond that the idea that you have "in mind" (pun intended) is matter "unperceived by anyone," doesn't it seem strange that you are appealing to imperceptibility of something to prove its existence? There are responses, of course, to all of these questions. We will try to see how these fare under scrutiny at the next meetup.

The two options you seem open to seem to be neutral monism and some form of dualism. What these two positions have in common and what separates them from the other two---physicalism an idealism---is that each gives equal place in the world to both material and mental things.

All these positions have serious problems. In particular, for dualism, a major one is to explain how mental and physical things can interact with each other since it seems to many they obviously do. For panpsychism (a form of neutral monism), there is the intuitively bazaar consequence that mental properties inhere even in what we call "inanimate" objects such as chairs.

We'll be addressing these and many other related questions at the next meetup.
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