THE PHILOSOPHY OF THE FUTURE, #27–Beyond The Mechanistic Worldview II: Solving The Mind-Body Problem.
By Robert Hanna
This book, THE PHILOSOPHY OF THE FUTURE: Uniscience and the Modern World, by Robert Hanna, presents and defends a critical philosophy of science and digital technology, and a new and prescient philosophy of nature and human thinking.
It is being made available here in serial format, but you can also download and read or share a .pdf of the complete text–including the BIBLIOGRAPHY–of THE PHILOSOPHY OF THE FUTURE HERE.
This twenty-sixth installment contains sub-section 126.96.36.199.
We know the truth not only through our reason but also through our heart. It is through the latter that we know first principles, and reason, which has nothing to do with it, tries in vain to refute them. (Pascal, 1995: #110, p. 28)
If there is any science humankind really needs, it is the one I teach, of how to occupy properly that place in [the world] that is assigned to humankind, and how to learn from it what one must be in order to be human. (Rem 20: 45)
Natural science will one day incorporate the science of humankind, just as the science of humankind will incorporate natural science; there will be a single science. (Marx, 1964: p. 70, translation modified slightly)
TABLE OF CONTENTS
A NOTE ON REFERENCES TO KANT’S WORKS
0. Introduction: Science, The Four Horsemen of The New Apocalypse, and The Uniscience
0.0 How Uncritical and Unreformed Science Is Literally Killing The Modern World
0.2 The Uniscience and Pascal’s Dictum
Chapter 1. Natural Piety: A Kantian Critique of Science
1.0 Kantian Heavy-Duty Enlightenment and The Uniscience
1.1 Kant’s Neo-Aristotelian Natural Power Grid
1.2 Kant, Natural Piety, and The Limits of Science
1.3 From Kant’s Anti-Mechanism to Kantian Anti-Mechanism
1.4 In Defense of Natural Piety
1.5 Scientific Pietism and Scientific Naturalism
1.6 How to Ground Natural Science on Sensibility
1.7 Sensible Science 1: Natural Science Without Natural Mechanism
1.8 Sensible Science 2: Natural Science Without Materialism/Physicalism
1.9 Sensible Science 3: Natural Science Without Scientism
1.10 Frankenscience, the Future of Humanity, and the Future of Science
Chapter 2. This is the Way the World Ends: A Philosophy of Civilization Since 1900, The Rise of Mechanism, and The Emergence of Neo-Organicism
2.1 Wrestling with Modernity: 1900–1940
2.1.1 Six Sociocultural or Sociopolitical Developments
2.1.2 Two Philosophical Developments: Classical Analytic Philosophy and First Wave Organicism
2.1.3 Architectural and Artistic Trends
2.2 The Historical Black Hole, The Mechanistic Mindset, and The Mechanistic Worldview: 1940–1980
2.2.1 Formal and Natural Science After 1945, The Mechanistic Mindset, and The Rise of The Mechanistic Worldview
2.2 The Emergence of Post-Classical Analytic Philosophy
2.2.3 The Two Images Problem and its Consequences
2.2.4 Modernism and Countercurrents in the Arts and Design
2.3 The Philosophical Great Divide, Post-Modernist Cultural Nihilism, and Other Apocalyptic Developments: 1980–2022
2.3.1 The Rise of Po-Mo Philosophy
2.3.2 Po-Mo Architecture: Unconstrained Hybridity
2.3.3 Other Apocalyptic Developments: Crises in Physics and Big Science, and The One-Two Punch
2.4 From The Mechanistic Worldview to Neo-Organicism
2.4.0 Against The Mechanistic Worldview
2.4.1 Seven Arguments Against The Mechanistic Worldview
188.8.131.52 Logical and Mathematical Arguments
184.108.40.206 Physical and Metaphysical Arguments
220.127.116.11 Mentalistic and Agential Arguments
2.4.2 Beyond The Mechanistic Worldview: The Neo-Organicist Worldview
18.104.22.168 The Neo-Organist Thesis 1: Solving The Mind-Body Problem
Chapter 3. Thought-Shapers
Chapter 4. How To Complete Physics
Chapter 5. Digital Technology Only Within The Limits of Human Dignity
00. Conclusion: The Point Is To Shape The World
Appendix 1: A Note on The Löwenheim-Skolem Theorem, “Skolem’s Paradox,” and Neo-Organicism
Appendix 2: A Neo-Organicist Approach to The Nature of Motion
Appendix 3: Sensible Set Theory
Appendix 4: Neo-Organicism and The Rubber Sheet Cosmos
22.214.171.124 The Neo-Organicist Thesis 1: Solving The Mind-Body Problem
The metaphysics of the mind-body relation that directly answers to the neo-organicist thesis is that the mental-physical relation is a two-way necessary complementarity, that is, a mental-to-physical and physical-to-mental necessary equivalence that captures the manifestly real essence of all minded animals, including us. In short, as Michelle Maiese and I put it more than a decade ago (Hanna and Maiese, 2009), all minded animals are essentially embodied minds: hence Maiese and I call this “the essential embodiment theory,” or EET.
In a nutshell, EET says that the conscious minds of minded animals are necessarily and completely embodied in those animals, and, more specifically, that the conscious mind of a minded animal is the global dynamic immanent structure of the living organismic body of that very animal, a structure that inherently activates and guides the animal’s causally efficacious biological powers — or as Aristotle puts it in his own terminology: “the soul (anima) is the first actuality of a natural body that has life potentially” (Aristotle, 1968: II.i.412a22). Hence EET is committed to a neo-organicist version of neo-Aristotelian hylomorphism about the mind-body relation (Hanna and Maiese, 2009: chs. 1–2 and 6.8).
Consciousness, in turn, is subjective experience, which is to say that it inherently involves a self that’s egocentrically-centered in orientable space and unidirectional time (= subjectivity), and also that this self enacts or engages in mental acts, states, or processes of various kinds (= experience), and furthermore consciousness has two basic modes: (i) pre-reflective or non-self-conscious consciousness, which, in being naturally directed towards cognitive or intentional targets other than itself, is immanently reflexive, or aware of itself egocentrically and internally, without implicitly or explicitly forming judgments or propositional thoughts about itself, and (ii) reflective consciousness, or self-consciousness, which, in being naturally directed towards, or about, itself AS a cognitive or intentional target, is transcendently reflexive, or aware of itself allocentrically and externally, by implicitly or explicitly forming judgments or propositional thoughts about itself. More simply put, pre-reflective or non-self-consciousness consciousness is just being a conscious mind that’s directed towards other animals or things; whereas reflective or self-conscious consciousness is thinking about itself AS a conscious mind that’s ALSO directed towards other animals or things.
EET is a specially restricted version of “dual-aspectism.” For other dual aspect theories, one can compare and contrast Spinoza’s theological monism (in The Ethics), Russell’s neutral monism (in The Analysis of Mind and The Analysis of Matter), or Whitehead’s universal panexperientialist organicism (in Process and Reality). Unlike Whitehead’s universal panexperientialist organicism, however, EET does not say that everything, everywhere in the world is somehow minded, as an intrinsic nonrelational property of that thing, from the fundamental level up. For that would mean, for example, that even Dale’s Pale Ale and the cans that contain it are somehow minded, as an intrinsic nonrelational properties of those things, which is clearly an excessively strong metaphysical thesis. Nevertheless EET does, in a specially restricted way, share some of the metaphysical benefits of panpsychism — namely, that in all and only suitably complex kinds of organismic living creatures and their life-processes, causally efficacious mental and physical properties are related by two-way necessary complementarity. Or in other words: all and only everything in the world that’s just the right kind of organismic living creature and its life-process, is minded. So EET is simply a specially restricted version of neo-organicism.
More specifically, however, EET says (i) that minds like ours are necessarily and completely embodied, (ii) that minds like ours are complex global dynamic structures of our living organismic bodies, i.e., forms of life, (iii) that minds like ours are therefore inherently alive, (iv) that minds like ours are therefore inherently causally efficacious, just like all forms of organismic life, and (v) that minds like ours emerge over time and in space in all and only certain kinds of living organisms, i.e., minded animals. Furthermore, if by autonomy we mean a capacity for self-determination in the broadest possible sense, then we can also distinguish between (v1) the autonomy of proto-consciousness, a minimal and relatively self-less endogenous sensibility possessed by all living organisms, all the way down to unicellular organisms, (v2) the autonomy of pre-reflective consciousness, an egocentric and immanently self-aware, self-locating sensibility possessed by all minded animals, and (v3) the autonomy of self-consciousness, a further and specifically rational conscious capacity to represent oneself by means of concepts and judgments, which requires and indeed presupposes that we’re also able to think propositionally, speak richly-structured natural languages, and engage in logical reasoning (Hanna, 2006: ch. 4).
Now in addition to self-consciousness, obviously rational human minded animals like us are also inherently capable of (i) consciousness, that is, subjective experience (as defined above), and (ii) intentionality, that is, directedness to all kinds of things as their cognitive, desiderative, emotional, etc., targets. These capacities for consciousness and intentionality are also shared with minded animals in many other species, but self-evidently manifest themselves in minds like ours, via our further capacity for specifically rational consciousness, intentionality, and self-consciousness, not only as per Descartes’s Cogito, “I think, therefore I am,” but also, and even more fundamentally, via our capacity for essentially embodied affective and emotional consciousness, intentionality, and self-consciousness, as per what Maiese and I call The Essentially Embodied Cogito, “I desire, therefore I am” (Maiese and Hanna, 2009: p. 21).
Here are eight reasons why EET, when foregrounded against the larger framework of the neo-organicist thesis, not only dissolves the mind-body problem, but also finally solves it.
First, EET fully avoids reducing the mental to the physical, aka reductive physicalism. Reductive physicalism, presenting itself via the sheep’s clothing of the mind-body identity theory or the logical strong supervenience of the mental on the physical, de facto simply eliminates the mental. But what could be more epistemically primitive than our subjective experience of ourselves as conscious, intentional minds, and correspondingly, what then could be more metaphysically and ontologically primitive than the fact of the mental quâ mental?
Second, EET fully avoids making the mental naturally or nomologically supervenient on the physical, aka non-reductive physicalism. Reductive physicalism entails epiphenomenalism, hence it robs the mental of all its efficacious causal power. It is no solution to say that, from a non-reductive physicalist point of view, the mental can still have “causal relevance”: on the contrary, the mental has got to have efficacious causal powers, not merely an important informational bearing on causal processes.
Third, EET fully avoids reducing the physical to the mental, aka subjective idealism. Subjective idealism makes nature’s existence radically dependent on the existence of individual minds. It is highly implausible to hold that physical nature came into existence only after there were any minded animals. For, since animals are parts of physical nature, it would follow that animals came into existence only after there were minded animals. And it’s equally highly implausible to hold that if all individual minds were to perish, physical nature would go out of existence too. For in that case, since all animals die, and in most cases after animals die, their corpses continue to exist for a while, it would follow that necessarily, the last minded animal would have no corpse.
Fourth, EET fully avoids making the mental and the physical either essentially or even logically independent of one another, as per either Cartesian “interactionist substance dualism” or Cartesian “property dualism.” Any form of Cartesian dualism makes it impossible to explain how the mental and the physical causally interact without appealing to some sort of metaphysical mystery: for example, Descartes’s God, Leibniz’s divine pre-established harmony, an ectoplasmic medium, etc., etc. And any form of Cartesian dualism also entails the metaphysical impossibility that subjective experiences could exist without embodiment.
Fifth, EET fully avoids over-restricting mentality to the brain, i.e, it fully avoids the error of “the brain-bounded mind” (Hanna, 2011c).
Sixth, EET fully avoids over-extending the mental beyond the living animal body, i.e., it avoids the error of “the extended mind” (Clark and Chalmers, 1998; Clark, 2008; Gallagher, 2011).
Seventh, EET provides adequate metaphysical foundations for a robust metaphysics of free agency that I’ll briefly present in sub-sub-section 126.96.36.199 below (see also Hanna, 2018b).
Eighth, and perhaps most importantly, building on the sixth and seventh points, EET is an approach to the mind-body problem, including the problem of mental causation, that is perfectly scaled to the nature, scope, and limits of our “human, all too human” existence in a thoroughly nonideal natural and social world. Brain-boundedness falls short of the human condition: it makes us much less than we manifestly are. The extended mind exceeds the human condition: it makes us more than we manifestly are. Only the essential embodiment of the mind adequately captures and reflects the human condition: it tells us exactly what we manifestly are. For I just am my minded animal body and its “human, all too human” life, for better or worse. In short, EET answers perfectly to Socrates’s Delphic-Oracle-inspired thesis that an ultimate aim of philosophy is to “know thyself.”
AGAINST PROFESSIONAL PHILOSOPHY REDUX 683
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