Why I am not a Physicalist: Four Reasons for Rejecting the Faith

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sciborg2

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« on: July 14, 2019, 02:16:17 pm »
Why I am not a Physicalist: Four Reasons for Rejecting the Faith


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Current physical properties cannot describe nor explain mentality, therefore reality must be more than that which such physicalism presents. I cannot describe mental states such as hunger, despair, pain, or curiosity using physical properties alone—it would be an unintelligible category mistake to describe my hunger as comprised of a certain mass, gravity, volume, charge, and shape. But can I not say that my mental states are identical to their physical correlates, and thus describe them using such physicalist terms?

There are a host of logical reservations against such an identification. One can be called the multiple realization dilemma: if hunger (H) were identical to its human physical correlates (HPC), it would either imply that only humans could feel hunger (an implausible, unprovable position)—or it would imply that hunger was identical to both human physical correlates and to, say, shark physical correlates (SPC); but this would in turn imply that the human and shark physical correlates were identical (if H = HPC, and if H = SPC, then HPC = SPC), which is absurd.[5] So it seems illogical to posit that a mental state is the same thing as its physical correlate.[6] Thus one cannot describe or explain mentality in such physicalist terms alone.

As a result, physicalists have reconceptualized the mind-matter relation as one of emergence: that the mind emerges from certain brain activity. The two main problems associated with this approach are, firstly, that the specific nature of such an emergence is unknown: there are no known “bridge-laws” (or, no “transordinal nomology”) between the physical and the mental (they are certainly not known laws of physics). That the movement of matter can manifest mentality is the magical miracle that makes materialism a sect not a science. Secondly, it is unknown how the mentality that emerges from matter could in its turn have any power upon that matter—as most emergentists would demand so to avoid epiphenomenalism (the view that mentality is a useless aftereffect of cerebral machinations).

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Not only does mentality exist in humans, but also presumably in the myriad other species of this world. For mentality to evolve and to maintain itself therein, without any purpose or power, runs against our notions of evolution, of selection. For instance, have we not evolved our intelligence, our reasoning powers? Did they not aid our survival and development? Very few will deny this premise, but a physicalist will deny mental force, mental causation: the power of the mind, as it is not a known fundamental force. Thus physicalism conflicts with evolutionary theory. To try to overcome this by identifying the mind with the physical will not work because: (1) psychoneural identity theory has failed, and (2) if mental powers are actually physical powers, one thereby returns to the predicament of having to explain why mentality exists if it has no powers of its own. The final outcome is that if one accepts evolution one must deny physicalism.

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If one accepts, as even Papineau suggests, that there exists what the logician Frege called “the third realm”[16] (beyond physicality and mentality) of objective truths—such as the truth of modus ponens, the properties of Pi, the Pythagorean theorem, or the Form of Beauty—truths that exist whether or not they are discovered, meaning that they are in essence neither mental nor physical (as there can be no neural correlates of non-existent mental events), then it implies that their existence has an effect upon the physical through their discovery. For example, the discovery of the golden ratio had an effect upon the bodies of its discoverers in terms of their expression of it, and subsequently upon mathematics, aesthetics, architecture, and upon me in writing this essay. Thus the existence of such universal truths implies the falsity of one of physicalism’s key tenets: the causal closure of the physical. Universals crack open the causal closure principle of physicalism, which is to say they crack open physicalism itself.

    Of course, a physicalist could deny the existence of such universals, such objective truths. But in doing so, he would destroy the underlying assumptions of his position and thus succumb to inconsistency regardless. If physicalism considers itself to be a logical position, it must maintain the underlying truths of the laws of logic, such as the law of non-contradiction, formal fallacies, and so on. But these laws are not the laws of physics, which as such can be established through empirical observation or through modelling. Thus emerges another predicament for physicalism: the dilemma of logical objectivity. On the one side, if the laws of logic are to be considered objective—that is, they are true for all—then they must exist in a non-temporal, non-physical third realm that has causal influence upon the physical, thereby annulling the causal closure principle and, in turn, physicalism. On the other side, if the laws of logic are considered to be not objective, then physicalism cannot claim to be objectively logical. Either way, physicalism falters.
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TLEILAXU

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« Reply #1 on: July 14, 2019, 04:24:57 pm »
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The physicalism of today accepts four fundamental interactions: gravity, electromagnetism, and the strong and weak nuclear forces. It does not accept mental force. The ultimate, counter-intuitive and thus mostly unwanted implication of this is epiphenomenalism: that mentality is completely useless, like the steam from a locomotive engine.[9]
I mean, according to 'physicalism' wouldn't 'mental' force just be an instance of the other four forces? And how does he arrive at that spectacular conclusion, i.e. that 'mentality is useless', citing only some paper from 1874?

sciborg2

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« Reply #2 on: July 14, 2019, 04:58:12 pm »
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The physicalism of today accepts four fundamental interactions: gravity, electromagnetism, and the strong and weak nuclear forces. It does not accept mental force. The ultimate, counter-intuitive and thus mostly unwanted implication of this is epiphenomenalism: that mentality is completely useless, like the steam from a locomotive engine.[9]
I mean, according to 'physicalism' wouldn't 'mental' force just be an instance of the other four forces? And how does he arrive at that spectacular conclusion, i.e. that 'mentality is useless', citing only some paper from 1874?

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The physicalism of today accepts four fundamental interactions: gravity, electromagnetism, and the strong and weak nuclear forces. It does not accept mental force. The ultimate, counter-intuitive and thus mostly unwanted implication of this is epiphenomenalism: that mentality is completely useless, like the steam from a locomotive engine.[9]
I mean, according to 'physicalism' wouldn't 'mental' force just be an instance of the other four forces? And how does he arrive at that spectacular conclusion, i.e. that 'mentality is useless', citing only some paper from 1874?

If you don't need to include consciousness to explain future states from present states, but only the physicalist 4 forces, then it would be epiphenomenal. So that is what he means by useless, or at least that's how I read it.
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