Thursday, 7 May 2015

Self Requisite For Causation? Part V

Part 1 Here

Dualism: A Religious Doctrine

Having established the absurd nature of holding to the Cartesian picture, we need to draw a few more comparisons. Our next stage is to illustrate that we cannot hold on to a dualism of body and mind and reject theism at the same time. Religion and Cartesian dualism are bound as part of the same package and the two are inseparable.
This is a slight deviation from the scope of the article as we were concerned more with mental causation, however, this will set us up nicely for the final part next week.  

The analysis we have made so far between animal and human minds is tentative at best. Since we don't know what animal experience is like, we can't be certain animals are not zombie like. 
However, the same criteria we use to attribute minds to other beings, namely intelligence, means that there is a sceptical argument about 'other minds' that the Cartesian view cannot deal with - without bringing in god.

One example that may provide a counter example in favour of the Cartesian picture is that computers may carry out complex tasks and not have any kind of 'mind-like' intelligence. 
This means that watching behaviour that even resembles any kind of intentionality, does not necessarily presuppose a mind. By intentionality, we are simply talking about some kind of agent acting with purpose or intention.

This example seems to reconcile the Cartesian picture but we have merely shifted our intuitions, and the same problem remains: How do we assert that anything has a mind?
The Cartesian response here is that we are human beings created by God with incorporeal souls and for this reason we are more than just animals. The Cartesian has not provided an independent justification of this ontological viewpoint though.

The truth is, we were asked how we were to determine that others could have minds?

This chain of reasoning simply entails that the Cartesian is restating their ontological viewpoint without qualification of how we could ever know the nature of non-physical beings. 

For this reason, this view can only make sense to some one whose framework supposes a deity.

For those of sound faculties of mind, it should be clear that theists start out from the position that god exists. One of the next steps then, is to justify how it is possible to survive bodily death to go to heaven. 
Simply saying 'god made it this way' is not even an argument, but is tantamount to the foaming at the mouth madness that underpins monotheistic religions.

When faced with the absurdity of trying to explain how one can survive bodily death, they have to rely on their presupposition of god to explain it. The problem is, they were arguing for the Cartesian view as a result of starting from the presupposition of their being a god in the first place - hence we have a circular chain of reasoning.
To argue in favour of the Cartesian picture by using god as a justification is to straightforwardly beg the question. Despite this though, this is exactly the kind of pattern that theists use to defend their delusion.


The inadequacies of dualism are further highlighted by modern evolutionary theory. Evolution is the theory that life on earth evolved from a common ancestor and relies on genetic changes, within a population, over time. This change is driven by successive recombinations of genetic material, which is inherited by subsequent generations.
This process is subject to genetic drift, mutation and natural selection influencing the gene pool within a population. Evolutionary theory makes empirical observations and also provides us an excellent understanding of how there came to be so much complexity in the natural world.

We can plausibly see how 'speciations' appeared in nature and that beneficial mutations can occur in genes, which provide a survival advantage over other members in the gene pool. These advantages mean an organism stands more chance of surviving and replicating and this results in an increased frequency of the trait within a gene pool.
This accounts for the complexity and functionality of biological life and plausibly shows a realistic alternative to metaphysical and superstitious explanations.

Whilst we see folk like Ken Ham and his deluded 'young earth creationism' nonsense, many reasonable theists have had to accept some facets of evolution. When we see viruses mutate and bacteria become resistant to antibiotics, we have demonstrable proof of micro-evolution.

One of the main arguments theists bring against evolution centres around macro-evolution and speciation. That is to question whether or not the small-scale micro-changes over time were sufficient for new species to appear and diverge in separate developmental paths. 
It also questions whether or not new abilities could appear for example flagella appearing on bacteria, and this is referred to as 'irreducible complexity'. In this sense theists are trying to resort to what is termed 'God of the gaps' thinking, where every conceptual gap is exploited as proof that evolutionary theory is false and only God's existence could account for it.

There is much literature on the Internet about this and we could talk about it all day but before we get sidetracked, we will draw a line and try and plug our theories about self hood into this matrix. Naturally, dualism completely fails at this point if we believe that evolutionary theory is true. This is for the reason that we have no plausible explanation for how a non-physical thinking could evolve.

In order for dualism to be true, it is necessary that the soul/thinking stuff is some kind of self sufficient entity. If it is self sufficient it must, by necessity, subsist entirely separately from physical matter.

Remember, the thinking component can subsist separately from the physical body in heaven according to dualism.

Therefore, it follows that if there is any relation between the two then we need a theory to account for this. Since we already have trouble accounting for how physical and non-physical matter interact with each other at a causal level, then we are going to have real trouble trying to explain more complex interactions.

The ability to think in concepts and language is related to Wernickes and Broca's area in the brain, and these regions are more developed in humans than in apes. In order to account for this in a dualistic framework, we might want to theorise that as the brain 'hardware' improved so did cognitive ability.
At this point then we are obliged to provide a theory of how souls evolve and, once again, we are in the realms of foaming at the mouth crack pottery. It should be crystal clear now that in order for us to believe in dualism, we must also reject evolutionary theory.

Dualism is only compatible with creationism as modern evolutionary theory asks too many embarrassing questions that the doctrine is in no position to answer. You might want to rebuke my assertion here, but all I will say is that if dualism had any substance (lol!) then it would dovetail with modern theory.
As such, dualists have to reject modern theory in order to maintain their convictions. It may be tempting at this point to side with the god of the gaps thinking and say there is micro-evolution but something else played a hand in macro-evolution. However, you are basically saying you believe in god or some other supernatural force. If you are denying evolution is real then pay Ken Ham a visit, you will be in good company there.

Hence, there is no way you can accept dualism of body and mind but reject god simultaneously. The two go hand in hand together and it is very surprising how many people who consider themselves as secular, still subscribe to dualism as a result of its prevalence in mainstream society. This is because these people have never investigated the taken for granted assumptions and presuppositions upon which their model of reality is based - and we are talking about the majority of ordinary folk.

There is a synthesis of substance dualism that is non-religious, however, it brings in its own set of problems, not to mention many of these we have covered in this series. The main problem is centred around the fact that the theory of dualism was required to explain a religious ontology. Without this need then the conceptual difficulties it faces alone are sufficient reason for us to disregard it. Dualism is such an accepted ontological viewpoint in society, but when we question it we find that it is full of holes.

The next step is to start to look at what the theory of evolution means for our theories of self hood. Essentially, we have to take what we have learned so far and try to make some sense out of our traditional ideas of self hood within the context of evolutionary theory. What we will see is that, like the notion of dualism, our ideas evaporate under scrutiny and our conceptual presuppositions about the self were quite empty.  


Anonymous said...

Very thought provoking.

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