Thursday, November 3, 2011
This is the blog area for the Evangelical Philosophical Society and its journal, Philosophia Christi.
An able mind and a discernible external event?
R Scott Smith said:
For sure, we need a mind. :) But, what is a mind? Could it be, e.g., something that supervenes (& depends for its existence) upon the physical? Or, could it be a physical thing, just a different way of describing the brain, perhaps? Or does it need to be a range of capacities in a substance, an immaterial one at that?
I don't think that the first 2 options will work. It seems that to follow through on a process of knowing something (say, doing a series of scientific experiments, analyzing results, making correlations, coming to hold a belief) requires a literal sameness of the knowing person.
But how can we, if 'we' are but physical beings, whose identity constantly changes as the parts of my body (& brain) change?
And, it requires that we as knowers can use the data obtained via physical processes (e.g., making empirical observations, which require, e.g., a physical causal series of events that stimulate my optic nerve, which causes brain states). But, this process requires that I can have experiences, compare them with one another, even with memories of past ones, notice what is in common amongst them, & then form a concept. Plus, I can then take that concept & adjust it based upon further observations, or from the findings of others. But all this requires a deep noetic unity in me, the knower, which does not seem possible on either of these first 2 views.
Even more, somehow being able to experience something, or have a thought, desire, or belief all seem to require that these are "of" or "about" their objects, whether those objects obtain in the real world or not (like, my laptop vs. Pegasus, respectively). This is commonly called "intentionality." But, what kind of thing is it? Can it be accounted for by any ontology?