I saw someone on TV who claimed that comparing a deeply indebted household with the deeply indebted U.S. government is a false analogy. Why? Because the government, unlike the citizen, has the power legally to print money. No doubt that is true and a point of disanalogy, but what surprised me was that neither the speaker nor his listeners seemed to see any problem with printing money in response to a debt crisis. The problem, of course, is that when a government does this it in effect counterfeits its own currency and reduces the buying power of existing dollars.
This got me thinking about counterfeiting. Why can't I engage in my own private stimulus program? I acquire the requisite equipment, print up a batch of C-notes and then spend them in parts of town that I deem need economic stimulus. Better yet, I simply give out grants gaining no benefits for myself. Is there a difference in principle between illegal counterfeiting and the legal 'counterfeiting' that the government engages in? If they can 'stimulate,' why can't I?
But I'm no economist, so I may be missing something. I guess I don't understand how real value can be conjured out of thin air. In this electronic age, you don't even need paper and there needn't be any actual printing. Suppose the Benevolent Hacker breaks into your bank account, not to transfer funds out or to transfer funds in from a legitimate source, but simply to add zeros to your account. You are suddenly richer 'on paper.' You convert this new found wealth into new cars and houses for yourself. Wouldn't that stimulate the economy to some extent?
And then this morning I saw Krazy Krugman on C-Span, a.k.a Paul Krugman, writer of crappy op-eds for Gotham's Gray Lady, his worst and most vile being this outburst re: the Tucson shooting. Krugman is not at all concerned that the national debt approaches 17 trillion. After all, as he brilliantly observed, the U.S. has its own currency, and it can print money! Not one of the C-Span callers called Krugman out on the consequences of inflating one's way out of debt. Obama, said Krugman, "got cold feet." He didn't stimulate enough!
Meanwhile conservatives stock up on grub, gold, guns, and 'lead.'
It would be very easy to be a property dualist in the philosophy of mind if one were also a substance dualist. What I am having trouble understanding is how a property dualist can be a substance monist. In contemporary discussions, the one category of substances is that of material substances. 'Property dualism,' then, is an abbreviated name for the position in the philosophy of mind according to which mental and physical properties are mutually irreducible -- hence the dualism -- but had by the only kind of substances there are, material substances. Hence the monism. But having employed the traditional jargon, I'll now drop the irridescent word 'substance' which will undoubtedly cause many to stumble and use 'particular' instead. A particular is an unrepeatable entity. It needn't be a continuant. Events and processes count as particulars.
To come directly to my difficulty. How can an irreducibly mental property be instantiated by a physical particular? An irreducibly mental property is one that is not identical with, or reducible to, any physical property. Examples of mental properties: being in pain; thinking about Thanksgiving dinner; having a blue sensation; wanting a cup of coffee. This post assumes that at least some mental properties are irreducibly mental. Various arguments have been given; this is not the place to rehearse them. An irreducibly physical property is one that is not identical with, or reducible to, any mental property. Examples of physical properties: impedance, ductility, motion, solubility, weighing 10 kg. I will assume that all physical properties are irreducibly physical. (It is not that I rule out idealism; it's that the goddess of blogging reminds me that brevity is the soul of blog.)
To further focus the question we need to exclude relational properties. Weaver's Needle has the property of being thought about by me now. So a physical particular has now an irreducibly mental property. But this is unproblematic because the property in question is relational: it does not affect the Needle in its intrinsic nature. But if my brain is what does the thinking in me, and I am thinking about Weaver's Needle, it is not so easy to understand how my brain, a physical thing, can have the irreducibly mental intrinsic property, thinking about Weaver's Needle. (If you think that is not an intrinsic property, substitute wanting a sloop, given that there is no particular sloop in existence that I want.)
So in what follows by 'irreducibly mental properties' I mean 'irreducibly mental intrinsic properties.'
My question is whether the following tetrad is consistent:
1. There are irreducibly mental properties. 2. There are irreducibly physical properties. 3. All particulars are physical particulars. 4. Some but not all particulars instantiate irreducibly mental and irreducibly physical properties.
You might think there is no problem. Color and shape properties are mutually irreducible. Yet some physical particulars instantiate both color and shape properties. A red ball is both red and spherical despite the mutual irreducibility of redness and sphericity. Imagine that the red ball is red all the way through and not red merely on its surface. This will preempt one from saying that the ball is red in virtue of a proper part of it being red.
So why can't mental and physical properties be had by one and the same physical particular? Doesn't the analogy show that the tetrad is consistent? Mental properties are to physical properties as color properties are to shape properties. Just as one and the same physical particular, a ball say, can be both red and spherical, one and the same particular, a brain (or a portion of a brain or an event or process in a brain) can be both located in a region of space and thinking about Boston or feeling nostalgic.
I will now argue that the analogy is hopeless.
A Point of Disanalogy
Colors and shapes are mutually irreducible, but they are also such that color properties cannot be instantiated without shape properties being instantiated, and vice versa. I am talking about colors and shapes in Sellars' "manifest image," colors and shapes as they appear to normal visual perceivers. No color is a shape; but it is also true that there are no colored particulars without shapes, and no shaped particulars without colors. This is a point of phenomenology. One cannot see a colored particular without seeing something that has some shape or other, and vice versa. (And this is so even if the particular is an after-image.) But only some material things are minds. So we have a disanalogy. Wherever a color property is instantiated, a shape property is instantiated, and wherever a shape property is instantiated, a color property is instantiated. But it is not the case that wherever a physical property is instantiated a mental property instantiated. There are plenty of physical particulars that lack mental features even if it is true that everything with mental features also has physical features. Why the asymmetry? This needs to be explained.
Mental Properties as Emergent Properties
Assuming that all particulars are physical particulars -- that there are no unembodied or disembodied or possibly disembodied minds -- why do only some particulars have mental properties? Probably the most plausible thing to say is that only some physical systems are sufficiently complex to 'give rise' to mentality. This implies that mental properties are emergent: they are system features that are not reducible to or explicable in terms of the properties of the parts of the system even when their causal interactions are taken into account.
Bear in mind that not every system feature is emergent. Suppose a wall is made of 1000 piled stones and nothing else, each stone weighing one lb. It follows that the system -- the wall -- weighs 1000 lbs. But the property of weighing 1000 lbs., though a property of the whole and not of any part, is not an emergent property. For it is determined by the properties of the parts. In a more complicated system, the parts causally interact in significant ways. (The stones in the wall interact too, but in insignificant ways.) Think of a wrist watch. The property of showing high noon, though a system property, is not an emergent property because it is determined by the properties and causal interactions of the parts.
An emergent property is one that is irreducible to the properties and causal interactions of the items in its emergence base, but somehow emerges from that emergence base and remains tied to it. The notion of emergence is a curious and possibly incoherent one, combining as it does the notions of irreducibility and dependency. An emergent property is dependent in that (i) it cannot exist uninstantiated, and (ii) it cannot exist unless the emergence base is sufficiently complex, and will continue to exist only as long as the emergence base retains its 'sufficient complexity.' An emergent property is irreducible in that it cannot be accounted for in terms of the properties and interactions of the items in the emergence base. This suggests that emergent properties are real iff they induce causal powers in their possessors above and beyond the causal powers that are explicable in terms of the items in the emergence base.
My point is that if only some physical systems exhibit mentality, namely, those systems that manifest a high degree of (biological) complexity, then the mental properties of these systems must be emergent properties, properties that induce special causal powers in their possessors. But then we must ask what are the possessors of these emergent mental properties. The system as a whole, no doubt. But what does that mean? The mereological sum of the physical items that make up the system in question? But a mereological sum is too frail a reed to support a property. Indeed, some see no real distinction at all between a sum and its members. We need something more substantial to serve as support of mental properties. But I am at a loss to say what that more substantial something is.
The argument so far is as follows. The red ball analogy fails because only some physical particulars instantiate irreducibly mental properties. This is readily explainable if irreducibly mental properties are emergent properties. Emergent properties are system properties, properties of complex (biological) systems. But then the question arises as to what these emergent properties are properties of. They can't be properties of the parts of a system taken distributively any more than the property of weighing 1000 lbs. can be taken to be a property of the stones composing a wall taken distributively. So emergent properties are properties of wholes or collections of some sort. But this seems problematic.
For one thing, there are many mental properties had by one minded organism. I see a javelina; I hear it; I smell it. All in the unity of one consciousness. The mental properties are not just instantiated; they are co-instantiated, instantiated in or by one thing. If Manny sees, Moe hears, and Jack smells, it does not follow that there is one minded organism that does all three. So if mental properties are emergent system properties we need to know which one item it is that instantiates them and unifies them. The brain as a whole? What does that mean? No matter how we construe wholes, whether as mereological sums, mathematical sets ordered or unordered, aggregates, what-have-you, no whole is 'substantiatial' enough to unify the various mental properties that minded organisms exhibit.
It is also unclear how a mere collection could be the subject of experience. The subject of experience is not merely the support and unifier of mental properties; it is also that which is aware (whether intentionally or non-intentionally) in virtue of the instantiation of the mental propertiers. How could the subject of experience be a collection of objects?
So I remain in the dark as to what exactly property dualism could be if it is supposed to be a coherent position. What is it exactly that instantiates mental properties on this view?
An excellent analogy. (HT: Ron Brinegar) But every analogy limps. There is no such thing as a perfect analogy. A perfect analogy would be an identity, and one cannot (usefully) compare a thing to itself. So, after enjoying Feynman's fine analogy, you should ask yourself what the points of disanalogy are.
The following is based partially on H. A. Wolfson, The Philosophy of the Church Fathers, Volume One: Faith, Trinity, Incarnation (Harvard University Press, 1956), pp. 359-363.
Hippolytus: The Logos comes from the Father as water from a fountain.
Tertullian: The Father is to the Logos as fountain is to river. One substance assumes two forms.
Lactantius: The Father is an overflowing fountain, the Son a stream flowing from it.
Zeno of Verona: Father and Son are two seas filled with the same water which, though two, are yet one.
Vallicella of Arizona: Water occurs in three distinct states, the gaseous, the liquid, and the solid. One and and the same quantity of water can assume any of these three states. Distinctness of states is compatible with oneness of substance.
Of the water analogies, I like the last one best (!) despite its being as worthless as the others. All four involve an equivocation on ‘substance.’ The sense in which water is a substance is not the sense in which God is a substance. Water is a substance in the sense of a stuff; God is a substance in the sense of a hypostasis (that which stands under) or hypokeimenon (that which is placed under), or as I prefer to say, an individual. Note also that a quantity of H2O can be in the three states only successively not simultaneously whereas God is 'simultaneously' the three Persons.
Of course, there are better physical analogies, light for example, and also nonphysical analogies such as the soul (Augustine). Something on this later. My only point is that these water analogies do nothing to render the Trinity doctrine intelligible, hence no one should be convinced by them.
Bill has argued that my murder-argument relies upon a faulty analogy. I have a very general response to this charge: while the murder-argument indeed relies upon an analogy, the analogy upon which it relies is one employed by the soul-theorists themselves. Thus, I contend that if the soul-theorists are entitled to a certain analogy, then I am entitled to use the very same analogy in order to marshal an argument against this or that aspect of the soul-hypothesis. And conversely, if I am not entitled to use a certain analogy, then the soul-theorists are not entitled to it either. But, as I shall show, if the soul-theorists are not entitled to the relevant analogy, then there is an even more direct argument than the murder-argument I have given to the conclusion that according to soul-theorists murder is not a grave moral wrongdoing. [What Peter means to say is not that soul-theorists officially maintain as part of their theory that murder is not a grave moral wrongdoing, but that, whether or not soul theorists realize it, soul-theory entails that murder is not a grave moral wrongdoing.]
There is such a thing as excessive concern with the body's health and excessive fear of its destruction. The body is to be used -- and used up. It is your vehicle here below; it is not you. It is an experience mill, so grind away. If thinking raises blood pressure, am I going to give up thinking? If reading weakens eyesight, will I give up reading? Physical health is a means, not an ultimate end. A healthy body aids the working out of my intellectual and spiritual salvation. But the point is to work out my intellectual and spiritual salvation.
Analogy. One takes good care of one's writing implements. But the point is to write something. The pencil achieves its end -- in both senses of the term -- by being used and used up. Similarly with the body and its organs.
So use the body, and use it up. You can't take it with you. But don't misuse it. Use it or lose it, but don't abuse it!
On this, the Feast of St. Augustine, it is fitting to meditate on an Augustinian passage. There is an interesting passage in On Christian Doctrine that suggests a way to think about the Incarnation. Commenting on the NT text, "the Word was made flesh and dwelt among us," Augustine writes:
In order that what we are thinking may reach the mind of the listener through the fleshly ears, that which we have in mind is expressed in words and is called speech. But our thought is not transformed into sounds; it remains entire in itself and assumes the form of words by means of which it may reach the ears without suffering any deterioration in itself. In the same way the Word of God was made flesh without change that He might dwell among us. (Bk 1, Ch. 13, LLA, 14; tr. D. W. Robertson, Jr.)
What we have here is an analogy. God the Son, the Word, is to the man Jesus of Nazareth as a human thought is to the sounds by means of which the thought is expressed and communicated to a listener. Just as our thoughts, when expressed in speech, do not become sounds but retain their identity as immaterial thoughts, so too the Word (Logos), in becoming man, does not lose its divine identity as the second person of the Trinity. Thought becomes speech without ceasing to be thought; God becomes man without ceasing to be God.