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Tuesday, 31 May 2005

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Sam

I think your approach to solving the mind body interactionism problem has a few problems. I am a latter day Cartesian and I am in complete agreement with you that the traditional objection to dualism is not even close to being a defeater, to use Plantinga’s jargon. A regularity theory of causation is a theory of causation, but does it correspond to what we experience? Why must we avoid direct causation of physical events by mental events? I have never read or heard anything to convince me that we should avoid it. My mind causes something to happen in my brain when I talk, walk, or make a funny face at my daughter. Obviously, we are not able to directly perceive this aspect of our minds; the precise details are unknown. Husserl might say it is ontologically immanent and epistemologically transcendent. If you or anyone else has made a discovery to the contrary, please let me know! I would suggest that the kinship of mind and matter is much closer than is often thought. In a personal interview with him, I found that Dallas Willard solves the problem in this way, “Mind is an energy that does not have to traverse space to have its effects.” Interesting statement to say the least. It implies direct causation of physical events by mental events. I think the theory of causation is important here, but the real problem is a metaphysic that excessively limits what mind energy can do. We make the mind like a ghostly entity which passes through material objects and only occasionally directly effects them. The statement above may be compatible with regularity causation, but it is also compatible with direct efficient mental causation of physical events. That is where I stand today.

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