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Friday, November 25, 2011


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Thanks for the post.

I think I agree with your rejection of emergent properties. That granted, your argument appears to be that, since property dualism claims that only some physical things carry mentality with them, this requires explanation. But this doesn't seem to show that property dualism is incoherent, as your last paragraph suggests. After all, the property dualist might just claim that it is a brute fact. Perhaps not very plausible, but surely coherent? As I recall, Chalmers claims that there is a psycho-physical law connecting functional systems of a sufficient complexity with consciousness, and that is that. I don't think he is an emergentist.

But let me take a swipe or two.

"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'm not sure about this. Suppose a platonic theory of properties is correct. Do you think the property of red is red? Surely it is. But, equally surely, the property of red lacks spatial arrangement (we assume platonism, remember). So redness is there instantiated without any shapely correlate.

I'm tempted to say that it is only bounded colours that have shapes, the shape supervening on the boundary conditions. This would mean that if I thought of an unbounded expanse of colour it would have no shape. But it might still arguably instantiate spatial qualities, if not ones of shape ('expanse', etc.).

A similar case is simply thinking of red. My thought instantiates it, but it doesn't appear to instantiate a determinate shape. But perhaps an indeterminate shape is a shape nevertheless. And again it seems a stretch to claim that no spatial properties are instantiated, although I'm not really sure – these are murky waters.


My analogy is messy and unclear. But I don't need one in any case since I am arguing against property dualism. The burden is one my opponents to give analogies.

Your Platonic argument is very interesting.

One way redness could be red is if redness is a trope. But then it has a shape.

If redness is a universal, then it is either capable of existing unexemplified or not. If the latter, then redness is never perceived wthout a shapeley correlate.

If the former, if redness is a transcendent universal, then it is arguably not self-exemplifying. For how could an intelligible object (as opposed to a sensible object) be red? That makes no sense.

Anoher reader brought up the blue sky. What shape does it have? The shape of a hemisphere? He also brought up holes. A hole has shape but no color.

>>A similar case is simply thinking of red. My thought instantiates it,<<

I don't think so. To think of red is not to have a red thought. So your thought, your act of thinking, does not instantiate redness. You are equivocating on 'red.' A red thought is not red in the same sense as a red ball is red. One could, however, say that a red thought is analogically red in that it is a thought of a red thing. I seem to recall Sellars discussing this in Science and Metaphysics.

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