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6/26/2018 5:26 am  #1


Dissolving the Interaction Problem

The more I think of it the more sympathetic I become to the claim that the interaction problem merely begs the question against substance dualism. Why? Because it is implicitly asking the substance dualist to provide an explanation of mental and physical causality in terms of something more basic - the substance dualist denies this however since his or her entire claim is that the interaction between physical and mental is one of the basic species of causation and not further explicable in terms of anything like physical + physical causation. If one wants to know how  mind and body interact tell them to raise their arm - we are acquainted with this type of causality by  ostention and not by reductive definition.

(Note: material and immaterial causation is coherent on powers, counter-factual and regularity theories of causation. Whatever the explanation the critic wants is more than a formal analysis of causality. Likewise even atheists doubt that objecting to God's causality on the basis of God's immateriality is going to get them very far)

The critic can respond that if that is the case then we have no way of telling when physical processes influence non-physical mental ones. The substance dualist can bite back and say this is just a selective version of the problem of other minds - after all even if mental processes are reducible to physical ones we have no way of telling whether a physical process is really doing the work of a mind unless we see the entity in which it is realized displaying behavior analogus to that of a living organism we have already encountered.

Last edited by DanielCC (6/26/2018 6:24 am)

 

6/26/2018 10:34 am  #2


Re: Dissolving the Interaction Problem

Even if I agree with you, I think that's probably because of the billard balls model of actions which is pretty intuitive. If we take immaterial substance as some  ghostly balls, then immaterial-material interactions are surely unintelligibles.

 

6/26/2018 11:34 am  #3


Re: Dissolving the Interaction Problem

Ouros wrote:

Even if I agree with you, I think that's probably because of the billard balls model of actions which is pretty intuitive. If we take immaterial substance as some  ghostly balls, then immaterial-material interactions are surely unintelligibles.

That’s precisely it though, if one is implicitly thinking of causation as physical contact of course it will seem strange (and as others have shown that way of looking at causation leads to Humean issues and loses whatever intelligibility it had on the micro-level anyway).

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6/26/2018 12:01 pm  #4


Re: Dissolving the Interaction Problem

I think the problem can be restated as a problem of unity. If matter and spirit are different substances, then by virtue of what are they united? Since they're proposed substances, the mere existence of spirit and matter is not sufficient to give us a human being; they must be united. But their being substances means they're not essentially directed towards each other, unlike form and matter (in which there is already a natural structuring relation between the two). So it is at least more mysterious how and why they form a whole/interact. Is it the spirit that first attaches to the body? Why?

So I think it's still somewhat problematic. I agree it is sometimes oversold by critics, especially materialist ones tho; if I weren't a hylemorphist I'd be a substance dualist, at least it makes more sense than materialism when you consider the problems of reasoning, qualia, etc.

Last edited by Miguel (6/26/2018 12:01 pm)

 

6/26/2018 12:47 pm  #5


Re: Dissolving the Interaction Problem

Miguel wrote:

I think the problem can be restated as a problem of unity. If matter and spirit are different substances, then by virtue of what are they united? Since they're proposed substances, the mere existence of spirit and matter is not sufficient to give us a human being; they must be united. But their being substances means they're not essentially directed towards each other, unlike form and matter (in which there is already a natural structuring relation between the two). So it is at least more mysterious how and why they form a whole/interact. Is it the spirit that first attaches to the body? Why? .

How much of this boils down to general problems with reductionism though? A conscious entity might naturally be a composite of material and the immaterial substantial parts, just as, say, a molecule of water might be a fusion of H2O. One could even accept the hylemorphic claim that the soul separated from the body is an incomplete substance without the wider claim that the soul is the form of the body.

Related to the other minds issue, if we accept that the nature of living organisms, even purely material ones, are not reducible accounts from chemistry or physics, then we appear to have a necessary condition for having an immaterial mind = x material entity is capable of being bonded with a mind if x is capable of immanent causation. This is not a substance dualism that Descartes would have liked, but then again why should substance duellists be beholden to Cartesian physics?

One could ask why does a human necessarily involve an immaterial mind and an oak tree (as far as we can tell) necessarily not, but I think that’s a base level a postiori necessarily - the question is akin to asking why is Water composed of H2O rather XYY or why is colour necessarily accompanied by extension in visual space.

Last edited by DanielCC (6/26/2018 12:50 pm)

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6/26/2018 4:10 pm  #6


Re: Dissolving the Interaction Problem

The easy answer to the unity stuff is to just posit a sui generis relation between soul and body. Call it the ensoulment relation and give a truthmaker argument for it (unless you think each soul has to be had by a specific body).

(Of course, you're not going to be able to get a reductionist explanation out of a primitivist solution like this one, by e.g. explaining the ensoulment relation in terms of more fundamental relations. But the primitivist will say it's wrong to look for one.)

 

6/26/2018 4:13 pm  #7


Re: Dissolving the Interaction Problem

(Incidentally, the unity stuff may be a little besides the point. The interaction problem is a problem of efficient causation. It's an interesting question how the soul is unified with a body as its body, but a different one.)

 

6/26/2018 4:20 pm  #8


Re: Dissolving the Interaction Problem

>Why? Because it is implicitly asking the substance dualist to provide an explanation of mental and physical causality in terms of something more basic - the substance dualist denies this however since his or her entire claim is that the interaction between physical and mental is one of the basic species of causation


Not at all. Substance dualists are required to propose a shared property through which matter and mind can interact. Of course, if they can interact using the same property, then they are the same substance (monism).

 

6/26/2018 4:35 pm  #9


Re: Dissolving the Interaction Problem

Noble_monkey wrote:

Substance dualists are required to propose a shared property through which matter and mind can interact. Of course, if they can interact using the same property, then they are the same substance (monism).

No. They're not. http://cdn.boardhost.com/emoticons/grin.png

(Or at least, you're going to have to give us some reason for thinking they are.)

 

6/26/2018 4:37 pm  #10


Re: Dissolving the Interaction Problem

Noble_monkey wrote:

>Why? Because it is implicitly asking the substance dualist to provide an explanation of mental and physical causality in terms of something more basic - the substance dualist denies this however since his or her entire claim is that the interaction between physical and mental is one of the basic species of causation


Not at all. Substance dualists are required to propose a shared property through which matter and mind can interact. Of course, if they can interact using the same property, then they are the same substance (monism).

What do you mean by a shared property through which they can interact? All substance with causal powers will share properties e.g. high order properties such as ‘has causal powers’, and specific instances may share specific properties e.g. ‘has the power to melt ice’ in the case of God and a flame. Sharing properties does not entail monism. Immaterial substances lack some of the properties possessed by material substances but doesn’t imply they cannot share some properties.

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