Searle Essay, Research PaperSolving the Mind-Body Problem: Dualism vs. Searle & # 8221 ; It is galvanizing to recognize how much disbelief is necessary to do belief possible. & # 8221 ; & gt ; 1. Introduction & gt ; While John Searle exposes the mistakes of materialists, dualists can merely be delighted.
Searle and dualists, both minorities in academic doctrine of head, have something important in common: Namely, they agree that mental provinces as standardly conceived exist ; they are non & # 8220 ; truly & # 8221 ; semblances, behaviour, maps, or computing machine plans. Denial of the world of the mental, instead than being the necessary deduction of scientific discipline, is in fact a deeply unscientific effort to state that world can merely incorporate what our theories adequately account for. Despite these points of understanding, Searle & # 8217 ; s solution to the mind-body job is professedly anti-dualistic ; and even if he requested admittance to the dualist cantonment, it is likely that they should be uneasy to have him.
This paper compares and contrasts the Searlean and Manichaean solutions to the mind-body job ; it so argues that dualism is a absolutely equal theory of the head and Searle & # 8217 ; s position is not. & gt ; 2. The Mind-Body Problem & gt ; In his plants in the doctrine of head, John Searle claims to work out the topic & # 8217 ; s cardinal job: how the head relates to the remainder of the universe. His solution to this job, in bend, leads him to his places on the other chief inquiries about the head & # 8212 ; most significantly, the jobs of interaction and free will. & gt ; What precisely is Searle & # 8217 ; s solution? It consists in two simple propositions: & gt ; 1. The head is caused by the brain.AND2. The head is a characteristic of the brain.
& gt ; As Searle puts it, & # 8220 ; Mental phenomena are caused by neurophysiological procedures in the encephalon and are themselves characteristics of the brain. & # 8221 ; [ 1 ] There is nil extremist about this claim, he insists, because it competently parallels a host of non-controversial relationships that modern scientific discipline has thoroughly studied. Searle & # 8217 ; s favourite illustration is the liquidity-H20 relationship. The characteristic of liquidness that we observe in H2O, says Searle, is caused by the underlying molecular characteristics of H2O. At the same clip, liquidness is non some excess belongings that floats on top of the H2O molecules ; it is the molecules, or instead one characteristic of the molecules. The important impression here, Searle explains, it that of degrees of description. Frequently, we can depict something either at the micro- or the macro-level. In all of these instances, the macro-level is caused by the micro-level, and is at the same clip indistinguishable with the micro-level ( or a feature thereof ) .
On this theoretical account, the head is a macro-level belongings of the encephalon, and the nerve cells are the micro-level of the encephalon ; it is hence true, says Searle, that the head is both caused by the nerve cells and at the same clip merely is a characteristic of the nerve cells. One expressed deduction of this position is that the mental is besides physical. It is a error, says Searle, to split the universe up into physical and mental ; everything is physical ; there merely go on to be mental physical things and non-mental physical things. & gt ; To Searle may be contrasted the Manichaean attack.
I am non cognizant that any other philosopher holds exactly the same theory of the head that I do ; but it should be clear that I fall in the dualist cantonment. In any instance, it is my ain version and merely that version of dualism that I am showing and supporting. & gt ; With that caution aside, allow me explicate what I think the truth about the relationship between the head and the encephalon is. Contra Searle, the head is caused by the encephalon, but the head and the encephalon are two separate entities. The head is a mental entity, and the encephalon is a physical one. You can non hold a head without a encephalon, but however they are non one and the same thing. Both exist and are to the full existent ; but they are different things.
Since Searle gives some analogies to explicate his position, so will I. The relationship between the head and the encephalon is like that of a edifice to its foundation: you can non hold a edifice without a foundation to back up it, but however a edifice and its foundation are two distinguishable entities. Here is 2nd analogy: the relationship between the head and the encephalon is like that of an spaceman to his starship: the spaceman can non last without his starship, but however the spaceman and the starship are two distinguishable entities.
& gt ; The reader familiar with the usual spirits of dualism, substance dualism and belongings dualism, will observe that my position does non neatly fall into either class. It is non substance dualism because, harmonizing to normal philosophic use, a & # 8220 ; substance & # 8221 ; is something able to be all by itself. But harmonizing to me the head depends upon the encephalon causally ; the head could non be all by itself ; hence it is non a substance. Neither is my position belongings dualism ; for the kernel of a belongings is that it could non even be conceived as bing apart from something else. For illustration, & # 8220 ; whiteness & # 8221 ; could non even be imagined to be all by itself ; the ground is that it is a belongings, non an independent thing.
But we can gestate of the head all by itself ; hence it is non a belongings. A even stronger statement against belongings dualism is that if there are mental belongingss but no mental entities, it would be ill-defined what made all of my mental provinces mine, how they could be experienced as the mental provinces of a individual, incorporate topic. But the integrity of the head, the impossibleness of analysing it into a staccato sequence of distinct mental provinces without go forthing out something indispensable, is one of its cardinal characteristics which merely must be accounted for. & gt ; What so is the head? It is an entity ; we learn through empirical observation that it requires the encephalon to be, so it is non a substance ; but it is non a belongings because it can be conceived of as an independent existent, and because the head is a integrity. We are already overloaded in philosophic slang ; but if I had to give my position a name, it would be & # 8220 ; entity-dualism. & # 8221 ; The content of this position is simple: the head and the encephalon are two different things ; the head could non be without the encephalon ; and the head is non simply a belongings of the encephalon but an entity. & gt ; Whatever other dualists have said, on my position the mental and the physical are non & # 8220 ; two separate realms.
& # 8221 ; They are really different, but they all exist in one & # 8220 ; realm. & # 8221 ; How are the mental and the physical different? They are different in many ways, but we all understand the of import 1s. The physical things are affair and energy ; they are both indestructible and can transform into one another ; and they are unconscious. Matter has extension and mass, and energy at least could potental hold these properties since it can transform into affair.
The mental, in contrast, is destructible and can non alter into either affair or energy ; it lacks and could ne’er get extension or mass ; and most distinctively, the mental is witting. [ 2 ] Since this position overlaps closely with common sense, it should be easy to understand. & gt ; Searle has said that it is at the same time true that the encephalon causes the head and that the head is a higher-level characteristic of the encephalon. That appears about incoherent. It seems that something can be indistinguishable with something else, or be caused by something else, but non both.
I am non the first individual to do this unfavorable judgment, and Searle has a carefully prepared answer: & # 8220 ; Place [ a critic of Searle ] is believing of instances such as & # 8216 ; These footmarks can be causally dependent on the places of the burglar, but they can & # 8217 ; T besides be indistinguishable with those shoes. & # 8217 ; But how approximately & # 8216 ; The liquid province of this H2O can be causally dependent on the behaviour of the molecules, and can besides be a characteristic of the system made up of the molecules & # 8217 ; ? & # 8221 ; [ 3 ] & gt ; The really kernel of Searle & # 8217 ; s solution, he explains, is to deny both that ( 1 ) The head is a different thing than the encephalon, ( 2 ) The head can & # 8217 ; t do anything. As Searle puts the evident quandary, & # 8220 ; Either you have dualism and an unintelligible history of causing or you have an apprehensible history of causing and abandon the thought of the causal efficaciousness of the mental in favour of some version of the individuality thesis with an attendent epiphenomenalism of the mental facets of psycho-physical events. & # 8221 ; [ 4 ] He thinks that he solves this job by stating that the head is a higher-level facet of the encephalon ; hence, since the head is itself physical, causing is imaginable, and since it is a higher-level characteristic, causing is possible and so existent. Just as an detonation is caused by motions of molecules and is at the same clip indistinguishable with the motions of molecules, so excessively the head is caused by the encephalon and is a characteristic of the brain. & gt ; If Searle & # 8217 ; s H20-liquidity and molecular movement-explosion illustrations were echt cases of causing and individuality at one and the same clip, his instance might be strong. However, he is merely incorrect to believe that there are any illustrations of coincident causing and individuality.
The detonation International Relations and Security Network & # 8217 ; Ts caused by molecular motion ; it is molecular motion ; liquidness isn & # 8217 ; Ts caused by H20 ; it merely is a characteristic of H20. & gt ; The cogent evidence of this is rather simple. Searle places all of the weight of his statement on the alleged & # 8220 ; different degrees of description. & # 8221 ; But & # 8212 ; as Searle has pointed out in his review of cognitivism & # 8212 ; we must be careful to separate those properties that are intrinsic from those that are observer-relative. As he explains the differentiation, & # 8220 ; The looks & # 8216 ; mass, & # 8217 ; graviational attractive force, & # 8217 ; and & # 8216 ; molecule & # 8217 ; name characteristics of the universe that are intrinsic. If all perceivers and users ceased to be, the universe still contains mass, graviational attractive force, and molecules. But looks such as & # 8216 ; nice twenty-four hours for a field day, & # 8217 ; & # 8216 ; bathing tub, & # 8217 ; and & # 8216 ; chair & # 8217 ; make non call intrinsic characteristics of world. Rather, they name objects by stipulating some characteristic that has been assigned to them, some characteristic comparative to perceivers and users.
& # 8221 ; [ 5 ] What sort of property are these & # 8220 ; degrees of description & # 8221 ; ? Well, there aren & # 8217 ; t any & # 8220 ; degrees & # 8221 ; in a thing apart from perceivers & # 8212 ; the thing merely exists. There are as many & # 8220 ; degrees & # 8221 ; as there are ways to detect something ; and if there were no perceivers, there could be no & # 8220 ; levels. & # 8221 ; Therefore, the degrees are observer-relative. Now, it makes no sense to state that observer-relative properties cause anything ; these attributes aren & # 8217 ; T in the things observed at all, but are instead assigned to the universe by perceivers. So how could the degrees be causally inter-acting when they aren & # 8217 ; t intrinsic to the universe at all? We can & # 8217 ; t make new causal dealingss merely by looking at one and the same object from different positions. At first glimpse my place appears to take to a unusual decision.
Wouldn & # 8217 ; t this mean that, for illustration, liquidness couldn & # 8217 ; t truly do anything? Wouldn & # 8217 ; t that be an observer-relative characteristic ( along, presumptively, with the remainder of the universe we straight experience ) ? This ab initio perplexing expostulation misunderstands what portion of the universe I claim is observer-relative. All of the characteristics that we perceive, at higher and lower degrees likewise, are intrinsic and have causal powers. The point is merely that these things don & # 8217 ; t get or lose intrinsic properties when we look at them on different degrees ( though it may be easier to spot certain belongingss on a peculiar degree ) . This is because there is no intrinsic characteristic of a thing that demands that it be & # 8220 ; split up & # 8221 ; into any peculiar degrees ; alternatively, the degrees get attributed by perceivers, i.e. , they are observer-relative. And these observer-relative characteristics, virtually by definition, can non hold any causal powers & # 8212 ; since in a cardinal sense they aren & # 8217 ; T in the thing at all.Water exists ; we can look at it on the micro-level and on the macro-level.
But that doesn & # 8217 ; t intend that the degrees are doing anything ; it means we have two different positions on one and the same event. Now we may slackly speak about H20 molecules & # 8220 ; doing & # 8221 ; the behaviour of H2O, but they do nil of the sort. Learning about the molecules helps us understand why the behaviour of the macro-level is the manner that it is ; but the relationship is individuality and merely individuality. To deny this is to accept the absurd position that we can make new causal dealingss in the universe merely by detecting them from extra positions.
And the same goes a fortiori for the head and the encephalon. If the head is simply a characteristic of the encephalon, the two can & # 8217 ; t causally relate ; if they two causally relate, they can & # 8217 ; t be indistinguishable. Searle & # 8217 ; s quandary remains unscathed.This is the first unfavorable judgment of Searle & # 8217 ; s position. Second, we may convey up the expostulations of Thomas Nagel, which, though non specifically directed at Searle, however use.
What is interesting about these expostulations is non so much the expostulations themselves but Searle & # 8217 ; s answer to them ; for as I shall demo Searle & # 8217 ; s defence of himself could merely as easy be used by me to support my theory against Searle.Nagel & # 8217 ; s cardinal unfavorable judgment of any solution to the mind-body job is that we lack the needed conceptual setup to even get down to decide the trouble. Causal accounts in scientific discipline are necessary. Given the theory, the ascertained effects must follow. Given the molecular composing of H20, for illustration, its solidness, liquidness, etc. is purely deducible. But no necessary connexion exists between the physical and the mental.
No affair how much we know about the encephalon, we could ne’er infer a individual mental predicate.We might province Nagel & # 8217 ; s objection even more strongly. As Michael Huemer has pointed out, it is logically impossible to infer any mental statement from any non-mental statement. [ 6 ] Just as Hume said that we can ne’er infer any & # 8220 ; ought & # 8221 ; statement from any & # 8220 ; is & # 8221 ; statement, or merely as we will ne’er infer anything about geometry from non-geometrical statements, so excessively will we ne’er deduce mental facts from physical 1s. Even if we knew everything about the physical universe of molecules, forces, spins, etc. , we would non be able to foretell the most fiddling mental fact unless we smuggled a mental premiss into the argument.Searle has three responses to Nagel ; they are rather uncovering.
First, says Searle, non all scientific accounts demand necessity ; for illustration, gravitation appears to be merely a beastly fact, non a necessary deduction of anything more basic. Second, there is a sort of necessity in mental-physical causing even now: informant a adult male shouting with his manus caught in a punch- imperativeness, says Searle in consequence, and state him that he is non needfully in hurting. Third, this deficiency of sensed necessity may simply be epistemological. It might really good be, but we are excessively heavy to see it.As usual, Searle gives a comprehensive answer to his critics. Alas, this answer proves far excessively much. We have to reject dualism, Searle has repeated once more and once more, because the dualists could ne’er explicate how the head and encephalon interact.
With apparent incredulity, Searle asks, & # 8220 ; Are we supposed to believe that our ideas and feelings can somehow bring forth chemical effects on our encephalons and the remainder of our nervous system? How could such a thing occur? Are we supposed to believe that the ideas can wrap themselves around the axons or agitate the dendrites or mouse inside the cell wall and assail the cell nucleus? & # 8221 ; [ 7 ] Apparently, dualism can merely be true if we can depict the mechanism. But if Searle & # 8217 ; s answer to Nagel is valid ( and I think it is ) , so it is unfastened to me to state to Searle merely what Searle said to Nagel. Namely: 1.
It could merely be a beastly fact that when you get a working encephalon a head appears, and these two causally interact. Merely as we don & # 8217 ; t need a nonnatural tax write-off to reason that gravitation exists, neither do we necessitate to depict the mechanism of mind-brain causing before we can reason that it is real.2.
Anyhow, there is a kind of necessity between the interaction of the head and the encephalon. As Searle suggests, it might be a leading facie necessary truth that when a cat gets his manus stuck in a punch-press, he has to be in pain.3. Merely because we don & # 8217 ; t ( and possibly can & # 8217 ; t ) understand how the head and encephalon interact doesn & # 8217 ; t mean that they don & # 8217 ; t.
When I presented this statement in talk to Searle, he replied in the undermentioned manner. Since on his position, the mental is besides physical, it is obvious that mental things could causally interact with non-mental things, since they are both physical. It might be difficult to understand how they relate, but it is non difficult to understand that they could associate. In contrast, said Searle, dualism postulates & # 8220 ; two kingdoms, & # 8221 ; which makes it difficult to imagine even the possibility of interaction, much less a mechanism for interaction.
I am non certain which dualists Searle is believing of who use this & # 8220 ; two realms & # 8221 ; impression ; I suspect that he lumps together dualists with a concealed spiritual docket ( e.g. , Descartes ) with dualists who see it as the best description of the manner that the ascertained universe plant.
In any instance, as I specified, my dualism does non state that there are two kingdoms. It says that there is one kingdom which contains two instead different types of things: mental things and physical things. If two really different types of physical things can interact ( e.g. , colour and temperature ) , why couldn & # 8217 ; t two really different types of existents interact ( e.g.
, mental and physical ) ? By now I have shown why Searle & # 8217 ; s solution to the mind-body job merely doesn & # 8217 ; t work. In peculiar, he gives deficient attentiveness to his ain impression of intrinsic vs. observer-relative characteristics ; because if he did mind this differentiation, he would recognize that different degrees of description are observer-relative, non intrinsic ; therefore different degree characteristics of one thing can non & # 8220 ; interact & # 8221 ; ; hence something can non be both caused by X and be indistinguishable with X ; hence Searle & # 8217 ; s solution to the mind-body job fails. I have besides shown how Searle handily provides dualists with the proper response to his ain unfavorable judgments. In peculiar, we don & # 8217 ; t need to explicate how mental-physical interactions go on before we can accept dualism. It is possible that their interaction is merely a beastly fact like gravitation ; or possibly the restriction is simply epistemic.With that out of the manner, we may travel to the important inquiry: What is the grounds for my position? The best grounds is merely observation of our ain heads. When I introspect ( another Searlean no-no, but that is a subject for another paper ) , I observe ideas, beliefs, strivings, and so on.
They are truly at that place. Morever, they are non drifting indiscriminately about, like Hume thought. Rather they are all predicates of one and the same thing ; they are bound together, incorporate. But this thing to which they belong can besides be observed by self-contemplation ; and like the ideas, beliefs, and strivings, it lacks all of the indispensable characteristics of the physical: spatial property, mass, etc. It is non merely that I don & # 8217 ; t see what its mass is ; I see positively that it has none. And this entity of which single mental provinces are predicated is the head. If you doubt that there is a mental entity inside of you, delight look once more.
Not merely is at that place a mental entity & # 8220 ; inside & # 8221 ; me ; but I basically am that mental entity & # 8212 ; it is one and the same thing that I speak of when I speak of my & # 8220 ; self. & # 8221 ; The bottom line is this: My position should non be difficult to accept, because intuitively this is what we all think. Merely after people learn some doctrine do they get down to doubt this. But as I think Searle & # 8217 ; s answer to Nagel shows, the uncertainties are illegitimate.My position better explains the facts than Searle & # 8217 ; s for two grounds. First, his impression that the head can at the same time be caused by the encephalon and be a characteristic of the encephalon is incorrect ; relationships like that merely can & # 8217 ; t exist. I accept the former and deny the latter: The head is causally dependent on the encephalon, but is non indistinguishable with it. As for the allegedly attendent job of explicating how the causal nexus works, Searle has solved the job for me with his threefold answer to Nagel.
In amount, my position is both internally consistent and intuitive, and Searle & # 8217 ; s is neither.Second, my position has echt empirical content and Searle & # 8217 ; s does non. Searle says that the mental is besides physical ; but I think that this stretches the significances of mental and physical wholly out of form. When an eliminative materialist, for illustration, says that world is all physical, he leaves his theory unfastened to empirical disproof. To demo that the eliminativist is incorrect, we need simply find a individual mental province, at which point he must state, & # 8220 ; Reality isn & # 8217 ; t all physical after all. & # 8221 ; Searle, in contrast, will name anything that exists physical, even if it has no mass, extension, etc. I suppose that if we found some diabolic liquors, he would state that they were besides & # 8220 ; physical. & # 8221 ; But what so, for Searle, is the significance of & # 8220 ; physical & # 8221 ; ? He seemingly will re-define it to include anything that we discover to be.
But in that instance, the antecedently meaningful ( though faithlessly ) individuality statement & # 8220 ; being is physical & # 8221 ; loses all of its content. Searle & # 8217 ; s universe, in consequence, interrupt down every bit follows: existents & # 8212 ; physical existents & # 8212 ; non-mental physical existents and mental physical existents. The Manichaean classification is simpler and more to the point: existents & # 8212 ; physical existents and mental existents. ( See diagram 1. ) Dualism is, furthermore, confirmable: it would be false if ( a ) There were no mental things, or ( B ) If a 3rd type of thing, say angels or God, existed. Once once more, the dualist & # 8217 ; s breakdown of the universe is both more internally consistent and more intuitive than Searle & # 8217 ; s.
3. The Problem of InteractionFor the interest of statement, allow us accept that Searle & # 8217 ; s position of the head is right, and so see whether he has truly solved the job that dualism allegedly laminitiss upon: the job of interaction. It seems to be an obvious fact that my head can do my organic structure to make things ( and frailty versa ) , and Searle admits that this is so. He so claims that his position makes the causal efficaciousness of the mental easy to understand, and in Intentionality he even diagrams out the form of causing. If you glance at the diagrams ( p.269, my diagram 2 ) you will see that for each simple & # 8220 ; A causes B & # 8221 ; relationship, Searle produces a four-cornered diagram with four causal pointers.
The lower half of the diagram indicates the micro-level, and the higher half indicates the macro-level. In each instance, the micro-level & # 8220 ; causes and realizes & # 8221 ; its correlate macro-level ; and at the same clip, A causes B at both degrees of description. Searle applies this four-cornered diagram to the detonation in the cylinder of an internal burning engine.
On the macro-level, a rise in temperature causes the detonation in the cylinder ; on the micro-level, the motion of single negatrons between electrodes causes the oxidization of single hydrocarbon molecules. But these two degrees are non independent. Rather, the motion of single negatrons between electrodes & # 8220 ; causes and realizes & # 8221 ; the rise in temperature, and the oxidization of single hydrocardon molecules & # 8220 ; causes and realizes & # 8221 ; the detonation in the cylinder.And, says Searle, the head and organic structure interact in the same manner.
( See Intentionality, p.270, my diagram 3. ) On the macro-level, an intention-in-action causes a bodily motion ; on the micro-level, the single nerve cell fires cause physiological alterations. But these two degrees are connected causally, excessively. The single nerve cell fires cause and recognize the intention-in-action, and the physiological alterations cause and recognize the bodily motion. What could be simpler? The consequence of this position, Searle explains, is that the mental is rather able to do physical things ; the mental makes a causal difference. Or, as Searle tells us, & # 8220 ; on such a theoretical account, the mental phenomena are no more epiphenomenal than the rise in temperature of the fire of a flicker plug. & # 8221 ; [ 8 ] I remain unconvinced.
Return to Searle & # 8217 ; s diagram and you will detect that the pointers from the micro- to the macro-levels move in merely one way. ( Searle does advert that we could pull a diagonal from the macro-level of A to the micro-level of B, but at no point indicates that the macro-level of A or B could do its correlate micro-level. ) The causing ever moves bottom-up, ne’er top-down. In order for the macro-level mental cause, such as the intention-in-action, to even go on the micro-level has to originate the cause. It is non simply the instance that the head needs to hold a encephalon to be ; in order for any mental cause to go on, a neural cause must do and recognize that mental cause.
The bottom line so, is that the mental ( the macro-level phenomena ) is ever an consequence of the nerve cells ( the micro-level ) , but can non itself cause the nerve cells to make something. In other words, I could at this minute usage my head to do my arm to travel. Andif the explantion were that simple, there would be mental causing in the true sense. But harmonizing to Searle, my mental province was itself caused by the nerve cells of my encephalon.
My intention-in-action is simply a higher-level position on the nerve cells, which originate the causal sequence. In what sense, so, is the mental causally efficacious on Searle & # 8217 ; s position? Notice the dissymmetry between a Searlean history of the encephalon doing something in the head and the head doing something in the encephalon. If my nerve cells do me to go rummy, for illustration, Searle could stand for this with a individual up-pointing pointer from the nerve cells to the bibulous province. But if decide to raise my arm, Searle does non change by reversal the way of the causal pointer. Alternatively, he says that my nerve cells foremost do and recognize my purpose to raise my arm, and so the bodily motion occurs.
When the encephalon causes the head to make something , Searle draws an arrow from the neurons to the mind; but when the mind causes the brain to do something, Searle draws an arrow from the neurons to the mind to the neurons again. In no case does Searle begin the causal sequence with the mind. Given this, it is simply inconsistent for him say that the mind is causally efficacious.In fact, there is quite a bit of textual evidence that Searle admits precisely this point. In an especially revealing passage he informs us that, “Our basic explanatory mechanisms in physics work from the bottom up. Mental features are caused by, and realised in neurophysiological phenomena.
But we get causation from the mind to the body, that is we get top-down causation over a passage of time; and we get top-down causation over time because the top level and the bottom level go together. But the top-down causation works only because the mental events are grounded in neurophysiology to start with.” (emphasis added) Searle makes this point in his discussion of free will; but it also implies that even deterministic mental causation is impossible. The truth of this follows from two premises, both of which Searle accepts. First, the mind is merely a higher-level feature of the brain. Second, valid causal explanations (excepting those through time) always work from the lower-levels to the higher-levels, never the other way around. From this it follows that the mind could never cause anything unless it were itself caused by the brain.
And this is precisely what epiphenomenalism amounts to — the denial that the mental genuinely makes a causal difference. Let me emphasize that this point has nothing to do with free will; Searle’s theory of the mind makes genuine mental causation impossible, even deterministic mental causation. Yet this is the very counter-intuitive proposition that Searle was trying to avoid when he came up with his theory of the mind; because it is absurd to say that my intentions-in-action make no causal difference.
Even if Searle’s view were correct, then, it winds up denying the common-sense truths with which his theory is supposedly consistent.To this we may compare my dualistic theory of the mind. On my view, it is just a brute fact that the mind can causally affect the brain and the brain can causally affect the mind. Mind- to-brain causation need not be reduced to something else; it is fully real. Searle, if you recall, has no problem with brain-to-mind causation; but he tries to show that mind-to-brain causation is actually neuron-to-mind-to-neuron causation. Yet when he does this, he winds up unable to say that the mental makes a causal difference.
I refuse to paint myself into that corner: the mind really causes changes in the brain, and this fact is irreducible to any other causal relationship. Rather than making mind-brain causation incoherent, as Searle accuses dualism of doing, only dualistic theories can naively embrace the common-sense truth that the mental makes a causal difference.I illustrate this view in diagram 4.
The mind can cause changes in both the mind and the brain; the brain can cause changes in both the mind and the brain. The brain “sustains” the mind, in the sense that humans need to have a brain to have a mind; but they are not identical. I diagram this relationship by drawing arrows marked “cause” from the mind to the mind and the brain, and from the brain to the mind and the brain. The illustrate the state relationship between the mind and the brain with the solid pillars, with arrows indicatisince they are just two perspectives on one event. As in Searle’s diagram, my diagram has four arrows; but in my diagram all of the four arrows refer to one and the same causal instantiation. Since “rise in temperature”=”movement of individual electrons between electrodes” and “explosion in cylinder”=”oxidation of individual hydrocarbon molecules,” if one of the former terms causes one of the latter terms, we could, with equal validity, diagram the causal change in any of four possible ways.
To wit: “rise in temperature” causes “explosion in cylinder” could, with equal validity, be diagramed as “rise in temperature” causes “oxidation of individual hydrocarbon molecules”; “movement of individual electrons between electrodes” causes explosion in cylinder”; or finally, “movement of individual electrons between electrodes” causes oxidation of individual hydrocarbon molecules.”The reader will notice how my account of a spark plug firing differs from my account of the mind-brain relationship. In the first place, the relationship between the micro-level and macro-level of the spark plug firing is identity, whereas the relationship between the mind and the brain is that the mind is causally dependent on the brain, but not identical with it. Secondly, (and following from the first point) all four descriptions of the spark plug firing (see above) are equally valid descriptions of one and the same event. But since the mind is not identical with the brain, the four possible types of causation (i.e., mind-brain, mind-mind, brain-mind, and brain-brain) are not identical.
Indeed, they are mutually exclusive. It might be, for example, that when the brain causes a change in the brain, the brain also causes a change in the mind; but there would be two distinct causal instantiations here, not two views on one and the same causal event.Searle’s reply is not too difficult to anticipate: “But how does it work?” Yet as the last section showed, Searle himself admits that there are many brute facts in the world, such as gravity, which we accept as real even though we have no explanation of how they work; and even if we cannot see the mechanism, it still might be there. This demand for an explanation of “how” before we will accept the “what”, made by Searle and materialists alike, is confused. Normally, the “what” is what we know for sure, while the “how” is accepted only tentatively, only so long as its predictions match up with our observations. Observations trump explanations; if an observation is inconsistent with an explanation, it is the explanation that must go, not the observations.There is another reason why the unconditional demand for a mechanism is mistaken.
Imagine that we get an explanation of any observation. At this point, it is still open to us to request a deeper explanation, an explanation of the explanation. And if we find that, we can look for an explanation of the explanation of the explanation — and so on.
But eventually we must come down to the brute fact: This is the way that it works, and there is no additional reason. In the end we bottom out in brute facts, facts for which we have no further explanation. Does this show that all of our observations are invalid? I doubt it; what I think it shows is that we do not always require an explanation in order to have knowledge. In many cases we do; but if something is a brute fact, such that no further explanation is possible, then it isn’t necessary either. Explanations have but limited utility; they are useful so long as we deal with facts for which a further explanation exists. But when we reach the brute facts, explanation is neither possible nor necessary.
It may very well be that the causal interaction of the mind and the brain is one of these brute facts. Since no one has come up with a remotely plausible scientific theory about their interaction, and since it is logically impossible to deduce a mental statement from a non-mental statement, the mind-brain interaction is a likely candidate. This doesn’t mean that I am sure that no explanation is possible; maybe one day someone will show that this “brute fact” is not a brute fact at all, but one capable of a simple explanation.
The point is that we don’t need to wait for this explanation before we can accept my view. We can gather all of the needed evidence for that if we merely turn inwards and observe.4.
The Problem of Free WillThere is no need to show that Searle’s view leads to the denial of free will; he freely admits it. “In order for us to have radical freedom, it looks as if we would have to postulate that inside each of us was a self that was capable of interfering with the causal order of nature. That is, it looks as if we would have to contain some entity that was capable of making molecules swerve from their paths.
I don’t if such a view is even intelligible, but it’s certainly not consistent with what we know about how the world works from physics. And there is not the slightest evidence to suppose that we should abandon physical theory in favor of such a view.” Since Searle has said that the mind is merely a higher-level feature of the brain, and the brain is made up of neurons, and neurons certainly don’t have any free will, the mind has no free will. Searle’s doubts about free will stem from his whole bottom-up model of explanation; to him it just seems incoherent to think that the higher-level could in turn cause the lower-level. With evident skepticism, Searle remarks: “The naive idea here is that consciousness gets squirted out by the behavior of the neurons in the brain, but once it has been squirted out, it then has a life of its own.
” Such a thing would, he says, violate the weakest principle of the transitivity of causation.Unlike other philosophers who intellectually accept determinism, Searle admits that free will seems to be an obvious fact. After all of his philosophizing, he continues to act on the assumption of free will.
In a rather disheartened admission Searle tells us, “the experience of the sense of alternative possibilities is built into the very structure of conscious, voluntary, intentional human behavior. For that reason, I believe, neither this discussion nor any other will ever convince us that our behavior is unfree.” At the end of his reflections, Searle finds himself driven to pragmatism: he cannot see how free will is consistent with everything he knows, but he continues to believe that he is free all the same.
When we reach a view that so manifestly contradicts experience, such as the denial of free will, it is time to check our basic premises. Searle’s basic premise, as explained earlier, is that the mind is a higher-order feature of the brain. But it doesn’t take much insight to see that this leads to determinism: for if the brain is deterministic, and the mind is a feature of the brain, then the mind must be deterministic as well.But these conflicting observations are actually a great point in favor of dualism. For if the brain is determined and the mind is not, they can’t be the same. Now it should be stressed that one could easily be a dualist and a determinist at the same time; one could say that every mental event was necessitated by prior mental events, so that they are deterministic even though they are not physical. However, the reality of free will is a central feature of my theory of the mind.
Let me first explain its content and then give the most convincing arguments in its favor.My view is that the mind is causally dependent on the brain. All that this means is that minds don’t float around by themselves; they aren’t ghosts in the machine; they are simply another development of evolution, not visitors from another dimension. But that is the limit of the causal dependence; once the mind exists, it can both be influenced by and influence the brain (and thereby the rest of the body). One basic feature of this mind is that it has freedom. This does not mean the freedom to do anything — for example, I don’t think that my memory, emotions, or intelligence do what I want automatically. But I do at least have freedom over my beliefs, the course of my thoughts, my effort, and some bodily movements. Now I suspect that if a neurophysiologist were looking at my brain while I made free choices, he would observe changes.
This is no problem for my view, because correlations between mental and physical states is precisely what interactionism requires. Nor would it be an objection to my view that the doctor might inject me with a drug that makes me hallucinate helplessly; for brain-mind causation is real, too. All that my view says is that the mind can cause things to happen in the brain, and at least in some cases there was more than one thing that my mind really could have done.How is this possible? As I explained in the previous sections, we don’t need an explanation of, say, free will before we can accept its reality. From the fact that it is real, it follows that it is possible. The pressing question, then, is this: Is free will real? I have five arguments to this effect.First, there is the simple fact of observation.
I observe that I choose freely, at least sometimes; and if you introspect, you will see it too. There is no reason to assume that these observations are illusory, any more than there is reason to assume that vision or hearing is illusory. I frequently hear scientists declare that real science (as opposed to bogus Aristotelian science) rests on observation; that is, they take the observed facts as a given, and work from there.
The insistence that free will does not exist has more in common with the worst a priori scholasticism than with modern science. The latter demanded that the facts fit the theory, while the essence of science is supposed to be that we make our theories fit the observed facts. I would like to see a single argument for rejecting introspective evidence in favor of the other senses, because any argument against the validity of introspection might be applied, ipso facto, to sight, hearing, touch, taste, and smell.Second, determinism leads to skepticism, a self-contradictory position. It is a fact that people disagree on many questions; this leads us to wonder if on any given issue we are correct. But if the content of my mind is determined entirely on the level of micro-particles, how would I ever double-check my views? I would be determined to believe them; and if arguments convinced me, then they would be determined to convince me. But all of the wrong people were determined to be convinced too — so how could I know that I’m right? Of course, I might be correct by coincidence.
But knowledge is justified true belief; and when we are pre-determined to believe whatever we happen to believe no matter what, it is hard to see what the justification of our beliefs is. Put succinctly, if we have knowledge we must accept beliefs only because we understand them to be true; but if determinism is correct, then we automatically accept whatever beliefs that our constituent micro-particles impose on us, since as Searle says, scientific explanation works from the bottom up. It might be the case that those micro-particles coincidentally make me believe true things, but the truth would not be the ultimate causal agent acting upon me. Determinism, then, leads to skepticism.
This is a controversial issue, but I hold that skepticism is necessarily false. For suppose we affirm skepticism. Then we may wonder if we know that skepticism is true.
If we do know it, then at least one item of objective knowledge exists, which contradicts the premise. But if we don’t know that skepticism is true either, why should we accept it? To recap: Determinism implies skepticism; Skepticism is necessarily false; Hence determinism is false.Third, I bring G.E.
Moore to my defense. In his “Proof of the External World,” Moore refuted skepticism about physical objects merely by saying, “Here is a hand, and here is another hand.” Critics accused Moore of begging the question; and the critical reader of this paper might object that I am merely repeating my first argument. Both of these complaints simply miss Moore’s point, which was this: In order for any argument to work, it is necessary that the initial plausibility of its premises have greater initial plausibility than those of any other argument. Since no premise has greater initial plausibility than “This is a hand,” said Moore, it is in principle impossible for that claim to be overturned. I think that the same is true of the existence of free will. Nothing has greater initial plausibility than the premise “I have free will”; no scientific or philosophical argument will ever have greater initial plausibility. So how is it even coherent to argue against free will? Note further that Searle says that he continues to believe in free will no matter how many arguments against it that he hears.
This shows quite well that Searle finds the initial plausibility of “Searle has free will” to be greater than that of his arguments against free will; for if the arguments against free will were really that powerful, Searle would do what we usually do when overwhelmed by convincing arguments: Namely, change his mind. Since he can’t change his mind, the initial plausibility of his free will must exceed the plausibility of the apparently conflicting scientific arguments. Given this, he should re-examine the propositions of science and his philosophy of mind and see if they are really harder to doubt than the existence of free will.Fourth, try the following thought experiment. Our brilliant neurophysiologists come up with an equation that they claim will predict all of our behavior. The equation is so good that it even incorporates our reaction to the equation, our reaction to knowing that it incorporates our reaction, and so on indefinitely.
Suppose that the equation says that the next thing that you will do is raise your arm. Do you seriously believe that you couldn’t falsify this prediction by failing to raise your arm? But if you can falsify any prediction about your arm, and if the prediction is derived perfectly from a comprehensive knowledge of your body’s constituent micro-particles, then your mind must be free.Fifth, let me answer the “argument from illusion” that Searle alludes to. On this view, we appear to be free, but aren’t. Science has shown that freedom is an illusion, along with sunsets and the apparent solidity of tables. We now accept that the sun does not set and that “solid” objects are mainly empty space. Why not accept that free will is equally illusory?The answer, I think, is that the scientific explanation of sunsets and tables does not contradict our observations of sunsets and tables.
Once we hear the scientific explanation, we learn that the explanation is perfectly compatible with our common-sense observations; indeed, our common-sense observations follow with necessity from the scientific explanation. It is easy to see how the sunsets that we observe are consistent with a heliocentric model of the solar system; it is equally easy to see how the observation of solidity is consistent with the presence of empty space. The macro and the micro explanations fit together.
They cohere. But how could the observation of free will ever be compatible with determinism? Our other examples of scientific debunking of naive folk beliefs wound up reconciling the views of the vulgar and the wise, as Aristotle might say. But there is no way to reconcile the observation of free will with the theory of determinism because they are mutually exclusive. Until the critics of free will come up with a single example in the history of science of a situation in which observations inconsistent with our theory led to the rejection of the observations rather than the theory, I will be unable take this line of argument seriously.5. Conclusion: Dualism and ScienceSearle repeatedly invokes the name of science in order to get us to limit the theories of the mind to which we will even listen. The primary challenge of the philosophy of mind, as he sees it, is to show how our common-sense picture of the mind can be reconciled with modern science, which tells us that nothing exists except micro-particles in fields of force. Materialists agree with him, but conclude that our naive views of the mind cannot be reconciled with science, so they reject the mental altogether.
Searle thinks that he does attain a fairly successfully reconciliation; but I suspect that if he came to agree with my counter-arguments against his theory, he might drift away into the materialist camp.I think that there is a serious misunderstanding of the nature of “science” going on here. Searle and the materialists both seem to think that science=”nothing but atoms and the void.” Yet they err; they confuse a particular conclusion of science with the essence of science. The true essence of science is the use of observation and reason to objectively understand the world. If what we know about the mental contradicts the findings of “science”, then our science must be revised.
If we observe mental states, apparently inexplicable by atomic theory, then we discover that either atomic theory has its limitations or we are misinterpreting our science. We cast no doubt on the existence of mental states; for any argument for doubting our observations of our mental states would ipso facto be an argument to doubt the observations that confirmed atomic theory. Searle is correct that our culture suffers from deeply-rooted prejudices about the mind; but these prejudices do not come from Descartes, whatever his errors.
The chief prejudices come from people who assume that everything about the mind must either be illusory or consistent with theories derived from the study of inanimate matter.”Dogma” is a harsh term, but an appropriate one for such belief-systems. For what is the essence of dogmatism but the acceptance of a belief in the absence of or in contradiction to one’s immediate observations? Materialism is not science; it is a dogmatic perversion of science that blindly demands that the mental be just like the physical when it plainly isn’t. As Eric Hoffer observes in The True Believer, “It is the true believer’s ability to ’shut his eyes and stop his ears’ to facts that do not deserve to be either seen or heard which is the source of his unequaled fortitude and constancy. Strength of faith, as Bergson pointed out, manifests itself not in moving mountains but in not seeing mountains to move.” Materialists refuse to look at something even more evident than moving mountains — their own minds. Unfortunately, for all of his skillful critiques of materialism, Searle falls into the same errors that they do, only in a less obvious form.
While he affirms such aspects of the mind as consciousness and subjectivity, he denies some equally essential and obvious facts about the mind. In particular, he says that the mind is merely a “higher-level” feature of the brain rather than a separate mental entity, and that free will is incoherent; yet both of these are vital facts about the mind that any unbiased person can see if they observe their own minds with care.Dualism wears the mantle of science properly understood. Unlike materialists and Searle, dualists trust their own observations of the mind more than theories developed to explain completely different phenomena.
As a dualist, I am happy to open up my theory to empirical falsification, unlike a priori theories such as those of materialists and Searle. Dualism, as I said, would be false if (a) There were no mental states, or (b) There were yet another type of existent, like angels or God. If these conditionals empirically fail (and I think they do), then dualism is true. Like all good scientific (and philosophical) theories, dualism is internally consistent, intuitive, and, above all else, consistent with our observations.Notes1: John Searle, The Rediscovery of the Mind (Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 1992), p.1.2: I am indebted to Steve Blatt for the observation that matter and energy can transform into each other and are indestructible, whereas mental things are extinguishable and cannot turn into either matter or energy. This considerably clarifies and renders more plausible the distinction between the physical and the mental.
3: The Rediscovery of the Mind, op. cit., p.252n4.4: John Searle, Intentionality: An Essay in the Philosophy of Mind (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1983), pp.264-265.5: The Rediscovery of the Mind, op.
cit., p.211. The criticism has been made by Jennifer Hudin that causality is itself observer-relative. It is clear that Searle could not make this objection because he mentions “graviational attraction” as an intrinsic feature of the world, which is a specifically causal property that matter has.
This view of causality as observer-relative would incidentally also undermine almost all science, the chief function of which is the discovery of causal properties. I find the notion that causality could be an observer-relative feature to be almost incoherent. A strange tribe might have objects that look just like our bathtubs, except that they use them to store pet chickens. The tribe could change a bathtub into a chicken cage merely by commonly using it for that purpose. But could that strange tribe take gravitational attraction away from the bathtub and give it some other attractive or repulsive feature merely by changing their conventions? To sum up, if a feature is really observer-relative we would be able to change it merely by changing the nature of the subject; but causal properties work just the same no matter who the observer is.
Hence they are not observer-relative.6: See Michael Huemer, “What is the Mind-Body Problem?”, unpub. ms., available on request.7: John Searle, Minds, Brains, and Science (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1984), p.17.8: Intentionality, op.
cit., p.270.9: Minds, Brains, and Science, op. cit.
, p.93.10: ibid, p.92.
11: The Rediscovery of the Mind, op. cit., p.112.12: Minds, Brains, and Science, op. cit., p.98.13: Eric Hoffer, The True Believer (New York: Harper and Row, 1951), pp.78-79.