File spoon-archives/bhaskar.archive/bhaskar_2001/bhaskar.0101, message 20


Date: Thu, 11 Jan 2001 21:24:16 +0000
Subject: Re: BHA: SEPM


Hi Andy

I take it you want to 'save' a materialist interpretation of Bhaskar's
remarks. I do think your interpretation is a bit 'charitable' because
Bhaskar explicitly *contrasts* 'dualistic interactionism' with (a form
of) 'materialism' ('stratified monism'). I take Bhaskar to be here
invoking what such a contrast normally invokes within philosophy: the
Cartesian view that there are two kinds of thing in the world - bodies
or material things whose essence is to be extended in space; and minds
or immaterial things whose essence is to think - as contrasted with
monism (whether stratified or not), which asserts that there is only
(ultimately) one kind of thing, of which everything is a part or a mode.
I'm not sure what you mean by 'the CR sense' of the term 'idealism' -
certainly CR acknowledges objective or ontological idealism eg Hegel,
and subjective idealism eg discourse theory, but also I would have
thought the ontological idealism (as well as materialism) intrinsic to
Cartesian dualism which of course feeds into modern subjective
idealism...

>there seems nothing in CR to 
>deny the possibity that there is a new structure, or 'thing', hitherto 
>unknown, and *not* apparently emergent from known structures, 
>underlying 'thought'.A stucture which simply happens to be there. 

One difficulty with this is that Bhaskar's theory of mind claims to be
an emergentist one, as is necessarily the case with any non-reductionist
materialism which takes the theory of evolution seriously.

>Isn't this *exactly* the possibilty that CR leaves open re 'ultimate 
>entities'? Indeed, isn't this how we might interpret the various forces 
>such as magnetism? (And 'force' as in 'field of potential' is indeed 
>RB's likely candidate for 'ultimate entity').

Yes, at least until FEW ('pure dispositionality' in DPF.) But if reality
is ultimately 'immaterial' it makes no sense to say that it's 'material'
(and to call an 'immaterial substance' a 'thing' or a 'structure'
doesn't make it 'material' either). You're right of course that this
does not in itself issue in ontological idealism (Bhaskar's current
position) whereby this ultimate force is spirit, which is among other
things conscious and purposvie - for that other assumptions have to be
made. But it doesn't close the door to it either.


Mervyn


Andrew Brown <Andrew-AT-lubs.leeds.ac.uk> writes
>Meryvn,
>
>I've been droning on about that little bit of PON for years now!
>
>However, I don't think it is that significant. As I now interpret RB, he 
>is saying that *either* there will be an entirely new set of concepts 
>filling the gap between our current neurophysiological (and other 
>such) concepts and our 'psychological' ones, so defining a new 
>stratum, from which the psychological realm is emergent. *Or* we 
>will find the the concepts we do already have are adequate to be 
>able to vertically explain the psychological realm (though we as yet 
>have little clue how they do this). The former case can be said to 
>give us a new 'substance', just as the the chemical realm gives us 
>a whole set of sui generis substances called molecules. The latter 
>case doesn't. This is a perfectly valid use of the term substance I 
>think. And, given this use, then one can argue that there might be 
>a 'substance' dualism between mind object, without being 'idealist', 
>in the CR sense of that term (or there might not).
>
>Still, as I write this, it does seem a perhaps overly charitable 
>interpretation, but there we are. In any case, at the end of the day 
>[I sound like a football manager] there seems nothing in CR to 
>deny the possibity that there is a new structure, or 'thing', hitherto 
>unknown, and *not* apparently emergent from known structures, 
>underlying 'thought'. A stucture which simply happens to be there. 
>Isn't this *exactly* the possibilty that CR leaves open re 'ultimate 
>entities'? Indeed, isn't this how we might interpret the various forces 
>such as magnetism? (And 'force' as in 'field of potential' is indeed 
>RB's likely candidate for 'ultimate entity').
>
>Having said all this, it should also be stressed that, after PON, RB 
>appears to retract his statement on dualism. Thus you will find a 
>passage in SRHE where RB seems to explicitly rule out substance 
>dualism, and asserts the embodied nature of human agency. This 
>is repeated in later books.
>
>Thanks,
>
>Andy
>
>
>
>
>
>On 9 Jan 2001, at 15:17, Mervyn Hartwig wrote:
>
>> Hi all,
>> 
>> I had occasion to look up Bhaskar's first elaboration of his 'synchronic
>> emergent powers materialist' account of mind again the other day, and
>> noticed what I had not noticed before (or if I did, forgot) that Bhaskar
>> at that stage (1979) left the way open for idealism (The Possibility of
>> Naturalism, 124-5).
>> 
>> He says in PON there are two possibilities on his account:  1). that
>> 'mind just is a complex or set of powers ... historically emergent from
>> and present only in association with (certain complex forms of) matter.'
>> 2). that 'there is a substance, whose nature is at present unknown,
>> which is the bearer of those powers'. Here again there are two
>> possibilities: 2a) that the substance is material - suggested by
>> neurophysiological evidence;  2b) that it is immaterial - suggested by
>> paranormal phenomena. On 2a) SEPM 'reduces to a form of materialism,
>> which could be characterised as a stratified monism'. On 2b) it reduces
>> 'to a species of dualistic interactionism.'
>> 
>> The scientific data, he said in 1979, is conflicting and does not
>> allow us to decide between these. 
>> 
>> In FEW (2000) he might seem to be committed to 2b) - as concretely
>> singularised spirit or godstuff the 'soul' constellationaly contains the
>> mind and enters and departs bodies (as a set of dispositions). But in
>> that case he would be committed to 'dualistic interactionism' whereas he
>> still speaks of 'stratified monism'. So perhaps he's still committed to
>> 1), except that 'matter' is now at bottom 'spirit'....
>> 
>> Mervyn
>> 


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