Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Argument Against Dualism: The Mind is Affected by Brain Damage, Drugs, Etc

A popular argument against dualism (in the folk world, not among professional philosophers) is that the mind can be affected by taking drugs, or by brain damage, and so on. So clearly, the mind must be created by or be caused by the brain, and hence dualism is false. Here is the argument formally:

1. All mental events can be affected by physical events
2. No immaterial things can be affected by physical events
3. Therefore, no mental event is immaterial (i.e., dualism is false)

But no dualist would accept premise 2. Of course dualists think that the (immaterial) mind can be affected by matter! Stub your toe, experience the (immaterial) mental event of pain.

This ever-popular argument, perhaps the main argument against dualism in the world of the layman, is unsound.

26 comments:

  1. What aspect of the mind can you show to be non-material? That's the real question. Brain damage or drugs are examples of physical effect on the mind.

    Coincidentally, I watched an interesting video about this recently, by someone you dislike and will call illogical of course.

    http://m.youtube.com/watch?v=RS4PW35-Y00&feature=plpp

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  2. >What aspect of the mind can you show to be non-material?

    That is not the point of this post. Again, you go far afield.

    >Brain damage or drugs are examples of physical effect on the mind.

    No shit. I just said that above.

    > I watched an interesting video about this recently, by someone you dislike and will call illogical of course.

    QualiaSoup is a dogmatist. He starts with his assumptions and then works backwards from them, looking for evidence that they are true. I will do a write up of his series on dualism some day, as he gets it so wrong as to be comedy gold.

    That's not to say dualism is true. But if it isn't true, it isn't for any of the reasons QualiaSoup says.

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  3. Here's what you are missing: dualism is NOT the default position. Good luck proving it is right. Who knows? You could be right this time... and if you can't discuss it, go ahead and write a book about it.

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  4. >dualism is NOT the default position

    See how you far off course you go? Re-read the post, and you'll see that no premise says "Dualism is the default position." Nor is it implied in anything I said.


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  5. Is there some sort of rule that demands that every single word addressed to you has to be precisely about words you wrote in the form of a premise? What I wrote is only a quick opinion about how your post and comment came across regarding the topic at hand; being on topic makes it far from "completely off-track".

    What's interesting is that all you do in return is complaining and not even mention if you agree or not. So ya, go ahead and write stuff you believe dogmatically and make sure to turn comments off.

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  6. >Is there some sort of rule that demands that every single word addressed to you has to be precisely about words you wrote in the form of a premise?

    No. But you said that I'm missing that dualism is not the default position. Which I did not say.

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  7. I know... what part of this don't you understand?
    "What I wrote is only a quick opinion about how your post and comment came across regarding the topic at hand"

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  8. Good, was it that hard? So it means that what I thought transpired from your post was wrong. I still think that's how it sounds like, and you created a strawman, but since you are not a dualist I guess it does not matter.

    Why do you care about arguments against dualism then? And how could you argue not so long ago that consciousness cannot be explained with physical terms if you're not a dualist? You read more about these things so I will surely learn something here...

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  9. > you created a strawman

    There is no strawman. Materialists tell me over and over and over that the mind can be affect by drugs or brain damage, and that therefore dualism is not true.

    >Why do you care about arguments against dualism then?

    Why should I only argue for my home position? Since I'm more likely to fall prey to confirmation bias for what I think is true, it's much better to be a permanent devil's advocate.

    Although that's not quite accurate, because I'm not a materialist either. I'm a seeker. I have not yet decided on a metaphysical theory. The blog is my explorations.

    >And how could you argue not so long ago that consciousness cannot be explained with physical terms if you're not a dualist?

    See here.

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  10. Premise 1 is a strawman imo but if you do hear this argumentation over and over and over then you are correct, it's not a strawman but an accurate description of a bad argument.

    I also agree with the notion of reading or even attempting to defend others' argument. For similar reasons I do not read a single blog written by Atheists...

    don't under what you claim to be seeking. You clearly stated the you "deconverted" from materialism, write arguments only supporting Theism, argue that logic points to some pure actuality agent creator, etc...

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  11. How can premise 1 possibly be a strawman? Surely materialists believe that drugs and brain damage can cause mental effects. I'm sure you believe that if your frontal lobe is damaged, your personality can be altered.

    >You clearly stated the you "deconverted" from materialism, write arguments only supporting Theism, argue that logic points to some pure actuality agent creator, etc...

    Because Thomistic philosophy interests me.

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  12. Re premise 1, i dont see why anyone would start an argument with '1. All mental events can be affected by physical events' It sounds like a conclusion... Did you ever hear that somewhere?


    Re Thomistic philosophy, allow to doubt that it only 'interest' you... When i pointed flaws in the arguments, you ended up calling me names, accused me of not wanting to accept them because of the implications and again, lets not forget you wrote a book defending only 1 side...

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  13. That's how the materialist argument starts. "Hey, I noticed that the mind can be affected by drugs. Or even brain damage. Look at Phineas Gage as an example. His whole personality was changed because his frontal lobe was destroyed by a railroad spike.

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  14. Agreed, but that's not the same as what you wrote in premise 1... so I am asking again, did you ever read/heard somebody say that?

    Dodging the 2nd part? No worries, it's just between you and me ;)

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  15. It's the same. Just formalized into the rules of logic.

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  16. I remember watching a video by QualiaSoup's brother about death (THAT'S where that thing I mentioned on Victor Reppert's blog came from, thanks for jogging my memory) where he assumed, without argument, 1) that primitive people knew that death was the end of consciousness, 2) that primitive people conflated their "literal self" with their "figurative self" (whatever that means) and called it a "soul" in order to deny death, and 3) that all religions rose from this desperate attempt to deny the reality of death.

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  17. Ugh. QualiaSoup is one of the worst ones. You also need to look up a YouTuber named evid3nce. He says that rationalism is when you do a math problem in your head, and empiricism is when you write a math problem down. Tons of upvotes, and atheists absolutely masturbating over it.

    There isn't just one army of fundies that threaten the future of humanity, but two. God help us.

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  18. I watched the QualiaSoup videos on substance dualism, and I was simply blown away at how much he got wrong. He seems to assume, without argument, that all that needs explaining is cognitive functioning, and straw mans all of the dualist arguments as being "soul of the gaps" arguments that try to insert a "non-physical substance" in to try to fill in gaps in our scientific knowledge of how the brain performs cognitive functions. He seems to question-beggingly take a third-person perspective on personal identity, completely missing the point of Swinburne's and Plantinga's thought experiments as a result. I just can't even begin to fathom how awful these videos were; I feel like I've lost brain cells just by watching them.

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  19. This is epidemic among materialists. See this series.

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  20. "primitive people conflated their "literal self" with their "figurative self" (whatever that means) and called it a "soul" in order to deny death"

    Whatever that means? So you don't know what it DOES mean? Looks like primitive people can use computers and tell each other how the 'others' threaten humanity...

    Good job guys! Let the rest of the 'others' know when you have something you understand and are willing to discuss...

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  21. A bit more on topic, it doesn't seem like this post addresses the actual argument at issue. It's not just the question-begging assertion that physical things can't affect non-physical things. The actual argument is that, since alteration to the brain by drugs or damage can alter the mind, the mind is not a separate thing from the brain, and thus mental events are just brain events. Of course, this argument is still terrible: just because two things are connected in such a way that damage to one impairs the functioning of the other does not imply that they are one and the same, so at this point the argument collapses into the parsimony argument. And, as William Lycan has admitted, the parsimony argument has no force unless it is agreed that there is nothing that distinguishes mental events from brain events, which will not be agreed any time soon.

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  22. You're correct ingx24, assuming the argument intended to prove what you think it intended, and I would agree with you that it's jumping to a wrong conclusion. However, what part of the mind can you show to be non-physical?

    i.e. brain damage examples simply show a strong physical link, a base point that cannot be denied, so in turn what can you show to be purely non-physical about your mind?

    I would point to you a conversation I had with Martin about colors but in a very, hum, non-emotional moment, he erased everything we talked about since it was embarrassing foe him, not me I mean, anyway.

    Thanks for reading Martin, always a pleasure to tease you :)

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  23. I erased it all because it was endless clutter. 40 comments to agree that "things change". Ridiculous.

    >in turn what can you show to be purely non-physical about your mind?

    See James Ross' Immaterial Aspects of Thought.

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  24. p1)Malebranche would say that the physical cannot affect the immaterial.
    p2)Malebranche was a dualist.
    C) at least one dualist would say that the physical cannot affect the immaterial.


    Also, Paul Churchland is a professional philosopher who makes this argument against dualism.

    If you see this, I may rejoin the debate at some point and expand on this slightly glib comment and actually give reasons as to why the argument from brain damage is compelling if not conclusive.

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  25. Yes, technically there were dualists who were not interactionist. When I use the term, I'm speaking colloquially of what most people think of: Cartesian substance dualism, which is interactionist.

    Go ahead and post your argument for why mind/brain dependency is a compelling argument against dualism.

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  26. The best argument against democracy is a five-minute conversation with the average voter. See the link below for more info.


    #arguments
    www.ufgop.org

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