19. Cartesian Dualism
(November 15, 2011)
The mind-body problem
1. A sense of the terrain: conscious states
sense-perceptions (visual, auditory, tactile….)
body sense (pains, somesthesia, itches….)
imaginings (day dreams, mythical figures….)
thought (math, logic, science, language….)
memories (of all of the above)
dreams (of all of the above)
hallucinations, delusions (all of the above)
2. Some characteristics of conscious states
a) privacy – No one can have access to my conscious states. They can hypothesize
about them, infer them from my behavior or my language but they cant have them.
Because of privacy, I cannot even know for sure that another person has conscious
states. Solipsism? < Latin solus = alone and ipse = oneself
b) immediacy- You don’t infer your conscious states, you simply have them.
c) incorrigibility- You cannot be in error about your conscious state. You may also
be mistaken about the mode of a conscious state – e.g you may mistakr a dream for
perceptual awareness or an imagination for a memory but you cannot be mistaken
d) evanescence – conscious states come and go. A puzzle about the identity of
e) spatial oddness- Where do conscious states occur? In the brain? ( a post –
theoretic response) where does pain occur?
Spatial oddness spatial extension vs. spatial location
3. Other matters concerning conscious states
a) Conscious states and other species
We feel reasonably confident that other people have conscious states much like our
own (even if we can’t prove it)
Apes? Dogs? Fish? Insects? Bacteria?
How do we fit conscious states into the evolutionary story?
b) Conscious states and skepticism – All our evidence for the existence of an
external world is internal- is conscious states; some of these states seem to report an
external worls (perception) but they may be mistaken.
Dreams, when you are in them, don’t seem like dreams.
Maybe this lecture is a dream?
c) Some matters of language
mental states mental events
4. The really big problem