Wednesday, October 19, 2005

An Argument Against the Mind Being a Physical Mechanism
by John M. DePoe, Western Michigan University
Depoe quoting Hasker in Emergent Self:
The third trait of physicalism gives a suitable definition for mechanistic.” Hasker proposes the following: “Mechanistic causation and mechanistic explanation are fundamentally nonteleological.”
I would tend to agree with Depoe (and thusly, Hasker), though I would probably admit that there's still the possibility of some level of natural self-organization occuring. Atleast, Stuart Kaufman tends to think so, noting that

for entities of complexity above atoms, such as modestly complex organic molecules, proteins, let alone species, automobiles and operas, the universe is on a unique trajectory (ignoring quantum mechanics for the moment). That is, the universe at modest levels of complexity and above is vastly non-ergodic.
Now for Kaufman, this is a statistical argument, not a philosophical one. His work seems to be imagining some sort of scientific alternative to Adam Smith's Invisible Hand. I haven't read much of him, but I'll admit that I think the idea has a simplistic beauty that just seems to make sense.

However, this leaves Depoe's physicalism in a bind. How else would you describe mechanistic except in terms of lack of purpose? Perhaps consciousness would be a better differentiation point, though in defining consciouness, purpose still arises to the top. Hmmm...

Maybe I'm just confusing the idea of a teleogical science with the idea that science knows what it's doing. After all, when you throw a ball, the ball is going somewhere, but it just doesn't know that it's going there. Knowledge, self-awareness, purpose...they're all wrapped up in there somewhere.

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