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3959Re: [neoplatonism] Book Recommendation

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  • Robert Wallace
    Dec 3, 2010
    • 0 Attachment
      Well, Thomas, I think you know what savvy materialists will reply to
      your question about wholes and parts: No, wholes are not greater! I
      doubt that this sort of materialism can really make sense of the
      sciences, other than (supposedly) physics, but with their back against
      the wall, they say that physics is all they care about anyway. What
      they generally _aren't_ willing to say is that they really don't care
      whether their opinions are objectively true or false, or whether their
      life is objectively good or bad. Thus they seem to pursue something in
      their own lives that their theory apparently can't account for. (All
      that it can account for is their pursuing instrumental usefulness for
      "survival" or the like.) And their caring about and pursuing objective
      truth and objective goodness constitutes a kind of reality (a greater
      whole, if you like) that their theory doesn't provide for. This (I
      think) is the key "ad hominem" point of Republic iv-vii, and of
      Hegel's Science of Logic.

      I said "maybe" Whitehead, because I haven't found just this argument
      in Process and Reality. And I'd be surprised if there's a good
      substitute for it, anywhere. But I don't know that there isn't.

      Best, Bob

      On Dec 3, 2010, at 2:42 PM, Thomas Mether wrote:

      >
      >
      > Bob, The first step, I think, in resurrecting teleology is to ask
      > whether there are wholes that are greater than the sum of their
      > parts in contrast to mere mechanical aggregates. Now when people do
      > affirm that, including muddled physicalists that have just been "set-
      > up" in that dialog move, they have tacitly committed themselves to
      > formal causes. It just remains to draw out the implications of that
      > commitment. That gets us to design, I think and have argued in these
      > dialogs, to teleology.
      >
      > Whitehead? There is a major problem of personal identity over time.
      > The prior actual occasion of yourself does not survive its
      > culminating completion. You are the descendant of your dead
      > predecessors - not them. Each momentary phase of yourself dies only
      > to be remembered by a subsequent momentary self causally down
      > stream, so to speak. Pols addressed this in his book on Whitehead as
      > a critical commentary. Christian Williams raised it as an issue for
      > Christianity in his book. Paul Weiss criticized this aspect of
      > Whitehead and thought the solution was re-introducing substance; I'm
      > not sure it works but I haven't read Weiss thoroughly. A friend of
      > the family, Blanshard claimed Weiss could be seen as a cross between
      > Whitehead and Royce -- which makes me think I may be underestimating
      > Weiss. But my reading in Whitehead, confirmed by these philosophers
      > criticisms of his thought on this point, is he is kind of a nihilist
      > in terms raised by Dr. McCoy in the
      > original Star Trek about transporters. The me that materializes on
      > the planet surface may sincerely believe it is me but I (his
      > predecessor) may have be annihilated in the process. Spock, of
      > course, had no feeling about it one way or another.
      >
      > --- On Fri, 12/3/10, Robert Wallace <bob@...> wrote:
      >
      > From: Robert Wallace <bob@...>
      > Subject: Re: [neoplatonism] Book Recommendation
      > To: neoplatonism@yahoogroups.com
      > Date: Friday, December 3, 2010, 12:44 PM
      >
      > Dear all,
      >
      > Thomas, thanks for your fascinating exposition of Brahman etc.
      >
      > You contrast "bottom-up" to "top-down" strategies:
      >
      > >> In contemporary terms, the acuteness of the explanatory problem
      > >> seems to depend upon whether one takes a "bottom-up" approach or a
      > >> "top-down" approach. In terms of the "bottom-up" approach, is it
      > >> seems impossible to account for mind in terms of body (as conceived
      > >> now) making the explanation problem more acute than if it is
      > >> flipped around; it seems much easier to develop an explanation of,
      > >> given the self-evident qualities of first-person subjectivity, the
      > >> origins and constitution of the body from the mind, and thus, the
      > >> explanation problem less acute.
      >
      > However, who explains (in detail) "the origins and constitution of the
      > body from the mind"? Plato does this, as Prof. Dillon suggests, in the
      > Timaeus. Hegel does it in his Encyclopedia. Maybe Whitehead does it. I
      > hope that someone is at work on a readable version for modern
      > audiences!!
      >
      > Plus there needs to be a Prologue that shows why the
      > "teleology" (appeal to the Good) involved in such projects is
      > rationally unavoidable, rather than just a pre-Darwinian fantasy. See
      > Republic books iv-vii; Hegel's Science of Logic. A more readable
      > version of these would also be very helpful!
      >
      > Best, Bob
      >
      > On Dec 3, 2010, at 8:57 AM, Thomas Mether wrote:
      >
      > > Hello John,
      > >
      > > You write:
      > >
      > > How about this? The physical universe is perhaps best regarded as a
      > > vast
      > > hologram, and we are holograms within it. One hologram can
      > > presumably shake
      > > hands with another hologram, without wither feeling there is
      > anything
      > > strange going on. It occurs to me that the reason why for Plato
      > > there is
      > > virtually no �mind-body� problem is that he ragred the body somewhat
      > > in this
      > > way � a combination of basic triangles, or geometrical bodues,
      > > stacked end
      > > to end, as in the Timaeus. JMD
      > >
      > > I suggest that another factor is teleological concepts, formal and
      > > final causes, were part of the "natural" and "presupposed"
      > > conceptual equipment and experience of people before Descartes. The
      > > mind-body problem became acute when the body became conceived of as
      > > a mechanism and the relation of mind to body was an extrinsic one of
      > > mutual externality related by efficient cause or God's coordination.
      > > Given Descartes framework, materialists
      > > changed the Cartesian view where it is body as a mechanism of a
      > > certain organization that
      > > produces mind. A live and dead body are still "body".
      > >
      > > Before Descartes, under teleological views, apart from its principle
      > > and formal cause -- the soul -- the body is just potency with the
      > > possibility of being actualized and substantial by a soul. In
      > > effect, the body depends on the soul to be real as body. In effect,
      > > only animated bodies are really bodies.
      > >
      > > In contemporary terms, the acuteness of the explanatory problem
      > > seems to depend upon whether one takes a "bottom-up" approach or a
      > > "top-down" approach. In terms of the "bottom-up" approach, is it
      > > seems impossible to account for mind in terms of body (as conceived
      > > now) making the explanation problem more acute than if it is flipped
      > > around; it seems much easier to develop an explanation of, given the
      > > self-evident qualities of first-person subjectivity, the origins and
      > > constitution of the body from the mind, and thus, the explanation
      > > problem less acute.
      > >
      > > Several years ago, Manfred Frings suggested that the
      > > phenomenological concept of lived body that philosophers such as
      > > Merleau Ponty and Paul Ricoeur derived from Max Scheler's concept of
      > > lived body (der Leib) in contrast to the physical body (der Korper)
      > > might have come partly to Scheler, maybe via Eucken, from Rudoph
      > > Steiner's concept of spiritual bodies that acquire a "chemical-
      > > physical crust" or externalized "crystalline crust".
      > > In any respect, he noted they probably didn't realize that for
      > > Scheler the physical body (der Korper) only exists as such in
      > > dependence on the lived body (der Leib). Anyway, if this is true,
      > > what came to mind when you spoke of Plato's geometric shapes/volumes
      > > was Steiner's "crystalline crust" and Scheler's view that the
      > > physical body (der Korper) only becomes such animated by the lived
      > > bodiliness (Leiblichkeit) of the lived body (der Leib).
      > > Both Merleau Ponty and Ricoeur picked up on Scheler's anti-
      > > physicalist argument that the lived body cannot be explained in
      > > terms of the physical body, but I think Frings was saying, they
      > > didn't bite the Scheeler bullet that the physical body is only such
      > > due to the lived body animating it. A whirlwind stirs up the
      > > geometric crystalline dust and becomes coated by it while animating
      > > it into a body.
      > >
      > > Thomas
      > >
      > > --- On Fri, 12/3/10, John Dillon <jmdillon@...> wrote:
      > >
      > > From: John Dillon <jmdillon@...>
      > > Subject: Re: [neoplatonism] Book Recommendation
      > > To: neoplatonism@yahoogroups.com
      > > Date: Friday, December 3, 2010, 5:16 AM
      > >
      > >
      > >
      > > >
      > > >
      > > >
      > > >
      > > >
      > > > Hi Kathryn,
      > > >
      > > > The direction I'm thinking of reading up on is Henry More and
      > Myers.
      > > >
      > > > I'm thinking of digging out my Henry More. Myers is credited with
      > > saying that
      > > > reading More inspired his "aha" moment for his mind-brain theory
      > > when More was
      > > > discussing subtle bodies.
      > > >
      > > > Basically, what I remember is that, for More, a body is by
      > > definition simply a
      > > > volume. A volume does not have to be solid. Also, a body can be
      > > organic (have
      > > > functional parts - organs) without being a solid body. So, More
      > > argued, there
      > > > can be a spiritual organic body. In some criticism of Descartes
      > > where the
      > > > issue of how an unextended substance interacted with an extended
      > > substance,
      > > > apparently More said that a fundamental animation as the immediate
      > > feeling of
      > > > aliveness had extension in its term and subject at its source
      > > (spirit body as
      > > > animated extended term and soul as subjective source). I have
      > > Myers book.
      > > > Guess I will have to read it alongside More to see if I can find
      > > what might be
      > > > the "aha" passage. Thomas
      > > >
      > > >
      > > > --- On Wed, 12/1/10, Kathryn Evans <kathryn-e@...
      > > > <mailto:kathryn-e%40sbcglobal.net> > wrote:
      > > >
      > > > From: Kathryn Evans <kathryn-e@...
      > > > <mailto:kathryn-e%40sbcglobal.net> >
      > > > Subject: Re: [neoplatonism] Book Recommendation
      > > > To: neoplatonism@yahoogroups.com <mailto:neoplatonism%40yahoogroups.com
      > > >
      > > > Date: Wednesday, December 1, 2010, 12:47 PM
      > > >
      > > >
      > > >
      > > > Excellent; thank you Thomas!
      > > >
      > > > Co-creative agency, yes indeed,
      > > >
      > > > Kathryn
      > > >
      > > > ----- Original Message -----
      > > > From: Thomas Mether
      > > > To: neoplatonism@yahoogroups.com <mailto:neoplatonism%40yahoogroups.com
      > > >
      > > > Sent: Tuesday, November 30, 2010 12:46 PM
      > > > Subject: [neoplatonism] Book Recommendation
      > > >
      > > > List,
      > > >
      > > > I've mentioned in the past that there are a growing number of
      > > defenders of a
      > > > "substance dualist" philosophy of mind against the dominant
      > > physicalist
      > > > paradigm. Some of these books include John Foster's The Immaterial
      > > Self
      > > > (Oxford), Swinburne's The Evolution of the Soul (Oxford), and
      > > Moreland's Body
      > > > and Soul (which, btw, is a defense not of Cartesian dualism but of
      > > what is
      > > > variously described as classical Thomist-Bonaventurean-Neoplatonic
      > > dualism).
      > > >
      > > > The book I am now recommending I was referred to by a
      > > neuroscientist friend
      > > > and colleague. It is by a group of neuroscientists and
      > > psychologists. It
      > > > defends the "F.W.H Myers- W. James" model with the latest research
      > > evidence
      > > > supporting the model.
      > > >
      > > > Here is the info with publisher's blurb.
      > > >
      > > > Irreducible Mind: Toward a Psychology for the 21st Century, With
      > > CD containing
      > > > F. W. H. Myers's hard-to-find classic 2-volume Human Personality
      > > (1903) and
      > > > selected contemporary reviews. Rowman & Littlefield Publishers,
      > > Inc. ( 2009).
      > > > Edward F. Kelly (Editor), Edward F. Kelly (Author) , Emily
      > > Williams Kelly
      > > > (Author), Adam Crabtree (Author), Alan Gauld (Author), Michael
      > > Grosso
      > > > (Author), Bruce Greyson (Author)
      > > > Publisher Description
      > > > Current mainstream opinion in psychology, neuroscience, and
      > > philosophy of mind
      > > > holds that all aspects of human mind and consciousness are
      > > generated by
      > > > physical processes occurring in brains. Views of this sort have
      > > dominated
      > > > recent scholarly publication. The present volume, however,
      > > > demonstrates--empirically--that this reductive materialism is not
      > > only
      > > > incomplete but false. The authors systematically marshal evidence
      > > for a
      > > > variety of psychological phenomena that are extremely difficult,
      > > and in some
      > > > cases clearly impossible, to account for in conventional
      > > physicalist terms.
      > > > Topics addressed include phenomena of extreme psychophysical
      > > influence,
      > > > memory, psychological automatisms and secondary personality, near-
      > > death
      > > > experiences and allied phenomena, genius-level creativity, and
      > > 'mystical'
      > > > states of consciousness both spontaneous and drug-induced. The
      > > authors further
      > > > show that these rogue phenomena are more readily accommodated by
      > an
      > > > alternative
      > > > 'transmission' or 'filter' theory of mind/brain relations advanced
      > > over a
      > > > century ago by a largely forgotten genius, F. W. H. Myers, and
      > > developed
      > > > further by his friend and colleague William James. This theory,
      > > moreover,
      > > > ratifies the commonsense conception of human beings as causally
      > > effective
      > > > conscious agents, and is fully compatible with leading-edge
      > > physics and
      > > > neuroscience. The book should command the attention of all open-
      > > minded persons
      > > > concerned with the still-unsolved mysteries of the mind.
      > > >
      > > > [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
      > > >
      > > > [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
      > > >
      > > > [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
      > > >
      > > >
      > > >
      > > >
      > > >
      > >
      > > How about this? The physical universe is perhaps best regarded as a
      > > vast
      > > hologram, and we are holograms within it. One hologram can
      > > presumably shake
      > > hands with another hologram, without wither feeling there is
      > anything
      > > strange going on. It occurs to me that the reason why for Plato
      > > there is
      > > virtually no �mind-body� problem is that he ragred the body somewhat
      > > in this
      > > way � a combination of basic triangles, or geometrical bodues,
      > > stacked end
      > > to end, as in the Timaeus. JMD
      > >
      > > [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
      > >
      > > [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
      > >
      > >
      > >
      >
      > Robert Wallace
      > website: www.robertmwallace.com (The God Within Us)
      > email: bob@...
      > phone: 414-617-3914
      >
      > [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
      >
      > ------------------------------------
      >
      > Yahoo! Groups Links
      >
      > [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
      >
      >
      >

      Robert Wallace
      website: www.robertmwallace.com (The God Within Us)
      email: bob@...
      phone: 414-617-3914










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