Talk:Dualism (philosophy of mind)

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Former good article Dualism (philosophy of mind) was one of the Philosophy and religion good articles, but it has been removed from the list. There are suggestions below for improving the article to meet the good article criteria. Once these issues have been addressed, the article can be renominated. Editors may also seek a reassessment of the decision if they believe there was a mistake.
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zimboes[edit]

I want to note a problem brought out by an IP edit today. The article currently contains the paragraph:

Others such as Dennett have argued that the notion of a philosophical zombie is an incoherent, or unlikely, concept. In particular, nothing proves that an entity (e.g. a computer or robot) which would perfectly mimic human beings, and especially perfectly mimic expressions of feelings (like joy, fear, anger, ...), would not indeed experience them, thus having similar states of consciousness to what a real human would have. It is argued that under physicalism, one must either believe that anyone including oneself might be a zombie, or that no one can be a zombie - following from the assertion that one's own conviction about being (or not being) a zombie is a product of the physical world and is therefore no different from anyone else's. This argument has been expressed by Dennett who argues that "Zimboes thinkZ they are conscious, thinkZ they have qualia, thinkZ they suffer pains - they are just 'wrong' (according to this lamentable tradition), in ways that neither they nor we could ever discover!"

The IP editor understandably changed "zimboes" to "zombies", but that's wrong even if understandable, because Dennett actually used the term "zimbo", which he had invented to mean a "zombie with higher-order informational states". The problem that needs to be solved is that this article doesn't explain what a zimbo is. I don't have time to deal with that at the moment (even if I could), but I didn't want to leave it un-noted. Looie496 (talk) 19:28, 14 July 2009 (UTC)

I removed the "zimbo"sentence because if is meaningless without explanation. There are at least three problems with it. 1) The use of the superscripted "Z" is unexplained. 2) The quote does not reference any source. and 3) the use of Dennett's term "zimbo". --Blainster (talk) 02:33, 15 July 2009 (UTC)

GA Reassessment[edit]

This discussion is transcluded from Talk:Dualism (philosophy of mind)/GA1. The edit link for this section can be used to add comments to the reassessment.

GA onhold.svg This article has been reviewed as part of Wikipedia:WikiProject Good articles/Project quality task force in an effort to ensure all listed Good articles continue to meet the Good article criteria. The article has a lot of good qualities, but there are some issues, in particular one major one, that I believe prevent it from meeting the criteria.

  • The main issue is with the "Historical overview" section, that doesn't go much further than Descartes. Unless I'm missing something, there must surely have been done important work within the field since the seventeenth century. The rest of the article incorporates much modern scholarship, but there's a gap in between here.
  • Though a current GA review would probably demand more inline references, the amount of references is generally satisfactory. There are, however, some parts that need citations. Also, partly the lack of citations and partly the language used gives a sense of an essay rather than a NPOV article.
    • "Some philosophers and thinkers have taken this to be a form of materialism and there may be something to their arguments.": This needs to be immediately followed by a reference. Furthermore, vague terms like "Some philosophers..." should be avoided, and the sentence gives the impression of original research.
    • "However, what is important from the perspective of philosophy of mind": Same thing.
    • "This is an idea which continues to feature prominently in many non-European philosophies.": Which ones? Says who?
    • "Predicate dualists believe that...": This needs to be followed directly by a citation.
    • "A very important argument against physicalism": Terms such as "very important" should be avoided.
    • "Thomas Nagel...": Where does he say this?
    • "Imagine the case of a person...": Use of the second person.
    • "Causal interaction": The entire second paragraph of this section reads like an essay, and has no citations.
    • "Phineas Gage...": Where is this from?
    • "Argument from biological development": At the end of this section there is, quite rightly, a "citation needed" tag.
    • "Problems of dualism": Here there's a reference that's not inline.
    • "Sandra Blakeslee points out in the New York Times...": No reference, just a date (and wikilinked at that).
  • "Non-reductive physicalism": This section needs expansion and sourcing.
  • "References": Many of these are improperly formed, in particular there's a lot of naked URLs.

These are just some examples, if anyone wants to go to work on this I can do a more thorough review. I will wait for seven days, if anyone has started a thorough revision of the article by then, I will extend the waiting period, so the article can remain listed as a Good article. Otherwise, it will be delisted (such a decision may be challenged through WP:GAR). If improved after it has been delisted, it may be nominated at WP:GAN. Feel free to drop a message on my talk page if you have any questions, and many thanks for all the hard work that has gone into this article thus far. Lampman (talk) 16:30, 21 July 2009 (UTC)

Since no significant improvements have been made to the article over the last week, I will now delist it. Lampman (talk) 14:09, 29 July 2009 (UTC)

A new argument for dualism[edit]

Hello, may I draw the discussant's attention to a new paper of mine, published in a volume on non-reductionist theories of consciousness: http://www.a-c-elitzur.co.il/site/siteArticle.asp?ar=67 I present a new argument for dualism named “The Bafflement Argument.” It is condensed into a succinct theorem in Section 12. Being biased re this debate I shall not put any input in the article itself. I hope this note in the discussion page does not infringe on Wiki's rules, otherwise let it be deleted. Sincerely, Elitzur (talk) 13:17, 19 August 2009 (UTC)

Your approach is exactly correct, bringing up the idea here is fine. I don't think this article should discuss a new argument until it proves its notability by getting attention from other writers, though. Looie496 (talk) 16:36, 19 August 2009 (UTC)
I agree with Looie. Although your article appears to be published in a reliable source, it has not yet attracted the attention and commentary of your peers. Until it becomes part of the debates within philosophy of mind as they relate to dualism (that is, until other philosophers start commenting on your chapter in reliable sources), it would be inappropriate to add it here. Until then, including it (and any other of hundreds of philosophical papers) would be giving it undue weight. But, if it starts to garner attention and discussion within the philosophical community, then it would become appropriate to add it here. Edhubbard (talk) 14:32, 20 August 2009 (UTC)

Potential Bias Towards Materialism[edit]

I am suggesting the possibility that this article has a weasling Materialist bias, in that it begins with a focus on Idealism and slides into Materialsm towards the end of the article, despite the fact that both Materialist and Idealist standpoints have existed since the beginning of the Mind-Body problem. True to the point that both are mentioned back and forth throughout the text, nonetheless I see a crunch of anti-idealism arguments at the end of the article, which causes me to speculate the bias. Though in my personal opinion the Materialist standpoint is a stronger argument, this does not mean that the Idealist concept of an immaterial mind is altogether a false concept. I'm new to editing and commenting on articles so I am not about to take on the dauting task of restructuring this article so that it maintains all the information, but in a way that gives each side of the debate equal value. But I figured i would at least make mention of this for anyone who chances to read comments for this article. —Preceding unsigned comment added by 155.229.54.243 (talk) 17:40, 10 September 2009 (UTC)

Four varieties of dualist causal interaction (diagram).[edit]

Can someone confirm that the non-reductionist physicalism diagram is correct, as it seems to imply that mental and physical are reducible to each other (which seems more likely to be true of reducible physicalism (monist)than non-reducible physicalism.) If the point being made is more complicated (such as being about ontology rather than property) could the text be modified to reflect that. Heligan (talk) 14:07, 22 December 2009 (UTC)

New argument for dualism[edit]

Is this a new argument for dualism? —Preceding unsigned comment added by Tennenrishin (talkcontribs) 13:49, 30 December 2009 (UTC)

The purpose of a talk page is to discuss possible changes to the article, and changes must be based on reputable sources, which that personal web page is not. So this question does not belong here. Looie496 (talk) 15:05, 30 December 2009 (UTC)

I dont think its a new argument either, the subjective/private argument has been around for a while. I dont think it proves anything that the person/body that contains the brain has privilidged interaction with it. —Preceding unsigned comment added by Heligan (talkcontribs) 20:33, 3 January 2010 (UTC)

Bias in the interpretation of Plato's metaphysics[edit]

I was surprised by the simplistic interpretation of Plato's metaphysics and Aristotle's discussion on Plato's theory of forms. It is true that Plato postulated that the forms were immaterial. However, this is an epistemological issue, not a metaphysical one. There need not be a strict soul/body or mind/body dualism in order for there to be a soul that has knowledge of the forms. In fact, other accounts of Plato [see for example http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/monism/] argue that Plato was a monist and therefore it would be wrong to lay Descartes mind/body dualism at his feet. Furthermore, Hegel and Spinoza, among other monist philosophers, trace much of their thought to Platonic thinking. This too would seem to undermine the claim that Plato gave rise to modern dualistic thinking. As Whitehead stated, "All of Philosophy is footnotes to Plato." In this limited sense, we could use Plato as a precursor to dualistic thought, but it would only be insofar as he laid the foundation of all the important questions that lead to the mind-body problem. Many have argued, and will continue to do so, that Plato was in fact a monist and that his personal views are closer to the monistic or holistic thinking represented in modern thinking by the likes of Bohm in "Wholeness and the Implicate Order" who deal with wholes and aspects of wholes. That is, the whole is in the part and the part is in the whole. Thus, while Plato located the knowledge of the forms in the soul, this did not require the soul to be separate from the body. For Plato, the soul has multiple aspects and is an aspect of the human being; so, it not necessarily separate, although we may like to try to draw simple distinctions when it suits are arguments--as I believe the author(s) of this article have done. Cloninge (talk) 16:52, 10 September 2010 (UTC)

Well, but Plato did consider the soul to be distinct from the body, didn't he? I'm not an expert on Plato, but I'm pretty sure I remember a passage where he describes the soul as being a prisoner within the body. He also used the metaphor of the body as a ship and the soul as its pilot, which is pretty much the epitome of dualism. Looie496 (talk) 17:08, 10 September 2010 (UTC)

Substance Dualism Under-covered?[edit]

For such an important topic in philosophy, not only in epistemology but in philosophy of mind as well, it seems as though the coverage of substance dualism is severely lacking. I'd personally recommend that a new article be made to cover the topic more in depth. I'm sort of shocked this is an issue! Come on Wiki-Philosophers! --74.137.217.154 (talk) 05:51, 5 October 2010 (UTC)


...I searched the terming of bore it is through wikipedia that bore is of boredom. I can relate straight off in this article about the fifth line what bore is established with. Could we have that representation bore as an agreement or an affiliation towards something, you know an article discribing what this means. I realize it is seldom used, such as an expression like this one. "I bore the thought but after awhile bordom sunk in and I had to realize that I must conclude or go thus somewhere else". Perfect example of both terms spelled the same way. I shall now go and study, "spell"; dang it.David George DeLancey (talk) 21:20, 2 April 2011 (UTC)

Possible reply to argument from brain damage[edit]

An argument was given by a Christian [1], and a similar type argument was given by Mark Goldblatt [2]. They basically claim that though the mind is non-physical ("the soul", since they are theists), it still needs the brain to function properly so it can manifest in the physical world. The first link actually uses the analogy of the mind being software, the brain being hardware. (My own interpretation of their claims:) So basically, the non-physical mind is like the driver of a car. When something is wrong with the car, the driver can't control it the way he or she wants to. To be clear, this is as a reply on behalf of substance dualism. I'm not trying to advocate my own view (that shall remain personal) or whatever, I just thought that section could have used a reply. 99.255.50.214 (talk) 05:45, 27 April 2011 (UTC)

The analogy of the mind being software and the brain being hardware is a kind of property dualism, which the argument from brain damage is not intended to address -- it is only intended as a refutation of substance dualism. Regarding the second part, the argument is that brain damage can affect things that every dualist would consider purely properties of the driver, such as beliefs and desires. If the presentation doesn't make that clear, it probably ought to be improved. Looie496 (talk) 15:39, 27 April 2011 (UTC)
Ok thanks for clearing that up. It is pretty confusing so you are right, someone should make this a bit more clear for people like myself who aren't very knowledgeable in these topics. 99.255.50.214 (talk) 16:49, 27 April 2011 (UTC)
Ok, so I've done a little bit more research, and I've come across this [3] work by William F. Vallicella on the website NewDualism.org and he attempts to give a reply to the issue of brain damage/tampering with the brain in general: "So for the dualist, the mind can exist without being embodied. But my mind, with which I am rather well acquainted, is an embodied mind. It is embodied as a matter of contingent fact, though not as a matter of metaphysical necessity. So it is not surprising that what goes on in my mind affects and is affected by what goes on in my brain and central nervous system. It is not surprising that the states of an embodied mind will be affected by alcohol in the bloodstream. In general, it is not suprising that (some) changes in the brain will bring about changes in the mind."
Can this be included as a reply to the brain damage argument raised by Churchland or is this website not acceptable as a reputable source? If it is acceptable, someone else should add it in there because I don't have an account (and don't plan on getting one), thus I am unable to edit this article. 99.255.50.214 (talk) 18:12, 27 April 2011 (UTC)
Another reply to this argument was given by M.D. Robertson, here [4]. The relevant quote is found on page 4 of the PDF: "This vulnerability manifests itself in Churchland's third argument against substance dualism, which he calls 'the argument from the neural dependence of all known mental phenomena' (20). Churchland is here referring to the effects of drugs and brain damage on reasoning, the emotions, and consciousness. But the dualist can accept the premise of this argument while denying the conclusion. As noted, the claim that two distinct substances cannot affect each other causally is one that the dualist need not accept. The dualist can accept the claim that physical events affect mental phenomena, and reply that mental events (especially volitions) have physical effects." So I believe that perhaps these two arguments can be added by someone with an account, just to give more perspectives on this issue. 99.255.50.214 (talk) 18:17, 27 April 2011 (UTC)
My mistake, it seemed to me at first that the article was locked but now that I checked I can indeed edit. However, I will not add anything until the validity of the sources if confirmed. Even so, I fear my editing skills are rusty and I've forgotten how to do the references, so I think it would still be best to allow someone else to edit the article instead (someone with more experience). 99.255.50.214 (talk) 18:26, 27 April 2011 (UTC)
I'm not sure that either of these would meet wikipedia criteria for reliable sources. They appear to be blog entries and self-published articles, which generally do not meet wikipedia standards. If the Robertson article appeared in a peer-reviewed journal, then it might be appropriate. Edhubbard (talk) 18:31, 27 April 2011 (UTC)
Thank you for your input. I suspected that they probably weren't valid. I've come across this [5] argument by Edward Feser (biography: [6]). I know it's a blog, but it's a blog that is put out by a (potentially) reputable source, since he has some amount of credibility it would seem from his inclusion/mention as a source on several Wikipedia articles [7], and of course the claims of the about section of his website (which I linked to). Here is his quote: "But it has nothing to do with the specific question about whether a dualist need be troubled by the discovery of detailed correlations between mental phenomena and neural phenomena, which is what is at issue in the argument of Churchland’s under consideration. In particular, even the Cartesian need not be troubled by the fact that intellectual activity too (and not just sensation, emotion, and the like) can be dramatically affected by changes to the brain. Why not? For one thing, as Churchland himself admits, the Cartesian regards the brain as a “mediator” between the soul and the rest of the body, so that we should expect that damage to this mediator will prevent the intellect from receiving the information it derives from the body and from controlling bodily behavior as well as it normally would." Is Feser a reliable source? 99.255.50.214 (talk) 19:49, 27 April 2011 (UTC)
Actually, the greater issue is probably whether or not a blog operated by someone who is reputable is acceptable by Wiki's standards. Obviously normal blogs have no validity, but if someone who (potentially --- I know we have yet to establish whether Feser is reputable or not) has credibility has a blog and posts theories on there, does that make it more acceptable? 99.255.50.214 (talk) 20:07, 27 April 2011 (UTC)

Deletion called into question[edit]

Hi,

I would like to know the rationale for why my contribution has been subjected to deletion. It does not follow that though brain imaging devices observe causal-relative activities between mind and body, that mind-body distinction is logically dispelled. LaRouxEMP (talk) 20:14, 8 March 2012 (UTC)

The line you added was "Though it can be conceded that this does not logically dispel the feasibility of mind-body distinction.". What does that even mean? Anything you could possibly say can be conceded by somebody who is determined to concede it. What you are really trying to say is that this does not logically dispel the feasibility of mind-body distinction, but since that is only your personal opinion, you have added some weasel words (see WP:WEASEL) at the front to mask it. Looie496 (talk) 00:11, 9 March 2012 (UTC)


Good day to you kind sir,

You are in the wrong for accusing me of inserting weasel words. I used the expression "Though it can be conceded" as a lead in to not a personal opinion, but a logical fact that an observed causal-relation between the mind and body does not necessarily imply that mind-body distinction is a false assertion. But I do see why you might label my addition as weasel words. I guess I could have rewrote it "However, it does not necessarily follow..." I hold a Masters in Philosophy with an emphasis on logic. Do not mistake me for a fool. LaRouxEMP (talk) 05:14, 9 March 2012 (UTC)

Causal Interaction[edit]

Is the claim that during C.S. Lewis' time, quantum determinism hadn't yet been resolved, but now is, a correct claim? There's an entire article in Wikipedia on quantum indeterminacy so I'd like to check the validity of this claim as suggested here in "Causal Interaction". Appreciate it.Ronsword (talk) 02:25, 10 November 2012 (UTC)


NPOV/OR revert[edit]

I'm sorry to revert so many edits, I really am, and I've saved what I could but there's an NPOV/OR problem. From the edit history, I notice the user doesn't customarily edit philosophy articles and I'd encourage them not to take it personally or professionally because this is a topic in philosophy, not science. Just as scientists are the judge of what they take to be good science, philosophers are the judge of what they take to be good arguments... I'll try to give a run down here of material I didn't incorporate back in:

the mind and body are not identical ← the mind is not wholly contained by the brain

  • no one says the mind is "contained by" the brain

physicalism ← scientific physicalism

  • there's no danger of confusion with a "non-scientific physicalism" and yet, it is a philosophical theory, not a scientific theory

Descartes...was the first to formulate ← Descartes...expressed

  • surely one of the top 10 things a reader should know about it

Dualism is contrasted with with various kinds of monism, including physicalism and phenomenalism. Substance dualism is contrasted with all forms of materialism, but property dualism may be considered a form of emergent materialism or non-reductive physicalism in some sense.

  • I've removed the nod to phenomenalism but that would contradict what follows; in philosophy of mind, substance dualism contrasts most clearly with physicalism/materialism

This article discusses the various forms of dualism and the arguments which have been made both for and against this thesis. ← Modern neuroscience strongly discredits all forms of dualism in favor of physicalism <ref>, but the various historical forms of dualism and the arguments that have been made both for and against them are given below.

  • I'm just going to have to bet that fails WP:V, not to mention WP:NPOV and WP:UNDUE... some may have seen better days, but they're "all" pretty much still alive and kicking

(revert back to the more chronological section ordering for Parallelism and Occasionalism)


A very important argument against physicalism (and hence in favor of some sort of dualism) consists in the idea that the mental and the physical seem to have quite different and perhaps irreconcilable properties. ← One observation is that mental states and physical phenomena seem to have different properties; this is because minds perceive intramental states differently than phenomena they experience through senses. Dualists take this as supporting evidence, although it is true notwithstanding the physicality of the mind.


Although, by hypothesis, Mary had already known everything there is to know about colours from an objective, third-person perspective, she never knew, according to Jackson, what it was like to see red, orange, or green.

If Mary really learns something new, it must be knowledge of something non-physical, since she already knew everything there is to know about the physical aspects of colour. ← From the setup, although Mary already knows everything there is to know about colours from an objective, third-person perspective, she has never known what it is like to see red, orange, or green. If Mary learns something new, it must be knowledge of something non-physical, since she already knew everything there is to know about physical colour.

However, this and other arguments only shows that experiences are intrapsychic, and that Mary obtains knowledge of a new intramental state (visual perception of color); it doesn't show that whatever contains these intramental processes is nonphysical.


Daniel Dennett and others also provide arguments against this notion, see Mary's room for details. ← Daniel Dennett and others also provide arguments refuting this notion; see Mary's room for details.


This argument says that, if predicate dualism is correct, then there are special sciences which are irreducible to physics. These irreducible special sciences, which are the source of allegedly irreducible predicates, presumably differ from the hard sciences in that they are interest-relative. If they are interest-relative, then they must be dependent on the existence of minds which are capable of having interested perspectives. Psychology is the classic example of special sciences; therefore, it and its predicates must depend even more profoundly on the existence of the mental.

Physics, at least ideally, sets out to tell us how the world is in itself, to carve up the world at its joints and describe it to us without the interference of individual perspectives or personal interests. On the other hand, such things as the patterns of the weather seen in meteorology or the behavior of human beings are only of interest to human beings as such. The point is that having a perspective on the world is a psychological state. Therefore, the special sciences presuppose the existence of minds which can have these states. If one is to avoid ontological dualism, then the mind that has a perspective must be part of the physical reality to which it applies its perspective. If this is the case, then in order to perceive the physical world as psychological, the mind must have a perspective on the physical. This, in turn, presupposes the existence of mind.<ref name="Rob" /> ← Predicate dualism claims that there are "special sciences" that are irreducible to physics. Robinson claims that these allegedly irreducible subjects, containing irreducible predicates, differ from hard sciences by being interest-relative. He defines interest-relativity as depending on the existence of minds that can have interested perspectives.<ref name="Rob" /> Psychology is one such science, completely depending on and presupposing the existence of the mind.

Unfortunately presuppositions of the mind's existance do not require the mind to be irreducible; this is an unproven premise of the argument. One can equivalently view these special sciences as studying the behavior of complex, aggregate systems (i.e. the mind). In fact many sciences including chemistry, evolutionary biology, and physiology concern such complex, aggregate systems. While they could be rewritten verbosely in terms of quantum field theory, it is much more convenient to use layers of abstraction, like molecules, cells, entire organisms, or minds). These systems are so complex that they can't feasibly be rewritten without tremendous analysis <ref> and computational power. <ref> Nonetheless it can be done, and given a mind reducible to physics, "special sciences" are alo reducible to physics, denying the dualist premise.


In short the argument holds that if, as thoroughgoing naturalism entails, all of our thoughts are the effect of a physical cause, then we have no reason for assuming that they are also the consequent of a reasonable ground. Knowledge, however, is apprehended by reasoning from ground to consequent. Therefore, if naturalism were true, there would be no way of knowing it—or anything else not the direct result of a physical cause—and we could not even suppose it, except by a fluke.<ref name=Reppert />

By this logic, the statement "I have reason to believe naturalism is valid" is self-referentially incoherent ← The argument claims that if our thoughts are the effect of a physical cause, then we cannot assume that they are the consequent of a reasonable ground. However knowledge is apprehended by reasoning from ground to consequent. Therefore, if naturalism were true, there would be no way of knowing it—or anything else not the direct result of a physical cause—and we could not even suppose it, except by a fluke.<ref name=Reppert /> However Lewis later conceded to Elizabeth Anscombe that the first claim is a non sequitur (see criticism).

Through this logic, Lewis attaches self-referential incoherence to the statement "I have reason to believe naturalism is valid"...In the latter two cases...

  • Clearly the main article calls that addition into dispute...

he stated the logical possibility that ← he stated that

  • totally different meaning

However quantum mechanics was later shown to be deterministic, and demonstrated (among other things) in the Bell test experiments.


<ref>{{cite web|title=Arguments against Dualism|url=http://spot.colorado.edu/~heathwoo/Phil100/argsagainstCD.html%7Caccessdate=14 November 2012}}</ref>

etc.—Machine Elf 1735 20:53, 14 November 2012 (UTC)





First of all, thanks for reviewing these edits. Some were terribly NPOV. I do think some have validity, and I've discussed them below. physicalism ← scientific physicalism

  • I didn't mean to distinguish from "non-scientific physicalism", but to note that scientific endeavors are physicalist.


the mind and body are not identical ← the mind is not wholly contained by the brain

  • no one says the mind is "contained by" the brain
  • physical monists and neuroscientists say this.


Reordering of views of mental causation.

  • You reverted but didn't mention this. I've reordered them to match the order that types of dualism are presented in, in the previous section.


Through this logic, Lewis attaches self-referential incoherence to the statement "I have reason to believe naturalism is valid"...In the latter two cases...

  • Clearly the main article calls that addition into dispute...
  • I found the opposite opinion in the main article. Specifically in #Criticism, Lewis's biographer says "Lewis regarded the debate as a defeat, and felt humiliated by it: 'He told me that he had been proved wrong, and that his argument for the existence of God had been demolished'". Others say he didn't seem particularly disturbed, but he did later change his book. Also Richard Carrier has written in response to this argument.


<ref>{{cite web|title=Arguments against Dualism|url=http://spot.colorado.edu/~heathwoo/Phil100/argsagainstCD.html%7Caccessdate=14 November 2012}}</ref>

  • This appears to be the source of what's currently in the article, instructor notes for a Philosophy 100 class at U Colorado Boulder. I added a better reference to the Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy, giving the same information.


Modern neuroscience strongly discredits all forms of dualism in favor of physicalism

  • I'm just going to have to bet that fails WP:V, not to mention WP:NPOV and WP:UNDUE... some may have seen better days, but they're "all" pretty much still alive and kicking

Although discredit is probably too strong a word, my searches through neuroscience literature suggest that the prevailing model is physicalist, and has been for several decades. From a 1980 review in Neuroscience (a verifiable source), [8]: "Reasons are advanced to show that our latest mind-brain model is fundamentally monistic and not only fails to support dualism, but serves to further discount fading prospects for finding dualist forms or domains of conscious experience not embodied in a functioning brain." A 2009 letter in Science (a verifiable source) suggests that dualism is not at all favored [9].

These and other articles[1][2] establish the physicalism of neuroscience in its methodologies and its discoveries. Cognitive science and neuroscience are exploring a frontier of knowledge, and discoveries in these fields can directly challenge philosophies of mind. When they do so, whether philosophers like it or not, the validity of philosophical theories will be affected. From another letter in Science, 2009, [10],

"However, philosophers deal in belief systems and personal opinions, not in natural laws and facts. They ask interesting questions and pose challenging dilemmas, but they have an unimpressive historical record of prognostication. August Comte, father of positivism, wrote in 1835 that we shall never know what stars are made of (2). A few decades later, the chemical composition of stars was deduced by spectral analysis of their light (3). Francis Crick, a scholar with a far better track record of prediction, stated in an interview in 1996, “It is very rash to say that things are beyond the scope of science"

By no means should philosophical articles be made into non-philosophical articles, and they obviously shouldn't all hang disclaimers saying "Warning, subject to scientific refutation!". Most are so unrelated to science, they don't even need to contain the word "science". But given that there is a scientific field that:

  • is investigating the very subject matter of Dualism and the Mind-Body problem[3]
  • is operating under a Physicalist assumption (a view contrasted with Dualism)[4]
  • is discovering evidence that supports a model devoid of any Dualist forms,[5]

I do think that the Dualism article should mention (somewhere) that neuroscience is at odds with it. Regards,

Wing gundam (talk) 00:32, 16 November 2012 (UTC)


  • also to that list: Given that prominent journals (like that dirtrag Science (journal)) have published articles from reliable researchers, explicitly noting neuroscientific evidence's support for physicalism, and not dualism.

Dualism should mention the same.


  • "WP:V: verifications of Bell's theorem say nothing whatsoever about the philosophical discretion of a non-physical action..."

Well, no. Bell's theorem does limit the philosophical discretion of a non-physical entity ("He") who is acting to create probable/improbable events. Its verification requires that "His" interventions appear perfectly random under any observational conditions. This is, obviously, a strong restriction on "His" discretion. But I'll ignore your lack of Good Faith through complete reversions, and continue trying to find a more explicit source than Ch. 7. Wing gundam (talk) 13:29, 18 November 2012 (UTC)





Sorry, I hadn't initially noticed your response here, they were certainly much improved at first. I'm glad you weren't too discouraged.

#re_01 By convention in Philosophy of Mind, physicalism has a somewhat peculiar usage, as with monism and dualism... However, some scientists are not physicalists on religious grounds... Again, it's a philosophical theory, not a scientific theory, and regardless of religion, many scientists have no problem with the traditional description of the mind as non-physical/non-material/non-corporeal, having no spatial extension or location. There's nothing spooky about it: they'd say a point in geometry, for example, or the number twelve, are said to be non-physical in exactly the same way.

#re_02 I'll look forward to your citations that, formally speaking, "container" is the more apropos term, (as opposed to "identity"), according to both physicalists and neuroscientists:

The neutral monists happily acknowledge that “thoughts ain't in the head:” (Holt 1914, 153) ...
Avenarius was the most outspoken advocate of this idea. The original epistemic sin, as he sees it, is the “introjection” of mental states into the brain. He spends considerable time providing a genetic analysis of how the intellectual catastrophe of introjection could have happened. But he also presents straightforward arguments that are supposed to show the falsity of introjection:
The brain has ganglia and nerve fibers, has neuroglia and vessels, has different colors (is colored this way or that) and so on. But neither the most detailed anatomical dissection, nor an arbitrarily powerful microscope would reveal thoughts qua components of thinking, much less thinking itself as part or property of the brain. (Avenarius 1891, 67)
Considerations of this sort lead him to summarize his views about introjection in a remarkable paragraph:
The brain is not the dwelling-place, seat or producer of thought; it is not the instrument or organ, it is not the vehicle or substratum, etc., of thought. Thought is not an indweller or command-giver, it is not a second half or aspect, etc., nor is it a product; it is not even a physiological function of the brain, nor is it a state of the brain at all. (Avenarius 1891, 76)
Mach approvingly quotes this passage and tells us that Avenarius conception seems “to approximate very nearly to my own.” (Mach 1886, 28) ...
And Petzoldt celebrates Avenarius for having done away with
the barbaric quid pro quo that lets the psychological sensations get into the brain together with the physiological stimulations, and which then have to be moved back out again, of course. (Petzoldt 1906, 170)
The radical externalism about the mental evidenced by these passages stands in the service of overcoming “the problem of the external world” by making it into the immediate object of our thought, or better, by making our thoughts be portions of it. That neutral monism allowed for this nonidealistic fusion of mind and world, thereby opening our cognitive doors onto the world, was what attracted most neutral monists to this doctrine in the first place.
Russell's Internalism
Finally, it must be emphasized that Russell's versions of neutral monism never did deliver the direct perceptual grasp of the external physical object that the standard versions of the mainstream doctrine were designed to achieve. ...
Considerations about the causal theory of perception persuade him to place the percept into the percipients brain. And the proximal model of construction (see the section “Reduction of the Physical”) allows him to understand the “introjected” percept as a constituent of the matter that forms the percipient's brain. Hence he can proclaim that “I know about what is happening in the brain exactly what naïve realism thinks it knows about what is happening in the outside world.” (Russell 1927b, 104) A slightly longer version of this goes as follows:
I maintain an opinion which all other philosophers find shocking: namely, that people's thoughts are in their heads. The light from a star travels over intervening space and causes a disturbance in the optic nerve ending in an occurrence in the brain. What I maintain is that the occurrence in the brain is a visual sensation. I maintain, in fact, that the brain consists of thoughts—using ‘thought’ in its widest sense, as it is used by Descartes…What I maintain is that we can witness or observe what goes on in our heads, and that we cannot witness or observe anything else at all. (Russell 1959, 18–19)
This position is still realistic in the minimal sense guaranteed by neutral monism: there can be no objectless experience, because the object and the experience of it are one—there is one neutral element (an event or percept) that plays this double role. But in all other respects Russell's internalistic version of neutral monism is the antithesis of the realist spirit that informed the versions of the doctrine we find in Mach, James, and the American New Realists. Perceptual contact with external objects becomes as indirect and as inferential as in the representative theories of perception—e.g., the sense-datum theory—that neutral monism was designed to overcome.
The pervasive externalism of mainstream neutral monism makes Russell's radical turn towards internalism particularly disorienting. The point here is not to assess Russell's reasons for this disturbing conclusion. The point is to demonstrate, one final time, how accommodating the neutral monist framework is, and how little of that which may seem most characteristic about the neutral monist doctrines on record is really part of neutral monism. Neither the externalism of Mach, James, Avenarius, Holt, etc., nor the internalism of Russell have anything to do with neutral monism.

— Leopold Stubenberg, "Neutral Monism", The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy

#re_03 Clearly, I did mention it. You re-reverted without addressing my concern.

#re_04 You're cherry picking. While WP:UNDUE, it's a rather successful argument, Oxford reported no such defeat and Anscombe, herself, wrote:
Neither Dr. Havard (who had Lewis and me to dinner a few weeks later) nor Professor Jack Bennet remembered any such feelings on Lewis's part... My own recollection is that it was an occasion of sober discussion of certain quite definite criticisms, which Lewis's rethinking and rewriting showed he thought was accurate. I am inclined to construe the odd accounts of the matter by some of his friends נwho seem not to have been interested in the actual arguments of the subject-matter נas an interesting example of the phenomenon called projection.

#re_05 Yes, much better thanks.

#re_06 By the principle of charity, I can assume you're under the impression that your "searches through neuroscience literature suggest" this article fails to give adequate WP:WEIGHT to physicalism, "the prevailing model...for several decades". Were this the neuroscience article, the neural correlates of consciousness article, or even the neurophilosophy article, you'd be absolutely correct... Needless to say, this is the Dualism (philosophy of mind) article, and by convention in the philosophy of mind, dualism is closely associated with Cartesian substance dualism and theological conceptions of an immortal soul... likewise, a sloppy characture of physicalism, for better or worse, is customarily associated with monist side of that false dichotomy, to the exclusion of pluralism (aka neutral monism, or 'none of the above'). I get the impression you're a scientist, or other science-minded thinker, whose contributions to less funky, more interdisciplinary approaches would less... mistaken.
That being said, Sperry's 1980 "review" which you mentioned, (accessible here) is a wonderful example of how confusing, value laden and ultimately futile an attempt at refactoring those labels turned out to be... and that from the Nobel laureate who prided himself (not without merit) on breaking the feasibility stranglehold of behavioral materialism, thus making way for the cognitive revolution. (Neutral monists such as Russell were also convinced they'd solved the mind-body problem, at long last). Sperry is at pains to distance the model he originally developed (so he argues) from the scandalously high profile supernatural/"unembodied" musing of Sirs John and Karl, respectively. Though he admits his self-avowed "mentalism" to have been a somewhat peculiar redefinition, he had hoped to rehabilitate a non-idealistic mental monism in light of his model... he regrets, however, that he had not realized his model would attract the attention of supernatualists—or "dualists" as he calls them—he had his hands full toppling the behavioral materialist dogma that underpinned the methodology of neuroscience. As his fight was against the monists, Sperry's quite beside himself in his appeal to convention, to support the one false dichotomy, whilst naturalizing that of the mind-body problem in a non-deflationary way, owing to his revolutionary model. Of course, the model itself neither helps nor hinders the supernaturalist, but the overtly ideological science rhetoric is no less a faux pas than Popper's "world 3" or Eccles' religious convictions.
So, whereas it's definitely a reliable source for this article, despite being three decades old, the claim about physicalism, "that the prevailing model is physicalist, and has been for several decades", cannot be verified by the monism quote, due to WP:SYN, see 4th ¶: "On our new terms, which I will outline below, 'mentalism' is no longer synonymous with 'dualism' nor is 'physicalism' the equivalent of 'monism'."
If you're interested in including Sperry's model, and I think that would be good, he presents it thus:

It is the idea, in brief, that conscious phenomena as emergent functional properties of brain processing exert an active control role as causal determinants in shaping the flow patterns of cerebral excitation. Once generated from neural events, the higher order mental patterns and programs have their own subjective qualities and progress, operate and interact by their own causal laws and principles which are different from and cannot be reduced to those of neurophysiology, as explained further below. Compared to the physiological processes, the conscious events are more molar, being determined by configurational or organizational interrelations in neuronal functions. The mental entities transcend the physiological just as the physiological transcends the molecular, the molecular, the atomic and subatomic, etc. The mental forces do not violate, disturb or intervene in neuronal activity but they do supervene. Interaction is mutually reciprocal between the neural and mental levels in the nested brain hierarchies. Multilevel and interlevel determinism is emphasized in-addition to the one-­level sequential causation more traditionally dealt with. This idea is very different from those of extra-­physical ghostly intervention at synapses and of indeterministic influences on which Eccles and Popper had earlier relied. The question at issue is whether this form of psychophysical interaction is fundamentally monistic as I interpret it or whether it is dualistic as presented by Popper and Eccles.

—R.W.Sperry, "Mind-brain interaction: mentalism, yes; dualism, no" in Neuroscience Vol.5, (1980) pp.195-206
Frankly, pointing to a pay-to-read "letter" is a poor way to go about talk page collaboration, but who would contest that neuroscience doesn't "favor" dualism? The understatement borders on the disingenuous. Neuroscientists probably make more than cognitive psychologists, but apparently (today) they do get beyond the neurons even now and then, see for example: thought identification. Which is one reason why I have to laugh at your continued insistence on the "strong evidence" language here. But thanks for debating the concession that followed in your edit summary rather than the article: (that scans demonstrate physical basis is not an irrelevant conclusion, it's key information to the topic. encyclopedias present all reliable POV's, regardless of their ability to unequivocal refute. Ergo, these reply sections exist.) Not even wrong. It's like saying the Apollo landing is "strong proof" of heliocentrism. The literal goof just begs the question too trivially as juxtaposed to what's evident about far more sophisticated questions. WP:NPOV isn't Carte Blanche for whatever lame refutation you come up with. You need to cite an WP:RS that says it's "strong evidence" for a "physical basis", whatever that means. I've asked you for a page number and it's not the only instance in which you've cited an entire book for what appears to be editorial WP:OR. And fyi, you're confused... it's notable evidence against free will, not dualism; and if I have to spell that out for you: dualism does not claim the mind is unaffected by the body or vice versa. OTOH, neuroscience traditionally claimed the body is totally unaffected by the mind (according to Sperry, and no doubt it's still easier to focus on the neurons that way).
As for the misc cites w/o links, if they are indeed about neuroscience, I'll stipulate they "establish the physicalism of neuroscience in its methodologies and its discoveries"... again, no one is contesting that strawman so I'll do you one better from Sperry's abstract:

A traditional working hypothesis in neuroscience holds that a complete account of brain function is possible, in principle, in strictly neurophysiological terms without invoking conscious or mental agents; the neural correlates of subjective experience are conceived to exert causal influence but not mental qualities per se.

—R.W.Sperry, "Mind-brain interaction: mentalism, yes; dualism, no" in Neuroscience Vol.5, (1980) pp.195-206
Not only is the study of mental qualities per se absent from their job description, they reject them "in principle"... LOL, "like it or not", what that means is they'll forego the exploration of any "frontier of knowledge, and discoveries" which could, in fact, "directly challenge philosophies of mind". Dualism is quite simply out of the question, they wouldn't touch it with a 10 foot probe, unless they moonlight as a neurophilosopher, 'natch. It's an inconvenient fact, my naïve friend, that science is philosophy, but philosophy is not science. You're claim that "there is a scientific field that:"
  • "is investigating the very subject matter of Dualism and the Mind-Body problem" fails WP:V, the source is quite dismissive, actually, and gives them a wide berth.
  • "is operating under a Physicalist assumption (a view contrasted with Dualism)" runs afoul of WP:SYN, as pointed out earlier.
  • "is discovering evidence that supports a model devoid of any Dualist forms," which is no less remarkable than being devoid of metempsychosis, animal magnetism, aether theories or witchcraft (as Feyerabend might add... though he might have been pleasantly surprised had they likewise bothered to explicitly rule them out, in principle, before passing 'go').
I'll leave you this from the "Dualism" article in the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy:

Hume criticised the whole conception of substance for lacking in empirical content: when you search for the owner of the properties that make up a substance, you find nothing but further properties. Consequently, the mind is, he claimed, nothing but a ‘bundle’ or ‘heap’ of impressions and ideas — that is, of particular mental states or events, without an owner. This position has been labelled bundle dualism, and it is a special case of a general bundle theory of substance, according to which objects in general are just organised collections of properties. The problem for the Humean is to explain what binds the elements in the bundle together. This is an issue for any kind of substance, but for material bodies the solution seems fairly straightforward: the unity of a physical bundle is constituted by some form of causal interaction between the elements in the bundle. For the mind, mere causal connection is not enough; some further relation of co-consciousness is required. We shall see in 5.2.1 that it is problematic whether one can treat such a relation as more primitive than the notion of belonging to a subject. ... His bundle theory is a theory about the nature of the unity of the mind. As a theory about this unity, it is not necessarily dualist. Parfit (1970, 1984) and Shoemaker (1984, ch. 2), for example, accept it as physicalists. In general, physicalists will accept it unless they wish to ascribe the unity to the brain or the organism as a whole. Before the bundle theory can be dualist one must accept property dualism...

A crisis in the history of dualism came ... with the growing popularity of mechanism in science in the nineteenth century. According to the mechanist, the world is, as it would now be expressed, ‘closed under physics’. This means that everything that happens follows from and is in accord with the laws of physics. There is, therefore, no scope for interference in the physical world by the mind in the way that interactionism seems to require. According to the mechanist, the conscious mind is an epiphenomenon (a notion given general currency by T. H. Huxley (1893)): that is, it is a by-product of the physical system which has no influence back on it. In this way, the facts of consciousness are acknowledged but the integrity of physical science is preserved. However, many philosophers found it implausible ... It is very largely due to the need to avoid this counterintuitiveness that we owe the concern of twentieth century philosophy to devise a plausible form of materialist monism. But, although dualism has been out of fashion in psychology since the advent of behaviourism (Watson (1913)) and in philosophy since Ryle (1949), the argument is by no means over. Some distinguished neurologists, such as Sherrington (1940) and Eccles (Popper and Eccles (1977)) have contined to defend dualism as the only theory that can preserve the data of consciousness. Amongst mainstream philosophers, discontent with physicalism led to a modest revival of property dualism in the last decade of the twentieth century.

— Howard Robinson, "Dualism", The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy

Machine Elf 1735 15:30, 30 November 2012 (UTC)

Pretty uncharitable[edit]

Hi, I know I haven't been involved in these discussions which seem to have been going on for quite some time, but I have to say, Machine Elf, you're being pretty uncharitable. If you are facing sources you can't access, the proper response is to ask people who can access them, not assert that they are worthless. Nature is a preeminent scientific journal, and you can't just ignore it because it turns a profit.

In particular, the article in Neuroscience is pretty much the most specific, notable, and respected source on the matter you could ask for. Assuming you don't intend to systematically purge all science from the article, you have to at least admit that peer-reviewed articles from widely-available sources directly addressing the question at hand must be acceptable.

I'm very troubled when I see you saying things like "[saying neuroscience investigates the mind-body problem] fails WP:V". How can this even make sense? One can easily verify that scientists in the field are investigating the problem simply by checking the very source he cited. The conclusions might be harder to verify, but surely the investigation itself is unequivocal.

You make a number of even stranger claims, like stating that thought ID is "begging the question," as if testing the predictions of a model is equivalent to assuming it is true to prove itself. Making predictions and testing them against reality is precisely how scientific models are falsified. And the suggestion that because philosophy incorporates more modes of thought than science, science cannot impact philosophical conclusions is clear sophistry.

In fact, neuroscience and related fields are the only direct, falsifiable investigations into the mind-body problem, so excluding them is beyond incomplete, it is blatantly dishonest. If you think there is a better way to structure their inclusion, then you should work toward that. But don't make this a power struggle over what evidence is allowed inclusion and what is not. That in itself is the heart of POV.

I'm not going to go through every point, and to be honest I don't even have a position on them all, but I do think you have to change your attitude here. Dualism is not a purely speculative question, and has not been for decades. Scientific facts will bear on this article if it is to ever make GA criteria again.24.93.180.3 (talk) 21:42, 15 February 2013 (UTC)

Sorry, I can't seem to log into my account right now. It's Eebster the Great (talk).
I made none of the claims that you've attributed to me.—Machine Elf 1735 11:05, 21 February 2013 (UTC)
What are you talking about: I gave direct quotes of yours.
By "Nature" I meant "Science," my mistake.
You claimed the Science article wasn't good because you can't read it. Of course, you CAN in fact read it, but it would require getting access through a library or paying for it. But that doesn't make the article itself less valid, and unless you can find a better alternative, it should be included.
You do make the nonsensical claim regarding WP:V I pointed out. The full quote is: "You're claim that 'there is a scientific field that: "is investigating the very subject matter of Dualism and the Mind-Body problem"' fails WP:V, the source is quite dismissive, actually, and gives them a wide berth."
You do say that WG's conclusions regarding thought identification are "begging the question," specifically comparing them to a hypothetical scenario involving the Apollo missions somehow not providing evidence of heliocentrism.
You do make a point of mentioning that "science is philosophy, but philosophy is not science."
I am frankly baffled that you would plead innocence here. The discussion is right above my comment, viewable to everyone. Please just address the substance of my points, don't try to pretend they don't exist. 70.194.0.185 (talk) 12:02, 21 February 2013 (UTC)
Plead innocence? May I remind the prosecutor, it's WP:UNCIVIL to make "blatantly dishonest" claims about another editor.
If you are facing sources you can't access, the proper response is to ask people who can access them, not assert that they are worthless. Nature is a preeminent scientific journal, and you can't just ignore it because it turns a profit.
  • I do not go around asserting that "source [I] can't access" are "worthless".
  • I did not assert that "they are worthless".
  • I've never said any "scientific journal" can just be ignored "because it turns a profit".
  • It was a letter to the editor, not an article.
  • I did not say I couldn't read it.
  • I did not "[claim] the Science article wasn't good because [I] can't read it.".
  • Does this imply I'm lazy and cheep or just dumb? "...it would require getting access through a library or paying for it."
  • You omit the reasons I actually gave for challenging it, and you omit WG agreement that the language was too strong... then again, what don't you omit. Citing that letter to the editor, WG had originally declared dualism "historical", changing this: "This article discusses the various forms of dualism and the arguments which have been made both for and against this thesis." to the following:
Modern neuroscience strongly discredits all forms of dualism in favor of physicalism <ref>{{cite journal |last=Farah |first=Martha J. |coauthors=Murphy, Nancey |title=Neuroscience and the Soul |journal=Science |year=2009 |month=February |volume=323 |issue=5918 |pages=1168 |doi=10.1126/science.323.5918.1168a |url=http://www.sciencemag.org/content/323/5918/1168.1.full |accessdate=14 November 2012}}</ref>, but the various historical forms of dualism and the arguments that have been made both for and against them are given below.
  • You keep calling it "the article", shall I assume that you won't subscribe to this preeminent science journal? That you can't mooch off someone who does? That you don't go to the library? And that you didn't even bother to Google? "Letters". Science 323 (5918): 1168. February 2009. doi:10.1126/science.323.5918.1168a.  Posted March 17, 2009: International Psychoanalysis - Neuroscience and the Soul.
  • Unless I can "find a better alternative" than what... the new ones WG found? Hello... Now, if you want to use that letter to the editor... shy of declaring mission accomplished, I don't necessarily have a problem... but this is neither a theology article, nor a science article and it doesn't even mention "non-materialist neuroscience"... which, as the the letter cautions "has joined “intelligent design” as an alternative interpretation of scientific data". That seems highly WP:FRINGE in this context, and you would require much better sourcing. It behooves creationism/ID to obscure the distinction between science and philosophy as much possible. Ironically, an intelligent design enthusiast is indistinguishable from a philosophically naive science buff in that zealous pursuit.
In particular, the article in Neuroscience is pretty much the most specific, notable, and respected source on the matter you could ask for. Assuming you don't intend to systematically purge all science from the article, you have to at least admit that peer-reviewed articles from widely-available sources directly addressing the question at hand must be acceptable.
  • You don't make clear what article in Neuroscience you're referring to, but as the subject matter is philosophy, not neuroscience, it's ridiculous to claim it's "the most specific, notable, and respected source on the matter you could ask for".
  • And why would someone assume I "intend to systematically purge all science from the article"?
  • I don't WP:OWN this article and "peer-reviewed articles from widely-available sources directly addressing..." the topic of the article would have worked much better than character assassination. A look at the article's revision history will attest to both those facts.
I'm very troubled when I see you saying things like "[saying neuroscience investigates the mind-body problem] fails WP:V". How can this even make sense? One can easily verify that scientists in the field are investigating the problem simply by checking the very source he cited. The conclusions might be harder to verify, but surely the investigation itself is unequivocal.
  • Indeed, "[how can a bogus quote that put words in my mouth] even make sense?" What field, problem and source would that be... "non-materialist neuroscience"? Tell ya what, you investigate the "conclusions", and I'll help verify your hard work. What "investigation itself is unequivocal"?
You make a number of even stranger claims, like stating that thought ID is "begging the question," as if testing the predictions of a model is equivalent to assuming it is true to prove itself. Making predictions and testing them against reality is precisely how scientific models are falsified. And the suggestion that because philosophy incorporates more modes of thought than science, science cannot impact philosophical conclusions is clear sophistry.
  • LOL, well... now that you mention it, intelligent design is an excellent example of begging the question, isn't it? But of course, I gave thought identification, not WG, as an exemplary slam-dunk for neuroscience vis-à-vis the mind-body problem—and that's not what I claimed was question begging.
  • What an exceedingly curious suggestion: "as if testing the predictions of a model is equivalent to assuming it is true to prove itself"... I offered no explanation at all. But apparently you and WG think I'm Alvin Plantinga... no doubt an WP:SPI will be forthcoming!
In fact, neuroscience and related fields are the only direct, falsifiable investigations into the mind-body problem, so excluding them is beyond incomplete, it is blatantly dishonest. If you think there is a better way to structure their inclusion, then you should work toward that. But don't make this a power struggle over what evidence is allowed inclusion and what is not. That in itself is the heart of POV.
Hopefully this post proves I am not a sockpuppet. I don't know about the details of your edit war with WG. All I know is that your recent comments here are troubling.
This isn't a competition. I don't care if one of you got edits in he or she shouldn't have. I do care about the current state of the article and the arguments concerning new edits. So I will address those:
  • I do not go around asserting that "source [I] can't access" are "worthless".
You did not say it was worthless, but you did disregard the article entirely, which effectively treats it as worthless. I don't know why you act like this was an important point either; it is a side point and I will limit the discussion to this one bullet.
  • You keep calling it "the article", shall I assume that you won't subscribe to this preeminent science journal?
You shall not assume that. Why are you being so hostile? I don't even understand what you are complaining about. It is an article.
  • "non-materialist neuroscience"... which, as the the letter cautions "has joined “intelligent design” as an alternative interpretation of scientific data".
This is precisely why the letter is evidence that neuroscience takes a strongly materialist view. Because the non-materialistic view is considered fringe, nonscientific, and religious.
  • You don't make clear what article in Neuroscience you're referring to, but as the subject matter is philosophy, not neuroscience, it's ridiculous to claim it's "the most specific, notable, and respected source on the matter you could ask for".
You said yourself that science is philosophy. Why does the fact that it is a science article make it less valid?
  • And why would someone assume I "intend to systematically purge all science from the article"?
My point--quite clearly--is that you would NOT. Hence why I said "unless . . . ". The assumption is that surely you would not.
  • Indeed, "[how can a bogus quote that put words in my mouth] even make sense?" What field, problem and source would that be... "non-materialist neuroscience"? Tell ya what, you investigate the "conclusions", and I'll help verify your hard work. What "investigation itself is unequivocal"?
The exact quote, which I already repeated, is "You're claim that 'there is a scientific field that: "is investigating the very subject matter of Dualism and the Mind-Body problem"' fails WP:V, the source is quite dismissive, actually, and gives them a wide berth." This is not a bogus quote. It does not put words in your mouth. It is an exact quote. The "problem" is the mind-body problem. The "field" is neuroscience. This should be pretty clear. Neuroscience is directly investigating this problem, as is evidence by the article he cited, and you can verify it by checking that article. It is unequivocal that an investigation is occurring, because that article is an example of precisely that investigation.
  • that's not what I claimed was question begging.
Maybe I misread. Please clarify what you thought was begging the question.
  • Testify... unless otherwise noted, WG put all his changes right back into the article. He made no changes whatsoever in response to any of those follow-up objections.
Then you should revert those changes that you disagree with, not all of them. I'm not here to defend WG, just here to discuss the article.
Eebster the Great (talk) 08:25, 22 February 2013 (UTC)
WP:DISRUPT Don't accuse me of being hostile after that screed. Any reason apart from the Dualism (philosophy of mind)=non-materialist neuroscience=WP:FRINGE+nonscientific+religious agenda that makes you return to WP after a 2 year hiatus and vomit lies about a three month old discussion? Have you been editing WP in the meantime? If so, can other editors review those contributions?—Machine Elf 1735 09:59, 22 February 2013 (UTC)
Don't accuse you of being hostile? Really? How could you have been more hostile? I am not "vomiting lies," I am making salient points and backing them up with direct quotes. I probably did make some mistakes, beyond just referring to Science as "Nature". But I avoided ad hominem (despite your attempt to impute them in my posts) and I came here in the midst of an edit war in an attempt to calm it down.
Obviously I didn't succeed. But if you are going to accuse me of sockpuppetry, a hidden agenda, and "vomiting lies," then I guess my contributions aren't welcome here anyway. You aren't exactly encouraging participation on Wikipedia.
I don't think I was out of line when I said you need to change your attitude, and this is why. Please try to stay civil. Eebster the Great (talk) 20:16, 22 February 2013 (UTC)


I think the way this is supposed to work is that you can't continue editing the article and talk page without at least addressing my objections. I've reverted your last edit. Eebster the Great (talk) 07:22, 2 March 2013 (UTC)

WP:DISRUPT I did address your objections, but that's no reason to keep reverting me so I "can't continue editing the article and talk page".—Machine Elf 1735 08:48, 2 March 2013 (UTC)

Dualism is not a speculative question anymore[edit]

#re_09 This has nothing to do with the religious beliefs of particular scientists, nor an individual's comfort with a non-scientific explanation of the mind. The methodology of science is physicalist, in that inquiry assumes phenomena can be described physically. Segueing to #re_10, your last sentence is incorrect. Numbers, algebras, and other mathematical structures are obviously different from both the physical mind and a non-physical concept of the mind. For one, math is rigorously axiomatized, in contrast to dualist theories of the mind. Furthermore even a physicalist assumption doesn't imply the mind has spatial extent or location. By analogy, the internet is certainly physical yet has neither of these; at best one could point to the network infrastructure, the wires, and the hardware of every connected object, but that's superfluous: it's some subset of the configurations of these HW devices that define it. That's all I mean.

#re_10 non-"identity" is not the most appropriate way to define dualism. Even neutral monism doesn't assert that the mind and body exactly alike, the same, or identical, rather than at most both composed of the third substance. Physicalism certainly goes further. For instance, the spleen is undeniably part of the body and not part of the mind. If "the mind is not contained by the body" is intolerable, then why not a third possibility like "the mind is not exclusively a function of the brain."

#re_11 clearly I didn't notice. On my first two reads of the article, I found the relationship between these two sections confusing. It's still not ideal, but this article has general flow issues. While historical order works for the Historical Overview section, the preceding two are thematic overviews, and they're more readable when organized as such.

#re_12 You're cherry picking. Anscombe's recounts no feeling of humiliation on Lewis's part, Lewis's biographer disagrees. His biographer also states Lewis told him, '... that he had been proved wrong, and that his argument for the existence of God had been demolished'. Sayer himself describes Lewis humiliated. But regardless he lost the debate, and apparently made alterations to his book.

#re_13 You're encouraged to search for better citations for any material incorrectly cited. You may not know this, but edit reversion is seen only as a last resort.

#re_14 Your brick is difficult to follow. I agree with Eebster on several points.

All citations are valid, regardless of whether the publisher turns a profit. I encourage you to read Murphy (2009).[6] Francis Crick's article is good too,[7] as is Dehaene's book.[8]

  • (Neuroscience, particularly Neuroscience) "is investigating the very subject matter of Dualism and the Mind-Body problem" clearly doesn't fail WP:V. Merely reading a book on Cognitive Neuroscience (like Dehaene)[8] will tell you this. Also Murphy[6]. Also Bunge's book, Chapter 8.[9]
  • (Neuroscience, and indeed Science) "is operating under a Physicalist assumption..."; Dehaene (2002)[8], Murphy (2009)[6], Koch (2009)[10], and Crick (1998) [7] all say this. Neuroscience articles are WP:Reliable Sources about Neuroscience, and about phenomena that fall under its scope.
  • Physicalism, "...(a view contrasted with Dualism)." Again it's not sensical to contest this...
  • (Neuroscience, and by extension Science) "is discovering evidence that supports a model devoid of any Dualist forms."[6][11] They do not explicitly test those you mention, just as Nasa did not explicitly rule out geocentrism before conducting the Apollo project. But critiquing the details of neuroscience methodology is heavy-handed synthesis, and your opinion. As Eebster eloquently penned,

Wing gundam (talk) 10:08, 21 February 2013 (UTC)

WG, after your first round of revisions to the article (#re_01) you thanked me for reviewing your edits, graciously conceding that "Some were terribly NPOV". Apart from a few mistakes in the interpretations of quantum mechanics you made immediately thereafter, I interfered in no way as you reverted all whichever of your changes back into the article, in whatever way you saw fit. Stop alleging by way of 70.194.0.185 that I've ruthlessly prevented you from making specific changes, that you did in fact make, and which have remained to this day. The truth is, you never responded to any of the objections I raised in that reply, and I simply left it at that.
On Jan 25, an IP, 67.221.65.154, made two edits that 1) removed the second instance of the Sperry reference as well as the J.J.C.Smart "Physicalism and emergence" reference; and 2) replaced your overstatement: "Findings in neuroscience that concern the mind-body problem... do not support dualism ... and the field operates under the assumptions of physicalism..." with the understatement "Several neuroscientists do not support dualism and operate under the assumption of physicalism".
On Feb 15, you reverted with the edit summary rv (WP:WEASEL, WP:NPOV, citation sniping), accompanied by several warnings on the IP's talk page to that effect. And as you're also ignoring the specific objections I raised, I reverted per talk.
On Feb 21, you reverted saying It's not "some," it's the field's opinion, per talk. Which is fine, I have no problem with that. And although you could easily support it with a physicalism reference unencumbered by emergence, the "Physicalism and emergence" reference wasn't my main concern either. So, I removed the two Sperry citations with the edit summary: still fails WP:V, as I explained... WP:IDHT. Whereat your "eloquent" companion, 70.194.0.185, reverted with Take this to the talk page. So far as I can tell, the only place you two have addressed my specific concerns is to dismiss them with: "#re_14 Your brick is difficult to follow. I agree with Eebster on several points. ... All citations are valid, regardless of whether the publisher turns a profit." My condolences on the pain you share... if only there'd been such amenities back in my schooldays. For your convenience, I've copied those specific concerns right here:
So, whereas it's definitely a reliable source for this article, despite being three decades old, the claim about physicalism, "that the prevailing model is physicalist, and has been for several decades", cannot be verified by the monism quote, due to WP:SYN, see 4th ¶: "On our new terms, which I will outline below, 'mentalism' is no longer synonymous with 'dualism' nor is 'physicalism' the equivalent of 'monism'."
Please self-revert, thanks.—Machine Elf 1735 07:00, 22 February 2013 (UTC)

1. A broad accusation, and false accordingly: I certainly didn't "reverted all of your changes back into the article, in whatever way you saw fit," primarily because I conceded several in agreement. In other cases, I addressed NPOV/OR/w/e concerns for every point you listed. Perhaps you're confused because I never spelled this out for you:

  1. "the mind and body are not identical" and #re_02 —— I've purposefully refrained from taking action since you reverted, and discussed. Clearly not "reverted back into the article"
  2. "physicalism ← scientific physicalism" and #re_01 —— conceded, no action taken. Clearly not "reverted back into the article"
  3. "Descartes...was the first to formulate ← Descartes...expressed" —— similarly
  4. "Dualism is contrasted with...physicalism and phenomenalism ..." —— similarly
  5. "(revert back to the more chronological section ordering for Parallelism and Occasionalism)" and #re_03 —— discussed above, I think parallelism (;]) is a better strategy than chronological.
  6. Subj argument, "A very important...perhaps irreconcilable properties." —— conceded. I was only against the awkward phrasing: I think I reworded correctly.
  7. Mary's room —— conceded. I appended a doubly-sourced summary of Jackson's later recant of his argument, and his explanation for doing so. Clearly relevant.
  8. Special sciences —— I disagree regarding the 1st&2nd Para, they were worded poorly. Sources found for the 3rd. I'm also looking for the Sober paper, to completely dispel possible SYN.
  9. Lewis's argument and #re_04 —— I paraphrased poorly but Lewis certainly conceded the debate to her. I sourced and added her refutation. His emotional response afterwards is irrelevant.
  10. "he stated the logical possibility that ← he stated that" —— conceded, no action taken. Clearly not "reverted back into the article"
  11. "However quantum mechanics..." —— conceded. Accurate content sourced from SEP added.
  12. #re_05 —— conceded, a better source was found (which you could have done yourself). Clearly not "reverted back into the article"
So don't give me grief for "never respond[ing] to any of the objections [you] raised in that reply," since I heeded every one.

2. I have no association with 70.194.0.185. If you have a problem, take it up with a Steward.

3. So, (Finally), your concern is that the claim "Neuroscence is operating under a Physicalist assumption" stands Not Verified, as that would be SYN on Sperry? (Y/N)

Wing gundam (talk) 09:39, 22 February 2013 (UTC)

Thanks for the rundown, very kind. I didn't realize you were still making changes at that time.
N ... why not drop the Sperry? Are there other nonreductive physicalist neuroscientists?—Machine Elf 1735 13:58, 22 February 2013 (UTC)

I've stricken "all" to read "whichever" in order to more clearly convey all that you saw fit, which was not meant as an accusation.

I see you were not still making changes at the time after all: your last edit prior to reverting the IP was at 04:40, 30 November 2012‎, but I replied on 15:30, 30 November 2012. I was not trying to "give [you] grief", I was trying to respond to the demands/accusations that I must take action or stop preventing you from making edits when, in fact, I was merely objecting to edits that you had already made, and only one of which I've pressed... I'd like to think you'd regret having endorsed it: "...excluding them is beyond incomplete, it is blatantly dishonest. If you think there is a better way to structure their inclusion, then you should work toward that. But don't make this a power struggle over what evidence is allowed inclusion and what is not. That in itself is the heart of POV."

I objected, but I didn't stop you from replacing "Though it can be conceded that this does not logically dispel the feasibility of mind-body distinction." with less philosophical WP:OR/WP:SYNTH, i.e., "strong empirical evidence" for a "physical basis"... at the end of this section. A "non-material neuroscience" advocate might beg to differ, but no physical evidence could falsify physicalism, much less dualism. Physicalism and dualism are not competing scientific theories.—Machine Elf 1735 15:20, 23 February 2013 (UTC)


Well I know grief when I see it.

There is a preponderance of physicalist neuroscientists, and reviews in Nat Rev Neuro advance this view when explicitly discussing philosophical implications (rarely). I cited several papers by Murphy, Koch, Francis Crick, and Dehaene, but Laurence Tancredi's book may also be a relavent. Dropping Sperry...

"...physical basis in the brain." — It was probably too strong given the source. I added Dehaene's review from Cognition, wherein he explicitly describes empirical consequences of the current model of neurophysiological consciousness, and consequently which results would yield positive verification.

As Koch writes several times (as do the 4 authors mentioned above), topics like free will and the mind-body problem that were once the domain of theology and philosophy are no more so. It's been an uphill battle to wrestle them from their philosophical ancestry, but it's done. (see Churchland's Studies in Neurophilosophy).

Dualism, physicalism, etc, are no longer speculative issues. Work to demonstrate that the mind may be accounted for solely by neuroscientific processes is ongoing and successful. In fact that section's title is oddly specific, and should probably be "Argument from neuroscience." (done)

wing gundam 13:00, 1 March 2013 (UTC)

While your dispute with Eebster is y'all's own (and he raises good points), I concur with adding an Anchor, and with linking to neurophilosophy. I'm not so sure about the cognitive processes one.
"This is strong empirical evidence that cognitive processes have physical basis in the brain" — Certainly too strong, though true.
"There is no question that cognitive processes have physical basis in the brain" — Certainly Dehaene's conclusion, but can we make his argument explicit? Also phrasing should distinguish his conclusion, that consciousness is sufficiently described neurophysiological agents, from the obvious misinterpretation, that physical processes describe a part of consciousness.
wing gundam 08:45, 2 March 2013 (UTC)
Please feel free... I agree this is unclear: "consciousness is sufficiently described neurophysiological agents".
I'm troubled by the suggestion that prior to the advent of neuroscience, empirical evidence had been required, whereas now, the evidence is "strong" but not yet conclusive. Were that the case, non-material neuroscience might not be an oxymoron... more news could be just over the horizon. However, neuroscientists don't traffic in mind-body dualism (not while they're on the clock anyway). Any suggestion to contrary, seems to be a rather unfortunate mistake.—Machine Elf 1735 09:49, 2 March 2013 (UTC)
"...empirical evidence had been required, whereas now, the evidence is "strong" but not yet conclusive..." — I agree, that would be misleading. I think it's of primal importance to address the paradigm shift that has moved the subject matter of philosophy of mind into the experimentalists' domain. Certainly the evidence there is conclusive, but that's only indirectly relavent here.
I'm unsure how to phrase the neuroscience section, but it should include both the objection and such a discussion. Go ahead and author it. —wing gundam 10:29, 28 April 2013 (UTC)

Use sections, please[edit]

Can I respectfully ask that people contributing to this page give some structure to it? The mega-section above makes things really difficult for anybody who doesn't want to spend hours trying to parse it. Looie496 (talk) 17:06, 1 March 2013 (UTC)

Yeah, this is a little ridiculous. —wing gundam 00:52, 2 March 2013 (UTC)

What "Findings?"[edit]

If somebody is going to edit the article to make the extraordinary claim that "dualism isn't true because science. and facts." I think it would be appropriate to back that claim up with the actual facts. From what I can tell from the sources, those authors aren't making any claims about monism that haven't already been made for hundreds of years. While the editor is at it, they may want to hop on over to empiricism and update that as well, since it also seems to be lacking references to these alleged revolutionary breakthroughs. — Preceding unsigned comment added by 184.9.145.227 (talk) 14:47, 25 September 2013 (UTC)

Breuer and quantum measurement[edit]

The editor who summarized Breuer's thesis regarding self-measurement has misstated Breuer's conclusions, in my opinion. Breuer is talking to the operational reality of performing measurements on a quantum system which includes the observing system, not a human brain, or anything larger. The context of Breuer's thesis regards quantum systems and operational validation of quantum theories. Furthermore, the summary states that the inability to validate a theory proves that it is false. This is a fallacy. I propose that all of this be deleted because it has nothing to do with dualism to begin with, and because it is asserting 'facts' not present in the source.50.147.26.108 (talk) 15:51, 5 December 2013 (UTC)

If you're confident about that, go ahead and do it. Looie496 (talk) 16:03, 5 December 2013 (UTC)
I'm going to wait a bit and see if any objections arise. I'm not going to read through the whole thesis (as I would probably be the first besides Breuer to do so ;) ), but from what I read, it doesn't appear to address a system like the brain or imply anything important regarding the analysis of a brain-like system.50.147.26.108 (talk) 18:20, 5 December 2013 (UTC)

Superfluous text[edit]

"David Chalmers recently developed a thought experiment inspired by the movie The Matrix in which substance dualism could be true: Consider a computer simulation in which the bodies of the creatures are controlled by their minds and the minds remain strictly external to the simulation. The creatures can do all the science they want in the world, but they will never be able to figure out where their minds are, for they do not exist in their observable universe.[8]"

I'm sorry, why does this get special emphasis? This is the old "brain in a vat" thought experiment that existed for decades. Just because Chalmers used a popular tool (the movie) to demonstrate an idea in a paper recently does not mean that he invented it as the article seems to suggest. 15.195.185.83 (talk) 20:57, 21 April 2014 (UTC)

You're right - Chalmers' Matrix paper is not an important or new contribution to debates about dualism. --David Ludwig (talk) 04:18, 22 April 2014 (UTC)