Mind the guff. A response to John Searle

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Abstract:

(I) John Searle's conception of consciousness in the ‘Mind the Gap’ issue of the Journal of Consciousness Studies remains short on content, no advance on either materialism or traditional dualism. Still, it is sufficiently contentful to be self-contradictory. And so his Biological Subjectivity on Two Levels, like materialism and dualism, needs replacing by a radically different conception of consciousness — such as Consciousness as Existence. (II) From his idea that we can discover ‘gaps’, seeming absences of causal circumstances, in our experience of deciding and acting, Searle is led to the positing of a self and to mysterious causing. (III) In fact philosophers of determinism and freedom over three centuries have concerned themselves with what are now termed ‘gaps’. Searle's advance is a useful terminological one. Compatibilist philosophers of freedom, contrary to what is said, have not missed any point at all. A successor to both Compatibilism and Incompatibilism is needed. (IV) Searle's previous account of deciding and acting in Biological Subjectivity on Two Levels does indeed fail because of its epiphenomenalism. (V) The culmination of his paper, his preferred hypothesis now about deciding and acting, is that down-up causation is true of it but not left-right causation. Quantum Theory as often interpreted does not work down-up but does work left-right. The hypothesis is entirely in the tradition of the Incompatibilist and Libertarian philosophers of determinism and freedom, whom Searle has joined, but is factually incredible.

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: January 1, 2001

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