Author Topic: Property Dualism 101  (Read 475 times)

Xepera maSet

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Property Dualism 101
« on: January 23, 2018, 03:50:40 pm »
Property Dualism is an extremely important concept in modern philosophy, and it seems many have a lot of trouble understanding just what property dualism is and why it is important. I am hoping this will be a concise but thorough look into what property dualism means and why it matters.

To start we need to look at some definitions. In philosophy, a "property" is a "characteristic" or "feature" that can be attributed to something, and "things" are said to possess certain properties [1]. In other words, properties are that which give something its identity. "Identity" in philosophy is what a thing is in and of itself – its characteristics, what it IS. Two things are the same if they have the same identity, which means that they share identical properties [2]. Another important concept is the "Law of Identity", which is a logical axiom – an axiom being something which must be true and cannot be false, and cannot even be argued against [3]. The Law of Identity recognizes that every individual thing has its own nature – its own specific properties which give the thing its identity, and since the law is an axiom, this implication must be objectively true. It states that an object cannot have more than one identity, and that only by having identical properties can two things be the same [4]. Finally, in philosophy the term "dualism" is the position that there exists two kinds of reality which have different properties and are therefore non-identical – meaning that both things exist objectively and do not reduce into each other [5].  So, property dualism then is the position that things have their own identity, and that the two things in question have identities that do not match, therefore showing the two things are not identical or reducible. In the case of the Mind-Body Problem, these two things are the brain and mind, for example. Keep in mind this is just the logic of it, not support of any specific position at all. We are simply starting with based philosophy and definitions to help clarify this issue.

Now, there are many examples we can use to show property dualism is true of our objective world, specifically that both the material and immaterial exist. To do this we will use the most common one – the property dualism between the mind and the brain, where the brain represents the properties of matter, and the mind properties of the immaterial.

So, what properties can we assign to the brain/matter at large? For one we know that the brain is accessible to the senses. If we cut the head of a normal human open we are going to see the brain, be able to touch it, technically be able to smell and taste it if we were so inclined. We could take the brain and show it to everyone in the room, take picture of the brain and theoretically show it to everybody in the world. From this we can extract certain properties – directly accessible to the senses, universally accessible to anyone. Another property of the brain is that it works in a linear way, X  Y  Z. If we give a dose of LSD to an animal like a chimpanzee for example, we can see the very linear course from sober to intoxicated and back again, and the same is true in the vast majority of humans. Likewise we know that if, say, a child is afraid of snakes, and you expose them to a snake, they are going to experience fear. Further, the brain, like all matter, takes up a set amount of space. From a tiny electron to the largest galaxy in the universe, physical matter takes up space. This obviously includes the brain, which takes up place in the skull, or on a table during an autopsy, etc. These are just a very small number of example to try and keep the paper concise. So properties of the brain/matter again include being accessible to the senses, being universally accessible, acting in a linear way, and taking up physical space.

So what about the mind? Inner experience is not something that is accessible to the senses, unlike matter/the brain. You cannot see, hear, feel, taste, or smell anything of another's subjective universe, only that which they choose to share, which of course can be severally unreliable. You're not going to capture something like experience on film, or be able to record inner dialogue on a tape. And tied to this we can see that the mind is not universally accessible. Unlike cutting open a head and seeing a brain anyone can see, again all we have to access the experience of another is testimony. So the mind is not accessible to the senses and certainly not universally accessible, two properties that contradict those of the brain/matter. Further, minds do not act in linear ways. You can jump from thinking about philosophy to thinking about your dog, leap forward in time to plan the future or back to the past to relive a memory. Things like cognitive therapy and placebos without deception even show us that the mind can go against a natural brain process, such as learning to recognize and counter symptoms of depression, or the lessening of pain through belief without any actual physiological changes. Another contradiction in properties. Finally for our fourth example of space – mental events do not take up space. If you imagine a beautiful woman standing in front of you, there is no actual displacement of the space in front of you. When someone's thoughts are racing they do not fill up an office space or a room, because they do not take up space.

What we see then is that the brain/matter and the mind have entirely different properties, which also tells us that the mind is immaterial since it has contradictory properties to matter. Keep in mind that none of this requires any type of belief in ANYTHING, it's literally just an observation of the facts we have at hand. Once again, what we see is that matter is accessible to the senses, universally accessible, linear, and takes up space, whereas the immaterial, in this case the mind, is not accessible to the senses, not universally accessible, non-linear, and do not take up space. Per the law of identity, this means that brain/mind and matter/immaterial are not identical, and therefore both exist, creating a dualism.

To wrap up here, this is not to say that we should accept dualism and never question it. We should question everything all the time imo. Immaterial monism may show that what we think of as "matter" is actually an illusion caused by the mind or some more fundamental consciousness. Likewise, Material monism may show that the mind and consciousness reduces to the brain, they may provide a mechanism by which unconscious matter creates consciousness seems immaterial. What it comes down to is that neither position has provided convincing reasons accept them, and cannot (as of yet) explain how this seeming dualism arises but is not accurate. Pretty much every position likes to think they are the default position today, but none of these positions are default. They look at the world, gather data, and apply philosophical reasoning, thus coming to a conclusion about how the world is. If anything, the default position is solipsism and we move beyond that based on logic and empiricism.

Summary / TLDR:

Properties are what give a thing its identity, and things with different properties cannot be identical. This is basic logic. Matter, like the brain in our example, and the mind/experience, have different properties based on our knowledge of the universe at this time, and so are not identical. It is therefore on any form of monism to explain how one of these sets of properties reduces to and can arise from it without contradiction. This has not been accomplished yet.

[1] https://plato.stanford.edu/entries/properties/

[2] https://plato.stanford.edu/entries/identity/#1

[3] http://www.importanceofphilosophy.com/Metaphysics_Axiom.html

[4] http://www.importanceofphilosophy.com/Metaphysics_Identity.html

[5] http://www.philosophybasics.com/branch_dualism.html





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Mindmaster

Re: Property Dualism 101
« Reply #1 on: February 09, 2018, 07:16:36 am »
"Properties are what give a thing its identity, and things with different properties cannot be identical. This is basic logic. Matter, like the brain in our example, and the mind/experience, have different properties based on our knowledge of the universe at this time, and so are not identical. It is therefore on any form of monism to explain how one of these sets of properties reduces to and can arise from it without contradiction. This has not been accomplished yet."

Advaita addresses this very well in the idea that what is "real" is that which is not temporal or finite, the fundamental element actually being the immutable/unchangeable self and by extension Brahman.

The best way to describe the world view is the "real world" is a video game, and your true Self (atman) is the player of that. What you seem to partake of as "properties" are really just subjective agreements between the players. What is West Virginia or Ohio? Is it anything other than what a collection of minds agree too, and if such minds can fabricate such divisions of land maybe then they can be called into question themselves for creating illusionary fences around other things. Whose thoughts are running in my head? Are they even mine? Did I even realize I could argue any of the ideas of the logic I thrust into my head? Who am I then? The self-inquiry of these statements lead you to some very strange realizations about "logic" in that it is full of holes, side deals, and negotiations rather than being a truth - it's as malleable as clay and is more a product of conditioning rather than "reality". If the truth is malleable, it is maya, just a delusion - but that doesn't stop our egos from wanting to be right about everything. Most of us are willing to pretend it is real out of convenience, or sheer laziness. If enough people pretend along these lines and we memorize enough of their programming to seem intelligent, our egos feel great about themselves. Other people even think we're smart... :D

Logic has no place in monism (especially Advaita) in the strictest sense (though often used in a preliminary context for self-discernment), because as you can see the basis of the system relies on the tenet that the only real knowledge is Self (atman) and all other knowledge is basically subjective or irrelevant, being based on the rendering of the subject (I) and the object (that which we describe). A "rendering" doesn't really exist, even if multiple people confirm it. We aren't looking at the thing, but a representation our senses present to our mind, and therein lies the difficulties. It is somewhat like looking into a mirror and deeming the reflection is "real", when it is filtered by the glass and is merely an approximation. Admittedly, it is still more convenient to pretend. It is this mind which is the most shapeable, and thus unreliable component in the system in that our judgements are projections or ghosts more than facts. The fact is we cannot get out of the SU-OJ loop long enough to KNOW.

We know even matter is actually made of energy through scientific experimentation. The trick is even in the term 'matter' in that it is seemingly meaningless in this perspective - that we use a term for that which "seems like energy" or "seems solid", having nothing to do with the reality. The funny thing is that texts like the Upanishads say _exactly_ this, though written thousands of years ago.

« Last Edit: February 09, 2018, 07:25:33 am by Mindmaster »

pi_rameses

Re: Property Dualism 101
« Reply #2 on: February 09, 2018, 12:49:17 pm »
Well said, @Liu. I'm in agreement with the sentiment as anti-philosophical as it seems.

Further thoughts I had: insofar as the atman is unchanging, so are its experience whether it be religious or sensory.

Maya presents its own unique problem. And here's what I thought when I read your post on logic breaking down. In one sense, it's unchanging in that it's always influencing us but also not because the illusion manifests differently. Another Theseus' ship paradox.
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Xepera maSet

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Re: Property Dualism 101
« Reply #3 on: February 09, 2018, 02:27:49 pm »
Well said. I am actually starting to move away from dualism - not property dualism which seems to clearly exist, but substance dualism where I have been at for a few years.

"The Dragon became as a many-headed Serpent,
It's fiery tongues bearing forth speech
Into all the kingoms of the Earth."


My book, "Behold: the Prince of Darkness!": https://www.amazon.com/gp/aw/d/1726037460/ref=dbs_a_w_dp_1726037460

pi_rameses

Re: Property Dualism 101
« Reply #4 on: February 09, 2018, 02:40:07 pm »
Of course. The property dualism is there whether it's ascribed either to Nature, Maya or something else.
Pro omnis dominos viae sinistra, sic itur ad astra

Mindmaster

Re: Property Dualism 101
« Reply #5 on: February 10, 2018, 10:48:17 pm »
Of course. The property dualism is there whether it's ascribed either to Nature, Maya or something else.

From a non-dualistic perspective, it's not that they are 'not there'. Maya reflects more your own misunderstanding of 'things' not that the things do not exist. If you believe the things are separate from the oneness, or yourself, then you are influenced by maya. Maya doesn't say they're not there so much as they are not as they seem. Advaita doesn't even attempt to address this problem directly because it is unnecessary for understanding, they just go straight into working on the mind and its delusions about itself. When those delusions about the nature of 'I' are rectified, then the awareness establishes the actual reality and nothing more needs to be said. The goal then of Advaita is not to make you believe anything, but rather find within yourself the truth. The beliefs "espoused" by Advaita in this context are not dogma, but rather explanations on why you should know the Self (Atman) and what you have to gain by it. Generally, this is achieved by jnana (synonymous with atma vichara, or self-equiry), bhakti, or other practices. There are several ways to acheive the same result, though the method of bhakti (devotion) used by Advaita is different in that the focus is the "god within" and it is the object or aim.
« Last Edit: March 10, 2018, 03:46:01 pm by Mindmaster »

pi_rameses

Re: Property Dualism 101
« Reply #6 on: June 04, 2018, 10:08:25 pm »
It's interesting that you bring this up. Giving the different schools of Indian philosophy, I opted for Advaita Vedanta. Prior to that, I opted for immaterialism although materialism would suffice. Thus reading historical OU/SU interpretations was quite reminiscent. It seems rather arbitrary as skeptics suggest.

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