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« Thoughts on Faculty "Education" | Main | Explaining Language Games and Grammar »

The False Mind Body Problem in Philosophy

(sent to analytic. The poster says that when two people disagree about whether a tree exists independently of a mind, it is a real problem for philosophy. I claim it is not. He says that if you do not directly confront the issue over whether tree is "real," you are only hiding the disagreement) 


When you talk to an idealist using his/her language framework, you are not "hiding the disagreement." To the contrary, you are directly confronting it by showing the person that the redundancy they impose in speech ("phenomenal-phenomenal") is not consequential to anything. It's not consequential because the disagreement is only over how to characterize something, not the something itself.  (You say that I've said this and you disagree. But I can only say it again, because you don't appear to understand.) One who says tree versus "treeness" to describe something that in every respect appears as the same X before each brain in the discussion -- each being healthy and behaving the same toward the tree -- does nothing other than disagree about what to call their X. This is because he does not deny that "tree exists" is "true," where that merely means to his brain "ostensification confirmed;" he only means to speak of it in a different categorical
scheme ("treeness presents"). You are arguing only over the order of his housekeeping. It's like arguing whether to categorize in descending versus ascending order. You are only arguing only over his affiliation.

The only way a real dispute would exist is if he were to begin to treat the external world differently. If he were to try to will the tree away or try to run through it for example. Then, you have a real problem. But even here, the issue is not philosophical (one of disputation), its medical and therapeutic.   

The only other point I would make to you is that it matters least of all what people on this board think of Wittgenstein or about their profession when discussing this.  It also matters not that intellectual history saw philosophy take on a particular form. The question is only whether in a dispute such as this one should deploy a ritual of disputation that seeks to root for an affiliation. Do you realize that this is all you are doing -- rooting for the tree?

Why root for the tree, Walter, when you can root for the Steelers?  Just speak the man's redundancy and move on.  After being spoken to enough this way, he'll probably stop with this sort of languaging maneuver anyway.
Dr. Sean Wilson, Esq.
Assistant Professor
Wright State University
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