by dhw, Thursday, April 26, 2018, 13:51 (812 days ago) @ dhw


There is, then, no dichotomy. Our personal cell communities cooperate with one another to produce all the attributes that make us ourselves, and the brain’s thinkers direct the brain’s implementers, just as they do in any community. But outside forces (diseases, drugs) can disrupt the inner communities and change their behaviour, again as in any community. In extreme cases, the cells cannot defend themselves.

Does this mean that we are at the mercy of our cells? No. We mustn’t think of them as aliens residing inside us. They ARE us. And we ARE the “colony”. Their intelligence is our intelligence, we are the thinking community, and all the interacting internal and external factors that shape us from birth – both material (e.g. genes) and immaterial (e.g. experiences) – are unique to each of us. (It is also worth noting that nothing is fixed, because there is a constant interaction between what happens outside us and what happens inside us.) And so, according to this hypothesis, the materialists are right, because the source of our intelligence is the material cell. And the dualists are right, because what is created by the material cells is the individual immaterial intelligence with all that it entails: will, emotion, memory, inventiveness etc. Ours is an intelligence on a vastly higher level than that of individual bacteria and individual ants, but the two examples show the potential for complexity that arises from cooperation between individual intelligences, let alone between multiple communities of intelligences.

Can the immaterial energy of our intelligence produced by the cells live on when the cells themselves are dead? That was the subject of a post I wrote on 8 November 2016 on the misleadingly titled thread “Human Consciousness: Penrose: soul survives!” and repeated under “Reconciling materialism and dualism” on 5 January 2018 at 17.33. I stand by what I wrote then.

In conclusion – though perhaps this post is more of a starting point than a conclusion, as I’m aware that there are still multiple facets not covered, e.g. psychic experiences – I would accept the basis of dualism itself, in so far as we are a mixture of material body and immaterial intelligence, but we have two possible sources for that intelligence: one is immaterial, in the form of a soul which is a portion of a god’s intelligence; the other is material, in the form of our own cells cooperating with one another. As I hope is clear from the above, the dichotomy I outlined at the start simply disappears if we accept the second of these hypotheses. It still lingers with the first if we try to explain how an immaterial soul can be changed by material means (diseases, drugs), but since a soul has to be subject to change (it spends a lifetime learning), that might be a subject for further discussion. There is one last sting in the tail. It must be emphasized that the origin of our cells’ intelligence is open to question: the theist will say God invented the whole mechanism; the atheist will say it was all a stroke of luck; the panpsychist can go for the God solution or claim that intelligence is innate in all materials. The only other alternative that I can think of is that there is no such thing as intelligence. And if you believe that, you won’t have been able to read this post.

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