Consciousness: Egnor on dualism: another example (General)

by dhw, Friday, August 17, 2018, 11:33 (721 days ago) @ David Turell

dhw: ...what is your objection to my proposal that the soul (IF it exists) comprises all the immaterial attributes of the self which believers think will survive the death of the body, e.g. consciousness, the ability to think, emotion, the will, memory, etc.?

DAVID: The brain is no longer present for the soul to use.

dhw: That is why a surviving soul would need psychic means of observing and communicating. What other changes would be required, and what is your objection to the above description of the soul?

DAVID: No objection to the description as stated.

You agree that the same soul (if it exists) survives the death of the brain, and you have come up with no changes apart from the means of observation and communication. You also agree that the soul is conscious and has the ability to think. Put the two together, and what have you got? In life, you have a conscious, thinking soul which depends on the brain for its means of observation and communication (= acquiring information and giving material expression to its thoughts – these functions being performed through the electricity of the brain). So why do you object to this perfectly logical description of how dualism works?

dhw: Individuality consists in each person’s immaterial thoughts, will, emotions, memories etc., and believers think these will survive death. How could the immaterial essence exclude consciousness and the ability to think?

DAVID: It depends on how the soul operates in life and in death.

Already agreed: if it exists, it “operates” by using material means of observing and communicating in life, and psychic means in death. Now please tell me how your immaterial essence could possibly exclude consciousness and the ability to think.


DAVID: If your soul is in intimate communication with the brain, while learning, it is not separate so why can't you consider it uses the brain to think as I know I do?

I have not said it is separate. I have pointed out that in dualism the two parts of the self (soul and body/brain) perform different functions, and the thinking soul uses the brain to provide the information it thinks about, and to give its thought material expression. The separation only occurs if the soul survives the death of the brain.

DAVID: My theory accounts for all the aspects of what we know about thought and brain function and is a dualistic theory.

dhw: Which theory? You have offered us multiple theories, including a “translation” theory which (mercifully) seems to have disappeared. If only you would stick to your now confirmed belief that the electricity is the brain’s response to the soul’s conscious thoughts, there would be none of this confusion over the meaning of dualism, and we could turn our attention to resolving the dichotomy between the two schools of thought.

DAVID: Where do you think I said this? The electricity is the required means for I/soul to think.

Here is the explicit exchange between us:

dhw: There are two schools of thought: brain electricity creates thought (= materialism), but nobody knows how; or brain electricity is the brain’s response to the thoughts of a soul (= dualism), but nobody knows how “soul” thinking creates the electricity that enables the
soul to control the brain.

DAVID: I accept your second thought above.

If brain electricity is the brain’s RESPONSE to the thoughts of the soul, the thinking causes the electricity. It could hardly be clearer, and that is the dualistic view you accepted on Wednesday, although you then went on: “The soul and I since we are one and the same use the brain by creating thought in the electricity in the brain”. I asked what “creating thought in the electricity” meant, and pointed out that if the brain RESPONDS to the thoughts of the soul, the soul obviously creates the thoughts.


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