Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Soul-body interaction

I have a post on soul-body interaction on Biola's Center for Christian Thought blog that may be of interest to my readers here.

8 comments:

Skylar said...

It seems to me that a corollary of your article is that Christian philosophers would do well to construct a realist theory of causation that would explain the deeper issues mentioned.

Has anybody done this, or is anybody currently attempting to do this?

Heath White said...

I would add that the "interaction problem" is naturally a big deal when you have a pre-Newtonian idea of causation. But when you think of it in any modern way the problem just goes away. The fact that Arnauld discussed it with Descartes makes a lot of sense. The fact that it is still being discussed is a minor disgrace.

Hassan Abdillah said...

Dr. Pruss,

I'm sure it's not my place to make such a request, but can you take some time out from your busy schedule to publish more material aimed at a beginner or intermediate audience? Maybe it's just me, but it's frustrating to see most of the material about natural theology (or other related issues) are either too basic, or too advanced.

Your consideration means much!
Hassan

Alexander R Pruss said...

It would be nice. I do some of that on the blog, and maybe that's the best venue. I don't really know how to write for the general public.

Alexander R Pruss said...

It would be nice. I do some of that on the blog, and maybe that's the best venue. I don't really know how to write for the general public.

gmac said...

Dr. Pruss, thank you for your awesome reflections on the soul and the body. I plan on purchasing your new book on Christian sexual ethics, so thank you for your great work!

I was wondering what your opinions are on Patrick Lee's and Robert George's view regarding the substantial unity of the soul and the body. They write about that in their book Body-Self Dualism. Do you agree with it? Disagree? Would it be possible to briefly explain why or why not? Do you agree with their view of the substantial unity of human persons and the ethical conclusions they draw from it?

I'm just a Christian laymen who wants to be able to defend life and marriage. So, I'm interested in knowing your thoughts on their reflection.

Thank you for your time, brother.

Philothumper said...

The claim that blob can have no physical explanation seems to assume that blob cannot be explained by a necessary physical state of affairs. But, that can be so only if there is no necessary physical state of affairs. Why think that? I know guys like Oppy favor the idea of there being some necessary natural state -- maybe even the initial state -- from which possibilities branch off.

Richard Davis said...

Philothumper,

There doesn't seem to be anything about the properties which most clearly exist by necessity --- the properties in mathematics, logic, and mereology --- which require space or spatial things, or matter or material things, to exist at all. So it should be perfectly coherent for only those properties to exist without there being any spatial or material things. Consider a possible world like that: where only the necessary properties (and whatever their existence entails) but no spatial or material things exist. Could there be any physical state of affairs at all in a world like that? Can there be physics without matter or space? If not, then since there is a possible world with nothing spatial or material in it, it follows that there is no necessary physical state of affairs.

But maybe the word 'physical' does include even certain states of affairs that make no reference to spatial or material things. For instance, maybe logical and mathematical facts are physical facts. Then the state of the world might be regarded as 'physical' even if no spatial or material things exist.

If the word 'physical' applies that widely, though, and it's not tied very closely to concepts of space or matter, then it's tough to see why an immaterial mind that obeyed law-like rules and interacted with the body couldn't be regarded as a 'physical' thing. Sure, it wouldn't be extended in space or made of matter, but that isn't even relevant to the question of whether not it is a 'physical thing' if physical things needn't be closely tied to the spatial or material.

So the danger for the physicalist is that if the word 'physical' *can* be applied to an initial necessary state of affairs (one which has little to do with space or matter), then the causal closure of the physical world doesn't rule out the existence of a causally interactive immaterial mind. Such a mind could have all the properties that Cartesians or hylomorphists picture it as having, and still that mind could count as a 'physical' thing. So if there is a necessary physical state of affairs, then the causal closure of the physical world is totally compatible with the existence of an immaterial mind that causally interacts with material things. Of course, if there's *not* a necessary physical state of affairs, then Pruss's point stands and the causal closure of the physical world is most probably false.