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I move, therefore I am Physical Literacy June 2013 Jens E. Birch Oslo University College

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Presentation on theme: "I move, therefore I am Physical Literacy June 2013 Jens E. Birch Oslo University College"— Presentation transcript:

1 I move, therefore I am Physical Literacy June 2013 Jens E. Birch Oslo University College

2 Structure of the talk – 1. What does dualism mean? – 2. What is wrong with substance dualism? – 3. If we deny substance dualism, where does that leave us? Monism – 4. What kind of monism should we support? The phiIosophical underpinnings of Physical Literacy; is there such a thing as a free lunch?

3 1. Dualism Dualism: the view that the world consists of two things/parts/substances –Ontological- and epistemological dualism Cartesian dualism, from René Descartes ( ): the doctrine that the soul is distinct from the body. It is a substance dualism, it has ontological claims Why divide the world into two parts? –Descartes wants to establish the fundament on which to build science. He wants to find what we cannot doubt –We may call into doubt every material object (like the body extended in space). A demon may trick the senses, and my senses have been fooled several times –I cannot doubt that I doubt (doubt is to think). To think=to exist. It follows – I think, therefore I am (Cogito ergo sum) –Things not sharing all properties are different (I may doubt the body, but not thinking) –Thus, the material body and the thinking mind are not the same thing, they are two different substances Material bodies are physical; the essence of the physical is extension in space (res extensa) The thinking substance is immaterial; the essence of the immaterial mind is to think. The immaterial substance must lack spatial location and extension Descartes (1996) held that there does in fact exist a two-way psychophysical interaction between the physical body and the immaterial mind

4 2. Arguments against substance dualism The problem of interaction: the body has a causal potent effect on the mind, and vice versa. But how can something immaterial, something without extension and location in space cause something in the physical realm? –the physical world is causally closed. It is a basic principle of science, and the psychophysical interaction of substance dualism goes against any scientific understanding of the world The theory of evolution: when and how did an immaterial mind evolve in humans? The same holds ontogenetically, from egg cell to mature adult: our cognitive and mental capacities develop throughout the lifecourse Substance dualism is impossible to verify. It is non-scientific Substance dualism may also be interpreted as existentially problematic: it rates everything physical; our bodies, our senses, earth, life on earth as secondary to pure thinking (contemplation without body, brain and world) Why would anyone be a substance dualist then? –Life after death –Offers an escape from the body and the world, which seems profitable in certain situations –Substance dualism seems to explain how physical matter can be conscious. But we are left with the problem of interaction. What is the alternative?

5 3. Monism Monism: the view that the world consists of only one thing Idealism: everything that exists is immaterial Physicalism: everything that exists is and is necessitated by the physical If everything from sticks and stones and humans are made of the same stuff, how can the physical think and feel?

6 4a.What is problematic with this brainbased view of ourselves? The brain is more important than the body. The brain directs the body. It is in the brain that everything really happens –Joseph LeDoux: The Synaptic Self (2002) This leads to a new form of dualism: between brain and body It is what Evan Thompson (2007) calls a Cartesian Hangover: I can exist as brain, without the body –C.f The Matrix/the mad scientist/brain in the vat

7 4b. What could be an alternative to the brainbased view? Thompson: we must rethink the brain in the vat argument. Humans evolve as bodies in the world Andy Clark (2008): the extended view. The brainbased view is focused on Internal control: (perception → cognition → action) –Active dynamic (Asimo) vs the extended view’s focus on External control: (perception → action) –Passive dynamics is an approach to movement control, based on utilising the momentum of swinging limbs for greater efficiency momentum Rizzolatti & Sinigaglia (2008): motor actions are intentional and thus cognitive –Not to be confused with automaticity and the non-conscious (Bargh, 1999). This view must also be some cartesian hangover. Cf perception → cognition → action If motor actions are intentional and cognitive, then motor actions are also conscious Understanding skills and know-how in physical activity may help us to understand how human consciousness works in and through the world: humans are conscious even if something (like motor movement) occurs without prereflection, an accompanying- or declarative thought. Weaknesses? Although we must accept that not all cognition is motor action, all motor actions are cognitive. To move is to think If moving is thinking, and thinking is existing It follows I move, therefore I am

8 References Bargh, J. & T. Chartrand. (1999). The Unbearable Automaticity of Being. American Psychologist 54:7 Clark, A. (2008). Supersizing the Mind: Embodiment, Action, and Cognitive Extension. Oxford: Oxford University Press Descartes, R. (1996). Meditations on First Philosophy. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press LeDoux, J. (2002). Synaptic Self: how our brains become who we are. New York: Penguin Books Rizzolatti, G. & C. Sinigaglia. (2008). Mirrors in the Brain. Oxford: Oxford University Press Thompson, E. (2007). Mind in Life. Cambridge: Harvard University Press

9 Thank you for your attention

10 Ontological dualism vs epistemological dualism ? Part I: Descartes’ Sixth Meditation Case for Cartesian Dualism Argument 1: The Divisibility Argument (1) The body is divisible into parts. (2) The mind is not divisible into parts. Therefore, (3) The mind is not identical to the body. Two important assumptions (required for The Divisibility Argument): Important assumption #1 – Leibniz’s Law of Identity: (LL) Two things x and y are identical only if, for every property F, x is F if and only if y is F. Important assumption #2 – The necessary divisibility of extended objects: (DE) All extended things are divisible things. Argument 2: The Master Argument (often referred to as The Epistemological Argument) (1) I, Descartes, have a clear and distinct understanding of my self as essentially a thinking substance, but as not essentially extended. (2) I, Descartes, have a clear and distinct understanding of my body as essentially extended substance, but as not essentially thinking. Therefore, (3) I, Descartes, have a clear and distinct understanding that I, my self, can exist separately from (my) body. (4) Whatever I clearly and distinctly understand can be brought about by God as I understand it. Therefore, (5) I, Descartes, can exist separately from my body. (6) If x can exist separately from y, then x and y are really distinct. Therefore, (7) I, Descartes, am really distinct from my body.


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