Friday, July 9, 2010

Why Frank Jilted Mary!

Ed Feser talks about Mary's Room and why Frank Jackson abandoned it.

As I say in my comment there, I've found it odd that it was always "Frank Jackson's Mary's Room", but few people bother to mention Jackson later backed away from the argument, and Ed is the first one to explain why Jackson did so. I always was confused by that, because you'd think that someone taking the opposing view of a thought experiment they themselves came up with would be big news.

It turns out that Jackson's reversal is less than impressive. By Ed and Robinson's explanation, the reason seems to be "Because physicalism is important and popular!" More Arlen Specter than Socrates.

Anyway, Ed does a brilliant explanation of why the mind (including qualia) wrecks physicalism, and does so irrevocably. He also repeats Chomsky's observation that "the physical" lost its once-upon ironclad positive content a while ago. Agreed again and again.

My only differing suspicion here is that Ed seems certain that, while neutral-monism and panpsychism and even idealism are now seemingly areas that the exploded "physicalism" concept can now absorb, no one will ever start calling Aristotilean divisions "physicalist". Me, I'm not so sure. Really, the fact that - by Ed's own estimation - no less than the eliminative materialists try to "smuggle in" formal and final causal talk, should be sending up warning flags.

My impression is that just many so-called "materialists"/"physicalists" care less about whether something really 'is' materialist or physicalist than whether that particular label is slapped on something.. Rather like the "secular" schtick, where it doesn't matter whether advocating this or that particular value absolutely requires "formal" and "final" cause talk (Or what it's normally regarded as: religious concepts and vocabulary) to justify the secular values. All that matters is being able to call it "secular", rightly or wrongly.

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