Note on Agency

William Hasker notes in ‘The Emergent Self’ that:

‘Mechanistic causation and mechanastic explanation are fundamentally nonteleological.’ (p. 63)

In light of this, which I take to be a fairly accurate description of mechanistic philosophy, there cannot be a fully mechanistic account of human action. Human action, and freedom/freedom of the will, require a telos, an end, a purpose, and any account which denies any of those things will ultimately fail to be coherent.


Note on Philosophy of Mind

I started reading William Hasker’s ‘The Emergent Self’ earlier this week – it’s basically philosophy of mind from an analytic point of view, which doesn’t really thrill me at all. To be honest, I hate the language and style of analytic philosophy (with the odd exception here and there). It causes me to spend way more time than necessary trying to figure out what is actually being said when I have to translate symbolic logic used in an argument for supervenience.

That aside, however, I found his criticisms of eliminative materialism pretty sound (not that EM is a really hard target) and the discussion on epiphenomenalism and mental causation quite interesting, along with the sections on mind/brain identity. Again, lots of the language is hard for me to work with but overall the arguments are interesting.

What still stands out to me is the extent to which a lot of these problems are trying to deal with a fairly naive Cartesian dualism – the interaction problem, mental causation, etc all really seem to be problems only if one accepts that either dualism of the Cartesian stripe is true or materialism/naturalism/physicalism is true. It’s odd to, more or less, ignore other conceptions of mind/matter, like Thomism, Buddhism, or any of the classical perspectives, Platonic, Stoic, etc. There’s lots out there.