Subjectivist Propaganda


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doi: 10.6084/m9.figshare.13076906


Foundations

In science, subjectivism has pejorative connotations, so it is dissmissed so easily that it has not any chance to present its case. It is the opposite with physicalism, which is assumed without doubts.

As I am myself a subjectivist, this paper is written for you physicalists in the way that I think it will be easier for you to locate where I am wrong. Please, tell me.

Background

This paper was born while reading Philosophy of Mind, Third Edition, by Jaegwon Kim. I noticed then that he jumped from Descartes (17th century) in Chapter 2 to behaviorism (20th century) in Chapter 3 without any mention to Kant (18th century). With a quick look to the back matter of the book, I verified that Kant was not indexed. Anyway, I continued reading it while taking note of any mention to Kant, but I found none.

To me, it was very difficult to believe that Kant was not dealt with in a book on the Philosophy of Mind, so I investigated this case further. In a file containing Kim's textbook, I searched the string Kant, resulting a “String ‘Kant’ not found” notification. Thereafter I repeated the operation, but then in case independent mode, with the same negative result. This is really unbelievable, because it means that the four consecutive letters K, A, N, and T, in that order, are not found anywhere in the book. Therefore the string is not in the main text, neither as the whole word ‘Kant’ nor in a derivative as ‘Kantian’, and it is not in the back matter, so Kant is neither indexed nor cited. In particular, the string ‘Kant’ is not in the very long References section, meaning that it is not in the title of any cited article, or book, and it is not in the name of any of the journals where the articles were published.

Something similar happens with Hume, even though he is not a continental philosopher. Hume is mentioned just twice:

Neglecting Hume and Kant in an important textbook on the Philosophy of Mind was so shocking to me that I needed to understand it. The result was this paper.

Disclaimer: Below are some spoilers, including the abstract. Stop reading this, unless you want to know why Kant is not mentioned in Kim's textbook.

Cognition figure

Why is Kant not mentioned in Kim's (2011) Philosophy of Mind? Because physicalism ignores the transcendental problem raised by Descartes, and then its solution by Kant is pointless. And Kim is a physicalist because physicalism is the default position in science and in the philosophy of mind.

Why is physicalism the default position in science and the philosophy mind? Because of a mix of good intentions with the will of applying quick and simple solutions to complex problems. Physicalism tries to repeat the success of physics in the social siences, so it imposes the ontology of physics on them.

Abstract

Physicalism is the default position in science and in the philosophy of mind, but it should not be, I argue, because of two errors. By its epistemological error, physicalism tries to explain theoretically what is evident. Only what I experience in first person is certain, so pain does not need a theoretical explanation. Physics itself is based on first person perception, avoiding the epistemological error, and then physics can progress, even changing its own ontology. However, physicalism imposes the ontology of physics on every science, and in physics everything is causal. By its ontological error, physicalism tries to explain causally what is intentional. And it happens that causality and intentionality are mutually exclusive, showing that the ontology of physics is insufficient wherever intentions are present. This ontological insufficiency prevents that physicalism can repeat the success of physics with any science where intentions play a rôle, and thus it is blocking the advance of both the social sciences and the philosophy of mind. To overcome this obstacle, I propose to go back to the essentials: we should consider again the transcendental problem raised by Descartes and its solutions by Hume and Kant. On top of this subjectivist solution, we should take advantage of Darwin and Turing, and we should extend our ontology beyond causality to include intentionality, and here my proposal is problem solving. Then you could join our Post-Kantian subjectivism and say with me: The world is not a huge machine, as physicalism proposes, but an enigmatic problem.

Last paragraph

Physicalism's intention of translating the huge success of physics to the social sciences, including psychology and the cognitive sciences, is laudable. Unfortunately, being a noble intention does not grant success, and in this case, as I see it, it is the opposite: because of its epistemological and ontological errors, physicalism prevents the use of intentionality, precluding the advance of psychology and the social sciences. My way out of this obstacle is to go back to the essentials, that is, to consider again the transcendental problem raised by Descartes and its solutions by Hume and Kant. After that consideration, and on top of it, we should take advantage of Darwin and Turing. It is critical, however, to extend our ontology beyond causality to include intentionality, and my proposal is problem solving. Then you could finally join me: The world is not a huge machine, as physicalism proposes, but an enigmatic problem. The world is an enigmatic problem.


References

Link to the page of my paper on the philosophical foundations of cognitive science in figshare, and direct link to the pdf file.

This is the book that triggered this paper:

These are light PDF files of the classical texts by Descartes, Hume and Kant used in the paper:

And this is the light PDF file of the classical text by Darwin:


Última actualización: 2020-10-11.

© Ramón Casares 2020