Rationalism, Empiricism, Monism, and Dualism

Rationalism, Empiricism, Monism, and Dualism
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Posted Aug 5, 2013 - 10:36 PM:
Subject: Rationalism, Empiricism, Monism, and Dualism
I was thinking about the history of philosophy, particuarly, the enlightenment era, when it occured to me that empiricists tended to be monists of one sort or another, and rationalists tended to be dualists. For example, Descartes a dualist, Spinoza a double aspect theorist (which, to me, seems indistinguishable from property dualism), while Berkeley was an idealist, Holbach and Hobbes materialists, and so far as I understand Hume is best construed as an idealist or neutral monist. The only one I'm not sure of is Locke; I've seen him referred to as a materialist a few times, but I've always interpreted him to be a property dualist (while I'm at it, Kant seems best construed as a property dualist as well, if not a substance dualist. I'm not sure about Leibniz, I've never studied him and am not quite sure what all the monad business is about).

Please do correct me if I am wrong about any of those, it's been some time since I have read their works and I know some of the terms such as "property dualist" were not around then.

In any case, was it merely coincidence that empiricists tended to be monists and rationalists tending to be dualists, perhaps due to empiricism being influenced by the legacy of Hobbes (materialist) and rationalism by the legacy of Descartes (dualism), or is there something particular about the ways empiricists and rationalists of this time went about doing philosophy that led them to have a sort of general consensus about the mind-body problem within their schools of thought?

Edited by Wiki on Aug 5, 2013 - 11:14 PM
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Posted Aug 5, 2013 - 11:26 PM:

Wiki wrote:
...or is there something particular about the ways empiricists and rationalists of this time went about doing philosophy that led them to have a sort of general consensus about the mind-body problem within their schools of thought?


In simple terms, empiricists would only look in the one direction for answers - outward to the world and its evidence. Rationalists would look in two directions - both outward to the world and inward to the "realm of reason". Reason can discover truths that seem logically self-evident/mathematically necessary. Reason seems also oriented to the realm of meaning, purpose, even the divine - mind on the grand scale. The empiricist might accept the fruits of rationalism - maths and other useful ideas - but tend to treat them as merely pragmatic constructs. Not a further aspect of reality themselves but just tools by which empirical observation gets organised.

My version of the truth is that the reality lies somewhere between monism and dualism in being hierarchical or triadic. This is the systems view of reality taken by Peirce and others. In Peirce's framing of it, we have to look in three directions - firstness, secondness and thirdness - to see "everything". Aristotle also took a triadic view with his doctrine of hylomorphic form. It is a hierarchical ontology because we would look downwards to the material realm, upwards to the formal realm, and sideways to see the substantial actuality which is the realm where things like ourselves concretely exist.

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Posted Aug 5, 2013 - 11:57 PM:

apokrisis wrote:


In simple terms, empiricists would only look in the one direction for answers - outward to the world and its evidence. Rationalists would look in two directions - both outward to the world and inward to the "realm of reason". Reason can discover truths that seem logically self-evident/mathematically necessary. Reason seems also oriented to the realm of meaning, purpose, even the divine - mind on the grand scale. The empiricist might accept the fruits of rationalism - maths and other useful ideas - but tend to treat them as merely pragmatic constructs. Not a further aspect of reality themselves but just tools by which empirical observation gets organised.

My version of the truth is that the reality lies somewhere between monism and dualism in being hierarchical or triadic. This is the systems view of reality taken by Peirce and others. In Peirce's framing of it, we have to look in three directions - firstness, secondness and thirdness - to see "everything". Aristotle also took a triadic view with his doctrine of hylomorphic form. It is a hierarchical ontology because we would look downwards to the material realm, upwards to the formal realm, and sideways to see the substantial actuality which is the realm where things like ourselves concretely exist.



Thanks, that's a good way to explain how they tended to different opinions in the philosophy of mind in that particular era at least.

I'm not quite sure how to interpret what you said about hiearchy. Is that supposed to imply a different sort of substance at every level? Dualism is two levels, two substances (or properties if you're a property dualist). I have tended towards reductive and eliminative materialism in recent times, though recently I've moved more towards a non-reductive materialism. I can understand how reality might be hiearchically organized, with laws on the quantum level, up to the classical/Newtonian level of matter, laws governing biology, then behavior and mental matters, but that seems accomplishable with one substance. In any case, that's a discussion for another thread, or private messages.
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Posted Aug 6, 2013 - 4:07 AM:

Wiki wrote:

I'm not quite sure how to interpret what you said about hiearchy. Is that supposed to imply a different sort of substance at every level?


No, I'm not talking about levels of substance or properties, although that is how a reductionist might talk about it. Instead, I mean a causal hierarchy where the substantial emerges from the interaction of bottom-up and top-down causes - local degrees of freedom in interaction with global constraints. Or material causes in interaction with formal causes.

So it is monistic about material cause in that it would always be "the localised stuff that constructs". But then there has to be also the laws, the constraints, the formal cause that organises. And substance is what emerges as a result - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hylomorphism








On Aug 6, 2013 - 11:32 AM, prothero responded: One might also consult Aristotle's four causes, neo-Platonic notions, and more scientific notions about levels or layers of reality and organizational principles on macro and micro levels. Often talk about the "real" world is focused only on physical
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Posted Aug 6, 2013 - 11:38 AM:

Confusing epistomology arguments- rationalism and empiricism. Quite obviously "knowing" requires both; the argument centers on the importance of each. I lthink intution, imagnination and creativity are also important in "knowing".

with

Ontological arguments- monism and dualism- The tendency in modern philosophy is towards some form of monism (idealism, physicalism, materialism, neutral, process) and away from two separate ontologies (dualism-mind and matter) which interact in some mysterious fashion.

.
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Posted Aug 6, 2013 - 11:57 AM:

prothero wrote:
Confusing epistomology arguments- rationalism and empiricism. Quite obviously "knowing" requires both; the argument centers on the importance of each. I lthink intution, imagnination and creativity are also important in "knowing".

with

Ontological arguments- monism and dualism- The tendency in modern philosophy is towards some form of monism (idealism, physicalism, materialism, neutral, process) and away from two separate ontologies (dualism-mind and matter) which interact in some mysterious fashion.

.


I think you misunderstood me. I was commenting on the tendency of empiricists to be monists and of rationalists to be dualist. Knowing full well epistemology and ontology are seperate matters, I was inquiring as to why there might be that association between empiricism/monism and rationalism/dualism. Or perhaps I am incorrect in saying there's that tendency.
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Posted Aug 6, 2013 - 12:07 PM:

Wiki wrote:
I think you misunderstood me. I was commenting on the tendency of empiricists to be monists and of rationalists to be dualist. Knowing full well epistemology and ontology are seperate matters, I was inquiring as to why there might be that association between empiricism/monism and rationalism/dualism. Or perhaps I am incorrect in saying there's that tendency.


Well I would consider myself both a rationalist (Platonist of sorts) and a monist (neutral or process). I also have a neo-Platonist levels of layers or reality and organization view, so I think there are no such exclusions or tendencies.

There is a tendency for empiricists to be physicalists (a form of monism) or scientic naturalism and for rationalists to avoid monistic physicalism but I think that is as far as it goes.

Edited by prothero on Aug 6, 2013 - 12:14 PM
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On Aug 6, 2013 - 11:32 AM, prothero replied internally to apokrisis's No, I'm not talk....

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