Sunday, May 9, 2010

Bold enough to be exciting; tame enough to be plausible 1

That's what advocates of EC want.  So, it seems to me to lead to some fancy philosophical footwork.

So, for example, in the preface to Mind in Life, Thompson writes, "Where there is life there is mind" (p. ix).  Bold indeed.  Plants and slime molds have minds.  But, then he immediately walks this back.  "Life and mind share a core set of formal or organizational properties, and the formal or organizational properties distinctive of mind are an enriched version of those fundamental to life".  Tame.

In truth, it appears that the second clause of this second sentence contradicts the claim that where there is life there is mind.  More specifically, we can have life without mind in those cases where one does not have the enriched version of the properties fundamental to life.

I'm sure there are ways out of this.  So, the first might be taken to be a true empirical generalization, where the latter a claim about (logical, nomological, metaphysical, conceptual) possibilities that are not, in empirical fact, actualized.  Fancy philosophical footwork.  It's really hard to pin philosophers down enough to convict them of inconsistency.

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