28-11-09

Das Gebiet des Fremdpsychischen

"(..) Das so konstituierte Psychische des Anderen wird als Klasse der "psychischen Zustände des Anderen" analog "meiner Seele" "die Seele des Anderen genannt. Das allgemeine Gebiet des "Fremdpsychischen" umfasst des Psychische aller der anderen Menschen die (d.h. deren Leiber) als physische Dinge in der konstituierten physikalischen Welt vorkommen.

Aus der angegebenen Art der Konstitution des Fremdpsychischen folgt: es gibt kein Fremdpsychisches ohne Leib. (..)", R. Carnap, Der logische Aufbau der Welt, p. 187, Meiner Philosophische Bibliothek, 1998.

(amateuristic English translation below)


I'm struggling with the demons of the mystical. What better weapon to take to such a fight than Der logische Aufbau? If I'm defeated, at least I will not be enshrined, & my bones scattered over the globe abused by the rich and powerful to instill hope in the poor and powerless; just enough hope for them not to question their status quo, but not so much hope as would avoid them being mobilized by the ruling classes, to fight their fights (typically in service of the demons of the mystical, that always come in handy when the people in power need them).

But enough of this left wing propaganda. On topic. Quick!

The afterlife. There is a wonderful argument by I. Kant to the effect that, practically, it just has to exist. I'm inclined to be sympathetic to that argument, although I will, hopefully, never be sympathetic to classical ideas of the after-life - including such a notion as 'living on in one's bones' or for that matter: 'via one's books' (although it is something like that but rather less restricted than books, & rather more than bad and good deeds).

In the end, for some kind of morality to find some kind of objective basis (empirical basis, if you want; I need to jump one of these days to Hume's development of the moral intuitions and the derived sense of justice and fairness), we will require that a certain action is deemed good on the basis of the consequences of that action &, as I remember that's the Kantian argument, that these consequences also count in the 'deeming good' way when they appear only after the person that does the 'deeming' is death. "We do it for the good of our children.", doesn't cut it because - to identify a less obvious complication - that would require 'the good' to be something that can be explicitated and that is stable over generations (which is not the case, as it's just merely the case that the process to check whether things have improved is stable, & not its content - but I'll desist from this by now usual topic of these quoughts). It is, by the way, more or less what Rawls also assumes (but he avoids the after-life by a rather deus ex machina assumption that you have an a priori situation in which one knows everything of consequences but one does not know who, or when, one is).

There are too many assumptions here already. On top of that there's a requirement that really is a requirement "amongst other" requirements where these others aren't put forward explicitly nor their interconnection is argued. I plead for your forgiveness and proceed to the conundrum posed by our requirement - consequences that count even if they're not consequences for 'us', strictly speaking (because - turning to our quote of the day - there's no psychical us when there's no bodily us; an assumption that I'll accept gladly as a premise conclusively established by Carnap (and previous issues raised here on Carnap do not really matter: this argument only starts "after" we have the own mental, the physical and the other mental).

Maybe a solution can be found in the direction of the 'cultural' objects of Carnap - if that is a sufficiently accurate translation of "Geistiger Zustände". Indeed, if we could make sense of our requirement as, properly, a requirement on such cultural objects, we would be rid of the whole body-soul (or primitive mind including the apperception and the 'sense' of the own individuality). Bear in mind that much of what I write here (and yeah-yeah, almost all conjecture, almost no proof) is premised on the fact that most everything that we would indicate with 'human' in everyday speak is - imho - a cultural object of this sort. Still, we can forget all of my previous wanderings and just step here into Carnap: if the above requirement makes sense in the 'cultural plane' only, we have achieved something.

I'm pretty confident that we could achieve this much. The concept of 'our soul' in the sense of the quote is not enough to qualify for the requirement above. It is just not enough mind to mind the goings-on of the here & now - one has to mind what could happen to a mind that would be co-happening with your body later. That ís a cultural construct. It's more than mere intuition - in fact it's the kind of higher order Humean intuition - to care about what could happen, generically so to speak, in a future that is only connected in the most abstract of ways to your present. You have no reason, to give an example, whatsoever to think you're going to get cancer but the fact that it is quite imaginabe that if you'd get it you'd want to have access to treatment, has enough of an impact for you (if you're not 'out' of your mind) to want to ensure that there is access to such treatment. This clearly is a cultural construct (& there's a link there to probabilities because there has to be some probability there).

So far so good but what about our deaths then? What about them indeed? Our lifes didn't come into the discussions. And while our specific bodies ARE strictly needed in the cultural constructs I talked about - they' ae only required in the most abstract of ways. A way that in my view would be amply satisfied by 'having existed once' in this or that body; something for which all moral agents qualify without mystery.

There are many remaining problems but only one is appropriate to touch upon here (if only not to forget it for posterity ;-): is there then only one cultural construct over all times. And if so, would that defeat our argument here by the ex absurdo used in the above: only one enumerable good? The answer is: yes and no. The construct of human culture is indeed a single one (which is, let me be clear: somewhat troubling a thought for me as it will be for you). But at the same time that does not mean the good is 'fixed' and stable; as it should be the requirement with which we started is a requirement on actions and not a requirement on all of culture. The restriction which comes from the requirement being in the 'cultural plane' is just that there is a single 'way in which' we can establish the good. But the actual judging remains on actions & consequences and may drift and will always be fallible and only piecemeal informed; all of the good humbling things.

Stilll (and it may well be that I'm loosing focus here; don't feel obliged to read on - I'd say): we can have some poetic justice for our afterlife. Given that culture cannot be identified with this or that object (this or that culture doesn't make sense, strictly speaking at least) but rather is the consequence of a Carnapian construction - we're all needed and part of it. In some poetical way we were part of our history and we're a part of our future (at least morally speaking). Even stronger than this - given that the process for the good is universal (however fallible we are in implementing it) we can actually be said to work for or against improvement; improvement defined as a comparison between times where at the 'better' time the process is more universally recognized and applied (the recognition of necessity becoming before application as we are not interested in blind luck here).

Finishing then on the idea of 'living on in one's works or one's books'. The former is not restrictive enough because surely not all of our doings are moral doings - some are just beastly doings or physical doings (there isn't anything wrong with either - by the way - as 'wrongness' doesn't apply to animals and particles). The second is very much too restrictive as clearly very little people write any books (& those that do are very rarely to live on in them; worse, eventually all those books will disappear (yeah I mean all of this in a very un-Borges-ian way). It suffices to do a moral doing to be qualifying for a living on. That living on does not need to be explicitly linked to your name (remember: you're as dead as a door bell so you have no way of knowing any of it); the best metaphor I have of it is that of a musical tone. Maybe for some this is not afterlife enough but it's all they're going to get (and if I would be paid for this I'd demonstrate that it's more than enough to qualify for the Kantian argument).

It is personally enough for me. I do my best and by doing thusly (and hence thisly) I will be rewarded. Doing it is indeed its own reward - if you can refrain from reading this in a manner of actual co-timed reward and punishment. The best thing is that I don't need to be successful in doing this (but do get me more readers, please) - as it's quite clear that this - as such with my pseudonym on it - will some time cease to exist.

I can have my ambition and eat it too!


"The so constituted psychical (mental) of the others is called "the soul of the other" being  the class of "psychical (or mental) states of the other; this in analogy with "my soul". The general field of the other-mental (or other-mindly or other-psychical) includes the psychical (or mental &c) of all other humans, that (i.e. whose bodies) appear as physical things in the constituted physical world.

From the indicated way in which the other-mindly is constituted, it follows: there's no other mind without a corresponding body."


Whilst writing this I was listening to Arvo Pärt, Orient Occident, ECM New Series (tones you hear, tones!).

19:33 Gepost door Guido Nius in Muziek | Permalink | Commentaren (0) | Tags: form-content, mind-mind dualism, self, carnap, tones |  Facebook |

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