Category Archives: metaphysics

Marilynne Robinson on ‘the felt life of the mind’ and beauty and strangeness

“Assuming that there is indeed a modern malaise, one contributing factor might be the exclusion of the felt like of the mind from the accounts of reality proposed by the oddly authoritative and deeply influential parascientific literature that has long associated itself with intellectual progress, and the exclusion of felt life from the varieties of thought and art that reflect the influence of these accounts. To some extent even theology has embraced impoverishment, often under the name of secularism, in order to blend more thoroughly into a disheartened cultural landscape. To the great degree that theology has accommodated the parascientific world view, it too has tended to forget the beauty and strangeness of the individual soul, that is, of the world as perceived in the course of a human life, of the mind as it exists in time. But the beauty and strangeness persist just the same. And theology persists, even when it has absorbed as truth theories and interpretations that could reasonably be expected to kill it off. This suggests that its real life is elsewhere, in a place not reached by these doubts and assaults. Subjectivity is the ancient haunt of piety and reverence and long, long thoughts. And the literatures that would dispel such things refuse to acknowledge subjectivity, perhaps because inability has evolved into principle and method.” — Pulitzer Prize winner Marilynne Robinson, in Absence of Mind: The Dispelling of Inwardness from the Modern Myth of the Self (The Terry Lectures Series)

Please also see “The objectives of metaphysics, the objectives of science.”

The objectives of metaphysics, the objectives of science

“If the objectives of metaphysics are spurious, then they cannot be fulfilled by science any more than they can be by metaphysics.”

-Jeff Coulter and Wes Sharrock, Brain, Mind, and Human Behavior in Contemporary Cognitive Science (2007)

Science, brain, mind & metaphysics

I’m reading a book that argues aggressively against the validity of the field of neurophilosophy. Excerpts from the introduction:

“The name ‘neurophilosophy’ itself, and the hyphenated expression ‘mind/brain’, are both part of the propaganda, intended to suggest the closest, intimate connection between neuroscience and philosophy….

“It is not physiology which drives this philosophical orthodoxy, but metaphysics, the idea that the findings of the sciences are now providing answers to the questions raised by metaphysics, providing a definitive statement as to what there really (ultimately) is….

“Opposition to the idea that science can be the fulfillment of metaphysics does not involve in any way opposition to science. If the objectives of metaphysics are spurious, then they cannot be fulfilled by science any more than they can be by metaphysics. The error which promotes the orthodoxy is, in an important respect, very simple and basic: it is to suppose that ‘what anything is’ is identical (in the very strongest sense) with ‘what it is made of’.”

– from Brain, Mind, and Human Behavior in Contemporary Cognitive Science: Critical Assessments of the Philosophy of Psychology (The Edwin Mellen Press, 2007) by Jeff Coulter of Boston University and Wes Sharrock of the University of Manchester

-Colin Foote Burch