Catalog of Structure Diagrams and Associated Belief Systems

§0: situation

Chalmers has done the field of psychophilosophy a great service by admitting that he is a dualist while simultaneously denying that he is a cartesian-style dualist. Chalmers' self-classification appears to be motivated by two things: the desire to recognize a basic fact about the current state of research, that consciousness appears to be different from matter; and, it goes without saying, the desire to distinguish his own position from that of Descartes.

I2 can readily accept the former motive; and, I2 can easily imagine the unproductive verbiage that psychophilosophers might crank out if they had to perpetually justify their claims to be a Chalmers-style (white-hat) dualist rather than a Cartesian style (black-hat) dualist -- we could end up with dueling dualisms.

in any event, meditating on this point revealed a paradox:

a consideration of Bennett's explanation1 for the habit of classifying Descartes as a dualist and Spinoza as a monist led me to conclude that a classification scheme for psychophilosophical belief systems should use the same set of criteria for classifying each psychophilosophy it attempts to classify.

finally, Cottingham's presentation2 of trionic elements within cartesian psychophilosophy pointed the way to resolve the above-mentioned paradox: if Chalmers is a dualist because he recognizes two sets of properties; then, Descartes is a ... trionist; for, Descartes clearly recognizes three sets of properties.

ultimately, a consideration of these points led me to wonder if I2 could develop a more reasonable taxonomy of psychophilosophical belief systems. this catalog is the result.

§1: overview of the classification scheme (taxonomy) used

given only the fundamental constraint that a taxonomy should apply its classification scheme consistently, we are left with the task of developing a set of criteria for classifying psychophilosophies. the following are the principles used in this catalog.

§1.1: standpoint

my meditations on first person philosophy culminated in the indeterminability conjecture which I2 take to be the limit of absolute philosophy. proceeding from there requires a choice. it seems to this I2 that no standpoint subsequent to the limit of absolute philosophy can be considered a neutral standpoint from which to classify other points of viewing-from; and, consequently, the classification is done from the point of view of a hypothetical psychophilosopher who starts off as an inquiring, neutral skeptic, [ I1 - I2 ? I3 ], and ends up with the belief system being classified.

§1.2: commentary on multiple levels

Descartes has three sets of properties derived from two 'fundamental' substances (that are not really fundamental because God which created them both); and, Chalmers has two sets of properties derived from one fundamental substance. I2 propose to make use of both pieces of information by classifying belief systems on multiple levels:

phenomenological - how does a belief system explain intra-psychic conflict and other phenomenology of a psychological nature?

component - how many components make up the structure of the human individual?

bedrock - what is the ultimate explanation for all there is within the human individual and all the phenomenology associated with it?

a more elaborate presentation may be found here.

curiously enough, each of these levels of analysis seems more or less independent of the others; but, the component level correlates well with movements away from the initial standpoint of the inquiring neutral skeptic. consequently, the taxonomy employed in organizing this catalog organizes belief systems into 'families' of increasing specificity (tribe, clan and family) according to the view of the component structure of the human individual held (assumed or concluded) by that belief system. I2've used the subscripted pronoun notation of humanese english to construct diagrams of the various component structures I2've found.

§1.3: purpose

it is hoped that providing a standard schema for classifying belief systems will be as beneficial to the field of psychophilosophy as a classification schema has been for biologists. it might stimulate further research. for example, it is obvious that some people change their belief system. are these changes random? if not, can we learn anything from the pattern of changes?

§1.4: scope

the scope of this classification scheme is limited to belief systems (philosophies, theologies, psychologies, etc) that make some assumption(s) or conclusion(s) as to the structure of the human individual.

§1.5: caveats

differing readings - superficially, the task of the classifier is to compare the case for classifying a belief system one way with the case for classifying the same belief system another way; but, sometimes, each case is based on a different interpretation or reading of a given text. for example, there is a reading of Descartes' Meditations that supports the case for classifying that reading of cartesian psychophilosophy as a conflated entity dualism; and, there is a reading that supports the case for classifying that reading of cartesian psychophilosophy as a virtual entity trionism.

when different readings of a given text or different interpretations of a given belief system have different pronoun schemas, the catalog will admit both readings separately; for, even if scholars eventually came to universal agreement as to which reading should be attributed to a specific historical figure, it would always remain possible for someone else to construct a psychophilosophy identical to the alternate reading.

§1.6: organization

there follows two indexes. the first is keyed to the structure diagrams and an explanation is given as to that the symbols mean. this description takes place at the component level only; for, as one can easily imagine, one might tag onto any configuration of components the claim 'and all this is or will ultimately be reduced to properties of matter in motion' or the claim 'and all this is or will ultimately be reduced to either properties of matter in motion or properties of mind/spirit/whatever'.

the second index attempts to classify actual examples of belief systems into this schema and is keyed to the names by which the belief system is known.

§2: the catalog

the catalog is keyed to the structure diagram of the pronoun schema held by a particular belief system and may be accessed thru the navigation bar at the left of your screen.

§3: points of interest

§3.1: strange bedfellows

a structure diagram classifies belief systems into 'families' (tribe/clan/family) based on what the belief system assumes/concludes concerning the structure of the human individual. belief systems grouped together may have little in common apart from the structure diagram. consider these two examples:

[ I1 - I2 - I3 ]

this structure diagram symbolizes any number of belief systems that allege that the human individual contains an ontological component --- a component that has being or some sort of immaterial reality other than experiential reality.

it would symbolize the belief system of a philosopher who argues that the human individual has a component, mind, that is neither physical nor (merely) experiential.

it would symbolize the belief system of a theologian who insists that the human individual has an ontological component (a soul, or a rational soul or a psyche or whatever).

§3.2: Rules

the component count is based on the number of individuated components and the number of collectivites.

§3.3: first person terminology more fundamental than third person

psychophilosopher Serle wrote:

because mental phenomena are essentially connected with consciousness, and because consciouness is essentially subjective, it follows that the ontology of the mental is essentially a first-person ontology. mental states are always somebody's mental states. there is always a 'first person', an 'I', that has these mental states. the consequence of this for the present discussion is that the first-person point of view is primary. [The Rediscovery of the Mind @20]

I2 am taking the next logical step: to conduct psychophilosophical research in the first person and to report the results in the first person. because the first person perspective is primary it is more fundamental. this pronoun based symbology is 'below' the level of any associated third person verbiage. people will mount a language game on the mount points of a structure diagram (a process metaphorically similar to mapping a network drive to a local directory)

consider the structure diagram for the inquiring skeptic [ I1 - I2 ? I3 ]. technically, there are three mount points: I1, I2 and I3; but, usually, only the second and third will arouse controvery. so, philosophers and theologians who each accept this structure diagram would mount a different language game (a set of interrelated verbiage) onto the mount points. having done so, they might dispute ad infinitum as to whether the component symbolized with the 'I3' is a mind or a soul.

as a philosopher who is also an inquiring neutral skeptic, I2 am particularly interested in evidence and argument that selectively discriminates between structure diagrams; that is consistent with one structure and inconsistent with another.

§3.4: controversy possible as to the nature of the body

it should not be assumed that there are no disagreements as to the nature of the body. is it simply a biomechanical device that works as it does because of the mechanical interactions of its component biochemicals? or does it also have electromagnetic properties? one would think that neuroscientists would want to investigate this possibility; but that does not seem to be the case.

§3.5: is this symbology outcome-neutral?

I2 accept this framework as out-come neutral because it does not seem that it would prejudice consideration of any theory it can describe. however, there may be some theories that can not be expressed in first-person terminology.

§3.5.1: the subjectless act of perception

for example, it is currently fashionable to allege that there really is no I2, no experiencer and that what really happens in subjective awareness is a subjectless act of perception. such an allegation can not be made in the first person. let's say that there are two people standing in a room looking out a window. person A says 'I2 conclude that it is raining because I2 perceive raindrops falling from the sky'. person B says 'I2 conclude that it is raining because I2 just had a subjectless act of perceiving raindrops falling from the sky'.

the very attempt to report a subjectless act of perception identifies the subject having the perception.

§3.5.2: the zombie problem 1

it should be clear from the analysis of claims of having a subjectless act of perception, no one can claim to be a zombie. but the zombie problem is that other people claim that they are not zombies. I2 know that I2 am not a zombie because I2 experience self awareness. the zombie problem is the 'possibility' that other people could be clever automatons that lack all subjective awareness but have the ability to speak and write about subjective awareness as if they did have it. philosophers who take the zombie problem seriously allege that no one can prove that other people are not zombies.

After 2500 years of footnoting Plato, this is what philosophers have achieved!?

perhaps this shows us something more about the limits of deduction. just as I2 accept that I2 am unable to deduce the actual existence of my own body, I2 accept that I2 am unable to deduce that other people have subjective awareness. I2 can live with that. I2 respond to this dilemma in the same way. I2 just accept that other people have subjective awareness and move on.

perhaps, this makes my philosophy less 'certain'. so be it. I2 can live with that without losing much sleep over the possibility that there are zombies out there somewhere practicing philosophy.

§3.5.3: the zombie problem 2: quining consciousness

can I2 quine my own 'consciousness', that of the experiencer?

I2 might get up on my soapbox and claim that I2 do not experience speaking to those who are listening. I2 might expect a reply claiming that my audience doesn't really experience listening to me. yet somehow a philosophical dialogue is anticipated.

attempting to talk about quining consciousness in the first person is a lot like saying 'I2 am a zombie'.

§3.6: repeating the via negativa is desireable but optional

in proposing the position or the stance of the inquiring neutral skeptic as the correct stance from which to initiate an inquiry in the field of psychophilosophy, I2 am not requiring others to go thru the via negativa - the process by which I2 arrived at the stance of the inquiring, neutral skeptic. I2 also accept that, in actual use, the description of this stance as neutral, as inquiring and as skeptical is an ideal that individuals will approximate to varying degrees. that's life.

§3.7: getting from here to there

if, as I2 argue, the position of the inquiring neutral skeptic is the place from which to begin any inquiry in the field of psychophilosophy, a question arises: 'how does an I2 move to another structure diagram?'.

there may be any number of scenarios

§3.8: classification is from the point of view of the experiencer

so the experiencer might conclude that there is a real I1 and a real I3 but without committing to the view that these are fundamental entities. one might then go on to discover that the stuff that I1 is made of and the stuff that I3 is made of are the same stuff. there are three versions of this.

  1. materialistic monism: the one stuff is (or is most like) matter
  2. idealistic monism: the one stuff is (or is most like) mind-stuff
  3. double aspect/language monism: the one stuff is of an unclear nature; it has two aspects one is like matter and the other is like mind

[1]: Bennett, Jonathan. 1965. "A note on Descartes and Spinoza". The Philosophical Review. 74(3)379:380. [Back]

[2]: Cottingham, John. 1985. "Cartesian trialism". Mind. 94:218-230. [Back]