[hist-analytic] Mele 5: Consciousness and Intention

Baynesr at comcast.net Baynesr at comcast.net
Sun Feb 27 19:38:06 EST 2011


You ask a big question with few words. Here is an nonanswer which, as might be expected, involves many more. My views here are transitory and not yet defined. After you've read this - if such be your misfortune - keep in mind that science's examination of the notion of rates of change and related rates of change was unknown. The ontological consequences of this development have been side stepped owing to our natural inclination to affirm the remnants of Aristotelian logic as the basis of our ontology; even of mind, if we are to believe Descartes and Leibniz (even Leibniz most especially, albeit with some irony). 

Intention individuates a process or activity that is, essentially, mental; this is what makes it a mental "state." Because I take persons or selves to be causes, the nature of causation enters, crucially. In Aristotle we find, basically, four or five (depending on your view on demonstratives) ideas. Two of them are related and have determined in one way or another all subsequent discussion of causation. These two are, first, the idea of substance as essence, and, second, the idea of substance as that to which attributes may be attributed but which, itself, cannot be attributed to another. The story is, as you know, complex but worth telling. All I can do here is take note of the absence of one category of "things" that may qualify as substances in a broadened sense; and here I mean the notion of a continuant. Substances can be thought of as continuants for the purpose of the point I'm making here. This is not an Aristotelian notion of substance. 

Thus an intention does not inhere in an Aristotelian substance. The self (on the view I take) is a process. Here I'm not too far off from C. D. Broad's notion of physical objects being stretched out processes. In Hume we had causation as relating events pairwise. For me, causation is a relation between processes. This Humean view is based on Aristotelian substance ontology, insofar as lawlikeness is a relation between individual substances or events. This idea is codified in the deductive nomological accounts of Popper, Hempel, and many others; however, I believe it has been misleading. If we think of causation as relating processes the entire Aristotelian based notion of Humean causation begins to slip from beneath us. My dualism is not a dualism of substance, therefore, but a dualism in our concept of causation and the idea of the self as a process which acts as a cause. The processes that have causal consequences when they belong to a person are individuated by an intention when otherwise there would be no natural basis for individuation. In nature no processes in this sense are individuated. This is where what man adds to nature is more than style; man adds to the course of nature by means of those processes defining him which require intentions for their completion. 

Steve Bayne 

----- Original Message ----- 
From: "Aaron Preston" <Aaron.Preston at valpo.edu> 
To: Baynesr at comcast.net, hist-analytic at simplelists.co.uk 
Sent: Sunday, February 27, 2011 8:42:29 AM 
Subject: Re: Mele 5: Consciousness and Intention 

Hi Steve, 

I like your idea that intentions are states of mind/person/self; but what, on your view, is the difference between such a state and one or more attributes inhering in a(n Aristotelian) substance? 


Aaron Preston, Ph.D. 
Associate Professor and Chair of Philosophy 
Valparaiso University 

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