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295 The Unconditioned Soul Stephen Priest There is a distinction to be drawn between conditioned and unconditioned philosophy. Unconditioned philosophy entails ultimate explanation of how philosophical problems may be formulated. Conditioned philosophy is the attempt to solve philosophical problems without disclosure of their fundamental possibility. A philosophical problem is one we have no method of solving. In section 1, “The Conditioned Paradigm,” and section 2, “Deconditioning ,” I identify some of the components of the conditioned/ unconditioned distinction in a preliminary way. In section 3, “Deconditioning and Problems in the Philosophy of Mind,” I roughly outline applications of the distinction to the following questions: what personal identity consists in, whether the mind is the brain, what the difference is between the past and the future, and how free will is possible . I do not pretend there is not much more to be said. There is. However, a result of even these tentative explorations is that physicalism and materialism are clearly false and any plausible theory of the mind entails the existence of the soul. 10 296  Stephen Priest 1. The Conditioned Paradigm There are conditioned patterns of thinking and conditioned dogmas, both of which impede the disclosure of the soul. Conditioned patterns of thinking include the following: Means-to-end thinking and perceiving. Although conducive to the manipulation of nature for the perpetuation or destruction of biological life, means-to-end thinking and perceiving are inimical to being brought up sharp with the existential reality of one’s own existence. We are lost in regret for the past and hope or fear for the future. Always on the way, we are never all here now. Noticing this ‘all,’ this ‘here,’ and this ‘now,’ and not just moving on, is necessary for the disclosure of the soul. Thinking and perceiving in generalities. Often perpetuating a theoretical totalitarianism which masquerades as a profound understanding , thinking and perceiving in generalities is an obstacle to the revelation of the soul. In the philosophy of mind, problem solving is made impossible by using the anonymous ‘the mind,’ ‘persons,’ ‘the brain.’ Even ‘the self ’ and ‘the soul’ are inadequate tools for problem solving, even if necessary heuristic bridges. It is your own particularity as you which is most difficult to explain about you. This own-most particularity not only exceeds any empirical identity and difference but is not even exhausted by ‘this very’ human being’s having the modal properties of being self-identical and numerically distinct from any other. The fact of someone’s being you cannot be generalized. You escape the language of anonymity. You are the opposite of anonymous. Scientific thought. Although useful for the predictive description of physical objects in motion, science faces away from the soul. For all its admirable rigor, its detached observations, its careful reporting, its mathematical modeling and predictive power, science is limited by a catastrophic mistake: Science construes its subject matter as only other. The Unconditioned Soul   297 In understandably adhering to objective methods, science has excluded the study of subjective subject matter. On one level, you are of course another: You are another to another. However, you infinitely exceed what can be observed of you from the standpoint of exteriority. Becoming aware of this infinite interiority is becoming aware of the soul. Scientific objectivity has caused ob-ject-ivity: the worship of objects . Dispassionateness has caused eliminatory ideology. If not tempered by spirituality, science will extinguish the last vestige of meaning from the world, recognizing only silent matter in motion. Third-person thinking. Third-person thinking leaves no room for firstperson singular psychological ascriptions, let alone spiritual ascriptions . Such ascriptions seem not to add any new information because re-couching a first-person sentence in the third person does not alter its truth conditions. For example, ‘I am conscious’ and ‘He is conscious ,’ said of the same human being, are true or false under the same conditions. However, the use of the first-person singular pronoun (or cognate devices) is possible only because there is something it consists in to be someone, the person who one is, as opposed to not being any of the people one is not, or no one. The ontological bifurcation between self and other makes possible the bifurcations between grammatical persons, not vice versa. (The power of language was massively overrated by twentieth-century philosophy.) One’s own existence qua one’s own is omitted from any purely third-person description. Conditioned dogmas include: Everything real is other. We could call this...

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Additional Information

ISBN
9780268080686
Related ISBN
9780268030001
MARC Record
OCLC
796999289
Pages
376
Launched on MUSE
2012-06-26
Language
English
Open Access
No
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