Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Quote of the Day

The rejection of Aristotelianism thus left the most typical of early modern thinkers with a system of physical states of affairs and a system of mental states of affairs, utterly diverse from each other and correlated only by the will and power of God. The supernaturalism of this view of the world was not unnoticed in the seventeenth century, and was not unwelcome to most of the founders of modern thought. Aristotelianism in its less theological forms, on the other hand, offered the possibility of a more integrated naturalistic world view that would not need to appeal to voluntary acts of God to explain the interaction of corporeal and mental nature.

It was an audacious move to give up that possibility of integration by rejecting Aristotelianism and splitting the world into physical and mental states of affairs between which no natural connection could be seen. This has clearly been such a good move for the progress of science that we can hardly doubt that it has brought us closer to the truth. But we may wonder whether this step would have been taken in a culture in which theism was not taken more or less for granted, as it was in seventeenth-century Europe. Without a theological explanation of the correlation between phenomenal qualia and physical states, would it have seemed plausible to reject the Aristotelian doctrine of their affinity? At any rate, a theological explanation of the correlation was the main one that was offered; and I think it is the only promising one that has been proposed. It is a theoretical advantage of theism that it makes possible such an explanation.

Robert M. Adams
"Flavors, Colors, and God"
The Virtue of Faith and Other Essays in Philosophical Theology

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1 comment:

Doug said...

While reductionist theories of the correlation between mental states and physical states may be more "promising" (certainly a generation of neuro-theorists appear to think so), it is almost certain that such a theory could not possibly result in any scientific progress! Thanks for this post -- great stuff.