Monday, May 8, 2023

Substance, teleology, and intentionality

There is an illuminating parallel between the traditional Aristotelian distinction between substances, artifacts, and aggregates, and the distinction John Searle draws between intrinsic intentionality, derived intentionality, and as-if intentionality.  This might seem odd given that the Aristotelian distinction is concerned with very general questions about the metaphysics of physical objects, whereas Searle is concerned with a very specific topic in the philosophy of mind.  But on closer inspection the parallel is quite natural and obvious, and the connecting link is the notion of teleology.  Let’s first consider each distinction, and then we’ll be in a position to see the parallels.

Aristotle on substance

In the Physics, Aristotle famously distinguishes between natural and artificial objects.  Some examples of natural objects would be stones, copper, trees, and dogs.  Some examples of artificial objects would be tables, paintings, automobiles, and computers.  Or to take an example I like to use, a liana vine (the kind Tarzan swings around the jungle on) would be a natural object, and a hammock Tarzan makes out of living liana vines so as to nap in the afternoon would be an artifact.

There are different ways to explain the distinction.  Aristotle characterizes natural objects as those whose principle of change and stability is internal to them, whereas artificial objects have their principle of change or stability imposed from outside.  For instance, a liana vine’s tendencies to sink roots into the ground, draw water in through them, and grow upward toward the forest canopy all arise from within it.  But the hammock made from living liana vines will maintain the proper shape, remain tied together, etc. only if Tarzan continuously maintains it by retying vines that have come apart, pruning them, and so on. 

Another way to make the distinction is to note that natural objects have substantial forms, whereas artifacts have merely accidental forms.  The mark of a thing’s having a substantial form is the presence of properties and causal powers that are irreducible to the sum of the properties and powers of its parts.  Something having a merely accidental form, by contrast, has properties and causal powers that are reducible.  For example, the distinctive properties and powers of a liana vine cannot be analyzed as merely a sum of the properties and powers of its parts (such as the cells, molecules, or atoms of which it is composed).  But the properties and powers of a hammock can be reduced to the properties and powers of the vines it is made out of, together with Tarzan’s intention of using the vines to function as a hammock.

A third way to make the distinction is to note that natural objects have intrinsic or built-in teleology, whereas artifacts have merely extrinsic or externally imposed teleology.  The tendencies of liana vines to sink roots into the ground and to grow upward toward the forest canopy are intrinsic to them, whereas their tendency to function as a hammock is externally imposed by Tarzan.

These three ways of making the distinction are closely related.  A natural object’s intrinsic teleological features follow from its substantial form, and are manifested in the operation of its distinctive causal powers.  For instance, the substantial form distinctive of a liana vine manifests itself in the vine’s being directed or aimed toward the ends of sinking roots into the ground, growing upward toward the forest canopy, etc.  And the change and stability distinctive of such a vine is manifest in the operation of the causal powers by which the vine realizes these ends.

Similarly, the externally imposed end of functioning as a hammock determines which accidental forms Tarzan has to put into the vines (tying them this way rather than that, pruning them of these bits but not those) so that it will exhibit causal powers facilitating that end (e.g. the power to support the weight of an adult human being).

A true physical substance, for the Aristotelian, is an object that has a substantial rather than merely accidental form; which, accordingly, exhibits certain intrinsic rather than merely externally imposed teleological features; and which thereby manifests certain inherent patterns of change and stability.  Artifacts are not true substances, precisely because they have merely accidental forms, externally imposed teleology, and patterns of change and stability that are not entirely inherent to them.  Hence a liana vine is a true substance and a hammock is not.  (I say more about the distinction between the natural and the artificial in my recent essay “Natural and Supernatural,” in the Simpson , Koons, and Orr volume Neo-Aristotelian Metaphysics and the Theology of Nature.)

Being an artifact is not the only way to fail to be a true substance, though.  This is where aggregates come in.  Suppose Tarzan ties a hammock between two trees, but later abandons and forgets about it.  Imagine the vines that make it up die, and the whole thing comes loose and drops to the ground, forming a pile beneath the trees.  Imagine that the vines come completely untied, dry out and fade, and take on the appearance of an amorphous mass or random tangle.  Since the vines are dead and no longer exhibit the distinctive properties and powers of liana vines, they are on the Aristotelian view not strictly liana vines any longer at all.  They are substances of some other kind instead – bits of fiber, say.  And since the pile no longer has the distinctive features of a hammock (and Tarzan no longer even intends to use it as such) it is no longer a hammock either.

What is it?  It is an aggregate of these new fibrous substances – a collection whose powers and properties are reducible to the sum of the parts of the collection.  It is like an artifact, except that an artifact has a teleology imposed from outside by some mind, whereas an aggregate does not.  This is so even if it behaves as if it did.  For example, imagine that the pile of dead vines prevents water from flowing between the trees the hammock had fallen from.  It functions as if it were a dam, but it is not strictly a dam since it was not built for that purpose (either by human beings or beavers, say).

Searle on intentionality

Let’s turn now to Searle’s distinction.  Intentionality is a technical term for the directedness or “aboutness” characteristic of mental states and of linguistic and other sorts of representations.  For example, your thought that the Eiffel Tower is in Paris is about or directed towards a certain object – the Eiffel Tower.  The English sentence “The Eiffel Tower is in Paris” is also about or directed toward the Eiffel Tower, as is a painting of the Eiffel Tower.  By contrast, a random string of letters like “gjaargrvma,” or the splotches on the ground that form when you accidentally spill some ink, have no intentionality.  They are not about anything, but are mere meaningless marks.

Now, as Searle points out in several places (such as his book The Rediscovery of the Mind), these examples illustrate two different kinds of intentionality.  The string of letters that make up the sentence “The Eiffel Tower is in Paris” has intentionality, whereas the random string “gjaargrvma” does not.  But notice that the intentionality of the first string is not inherent to it.  Intrinsically or all on their own, the first set of letters is as meaningless as the second.  It’s just that, given the conventions of English usage, the first conveys a sentence and the second does not.  Absent those conventions, the first would be as devoid of intentionality as the second or as an accidental splotch of ink.

Sentences thus have what Searle calls derived intentionality.  So too does a drawing of the Eiffel Tower, and representations of other kinds such as symbols (for example, the symbols making up a “No smoking” sign).  Now, the source of this derived intentionality is the human mind.  The sentence “The Eiffel Tower is in Paris” has the meaning it does because it is used to express the thought that the Eiffel Tower is in Paris.  Thoughts, however, do not in turn derive their meaning from anything else.  We use sentences to convey the contents of thoughts, but nobody uses thoughts to convey the contents of thoughts or of anything else.  Thoughts just are their contents, as it were.  They have their meaning in a built-in way.  They have intrinsic (or original) rather than derived intentionality. 

(The way Scholastic writers like John Poinsot put this is to say that sentences are instrumental signs whereas thoughts are formal signs.  An instrumental sign is a sign that is also something else – a set of ink marks, a noise, an image, or what have you.  Its content is something additional to or distinct from these other features, and that is why for such features to have any content at all requires that the content be derived.  A formal sign is a sign that is nothing more than a sign, and in particular nothing more than its content.  It just is its content, which is why its content is intrinsic rather than derived.)

Searle also notes that there are phenomena that do not have intentionality of an intrinsic or even a derived kind, but which it is nevertheless useful to describe as if they had it.  For example, when seeing dark clouds we might say “Those clouds mean that it will rain.”  Naturally, the clouds don’t have such a meaning in the way that the thought that it will rain has meaning.  For the clouds aren’t thinking.  But neither do the clouds have meaning in the way that the sentence “It will rain” does or in the way that a drawing of rain does.  A cloud is not a sentence, or a picture, or a symbol, or a representation of any other kind.  Rather, what is going on is that, since we know there is a causal correlation between dark clouds and rain, we infer from the presence of the clouds that there will be rain.  The meaning (in the sense of the conceptual or semantic content) is in us, not in the clouds.  But describing the clouds as if they had semantic content is a useful shorthand.  Searle calls this as-if intentionality, but emphasizes that precisely because it is only as if the phenomenon had intentionality, it is not strictly a kind of intentionality but a convenient fiction.  Another example would be when we say that the water wants to get to the bottom of the hill (as if water really wanted anything).

Naturally, intrinsic intentionality is the most basic of the three.  Derived intentionality exists only because there is intrinsic intentionality to derive it from.  And as-if intentionality is a matter of speaking of a thing as if it had the intrinsic intentionality that thoughts have or the derived intentionality that words and the like get from the intrinsic intentionality of thoughts.

Teleology

Now, there is a parallel between natural substances, artifacts, and aggregates on the one hand and intrinsic intentionality, derived intentionality, and as-if intentionality on the other.  Consider first that natural substances are more fundamental than artifacts and aggregates, because the latter presuppose the former.  In particular, an artifact is essentially a natural substance or collection of natural substances that have been arranged by someone to realize some end of his (such as Tarzan’s hammock).  And an aggregate is a collection of natural substances that might superficially appear as if it were a natural substance or an artifact but is not, since it lacks the purposes of either (as in the case of the pile of dead vines).

Analogously, intrinsic intentionality is more fundamental than either derived or as-if intentionality.  Like an artifact, something with derived intentionality (such as words, images, or symbols) reflects the purposes of some agent.  Like an aggregate, something with as-if intentionality can seem like it reflects such purposes but does not.

The reason for the parallel has primarily to do with the different kinds of teleological features exhibited by the different kinds of physical objects.  Teleology essentially involves directedness toward an end or goal.  But intentionality also involves a kind of directedness, namely directedness toward an object of representation (whether representation in thought, in words, or whatever).  The key difference is that intentionality involves directedness of a mental kind, whereas teleology need not (though it can).  For example, the directedness of a liana vine to the ends of sinking roots into the ground, growing toward the forest canopy, and so on is in no way conscious or otherwise mental.  For a liana vine has no mental properties of any kind.

If we think of directedness as the generic feature that both physical objects and intentionality can possess in different ways, then what the members of the two sets of distinctions have in common is this: natural substances and intrinsic intentionality both involve an inherent or built-in directedness; artifacts and derived intentionality both involve a borrowed or derivative directedness; and aggregates and as-if intentionality both involve no genuine directedness at all, but at most only the appearance of it.

These parallels also manifest themselves in the way Aristotelians and Searle would object to the notion that the human mind is literally a kind of computer.  The Aristotelian would say that rational animals are substances of a kind, whereas computers are a kind of artifact.  The former have substantial forms, intrinsic teleology, and irreducible causal powers; whereas the latter have merely accidental forms, derivative teleology, and reducible causal powers.  So, it is just a category mistake to think of the mind as a kind of computer.  Similarly, Searle has argued that minds have intrinsic intentionality, whereas computers have only a kind of derived intentionality.  (Actually, the relationship between Aristotelianism and Searle vis-√†-vis computers is somewhat more complicated than this.  I have discussed it in detail in my Nova et Vetera article “From Aristotle to John Searle and Back Again: Formal Causes, Teleology, and Computation in Nature.”)

An awareness of the parallel I’m calling attention to is at least implicit in some comments Daniel Dennett makes in his essay “Evolution, Error, and Intentionality” (from his collection The Intentional Stance).  Following W. V. Quine and others, Dennett holds that the meaning or semantic content of thoughts and utterances is indeterminate from the physical facts about human beings and their larger environment.  That is to say, if the physical facts are all the facts there are, then there simply is no objective fact of the matter about what any of our utterances mean or about the content of any of our thoughts.  (Recall Quine’s famous “gavagai” example.)  Since these thinkers hold that the physical facts are indeed all the facts there are, they conclude that there is indeed no fact of the matter about what we mean when we say or think something.

Now, I have argued (in my American Catholic Philosophical Quarterly article “Kripke, Ross, and the Immaterial Aspects of Thought” and elsewhere) that while the premise about the semantic indeterminacy of the physical is true, the conclusion Quine, Dennett, and others draw from it is false, and indeed incoherent.  The right conclusion to draw, I submit, is that thought is not physical.  But for present purposes we can put that aside.  What I want to call attention to here is that Dennett notes (at p. 321 of his essay) that (given his naturalistic assumptions) there can be no objective fact of the matter about natural functions any more than there can be about the meaning or semantic content of thought.  That is to say, the same considerations that entail the indeterminacy of semantic content also entail indeterminacy about the teleological properties of natural objects.  Just as, for Quine, there is no objective fact of the matter about whether “gavagai” means “rabbit” or “undetached rabbit part,” so too there is no fact of the matter about whether the function of the heart is to pump blood.

Now this position too, as I argue in chapter 6 of Aristotle’s Revenge, is ultimately incoherent.  Teleological notions simply cannot be eliminated from biology, and if that result is incompatible with naturalism, then that is just another reason to reject naturalism.  But even if you disagree with me about that, the point for present purposes is that Dennett’s position reinforces the idea that there is a parallel between the Aristotelian’s teleological notion of a natural substance and Searle’s notion of intrinsic intentionality.  For it is precisely because of this parallel that Dennett (who is no fan of either Aristotelianism or Searle) wants to reject both of them together.

58 comments:

  1. OP,
    "Aristotle characterizes natural objects as those whose principle of change and stability is internal to them, whereas artificial objects have their principle of change or stability imposed from outside."

    "Another way to make the distinction is to note that natural objects have substantial forms, whereas artifacts have merely accidental forms. The mark of a thing’s having a substantial form is the presence of properties and causal powers that are irreducible to the sum of the properties and powers of its parts. Something having a merely accidental form, by contrast, has properties and causal powers that are reducible."

    I can hammer a big rock into a palm sized rock so I can throw it at a rabbit to kill and eat the rabbit. So that rock supposedly has an externally imposed principle of change and lacks a substantial form that is not reducible to the sum of the properties and powers of its parts.

    Or, I can pick up a rock of virtually the same size that was reduced to that size by natural forces, and throw it at the rabbit to kill and eat the rabbit. Yet, somehow, in the Aristotelian mind, there is some sort of fundamental difference between those rocks. Somehow the rock I did not reduce in size is in possession of some sort of "substantial form" that includes some mystical ethereal, dare I say spooky, component that makes the rock more than the sum of its parts.

    Yet the nearly identical rock I reduced to that size somehow lacks these mystical components.

    But the occult mysticism continues, because I can break that rock in half and use it to scrape the meat off the rabbit in order to assist me in my meal plans.

    Or, I can go to a rock cliff face and pick up a virtually identical rock that was split by natural forces, and it therefore contains these spirits of the substantial form.

    How exactly does my work on the rock fail to generate these spirits in the rock? Yet other rock shaping processes do generate such spirits in the rock?

    If I put the rock down for a while does the substantial or accidental form sort of evaporate away? Supposing I put these rocks side by side and asked my fellow hunter to blindly choose between them. If he uses them all in just the same ways are some of them in possession of substantial form by virtue of natural shaping of them yet other rocks used identically are lacking substantial form even though they are used in the same way?

    Aristotle got nearly everything wrong about causality, as well as motion, the workings of the cosmos, and the nature of the underlying reality. That's because he did not have the benefit of a modern education, and he did not do experiments in the manner of a modern scientist. He relied on passive observation and common sense, thereby getting it almost all wrong.

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    1. SD
      This an email that Dominican philosopher Fr. Thomas White sent me years ago in reference to the relevance of ancient and medieval philosophers:

      "(1) that modern science presupposes ontological realism and does not itself provide the foundations for it. In other words metaphysics is always more profound than science epistemologically even if there modern sciences have a relative autonomy as disciplines (their conclusions are not determined a priori based on one's metaphysics). In short, modern science does not do away with metaphysics nor dispense us from the requirement to think rigorously metaphysically.

      (2) yes, many people disagree with Aquinas' metaphysics. So what? That is true of any and every metaphysical thinker. Many people disagree with Leibnitz also, or Russell. There is not a consensus metaphysics available and everyone is obliged to have some fundamental metaphysical commitments that are not merely reducible to positivist scientific discoveries. No one can claim to have won the metaphysical popularity contest.

      (3) Aquinas' principles are realist and common sense based. They accord perfectly well with modern scientific thought and cosmology. But they allow for a deeper understanding of the exceptional character of the human being, they take animal life seriously and they allow us to pose intelligently the question of the existence of God without conceptual apriorism. This is all rather elegant and intellectually advantageous.

      In the end, the only rigorous way to think about this is to compare Aquinas with his critics and figure out who makes the most sense.
      -On Aquinas' principles in relation to scientism and contemporary analytic thought, see Ed Feser's new Introduction to Scholastic Metaphysics, and David Oderberg's Real Essentialism.
      -On responses to Kantian skepticism, see my book Wisdom in the Face of Modernity.
      -On Thomism and modern science, see William Wallace, The Modeling of Nature and Benedict Ashley's The Way toward Wisdom.

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    2. sd says, "Yet, somehow, in the Aristotelian mind".

      sd does not know the Aristotelian mind except through some mystical, all powerful pseudo thinking.

      sd asks "How exactly does my work on the rock fail to generate these spirits in the rock?"

      The Spirit is eternally present in all of our times and places. sd refuses to let his mind understan these things and would rather occupy it with finding ways to not understand it.

      sd says, "Aristotle got nearly everything wrong about causality, as well as motion, the workings of the cosmos, and the nature of the underlying reality. That's because he did not have the benefit of a modern education, and he did not do experiments in the manner of a modern scientist. He relied on passive observation and common sense, thereby getting it almost all wrong"

      Aristotle actually did do experiments and expected his tentative conclusions to be confirmed by further experiment, as in the famous case of the number of teeth from a horse. This is exactly what responsible modern scientists do.

      It is not what sd does, relying on his reputation with himself to spout circular nonsense as pretended "sense".

      Way to let us see, sd, how looking how to not understand something allows you to falsely conclude any nonsense whatever - which free, sensible minds will ignore.

      ūüėŹ

      Tom Cohoe

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    3. I know that Stardusty is mostly trolling, but can Dr Feser give a reply to his example about the rock?

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    4. SP, in your rock example, in both cases, you are imposing external teleology on the rock and thereby making it an artifact. It is no part of the natural teleology of a rock, whole or broken, to fly through the air and kill rabbits. Whether you break it up or pick it up to do so is irrelevant.

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    5. Exactly. I could use a cat to polish my shoes but does that make part of the essence of a cat a shoe-polisher? SP is becoming a laughing stock through his increasingly desperate efforts to undermine AT.

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    6. Replace "spirit in the rock" with "whatever it is that a rock happens to be." What even IS a rock?

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    7. Anon May 9, 2023 at 1:43 PM (Thomas Joseph White? )
      "(3) Aquinas' principles are realist and common sense based.
      Geocentrism is common sense based. A-T notions of motion, change, and causation are equally true and equally based on common sense.

      Common sense is commonly wrong.

      " They accord perfectly well with modern scientific thought and cosmology"
      You clearly know either next to nothing about A-T, or next to nothing about modern scientific thought and cosmology, or next to nothing about both.

      A-T is used in modern science, to teach how people got wrong ideas using only common sense. In modern science A-T is an example of wrong ideas and wrong methodology and wrong conclusions about cosmology, motion, change, and causation. A-T got those all wrong.

      "In the end, the only rigorous way to think about this is to compare Aquinas with his critics and figure out who makes the most sense."
      Ok, fine, folks from Copernicus forward who have criticized A-T based on science and materialist philosophy make more sense.

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    8. Fred May 10, 2023 at 8:16 AM
      "SP, in your rock example, in both cases, you are imposing external teleology on the rock and thereby making it an artifact."
      So, before I "imposed teleology" on the naturally shaped rock it was more then the sum of its parts, according to the OP. Then, somehow, by picking it up and throwing it I somehow changed the nature of the rock itself so it no longer was in possession of being more than the sum of its parts and then became equal to the sum of its parts, per the OP.

      And that makes sense to you?

      "It is no part of the natural teleology of a rock, whole or broken, to fly through the air and kill rabbits."
      Ok, we can forget about the use as a weapon if that only confuses the issue for you, I only meant to illustrate that a rock that somehow is more than the sum of its parts can be used the same as a rock that is the sum of its parts.

      How does it make any sense that a naturally shaped object is somehow more than the sum of its parts but a human shaped object is equal to the sum of its parts? They are both just rocks.

      In point of fact, archeologists sometimes have to work very hard to differentiate between human shaped stone tools and naturally shaped stones. Yet somehow, two stones of virtually the same composition and shape either are or are not the sum of their parts, depending on what shaped them?

      The OP asserts some fundamental difference in "The mark of a thing’s having a substantial form is the presence of properties and causal powers that are irreducible to the sum of the properties and powers of its parts. Something having a merely accidental form, by contrast, has properties and causal powers that are reducible."

      Yet the causal power to kill a rabbit when it hits the rabbit is the same in my example.

      Further, for two stones that appear to be human shaped yet one is not, the causal powers are the same in whatever they can do.

      This notion that an object is somehow injected with a super ingredient when naturally formed, yet that super ingredient is absent when humanly formed, is just reification of a projected abstraction.

      In other words, it is all in your imagination, not in the rock.

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    9. Well, Sperg, " I am a rock" is classic song by Simon and Garfunkel that I am going play on YouTube now

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    10. CP writes:

      So, before I "imposed teleology" on the naturally shaped rock it was more then the sum of its parts, according to the OP. Then, somehow, by picking it up and throwing it I somehow changed the nature of the rock itself so it no longer was in possession of being more than the sum of its parts and then became equal to the sum of its parts, per the OP.

      Well, talk about missing the point. No, “the nature of the rock itself” is not changed at all. In order for the rock to become a weapon, it has to be conjoined to something else. In your example, it is conjoined with your hand and thrown. It can also be conjoined to a slingshot and a hand, etc. So, the accidental form of a weapon, which includes a stone, is reducible, whereas the stone, considered in itself, is substantial form and is irreducible.

      In point of fact, archeologists sometimes have to work very hard to differentiate between human shaped stone tools and naturally shaped stones. Yet somehow, two stones of virtually the same composition and shape either are or are not the sum of their parts, depending on what shaped them?

      No. What shaped them is incidental to the point. A stone is a substance, regardless its shape and however it got its shape. Its activity as a tool necessitates its conjoining with something else. Our calling it a tool while it is idle is conventional or equivocal. It only “becomes” a tool when we pick it up and use it as such. There is nothing in the nature of the stone that directs the stone to cut meat. That function is imposed externally.

      Further, for two stones that appear to be human shaped yet one is not, the causal powers are the same in whatever they can do.

      No, the causal powers are not the same even though they may produce the same result. A naturally shaped stone and a stone shaped like a hammer are both capable of driving nails, but there is nothing in either which can drive nails in themselves. If left to its natural environment, an acorn will become an oak, not a peacock or a lion. If left to itself, a rock just lies wherever it is. Its use as a tool is specifically ordered by another and conjoined with that agent to serve that purpose.

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  2. Well said, Dr. Feser. But there is a plague on the land, and I can't focus on Aristotle right now.

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    1. The plaque stems from bad philosophy. Feser is doing work that is foundational to eradicating it.

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    2. I was actually referring to all the recent mass shootings. I have seen death up close and personal.

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    3. @Anonymous Yes, there was one near where I live just a year ago. Please pray to St. Joseph, that he rescue the both of us.

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    4. I will pray for you, and you pray for me.

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  3. Is Searle aware of these parallels?

    Also, are Dennett, Quine, and the rest aware of the alternative to their eliminativism in either Searle's intentionality discussion or the tradition idea that some things are immaterial? Just wondering if they are even considering them as alternatives.

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  4. Ed, are you a fan of the science-fiction author Ted Chiang?

    There's an obscure essay of his from 2010 called 'Reasoning About the Body' that was included in #26 of the literary journal 'Lady Churchill's Rosebud Wristlet'. He argued that the idea that "the brain is a computer" is a piece of folk biology created because:

    "we always talk about the brain in terms of the most complex technology that’s available. In the Renaissance, philosophers talked about the brain as if it were a kind of ingenious
    clockwork mechanism. Freud talked about the brain as if it were a kind of steam engine, with pressures building up and needing to be released to prevent an explosion. In the 1940s, schoolchildren were taught that the brain was like a telephone switchboard. Nowadays, computers are the most complicated machines most people are familiar with, and so we
    compare the brain to them."

    "But that doesn’t mean that the current metaphor is correct while the previous metaphors were incorrect. The brain is not substantially more like a computer than it’s like a steam engine. And when we compare the brain to a computer, we’re saying more about our relationship to computers than we’re saying about the brain."

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    1. The brain is the organ that thinks, and thinking truly is computation, that is, the transformation of symbolic representations of reality from one form to another using rules. So what does that make it... but a computer?

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    2. Yes the brain does computations but our brain is in our soul. This gives our acts of the intellect universal and spiritual acts in our reasoning above what a computer can ever do. Computers can process faster and follow instructions but they will never be able to experience trancendental truth, beauty and love or think morally informed by the natural law as we do.

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    3. Computers can process faster and follow instructions but they will never be able to experience trancendental truth, beauty and love or think morally informed by the natural law as we do.

      Here's how I harmonize your observation with my hypothesis that thinking is computation.

      A computer is an instrument that performs the transformation of symbolic representations of reality from one form to another using predetermined rules.

      A soul is an organ that performs the transformation of symbolic representations of reality from one form to another using rules.

      The difference between the soul and the computer is that the soul can play nomic, and change its own rules as it goes, because it is living.

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    4. Lisramic,
      "The difference between the soul and the computer is that the soul can play nomic, and change its own rules as it goes, because it is living."
      That used to be a clear distinction.

      Computers now change their own rules.
      Computers now re-program themselves.

      Self modifying code is an aspect of artificial intelligence. Once it gets started the original programmers do not know what the present algorithms are because the computer has re-written its own algorithms in a way that interacts with vast streams of input data from the global network, making the growth and change of the computer's intelligence indeterminate from a human perspective.

      That fact of present day computers is one reason many people are so afraid of AI. It isn't that such people have simply watched a few too many sci-fi movies.

      With self reprogramming AI the computer can be rationally predicted to get out of human control.

      Hopefully every AI will come equipped with an OFF switch the AI cannot force to stay on, else a Skynet sort of result is a very real possibility.

      But it will not be so easy as a single OFF switch because of the global network. AI, unlike HI, can reside in networked systems with redundancy between its thousands of intelligence nodes, with fault tolerant coding and error correcting schemes that have been part of network communications for decades.

      In this architecture the loss of an intelligence node is detected and replaced since its data and processes were duplicated elsewhere prior to the loss of the intelligence node.

      The soul, like all religious speculations, resides in the ever shrinking corner of scientific understanding and technological advancement not yet achieved.

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    5. @StardustyPsyche

      People who think that AI will take over the world all forget something: all our computational power comes from cheap middle-eastern oil.

      Let's suppose ChatGPT17 gains computational omniscience. How is it going to get the oil to sustain its being? Is it going to use its psychic powers to transmute matter into oil? It's pure science fiction... with a heavy emphasis on the fiction part of the name.

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    6. Lisramic,
      "Let's suppose ChatGPT17 gains computational omniscience."
      Computational intentionality will do.

      Even tiny animals behave with the appearance of intentionality. What is the spider thinking of while spinning its web? Does the spider imagine a nice tasty little insect that will be captured?

      Does a chimpanzee intend to capture bugs from a nest while stripping leaves from a stick that it apparently intends to use as a tool?

      You suggested the soul can change its own rules, but a computer can change its intentionality, and I can build a computer.

      The soul explains nothing about intentionality because you cannot tell me anything about how the soul can intend anything, nor can you explain to me how the soul can be conscious, or how it can store and manipulate abstractions.

      You don't have even a rudimentary outline as to how the soul can do anything at all, much less accomplish all the higher functions of our thoughts.

      The speculation of the soul has no explanatory power regarding intentionality or any other aspect of human thought.

      Materialism, by contrast, explains intentionality very easily and soundly and in great detail. Materialism is so successful in modeling intentionality that we have already built machines that display intentionality.

      Can you build anything like a soul?

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    7. The soul is the form of the body. The body could not function or even exist without the body. Intellect, will and memory are powers in the soul that depend upon the brain organ to fully operate. Hylomorphism. The soul gives us spiritual powers. Man’s intellect is spiritual (universal concepts).

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    8. Don’t be a nominalist. It is the root error of modern philosophy.

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  5. Hi Ed,

    I just had a look at your old post, "Nature versus Art." Here's what you wrote:

    "The parts of the liana vine have an inherent tendency to function together to allow the liana to exhibit the growth patterns it does, to take in water and nutrients, and so forth. By contrast, the parts of the hammock – the liana vines themselves – have no inherent tendency to function together as a hammock. Rather, they must be arranged by Tarzan to do so..."

    What I'd like to suggest is that there are in fact three possibilities: (a) the parts may have a natural tendency to come together and function together; (b) the parts may have no natural tendency to come together, but having been brought together by an intelligent agent, may nonetheless have a natural tendency to function together; and (c) the parts may have no natural tendency to come together and no natural tendency to function together. Objects in category (b) need to have their form externally imposed on the separate parts, and in that sense, may be viewed as artifacts, but having been brought together, they have a natural tendency to stay together and are therefore true substances.

    Thus it is not strictly correct to write, as you do above, that a true substance "exhibits certain intrinsic rather than merely externally imposed teleological features," as if the two were mutually exclusive. The teleological features of a living thing may (for all we know) have been externally imposed on its constituents at some point in the past, but may currently be genuinely intrinsic. Cheers.

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    1. Vincent,
      I think that category b includes items such as water made by humans through combining hydrogen and oxygen. Once the water is made, it has intrinsic teleology and counts as a natural substance. I think Ed has used that example in the past. The derivation of a substance may have been through external imposition but that is irrelevant to its status qua substance. You are correct that Ed's simplified account in this post needs expanding to take account of b) but he has done that elsewhere.

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    2. Vincent,

      It does seem, at least on the level of logical possibility, that there could be items in category (b) as you suggest: that once having been forced together, they might "function together".

      But I would ask that you examine the details a little more carefully: when they "function together", do they function merely side-by-side in a way that just HAPPENS to be mutually advantageous (but without any coordinating impetus to make them modify their own behavior with respect to each other), or do they actually integrate their respective behaviors so that each is acting in a way that is for the combined pair, or at least differently than if it had been moved elsewhere?

      And secondly, when you say "but having been brought together, they have a natural tendency to stay together ", it is not at all clear that this is automatically and necessarily an attribute that exists merely because they have been moved to reside together and are (at the moment) "functioning together". As long as we are allowing logical possibilities, it is just as possible that the cause that brought them together did nothing to them that ALSO causes them to stay together, and so they have no tendency to stay together. And in particular, I would suggest that a cause that brought them together and imposed upon them a tendency to stay together, apparently, CHANGED them in some fashion distinct from the mere co-location near each other. And whatever that change is, necessarily it is suspect as to whether it changed them in such manner as to modify their teleology as such.

      Let me propose an example. Take two stones, say, pieces of gravel. Laying apart, they don't do anything in concert. If an animal kicks them so they are stuck against each other, they still have their own tendencies as stones, and they may fall apart readily. However, IF they lie there together very long, and get folded into the hillside, eventually they may merge into being a single rock, through chemical processes from pressure, temperature, etc. Would it not be the case that their (new) tendency to stay together exists ONLY on account of changes other than simply being located next to each other?

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    3. WCB

      Rocks were once part of geological strata. Thanks to plate tectonics, such strata form, sink, rise, are exposed and erode away and crumble away. All mountains and hills have their associated deposits of talus, individual stones that were once part of a unified rock mass. In that sense then, all individual stones are accidental.

      WCB

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    4. Vincent:

      IIRC, Ed has actually affirmed this sort of "exception to the rule" that man-made=artifact when, for instance, he has said it's at least arguable that Styrofoam is a substance. Other plausible examples would be manufactured diamonds, etc. I'd add creatures conceived via artificial insemination as an example in this category. As you say, it depends on humans exploiting a natural tendency of ingredients to function together in an irreducible way once placed together.

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  6. I love when you post things about these topics! Great post, boss!

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  7. WCB

    Aristotle in his "De Anima" speaks of substances and forms. Plants have appetitive forms, the draw nutrients from the soul and grow. Animals have the form of being capable of movement. Well most of them, barring examples of barnacles et al. Man has an added form of rationality. As if cats, dogs, birds and pigs et al do not reason or think.

    Of course a chicken and a codfish have rather different forms. As do snakes, dolphins and other animals. How about eukaryotes and prokaryotes? Bacteria. Fungi? This form and substance hylomorphism stuff really has no meaning.

    It is just a word game. Nothing more.

    WCB

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    1. Barnacles do move, although only sometimes, and very slowly. Many animals can think, but they do not have moral agency. That is why we do not prosecute animals and put them in prison if they do something bad. It would make no sense. If an animal is dangerous, it might be killed to prevent further damages, but it makes no sense to punish them in the way we punish criminals. They do not have a sense of right and wrong. Only humans do. These are just widely recognised scientific facts.

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    2. A "word game?" " Nothing more?"
      Well, that settles it then.

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    3. WCB

      Define moral agency. If a rat is introduced in a cage where a fellow rat is confined in a trap, the rat will ignore food until it has managed to free it's fellow rat.
      A rat in a cage that knows it can get a treat, but in doing so it will give a fellow rat an unpleasant electric shock, it will refuse to do so.

      There is a rather large corpus of observations and experiments like these.

      The idea that animals cannot display purposeful moral agency is just wrong. Very wrong. That many animals can and do have senses of purposeful moral agency is a well established scientific fact.

      WCB

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    4. @WCB Animals don't have a sense of right or wrong and that's why, for example, anybody who knows how to train a dog will tell you that if you want to punish it for doing something wrong (so that it won't do it again), you have to do it in the same moment it is doing that thing. That is because the dog can only make the association between doing that thing and receiving that punishment. It dos not stop doing that thing because it understands that it is wrong. It stops doing it because it understands that doing that thing is associated with being scolded/kicked/whatever.
      In the same way, videos that supposedly show dogs looking "guilty" after the owner finds out they did something wrong, actually show dogs simply reacting to being scolded. They do not feel "guilty". "right" and "wrong" and "guilt" are not concepts animals can understand.
      So you don't even know your facts.

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  8. What a beautiful and brilliant female philosopher!
    https://www.cdutilhnovaes.com/

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  9. OP,
    "Some examples of natural objects would be stones, copper, trees, and dogs."
    Ok, so by this list of objects it seems reasonable that "natural objects" include all geological formations, minerals, elements and compounds not manufactured by human beings, plants, and most or perhaps all animals.

    Is Tarzan, as it were, natural? Or is homo sapiens sapiens the only species that is somehow not "natural"?

    Putting aside the scientific fact of biological evolution of us all (which makes us as natural as any other animal), surely the Thomist considers ants and bees and termites and birds and beavers to be "natural".

    Supposing a beaver shapes a piece of wood to put into a dam. Has the beaver imposed an extrinsic teleology to the wood?

    If so, how does a "natural" animal impose extrinsic teleology upon wood? Aren't the actions of natural things natural actions that by definition do not impose extrinsic teleology?

    Well, supposing the beaver does not impose extrinsic teleology into the wood and does in fact build a dam with that wood.

    Now supposing a human being wishes to build a dam by the same methods. So sticks are humanly formed, mud is humanly applied, and the same sort of dam the beaver built gets built by the human.

    What is the difference in the sticks and mud themselves?

    Somehow, the beaver shaped sticks have some extra ingredient called "substantial form" and also have "intrinsic teleology". That is, the sticks and the mud themselves somehow have these properties as real features of the sticks and mud.

    Yet the very same sort of sticks and mud in the human made dam are somehow different in themselves? These lack this thing called "substantial form" and have something called "extrinsic teleology"?

    Well, Thomists have active imaginations, anyhow. It seems the Thomist never tires of dreaming up all kinds imaginary ethereal aspects of material objects.

    No, it is all just sticks and mud, OK? The stick is just a stick. The mud is just mud.

    The object is just the material arranged the way it is. All these imagined notions of intrinsic versus extrinsic teleology, substantial versus accidental form, are just so much fantasized nonsense with no grounding in any identifiable ontological truth.

    Recall, at least we agree on that much, that ontological truth is primary. The actual ontological state of affairs is what grounds all our reasoning.

    There is no identifiable ontological truth to any of these teleological assertions. Nor do the assertions of the OP hold up to counter examples derived from scientific facts of how objects are formed and how they are structured.

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  10. Thank you, Edward, for explicitly establishing this parallelism between substances, artifacts, and aggregates, and Searle's intentionality categories. Each one of us has our specific interests, and I would like to use the opportunity of your very clear and pedagogical explanation to widen the discussion to the world narrative of our contemporary folks. The structure of the logic of nature in its entirety, the world of substances, is perfectly described by Aristotelian logic and its syllogism. The world of artifacts, which is the world of engineering, suffices for Boolean logic, as does the world of aggregated forms.

    To quickly grasp the difference between these two worlds, we can look at the notion of the color of a beam of photons produced "naturally," e.g., by the quantum decay of excited electronic orbits. In this case, their color is simply defined by the frequency of the photon radiations. But due to the particularity of the human eye and brain, it is also possible to emulate a color perception, for example, using an RGB or CMY base frame of colors. In the latter case, a perceived color can be described as an artifact that simply obeys the Boolean logic to be functional, which is impossible in the case where we consider a photon naturally generated as a substantial form (and is submitted to the whole spectrum of Aristotelian logic).

    This also helps to understand why the infamous Schrödinger's cat paradox is not a paradox but simply a badly posed question. It is equivalent to asking an RGB system to describe, e.g., the nature of a naturally quantum-produced violet photon. There are obviously no paradoxes whatsoever.

    This also permits us to understand the "Great Sin" of our Western contemporary epistemic culture, which is to posit that all substances in the Universe can be considered as artifacts and that the logical structure is simply and poorly only Boolean. This obviously leads to philosophically and scientifically poorly educated conceptions where the notion of finality is fatally totally expunged from the true understanding of our world.

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    1. Ga√ętan,
      "the quantum decay of excited electronic orbits. In this case, their color is simply defined by the frequency of the photon radiations."
      No, color is a consequence of the spectral relative sensitivity of color receptors in the eye. They are said to be RGB, which is true of their peak sensitivities, but there is considerable overlap in their sensitivity curves.

      "it is also possible to emulate a color perception, for example, using an RGB or CMY base frame of colors."
      And you have a background in physics? RGB is for the additive system, adding light, as in the colored dots on your computer screen. CMY is the subtractive system, such as the ink in your printer, which filters broadband white light.

      "In the latter case, a perceived color can be described as an artifact that simply obeys the Boolean logic to be functional,"
      No, are you serious? Boolean logic uses true, false, and, or, etc.

      Color perception is a result of proportions of stimulation of the 3 sorts of color receptor cells in your eye.

      "which is impossible in the case where we consider a photon naturally generated as a substantial form (and is submitted to the whole spectrum of Aristotelian logic)."
      Gibberish.

      For example, a spectrally pure yellow photon stream will stimulate the red and the green receptors in your eye. A dot on your computer screen can emit streams of both red and green photons which stimulate your red and green receptors the same way the stream of yellow photons did.

      That is why red plus green yields yellow, because they have the same stimulation effect.

      But it isn't Boolean logic because there are different shades of yellow and varying intensities of red and green, not just true or false.

      "This also permits us to understand the "Great Sin" of our Western contemporary epistemic culture, which is to posit that all substances in the Universe can be considered as artifacts and that the logical structure is simply and poorly only Boolean."
      The only "sin" here is your mangled version of basic visual physics.

      "scientifically poorly educated conceptions"
      ROTFLMAO

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  11. WCB

    "A "word game?" " Nothing more?"
    Well, that settles it then."

    Aristotle knew no real physics, biochemistry, astronomy, geology, cosmology, not much of anything, and nobody did until recent modern times. Nobody in the old days had telescopes, microscopes, or any of the modern day scientific apparatus needed to understand any of the reality of the natural world.

    Thus hylomorphism understood nothing, had no way of being right about much, or explain anything. Never once did hylomorphism lead to major scientific break throughs.

    The scientific discovers of the true sciences worked on their sciences in an empirical manner, which relied on inventing equiptment to develop knowledge of the nature of the material world. There is no real other way.

    Hylomorphism is really just word games and always has been.

    WCB

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    1. The idea of hylomorphism can be said to have been reintroduced to the world when Werner Heisenberg invented his duplex world of quantum mechanics. In his 1958 text Physics and Philosophy, Heisenberg states:

      In the experiments about atomic events we have to do with things and facts, with phenomena that are just as real as any phenomena in daily life. But atoms and the elementary particles themselves are not as real; they form a world of potentialities or possibilities rather than one of things or facts ... The probability wave ... mean[s] tendency for something. It's a quantitative version of the old concept of potentia from Aristotle's philosophy. It introduces something standing in the middle between the idea of an event and the actual event, a strange kind of physical reality just in the middle between possibility and reality.

      A hylomorphic interpretation of Bohmian mechanics has been suggested, in which the cosmos is a single substance that is composed of both material particles and a substantial form. There is also a hylomorphic interpretation of the collapse of the wave function.

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    2. Why would you even expect a metaphysical theory to yield scientific breakthroughs? That seems like a simple category error. Hylemorphism isn't even trying to do science, it's absurd to criticize it as if it were. It's operating at an entirely different level.

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    3. @TheShadow It's nice to see you from John C. Wright's blog.

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    4. Thank you. I lurk here a lot but occasionally post. Who are you over there?

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  12. Something I've been wondering - how to identify substances as opposed to aggregates. For example, are stars substances? They have something of a "life cycle", though I don't think they're actually alive in any but a metaphorical sense. There are many mysteries about how they work. Are they reducible to facts about plasma? I don't know. How would we decide?

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    1. It's not up to us to decide, but for us to discover. It's not just self-evident in most cases. Imo, stars are *probably* aggregates rather than substances, but as you say, there are many mysteries about how they work so it's impossible to know that for sure, at least for now.

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    2. That is a good question. Once we go to things that are not alive then it gets harder to identify the substance, when there is two substances and not a big one etc.

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    3. Pondering this some more... Why isn't the melting of ice into liquid water, or the evaporation of water into steam, considered an example of substantial change?

      Sure, they're all made out of water molecules, but so what? Their properties are radically different because the water molecules are arranged differently and interact more or less strongly. In principle this is no different from atoms forming a molecule, it's just that the forces involved differ in magnitude - but again, so what? So are the forces that hold an atom together.

      Left to myself, I'd say steam is just an aggregate of water molecules, but that liquid water and ice are genuine substances. If I'm wrong, why? Is it just because the changes between phases are easily reversible and predictable? But so are many chemical changes which are undeniably substantial. Even atoms can be predictably transformed into other elements with the suitable application of radiation.

      I'm inclined to agree with Talmid that inanimate substances are difficult to unravel!

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    4. I'm inclined to agree with Talmid that inanimate substances are difficult to unravel!

      Oddly enough, unlike modern chemistry which seeks to "know" a thing entirely through its components, it is not all that surprising that for hylemophism, it is more difficult to say what is or is not a substance at the simplest levels, especially for non-living substance. This is because such things simply have less being than more involved creatures, and thus their separate being-ness is not as apparent.

      I do think that there is something to be said for an amount of water being a substance (or closer to one) distinct from a mere aggregation of separate water molecules in a gas. Take it with a different stuff, say gold. A lump of pure gold has qualities that are readily observed and make it distinguishable: it is bendable under a certain force; it melts at a certain temperature, it reflects light in certain ways and has a sheen or gloss to it. But a single gold atom doesn't really have these. If a thing is knowable by reason of the ways it operates, and we mainly know things by the above operations, then would that imply a single gold atom simply isn't the same kind of thing as a lump of gold?

      Admittedly, a lump of gold lacks the quality of integrity: you can take a large lump and separate it into 2, and each part will retain its beingness as a lump of gold. Conversely, you can take two lumps of gold of any size, and combine them into the same lump and make one lump of gold, without having ever had to "undo" each lump's being gold.

      I don't have solutions to the problem either.

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    5. Yes, I suspect the actual substance in bulk metals is actually the crystal structure. The shape of an individual lump is clearly an accidental form.

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  13. "Hylomorphism is really just word games and always has been."

    Not really. It is a conceptual issue. Conceptual issues are what philosophy deals with.

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  14. Some scattered thoughts:

    - I think the conclusion of Dennett and company that our thoughts have no definite or objective content probably has more than a little to do with the post-modernist woke insanity that has overtaken even the hard sciences. After all, if our thoughts have no definite or objective content, neither do they have any definite or objective truth value. For all the New Atheists' bloviations about "reason" and "science," it's the extreme relativist woke crazies who are correctly extrapolating the implications of materialist premises. In fact, I suspect that the underlies not just the latest outbreak of wokeness, but the corruption and terminal decline of science and philosophy going back decades.

    -I wonder if the relationship between substances/artifacts/aggregates and intrinsic/derived/as-if intentionality is more than merely parallel, but rather one of set-subset. Human beings are substances, with our intellects being an essential component of our substantial form. The intrinsic intentionality of our thoughts, then, would appear to be an special example of the intrinsic teleology all substances exhibit. Examples of derived intentionality (like spoken or written words), it seems to me, are also special examples of artifacts - sounds or written scribbles arranged for a human's purpose in a way that they have no intrinsic tendency towards. And, it seems to me, all examples of as-if intentionality are also aggregates.

    - It seems to me that Aristotle/Aquinas, Descartes/Paley, and Darwin can each be characterized by what they postulate living things to be. A-T philosophy holds that they are substances. Cartesian philosophy holds that they are artifacts. Darwinian philosophy holds that they are aggregates that merely *look to us* like substances or artifacts.

    - If the previous two points are true, then Darwinian philosophy would seem to entail that intrinsic intentionality (substance) is actually as-if intentionality (aggregate). That certainly seems to be Dennett's basis for taking the position he does: He sees Darwinism as beyond question, no matter the absurdity that results. But then if the attempt to collapse intrinsic intentionality into as-if intentionality is absurd, then so is the attempt to collapse biological substances into aggregates, and hence Darwinian philosophy is itself absurd. And if I'm right that the denial of intrinsic intentionality underlies the insanity taking over science, then science will not be restored to sanity until and unless that philosophy is abandoned by a critical mass of professionals.

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  15. Searle's position on intentionality repeats many of the errors made by Wittgenstein in his early philosophy. The later Wittgenstein came to realize that the solution to the problems surrounding intentionality are found in grammar not in some putative mental operations that give life to language.

    Thoughts are not mental representations. If Bob thinks about his friend Tom in Toledo he is not thinking of a representation of Tom in Toledo. He is simply thinking of Tom. Representations need to be interpreted which means they can also be misinterpreted. If one thinks about a friend in Toledo he can't misinterpret what he is thinking of. Or if he wishes it would not rain tomorrow it makes no sense to say that he is mistaken and that he is really wishing it would snow tomorrow.

    It is also mistaken to conceive of thinking as an articulated psychological process. Thoughts don't have constituents that correspond to words. It is the articulate expression of thought that has constituents: the words of our language.

    So, there is no language of thought. And the intentionality of language is not derived from the intentionality of thought. Nor are the 'dead signs' of language endowed with life by some mental process. It is the actual use of language that gives it life.

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    1. "Thoughts don't have constituents that correspond to words. It is the articulate expression of thought that has constituents: the words of our language."

      I agree. Our thoughts are more than the words we express them with, even to ourselves.

      "And the intentionality of language is not derived from the intentionality of thought. Nor are the 'dead signs' of language endowed with life by some mental process. It is the actual use of language that gives it life."

      Here I think you're going too fast. If the intentionality of language doesn't come from our minds, where does it come from? Language is not thought, but it is an expression of thought.

      I would say that words are signs meant to evoke thought. I'm not sure what you mean by the "actual use" of language apart from mental processes?

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  16. Please allow me a few scattered reflections.

    (1) It is a hindrance to understanding to want to explicitly conceive the "form" as a reality that is included in an object or even in a physical environment. Unfortunately, the vulgar meaning of the word "form" appeals to the notion of shape, which is definitely something physical. I cannot help but insist on using the notion of "whatness" (or quiddity or any other term you may prefer, but lacks graphic poignancy) to reflect on its relationship with reality.

    (2) "Whatness" can only be conceived by the mind (which is not the "brain"). Actually, it is a reality that exists both in the object and in the mind that contemplates it. Hence, (a) it is not a reality that has a "space-time" existence, and (b) it explains why the whatness of an object corresponds to the knowledge the mind has about it.

    (3) The "whatness" (the form) always includes the finality of the reality of which it is the principle, by definition. Knowing the finality is about understanding its final cause: what makes the known thing what it is is always its "what-for-ness," as each thing has its own natural purpose or end.

    (4) In this sense, it is impossible to know the "whatness" without assuming a context where the "what-for-ness" finds its meaning. And here is where Aquinas' Fifth Way makes sense: since the context itself is a form, we might need the context of a context, but we definitely cannot enter an infinite loop in this respect. We can easily deduce the need for a Context of all contexts, which perfectly defines the individual specific whatness.

    (5) Hence, all the forms exist objectively, as they are the same inasmuch as they are created in the divine context and participated in by the physical realities (depending on the considered whatness) and the minds that contemplate them.

    (6) The process, i.e., the efficient causes needed for the mind to know or construct these concepts, is an entirely different topic.

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  17. Ga√ętan,
    ""form" appeals to the notion of shape, which is definitely something physical."
    Form is not something physical, it is the spatial relationship between physical things.

    ""Whatness" can only be conceived by the mind"
    Tautology. Conceptions can only be conceived in systems that conceive.

    "the mind (which is not the "brain")."
    Scientific evidence says you are wrong.

    "it is a reality that exists both in the object and in the mind that contemplates it."
    Fallacy of reification. The spatial relationships are actual between the objects themselves, not in the brain.

    "here is where Aquinas' Fifth Way makes sense:"
    No, it doesn't make sense. Apparent purpose is due to the bottom up arrangements of material, not a goal or purpose for material. Material has no goal or purpose, it has no direction it seeks.

    Material just ends up wherever the aggregate of its moment to moment submicroscopic differential transfer functions happen to go.

    "they are the same inasmuch as they are created in the divine context"
    Non-sequitur, like the last word in each of the Five Ways.

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