Debating Consciousness & the Soul/Substance Dualism- with Robert L. White (Dualist) & Travis R. (Type-C Physicalist)

YouTube Video Link = https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1HOWG7iXLOM

Anchor Audio Link = https://anchor.fm/real-seeker-ministries/episodes/Debating-the-Existence-of-the-SoulSubstance-Dualism–with-Robert-L–White-Dualist–Travis-R–Type-C-Physicalist-ec3lhs

My Short Supplemental Show giving my more detailed take on the Meta-Problem of Consciousness:

YouTube Video Link = https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gwUfxOlw-dg

Anchor Audio Link = https://anchor.fm/real-seeker-ministries/episodes/SoulSubstance-Dualism-Discussion-After-Show–Dales-Take-on-the-Meta-Problem-of-Consciousness-ec7f20

*** Addendum Notes: Both Robert & Travis have provided blogs on this show.  Please support them by checking out their blog posts at https://www.robertlwhite.net/philosophy/consciousness-real-seekers-podcast/#respond & https://measureoffaith.blog/2020/03/30/consciousness-podcast/#comment-935 respectively 🙂

 

This was a great episode and something I’ve been wanting to do ever since I made my 4-part solo show series on the existence of the soul (see here = https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XItmBWzuXw4&list=PLDyoKecpi82zc0P-mX2aP1a9oMTzfytvG ).  I’m joined by my friends Robert L. White (Christian host of the Robert L. White show) and Travis R. (Skeptical blogger from the Measure of Faith Blog site) to discuss various issues relating to the Mind/Body Problem.  The topics we discuss include the following;

i) Introductions as to who we are and laying out of our respective positions on the Mind/Body Problem.

ii) The “Meta-Problem of Consciousness”

iii) The “Hard Problem of Consciousness”- What is the nature of mental properties & states (the Differences Argument & Knowledge Argument).

iv) The “Hard Problem of Consciousness”- What is the nature of the conscious subject or substance itself (the unity of conscious field, enduring self & Modal arguments for the soul).

v) Addressing the Issue of Idealism (the 3rd Alternative to Dualism & Physicalism).

 

Recommended Sources (for further study);

a) Special Guests Sources:

i) ROBERT L. WHITE (Christian)-

Main Blog-site = https://www.robertlwhite.net/ ; his Podcast on Anchor = https://anchor.fm/the-rlw-show/ & his YouTube channel = https://www.youtube.com/user/JoeCool1986/videos . Finally follow Robert on Twitter here = https://twitter.com/robertlwhite_II

Robert’s Recommended sources related to the topic of substance dualism:

Thomas Nagel’s book, “Mind & Cosmos: Why the Materialist Neo-Darwinian Conception of Nature is Almost Certainly False” = https://www.amazon.com/Mind-Cosmos-Materialist-Neo-Darwinian-Conception/dp/0199919755

Debate between William Lane Craig vs. Alex Rosenberg = https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uBTPH51-FoU&feature=youtu.be

ii) TRAVIS R. (Skeptic/Physicalist) Sources-

Main Blogsite = https://measureoffaith.blog/

Sources Recommended by Travis related to substance dualism;

“Consciousness and its Place in Nature” by David J. Chalmers (includes the 3 classifications of the Physicalist Types) = http://consc.net/papers/nature.html

Pinto’s new findings about the controversial Split-Brain experiments = https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6057762/

Eric LaRock artixle on the “Unity of Visual Field Argument” = http://old.behavior.org/resources/180.pdf OR in attachment below this section = 

Travis mentioned the higher order theory known as “Global workspace theory” see here = https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Global_workspace_theory

Travis provides an article related the notion of a general continuity that I was emphasizing, but expands more on what “identity” means in this context.  The article suggests that identity is something we impose on things rather than something inherent to those things and thus shows skepticism toward essentialism, specifically with regard to the difficulty of demarcation  = https://scientiasalon.wordpress.com/2014/10/24/identity-a-neurobiological-perspective/

Finally, David Chalmers on the “Meta-Problem of Consciousness” = https://philpapers.org/archive/CHATMO-32.pdf OR see article in the attachment here = 

b) Dale’s Relevant Sources (from my Soul Solo Series- see here = https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XItmBWzuXw4&list=PLDyoKecpi82zc0P-mX2aP1a9oMTzfytvG):

i) Cartesian Dualism;

Richard Swinburne = http://www.newdualism.org/papers/R.Swinburne/Dualism-Intact1996.htm (short write-up) or video = https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sifzXoGv61Q .

ii) Thomistic/Aristotelian Dualism;

See the article entitled, Is DNA the Soul? by Thomas J. Kaiser on p.67-96 here = https://thomasaquinas.edu/pdfs/aquinas-review/2015.pdf .
Also, see short videos by Eleonore Stump = https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Fui2uBDP4Gs & https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Bbs47txouCE .

iii) Haskerian Dualism;

Interview with Dr. William Hasker = https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0hlkZOpdZIo & another lecture by Hasker with a subsequent rebuttal by Cartesian Dualist Dr. Stewart Goetz starting around the 41 min mark = https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XwUMBIlkRXk .

Also, see the New Scientific split-brain findings  = popular level news article on the new findings here = https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2017/01/170125093823.htm OR in the New Peer-reviewed journal article on Roger Sperry’s old Split-Brian Experiments and the new experiments casting doubt on the old conclusions here = https://academic.oup.com/brain/article/140/5/1231/2951052 OR in the Attachment immediately below = 

Also, see Richard Brown’s assessment of David Chalmers’ various classifications in the attachment below = 

iv) Four 15-min videos presenting some Pro-Soul/Substance Dualism arguments which including 3 arguments for substance dualism that I neglected to use in my series for time sake (Parts 17a-d) by Dr. Dale Tuggy, starting here = https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=btAwpXhqmiw

Note that this series includes the version of the Modal Argument I used in the show (with a better explanation and visual aids) in Video 17d at approx the 5 min 50 seconds mark, here = https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jXw7-yKhZ-U .  Also see Dr. Eric LaRock’s website with list of scholarly articles on the neuroscience and the unified conscious fields argument = https://oakland.edu/phil/top-links/faculty/LaRock/ and/or his own webstie here = https://sites.google.com/site/larockconsciousness/ .

Note also that one of our listeners Travis R. mentions that the Modal Argument for Substance Dualism assumes the truth of “Transworld Identity”- see discussion here = https://plato.stanford.edu/entries/identity-transworld/ .  On Transworld issues I take Dr. Alvin Plantinga’s notion to be the right one, see his article, Transworld Identity or Worldbound Individuals?, on it here = https://pdfs.semanticscholar.org/38bb/7ae2d6a7cf3eba211a9e69e1a9d9c5cae5e2.pdf OR in the attachment below = 

Official Blog with Sources & Web Links = 

IMPORTANT SOURCE UPDATE- I found the Scholarly article by Eric LaRock on the Unity of our Visual Field Consciousness argument whereby things like texture, shape, colour, etc probably cannot be explained via physical synchronicity and communication across sub-systems in the brain = See here  OR See in attachment = 

15 thoughts on “Debating Consciousness & the Soul/Substance Dualism- with Robert L. White (Dualist) & Travis R. (Type-C Physicalist)

  1. Hi Dale, Robert and Travis,
    Thanks for doing the podcast. It was very interesting, even though much went over my head and I struggled to understand the concepts you were bringing forth.

    Fairly early on someone mentioned that consciousness + qualia was not material – but a separate substance. What do you mean by substance? Is it the same as essence? Does substance need to be material or can it be immaterial?

    A little later someone said that the body is a mode of the soul – that the physical body is a manifestation of the soul. And that the soul is the blueprint for the physical body. What do you mean by a “mode of the soul” and how is that different from a “manifestation of the soul?” A blueprint is something very different from what it represents and can exist separate from what it represents – not unlike a map being different from the territory it represents. This seems to imply that the human body is not part of the soul nor contained within the soul – was that what you were trying to say or did I misunderstand?

    Somewhere around the 22 – 25 minute mark Dale said that the soul is the whole package. There is Soul, Person, Mind.
    Person: Everything that defines the individual – the conscious I – your thoughts, your personality traits, your feelings, your moral conscience, your fee will.
    Mind: A sub-faculty of you as a person. Your rational faculties, your logical reasoning.

    Where does the human body fit in? Would it be another part or faculty or the soul, such as Person and Mind? Dale indicated the soul comes into being at conception – so when the human body starts. Yet the soul continues after the human body dies. Would you share a bit more about how the soul and body are interconnected?
    Where does consciousness fit in? Is that part of the Person and a subset or faculty of the soul? How about intellect? Would that be part of the Mind and a subset or faculty of the soul? And, what about Spirit? Awhile back Dale once mentioned to me that “the mind is a faculty of the soul, the spirit is a faculty of the soul.” So would Spirit be another division or faculty, under soul?

    It was mentioned that our physical brains and bodies are modes of the soul itself. What are modes and how are they different from faculties?

    Someone mentioned that some animals have consciousness. And Dale responded that animals have spirits and souls. That makes it sound as if the spirit and soul are parts of the animal – but earlier Dale had said the soul was the complete package. I think I’ve misunderstood something here and hope you can straighten me out.

    These concepts of soul and the faculties such as spirit and mind and person – did these come from the Bible or how were they developed?

    Anyways, a very informative show – sorry that I have so many questions and didn’t understand as much as I should have.

    Thanks,
    Brian (with an i)

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hey Brian (with an i),

      No worries, thanks for your thoughtful questions- let’s me know at least one person listened lol 🙂 I’m busy preparing for my talk with a special guest tomorrow afternoon, but after that I will get back to you with the answer to the questions that apply to me- which looks to be most of what you ask 🙂

      Dale

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Hi Dale,
        You had also shared some of your thoughts with me after your previous soul/dualism shows and I’ll go back and re-read your responses – perhaps some of that might also help me.

        Thanks,
        Brian

        Liked by 1 person

    2. Hey Brian,

      OK so I guess I did have some time before my recording at 2 pm afterall.

      Here was what I said in my email to you = “I did mess up even in that show a little as I should have explained that persons are made of essential and accidental properties (so my personality traits or thoughts are part of what make me a person but they are accidental properties of me as an individual person or “I” at a given time as opposed to essential properties of personhood like my having a moral conscience, freewill, a Mind, etc. I wish I had said that better and also a soul is the substance or substantial manifestation of me as a person into being (i.e. the “thing” that exemplifies me as an overall person into being- like a container of sorts but not really as its not like I as a person exist inside my soul but the soul is more the manifestation or exemplification of me as a person and all my given properties at any given time).”

      Beyond that, my answers to your questions is as follows;

      1. What do you mean by substance? Is it the same as essence? Does substance need to be material or can it be immaterial?

      Ans: Yes, traditionally a substance is usually synonymous or associated with an essence though not in everyone’s opinion (see the “Bundle Theory of Substance” for example). See this write up on it in general = https://plato.stanford.edu/entries/substance/

      Also, yes, a substance can be material or immaterial- the soul is an immaterial substance as is God or angels or demons for example.
      See the difference between a “substance” vs. a “property-thing” (will be relevant in my upcoming Cosmological argument in relation to the nature of the universe as well) by Dr. J.P. Moreland here = https://appearedtoblogly.wordpress.com/2013/01/17/moreland-on-substance-vs-property-things/ .

      2. A little later someone said that the body is a mode of the soul – that the physical body is a manifestation of the soul. And that the soul is the blueprint for the physical body. What do you mean by a “mode of the soul” and how is that different from a “manifestation of the soul?” A blueprint is something very different from what it represents and can exist separate from what it represents – not unlike a map being different from the territory it represents. This seems to imply that the human body is not part of the soul nor contained within the soul – was that what you were trying to say or did I misunderstand?

      Ans: I (Dale said that), as I take a Metaphysical Aristotelean view of dualism as opposed to a Cartesian view that it seemed to me Robert preferred. I was using mode or manifestation of the soul interchangeably, under the view I was advancing there, I was saying that the body and/or brain at least is simply a part of the soul that exemplifies primary properties/qualities (physical properties). At death our souls can “cut” that part of our souls off so to speak and we separate from it, but this is why the Bible says we are naked or incomplete without our physical bodies and need to be raised up on the last day to make our souls all in all so to speak. So, my soul being in the mode of manifesting or exemplifying physical properties in the form of my body/brain is what I meant there.

      Further as the soul exists prior to the development of our bodies in the womb (at the moment of conception or possibly shortly before- idk), then it serves to inform the development of our bodies in the womb just like a blueprint serves as the theological goal or end point for how a building will be constructed. I gave a great source that no one used unfortunately that explains this from the ID movement perspective here = See the article entitled, Is DNA the Soul? by Thomas J. Kaiser on p.67-96 here = https://thomasaquinas.edu/pdfs/aquinas-review/2015.pdf . It argues that DNA is the blueprint for proteins and everything physical development- thus the DNA maybe the soul. I would say the soul determines the DNA formation and then the DNA goes on to determine the building of the body in the womb in accordance with that design plan.

      3. Where does the human body fit in? Would it be another part or faculty or the soul, such as Person and Mind? Dale indicated the soul comes into being at conception – so when the human body starts. Yet the soul continues after the human body dies. Would you share a bit more about how the soul and body are interconnected?

      DALE’S ANS: I Answered that above already I think, but I will say that while we are alive, our souls are dependent on the body, but it is not necessarily dependent on it and obviously it can shed that part of itself that has those properties when we die for example.

      4. Where does consciousness fit in? Is that part of the Person and a subset or faculty of the soul? How about intellect? Would that be part of the Mind and a subset or faculty of the soul? And, what about Spirit? Awhile back Dale once mentioned to me that “the mind is a faculty of the soul, the spirit is a faculty of the soul.” So would Spirit be another division or faculty, under soul?

      Well self-awareness or sentience is an essential property of being a Person just as having an intellect would seem to be- though perhaps the manifestation of that intelligence capability is not necessary as per babies or mentally retarded people or people who are sleeping or in a coma or something don’t exemplify intelligence in any meaningful way related to personhood. Yes, intellect is part of the Mind faulty. Yes, the spirit faculty (how we relate to God) would be another faulty of the Person/Soul and be separate/distinct from yet interconnected with the Mind faulty.

      5. It was mentioned that our physical brains and bodies are modes of the soul itself. What are modes and how are they different from faculties?

      ANS- I answered that above I think. Although I will add that a faculty is simply our inherent ability or capacity to do something (it doesn’t entail that we are actually expressing or manifesting that ability or that we are even able to do so as there may be external constraints preventing me from doing so such as if I’m asleep or tied up I can’t write a blog on my website due to the external interference but that doesn’t change the fact that I inherently have a capacity to do so for example.

      A mode = a way or manner in which something occurs or is experienced, expressed, or done- hence these refer to capacities of the soul that have been manifested or exemplified such as my soul manifesting a physical body and exemplifying all the attendant physical properties associated with that body.

      6. Someone mentioned that some animals have consciousness. And Dale responded that animals have spirits and souls. That makes it sound as if the spirit and soul are parts of the animal – but earlier Dale had said the soul was the complete package. I think I’ve misunderstood something here and hope you can straighten me out.

      DALE’S ANS – Same deal as humans above- the spirit of animals is a faculty of their souls, their faculties are simply not as developed as human beings are- they have less inherent abilities/capacities compared to us in how they relate to God for example. Similarly some animals have mind faculties but just not ones as developed as ours with all of our inherent capacities to do abstract math or cosmology for example.

      7. These concepts of soul and the faculties such as spirit and mind and person – did these come from the Bible or how were they developed?

      The soul, spirit and mind came from the Bible directly as it mentions all of them explicitly (though some Bible verses sometimes equate spirit as being the same as the Soul and thus why Dr. Tony Costa thinks they are the same thing and the terms are used interchangeably. Whereas I use verses that say they are different like Dr. JP Moreland. Thus, it takes proper hermeneutics and systematic theology to define things the way I have in terms of the spirit and soul distinction. The Bible xlearly does differentiate them in some parts and thus my distinction must be right from a Biblical perspective (I quote a few verses showing this in my Part 1 of solo Soul series- see here = https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XItmBWzuXw4&list=PLDyoKecpi82zc0P-mX2aP1a9oMTzfytvG ).

      As to the verses that use the terms interchangeably, I think the context of the passages shows its not literal and/or the author is being sloppy in their use and not trying to convey a literal point as to the structure of the soul in the same way I wasn’t being precise in some of my shows like in the Trinity for example whereby I equated a Mind and Soul and Person as one in the same. I would say my use of Person is not in the Bible as a term, but the notion of an “individual” is there- remember my Trinity shows and by individual it means the same as we do today by “Person” in a psychological or philosophical sense- (i.e. a center of self-consciousness along with all it’s essential and accidental properties at a given time).

      Hope that helps 😊

      Dale

      P.S.- Also when Travis asked me if we should expect the neuroscientists to also see a pink elephant or blue rayon or whatever we imagine- the answer should have been a resounding yes from me but I waffled there and my answer was confused. The point is only the privileged first-person subject is able to know about the information of pink sensations directly as they alone have private access to that information.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Hey Brian,

        Awesome, I hope they are helpful as I know it was really important to you that I clarify my stance on some of how those things relate to each other. So I really tried my best to give a thorough answer as I could for you 🙂

        I also have to do some considering myself given Travis’ great feedback on the Unity of Visual Field argument, planning on doing so soon but first I just recorded the Justin Brierly interview today and so working on getting that posted up for people right now 🙂

        Like

  2. Dale,
    Just wanted to note that I’ve listened to your follow-up show and don’t have much to add. I think you did a fair job of summarizing Chalmers’ paper. I’ll only reiterate that I don’t really have a preferred solution to the meta-problem. I just think that it’s a valuable addition to the conversation because it is a platform for broadening the explanatory space beyond just trying to solve the hard problem. My intuition is that the meta-problem might be more tractable than the hard-problem; but that’s really just a vague gut feeling.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hey Travis,

      Awesome thanks for listening and noted on your take there, I was just trying to gauge where I thought you were based on what you said in the show there. But yeah, glad to know that you felt I did a good job with the Meta-Problem as I felt it deserved more attention that what I was able to give it in the debate, so I wanted to give more colour on what it was and the various options available for people who may not want to read the 56 pages themselves 🙂

      Like

    2. Hey Travis,

      I wanted you to follow up on the Unity of Visual Field argument and you sent me the 2006 article on Synchronicity. Would you be able to review and send me the pdf version of this article which does speak on the lack of communication between sub-systems in the brain? Thanks as that is where he shows the neuroscience findings I was referring to in the show 🙂

      Disambiguation, Binding, and the Unity of Visual Consciousness. Theory & Psychology, 2007, vol. 17, pp. 747-777. (This target article ranked among the 50 most frequently read articles throughout 2008, including first ranking throughout January and February 2008.)

      Abstract:
      Recent findings in neuroscience strongly suggest that an object’s features (e.g., its color, texture, shape, etc.) are represented in separate areas of the visual cortex. Although represented in separate neuronal areas, somehow the feature representations are brought together as a single, unified object of visual consciousness. This raises a question of binding: how do neural activities in separate areas of the visual cortex function to produce a feature-unified object of visual consciousness? Several prominent neuroscientists have adopted neural synchrony and attention-based approaches to explain object feature binding. I argue that although neural synchrony and attentional mechanisms might function to disambiguate an object’s features, it is difficult to see how either of these mechanisms could fully explain the unity of an object’s features at the level of visual consciousness. After presenting a detailed critique of neural synchrony and attention-based approaches to object feature binding, I propose interactive hierarchical structuralism (IHS). This view suggests that a unified percept (i.e., a feature-unified object of visual consciousness) is not reducible to the activity of any cognitive capacity or to any localized neural area, but emerges out of the interaction of visual information organized by spatial structuring capacities correlated with lower, higher, and intermediate levels of the visual hierarchy. After clarifying different notions of emergence and elaborating evidence for IHS, I discuss how IHS can be tested through transcranial magnetic stimulation and backward masking. In the final section I present some further implications and advantages of IHS.

      Link to article: http://tap.sagepub.com/content/17/6/747.full.pdf

      EDIT- I just found it myself lol – sorry here is the pdf link = http://citeseerx.ist.psu.edu/viewdoc/download?doi=10.1.1.844.2979&rep=rep1&type=pdf and I will post in my sources in the blog for people as well 🙂

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      1. Dale,
        The 2007 paper you’ve linked is conceptually similar to the 2006 paper. These are NOT saying that brain regions implicated in consciousness are completely isolated from each other. The point is that the disparate lower-level regions do not on their own appear to be adequately interconnected or synchronized to explain binding. This does not account for downstream activity. As such, LaRock proceeds to propose a multi-level hierarchical theory that relies on higher-level structures that interface with those lower-level regions. This has affinity with the higher-level theories I’ve noted, except that he employs “strong emergence” for reasons that are not entirely clear to me.

        In reviewing this I was also reminded of something that may prove relevant to the question of the role of consciousness in binding. Are you familiar with the phenomenon of blindsight? If there are percepts recognized in blindsight that include feature binding, as seems likely from the descriptions I recall, then this would have implications for the role of consciousness in binding. It turns out that there was a recent case study which suggests blindsight integration of color and depth. This would infer that binding can occur without consciousness (or that there is some divided consciousness creating a bound perception which is not directly accessible to the reporting consciousness).

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Awesome, thanks very much for giving me your take there Travis, with what you’ve said about it in mind, I want to read through it more thoroughly myself now 🙂

        Also, yes I’m very aware of the blindsight phenomenon- it’s been misapplied to try and answer the knowledge argument for example. I was not aware of the recent findings about blind-sight’s role in the binding issue however, so that looks interesting and relevant. I shall have to look deeper into this argument, if I’m to continue using it and it may be I simply need to abandon it if the claim that the sub-systems were isolated was premature on the part of philosophers 🙂

        P.S.- Not sure if you’re interested but I just posted a new show on the Resurrection with Gary Habermas, again I included lots of scholarly level sources on it in the blog that I think someone like you would appreciate (even employing your method of the hyperlinks- though I find that made it hard to know where to click but I think I’ve found a solution to that for next time.

        Liked by 1 person

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