And Behind Curtain Number 3?

19 03 2012

“The solution to the riddle of life in space and time lies outside space and time.” Ludwig Wittgenstein, Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus [1922], 6.4312

In my last post, that’s all I was essentially trying to say, though not nearly as eloquently as Mr. Wittgenstein was able to sum it up (I just knew someone had come along before and said it better).

Materialism is a deterministic system, since it is inherently reductionist (in other words, nothing of any consequence falls outside space and time). Which means, among other things, that the so-called “problem of the mind” is only a problem if one doesn’t believe in the human spirit. The “I” from a materialist’s point of view is simply a trick of the brain, since there is nothing beyond the mystery of consciousness but the brain itself. There really is no “mind” to speak of in any real, physical sense. Which is to say that pretenses of love or courage or empathy are nothing but bio-chemical reactions wrought by a particularly complicated combination of evolutionary impulses.

It’s no longer “the devil made me do it” but “my particular evolutionary nexus made me do it.”

So where does the “will” reside in the brain, which is, after all, the very thing on trial in legal deliberations (or that finally matters in an morality play or tale of fiction)? Did he mean to do this? and Did he know what he was doing when he did? are the questions that must be established in any criminal case. But if you can’t place the will anywhere beyond the machinations of the brain, how can you finally blame anyone for anything?

Freudian psychology ended up being too deterministic in practice. Marxism ended up being too deterministic in theory. Materialism is too deterministic in both theory and practice. Socrates was right, of course. Just ask enough questions and you eventually get back to the Wizard behind the curtain of every idea, and what you find there tells you everything you need to know.

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