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Jan14-05, 02:37 PM
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Quote Quote by Fliption
I'll start with a few questions/clarifications. When the different philosophical positions are introduced in this chapter I found myself still searching for what it really means to be a physicalist and therefore what it really means to be physical. Since there will be substantial material here arguing why physicalism is wrong, I found myself searching for what it really means. At first I find comments like this:

"Physicalism, which holds that everything is physical in some sense." (Page 6)

Other comments similarly seem to be circular.
There is a lot that's left ambiguous in this chapter, necessarily so, as it's only intended as a sweeping overview of the rest of the book. Rest assured, we'll going into these things in quite some detail in the coming chapters.

The meanings of "physical" and "physicalism" are discussed at length in chapters 2 and 3. We'll discuss this in more detail later, but briefly, physical properties are understood to be the types of properties included in the fundamental ontology of physics. (As physics is not yet complete, its ontology is bound to change, but the types of things in its ontology will share some basic similarities with the ones it has now.)

Physicalism is the view that all facts about the world are either facts about physical properties, or are directly entailed by these physical facts. Once we specify what we mean by "physical," it is not circular to define physicalism in this way.

It isn't until I get to page 9 where the 3 distinctions of aspects of consciousness are listed that I see a possible way for the author to distinguish non-physical things from physical things. But I can't be sure if that's where this will lead since this is just an introductory chapter and he doesn't ever directly make it clear what the definitions are. I just don't want to get into the later chapters and find out that once again we are all talking about different things when we say "physical".
It should be clear after chapter 2 what counts as physical. When we get into the second half of the book, we'll see that physical theory is essentially a theory of what Rosenberg calls effective properties. Physics is not a theory of receptive properties or carriers, because neither of these is included in its fundamental ontology, and neither of these is entailed by its fundamental ontology. Thus, only one of the proposed three aspects of causation can rightfully be called 'physical,' and so the others are non-physical. Again, this will make more sense later on.

Also, the concept of "causation" is never directly described. I know what this word means but I can't be sure I know what the author means when he uses the word. What is meant by this word and what philosophical issues of causation is he talking about here in this quote from the preface?:

" This may seem like an unlikely project because the two problems of consciouness and causation are each tough philosophical checstnuts individually."
We'll be going into causation extensively in part II of the book, which is still a ways off. For now, if you're interested, you can skip ahead and read sections 9.1 - 9.6 for a discussion about causation.