Saturday, March 25, 2017

Distinguishing the Spiritual from the Mental (The Pairing Problem)

My understanding of Jaegwon Kim's pairing problem (PP) is that it's specifically a joust against substance dualism; moreover, there is not just one aspect to his PP. The issue that Kim examines is causal interaction between the mental and the physical; he wonders what allows the substance dualist to suggest that a mind can interact causally with a body (an extended thing). Since minds don't exist in space, according to the Cartesian dualist, then what's the specific relation that makes causal interaction between minds and bodies possible? How is it possible for immaterial minds to be part of the universe's causal continuum, and how is it possible to distinguish the action of one non-spatial mind from another? Regardless of how we answer these questions, I don't see divine causation and mental causation in the exact same light. Therefore, while there are questions that persist regarding divine causation, it does not seem that divine causation is susceptible to the same criticisms that Cartesian mental causation is. Firstly, no disrespect intended, but I believe that substance dualism of any variety--particularly Cartesian thought--is false and extremely problematic, whereas theism is not patently false, even if divine causation may be hard to understand. One must first substantiate the actual or likely existence of the res cogitans (as Descartes conceived it) before the res cogitans can be equated with God. Even if I believe in the mental (somehow), I do not accept the existence of a res cogitans. Maybe something that might also explain why I don't see Kim's PP as particularly applicable to theism per se, is because I believe spirit encompasses more than the mental does. I.e., the mental is only one aspect of the spiritual. So the terms "mental" and "spirit/spiritual" are not coextensive to me.

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