Forum: Undergraduate Philosophy Class, University of South Florida
[i] Hereafter I will use “mind” and “consciousness” interchangeably—although perhaps mind is consciousness plus intelligence.
[ii] The phrase “stream of consciousness” is attributed to William James in Hothersall, page 350.
[iii] I am referring to introspection—by no means an unproblematic concept.
[iv] Also known as the Paradox of Self-Reference.
[v] “Certainty is impossible,” “objectivity is impossible,” and “determinism is correct” commit the same fallacy. The first is, of course, a statement of certainty, the second a claim to the universal “objective” truth of that statement (notice the prefix impossible which denotes not possible). In regard to the latter, the statement commits the Fallacy of Self-Exclusion because the claimant is asserting his objective, i.e., unbiased, knowledge that objectivity is not possible—an assertion his statement excludes from the realm of possibility. The claim “determinism is true” is self-contradictory because it is a claim to an unbiased, i.e., undetermined by external forces, view at reality (as is the statement “objectivity is impossible”), which determinism renders impossible. The determinist can claim no more than that his previous external influences—or supernatural forces, or his instincts or genes—have made him believe that determinism is true. Once he goes beyond this claim and states (or implies) that “determinism is the one and only correct theory” he has abandoned determinism and thus has contradicted himself.
[vi] Epistemologists refer to this method of validation as reaffirmation through denial.
[vii] The view that logic is without ontological import is attributed to Nietzsche in Nietzsche: A Critical Reader, page 115.
Flanagan, Owen. The Science of the Mind. London, England: MIT Press, 1991.
Hothersall, David. History of Psychology. New York, New York: McGraw-Hill, Inc,
Morton, Peter. A Historical Introduction to the Philosophy of Mind. Ontario, Canada:
Broadview Press, 1997.
Sedgwick, Peter. Nietzsche: A Critical Reader. New York, New York: Blackwell Publishers, 1995.