We know there was a time when no form of subjectivity existed, and we know there was a subsequent time in which subjectivity did exist. The question is, how can we describe the gap between these two times? How, and on what basis, can we think the time of the emergence of subjectivity? The Scylla any answer to this question faces is that any description of pre-subjective time is always thought from within subjectivity, or from within what I will call a correlational form. This problem would indict any such description as either dogmatically metaphysical or as a performative contradiction (i.e. to think where one is not). The Charybdis is the possibility of a positivist neurological or eliminative reductionism, in which subjectivity is eliminated altogether. With the elimination of subjectivity comes the elimination of phenomenal appearance and any kind of normative structure, which would produce its own form of performative contradiction (i.e. to insist on the truth of eliminativism after having eliminated truth and falsity).
In order to think the time of the emergence of correlational forms, we have the necessities to think where one is not and to maintain a distinction between truth and falsity. The project is an attempt to describe a correlational form that can fulfill both requirements.
This will be the reading for June 29. A pdf of the essay is available here.
As usual, we will meet at 4:00 in the Dunkin Donuts meeting room outside exit 6 of Gangnam station.
Bob punched Tom because he believed that Tom deserved it. Sally went to medical school because she desired to become a doctor. John walked into the store because he intended to buy water. I am currently conscious of myself as thinking about this paper. These propositional attitudes – beliefs, desires and intentions – are the tools we use to explain the behavior of both others and ourselves, and we are conscious of ourselves as thinking. All of this is rather obvious. It is common sense to say that John did something because he intended a particular effect, and that Sally did something because she desired something. In light of that obviousness, the first paragraph of Paul Churchland’s essay is startling:
“Eliminative materialism is the thesis that our common sense conception of psychological phenomena constitutes a radically false theory, a theory so fundamentally defective that both the principles and the ontology of that theory will eventually be displaced, rather than smoothly reduced, by completed neuroscience, a theory that we may expect to be more powerful by far than the common-sense psychology it displaces, and more substantially integrated within physical science generally. (EM, 2)