About Two Brain-Pains Posts I Noticed The Other Day
Posted by Tanas Gjorgoski on December 28, 2006
If you have by any chance missed them, over at Brain Pains, Robert Howell has two very interesting posts (here and here) about Categorical Phenomenalism.
Categorical Phenomenalism (CP) is position that physical science can give us information only about dispositional properties of the things – how they behave in different contexts, and conditions, but that it fails to tell us what those things are in themselves. These intristic properties of the thing, which are base of specific dispositions are named “categorical properties”. Science doesn’t tell us anything about those. CP holds that those categorical properties are also responsible for the phenomenal properties.
As I wrote in the comment there, if one accepts CP, one must go further. Namely, if the knowledge and belief are consequence of the dispositional properties of the matter, and on other side phenomenal experience is there because of the categorical properties, it would be impossible for us to know about those categorical properties. So proponent of CP will have to hold, in my opinion, that also knowledge, and beliefs can’t be properly addressed through account based on dispositional properties (i.e. normal physical properties), but that categorical properties will have to play some important role not just in phenomenal, but also in our believing, knowing, etc…
Any model of the mind will have to show the possibility of this. The possibility not just that we have phenomenal experience, but that we know that we have phenomenal experience. The possibility not just that we exist, but that we know that we exist. The possibility not just to know those things, but to know that we know those things, etc…
Anyway, to my thinking, CP is a shy attempt to get away from physicalism, but fails because 1.it attempts to apply the reductionistic paradigm on the phenomenal and 2.it looks for the ground of the dispositional properties in wrong place. So, it fails because it is too shy (as are other dualistic accounts in general).