Curt J. Ducasse

C. J. Ducasse

(1881-1969), French-born, highly respected Professor of Philosophy at Brown University. Awardee of the Carus Lectures prize (American Philosophical Association). Contributed to the "Journal Information for Philosophy and Phenomenological Research", "Causation", "Immortality" (Edited by Paul Edwards), "Philosophical Dimensions of Parapsychology" (edited by James M. O. Wheatley). Ex-student of Josiah Royce. Pursued a career in philosophy but retained a strong interest in logic - so much so that he took the initiative to create the Association for Symbolic Logic with its Journal of symbolic logic. Among his many important papers on survival are "How the Case of The Search for Bridey Murphy Stands Today" Journal of the ASPR 54: 3-22, and "What Would Constitute Conclusive Evidence of Survival After Death?" Journal of the SPR 41: 401-406. His books included "A Critical Examination of the Belief in Life After Death", "Paranormal Phenomena, Science and Life After Death" (Monograph), "A Philosophical Scrutiny of Religion", "Nature, Mind, And Death", "Truth, Knowledge and Causation", "Philosophy As a Science: Its Matter and Its Method" and "Philosophy of Art".

A Critical Examination of the Belief in a Life After Death - Part 3

Chapter 11: Hypophenomenalism: The Life of Organisms as Product of Mind

1. Two hypophenomenalistic: conceptions | 2. Biological hypophenomenalism distinguished from cosmological | 3. The life processes apparently purposive | 4. Objections to a teleological explanation of, life processes | 5. The nature, kinds, and levels of purposive activity | 6. Conation: "blind" vs. accompanied by awareness of its conatum | 7. Desire, and ignorance or knowledge of how to satisfy it | 8. Autotelism and heterotelism | 9. What ultimately differentiates purposiveness from mechanism | 10. Servo-mechanisms | 11. Creative vs. only activative conations | 12. The question as to how conation organizes matter | 13. Telism ultimately the only type of explanation in sight for the life processes | 14. Conation in the vegetative, the animal, and the human activities | 15. Hypophenomenalism vs. epiphenomenalism | 16. Hypophenomenalism and experimentation

 - Curt J. Ducasse -

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          THERE IS a conception of the relation between mind and body which is in a certain respect the converse of the epiphenomenalistic and which might therefore be termed Hypophenomenalism (Gr. hypo = under + phainomai = to appear.) It is, in brief, that the living body is a hypophenomenon of the soul or mind or of some constituent of it - an effect or product or dependent of it, instead of the converse of this as epipheomenalism asserts.

Conceptions of this type have appeared several times in the history of thought, but they have been presented as parts or corollaries of certain cosmological speculations rather than as conclusions suggested by the results of observation.

1. Two hypophenomenalistic: conceptions

In Plotinus, for example, who conceived the universe as arising from the ineffable One, God, by a series of emanations, the soul is the penultimate of these, two degrees below God; and the lowest is matter. Thus, the soul is not in the body, but the body is in, and dependent upon, the soul, which both precedes and survives it, and whose forces give form and organization to the matter of which the body is composed.

Schopenhauer's conception of the relation between body and soul" is somewhat similar to this, but he does not speak here of soul or of mind but more specifically of "will," which he does not regard as a part of the psyche. Except in cases where the will has kindled to itself the light we call intellect, that impersonal will is blind as to what specifically it craves but nonetheless creates. Schopenhauer accordingly conceives the body, or more exactly the body's organization, as objectification of the will-to-live; the hand, for example, being an objectification of the unconscious will to be able to grasp. He writes that "what objectively is matter is subjectively will ... our body is just the visibility, objectivity of our will, and so also every body is the objectivity of the will at some one of its grades."(1) And elsewhere he speaks of a certain part of the body, to wit, the brain, as "the objectified will to know."(2)

(1) The World as Will and Idea, Supplements to Bk II. Ch. XXIV p. 52. Haldane and Kemp Transl. Vol. 3. Kegan Paul, Trench, Trubner & Co. London 1906.
(2) The Will in Nature, tr. Mme. Karl Hillebrand, London, George Bell and Sons, 1897, p. 237.

2. Biological hypophenomenalism distinguished from cosmological

In philosophical discussions of the mind-body relation, the type of theory of which two classical examples have just been cited, and for which the name Hypophenomenalism is here proposed, has received relatively little attention as compared with epiphenomenalism, materialism, idealism, parallelism, or interactionism. We shall therefore have to provide here ourselves the formulation of it that would seem most defensible. It will unavoidably have to be fuller than in the case of the familiar other theories of the mind-body relation.

The first thing we must do is to distinguish between what may be termed, respectively, cosmological and biological hypophenomenalism. Cosmological hypophenomenalism would contend that not only the living body, but also all other material objects are hypophenomena of minds, i.e., are products or objectifications of psychical activity or, as Schopenhauer had it, of Will.

Biological hypophenomenalism, on the other hand, concerns itself only with the material objects we term "living," and contends only that the life, which differentiates living things from dead or inorganic things, is a product, effect, or manifestation of psychic activity and more particularly of conation. This is the hypophenomenalism which alone we shall have in view, for it is the one directly relevant to the central problem of the present work, namely, that of the relation between the individual's mind and the life and the death of his body. This relation is different both from the ontological relation between mind and matter in general and from the epistemological relation between them, which constitutes mind's knowledge of matter.

Biological hypophenomenalism does not occupy itself with the question whether matter in general, or in particular the matter of the body as distinguished from its life, is a product or objectification of mind. It has to do only with the relation between the life of the body and its mind; but whereas epiphenomenalism maintains that both the occurrence at all of consciousness and the particular states of it at particular times are products of the living brain's activity, biological hypophenomenalism on the contrary maintains that the life of the body and of its brain is an effect or manifestation of psychic activities and in particular of conations - these being what "animate" living organisms.

3. The life processes apparently purposive

The fact from which hypophenomenalism starts is that not only the distinctively human life activities and the life activities typical of animals, but even the vegetative activities - where life is at its minimum - seem to be definitely purposive. And hypophenomenalism, on the basis of an analysis of the notion of purposiveness more careful than the common ones, contends that the life activities, even at the vegetative level, do not just seem to be purposive but really are so.

Most biologists, however, are averse to employment of the notion of purpose on the ground that it is a subjective, psychological one, inadmissible in a biology that strives to be as wholly objective as are physics and chemistry. They therefore speak instead of the "directiveness," or of the "equifinality" of biological processes or, as does Driesch in the formulation of his Vitalism, of an "entelechy" which, however, is not psychic but only "psychoid." But the question is whether, if these terms are not just would-be-respectable-sounding aliases for purposiveness, what they then designate is ultimately capable of accounting for the facts it is invoked to explain. For the sake of concreteness, let us therefore advert to some examples of those facts.

The peculiarities that differentiate living things from inanimate objects include not only the fairly obvious characteristics - metabolism, growth, reproduction, adaptability to environment - by which we ordinarily identify the things we term "living"; but also various more recondite facts. An example would be that "when ... one of the first two cells of a tiny salamander embryo is destroyed, the remaining one grows into a whole individual, not a half, as one might expect." Again, that "two fertilized eggs induced to fuse by artificial means were found to produce one animal instead of two." The facts of regeneration similarly challenge explanation: "The leg of a tadpole, snipped off, may be restored, or the eye of a crustacean"; and so on. In sum, "if the organism is prevented from reaching its norm of 'goal' in the ordinary way, it is resourceful and will attain it by a different method."(3)

(3) E. W. Sinnott: Cell and Psyche, the Biology of Purpose, Univ. of North Carolina Press, 1950, pp. 6, 29, 33.

Facts such as these strongly suggest that the life processes are purposive. But that a process or activity is "purposive" is commonly taken to mean that it is incited and shaped by the presence together of three factors in the agent: (a) the idea of an as yet non-existent state of affairs; (b) a desire that that state of affairs should eventually come to exist; and (c) knowledge of diverse modes of 'action respectively adequate in different circumstances to bring about the desiderated state of affairs. And, obviously, such an explanation of the biological occurrences in view is open to several prima facie serious objections. These, even when they have been merely felt rather than explicitly formulated, have been responsible for the reluctance of biologists and physicists to accept a teleological explanation of the facts cited, notwithstanding the difficulty, which they have also felt, of doing altogether without it. Let us now state and examine each of those objections.

4. Objections to a teleological explanation of, life processes

(a) The first objection is that it is scientifically illegitimate to ascribe processes which, like those in view, are material, to the operation of factors which, like thought, desire, and intelligence, are mental.

The sufficient reply to this objection, however, is that, as David Hume made clear long ago, only experience can tell us what in fact is or is not capable of causing what. The Causality relation presupposes nothing at all as to the ontological nature - whether material, mental, or other-of the events that function as its terms. That a material event can be caused only by an event also itself material is not a known fact but merely a metaphysical dogma. To look for a material explanation of every material event is of course a legitimate research program and one which has yielded many valuable fruits; but to assume that, even when the search yields no material explanation of a given material event, nevertheless the explanation of it cannot be other than a material one is, illegitimately, to erect that legitimate research program into a metaphysical creed - the creed, namely, of pious ontological materialism.

(b) The second objection is that a teleological explanation of biological processes is superfluous because all their peculiarities can be adequately accounted for by ascribing them to the existence and operation, in the organism we call "living," of various servo-mechanisms; that is, of mechanisms whose attainment and maintenance of certain results (to wit, growth of the organism to a normal form, restoration of it when it gets damaged, preservation of a normal equilibrium between its internal processes and the changes in its environment, etc.) is due to guidance of the mechanism's activity at each moment by elaborate feed-back channels that are constituents of the mechanism itself.

The reply to this objection is that, although some servo-mechanisms are known to exist in the organism, and although the existence and operation of additional servo-mechanisms would indeed be theoretically capable of accounting for those results, nevertheless servo-mechanisms that would be specifically such as to insure all those particular results are not in fact independently known to exist in organisms. Hence, unless and until their existence is established by observation of them, or by observational verification of predictions deduced from the supposition that they exist and are of specifically such and such descriptions, invocation of them to account for all biological processes is nothing but invocation of a deus ex machina.

This means that the possibility of a teleological explanation of biological processes is as yet left entirely open; and in turn, this underlines the general requirement that, for an explanation to be acceptable, the cause it invokes must be of a kind not just postulated ad hoc, but independently known to exist; and further, known to be capable in some cases of causing effects similar to those which it is invoked to account for in the case of biological processes.

Moreover, the fact that some servo-mechanisms - though not ones adequate to explain all the particular facts in view - are known to exist in living organisms leaves the existence there of these known servo-mechanisms themselves to be accounted for. And, to explain their existence as being the end-product of the operation of some "more fundamental" servo-mechanism is not really to explain it at all unless the existence of the latter is not just postulated but is independently known, and itself then somehow explained.

(c) The third objection to the ascribing of purposiveness to biological processes is that presence of the three factors of purposiveness mentioned - an idea of an as yet non-existent form or state of the organism, a desire for its existence, and knowledge of what means would, under varying circumstances, bring it into existence - is dependent on presence of a highly developed brain and nervous system; which, however, is altogether absent at the biological level of the processes here in view.

To this objection, the reply is that conjunction of those three factors is characteristic not of all purposive activity, but only of certain kinds and levels of it. More specifically, it is characteristic of purposive activity that is both consciously and skillfully heterotelic, but not of purposive activity that is blind, as in the case of the vegetative life activities.

5. The nature, kinds, and levels of purposive activity

But the force and the implications of the above reply to the third of the objections considered can become fully evident only in the light of an analysis of purposive activity and of its various kinds and levels. The branch of philosophy which occupies itself thus with the theory of purposive activity has no current name but might be called Prothesiology (from Gr. πρόθεσιѕ = purpose, resolve, design.) Kant's discussion of the teleological judgment, in Part II of his Critique of Judgment, would belong to it. In his discussion, however, he considers chiefly man's judgments of purposiveness in Nature rather than the nature, kinds, and levels of purposive activity itself.

Moreover, the "mechanism" he contrasts with purposiveness is mechanism conceived in terms only of motion of material objects or particles, and thus leaves out of consideration such psychological processes as are not purposive but mechanical, i.e., automatic. Also, he erroneously conceives teleology as a different kind of causality instead of, properly, as causality in cases where the cause-event (not the causality relation) is of a special kind. Kant's discussion of teleology therefore does not furnish us with the analysis and conspectus we need at this point. We shall introduce it by considering first a concrete case of purposive activity of the type in which the three factors mentioned above operate - say, the case of our shaking an apple tree for the purpose of getting one of the apples it bears. In this activity, we discern the following five elements:

1) The idea we have, of our as yet non-existent possession of one of the apples.
2) Our desire that possession of one by us shall come to exist.
3) Our knowledge, gained from past experience, that shaking the tree would cause apples to fall into our possession.
4) Causation in us - by the joint presence to our mind of that idea, that desire, and that knowledge - of the act of shaking the tree.
5) Causation in turn, by this act, of the imagined and desired eventual fall of apples into our possession.

This analysis of the example is enough to make evident already that, contrary to what is sometimes alleged, purposive activity involves no such paradox as would be constituted by causation of a present action by a future state of affairs. For obviously what causes the act of shaking the tree is not the as yet non-existent possession by us of an apple; but is, together, our present thought of our future possession of one, our present desire for such future possession, and our present knowledge of how to cause it to occur. By the very definition of Causality, the cause, here as necessarily everywhere else, is prior in time to its effect.

6. Conation: "blind" vs. accompanied by awareness of its conatum

Let us, however pursue the analysis of purposiveness by considering next the various respects in which examples of purposiveness may, without ceasing to be such, depart from the type of the example analyzed above.

One possibility is that factor (1) in that analysis - to wit, an idea of the state of affairs to be brought about - should be absent. In such a case, factor (2) would properly be describable not as a desire, but only as a blind conation or craving-blind as to what sort of state of affairs would satisfy it. A new-born infant's craving for milk would be an example of this. "Desire," then, is conation conjoined with an idea of its conatum; whereas "blind conation" is conation unaccompanied by any idea of its conatum.

The activity incited by blind conation is even then purposive, but not consciously purposive; and it is: (a) relatively random and therefore successful, i.e., satisfying, only by chance; or (b) regulated automatically (within a certain range of conditions) by some somatic of psychosomatic servo-mechanism and therefore successful notwithstanding variations that do not go beyond that range, as for example web building by spiders; or (c) stereotyped irrespective of its appropriateness or inappropriateness to the special circumstances that may be present in the particular case as when, for example, the hungry neonate cries, irrespective of whether anybody is there to hear him or not.

7. Desire, and ignorance or knowledge of how to satisfy it

When the inciting conation is a desire, i.e., is coupled with awareness of the nature of its conatum - then termed its desideratum knowledge of a form of action that would bring about occurrence of the desideratum may either be lacking or be possessed. If it is lacking, the purposive activity incited is then of the consciously exploratory, "trial-and-error," type. If on the contrary that knowledge is possessed, the activity it incites is then not only consciously purposive but in addition skilled, or informed, according as the knowledge shaping it is present in the form of "know-how," or in conceptualized form.

8. Autotelism and heterotelism

Purposive activity - whether induced by a blind conation or by a conation conjoined with awareness of the nature of its conatum - may be autotelic, instead of heterotelic as in the example analyzed. That is, what satisfies the conation may be the very performing of the activity, not some ulterior effect caused by the performing of it. Examples of purposive activity that is thus autotelic would be sneezing, coughing, yawning, stretching; and, at a more elaborate level, the various play activities. In all such cases, what we crave is to do these very things. The doing of them of course has effects, but the activities are not, like the heterotelic ones, performed for the sake of those effects, but for their own sakes.

9. What ultimately differentiates purposiveness from mechanism

The foregoing survey of a number of ways in which telic activity may depart from the type illustrated by the example of the shaking of the apple tree makes evident that the one factor essential, i.e., necessary and sufficient, to purposiveness in an activity, is that what directly incites the activity should be either wholly or in part a conation.

It then becomes evident that causation of an activity or of any other event is on the contrary "mechanical" if and only if the direct cause of it does not consist, either wholly or in part, of a conation. Moreover, this analysis of the essence of "mechanical" causation applies irrespective of whether the activity or event caused be a physical or a psychical one. Much of what goes on in our minds occurs not purposively but mechanically; for example, occurrence of ideas that had become associated with others by contiguity or by similarity; rote recollections; orderly mental activities so habitual as to have become automatic; etc. The mechanical character of such psychological processes, and similarly of some psychosomatic and of some somatic processes, holds if what directly incites them is not a conation; and holds even if a mechanism being directly caused to function at a given time by something that is not a conation, came itself to exist as end-product of a purposive activity that aimed to construct it. (One's knowledge of the multiplication table would be an example of a psychological mechanism that was so instituted.)

10. Servo-mechanisms

A servo-mechanism is a mechanism so provided with feed-backs that the functioning of it does, notwithstanding disturbances of certain kinds and magnitudes, automatically insure attainment or maintenance within certain limits of a certain effect. A simple instance of a servo-mechanism is an oil-burning furnace controlled by a thermostat which maintains the house temperature within specific limits.

The point essential here to bear in mind in connection with servo-mechanisms is that although, to an observer struck by the similarity of their behavior to that of the behavior of a man actuated by a purpose, their behavior seems purposive too, nevertheless it is wholly mechanical. The purpose which the observer infers from his observation of the servo-mechanism's behavior is not entertained by the servo-mechanism itself, but is the purpose which the constructor of the mechanism intended that it should be capable of serving, and which the user of the mechanism is employing it to serve: the thermostat's action, which turns the furnace burner on or off, is not caused by a craving or desire in the thermostat to maintain the room temperature within certain limits. Although the existence of the thermostatically controlled furnace is artificial, i.e., came about through somebody's purposive constructional activity, nevertheless once the mechanism has come to exist, its operation is just as wholly mechanical as is operation of the increase or decrease of the quantity of water pouring over the natural spillway of a natural mountain lake, in maintaining the level of the lake constant within certain limits.

But although the action of the thermostat in turning the burner on or off is not itself purposive, it is nevertheless purpose-serving - the purpose served being of course the householder's purpose of maintaining the house temperature approximately constant. On the other hand, as the case of the mountain lake shows, an activity, in order to be capable of serving somebody's purpose, does not need either to be the activity of a purposive agent, or to be the activity of a purposively constructed mechanism.

11. Creative vs. only activative conations

In the various types of telism considered up to this point, the effect of the conations involved was to activate some preexisting psychological or psychosomatic mechanism; either, autotelically, for the sake of its very activity; or, heterotelically. for the sake of an ulterior effect which the mechanism's activity automatically causes.

What we must notice next is that, instead of or in addition to being thus activative, a conation may be both creative, and blind as to the determinate nature of that whose creation would satisfy the conation.

An example would be the imaginative creation of the poem, drama, or musical or pictorial composition which issues out of the composer's "inspiration," i.e., which is "breathed into" his consciousness by the specific conation operating in him at the time. The creative process is here usually a step-by-step one, in which ideas of portions or features of the composition are spontaneously generated by the conation; these ideas, when they turn out to be such as to satisfy it, being then embodied by the composer in perceptible material-words, tones, colors, etc., as the case may be.

Other examples would be those constituted by discovery of the solution of some intellectual problem; for instance the problem of discovering a proof that no cube can be the sum of two cubes. The correct solution, if it comes, is - like the incorrect ones that come - generated spontaneously by the intense conation to solve the problem; which conation, however, is satisfied only by advent of the correct solution and awareness that it is correct.

Another category is that of instances where what the conation generates is a psychological or psychosomatic servo-mechanism g

such that possession of it constitutes possession of a skill. Instances of this are of special interest in the present connection because part of what is then created is an elaborate set of connections among neurons in the brain and the cerebellum; and the fact that the conation to acquire a skill thus has a creative somatic effect lends plausibility to the supposition that the somatic phenomena of organic growth to a normal form, of regeneration, of adaptation, etc., are similarly manifestations of conations that are somatically creative, but are autotelic and blind as to what will satisfy them. This would mean that the tadpole's new leg, restored after the original one had been snipped off-and indeed the original one too - is, as Schopenhauer would have put it, an "objectification" of, i.e., a spontaneous somatic construction by, the blind conation for capacity to swim; and the crustacean's restored eye similarly a spontaneous construction by the conation for capacity to see.

12. The question as to how conation organizes matter

It might perhaps be objected, however, that anyway we do not understand how a conation manages to organize or to shape matter. If so, the pertinent reply would be that the puzzle is a wholly supposititious one. For wherever, as in this case and in many others, what is in view is not remote but proximate causation, i.e., causation of one event by another not through causation of intermediary other events but directly and immediately, then the question as to the "how" of the causation is strictly absurd. It is absurd because in any such case it loses the only meaning it ever has, which is: "Through what intermediary causal steps does A cause B?" and hence to ask this, i.e., to ask "how," in cases of direct causation, is to ask what the intermediary causal steps are in cases where there are none!

13. Telism ultimately the only type of explanation in sight for the life processes

The supposition formulated above - of organization as direct effect of conation - has the merit that it invokes a kind of cause, to wit, conation, of which - by introspective attention to our psychological experience - we know that some cases exist; a kind of cause, moreover, which we know to be sometimes creative; and indeed sometimes somatically creative.

On the other hand, our examination of the objections to teleological explanation of the life processes showed that each of the three objections is without force. Moreover, no explanation of those processes, other than a teleological one, is in sight; for to speak (as do E. S. Russell, R. S. Lillie, and others) of the "directiveness" of the life processes; or (as does Driesch) of an "entelechy" that is not psychic but "psychoid"; or (as does von Bertalanffy) of the "equifinality" of the life processes; and so on, is either to bring in purposiveness itself, under an alias; or else it is to invoke the operation of servo-mechanisms whose existence, however, even if it were observed instead of only postulated, would itself stand in need of explanation. That the explanation could ultimately be only in terms of purposiveness follows from two considerations.

One is that since what differentiates living material, even in its most elementary forms, from non-living material is the prima facie purposive character of its processes, this character of all living material cannot be accounted for by the hypothesis of chance variations or mutations in living material, and of survival of those fittest to survive.

The other consideration is that the adequacy of that hypothesis to account even for the differentiation of species within' already living material is to-day seriously questioned by a number of biologists for several reasons. One is: (a) that mutations are "rare, isolated, occurring in but one out of thousands or tens of thousands of individuals, and hence have but infinitesimal chances to propagate themselves and to persist in such a population." Moreover, (b) mutation "does not recur sequentially in the same form, and hence cannot be cumulative" and thus cannot produce the continuous and harmonious change which the hypothesis of progressive evolution depicts. Besides, (c) "by the very laws, which govern crossings in sexual reproduction, mutants have but infinitesimal chances to survive and to propagate their type." Furthermore, (d) "mutation is almost always a depreciative, noxious, or pathological phenomenon." Again, (e) "mutation never affects any but relatively minute details, and never traverses the limits of the species... In brief, mutation is at the most a factor of variation within a species ... it certainly cannot transform the existing species into novel ones."(4)

(4) Louis Bounoure: Determinisme et Finalite, Flammarion, Paris, 1957, Ch. II pp. 70-72. Note also Raymond Ruyer: Neofinalisme, Presses Universitaires de France, Paris, 1952; especially chs. IV, V, XVI, XVII. Also, H. Graham Cannon: The Evolution of Living Things, Thomas, Springfield, Ill. 1958, and Lamarck and Modern Genetics, Manchester Univ. Press, 1958 - See, however, E. Schroedinger: Mind and Matter, Cambridge Univ. Press, 1959 - Ch. 2.

14. Conation in the vegetative, the animal, and the human activities

The eminent author from whose chapter on "Evolutionism: An illusory science" the preceding observations are quoted considers in another chapter entitled, "Do cells have a soul?", the neo-finalism of Ruyer, and criticizes it.

According to Ruyer, the apparent preordination of biological processes to specific ends is owing to a dominating, essentially active and dynamic "primary organic consciousness," whose sole intent, or ideal, consists of the forms and capacities of the organs it constructs. This primary organic consciousness would thus be concerned basically with the vegetative processes of living things; and the processes of animal and of typically human life would be eventual derivatives from it.

Ruyer contends in addition, however, that a similar consciousness, though at more elementary levels, operates also in individual molecules and atoms, since they are not mere aggregates but are systems. His hypophenomenalism. would thus be not biological only but cosmological. But - leaving aside that additional contention of his - the "primary organic consciousness" he invokes to account for the apparent purposiveness of biological processes would seem to be much the same thing in essence if not perhaps in its details, as the conations which we found to be the constituent alone indispensable and therefore essential in the only actions whose purposiveness is, not inferred, but directly and intimately observable by us. These are, of course, our own purposive actions, whose motivation we can scrutinize introspectively; whereas external perception, as we pointed out earlier, has no way to distinguish between action really purposive, and action automatically regulated by servo-mechanisms.

Bounoure criticizes Ruyer's hypothesis, by emphasizing that the processes that go on in living organisms are triggered at every stage by determining conditions - chemical stimuli, mitogenetic causes, etc., of which he describes various interesting examples in some detail.

This determinism, however, which is beyond question, does not account for the organism's inherent capacity to respond to those determinants and to variations in them in a manner so adaptable as to attain a fixed result. Possession of such capacity is the characteristic of servo-mechanisms, but it does not account for its own existence. Indeed, Bounoure himself points this out when he writes that "finality is implicate in organisms, but implication does not constitute explanation. What needs to be accounted for is not organization already existent, but the activity that constructs and organizes life" (p. 216). Immediately after, however, he dismisses as futile and anthropomorphic Ruyer's postulated immanent agent-consciousness.

What then does Bounoure himself ultimately offer us instead? Unfortunately, only a statement that, in the organism, "the preordination of phenomena and ... the vital value of their concatenation" are "marvellous characteristics of life;" or a reference to the "essential mystery of life;" or an "acknowledgment, in the organism's development of a veritable marvel." In effect, nothing but virtuously emphatic avowals that he has no explanation whatever to offer!

As we shall see in the next chapter, however, some biologists no less distinguished, among them H. S. Jennings, whose observations on the behavior of paramecium Bounoure has occasion to cite - have not shared Bounoure's metaphysical prejudice against the possibility of psycho-physical causation.

15. Hypophenomenalism vs. epiphenomenalism

How now do the merits of the hypophenomenalism we have formulated compare with those of epiphenomenalism?

Epiphenomenalism as we saw, has two defects. One is that although it acknowledges that states of consciousness are not material events, nevertheless it describes their relation to brain activity - which activity it alleges generates them - only in terms of the in fact non-analogous relation between an activity of a material object and generation by it of another material object.

The biological hypophenomenalism we have described, on the other hand, does not suffer from any corresponding defect, for it does not contend - as would a cosmological hypophenomenalism - that purposive mental activity, i.e., conation, generates the matter of which the body consists, but only that it "animates" or "enlivens" this matter, i.e., organizes it purposefully.

Again, epiphenomenalism is, we pointed out, altogether arbitrary in its dogma that causation as between consciousness and brain is always from brain states to states of consciousness, but never causation of brain states by states of consciousness. In the contentions of hypophenomenalism, on the contrary, there is nothing to preclude causation of particular changes in the state of the living brain by particular changes in the state of consciousness; nor is there anything to preclude causation in the converse direction. The biological hypophenomenalism we have described is hospitable equally to both possibilities; for the causality relation does not require that both its cause-term and its effect-term be material events, nor indeed that either of them be so; and what unprejudiced observation reveals is not only instances of physicophysical causation, but also instances of psycho-physical, of physico-psychical, and of psycho-psychical causation. This, however, brings up interactionism, which will be the subject of the next chapter.

16. Hypophenomenalism and experimentation

Each person whose body is functioning normally is in position to make perceptual observations of it and of the bodies of others; to act physically upon it and upon them; to observe introspectively in his own case the psychological effects of physical stimuli on his body, and, in the case of other human bodies, to infer the psychological effects of such stimuli more or less well from the behavior of those bodies. Also, situated as we are, each of us is in position as occasion arises to observe human bodies unconscious as well as conscious, dead as well as alive, and being born as well as dying. It is because we have been in position to make these and related observations of human bodies and of other physical objects and events, that we have been able to gain such knowledge as we have of physico-physical causation in general, and of physico-physical causation upon, by, and within the human body. These last facts of causation are what in particular has invited, and has been used as an empirical and experimental springboard for, the speculative leap of epiphenomenalism, which, as we saw, goes far beyond those facts.

For the sake of healthy philosophical perspective, it is necessary now to point out the respects in which our situation would need to be different from what it is during life, in order that it should provide us with an analogous empirical and experimental springboard for the hypophenomenalistic speculative leap.

In order to have such a springboard for this, we would need to be discarnate minds, instead of as now minds possessed of and confined to a physical body. We would need, as discarnate minds, to be able to communicate with and act upon other discarnate minds directly, i.e., without, as now, physical bodies as intermediaries; perhaps also, to some extent and exceptionally, to be able to communicate with and act upon some incarnate minds likewise directly. We would need to be able to observe the "spirit birth" of a mind, i.e., its advent, at bodily death, into the world of discarnate minds; and conceivably also its "spirit death", if bodily birth should happen to consist of incarnation of an already existing "spirit" or "germ of a mind."

The situation of a discarnate mind as just depicted is of course more or less what Spiritualists believe to be that of the minds of persons whose bodies have died. They speak, however, of "spirits" rather than of discarnate minds - apparently meaning by a "spirit" a mind or "soul" which although discarnate is clothed with a "spiritual," more subtle kind of body. Spiritualists hold that such discarnate minds can on exceptional occasions describe to us, in terms of the observations and experiments which minds are able to make when discarnate, a mind-body relation which, although not labelled by them hypophenomenalistic, is yet essentially this; those occasions being the rare ones on which, purportedly, a discarnate spirit borrows for the moment the body or part of the body of an entranced "medium," and by its means communicates with us whether vocally, or by automatic writing, or typtologically. Such paranormal incursions by a discarnate mind into the world of living bodies would be the analogues of the paranormal incursions of incarnate minds into the world of spirits, which Swedenborg and some other psychics have claimed to have made.

It is interesting to note in this connection that if, at or after death, a then discarnate spirit should lose the memories of the incarnate life he left at death, he would then probably be just as skeptical of reports as to the existence of an earth world and of physical human bodies as now we, who have no memories of a spirit world, are skeptical as to the existence of one and as to our having had, or being eventually to have, a life in one!

These remarks are of course not intended to prejudge the question of survival after death; but only to make clear why the hypophenomenalistic speculative leap cannot, our minds being situated as now they are in a physical body, be made from an empirical and experimental springboard analogous to that which, situated as they now are, they can use in making the epiphenomenalistic leap.

Attention to beliefs such as those of Spiritualism, which seem to us queer or even paradoxical, can have the value of freeing to some extent our imagination from the unconscious parochialism of its outlook, which naively terms "unrealistic," or "contrary to commonsense," or perhaps "unscientific," anything that clashes with our existing habits of thought.

Of course, readiness to consider paradoxical ideas must not generate readiness to accept them without adequate evidence; but readiness to consider them can well turn out to generate awareness that some of the ideas currently orthodox whether in science or elsewhere are being accepted without adequate evidence.

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Contents | Preface | Chapter 1 | Chapter 2 | Chapter 3 | Chapter 4 | Chapter 5 | Chapter 6 | Chapter 7 | Chapter 8 | Chapter 9 | Chapter 10 | Chapter 11 | Chapter 12 | Chapter 13 | Chapter 14 | Chapter 15 | Chapter 16 | Chapter 17 | Chapter 18 | Chapter 19 | Chapter 20 | Chapter 21 | Chapter 22 | Chapter 23 | Chapter 24 | Chapter 25 | Chapter 26

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Some parts The International Survivalist Society 2004