Tuesday, November 20, 2012

The dying dreamer

But even if Nagel did have a separate, non-philosophical argument against the adequacy of an evolutionary account of consciousness and rationality, it would odd for Sober to put so much emphasis on it, because the philosophical, anti-materialist argument from the inexplicability of “subjective” facts in terms of “objective” facts is (as Sober’s earlier remarks implicitly acknowledge) a distinctively Nagelian sort of argument, and a more philosophically interesting line of argument.  By neglecting to respond to it, Sober is failing to take Nagel on at his strongest point -- never a good thing in philosophy, and especially not when one is purporting to show that “Nagel has not made a convincing case.”

The inability of physicalism to account for subjective facts (the hard problem of consciousness) is one of the fundamental problems confronting a consistently secular worldview.

But the inability of physicalism to get subjective facts from objective facts is just half the problem facing the secularist. For he also faces the opposite problem: how to get objective facts from subjective facts.

The scientist can’t start with the world. He has to start with himself. With the observer.

On the one hand, the first-person perspective is irreducible. A third-person perspective can’t capture everything that’s unique and essential to the first-person perspective.

On the other hand, a secularist can’t ground or justify the correspondence between the first-person perspective and the third-person perspective. Between his perception of the world and what the world is “really” like, apart from his perception.

Secularism is equally stymied in going from the extramental to the mental, or the mental to the extramental. In accounting for the reality from the inside out or the outside in.

Without God to create both dimensions, and coordinate both dimensions, the secularist is like a dying dreamer. Like David Lynch’s Mulholland Drive–which disappears into itself. A Möbius band.


  1. e David Lynch’s Mulholland Drive–which disappears into itself. A Möbius band.

    ....and I had thought I was the only one to have suffered through this movie.

  2. At last count, I think there are at least three people worldwide who've seen the movie.

  3. Does it count if I've driven on Mulholland Drive?