On an Emergent Neutral Ontology: Part 3

Continued from January 31, 2013, here.

Some difficulties with an emergent neutral monism: problems with a neutral emergence basis.

Neutral monism adds one extra level beneath the physical, since things that are physical objects would be from the base neutral stuff, configured so as to have physical properties. In other words, the physical is emergent from an underlying neutral stuff. Why not just start with a physical basis or a psychical basis, and add the other properties via emergence from one of those bases?

In reply, the type of neutral monism that I am suggesting for consideration also would allow objects with or without mental properties to either have or lack physical properties, unlike physicalist emergentism or panpsychism. Abstract objects such as those of mathematics thus may have a basis for existence without having to be some kind of dependent extension of the mental (Berkeley's problem, which he assigns to God to sustain). So I prefer a neutral basis as more versatile in its scope of explanation.

Note that I am not fully committed to some form of Platonism here. As are most of us who are trained in the neurosciences, I am suspicious of needless postulation of entities as existent without obvious pragmatic value. Verifying any given non-physical object actually existed would generally require empirical observation. Direct, objective observation may be lacking (consider the traditional skeptical problem of other minds). Empirical verification of objective evidence for non-physical things may be difficult because our observations of mental or abstract things, like our observations of physical properties, generally depend on the functioning of our physical bodies, making physical things implicitly more visible to us since they are automatically seen in a physical context. In that context, abstract things and mental properties other than our own may not be directly observable, even though the fact that we ourselves possess mental properties is subjectively obvious.

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