“The Human Condition,” by Thomas Whitaker/Prison Arts Coalition
THE RATIONAL HUMAN CONDITION is a five-part, four-book series, including:
PART 1: Preface and General Introduction
PART 2: Cognition, Content, and the A Priori: A Study in the Philosophy of Mind and Knowledge
PART 3: Deep Freedom and Real Persons: A Study in Metaphysics
PART 4: Kantian Ethics and Human Existence: A Study in Moral Philosophy
PART 5: Kant, Agnosticism, and Anarchism: A Theological-Political Treatise
Its author is ROBERT HANNA:
THE RATIONAL HUMAN CONDITION, PART 1
PREFACE AND GENERAL INTRODUCTION
TABLE OF CONTENTS
THE RATIONAL HUMAN CONDITION, PART 2
COGNITION, CONTENT, AND THE A PRIORI: A STUDY IN THE PHILOSOPHY OF MIND AND KNOWLEDGE
THE RATIONAL HUMAN CONDITION, PART 3
DEEP FREEDOM AND REAL PERSONS: A STUDY IN METAPHYSICS
TABLE OF CONTENTS
A Note on References
1. Introduction: Freedom, Life, and Persons’ Lives
2. Beyond Mechanism: The Dynamics of Life
2.1 Immanent Structuralism
2.2 Natural Mechanism, Computability, and Anti-Mechanism
2.3 Kant’s Anti-Mechanism, Kantian Anti-Mechanism, Vitalism, and Emergentism
2.4 On the Representation of Life
2.5 Kantian Non-Conceptualism and the Dynamicist Model of Life
2.6 Inverted Life, Suspended Life, and Non-Local Life: How LifeDoes Not Strongly Supervene on the Physical, and Why
3. From Biology to Agency
3.1 Two-Dimensional Rational Normativity
3.2 Kant’s Biological Theory of Freedom
3.3 Practical-Freedom-in-Life: Kantian Non-Intellectualism
3.4 The Rationality of the Heart: Principled Authenticity
4. Neither/Nor: The Negative Case for Natural Libertarianism
4.1 The Intuitive Definition of Free Will
4.2 The Four Metaphysical Horsemen of the Apocalypse
4.3 The Three Standard Options, Natural Mechanism, and The Fourfold Knot of Free Agency
4.4 Three Arguments for Classical Incompatibilism, and In-the-Zone Compatibilism
4.5 Three Arguments for Local Incompatibilism with Respect to Natural Mechanism
4.6 Sympathy for the Devil: Compatibilism Reconsidered
4.7 Give Me Liberty or Give Me Death?
4.8 Too Hard to Live With: Strawson’s Basic Argument, Hard Determinism, and Hard Incompatibilism
5. Either/Or: Deep Freedom and Principled Authenticity
5.1 The Internal Structure of Deep Freedom
5.2 From Frankfurt Back to Kierkegaard: How to Have a Live Option, or Kierkegaardian Either/Or, Without Alternative Possibilities
5.3 Psychological Freedom, Deep Freedom, and Principled Authenticity
6. Minded Animalism I: What Real Persons Really Are
6.1 From Deep Freedom to Real Persons
6.2 Real Persons
6.3 Necessary and Sufficient Conditions for Real Personhood
7. Minded Animalism II: From Parfit to Real Personal Identity
7.1 Parfit’s Theory: Six Basic Claims
7.2 Against and Beyond Parfit 1: Two Reasons, and The Minded Animalist Criterion of Personal Identity
7.3 Against and Beyond Parfit 2: Four More Reasons
In the fullness of time, the complete, downloadable text of each part of THE RATIONAL HUMAN CONDITION will also be made available on APP.
A NOTE ON REFERENCES
For convenience, throughout the five-part four book series, The Rational Human Condition—comprising 1. the Preface and General Introduction, 2. Cognition, Content, and the A Priori, 3. Deep Freedom and Real Persons, 4. Kantian Ethics and Human Existence, and 5. Kant, Agnosticism, and Anarchism—I refer to Kant’s works infratextually in parentheses. The citations include both an abbreviation of the English title and the corresponding volume and page numbers in the standard “Akademie” edition of Kant’s works: Kants gesammelte Schriften, edited by the Königlich Preussischen (now Deutschen) Akademie der Wissenschaften (Berlin: G. Reimer [now de Gruyter], 1902-). I generally follow the standard English translations, but have occasionally modified them where appropriate. For references to the first Critique, I follow the common practice of giving page numbers from the A (1781) and B (1787) German editions only. Here is a list of the relevant abbreviations and English translations:
BL “The Blomberg Logic.” In Immanuel Kant: Lectures on Logic. Trans. J.M. Young. Cambridge: Cambridge Univ. Press, 1992. Pp. 5-246.
C Immanuel Kant: Correspondence, 1759-99. Trans. A. Zweig. Cambridge: Cambridge Univ. Press, 1999.
CPJ Critique of the Power of Judgment. Trans. P. Guyer and E. Matthews. Cambridge: Cambridge Univ. Press, 2000.
CPR Critique of Pure Reason. Trans. P. Guyer and A. Wood. Cambridge: Cambridge Univ. Press, 1997.
CPrR Critique of Practical Reason. Trans. M. Gregor. In Immanuel Kant: Practical Philosophy. Cambridge: Cambridge Univ. Press, 1996. Pp. 139-271.
DiS “Concerning the Ultimate Ground of the Differentiation of Directions in Space.” Trans. D. Walford and R. Meerbote. In Immanuel Kant: Theoretical Philosophy: 1755-1770. Cambridge: Cambridge Univ. Press, 1992. Pp. 365-372.
DSS “Dreams of a Spirit-Seer Elucidated by Dreams of Metaphysics.” Trans. D. Walford and R. Meerbote. In Immanuel Kant: Theoretical Philosophy: 1755-1770. Pp. 301-359.
EAT “The End of All Things.” Trans. A. Wood and G. Di Giovanni. In Immanuel Kant: Religion and Rational Theology. Cambridge: Cambridge Univ. Press, 1996. Pp. 221-231.
GMM Groundwork of the Metaphysics of Morals. Trans. M. Gregor. In Immanuel Kant: Practical Philosophy. Pp. 43-108.
ID “On the Form and Principles of the Sensible and Intelligible World (Inaugural Dissertation).” Trans. D. Walford and R. Meerbote. In Immanuel Kant: Theoretical Philosophy: 1755-1770. Pp. 373-416.
IUH “Idea for a Universal History with a Cosmopolitan Aim.” Trans. A. Wood. In Immanuel Kant: Anthropology, History, and Eduction. Cambridge: Cambridge Univ. Press, 2007. Pp. 107-120.
JL “The Jäsche Logic.” Trans. J.M. Young. In Immanuel Kant: Lectures on Logic. Pp. 519-640.
LE Immanuel Kant: Lectures on Ethics. Trans. P. Heath. Cambridge: Cambridge Univ. Press, 1997.
MFNS Metaphysical Foundations of Natural Science. Trans. M. Friedman. Cambridge: Cambridge Univ. Press, 2004.
MM Metaphysics of Morals. Trans. M. Gregor. In Immanuel Kant: Practical Philosophy. Pp. 365-603.
OP Immanuel Kant: Opus postumum. Trans. E. Förster and M. Rosen. Cambridge: Cambridge Univ. Press, 1993.
OT “What Does It Mean to Orient Oneself in Thinking?” Trans. A. Wood. In Immanuel Kant: Religion and Rational Theology. Pp. 7-18.
Prol Prolegomena to Any Future Metaphysics. Trans. G. Hatfield. Cambridge: Cambridge Univ. Press, 2004.
PP “Toward Perpetual Peace.” Trans. M. Gregor. In Immanuel Kant: Practical Philosophy. Pp. 317-351.
Rel Religion within the Boundaries of Mere Reason. Trans. A. Wood and G. Di Giovanni. In Immanuel Kant: Religion and Rational Theology. Pp. 57-215.
RTL “On a Supposed Right to Lie from Philanthropy.” Trans. M. Gregor. In Immanuel Kant: Practical Philosophy. Pp. 611-615.
VL “The Vienna Logic,” Trans. J.M. Young. In Immanuel Kant: Lectures on Logic. Pp. 251-377.
WE “An Answer to the Question: ‘What is Enlightenment?’” Trans. M. Gregor. In Immanuel Kant: Practical Philosophy. Pp. 17-22.
In the fullness of time, The Rational Human Condition will also appear as a series of five e-books published by Rounded Globe, each of which, in turn, will be available in hard copy, on demand, from Out of House Publishing.
THE RATIONAL HUMAN CONDITION, PART 3
DEEP FREEDOM AND REAL PERSONS: A STUDY IN METAPHYSICS
Chapter 2 Beyond Mechanism: The Dynamics of Life
Section 2.0 Introduction
It is quite certain that we can never adequately come to know the organized beings and their internal possibility in accordance with merely mechanical principles of nature, let alone explain them; and this is so certain that we can boldly say that it would be absurd for humans to make an attempt or to hope that there could ever arise a Newton who could make comprehensible even the generation of a blade of grass according to natural laws that no intention has ordered; rather we must absolutely deny this insight to human beings. (CPJ 5: 400)
For a phenomenon such as life,… the physical facts imply that certain functions will be performed, and the performance of these functions is all we need in order to explain life…. A vitalist might have claimed that it is logically possible that a physical replica of me might not be alive, in order to establish that life cannot be reductively explained. And a vitalist might have argued that life is a further fact, not explained by any account of the physical facts. But the vitalist would have been wrong… Vitalism was mostly driven by doubt about whether physical mechanisms could perform all the complex functions associated with life: adaptive behavior, reproduction, and the like. At the time, very little was known about the enormous sophistication of biological mechanisms, so this sort of doubt was quite natural. But implicit in these very doubts is the conceptual point that when it comes to explaining life, it is the performance of various functions that needs to be explained. Indeed, it is notable that as physical explanations of the relevant functions gradually appeared, vitalist doubts mostly melted away…. Presented with a full physical account showing how physical processes perform the relevant functions, a reasonable vitalist would concede that life has been explained. There is not even conceptual room for the performance of these functions without life.
If there is anything in the approach I adopt, it will follow that concepts like life, life-form, … etc., have something like the status Kant assigned to “pure” or a priori concepts…. [E]ven if our concept life-form arises with experience, it need not be thought to arise from it; its content is rather supplied by reflection on certain possibilities of thought or predication.
We are in a world of multiple fluctuations, some of which have evolved, while others have regressed. This is in complete accord with the results of far-from-equilibrium thermodynamics…. But we we can now go even farther. These fluctuations are the macroscopic manifestations of fundamental properties of fluctuations arising on the microscopic level of unstable dynamical systems…. Irreversibility, and therefore the flow of time, starts at the dynamical level. It is amplified at the macoscopic level, then at the level of life, and finally at the level of human activity. What drove these transitions from one level to the next remains largely unknown, but at least we have achieved a noncontradictory description of nature rooted in dynamical instability. The descriptions of nature as presented by biology and physics now begin to converge.
What is the nature of biological life, and how do we represent it? In this chapter, using Kant’s theory of mental representation and his philosophy of biology as starting points, in relation to contemporary theories of mental representation and contemporary philosophy of biology, I am going to argue that there is not only a non-trivial “explanatory gap” but also a correspondingly non-trivial “ontological gap” between reductive or non-reductive physicalist—what I will call “naturally mechanistic”—approaches to biology on the one hand, and the non-equilibrium thermodynamic phenomenon of life on the other.
Now explanatory irreducibility is the irreducibility of the contents of some mental representations to the contents of some other mental representations. Correspondingly but also by contrast, ontological irreducibility is the irreducibility of some worldly properties and/or facts to some other worldly properties and/or facts. Provided that there is a necessary one-to-one connection between distinct mental representations and distinct worldly properties and/or facts, then explanatory irreducibility entails ontological irreducibility. I am going to argue that a contemporary Kantian theory of the mental representation of life, when taken together with a neo-Aristotelian and contemporary Kantian theory of worldly properties, does indeed yield such a necessary one-to-one connection between the distinct representations of living organisms and natural mechanisms on the one hand, and the distinct worldly constitutive properties corresponding to living organisms and natural mechanisms on the other hand, and also that the relevant worldly properties constituting living organisms, as such, are causally efficacious.
As a consequence, then just as the many well-known non-reductive arguments about consciousness that surfaced in the late 20th century forced us seriously to reconsider and rethink our basic commitments and basic notions in the philosophy of mind, we must now seriously reconsider and rethink our basic commitments and basic notions in the philosophy of biology. Or otherwise put: having taken the phenomenon of consciousness seriously, a fortiori, we must now also take the phenomenon of life equally seriously.
At the same time, however, the positive version of anti-mechanism and non-reductionism about biological life that I am going to propose—which I call dynamicism—does not involve any epistemological or metaphysical equivalent of Cartesian dualism, whether an ontological dualism (of essentially distinct substances) or a property dualism (of essentially distinct properties and/or facts). This, in turn, rules out not only reductive physicalism but also non-reductive physicalism, which is committed to a version of property-dualism, and strong supervenience on fundamental physical facts, just as much as it rules out Cartesian substance-dualism. According to the dynamicist model of life, biological life is a non-equilibrium thermodynamic phenomenon, and the non-equilibrium thermodynamic phenomenon of life is neither explanatorily nor ontologically reducible to the causal natural mechanisms bound up with fundamental physical properties and/or facts. But at the same time it remains true that the non-equilibrium thermodynamic phenomenon of life is not essentially distinct from physical causal processes. According to the dynamicist view, the phenomenon of life is an inherently non-mechanical, irreducible, necessary a priori immanent structure of a well-defined class of far-from-equilibrium, spatiotemporally asymmetric, complex, self-organizing, organismic thermodynamic physical processes. As such, it is no more distinct from those very physical processes than either their underlying asymmetric spatiotemporal causally relevant structure, or their underlying uncomputable mathematical causally relevant structure, is distinct from them. Indeed, life is nothing less and nothing more than an ordered sequence of self-organizing, inherently context-dependent, reproducing, growing and decaying, more-or-less motile, evolving or naturally selecting, spontaneous, metabolizing, epigenetic, more-or-less finegrainedly normatively attuned, immanent structurings and re-structurings of flows of matter and/or energy. Hence the non-equilibrium thermodynamic phenomenon of life, as such, is an immanent structure all of whose realizations are not merely causally relevant but also causally efficacious.
[i] D. Chalmers, The Conscious Mind (Oxford: Oxford Univ. Press, 1996), pp. 106-109, texts combined.
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