Benoit, who has a very good blog (nice Sunn O))) title), asked the following question on a recent post of mine concerning problems with theories of mind:
What suggestions do you have for navigating between reductionism and anti-reductionism? Or if I miss the larger meaning, what might analysis look like that ejects either instrument?
It sometimes feels as if we still haven't progressed too far from Aristotle's thought on these matters in De Anima.
That's the whole thing, isn't it? I couldn't agree more than we're back to square one with Aristotle on these matters, if only because Aristotle provides what remains the most devastating series of critiques of all forms of materialist reductionism out there. Wouldn't it be good, in that case, to pick up where Aristotle left off, rather than trying to return to Anaximander or Anaxagoras or Democritus?
The OOO solution to this problem, which I've been developing for a little while now, has to do with something that is common to every single entity in reality, according to the view of object-oriented ontology: the as-structure. This is Graham Harman's term for what I've recently been calling sampling. An object samples another object. So for instance the table table-morphoses the salt cellar that's sitting on it. The salt cellar in turn cellar-morphoses the table. A salt-cellar-related sample of table being is presented to the salt cellar.
Isn't this just what minds do? Mind is what samples objects. So on this view, mind is not some special bonus prize for being highly evolved, or an emergent property of sufficiently complex systems. Mind is just what every object does, automatically. We can say this without recourse to tinier things such as neural networks and chemicals, or to larger things like psyches or selves.
Note carefully that this is not quite the same as panpsychism. I'm not claiming that the rings on my fingers have private thoughts and feelings. I'm claiming that my thoughts and feelings are ring-like. If this is agreeable, then both opponents and proponents have been looking for mind in the wrong place. No wonder they haven't found it yet!
Benoit, I hope you like the Sunn O))) allusion in my post title.