It seems I am in a philosophical mood the last days, so I do some
In fact, I wanted to quote a number of things from the interview
with John Searle I linked to yesterday,
but then I realized that to put this in proper context - at least so
far as I am concerned - I should first translate the last of
columns I wrote and published in 1988-1989 in Spiegeloog, then the
printed monthly of the faculty of psychology of the university of
Amsterdam, that in 1988 had removed me briefly before I could take my
M.A. in philosophy. because I protested what is best called postmodernism, that was
I translated the majority of these small essays last
year, because they show quite well what I think about quite a few
things, and also why I was removed from the faculty of philosophy in
the University of Amsterdam, for
speaking my mind
rationally and honestly:
The present essay was the last in the series, that
lasted an academic year, and it extended an invitation to my readers to
come and see and hear me speak about the mind-body problem, a problem
which John Searle also has been occupied with for a long time, with
similar ideas and conclusions.
Here is the essay, with a number of notes,
that follow under it, and are linked in the text between square
Body AND mind?
Is someone I never see
It hides itself
In the dream
Maarten Maartensz 
I want to speak about philosophy
- here by way of introduction, and more seriously on November 8, at
16.00 hours, in room 0.46. The subject is "Body and Mind?". I
will try to make clear to you on this page what, among other things,
is related to this question.
Look upon it like this: Here is your head wth brains,
there lies a kilo of mincemeat. Why do you think that you think with
your brains, and not with the mincemeat? No, this is not really a
joke. It is logically possible that you are a poor experiment by a
jealous god; the dream of a computer turned wild; a soul that gets
reborn each generation in another body; a program that your TV is
watching; or an arbitrary combination from these. It is also logically
possible that what you are pleased to call yourself, is the compound
effect of the tremendously fast dancing of trillions of atoms between
your ears, some of which were mincemeat yesterday, and tomorrow will
be your shit or food for worms. There are infinitely many mutually
contradictory logically tenable explanatons of what you and I really
On what grounds do you choose from these? And what motivates such
choices you to do?
Mark well: Ideas about body and mind have effects -
ideas rule the human world.
For example: Some of our Islamic fellow human beings are prepared to
blow you up if you ask some ironical questions about what you are
supposed to be and therefore should and should not do (e.g. in the
fields of buying books and wearing veils)
. And the Catholic Inquisition reasoned more or
less thus: 'It is a fact that everybody possesses and immortal soul.
Also it is a fact that heathens go to hell, where they will be
tortured infinitely long ("and therefore Christ died for our sins on
the cross et credo quia absurdum et gloria in excelsis Deo").
Ergo, it is a deed inspired by christian neighbourly love to
torture heathens until they embrace the truths of the Catholic faith
and die redeemed, with at least a small chance to get to heaven or
into limbo. For after all, the inquisition can merely torture for some
Why did our loving Christrian brethern think so, and
act accordingly? Because they believed they knew the answer to a
question that concerns everybody: 'What is a human being?' and
believed that this gave them the right - the loving Christian duty -
to enforce their beliefs on others, supposedly in their own interests.
In the end,
it is all about a fundamental problem: What are the causes of human
experience? Is what we call ourselves, our experiences, our memories, our
ideas and our ideals the effect of nothing but a tiny chance event in an
enormous completely unconcerned universe? A conception, birth and education
that happened then and there, that produced the body, the mind, the person and
the personality that comprise a tiny fraction of the history of the universe
and that, comparatively speaking, very rapidly fall apart into the parts that
composed it? Or is there - so satisfyingly for our selflove - more to human
experience, or something different, than a physical/biochemical process?
Perhaps an immortal soul, that will be divinely rewarded or horribly punished
in a hereafter that can only be accessed by bundles of experiences without any
material carrier? Or maybe both are true and you are a mortal soul that has to
survive many bodies before it finally dissolves into the All that is One? Or
are all experiences, and therefore all theories, in the end illusions and is
there no real explanation for our experiences - is the deepest wisdom to know
that you do not know: Das Sein soll immer Mysterium sein?
Or do you simply get away with "cogito ergo sum"? (I
think ergo I am, ergo you stink therefore you are?)
The in many
ways most humble hypothesis
implies logically that it is not true that there
are a mind AND a body (like a driver and a car): If the hypothesis is true,
then both are the product of one natural process that causes them. This has
the advantage of simplicity, but it introduces several problems, such as the
following one: The body exists because parts of the body exist - so much flesh
and bones, that can be analysed into so many organs and parts thereof, that
can be analysed into atoms and molecules, with such and such properties and
relations; the mind exists because - and here we see the first problem with
the humble hypothesis: Where and how does the mincemeat you ate yesterday, or
whatever your guts made from this, turn into desire, feeling, idea, ideal?
spinning of atoms is at the foundation of - no: = identically the same as, if
the humble hypothesis is true
 - the whirligig of your
feelings and thoughts? How does a combination of what was mincemeat and the
processes of your brain produce a poem from dots of ink or a face from a
pattern of stimuli on your corneas? Where and how are the potatoes, vegetables
and fatty sauce your ate yesterday transformed into your dreams, ideas, sexual
lusts and headaches of today?
In a sense,
this is a problem of the psychophysiology of the future
 - but only because we did
accept the humble hypothesis. But then: On what grounds can we attribute the
rights to ourselves to conclude that any arbitrary hypothesis about anything
whatsoever makes sense? What makes a hypothesis
credible, probable, rational, acceptable, or the opposites of these?
Other hypotheses? OK, but then on what grounds are
these credible, probable, etcetera? And if we may reason backward like that
without limit ("We suppose that A is true because we assume that B is true; we
assume that B is true because... etctera ad infinitum") does it not follow
that every assumption is reduced to an act of faith, in the manner of "It is
so, because I think so?"
It are these
and similar backgrounds of the mind-body problen that I will address on
November 8 at 16.00 hours, in a seminar in room 0.46. The initiative for this
event came from dr. Peter Molenaar
, who seems to believe that I
can speak well and think well. I can promise you three things: It will be
interesting; it wll be difficult: To deal with fundamental philosophical
problems, such as the mind-body problem, one needs logical and probabilistic
methods; and that what I will say will be mostly original, namely part of a
book provisionally called "Foundations of Natural Philosophy",
that solves the problem "How do we learn from experience?" (among other things
that our self is a part of the activities of our brain
) in a logical way.
I'll try to my thoughts in
terms that are as clear as possible, to say sensible things, and not to bore
And you are herewith invited.
Notes to "Body AND mind?"
Most non-bold links - all underlined - in the notes that follow
are to my
Philosophical Dictionary, that explains my understandings and usage of
terms, and most bold links to other material on my site.
 The title
was meant to stress that there are usually taken to be two entities: the body
and the mind, and that one of these seems redundant. Also, it should be noted
that I wrote for, and later lectured to, students of
philosophy, and that this and other philosophical problems that do and should
matter to students of psychology were not raised nor dealt with in courses of
psychology, in any systematic and rational fashion.
 The poem is also by me, and dates back to 1970, when I
wrote it after reading
(Under the link you find my edition of his
Meditations plus my comments, most
of which date back to that time.)
The poem has nothing to do with the disease ME, the existence
of which I did not know before 1988, and everything with the problems of
knowledge and of
self-knowledge, as in
"Learn to know thyself!"
 For those who are somewhat confused by "infinitely many
explanations": In principle, since we may extend any system of
more assumptions. In empirical fact there are fewer, of course, and most
explanations of the mind-body problem are either of a
idealistic or a
religious kind, where the latter usually, if also obscurely,
combines aspects of both materialism (humans have a body) and idealism
(everything that is, is in the way of experience).
 These are very fundamental human questions, and humans
are the only animals that murder and torture their kinds - or kick them from
universities, or lock them in concentration camps - because they happen to
have different hypotheses about the ways things are.
As the Voltaire-quote that
opens my sites since 1996 has it:
we believe absurdities,
we shall commit atrocities."
That ideas rule the human world, in the shapes of
political ideologies, and common
cant in the
media, very much rather than
other things, varying from economy to the interests of some ruling class, is
something few see clearly. One of the consequences is that a ruling idea may
found a dictatorship that exists for decades or may destroy civilization or
may create a religion that exists for millenia.
 The fields of buying books and wearing veils had become
prominent in the 1980ies mostly because of what happened around Salman
Rushdie's "The Satanic Verses": A fatwah was declared against him, and he
lived for years in hiding, to avoid being murdered for writing a book of
literature. If you read Dutch, my own enlightened views on the topic are here:
Een enigszins verlicht
As to Rushdie and
me and postmodern Holland ... see
juffrouw Ali = More on Ms Ali = The hollow men (English)
Vervolg = reprise:
Rushdie, Ali en ik (Dutch)
me : Laudatio Neerlandica (English,
relating to current Dutch pomo)
 This, of course, is the general practical form of
ideology: Persons and
groups who attribute to themselves the
rights to interfere with your life, your ideas, your feelings and your
interests, because they claim some
genius-given insight into the
reality of things - that often in practice covers their rights to lock you up
or kill you in what they call "your best real interests".
manipulation, of which there is more than
average people tend to think, this
is mostly made possible by the lacks of
knowledge, and of
character that marks most men. For more on these lines see my
Mencius on human qualities aka
On a fundamental problem in ethics and morals.
 Indeed, in general human practice the worst deeds tend
to have the most beautiful, most resounding moral justifications, as witnessed
by the mottos that were to be seen in Hitler's concentration-camps, that were either
destruction-camps meant to kill inmates on arrival, or work-camps meant to
kill inmates within a few months by forced labour, leaving an average profit
of over 1600 Reichsmark per prisoner. These mottos were namely
"Jedem das Seine"
and "Arbeit macht
frei": "Everyone to his merits" and "Labour sets you free", the
German version of the Latin description of justice: "Suum cuique" = "To each
 All points of view indicated occur in the literature,
and indeed the problem - What are we, really?! - is a fundamental human
 One of the things my paragraph seeks to suggest
is that the common religious answers, that tend to stress their humility, is
far from that: It assumes far more than needs to be assumed, and it attributes
to human beings - primates with the gift of language - properties, such as
existence for an infinity of time in a blessed paradisical hereafter, for
those of correct beliefs, and an infinity of time in hell for the rest, that
are very hard to swallow for rational minds, or indeed for moral minds.
(Why torture an opponent infinitely long?)
 This is
dealt with in more detail in my
Notes to Leibniz's Mondadology, and at greater
length in my Notes to Leibniz's New Essays. The problem is that molecules and
atoms do not have interests, feelings or beliefs, but that humans, who are
composed from interacting atoms and molecules (on the humble hypothesis) do.
A kind of rational
answer-in-principle is that interests, feelings and beliefs indeed are not
properties of molecules and atoms, but of systematically interacting and
coordinated sets or systems of them, as in a human brain, on the analogy of
the properties of water and of chemicals in general, that do not derive from
their component parts - no molecule of water is wet: masses of molecules of
water are wet - but from the interactions of their parts.
This was, I think, first
clearly argued by C.D. Broad, in his excellent "The Mind and Its Place in
Nature", that anyone interested in the problem should read, for it is
admirably clear and sensible. The idea goes ever since by the somewhat
misleading term "emergence", where e.g. "systematic interaction" or some such
phrase would have been better, also since a building is related to the stones
and beams that it is composed of in a similar way as a thought is related to
events in the brain.
 Indeed "=
identically the same as"
is a correct way of writing the thesis that is involved: There is no
whatsoever, for all human
experience is the same as processes in the
Incidentally, for those inclined to think so: This does not decrease the
greatness and creativity of the human
mind in any way, and to my mind
increases it. (An animal produced by evolution that has a - gifted - human's
gifts, surely is more awesome, is I suppose the right word, in this day and
age, than a mere created thing, put together by some superior species.)
 The manner of putting it as I did in this paragraph
owes something to
McCulloch's "What's in the brain that may ink my characters?"
 At the time what seems currently mostly functioning
under the name "neuroscience" was termed "psychophysiology" - but in
University of Amsterdam this was effectively mostly destroyed at the time, and
the professor of it, W. van der Grinten, was also pestered away from the
faculty for reason of not kowtowing enough to the pseudo-marxists and
then had the power in the faculty and in the university.
 These again, that is "On what
grounds can we attribute the rights to ourselves to conclude that any
arbitrary hypothesis about anything whatsoever makes sense? What makes a
hypothesis credible, probable, rational, acceptable, or the opposites of
these?" are in fact fundamental questions of
logic and philosophy of
science, that is, fundamental questions of human
It was in fact this that I
intended to lecture about and did lecture about, and most of my background for
that is given here:
philosophy, philosophy of science, and psychiatry
 There are answers to this, the sources for which are
in the last link in , but it is a difficult question,
that most who do believe themselves to have
that they may impose on others, either do not see at all, or carefully avoid
studying or answering, on the basis of
their own prejudice that
they do not need more or other knowledge than they have, because they
"It ain't what a man don't know that makes him a fool, but what he
does know that ain't so."
But then such
millions, often of better moral, intellectual or artistic gifts than their
what the killers held to be the most moral and best of reasons.
 Dr. Peter Molenaar is, I think it is fair to
say, the only member of the staff of the University of Amsterdam, that I met,
where he thought mathematical statistics to psychologists, who combined the
qualities of intelligence, honesty and kindness. He since left the UvA, and is
at an American university.
Nearly all of the staff of the UvA, and especially in the
faculties of philosophy, psychology, sociology, political sciences, Dutch,
pedagogy, and andrology (a quasi-science invented at the UvA, since perished)
were frauds, whores of reason,
parasites of the Dutch taxpayers, and totally worthless pseudoscientists.
The socalled scientific staff in the faculty of psychology for the most part
took great pride in NOT publishing, though they were paid as scientific
researchers, mostly because (1) this would have involved work they rather
avoided, and (2) they felt proud to call scientific publishing "vain" and
themselves "humble" and mostly (3) having tenure at a Dutch university
they had gained the position of state
bureaucrat for life, for the staff of
Dutch universities are state bureaucrats, and it is a virtual impossibility in
Holland to fire a state bureaucrat.
Most of the staff of the UvA that was there in the 1980ies still
is there, and no doubt they have taken excellent care that those who follow
them are of the same moral and intellectual qualities as they are and were
Liars, frauds, whores of reason,
destroyers of academia and of the Dutch university system.
 "Foundations of Natural Philosophy" never
got written, though I have most of the materials to do so, but I lack the
help, and have asked for over 30 years for some form of help, e.g. to clean my
I do not get it, for I criticized those with power in Amsterdam, and in
ME + me : Why my family was in The Dutch Resistance in
WW II a.k.a.
Dutch Norms And Values
If you ain't
Dutch, you ain't much
A Real Dutch Treat
ME + me:
Three documents: My father's story + my
story + my Human Rights
for the reasons why, and also the
explanations why I
did as I did: I have the genes and the pride and character of my family, and
also a very high intelligence; most Dutchmen do not, and come from families
that survived WW II by collaborating with the Nazis.
I fear it really is as simple as that, because it was not only
thus for me, but because anyone with a fine mind and moral courage who dared
to speak up against Hitler, Stalin or Mao got into similar troubles for having
a fine mind and honestly using it, as I did in Amsterdam since 1977, and as my parents
and grandparents did between 1940 and 1945.
It also is a good explanation why I, with my
marxist background that I had given up in 1970, was so often called "a
fascist" in the Universtity of Amsterdam by radical leftist students there,
who made a career by collaborating with the then leading marxist, communist
and socialist leaderships in the "democratized" universities of Holland: In
fact they came from families of Nazi-collaborators, knew themselves to be
hardly any better than that, believed everybody is equal or equivalent, and
therefore decried me as being a fascist and a terrorist: Projection of their
own ideals, mindsets and
And it is also a good explanation why I was the only person
since the Nazis were defeated in 1945 to be removed from a Dutch university,
as a student of philosophy also, "because of your publicly outspoken ideas"
and "in spite of your serious illness" (an addition meant to convey sadistic
intent, in which the Board of Directors succeeded).
Finally, this is why I often quote Jung Chang (apart from the
fact that "Wild Swans" is a very fine book, that explains much about
"It was from this time that I developed my way of judging
the Chinese by dividing them into two kinds: one humane and one not. "
This is what I believe about Dutchmen, and indeed men in
general, and the only solution I know, if mankind lives long enough, is here:
 I still think this can be done, and even that I can do
it, if only I could get some of the help anybody in Amsterdam who is medically
an invalid, as I am, does get: Persons in the street where I live with half my
IQ get free cars and daily help, because they are said to be ill, while they
evidently are far healthier than I am, judged by what they can do and I can't
I get no help, for I criticized the mayors of Amsterdam for
helping the drugsmafia deal in heroin and cocaine "in the name of the ideals
of the February Strike",
as all these mayors daily intoned
for over 20 years, while protecting the mafia, knowing full well from my
letters and mails that my father and grandfather were arrested for
co-organizing that strike, and convicted to concentration-camps, indeed by
collaborating Dutch judges, who indeed were not punished after WW II: Hardly
anyone was punished for that in Holland, because almost everyone did
Finally, this also may be exonerated: Only very brave men and
women dare to resist tyranny. What I cannot exonerate is lying about it after
it happened - as of May 1945, every Dutchman had been "a member of the
Resistance" - and what I also cannot exonerate is the lie that everybody is
and ought to be equal and equivalent, which every Dutchman but Queen Beatrix
and myself has been daily repeating since 1970 or so: No, they are not, and
those who repeat this lie do repeat this lie because they know they themselves
are and have nothing special to be proud of:
 Here I am also quite serious, since I have always
believed that real science can be and should be presented far better than it
is, by the majority of scientists, both pseudo and real: Real science, if
possible, should be written about as e.g. Henri Poincaré and D'Arcy
James could and would and did.
Sofar for what I wrote in 1989, with my notes of today. If I can
find the energy, I will continue this in the next Nederlog with a
consideration of some of the views of John Searle, as mentioned
above and yesterday.
P.S. Corrections, if any are necessary, have to
be made later.
-- Mar 31, 2011: I did correct a few typos and added some more links.