The Ways of Knowing: Or, the Methods of Philosophy

By Wm. Pepperell Montague | Go to book overview

CHAPTER IX
THE METHOD OF EPISTEMOLOGICAL DUALISM

THE theory which we are about to discuss is called dualism because it recognizes two separate and distinct orders of existence: (1) the sense-data which are directly and immediately present in our consciousness; and (2) the external things which can be inferred from those data as their causes. The theory is termed epistemological dualism in order to distinguish it from psycho-physical dualism, which is the theory that the body and mind of an individual are different from one another either in essence or in existence, or in both essence and existence. Epistemological dualism has no bearing whatever upon the truth or falsity of psycho-physical dualism. It is concerned not with the relation of mind to body or of ideas to brain processes, but only with the relation of the data of experience to the external objects which are believed to cause those data. Moreover, it asserts nothing one way or the other as to the intrinsic character of either the sense-data or their causes. It contents itself with maintaining that the thing that we perceive is numerically or existentially other than the cause of our perceiving it. As to the intrinsic nature of these percepts and their causes, it is open to the epistemological dualist to believe (1) that both are physical or material in character, in other words, that percepts are nothing more nor less than states of the sense-organs or brain, and hence as truly physical as the air waves or ether waves which cause them--the view maintained by Dr. Thomas Case in his Physical Realism; or (2) he may believe that both percepts and their causes are mental or spiritual in their nature (which is the view set forth by Professor C. A. Strong in the book Why the Mind Has a Body); or (3) he may believe that the sense-data are mental

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