Neo-Descartian dualism

From writing a utopian fiction in my fifties I came first to doubt Darwinism, then to find its physicalism/materialism toxic. since then I’ve tried to fashion a natural philosophy from which better origin stories would naturally emerge. Below is my current version.

I begin with Descartes’ “I think therefore I am.” Here’s how I develop it:

THE BASICS

  • Conscious thought can exist, we know because this is one.
  • Some conscious thoughts involve recall of other conscious thoughts. We can generalize this persistence of a capacity to have conscious thoughts as consciousness.
  • Conscious thoughts being conscious of each other hallucinate into existence a persistent entity able to have conscious thoughts, eg a conscious self. This allows us to say "I" and "we."
  • My being able to express this conscious thought in print/online proves I can consciously cause physical events. Conscious thoughts and matter can interact. How? Doesn't matter for now.

PRIMITIVE INTUITIONS

  • We experience our conscious self coming associated with body stuff such as limbs and our senses, eg sight.
  • We come equipped to locate things around us in 3D space (in the form of a few dozen specialized brain cells, science reveals).
  • We similarly come equipped to identify other body-self combinations like us (also in the form of a few dozen specialized brain cells).

This testifies to the value of believing in the existence of other things and other people like us arranged around us in space and time.

FURTHER INTUITIONS, FROM EXPERIENCE OVER TIME

  • Physical things changing over time in response to physical processes is deterministic, ruling out unpredictable novelty and creativity.
  • Distinguishable from purely physical things are living creatures, which manifest indeterminacy, presumably driven by other processes.
  • New kinds of living creatures emerge where and when the creatures most like them already exist. Call this evolution.
  • Evolution manifests novelty and creativity, eg single-celled creatures evolving into giraffes and elephants.
  • Indeterminate processes in living creatures, evolutionary processes, and processes driving conscious experiences (mind) have similar properties, eg indeterminacy, non-conservation properties etc. As yet no logic distinguishes between them. So let’s not multiply processes unnecessarily, let's combine them and call them evo-mental processes. Then we’ve just two kinds of fundamental processes: physical, and evo-mental.
  • We have a basic drive to understand ourselves and the universe:

- The physical world. Physical sciences help us understand that.

- The evo-conscious world. To study that we can introspect and study biology, paleontology, history.

- Ways the physical and evo-conscious worlds can interact.

To say purely physical things and conscious thoughts can interact is controversial; physicalists deny it’s possible. So here are some examples:

SOME WAYS PHYSICAL THINGS AND CONSCIOUS THOUGHTS CAN INTERACT

  • My being able to express this conscious thought in print/online'
  • By species of living creatures evolving.
  • Growth, decay and death of the individual.
  • Instinctive motivation: pleasure-pain, sex, hunger, panic, etc.
  • Conscious monitoring of our senses and activation of nerve impulses.
  • All sorts of performance, eg body language, facial expressions, dance.
  • Language, spoken and written, and other media.
  • Culture: museums and art galleries, religious paraphernalia etc.
  • Institutions: technology, hospitality, education, banking, commerce.

Banking? That’s how conscious desires can interact with performances in terms of human ingenuity.

OF PARTICULAR INTEREST

  • How evolutionary processes relate to conscious thinking processes.
  • How reach of consciousness developed with evolution and history.
  • Possibility of consciousness becoming enriched by what we discover about evolution.
  • How different modes of interaction dominated culture over time, eg Middle Ages, religion; today, exchanges of manufactured goods for money earned through labor. Tomorrow: pursuing a dualistic self-understanding?

CONCLUSION

  • We are by nature dualists: in consciousness we experience two worlds, a physical world driven by deterministic invariable processes, and a living world in which evo-mental processes operate.
  • Where Descartes introduced God to make sense of his dualistic vision, I introduce evolution. Where he invoked the pineal gland as the channel connecting mind and matter, I leave the matter open, regarding it at this moment as an unresolvable distraction.
  • It may be appropriate to transition from a physicalist to a dualist study of the universe.

Know of others engaged on such a quest? Please let me know.