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If I'm a monist about the mind and physicalism and/or causal determinism, when I change my mind about some topic, I can posit something causally linked to my mind as changing my opinion. Perhaps I read a new article and the representation I have of the world was caused to adapt.

What about for a dualist about the mind and causation? If I think the mind is not physically caused, when I change my mind about something, why did that happen? For one example if I think consciousness lives in some un-physically caused realm like Platonic univerals do, nothing "in the world" has any effect on them.

I'd be stuck saying things like "I changed my own mind, or my mind changes its own mind".

But I think no one would utter such sentences. And it seems very hard to argue a mind can change itself all the way from babbling to understanding general relativity.

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  • I think it is common to confuse "causing" with "determining". Dualists can hold that there are causal influences in both directions between mind and matter, which affect outcomes, but do not determine them except in limit cases. Or they can hold that there is psychophysical parallelism, with happenings in the material realm simply reflecting happenings in the mental realm. The mental realm need not consist of a single mind "changing itself" either. There is mental stuff there, some of it organized into minds, some not, and some parts of it influence other parts, prompting them to change.
    – Conifold
    Sep 29 at 20:00
  • @Conifold Thanks. Where causal influences don't fully determine, what else besides causes could lead to something determinate though? Besides just parallel reflection. And what word would parallel dualists use for a mind changing from one view to another? Just a less loaded word like "change" instead of "cause"?
    – J Kusin
    Sep 29 at 20:40
  • It could be mental on mental causation, and it need not be anything at all. That is what people call causa sui, and mind is supposed to be particularly "spontaneous" and adept at being causa sui. Not that even matter cannot undergo underdetermined changes, as it does on standard interpretations of quantum mechanics. "Causation" is already unloaded there, we say that excited state of an atom causes it to emit photons even though it does not determine when or in what direction they are emitted. Nothing does.
    – Conifold
    Sep 29 at 22:46
  • @Conifold That's interesting to link the spontaneity/indeterminancy of this kind of dualistic mind and qm. I thought the indeterminancy of textbook qm was in some ways more novel (and thus harder to accept) of a concept till now. Thanks for your time
    – J Kusin
    Sep 29 at 22:50
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    There is a long tradition of linking physical indeterminism to minds going back to classical mechanics, with Maxwell and Boussinesq making such proposals, see History of the study of indeterminism in classical mechanics. With QM, "consciousness causes collapse" became a refrain.
    – Conifold
    Sep 29 at 22:56

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