I would like to raise the concept from class regarding the development of intentions and the supposed necessity for children to understand complex philosophies to eliminate the discussion of mental states. Firstly I would like to pose the question to the class: who is responsible for the detonation of the atomic bomb? Was it the man who built the bomb? The man who theorized the concept and developed the theory, or the man who “pulled the trigger”. If we subscribe to the biblical notion of justice the man who created the theory or the first bomb would be therefore responsible for all the consequences of his initial action. Similarly a man who killed the butterfly which caused the resulting chain of events leading to JFK’s assassination would be therefore responsible for the ultimate murder of our late president. However, it is the recognition of intention that manages to not only separate cultures, but different thought processes and alternate views of ourselves and our actions.
By recognizing the idea of intentions, we are granted a different view and concept of how our mind and body works, and our personalties and actions would be different as a result of this differing view.
Conversely, the elimination of folk psychology would require a complete understanding of neurological biology. However, it is important to recognize the fact that a common eight year old is not only more intelligent than an adult man of the 18th century, but can explain concepts that would be completely alien and incomprehensible to even the greatest geniuses of that time. By increasing the inherent knowledge of civilizations, the even most common members of said civilizations will inch towards increased mental capabilities. In short, it is the continuing evolution of technology and science that drives the new language of neuroscience and the resulting knowledge of even children.
2 thoughts on “Intentions”
I thought your question regarding who’s responsible for the detonation of the atomic bomb was a solid way to convey the necessity of recognizing intention. In my opinion, we must not only recognize the person’s intention, but also analyze the entire scenario holistically and then incorporate intention. For instance, the man who created the atomic bomb, although the mastermind behind the weapon, is not directly responsible for its detonation because he was simply just developing something, which was his intention. The man theorized the concept is still not directly responsible, although still more so than the previous man. Again, his intention was probably not for the bomb to be used in such a way, but more just the acknowledgment that it can be. The man who “pulled the trigger” is the most directly responsible in the detonation because his intention here is quite clear, there is not much room for doubt about what he was trying to do (unless there’s a very special circumstance in which it is clear that it was an accident, but I think that would be quite rare).
What is eye opening to me (and what you touched upon in this post) is that if eliminative materialism is true, eventually all folk psychology will be eliminated. Thinking of something like this is hard to fathom. How can an 8 year child know everything about a brain? I will provide an example: a child who is raised bilingual never thinks anything of the two languages he or she speaks. Simply, he or she was taught from birth the two different languages. But, as an adult, it is much harder to learn a language if a person has not been exposed to said language. If we apply this to eliminative materialism, it is easier to see that a child will be able to know specific things if he or she is just simply taught the ideas growing up.