Well, as you no doubt expect, I think that Kapp is justifiably neglected, though I see
why you as an intuitive dualist like him. He seems drawn by our use of both
mechanistic and intentional descriptions of the world into an unnecessarily elaborate
ontology, so that his 'explanations' make difficult topics more obscure than they need
he. The brief comments on your paper that follow use your numbering system.
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2. Hurrah for Occam, hut we don't value hypotheses by the test of minimal
assumptions alone. Explanatory and predictive power are at least as important. Kapp
seems to have mislaid his razor since he multiplies assumptions unnecessarily.
3, As here. Why are organic forms (whatever this phrase means) not accepted as
material? To say it is because they are purposive reveals a basic confusion of thought.
it is we humans who attribute purposes to them. We are able to do so because we are
conscious, and what we have difficulty explaining is how this has come about. The
origin of living things per se can be thought about in mechanistic terms without
violating current theories of matter, but it may not be possible to think of conscious
forms in the same way.
4, 5. I am attracted to dual aspect theories as a way to think about the mind/brain
dichotomy, but these don't separate matter and something else in the way that Kapp
does. Kapp's theory suffers from Descarte's problem: how to account for the
interaction of the material and non-material. By postulating a determinate immaterial
pathway parallel to the material pathway, he also lands himself with the double task
of explaining the nature of each. It is obviously not good enough just to say that it is
in the nature of a diathete to make things happen in a certain way, or to invoke
Maxwell's demon. That is giving up on explanation.
5, 6. I don't understand the reason for the remarks on emergent properties. The last
sentence of the quote from Polanyi fits my understanding of emergence, if, for
example, 20 tons of gold placed in a vacuum was found to turn into lead, we should
have to accept the change as an emergent property of matter unless some way could
be found of modifying current physical theory to explain it. In the same way we might
accept consciousness as an emergent property of very complex configurations of
matter. But perhaps we should modify physics instead, for instance by postulating the
existence of 'quanta' of consciousness along side quanta of energy. This raises the
spectre of pan-psychism, so it would be an unpopular move, but I imagine that it
would be more in line with Kapp's thought than emergence, in any case emergent
explanations look ad hoc.
8. You might be interested to read The Origins of Order by Stuart Kauffman, or the
somewhat easier At Home in the Universe as an antidote to Kapp.
11 Epilogue. Biologists and philosophers at least present the problems and arguments
clearly and in a way that invites constructive dissent (as approved by Popper). One
touchstone of a good theory is that it generates ideas. I think Edelman's theories do
this. His suggestion that the biases to be expected in any organism capable of
surviving in a hostile environment, but interpreted from our perspective as values, are
essential to the development of mentality has been fruitful. Kapp's theory looks
insufficiently well formulated to serve the same purpose.