On Internalism and Externalism, Two Valid Refutations of Dualism
by Robert Elias Johnston
The universe external to us is cold and unresponsive. Ourselves—o u r s e l v e s—offer some measure of control, responsiveness, and warmth and are an island in the cold. Thus the fallacy goes that there are two kinds of things that exist, the physical and the mental. This sounds right as rain to people of our moment and has seemed that way for most people of the past 500 years. The mind has control over the physical—first over the physical body which is directly attached to the mind, and thereby over all the things within the reach of that body.
At one level of description my purpose in this paper is to demonstrate my knowledge of the topic of philosophy. Therefore I will explicate the flaws of dualism. This -ism is pervasive in a subtle form among intelligent people I know, and also among some great thinkers of the past. This ready availability of the issue means I will be able to write productively and in a way that allows me to accomplish the goal I have expressed. Specifically I want to show what I know of two particular philosophers I have focused on in the course of my major, John Searle and Martin Heidegger.
Dualism cannot be correct, but in a certain way it seems we are bound to think it. As I have mentioned and as I will articulate more deeply, apparent separateness divides all we do. (We are like stretched entities across points of perception.) Though I will prove that being is holistic, there is another way, nearly as fundamental, in which being is twofold. It is twofold in its seeming. Choice, above all else, is the characterizing feature of conscious experience and it makes a mess and a muddle in the understanding of many people so far as their philosophical knowledge. We say, It must be that there is the chosen thing and the chooser—never any fewer than two entities. The semblance of dualism goes ahead of us and is a nearly constant part of our thinking, its portions being those fallacious ones aforementioned: mental versus physical portions. (“Lightning even flickering from cloud to cloud has an end and a beginning, ephemeral though they be,” to quote a philosopher I have not mentioned yet.)