Does naturalism commit a category mistake?

Peter Reynaert

pp. 1-20

For Ryle dualism commits a category-mistake. Contrary to Ryle, but without endorsing dualism, I argue that naturalism risks committing a category-mistake. Husserl formulated laws of meaning to distinguish nonsense from absurdity. Formally absurd expressions violate formal, logical laws. Material absurdity results from the particular material concepts employed. Identifying material absurdity requires knowledge of the nature of the entities the expression is about. Correlated with the categories of meanings are ontological categories, both formal and material. Material categories or essences, which Husserl calls ‘regions’, classify entities according to their nature or essence, knowledge of which is based on ideative abstraction. Science must respect in its conceptual framework the ontology of its subject. When a regional being is explained by concepts that cannot be applied to it, a fundamental problem arises, which Husserl calls a metabasis eis allo genos, in Ryle’s terms a category-mistake. Husserl’s analysis of the lived body (Leib) illustrates the absurdity of the naturalistic explanation of human existence. Reducing the Leib to a Körper is a category-mistake, creating material absurdity. The naturalist understands the object to be studied (Leib) with notions that belong to another ontological region, namely physical nature. The Mind-Body problem is the result of this category-mistake.

Publication details

Full citation:

Reynaert, P. (2015). Does naturalism commit a category mistake?. Bulletin d'Analyse Phénoménologique 11 (3), pp. 1-20.

This document is available at an external location. Please follow the link below. Hold the CTRL button to open the link in a new window.