My 11 year-old daughter watched “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button” (2008) last night with my wife. They both really enjoyed it. It really made my daughter think — she loves stories about people much more than adventure flicks. I had watched it before but joined them on and off last night because I too love the movie.
This morning, still reflecting on the film my daughter asked me, “Dad, how did the baby die in the end? Babies don’t die like that.”
Benjamin (if you haven’t seen or read about this movie) is born in an old man body, but has a normal baby mind. His mind ages like any “normal” human, but his body then gets younger throughout the movie.
So following this logic, when Benjamin is about 80 years old (mentally), his body is 7 years-old. He was an 80 year-old mind in a 7 year-old body. But was his brain 80, or just his mind — ah, the dualism problem enters.
At 80 (in his 7-year old body), Benjamin was showing dementia. But was it a brain disease or a mind disease — hmmmm? Benjamin then ages-down to be an infant (still with demented adult brain) and dies. But if he has a healthy baby body (liver, heart, brain and all) he shouldn’t have died — my daughter understood that. But can a mind kill you? I guess my daughter has not yet learned to separate the two. (Neil inspired part of this post)
Anyway, you get the problem.
I told my daughter, “Good point. It is a cool story, but it is a totally made up, contrived story of impossible stuff — that is what makes it fun. And when a story is made up, if you start thinking and ignore the entertainment, the contradictions jump out. Just like religion.” She understood.
Logicians have two categories to judge formal logic with: soundness and validity. The best a screenwriter or a Christian or a Hindu can hope for is entertaining, fairly consistent story. That consistency is “validity” or “internal logic”. “Soundness”, however, means you start with true premises. Well, that ain’t goin’ to happen!
Note: HT to Neil. I had a post brewing about internal logic, just read Neil’s post early this morning and had this conversation thereafter. This post is the blending of those three things.