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Does Materialism Destroy Rationality?

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  • Originally posted by seer View Post

    Well no... The question is how do atoms or brain chemicals come to know about logical truths, after all there isn't anything else. Never mind the fact that even if we care about logical truths, and use logical inference, those things are still determined by forces that do not aim at or care about such things. That doesn't seem to be a recipe for rationality.
    Your personal incredulity notwithstanding, evolution gives us a plausible path by which that could come about.

    Comment


    • Originally posted by Stoic View Post

      Your personal incredulity notwithstanding, evolution gives us a plausible path by which that could come about.
      That is only if you beg the question.
      Atheism is the cult of death, the death of hope. The universe is doomed, you are doomed, the only thing that remains is to await your execution...

      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Jbnueb2OI4o&t=3s

      Comment


      • Is space-time material? You can have empty space-time with no matter in it and it still exists.

        Comment


        • Originally posted by Sparko View Post
          Is space-time material? You can have empty space-time with no matter in it and it still exists.
          That's an interesting question in itself, but I think materialists can take positions on either side of it. (It makes sense to me that space-time would still exist if there was no matter/energy, but we can't remove all the matter/energy to test the idea.)

          What really distinguishes materialists (aka physicalists) from others is their answer to the mind-body problem, where they contend that the mind is made up of the same physical matter as the body (the other main positions being Cartesian dualism and Idealism).

          Comment


          • Originally posted by Stoic View Post

            What really distinguishes materialists (aka physicalists) from others is their answer to the mind-body problem, where they contend that the mind is made up of the same physical matter as the body (the other main positions being Cartesian dualism and Idealism).
            Indeed. What else would it be made of? There is no good reason to believe that the 'mind' exists beyond the physical activity of the brain. When it perishes our 'mind'. perishes along with it.
            “He felt that his whole life was a kind of dream and he sometimes wondered whose it was and whether they were enjoying it.” - Douglas Adams.

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            • Originally posted by seer View Post
              Yes I have heard this before, of course as a non-materialist and theist I would have no problem bringing the ghost back into the machine. Which I believe is the immaterial mind.
              But non-materialism doesn't get you to theism. I can be a non-materialist atheist just fine.

              Comment


              • Originally posted by Tassman View Post
                Indeed. What else would it be made of? There is no good reason to believe that the 'mind' exists beyond the physical activity of the brain. When it perishes our 'mind'. perishes along with it.
                Some analogies that the mind-body problem could be similar to...

                When you're playing a computer game and the character dies, it's not your mind that dies, it's the in-game representation of 'you' that dies.

                If a particular radio is playing music from a radio station, and a rock falls on the radio and crushes it, the radio station itself isn't destroyed.

                If you take some water out of the ocean and pour it into a shaped glass, then it holds a certain shape. But if you smash that glass and the water drains back into the ocean, the water itself is not destroyed, only the shape.

                Comment


                • Originally posted by Sparko View Post
                  You can have empty space-time with no matter in it and it still exists.
                  Can you?

                  Due to quantum physics being weird, in our universe there is constantly matter appearing and disappearing at the subatomic level.

                  Comment


                  • Originally posted by Starlight View Post
                    Some analogies that the mind-body problem could be similar to...

                    When you're playing a computer game and the character dies, it's not your mind that dies, it's the in-game representation of 'you' that dies.

                    If a particular radio is playing music from a radio station, and a rock falls on the radio and crushes it, the radio station itself isn't destroyed.

                    If you take some water out of the ocean and pour it into a shaped glass, then it holds a certain shape. But if you smash that glass and the water drains back into the ocean, the water itself is not destroyed, only the shape.
                    Nevertheless, when one’s own brain ceases to function so too does one’s own mind cease to exist.
                    “He felt that his whole life was a kind of dream and he sometimes wondered whose it was and whether they were enjoying it.” - Douglas Adams.

                    Comment


                    • Originally posted by Tassman View Post
                      Nevertheless, when one’s own brain ceases to function so too does one’s own mind cease to exist.
                      How could we have any evidence of that one way or another?

                      Comment


                      • Originally posted by Starlight View Post
                        How could we have any evidence of that one way or another?
                        If you are arguing that the immaterial mind can interact with the material brain you will need to explain at what point the ‘immaterial’ connects with the ‘material’. In short, where’s the causal link or nexus?
                        “He felt that his whole life was a kind of dream and he sometimes wondered whose it was and whether they were enjoying it.” - Douglas Adams.

                        Comment


                        • Originally posted by Tassman View Post
                          If you are arguing that the immaterial mind can interact with the material brain you will need to explain at what point the ‘immaterial’ connects with the ‘material’. In short, where’s the causal link or nexus?
                          One obvious possibility would seem to be at the level of quantum physics. Some versions of it posit interactions with other dimensions / universes. Perhaps one or more of those have quite different properties to ours. Perhaps in one of those universes, consciousness and qualia are fundamental properties of that universe in the same sort of way that sub-atomic particles are in ours. Perhaps evolution in this universe discovered by chance that it could get a lot more bang for its buck if it organized the brain synapses in such a way that they happened to use this quantum effect to draw on the properties of that other universe. In the same way as you'd get a laptop to establish a remote connection to a supercomputer to get a whole lot more computing done than you otherwise could, perhaps evolution has happened upon this method of connecting to a universe with mental properties and so is able to evolve much smarter beings much more easily than it otherwise would have. They'd have superior survival value. But their mental functions would not actually be occurring in this material universe, merely connected to it.

                          Another completely different way of considering it, is if I were to suppose that this universe might be a computer game, and we were players in it - like The Sims, or The Matrix, or a VR game, or any computer game. Asking how the two interact from the perspective of the in-game universe is potentially unanswerable because true reality is the out-of-game universe which might run according to an extremely different set of physics rules to the in-game universe. e.g. if we consider it from the point of view of say, Mario, in Super Mario Bros, he might ask "by what combination of blocks and pipes does my 'game' world interact with the 'real' universe?", but actually that's a meaningless question because the out-of-game universe doesn't run on the blocks and pipes Mario's familiar with and those are completely simulated by software, and that software runs on computer hardware that obeys nothing like the physics that his in-game universe follows.

                          I know it's tempting to assume that if something else interacts with the material world it must itself be 'material'... but in general it's not true that just because two things interact that they are the same kind of thing. You could have a set of mathematical rules explaining how the interactions affect both entities without the entities themselves being the same kind of things. I don't think it's helpful to go down the path of 'everything that interactions with matter, even via quantum physics, even from other universes with very different properties, is, by definition, 'material'', because it tends to make the meaning of the words 'material' and 'immaterial' meaningless.

                          Comment


                          • Originally posted by Starlight View Post
                            But non-materialism doesn't get you to theism. I can be a non-materialist atheist just fine.
                            Then I would ask the atheist what exists that isn't material. Never mind - I saw your answer to Tass...
                            Atheism is the cult of death, the death of hope. The universe is doomed, you are doomed, the only thing that remains is to await your execution...

                            https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Jbnueb2OI4o&t=3s

                            Comment


                            • Originally posted by Stoic View Post

                              That's an interesting question in itself, but I think materialists can take positions on either side of it. (It makes sense to me that space-time would still exist if there was no matter/energy, but we can't remove all the matter/energy to test the idea.)

                              What really distinguishes materialists (aka physicalists) from others is their answer to the mind-body problem, where they contend that the mind is made up of the same physical matter as the body (the other main positions being Cartesian dualism and Idealism).
                              You can take an area of space, remove all matter and the space will still be there. And time actually slows down in the presence of matter (the more gravity the slower time flows) so without matter time still exists and flows even faster than with matter around.


                              Comment


                              • Originally posted by Starlight View Post
                                One obvious possibility would seem to be at the level of quantum physics. Some versions of it posit interactions with other dimensions / universes. Perhaps one or more of those have quite different properties to ours. Perhaps in one of those universes, consciousness and qualia are fundamental properties of that universe in the same sort of way that sub-atomic particles are in ours. Perhaps evolution in this universe discovered by chance that it could get a lot more bang for its buck if it organized the brain synapses in such a way that they happened to use this quantum effect to draw on the properties of that other universe. In the same way as you'd get a laptop to establish a remote connection to a supercomputer to get a whole lot more computing done than you otherwise could, perhaps evolution has happened upon this method of connecting to a universe with mental properties and so is able to evolve much smarter beings much more easily than it otherwise would have. They'd have superior survival value. But their mental functions would not actually be occurring in this material universe, merely connected to it.

                                Another completely different way of considering it, is if I were to suppose that this universe might be a computer game, and we were players in it - like The Sims, or The Matrix, or a VR game, or any computer game. Asking how the two interact from the perspective of the in-game universe is potentially unanswerable because true reality is the out-of-game universe which might run according to an extremely different set of physics rules to the in-game universe. e.g. if we consider it from the point of view of say, Mario, in Super Mario Bros, he might ask "by what combination of blocks and pipes does my 'game' world interact with the 'real' universe?", but actually that's a meaningless question because the out-of-game universe doesn't run on the blocks and pipes Mario's familiar with and those are completely simulated by software, and that software runs on computer hardware that obeys nothing like the physics that his in-game universe follows.

                                I know it's tempting to assume that if something else interacts with the material world it must itself be 'material'... but in general it's not true that just because two things interact that they are the same kind of thing. You could have a set of mathematical rules explaining how the interactions affect both entities without the entities themselves being the same kind of things. I don't think it's helpful to go down the path of 'everything that interactions with matter, even via quantum physics, even from other universes with very different properties, is, by definition, 'material'', because it tends to make the meaning of the words 'material' and 'immaterial' meaningless.
                                Those are actually some pretty good analogies/theories there Star. Kudos.

                                Comment

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