Are there arguments for materialism?

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Are there arguments for materialism?

Postby Bob » Tue Oct 12, 2021 11:08 am

Materialism is a form of philosophical monism that holds that matter is the fundamental substance in nature and that all things, including mental states and consciousness, are the result of material interactions. According to philosophical materialism, mind and consciousness are by-products or epiphenomena of material processes (such as the biochemistry of the human brain and nervous system), without which they cannot exist. This concept is in direct contrast to idealism, in which mind and consciousness are first-order realities to which matter is subject and material interactions are secondary.

Materialism is closely related to physicalism - the view that everything that exists is ultimately physical. Philosophical physicalism has evolved from materialism with the theories of the natural sciences and now encompasses more sophisticated notions of physicality than just ordinary matter (e.g. spacetime, physical energies and forces, and dark matter). Therefore, the term physicalism is preferred by some to materialism, while others use the two terms as synonyms.

The basic causal argument for materialism is that since physics is causally complete, states of consciousness must either be physical or be epiphenomenal "danglers" with no causal influence on the physical world. Papineau examines this argument in detail, paying particular attention to the concept of causality, the meaning of the term "physical", the relevance of functionalism and other versions of non-reductive physicalism, and the status of the claim that physics is causally closed.

But is Materialism really the bottom line? Or Are Materialists begging the question like Bernado Kastrup points out:
Five ways materialists beg the question
(An improved and updated version of this essay has appeared in my book Brief Peeks Beyond. The version below is kept for legacy purposes.)
To 'beg the question' is a logical fallacy in which one takes the conclusion of an argument as a premise of the argument. For instance, if one says: 'God exists because the bible says so, and the bible is true because it was written by God,' one is begging the question of God's existence. As such, to beg the question is a kind of circular reasoning. Although the circularity of the reasoning is obvious in the simplistic example I just gave, one often begs the question in an indirect and somewhat hidden manner. In this essay, I want to summarize some of the common ways in which materialists beg the question: that is, the ways in which they argue for the validity of materialism by assuming materialism in the argument. The circularity of their reasoning becomes clear once it's pointed out, but it is astonishing how often educated, intelligent materialists fall for it. The list below is in no particular order of importance or ranking.

1 - 'Our sense perceptions provide direct evidence for a world outside consciousness.' Whatever else they may or may not be, our sense perceptions are certainly a particular modality of conscious experience. Other modalities are thoughts, emotions, and imagination. The difference is that we often identify with our thoughts, emotions, and imagination – that is, we think that our thoughts, emotions, and imagination are part of us – and seldom identify with our sense perceptions – that is, we do not think that the world we see around us is part of us. Moreover, we often have some degree of direct volitional control of our thoughts and emotions, while we do not have any direct volitional control of the world we perceive around us: we cannot change the world merely by wishing it to be different. Therefore, all we can really say about sense perception is that it is a modality of conscious experience that we do not identify with or have direct volitional control of. That's all. When materialists assert that sense perception is direct evidence for a world outside mind, they are assuming that things we do not identify with or have direct volitional control of can only be grounded in a world outside consciousness. This, of course, begs the question.

2 - 'We cannot say that reality is in consciousness because that would require postulating an unfathomably complex entity to be imagining reality.' The hidden assumption here is that consciousness can only exist if it is generated by something else; by an entity outside consciousness, whose complexity must be proportional to the level of consciousness being generated. This is a hardly-disguised way to assume materialism in the first place: to assume that mind must be reducible to complex arrangements of something outside mind. Naturally, when one claims that reality is in consciousness, one is claiming precisely that consciousness is irreducible, primary, fundamental. Consciousness, as such, is not generated by complex entities or, for that matter, by anything outside consciousness: it is simply what is. To say that irreducible consciousness generates reality requires no more complexity and poses no more problems than to say that irreducible laws of physics generate reality. In fact, it poses less problems, since it avoids the hard problem of consciousness altogether.

3 - 'The stability and consistency of the laws of physics show that reality is outside consciousness.' The hidden premise here is that all conscious processes are necessarily somewhat unstable and unpredictable. This would be true only if all conscious processes were tied to neuronal activity, for neuronal activity is often unstable and unpredictable. But that is an implication only of materialism. There is nothing in the statement that all reality is in consciousness requiring that all conscious processes be tied to neuronal activity. There is nothing in it that precludes the possibility that certain processes in the broader, non-personal levels of consciousness unfold according to very stable, strict patterns and regularities that we've come to call the 'laws of nature.' If all reality is in consciousness, then it is brains that are in consciousness, not consciousness in brains. As such, consciousness is not limited or circumscribed by brain activity. To assume so is to beg the question of materialism.

4 - 'Since our minds are separate and we all experience the same external reality, this reality must be outside consciousness.' The idea here is to suggest that, if reality is fundamentally in consciousness, as a kind of collective dream, how come we can all be sharing the same dreamworld, given that our minds are not connected? How can the dream be shared? Naturally, this begs the question entirely: it is only under the notion that our minds are generated by our bodies that we can say that our minds are separate; after all, our bodies are indeed separate. But if reality is in consciousness, then it is our bodies that are in consciousness, not consciousness in our bodies. The fact that our bodies are separate in the canvas of consciousness simply does not imply that our minds are fundamentally separate at the deeper, subconscious levels. To say so is analogous to stating that, because one has two applications open in a computer screen, one must be using two separate computers! It is the application that is in the computer, not the computer in the application. Separate applications do not imply separate computers.

5 - 'We know that subconscious brain activity can determine later conscious experience. For instance, by measuring brain activity neuroscientists can predict a subject's choice before the subject is conscious of making the choice. Therefore, brain activity generates consciousness.' Here, materialists beg the question by equating neuronal processes outside self-reflective awareness with processes outside consciousness. As I elaborate upon in my book Why Materialism Is Baloney (see this freely-available excerpt), our self-reflective awareness amplifies certain contents of consciousness and, thereby, obfuscates others. This is analogous to how the stars become obfuscated in the noon sky by the much stronger glare of the sun. The stars are all still there at noon, their photons still hitting your retina. Strictly speaking, you are still 'seeing' the stars, but you don't know that you are seeing them because they become obfuscated. Similarly, the contents of consciousness that become obfuscated by the 'glare' of egoic self-reflection are all still in consciousness, but you are not conscious that you are conscious of them; that is, you are not self-reflectively aware of them. There is a strong sense in which not knowing that you know something is equivalent to really not knowing it, this being the reason why we think that we are not conscious of certain things when everything is, in fact, in consciousness. The brain activity that neuroscientists can measure to predict a subject's later conscious choices are simply the image of these contents of consciousness that become obfuscated; not their cause. I have elaborated on this notion that the brain is the image – not the cause – of self-localization processes of consciousness in my book Why Materialism Is Baloney. The argument is briefly summarized here.

I personally believe that most materialists can't see […] the circularity of the ways in which they interpret, and then think to confirm their interpretations of, reality. This happens because we live in a culture that has completely lost objectivity: we can't see past the assumptions and beliefs we are immersed in, and indoctrinated into, since childhood. This is all understandable, even though it remains one's personal responsibility – if one is actually interested in truth – to overcome it at some point.

However, when it comes to militant materialists – often scientists – who make it their mission in life to promote the materialist metaphysics, the stakes are much higher. When these people come to the mainstream media and beg the question of materialism so vocally, arrogantly, and blatantly, they are going much beyond doing harm to themselves: they are doing harm to countless others. It is your children, especially those still going through the educational system, who are listening to them with the openness characteristic of those who trust authority and aren't yet ready to evaluate more critically what's being said. Whether these militant materialists are genuinely confused in their question-begging or not is irrelevant: by making the choice to militantly promote the materialist metaphysics, they take on the responsibility of knowing better. After all, ignorance of the law does not entitle anyone to commit the crime. Their actions are damaging and irresponsible. It would be hilarious to watch these people promote idiocy with the hubris of an emperor with no clothes. However, the reality of it is tragic, and something must be done about it.
https://www.bernardokastrup.com/2014/06/ways-materialists-beg-question.html
The only wisdom we can hope to acquire
Is the wisdom of humility: humility is endless.
TS Eliot
When you are out of touch with reality you will easily embrace a delusion, and equally put in doubt the most basic elements of existence. If this reminds you of the mindset of the present day materialist science and philosophy establishments, as well as of the loudest voices in the socio-political debate, we should not be particularly surprised, since they show all the signs of attending with the left hemisphere alone. I live in the hope that that may soon change: for without a change we are lost.
McGilchrist, Iain . The Matter With Things: Our Brains, Our Delusions and the Unmaking of the World (S.562). Perspectiva Press. Kindle-Version.
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Re: Are there arguments for materialism?

Postby Ierrellus » Tue Oct 12, 2021 1:02 pm

Is there no alternative for explaining the ontology of consciousness other than materialism and idealism? Other than either/or?
I listened to one Kastrup podcast and am no authority on his ideas. It was the one on "Materialism Is Baloney." Being a down to Earth person,
I found his explanations a bit ephemeral. As a panentheist I cannot exclude matter from the whole that I see as God; so I cannot see materialism and idealism as contradictory philosophies. They are takes on the same phenomenon, which may include both explanhations.
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Re: Are there arguments for materialism?

Postby pood » Tue Oct 12, 2021 2:03 pm

First, I wonder why you put this in the religion/spirituality forum rather than in the philosophy forum.

When you speak of physicalism and materialism, in philosophy they more commonly fall under the remit of metaphysical naturalism. This is the thesis that there is a mind-independent, fully natural world and that this world is causally closed; i.e., it is, all that there is.

This is in contrast to metaphysical supernaturalism, the idea that there is a supernatural realm that grounds all of reality, both physical and mental.

What Kastrup is talking about is metaphysical idealism, the idea that reality consists of nothing but mental states, and that these mental states ground the physical, rather than vice versa, as assumed by metaphysical naturalists.

One can make the move from metaphysical idealism to metaphysical supernaturalism, though not, logically, from metaphysical naturalism to either metaphysical idealism or metaphysical supernaturalism. Is Kastrup making that move? Because if he isn’t, I don’t see why this is a religious topic. If he is, he hasn’t shown his cards yet in the quoted excerpt, but he would have good company. Berkeley, the original or at least most well known metaphysical idealist (esse est percipi) was both a metaphysical idealist and a metaphysical supernaturalist. He believed that the world consists entirely of mental states, but that objects like tables and chairs still existed when no one was observing them because they were mental states in the mind of God.

But one can consistently be a metaphysical idealist without being a metaphysical supernaturalist. Is Kastrup a metaphysical idealist only, or a metaphysical supernaturalist as well? If the latter, Berkeley has long anticipated his arguments.

When it comes to science, a scientist could be a metaphysical naturalist, a metaphysical idealist, or even a metaphysical supernaturalist. When it comes to the practice of science, however, they are, functionally, methodological naturalists. Methodological naturalism does not retrodict, or depend upon, the truth of metaphysical naturalism. It merely states that in the practice of science, there is no room for supernaturalism, because the supernatural does not show up in the data. Napoleon: “where does God fit into your equations?” Laplace: “I have no need of that hypothesis.”

Methodological naturalism (as opposed to metaphysical naturalism) is essentially silent on metaphysical idealism. And a methodological naturalist can be a metaphysical supernaturalist — a scientist who believes that god exists, for example, and there are many of them (though they are a minority among all scientists). They just don’t use God or appeals to God in the methods of science, as explained just above.

I think Kastrup doth protest too much. As just explained, a scientist can practice the methodologies of science without subscribing to the assumption of metaphysical naturalism. A methodological naturalist may even be a metaphysical idealist, because science works exactly the same under metaphysical idealism as it does under metaphysical naturalism.

I say he protests too much because when he claims that “materialism is baloney,” it is HE who is now guilty of the same thing he ascribes to his purported materialist adversaries — he is begging the question in favor of idealism! O, irony!
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Re: Are there arguments for materialism?

Postby Flannel Jesus » Tue Oct 12, 2021 8:26 pm

Let me start my post with just a simple fact: we don't understand consciousness. If we did, of course, there would not be much of a debate. But the fact is that we don't.

Now, generally speaking, explanations of phenomena take the form of using elements of things we know and understand (to some extent), and showing how their interactions in specific circumstances could produce that phenomenon. If someone explains something to you and you don't understand the components of the explanation, then the explanation probably failed and you did not come away with much more understanding than you started with.

This is why physicalism or naturalism is the natural (no pun intended) starting point for explanations. We have a basic understanding of the physical things around us, how they interact, and so a satisfying explanation will tend to make reference to those things that we know to exist and understand.

The problem with "explaining" consciousness as something that isn't an emergent phenomenon fully explainable by physics is that, in my estimation, it ends up not being much of an explanation at all. To me, the thought process sort of looks like this:

I don't understand consciousness, and nobody does. I cannot even imagine a way that physical matter could produce the experience I feel of being me, so I don't think it can. So I think there must be some separate non-physical realm where my consciousness resides.

As a thought process, it makes sense, but it hasn't produced an explanation. You've said this mysterious phenomenon actually happens in some other realm, but you've gotten no closer to the answer about HOW it happens in that other realm. You've just moved the hard problem somewhere else.

Suppose that consciousness did happen in some other realm, or because of some non physical substance that we don't know of yet. If you became familiar with the elements and operations and evolutions of that other realm, or other substance, to the same extent that you're familiar with the behaviour of matter, do you really think you would understand how consciousness arises in that realm or from that substance?

I think likely not. I think that the question "how does consciousness arises out of this?" would remain equally hard, whether "this" was the physical matter we are familiar with, or some other realm or substance that goes by different rules.

And that's my problem with substance dualism. It doesn't answer the question, it just moves a mysterious question into a more mysterious realm, and wipes its hands. I don't feel any more satisfied by not knowing how consciousness works in this non physical realm than I felt satisfied in not knowing how it works in our physical realm. I don't feel like I've made any progress at all upon accepting that premise.
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Re: Are there arguments for materialism?

Postby Bob » Wed Oct 13, 2021 9:10 am

Kastrup is convinced that an alarming growth of cases of anxiety, depression, ennui and despair is a symptom of the unsustainable lack of firm metaphysical foundations in our culture: ‘After all it’s not easy to find onself in the strange position of being alive, constantly fighting against entropy, knowing that one day one is guaranteed to lose the fight. If we philosophers don’t help people make sense of, and peace with, this condition, the pharma industry will continue to fill the void.
https://geoffjward.medium.com/why-todays-scientific-worldview-must-undergo-a-sea-change-e8a2d155f0a9
The only wisdom we can hope to acquire
Is the wisdom of humility: humility is endless.
TS Eliot
When you are out of touch with reality you will easily embrace a delusion, and equally put in doubt the most basic elements of existence. If this reminds you of the mindset of the present day materialist science and philosophy establishments, as well as of the loudest voices in the socio-political debate, we should not be particularly surprised, since they show all the signs of attending with the left hemisphere alone. I live in the hope that that may soon change: for without a change we are lost.
McGilchrist, Iain . The Matter With Things: Our Brains, Our Delusions and the Unmaking of the World (S.562). Perspectiva Press. Kindle-Version.
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Re: Are there arguments for materialism?

Postby Bob » Wed Oct 13, 2021 9:25 am

pood wrote:First, I wonder why you put this in the religion/spirituality forum rather than in the philosophy forum.

When you speak of physicalism and materialism, in philosophy they more commonly fall under the remit of metaphysical naturalism. This is the thesis that there is a mind-independent, fully natural world and that this world is causally closed; i.e., it is, all that there is.

This is in contrast to metaphysical supernaturalism, the idea that there is a supernatural realm that grounds all of reality, both physical and mental.

What Kastrup is talking about is metaphysical idealism, the idea that reality consists of nothing but mental states, and that these mental states ground the physical, rather than vice versa, as assumed by metaphysical naturalists.

You should know by now that I see an interconnection between religion/spirituality and philosophy, although the latter tends to be less empirical in some ways. It is interesting that you try to reformulate my question, but the question remains. You have a natural assumption that you know what I mean better than I do.

One can make the move from metaphysical idealism to metaphysical supernaturalism, though not, logically, from metaphysical naturalism to either metaphysical idealism or metaphysical supernaturalism. Is Kastrup making that move? Because if he isn’t, I don’t see why this is a religious topic. If he is, he hasn’t shown his cards yet in the quoted excerpt, but he would have good company. Berkeley, the original or at least most well known metaphysical idealist (esse est percipi) was both a metaphysical idealist and a metaphysical supernaturalist. He believed that the world consists entirely of mental states, but that objects like tables and chairs still existed when no one was observing them because they were mental states in the mind of God.

But one can consistently be a metaphysical idealist without being a metaphysical supernaturalist. Is Kastrup a metaphysical idealist only, or a metaphysical supernaturalist as well? If the latter, Berkeley has long anticipated his arguments. […]

This is the typical way in which a question can be overcome, by asking whether the person making the statement is really what he claims to be. As far as I am concerned, he is what he is and what he says has spiritual/ transcendent qualities. I am aware of Berkeley and Kastrup does mention him, but he is coming from a completely different angle. It was his work as a computer scientist that led him into philosophy.

I think Kastrup doth protest too much. As just explained, a scientist can practice the methodologies of science without subscribing to the assumption of metaphysical naturalism. A methodological naturalist may even be a metaphysical idealist, because science works exactly the same under metaphysical idealism as it does under metaphysical naturalism.

I say he protests too much because when he claims that “materialism is baloney,” it is HE who is now guilty of the same thing he ascribes to his purported materialist adversaries — he is begging the question in favor of idealism! O, irony!

Unfortunately, the whole splurge you wrote has no bearing on the statement that materialism is baloney at all, or at least you haven’t managed to prove that. You also haven’t presented any arguments to refute what Kastrup says, conveniently bypassing the examples in which materialism “begs the question”.

I’m sure you can do better.
The only wisdom we can hope to acquire
Is the wisdom of humility: humility is endless.
TS Eliot
When you are out of touch with reality you will easily embrace a delusion, and equally put in doubt the most basic elements of existence. If this reminds you of the mindset of the present day materialist science and philosophy establishments, as well as of the loudest voices in the socio-political debate, we should not be particularly surprised, since they show all the signs of attending with the left hemisphere alone. I live in the hope that that may soon change: for without a change we are lost.
McGilchrist, Iain . The Matter With Things: Our Brains, Our Delusions and the Unmaking of the World (S.562). Perspectiva Press. Kindle-Version.
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Re: Are there arguments for materialism?

Postby Bob » Wed Oct 13, 2021 10:17 am

Flannel Jesus wrote:Let me start my post with just a simple fact: we don't understand consciousness. If we did, of course, there would not be much of a debate. But the fact is that we don't.

Now, generally speaking, explanations of phenomena take the form of using elements of things we know and understand (to some extent), and showing how their interactions in specific circumstances could produce that phenomenon. If someone explains something to you and you don't understand the components of the explanation, then the explanation probably failed and you did not come away with much more understanding than you started with.

This is why physicalism or naturalism is the natural (no pun intended) starting point for explanations. We have a basic understanding of the physical things around us, how they interact, and so a satisfying explanation will tend to make reference to those things that we know to exist and understand.

The curious part of this is that we have evidence that the ancients were already speculating upon consciousness and their mythologies were full of references, albeit with different terminology than we use today. In fact, even with the last 200 years the terminology has been changing whilst referring to the same phenomenon. The “Will” of Schopenhauer, the “Soul” of Emerson, or Carl Jung’s “collective unconscious” are all referring to the elusive same. Jeffrey Kripal gave some examples in his introduction to a book by Kastrup:

Oh, I had read plenty of idealists within my own historical area of research, and Bernardo sounds a lot like the comparative mystical literature to which I have given my life—except that, unlike my historical sources, he answers my e-mails. There is Meister Eckhart, the great Dominican professor and philosopher whose sermons on the always-happening incarnation of the Word in the individual soul and the Now of eternity read like medieval versions of the books of Bernardo Kastrup (or Eckhart Tolle). But Meister Eckhart died almost seven hundred years ago. There is Ramana Maharshi, the great South Indian Hindu mystic of the immortal Self, or what I like to call the Same in us all. But he left us over sixty years ago. Much closer culturally (and digitally), there is Philip K. Dick, the great American science fiction writer who realized through an encounter with the Logos or Cosmic Mind that “reality is a giant brain” that appears to work like a binary computer code network.1 But he died over thirty years ago.
Kastrup, Bernardo. More Than Allegory: On Religious Myth, Truth And Belief (S.2). John Hunt Publishing. Kindle-Version.

The case is better put by the author himself of course, but we are avoiding the question. The examples of science “begging the question” still have to be refuted.

The problem with "explaining" consciousness as something that isn't an emergent phenomenon fully explainable by physics is that, in my estimation, it ends up not being much of an explanation at all. To me, the thought process sort of looks like this:

I don't understand consciousness, and nobody does. I cannot even imagine a way that physical matter could produce the experience I feel of being me, so I don't think it can. So I think there must be some separate non-physical realm where my consciousness resides.

As a thought process, it makes sense, but it hasn't produced an explanation. You've said this mysterious phenomenon actually happens in some other realm, but you've gotten no closer to the answer about HOW it happens in that other realm. You've just moved the hard problem somewhere else.

The question is, is there an argument for materialism. Kastrup gives examples of science begging the question. You are off on a tangent.

Suppose that consciousness did happen in some other realm, or because of some non physical substance that we don't know of yet. If you became familiar with the elements and operations and evolutions of that other realm, or other substance, to the same extent that you're familiar with the behaviour of matter, do you really think you would understand how consciousness arises in that realm or from that substance?

I think likely not. I think that the question "how does consciousness arises out of this?" would remain equally hard, whether "this" was the physical matter we are familiar with, or some other realm or substance that goes by different rules.

And that's my problem with substance dualism. It doesn't answer the question, it just moves a mysterious question into a more mysterious realm, and wipes its hands. I don't feel any more satisfied by not knowing how consciousness works in this non physical realm than I felt satisfied in not knowing how it works in our physical realm. I don't feel like I've made any progress at all upon accepting that premise.

Interesting that you try to solve the “hard problem”, which is only indirect the subject of this thread.
The only wisdom we can hope to acquire
Is the wisdom of humility: humility is endless.
TS Eliot
When you are out of touch with reality you will easily embrace a delusion, and equally put in doubt the most basic elements of existence. If this reminds you of the mindset of the present day materialist science and philosophy establishments, as well as of the loudest voices in the socio-political debate, we should not be particularly surprised, since they show all the signs of attending with the left hemisphere alone. I live in the hope that that may soon change: for without a change we are lost.
McGilchrist, Iain . The Matter With Things: Our Brains, Our Delusions and the Unmaking of the World (S.562). Perspectiva Press. Kindle-Version.
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Re: Are there arguments for materialism?

Postby obsrvr524 » Wed Oct 13, 2021 11:55 am

Flannel Jesus wrote:Let me start my post with just a simple fact: we I don't understand consciousness. If we I did, of course, there would not be much of a debate. But the fact is that we I don't.


It seems to me that the materialism issue is not a question concerning truth but of choice and priority.

Pick an ontology. And don't confuse it with others.

Materialists want to dismiss discussions that involve the perfect ideals, supernaturals, or spirits and limit the discussions to only physical objects. That is their choice of ontology, right?

When that is done - everything normally referred to as "supernatural" or "spiritual" will be translated into material verbiage. The truth of things doesn't change - merely the way it is viewed and discussed. Science doesn't speak of God - that is a choice they make - so God must then be translated in a non-God scenario.

In order to get away from belief in God or spirits and religion - stop talking about them - don't even define the words.

Pick a language. And don't confuse it with others.
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Re: Are there arguments for materialism?

Postby pood » Wed Oct 13, 2021 2:20 pm

Well, Bob, I read your OP, and found it fascinating, because these subjects are long-standing interests of mine, and so I decided to craft a thoughtful post sorting out the various metaphysical stances underpinning our views of the world. And you blithely dismiss it as a splurge.

Not that it will do any good, because it seems, like so many here, you are determined to be antagonistic, but I will try to clarify my position for you, since you so baldly misrepresented it and I should like your mutilating of my alleged splurge not to stand uncontested.

I did not try to contest Kastrup’s charge of question begging because I agree with him, up to a point. This is the reason I offered a distinction between metaphysical naturalism and methodological naturalism. Methodological naturalism is, well, science, or the practices of science. Metaphysical naturalism represents one possible philosophical assumption that underpins the practice of science.

To the extent that Kastrup says that science, qua science, begs the question for metaphysical naturalism, I think he’s wrong. I pointed out — honestly, did you even read what I wrote? — that practicing scientists can be, and many are, either naturalists, idealists, or supernaturalists. How did you over look that key point I made?

If Kastrup is saying that metaphysical naturalism is question-begging, of course he is correct. But my point in noting the irony of Kastrup writing “materialism is baloney” is that now HE is the one doing the question-begging, in favor of his particular flavor of idealism, because ALL metaphysical stances beg the question in the sense that they rely on assumptions that cannot be proved, and hence all are logically circular.

Metaphysical naturalism begs the question by assuming without proving that all of reality is a causally closed regime of matter and energy, and that minds supervene on brains.

Metaphysical idealism begs the question by assuming without proving that reality consists entirely of mental states, and that brains supervene on minds.

Metaphysical supernaturalism begs the question by assuming without proving that reality — matter and energy and minds — are grounded by God and a supernatural realm.

I think that one should be AGNOSTIC about which metaphysical stance is true (and there are others I haven’t mentioned). I, an atheist, am actually an agnostic atheist, because there is a difference between gnosis and belief.

But again, when Kastrup declares “materialism is baloney” he abandons agnosticism and then becomes guilty of the very question-begging that he decries.

Now to the extent he is complaining that some scientists or science popularizers go around telling the general public that there is no god and the material world is all that there is, and so on, yes, I agree with the complaint! These scientists have stepped outside their field, which is science or some branch of science, and ventured into philosophy, for which most scientists seem to be spectacularly ill-equipped. In fact, a great many scientists hold philosophy in total contempt, and couldn’t give a flying eff at the moon about it. All they are concerned with are the results of their experiments, and that is as it should be.

As a matter of fact, I have a good deal of sympathy for idealism, because I happen to think there are some good reasons for thinking it more likely to be true than either materialism of supernaturalism. But I don’t know if it is true, or which is true, and neither do you and neither does Kastrup.
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Re: Are there arguments for materialism?

Postby felix dakat » Wed Oct 13, 2021 2:52 pm

Bob wrote:
Kastrup is convinced that an alarming growth of cases of anxiety, depression, ennui and despair is a symptom of the unsustainable lack of firm metaphysical foundations in our culture: ‘After all it’s not easy to find onself in the strange position of being alive, constantly fighting against entropy, knowing that one day one is guaranteed to lose the fight. If we philosophers don’t help people make sense of, and peace with, this condition, the pharma industry will continue to fill the void.
https://geoffjward.medium.com/why-todays-scientific-worldview-must-undergo-a-sea-change-e8a2d155f0a9


Materialism has had a deleterious effect on religion. Depending on one's point of view that may or may not be a good thing. Can you talk about the possibility that being is both non-material and impersonal and contrast that with the possibility that being is Mind?
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Re: Are there arguments for materialism?

Postby Pedro I Rengel » Wed Oct 13, 2021 3:03 pm

What is Mind?

I can imagine Jesus walking across a room, but I can't imagine Mind walking across a room.
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Re: Are there arguments for materialism?

Postby pood » Wed Oct 13, 2021 3:14 pm

But you picture Jesus walking across a room with, obviously, your mind.
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Re: Are there arguments for materialism?

Postby felix dakat » Wed Oct 13, 2021 3:45 pm

Pedro I Rengel wrote:What is Mind?

I can imagine Jesus walking across a room, but I can't imagine Mind walking across a room.


Rene Descartes called mind a thinking substance. Mental substance not to be confused with material substance per Descartes. I can imagine that.
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Re: Are there arguments for materialism?

Postby Pedro I Rengel » Wed Oct 13, 2021 3:46 pm

I can imagine Jesus walking across a room. I can't imagine thinking substance walking across a room.

What does one look like?
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Re: Are there arguments for materialism?

Postby felix dakat » Wed Oct 13, 2021 3:50 pm

Pedro I Rengel wrote:I can imagine Jesus walking across a room. I can't imagine thinking substance walking across a room.

What does one look like?


No it doesn't walk across the room itself. But the image of someone walking across the room appears in it. Clear and distinct ideas appear in it. It is consciousness and its object. It is "the light" in which everything appears.
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Re: Are there arguments for materialism?

Postby Pedro I Rengel » Wed Oct 13, 2021 4:07 pm

felix dakat wrote:No it doesn't walk across the room itself.


Then, surely, it cannot really exist.

felix dakat wrote: Clear and distinct ideas appear in it.


When you say appears in "it," I have no idea what "it" is. Can you describe it to me? Can you tell me what it looks like?
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Re: Are there arguments for materialism?

Postby pood » Wed Oct 13, 2021 4:13 pm

Someone walking across a room, whether seen or imagined, is a mental construct.
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Re: Are there arguments for materialism?

Postby felix dakat » Wed Oct 13, 2021 4:20 pm

Pedro I Rengel wrote:
felix dakat wrote:No it doesn't walk across the room itself.


Then, surely, it cannot really exist.

felix dakat wrote: Clear and distinct ideas appear in it.


When you say appears in "it," I have no idea what "it" is. Can you describe it to me? Can you tell me what it looks like?


Consciousness. If it didn't exist we couldn't be having this conversation.
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Re: Are there arguments for materialism?

Postby felix dakat » Wed Oct 13, 2021 4:21 pm

pood wrote:Someone walking across a room, whether seen or imagined, is a mental construct.


Exactly.
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Re: Are there arguments for materialism?

Postby Bob » Wed Oct 13, 2021 4:22 pm

pood wrote:Well, Bob, I read your OP, and found it fascinating, because these subjects are long-standing interests of mine, and so I decided to craft a thoughtful post sorting out the various metaphysical stances underpinning our views of the world. And you blithely dismiss it as a splurge.

Not that it will do any good, because it seems, like so many here, you are determined to be antagonistic, but I will try to clarify my position for you, since you so baldly misrepresented it and I should like your mutilating of my alleged splurge not to stand uncontested.

I agree that I was perhaps not as appreciative of your post as I should have been. I think that your failure to go to the question was the trigger for my reaction, which you have now corrected.

I did not try to contest Kastrup’s charge of question begging because I agree with him, up to a point. This is the reason I offered a distinction between metaphysical naturalism and methodological naturalism. Methodological naturalism is, well, science, or the practices of science. Metaphysical naturalism represents one possible philosophical assumption that underpins the practice of science.

To the extent that Kastrup says that science, qua science, begs the question for metaphysical naturalism, I think he’s wrong. I pointed out — honestly, did you even read what I wrote? — that practicing scientists can be, and many are, either naturalists, idealists, or supernaturalists. How did you over look that key point I made?

If Kastrup is saying that metaphysical naturalism is question-begging, of course he is correct. But my point in noting the irony of Kastrup writing “materialism is baloney” is that now HE is the one doing the question-begging, in favor of his particular flavor of idealism, because ALL metaphysical stances beg the question in the sense that they rely on assumptions that cannot be proved, and hence all are logically circular.

The point that he is making is that which a great number of people like him are now coming out to question is the fact that materialism has gone unquestioned for so long and is causing considerable damage to mental health in a direct and indirect way. The assumption that materialism is the “only” way to view the world and that the mechanistic view of nature is still implied, has been a major influence on how non-scientific people understand their lives and the nature of reality.

Metaphysical naturalism begs the question by assuming without proving that all of reality is a causally closed regime of matter and energy, and that minds supervene on brains.

Metaphysical idealism begs the question by assuming without proving that reality consists entirely of mental states, and that brains supervene on minds.

Metaphysical supernaturalism begs the question by assuming without proving that reality — matter and energy and minds — are grounded by God and a supernatural realm.

I think that one should be AGNOSTIC about which metaphysical stance is true (and there are others I haven’t mentioned). I, an atheist, am actually an agnostic atheist, because there is a difference between gnosis and belief.

But again, when Kastrup declares “materialism is baloney” he abandons agnosticism and then becomes guilty of the very question-begging that he decries.

I don’t know whether you have read anything from Kastrup, but what he doesn’t do is to create a logical fallacy and doesn’t take the conclusion of an argument as a premise of his argument. His argumentation is as solid as a hypothesis can be, and he is supported by numerous people who share his criticism of materialism as it is presented today.

“Kastrup has articulated a much-needed corrective to the metaphysical illness of our age, scientistic materialism. Scientism is the belief that science is the most valuable part of human learning because it supposedly is the most authoritative, or serious, or beneficial. But science itself is merely a particular method for dousing the tools at hand to propose hypotheses, do experiments, and come to conclusions based on the information derived. As such, it is regrettable that some practitioners of science – and even some philosophers of science – have now taken on the attitude that scientism is the only valid approach to human knowledge.”
Shogaku Zenshin Stephen Echard Musgrave Roshi in the Foreword to Kastrup, Bernardo. Why Materialism Is Baloney: How True Skeptics Know There Is No Death and Fathom Answers to life, the Universe, and Everything (S.4). John Hunt Publishing. Kindle-Version.

Now to the extent he is complaining that some scientists or science popularizers go around telling the general public that there is no god and the material world is all that there is, and so on, yes, I agree with the complaint! These scientists have stepped outside their field, which is science or some branch of science, and ventured into philosophy, for which most scientists seem to be spectacularly ill-equipped. In fact, a great many scientists hold philosophy in total contempt, and couldn’t give a flying eff at the moon about it. All they are concerned with are the results of their experiments, and that is as it should be.

As a matter of fact, I have a good deal of sympathy for idealism, because I happen to think there are some good reasons for thinking it more likely to be true than either materialism of supernaturalism. But I don’t know if it is true, or which is true, and neither do you and neither does Kastrup.

Which isn’t the statement I made. Instead, I asked a question. What we do know is true is that “scientistic materialism” has become a law unto itself and has for too long ridiculed any other way of looking at reality. We need to take other routes.
The only wisdom we can hope to acquire
Is the wisdom of humility: humility is endless.
TS Eliot
When you are out of touch with reality you will easily embrace a delusion, and equally put in doubt the most basic elements of existence. If this reminds you of the mindset of the present day materialist science and philosophy establishments, as well as of the loudest voices in the socio-political debate, we should not be particularly surprised, since they show all the signs of attending with the left hemisphere alone. I live in the hope that that may soon change: for without a change we are lost.
McGilchrist, Iain . The Matter With Things: Our Brains, Our Delusions and the Unmaking of the World (S.562). Perspectiva Press. Kindle-Version.
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Re: Are there arguments for materialism?

Postby iambiguous » Wed Oct 13, 2021 4:25 pm

Note to iambiguous:

Stay out of this! :wink:
He was like a man who wanted to change all; and could not; so burned with his impotence; and had only me, an infinitely small microcosm to convert or detest. John Fowles

Start here: http://www.ilovephilosophy.com/viewtopi ... 1&t=176529
Then here: http://www.ilovephilosophy.com/viewtopi ... 5&t=185296
And here: http://www.ilovephilosophy.com/viewtopi ... 1&t=194382

"Sure, it works in practice, but does it work in theory?"

Danny Embling: "People wonder how Hitler managed to get so many followers...it's never surprised me."
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Re: Are there arguments for materialism?

Postby Pedro I Rengel » Wed Oct 13, 2021 4:26 pm

felix dakat wrote:Consciousness. If it didn't exist we couldn't be having this conversation.


Lol. To the people who said this about God you said "tell me what he looks like."

But I get why you do it. It's kinda fun. But, mostly, a real-life demonstration of the inconsequence of Wittgenstein.
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Re: Are there arguments for materialism?

Postby pood » Wed Oct 13, 2021 4:28 pm

Some arguments for idealism:

As Kastrup notes, it solves, or dissolves, the hard problem of consciousness. OTOH, many naturalists insist there is no problem to begin with. They are eliminativists. One must judge the merits of their arguments.

Idealism comports well with some interpretations of quantum mechanics, and in one of his essays Kastrup specifically invokes relational quantum mechanics. OTOH, not all interpretations of QM support this kind of idealism and at least two of them, MWI and superdeterminism, rule out idealism altogether. The problem is there is no way to decide between the competing interpretations of QM.

If I encounter a rose, to to take one example, I judge it to be red, to have a pleasant aroma, to have prickly thorns. All of these sensations are entirely in the mind. So what is a rose independent of the mind? Other species will have entirely different mentations of a rose, so where is its mind-independent existence?

An objection is that minds evolved late in the history of the universe, so how can the universe depend on minds? Apart from the fact that just because our minds evolved late, it doesn’t follow that other minds did not precede us, there is the simple point that we do not have direct access to the past, only to records of it. These records are all in the mind. They are mental states. So the idealist would say that the past and the current records of it are just more mental states.

It may be objected that there is no explanation of how mind can be the irreducible ground of reality. Just so, however, there is no explanation of how matter and energy can the irreducible ground of reality. Positing either as the ground just looks like accepting that some things are brute facts, and that at some point explanations must stop.

One may ask, what would the universe be like, without minds in it? The question self-destructs because to ask what the universe would be like without minds is to presuppose minds that can liken the universe to anything. Thus no minds, no universe.
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Re: Are there arguments for materialism?

Postby felix dakat » Wed Oct 13, 2021 4:35 pm

Pedro I Rengel wrote:
felix dakat wrote:Consciousness. If it didn't exist we couldn't be having this conversation.


Lol. To the people who said this about God you said "tell me what he looks like."

But I get why you do it. It's kinda fun. But, mostly, a real-life demonstration of the inconsequence of Wittgenstein.


The necessity of consciousness for this conversation is self-evident. Whether or not "God" is self-evident for this conversation seems to depend upon how "God" is defined. God appears in both the metaphysics of some materialists and idealists and not in others'. I assume that's why we're talking about it here. So it seems to me that what you're doing above is question begging.
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Re: Are there arguments for materialism?

Postby Pedro I Rengel » Wed Oct 13, 2021 4:38 pm

felix dakat wrote:The necessity of consciousness for this conversation is self-evident.


It absolutely is not. The very word is less than 200 years old.

You just don't like that your thing that isn't as simple as Jesus walking across the room be put in question.

felix dakat wrote:Whether or not "God" is self-evident for this conversation seems to depend upon how "God" is defined.


Obviously not. Many feel it is considerably more self-evident than some abstract oblique reference to some substance behind thought.

felix dakat wrote:God appears in both the metaphysics of some materialists and idealists and not in others'.


Many things appear in many places and not in others. This is not even the beginning of a shadow of an argument.

felix dakat wrote: So it seems to me that what you're doing above is question begging.


'Tis thee, who begs the question.
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