Materialism is nonsensical

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Count Lucanor
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Re: Materialism is nonsensical

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Belindi wrote: September 23rd, 2022, 4:42 am
Theories of existence are what ontology is.
I never said anything different, but you were talking about skepticism, which is about a theory of the possibility of knowledge, even if it relates to knowledge about the existence of things.
Belindi wrote: September 23rd, 2022, 4:42 am The truthfulness of any theory depends, philosophically, on the standard by which you form your judgement.No judgement is supernatural: all judgements pertain rather to natural causes such as a man, a dog, and a corporation.
I don't see the relevance of this statement in relation to the discussion. I never said anything like judgement being supernatural.
Belindi wrote: September 23rd, 2022, 4:42 am Truth is a discrete value for those who believe in the Platonic value of truth, otherwise truth is a human value. Scepticism does not apply to Platonic values which are faiths.
Then how can skepticism be universally believed to be the benchmark of theories of existence or the benchmark of philosophy? Is Plato a minor footnote in the history of philosophy?
The wise are instructed by reason, average minds by experience, the stupid by necessity and the brute by instinct.
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GE Morton
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Re: Materialism is nonsensical

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3017Metaphysician wrote: September 23rd, 2022, 12:01 pm
GE Morton wrote: September 23rd, 2022, 11:41 am
3017Metaphysician wrote: September 23rd, 2022, 9:07 am
It's not really difficult. For materialism to be completely successful, it needs to at the very least, demonstrate not only all of the relationships between mind and matter (causal interactions between quality and quantity/properties of the mind/inanimate to animate, and so on), but must demonstrate where material matter came from ex nihilo.
Well, first, no, it is not necessary to "demonstrate all of the relationships between mind and matter" to establish that all mental events have physical causes, any more than we need to weigh every rock or star to know they all have mass, or autopsy every person to know they all have lungs. It is sufficient if for every particular mental event we consider, we can reliably specify a physical cause. If I place salt on your tongue, I can predict you'll experience the taste of salt, a mental event. If I prick you with a pin, I can predict you'd experience a sensation of pain, another mental event. If I shine a red light into your eyes, I can predict you'll have the phenomenal experience of "redness." If I give you a certain drug I can predict you'll begin to feel sleepy. Etc. All physical causes for mental events. In most cases we can even trace exactly which nerves are involved in connecting the physical stimulus to the phenomenal effect. Moreover, if that neural pathway is blocked for some reason, perhaps due to a tumor or trauma, we can predict you'll no longer experience certain mental events. And, of course, if all neural activity ceases, so will all mental phenomena. Such evidence is more than sufficient to establish a causal chain from a physical event to a sequence of neural signals to a mental event. And "the mind" is just a collective term for the ongoing succession of mental events.

Nor do we need to "demonstrate where matter came from ex nihilo." There is no reason to assume it "came from" anywhere, and certainly no reason to assume it appeared ex nihilo. On the contrary, there is every reason to assume it, in some form or another, has always existed.
But that's nonsensical GE!
"Nonsensical"? That would mean that some or all of my statements above are either obviously false, or inconsistent with one another. Which are false or inconsistent?
If you can predict those things, demonstrate through that same sense of prediction how the emergence of life comes from material singularity.
Not necessary. Cosmologists and biochemists have already done that, quite persuasively. The "singularity," however, is hypothetical construct, and not necessary to an explanation of the origin of life.
Matter is here. Mind is here. Predict its emergence from backward causation.
Easily done. We can confidently predict that every animal born with a certain type of nervous system will exhibit a "mind" evidenced by its behavior. We can also predict that no "minds" will be found anywhere except in creatures with such neural anatomies --- at least until we construct an electronic AI.
. . . if not a formula, give us a series of propositions that proves your predictions true.
Whether X is a cause of Y is not established via any "series of propositions." It is established by a series of observations.
BTW, what is a theory?
You don't know what a "theory" is?
A material thought?
There are no "material thoughts." Thoughts are phenomenal, not material, but they are caused by material processes. Material things can cause non-material things (lots of them).

PS: Be sure to spell out which statements in my previous post are false or inconsistent, to make good on your claim they are "nonsensical."
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3017Metaphysician
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Re: Materialism is nonsensical

Post by 3017Metaphysician »

GE Morton wrote: September 23rd, 2022, 12:41 pm
3017Metaphysician wrote: September 23rd, 2022, 12:01 pm
GE Morton wrote: September 23rd, 2022, 11:41 am
3017Metaphysician wrote: September 23rd, 2022, 9:07 am
It's not really difficult. For materialism to be completely successful, it needs to at the very least, demonstrate not only all of the relationships between mind and matter (causal interactions between quality and quantity/properties of the mind/inanimate to animate, and so on), but must demonstrate where material matter came from ex nihilo.
Well, first, no, it is not necessary to "demonstrate all of the relationships between mind and matter" to establish that all mental events have physical causes, any more than we need to weigh every rock or star to know they all have mass, or autopsy every person to know they all have lungs. It is sufficient if for every particular mental event we consider, we can reliably specify a physical cause. If I place salt on your tongue, I can predict you'll experience the taste of salt, a mental event. If I prick you with a pin, I can predict you'd experience a sensation of pain, another mental event. If I shine a red light into your eyes, I can predict you'll have the phenomenal experience of "redness." If I give you a certain drug I can predict you'll begin to feel sleepy. Etc. All physical causes for mental events. In most cases we can even trace exactly which nerves are involved in connecting the physical stimulus to the phenomenal effect. Moreover, if that neural pathway is blocked for some reason, perhaps due to a tumor or trauma, we can predict you'll no longer experience certain mental events. And, of course, if all neural activity ceases, so will all mental phenomena. Such evidence is more than sufficient to establish a causal chain from a physical event to a sequence of neural signals to a mental event. And "the mind" is just a collective term for the ongoing succession of mental events.

Nor do we need to "demonstrate where matter came from ex nihilo." There is no reason to assume it "came from" anywhere, and certainly no reason to assume it appeared ex nihilo. On the contrary, there is every reason to assume it, in some form or another, has always existed.
But that's nonsensical GE!
"Nonsensical"? That would mean that some or all of my statements above are either obviously false, or inconsistent with one another. Which are false or inconsistent?

Well, collectively, they can't be reconciled with an all-inclusive theory of Materialism. They would be inconsistent with first-order realities. Remember, any kind of 'Materialism' posits a first-order reality. Hence, you must reconcile your foregoing relationships to matter, not to mention all material entities, like Singularity of course. In other words, if you are making "predictions" materially, they must include predictions of all first-order reality(s). Moreover, the predictions themselves must be demonstrated physically viz material objects.

Since we can't do that exclusively with matter, we're back to talking trees, neuron's etc...

If you can predict those things, demonstrate through that same sense of prediction how the emergence of life comes from material singularity.
Not necessary. Cosmologists and biochemists have already done that, quite persuasively. The "singularity," however, is hypothetical construct, and not necessary to an explanation of the origin of life.

Nope. Your first-order realities are that which you can't deny. You must incorporate that into the theory of everything being quantitatively material. Otherwise we're back to a half-theory. Remember, you must incorporate the quality and quantity of a thing-in-itself.
Matter is here. Mind is here. Predict its emergence from backward causation.
Easily done. We can confidently predict that every animal born with a certain type of nervous system will exhibit a "mind" evidenced by its behavior. We can also predict that no "minds" will be found anywhere except in creatures with such neural anatomies --- at least until we construct an electronic AI.

Great. Provide a series of propositions that involve emergence of mind from matter. Or, a mathematical formula. Remember, material science (physics) uses math to demonstrate their theories.
. . . if not a formula, give us a series of propositions that proves your predictions true.
Whether X is a cause of Y is not established via any "series of propositions." It is established by a series of observations.

Awesome. Show us how mind emerges from matter by observation. Mind is here now. Matter is here now. Remember, you said 'materialism dunnit'.
Where is the vacuous piece of matter that holds all the material secrets?

BTW, what is a theory?
You don't know what a "theory" is?

An object of thought maybe? Please share if you are able.
A material thought?
There are no "material thoughts." Thoughts are phenomenal, not material, but they are caused by material processes. Material things can cause non-material things (lots of them).

Not according to Materialism. What's non-material? Metaphysical? How can the material cause immaterial? Please explain if you can.

PS: Be sure to spell out which statements in my previous post are false or inconsistent, to make good on your claim they are "nonsensical."
Go back to the top.

PS. Maybe try answering those 6 questions for Consul, maybe? Those capture some of which we're discussing...
“Whenever two people meet, there are really six people present. There is each man as he sees himself, each man as the other person sees him, and each man as he really is.”
― William James
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Re: Materialism is nonsensical

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3017Metaphysician wrote: September 23rd, 2022, 9:07 am
Sy Borg wrote: September 22nd, 2022, 10:50 pm
3017Metaphysician wrote: September 22nd, 2022, 9:17 pm
Sy Borg wrote: September 22nd, 2022, 9:09 pm
Because no other philosophical school has a clue about these things either, just that they don't always admit the uncertainties.

The point of materialism a discipline, to only accept that for which there is evidence, and treat the rest as hypothetical until more evidence is gathered. That way, thinkers can avoid going down implausible and whimsical cul-de-sacs that end with "God dunnit", a claim that ends all inquiry.
SB!


Using your logic, you are replacing God dunnit with Materialism dunnit.

Keep trying!
I suspect you have not paid attention to science, other than as some black-boxed bogey to "free thinkers". Anyone even vaguely familiar with science and the scientific method will say they don't know, not that "materialism dunnit", especially since the current physical laws break down a Planck time after the Big Bang.

Whatever, I think it is logical to imagine that all processes probably have a physical substrate. That's how things seem to work in this reality in which we live. It's frivolous to claim materialism to be "ridiculous".

Sure, there might be magic men hiding in outer or inner space, but there might also be flying spaghetti monsters. One can hypothesise freely, but one must also appreciate that it's guesswork at this stage. Further, material things are taken for granted. They are remarkable, especially the objects that we encounter. Most of reality is space, radiation, ethereal fields and dust so any object, even an asteroid, is very special.

The universe as revealed by science should not be treated as dull or substandard in any way. If one can drag one's attention away from human argy-bargy and human self-absorption and actually pay attention to nature - from the Earth's core to outer space - it is mind-boggling in almost every way imaginable. It seems a shame to paste a simian-style consciousness on to nature, which is basically self worship via a conduit IMO.
SB!

Gosh SB you may need an intervention here. Your disgruntlement is like a cancer on the human condition. I won't offer Einstein's theory about science and religion (the human condition) because it will only make you look bad, and that's not my intent. (BTW, some may not know how philosophically intuitive he really was-wish I could have met him.)

Essentially, you are replacing God dunnit with material-matter dunnit for some reason that only you can answer (you seem to default to this in other subject matter/discourse for some reason). It's not really difficult. For materialism to be completely successful, it needs to at the very least, demonstrate not only all of the relationships between mind and matter (causal interactions between quality and quantity/properties of the mind/inanimate to animate, and so on), but must demonstrate where material matter came from ex nihilo.

Think of it this way, if you are like Consul and you arbitrarily deny certain tenets of physical science, you are left with biology to make your case. At that point, all you have are genetically coded, complex instructions and chemicals that produce life from matter. That's at least one reason why you must demonstrate the nature of material existence. Because in that material existence itself, lies those instructions. Or said another way, in that hunk of matter you must find the seed that produces a human, or some other set of complex instructions that provide for evolutionary self-organized, self-directed propagation. Until then, materialism by itself, remains nonsensical. At best, it's a half-theory.

There's no getting around it... , is there? Feel free to prove me wrong.
What you claim is unrelated to Einstein's theories and ideas, so I would advise against co-opting him to support your points, because Einstein's work only undermines your unsubstantiated beliefs. Rather, you seem closer to Bohr's camp, although it's generally held today that Einstein won that debate.

Materialism is already extraordinarily successful. You point to knowledge gaps, as if immediate success in all areas was the only test of an idea. Just because science is still being performed does not mean that it's failed. Theists make this mistake over and over, and no amount of correction ever seems to get it through to them that science is a work in progress, not a competing dogma to their religious beliefs.

I note that theism has many more gaps than science, but you give them a free pass. Why? My guess is that theists tell you what you want to hear - that you will live forever.

So, it is not me ignoring aspects of science, but you. Do not adopt beliefs without sufficient evidence - Science 101. You have not reached that benchmark. Materialism may ultimately turn out to be wrong, but it is clearly not "nonsensical", given the established evidence thus far. It's a fairly logical inference.

I remain open to new concepts and I don't consider myself to be a materialist, but I respect the concept because it is largely logical and reasonable, given the evidence. I have not seen better alternatives, but they may lie in the future.
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Re: Materialism is nonsensical

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GE Morton wrote: September 22nd, 2022, 8:50 pmYou're equating "objects" with "substances," (which I take to mean material existents).
No, I'm not! All substances are objects, but not all objects are substances. If there were abstract objects, they wouldn't be (properly called) substances. All substances are concrete objects, but it doesn't follow that all of them are material objects. Substance dualists and substance spiritualists believe in immaterial (mental/spiritual) substances, so "substance" and "material substance" aren't synonyms.
GE Morton wrote: September 22nd, 2022, 8:50 pm
Consul wrote: September 21st, 2022, 4:47 pmAccording to materialism, all real objects are material; but this ontological claim doesn't entail the semantical claim that being material is part of the meaning of "object". The problem materialists have with percepts or sense-data as mental objects doesn't concern their objecthood but their immateriality.
Now you're hedging, by retreating to "real objects."
:?: – Materialism is certainly about reality. Materialist don't claim that all fictional objects are material.

Note that I'm using "real object" and "existent object" synonymously. That is to say, the real objects aren't only a part of the existent objects, because they are all the existent objects.

There is an old distinction between real objects and ideal ones, with the latter being either mental items or abstract (and thus nonmental) ones. Given this distinction, "is real" and "exists" aren't synonyms, since some things might exist and be ideal rather than real. But I'm not using this conceptual distinction!
GE Morton wrote: September 22nd, 2022, 8:50 pmBut that distinction between "ontological" and "semantic" claims is itself a problem, because all "ontological" claims are themselves semantic claims. It is just a different semantic claim, i.e., one that proposes to restrict the term "object" to a certain class of semantically-denotable entities.

All "ontological" claims (propositions, etc.) defining or asserting entities and their properties, or classes of them, or their position in a hierachy of entities, are theoretical constructs, theorems in a theory of an "external world." That theory is conceived and expressed in language. Whether any particular ontological theory merits adoption depends upon its explanatory and communicative utility. Does it help us understand experience, anticipate and manipulate it? Can't we say whatever we wish to say, make any distinctions we think are worth making, by acknowledging material objects, phenomenal objects, cognitive objects, imaginary objects, etc.? Aren't all of those objects "real"?

What additional explanatory power do we gain by restricting the term "object" to material objects, or declaring only the latter "real" and calling non-material objects . . . what, "unreal"? "Imaginary"? "Non-existent"?
Materialists do regard all non-material objects as unreal/imaginary/nonexistent, but they don't regard materiality as a defining semantic component of the word "object". If materialism is true, it's not an analytic truth grounded in the meaning of "object".

Semantics is about what words mean, whereas "[o]ntology is the attempt to say what the world contains—but only in a very general way."

(Van Inwagen, Peter. Metaphysics. 4th ed. Boulder, CO: Westview Press, 2015. p. 304)

The meanings of words (concepts) aren't irrelevant to ontology, but the primary subject matter of ontology is existence or reality rather than our linguistic or conceptual representations of it. Of course, all ontological theories or category systems are "conceived and expressed in language"; but this doesn't mean that they are about language.
GE Morton wrote: September 22nd, 2022, 8:50 pm
Consul wrote: September 21st, 2022, 4:47 pm[continuing quote]
…"In formal ontology, we need to be more precise in our use of the term ‘object’ than philosophers generally are. Formal ontology is that branch of analytical metaphysics whose business it is to identify ontological categories and the formal ontological relations that characteristically obtain between the members of different categories. In this context, the term ‘thing’ is best avoided because, being in widespread colloquial use, we can hardly hope to recruit it satisfactorily for precise technical purposes. If a perfectly general term is wanted that is applicable to members of any ontological category whatever, we do best to employ what is already a semi-technical term, ‘entity’. That choice having been made, we should then use the term ‘object’ in a more restrictive sense, to apply to some but not all possible entities. Such a decision is not merely arbitrary or stipulative, however, because many philosophers already do use the term in a deliberately contrastive way. Formal ontologists can usefully exploit this existing practice and give it a more rigorous foundation in a theory of categories and formal ontological relations."
Again, what advantage for comprehension or communication does narrowing the scope of "object" confer over using "material object"?
The narrow conception of objects as a category of formal or general ontology is neutral between materialism and antimaterialism! The question of materialism becomes relevant only in the context of special ontology, of what Husserls call "material or regional ontology" (with "material" not meaning "materialistic"!).

QUOTE:
"Husserl distinguishes formal and material ontology. Formal ontological categories include Object, Property, and State of Affairs – these categories apply to objects in any domain, whether physical objects, numerical objects, musical objects, or whatever. By contrast, material or regional ontological categories apply to objects in a specific domain or region, such as Nature, Culture, Consciousness."

(Smith, David Woodruff. Husserl. 2nd ed. New York: Routledge, 2013. p. 283)
:QUOTE
GE Morton wrote: September 22nd, 2022, 8:50 pm
Consul wrote: September 21st, 2022, 4:47 pm[continuing quote][A]n object is not just a property-bearer, but is also not itself capable of being borne or possessed in the sense that properties are. In other words, if we allow there to be, at least in principle, a hierarchy of property-bearing entities of ascending orders, then objects are to be characterized as being those entities that occupy the lowest level of this hierarchy, or as being of order zero. First-order properties are then properties of objects, second-order properties are properties of properties of objects, and so on.
Well, that is one approach to ontological theory. But what explanatory advantage does construing "entities" (a term normally synonymous with "object" and "thing") as being arranged in a hierarchy confer?
Lowe's order talk takes into account that being a property-bearer is necessary but not sufficient for being an object (in his intended narrow sense of the term), because if there are higher-order properties, properties are property-bearers too without being objects.
GE Morton wrote: September 22nd, 2022, 8:50 pmWe have to keep in mind what ALL ontological theories are contrived to explain --- namely, phenomenal experience. And also keep in mind that ontological theories are themselves "phenomenal objects." The former is the explanandum, the latter the explicans. Ontological theories (and scientific theories) are all efforts by conscious minds to explain themselves.
Ontology isn't psychology, and ontological Kategorienlehre (category theory) isn't a psychological Begriffslehre (concept theory—with concepts regarded as mental representations or "ideas"). So ontology isn't (reducible to) psychological ideology, with "ideology" used in the original sense: "the science of ideas; that department of philosophy or psychology which deals with the origin and nature of ideas." (OED)

Anyway, the categories of formal or general ontology (ontologia sive metaphysica generalis) are intended to be neutral between materialism/naturalism and supermaterialism/supernaturalism, between physical realism and idealism!
GE Morton wrote: September 22nd, 2022, 8:50 pm
Consul wrote: September 21st, 2022, 4:47 pm[Sense-impressions/sensations and experiential properties[ can be(come) objects of attention, introspection, or contemplation; but, again, this doesn't mean that they are objects in the narrow ontological sense of the term.
I.e., "material objects." True. But they need not be in order to bear properties.
No, there is no "id est", because the concept of an object isn't identical with the concept of a material object!
GE Morton wrote: September 22nd, 2022, 8:50 pm
Consul wrote: September 21st, 2022, 4:47 pmAn experiential property is a property, not an object in that narrow sense.
Yes --- a property of a percept (e.g., color), which is a phenomenal object.
If a "phenomenal object" is simply an appearing object, then there are such objects. For example, when I see a tree, the tree is an appearing object, an appearing physical object. But if phenomenal objects are conceived as qualia-bearing mental objects sui generis (called "percepts" or "sense-data"), and they are said to be the (only) objects of perception, then (I think) there are no such phenomenal objects.

Note that sense-datum theorists distinguish between sense-data qua quality-having objects and their sense-qualities.

QUOTE:
"Sense-data are not identical with sense-qualities but are the things which possess or seem to possess sense-qualities."

(Wisdom, John. Problems of Mind and Matter. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1934. p. 142)
:QUOTE
GE Morton wrote: September 22nd, 2022, 8:50 pm
Consul wrote: September 21st, 2022, 4:47 pmThere is a distinction between objective physical colors (defined in physical terms such as wavelengths of light or reflectance properties of surfaces of material objects) and subjective phenomenal colors (colors-as-experienced).
Now, now. the term "color" and the many terms for different colors would not even exist in the language if all we knew about light was what we could read from a spectrograph. We don't, for example, give "color" names to portions of the microwave or radio spectrum. There are no "physical colors." There are only physical EM wavelengths that induce experiences of color in some organisms.
By mentioning that distinction, I'm not saying that I'm perfectly happy with it. The phenomenological concept of color is the primary one.
GE Morton wrote: September 22nd, 2022, 8:50 pm
Consul wrote: September 21st, 2022, 4:47 pmIn Gottlob Frege's sense of the term, a thought (Gedanke in German) isn't a concrete, mental act/event of thinking but an abstract proposition, i.e. a sentence-meaning, which is expressible by different sentences in different languages. For example, the English sentence "Snow is white" and the German sentence "Schnee ist weiß" express the same proposition by having the same meaning.
Yes. Are you claiming that that propositions express . . . nothing? If they express something, isn't that which they express sometimes, at least, something concrete? Some specific thought? "I just had a thought --- the movie starts at 8. That means we have to leave now." Isn't that thought concrete? What is abstract about it?
A thought qua mental act of (linguistic) thinking is concrete, and so is a (linguistic) thought qua sentential content of a mental of act of (linguistic) thinking. When I think that Berlin is the capital of Germany, then both the token of the sentence "Berlin is the capital of Germany" in my mind and my thinking of it are concrete; but the proposition <Berlin is the capital of Germany> isn't concrete (wouldn't be concrete be if it existed). Propositions qua abstract objects aren't sentences occurring in people's minds, since they exist nowhere.

Declarative sentences express or represent propositions qua abstract sentence-meanings; and if an ontological distinction is drawn between propositions and states of affairs, propositions may be said to express or represent states of affairs. However, one can leave out the middleman by saying that declarative sentences directly express or represent states of affairs.

QUOTE:
"A proposition is what a sentence means."

(Swinburne, Richard. Are We Bodies or Souls? Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2019. p. 15)

"Propositions are also commonly treated as the meanings or, to use the more standard terminology, the semantic contents of sentences, and so are commonly taken to be central to semantics and the philosophy of language."

Propositions: https://plato.stanford.edu/entries/propositions/
:QUOTE

Footnote:
What is confusing is that there is a distinction between Fregean propositions, which are abstract sentence-meanings, and Russellian propositions, which are (or had better be called) concrete states of affairs. For more on their difference, see: https://plato.stanford.edu/entries/prop ... -singular/
GE Morton wrote: September 22nd, 2022, 8:50 pm
Consul wrote: September 21st, 2022, 4:47 pmHowever, an abstract Fregean thought or proposition isn't "the product of an act of thinking," because acts of thinking only create (tokens of) mental sentences which express uncreated nonmental sentence-meanings (= propositions), and by means of which the thinker apprehends propositions without producing them.
Does "creating tokens" mean anything more or less than "producing thoughts"? There is still an act of production and a product, isn't there?
When you think in words and sentences, your brain produces concrete tokens of words and sentences that occur in your mind; but mental (or physical) sentence-tokens aren't propositions (in the technical sense in which this term is used in philosophy).
GE Morton wrote: September 22nd, 2022, 8:50 pm But phenomenal entities are not abstract entities. (I consider "abstract entity" to be oxymoronic). A specific percept is quite concrete, and specific thoughts can be.
Right, for the simply reason that all mental or physical entities are concrete entities (in the specifically ontological sense of "concrete").
GE Morton wrote: September 22nd, 2022, 8:50 pm
Consul wrote: September 21st, 2022, 4:47 pmThe main rival of the sense-datum theory is the adverbial theory, which interprets sentences such as "I am having a red sensation" as "I am sensing redly" rather than as "I am sensing a red mental object".
Well, that illustrates how absurd phenomenal eliminitivism is. "I am sensing redly"? Really? If I'm beholding a garden with many different colored flowers, surrounded by green grass, under a blue sky with a few white clouds, am I then "sensing redly and bluely and yellowly and orangely and greenly . . ." (etc.)? Would so saying tell a hearer ANYTHING about what I was seeing?
Perceptual adverbialism is eliminativistic only about phenomenal objects as mental objects sui generis as postulated by sense-datum theory.

Of course, by telling someone that I am sensing redly, I'm telling him something about me and not about what I see—provided there is something I see, which is not the case if my sensing redly is a case of visual hallucination.
Information about the object of perception can be conveyed adverbialistically by saying e.g. that I am appeared to redly by a tomato. To say so is not to say that I see a red mental sense-datum that is different from the physical tomato, but that my seeing of the tomato is phenomenally modified in a certain way, i.e. "in the red way".
GE Morton wrote: September 22nd, 2022, 8:50 pmA percept is any distinguishable, cohesive element in a perceptual field; it has properties which allow me to distinguish from other elements in the field and describe it in comprehensible terms.
The question is what a perceptual field consists of, what percepts are: external, physical objects or events, or internal, mental objects or events?
I think percepts aren't subjective appearances, but the objective things subjective appearances are appearances of. When I see a tree, my visual percept is the tree and not my visual impression of it.

QUOTE:
"The subjective visual field has to be sharply distinguished from the objective visual field. The former is an intentional presentation of the latter.

The objective visual field is ontologically public and objective, a third-person set of objects and states of affairs that are identified relative to a particular perceiver and his or her point of view. So right now, the objective visual field for me consists of all the objects and states of affairs that I can see under these lighting conditions in my present physiological and psychological state and from this point of view. The subjective visual field is ontologically private, a first-person set of experiences that go on entirely in the head.

In the objective visual field, everything is seen or can be seen; in the subjective visual field, nothing is seen nor can be seen.

My objective visual field is defined as the set of objects and states of affairs that are visible from my point of view under these conditions. My subjective visual field, on the other hand, is ontologically subjective, and it exists entirely in my brain. The most important thing to re-emphasize is that in the subjective visual field, nothing is seen. This is not because the entities in the subjective visual field are invisible, but rather because their existence is the seeing of objects in the objective visual field. One thing you cannot see when you see anything is your seeing of that thing. And this holds whether or not the case is a good case or a bad case, whether it is veridical or hallucinatory, because in the hallucinatory case you do not see anything. And, in particular, you do not see the hallucinatory seeing. To think otherwise, to think that the entities in the subjective visual field are themselves seen, is to commit the Bad Argument. It is, as I have argued earlier, the disaster from which a large number of the disasters of Western philosophy over the past four centuries result.

I actually believe that if this point had been appreciated, not just about vision but about perception in general, from the seventeenth century on, the entire history of Western philosophy would have been different. Many truly appalling mistakes—from Descartes' Representative Theory of Perception all the way through to Kant's Transcendental Idealism and beyond—would have been avoided if everybody understood you cannot see or otherwise perceive anything in the subjective perceptual field."

(Searle, John R. Seeing Things As They Are: A Theory of Perception. New York: Oxford University Press, 2015. pp. 106-7)
:QUOTE
GE Morton wrote: September 22nd, 2022, 8:50 pm
Consul wrote: September 21st, 2022, 4:47 pm"Do we really have sense data? Yes, in the sense that there are certain events that we call the having of sense data. No, in the sense that there is nothing in the world that is had. 'Having a sense datum' refers to an event, but the phrase is misleading." – J. J. C. Smart
Does "nothing in the world" there mean, nothing anywhere, or just "nothing in the material realm"? A "having" implies something had, no matter what linguistic contortions Smart must propose to eliminate it. (The same would hold for "experience" --- there are no "experiences" without something experienced).
Smart means to say that there are no such mental objects as sense-data, so nobody has any sense-data as defined by the sense-datum theory. This is not to deny the existence of sensations simpliciter! When Smart writes that "sensations are brain processes," he speaks as a reductive realist, not as an eliminativist about sensations! All he denies is that the relationship between subjects and their sensations is one between a subject and a mental object.

For me to have an experience is for to me to have an experiential property that certainly cannot exist or occur without being experienced by me. But when I have an experiential property such as being affected or impressed redly, there is no red mental object involved. And being affected or impressed redly doesn't mean being red. Redly affected/impressed subjects aren't red subjects!

Ontologically speaking, an experiential (phenomenal) property is a dynamic property of a subject, and it is best classified as a "passible quality" aka passion (Latin passio, Greek pathos), which is "suffered" or undergone rather than had like a (relatively) static and constant property such as being 6 feet tall and having an IQ of 120.
GE Morton wrote: September 22nd, 2022, 8:50 pm
Consul wrote: September 21st, 2022, 4:47 pm"The denial of mental objects is particularly associated with contemporary versions of Materialism wherein it is the having of a pain and the experiencing of an after-image which are identified with a process in the brain – it being considered unnecessary to say what kind of thing the pain and the image are, on the ground that that they are no kind of thing at all. But this denial is appealing for Dualists too, and, as Keith Campbell observes, 'the program to eliminate mental objects is almost common ground in the philosophy of mind' [Body and Mind, 62]."
(Jackson, Frank. Perception. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1977. p. 51)
That "common ground" may have been true in 1977, when "mental objects" were conceived by many to be exemplars of a "non-physical substance." No one today conceives phenomenal objects in that way. Calling something an "object" makes no ontological commitments. What kind of object it is depends on the context and what is said about it.
It should have been sufficiently clear for quite a while that I am using "object" (or "thing") in the narrow ontological sense, in which it is neither true that anything whatever is an object (or thing), nor that "object" is synonymous with "object of perception/imagination/cogitation/…". So to call something an object in the narrow ontological sense is to say that it belongs to a particular non-all-encompassing ontological category. Of course, speaking or thinking of nonexistent objects doesn't entail any ontological commitment to them.

It should have been sufficiently clear for quite a while that when I speak of objects, I am not speaking from the perspective of "the umbrella view":

QUOTE:
"On one natural reading, the Contrast Question admits of an easy answer; fix—perhaps by stipulation—the content of ‘object’ and it will be obvious whether there are non-objects. Unsurprisingly, then, some philosophers suppose that there is a fully general category and simply define ‘object’ as picking it out. On this Umbrella View, as we shall call it, every thing is an object (perhaps by definition of ‘object’) and the category has no contrast—or, if it has a contrast or complement, the contrast is unfilled and the complement unrealized.
Is the Umbrella View true? Dispute here may appear merely verbal, to merely concern how to use the word ‘object’. This is not quite right, however. So to clarify: the Umbrella View involves both a substantive metaphysical thesis and a semantic thesis. The metaphysical thesis is that there is a maximally general ontological category under which all things fall. The semantic thesis is that ‘object’—perhaps as a matter of stipulation—picks out this maximally general category. Disputes over the Umbrella View, then, are merely verbal in part. They are merely verbal insofar as they concern the semantic thesis. But disputes over the metaphysical thesis need not be—and in our view are not—merely verbal; they do not concern the English word ‘object’, but rather concern the existence and extent of a wholly general ontological category."

Object: https://plato.stanford.edu/entries/object/
:QUOTE

It's very unfortunate that the words "object" and "thing" are used in two extremely different ontological senses, which circumstance causes confusion and misunderstanding. I'd love to have an unequivocal special term for the intended narrow ontological category whose closest relative is "substance", but I haven't yet succeeded in finding a suitable one.

For example, the term "individual" ("individuum") may seem suitable at first glance, but if properties aren't universals but particulars, they count as individuals without being objects or things (in the narrow ontological sense). Morever, some philosophers such as Bertrand Russell and Peter Strawson use the noun "individual" in the broadest ontological sense; so there is still the same problem of one ontological term being used in two extremely different senses.
GE Morton wrote: September 22nd, 2022, 8:50 pmJackson, of course, later propounded the "knowledge argument" featuring "Mary the color scientist."
…which he himself no longer accepts!

QUOTE:
"Until some time ago Jackson was one of the very few philosophers who embraced epiphenomenalism. But Jackson changed his mind. Jackson (1995) argues that knowledge about qualia is impossible if qualia are epiphenomenal and he concludes that something must be wrong with the knowledge argument. In Jackson (2003) and Jackson (2007) he argues that the argument goes wrong in presupposing a false view about sensory experience and that it can be answered by endorsing strong representationalism: the view that to be in a phenomenal state is to represent objective properties where the properties represented as well as the representing itself can be given a physicalist account. Jackson admits that there is a specific phenomenal way of representing but he now insists that the phenomenal way of representing can be accounted for in physicalist terms."

Qualia: The Knowledge Argument: https://plato.stanford.edu/entries/qualia-knowledge/
:QUOTE
"We may philosophize well or ill, but we must philosophize." – Wilfrid Sellars
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Re: Materialism is nonsensical

Post by GE Morton »

3017Metaphysician wrote: September 23rd, 2022, 2:18 pm
GE Morton wrote: September 23rd, 2022, 12:41 pm "Nonsensical"? That would mean that some or all of my statements above are either obviously false, or inconsistent with one another. Which are false or inconsistent?
Well, collectively, they can't be reconciled with an all-inclusive theory of Materialism. They would be inconsistent with first-order realities.
If by an "all-inclusive theory of Materialism" you mean the theory that nothing exists except material entities and processes, then you'd be right; what I'd said would not be consistent with such a theory. But I'm not an exponent of an "all-inclusive theory of Materialism," so understood. There are all kinds of non-material existents, notably experiential phenomena. Indeed, in a sound ontology those phenomena, not material entities, are the "first order realities." I'm a "theoretical monist/materialist," i.e., one who holds that materialist theory adequately explains phenomena --- not one who holds that material existents are the only existents there are.
Hence, you must reconcile your foregoing relationships to matter, not to mention all material entities, like Singularity of course.
The relationships between phenomena and matter are explicit in each of the examples I gave. It is a causal relationship. And, no, those relations have nothing to do with "singularities." Indeed, that hypothesis is irrelevant to this argument.
Moreover, the predictions themselves must be demonstrated physically viz material objects.
And they are, repeatedly, ubiquitously.
Nope. Your first-order realities are that which you can't deny. You must incorporate that into the theory of everything being quantitatively material.
I don't claim that "everything is material."
Show us how mind emerges from matter by observation. Mind is here now. Matter is here now. Remember, you said 'materialism dunnit'.
Where is the vacuous piece of matter that holds all the material secrets?
We don't need to show how mind is produced by matter; we only need to show that it is, in order to establish the causal relation, any more than we need to show (or explain) how or why massive bodies attract each other to show that they DO, according to Newton's law.
There are no "material thoughts." Thoughts are phenomenal, not material, but they are caused by material processes. Material things can cause non-material things (lots of them).
Not according to Materialism. What's non-material? Metaphysical? How can the material cause immaterial? Please explain if you can.
I take "material" to refer to entities which have mass and a definite spatial "footprint" (but not a definite temporal footprint. Nothing prevents an undisturbed material entity from existing eternally).

Things non-material are any things X denotable and distinguishable from things not-X which do not satisfy the above definition of "material."

There are no "metaphysical" entities, substances, processes, events, etc., BTW. Metaphysics is a branch of philosophy concerned with clarifying fundamental concepts. It is not an adjective applicable to things, material or non-material.
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Re: Materialism is nonsensical

Post by Meta Island »

Physics can't answer the questions of why there is something and not nothing.
I agree with GE. Rational – “ratio” – thinking is essentially mathematical thinking. Rationality calculates the influence of ideas relative to each other, and insofar as physics is joined at the hip to mathematics, in that sense physics can opine on philosophical questions.
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Re: Materialism is nonsensical

Post by Belindi »

Count Lucanor wrote: September 23rd, 2022, 12:25 pm
Belindi wrote: September 23rd, 2022, 4:42 am
Theories of existence are what ontology is.
I never said anything different, but you were talking about skepticism, which is about a theory of the possibility of knowledge, even if it relates to knowledge about the existence of things.
Belindi wrote: September 23rd, 2022, 4:42 am The truthfulness of any theory depends, philosophically, on the standard by which you form your judgement.No judgement is supernatural: all judgements pertain rather to natural causes such as a man, a dog, and a corporation.
I don't see the relevance of this statement in relation to the discussion. I never said anything like judgement being supernatural.
Belindi wrote: September 23rd, 2022, 4:42 am Truth is a discrete value for those who believe in the Platonic value of truth, otherwise truth is a human value. Scepticism does not apply to Platonic values which are faiths.
Then how can skepticism be universally believed to be the benchmark of theories of existence or the benchmark of philosophy? Is Plato a minor footnote in the history of philosophy?
Any respectable theory of existence is held by sceptical people. The gullible or careless thinker may trap themselves in an improbable theory.

The standards according to which you judge a proposition are themselves propositions.

It's historical fact that scepticism marks a respectable theory of anything you care to name. I've already provided a potted history of scepticism.
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Re: Materialism is nonsensical

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Belindi wrote: September 24th, 2022, 2:47 am Any respectable theory of existence is held by sceptical people. The gullible or careless thinker may trap themselves in an improbable theory.
I might agree with that. It is far from your original statement.
Belindi wrote: September 24th, 2022, 2:47 am The standards according to which you judge a proposition are themselves propositions.
OK, but when did I say something different?
Belindi wrote: September 24th, 2022, 2:47 am It's historical fact that scepticism marks a respectable theory of anything you care to name. I've already provided a potted history of scepticism.
I'm a skeptic, I've been skeptical for as long as I can remember. I'm all for skepticism. That is why perhaps I'm also quite skeptical of some statements you have provided that seem to lack support. I've already provided my objections, none of which have been properly addressed.
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Re: Materialism is nonsensical

Post by Belindi »

Count Lucanor, I have answered you as well as I can.
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Re: Materialism is nonsensical

Post by Consul »

Consul wrote: September 23rd, 2022, 6:32 pmQUOTE:
"A proposition is what a sentence means."

(Swinburne, Richard. Are We Bodies or Souls? Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2019. p. 15)

"Propositions are also commonly treated as the meanings or, to use the more standard terminology, the semantic contents of sentences, and so are commonly taken to be central to semantics and the philosophy of language."

Propositions: https://plato.stanford.edu/entries/propositions/
:QUOTE
Propositions are reified sentence-meanings.
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Re: Materialism is nonsensical

Post by GE Morton »

Count Lucanor wrote: September 21st, 2022, 11:48 pm
I never said causation doesn't exist, I just emphasize that the concept is not very useful for describing or explaining complex, dynamic processes, such as those we find in biological system, which I believe involve a higher order of organization of matter.
Well, I agree that deterministic analyses are not useful for describing CAS's, but only because such analyses are too difficult to carry out.
Not really. Stochasticity implies exactly what I said:
https://www.sciencedirect.com/topics/ea ... chasticity
"Stochasticity
A stochastic process is one in which the state of the system cannot be precisely predicted given its current state, even with a full knowledge of all the factors affecting that process."
That statement is unjustified, just as yours is. To support it you'd need some evidence, some example, of a system in which the state of all variables at time t was known, yet its future path could not be accurately predicted. But such knowledge is impossible for CAS's (that is what makes them CAS's). The author of that article, of course, supplies no such evidence.
GE Morton wrote: September 20th, 2022, 7:23 pmOf course it helps us understand what is going on. And it is also possible to replicate the specific processes involved in many "mental" phenomena, some of which are not terribly complex. I've mentioned a couple; there are many more --- stimulate a certain sensory neuron with sodium chloride, and the subject experiences "saltiness." "Consciousness" is just a general term for awareness of an ongoing, dynamic complex of phenomenal events. We can specify the causes of many of those events quite precisely.
No way. We can have approximations based on patterns that for practical purposes become useful to make inferences, but they don't describe the processes in detail. It's not that the process is "not terribly complex", it's just that researchers have selected a limited set of variables that they can control to identify patterns and make inferences.
Of course! That is how we study anything, by breaking a complex problem down into manageable sub-problems. My claim was that we can delineate, with considerable precision, how a specific physical stimulus reliably elicits a specific phenomenal response, including identifying exactly which neurons (or neural complexes) are involved. We can break that connection by disabling some of those neurons. That establishes a causal link from stimulus to a conscious phenomenon, via a specific neural path. It is no different from tracing reflex arcs, where stimulating certain nerves cause a certain muscle to twitch.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Reflex_arc
I do believe it is an insurmountable problem. It is like expecting to be able to make a hurricane if you get enough ventilation machines.
If we had enough ventilation machines we COULD create a hurricane! :-) And just like Nature's hurricanes, we couldn't predict its path for more than a day or so.
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Re: Materialism is nonsensical

Post by Count Lucanor »

GE Morton wrote: September 24th, 2022, 11:56 am
Count Lucanor wrote: September 21st, 2022, 11:48 pm
I never said causation doesn't exist, I just emphasize that the concept is not very useful for describing or explaining complex, dynamic processes, such as those we find in biological system, which I believe involve a higher order of organization of matter.
Well, I agree that deterministic analyses are not useful for describing CAS's, but only because such analyses are too difficult to carry out.
Of course their complexity implies that the analysis is difficult to carry out, but it is more than that. Chance, randomness, is involved, and the best way to explain such systems is using indeterministic models. In indeterministic models, the concept of linear causation of non-stochastic, deterministic systems, simply doesn't apply.
GE Morton wrote: September 24th, 2022, 11:56 am
Not really. Stochasticity implies exactly what I said:
https://www.sciencedirect.com/topics/ea ... chasticity
"Stochasticity
A stochastic process is one in which the state of the system cannot be precisely predicted given its current state, even with a full knowledge of all the factors affecting that process."
That statement is unjustified, just as yours is. To support it you'd need some evidence, some example, of a system in which the state of all variables at time t was known, yet its future path could not be accurately predicted. But such knowledge is impossible for CAS's (that is what makes them CAS's). The author of that article, of course, supplies no such evidence.
What you're saying here is that discrete-time random processes cannot exist, but that would invalidate the existence of Markov chains, which are well-established in scientific literature:
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Discrete- ... rkov_chain
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Markov_chain
  • The Markov property states that the conditional probability distribution for the system at the next step (and in fact at all future steps) depends only on the current state of the system, and not additionally on the state of the system at previous steps.

    Since the system changes randomly, it is generally impossible to predict with certainty the state of a Markov chain at a given point in the future.[23] However, the statistical properties of the system's future can be predicted.[23] In many applications, it is these statistical properties that are important.
In the linear deterministic model, a previous state determines not only the next step, but also the future steps.
GE Morton wrote: September 24th, 2022, 11:56 am
GE Morton wrote: September 20th, 2022, 7:23 pmOf course it helps us understand what is going on. And it is also possible to replicate the specific processes involved in many "mental" phenomena, some of which are not terribly complex. I've mentioned a couple; there are many more --- stimulate a certain sensory neuron with sodium chloride, and the subject experiences "saltiness." "Consciousness" is just a general term for awareness of an ongoing, dynamic complex of phenomenal events. We can specify the causes of many of those events quite precisely.
No way. We can have approximations based on patterns that for practical purposes become useful to make inferences, but they don't describe the processes in detail. It's not that the process is "not terribly complex", it's just that researchers have selected a limited set of variables that they can control to identify patterns and make inferences.
Of course! That is how we study anything, by breaking a complex problem down into manageable sub-problems. My claim was that we can delineate, with considerable precision, how a specific physical stimulus reliably elicits a specific phenomenal response, including identifying exactly which neurons (or neural complexes) are involved. We can break that connection by disabling some of those neurons. That establishes a causal link from stimulus to a conscious phenomenon, via a specific neural path. It is no different from tracing reflex arcs, where stimulating certain nerves cause a certain muscle to twitch.
Sure, no one says we should not study things making simplified models and reducing the set of variables, most of the time that's all we can do. The problem is to make the actual operation of those systems reducible to those variables. Good research is being done when we find a link between physical stimuli of neurons and some type of conscious phenomena, and there's no reason to doubt that the neural networks are involved in conscious processes, but when one says "the neural networks are the cause of the conscious process", one is conveying the notion that it is a closed and deterministic system, which most likely it is not, or at least not describable in terms of linear causation models

GE Morton wrote: September 24th, 2022, 11:56 am
I do believe it is an insurmountable problem. It is like expecting to be able to make a hurricane if you get enough ventilation machines.
If we had enough ventilation machines we COULD create a hurricane! :-) And just like Nature's hurricanes, we couldn't predict its path for more than a day or so.
Ha, there are more factors in the making of a hurricane than the mechanics of wind, so no amount of mechanical ventilation will produce one. Just because we understand how the mechanics of air masses work, that does not mean we can replicate it. Even if one could make some hurricane, one certainly would not be able to make the exact same hurricane once again.
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Re: Materialism is nonsensical

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It is said that life exists on the edge of chaos, always in a race against time to shore up energy supplies to prevent entropic breakdown. It's a blend of order and chaos, neither entirely deterministic nor chaotic, rather the subtle impact of chaos on mostly ordered systems. That is, the determinism debate, like the nature v nurture debate, is a philosophical cul-de-sac because the answer to each question is that both are true to some extent but neither is absolutely true.
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Re: Materialism is nonsensical

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Sy Borg wrote: September 25th, 2022, 9:14 pm It is said that life exists on the edge of chaos, always in a race against time to shore up energy supplies to prevent entropic breakdown. It's a blend of order and chaos, neither entirely deterministic nor chaotic, rather the subtle impact of chaos on mostly ordered systems. That is, the determinism debate, like the nature v nurture debate, is a philosophical cul-de-sac because the answer to each question is that both are true to some extent but neither is absolutely true.
I entirely agree. That's why I said that living systems show both stochastic and non-stochastic processes. We can make decent approximations to describe the broader schemes, but the mechanistic, algorithmic model that some envision as the ultimate, achievable goal of scientific knowledge, is just a fantasy.
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