Nagel's Project in Mind and Cosmos

Use this philosophy forum to discuss and debate general philosophy topics that don't fit into one of the other categories.

This forum is NOT for factual, informational or scientific questions about philosophy (e.g. "What year was Socrates born?"); such homework-help-style questions can be asked and answered on PhiloPedia: The Philosophy Wiki. If your question is not already answered on the appropriate PhiloPedia page, then see How to Request Content on PhiloPedia to see how to ask your informational question using the wiki.
User avatar
Hereandnow
Posts: 2536
Joined: July 11th, 2012, 9:16 pm
Favorite Philosopher: the moon and the stars

Re: Nagel's Project in Mind and Cosmos

Post by Hereandnow » May 16th, 2020, 11:51 am

Count Lucanor
Phenomenology is a first-person perspective. This is undisputed. As I have explained before, there can be valuable insights found with such an approach, and I'm always open to accommodate such insights in my world views. This would not be the first time that a filter is used to shed light and examine a subject, purposefully dimming out the background. I don't have a problem then, with treating the world AS IF it were only the first-person perspective.

Keep in mind that a "filter" in any meaningful context presupposes a knowledge of that which is being filtered, otherwise the idea makes no sense at all. Filters can sift out, they can modify, but both concepts require an understanding of that which is filtered, otherwise you are speaking nonsense. It's like using a metaphor, but not having an actual entity before you to which the metaphor would apply. This is a Wittgensteinian argument: the idea of god you could say is like a metaphor, a grand old wizard of the like, without an object, and you are left with nothing to which the metaphor applies. An unattached metaphor is not even a proposition. Here, when you say you appreciate talk about a "filter" of the Real you simply presuppose the materialist thesis, and this "material" entirely absent from observation.
Unless, of course, its pretensions of discovery exceeded far more the possibilities of a first-person perspective, as it is the case when phenomenology, or a strand of phenomenology, or your particular view of phenomenology, claim that they have discovered that first-person perspective is all there is, that the world IS the perspective of the world.
Important to see that (my eclectic) phenomenology recognizes the "other" of other things and people. It simply doesn't call them "material" at the level of basic questions, for it considers such an idea has an egregious reductive (or emergent) bias, one that obscures the actualities that comprise the world. What is an idea, a moral concept, pain and joy, the human drama, tragedy, romance, and so on? When the copula ''is' is interpreted as 'material being', these that are IN the world are called down to conform to a unifying theme that divests them of their nature. It is the kind of conditioning of thought that reduces this: a description of a wretched affair--a mother watching her children slowly suffer and die from plague, then she herself succumbs; to this: All is clear; the woman's unfortunate tragic affair is simply the product of an evolutionary process whereby suffering is condusice to reproductiona nd survival. This latter is indeed true, and I would not deny it for an instant. But to have an interpretative basis that in the final analysis gives to this state of affairs nothing beyond this is flatly perverse. This is why Heidegger's equiprimordialism (he is certainly not the moralist I am) is important: no one interpretative foundation to what the world IS. All things are given their due, and even his phenomenological ontology only removes the incidentals, not the essences. That is, Being and Time looks to the structural features of experience, but allows our dramatic affairs an equal place (though I do not subscribe to his understanding of these).
As I have shown, there are fundamental problems with this view. First, because the argument advanced for the claim that the world not only CAN BE SEEN, but that it MUST BE SEEN that way is flaw. The problem begins when phenomenalism is extended from its epistemologigal premises to ontological ones, giving to the first-person perspective the exclusive rights over claims about how the world is. So it starts denying materialism and science any justification to their "natural attitude" about the existence of things, supposedly inaccessible by the necessary mediation of consciousness, followed by its own claims of accessibility to the existence of things, with the necessary mediation of consciousness, this time with a "bracketing" that makes no more sense than mystic revelation.


Then it is better not to think of ontology at all. Better to use terms like transcendence or metaphysics, because this is where such a term belongs (notwithstanding what some of the literature may say), and so placed it still does serious harm as a foundational notion to which all things must conform (for if no conformity, then the term is useless). This goes to metaethics/metavalue. If the entire matter before us were simply about the differences between scientific accounts, objective descriptions of "facts" in Wittgenstein's (or Hume's) conception or "states of affairs," then it simply would not matter one scintilla and you could reduce, unify, subsume as you please, for the facts of the world would be little more than pieces in a puzzle physical possibilities that had rule driven behaviors and philosophy could spend it final days trying to figure out where the rules lie, in experiential functions or out there independent of experience. This likely ends up with Rorty, who has the only defensible physicalist view: material is just a term for the best theory can do, and the phenomena our experience are simply material "things" in a particular locality called a brain where events occurs not unlike events in the core of the sun or in my pocket. All of it material....but wait: Of course, foundationally, a term like 'material' is just part of another "language game" in a cerebral event and talk beyond this to some "out there" of out there is just nonsense. This kind of thinking is what makes people wonder if Rorty or Wittgenstein was a phenomenologist. With the former, there is a pragmatic epistemology, and "things" like you and me do not know "things". How can a thing know a thing? But IN the thing we call a brain, there is another thing called "knowing it's raining" and another called " knowing my desk is populated with more than four objects" and I am bound to this world. Unifying things under a heading like materialism "works" according to pragmatists like Rorty, but don't step into the deep waters of metaphysics where language has no place. It is not that there is no materialism "out there" but rather "out there" is just without sense altogether. Remember, he argues extensively for not only for materialism, but for the denial that there is anything at all called consciousness.

This is the kind of thing, it seems to me, that you should be arguing for, Rortian materialism, physicalism, naturalism. For Rorty, epistemology be damned. It is just a long history of bad philosophy. If you want to read him, it is well worth your time. His Mirror of Nature is his tour de force (quite technical at times) but his Contingency Irony and Solidarity is great.
You use a lot that word: revelatory.
It is an essential part of my thinking. What sets me apart from what appears to be everyone save religious philosophers is my metaethical realism. Materialism, like all unifying terms, forces experience to conform to the principle that issues from its nature, and "material" has a nature such that every attempt to make phenomenon X visible and clear ends up being "like" what material is supposed to be. Of course, you can argue the idea of materiality is interpretatively amenable to all phenomena, but this just carries the distortion implicitly, and you find yourself rejecting the religiousity of human affairs (putting well aside the overt foolishness), or simply the depth of experiential possibilities (literally, the meaning of life) e.g.s, out of hand.The effect is a deadening of the the world's actualities. Rorty is a good example (I am reading his Mirror right now): here is a philosopher who wants very much to make ethics a priority ("cruelty is the worst a person can do") yet his thesis that truth is made and not discovered and that what is meaningful is always contextual and irony (in the spirit of Kierkegaard) is the "rub" against orthodoxy that makes progress possible, delivers ethics into the hands of pragmatism, and this cannot give value (the ooh's and ahh's and ugh's of the world) any privileged place. It can make ethics pragmatically feasible, defensible, but then, it's back to Dostoevski: nothing absolute compels you and you are free to tell pragmatic responsibility to take a hike.
When I use the term 'revelatory' I refer to the qualitative difference in the way we experience the world at the foundational level when the presumption of knowing is removed. This is not a cognitive epiphany (though one could hardly think any experience is free of thought), as on a chess board. It's a realization, as the existentialists would say, of freedom from the constraints on self identity: A person is not a teacher, wife, dog owner, church going citizen (the so called fragmented self). to understand where this goes, one has to read what I read. Unfortunately, few are willing to take the burden of existentialist philosophy and all the reading it entails. It's a reading (mine) list that ends in Levinas, then onward to where language refuses to go. Heidegger talked a bit like this. His mission, after all, was to bring us back to a lost "at homeness" and find the answer to our alienation. Such alienation will never even be suspected, nor will what I call revelatory truth, if one does not make the essential move out of everydayness.
This is again ethics in the abstract
Just the opposite. Just reconsider the argument: what is ethics? Of course we know what it does, and the problem solving issues it produces, but what is it in the world that gives rise to ethical issues at all? This question should give you pause. It is the exact opposite of asking for abstraction; it is asking for the "material" (more loosely speaking here) essence of an ethical matter, the existential basis, what it is we find in the world that calls up discussion, the most concrete of inquiries, literally looking for what is there that is causing all the arguing. The only course of thought is to look at the world itself, and in ethics we do in fact find what it is there: what we call value. On the subjective end there is caring (Heidegger) but that which is cared about, or that which is mixed in caring, the phenomenon (Rorty argues against this), and this goes to the very concrete: the feeling of love, hate, joy, heartache, physical suffering and delight, interest, ennui, and so on. These may be entangled in the incidentals of our affairs, but this, as in all inquiries, looks for the part IN the incidental that makes ethics possible; that is, all ethical matters are particular circumstances, and IN these, there is value--no value, no ethics; if no one cares, you cannot have an ethical problem. It would be impossible. Value (and the intersubjective problems it produces) is the essence of ethics, the metaethical.

, or should we say, of ethics assumed to be founded in the abstract, in an ethereal dimension, disguised as the "intuitive dimension". There's no good reason to believe, however, that such dimension can really get divorced from the empirical facts and phenomenalism itself does not provide it.

It is not to divorce it from entanglements, but to analyze it. If I want to understand something, I have to isolate it to see it, as a scientist might isolate the process of chlorophyll production or the behavior of an electron.
The prefix meta surely sends us into a theorizing zone, but ultimately, what it theorizes about does not belong to a lifeless domain of unpractical affairs. It is a domain by definition bound to judgements and actions of living subjects immersed in existence.
'Meta' is an odd classification for anything, and here, it is especially obscure. But then, this is what happens when things are closely examined; they lose their familiarity. I probably cannot change the way you think, and a change is what is needed. Putting aside all else, ask Why did Moore think it necessary to posit an unnatural property in the matter of ethics? It was not about the visible empirical features, and if it were about this, the "ethics" of ethics would vanish in the thought of it. It would be like asking any other question about the world. Why is the sky blue? Why is quartz harder than mica? What makes ethics so....meta? It's the simple observation of the concrete event. Put a match to your finger and give due analysis. It is not an abstraction that the howling pain is different from observing a leaf of grass and determining its taxonomic place. There is something qualitatively distinct going on here. It is what makes the human drama so dramatic; it's what makes mattering matter at all.

If this still sounds distant from justified belief to you, then perhaps it is simply not yours to see. Not that I understand you on this at all, for to me it is clear, crystal. My best guess is, as I have suggested, you experience the debilitating effects of prolonged exposure to the analytic prejudice of singular thinking: materialism. For materialism is not welcoming to aberrations that begin with 'meta' anything; they are not "material" enough. Oh well.
Whether the connection of that existence with an "out there" is disputed or not, you're still faced with a lifeworld that even if phenomenically structured, has its own internal logic, and as such, entails a context of "otherness" against which the conscious subject is a passive agent, but in which nevertheless he acts.
Not in dispute.
Don't believe me, listen to Husserl himself in his latest work, a so-called masterpiece in response to Heidegger:
Thus we are concretely in the field of perception, etc., and in the field of consciousness, however broadly we may conceive this, through our living body, but not only in this way, as full ego-subjects, each of us as the
full-fledged "I-the-man." Thus in whatever way we may be conscious of the world as universal horizon, as coherent universe of existing objects, we, each "I-the-man" and all of us together, belong to the world as living with one another in the world; and the world is our world, valid for our consciousness as existing precisely through this "living together." We, as living in wakeful world-consciousness, are constantly active on the basis of our passive having of the world; it is from there, by objects pregiven in consciousness, that we are affected; it is to this or that object that we pay attention, according to our interests; with them we deal actively in different ways; through our acts they are "thematic" objects.

...Obviously this is true not only for me, the individual ego; rather we, in living together, have the world pregiven in this "together," as the world valid as existing for us and to which we, together, belong, the world as world for all, pregiven with this ontic meaning. Constantly functioning in wakeful life, we also function together, in the manifold ways of considering, together, objects pregiven to us in common, thinking together, valuing, planning, acting together."
Why would you think I disagree with this? I've said many times, the world remains the world. Phenomenology is just a description of the world that attempts, as Kant did, to be clear about what is "there" at the level of basic questions. Kant was about reason, here, it is about all things, without the boundaries that privilege one over the other. Science becomes a region of Being, rather than an encompassing ontology. An "ontic" matter, as Heidegger put it. Talk about the "pregiven" is itself part of an analysis that questions the given, the immediacy of the given. Interesting to trace how this business evolves from Kierkegaard through Derrida, the given, that is.
Here we go back again to the same problem: it launches a critique of materialism on analytical grounds that damages at the same time its own anti-materialist basis. What could be more of a reification of familiarity than the phenomenical, precisely that which supports itself on the immediate appareance, whereas the epistemological, methodological and ontological approach that precisely challenges the deceptive structure of immediacy, ruins our everyday familiarities.
See if I follow you: The analytic grounds that critiques materialism? I suppose it is analytic to say IF X is by nature entirely inaccessible to observation and inquiry, then X has no place in a theory of existence, given that such a theory requires justificatory evidence. where is the evidence for affirming materialism, that is, the existence of "something" called material? This is why I call it reified familiarity, or a hypostatized universal, if you prefer. Is the phenomenal the same? Well, I perceive the phenomenon, and this is a lot different from something not perceived at all, like material substance. This is really the point. But is my apprehension of a phenomenon just as much a reified familiarity? I say: Now you're talking! Welcome the world of revelatory truth. That bird on my porch table: what have I achieved by the nominal claim in the background that informs me that this is a bird? Stability. Recollection rises instantly to the occasion, and I "intuit" the "bird" as a bird.
Of course, in the case of a concept like material substance, there is nothing there at all to take us AS, is there? Wittgenstein would call such a word (in philosophical discourse, of course. He, like Rorty, will stand up for empirical science's as well as everyday uses of the word. He, like Rorty, thinks philosophy is mostly BS) nonsense. My position is that both are right, philosophy has reached its end, but they do not deal well with it properly (it is important not to be a slave to even great genius). Philosophy's purpose all along is not some cognitive apprehension of things; it is ethical/aesthetic, i.e., the GOOD. What this IS, is THE question of our existence; now, is the "good" an interpretative idea? Of course. The pragmatists are right: our understanding of the world is essentially pragmatic, the getting things "done"; it's the doing and language is a utility, a taking up of the world AS its own symbolic forms all in the service of realizing value. Am I reifying the Good?? Absolutely, BUT, I don't "know" absolutely what this is. Nevertheless, value has a presence that commands my interpretation what things "mean" that is both unyielding and enigmatic.
To see where I stand it is best not to seek the philosophical answers exclusively in argumentation. One first has to look closely at the world, and this is not the kind of thing given priority in the modern hyperintellectualizing analytic philosophical mentality. I take the bear encounter of the flame applied to the finger more seriously than all the historical discursive thought that offers itself on the matter simply because I ask the question, what is it in itself?
This is simply not true and against the evidence of materialistic systematic approaches to human existence which take into account its specificity and examine the concrete man in his objective reality. And this comes in all flavors in the philosophical reflections of multiple authors committed to realism, from Marx to Habermas, that assert the primacy of existence over consciousness. The notion that material existence is meaningful and that matter does matter to man, cannot be taken as ignoring the most important features of the world, it is actually the opposite.
This confuses focus on the our material matters as human needs and social problems, with material substance as a philosophical ontology of being, or, what does being as such mean? "The concrete man in his objective reality," despite the inversion of Hegel, is well accommodated. No one denies material existence and the challenges it presents in this discussion. These are "ontic" matters, not relevant here, though it is not as if they do not influence judgment, after all, Heidegger's romance with nazism was in part do to his desire to vitalize human dasein. What does it mean to BE? Heidegger thought the answer was in the analysis of language, the structure of human "dasein" in time, a critique of traditional metaphysics, freedom, and so forth; others have their own thinking. Materialism certainly has its place and no one denies this, but it is not a foundational term, that is, an ontological term, not one that is useful when one steps back from all the that is there in all we do and observe to embody what is essentially true of things.
This is obviously an appeal to some form of objectivity which contradicts the phenomenological project. But now just think what would happen if we apply the same waiver to natural science:

Science only has the "prejudice" of allowing what is there to declare itself, and not let it be subsumed under an interpretative bias.

Once you cannot offer the precise analytic deduction of how things come to be "there to declare themselves" without interpretative bias, outside of mystic revelations, methodological assumptions, or blind faith, what is the difference between any prejudice?
What is the difference between Apollo the sun god and a giant ball of fusion? A scientist will say the latter is factual; a pragmatist will agree, but will ask, what does it mean for something to be factual? For Rorty (recall I think he's right about knowledge even though he argues against phenomenology) takes this kind of inquiry as a line drawn in that the sun god interpretation simply does not work, and his pragmatism runs along the lines of what you support: if you accept that all things are these localities of material substance, and that all there is is material substance, which is an evolving term (Thomas Kuhn, the Kantian who wrote about how our paradigms in science are endlessly changing and really, due to a lack of some godly pronouncement of truth, will continue to be this way, strongly influenced Rorty) endlessly contingent, that is, dependent on contexts that are constantly modified by research, testing standards, then you have a defense for material substance. Of course, what is foundational is a pragmatic analysis of the world, and this seizes upon materialism as the best model for what is, given all competitors and their relative failings.

As I said above, Rorty really is your man, and it is almost incidental that he does not think anything out there(pointing to my cat) gets in here (pointing to my brain). He is a student of Wittgenstein, and materialism, naturalism, physicalism, I mean, putting aside how these have been given different values in different theories, these are sensible concepts that are a stable way to support facts/states of affairs. Only nonsense lies metaphysical/transcendental vocabulary, which is why he would never speak of ethics, or reality, or the world. Big words without a basis for the contingency or context: can you even imagine there not being reality? No. It's there, and philosophy provides insight as to what can and cannot be said.

So the answer to your question is this: In my view, phenomenology liberates the interpretation implicit in apprehending the world from Apollo the sun god type thinking. Not that materialism is given to myth making at all; but it does, in the apprehending event, insert an unwarranted term that, because it's usefulness and familiarity, tends to ground all judgment, and quite simply, this is not the way the world presents itself, that is, "as" material. Not at all. Rorty himself does not see things themselves, to borrow Husserl's words--not a Kantian term; he did not "see' the transcendental nature as inherent in the presence of things, as convoluted as that might sound, which is why analytic philosophy is wrong minded to me, its fear of inquiry that takes on the messiness that occurs when our concepts and their rigidity meet theoretical boundaries. Existentialists get close. Reading Jaspers. Heidegger, Levinas, and the rest shows this.

The counterargument comes handy: "philosophy is not to wander in such unprofound trifles", but then one asks: if not interested, then why it constantly needs to refer to them? In what sense the reflection upon ordinary things that the phenomenologist commits to, which he often calls "scientific investigations" is any better or of a different kind than that of the natural scientist? Its purported superiority cannot be found in the object of his inquiries, since he readily wants to deal with all of them, and the excuse that the "natural attitudes" of science and materialism need to step aside because they are about the "things in the background", irrelevant to the profound philosopher, is just that, a bad excuse for allowing the profound philosopher to mess with "things in the background", undisturbed by true scientific investigations. Aren't we, after all, navigating in the "intuitive dimensions" of the lifeworld? Evidently, the idealist needs to eliminate from existential inquiries that which gets in the way of transcendence, ironically, still appealing to the immanent familiarity of the given.
Just an idea, quite mystical indeed.
It depends on the individual. I point out to you that the actuality before is one thing, and the language used to account for it another (not a Heideggerian position) and it likely will mean very little, an amusing "fact" perhaps. But then, this dismisses what is clearly revealed: the only means you have of assigning an identity does not encompass the actuality; the actuality is not a rational entity, the scent of a flower, the migraine headache, the taste of chocolate,in short, experience and all therein is not essentially a mere conformity to the concept that applies. It is alien to this, qualitatively unlike what the understanding gives to it, and it therefore stands as a transcendental entity. The reality that you believe to be the solid basis that constitutes the world is not material substance, but, to borrow from Rorty, an hypostatized universal (see above) or a reified familiarity. Look, the foundation of all things does not present itself, period. Materialism is just more like a manner of speaking, a place holder for the unknown je ne sais quoi, but a useful placeholder. This really isn't about phenomenology, it's about whether any real sense can be made out of a concept. Wittgenstein, again, considers such a thing nonsense, but then, he also dismisses terms like transcendence, the world, reality when they are taken as some kind of reference to an absolute. On this latter, I think he is wrong. Positivism stops talking just when things get interesting. I refer you to Wittgenstein's Lecture on ethics again: Say a man's head turns into a lion's, just like that. At first, it seems a miracle, that is, until someone explains it, then the miracle yields to science. For me and my ilk, this encounter with actuality sans its rational counterpart is the miracle that never gets explained away, for science is mute on the matter.
If you read again the previous dialogue, you should see that the idea comes from phenomenology's own complain of prejudice in the "natural attitudes", the passing of meaning that it accepts as undisputed grounding of truths, a circularity from which phenomenology cannot escape itself. I dedicated several paragraphs to show precisely that. If science and materialism are accused of dogmatic because of it, let's not forget that the glove fits phenomenology perfectly.
Yours is a bit like saying to remove the conceptual constraints at the foundation of things is itself a conceptual constraint, so it is a self defeating idea. But see the above: What is the difference between Apollo the sun god and a giant ball of fusion?
You have to separate Husserl from Heidegger. Husserl thought that the epoche revealed an unquestionable presence of an eidetically formed predicative affair, e.g., the sun is hot. It is not that the scientific concepts of sun and heat are absolute, but the eidetically formed actuality is "absolute" (though I've read he really didn't mean absolute. An issue). It is this phenomenon that is Real, and is the foundation upon which science derives its content. Heidegger thinks Husserl is trying to walk on water, in his words, for the apprehension of the eidetic affair is no more absolute than anything else in its predelineation and the way this determines meaning. There is no privileged "presence" purely received. So, as to the claim that materialism is a dogmatic assumption, you're point seems to be that if every assertion about the world is an interpretation, then nothing is privileged at all. I might as well say everything is made of goat's milk.
Note how Rorty grounds things: epistemology has created a false dichotomy of mind and body, so just remove its contrived and convoluted concerns, and what remains is the world of things and us and its unified in the physical or material. There is no consciousness or intentionality, or, these are simply explained as physical events. But his epistemology is pragmatism, and he is right on this: what makes the grade for a believable thesis is that is what works, which gets pretty complicated in modern contexts. He really is committed to an ontology, yet again, hypostatized universals. Pragmatism is not an arbitrary method, and this is the real answer to your query: phenomenology works better than its competitors, including materialism, godhead (?), or anything else. There argument for this lies in its allowing the world to be what it presents itself to be.
I don't see how materialism would necessarily require trivialization of what being human entails. Such a notion most likely shows the typical bias of idealism against immanence in favor of transcendence, which it regards as the highest realization of humanity. There's nothing really profound in a reluctance to acknowledge that we are a contingent speckle of star stuff in a vast, lifeless universe, that we could have not be here, that there were things before us and that there will be after us, that we make our own history and at the same time history makes us, and that we have done so while organizing our material conditions of life. That for millennia we have confused the forces of nature and imagined heavens and gods that don't really exist. And so on...
There are many kinds of reductionists. Historical ones are no are no exception. My friend tells me, ah, the countless billions of lives crushed into the dirt....nothing redeeming, or meaningful, or "deep" in this. He didn't realize that he was treating humanity like things, or, he did, but thought it apt. But I do like "Contingent speckles of star dust" though; has a tinge of the romantic.
If people exhibited, inside what they appeared to be on the outside (loosely using these words) then I couldn't agree more. But there is that pesky actual world of within, where the human drama is actually played out---see the works of Virginia Woolf, William Faulkner, James Joyce--such Jameian stream of consciousness writing make the point rather poignantly that what appears in conversation and events is a fleeting moment of what lies within, the Real lived life of frustrations and conflict and grasping for meaning. You really should see that this is our reality over which the thesis of materialism wants dominion. The idea is patently "unscientific" given that science's mission does not include the ad hoc ignoring of what stands before one's waking eyes. You demonstrate precisely what is wrong with materialism.
There's no problem with analyzing events, is done every time by many disciplines. But if one gets limited to analysis without resorting to other conceptual tools available, that can be used along with analysis, one misses an important chance of comprehending the world in all its complexity. It took Thomson a good level of proficiency in those conceptual tools, including analysis, to figure out the existence of the electron, to understand what was happening without he ever seeing it happening. But of course, Thomson had a theoretical model to start, one among many possible theoretical models to test, and his methodology ensured that he could isolate in the experiments the incidental from the essential. He did not just go out to observe nature candidly and figure out things by pure speculative analysis, his analysis came within a conceptual and methodological frame, which was precisely what allowed him to discover new things, the "something else", things that were not immediately perceived. Of key importance is that what he discovered was shown to exist independently of Thomson's mind, electrons were not supposed to wait billions of years to appear as the product of consciousness. Further analysis shows that those entities literally needed to be out there before any consciousness had arrived. This, claims the phenomenologist, are but illusions of the "things in themselves".
Absolutely not. I mean this is knock down, drag out wrong. Science remains science. Illusions? Reality is not an illusion, but it becomes so when one applies bad thinking in the discussion of basic questions. This is not an issue about what science says, but what happens when we look at what our assumptions, our presuppositions, of science are. You have to engage at this level.
Phenomenical analysis intentionally dismisses all of this, sends it to the background as irrelevant, and worst of all, as lacking any ontological value.
You mean, in an examination of science's philosophical underpinnings. A good phenomenologist, my kind, borrows from Kierkegaard the simple, quasi Cartesian premise that the world is simply what lies before you, in the direct apprehension of it. It does not GIVE you an ontology of the kind you want, for "material" is simply not what lies before you. The whole idea is that while there is most certainly not nothing that underpins all things, when we do speak of it (something Wittgenstein, Rorty,and analytic philosophers in general are disinclined to do. Rorty straddles the fence) we have be careful not to prejudice thought.

It is, they say, the prejudiced "natural attitude" that must be surpassed. Then departs from the immediate observable events with its own ontological assumptions taken, as said above, from the phenomenical epistemology, and with the task of finding, as you said, the something else.
Well, you should give the idea its due. I'm saying that a materialist bottom line for existence leads one to do just what you have done above, which is to think of all that we are as a kind of object, like a hammer or a potato or a drift from a stellar event. You do this and you commit, at the very least, a categorial error, for, say, caring or bliss, these are not objects, that is, they possess features of existence that are so distant from standards of objecthood that it is simply fatuous to call them objects. Caring is not like an electromagnetic field; a field, perhaps, but very different. My estimation is that the only way one could think of it as categorially well suited for the category of objects is if there is a running bias in their thinking that makes this happen. Popular religion has the same effect: you see a rusty image on a water tank, and there is Jesus. Everywhere is Jesus. Better to let the presentation of the event speak for itself as best one can.

But the "exhausted plain observations", unlike Thomson's attitudes, are the naive ones of the ordinary lifeworld. This, claims the phenomenologist, are the true "things in themselves". As point of departure, they are clearly prejudiced, too, but in the worst possible way, since its prejudice obscures, rather than clarifies the analysis. As I already said, the logical form always reinserts the prejudiced concepts of your preference. It leaves out a lot of stuff that may be relevant, before it decides what's essential or accessory. It is as if Thomson had stayed under a tree to speculate about atomic particles. The phenomenologist will argue that he doesn't mind Thomson, that we can leave him alone, because he does not add anything of worth to the inquiries about our own existence, but then asks right away what can we say about the pain in a finger, as if these things had no previous context.
This line of thinking doesn't work here. There is no equal ground established in the competition between one prejudice and another because they are both deemed prejudices. Phenomenology is not in competition with science, for science doesn't ask basic questions. But the terms of validity are the same, and this is the hypothetical deductive method: the question is, which one works better, and this is decided by the typical approach to problem solving: observation and theory. Material substance has never been observed and it has a dreadful effect on interpretation. See the above.
If this is what comes out of phenomenological analysis, it just serves to highlight its inadequacy for figuring out what are the real things of the world we have to deal with, how they work, and how we, as transformative agents, can do something about them. There's simply no absolute, archetypical, decontextualized badness or goodness. These representations are in permanent movement within the contexts of human action, and they're constantly changed and updated in those context. The reason pain is often regarded, but not always, as not good in itself, has very little to do with any intuition of an ethereal, abstract essence, but because of the memory of typical concrete situations of disagreeable bodily sensations, which placed in the context of basic human interactions, are often represented as socially undesirable, therefore deemed as "bad". But it is no secret that even these very common sensations are updated in different contexts of social actions, so that many times pain becomes a sign of goodness. The examples abound in history and in current practices that you can read in a newspaper. Certainly, the primary sensation of pain has been relativized, but that just epitomizes the way we humans construct our reality, and reconstruct ourselves in the process. For sure, the painful sensation felt by a tiger today is no different than what a tiger felt two thousand years ago. And most likely, in experiencing the sensation, the tiger does not experience it as sensation. Interestingly, people who suffer from Congenital Insensivity to Pain (CIP) cannot feel any pain, but no one believes that the absence of pain implies any goodness, quite the contrary, they are thought to be suffering a terrible disability that hinders the possibility of having a normal life, where pain is deemed as necessary.
Hard to know where to begin with this. I note your emphatic tone, but you really don't demonstrate an understanding of what is set before you. The tiger does not experience pain as a sensation?? The CIP is not helpful here. The tiger? A sensation can be interpreted, is interpreted. But it is not through an interpretation that pain is conditioned to be what it is.
This business is not about "contexts of social action" and what is at issue has nothing to do with ethereal, abstract essences. It is simply precisely the opposite. We are looking directly at the sensation itself, pain qua pain, not pain qua utility or fairness or social incidentals. I don't know, frankly, why this is a difficult thing. I suspect you're looking for an argument, but in the wrong places.
Material monism is interesting because it is the only ontology compatible with science, and science is interesting in itself. Its richness and fruitfulness is astounding. There are plenty of philosophical themes there, too. It is odd that opponents of materialism would point at the large gaps in our knowledge about the precise mechanisms of cognition, while ignoring the abundant evidence of its material basis.

Phenomenology is perfectly compatible with science. No issues at all. I care not about such gaps.
Cognitive neuroscience may be in its infancy, but it surely knows where to look for answers, and it is not in a ghostly realm.

You are inventing ghosts.

When asking what makes cognition possible, the key question is not how we cognize material things (which ultimately boils down to how we cognize anything), but what makes cognition a material process. By the way, apparently, you assume that for materialism to make sense, the material nature of reality must appear directly in the act of cognition itself, which would reduce a realist epistemology to the old belief in a sort of direct transfer of the objects of perception to the intellectual order. Materialism (or the realism in materialism) does not posit such theory, in fact it does not pretend to move beyond the phenomenal world, but conceives its lawfulness to be directly related to the objects themselves. It of course does invoke a form of direct realism (see Sellars) by causal mediation in perception.
My reasons for rejecting a materialist interpretation of human affairs has a lot to do with what philosophers like Sellars have as their priorities. I don't read analytic philosophy as a matter of habit, so I took a look at Stamford's nutshell. I found: This is the basic reasoning behind Sellars’s scientific realism. He boldly proclaims “In the dimension of describing and explaining the world, science is the measure of all things, of what is that it is, and of what is not that it is not” and was not in the least surprised. The point of philosophy, I respond, is most emphatically not this.
But it is odd, as I said, since outside materialism and science there's no alternative account of how anything is conceived. I mean, what is the answer from idealism to how it is that phenomena can be at all apprehended? No philosopher committed to pure phenomenalism has given an answer to that question. Pointing to a "faculty" is going back to Moliere's virtus dormitiva.


The answer lies in the examination of phenomena, and it is not an answer, but an investigative advance into the implications of phenomenology. An answer, like "coffee cup" is an answer to the question, "what is the drinking vessel on my desk?" would be an ANSWER. It would be what Wittgenstein called ethics if we really understood it absolutely. All other questions would then be discarded, all books shelved: to actually grasp eternity itself!


If understanding in general be defined as the faculty of laws or rules, the faculty of judgement may be termed the faculty of subsumption under these rules; that is, of distinguishing whether this or that does or does not stand under a given rule (casus datae legis). General logic contains no directions or precepts for the faculty of judgement, nor can it contain any such. For as it makes abstraction of all content of cognition, no duty is left for it, except that of exposing analytically the mere form of cognition in conceptions, judgements, and conclusions, and of thereby establishing formal rules for all exercise of the understanding. Now if this logic wished to give some general direction how we should subsume under these rules, that is, how we should distinguish whether this or that did or did not stand under them, this again could not be done otherwise than by means of a rule. But this rule, precisely because it is a rule, requires for itself direction from the faculty of judgement. Thus, it is evident that the understanding is capable of being instructed by rules, but that the judgement is a peculiar talent, which does not, and cannot require tuition, but only exercise. This faculty is therefore the specific quality of the so-called mother wit, the want of which no scholastic discipline can compensate.
The understanding is not the faculty of rules and laws. That is a rationalist's take. Kant is simply a beginning, a stepping off place. Keep in mind that is he is both the father of positivism AND phenomenology, so called.
Mother wit? I mean, seriously?
Did I write something absurd? I write when I have time, in the in between of things, and when I come back after a while, I can lose touch with what I was doing. There may be one of these here yet again. Anyway, whatever it was, sorry about that.

User avatar
Count Lucanor
Posts: 708
Joined: May 6th, 2017, 5:08 pm
Favorite Philosopher: Umberto Eco
Location: Panama
Contact:

Re: Nagel's Project in Mind and Cosmos

Post by Count Lucanor » May 19th, 2020, 9:37 pm

I feel like we're going around in circles replying with basically the same arguments, and I'm still not clear about what is it that you're advocating for or against. So I think it would be good to summarize what I believe are the central tenets of materialism, and see then where exactly we are standing:

a) Ontologically speaking, materialism takes the stance that there is an actual mind-independent world, often called the external world (in relation to the subject's experience), meaning that it has objective existence. This world is composed of matter and energy, with its own internal structure and modes of organization, including the constitution of distinct and discrete entities or bodies with mass and extension. One level of organization of this matter is the biological, from which consciousness emerged. When looking for a realm of being, its theory, this is it. Natural sciences (physics) provide the most thorough inventory of what this world is composed of, its building blocks, and all of its descriptions are only consistent with substance monism. All advocacy of substance dualism or monistic idealism comes from an hypothetical inventory of entities provided by non-physics related disciplines, namely metaphysics, all of them directly or indirectly servants of some theology.

b) The subject, understood as the conscious agent that experiences the actual world, is another material body that dwells inside that world and as such, is subject to the determinations of the fundamental processes and relations that govern this realm. As a being inside the world, it is physically directly connected to the world, so to say that this is external is only a figure of speech: the world and the agents that experience it form a continuum. Material realism implies that everything happens within this material realm, but it does not mean that everything, every process, every event, follows the determinations of fundamental mechanical physical laws of matter. Thus, material realism conveys a notion of reality that comprises all processes and events, including those that belong to subjectivity, culture, social life, etc., emerging as higher orders of organization of matter, and having their own dynamics. This puts the subject in an awkward situation: he is at the same time 1) a passively participating entity in the actuality of the world, 2) a witness of what goes in that actuality, which becomes his reality and 3) an actively participating entity that transforms this reality. Thus, seeking knowledge in order to transform reality, while in the same process transforming himself, becomes fundamental to his being in the world.

c) Materialism does not deny subjective modes of existence, nor it claims independence of mind from the world, it just makes subjective modes of existence subordinate to objective modes of existence, and mind emergent from the biological world.

d) Epistemologically speaking, the external world (as composed of the material entities in themselves), that appears to the subject as mind-dependent, because of his necessary awareness of the connections to it, is knowable, not from the direct experience of the senses, since all we have at first hand is the appearances or or phenomena, but from the indirect experience provided by systematic approaches that attempt to ground truths in universal and necessary principles, with the different inferential modes available. Of all these systematic approaches, natural science (physics) provides the most prolific and accurate methods of discovery of the entities and properties that make up the inventory of the external world, that is, the world that there will be even if no conscious subjects were around. Bear in mind this necessary distinction: the world is THAT actual world, regardless of what subjects think of it, and we'll keep calling it the world, but what we call reality is the world with ourselves (the subjects) included. So physics will provide intelligible access to the fundamental properties of the actual world, which necessarily informs our conception of reality, which is not to say that physics provides access to reality as a whole. For the first job, natural science proves to have unmatched effectiveness. It will tell you why Tom grows grey hairs when he gets older and replaces all the atoms of his body in 7 years. Despite providing indirect knowledge, the astounding predictive power and testability of the results of its systematic approaches, in terms of the regularities that comprise the external world, give us the best indication of its superiority among sciences in describing the fundamental mechanisms that govern the material realm, the only known actual realm, where subjects move. As for the second job, the synoptic view, natural sciences must delegate its duties to other sciences, not really that much concerned with the ontological inventory of entities that comprise the external world, but somehow necessarily presuming it as a given, providing other insights about their objective intrinsic relationships, as well as the subjective relationships between conscious agents and the entities they encounter. One such set of disciplines is called social science, and it too ultimately owes a debt to the theoretical implications of material realism. They will tell you why Tom is still Tom, despite all his new atoms.

e) But since all sciences are human enterprises, subject to error, there must be a science of the sciences, that reviews and challenges the reliability of these approaches. It is what we find in the philosophy of science and metascience. By their own nature, however, these fields cannot rely on the methods of natural sciences, they are more theoretical and speculative, and their findings lack their explanatory power. Whatever challenges natural sciences might face in their foundations, none of them appears to seriously undermine its reliability and unmatched superiority, even acknowledging all of its limitations, in providing a good inventory of the material components of the external world.

This is materialism in a nutshell. If one wishes to reject materialism, this is what one would need to reject. Most arguments I have heard against it so far show to be insufficient:

1. The argument of language and the constant passing of meaning. It's self-defeating.
2. The phenomenalism argument, which invokes epistemological skepticism to make ontological claims it cannot substantiate.
3. The demarcation argument, claiming a sort of non-overlapping magisteria, not supported by any legitimate ontological claim, nor any epistemic necessity, other than some vague "profundity".
4. The appeal to ethics argument from an essentialist stance, floating in an abstract realm, untangled from reality.
5. The dogmatism argument, a mere complaint to the complete rejection of the unsubstantiated ontological and epistemological claims of idealist doctrines.
6. The argument of dualistic idealism. This is one of the most bizarre claims: materialism would be Platonic idealism, instead of an inversion of it.
7. The prejudice and matrix of assumptions argument, which does not address the unmatched effectiveness and predictive power of science.
8. The straw man argument of materialism as an intuition, as direct apprehension and realization of its ontology right out of the immediate observations.
Hereandnow wrote:Then it is better not to think of ontology at all. Better to use terms like transcendence or metaphysics, because this is where such a term belongs
Or why not adjust the terms so that what we think of, corresponds to what actually is?
Hereandnow wrote:If the entire matter before us were simply about the differences between scientific accounts, objective descriptions of "facts" in Wittgenstein's (or Hume's) conception or "states of affairs," then it simply would not matter one scintilla and you could reduce, unify, subsume as you please, for the facts of the world would be little more than pieces in a puzzle physical possibilities that had rule driven behaviors and philosophy could spend it final days trying to figure out where the rules lie, in experiential functions or out there independent of experience.
But no one would claim, in the name of materialism, that the "entire matter" are the scientific facts. What is claimed is that the scientific facts, what actually happens, does matter, and is to be included in our systematic views of reality. Yes, the life of Tom is more important than the periodic replacement of the atoms of his body, but that he came to exist because of the processes of nature, and that he cannot escape the constraints of that nature, is not a marginal note to be dismissed as "not asking the basic questions". And so, growing grey hairs and getting more wrinkles stop being just data, they are given the proper context and acquire meaning, not out of pure abstract speculations, but out of actual things that affect other things, lives among them.
Hereandnow wrote: As I said above, Rorty really is your man,
I doubt it. A pragmatist just ignores the problem and goes on. I'm very much interested in the problem.
Hereandnow wrote: The tiger does not experience pain as a sensation?? The CIP is not helpful here. The tiger? A sensation can be interpreted, is interpreted. But it is not through an interpretation that pain is conditioned to be what it is.
I know is hard for you to see the difference, you are to much conditioned and prejudiced to think in terms of abstract essences: pain qua pain, the chairness, the tableness, etc., all these abstract categories where supposedly lie all the answers to foundational questions. Meanwhile, you look away from what is real.
Hereandnow wrote: Phenomenology is perfectly compatible with science. No issues at all. I care not about such gaps.
Actually I have agreed before that some schools of phenomenology can be made compatible with science. Only those who deny materialist ontology are the ones incompatible with science.
Hereandnow wrote:
Count Lucanor wrote: Mother wit? I mean, seriously?
Did I write something absurd?
I was referring to the Kant quote. He ends his exposition of a key matter with that remark.

User avatar
Hereandnow
Posts: 2536
Joined: July 11th, 2012, 9:16 pm
Favorite Philosopher: the moon and the stars

Re: Nagel's Project in Mind and Cosmos

Post by Hereandnow » May 22nd, 2020, 11:46 am

Count Lucanor
I feel like we're going around in circles replying with basically the same arguments, and I'm still not clear about what is it that you're advocating for or against. So I think it would be good to summarize what I believe are the central tenets of materialism, and see then where exactly we are standing:
We are not going in circles. More like straight lines out to vanishing points. That is what happens when responses are not adequate to the objection and they just continue on free of resistance. Consider:

You say
a) Ontologically speaking, materialism takes the stance that there is an actual mind-independent world, often called the external world (in relation to the subject's experience), meaning that it has objective existence. This world is composed of matter and energy, with its own internal structure and modes of organization, including the constitution of distinct and discrete entities or bodies with mass and extension. One level of organization of this matter is the biological, from which consciousness emerged. When looking for a realm of being, its theory, this is it. Natural sciences (physics) provide the most thorough inventory of what this world is composed of, its building blocks, and all of its descriptions are only consistent with substance monism. All advocacy of substance dualism or monistic idealism comes from an hypothetical inventory of entities provided by non-physics related disciplines, namely metaphysics, all of them directly or indirectly servants of some theology.
Saying what materialism is is not a defense. I know you hold this, but what about an analysis of its assumptions? Aka, philosophy. How does anything out there get in here to make assertions about what's out there? It is not even a technical question fit for neurological science and its issues; it is logically antecedent to issues of this kind, that is, presupposed such that if you cannot think clearly what this is, then subsequent thinking that assumes this simply begs the question. Assume, just to make the point, that the light emitted from my coffee cup that enters my eye is what science tells us it is: electromagnetic waves emitted from a reflection from the surface. Of course, such waves are not "stuff" of the cup, so we already have to pause...and we haven't even begun to discuss the biological transformation of the "information".
At the level of basic questions, this here is simply essential. Flippantly dismissing the question as something science is working on with high hopes is
blatantly evasive. To put materialism even on the table for discussion it has to at least make prima facie sense.
b) The subject, understood as the conscious agent that experiences the actual world, is another material body that dwells inside that world and as such, is subject to the determinations of the fundamental processes and relations that govern this realm. As a being inside the world, it is physically directly connected to the world, so to say that this is external is only a figure of speech: the world and the agents that experience it form a continuum. Material realism implies that everything happens within this material realm, but it does not mean that everything, every process, every event, follows the determinations of fundamental mechanical physical laws of matter. Thus, material realism conveys a notion of reality that comprises all processes and events, including those that belong to subjectivity, culture, social life, etc., emerging as higher orders of organization of matter, and having their own dynamics. This puts the subject in an awkward situation: he is at the same time 1) a passively participating entity in the actuality of the world, 2) a witness of what goes in that actuality, which becomes his reality and 3) an actively participating entity that transforms this reality. Thus, seeking knowledge in order to transform reality, while in the same process transforming himself, becomes fundamental to his being in the world.
Quite a claim, that "it does not mean that everything, every process, every event, follows the determinations of fundamental mechanical physical laws of matter......comprises all processes and events, including those that belong to subjectivity, culture, social life, etc." But I have argued that such a move renders materialism a vacuous, identityless notion. A concept is only as good as it constrains meaning. Just saying it does everything, accounts for all things, has no limits in what it can subsume, makes materialism completely without meaning. Subsumption only works if there is some identifiable feature in the subsumed that is possessed in the more general subsuming concept. In order for salt water to be subsumed under the category of liquids, say, it has to display the property of liquids that qualifies it. What IS the qualifying feature of material? The standard answer is spatial extension and temporality. But then, material is neither space nor time. These may be essential features of material, but if they did in fact exhaust the nature of material, material would be nothing at all. So space and time are useless to come to the aid of explaining in the subsuming principle of material.
c) Materialism does not deny subjective modes of existence, nor it claims independence of mind from the world, it just makes subjective modes of existence subordinate to objective modes of existence, and mind emergent from the biological world.
Subordinate?
d) Epistemologically speaking, the external world (as composed of the material entities in themselves), that appears to the subject as mind-dependent, because of his necessary awareness of the connections to it, is knowable, not from the direct experience of the senses, since all we have at first hand is the appearances or or phenomena, but from the indirect experience provided by systematic approaches that attempt to ground truths in universal and necessary principles, with the different inferential modes available. Of all these systematic approaches, natural science (physics) provides the most prolific and accurate methods of discovery of the entities and properties that make up the inventory of the external world, that is, the world that there will be even if no conscious subjects were around. Bear in mind this necessary distinction: the world is THAT actual world, regardless of what subjects think of it, and we'll keep calling it the world, but what we call reality is the world with ourselves (the subjects) included. So physics will provide intelligible access to the fundamental properties of the actual world, which necessarily informs our conception of reality, which is not to say that physics provides access to reality as a whole. For the first job, natural science proves to have unmatched effectiveness. It will tell you why Tom grows grey hairs when he gets older and replaces all the atoms of his body in 7 years. Despite providing indirect knowledge, the astounding predictive power and testability of the results of its systematic approaches, in terms of the regularities that comprise the external world, give us the best indication of its superiority among sciences in describing the fundamental mechanisms that govern the material realm, the only known actual realm, where subjects move. As for the second job, the synoptic view, natural sciences must delegate its duties to other sciences, not really that much concerned with the ontological inventory of entities that comprise the external world, but somehow necessarily presuming it as a given, providing other insights about their objective intrinsic relationships, as well as the subjective relationships between conscious agents and the entities they encounter. One such set of disciplines is called social science, and it too ultimately owes a debt to the theoretical implications of material realism. They will tell you why Tom is still Tom, despite all his new atoms.
But "natural science (physics) provides the most prolific and accurate methods of discovery" is not at issue. Science, its predictive power, its unmatched effectiveness, and so on, is not at issue. Philosophical materialism is at issue.

But I'll say it again: If materialism simply another term for "whatever the world is and does" then there would be little to talk about because such an idea would be trivially true: whatever is, is what it is, and we'll call this material substance. Read my previous post. It's all about materialism as an interpretative bias that undermines the qualitative nature of what is in, what comprises, the human condition. It is a kind of specious default that steers judgment away from Real content, especially evidenced in ethics and aesthetics, which are the very core of the meaning of life. How is it that such a ethically, valuatively, aesthetically neutral term as material substance can serve as an interpretative bedrock for depth and breadth of our caring, blisses and horrors? These are what our world is about, what philosophy has to try to explain.

And in the analysis of Tom and his new atoms says nothing of the meaning of what occurs when atoms organize into Tom. You can say that this is what atoms or material substances do when they organize thusly (assuming such a thing could be identified), and I would agree completely, but this agreement allows such an observation to remain contextualized within the scientific perspective. Such thinking certainly has its place. But to say that out of Being, in its course from being Big Banged into existence, if you will, there formed atoms (subatomic particles and whatever else), and out of this, there formed basic elements, and out of this, there formed complex life, and so forth, until you get to the blisses and horrors of Tom and the world we theregy have a foundational for all is just absurd. This line of causal and structural description says nothing, absolutely nothing, about the qualitative world that arises, which really is the point I am making. Materialist descriptions look to materialist explanations for all things, and this occludes, nay, cancels out completely, the qualitative presence before one. One does not SEE the world when there is this kind of interpretative bias implicitly in play. It gives the illusion that the knowing of one thing, the materialist account, is adequate for another, where the other in no way shares the essential feature that allows for a proper subsumption. It's apples and oranges: Being tortured is NOT an account of material behavior. To think like this, leads to an insane reductive/emergence metaphysics that conceives suffering to be something it is not.
e) But since all sciences are human enterprises, subject to error, there must be a science of the sciences, that reviews and challenges the reliability of these approaches. It is what we find in the philosophy of science and metascience. By their own nature, however, these fields cannot rely on the methods of natural sciences, they are more theoretical and speculative, and their findings lack their explanatory power. Whatever challenges natural sciences might face in their foundations, none of them appears to seriously undermine its reliability and unmatched superiority, even acknowledging all of its limitations, in providing a good inventory of the material components of the external world.
Yes; this is how you would look at philosophy, as speculative natural science. All this talk about "unmatched superiority" is simply rhetorical vis a vis my objections. Many times I have said this: I don't argue that science is wrong or is to be replaced or has the wrong method; I argue the philosophical thesis that in the examination of science at the level of basic questions, new questions arise that are not subsumable under science's questions. Foundational questions are science's questions. All of those philosophers of science will have to go through Wittgenstein theories of language and logic and Rorty's pragmaticism. By my thinking, all roads lead to Rome: ethics and value. The bottom line, the definitive explanatory endeavor is about value, or, metavalue.

T
his is materialism in a nutshell. If one wishes to reject materialism, this is what one would need to reject. Most arguments I have heard against it so far show to be insufficient:
And yet the argument I have put forth go unchallenged. I don't know what you have "heard" but it is not in the hearing, but the reading, that a paradigmatic shift can occur. Kant, the entire Critique of Pure Reason, is a start.
1. The argument of language and the constant passing of meaning. It's self-defeating.
No. I argued this point: Our thoughts on matters are essentially pragmatic, and because one argues that this is the case, this does not make all opposition equal to the thesis, for a thesis is still argued according to what works, and what works lies with the comprehensiveness, the inclusiveness, and the logic that governs thought. None of this changes. We are still weighing the merits of competing theory. Materialism presents a distorting bias, commits the sin of omission (if you will..see the above) by covering what is overtly there, before one's waking eyes, with a veil of reductive thought when conceived as a foundation for all things. This latter is very important for it has to be understood, I have no complaint about materialism whatever in the contexts of science.
2. The phenomenalism argument, which invokes epistemological skepticism to make ontological claims it cannot substantiate.
It's ontology is phenomenological; it is a phenomenological ontology: what IS, is what is there. No more. The discovery of what is there is what phenomenology is about.
3. The demarcation argument, claiming a sort of non-overlapping magisteria, not supported by any legitimate ontological claim, nor any epistemic necessity, other than some vague "profundity".
Ah, the vague profundity. You can overlook this if you like. It only makes a difference if you are able to acknowledge that such a profundity exists. Rorty doesn't; Wittgenstein doesn't (his claims about the "transcendental" are claims about the fixity of our empirical situation, not unlike Kant, who, it must be understood, claimed that noumena had no meaning at all, and he only grudgingly had to mention such a thing because there had to be "something" out there). Even the religious philosopher Kierkegaard was in no way an advocate of "magisteria". You would have to look to Dionysius the Areopagyte or Meister Eckhart, or even Emerson and Thoreau for this.
4. The appeal to ethics argument from an essentialist stance, floating in an abstract realm, untangled from reality.
Now that takes some real ignoring of what I said. Pls go back and look. An observation of an ethical situation is all about value, its exchange in socially entangled contexts. This is a metaethical affair: what IS value? Read some of the Moore, the Wittgenstein (Tractatus, Lecture on Ethics) for this.
5. The dogmatism argument, a mere complaint to the complete rejection of the unsubstantiated ontological and epistemological claims of idealist doctrines.
I don't know what this is.
6. The argument of dualistic idealism. This is one of the most bizarre claims: materialism would be Platonic idealism, instead of an inversion of it.
This is apparently the short version of something quite long. Did someone say materialism was Platonism? Plato is parsecs away from the issue here. His idealism, or, rational realism, is not even close to your position of mine.
7. The prejudice and matrix of assumptions argument, which does not address the unmatched effectiveness and predictive power of science.
The predictive power of science is certainly not at issue. Its effectiveness is: It does not effectively serve as a foundation of "emergence" for all things due to the above discussion in this post.
8. The straw man argument of materialism as an intuition, as direct apprehension and realization of its ontology right out of the immediate observations.
Materialism is NOT intuited: that is the point, nor is it inferred by enlightened theoretical models. It is a bad theoretical concept for the above reasons.
Or why not adjust the terms so that what we think of, corresponds to what actually is?
As if what actually IS is worn on the sleeve of the world. This is preanalytic and naive. Why not ask the baker down the street?
But no one would claim, in the name of materialism, that the "entire matter" are the scientific facts. What is claimed is that the scientific facts, what actually happens, does matter, and is to be included in our systematic views of reality. Yes, the life of Tom is more important than the periodic replacement of the atoms of his body, but that he came to exist because of the processes of nature, and that he cannot escape the constraints of that nature, is not a marginal note to be dismissed as "not asking the basic questions". And so, growing grey hairs and getting more wrinkles stop being just data, they are given the proper context and acquire meaning, not out of pure abstract speculations, but out of actual things that affect other things, lives among them.
The phenomenologist never denies the facts. If you want to discuss hair growth, a phenomenologist will tell you that you will first need to discuss "facts" like the concepts of 'growth' and 'hair' as concepts, and how concepts are related to objects, and the nature of an object as an object and how this appears in language and the function language vis a vis the way it brings the world to light, discloses what is hidden, is a part of a structure of knowing and anticipating and caring, and so on, and so on. It is a philosophical enterprise is altogether different from what science discusses. It has a distinct body of inquiry into the world as it takes matters to the level of more basic questions. This is philosophy. The attempt to get cozy with science by attaching itself to the latter's speculations, as with many philosophers of science, is just one path philosophy can take because, well, it's there. But to say this is ALL there is is just perverse, like declaring all empirical science to be reducible to, what, geology. Foolish, really.
I doubt it. A pragmatist just ignores the problem and goes on. I'm very much interested in the problem.
Then you haven't read Rorty at all. Why not just read his Mirror of Nature? One book.
I know is hard for you to see the difference, you are to much conditioned and prejudiced to think in terms of abstract essences: pain qua pain, the chairness, the tableness, etc., all these abstract categories where supposedly lie all the answers to foundational questions. Meanwhile, you look away from what is real.
Play fair. You can't ignore things that have been said like this. The previous post responded to just this claim.
Actually I have agreed before that some schools of phenomenology can be made compatible with science. Only those who deny materialist ontology are the ones incompatible with science.
Materialism in the world of scientific studies, does not in any way make the ground work for a philosophical ontology. See the above.

User avatar
Greta
Site Admin
Posts: 9173
Joined: December 16th, 2013, 9:05 pm

Re: Nagel's Project in Mind and Cosmos

Post by Greta » May 22nd, 2020, 7:15 pm

Hereandnow wrote:
May 22nd, 2020, 11:46 am
Count Lucanor
I feel like we're going around in circles replying with basically the same arguments, and I'm still not clear about what is it that you're advocating for or against. So I think it would be good to summarize what I believe are the central tenets of materialism, and see then where exactly we are standing:
We are not going in circles. More like straight lines out to vanishing points. That is what happens when responses are not adequate to the objection and they just continue on free of resistance.
It is the inevitable result of conversations being broken into context-free chunks. I have rarely seen, or enjoyed, satisfactory exchanges when each point is broken up in a growing tete-a-tete. I made that mistake for a long time, and you have always been one of the very few to avoid the practice.

As far as I can tell, philosophy is fundamentally about the big picture - what is your impression of the nature of reality? Fracturing discussions into separate, context-free points pulls us away from expressing our paradigms to focus on details that seem to never extrapolate back to the general ideas. Instead, each takes on lives of its own, becoming a conversational eddy that degrades into pointlessness.

User avatar
Hereandnow
Posts: 2536
Joined: July 11th, 2012, 9:16 pm
Favorite Philosopher: the moon and the stars

Re: Nagel's Project in Mind and Cosmos

Post by Hereandnow » May 22nd, 2020, 10:00 pm

Greta
what is your impression of the nature of reality?
Atoms? They are what they do. So what are they doing when they (we) listen to music or fall in love? When all is said and done, I'm just a sappy old Christian without a Bible: God is love.

User avatar
Count Lucanor
Posts: 708
Joined: May 6th, 2017, 5:08 pm
Favorite Philosopher: Umberto Eco
Location: Panama
Contact:

Re: Nagel's Project in Mind and Cosmos

Post by Count Lucanor » May 22nd, 2020, 11:51 pm

Hereandnow:
I will reply as it's due later, but just a couple of quick comments:
Hereandnow wrote:
Count Lucanor wrote:I feel like we're going around in circles replying with basically the same arguments, and I'm still not clear about what is it that you're advocating for or against. So I think it would be good to summarize what I believe are the central tenets of materialism, and see then where exactly we are standing:
We are not going in circles. More like straight lines out to vanishing points. That is what happens when responses are not adequate to the objection and they just continue on free of resistance.
I think you misread that. What I said is that we were going around in circles with the arguments that we're being produced, not in the relative positions of our own personal convictions. If we were arguing in straight lines then simply we wouldn't be even having a dialogue. For certain, we are antipodeans in the ideas we advocate, and I don't think anyone expects that ever to change, that's not what debates are for.
Hereandnow wrote:Saying what materialism is is not a defense.
A misreading again, and you started on the wrong foot. I never said the five points listed were the defense of materialism, a counterargument to an argument, and I clearly stated that they should be considered a pause in the debate to review the scope of claims from materialism, a summary of what I believe are its central tenets. You can call it the materialist dogma if you want. I never said "the central arguments to defend against idealism". And I clearly stated my intention for exposing the subject that way: if someone wants to reject materialism, that is what they will have to reject. It's openly exposed there, anyone can hit it like a piñata if they can. And then we'll see if that's defensible or not. It's just about focus, since I've lost focus of what is it exactly that you reject. Wouldn't you agree it is good to find out?

User avatar
Hereandnow
Posts: 2536
Joined: July 11th, 2012, 9:16 pm
Favorite Philosopher: the moon and the stars

Re: Nagel's Project in Mind and Cosmos

Post by Hereandnow » May 23rd, 2020, 8:59 am

A misreading again, and you started on the wrong foot. I never said the five points listed were the defense of materialism, a counterargument to an argument, and I clearly stated that they should be considered a pause in the debate to review the scope of claims from materialism, a summary of what I believe are its central tenets. You can call it the materialist dogma if you want. I never said "the central arguments to defend against idealism". And I clearly stated my intention for exposing the subject that way: if someone wants to reject materialism, that is what they will have to reject. It's openly exposed there, anyone can hit it like a piñata if they can. And then we'll see if that's defensible or not. It's just about focus, since I've lost focus of what is it exactly that you reject. Wouldn't you agree it is good to find out?
Sure. Btw, I read through things I wrote making sure there were no mistakes and sure enough: 'Foundational questions are science's questions" should be
" Foundational questions are NOT science's questions."
I don't proofread clearly out of spite to my tendency not to proofread.

User avatar
Greta
Site Admin
Posts: 9173
Joined: December 16th, 2013, 9:05 pm

Re: Nagel's Project in Mind and Cosmos

Post by Greta » May 23rd, 2020, 6:36 pm

Hereandnow wrote:
May 22nd, 2020, 10:00 pm
Greta
what is your impression of the nature of reality?
Atoms? They are what they do. So what are they doing when they (we) listen to music or fall in love? When all is said and done, I'm just a sappy old Christian without a Bible: God is love.
The nature of reality can, obviously, be approached via numerous angles. One agle that interests me is how everything turns inside-out over time. The BB could have been a rapid eversion, for all we know.

It always starts with a "seed" of some kind (or an egg if you are an animal). An initial state. From there is a period of rapid growth - taking from the outside and bringing it into the system - which at this stage is unstable.

Then growth is replaced by complexification, leading to a steady state that, in stars and life, is called "maturity". Then there is the path to breakdown - eversion - as the environment (which constantly erodes all things) starts to take more energy than the entity can absorb. Finally, the entity surrenders its order, turning fully inside-out. That is, it releases its components to what is now a more complex environment than the one it arrived in, and this leads to ever more complex emergences.

It seems to me that your views are based on your subjective experiences rather than external logic. My major peak experience gave me an overwhelming sense of universal unconditional love that many would interpret as God. (Others might interpret it as dopamine and oxytocin). I came away certain that, if God exists, there is no judgement, no retribution and no hell. They are just the games that intelligent social animal play.

At the time I also had the impression that dying may be the most beautiful experience of any person's life. I later reflected that we are usually happiest when fully immersed in an activity. And we will never be more immersed in anything than the experience of dying. It's not as though we will have more important matters to attend at the time, even if we could. All pretence and illusion - the social and cultural artifices needed to function in the world - will be stripped away, rendered irrelevant as death approaches.

User avatar
Hereandnow
Posts: 2536
Joined: July 11th, 2012, 9:16 pm
Favorite Philosopher: the moon and the stars

Re: Nagel's Project in Mind and Cosmos

Post by Hereandnow » May 23rd, 2020, 8:38 pm

Greta
The nature of reality can, obviously, be approached via numerous angles. One agle that interests me is how everything turns inside-out over time. The BB could have been a rapid eversion, for all we know.

It always starts with a "seed" of some kind (or an egg if you are an animal). An initial state. From there is a period of rapid growth - taking from the outside and bringing it into the system - which at this stage is unstable.

Then growth is replaced by complexification, leading to a steady state that, in stars and life, is called "maturity". Then there is the path to breakdown - eversion - as the environment (which constantly erodes all things) starts to take more energy than the entity can absorb. Finally, the entity surrenders its order, turning fully inside-out. That is, it releases its components to what is now a more complex environment than the one it arrived in, and this leads to ever more complex emergences.
But suppose that the measure of the world, existence, reality, whatever you want to call it, is not in these processes or in terms like 'rapid growth, bringing something into a system, rapid eversion and the rest--- processes that describe observable or hypothesized facts, equally meaningless each and every one. The length of my tie and its color has no less "meaning" than a theory about continental drift or interstellar travel. Facts are all equal in what they are, and they simply do not "matter" or, there is no "mattering" in a fact. You could say that they matter when they are contextualized in a mattering situation, as when astronauts take up residence in an interstellar ship, and now things matter in the excitement, the risk, the dream fulfilled, the anxious hearts at home, and so on. What I do not understand is how things that have no meaning at all are privileged to represent the meaning of all things. The assumption in doing so is that where palpable meaning does occur, as it does with us on this blue planet, it is subsumed under the principle of paradigms that are absent of meaning. Another way to put it is to say a theory about everything (or, anything) is only as good as its adequacy throughout. If it is not, then it is like having a theory about weather that cannot account for rain. Cosmic accounts that look at meaning as simply some aberrant but compatible material event do not know what material substance really is at all. They have become so familiar with non meaning bearing paradigms to explain phenomena that it has become a default interpretation. One has to look in earnest at the human tragedy, comedy, history, pastoral, pastoral-comical, historical-pastoral, tragical-historical, tragical-comical-historical-pastoral (as Polonius put it) in concreto and ask anew basic questions about meaning and the world.
Then growth is replaced by complexification, leading to a steady state that, in stars and life, is called "maturity". Then there is the path to breakdown - eversion - as the environment (which constantly erodes all things) starts to take more energy than the entity can absorb. Finally, the entity surrenders its order, turning fully inside-out. That is, it releases its components to what is now a more complex environment than the one it arrived in, and this leads to ever more complex emergences.

It seems to me that your views are based on your subjective experiences rather than external logic. My major peak experience gave me an overwhelming sense of universal unconditional love that many would interpret as God. (Others might interpret it as dopamine and oxytocin). I came away certain that, if God exists, there is no judgement, no retribution and no hell. They are just the games that intelligent social animal play.

At the time I also had the impression that dying may be the most beautiful experience of any person's life. I later reflected that we are usually happiest when fully immersed in an activity. And we will never be more immersed in anything than the experience of dying. It's not as though we will have more important matters to attend at the time, even if we could. All pretence and illusion - the social and cultural artifices needed to function in the world - will be stripped away, rendered irrelevant as death approaches.
My subjective views are always already in the logic of an external account of things. You can't exclude them. As I write these words the same stuff of the world puts out the interest, grammar and thought that holds Ganymede in place around Jupiter.

I too am fascinated by death. A proper death is like that of the Taoists of ancient China after a lifetime of Confucian social etiquette: off to the woods to die. Putting aside the misery of no doctors of dentists, it is the distance from the institution that have ruled one's life that attracts me. I have often wondered what it would be like not to have the weight of modern knowledge claims bearing down on perceptual events. Death undoes all things, like Alzheimer's without the dementia, forgetting the multitude of thises and thats, headlong into the abyss, "Creeds and schools in abeyance." Absolutely fascinating.

User avatar
Count Lucanor
Posts: 708
Joined: May 6th, 2017, 5:08 pm
Favorite Philosopher: Umberto Eco
Location: Panama
Contact:

Re: Nagel's Project in Mind and Cosmos

Post by Count Lucanor » May 24th, 2020, 3:21 pm

Hereandnow wrote:I know you hold this, but what about an analysis of its assumptions? Aka, philosophy. How does anything out there get in here to make assertions about what's out there? It is not even a technical question fit for neurological science and its issues; it is logically antecedent to issues of this kind, that is, presupposed such that if you cannot think clearly what this is, then subsequent thinking that assumes this simply begs the question. Assume, just to make the point, that the light emitted from my coffee cup that enters my eye is what science tells us it is: electromagnetic waves emitted from a reflection from the surface. Of course, such waves are not "stuff" of the cup, so we already have to pause...and we haven't even begun to discuss the biological transformation of the "information".
This, evidently, is not argument against a materialist ontology. It does not give any good reason to make a materialist ontology logically impossible. Things and events appear to our initial perception as being there and when we put to test that presumption, things end up actually happening and actually being there, having the actual structure and behavior that we would expect them to have when we're not perceiving them, that is, objectively, independent of our minds. Now, to abandon materialism one would have to take the stance that our optical organ, the coffee cup, the bus down the road, continental adrift, light and the process of reflection, are not real mind-independent things or events. And if one just made the assumption, in other words, if we pretended, in order to reject materialism, that they are not real objects in the world, what would be the alternative ontology? And what would make that ontology better justified rationally than materialism?
Hereandnow wrote: Quite a claim, that "it does not mean that everything, every process, every event, follows the determinations of fundamental mechanical physical laws of matter......comprises all processes and events, including those that belong to subjectivity, culture, social life, etc." But I have argued that such a move renders materialism a vacuous, identityless notion.
That is neither a good ground to reject materialism. I mean, vacuous? Outside of your subjective preferences, what does that mean in terms of an ontology? Vacuousness implies lacking substance or consistence, but that is definitely not an appropriate term to describe materialism, which is by all measures the only ontology with a real, actual substance.
Hereandnow wrote: Just saying it does everything, accounts for all things, has no limits in what it can subsume, makes materialism completely without meaning.
But here you're treating the notion of materialism as some sort of "power" that does things. No one has ever claimed such thing. And it's taken out of context to make that awkward objection. The description that you misrepresented was clear enough as not to take that weird interpretation: there's a physical realm where everything happens following natural laws, but everything is not reducible to the natural laws, thus materialism can take a non-reductive approach to things and events.
Hereandnow wrote: Subsumption only works if there is some identifiable feature in the subsumed that is possessed in the more general subsuming concept. In order for salt water to be subsumed under the category of liquids, say, it has to display the property of liquids that qualifies it. What IS the qualifying feature of material? The standard answer is spatial extension and temporality. But then, material is neither space nor time. These may be essential features of material, but if they did in fact exhaust the nature of material, material would be nothing at all. So space and time are useless to come to the aid of explaining in the subsuming principle of material.
I know that you think that everything boils down to finding the essence: saltness, liquidness, tableness, chairness, and consistent with that mode of thinking: materialness. But materialism is not about that. Surely enough, if its inventory of the world consisted only of purely intuitive observations and the corresponding classifications, we would be in the same state of knowledge that we were before modern science, when natural philosophy was still around, and we would be still immersed in classification problems. But now we don't have to speculate and guess anymore, nor look for eternal abstract essences, we have found quite reliable methods of determining what salt and water are and we can identify them with meticulous precision, referring to their molecular composition and other consistent, objective, physical properties. Materialism is the stance that takes these properties as real, belonging to actual objects existing independently or our minds.
Hereandnow wrote: But "natural science (physics) provides the most prolific and accurate methods of discovery" is not at issue. Science, its predictive power, its unmatched effectiveness, and so on, is not at issue. Philosophical materialism is at issue.
Philosophical materialism, as you call it, is the only philosophy compatible with science. So, not being science an issue, there can't be no major issue with materialism while accepting science.
Hereandnow wrote: But I'll say it again: If materialism simply another term for "whatever the world is and does" then there would be little to talk about because such an idea would be trivially true: whatever is, is what it is, and we'll call this material substance.
IF "whatever the world is and does" means what and how the world actually is and actually does, then we agree, that's all it is.
Hereandnow wrote: Read my previous post. It's all about materialism as an interpretative bias that undermines the qualitative nature of what is in, what comprises, the human condition. It is a kind of specious default that steers judgment away from Real content, especially evidenced in ethics and aesthetics, which are the very core of the meaning of life. How is it that such a ethically, valuatively, aesthetically neutral term as material substance can serve as an interpretative bedrock for depth and breadth of our caring, blisses and horrors?
As explained before, interpretative bias, which is just a term to refer to theoretical frameworks, does not suffice to reject materialist ontology. In any case, nothing about what the world actually is and actually does can undermine the so called "human condition", another abstract essence floating in an eternal realm. There has been plenty of philosophical talk about humans at last compelled to face with sober senses their real conditions of life, and their relations with their kind, as to give any credit to the fallacious idea that the immanentism of materialism implies the abdication of pursuing any higher human purpose, or being ethically neutral, especially when it has become clear that human possibilities and aspirations are intimately linked to concrete social situations defined by the real material conditions of life. One cannot simply dismiss the real, material world, with all the constraints it imposes, but even more: with all its great possibilities for human flourishing, as irrelevant to people's lives. It is precisely because of the need to place the foundation of ethics in firm, realistic grounds, and fill it with the real content of our actual existence, that materialism acquires such vital importance, serving as a much better alternative than the abstract, ethereal, impossible ideals of some philosophies that never attain to any reality.
Hereandnow wrote: These are what our world is about, what philosophy has to try to explain.
No, these (our caring, blisses and horrors) are some visible sprouts in the broad network of connections that make up the world, a network that has deeper roots than the naive philosophical gardener can handle. Bad philosophy will try to look for eternal unvariable essences rooted in the individuals, that explain their human emotional experiences. Fortunately, not all philosophy has embarked in such a failed project.
Hereandnow wrote: But to say that out of Being, in its course from being Big Banged into existence, if you will, there formed atoms (subatomic particles and whatever else), and out of this, there formed basic elements, and out of this, there formed complex life, and so forth, until you get to the blisses and horrors of Tom and the world we theregy have a foundational for all is just absurd.
Absolutely not. And you left out a whole universe of things (all of them material, of course) between complex life and "the blisses and horrors of Tom", as if there were no detailed accounts of all the stages through which life went on Earth, all the physiological properties in organisms, all the environmental aspects, the rise of human societies, their cultural processes, their history, etc., all of which inevitably serve as context that give meaning to the blisses and horrors of Tom. I know, when one persist in explaining everything through the "xness" of things, the tableness, the chairness, and so on, as if these were "foundational", one ends up being baffled by the question of how do materialness power ever produces, instantly, from the pure abstract relations, the much anticipated powers of spiritualness of Tom.
Hereandnow wrote: This line of causal and structural description says nothing, absolutely nothing, about the qualitative world that arises, which really is the point I am making. Materialist descriptions look to materialist explanations for all things, and this occludes, nay, cancels out completely, the qualitative presence before one.
This is the equivalent of saying that a materialist ontology says nothing about the properties of the objects. That is absolutely and evidently false. You're just dismissing objective properties of things, pretending they don't exist, in order to advance your view of subjective properties founded in phenomenalism. But that's your view, not the materialist view. Now, if you discovered that the objective properties described by any materialistic account of the world are not real, in other words, that do not share an identity with the actual objects and events being described, you're in for a Nobel prize in physics, a new physics actually.
Hereandnow wrote: It gives the illusion that the knowing of one thing, the materialist account, is adequate for another, where the other in no way shares the essential feature that allows for a proper subsumption. It's apples and oranges: Being tortured is NOT an account of material behavior. To think like this, leads to an insane reductive/emergence metaphysics that conceives suffering to be something it is not.
What illusion? There's no illusion to point the finger at in a materialist ontology. Is it continental drift an illusion? Aren't there sub-atomic particles? And how come being tortured is NOT an account of material behavior? Can you show me an example of a non-material torture, that is, not materially based, not related to any physical object, not even physiological processes? I bet anything in that this will really be an insane metaphysics.
Hereandnow wrote: Yes; this is how you would look at philosophy, as speculative natural science. All this talk about "unmatched superiority" is simply rhetorical vis a vis my objections.
So far you have not produced a single argument that objects the material findings of science, I mean, you haven't even tried, because in fact you have conceded all along that science is OK. But why bother with assumptions, why not ask you directly: do you know of any other methodological inquiry that provides a better inventory of the objects and events of the world than science?
Hereandnow wrote: Many times I have said this: I don't argue that science is wrong or is to be replaced or has the wrong method; I argue the philosophical thesis that in the examination of science at the level of basic questions, new questions arise that are not subsumable under science's questions.
But you have taken the reductive stance that all materialistic understanding of the world, including human society, must and can only rely, and fall within the scope of natural science, but I have explicitly stated the opposite, a view that you'll keep disregarding because it doesn't fit the straw man you're making out of materialism in order to reject it. But I'll remind you of it anyway:

"As for the second job, the synoptic view, natural sciences must delegate its duties to other sciences, not really that much concerned with the ontological inventory of entities that comprise the external world, but somehow necessarily presuming it as a given, providing other insights about their objective intrinsic relationships, as well as the subjective relationships between conscious agents and the entities they encounter. One such set of disciplines is called social science, and it too ultimately owes a debt to the theoretical implications of material realism. They will tell you why Tom is still Tom, despite all his new atoms."

What this leads us to is to the real fundamental question: must human (social) sciences adopt or abandon a materialistic ontology of the world?
Hereandnow wrote: All of those philosophers of science will have to go through Wittgenstein theories of language and logic and Rorty's pragmaticism. By my thinking, all roads lead to Rome: ethics and value. The bottom line, the definitive explanatory endeavor is about value, or, metavalue.
Theories of language and logic will only point to epistemological issues, they are incompetent to reject any materialist ontology, and will never produce a substitute, or at least will not produce a realistic substitute, as the realm of the abstract does not suffice. That road evidently then cannot lead to nothing that holds a relation with the objects of the world, at best it can propose a different human relation with the objects of the world. Ontologically speaking, a transcendental abstract realm explains nothing.
Hereandnow wrote: And yet the argument I have put forth go unchallenged. I don't know what you have "heard" but it is not in the hearing, but the reading, that a paradigmatic shift can occur. Kant, the entire Critique of Pure Reason, is a start.
I listed above a summary of all the arguments (8 of them) against materialism, all of which have been dealt with and refuted. So it appears that the central tenets of materialism, as I have exposed, remain unchallenged.

As for Kant, his work is thought provoking, which is fine, and one must give him credit for the monumental task on which he embarked metaphysics. But reading his ideas is interesting in the same way as reading Aristotle's physics. Enough water has passed under the bridge since then as to take any of his doctrines as fundamental to any new inquiry, there's plenty of scholarship and lots of refutations, and not even his followers take him literally. There's no need for materialism to defend from him. Hegel, precisely a giant of idealism himself, ripped to shreds his moral doctrines.
Hereandnow wrote: No. I argued this point: Our thoughts on matters are essentially pragmatic, and because one argues that this is the case, this does not make all opposition equal to the thesis, for a thesis is still argued according to what works, and what works lies with the comprehensiveness, the inclusiveness, and the logic that governs thought. None of this changes. We are still weighing the merits of competing theory. Materialism presents a distorting bias, commits the sin of omission (if you will..see the above) by covering what is overtly there, before one's waking eyes, with a veil of reductive thought when conceived as a foundation for all things. This latter is very important for it has to be understood, I have no complaint about materialism whatever in the contexts of science.
I have refuted this before. There's no evidence that, epistemologically speaking, materialism presents a distorting bias that spoils its ontology. To demonstrate such a thing one would need to get into the inventory of material entities provided by natural sciences and find out that they don't correspond to actual objects or properties of the world. But what has happened is exactly the opposite. And then the argument shifts to claiming that any theoretical framework is prejudiced, but that of course is where the argument self defeats, since the skeptic cannot get rid himself of any prejudices. And the argument jumps to claiming that there is a non-prejudiced direct access to objects (their essence, they say), the very first thing that was claimed as impossible (for everybody else, apparently), and so on...
Hereandnow wrote: It's ontology is phenomenological; it is a phenomenological ontology: what IS, is what is there. No more. The discovery of what is there is what phenomenology is about.
Phenomenalism clumsily asks from epistemology duties for which it has no competence. Epistemology can only aim to say what can actually be KNOWN, not what actually IS. So, even though phenomenalism migth feel justified in claiming that we can only know the phenomena that appears to first-person subjective experience and not what may be behind it in an external realm (a claim refuted by science), and that therefore any ontological claim about an external realm is unwarranted, it cannot take a further step to say that it DOES KNOW what actually is. By doing so it would have assumed an antirealist ontological position, one that can only be sustained on faith. It would be more appropriately called a phenomenological anti-ontology, it would do more justice to the doctrine: what appears to my perception is all there is. And if one inverts its own argument: how does anything IN HERE gets OUT THERE to make assertions about what's out there, without science, the whole fallacious construction shatters to useless pieces.
Hereandnow wrote: Ah, the vague profundity. You can overlook this if you like. It only makes a difference if you are able to acknowledge that such a profundity exists. Rorty doesn't; Wittgenstein doesn't (his claims about the "transcendental" are claims about the fixity of our empirical situation, not unlike Kant, who, it must be understood, claimed that noumena had no meaning at all, and he only grudgingly had to mention such a thing because there had to be "something" out there). Even the religious philosopher Kierkegaard was in no way an advocate of "magisteria". You would have to look to Dionysius the Areopagyte or Meister Eckhart, or even Emerson and Thoreau for this.
I don't have a problem with profundity, I'm all for profundity, a real, serious one. Looking for abstract essences does not pass as profundity for me, but more importantly, it is not even a serious threat to materialism.
Hereandnow wrote: Now that takes some real ignoring of what I said. Pls go back and look. An observation of an ethical situation is all about value, its exchange in socially entangled contexts. This is a metaethical affair: what IS value? Read some of the Moore, the Wittgenstein (Tractatus, Lecture on Ethics) for this.
I already dealt with that several times, and above once again. And no, none of such affairs gives any good reason to make a materialist ontology impossible. It is always odd that you frequently refer to Moore, who evidently did not take metaethical affairs to reason that the external world does not exist. Apparently, he never found out that metaethics refuted materialism. You should read his Proof of an External World (I can lend you a copy if you want). And why don't you read his Refutation of Idealism and A Defence of Common Sense? He makes there many of the arguments I have made myself, including why idealism refutes itself when trying to refute materialism. Interestingly, I'm not precisely a fan of Moore, apparently you do, so you should take his doctrines more seriously.
Hereandnow wrote:
Count Lucanor wrote: 6. The argument of dualistic idealism. This is one of the most bizarre claims: materialism would be Platonic idealism, instead of an inversion of it.
This is apparently the short version of something quite long. Did someone say materialism was Platonism? Plato is parsecs away from the issue here. His idealism, or, rational realism, is not even close to your position of mine.
Fine, I'm OK with that, so I can safely interpret this statement of yours as not putting materialism anywhere near Platonic forms:

The idea of material substance independent of experiential processes is only challenged in this: Such an idea is pure groundless metaphysics, the worst kind of metaphysics, right up there with seraphs and Platonic forms.
Hereandnow wrote: The predictive power of science is certainly not at issue. Its effectiveness is: It does not effectively serve as a foundation of "emergence" for all things due to the above discussion in this post.
That was already dealt with. Natural science's effectiveness applies to the inventory of the actual objects and properties of the world. There are other sciences dealing with aspects of reality that are subsidiary to the material realism provided by natural science.
Hereandnow wrote: Materialism is NOT intuited: that is the point, nor is it inferred by enlightened theoretical models. It is a bad theoretical concept for the above reasons.
That's just an opinion, not a refutation of materialist ontology. But the point was made to show precisely the straw argument: the idea that for materialism to be sound, it must produce an epiphany of materialness right out of the perception event. An one can assume, but not demonstrate, that it is possible to grasp immediately, absent any theoretical filter, the reality of existence of things.
Hereandnow wrote: The phenomenologist never denies the facts. If you want to discuss hair growth, a phenomenologist will tell you that you will first need to discuss "facts" like the concepts of 'growth' and 'hair' as concepts, and how concepts are related to objects, and the nature of an object as an object and how this appears in language and the function language vis a vis the way it brings the world to light, discloses what is hidden, is a part of a structure of knowing and anticipating and caring, and so on, and so on. It is a philosophical enterprise is altogether different from what science discusses. It has a distinct body of inquiry into the world as it takes matters to the level of more basic questions. This is philosophy.
No, this is just a way of approaching philosophy, a failed way. It is again the argument of the "passing of meaning" that has been shown repeteadly to refute itself. Read G. E. Moore, he might give you the insights perhaps better than me. Certainly not an apt refutation of materialist ontology.
Hereandnow wrote:
Count Lucanor wrote: I doubt it. A pragmatist just ignores the problem and goes on. I'm very much interested in the problem.
Then you haven't read Rorty at all. Why not just read his Mirror of Nature? One book.
I've read it and I believe you in that he says what you you think he says. But that's precisely why I'm not particularly interested in him.

User avatar
Greta
Site Admin
Posts: 9173
Joined: December 16th, 2013, 9:05 pm

Re: Nagel's Project in Mind and Cosmos

Post by Greta » May 25th, 2020, 1:32 am

I must be losing it. I could have sworn that I replied to this yesterday.
Hereandnow wrote:
May 23rd, 2020, 8:38 pm
Greta
The nature of reality can, obviously, be approached via numerous angles. One agle that interests me is how everything turns inside-out over time. The BB could have been a rapid eversion, for all we know ...
But suppose that the measure of the world, existence, reality, whatever you want to call it, is not in these processes or in terms like 'rapid growth, bringing something into a system, rapid eversion and the rest--- processes that describe observable or hypothesized facts, equally meaningless each and every one. The length of my tie and its color has no less "meaning" than a theory about continental drift or interstellar travel. Facts are all equal in what they are, and they simply do not "matter" or, there is no "mattering" in a fact. You could say that they matter when they are contextualized in a mattering situation, as when astronauts take up residence in an interstellar ship, and now things matter in the excitement, the risk, the dream fulfilled, the anxious hearts at home, and so on.

What I do not understand is how things that have no meaning at all are privileged to represent the meaning of all things. The assumption in doing so is that where palpable meaning does occur, as it does with us on this blue planet, it is subsumed under the principle of paradigms that are absent of meaning. Another way to put it is to say a theory about everything (or, anything) is only as good as its adequacy throughout. If it is not, then it is like having a theory about weather that cannot account for rain. Cosmic accounts that look at meaning as simply some aberrant but compatible material event do not know what material substance really is at all. They have become so familiar with non meaning bearing paradigms to explain phenomena that it has become a default interpretation. One has to look in earnest at the human tragedy, comedy, history, pastoral, pastoral-comical, historical-pastoral, tragical-historical, tragical-comical-historical-pastoral (as Polonius put it) in concreto and ask anew basic questions about meaning and the world.
It seems to me that your views are based on your subjective experiences rather than external logic ...

... At the time I also had the impression that dying may be the most beautiful experience of any person's life. I later reflected that we are usually happiest when fully immersed in an activity. And we will never be more immersed in anything than the experience of dying. It's not as though we will have more important matters to attend at the time, even if we could. All pretence and illusion - the social and cultural artifices needed to function in the world - will be stripped away, rendered irrelevant as death approaches.
My subjective views are always already in the logic of an external account of things. You can't exclude them. As I write these words the same stuff of the world puts out the interest, grammar and thought that holds Ganymede in place around Jupiter.

I too am fascinated by death. A proper death is like that of the Taoists of ancient China after a lifetime of Confucian social etiquette: off to the woods to die. Putting aside the misery of no doctors of dentists, it is the distance from the institution that have ruled one's life that attracts me. I have often wondered what it would be like not to have the weight of modern knowledge claims bearing down on perceptual events. Death undoes all things, like Alzheimer's without the dementia, forgetting the multitude of thises and thats, headlong into the abyss, "Creeds and schools in abeyance." Absolutely fascinating.
You speak of "palpable meaning" but that's just emotions. I am not convinced that emotions are anything more than other unimportant "facts of life". What are emotions but a means to cope when events pass too rapidly for adequate higher-level mental processing? AI, for instance, won't need emotions because they will be capable of processing a million times more quickly than us. So, instead of forming emotional reactions that lead them to the correct actions, eg. fleeing, fighting, assisting and comforting, they would calculate the optimal approach at any given moment.

Will something be lost if evolution takes that turn? Definitely, as there are always losses. We are currently saying goodbye to the charming innocence and spontaneity of other animals. When indigenous people were invaded by Europeans, beautiful aspects of their culture, their languages and their intimate knowledge of the local environment were lost. I suspect that emotionality is heading towards similar marginalisation.

When referring to "things that have no meaning at all" being privileged to represent the meaning of all things, you are seemingly referring to atoms, quanta, the four fundamental forces, and so on. These are just particular angles. I've read people saying that time is fundamental, or matter, God, spirit, consciousness, experience, gravity, mathematics, Platonic solids, dark energy, strings, asymmetry, wave functions, and other angles that I have forgotten. They are just particular perspectives, like the Indian parable of the six blind men who gained their impressions of an elephant by touching it; 'It is like a tree,' said the blind man touching the animal's leg. 'No, it is like a snake,' says the one touching the trunk, etc. None are entirely right or entirely wrong.

Where death comes in is that it is an emotional matter for us, somewhat unfortunate, creatures caught in the middle of evolutionary change. We are advanced enough to see our death in the future but still animal enough to be driven by obsessive fear of death, handed down by generations of survivors (those who feared death enough to successfully reproduce). So we fear death as reflexively as any other animal yet, unlike them, we see its certainty in the future. No wonder we turn to spirituality. It looks like a lost cause - unless meaning is created over broader spans of time than a human lifetime.

Logically, we need not fear death but, dammit, this life is all we can be certain of, and the drive to live is overwhelming. Humans will not always be like this, though, I suspect. That will involve having a greater conception of the self than just the individual, to identify so strongly to a larger group - a subculture, a culture, humanity, life, the Earth, the Sun, the galaxy or the universe (choose your "God") - that we genuinely feel as though we live on through future iterations.

As the Buddhists say, one should let go of the ego. Not "should" in terms of moral consequence, but strategy. That is, the consequence for holding on to the ego is suffering. But it's not really an annihilation of ego but an expansion to entities beyond your own nervous system, genetics or regular contacts. In theory :)

User avatar
Hereandnow
Posts: 2536
Joined: July 11th, 2012, 9:16 pm
Favorite Philosopher: the moon and the stars

Re: Nagel's Project in Mind and Cosmos

Post by Hereandnow » May 28th, 2020, 12:51 pm

Count Lucanor
This, evidently, is not argument against a materialist ontology. It does not give any good reason to make a materialist ontology logically impossible.
There is nothing in logic that prohibits materialism any more than there is to prohibit Jesus being the son of God. It could be. Logic would only prohibit a conclusion that rests on a contradiction. But then, there could be a point here in that materialism is not definable, and if X has no definition, there is nothing to posit in an argument in the first place. I think logic prohibits any sense to be made of this. The world could be essentially unicorns at the sub sub atomic level and logic, or something equally absurd or worse, but logic would not be offended. But material? What IS this analytically? It is not extension in space or time. It is what is, you night argue, but this is, as I have said many times now, in agreement with phenomenology, though there still needs the matter of "isness" to be examined. Heidegger asks us to look at the structure of our Being here (dasein) and not at some mysterious stuff of all things. Material is a term, it has utility and is a region of our existence with associated terms that ground it in possible contexts, and as a particle of language, it serves to disclose the hiddeness of the world. This all makes sense because there is no positing of anything metaphysical. It is circular, but this is what happens when inquiry takes of basic questions. It is not a fault, but the way our world is: We do not HAVE metaphysical foundational knowledge and all of our words are interreferential and this makes meaning possible.

Things and events appear to our initial perception as being there and when we put to test that presumption, things end up actually happening and actually being there, having the actual structure and behavior that we would expect them to have when we're not perceiving them, that is, objectively, independent of our minds
.

Things? It seems you are willfully begging the question, as if, oh, there is material right there, in the things. I simply overlooked it. And bringing up structure is only to invite matters that put suspicion to your position: Is it the logical structure of the arguments that make the test possible? That would make the conclusion a logical, eidetic affair. What does it mean for something to "be happening" at all? By a physicalist's interpretation of the world, am I not witnessing what is happening in an entirely local way, within the localized material that constitutes me, my knowledge claims, beliefs, my logic. Isn't it that materialism is committed to a conception of S knows P, whereby P can be np more than the material that S encounters. How does S encounter anything beyond it own locality? You're in a world of magical thinking in which one material thing can reach out to another and grasp what it is. This was my query, which you avoided answering. And again, asserting that this is just a naive or strawman version of materialism does not (as I have said earlier) deliver this concept from the theoretical trash bin. You would have to show how one can hold materialism and, a) allow knowledge relationships between the the knower and the known given the epistemic restraints; that is, roughly if you like, how does something out there get in here such that you can make a knowledge claim about what is out there?, and b) not engage in magical thinking about this relationship, and by magical I simply mean the vacuous assumption that one simply knows it, by virtue of some mysterious epistemic faculty that makes the connection. If you could just sketch it out for me, I would run off and publish a paper.

Again, atoms are not synonymous with material, nor is energy or force, nor quarks or any other subatomic particles. All of these are concepts that constitute a pragmatic fabric of our sense of reality. This would be a Rortian, Heideggerian take on our apprehension of the Real. Keep in mind, I'm not being just argumentative or cynical on this. I've just looked in earnest at my clock on the wall and me, there observing it, and asked, how does this knowledge work? It is there, I am here, and the only model I have is the materialist one (of course, I am a materialist when the context calls for it). Putting aside quantum entanglement or the eternal oneness of all things near death experiencers testify to, materialism has no recourse to get that clock into my head, and even all of the in betweens, light waves, the ocular circuitry, the neuronal processing plant, not only are these not that clock, but they are equally not my idea, impression of the clock; nor are my impressions representations of the clock, contra Kant, because then one would have to explain how representation "works" and this is just as problematic as direct knowledge since along the way to saying X represents Y, there has to be some connection to Y in X. Those infamous Gettier problems in epistemology are VERY telling. The traditional analysis of knowledge is: S know P iff, S believes P, is justified in believing P and P is true. This last condition has been the object of many pages of serious thought as to how to get that thing out there in here: the severed head solution, the barn facsimile solution, and so on. All failures.

Now, to abandon materialism one would have to take the stance that our optical organ, the coffee cup, the bus down the road, continental adrift, light and the process of reflection, are not real mind-independent things or events.

Just to affirm, yes, these are not mind independent (but then, "mind independence" is not mind independent either), but this is not to say the mind is not of the same fabric as all other things. This is Rorty, a monist, a physicalist, but of course, you know how he uses Wittgenstein to get there.
And if one just made the assumption, in other words, if we pretended, in order to reject materialism, that they are not real objects in the world, what would be the alternative ontology? And what would make that ontology better justified rationally than materialism?
The alternative is to conceptualize the world as it is foundationally: a transcendental mystery. Of course, mysteries can only be mysteries if what is not mysterious possesses the intimation of mystery, and this makes phenomenology the fascinating philosophical method it is (though, not all phenomenologists think this way, exactly). We are here embedded in a mystery of Being in eternity. But what is eternity? Well, we know this "intuition" only as it is offset by our finitude, that is, it is out of this acknowledged delimited condition of our consciousness, and finitude is a spacial and temporal intuition of our delimitedness, but far more importantly, our finitude is coextensive with infinity all accounts of our affairs. Going shopping is an eternal affair, just as it is finite, and this is simply an analytic truth: It is not eternity that stops at the margins of our perceptual horizons, but our ability to apprehend the world.

This can go on for a very long time. But it is an answer to your query: The alternative is phenomenological inquiry into the most elementary structures of our Being. To posit materialism simply begs the question, for to get at the most fundamental questions one must study phenomenology. All roads lead here.
That is neither a good ground to reject materialism. I mean, vacuous? Outside of your subjective preferences, what does that mean in terms of an ontology? Vacuousness implies lacking substance or consistence, but that is definitely not an appropriate term to describe materialism, which is by all measures the only ontology with a real, actual substance.
Material substance as a term tossed about freely in physics, in everyday living, it is most certainly NOT a vacuous term. Quite useful. But then, so is the Christian notion of obedience to God for salvation to keep people toeing the moral line. But being useful needs a context, and in the context of discussing the philosophical estimation of the ontological foundation for all that IS, it has the denotative value of a chimera, worse, really, given that a mythical beast is comprised of identifiable parts. Materialism is just a disembodied connotation reducing and deflating all things to its connotative value. This I have offered many times.
But here you're treating the notion of materialism as some sort of "power" that does things. No one has ever claimed such thing. And it's taken out of context to make that awkward objection. The description that you misrepresented was clear enough as not to take that weird interpretation: there's a physical realm where everything happens following natural laws, but everything is not reducible to the natural laws, thus materialism can take a non-reductive approach to things and events.
I'm treating materialism as, once embraced, the de facto bottom line of interpretation of all things. It is not a power beyond the power of one concept to subsume another. All cups are vessels, but not all vessels are cups. 'Vessel' subsumes 'cup' and we call this an analytic truth (notwithstanding Quine and his trouble with synonymy). Materialism says "all that is, is material substance" or it says nothing at all. If it says material is here, but over there, in Tim's head, there is something else, then so much for your monism. The question then is, what is this "principle" of subsumption? What does materialism mean such that all things conform (to use a neutral term, neither reduction nor emersion) to it? If it simply whatever is manifest in the world, then it reduces to phenomenology, but this is not what it is. It is, again, an interpretative bias that steers all thinking to a deflationary account of "just material".
I know that you think that everything boils down to finding the essence: saltness, liquidness, tableness, chairness, and consistent with that mode of thinking: materialness. But materialism is not about that. Surely enough, if its inventory of the world consisted only of purely intuitive observations and the corresponding classifications, we would be in the same state of knowledge that we were before modern science
Are you saying that there is some evidential basis for affirming material substance? No one has seen the Big Bang, but is theoretically plausible enough to be believed by many competent cosmologists. The event is inferred from observations of spectral analyses and the presence of the Doppler Effect in the red shift, from the relative trajectory of stars, and so on. Are you saying material substance is inferred from an argument like this? Tell me what it is so, again, I can run out and publish it.

It sounds like you're saying that observations of phenomena recommend a theory of materialism. As you argued above, there is the consistency and the predictibility of objects' behaviors, the reliability and repeatability of results, and so on, all unmatched. It's here in my recognition of the tomato: it's a tomato, consistently when things look like this, they taste like a tomato, they are as heavy or more or less as firm as a typical tomato. A good theory says there is something out there that accounts for the regularity in here. Occam's Razor recommends this, I think, and if you designate material substance as just this with no biases attached, then I think I would say fine: something infinitely maleable to discovery, accommodating thought, feelings and moods, ethical issues, aesthetic judgments of "taste", and indeed, the entire human drama. But, again: such an idea is in no way distinguishable from a phenomenology that acknowledges the otherness of other things, aka, metaphysics the justificatory basis of which is found entirely in the structure of experience. Of course, there is some unknown X, beyond the structure of experience, putting aside Wittgenstein's insistence that we cannot speak of it. We can.

when natural philosophy was still around, and we would be still immersed in classification problems. But now we don't have to speculate and guess anymore, nor look for eternal abstract essences, we have found quite reliable methods of determining what salt and water are and we can identify them with meticulous precision, referring to their molecular composition and other consistent, objective, physical properties. Materialism is the stance that takes these properties as real, belonging to actual objects existing independently or our minds.
Of course. But all this is preanalytic. One has to take the step beyond the naive way of dealing with philosophical issues. A stone is a stone. I ask, what does this mean? How are propositions hooked up with the world? How can I understanding the concept 'stone' vis a vis that touchy feely reality? If a stone is a thing, steady and fixed (aside from the weathering, the movement of the earth, and the like) how do I reconsile this with the temporality of the hard wiring of the apprehension of this thing? That is, since thought is a past to present to future dynamic (not to put too fine a point on it) that never "stops" for to apprehend anything is to do it in a predelineated anticipation, how is it that anything can be posited that fixed and steady? To close down time is to cease apprehension altogether, making such fixity a fiction, a useful fiction, but in close analysis, a fiction.

What happens when the world is phenomenologically analyzed is that standard models fall apart and (in my eclectic phenomenology) it is understood that what we call real are very different things from what these models have been telling us.
Philosophical materialism, as you call it, is the only philosophy compatible with science. So, not being science an issue, there can't be no major issue with materialism while accepting science.
I don't see where phenomenology is not compatible with science. Science says nothing at all about foundational matters. Doesn't touch issues regarding what happens to an observation of Mars when a mind seizes hold of observational content. Wittgenstein is quite compelling on this account: To make such an inquiry, one would have to use the very structures of observation in question. This is what phenomenology does as an inquiry into the underpinnings of science, asks what is necessary in order for science to do what it does. Science doesn't talk about the eidetic content in the structure of perceiving an object, therefore, it has no say, no interest.

It is important see that phenomenology is not asking us to interpretate a phenomenon as a phenonemon. In Husserl's epoche (and I am certainly not a Husserlian all the way) It is asking us to look at the event as it is, and examine and appreciate what it is with an interpretative position that minimizes extraneous influences. It takes you to the most genuine apprehension of the unfolding affair possible. No one is saying, let's consider this as a phenomenon, but let's consider this free of contextual interference, and what looms large is the thing itself, says Husserl. He is problematic here, but nor is he wrong: when one performs the epoche, as a method of world disclosure, the horizon of understanding is greatly purified, and it is not unlike seeing the object for the first time, notwithstanding predelineation.
As explained before, interpretative bias, which is just a term to refer to theoretical frameworks, does not suffice to reject materialist ontology. In any case, nothing about what the world actually is and actually does can undermine the so called "human condition", another abstract essence floating in an eternal realm.
Don't know what an abstract essence floating in an eternal realm is, but your thoughts here about actuality seems fair enough. We want the truth about what is actual, and any idea that supports a human condition theory that cannot accommodate what is actual should be dismissed.
There has been plenty of philosophical talk about humans at last compelled to face with sober senses their real conditions of life, and their relations with their kind, as to give any credit to the fallacious idea that the immanentism of materialism implies the abdication of pursuing any higher human purpose, or being ethically neutral, especially when it has become clear that human possibilities and aspirations are intimately linked to concrete social situations defined by the real material conditions of life.


Immanentism of materialism?? Oh, I see. You're saying that being competent about of ethical matters requires a no nonsense attitude toward concrete social situations and that the, say, our ideals of a higher human purpose are compatible with and even dependent on materialism. But this is not what is at issue here. Such "real material conditions of life" in this context has nothing to do with philosophical materialism. It is more about facing the grim and intractable aspects of our existence free of illusions. calling such things real material conditions is fine, in this context.
One cannot simply dismiss the real, material world, with all the constraints it imposes, but even more: with all its great possibilities for human flourishing, as irrelevant to people's lives.

Dismiss the real material world? What are you talking about? This is the way the pragmatic, hypothetical deductive method works: We, as children (and further on) encounter a world that is nothing but resistance, save the mother's breast, which is summoned at will, and bowel movements. In a world of "blooming and buzzing" (James) all is well. There is no sense of reality here, no apprehension of actuality. Subsequent encounters with the world are problems to solve, especially in the acquisition of language: noises here and there, consistently associated with objects of a certain kind, and eventually, the connection is made between 'dogs' and 'cats' and those furry things out there. Learning these and other associations is inherently consummatory, that is, completions of a problem solved, reinforced by parents' flattery and encouragement. These kinds of learning events comprise in the long run knowledge and reality, the latter being no more than an hypostatized pragmaticism, i.e., a foundation of problems solved. So: solving problems is what the very fabric of reality is, at the level of basic questions for phenomenological pragmatists like Heidegger and me (not Rorty; or yes, Rorty, too....confusing), though for me, there is metaethics, which has been discussed. Rather than dismissing the "constraints" the world imposes, it is constituted of them.
No, these (our caring, blisses and horrors) are some visible sprouts in the broad network of connections that make up the world, a network that has deeper roots than the naive philosophical gardener can handle. Bad philosophy will try to look for eternal unvariable essences rooted in the individuals, that explain their human emotional experiences. Fortunately, not all philosophy has embarked in such a failed project.
One really has to abandon talk about essences to see this, because it gives the impression that what is sought is eidos, the Greek for form or type. Here, it is precisely the opposite. The opposite. You have made this reference to eternal essences more than once, and I will disabuse you once more: In the difference between essence and actuality (and this is neither Heidegger of Husserl, nor anyone else. To get this you might want to read Moore, Mackie, Wittgenstein, Levinas, ??) Essence is the idea, the thought or interpretation, or the propositional truth value. It is what can be factually conceived. The actual is far more tricky, and ethics is the best way to see this: drive a spear through my kidney and THAT experience is not essence, idea or interpretation. Drill a tooth without Novocain, and the screaming agony has nothing whatever to do with the way language and logic can accommodate this. If you would like a far more intricate but exasperating to read account, read Kierkegaard's Concept of Anxiety. My position is to look plainly at the event as a phenomenological reduction: the pain itself sans the intrusion of theory and thought. There before your observing countenance pain will reveal to you its moral nature, which is the ethical "badness' awkward as it sounds. This is logically prior to any entanglement it has in a person's affairs. The spear may be cast on the battlefield, and the war may be morally ambiguous. Not at all the point how this fits into the world, its nature is that of the ethically bad.
So you see, it is not the essence, but the actuality, wherein lies the foundation for all ethical affairs. This makes me a moral realist, but more than this: the "reality" of pain, bliss, and so on is the really the ONLY real that can be confirmed as real. If you want to argue this point, I have absolute patience.
Absolutely not. And you left out a whole universe of things (all of them material, of course) between complex life and "the blisses and horrors of Tom", as if there were no detailed accounts of all the stages through which life went on Earth, all the physiological properties in organisms, all the environmental aspects, the rise of human societies, their cultural processes, their history, etc., all of which inevitably serve as context that give meaning to the blisses and horrors of Tom. I know, when one persist in explaining everything through the "xness" of things, the tableness, the chairness, and so on, as if these were "foundational", one ends up being baffled by the question of how do materialness power ever produces, instantly, from the pure abstract relations, the much anticipated powers of spiritualness of Tom.
Don't speak Plato-speak. It's not about essences. The point is really quite simple, but it is made complicated by those who think strictly in terms of the genesis of things, a rather routine way to think, I admit. Everybody thinks like this, as if to say what something IS is nothing more than a causal account of how it got there. But as I said before, Tom arriving on a bus tells us nothing of Tom himself (save that he is the kind of entity that fits in a bus). If you taste some apple strudel, your experience is not going to be about how the ingredients got there. A phenomenological reduction of something (even a causal sequence) asks that we look no further than the presence before you, and as controversial as this may be, in the presence of value, the episodic deliciousness of the strudel, it allows one to see clearly, in the moment what a thing is, and value, the metavalue, is undeniable. The moral realism I defend says that this is so for all ethical issues, the presence of something that, upon the reduction, is revealed to be "in the fabric of existence" phenomenon.
This is the equivalent of saying that a materialist ontology says nothing about the properties of the objects. That is absolutely and evidently false. You're just dismissing objective properties of things, pretending they don't exist, in order to advance your view of subjective properties founded in phenomenalism. But that's your view, not the materialist view. Now, if you discovered that the objective properties described by any materialistic account of the world are not real, in other words, that do not share an identity with the actual objects and events being described, you're in for a Nobel prize in physics, a new physics actually.
It is the same matter. It's not a difficult matter to see. The taste qua taste is not the extraneous matters like what it is composed of or how the strudel's atoms were once in the interior of a star. If you want to talk about these things, fine, they become relevant, but they're not relevant in the taste qua taste. Unless you want to argue that taste can be influenced by knowledge the way knowing the strudel is from an authentic Dutch recipe may enhance appreciation, or the like. But even here, the aesthetic of gustatory indulgence is qualitatively distinct from the conceptual knowledge. And the pain qua pain from the spear in my kidney has nothing to do with any causal account you wish to entertain.
What illusion? There's no illusion to point the finger at in a materialist ontology. Is it continental drift an illusion? Aren't there sub-atomic particles? And how come being tortured is NOT an account of material behavior? Can you show me an example of a non-material torture, that is, not materially based, not related to any physical object, not even physiological processes? I bet anything in that this will really be an insane metaphysics.
You're talking as if the discussion has just begun......curious. Read these lines to which you are responding: It gives the illusion that the knowing of one thing, the materialist account, is adequate for another, where the other in no way shares the essential feature that allows for a proper subsumption.
It does NOT say material substance is an illusion. Rather, it is about the principle of valid subsumption (did you not read it at all?): Concepts subsume other concepts, and these can be tricky affairs given the overlay and subtle differences in meanings and usage, but the principle is clear: If X is to subsume Y, then X has to be adequate in that it possesses generally what Y is less generally. Thus, to adequately subsume vodka under alcoholic beverage, the latter possesses "alcoholic" and "potability". Materialism, the kind under discussion here, does not adequately subsume the depth and breadth of human affairs, I am arguing, because as a concept, these valuative properties (non natural, says Moore) in our aesthetic and ethical matters (our suffering and blisses) are not possessed by the subsumptive paradigm. Materialism belongs in certain contexts, but not one in which all the world does seeks a foundation because it does not have the requisite subsumptive requirement, that is, it there is nothing in the meaning of material substance that allows it to subsume all things. It would be like subsuming legumes under farm equipment, a clear categorial error.

Now that is pretty clear. You can argue against it, but about any of the things you say above at all.
So far you have not produced a single argument that objects the material findings of science, I mean, you haven't even tried, because in fact you have conceded all along that science is OK. But why bother with assumptions, why not ask you directly: do you know of any other methodological inquiry that provides a better inventory of the objects and events of the world than science?
You have to separate the ways we use the term 'material'. Calling it "material findings" is, for us here, a loose sense of the term that has many applications, as with the material evidence in a trial or sewing materials, and so on. The methodology is the hypothetical deductive method. See above. You should see by now that a philosophical discussion is not the same as scientific one, though the method of science is never absent ( we live the hypothetical deductive method).

Concealed?? You are, I'm afraid, being arbitrary. I have often stated that there are no issues between phenomenology and empirical science. Phenomenology adequately subsumes the latter. If you want to discuss how, I am willing.
But you have taken the reductive stance that all materialistic understanding of the world, including human society, must and can only rely, and fall within the scope of natural science, but I have explicitly stated the opposite, a view that you'll keep disregarding because it doesn't fit the straw man you're making out of materialism in order to reject it. But I'll remind you of it anyway:

"As for the second job, the synoptic view, natural sciences must delegate its duties to other sciences, not really that much concerned with the ontological inventory of entities that comprise the external world, but somehow necessarily presuming it as a given, providing other insights about their objective intrinsic relationships, as well as the subjective relationships between conscious agents and the entities they encounter. One such set of disciplines is called social science, and it too ultimately owes a debt to the theoretical implications of material realism. They will tell you why Tom is still Tom, despite all his new atoms."
It is the "necessarily presuming it as a given" part that concerns us. It is presumed in the contexts of science to science, but not in theory that examines the ontological underpinnings of all things. A social "scientist"or a psychiatrist or a sales person or a couples therapist have no interest, vis a vis what they do, in ontological philosophy. This is why I readily accept any and all science, soft of hard, as entirely without issue with phenomenology, which looks at the structures of the conscious events themselves, the way they are constructed to give rise to thought/language, emotions/moods and the rest that are presupposed by science.
What this leads us to is to the real fundamental question: must human (social) sciences adopt or abandon a materialistic ontology of the world?
If a human social scientist were to step out of her field and express an interest in philosophical materialism, I would tell her such a concept contains indefensible biases and and is outside observational as well theoretical thinking.

Even pure speculation needs a basis. Look, I don't know what material is, beyond a useful concept in science and everyday living. It is useful, as are all concepts that have staying power. But it has a very strong connotative meaning that ruins theory at the basic level and it gives our thinking about the human situation a positivist rigidity that uses paradigms of empirical science to fill the void where no thought can go. In doing this, is assumes the scientific paradigms are paradigms to dominate all interpretations in the final analysis. This leads to the kind of thinking that reduces our human affairs to quantitative affairs, dismissing the actualities before our eyes. and this is clearly evidenced in your inability to eeven acknowledge the difference between a thing's presence and a thing's historical genesis. The taste, the feel, the moods, the caring are NOT quantitative concepts in their episodic presence, though they certainly can be treated as such, and this is done all too often. It is a numbing of actuality, a casual dismissing where awe and wonder should be, a false sense of knowing all things are accounted for where there is no such subsuming power to do this, a complete ignorance at the level of basic questions where the structure of thought that is presupposed by science is examined, a willful disregard for inquiry that contests such empirical paradigms as, as all things, merely interpretative and localized ideas and are not conceived at all to be the all subsuming interpretative authority. And so on.
Theories of language and logic will only point to epistemological issues, they are incompetent to reject any materialist ontology, and will never produce a substitute, or at least will not produce a realistic substitute, as the realm of the abstract does not suffice. That road evidently then cannot lead to nothing that holds a relation with the objects of the world, at best it can propose a different human relation with the objects of the world. Ontologically speaking, a transcendental abstract realm explains nothing.
But then, if a person says he road in on a chimera, and you know there is no such thing, his riding in on one is impossible. The point being that epistemology is logically prior to ontology: if there is no way to explain how X gets into S, then the affirmation of X by S must have some alternative recourse to explaining the affirmation of X. It doesn't. X doesn't get into Y; rather, knowledge is a process, and since the inquiring agency is not IN the process, but IS the process, there is no way to objectively confirm anything outside the process. One would have to, says Wittgenstein, conceive of another language or symbolic system if she were to be able to conceive of X outside of the process, but then, this would require another symbolic system to conceive of the original process.
Phenomenological ontology does not seek Y independently of S. That is impossible.
I listed above a summary of all the arguments (8 of them) against materialism, all of which have been dealt with and refuted. So it appears that the central tenets of materialism, as I have exposed, remain unchallenged.

As for Kant, his work is thought provoking, which is fine, and one must give him credit for the monumental task on which he embarked metaphysics. But reading his ideas is interesting in the same way as reading Aristotle's physics. Enough water has passed under the bridge since then as to take any of his doctrines as fundamental to any new inquiry, there's plenty of scholarship and lots of refutations, and not even his followers take him literally. There's no need for materialism to defend from him. Hegel, precisely a giant of idealism himself, ripped to shreds his moral doctrines.
But you are arguing with me, not a summary from elsewhere. And I addressed all of your issues. And I tell you to BEGIN with Kant in order to establish a foundation for German idealism and then beyond. You need this foundation to know what existentialists are talking about.
Mention not Katian ethics unless you want to talk about them. Kant is a rationalist, and given what I have said about ethics and value, he is parsecs away from my thinking.
The one thing about Kant is first, he, like Rorty (certainly not a Kantian beyond this), he will take all that science has to say and affirm it. He will affirm materialism, but just not philosophical materialism. But he was a very direct, uncompromising rationalist, through and through. Existentialism is a repudiation of rationalism, mostly.
I have refuted this before. There's no evidence that, epistemologically speaking, materialism presents a distorting bias that spoils its ontology. To demonstrate such a thing one would need to get into the inventory of material entities provided by natural sciences and find out that they don't correspond to actual objects or properties of the world.

Of course there is evidence, but you have to go through the literature, have the interest and take the time to understand the concepts of phenomenology. I say, begin with Kant, for he lays down a foundation of thought. The evidence lies in the vast body of phenomenological theory that exposes the underpinnings of experience, what lies hidden and unregarded given, well, the lack of interest and willingness to put the time in. Kant IS a beginning, but a big one. Those unmotivated will never get it, and society will not help: most are too infatuated with the gadgets technology produces and too inured in the commonplace.

But what has happened is exactly the opposite. And then the argument shifts to claiming that any theoretical framework is prejudiced, but that of course is where the argument self defeats, since the skeptic cannot get rid himself of any prejudices. And the argument jumps to claiming that there is a non-prejudiced direct access to objects (their essence, they say), the very first thing that was claimed as impossible (for everybody else, apparently), and so on...
By my lights, you are the skeptic. It's a relative term. Phenomenology does not have the bias I complain about. It says, look there before you and give analysis as it presents itself in its most fundamental features, dismissing, the incidentals.

Not direct access to objects. You're reading Husserl. I have been saying the opposite: the hypothetical method does not yield direct anything. See above. Perception is complicated, and any foundational ideas are going to by hermeneutically conceived. Now, having said this, I do defend a meta ethical foundation for ethics that is difficult to discuss, as it should be, and I think metaethical theory presents the only foundation possible; it is a meta ethical ontology that is at the foundation of my eclectic position. Not direct access to objects, at all.
Phenomenalism clumsily asks from epistemology duties for which it has no competence. Epistemology can only aim to say what can actually be KNOWN, not what actually IS
.
Now that is precious. Affirming what IS without explaining how it gets affirmed? Epistemology asks, P?? P exists? How do you know? The answer is justification for affirming P.

Clumsy? That is just derogatory. If you think Husserl's Ideas or Kierkegaard's Anxiety is clumsy, then ...you need to read these guys, not just about them.
So, even though phenomenalism migth feel justified in claiming that we can only know the phenomena that appears to first-person subjective experience and not what may be behind it in an external realm

It affirms that in the analysis of the structure of a knowledge claim, there is something Other than oneself; that things, knowers and knowns have distance between them, and so on. Of course, acknowledging this is done within an inevitable hermeneutical setting, and any foundational attempts beyond this are futile. Heidegger is insightful: it is in the, above the couch, behind, the door, in my pocket, over yonder, and so on that we find an always already existing body on everyday interpretative terms of facts for what space is. Time is before five, while I was sleeping, after three in the morning, and so on. These are part of our being there prior to analysis into their nature.He thinks at root, we are thrown into an interpretative world of affairs, scientific or otherwise, and the staring point for figuring out what these are at a more fundamental level is to take these up and look at the foundation beneath them, that is, what is presupposed by them.

(a claim refuted by science), and that therefore any ontological claim about an external realm is unwarranted, it cannot take a further step to say that it DOES KNOW what actually is.

What it does know is everything a materialist knows, sans the metaphysics of materialism. You did know that materialism is a metaphysical thesis, I assume. It knows more in that it allows things to be examined without the materialist bias, thereby freeing up the phenomenon to be viewed as it is (not to be viewed free of interpretative conditions, but free of the intrusion of an extraneous idea).
By doing so it would have assumed an antirealist ontological position, one that can only be sustained on faith.
Errr, the Real? what is this, material substance? That just begs the question in the most obvious way. Faith? Faith in what, the presence of my lamp on the table?
It would be more appropriately called a phenomenological anti-ontology, it would do more justice to the doctrine: what appears to my perception is all there is. And if one inverts its own argument: how does anything IN HERE gets OUT THERE to make assertions about what's out there, without science, the whole fallacious construction shatters to useless pieces.
Not useless! Just the opposite: Usefulness IS the ontology, in my often-described-in-this-discussion pragmatic phenomeology. What is there, before me is a "sense" of the Real in my assertion that something is real. The sense is the actuality of the real, though the object is another matter (it being real in philosophical ontology is certainly not like, a chimera is not real. This is just the common way of speaking). This sense is what Rorty called a hypostatized universal where the universal is inherently pragmatic (see the childhood account above).

Science remains untouched. We are at a different level of analysis.
I don't have a problem with profundity, I'm all for profundity, a real, serious one. Looking for abstract essences does not pass as profundity for me, but more importantly, it is not even a serious threat to materialism.
But abstract essences are not being defended. See the above.
I already dealt with that several times, and above once again. And no, none of such affairs gives any good reason to make a materialist ontology impossible. It is always odd that you frequently refer to Moore, who evidently did not take metaethical affairs to reason that the external world does not exist. Apparently, he never found out that metaethics refuted materialism. You should read his Proof of an External World (I can lend you a copy if you want). And why don't you read his Refutation of Idealism and A Defence of Common Sense? He makes there many of the arguments I have made myself, including why idealism refutes itself when trying to refute materialism. Interestingly, I'm not precisely a fan of Moore, apparently you do, so you should take his doctrines more seriously.
It's his Principia Ethica I refer to, not Moore's other thinking. I bring up Kant, but I am no rationalist; I bring up Heidegger, but his ethics is appalling; I bring up Husserl, but his thoughts about the immediacy in grasping an object is very questionable; Rorty and I have a serious falling out in his defense of YOUR position; and so on. And Wittgenstein is a positivist! Certainly not me.

I give you none of these, yet all. This is why it is important to read closely what I say. If I bring up a philosopher, see what it is I am defending, not what the Stamford online says in general. I have chosen something from each of these I find important, the rest be damned.

Moore in asking what the good is, and it is because his question is a metaethical one, not one that deals with casuistry or deontology of duty or utility--- but, as I see it, the phenomenon of value! And add to this Husserl's epoche, there is a fascinating enunciation of the actuality of ethics. Long discussion, really, but I have put it out there.
That was already dealt with. Natural science's effectiveness applies to the inventory of the actual objects and properties of the world. There are other sciences dealing with aspects of reality that are subsidiary to the material realism provided by natural science.
But the nature of "the inventory of the actual objects and properties of the world" is what is at issue, not that there is such an inventory. It is the defacto material substance premise that precedes inquiry into this nature that is at issue.
That's just an opinion, not a refutation of materialist ontology. But the point was made to show precisely the straw argument: the idea that for materialism to be sound, it must produce an epiphany of materialness right out of the perception event. An one can assume, but not demonstrate, that it is possible to grasp immediately, absent any theoretical filter, the reality of existence of things.
This really is strawman: an epiphany?? No, just show up, as my house shows up. If you want to say that material substance is inferred from other theoretical work, you have to, and I have said this, establish some connection where the observations justify the positing of material substance.
No, this is just a way of approaching philosophy, a failed way. It is again the argument of the "passing of meaning" that has been shown repeteadly to refute itself. Read G. E. Moore, he might give you the insights perhaps better than me. Certainly not an apt refutation of materialist ontology.
I don't think Moore is going to be helpful. But it does take reading these philosophers at length to be turned to phenolmenology.

Not proofreading all of that. Could be.....oddities.

User avatar
Hereandnow
Posts: 2536
Joined: July 11th, 2012, 9:16 pm
Favorite Philosopher: the moon and the stars

Re: Nagel's Project in Mind and Cosmos

Post by Hereandnow » May 29th, 2020, 10:01 pm

Greta
You speak of "palpable meaning" but that's just emotions. I am not convinced that emotions are anything more than other unimportant "facts of life". What are emotions but a means to cope when events pass too rapidly for adequate higher-level mental processing? AI, for instance, won't need emotions because they will be capable of processing a million times more quickly than us. So, instead of forming emotional reactions that lead them to the correct actions, eg. fleeing, fighting, assisting and comforting, they would calculate the optimal approach at any given moment.
I preface this following with the disclaimer that disagreement is a constructive part of discourse, entirely not about egos and their resentments and frailties.
AI will not care one scintilla, though. It might as well be a scarf or fence post. 'Need' is an interesting word. Notice how statements like "processing a million times more quickly than us" and "correct actions" dominate your agenda. Now, what IS need? There is the general sense applied throughout our system of references, as with, my car needs new brakes, or, to fly to Mercury a craft needs to achieve escape velocity. The term is everywhere, and simply refers a to sufficient cause for something else. But consider an AI that doesn't need emotions. It is the same, fit in a context of things such that something is or is not sufficient to achieve something else. It is a model of need that is inherently absent of the "mattering" in question; but then, this simply removes from sight the issue. One has to look at a non contingent conception of "need", the kind that does not depend on something else in the nature of the deficit that brings about the need. And of course, here I talk about he need of a child for affection, the need I have not be mauled to death by wild dogs, the need to have the report finished lest I lose my job; that emotional (and physical) needs. These have something else, something contingent needs do not have in their essential definition.
Will something be lost if evolution takes that turn? Definitely, as there are always losses. We are currently saying goodbye to the charming innocence and spontaneity of other animals. When indigenous people were invaded by Europeans, beautiful aspects of their culture, their languages and their intimate knowledge of the local environment were lost. I suspect that emotionality is heading towards similar marginalisation.
Well, evolution is either going to scaled in geologic time, or it will occur within generations through genetic engineering. I suppose the human genome will be entirely mastered fairly soon, not by us, but by AI and in a century of so we will be choosing our children's features. Better to build people who can love, love music and art and poetry, AND compartmentalize these sufficiently to avoid the ugly affairs of emotional struggle.

When referring to "things that have no meaning at all" being privileged to represent the meaning of all things, you are seemingly referring to atoms, quanta, the four fundamental forces, and so on. These are just particular angles. I've read people saying that time is fundamental, or matter, God, spirit, consciousness, experience, gravity, mathematics, Platonic solids, dark energy, strings, asymmetry, wave functions, and other angles that I have forgotten. They are just particular perspectives, like the Indian parable of the six blind men who gained their impressions of an elephant by touching it; 'It is like a tree,' said the blind man touching the animal's leg. 'No, it is like a snake,' says the one touching the trunk, etc. None are entirely right or entirely wrong.
So is your statement "emotions are (no) more than other unimportant "facts of life"" just a particular angle? I take it the answer is yes. Clearly, greater enlightenment is always around the corner. But the argument I find most interesting rests with this understanding:

Consider what we humans, or anything, really, are through a typical empirical scientist's lens, and you will get mostly clear, objective data, with which I agree. I don't argue with such things and consider them "facts of life" as you say. But what is a fact? Facts are descriptive accounts of one kind or another, causal, structural, classificatory (nominal), and so on. It is a very quantifiable kind of thing: granite is an igneous rock, composed of mica, quartz and so on, typically of such and such geologic age;and a scientist can give you in great specificity an account of how it was formed, the boundaries of classificatory placement, molecular structure of its component minerals, and this, we say constitutes our knowledge of granite. But these, again, are all quantitative descriptions. If I say quartz has a Moh's hardness classification of 7, it is a relative assessment, i.e., one of more or less compared to others. If I toss the quartz across a field, it will have a speed and deceleration, a trajectory, a friction that impedes inertia, and so on. Any and all scientific knowledge is like this: measurable, and inherently relative.
The issue I would raise looks at these facts purely quantitative, and quantitative facts have nothing to say about qualitative affairs. They can demonstrate how to measure them, classify them, describe the physical systems from which they emerge, historicize them; they are absolutely silent on the qualitative presence of them. Of course, the qualitative presence of a helium atom near the center of the sun hardly makes sense, youo might say, but my thoughts on that have to be reserved for another time (there is no sun; I'd like to say I'm kidding, but, well, language is nothing with context, and there is a context in which this makes perfect sense. Kind of hard to argue outside of the literature, though). Here, I don't care about all the quanititative measurable knowledge of science. I dismiss it entirely, though, to be taken up again when needed, relevant. I dismiss it because I want to ask the question quantitative knowledge cannot address at all: What IS something? But not atoms and molecules,rather, the dramatic, romantic, glorious, wretched, appalling that comprise our existence. As I see it, talk about getting rid of it, AI finding it useless, and so on rests on a more fundamental question, which is what IS it without the science telling us what it is. It has a presence that exceeds these accounts. Music is not the sum of its objective measurements. There is something IN the human situation something that far, far exceeds science, is indeed, qualitatively distinct form what science is all about. Human (or animal) experience brings into the world "mattering" that is certainly may be quantifiable, we do this all the time, but is in itself not exhausted in the quantifying. It is this Other that makes for our horrors and blisses, and, if you're like me, these possess the foundations for movements in philosophy like American Transcendentalism. Of course, such things are philosophically rather crankish. Or are they?

Where death comes in is that it is an emotional matter for us, somewhat unfortunate, creatures caught in the middle of evolutionary change. We are advanced enough to see our death in the future but still animal enough to be driven by obsessive fear of death, handed down by generations of survivors (those who feared death enough to successfully reproduce). So we fear death as reflexively as any other animal yet, unlike them, we see its certainty in the future. No wonder we turn to spirituality. It looks like a lost cause - unless meaning is created over broader spans of time than a human lifetime.
Evolution is a theory I completely agree with; no less than plate tectonics or the like. BUT: an account of the manner in which traits were "selected" says nothing about what those traits are. I would repeat this over and over for emphasis. I completely believe the texts written by scientific inquirers into the "origins of people", but the processes by which something comes to be is completely silent as to what it IS that has come to be. The only thing it should tell me is that whatever it is, it was "chosen" for a "reason" in the process. My ankle was broken in two places and the pain was off the scales. My science text tells me pain keeps the species alive to reproduce. I ask, you call THAT an explanation? Why is it that pain is among the world's "options" to be there at all?

Now here, typically one simply turns off the explanatory spigot. It just is. Whether you think it wrong or right, just or unjust, just accept it. Why do we have this attitude? Religion has not, through the millennia. It posited some of the most ridiculous things, but, the issue of our "throwness" (Heidegger's term. Stolen from Kierkegaards' Repetition) was center stage. The story of Eden, of Christ the savior and the many "savior" stories were, in the prescientfic world a standard feature.

Here is my view on the matter: Consider that historically, there have been no rigorous standards for all things that saturated culture as it is with us. By rigorous, I mean the strong positivist trust of modern science: all things codified and explained, nearly inviolable boundaries set between accepted paradigms and unacceptable ones, but done so in infinitely more detail than ever imagined possible a century ago, and prior to that, it was simply "unknown unknowables" (compliments of Donald Rumsfeld) all the way through. Typically, science looks at these historical religious ideas as pre enlightenment, premodern, the place for faith and the imagination. But note, what science actually does is quantify the world in great detail and in useful ways, and it has no say whatever in the qualitative presence of the world. It all is what is, period, at this level of inquiry. But in the process of building a culture of science and its problem solving with technology, it has ditched, and we have ditched, the qualitative issues of ancient religions. Science has occluded the qualitative issues at the primordial level of our being here to the point that in a modern culture it has become simply absurd to even inquire about them, but it is not that they have been resolved at all. Just ignored.

I am aware that none of this will convince. It never does. I think one has to be really interested in getting to the bottom of what suffering is, what happiness is. For me, I just put myself in the shoes of the child who had a blissful time dancing in the moon light in the forest at night,then, when discovered was deemed a heretic and burned alive. I mean, I am well aware of how successful science is in fixing my teeth and exploring Jupiter's moons, but this one child drives me insane. Of course, she is just a symbol of the tonnage of suffering inflicted upon us, but it never strikes a nerve until it attended to passionately and closely to witness the affair like a scientist has to witness the relative velocity of Jupiter's moons. Look closely at the qualitative presence of this, and one realizes very clearly, this cannot stand. It is impossible to dismiss this the way we dismiss demons vis a vis schizophrenia.

Keep in mind that our knowledge of the world, qualitative as well as quantitative, is understood through a medium that is absolutely opaque: a brain.
Logically, we need not fear death but, dammit, this life is all we can be certain of, and the drive to live is overwhelming. Humans will not always be like this, though, I suspect. That will involve having a greater conception of the self than just the individual, to identify so strongly to a larger group - a subculture, a culture, humanity, life, the Earth, the Sun, the galaxy or the universe (choose your "God") - that we genuinely feel as though we live on through future iterations.

As the Buddhists say, one should let go of the ego. Not "should" in terms of moral consequence, but strategy. That is, the consequence for holding on to the ego is suffering. But it's not really an annihilation of ego but an expansion to entities beyond your own nervous system, genetics or regular contacts. In theory :)
Expansion of entities beyond our own nervous system? That is exactly right! But not in theory, for me. There is something, well, profound about stopping thought, anticipation, the presumption of knowing, and letting the world loom large as the ego falls away. When it works, anxiety vanishes, one can feel the freedom once clear as a bell as a child. Not easy to summon at will, though.
Apologies for all the writing. It is a habit.

User avatar
Hereandnow
Posts: 2536
Joined: July 11th, 2012, 9:16 pm
Favorite Philosopher: the moon and the stars

Re: Nagel's Project in Mind and Cosmos

Post by Hereandnow » May 30th, 2020, 12:44 pm

Just proof read, Greta. Never do till it's too late, if I do it at all. I said "rather, the dramatic, romantic, glorious, wretched, appalling that comprise our existence" and "comprise" should be "constitute".

User avatar
Count Lucanor
Posts: 708
Joined: May 6th, 2017, 5:08 pm
Favorite Philosopher: Umberto Eco
Location: Panama
Contact:

Re: Nagel's Project in Mind and Cosmos

Post by Count Lucanor » June 5th, 2020, 12:56 pm

Hereandnow wrote:There is nothing in logic that prohibits materialism any more than there is to prohibit Jesus being the son of God. It could be.
You have to be kidding. When we are in the middle of a conversation about thoughtful philosophical ideas, you bring as as an example a completely ludicrous, logically impossible, out-of-the-ballpark theological doctrine? You could have found better examples, let's say, the spontaneous generation of maggots on decaying meat, the Lochness monster or ghosts running around on people's houses. While these might be not logically impossible, there it shows the difference of a materialist ontology that leans on science: when we go to find if these entities or events actually exist independently of us, we can accurately determine that they do or don't.
Hereandnow wrote: The world could be essentially unicorns at the sub sub atomic level and logic, or something equally absurd or worse, but logic would not be offended.
But thanks to materialistic science, we know for sure that it is not the case of unicorns at sub-atomic levels. Logic will not get offended because it is not its duty to say what there is in the world.
Hereandnow wrote: But material? What IS this analytically? It is not extension in space or time. It is what is, you night argue, but this is, as I have said many times now, in agreement with phenomenology, though there still needs the matter of "isness" to be examined. Heidegger asks us to look at the structure of our Being here (dasein) and not at some mysterious stuff of all things. Material is a term, it has utility and is a region of our existence with associated terms that ground it in possible contexts, and as a particle of language, it serves to disclose the hiddeness of the world. This all makes sense because there is no positing of anything metaphysical. It is circular, but this is what happens when inquiry takes of basic questions. It is not a fault, but the way our world is: We do not HAVE metaphysical foundational knowledge and all of our words are interreferential and this makes meaning possible.
This is once again the argument, refuted so many times, of the epistemological reduction of ontology to self-referential constructions of language. But again, when one follows this path, everything goes down the slippery slope, including the analytic operations of the phenomenologist, who has put himself in no better position for asserting anything than the materialist he tried to discredit, because by putting on an epistemical fence to close his access to the reality of the world, he has forced himself to stay behind the same fence. It becomes useless that the phenomenologist appeals to a mystical meditation power that magically gains access (and by magically I simply mean "the vacuous assumption that one simply knows it, by virtue of some mysterious epistemic faculty that makes the connection"), by teletransporting to the other side of the fence, to the mysterious stuff of all things, because well, our being is just a term, language is just a term, the world is just a term, and so on. What is the analytical analytically? It is just what it is, whatever meaning you want to make out of it. It self-destroys like a suicide bomber, trying to get rid of materialism, a project that fails miserably, since the world keeps showing emphatically that it is actually there, pretty much as the materialist ontology says it is.
Hereandnow wrote: Things? It seems you are willfully begging the question, as if, oh, there is material right there, in the things. I simply overlooked it. And bringing up structure is only to invite matters that put suspicion to your position: Is it the logical structure of the arguments that make the test possible? That would make the conclusion a logical, eidetic affair. What does it mean for something to "be happening" at all? By a physicalist's interpretation of the world, am I not witnessing what is happening in an entirely local way, within the localized material that constitutes me, my knowledge claims, beliefs, my logic. Isn't it that materialism is committed to a conception of S knows P, whereby P can be np more than the material that S encounters. How does S encounter anything beyond it own locality? You're in a world of magical thinking in which one material thing can reach out to another and grasp what it is. This was my query, which you avoided answering.
Actually that is the same regurgitated argument that I dealt with several times. It is the argument that puts all the emphasis in the "witnessing", anxious to grasp immediately, directly, perhaps with the same attitude of mystical meditation of the phenomenologist, the structure of things, "to let that which shows itself be seen from itself in the very way in which it shows itself from itself". Brilliant. A witnessing that pretends to treat with contempt all the assumptions of the mode of inquiry of scientific endeavors in order to put forward its own philosophical assumptions, endowed with the magical meditation powers of idealist philosophy, its own kingdom where one ideal thing called consciousness does indeed reach out to another and grasp what it is, including itself. On what grounds? Absolutely none, not even the magic of meditation, because of all the epistemological reductions, the one that cuts its own throat is the one that proclaims the eternal passing of meaning. And since meaning is all the matter he wants to work with, and all of it is pure circularity of language, words referring to other words, his own assumptions are purely rethorical operations devoid of substance and method of confirmation, thus lacking any demonstrative power. Literally, anything goes, and permanently begs the question. Whatever nonsense he says (and he actually does), it can stand nicely as structured by language, but still nonsense. It is odd then that he can feel entitled to question the scientific foundations of materialism, or the materialistic foundations of science (it's even weirder that he will say "science is OK", as if science could be OK and not materialism at the same time, when materialism and science are mutually reliant. To show some level of consistency, the honest claim from the phenomenologist would be that both materialism AND science suck). But by his own choice he's not entitled to say anything about anything, his program leads to a dead end. How come a project that mines an objective ontology and its own epistemology at once, can dare to assert something of worth about a materialist ontology, based on that groundless epistemology? No matter how much the phenomenologist can complain that there's no ground to believe that the inventory of entities described by science exist, or that it exists as described, all his complaints amount only to what he does not want to believe, to what he feels entitled to remain skeptic, not to what he can know to be actual or true. The materialist ontology is out of his reach, as he's obsessed with (what he thinks is) the locality, the "in here", with how the thing "shows in itself". But that of course means that everything would stay "in here", and the phenomonologist would have to conform with his own cogito, nothing else. To know something else is to reach a known distinct from the knower, to transcend the limits to identify the locality, an "out there" adjacent to the "in here", a possibility that he has epistemologically and categorically denied.
Hereandnow wrote: And again, asserting that this is just a naive or strawman version of materialism does not (as I have said earlier) deliver this concept from the theoretical trash bin. You would have to show how one can hold materialism and, a) allow knowledge relationships between the the knower and the known given the epistemic restraints; that is, roughly if you like, how does something out there get in here such that you can make a knowledge claim about what is out there?, and b) not engage in magical thinking about this relationship, and by magical I simply mean the vacuous assumption that one simply knows it, by virtue of some mysterious epistemic faculty that makes the connection. If you could just sketch it out for me, I would run off and publish a paper.
First of all, as I have shown repeatedly, epistemic restraints operate over all modes of inquiry, scientific or philosophical, and for phenomenologists to say that they have had the privilege of crossing the fence is total nonsense. But since the mode of inquiry of the phenomenologist departs from the epistemic itself, it has self=defeated. So you have a double burden: not only to look for an epistemology that can actually refute the findings of science and materialism, which of course no one has ever done, but also to find an epistemology that does not drown itself in the circularities of language, in the eternal passing of meaning, that does more than rethoric, that does not mine its own assumptions, that produces a reliable method of confirmation and showcases some demonstrative power. By all means, phenomenology cannot be that science. Meditation magic does not do the theoretical trick. Perhaps if you find it, you'll be able to answer the same questions you ask to materialism and a bit more: a) how do you allow a knowledge of the existence of relationships between a knower and a known?, b) how do you allow a known that is a knower at all?, c) how does something "in here" gets "out there" such that you can make a knowledge claim about what is out there?, d) how does the known gets its structure from the "in here" without any participation of the "out there", I mean, how do the knower knows that the known can only be structured by the knower? A great meditation power is not an answer.
Hereandnow wrote: Again, atoms are not synonymous with material, nor is energy or force, nor quarks or any other subatomic particles. All of these are concepts that constitute a pragmatic fabric of our sense of reality.
There are so many troubles with this that I don't know where to start. First, in semantic sense, atoms, energy, forces, quarks, electrons, etc., definitely are synonymous of the physical, also a synonymous of material. These are considered actual physical entities, part of the inventory of a material universe studied systematically by a science called physics. Physical and material can be used interchangeably and materialism is also called physicalism. This remains undisputed, as you can confirm in any dictionary. And all that materialism (or physicalism) asks for is to acknowledge that there are actual bodies in the universe composed at fundamental levels by atoms, energy, etc., that they actually exist when conscious subjects are not aware of them, that the conscious subjects are composed by the same fundamental entities, and that this whole universe is not a illusory construction of a disembodied mind, in other words, that the sense of reality is intrinsically linked to the reality itself, even though it is mediated by the senses. Since they can be, and necessarily must be conceptualized, that is, processed cognitively by the conscious subjects, we can justifiably call them concepts, having subjective "existence", but that does not mean they can't exist as things in themselves, or that grasping a concept immediately "dissolves" their actual, objective existence. Conversely, having the concept does not immediately produce its actual, objective existence. And so one can conceptualize things that can never exist in the actual world.
Hereandnow wrote: I've just looked in earnest at my clock on the wall and me, there observing it, and asked, how does this knowledge work? It is there, I am here, and the only model I have is the materialist one (of course, I am a materialist when the context calls for it).
The point is that the context always calls for it. If you pretend to leave the context, you would be moving to a magical realm.
Hereandnow wrote: Putting aside quantum entanglement or the eternal oneness of all things near death experiencers testify to, materialism has no recourse to get that clock into my head, and even all of the in betweens, light waves, the ocular circuitry, the neuronal processing plant, not only are these not that clock, but they are equally not my idea, impression of the clock;
But as I've explained zillion of times, materialism doesn't pretend to get the clock into your head. Materialism will tell you why you see the clock, not being the product of an illusion, but of an actual clock being actually there, with actual properties that belong to the clock itself, so that even when you move or disappear completely, the same clock, with the same properties, will be there for another subject to witness. We know that because we ask the new witness and 100% of the time we will get the same description of the clock and predict its behavior before it is witnessed. And materialism will also tell you what perceptual conditions are required to see the clock that is actually there, including the perceiving organs of his own body, which possibilitate a sense mediation by an observer, so that the clock is perceived when these conditions are met, predictably and consistently. These are not conditions of the clock alone, but conditions of a world shared by the clock and the observers as a continuum. Materialism does not deny the phenomenical problem of mediation, it does not claim the observer has magical first-hand direct knowledge of the structure of the world perceived, it does not conform with the naive impressions, but it uses scientific tools to investigate what relationship might exist between what is perceived and what could actually exist independently of the observer, including other observers. It does not deny either that the mediation process of the subject adds a conceptual structuring that possibilitates meaning and understanding, so that out of the world continuum one can select the clock as a singular entity, artificially separating it from the wall and the air that surrounds it. At this point materialism and phenomenalism do not need to clash, as they deal with the ordinary objects perceived. But if it stopped there it would be indeed just another metaphysics, and would be entangled with the philosophical problems of the fallibility of the self-evident. That's why materialism needs science, to correct the errors, performing its own kind of eidetic reduction, not the phenomenological one, meditative and speculative, but empirical and concrete, to gain insights on the fundamental structure of the world. Not naively, as the phenomenologist expects, free of conceptual framework, but with the conceptual framework that science provides with its reliable methodology. And then all evidence will point to a clock being actually there, not just taken for granted. But surely, one can decide not to follow the evidence and unsubscribe to materialism and scientific research altogether.
Hereandnow wrote:
Count Lucanor wrote: Now, to abandon materialism one would have to take the stance that our optical organ, the coffee cup, the bus down the road, continental adrift, light and the process of reflection, are not real mind-independent things or events.
Just to affirm, yes, these are not mind independent (but then, "mind independence" is not mind independent either), but this is not to say the mind is not of the same fabric as all other things.
A materialistic and realistic mind-independence is not meant to be "disconnected" of the observer's mind, it is meant to be independent of the observer, so that it will continue to exist and relate to the rest of the world without participation of the observer. Epistemologically speaking, there's mind-dependence, ontologically speaking, there is not. An idealist ontology, where everything is mind content, and nothing else, simply doesn't hold, it is mere wishful thinking and an article of faith. No analytic or synthetic operation will produce any inference to justify such belief.
Hereandnow wrote:
Count Lucanor wrote: And if one just made the assumption, in other words, if we pretended, in order to reject materialism, that they are not real objects in the world, what would be the alternative ontology? And what would make that ontology better justified rationally than materialism?
The alternative is to conceptualize the world as it is foundationally: a transcendental mystery. Of course, mysteries can only be mysteries if what is not mysterious possesses the intimation of mystery, and this makes phenomenology the fascinating philosophical method it is (though, not all phenomenologists think this way, exactly). We are here embedded in a mystery of Being in eternity. But what is eternity? Well, we know this "intuition" only as it is offset by our finitude, that is, it is out of this acknowledged delimited condition of our consciousness, and finitude is a spacial and temporal intuition of our delimitedness, but far more importantly, our finitude is coextensive with infinity all accounts of our affairs. Going shopping is an eternal affair, just as it is finite, and this is simply an analytic truth: It is not eternity that stops at the margins of our perceptual horizons, but our ability to apprehend the world.
If that's the answer to my question of what would make that ontology better justified rationally than materialism, then it has been made obvious that your alternative to materialism falls short, way too short. A transcendental mystery? Please...what is that supposed to mean? You're just confirming my assessment of the phenomenological project as good old mysticism and magical thinking, an assessment that some of its prominent figures would not find discrediting, I mean, they sold it themselves as some sort of religious conversion with more or less sophisticated epiphanies. No doubt it is fascinating. The mystery? Yes, sure, what else is left after one decided to embrace the cogito as the only possible stuff, all the rest will be groundless speculation about impressions that one gets acquainted with, and of which nothing substantial can be said, except that they appear in one's experience. Eternity, finitude? Not even these is the res cogitans entitled to speak about, not without beggin the question itself and betraying its own epistemology, stepping outside to affirm a connection to a lifeworld, a treacherous doctrine and evident backdoor exit to the problems it brought upon itself.
Hereandnow wrote: Material substance as a term tossed about freely in physics, in everyday living, it is most certainly NOT a vacuous term. Quite useful. But then, so is the Christian notion of obedience to God for salvation to keep people toeing the moral line.
No, theological nonsense is not going to save the day for the antimaterialist, not even Kierkegaard's. The only substance in gods and other articles of faith is the substance of the real things these fantasies want to replace, other than that they are vacuous. And that was what the point was about, vacuousness, not usefulness. Materialism is not only useful, but the only ontology with a real, actual substance.
Hereandnow wrote: Materialism says "all that is, is material substance" or it says nothing at all.
No. Materialism says that all that is, is made of one substance, and how that substance is, its properties and behavior, we call it physical or material. So it says a lot about the substance.
Hereandnow wrote:Are you saying that there is some evidential basis for affirming material substance? No one has seen the Big Bang, but is theoretically plausible enough to be believed by many competent cosmologists. The event is inferred from observations of spectral analyses and the presence of the Doppler Effect in the red shift, from the relative trajectory of stars, and so on. Are you saying material substance is inferred from an argument like this? Tell me what it is so, again, I can run out and publish it.
What I'm saying is that there's evidential basis for confirming that there's an actual world, that it is structured independently of our consciousness of it, in other words, that has objective existence, that it is composed of matter and energy, that has distinct and discrete entities or bodies with mass and extension, and that conscious subjects are part of that world. It implies always a synoptic view of all the evidence that comes to us, especially from physical sciences, both at fundamental levels and at the level of contingent processes. If you find that to be a startlingly new revelation that could potentially revolutionize our understanding of the world, I grant you permission to run out and publish it. But I cannot please you by saying that all it takes to materialism is to infer materialness by means of a particular set of observations, after which scientist jump in excitement saying: "eureka!!! look, look there, don't you see the materialness showing up so nicely?"
Hereandnow wrote: Of course. But all this is preanalytic. One has to take the step beyond the naive way of dealing with philosophical issues.
Ha! No way. As explained before, this is the analysis itself, when science intervenes to correct our fallible acts of self-evidential knowledge. Everyone agrees, even the phenomenologist and the materialist scientist: there's something fundamental unseen at broad daylight, some structure that needs to be brought to the surface. But then one project goes one way, and the other project the other way. The meditative, quasi-religious path taken by the phenomenologist ends in aporia, patched up with mystical powers. The rational, systematic, reliable path taken by the materialist by the hand of science, is the one that turns out fruitful.
Hereandnow wrote: If a stone is a thing, steady and fixed (aside from the weathering, the movement of the earth, and the like) how do I reconsile this with the temporality of the hard wiring of the apprehension of this thing? That is, since thought is a past to present to future dynamic (not to put too fine a point on it) that never "stops" for to apprehend anything is to do it in a predelineated anticipation, how is it that anything can be posited that fixed and steady? To close down time is to cease apprehension altogether, making such fixity a fiction, a useful fiction, but in close analysis, a fiction
So, are you positively asserting that a stone is a fiction? The bus down the corner, continental drift, the clock on the wall? They'd better be, if you don't want to betray your own convictions. Otherwise, material realism.
Hereandnow wrote: What happens when the world is phenomenologically analyzed is that standard models fall apart and (in my eclectic phenomenology) it is understood that what we call real are very different things from what these models have been telling us.
By standard models perhaps we should understand materialist ontology. So your model for replacement will have to be a non-materialist ontology, but in that field we are yet to see something that does not come out of religious faith, or pure speculative groundless meditation. Will we ever see something substantial and actual?
Hereandnow wrote: I don't see where phenomenology is not compatible with science. Science says nothing at all about foundational matters.
Phenomenology is at the antipodes of science, it doesn't like science, it dismisses science, it treats it with contempt, and it pretends to replace it, for the very obvious reason that science is compatible and consistent with material monism, an ontology that the phenomenlogist finds uncomfortable for his doctrines. Science says a lot about the fundamental levels of the world, it is at the service of its ontology. What the philosopher calls "foundational matters" evidently has very little to with this, it is just the grandiloquent term for referring to his preferred meditations, none of which has any grounds to assert something of real substance, when not refuting itself.
Hereandnow wrote: Doesn't touch issues regarding what happens to an observation of Mars when a mind seizes hold of observational content. Wittgenstein is quite compelling on this account: To make such an inquiry, one would have to use the very structures of observation in question. This is what phenomenology does as an inquiry into the underpinnings of science, asks what is necessary in order for science to do what it does. Science doesn't talk about the eidetic content in the structure of perceiving an object, therefore, it has no say, no interest.
But the issue is not science vs phenomenology, in any case it would be materialism vs phenomenology. Science is a main branch in the materialistic enterprise. And the materialistic enterprise does have the synoptic view. Phenomenology is not even apt to make the proper inquiries into its own science, one can hardly expect that it would have any authority over other real sciences.
Hereandnow wrote: Don't know what an abstract essence floating in an eternal realm is, but your thoughts here about actuality seems fair enough. We want the truth about what is actual, and any idea that supports a human condition theory that cannot accommodate what is actual should be dismissed.
At last, we can finally agree on something.
Hereandnow wrote: Immanentism of materialism?? Oh, I see. You're saying that being competent about of ethical matters requires a no nonsense attitude toward concrete social situations and that the, say, our ideals of a higher human purpose are compatible with and even dependent on materialism. But this is not what is at issue here. Such "real material conditions of life" in this context has nothing to do with philosophical materialism. It is more about facing the grim and intractable aspects of our existence free of illusions. calling such things real material conditions is fine, in this context.
I didn't follow you. What does it mean that "such 'real material conditions of life' in this context has nothing to do with philosophical materialism"?
Hereandnow wrote: Dismiss the real material world? What are you talking about? This is the way the pragmatic, hypothetical deductive method works: We, as children (and further on) encounter a world that is nothing but resistance, save the mother's breast, which is summoned at will, and bowel movements. In a world of "blooming and buzzing" (James) all is well. There is no sense of reality here, no apprehension of actuality. Subsequent encounters with the world are problems to solve, especially in the acquisition of language: noises here and there, consistently associated with objects of a certain kind, and eventually, the connection is made between 'dogs' and 'cats' and those furry things out there. Learning these and other associations is inherently consummatory, that is, completions of a problem solved, reinforced by parents' flattery and encouragement. These kinds of learning events comprise in the long run knowledge and reality, the latter being no more than an hypostatized pragmaticism, i.e., a foundation of problems solved. So: solving problems is what the very fabric of reality is, at the level of basic questions for phenomenological pragmatists like Heidegger and me (not Rorty; or yes, Rorty, too....confusing), though for me, there is metaethics, which has been discussed. Rather than dismissing the "constraints" the world imposes, it is constituted of them.
The problem is that if the world is constituted by the subject, and it is entirely a subjective world, then sooner or later any reference to an actual objective world is dismissed. Why would it be taken in consideration if it plays no role, not only in its own constitution, but in constituting the subject?
Hereandnow wrote: The actual is far more tricky, and ethics is the best way to see this: drive a spear through my kidney and THAT experience is not essence, idea or interpretation. Drill a tooth without Novocain, and the screaming agony has nothing whatever to do with the way language and logic can accommodate this. If you would like a far more intricate but exasperating to read account, read Kierkegaard's Concept of Anxiety. My position is to look plainly at the event as a phenomenological reduction: the pain itself sans the intrusion of theory and thought. There before your observing countenance pain will reveal to you its moral nature, which is the ethical "badness' awkward as it sounds. This is logically prior to any entanglement it has in a person's affairs. The spear may be cast on the battlefield, and the war may be morally ambiguous. Not at all the point how this fits into the world, its nature is that of the ethically bad.
So you see, it is not the essence, but the actuality, wherein lies the foundation for all ethical affairs. This makes me a moral realist, but more than this: the "reality" of pain, bliss, and so on is the really the ONLY real that can be confirmed as real. If you want to argue this point, I have absolute patience.
You fall back into this same type of talk that betrays your own arguments. We'll have to put a stop to this. So you say someone (let's call him Tom) drives a spear through your kidney, but the obvious questions are: 1) do you believe there's a Tom, a spear and a kidney, I mean, the actual material objects made of atoms, with mass and extension, constrained to physical laws and the biological process of organisms? But more importantly, 2) do you believe all of this existed, is ontologically prior to your first-person experience of it? If the answer to both questions is yes, then there's simply no point in arguing against materialism. What would be the point of holding more or less the same worldview as a materialist and then say to the materialist that his worldview is unjustifiable? If you insist and force any discussion, you would have to acknowledge that this information cannot be sent away to the background as accessory, in fact, the first thing you would have to do, as I said so many posts back, is to clarify how you justify such belief, on what grounds it stands. Or is it faith?

In any case (I'm still assuming momentarily that the answer to both questions was yes), nothing precludes an integral view of reality that takes into account all these entanglements, and nothing compels us to disassociate any particular human experience, such as physical pain, from any relationship with all the elements of the world that participate in the sense of reality. Because just as one acknowledges the existence of Tom, spears and kidneys, one must acknowledge the existence of a nervous system with nociceptors cells and neurotransmitters, necessary for the involuntary and discomforting sensation of pain. One might attempt to isolate the pain itself, to understand it as pain qua pain, in an act of pure reflection, devoid of all the previous knowledge and endowed with a different reflective power, but to sustain the belief in such a possibility requires a necessary act of faith that involves this magical reflective power meeting its object of reflection in one single infinitesimal instant of mystical apprehension, after which they both return, the reflective power and the object of reflection, to their entanglements with the world, where unbelievably, remain uncontaminated. Not only this is nonsensical, but even if we give a stretch to our imagination and give it a pass as feasible, the miraculous apprehension will crash with the frontiers of the first-person experience, as all that the reflecting subject will get from its object of reflection applies to that subject only. Maybe he pulled off the trick and did get to understand, in all its pure and intricate nature, the reality of his own pain, but he will be in no position to attribute that mystical knowledge to any other human being, not without another act of faith, and not without resorting to the world entanglements that connect one thing with another, and of course, not without resorting to theory and thought. That is what it takes to confirm something as real. I doubt a consummate odontologist will be a phenomenologist.

And then, what happens if the answer to both questions is no? Then things get even worse: not only Tom, the spear and the kidney are fictions, but they are fictions inside one single mind. There will not be sufficient and necessary connections to anything real, and this sole mind trying to explain itself what's the structure of its own content, is an exercise on futility. The only logical rule will be that everything goes, nothing is absurd. Even if there were insights on pain qua pain, ethics or whatever, they would not be worth a penny, since there's nothing and no one else to apply it to.

Now, there could be a third way, assuming the answer to both question is yes, but adding a hindrance: "these things do exist out there, we just don't know exactly how they are, only how we perceive them." But this creates a whole set of additional problems, besides having to explain on what grounds such belief stands, as how to determine what relations exist between the real world and the perceived world in order to make sense of the structure of the perceived world as constituted by the real world. Because if it were claimed that the perceived world was that which ontologically constitutes the real world, we would be back to the situation where the answer to both questions was no. Hello Solipsism. So, to avoid this, the only option is to find a middle ground where both the world perceived and the real world constitute each other, but in that case we can no longer hold that we just don't know exactly how things that exist out there are, perhaps we wouldn't know it at first glance, but since there will be an intimate relationship between what we perceive and what really is, the door is open to discover one through the other: what the real world is will tell you something about our world of perception, and the world of perception, if systematically arranged, will tell us how the real world is. Hello science.
Hereandnow wrote: If you taste some apple strudel, your experience is not going to be about how the ingredients got there. A phenomenological reduction of something (even a causal sequence) asks that we look no further than the presence before you, and as controversial as this may be, in the presence of value, the episodic deliciousness of the strudel, it allows one to see clearly, in the moment what a thing is, and value, the metavalue, is undeniable. The moral realism I defend says that this is so for all ethical issues, the presence of something that, upon the reduction, is revealed to be "in the fabric of existence" phenomenon.
That just tells you that the phenomenological reduction says too little about strudels and the experience of a strudel, perhaps because it is focused in just some aspect of things that caught its interest. It is a reduction, after all. It just cares about how was the first-person experience of that person with that strudel, in other words what it means to exist for the observer. That would be more or less fine. But even if it revealed something important about that strudel, that revelation would remain a secret for the first-person witness, not having the possibility to teletransport magically to another person's mind and reappear there as the revealed truth of the strudel experience. So what is it that the phenomenologist claims as undeniable? If he's talking to himself only, he surely would have a point, but is he? And what the phenomenical reduction cannot do either is to pretend that it knows everything about all strudels and about all first-person experiences of strudels. It just can't, without making a long leap of faith, or resorting to the "rather routine way to think".
Hereandnow wrote:
It does NOT say material substance is an illusion. Rather, it is about the principle of valid subsumption (did you not read it at all?): Concepts subsume other concepts, and these can be tricky affairs given the overlay and subtle differences in meanings and usage, but the principle is clear: If X is to subsume Y, then X has to be adequate in that it possesses generally what Y is less generally. Thus, to adequately subsume vodka under alcoholic beverage, the latter possesses "alcoholic" and "potability". Materialism, the kind under discussion here, does not adequately subsume the depth and breadth of human affairs, I am arguing, because as a concept, these valuative properties (non natural, says Moore) in our aesthetic and ethical matters (our suffering and blisses) are not possessed by the subsumptive paradigm. Materialism belongs in certain contexts, but not one in which all the world does seeks a foundation because it does not have the requisite subsumptive requirement, that is, it there is nothing in the meaning of material substance that allows it to subsume all things. It would be like subsuming legumes under farm equipment, a clear categorial error.
It's funny how you do this. Yes, the principle of valid subsumption. Yes, everyone must adequately and rigorously subsume concepts under concepts. But since when one subsumes "depth and breadth of human affairs"?. That's nice talking, but vacuous. I mean, what depth, what breadth, what affairs? All of them? Who is to decide what is "deep"? Vodka could be subsumed under "alcoholic beverage", but could vodka be subsumed under "alcoholism"? Of course not, but does that mean that you cannot fall into alcoholism by drinking vodka? One cannot just play with the concepts like that. And so, what types of things are subsumed under "materialism" as a philosophical system or worldview in general? Wouldn't they be things like eliminativism, emergentism, naturalism, dialectical materialism, cultural materialism? That is, philosophical views or systems that share the property of subscribing to an ontology that gives matter primacy over consciousness. Since when any of these can't or has not engaged in aesthetic and ethical matters? Since ethics and metaethics are branches of philosophical systems, at least in theory there should not be any obstacle that a materialist view or philosophical system engages in its analysis. But what you're doing is pretending to subsume particular human experiences (suffering and blisses) under the category material substance, the same way that someone would try to subsume vodka under alcoholism, a clear categorial error, just like legumes under farm equipment. The correct categorization is to subsume particular human experiences under general categories of human experiences, such as pain and bliss under sensations or feelings. Furthermore, is human experience to be subsumed under world affairs or are world affairs subsumable under human experiences? Whatever the case, it does not preclude the existence of a external world and it does not preclude materialism to engage in ethical and aesthetical matters.
Hereandnow wrote:
You have to separate the ways we use the term 'material'. Calling it "material findings" is, for us here, a loose sense of the term that has many applications, as with the material evidence in a trial or sewing materials, and so on. The methodology is the hypothetical deductive method. See above. You should see by now that a philosophical discussion is not the same as scientific one, though the method of science is never absent ( we live the hypothetical deductive method).
You could drop the reference to "material" there and it wouldn't make any difference. Science is materialistic and so far you have not produced a single argument that objects its findings. And you didn't answer my direct question: do you know of any other methodological inquiry that provides a better inventory of the objects and events of the world than science?
Hereandnow wrote:
Concealed?? You are, I'm afraid, being arbitrary. I have often stated that there are no issues between phenomenology and empirical science. Phenomenology adequately subsumes the latter. If you want to discuss how, I am willing.
A misreading, I guess. I said "conceded", not "concealed". My English might be limited, but I looked it up and it seems to be a correct usage. Phenomenology could not subsume science in its wildest dreams. Magical mystical powers never achieved anything. Philosophy and science must collaborate, and the latter should put its mode of inquiry under the watch of the former. That is not an issue and that's why there's a philosophy of science. Phenomenology and its antirealistic stance are not suitable for that job.
Hereandnow wrote:
It is the "necessarily presuming it as a given" part that concerns us. It is presumed in the contexts of science to science, but not in theory that examines the ontological underpinnings of all things. A social "scientist"or a psychiatrist or a sales person or a couples therapist have no interest, vis a vis what they do, in ontological philosophy. This is why I readily accept any and all science, soft of hard, as entirely without issue with phenomenology, which looks at the structures of the conscious events themselves, the way they are constructed to give rise to thought/language, emotions/moods and the rest that are presupposed by science.
First of all, if a theory, whatever its kind, is not scientific in the broad sense of the word, that is, a systematic body of principles and a methodological approach to ground rational truths, then it should be dismissed. For a long time, philosophy took upon itself that burden, it was the best science we got. But then came the unmatched developments of natural science, along with the so called crisis of philosophy, a crisis that Kant was well aware of. To understand what exists, one must take the endeavor fully equipped with the backpack of scientific knowledge, even if such endeavor aims to explore domains beyond the scope of natural sciences. Ontological philosophy without science is like playing air guitar. Saying that science is not an issue, that it is OK to sit there without bothering anyone, without being taken into account, not only is not enough to give a free pass to phenomenology, it is detrimental to any philosophical endeavor, including phenomenology, which is incapable of saying anything more substantial about anything, as explained above, precisely, among other things, because of its narrow view.
Hereandnow wrote:
If a human social scientist were to step out of her field and express an interest in philosophical materialism, I would tell her such a concept contains indefensible biases and and is outside observational as well theoretical thinking.
If a human social scientist stepped out of materialism, he would have already stepped out of the ontological foundations of his own field and would not be even a scientist anymore, perhaps a theologian, a priest or an astrologist.
Hereandnow wrote:
And I tell you to BEGIN with Kant in order to establish a foundation for German idealism and then beyond. You need this foundation to know what existentialists are talking about.
It is the opposite of what we must do, not BEGIN with Kant, but GET DONE quickly with Kant. And I'll say it again, is not that Kant was not interesting or didn't disclose a set of philosophical problems that had to be addressed. But after we entertain ourselves for a little while with him and Hegel, we must leave behind once and for all German idealism. And surely, idealism is not the only path to existentialism.
Hereandnow wrote:
Count Lucanor wrote:I have refuted this before. There's no evidence that, epistemologically speaking, materialism presents a distorting bias that spoils its ontology. To demonstrate such a thing one would need to get into the inventory of material entities provided by natural sciences and find out that they don't correspond to actual objects or properties of the world
Of course there is evidence, but you have to go through the literature, have the interest and take the time to understand the concepts of phenomenology. I say, begin with Kant, for he lays down a foundation of thought. The evidence lies in the vast body of phenomenological theory that exposes the underpinnings of experience, what lies hidden and unregarded given, well, the lack of interest and willingness to put the time in. Kant IS a beginning, but a big one. Those unmotivated will never get it, and society will not help: most are too infatuated with the gadgets technology produces and too inured in the commonplace.
I asked for evidence, not speculation, neither the grounds for doubting that there are atoms, continental drift, clouds in the sky or a man named Tom in a battlefield with a spear in his hands. Doubting is the best, relatively speaking, that the phenomenical stance can produce. It can be skeptical about the materialist claims that there are actual atoms, actual continental drift and actual clouds, objectively existing, ontologically prior to conscious subjects, and that the fundamental nature of these things lies in the organization of matter and energy, but no pretended foundation of thought, no phenomenological theory, no analysis of human experiences can establish by its own that these things aren't actually as materialistic science says they are. In fact, whenever our fallible knowledge needs to be corrected on these issues, we must resort to science itself to do it. The a priori concepts of time and space? No, that doesn't do it, because the theory only addresses their representation, not space qua space, nor time qua time, of which it can only speculate metaphysically that they are not substances, objects, but mere relations between objects, and speculate even further, from an antirealistic standpoint, that these relations are completely mind-dependent, constituted by the subject, opposing the realistic standpoint that they are mind-independent, the standpoint that more or less Newton and Leibniz took. But as speculations go, this is as far as one goes, leaving untouched the ontological problem of real existence of the objects involved in these relations. In simpler terms, at most it can claim that there's doubt about the existence of anything other than the cogito, but it cannot establish it, because the whole system of thought works that way: assuming there is only what appears to our experience.
Hereandnow wrote: Now that is precious. Affirming what IS without explaining how it gets affirmed? Epistemology asks, P?? P exists? How do you know? The answer is justification for affirming P.

Clumsy? That is just derogatory. If you think Husserl's Ideas or Kierkegaard's Anxiety is clumsy, then ...you need to read these guys, not just about them.
Since you use yourself derogatory terms to refer to materialist views, I don't see why you would complain about using them against phenomenology.

No one is dismissing epistemology per se, it is not an argument: the mode of inquiry must be examined. Phenomenology as it stands (committed to idealism), just happens to be, for several reasons I have explained, the least apt of all approaches. This does not close the door to other phenomenological approaches, not committed to idealism, for examining and contributing insights to the mode of inquiry. I knew enough of Husserl and Heidegger, and this dialogue has indeed improved my understanding, so as to confirm that this is not the way to go. I think Sartre and Merleau-Ponty might point to useful directions and I'm definitely interested in Tran Duc Thao's work. Kierkegaard...I'm sorry, he represents all the opposite of what philosophy should be about, he's just a dreadful theologian.
Hereandnow wrote: What it does know is everything a materialist knows, sans the metaphysics of materialism. You did know that materialism is a metaphysical thesis, I assume. It knows more in that it allows things to be examined without the materialist bias, thereby freeing up the phenomenon to be viewed as it is (not to be viewed free of interpretative conditions, but free of the intrusion of an extraneous idea).
Before the development of natural science, materialism could only aspire to be a metaphysical thesis. It is not anymore.
Hereandnow wrote: This really is strawman: an epiphany?? No, just show up, as my house shows up. If you want to say that material substance is inferred from other theoretical work, you have to, and I have said this, establish some connection where the observations justify the positing of material substance.
Again, even though you keep denying it, you then insist in demanding a metaphysical account of "materialness", which is not necessary to sustain materialism. When I have figured out what a water molecule is, I have said what its materiality is all about, and when I can determine that its properties are not an illusion of my mind, but an objective reality, I'm navigating in materialist territory with a well-equipped backpack of knowledge that I can rely on to effectively manage my entanglements with the world. I must assume you can't expect any other approach, given the presumption of the phenomenological reduction as the appropriate method, which indeed ends up in a mystical revelation. But natural science provides a better approach, even after its mode of inquiry is examined, to the reality of the existence of an external world.
Hereandnow wrote: I don't think Moore is going to be helpful. But it does take reading these philosophers at length to be turned to phenolmenology.
My point is simple: you resort to Moore's views to show that metaethics provides a good reason to abandon materialism as a view of world and human affairs, but Moore himself, even though did not use the word materialism per se, did not think so.

Post Reply