Thursday, February 16, 2017

The external world and the burden of proof

If both a proposition and its denial cannot be proved, what rules do we use to decide what to believe? If I say "Can you prove that the external world exists" and you can't prove it, should we then not believe that there is an external world?

330 comments:

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John Moore said...

It depends on whether a concept is useful for you as you pursue your goals. Believing something just means acting as if you think it's true. Proof doesn't matter as long as you seem to be achieving your goals.

Certainly truth is more likely to be useful than untruth, in the long run, but if you can't figure out for sure what's true, then it makes sense to go with what seems likely and useful.

B. Prokop said...

From FLATLAND by Edwin a> Abbott:

"Look yonder," said my Guide, "in Flatland thou hast lived; of Lineland thou hast received a vision; thou hast soared with me to the heights of Spaceland; now, in order to complete the range of thy experience, I conduct thee downward to the lowest depth of existence, even to the realm of Pointland, the Abyss of No dimensions.

"Behold yon miserable creature. That Point is a Being like ourselves, but confined to the non-dimensional Gulf. He is himself his own World, his own Universe; of any other than himself he can form no conception; he knows not Length, nor Breadth, nor Height, for he has had no experience of them; he has no cognizance even of the number Two; nor has he a thought of Plurality; for he is himself his One and All, being really Nothing. Yet mark his perfect self-contentment, and hence learn his lesson, that to be self-contented is to be vile and ignorant, and that to aspire is better than to be blindly and impotently happy. Now listen."

He ceased; and there arose from the little buzzing creature a tiny, low, monotonous, but distinct tinkling, as from one of your Spaceland phonographs, from which I caught these words, "Infinite beatitude of existence! It is; and there is nothing else beside It."

"What," said I, "does the puny creature mean by 'it'?" "He means himself," said the Sphere: "have you not noticed before now, that babies and babyish people who cannot distinguish themselves from the world, speak of themselves in the Third Person? But hush!"

"It fills all Space," continued the little soliloquizing Creature, "and what It fills, It is. What It thinks, that It utters; and what It utters, that It hears; and It itself is Thinker, Utterer, Hearer, Thought, Word, Audition; it is the One, and yet the All in All. Ah, the happiness, ah, the happiness of Being!"

"Can you not startle the little thing out of its complacency?" said I. "Tell it what it really is, as you told me; reveal to it the narrow limitations of Pointland, and lead it up to something higher." "That is no easy task," said my Master; "try you."

Hereon, raising by voice to the uttermost, I addressed the Point as follows:

"Silence, silence, contemptible Creature. You call yourself the All in All, but you are the Nothing: your so-called Universe is a mere speck in a Line, and a Line is a mere shadow as compared with—" "Hush, hush, you have said enough," interrupted the Sphere, "now listen, and mark the effect of your harangue on the King of Pointland."

The lustre of the Monarch, who beamed more brightly than ever upon hearing my words, shewed clearly that he retained his complacency; and I had hardly ceased when he took up his strain again. "Ah, the joy, ah, the joy of Thought! What can It not achieve by thinking! Its own Thought coming to Itself, suggestive of its disparagement, thereby to enhance Its happiness! Sweet rebellion stirred up to result in triumph! Ah, the divine creative power of the All in One! Ah, the joy, the joy of Being!"

"You see," said my Teacher, "how little your words have done. So far as the Monarch understand them at all, he accepts them as his own—for he cannot conceive of any other except himself—and plumes himself upon the variety of 'Its Thought' as an instance of creative Power. Let us leave this God of Pointland to the ignorant fruition of his omnipresence and omniscience: nothing that you or I can do can rescue him from his self-satisfaction."

B. Prokop said...

By the way, in case I was being too subtle, my "point" behind the quotation from Flatland (one of my favorite SF books) was that, absent an external world, we'd all be like the King of Pointland. Since that is not the case, that all by itself constitutes proof of the existence of something outside of ourselves.

(It's also a good argument for the Doctrine of the Trinity.)

Joe Hinman said...

This is one of the God arguments I make imn my book, using the religious experience studies. This document was meant to show the argumet and why it meets a prima facie justification. In so doing I think it reveals an epistemology that is sort naturally suggested by the argument. The essence of that epistemology is we assume reality is given in experiencing according to the ability of the experience to foster navigation in the world. In short if it works we are justified in assuming it's true.

The argument is bqsed upon those of Thomson Reid. thus is the:

Thomas Reid Argument

This argument in my book The Trace of God but not in the same form.

Joe Hinman said...

In that first link,my argument on Doxa,I think to K.G.Mattey for info on Reid,The Mattey link is real old doesn't work anymore.I don't have one to that exact lecture although there is one in the book, But the Mattey lectures in gneeral be found here:

http://hume.ucdavis.edu/mattey/phi102f03/james.html

The Reid stuff is in there It was originally the Reid project.

Aron Zavaro said...

I think that burdens of proof are closely tied to the concept of prior probabilities. In the absence of any empirical considerations to held us decide between hypotheses, we should favor the ones with higher prior probabilities. Even in the total absence of empirical considerations, some hypotheses can be more probable than others based on factors like simplicity, coherence, modesty, scope, etc.

I think external world realism has a higher prior than skepticism because while realism say that our experiences are real, skepticism posits an additional unevidenced reality on top of our experience, including unspecified agents and requires us to postulate hypothetical intentions and desires on their behalf. This is a more complicated theory than realism.

Victor Reppert said...

But aren't prior probabilities subjective? I have yet to see an objective theory of prior probabilities that, for example, solves the problem of the single case.

Aron Zavaro said...

If priors are subjective, doesn't this entail total epistemological relativism? If you genuinely think that one hypothesis is objectively more likely than another (e.g., it's more likely that the person
writing this post is a human, rather than an alien using mind control technology to manipulate a cat into posting this ), then you must believe that there are objective priors, because posteriors depend on priors. If you think it is objectively true that I am more likely to be a human than a cat, then you should disregard someone who says, "I have assigned a prior of 99.999999% that it was written by a cat, so i think he's really a cat, and you can't say I'm irrational because I'm entitled to whatever priors I want!" That would be irrational. Any commitment to objective knowledge requires that there be some sort of objective grounds for saying that one theory is intrinsically more probable than another. Otherwise, everyone would be entitled to their own "truth."

Joe Hinman said...


sorry Burden pf proof and prior are totally different concept imn my view, they have nothing in common; the former is a formal precept in logic, probability is not logic. BOP is mandated given certain kinds of cloistral but the latter is just a leveraging tool to start miscalculation from. it'snot logic.

Joe Hinman said...

If priors are subjective, doesn't this entail total epistemological relativism?

prior is not proof it's just a coordinated point from which to start calculating. Bayes works like a gunner finding his range. First shooting way over the target doesn't matter where. Then shoots way under. Then he starts playing with the middle between those two points.

B. Prokop said...

Yesterday I ended my 7:17 AM posting with a throwaway line, "[the existence of the external world] is also a good argument for the Doctrine of the Trinity."

Well, since I wrote that, I can't get that thought out of my head. I may have accidentally stumbled onto something here. Creation itself is proof that God is not unitary (e.g., the God of Islam, or of the Unitarians). Were God not in essence a community of Persons, the very idea of anything existing outside of Himself would be impossible even to Him. (Just as, not even God can conceive of a square circle, or a married bachelor.)

So our very existence is proof of not only a Creator, but also of the Doctrine of the Trinity.

William said...

The "problem of the single case" has to do with using a single data point to determine the priors. This is a theoretical problem for frequentists, not Bayesians. The Bayesian is free to use theoretical knowledge to choose a prior that will not be totally influenced by a single case.

Of course, the frequentist in practice will choose a null hypothesis in a way that is not unduly dependent on a single case. The chosen prior of the Bayesian and the chosen hypothesis of the frequentists are in practice analogous.

As Joe says very nicely in the targeting analogy above, the prior is a number needed to start the process of calculation, just so that we have a starting point from which to calculate a more accurate number using the data. Would the target shooter in Joe's analogy deliberately shoot backwards as their first shot at the target? Of course not.

Although the choice of priors may in many cases be subjective in the specific sense that we may not use our own, exact data calculations to choose the prior probability, it may nevertheless be at least partially objective, perhaps based on our experience of the thing we are studying or on numbers given by prior investigator's estimates. "Subjective prior" here may mean "voluntarily picked as a best if overly precise number within the range of our best estimates."

Whereas "total epistemological relativism" would be like blindfolding yourself when shooting just because you are not going to hit the bulls-eye the first shot.

Reconquista Initiative said...

Aron said:

I think that burdens of proof are closely tied to the concept of prior probabilities. In the absence of any empirical considerations to held us decide between hypotheses, we should favor the ones with higher prior probabilities. Even in the total absence of empirical considerations, some hypotheses can be more probable than others based on factors like simplicity, coherence, modesty, scope, etc.

I partially agree, but I think that the burden of proof is actually on the side which puts at greatest risk that which we find most important in a certain setting. That is the real way that the burden of proof is decided, and when it is looked at that way, the burden is on atheism, not theism.

I think external world realism has a higher prior than skepticism because while realism say that our experiences are real, skepticism posits an additional unevidenced reality on top of our experience, including unspecified agents and requires us to postulate hypothetical intentions and desires on their behalf. This is a more complicated theory than realism.

As a Berkelian Immaterialist, this is a pet-peeve of mine. Berkelian immaterialism--or theistic objective virtual realism, if you will--is astronomically simpler than external world realism (naturalism), is as coherent as naturalism, has more explanatory power and scope than naturalism, and is more in line with our indisputable background knowledge than naturalism is, and so on. Thus, if the burden of proof is based on prior probabilities, then the burden is on naturalism / external world realism, not on theistic immaterialism.

Cheers.

Damian Michael
www.reconquistainitiative.com

Victor Reppert said...

I have strong Bayesian inclinations but don't think frequentism or any other objectivist theory of prior probabilities. But a subjectivist account of priors does not lock positions into place, it just acknowledges that different people are going to approach the same data with different perspectives. Strong evidence can "swamp the priors" in many cases. My (quite secular) philosophical education was pretty strongly opposed to classical foundationalism, or the idea that there are certain viewpoints from which everyone has to start. That is why things like the Outsider Test for Faith are very counterintuitive for me, as are de jure "burden of proof" arguments.

William said...

Yes, too often the "burden of proof" arguments and "outsider test" seem to come down to arguments that others change their assumptions or premises (ie priors) without any further evidence that a change of assumptions is needed.

Stardusty Psyche said...

Reconquista Initiative said...

" As a Berkelian Immaterialist, "

Perhaps you sang "Row Your Boat" a few too many times and now you actually believe that life is but a dream.


February 18, 2017 4:15 PM

Stardusty Psyche said...

Victor Reppert said...

" Strong evidence can "swamp the priors" in many cases. "
Evidence indeed.

The burden of proof is on the one making the affirmative claim.

If you assert purple unicorns the burden is on you. I see no purple unicorns, you cannot provide credible evidence for them, so my conclusion that they do not exist is reasonable because you have not even begun to meet your burden for your claim.

"That is why things like the Outsider Test for Faith are very counterintuitive for me,"
Perhaps you would benefit from considering a cult. Inside the cult it all seems so real, David Koresh is the lamb of god, Jim Jones knows the evil ones are coming, The aliens really are passing nearby on a comet. None of these things pass the outsider test.

Consider Islam. To its ardent practitioners Muhammad was the exemplary man, so of course it is good to marry 4 women as young as 9, capture slaves in battles of conquest, slaughter those who resist or defame Islam in any way, extort non Muslims in the kingdom and hold them as second class citizens. It all makes sense to those in the cult, but these things do not pass the outsider test.

Nor does Christianity, or more generally, theism.


February 18, 2017 6:56 PM

B. Prokop said...

"but these things do not pass the outsider test. Nor does Christianity."

Really? Then how do you explain the literally billions of converts (a.k.a. "outsiders") to Christianity over the past two millennia? Seems like a passing grade to me.

Stardusty Psyche said...

B. Prokop said...

"but these things do not pass the outsider test. Nor does Christianity."

" Really? Then how do you explain the literally billions of converts (a.k.a. "outsiders") to Christianity over the past two millennia? Seems like a passing grade to me."
They were successfully indoctrinated into the cult. Cults recruit from the outside, often very successfully. An outsider for the purpose of an outsider test needs to be somebody not susceptible to the indoctrinations techniques of the cult.


February 19, 2017 8:35 PM

B. Prokop said...

"An outsider for the purpose of an outsider test needs to be somebody not susceptible to the indoctrinations techniques of the cult."

You know what they call such techniques in Real Science? FRAUDULENT RESEARCH. That's the type of selective data mining that gets papers rejected from peer review journals and dishonest researchers anathematized by honest scientists.

bmiller said...

@Strawdusty,


"The burden of proof is on the one making the affirmative claim."

This looks like an affirmative claim to me. Please provide the proof that one is obligated to accept the "burden of proof" just by making an affirmative claim, while the opponent is not.

Stardusty Psyche said...

bmiller said...

"The burden of proof is on the one making the affirmative claim."

" This looks like an affirmative claim to me."
Obviously.

" Please provide the proof that one is obligated to accept the "burden of proof" just by making an affirmative claim, while the opponent is not."
You will find it here, February 19, 2017 6:13 PM, right after the claim.

That wasn't so hard, now was it?


February 19, 2017 9:36 PM

Joe Hinman said...

my answer to Eric Sotnak's attack on ID on Secular outpost

HERE

Stardusty Psyche said...

Joe Hinman said...

" my answer to Eric Sotnak's attack on ID "
ID is a dead duck, not that it was ever more than quack science and thinly veiled creationism, but Judge John Jones gave it a hundred plus page blast over 10 years ago, RIP.

But lemme guess, you have a deep personal experience of intelligent design that gives you a warrant to believe in it...


February 19, 2017 11:18 PM

B. Prokop said...

Astronomer and cosmologist Sir Fred Hoyle, discoverer of the origin of elements in the universe, was also one of the most influential "founders" of the idea of intelligent design (as we now understand the term) - and he was an atheist. So.. so much for the dual accusations of "quack science" and "thinly veiled creationism".

Stardusty Psyche said...

B. Prokop said...

" Astronomer and cosmologist Sir Fred Hoyle, discoverer of the origin of elements in the universe, was also one of the most influential "founders" of the idea of intelligent design "
Newton had a lot of goofy ideas too.


February 20, 2017 6:46 AM

bmiller said...

@Strawdusty,

"You will find it here, February 19, 2017 6:13 PM, right after the claim.

That wasn't so hard, now was it?"



You mean your proof is merely repeating the same thing?

"If you assert purple unicorns the burden is on you."

Both sides in a dispute have a burden to prove their point. Otherwise, one is tacitly committed to the "argument to ignorance" and "special pleading" fallacies.

B. Prokop said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
B. Prokop said...

"Newton had a lot of goofy ideas too."

You've either missed, or are ignoring, my point - that ID is not "thinly veiled creationism". If that were indeed the case, then how could one of the 20th Century's most prominent atheists not only champion the idea, but arguably originate it? (See his book Intelligent Universe for details.)

Stardusty Psyche said...

B. Prokop said...

SP "Newton had a lot of goofy ideas too."

" You've either missed, or are ignoring, my point - that ID is not "thinly veiled creationism". If that were indeed the case, then how could one of the 20th Century's most prominent atheists not only champion the idea,"
Because people are not always consistent. For example, Krauss is a woo monger peddling poof, even though he is an atheist.

Here is what Judge John Jones found:
"For the reasons that follow, we conclude that the religious nature of ID [intelligent design] would be readily apparent to an objective observer, adult or child."

ID is a thinly veiled attempt to bring religious creationism into the science classroom. The federal court saw through the veil and barred it.


February 20, 2017 8:30 AM

B. Prokop said...

Hmm.. so what a judge says is "truth" about objective reality?

Wow. Just wow.

A judge's opinion is just that - an opinion. That is why we have an appellate process. That is why there are dissenting opinions even with Supreme Court decisions.

SteveK said...

I'm not convinced that the judge was correct given that science doesn't always demand falsification

Stardusty Psyche said...

B. Prokop said...

" Hmm.. so what a judge says is "truth" about objective reality?"
Your words, not mine.


" A judge's opinion is just that - an opinion. That is why we have an appellate process."
No appeal was filed. The decision was overwhelming. The ID folks packed up and went home defeated. Over a million dollars were paid in legal fees.

" That is why there are dissenting opinions even with Supreme Court decisions."
Since no appeal was filed the decision stands without a dissenting judge.

Absolute "truth" about "objective reality"? No, those are your words, not mine. But it shows my characterization is no mere idle or fringe assertion, rather, a mainstream ruling over 10 years ago that stands to this day.


February 20, 2017 10:17 AM

Stardusty Psyche said...

SteveK said...

" I'm not convinced that the judge was correct given that science doesn't always demand falsification"

Falsifiable science is what is taught in the public school classroom, which was the focus of this particular ruling.


February 20, 2017 10:19 AM

SteveK said...

Meaning that ID can be taught as legit science at the higher levels?

Joe Hinman said...

tardusty Psyche said...
Joe Hinman said...

" my answer to Eric Sotnak's attack on ID "
ID is a dead duck, not that it was ever more than quack science and thinly veiled creationism, but Judge John Jones gave it a hundred plus page blast over 10 years ago, RIP.

Dusty:
"But lemme guess, you have a deep personal experience of intelligent design that gives you a warrant to believe in it..."


Nope you should have read it.I guess no one bothered to read it,

Joe Hinman said...

from the beginning of the article,

On Secular Outpost , Eric Sotnak [1] opens debate against Intelligent Design (ID) by approaching it politically, DeVos ls ID and she will be imposing it upon the schools, so here's why it's wrong.... Eric is approaching it through the notion of defending evolution, I have no intention of attacking evolution so I am approaching it through an understanding of belief in God. The issues transcend both politics and evolution, ID is just fancy packaging to dress up creationism in a more respectable garb, but the basic concept that the universe is the product of mind I support; it is that issue that I approach as a from of belief in God.

If you really want to fight what's about to happen to the educational system then you need to join the political struggle and back the resistance, Major part of the resistances is Christians. You don't see my feed on facebook but most of the anti-Trump stuff I see on FB is from Christians. Atheists ate still about 3% Christians are about 80% so it just stands to reason most anti-Trump feeling will be Christians,We resistance Christians are pretty pissed about what the Republicans have done (fundies included) to the faith. Eric is above making little wise cracks about Christians but not all of the posters of SOP are, this topic no less draws some of those comments.

There are three major issues I will deal with here, Two are used by Eric and one is my own. First there is Probability of naturalistic origin as opposed to Supernatural one,,
Secomdoy, the mechanism for creation , and thirdly the illusion of technique, This is the concept I barrow from William Barrett and his Book of that title. [2] I will be making use of this concept in a major way kn my upcoming book God,Science, and Ideology. The point being that the way the issues are discussed in the conventional argument between ID and evolution feeds into the ideology that motivates scientism, not to accuse Eric of being scientistic.

Joe Hinman said...


" I'm not convinced that the judge was correct given that science doesn't always demand falsification"

Falsifiable science is what is taught in the public school classroom, which was the focus of this particular ruling.

according to Popper science is about falsifying hypotheses that's what it does, there is a new anti-Popperian spirit but I am not impressed by it. I agree with Kuhn over Popper but I think the two agree on this issue

Joe Hinman said...

SteveK said...
Meaning that ID can be taught as legit science at the higher levels?

I don't think so,I am not defending ID i' separating belief in God from ID

Stardusty Psyche said...

Joe Hinman said...

"I am not defending ID i' separating belief in God from ID"

Right, it could have been super smart space aliens who evolved naturally and then created life on Earth...oops, that simply pushes the problem back a step and solves nothing, just like the speculation of god.


February 20, 2017 12:53 PM

William said...

There is a difference between living as if the world around us exists and believing in a particular cosmology. We all do the first, despite lots of differences on the second. Even the
Berkleyan immaterialist or Yogacara Buddhist lives as if they are in an external world; their cosmology (or cosmic ontology) is where things differ.

So I'd say that we live our lives mostly as if the burden of proof was irrelevant.

Legion of Logic said...

SD: "The burden of proof is on the one making the affirmative claim."

Agreed, but there is also a dimension of the other side being intellectually honest, or even informed enough, to evaluate the evidence being offered. If I say that 2+2=4, and you ask that I prove it, and when I demonstrate that the equation is true and you deny it, does your denial mean I failed to meet the burden of proof, or does it mean you're a troll or an idiot?

So yes, burden of proof is on whoever makes a positive claim, but "no it isn't" is not a rebuttal against the evidence. Valid reasons have to be offered as to why the evidence offered is insufficient in order to be a true rebuttal against the one offering evidence.

"Krauss is a woo monger peddling poof, even though he is an atheist."

Indeed, even for an anti-religious atheist his level of poof is abnormally high.

Stardusty Psyche said...

William said...

". Even the
Berkleyan immaterialist or Yogacara Buddhist lives as if they are in an external world; their cosmology (or cosmic ontology) is where things differ."
Right, I mean, why bother with the trouble of sustaining life if it is all so unreal? Seems to me the immaterialist lacks the courage of his convictions.

" So I'd say that we live our lives mostly as if the burden of proof was irrelevant."
I don't, at least not entirely. I live my life convinced there is no god and that conviction has a significant impact on how I live my life. The reason I am an atheist is that theism has not met its burden of proof in my view.

Every argument I have ever heard for god is either blatantly unsound or unevidenced speculation, hence my atheism.


February 20, 2017 4:31 PM

Stardusty Psyche said...

Legion of Logic said...

SD: "The burden of proof is on the one making the affirmative claim."
" If I say that 2+2=4, and you ask that I prove it, and when I demonstrate that the equation is true"
Define "true".

" and you deny it, does your denial mean I failed to meet the burden of proof, or does it mean you're a troll or an idiot?"
It means you seem to lack the understanding that math is ultimately unproved, rather, it rests on certain postulates one may accept provisionally, accept on faith, or deny.

" So yes, burden of proof is on whoever makes a positive claim, but "no it isn't" is not a rebuttal against the evidence."
By itself simply saying "nope" is unimpressive. In the case of math, if you doubt my skepticism, please do show me that the postulates of mathematics are ultimately provable.

SP "Krauss is a woo monger peddling poof, even though he is an atheist."

" Indeed, even for an anti-religious atheist his level of poof is abnormally high."
In my kinder moments I allow Krauss that when you fight dogs you get fleas. I really like and appreciate the guy for years of public service against nonsense, but when he turned to selling it himself it became annoying to listen to him.


February 20, 2017 4:42 PM

SteveK said...

"The reason I am an atheist is that theism has not met its burden of proof in my view."

That's now what you said in the ASwedenism thread.

Legion of Logic said...

"It means you seem to lack the understanding that math is ultimately unproved, rather, it rests on certain postulates one may accept provisionally, accept on faith, or deny."

Wow. Well I couldn't envision any normal, rational person disagreeing with me about the basic axioms underlying the concept of 2+2=4, but I forgot I was dealing with you.

"I really like and appreciate the guy for years of public service against nonsense"

I don't recall him standing up against Richard Dawkins, Sam Harris, Jerry Coyne, or other such anti-religious fools who have no idea what they are talking about when it comes to religion. Perhaps you could link where he has? Maybe standing up to progressives and their identity politics, is that what you mean?

Back on topic: Burden of proof is on the one offering a positive assertion, and mere disagreement is not a refutation. Someone would have to demonstrate that the burden of proof has not been met, in order to claim such, so both sides do have responsibilities. The typical anti-theist denial without good reason is not a refutation of the Christian's burden of proof.

William said...

SD:
"I live my life convinced there is no god and that conviction has a significant impact on how I live my life. The reason I am an atheist is that theism has not met its burden of proof in my view."
/SD

So it goes given your priors, I suppose. I would not be the one to require you change your priors: that would be a voluntary choice, one your current data plus priors does not seem to require. As Kuhn pointed out, worldviews don't require we change them every day.

Victor Reppert said...

The burden of proof is on the one making the affirmative claim.

That is exactly the kind of position my counterexample of the physical world was directed against. It looks to me as if

"The physical world exists" is an affirmative claim,"

and

"The physical world does not exist" is a negative claim.

There is no proof that the physical world exists or is real, therefore, by this logic, I should deny its existence.

What proof do you have that your sense experience is veridical?

Legion of Logic said...

"What proof do you have that your sense experience is veridical?"

Most likely, certain postulates that will result in us being labeled as mentally deficient if we don't accept them as provisionally true.

Stardusty Psyche said...


Blogger Victor Reppert said...

SP The burden of proof is on the one making the affirmative claim.

" That is exactly the kind of position my counterexample of the physical world was directed against. It looks to me as if

"The physical world exists" is an affirmative claim,"

and

"The physical world does not exist" is a negative claim.

There is no proof that the physical world exists or is real, therefore, by this logic, I should deny its existence."

Burden of *proof* is a somewhat unfortunate term in that it implies an absolute proof is possible and it is a burden of this party or that party to supply it.

That is why standards of proof are defined in law. Perhaps a more accurate term would be burden of convincing evidence, but that means different things to different people. So, it becomes the reader's responsibility to realize that "proof" may come with certain qualifiers and further discussion will be required to mutually agree upon those qualifiers.

" What proof do you have that your sense experience is veridical?"
The basic reliability of the human senses is a postulate that can be accepted provisionally, or on faith, or denied. I, and I think atheists generally, accept it provisionally.

The same is true for the principles of logic and the intelligibility of the observable universe, although I would say these are derivatives of the provisional postulate of the basic reliability of the human senses, since our sense experience indicates the principles of logic as descriptive of our perceived reality and we perceive ourselves making rational sense of the universe thereby.


February 20, 2017 11:27 PM

Reconquista Initiative said...

Ha, Ha, Ha, Ha...

As an immaterialist, one of funniest things that I find about so-called "skeptics" and "free-thinkers" is how un-skeptical and non-free-thinking they actually are about many of their "pet" beliefs. And it is hilarious, in this age of Simulation Arguments, the idea of a Holographic Universe, and the rise of Virtual Reality, to think that immaterialism is somehow implausible or strange. The fact is that it is materialism which is the magical woo of philosophy. Indeed, the truly implausible and incoherent idea--saved only by the invocation of magic words like "emergence"--is that a bunch of particles can somehow coalesce and form a person. Or that this inert, unseen, unevidenced "stuff" can somehow generate consciousness. Or that dead matter can somehow become living. I mean, when you are on the outside looking in, it is easy to realize how strange and non-common-sensical the materialist view is, or, at the very least, how that view is absolutely no more plausible or rational than immaterialism is. Again, the fact of the matter is that materialism posits the existence of unseen, unevidenced "stuff" which is neither needed to account for reality nor even understood.....it is, in essence, magical woo for many, especially atheists.

Additionally, I will point out that it is the materialist who has posited the actual existence of matter, and so, in the context of this discussion, the burden of proof is on the materialist to prove the existence of matter. Good luck with that! For not only is there no evidence for the existence of matter, but any attempt to infer the existence of matter is defeated by the fact that immaterialism can account for all our experience as well as materialism can (in fact, better), and yet immaterialism is also simpler, has more explanatory power and scope, is more in ground with our indisputable background knowledge, etc. In fact, this is part of the reason that I am an immaterialist: namely, the burden of proof is on the materialist, and the materialist has not shown me the evidence necessary to believe in matter, and so I don't.

Regards,

Damian Michael
www.reconquistainitiative.com

Reconquista Initiative said...

To paraphrase SD precisely:

"I live my life convinced there is no matter and that conviction has a significant impact on how I live my life. The reason I am an immaterialist is that materialism has not met its burden of proof in my view.

Every argument I have ever heard for matter is either blatantly unsound or unevidenced speculation, hence my immaterialism."

Reconquista Initiative said...

Paraphrasing SD yet again:

"The burden of proof is on the one making the affirmative claim.

If you assert matter the burden is on you. I see no matter, you cannot provide credible evidence for it, so my conclusion that it does not exist is reasonable because you have not even begun to meet your burden for your claim."

See how fun it is to smack the atheist with his own standards!

Stardusty Psyche said...

Reconquista Initiative said...


" See how fun it is to smack the atheist with his own standards!"

You apparently have an immaterial penchant for inflicting pain, which is generally called sadism. But because you are not physically real, merely a figment of my imagination, it doesn't matter, now does it?


February 21, 2017 3:45 AM

Reconquista Initiative said...

Ahhh...snide commentary...the refuge of the fool who has no answer to the arguments at hand. Good to see that materialists have not changed their playbook!

And when such snide commentary is coupled with a clear misunderstanding of the immaterialist position, it is especially poignant, for it shows both ignorance and intellectual fear all in one.

Keep going though! After all, the hole you're digging is not going to get any deeper without more of your uninformed and vacuous comments, so please, continue...

Stardusty Psyche said...


Blogger Reconquista Initiative said...

" Ahhh...snide commentary..."
Yes, " See how fun it is to smack the atheist with his own standards!" fits that description.

"the refuge of the fool"
Your words, not mine.


"who has no answer to the arguments at hand."
Did you make an argument? Sorry, it seemed more like an offhand rant, but I suppose you might have some points buried in there someplace.

" a clear misunderstanding of the immaterialist position,"
So now you are able to determine what I understand? Sure, since I am just a figment of your imagination I suppose you can make me think whatever you wish.


February 21, 2017 4:32 AM

Reconquista Initiative said...

SD,

Stop playing the fool. My argument is in my main comment and demonstrated by the fact that I used your own burden of proof argument against you. Furthermore, the reason that I know you don't understand the immaterialist position is because you say that "I [meaning you] are just a figment of your [meaning my] imagination", which is not the immaterialist position at all. Immaterialism is objective about the external world, it simply denies that the external world is made of matter. Thus your ignorance is clear, at least on that point.

So, try again. Or don't. I don't care too much, but I just wanted to hoist you up on your own petard.

Reconquista Initiative said...

And for everyone else, this exchange is instructive. When the burden of proof idea is on his side, the materialist atheist pushes it relentlessly, but when the burden of proof is turned against him, suddenly the materialist atheist resorts to sniping, snide comments, dismissive insults, etc.

You see the same tactic when you demand that the atheist meet his burden about the possibility of naturalistic abiogenesis, naturalistic evolution, the naturalistic development of consciousness, etc.

Like I said, "skeptics" and "free-thinkers" are selectively skeptical and free in their thinking, but those traits go out the window when their "pet" beliefs are on the line.

Stardusty Psyche said...


Blogger Reconquista Initiative said...

SD,
" My argument is in my main comment and demonstrated by the fact that I used your own burden of proof argument against you. "
No, I did not see anything that resembled an argument to that effect. A few throwaway lines, yes, but an argument? Nope, didn't see one.


" Immaterialism is objective about the external world, it simply denies that the external world is made of matter. "
Right, it's made out of your imagination.

" I just wanted to hoist you up on your own petard."
There you go with that sadistic thing again.

I am actually a 12 year old girl in a mental hospital strapped to a gurney and you are a perverted orderly who has snuck into my room to 3 way rape me while smacking me and hoisting me on a petard. I am only imagining that I am an old man sitting in my living room typing on a computer keyboard, as a mental defense mechanism because I am unable to cope with the horror of you raping me and smacking me.

Prove that isn't true, and "Good luck with that!"


February 21, 2017 5:21 AM

Hal said...

Reconquista Initiative:
"Immaterialism is objective about the external world, it simply denies that the external world is made of matter."

This is interesting. Could you explain a little more regarding what the world is made of? Also, do you think anything exists that is not immaterial?

Stardusty Psyche said...

Reconquista Initiative said...

" And for everyone else, this exchange is instructive."
Indeed, it is a classic example of a guy coming on with a scatter gun screed full of assumptions and generalization that he then directs to an individual who did not express and does not hold those views.

Next step is to set up amateurishly worded strawman, and then sit back an smugly declare his personal satisfaction at having delivered a "smack".


" dismissive insults, "
Your rant is worth little more.


" You see the same tactic when you demand that the atheist meet his burden about the possibility of naturalistic abiogenesis, naturalistic evolution, the naturalistic development of consciousness, etc."
If you knew anything about science you would realize that the available evidence for each of those things is different in each case. Scientists and scientifically minded people are well aware of this.

If you had been paying attention, my self satisfied little smacker friend, you would have read the part about science being "self consciously provisional". You would have read the part about burden of "proof" being a somewhat unfortunate term.


" Like I said, "skeptics" and "free-thinkers" are selectively skeptical and free in their thinking,"
You have yet to provide any specific examples of such in my case, but since you live in a world of your own imagination I suppose you are free to fantasize whatever you wish.


February 21, 2017 5:31 AM

Stardusty Psyche said...

Hal said...

Reconquista Initiative:
"Immaterialism is objective about the external world, it simply denies that the external world is made of matter."

" This is interesting. Could you explain a little more regarding what the world is made of? "

The universe is made of an immaterial material, don't you know? Your senses are an illusion. You only imagine touching things, seeing things, hearing things because those things are made of non-stuff stuff ectoplasm pure imagination thought floaty immaterial super stuff that isn't really any thing since it is an existent non-material. Obviously.


February 21, 2017 7:50 AM

Stardusty Psyche said...

Reconquista Initiative said...

" And for everyone else, this exchange is instructive. When the burden of proof idea is on his side, the materialist atheist pushes it relentlessly,"
Ok, if by "relentless" you mean "The basic reliability of the human senses is a postulate that can be accepted provisionally, or on faith, or denied. I, and I think atheists generally, accept it provisionally."
February 21, 2017 3:34 AM

Relentlessly offering up 3 common variations on acceptance of the human senses, indeed.

Say there, Smacker, this will apparently surprise you, but scientists are well aware of the provisional nature of science. This subject goes back to Descartes and beyond. Cogito ergo sum. In modern language, I am self aware therefore I exist in some form, therefore there is an existence of some sort as opposed to absolutely nothing at all.

And that is about as far as Descartes got. He had wanted to build a whole system of objective truths, but after he stripped absolute truth all the way back to cogito ergo sum he was unable to build upon it in a quest to show a whole system of objective truths. No one else has been able to do so since, and published such work into general circulation.

Thus, nearly all human beings either implicitly or explicitly accept the basic reliability of the human senses, either on faith as an assumed absolute fact, or provisionally with the more informed realization that such basic reliability is a postulate, not an absolute truth.

Oh, but our friend the Smacker is going to teach us dumb little atheists a thing or two about the human senses! After all, we never even heard of Descartes or the Eleatics :-)

Legion of Logic said...

"Thus, nearly all human beings either implicitly or explicitly accept the basic reliability of the human senses, either on faith as an assumed absolute fact, or provisionally with the more informed realization that such basic reliability is a postulate, not an absolute truth."

Then why mock him for not accepting it as absolute truth?

Hal said...

Stardusty :
"The universe is made of an immaterial material, don't you know? Your senses are an illusion. You only imagine touching things, seeing things, hearing things because those things are made of non-stuff stuff ectoplasm pure imagination thought floaty immaterial super stuff that isn't really any thing since it is an existent non-material. Obviously."

I'm asking Reconquista Initiative to elaborate on his philosophy. I'm not interested in your mangled interpretation of it.

bmiller said...

@Hal,

Since Reconquista Initiative hasn't responded yet, here is a link to Berkelian Immaterialism.

Compare it's description to people speaking from ignorance.

B. Prokop said...

From the movie Dark Star (1974):

Doolittle: Hello, Bomb? Are you with me?

Bomb #20: Of course.

Doolittle: Are you willing to entertain a few concepts?

Bomb #20: I am always receptive to suggestions.

Doolittle: Fine. Think about this then. How do you know you exist?

Bomb #20: Well, of course I exist.

Doolittle: But how do you know you exist?

Bomb #20: It is intuitively obvious.

Doolittle: Intuition is no proof. What concrete evidence do you have that you exist?

Bomb #20: Hmmmm... well... I think, therefore I am.

Doolittle: That's good. That's very good. But how do you know that anything else exists?

Bomb #20: My sensory apparatus reveals it to me. This is fun.

//later//

[Pinback wants the bomb to disarm]

Pinback: All right, bomb. Prepare to receive new orders.

Bomb#20: You are false data.

Pinback: Hmmm?

Bomb #20: Therefore I shall ignore you.

Pinback: Hello... bomb?

Bomb #20: False data can act only as a distraction. Therefore, I shall refuse to perceive.

Pinback: Hey, bomb?

Bomb #20: The only thing that exists is myself.

Pinback: Snap out of it, bomb.

//and still outside the ship//

Bomb #20: Intriguing. I wish I had more time to discuss this.

Doolittle: [frantic] Why don't you have more time?

Bomb #20: Because I must explode in 75 seconds.

Stardusty Psyche said...

Legion of Logic said...

SP " "Thus, nearly all human beings either implicitly or explicitly accept the basic reliability of the human senses, either on faith as an assumed absolute fact, or provisionally with the more informed realization that such basic reliability is a postulate, not an absolute truth.""

" Then why mock him for not accepting it as absolute truth?"

That was not the reason for my mocking, the mere assertion that it is not an absolute truth. His "argument" is a disjointed screed, full of bad assumptions about atheists in general that he then saw fit to (falsely) attribute to me, after which he smugly congratulated himself for the "smack".

He is the one who affirmatively "denies that the external world is made of matter.", which is quite different than merely stating it cannot be proved absolutely.

He fails to realize one simple fact, his view is not in evidence, and the view of nearly everybody else is very strongly in evidence. His view requires a grand illusion on a cosmic scale and is preposterous on its face, which is why virtually nobody accepts his view which affirmatively denies the existence of the material world.


February 21, 2017 9:38 AM

jdhuey said...

Loved the "beachball" alien.

Stardusty Psyche said...

Hal said...

Stardusty :
"The universe is made of an immaterial material, don't you know? Your senses are an illusion. You only imagine touching things, seeing things, hearing things because those things are made of non-stuff stuff ectoplasm pure imagination thought floaty immaterial super stuff that isn't really any thing since it is an existent non-material. Obviously."

" I'm asking Reconquista Initiative to elaborate on his philosophy. I'm not interested in your mangled interpretation of it."

More's the pity, since I captured the gist of it rather well, I think.

*Although he maintained that there can be no material substances, Berkeley did not reject the notion of substance altogether. The most crucial feature of substance is activity, he supposed, and in our experience the most obvioius example activity is that of perceiving itself. So thinking substances do exist, and for these spirits (or souls or minds) to be is just to perceive (in Latin, esse est percipere). *

I mean, what a load of horse pucky. Really? This passes for a respectable position? Berkeley immaterialism is just a way for people who live in an irrational dream world to pass themselves off as sophisticated thinkers.

"non-stuff stuff ectoplasm pure imagination thought floaty immaterial super stuff" describes Berkeley's "immaterial substance" very well. The very term, "immaterial substance" is a laughable oxymoron.

The assertion of an "immaterial" "activity" is incoherent and sounds like something somebody on a hallucinogen would say thinking at the time they had solved some great riddle of the universe only to come to a state of hung over mental cloudiness or emptiness hours later when they sober up. Sadly, the Berkeley immaterialist never sobers up.


February 21, 2017 10:28 AM

bmiller said...


From the article on Berkeley: Immaterialism:

"Philosophers like Descartes and Locke tried to forestall problems of perceptual illusion by distinguishing between material objects and the ideas by means of which we perceive them.

(perceiver-----ideas-----material objects)

But the representationalist approach can provide no reliable account of the connection between ideas and the objects they are supposed to represent.

There is, however, an obvious alternative. Common sense dictates that there are only two crucial elements involved in perception: the perceiver and what is perceived. All we need to do, Berkeley argued, is eliminate the absurd, philosophically-conceived third element in the picture: that is, we must acknowledge that there are no material objects. For Berkeley, only the ideas we directly perceive are real.

(perceiver----------ideas)


Hmm. This does sound more reasonable than materialism. He makes a good point that since we don't have direct experience of the external world but only direct experience of our human sense experiences, why add another layer of mysterious stuff. Occam's razor, isn't it?

Stardusty Psyche said...

bmiller said...


" Hmm. This does sound more reasonable than materialism. "
I'm not surprised you live in a dream world too.

"He makes a good point that since we don't have direct experience of the external world but only direct experience of our human sense experiences, why add another layer of mysterious stuff. Occam's razor, isn't it?"
Good point indeed, in fact, your dinner is not real, you should skip eating from now on. Same with water, and air.

Howzabout you go hold your breath for a while? Oxygen? Bah, that is just a superfluous unprovable layer.


February 21, 2017 3:17 PM

bmiller said...

@Strawdusty,

"Good point indeed, in fact, your dinner is not real, you should skip eating from now on. Same with water, and air.

Howzabout you go hold your breath for a while? Oxygen? Bah, that is just a superfluous unprovable layer."


Maybe you should read the article again. The immaterialist affirms that the external world is real and objective. They just point out that since we have no direct experience of matter there is no need to posit it.

From the article again:
"Locke's reference to an "unknown substratum" in which the features of material substances inhere is a pointless assumption, according to Berkeley. Since it is the very nature of sensible objects to be perceived, on his view, it would be absurd to suppose that their reality depends in any way upon an imperceptible core. This gives rise to a perfectly general argument against even the possibility of material substance."

Where do you say the "features of material substances inhere"?

Hal said...

bmiller:
"He makes a good point that since we don't have direct experience of the external world but only direct experience of our human sense experiences, why add another layer of mysterious stuff.'

So we experience our experiences? That doesn't strike me as a very fruitful way of understanding our interaction with the world we live in.

I am sympathetic to Berkeley's rejection of mental representationalism. I have difficulty agreeing with his solution.

Why the assumption that we don't directly experience the external world? Our experiences are of course limited to what our senses can detect, but I don't see why that should prohibit as from describing them as being 'direct'.


bmiller said...

@Hal,

To be clear, I have no dog in the materialist vs. immaterialist fight.

I just would like to hear the arguments from both sides. So far, it seems the immaterialists have the upper hand since no one from the materialist side has offered anything but shouting and misrepresentations of their opponents position despite having the burden of proof to prove materialism true.

Stardusty Psyche said...

bmiller said...



" Where do you say the "features of material substances inhere"?"

You have it back to front. It's immaterial substances, not material substances.

A substance that is not material is an oxymoron, and thus incoherent, which is what Berkeley immaterialism is. It is gibberish.

*Although he maintained that there can be no material substances, Berkeley did not reject the notion of substance altogether. The most crucial feature of substance is activity, he supposed,*

What utter drivel.


February 21, 2017 5:51 PM

bmiller said...

@Strawdusty,

"You have it back to front. It's immaterial substances, not material substances."

No I quoted the article. Did you not read it?

Do you actually have an argument? After all you have the burden of proof.

Joe Hinman said...

Super essential Godhead, Tillich's idea of God as being itself is based upon Orthodox theology of the fifth cranberry,

Metacrock's blopg

Joe Hinman said...

blog not blop, sorry

Reconquista Initiative said...

Good Morning Hal and Everyone Else,

My apologies for the late response but I had a very long day at work yesterday without access to a computer on which I could post to a blog, and once I got home, I was too tried to write you a proper response. Nevertheless, I will endeavor to do so now.

How To Think About Immaterialism

So first, let us address how to think about immaterialism. In this day and age of computer games, it is actually quite easy to do so. Namely, the immaterialist could be said to hold that the world is like a Massive Multiplayer Online game, where a main computer generates the world that you are playing in, and then a number of computers connect via wi-fi to the main computer to play the game. Now, in a computer game, the creator of the game can set the parameters for any and all players, so you can have a game where a player can only survive a set amount of time under water, must eat food to survive, etc. But now, instead of thinking of each player playing the game by looking through a computer screen, picture this being a massively multiplayer online game that used full body virtual reality sets (a technology which already exists) and so you are actually the direct player of the game and the direct “experiencer” of the game’s consequences. Well, the immaterialist views life in a similar manner, where a god acts as the main computer, so to speak, and each of our minds is a player who is both receiving and sending information to the main computer (god), who then, moment to moment, shifts the game according to the moves that we make and the inputs that both he and we provide.

Now, to keep the analogy going, note as well that the world of a massive online multiplayer game is objective to the players of the game in the sense that the world is designed and maintained by the main computer, so that all the human players see the same world with the same environment and the same parameters as they play the game; furthermore, individual players can only change and interact in the world as much as the main computer lets them, thus meaning that the world is not a figment of the players imagination which is changeable at will, but rather it is an objective reality that must be interacted with under certain conditions and operating “laws”. Additionally, the world is real in the sense that real consequences occur to you as a player in the game; for example, a computer game can be made where if you shoot another person in a game, the body of the person will die in the game, drop in the spot it was shot in, and remain in the game as a corpse for everyone else to see (and you, as a player, could be arrested and sent to prison in the game as well).

So again, think of virtual reality “computer game” type analogies—where you are literally and directly experiencing the game—to understand what type of world the immaterialist is talking about.

And as a thought-experiment, picture the type of virtual reality technology even we humans will have in a thousand or ten thousand years. Likely it will be as real as real life itself. Now, if you were knocked unconscious, then strapped in to an advanced virtual reality set and woke up inside the virtual reality world, would you know the difference? No, you would not. Now my point is not to endorse skepticism in this case, but it is simply to point out that a virtual reality world—like immaterialism posits—can indeed be indistinguishable from this world and account for all our experiences.

Con’t (1 of 3)

Reconquista Initiative said...

Con’t (2 of 3)

What is the Immaterialist World Made Of

In essence, the immaterialist views the world as composed only of minds and their ideas. Or, to phrase it differently: the world is composed of thinking things and their thoughts. Or, to phrase it even more differently: the world is composed of thinking things and the information that thinking things produce and exchange.

Now, in light of the above, note that unlike the materialist, the immaterialist does not add any assumptions or blind-faith leaps to what he believes exists. After all, the one thing that I know and cannot doubt—on pain of self-refutation—is that I am a thinking thing who has thoughts, but it is an assumption to say that I am a material thinking thing. So the immaterialist only believes that which he knows to be true.


Arguments for Materialism

Now, in terms of the arguments for immaterialism, let me quickly list them.

First, against belief in materialism, there are a number of different arguments:

1 – The ‘Burden of Proof’ Argument: The materialist claims that matter actually exists, and so it is his burden to prove it. Until and unless he does so, I am rational to ‘lack a belief’ in the existence of matter.

2 – The ‘No Evidence Argument’: There is no non-question-begging evidence for the existence of matter; why believe something for which there is no evidence. After all, I see things, but I have never seen matter as such.

3 – The ‘No Experience’ Argument: I have never had an experience of matter, nor is belief in matter a properly basic belief; hence, there is no experiential or properly basic reason to believe in the existence of matter.

4 – The ‘Coherence Argument’: It is actually questionable whether materialists can even coherently define what ‘matter’ is; but if this concept cannot even be adequately defined, why believe in an incoherent idea.

5 – The ‘Necessity Argument’: The real existence of matter is not needed to account for anything that I experience, ergo, why bother with belief in matter.

Now, the above are the arguments for holding a ‘lack of belief’ about matter, but the two inter-connected main arguments for rational belief in immaterialism over materialism are the following:

1 – Occam’s Razor: If matter is not needed to account for my experiences, then shave it away.

2 – Best Explanation: Immaterialism is a much better explanation of reality than materialism is. Immaterialism has more explanatory power and scope than materialism. Immaterialism is also astronomically simpler than materialism. And immaterialism is more in line with our indisputable background knowledge than materialism is, not to mention that immaterialism does not make any gratuitous assumptions about reality like materialism does. Ergo, immaterialism is by far a better explanation of reality than materialism is, and so immaterialism is the most rational position to hold.

And here is the interesting part: even if immaterialism is false, it is still the most rational worldview to hold. Just like if a person was set up for a homicide by the perfect assassin who left no trace of his deception, the most rational position to hold would be that the person was guilty of the homicide even though this would be false. Well, the same thing is true for immaterialism. Given that it is by far the best explanatory position, then even if it happens to be false, it is still the most rational position to hold.

Con’t (2 of 3)

Reconquista Initiative said...

Con’t (3 of 3)

Immaterialism is as Common-Sensical as Materialism

Now, after hearing all of the above, the normal response of the materialist is exactly what ‘SD’ is doing: namely, trying to mock immaterialism to make it sound absurd. This is the last defense of the materialist. The problem for the materialist though, is that materialism is as absurd, if not more so, than immaterialism is. Consider, for example, that while the materialist thinks immaterialism is kooky, he is simultaneously telling us that reality consists of tiny chunks of stuff that we don’t see somehow joining together to create the illusion of things like chairs, tables, etc. And while the materialist mocks the immaterialist, he is the one telling you that all the vivid colors that you see are not real, and that the solid table that you are touching is actually made mostly of empty space and spinning particles of stuff. And while the materialist laughs at the immaterialist, he is the one claiming that pieces of unthinking dead stuff, when they bounce around enough, can actually form living thinking persons with subjective experiences. Or, conversely, and even more absurdly, the materialist will say that your consciousness, your first-person experience, your beliefs and desires are all illusions! And that is supposed to be the common-sensical and rational position! Give me a break!

So, the point is that you should not be fooled by the bluster from materialists, for when materialism is looked at with a critical eye, not only is it not anymore commonsensical than immaterialism is, but there is actually a case to be made that materialism is more kooky and strange than immaterialism is. After all, any view which claims that I, as a first-person self, actually don’t exist and that consciousness is an illusion, is not a view which is in line with anyone’s normal and common human experience. And so materialism is actually the “magical woo” of the philosophy world!


Materialist Hypocrisy

The final point about immaterialism that I briefly want to make is that a consideration of immaterialism shows us that many materialists, self-described skeptics, and many atheists are utter hypocrites. Why? Well, because they love to use Occam’s Razor until it works against them, and then suddenly it should be discarded. Or they love the fact that the burden of proof falls on the person making the positive claim, until they are the one making the positive claim, and then suddenly the burden of proof does not matter as much anymore. Or they love to preach about the need for evidence, but then when you point out the lack of evidence for this stuff called matter, suddenly evidence is not that important any longer. Or they deny the value of absurdity-arguments and the appeal to common-sense when they are claiming that consciousness is an illusion or that there is no free will, but the minute immaterialism is introduced, suddenly absurdity-arguments and appeals to common-sense are the most important types of arguments that there are. In essence, materialists are hypocrites, and debating about immaterialism exposes that fact in spades.


Anyway, that is all that I have at present. If you have any more questions, let me know.

Damian Michael
www.reconquistainitiative.com

Reconquista Initiative said...

Oh, and as a final point, I just want to add something that I said earlier: namely, in this day and age when 1) full-body virtual reality is becoming a reality, and 2) where "information" as information is the key to so much technology, etc., and 3) where there is talk that the universe is literally a hologram and that the science can be made to fit this view, and 4) where philosophers are arguing that our reality might just be part of an alien computer simulation (where we are like real-life SIMS), then is the immaterialist view really that shocking and unorthodox? I don't think so. In fact, I predict that as we learn more about information and its central role in reality, the immaterialist view will start looking more and more normal as time passes.

Hal said...

bmller:
"To be clear, I have no dog in the materialist vs. immaterialist fight. '

Thanks for the clarification. I also am not advocating for either position here as I find them both to be mistaken. I don't see how acknowledging that there are physical objects that exist independently of ourselves entails the view that everything is material. And I find the immaterialist view to be incoherent, though I acknowledge that may be due to a lack of personal understanding regarding the immaterialist view Reconquista Initiative is advocating. That is why I threw some questions out there to try and better understand it.

Hal said...

RI :
"Now, in light of the above, note that unlike the materialist, the immaterialist does not add any assumptions or blind-faith leaps to what he believes exists. After all, the one thing that I know and cannot doubt—on pain of self-refutation—is that I am a thinking thing who has thoughts, but it is an assumption to say that I am a material thinking thing. So the immaterialist only believes that which he knows to be true.

Reconquista Initiative, thanks for taking the time and effort to give such a detailed presentation of your position. Although I don't share it, I gather from what you have written and the article that bmiller linked to earlier that we do agree that experiences are extremely important in shaping our understanding of ourselves and the world we live in.

I am having difficulty accepting your basic assumption regarding having thoughts and being a thinking being. In my experience having a body is as indubitably true as having thoughts. And it is the having a body that enables me to have the sensations and perceptions I experience.

Your statement that the immaterialist only believes what he knows is troubling because it fails to differentiate believing from knowing. Knowing something is not the same as believing something.

I realize this is an inadequate response to your detailed postings, but it is all that I have time for at present.

Stardusty Psyche said...

bmiller said...

"I quoted the article. "

So did I.

February 21, 2017 7:30 PM

bmiller said...

@Strawdusty,

From the article:
"Locke's reference to an "unknown substratum" in which the features of material substances inhere is a pointless assumption,"

Me:"Where do you say the "features of material substances inhere"?"

Strawdusty:"You have it back to front. It's immaterial substances, not material substances."

Me"I quoted the article. "

Strawdusty:"So did I."

Well, then this exchange explains a lot.

Joe Hinman said...


What is the Immaterialist World Made Of

In essence, the immaterialist views the world as composed only of minds and their ideas. Or, to phrase it differently: the world is composed of thinking things and their thoughts. Or, to phrase it even more differently: the world is composed of thinking things and the information that thinking things produce and exchange.

Now, in light of the above, note that unlike the materialist, the immaterialist does not add any assumptions or blind-faith leaps to what he believes exists. After all, the one thing that I know and cannot doubt—on pain of self-refutation—is that I am a thinking thing who has thoughts, but it is an assumption to say that I am a material thinking thing. So the immaterialist only believes that which he knows to be true.

this is typical reductionist propaganda, only that winch we have nailed down can be believed, Those aspects of reality that we believe but don['t really have nailed down we have to cover by relabeling. you want to pretend that mind is caused by brain chemistry alone so there can be no thought without a physical apparatus but we still don't even know what the apparatus does.

we know there is a mental reality,so we thought must exit,we don't really know what causes it, is brain chemistry the cause or the distribution system?
today I saw an article 15 lies the AMA Has told, this was done by neurologist, One of those lies was that mental illness is caused by chemical imbalance. He says they don't really have any proof that there are chemical imbalances. So the reductionist re labels unknowns in such a wayas to mjakie itseem theory is fact.

Joe Hinman said...

I am having difficulty accepting your basic assumption regarding having thoughts and being a thinking being. In my experience having a body is as indubitably true as having thoughts. And it is the having a body that enables me to have the sensations and perceptions I experience.

how do you know that? you have not been out of your body so you don't know if mind can survive without body or not, you don't experience your brain chemistry,

Your statement that the immaterialist only believes what he knows is troubling because it fails to differentiate believing from knowing. Knowing something is not the same as believing something.

we don't know anything either way

B. Prokop said...

Hasn't that damned bomb exploded yet? I know it's been more than 75 seconds!

Reconquista Initiative said...

Hey Hal,

...we do agree that experiences are extremely important in shaping our understanding of ourselves and the world we live in.

Absolutely. However, I would also say that not only are our experiences important in shaping our understanding of ourselves and the world, but so is our consistency with the principles that we employ when we do so. And so, for example, do we use Occam’s Razor and our ‘Burden of Proof’ principles consistently, or do we only employ them when it is suitable to our position, like the materialist all too often does. Do we follow the evidence and our reasoning wherever it leads in a consistent manner, or do we only follow it where we want it to go.

Your statement that the immaterialist only believes what he knows is troubling because it fails to differentiate believing from knowing. Knowing something is not the same as believing something.

This was poor phrasing on my part, especially since I think that the whole modern conception of knowledge is problematic and is really just a different way of naming a belief which we hold to be very well justified. Now, what I meant to say is that the immaterialist only holds to what he cannot doubt, and makes no further assumptions beyond that. And indeed, on pain of self-refutation, no one can doubt that they are a thinking thing, but it is easy to doubt that they are a material thinking thing. Thus, the immaterialist starts with an indubitable foundation—that he is a thinking thing—and makes no additional assumptions than that, whereas the materialist starts with an easily dubitable belief as his foundation. Thus, whereas the materialist’s foundation is easily doubtable, that is not the case for the immaterialist.

I am having difficulty accepting your basic assumption regarding having thoughts and being a thinking being. In my experience having a body is as indubitably true as having thoughts. And it is the having a body that enables me to have the sensations and perceptions I experience.

Please note that the immaterialist does not deny that you have a body, he just denies that its ultimate constituent is matter. Again, think of the computer game analogy. In, say, a first-person massive online multiplayer computer game, each computer character has a body through which he senses and interacts with the game world, but that body is ultimately composed of information (computer code) not matter. The same is true for the immaterialist. Thus, the immaterialist does not deny that he has a body, it is just that his conception of what a body is, is fundamentally different than what the materialist posits.

And again, lest you think that this view is simply too far from common-sense to be taken seriously, just remember that the materialistic body that you allegedly possess is nothing like the common-sense view of the body that you experience. Indeed, on materialism, your “body” is little more than empty space composed of chunks of unseen stuff that bounce around and somehow adhere together to form “you”, and then somehow “stays” as you throughout your life; and even worse, many materialists posit that your consciousness is an illusion, that the “self” does not exist, that the colors that you see do not exist, etc. This, of course, is utterly opposed to common-sense and direct personal experience. Thus, the materialist enjoys no greater affinity to common-sense than the immaterialist does, and, in fact, given the primacy of consciousness in experience, the immaterialist’s view may even be closer to common-sense than the materialist is. So the materialist enjoys absolutely no “common-sense” or experiential advantage.

But don’t worry, the fact that we do not see this, or have trouble with it, is because we have been steeped in materialism for so long that it is difficult to escape from its grasp.

...it is all that I have time for at present.

No worries, we are all busy, so post more if and when you can.

Damian Michael
www.reconquistainitiative.com

William said...

"today I saw an article 15 lies the AMA Has told, this was done by neurologist, One of those lies was that mental illness is caused by chemical imbalance."

I really doubt that article as you read it was anything other than a pro-alt-med article written by a would-be journalist with a political agenda. However, in the chemical imbalance part of such a half-truth article, it was probably referring to

https://www.amazon.com/Blaming-Brain-Truth-Mental-Health/dp/0743237870

which criticizes the hypothesis that mental illness is caused by neurotransmitter changes.

It's definitely true that the chemical imbalance explanation is one of those "our part of the elephant" type theories, and most experts would say it is partially true, since neurotransmitter levels do change in mental illness.

Clearly the chemistry change is not the initial cause; but as an intermediate consequence, it can cause its own further negative consequences.

T said...

"The burden of proof is on the one making the affirmative claim".

The burden of proof is on anyone making a claim.

If you make a claim, the burden is on you to show that it is true. Seems like a reasonable request.

I'm yet to hear a compelling reason why this should be restricted to those making an affirmative claim. If I say "Sweden doesn't exist", then the burden is on me, just like the burden is on someone to show that "God doesn't exist".

Legion of Logic said...

"just like the burden is on someone to show that "God doesn't exist".

That's why most of them retreat to the (usually dishonest) position of "I'm not saying God doesn't exist, I simply lack belief due to lack of evidence."

I say dishonest, because the same people who say that usually also talk about Christians believing in "fairy tales" or things like that, in which case it's blatantly obvious they don't believe God exists, but don't want to have to defend their position.

William said...

Fallacies:
You cannot prove that God does not exist, so He does.
You cannot prove that God does exist, so He does not exist.

Non-fallacies:
You cannot prove that God does not exist, so you fail to create an obligation that I believe He does not exist.
You cannot prove that God does exist, so so you fail to create an obligation that I believe He does exist.

B. Prokop said...

All right, I've now officially had it (with this lame discussion). BOOM!

Stardusty Psyche said...

Reconquista Initiative said...

" In essence, the immaterialist views the world as composed only of minds and their ideas. "

" Now, in light of the above, note that unlike the materialist, the immaterialist does not add any assumptions or blind-faith leaps to what he believes exists."
How absurd, you just did.

" but it is an assumption to say that I am a material thinking thing. "
No, you must be material or you are not a thing. A thing is made of some thing. To be a thinking thing of any sort you must be material, else you are absolutely nothing at all.

You are not very much of a thinking thing, very apparently.


February 22, 2017 4:15 AM

bmiller said...

@Reconquista Initiative,

It seems that you've silenced all of your materialist opponents. That sure didn't take long. Very impressive.

Stardusty Psyche said...

T said...

SP "The burden of proof is on the one making the affirmative claim".

" The burden of proof is on anyone making a claim."
Fair enough, saying "affirmative claim" is like saying "assertion assertion". I only meant it for emphasis and to separate what is sometimes called a weak claim from a strong claim. This is related to LL's post.

" I'm yet to hear a compelling reason why this should be restricted to those making an affirmative claim. If I say "Sweden doesn't exist", then the burden is on me, just like the burden is on someone to show that "God doesn't exist"."
Right, a strong claim of the negative is affirmative, it is an assertion. I meant "affirmative" in the sense of an assertion, not in the sense of positive phrasing.



February 22, 2017 3:41 PM
Blogger Legion of Logic said...

" "just like the burden is on someone to show that "God doesn't exist".

That's why most of them retreat to the (usually dishonest) position of "I'm not saying God doesn't exist, I simply lack belief due to lack of evidence.""

Which is what I wanted to seperate from. Simply not believing something is sometime considered "weak" while asserting the negative as a universal fact might be called "strong".


February 22, 2017 5:18 PM

Dave Duffy said...

"All right, I've now officially had it (with this lame discussion). BOOM!"

Sometimes I have a weakness for reading comments on this blog. I'll admit I don't think much about the arguments (either because I'm not that smart or because I just don't care), but I do like the personalities that show up.

Is Damian Michael doing some kind of parody of materialism?

Is "Stardusty Psyche" John Loftus?

Okay Mr. Prokop, I know you read Russian, so can you please let us know what the words are on the Russian bear meme next to your name.

Stardusty Psyche said...

Reconquista Initiative said...

" Now, after hearing all of the above, the normal response of the materialist is exactly what ‘SD’ is doing: namely, trying to mock immaterialism to make it sound absurd. This is the last defense of the materialist. "
No, it is the first response to reading drivel.

You speak of an "immaterial thing", which is an oxymoron, and thus incoherent. If a thing is not made of some thing then it is made of no thing and is thus literally nothing, so you literally assert nothing is what you are made of.

You are speaking in gibberish.


"The problem for the materialist though, is that materialism is as absurd, if not more so, than immaterialism is. Consider, for example, that while the materialist thinks immaterialism is kooky, he is simultaneously telling us that reality consists of tiny chunks of stuff that we don’t see somehow joining together to create the illusion of things like chairs, tables, etc."
Hey physics genius, the human eye has limited resolution. The scale of objects is not defined by the structure of our eyes. There is nothing "kooky" about realizing our eyes are not able to detect things smaller than the resolution of the eye, or dimmer than the sensitivity of the eye.

That's one reason we build amplifying devices. With them we can collect light in such a way as to see on a screen with our eyes a representation of things that are too dim or too small to see without technological aid.


"And while the materialist mocks the immaterialist, he is the one telling you that all the vivid colors that you see are not real,"
Who said that? Colors are real experiences due to various wavelengths of light being absorbed by cells in our eyes. Berkeley did not know that because he lived long before those details had been discovered. You don't know it because you choose to remain ignorant.

" Give me a break!"
No. You are an ignorant person spouting incoherent gibberish.

" So, the point is that you should not be fooled by the bluster from materialists, for when materialism is looked at with a critical eye, not only is it not anymore commonsensical than immaterialism is, but there is actually a case to be made that materialism is more kooky and strange than immaterialism is."
An ignorant such case can be made. The ancients and even somebody like Berkeley had little more than naked eye observations and reason to go on, so they did what they could with those limited resources to try to understand the nature of our observable universe. People like Galileo, Newton, Copernicus, Kepler, and their successors made commendable progress. People like Berkeley contributed to ignorant superstitions that persist to this day.


" Anyway, that is all that I have at present. If you have any more questions, let me know."
Ok, what have you been smoking?


February 22, 2017 4:16 AM

Hal said...

Reconquista Initiative,
Although I found your last post to me very interesting, you seem to be under the impression that I am a materialist. I am not. But holding the view that materialism is wrong-headed does not entail acceptance of the immaterialism position you are advocating does it? Leastways, I don't think so.

Also, you should know that although I think that Occam's Razer can in some situations be useful (mainly in the scientific realm), I don't insist on strict adherence to it. Doesn't really seem to be all that useful in the realm of philosophy where the primary goal is understanding of the concepts we use to describe the world we live in.

David Brightly said...

Surely 'burden of proof' is a sociological rather than a logical concept. If you want to persuade me of something I don't accept it is you that has to come up with argument, demonstration, evidence, etc. Else I remain unmoved. Nothing to do with the positivity or negativity of your claim. If you deny the Holocaust then you have your work cut out.

Trouble comes when applying this to claims of radical skepticism. It's in the nature of these claims that they leave precious little common ground from which a persuasive argument or counter argument might be launched. The protagonists can happily throw insults at one another safe in the knowledge that their positions are irrefutable.

T said...

Fair enough Stardusty, we are in agreement on the burden of proof then

Hal said...

Joe:
"how do you know that? you have not been out of your body so you don't know if mind can survive without body or not, you don't experience your brain chemistry,


???
I said nothing about whether or not a mind can survive without a body.

B. Prokop said...

"can you please let us know what the words are on the Russian bear meme next to your name"

They translate to "We oppose the party of crooks and thieves" (can also mean con-men and thieves, or rogues and thieves - the word zhulik is difficult to translate). It is the slogan of the generic anti-Putin opposition in Russia (and not associated with any one party).

B. Prokop said...

And they're pronounced "PRO-tif PAR-ti-ya ZHU-li-kof ee vo-ROF"

Hal said...

RI:
"Now, what I meant to say is that the immaterialist only holds to what he cannot doubt, and makes no further assumptions beyond that. And indeed, on pain of self-refutation, no one can doubt that they are a thinking thing, but it is easy to doubt that they are a material thinking thing.'

I don't find it easy to doubt that I have a body, a body that interacts with other objects in the world. Our bodies are one of the substances that can interact causally with other substances in the world.
Just as I don't find it easy to doubt that I have a mind and have mental powers that enable me act as a rational being in the world.

You seem to want to reduce everything to the mental. That appears to me to be as mistaken as the materialist attempting to reduce everything to the material.

Joe Hinman said...

what is meant by terms such as immaterialist is in need of clarification. If reality is a thought in a mind then it;snot that you don't have a body but that your body is really a thought.

Joe Hinman said...

can you please let us know what the words are on the Russian bear meme next to your name"

They translate to "We oppose the party of crooks and thieves" (can also mean con-men and thieves, or rogues and thieves - the word zhulik is difficult to translate). It is the slogan of the generic anti-Putin opposition in Russia (and not associated with any one party).

February 23, 2017 6:02 AM

excellent!

Joe Hinman said...

how did he know it was a Russian bear? I thought it was a polar bear

B. Prokop said...

Well, the bear is white.

In the original illustration (from which I shamelessly stole this portion off of a Russian website), the bear has the corner of a map of Russia in its mouth, and is dragging it away (i.e., stealing it). You can still see the piece of Russia in the bear's mouth in my symbol.

(My daughters tell me the reason I get so many viruses on my laptop is all the time I spend surfing Russian websites. It's truly the Wild West out there in virtual Russia!)

Joe Hinman said...


Stardusty :
"The universe is made of an immaterial material, don't you know? Your senses are an illusion. You only imagine touching things, seeing things, hearing things because those things are made of non-stuff stuff ectoplasm pure imagination thought floaty immaterial super stuff that isn't really any thing since it is an existent non-material. Obviously."

" I'm asking Reconquista Initiative to elaborate on his philosophy. I'm not interested in your mangled interpretation of it."

More's the pity, since I captured the gist of it rather well, I think.

*Although he maintained that there can be no material substances, Berkeley did not reject the notion of substance altogether. The most crucial feature of substance is activity, he supposed, and in our experience the most obvioius example activity is that of perceiving itself. So thinking substances do exist, and for these spirits (or souls or minds) to be is just to perceive (in Latin, esse est percipere). *

I mean, what a load of horse pucky. Really? This passes for a respectable position? Berkeley immaterialism is just a way for people who live in an irrational dream world to pass themselves off as sophisticated thinkers.


yopu have all moved so far away from the original limne of thinkingm ,which could have been very productive, it's not worth picking up. one thing to dusty your attempts at mocking ideax betray youriideological braimn washing rather than real thinking.

Issac Newton believed that tye universe was a thought in the mind of God, that is not the same thinking that things are illusions, if reality is made of thought then reality is a thought it's not an illusion of thought.


the idea of solid objects is an illusion. they are not youi kjnkowm they made up of nothing and little charges,we don't know what hcarges are madee of,

tell me Dustry what sub atomic particles made of of? don't say quarks that';not an explanation it's a label for"we domn't know

Bob said...

Is the immaterial limited by the laws of physics?

If not, then I would say that the measurable time that it takes something to enter our perception (13ms or so for what your eye sees to reach your conscious awareness) might provide us with pretty good evidence that an external world is being perceived.

In other words, if the external world is illusory, why the perceptual delay time?

Hal said...

Joe:
"what is meant by terms such as immaterialist is in need of clarification. If reality is a thought in a mind then it;snot that you don't have a body but that your body is really a thought.'

One is, of course, free to change the meanings of words and modify concepts but not without consequences. We typically conceive of thoughts as not occupying space nor of causally interacting with other thoughts. Nor do we conceive of them as substances. Bodies are substances. They do occupy space and endure over time. They have essential and inessential properties. They are agents that can act and be acted upon.
I see little to be gained by trying to shoehorn all these differences into the category of thought.

Joe Hinman said...

Is the immaterial limited by the laws of physics?

If not, then I would say that the measurable time that it takes something to enter our perception (13ms or so for what your eye sees to reach your conscious awareness) might provide us with pretty good evidence that an external world is being perceived.

In other words, if the external world is illusory, why the perceptual delay time?
I don't want to take up the banner of immaterial ism without even knowing what has been represented under that banner so far.In my view,whatever you call it, laws of phyicswould be part of the thought. Reality is a thought in the mind of God then laws of physics ae partvof the thought.

STOP SAYNG ITS ILLISTORY CAN'T YOU GET THIS CONCEPT THROUGH YOUR HEAD???

Immaterial doesn't make it an illusion,it's a thought it'snot an illusion.

Joe Hinman said...

One is, of course, free to change the meanings of words and modify concepts but not without consequences. We typically conceive of thoughts as not occupying space nor of causally interacting with other thoughts. Nor do we conceive of them as substances. Bodies are substances. They do occupy space and endure over time. They have essential and inessential properties. They are agents that can act and be acted upon.
I see little to be gained by trying to shoehorn all these differences into the category of thought.

ever see Star Trek TNG? Every see the episodes where the holodeck people womnder if they will cease to exist or of there's a world beyond there;s? If you were a Holodeck character and you had a pseudo sense of your own existence and of the world around you there would be meaning to the concept of substance within the context of the matrix. It would have no reality or meanig outside that venue but in it it would be real.

Please use TNG Holodecknot movoe th matrox for several reasons,I hate that movie,

bmiller said...

@Hal,

"Bodies are substances. They do occupy space and endure over time. They have essential and inessential properties. They are agents that can act and be acted upon."

I think this is a real problem for the materialist. If we know that we are made only of cells (material stuff) and we also know that cells die (no more of that material stuff) but we gain more cells (different stuff), then there is no way we are the same entity over time. I think we all agree that we ourselves endure over time, but what exactly is it that endures. It sure can’t be just material stuff.

Hal said...

Joe,

I'm not keen on using sci fi or fantasy stories for philosophical discussions. We can imagine many things that would be impossible in real life.

bmiller,
I'm not a materialist. Materialism is not the only alternative to the immaterialism that is being advocated in this thread. I think both are mistaken.

Hal said...

bmiller,
I just want to add that because we have bodies we have a physical location and trace a continuous spatio-temporal path through the world we live in.
Simply because changes take place in our bodies and minds does not negate the fact that we are the same entities our mothers gave birth to years ago.

bmiller said...

@Hal,

"Simply because changes take place in our bodies and minds does not negate the fact that we are the same entities our mothers gave birth to years ago."

Right, I recognize that you are not a materialist.
I just wanted to raise the question "If we know that we are the same entity all our lives and we know that we haven't retained a single particle of matter over all that time, then what exactly is the type of entity are we?"

Joe Hinman said...

Hal said...
Joe,

I'm not keen on using sci fi or fantasy stories for philosophical discussions. We can imagine many things that would be impossible in real life.

I m not either but this particular one fits so well. The point is it;snot unreal it's just real in a different way.

Joe Hinman said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Joe Hinman said...

Hal said...
bmiller,
I just want to add that because we have bodies we have a physical location and trace a continuous spatio-temporal path through the world we live in.
Simply because changes take place in our bodies and minds does not negate the fact that we are the same entities our mothers gave birth to years ago.

do you speak English? have ever thought about listening to other people's idea? why are you unable to comprehend the concept? being an idea or part of an idea in a giant mind doesn't morph into another idea,no reason why it should, it doesn't make me unreal. are you geting this?

William said...

Does the Simulation Hypothesis apparently believed by Elon Musk imply immaterialism about our universe? Is that the same as the skepticism of Victor's OP?

One difference might be that of solipsism versus non-solipsism versions of skepticism about the world.

Hal said...

bmiller,

Here you will find a pretty good summary of my views regarding human beings:

Human Nature

Hal said...

Joe:
"do you speak English? have ever thought about listening to other people's idea? why are you unable to comprehend the concept? being an idea or part of an idea in a giant mind doesn't morph into another idea,no reason why it should, it doesn't make me unreal. are you geting this?'

I'm not sure what you are objecting to. If you claim that you exist as an idea in a giant mind, I understand that claim. However, I think it false.

bmiller said...

@Hal,

Human Nature

I took a quick look so I understand where you're coming from.

But I'm still interested in how people would respond to this question:

If we know that we are the same entity all our lives and we know that we haven't retained a single particle of matter over all that time, then what exactly is the type of entity are we?

I assume that you would say that we are more than just matter and I would assume that an immaterialist would not be bothered by it because it doesn't matter to him (yes, bad pun intended). But it seems like a BIG problem for materialists.

Reconquista Initiative said...

Dave Duffy said:

Is Damian Michael doing some kind of parody of materialism?

Hello David,

In answer to your question, not really. Rather, what I am trying to show is: first, that materialism can be uncharitably parodied like immaterialism often is, if you desire to do so; but then second, I am trying to show that materialism is no more commonsensical or in line with our experience than immaterialism is. In essence, I am trying to get across the point that materialism has no “common-sense” advantage over immaterialism even though it is often thought that it does. That is the point of trying to articulate just how absurd materialism sounds when you get right down to it.

Regards,

Damian Michael
www.reconquistainitiative.com

Reconquista Initiative said...

Hal said:

Although I found your last post to me very interesting, you seem to be under the impression that I am a materialist.

Hello Again Hal,

No, I was not really assuming that you were a materialist (and sorry if that impression was drawn out of my comments). However, I do take you to be someone who holds that matter exists in some form.

But holding the view that materialism is wrong-headed does not entail acceptance of the immaterialism position you are advocating does it?

Absolutely correct. For example, there is dualism. Or even pan-psychism. However, any view which posits the existence of matter will have to answer the argumentative challenges that I placed before it, just like the materialist does.

Also, you should know that although I think that Occam's Razer can in some situations be useful (mainly in the scientific realm), I don't insist on strict adherence to it. Doesn't really seem to be all that useful in the realm of philosophy where the primary goal is understanding of the concepts we use to describe the world we live in.

Hal, here I would simply caution you in your rejection of Occam’s Razor (really, the principle of simplicity) in other areas of life than just science—although ‘rejection’ is likely too strong of a word for what you are trying to get across. Nevertheless, the fact is that “simplicity” is a principle appealed to in all aspects of daily life when dealing with competing hypotheses. Detectives use it. Doctors use it. And so on. Furthermore, in philosophy, we often compare worldviews to see which is the most rational or the best explanation, and the principle of simplicity, as well as the principle of being in line with background knowledge, are often the only two principles available to distinguish between hypotheses that are equal in terms of explanatory power and scope. So simplicity cannot be so easily dismissed in other parts of life.

Regards,

Damian Michael
www.reconquistainitiative.com

Reconquista Initiative said...

Hal said:

I don't find it easy to doubt that I have a body, a body that interacts with other objects in the world.

Hello Again Hal,

I meant “easy to doubt” in the logical sense. For example, logically, I cannot doubt that I am a thinking thing, for to doubt that, I have to think, and so to doubt that I am a thinking thing is logically self-refuting. Thus, I cannot doubt that I am a thinking thing. By contrast, there is nothing self-refuting about believing that I not a material thinking thing. And so, in a logical sense, it is easy to doubt that I am not a material thinking thing.

And don’t get me wrong, it took me a long time to drop materialism as well, so I understand what you are saying. But again, remember that immaterialism does not deny that you have a body that can interact with the worlde, it just has a different view of what the body is made of. Again, think of a virtual reality computer game: in such a game, your body can interact with the world as well as any material body can, but your game body, and the world itself, ate just information, not matter. So you do have a body, but it is not made of matter, that is all the difference is.

You seem to want to reduce everything to the mental.

I do not want to do this, but it is the conclusion that I have been led to while trying to be as consistent to my principles as possible, and while trying to only believe that which I have evidence for (or is properly basic).

Regards,

Damian Michael
www.reconquistainitiative.com

Reconquista Initiative said...

Hello Bob,

You said:

Is the immaterial limited by the laws of physics?

No, the laws of physics are created by the creator and controller of the immaterial world. Thus, the “players” in the immaterial reality are subject to these laws, but the creator is the maker of the laws. Again, think of a game and a game designer. The game designer sets the “laws” of the game that all the players are subject to.

In other words, if the external world is illusory, why the perceptual delay time?

First, on immaterialism, the world is not illusory—a common misconception, but a wrong one—it is just not made of matter. Again, a virtual reality world is not an illusion, it is just a world made of information, not matter. That is a key difference.

Second, why the perceptual delay time? For the same reason that a game designer can create a game-world where the “light” in that game-world travels at one foot per hour, or one trillion miles per second…because he wants to and sets up the world in the way he desires. Indeed, in a virtual reality game, the game designer could easily set up the game so that light in the game travels at a certain set speed.

Regards,

Damian Michael
www.reconquistainitiative.com

Joe Hinman said...

William said...
Does the Simulation Hypothesis apparently believed by Elon Musk imply immaterialism about our universe? Is that the same as the skepticism of Victor's OP?

One difference might be that of solipsism versus non-solipsism versions of skepticism about the world.

>>>> why deo you equate IMt, with solipsism? belief in God always posuts a creator des that ake God a monopoly?

Joe Hinman said...

Reconquista Initiative said..

i gave same answers

Joe Hinman said...

Reconquista Initiative said..

I just figured out why they object to your views, because they are IMMATERIAL! ahahahahha

ok been doing this too long

Stardusty Psyche said...

Hal said...

Joe:
"how do you know that? you have not been out of your body so you don't know if mind can survive without body or not, you don't experience your brain chemistry,


???
" I said nothing about whether or not a mind can survive without a body."

Ok Hal, no problem, I will.

Evidence from human behavior, brain injuries, and sensing technologies all demonstrate that a mind is brain function. No brain function, no mind.


Guess what folks, that seance you paid for was conducted by a fraud out to bilk you of your money.


February 23, 2017 6:01 AM

Stardusty Psyche said...

Joe Hinman said...


" Issac Newton believed that tye universe was a thought in the mind of God,"
I don't give a rat's ass what Newton thought. In some ways Newton was a crackpot. He was also a mathematical and scientific genius. The human brain is highly segmented. I care about the value of his scientific and mathematical discoveries on the merits of them.



" tell me Dustry what sub atomic particles made of of?"
Sean Carroll, and he is not the first, merely another to say that at base all is fields. That calls for the question of what a field is, typically the answer being a property of space or a curvature of space. This in turn calls for the question of what space is, perhaps better thought of as spacetime.

The truth is nobody knows what the most fundamental underlying reality is. TBD. That is what makes science so fascinating...the never ending quest to learn more about how the universe works.

Just waving one's arms about shouting about super floaty mind god spirit superstuff is simply idiotic.

February 23, 2017 8:00 AM

Stardusty Psyche said...

Hal said...

" We typically conceive of thoughts as not occupying space nor of causally interacting with other thoughts."
Why?

" Nor do we conceive of them as substances."
Thoughts are processes of substances. Thinking is a brain process. No brain, no thinking. Kill certain parts of the brain, kill certain kinds of thinking. Chemically impede the actions of the brain, chemically impede thinking.

Thinking is like running, a process of a physical system.


February 23, 2017 9:58 AM

Stardusty Psyche said...


Blogger William said...

" Does the Simulation Hypothesis apparently believed by Elon Musk imply immaterialism about our universe?"

No, the simulation system itself is material.

The simulation runs on a material system. A simulation is a process of a material system.


February 23, 2017 1:19 PM

William said...

So, Stardust, let's say the Immaterialism universe is true, but that it exists entirely within a huge physical box. That would mean that such a previously defined nonphysical, idealist Immaterialism is actually a version of your imperialist version of physicalism. :)

Reconquista Initiative said...

William said:

Does the Simulation Hypothesis apparently believed by Elon Musk imply immaterialism about our universe? Is that the same as the skepticism of Victor's OP?

Hello William,

The Simulation Hypothesis is, essentially, that we are all just digital entities in the virtual reality world of some super-alien's super-computer. Now, for the immaterialist, the value of the Simulation Hypothesis is three-fold. First, it brings to mind the idea that a virtual reality system could be such that it could create our world via mere information and computer code and that we would interact with such a computer world just like the "real" world, all while not knowing any difference between the "real" world and the virtual world, which is exactly what immaterialism posits (namely, that an immaterial world would be no different than a material one). Second, the Simulation Hypothesis brings to mind the idea that we, as conscious persons, could be nothing more than mere information and computer code, which is again very close to what the immaterialist posits. And finally third, the Simulation Hypothesis shows that if merely advanced aliens could create such a simulation, then surely a god could, and an omnipotent God definitely could. In fact, for the latter type of God, creating an immaterial world that looked exactly like ours would be child's play.

So, in essence, what the Simulation Hypothesis does for the immaterialist is that it helps people understand the plausibility and feasibility of an immaterialist world via a "computer-generated" example.

Regards,

Damian Michael

Reconquista Initiative said...

For anyone interested in the discussion on immaterialism, please note the following:

SD said:

Sean Carroll, and he is not the first, merely another to say that at base all is fields. That calls for the question of what a field is, typically the answer being a property of space or a curvature of space. This in turn calls for the question of what space is, perhaps better thought of as spacetime.

The truth is nobody knows what the most fundamental underlying reality is. TBD. That is what makes science so fascinating...the never ending quest to learn more about how the universe works.

Just waving one's arms about shouting about super floaty mind god spirit superstuff is simply idiotic.


Did you get that? At base, on a materialist view of the universe, you might just be a field. How does that align with common-sense and our sensory experience? Obviously, it does not; in fact, it is as far from common-sense as can be imagined. So again, the point here is to show that materialism is no more commonsensical or in line with experience than immaterialism is.

Also, notice the contradictory tension in SD's statement. He says that nobody knows what the most fundamental underlying aspect of reality is, but then, with his snide comment, he sure seems to imply that it is definitely not that "super floaty mind god spirit superstuff". But wait a second, I thought that SD just said that no one (which would include him) knows what the fundamental underlying stuff of reality was. So how does he know the latter while admitting the former?

Additionally, notice how SD makes the scientific quest to understand the universe so fascinating, as if immaterialism somehow stunts science, which it does not. Rather, it meres treats science in an instrumentalist fashion, not a realist one.

But more interestingly, why isn't immaterialism considered fascinating? After all, it sounds absolutely awesome to be an immaterial mind embedded in a virtual reality system created by a god who modifies the world from moment to moment based on the inputs that he receives from his "players". Understanding such a world, and realizing that we are in one is the height of fascination and excitement. Realizing that we are literally in the mind of a god is astromonically cooler and more interesting than realizing that we are just chunks of stuff, or that we are ultimately "fields"--whatever the hell that means (after all, how is consciousness a "field"). Furthermore, peering into the mind of a god, and studying it through our interactions in the immaterial world is the most fascinating thing that we can do. By contrast, studying a bunch of material forces is pretty bland in comparison.

So again, the point of articulating the above was not to disparage materialism, but rather to show that materialism enjoys absolutely no "excitement" advantage over immaterialism. Indeed, I can make materialism sound as boring as possible, while making immaterialism sound like the most exciting thing in the world. So the point is not which one sounds the most exciting, but which one is the most rational to believe given our intellectual principles, and I say immaterialism is.


Anyway, in the end, I think that most of the objections to immaterialism stem from one thing: the need for a god. Indeed, it reminds me of a book on immaterialism that I read where a college professor said that he would teach immaterialism, and his college students were very excited about it right up to the point that he taught about the need for a theistic and controlling god as part of the system, and then suddenly the interest from his class died down and no one liked immaterialism that much anymore. In a way, such a reaction reminds me of Romans 1.

Regards,

Damian Michael

Reconquista Initiative said...

Hello bmiller,

You said:

If we know that we are the same entity all our lives and we know that we haven't retained a single particle of matter over all that time, then what exactly is the type of entity are we?...But it seems like a BIG problem for materialists.

It is a massive problem for materialists. And it is such a big problem, that materialist Alex Rosenberg simply denies that any "enduring self" actually exists. Here is Rosenberg:

-QUOTE-

Nevertheless, if the mind is the brain (and scientism can’t allow that it is anything else), we have to stop taking consciousness seriously as a source of knowledge or understanding about the mind, or the behavior the brain produces. And we have to stop taking our selves seriously too. We have to realize that there is no self, soul or enduring agent, no subject of the first-person pronoun, tracking its interior life while it also tracks much of what is going on around us. This self cannot be the whole body, or its brain, and there is no part of either that qualifies for being the self by way of numerical-identity over time. There seems to be only oneway we make sense of the person whose identity endures over time and over bodily change. This way is by positing a concrete but non-spatial entity with a point of view somewhere behind the eyes and between the ears in the middle of our heads. Since physics has excluded the existence of anything concrete but nonspatial, and since physics fixes all the facts, we have to give up this last illusion consciousness foists on us. But of course Scientism can explain away the illusion of an enduring self as one that natural selection imposed on our introspections, along with an accompanying penchant for stories. After all it is pretty clear that they solve a couple of major design problems for anything that has to hang around long enough to leave copies of its genes and protect them while they are growing up.

-UNQUOTE-

Found here: http://nationalhumanitiescenter.org/on-the-human/2009/11/the-disenchanted-naturalists-guide-to-reality/

Got that? To solve the problem that you just mention, Rosenberg solves it by eliminating the idea of an enduring self! And people call immaterialism crazy!

Regards,

Damian Michael

Hal said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Hal said...

Damian,

“Thus, I cannot doubt that I am a thinking thing.”

What does the word “thing” refer to?

And how does this statement:
By contrast, there is nothing self-refuting about believing that I am not a material thinking thing. And so, in a logical sense, it is easy to doubt that I am not a material thinking thing.”

differ logically from this one:
By contrast, there is nothing self-refuting about believing that I am not am immaterial thinking thing. And so, in a logical sense, it is easy to doubt that I am not an immaterial thinking thing.

In either case there is the positing of the existence of an entity. Using Occam's Razor, I see no advantage to accepting immaterialism over materialism.

Reconquista Initiative said...

Hal,

First, the word "thing" is just being used in a generic sense of some-thing or some-entity. God is a "thing" in this sense even though he is immaterial. The law of non-contradiction is a thing in this sense even though it is immaterial. It is just a generic idea to note something which is in some way existent.

Now, concerning Occam's Razor, the way that Occam's Razor comes into play is as follows:

Step One: Engage in a sort of Descartes-like level of doubt to determine what are the few beliefs that I absolutely cannot doubt on pain of self-refutation.

Step Two: While engaging in such doubt, I realize that it is easy to logically doubt that matter exists or that a material world exists. Thus, it is easy to doubt that I am a material thinking thing. Why? Because given that it is possible that matter does not exist--and we must admit this possibility if we are honest--then it is possible that I am not a material being at all. So I can readily doubt that I am a material thinking thing.

Step Three: Realize that I cannot doubt that I am a thinking thing, for to doubt that requires that I think, and so the very doubting that I am a thinking thing provides that I am a thinking thing. Thus, as a foundational belief, I must at least hold that I am a thinking thing.

Step Four: Starting on the foundation of me being a thinking thing, determine what else I need to posit to account for my experiences and my world. Well, by positing the existence of another thinking thing--a god-like being--I can account for all my experiences. Thus, the simplest worldview--the one that adds the least to what I need to additionally believe--and the one most in line with the beliefs that I already hold (that I am a thinking thing) is immaterialism. By contrast, the materialist, to account for his experiences, posits the existence of an unseen, unknown, not experienced, not evidenced "stuff" in addition to thought as the way of explaining the world. Indeed, for the materialist is saying that not only are there thinking things, but there is also this stuff called "matter" in addition to thinking things, thereby positing the existence of more "things" than the immaterialist posits. Thus, the materialist is unnecessarily adding to his ontology in order to account for his experiences, whereas the immaterialist is not.

Thus, immaterialism is simpler.

More to follow...

Damian Michael

Reconquista Initiative said...

Hal,

Another way of seeing how Occam’s Razor comes into play is by comparing which worldview posits the existence of more stuff. Indeed, as, Graham Oppy says in his book “The Best Argument Against God’s Existence” (where he, of course, does not deal with theistic immaterialism), we should prefer simpler theories to more complex ones. Specifically, Oppy says the following:
.
START QUOTE
.
“If everything else is equal, we should prefer the more simple theory to the less simple theory. If everything else is equal, we should prefer the theory that postulates fewer (and less complex) primitive entities. If everything else is equal, we should prefer the theory that invokes fewer (and less complex) primitive features. If everything else is equal, we should prefer the theory that appeals to fewer (and less complex) primitive principles.”
.
END QUOTE

But now, in light of the above, what does the hypothesis of materialism, at the bare minimum, claim?

- That an natural material (uncaused, eternal) world exists that accounts for all that we experience.
- That the natural world is orderly.
- That the natural world has the causal power to create material life and did do so.
- That the natural world has the causal power to create consciousness from matter and did do so.
- That the natural world has the causal power to create rational life from matter and did do so.
- That there is non-thinking matter that exists (not redundant with the first point, as matter could exist in a form that is not a “world” or that is not orderly).
- That the thinking thing that I am is actually a material thinking thing.
- That other material thinking things exist.
- That natural “laws” and forces exist.
- That numerous different types of particles and material stuff exists.
- That not only do material particles exist, but they adhere together to form other material “things”.

Now what does the hypothesis of deistic/theistic immaterialism, at a bare minimum, claim?
.
- That a thinking thing (uncaused, eternal) exists who accounts for all that we experience.
- That the thinking thing noted above can create other thinking things.
- That other thinking things exist.
- That the ideas of thinking things exist (and even this need not necessarily be included).

So, in light of Oppy’s explanation of simplicity, it is easy to see that immaterialism is a much simpler worldview. Materialism posits the same things that immaterialism does, but it posits more entities, more principles, more features, etc.

Regards,

Damian Michael

Hal said...

Damian,

I'm not persuaded. We appear to agree that there is an entity that thinks and experiences the world he lives in. We also agree that the world objectively exists. So there are at least two entities: the thinker and the world. What those two entities are composed of is irrelevant.

You can't use Occam's Razor to justify preferring immaterialism.

Reconquista Initiative said...

Hal,

Finally, here is an explanatory comparison between materialism and immaterialism to show why immaterialism is superior.

1) Congruence with indubitable background knowledge: Note that I cannot deny that I am, at the very least, a thinking thing (or at least I cannot deny it if I am to make an argument of any sort), and so my indubitable background knowledge contains the fact that I am a thinking thing. But it does not contain the fact that I am a material thinking thing (and indeed it cannot contain that without begging the question against immaterialism). That is an assumption—at this point—which is not in line with the background knowledge that I cannot deny. So, in terms of congruence with indubitable background knowledge, immaterialism has the advantage.

2) Simplicity / Modesty: Also in terms of simplicity, immaterialism is the clear winner. For again, I cannot deny that I am a thinking thing with ideas, but claiming just that I am a thinking thing is clearly simpler and more modest than claiming that I am a material thinking thing with ideas, for the addition of “matter” adds something to my ontology (namely, matter) and is thus not as simple or modest as a view that just has me as a thinking thing. And this is not even to add the fact that when we define ‘simplicity’ as, say, Graham Oppy does in his book “The Best Argument Against God’s Existence”, namely as…

START QUOTE

“If everything else is equal, we should prefer the more simple theory to the less simple theory. If everything else is equal, we should prefer the theory that postulates fewer (and less complex) primitive entities. If everything else is equal, we should prefer the theory that invokes fewer (and less complex) primitive features. If everything else is equal, we should prefer the theory that appeals to fewer (and less complex) primitive principles.”

END QUOTE

…then we can see that immaterialism is actually much simpler and less complex than materialism, for whereas materialism posits matter, and a material world, and mental things, and laws of nature, and particles, etc., etc., etc., immaterialism just posits thinking things, their ideas, and one special thinking thing. So again, immaterialism is simpler/less complex than materialism. (And, as a side note, Graham Oppy’s “best argument against god” is that naturalism is simpler than theism…except, of course, he begs the question against immaterialism by simply assuming the existence of matter).

Con't

Reconquista Initiative said...

Con't

3) Explanatory Power: Perhaps the most important aspect of an explanation is explanatory power, and whereas the materialist might think that he has a victory here, he is mistaken. Why? Because while immaterialism might have some problems (and they are often exaggerated) such as distinguishing hallucinations from reality, the fact is that not only are the immaterialist answers to these problems no worse than the materialist answers are (they are basically the same answer), but materialism suffers from substantially more serious problems about substantially more serious issues. Indeed, problems concerning accounting for qualia, consciousness, intentionality, rationality, and so on, are all problems for materialism, and I contend that these issues are light-years more serious than distinguishing between hallucinations and reality, for example. And note that the very rise of eliminative materialists attests to the fact that materialism has trouble accounting for these things, which is why eliminative materialists (part of the materialist faction) deny that we have beliefs, desires, intentions, thoughts, etc. So again, it seems that in terms of explanatory power, immaterialism is at least as explanatorily powerful as materialism, if not more so.

4) Explanatory Scope: Finally, in terms of explanatory scope, immaterialism can account for all our experience and is compatible with it. So immaterialism and materialism are at least equal. But I contend that in light of the above problems for materialism in terms of accounting for qualia, intentionality, etc., immaterialism actually has greater explanatory scope than materialism does.

CONCLUSION: So it seems that in all the critical areas (background knowledge, simplicity, explanatory power and scope), immaterialism is actually better than materialism is, and thus immaterialism is a better explanation than materialism is of our experience of reality.

Regards,

Damian Michael

Hal said...

Damian,
In addition. Under the form of immaterialism you are asserting, you also have to posit a third entity: the one thinking up this thinker and the world he lives in.

So unless you modify your claim, Occam's Razor leads to rejection of immaterialism.

Hal said...

Damian,
I am neither a materialist nor an immaterialist. They are both flawed. So pointing out problems with either one will not convince me to accept one over the other. There are more than two choices for those who attempt to understand the world we live in.



Hal said...

Damian,
Note that I cannot deny that I am, at the very least, a thinking thing (or at least I cannot deny it if I am to make an argument of any sort), and so my indubitable background knowledge contains the fact that I am a thinking thing. But it does not contain the fact that I am a material thinking thing (and indeed it cannot contain that without begging the question against immaterialism). That is an assumption—at this point—which is not in line with the background knowledge that I cannot deny. So, in terms of congruence with indubitable background knowledge, immaterialism has the advantage.

It is also begging the question if one assumes, as you do, that he is an immaterial thinking thing.

Reconquista Initiative said...

I'm not persuaded. We appear to agree that there is an entity that thinks and experiences the world he lives in. We also agree that the world objectively exists. So there are at least two entities: the thinker and the world. What those two entities are composed of is irrelevant.

You can't use Occam's Razor to justify preferring immaterialism.


Hal,

I would say that this is incorrect. First, simplicity (ie - Occam's Razor) is about more than just the entities posited. It is, as Oppy says, about the entities, and the features, and the principles, etc. And when this is considered, immaterialism is simpler.

Second, simplicity also applies to what the entity is posited to be. So, for example, an entity that is just a thinking thing (a mind), but is not material, is simpler than an entity that is also a thinking thing (a mind), but is also composed of matter (a mind linked to matter). The latter posits a combination of mind and matter to form a person, whereas the former says that a person is just a mind. Thus the former is simpler than the latter. So immaterialism is simpler in that it posits just a mind, not a mind-matter combination.

Now, if you, like Rosenberg, and like other eliminative materialists, want to eliminate the mind, the self, first-person subjectivity, and so on, in order to make materialism as simple as possible, then feel free to do so (although I know this does not apply to you); however, doing so renders materialism astronomically more absurd than immaterialism is, and yet it would still be only equal in simplicity to immaterialism.

Finally, I would also reinforce the fact that simplicity and 'best explanation' considerations are just those things that make immaterialism rationally preferable to materialism. However, a mere 'lack of belief' in materialism--and thus a provisional / practical acceptance of immaterialism--is based on the burden of proof argument, the no evidence argument, the no experience argument, the no necessity argument, the coherence argument, and so on.

Regards,

Damian Michael

Reconquista Initiative said...

Hal,

I don't assume that I am an immaterial thinking thing. I establish that it is the one thing that I cannot doubt (as explained above).

Here, you need to distinguish between what is rational to believe given the intellectual principles that we use (simplicity, etc.) and what is true. So, immaterialism could be false (and I readily admit as much), but it is still the most rational worldview to hold given the principles that we use. Just like it is rational to believe that a person is guilty of murder if all the evidence points that he is guilty regardless of the fact that the person was framed for the murder by an untraceable assassin. So we have to realize that there is a difference between what is rational to believe and what is true, for sometimes the two do not match. I am saying that immaterialism is the most rational worldview to believe given the principles we use in daily life, not that it is necessarily true.

Reconquista Initiative said...

Hal,

Re-read my last few posts about simplicity / best explanation. They explain why immaterialism is simpler even if it posits the existence of a god.

Hal said...

Damian,
"I don't assume that I am an immaterial thinking thing. I establish that it is the one thing that I cannot doubt (as explained above).

All that you have established is that a person cannot doubt that they are thinking entity. That does not entail that the entity is immaterial.

Hal said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Reconquista Initiative said...

Hal

All that you have established is that a person cannot doubt that they are thinking entity. That does not entail that the entity is immaterial.

Yes, I agree, but what I have shown is that, given the above, and given the intellectual principles that we use in daily life, we need not posit anything more than immaterialism to account for my experience. Thus, immaterialism may not be true, but it is all that I need to believe (and is the most rational thing to believe).

Reconquista Initiative said...

Hal,

You said in another comment that immaterialism is defective. Can you explain how and why you think so? What is defective about it?

Cheers!

Hal said...

Damian,
Well there is the problem of solipsism. Also, it is rather parochial in the its anthropomorphizing: humans can think of things so the whole world is conceived as the thinking of some powerful being. And it adds nothing to our usual explanations for what happens in the world.

This is sort of like your computer game analogy. We can run a simulation of reality, but what is to be gained by turning reality into a simulation? It is similar to the same mistake that materialists often make: we can simulate intelligence with a computer so the mind is really just a computer.

Stardusty Psyche said...

William said...

" So, Stardust, let's say the Immaterialism universe is true, but that it exists entirely within a huge physical box. That would mean that such a previously defined nonphysical, idealist Immaterialism is actually a version of your imperialist version of physicalism. :)"

No, that would mean you are capable of putting together a meaningless word salad of vague notions that sound like something you wrote while you were stoned.


February 24, 2017 2:35 AM

Stardusty Psyche said...


Blogger Reconquista Initiative said...

"First, it brings to mind the idea that a virtual reality system could be such that it could create our world via mere information and computer code "

Wrong already, not mere code. That code runs on a physical system. Take away the hardware and there is no software execution.

" Second, the Simulation Hypothesis brings to mind the idea that we, as conscious persons, could be nothing more than mere information and computer code, which is again very close to what the immaterialist posits. "

Wrong again, same reason, no hardware, no code. You couldn't even store the source code, or the machine code without the hardware, nor could the machine code be executed without the hardware.

They simulation hypothesis only shows the necessity for a physical reality.



"And finally third, the Simulation Hypothesis shows that if merely advanced aliens could create such a simulation,"

Advanced aliens are physical objects, so again your vague notions of immaterialism fail immediately.



" So, in essence, what the Simulation Hypothesis does for the immaterialist is that it helps people understand the plausibility and feasibility of an immaterialist world via a "computer-generated" example."

Human thought is a process of a real object, the brain. No brain, no thought. A simulation is a process of a real object, the computer. No computer, no simulation.

What could be more obvious? I mean, you just kind of forgot about the hardware? Wake up and smell the coffee, oh wait, sorry, that's not real molecules moving through the air from a real liquid in a real cup that leached real substances out of real beans, oh no, of course not, it is all just super floaty mind stuff making us think all of that by the billions of people who are undeer the grand delusion that they drink every day.

Where does your nonsense pass for anything other than idiotic rambling arm waving? A hashish party?


February 24, 2017 3:03 AM

Stardusty Psyche said...

Reconquista Initiative said...


" Did you get that? At base, on a materialist view of the universe, you might just be a field."
No, physics genius, not "a" field.


" How does that align with common-sense and our sensory experience? Obviously, it does not; in fact, it is as far from common-sense as can be imagined."
Indeed.

"Common sense" used to mean that illness was caused by demon possession. To suggest there were actually billions of tiny creatures inhabiting your skin and mouth and nose and gut and that from time to time they manage to break through your skin into your blood to multiply in your blood stream until a multitude of your own tiny creatures could come along and devour them so you got well again...how far could you get from common sense?

Then people invented the microscope. Have you ever looked through one, genius?


" But wait a second, I thought that SD just said that no one (which would include him) knows what the fundamental underlying stuff of reality was. So how does he know the latter while admitting the former?"
Because you are just waving your arms around with vague words. People have been investigating the nature of the underlying reality for thousands of years. From the Greek atomists, to Mendeleev, to Newton, Maxwell, Einstein, and modern physicists using particle accelerators, and thousands more who have made observations that can be repeated and verified on any continent.

Learn something about science instead of waving your arms around with stupid statements about common sense.


" Rather, it meres treats science in an instrumentalist fashion, not a realist one."
More vague and meaningless nonsense.


" But more interestingly, why isn't immaterialism considered fascinating? "
Because it is pointless blather that predicts nothing, solves nothing, answers nothing. You don't have a theory or even a coherent set of concepts.


February 24, 2017 3:31 AM

Stardusty Psyche said...

Reconquista Initiative said...
"
God is a "thing" in this sense even though he is immaterial. The law of non-contradiction is a thing in this sense even though it is immaterial. "

You just contradicted yourself so you broke your own "law". If god is a thing then god is made of some thing else god is no thing, literally nothing.

If god exists then god is part of all that exists and is therefore part of the universe and made of something else god is nothing and does not exist.

You seem incapable of applying even your own "law".


February 24, 2017 4:41 AM

bmiller said...

"God is a "thing" in this sense even though he is immaterial. The law of non-contradiction is a thing in this sense even though it is immaterial. "

You just contradicted yourself so you broke your own "law". If god is a thing then god is made of some thing else god is no thing, literally nothing."


A textbook example of a materialist begging the question against an immaterialist.

Stardusty Psyche said...

thing
THiNG/
noun
noun: thing; plural noun: things; noun: the thing; noun: one's thing; plural noun: one's things

1.
an object that one need not, cannot, or does not wish to give a specific name to.
"look at that metal rail thing over there"
synonyms: object, article, item, artifact, commodity; More
device, gadget, instrument, utensil, tool, implement;
entity, body;
informalwhatsit, whatchamacallit;
thingummy, thingy, thingamabob, thingamajig, doohickey, doodad, dingus
"the room was full of strange things"
personal belongings or clothing.
"she began to unpack her things"
synonyms: belongings, possessions, stuff, property, worldly goods, effects, personal effects, trappings, paraphernalia, bits and pieces, luggage, baggage, bags; More
informalgear, junk;
goods and chattels
"I'll come back tomorrow to collect my things"
objects, equipment, or utensils used for a particular purpose.
"they cleared away the last few lunch things"
synonyms: equipment, apparatus, gear, kit, tackle, stuff; More
implements, tools, utensils;
accoutrements
"his gardening things"
anything (used for emphasis).
noun: a thing
"she couldn't find a thing to wear"
used to express one's disapproval or contempt for something.
"you won't find me smoking those filthy things"
all that can be described in the specified way.
"his love for all things Italian"
used euphemistically to refer to a man's penis.
2.
an inanimate material object as distinct from a living sentient being.
"I'm not a thing, not a work of art to be cherished"

Gee...non-stuff stuff, existing yet not made of anything, having properties yet nothing there for those properties to be of...nope, none of those assertion appear in the definition of "thing".


Using the definition of a word in a premise is not begging the question, liar.

But, you apparently lack the logical skills and the integrity to come to that realization.

Stardusty Psyche said...

Reconquista Initiative said...


" 3) Explanatory Power: Perhaps the most important aspect of an explanation is explanatory power,"

Ok, explain this:
(feather and hammer drop on the moon)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5C5_dOEyAfk

Explanatory power indeed.


I can explain it. You see, the hammer, the feather, the astronaut, and the spacecraft are all real objects with real properties that are predictable and consistent across centuries and across hundreds of thousands of miles of space.

These properties have defied common sense for thousands of year, but in a great triumph of science these real properties of real objects were put to a real test, and the predictions of materialistic science held and proved themselves against common sense.

Galileo showed how objects accelerate uniformly irrespective of their mass. Newton later created a detailed mathematical framework to describe the motions of real objects. Maxwell pull together the work of Faraday, Ampere, and Gauss while adding the critical displacement current term and expressing them in both integral and differential form. Maxwell opened up the world of electricity, light, radio, and electromagnetism as real wave phenomenon. Einstein built upon that work to describe real measurable effects in special and general relativity. Less known is his pioneering work in quantum mechanics that was explicitly cited in his Nobel prize.

Mendeleev organized the real elements into a table with obvious missing entries, and thereby predicted the the real properties of these real elements, that were in fact discovered.

Chemists, physicists, scientists and engineers continue the real application of these principles, developing complex machines with rockets, computers, and materials able to launch a human being from Earth, travel through space, and land on another planet, we call the moon.

What great scientific poetry, to demonstrate these real properties of real objects in a gravitational field in the near perfect vacuum at the surface of the moon. The images created by real photons entering a real camera being converted to a real complex pattern of electromagnetic radiation that was really received and decoded by real technological equipment and really re-broadcast by similar but different means to millions of homes with millions of real technological devices that all decoded those signals by design and displayed them for millions of viewers to see at almost the same time.


Explain all that, specifically, not with vague generalizations, with your preposterous immaterialism.

"Good luck with that!"


February 24, 2017 5:12 AM

David Brightly said...

Hi DM,

In your race to the bottom for maximal simplicity with Oppy I fear your wielding of The Razor has sliced off not just a few entia but a whole category. Unfortunately, this category, material stuff, is not praeter necessitatem. The only mechanism we know of that could give our minds the reliability we enjoy from them is the regularity of matter.

I think you may misunderstand Rosenberg's reasons for denying the self [3:43 AM]. I think he would say that the type of entity we are is 'living organism'. That this implies a kind of stable vortex within the flux of matter is not at all problematic. Biology shows us that living things are as much akin to processes as to static objects. But Rosenberg thinks there is no chance of finding within the brain any structure that could be the self, any structures that could be beliefs, etc, etc. So he denies these things scientific reality. But (and this is me not Rosenberg) this need not mean that they lack human reality. They can still be part of the picture we have of ourselves. Since you like VR analogies, perhaps they can be seen as elements of a VR system that switches on when we look inside ourselves, rather than outside.

Reconquista Initiative said...

Just for the record, please note that earlier, I said the following to Hal (and please note the bold):

First, the word "thing" is just being used in a generic sense of some-thing or some-entity. God is a "thing" in this sense even though he is immaterial. The law of non-contradiction is a thing in this sense even though it is immaterial. It is just a generic idea to note something which is in some way existent.

Now, in light of the above, please note the following:

- The second definition of ‘thing’ at Dictionary.com is “some entity, object, or creature that is not or cannot be specifically designated or precisely described”.

- Definition 1a, 1c, and 1d of the word ‘thing’ for the American Heritage Dictionary, as found on ‘thefreedictionary.com’ is “1a) an object or entity that is not or cannot be named specifically, and 1c) a creature, and 1d) an entity or item”.

- Definition 3 of the word ‘thing’ for the 2014 Collins Dictionary, as found on ‘thefreedictionary.com’ is “an object or entity that cannot or need not be precisely named”.

- Definition 5 of the word ‘thing’ in the online Merriam-Webster dictionary is “an object or entity not precisely designated or capable of being designated”.

And even in SD’s own dictionary definition, which was just a quick Google search for “thing definition”, it is noted that in the first definition provided, a “thing” is synonymous with an “entity”, which means that the first definition that SD provided could be read as “[at thing is] an entity that one need not, cannot, or does not wish to give a specific name to”.

So my use of the word “thin” in the manner I used it is quite reasonable and in keeping with the standard dictionary definition, as shown above.

Regards,

Damian Michael

Reconquista Initiative said...

Hello David,

You said:

The only mechanism we know of that could give our minds the reliability we enjoy from them is the regularity of matter.

Sorry, but this is readily false. A God, such as that posited by Christian theism, could easily give our minds, and the world, regularity in an immaterialist setting. So no, I completely disagree with your statement.

Furthermore, the idea that matter is regular is a blind faith assumption.

Regards,

Damian Michael

Reconquista Initiative said...

Good Day Hal,

Well there is the problem of solipsism.

Again, immaterialism suffers from no greater problem of solipsism than materialism does. Indeed, skepticism is as much of a problem for materialism, dualism, etc. as it is for immaterialism, so immaterialism is at no disadvantage in this respect. And all the solutions that the materialist uses against solipsism / skepticism (ie – properly basic beliefs, etc.) are available to the immaterialist too.

Also, it is rather parochial in the its anthropomorphizing: humans can think of things so the whole world is conceived as the thinking of some powerful being.

So what? First, what is parochial or not is largely subjective, so just because you find immaterialism parochial does not mean that I do; and why is your subjective opinion any more valuable than mine? Second, even if it is admitted—for the sake of argument—that anthropomorphizing is parochial, that has absolutely nothing to do with whether immaterialism is a best explanation or not. So either way, the objection is irrelevant to the issue at hand: namely, whether immaterialism is the most rational worldview to believe or not.

And it adds nothing to our usual explanations for what happens in the world.

Again, so what? Whether or not a worldview adds to our usual explanations for what happens in the world is irrelevant to what worldview is the most rational one to believe. For example, if, say, suddenly, all the evidence pointed to the fact that we are in a computer simulation, then that would be the most rational worldview to believe, even if it did not add anything to our usual explanations for what happens in the world.

The fact is that these are not really objections to immaterialism, but rather, they seem to be reasons for why you don’t like immaterialism, which is fine, but let’s not call them objections to the actual view.

Cheers!

Damian Michael

Hal said...

Damian,
Again, so what? Whether or not a worldview adds to our usual explanations for what happens in the world is irrelevant to what worldview is the most rational one to believe.

Well, you were the one who claimed the superior explanatory power of your immaterialism as a reason for accepting it.

For example, if, say, suddenly, all the evidence pointed to the fact that we are in a computer simulation, then that would be the most rational worldview to believe, even if it did not add anything to our usual explanations for what happens in the world.

There is zilch evidence that we are living in a computer simulation. A simulation presumes a reality that is being simulated. It is not logical to think reality has to conform to its simulation. It is the other way around: a simulation has to conform to reality if it is an accurate simulation.

You keep claiming that immaterialism is the most rational worldview, but you've yet to substantiate that claim. Your reliance on the fact that we are thinking entities does not entail that we are immaterial entities. So far it seems merely to be an assumption on your part. Unless you can find a way to show that the Cogito ergo sum entails immaterial thinking entities there is no chance that your claim of having the most rational worldview can withstand scrutiny.

The fact is that these are not really objections to immaterialism, but rather, they seem to be reasons for why you don’t like immaterialism, which is fine, but let’s not call them objections to the actual view.

That is not very charitable view of my position. I think we both have real reasons for holding the views we do. In my mind it is not a question of liking or disliking immaterialism. I simply have not yet seen a persuasive argument for adopting that worldview.

l

Stardusty Psyche said...

Reconquista Initiative said...

" So my use of the word “thin” in the manner I used it is quite reasonable and in keeping with the standard dictionary definition, as shown above."

Right, "entity"
"An entity is something that exists as itself, as a subject or as an object, actually or potentially, concretely or abstractly, physically or not. It need not be of material existence. In particular, abstractions and legal fictions are usually regarded as entities. In general, there is also no presumption that an entity is animate, or present."

So to avoid the obvious contradiction of an immaterial thing you use "thing" to mean "entity".

Why not just say "entity"? Why say "thing" when you mean "entity"? I think you are just making up excuses as you get caught out in your absurdities.

But "entity" then, an abstraction, which is a brain process that has no outside realization. So when you say god is an abstraction you admit god has no realization outside your brain. God is literally only a thought in your mind, an abstraction, not a real independently existent thing.

Your god is a dream an you live in a dream world. I pity you.


February 24, 2017 5:20 PM

Stardusty Psyche said...


Blogger Reconquista Initiative said...

" Furthermore, the idea that matter is regular is a blind faith assumption."

No, it is an enormously evidenced scientific fact. Principles of how matter works have been defined and whenever they are tested those same principles are upheld again and again and again on every continent over vast numbers of trials across distances and time.

We even travel to space and land on other bodies, still matter is observed to be regular.

You are obviously a scientific ignoramus.


February 24, 2017 5:24 PM

bmiller said...

@Strawdusty,

”Using the definition of a word in a premise is not begging the question, liar.

But, you apparently lack the logical skills and the integrity to come to that realization.


The question in dispute between materialists and immaterialists is this:
Are all things made of matter?

Your statement that :
”If god is a thing then god is made of some thing else god is no thing, literally nothing." assumes that all things are made of matter.
This is of course begging the question against the immaterialist.

So you are wrong and you owe me an apology for you calling me liar. Notice I merely called you wrong and not a "liar".

If you were ignorant of the fact that the word "thing" could also refer to non-physical things, you are now aware of that fact.

Stardusty Psyche said...

bmiller said...

"assumes that all things are made of matter."
No, matter is just one sort of material.

" So you are wrong and you owe me an apology for you calling me liar."
No, you simply are a liar. You have demonstrated that.


" If you were ignorant of the fact that the word "thing" could also refer to non-physical things,"
An abstract "thing" has no physical realization, and does not exist except as a process within ones mind, a process of the brain.

Thus, if god is a thing in the sense of an abstraction then god does not exist outside the imagination of the thinker.

But by all means, do honor us with your detailed step by step immaterialist account from Galileo to Apollo 15 of the hammer and feather drop on the moon.
(feather and hammer drop on the moon)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5C5_dOEyAfk
February 24, 2017 3:11 PM

What is the immaterialist "theory" for the development of science, the construction of the rocket, the spacecraft, the prediction of the results of the drop, the broadcast of the video images from the moon, the nearly simultaneous viewing of those images by millions of people, and the countless repeatable experiments that verify this multitude of scientific principles and materialist engineering constructions?

Do tell, what is the specific immaterialist accounting for this complex matrix of human endeavors?


February 24, 2017 7:51 PM

Chris said...

Is there a theory or a coherent set of concepts to deal with the hard problem of consciousness?

bmiller said...

@Strawdusty,

My real quote:
The question in dispute between materialists and immaterialists is this:
Are all things made of matter?

Your statement that :
”If god is a thing then god is made of some thing else god is no thing, literally nothing." assumes that all things are made of matter.
This is of course begging the question against the immaterialist.


Your misquote:
"assumes that all things are made of matter."
No, matter is just one sort of material.


Definition of materialist:
ma•te•ri•al•ist
məˈtirēələst/
noun

2.
PHILOSOPHY
a person who supports the theory that nothing exists except matter and its movements and modifications.
"an atheist and philosophical materialist"

Your reply to my demand for an apology:
" So you are wrong and you owe me an apology for you calling me liar."
No, you simply are a liar. You have demonstrated that.


If you think that continuing to claim I have lied when I clearly have not makes you look rational then I’m sorry for you.

Regarding the rest of your rant, as I’ve mentioned before, I am not an advocate of either immaterialism or materialism. All I can say is that in the dispute between the 2, the immaterialists seem more rational.

Reconquista Initiative said...

Hello Hal,

Just FYI: This will be my last post in this thread with you. I have other things to attend to, and, as usual, these ‘Comment Section’ discussions become repetitive due to miscommunication, lack of detailed elucidation, etc. However, I have enjoyed this discussion, and, in fairness, this has been a much better discussion than most, so thank you for that.

Now, onto your points:

Well, you were the one who claimed the superior explanatory power of your immaterialism as a reason for accepting it.

First, in a worldview context, explanatory power does not mean whether an explanation adds to our usual explanations for what happens in the world. Rather, it means: can the worldview account for all our experiences and facts about the world. And yes, immaterialism can account for everything that we experience. Furthermore, immaterialism has more explanatory power than at least straight materialism does, because straight materialism cannot account for consciousness—which is a fundamental—whereas immaterial can. Additionally, explanatory power is not the only reason to prefer immaterialism to other views.

There is zilch evidence that we are living in a computer simulation.

Yes, which is why I said “…if, say, suddenly…” It was a hypothetical.

You keep claiming that immaterialism is the most rational worldview, but you've yet to substantiate that claim.

I thought that I had done so through numerous past comments, but here it is again: the most rational worldview to hold is the one that best fulfills the various explanatory virtues, such as explanatory power, explanatory scope, simplicity, and congruence with indubitable background knowledge. Immaterialism is equal to or superior to any other worldview in terms of its explanatory power and scope, is much simpler than any worldview that posits the existence of matter, and is more congruent with our indubitable background knowledge than other any other worldviews which posits the existence of matter. Thus, immaterialism best fulfills the various explanatory criteria. Thus, immaterialism is the most rational worldview to believe. There is your positive argument.

Con’t (1 of 3)

Reconquista Initiative said...

Con’t (2 of 3)

Your reliance on the fact that we are thinking entities does not entail that we are immaterial entities.

A merely thinking entity just is an immaterial entity. For example, God is a thinking entity; God is immaterial. Now, a material thinking entity is obviously not just a thinking entity. However, an entity who is only thought (ie – a thinking entity) just is an immaterial entity.

Now, I am not saying that it is absolutely certain that we are just thinking things, but rather that I need not posit that I am anything more than a thinking thing to account for all of my experiences. Thus, a debate between a materialist or dualism and an immaterialist would go something as follows:

Immaterialist: We agree that we are, at least, thinking things.

Materialist: Yes, on pain of self-refutation, we cannot doubt that we are at least thinking things.

Immaterialist: OK, since we both agree on that, there is no reason to debate it.

Materialist: But I also hold that we are material thinking things; we are both material things and thinking things. Indeed, I hold that matter exists.

Immaterialist: Well, I do not hold that we are material thinking things. I am happy to hold that I am nothing more than a thinking thing. Indeed, I lack a belief in the existence of matter. So if you believe that we are also material things as well as thinking things, and if you hold that matter exists, then the burden of proof is on you to show that matter exists, and until and unless you do so, I am rational to maintain a lack of belief concerning the existence of matter, as well as maintaining a lack of belief concerning the claim that I am a material thing in addition to being a thinking thing.

So here we can see that the burden is on the materialist to show that matter exists and that we are more than just thinking things; the burden is not on the immaterialist, because both the materialist and the immaterialist agree that we are at least thinking things, but the immaterialist does not add to that claim, whereas the materialist (or dualist) does, and so the burden is on them to support their additional claim, not on the immaterialist.

And, arguably, the only way for the materialist to show that we should believe in the existence of matter is to show that matter is somehow necessary to account for our experiences; meaning that materialism is a better explanation than immaterialism is. But as shown above, immaterialism is a better explanation than materialism is, and so materialism, arguably, can never meet its burden of proof.

Con’t (2 of 3)

Reconquista Initiative said...

Con’t (3 of 3)

So far it seems merely to be an assumption on your part. Unless you can find a way to show that the Cogito ergo sum entails immaterial thinking entities there is no chance that your claim of having the most rational worldview can withstand scrutiny.

Again, it is not an assumption. I am simply noting that I cannot doubt that I am a thinking thing. However, I am then noting that I need not posit anything more than the existence of thinking things to account for reality, and this is all that immaterialism entails. If the materialist and/or dualist wants to posit that I am both a thinking thing and a material thing, then it is up to the materialist and/or dualist to show that matter exists (or that I need to believe in matter’s existence to account for my experience). Until and unless the materialist and/or dualist can do that, then I am rational to continue to believe that the only things that exist are thinking things, and nothing more.

That is not very charitable view of my position. I think we both have real reasons for holding the views we do.

Absolutely. I have no doubt that you have good reasons for your views. All I was saying was that the reasons that you specifically gave against immaterialism in the comments section at that times were not good reasons.

I simply have not yet seen a persuasive argument for adopting that worldview.

See, but this is part of the issue. Immaterialism is the default view! Or at least it is if we are consistent with our intellectual principles, like who has the burden of proof, etc. And again, it is the default view because since in any debate between the materialist and the immaterialist, they both agree on the fact that we are thinking things, but it is the materialist who posits that we are thinking things and material things, then it is on the materialist (and/or dualist) to show that this is the case. Until and unless that occurs, then I can simply continue believing that the only things that exist are thinking things, which just is the immaterialist view.

Regards,

Damian Michael

Reconquista Initiative said...

SD,

I am loath to reply to you given that it is a waste of time, but seeing as it might be beneficial for others, let me quickly make some points. However, note that this will be my last reply to you.

So to avoid the obvious contradiction of an immaterial thing you use "thing" to mean "entity". Why not just say "entity"? Why say "thing" when you mean "entity"? I think you are just making up excuses as you get caught out in your absurdities.

Yes, because this is obviously the first time that I have defended immaterialism before (hopefully the sarcasm is clear). And just because you did not know that “thing” could mean “entity”, does not mean that the rest of us have the same limited vocabulary.

Next:

" Furthermore, the idea that matter is regular is a blind faith assumption." No, it is an enormously evidenced scientific fact. Principles of how matter works have been defined and whenever they are tested those same principles are upheld again and again and again on every continent over vast numbers of trials across distances and time. We even travel to space and land on other bodies, still matter is observed to be regular. You are obviously a scientific ignoramus.

We have been studying the universe in a systematic way for a tiny fraction of the time that it has existed. Are we so sure that matter—assuming the existence of matter for the moment—was regular for the billions of years that we were not present? How would we know? Furthermore, we have only really studied a small portion of the universe in detail. Are we so sure that matter is regular everywhere else in this massive universe? How would we know? Additionally, on materialism, we are not even sure what the universe is made of—dark matter, fields, etc. Are we so sure that that which we do not understand or observe about matter is regular? How would we know?

Now, an inductive argument could indeed be made for the regularity of matter given our present observations, but given our limited observational sample, both in time and space, in comparison to the size of the universe and the length of time it existed, then note that this inductive argument would be very weak and would be readily disputable.

So no, it is not irrational or ignorant to claim that the alleged regularity of matter is based on weak evidence and a small sample size, bordering on blind faith. It is actually called skepticism. You should try it sometime!

Cheers!

Damian Michael

Hal said...

Damian,
A merely thinking entity just is an immaterial entity.

You have again begged the question. The Cogito ergo sum only establishes the existence of an entity, it does not entail that the entity is an immaterial substance.

Immaterialist: We agree that we are, at least, thinking things.

Materialist: Yes, on pain of self-refutation, we cannot doubt that we are at least thinking things.

Immaterialist: OK, since we both agree on that, there is no reason to debate it.

Materialist: But I also hold that we are material thinking things; we are both material things and thinking things. Indeed, I hold that matter exists.


You forgot to add:

Immaterialist: But, I hold that we are immaterial thinking things; we are both immaterial things and thinking things. Indeed, I hold that what you call matter should really be called immaterial.

Immaterialism is the default view!

Nope. If you wish to have others adopt your immaterialist worldview you are obliged to present arguments to persuade them.

As I've mentioned above, I share neither the materialist or immaterialist worldviews. They appear to me to be opposite sides of the same coin: reducing everything to one substance and arguing over whether or not to call that substance "material" or "immaterial". Consequently, they fail to account for the complexity of this wonderful world we find ourselves dwelling in.

Anyways, it has been a pleasure discussing this with you. Thanks for taking the time to answer my questions and to explain in more detail your beliefs.

Take care.

David Brightly said...

Hello DM,

A God, such as that posited by Christian theism, could easily give our minds, and the world, regularity in an immaterialist setting.

Sure, but then why such a mind would choose to do so will need explaining, and any lead in the simplicity stakes unravels, for one thing we do know about minds is that accounting for their decisions can be complicated.

Furthermore, the idea that matter is regular is a blind faith assumption.

I'd say that various regularities are built in to the very idea of matter. But I'm happy to make this an explicit assumption in the simplicity stakes.

Stardusty Psyche said...

bmiller said...

" PHILOSOPHY
a person who supports the theory that nothing exists except matter and its movements and modifications."
The precursor to matter that gave rise to matter is then a part of this description, god for example.



" If you think that continuing to claim I have lied when I clearly have not "
Now you are doubling down on having lied.

" I am not an advocate of either immaterialism or materialism. "
That figures, you don't have a clue either way. Or is there some brilliant bmiller alternative you are just about to publish?


February 24, 2017 9:47 PM

Stardusty Psyche said...

Chris said...

" Is there a theory or a coherent set of concepts to deal with the hard problem of consciousness?"

What hard problem? Yes, I realize there are a number of "can't get there from here" sort of assertions going around about consciousness.

It is not too hard to realize that a simpler animal, say, an insect or even a fish acts as a sort of robot, preprogrammed to respond to sensory data. Humans have already built similar systems using cameras, force sensors, computers, and mechanical actuators.

Consciousness then is when the camera, as it were, is turned onto the robot in a self monitoring feedback path. In my view that is not so hard.

We shall see if any of the science fiction stories of the machine becoming self aware, gaining consciousness, comes to reality as so much science fiction already has.


February 24, 2017 9:36 PM

Stardusty Psyche said...

Reconquista Initiative said...


" I am loath to reply to you given that it is a waste of time,"
Then open your mind to your many obvious errors and you will make good use of this time by learning how bankrupt your position is.



SP So to avoid the obvious contradiction of an immaterial thing you use "thing" to mean "entity". Why not just say "entity"? Why say "thing" when you mean "entity"? I think you are just making up excuses as you get caught out in your absurdities.

" And just because you did not know that “thing” could mean “entity”, does not mean that the rest of us have the same limited vocabulary."
Ridiculous non answer excuse for using a word that typically refers to material objects when you don't mean that and there are other words that are much more clear that you could have used but failed to use.

After you engage in poor word choice you then blame the reader for your failure to choose your words to clearly convey your meaning.




" Furthermore, the idea that matter is regular is a blind faith assumption." SP No, it is an enormously evidenced scientific fact. Principles of how matter works have been defined and whenever they are tested those same principles are upheld again and again and again on every continent over vast numbers of trials across distances and time. We even travel to space and land on other bodies, still matter is observed to be regular. You are obviously a scientific ignoramus.

" We have been studying the universe in a systematic way for a tiny fraction of the time that it has existed. Are we so sure that matter—assuming the existence of matter for the moment—was regular for the billions of years that we were not present?"
Matter is regular every place and time we have been able to observe it.


" How would we know? Furthermore, we have only really studied a small portion of the universe in detail. "
So what? You are just arm waving now. You have no theory for the portion we have studied, whereas materialists have very detailed and verifiable theories.

The comparison is not even close. Materialist science is a huge and highly successful set of theories. Your immaterialism is vague and useless arm waving.

You are loth to engage in that fact.


February 24, 2017 11:28 PM

Stardusty Psyche said...

Reconquista Initiative said...

"Are we so sure that matter is regular everywhere else in this massive universe? How would we know? Additionally, on materialism, we are not even sure what the universe is made of—dark matter, fields, etc. Are we so sure that that which we do not understand or observe about matter is regular? How would we know?"
That is the excitement of science, building on what is presently demonstrable to determine those unknowns.

You are just waving your arms around with vague generalizations.



" Now, an inductive argument could indeed be made for the regularity of matter given our present observations, but given our limited observational sample, both in time and space, in comparison to the size of the universe and the length of time it existed, then note that this inductive argument would be very weak and would be readily disputable."
Dispute it with a specific alternative theory, if you can. But you can't because you have no alternative theory, just vague generalizations of the unknown.


" So no, it is not irrational or ignorant to claim that the alleged regularity of matter is based on weak evidence"
If you knew anything about science you would know what an absurd statement that is.


What's the matter, cat got your tongue?

I noticed you did not honor us with your detailed step by step immaterialist account from Galileo to Apollo 15 of the hammer and feather drop on the moon.
(feather and hammer drop on the moon)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5C5_dOEyAfk
February 24, 2017 3:11 PM

What is the immaterialist "theory" for the development of science, the construction of the rocket, the spacecraft, the prediction of the results of the drop, the broadcast of the video images from the moon, the nearly simultaneous viewing of those images by millions of people, and the countless repeatable experiments that verify this multitude of scientific principles and materialist engineering constructions?

Do tell, what is the specific immaterialist accounting for this complex matrix of human endeavors?

I can give you a very long and detailed accounting of the material steps from the real material experiments of Galileo rolling object and his real material lenses he used to observe the real mountains and plains on the moon and really sketch them with writing materials...all the way through hundreds of years of development until men actually walked on the surface Galileo had observed.

You have nothing but vague arm waving generalities that explain nothing, predict nothing, are of no use in accomplishing anything, and are not verifiable or even explainable.

But by all means, do provide your "detailed elucidation" of the immaterial process from Galileo to the moon hammer feather drop.


February 24, 2017 11:28 PM

Stardusty Psyche said...

Hal said...

"immaterial substance"...
...is an oxymoronic term. I am not sure who said it and in what context, rather, I am simply commenting on the term itself.


" As I've mentioned above, I share neither the materialist or immaterialist worldviews. They appear to me to be opposite sides of the same coin: reducing everything to one substance"
That is common misinformation. If it were accurate, and I realize it is often stated as such, your ambivalence would be justified.

Materialism encompasses all forms of material, all sorts of existence, not simply ordinary matter. The etymology of "material" is likely the root of this limited view.

Modern synonyms include "substance", "stuff", and "medium".
https://en.oxforddictionaries.com/definition/material

Immaterialism is the opposite, no substance, no stuff, no medium. Thus the very term "immaterial substance" is oxymoronic and therefore incoherent.


"... they fail to account for the complexity of this wonderful world we find ourselves dwelling in."
A view of materialism that was limited to ordinary matter would indeed suffer from that failure. Materialist science includes all forms of matter, energy, fields, space, and time. If it is found that quarks, electrons, and neutrinos are made of something else, say strings or some other stuff, then materialistic accounts will expand to include those substances as well. The same is true of whatever gave rise to our observable universe, if that is ever identified.

Immaterialism suffers from the failure of incoherence in the use of the nonsense term "immaterial substance".


February 25, 2017 6:15 AM

bmiller said...

@Strawdusty,

From the definition of materialist:
" PHILOSOPHY
a person who supports the theory that nothing exists except matter and its movements and modifications."
Strawdusty:”The precursor to matter that gave rise to matter is then a part of this description, god for example.”

I can’t tell what you’re talking about. God is part of the description of the definition of “materialist”? Your response does not make sense, unsurprisingly.

I gave you the reasons for my observation that you, as a materialist, were begging the question of “Are all things made of matter?” against immaterialists. Somehow you consider that a lie.

I am now satisfied (again) that you are not capable of rational discourse. Goodbye.

Cal Metzger said...

Recon: "Now, an inductive argument could indeed be made for the regularity of matter given our present observations, but given our limited observational sample, both in time and space, in comparison to the size of the universe and the length of time it existed, then note that this inductive argument would be very weak and would be readily disputable."

This is like saying the universe represents a small sample size because the multiverse is so much unimaginably larger.

Two things: how big is the universe that we only know some tiny part of it?

Are you aware that the farthest viewable galaxy is about 13.3 billion years away, representing a glimpse back in time that gets us within .4 billion years of the age of the universe?

Limited sample size indeed.

Reconquista Initiative said...

Hello Again Hal,

I am only responding one more time because I think I finally see the miscommunication between us.

You believe that the immaterialist, along with minds (ie – thinking things), is somehow positing the existence of additional “immaterial” stuff that is stuff just like matter, but is the opposite of it. But this is the completely wrong way of looking at the issue. Immaterialism simply means “not material”. It does not mean some type of additional “immaterial” stuff. So, to understand this issue with different terms, think of it like this:

Immaterialist = Mind-only-ist.

Materialist and/or dualist = Mind-plus-matter-ist (or, to phrase it differently: mind-plus-material-brain-ist).

Now, with these new labels in mind, let’s continue and you should hopefully be able to see my other points.

You have again begged the question. The Cogito ergo sum only establishes the existence of an entity, it does not entail that the entity is an immaterial substance.

Again, no. What the Cogito establishes is that the one thing that we cannot doubt is that we are a mind with thoughts (ie – ideas). On pain of self-refutation, none of us can doubt this. At the very least, we are minds with thoughts (ie – thinking things). So no one can doubt that he is a mind with thoughts (ie – a thinking thing).

So, the ‘Mind-only-ist’ (ie – immaterialist) says that all he needs to account for our experiences is the existence of minds with thoughts, which no one can doubt exist (as noted above). However, it is the ‘Mind-plus-matter-ist’ (ie – materialist and/or dualist) who claims that we need the additional stuff called matter to account for our experiences.

Thus, the ‘Mind-only-ist’ is positing the existence only of that which we already cannot doubt, whereas it is the ‘Mind-plus-matter-ist’ who is adding to that view by including the existence of this unseen, unevidenced, and easily dubitable stuff called matter.

(Con’t – 1 of 2)

Reconquista Initiative said...

(Con’t – 2 of 2)

You forgot to add: Immaterialist: But, I hold that we are immaterial thinking things; we are both immaterial things and thinking things. Indeed, I hold that what you call matter should really be called immaterial.

No, because again, that is the wrong way of understanding immaterialism. So here, let me re-phrase it again:

Mind-only-ist: We agree that we are, at least, minds with thoughts.

Mind-plus-matter-ist: Yes, on pain of self-refutation, we cannot doubt that we are at least minds with thoughts.

Mind-only-ist: OK, since we both agree on that, there is no reason to debate it.

Mind-plus-matter-ist: But I also hold that we are minds-plus-matter; we are both mind and matter. Or, to phrase it a different way, we are minds with thoughts plus brains made of stuff called matter.

Mind-only-ist: Well, I do not hold that we are minds-plus-brains-made-of-matter. I am happy to hold that I am nothing more than a mind with thoughts. Indeed, I lack a belief in the existence of matter or in the existence of a brain made of this stuff called matter. So if you believe that we are minds-plus-matter, and if you hold that matter exists, then the burden of proof is on you to show that matter exists, and until and unless you do so, I am rational to maintain a lack of belief concerning the existence of matter. I am also rational to maintain a lack of belief concerning the claim that I am a mind-plus-matter in addition to just being a mind.

So here we can see that the burden is on the ‘mind-plus-matter-ist’ to show that matter exists and that we are more than just minds; the burden is not on the ‘Mind-only-ist’, because both the ‘mind-plus-matter-ist’ and the ‘mind-only-ist’ agree that we are at least minds with thoughts, but the ‘mind-only-ist’ does not add to that claim, whereas the ‘mind-plus-matter-ist’ does, and so the burden is on them to support their additional claim, not on the ‘mind-only-ist’.

Immaterialism is the default view! Nope. If you wish to have others adopt your immaterialist worldview you are obliged to present arguments to persuade them.

It is the default view because to reason, or to even doubt anything, we all have to start with the bare admittance that we are minds with thoughts. But the ‘mind-only-ist’ does not add anything to that bare view, whereas the ‘mind-plus-matter-ist’ does; so the ‘mind-only’ view is the default, because it is the only view that cannot be doubted by anyone, and the only view that we all have to start from, although we do not have to add to it if we do not wish to. That is why it is the default view, whereas materialism and/or dualism is not.

Anyways, it has been a pleasure discussing this with you. Thanks for taking the time to answer my questions and to explain in more detail your beliefs.

Same to you! It has been a pleasure.

Cheers!

Damian Michael

Hal said...

Damian,
Thanks for another interesting post. I agree that, as is often the case in such online discussions, we have to a degree been talking past each other (as you put it, "miscommuniticating").

I will give a response after I mull over your post a little longer.

Take care.

Reconquista Initiative said...

Sure, but then why such a mind would choose to do so will need explaining, and any lead in the simplicity stakes unravels, for one thing we do know about minds is that accounting for their decisions can be complicated.

Not really. On something like Christian theism, life is a test for us to decide, through our beliefs and actions, whether to follow God’s rules or not, thus showing whether we want God or something else. And a test, to be fair, needs to be regular, consistent, and coherent. That is why an immaterial world on Christian theism would be regular and consistent. Furthermore, while this principle does increase the complexity of the immaterialist worldview slightly, it is not much, and immaterialism still remains much simpler than materialism. Additionally, as will be pointed out below, the complexity of materialism is much worse than most materialist’s think.

I'd say that various regularities are built in to the very idea of matter. But I'm happy to make this an explicit assumption in the simplicity stakes.

Yes, I would say that not only does this assumption needs to be made explicit, but the immaterialist can also demand that this assumption needs to be made explicit for each different type of “matter that there is. What do I mean? I mean that if, say, there are different types of fundamental particles, then there is no reason why the immaterialist should merely accept some blanket statement about the regularity of all matter. After all, Particle-Type A could be regular, but Particle-Type B might not be. For example, just because fermions are regular, does not mean that bosoms are. So, the point here is that if the materialist is going to assume that matter is regular, a case can be made that he has to make this assumption explicit for each different type of thing that “matter” is allegedly composed of.

In fact, the immaterialist can question why he should believe that different chunks of the same type of matter are regular. For example, just because fermion 1 and 2 are regular, this does not mean that fermion 3, 4, and 5 are. So the materialist will have to make the “regularity’ assumption explicit not just for different types of ‘matter’ but for all the different particles of the same type of matter.

My point: Whereas the immaterialist only needs to posit the regularity of one mind—namely, God—the materialist needs to assume the regularity of all the different particles in the universe.

In the simplicity games, the immaterialist wins hands-down.

Cheers.

Damian Michael

Hal said...

Damian,
You believe that the immaterialist, along with minds (ie – thinking things), is somehow positing the existence of additional “immaterial” stuff that is stuff just like matter, but is the opposite of it.

Not quite. I assume that what is being posited is the existence of an entity that is capable of thought. I originally thought we shared that assumption. But apparently I was mistaken.

What the Cogito establishes is that the one thing that we cannot doubt is that we are a mind with thoughts (ie – ideas).

We cannot doubt that we have thoughts. In other words, we are beings with the capacity to think.

In my view, we are not minds. It is because we have the capacity to have thoughts, to remember those thoughts, to make rational decisions based on those thoughts that we can be said to have a mind.

Here is a link that I posted above that will give you a good idea of my basic views of what it is to be a human:
Human Nature

This is the first paragraph from the text I linked to:

“Human beings are animals with a distinctive range of abilites. Though they have a mind, they are not identical with the mind they have. Though they have a body, they are not identical with the body they have. Nor is a human being a conjuction of a mind and a body that causally interact with each other. Like other animals, human beings have a brain on the normal functioning of which their powers depend. But a human person is not a brain enclosed in a skull. A mature human being is a self-conscious agent, with the ability to act, and to react in thought, feeling and deed, for reasons.”



Mind-only-ist: We agree that we are, at least, minds with thoughts.

No. Rather that is precisely where are disagreement starts. You are making the assumption that we are minds, some sort of immaterial being. That is begging the question as far as I am concerned. You may have good reasons for making that assumption, but the Cogito can’t be one of them.

We experience ourselves and others as having minds and bodies. We differentiate the powers of the mind from those of the body. Because of that experience, it seems more reasonable to me to assume we both a mind and a body than to assume we are only minds.

It is the default view because to reason, or to even doubt anything, we all have to start with the bare admittance that we are minds with thoughts.

But we don’t have to admit that we are minds. What we have to admit is that we are capable of thought. You simply assume that we are minds. Which, as I’ve pointed out above, is begging the question. Therefore, immaterialism is not the default view.

Immaterialism simply means “not material”.

So the concept of the immaterial is parasitic upon the concept of the material. “Immaterial” makes no sense without the material.

Take care.

Hal said...

Sigh.
The sentence:
"Rather that is precisely where are disagreement starts."

should be:
"Rather that is precisely where our disagreement starts."

Hal said...

"After we came out of the church, we stood talking for some time together of Bishop Berkeley's ingenious sophistry to prove the nonexistence of matter, and that every thing in the universe is merely ideal. I observed, that though we are satisfied his doctrine is not true, it is impossible to refute it. I never shall forget the alacrity with which Johnson answered, striking his foot with mighty force against a large stone, till he rebounded from it -- "I refute it thus."Boswell: Life

I used to think Johnson's response was too simplistic. However, the more I think of it the more I appreciate it's subtlety. Even if matter does not exist, we are still going to have pain from kicking the stone. We simply can't help but act as if the things we encounter in daily life are material substances. From that perspective, Berkely's metaphysical views are sterile, non-productive in helping one to live in the world.

B. Prokop said...

Hey, I just wanted to make the 200th comment.

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