I'm A Materialist, Change My Mind

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lorenzop
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Re: I'm A Materialist, Change My Mind

Post by lorenzop »

To a Materialist I could ask please pretty please show me this 'matter' of which you speak . . . needless to say this matter/material would have to exist outside of experience, outside of being aware of it. Of course this is not possible - no one has ever produced or found this matter, so matter remains an abstraction.
But Materialism doesn't stop there, it says this abstraction (matter) is the real stuff, and experience is an emergent property, or an abstraction of matter.
Jim Cross
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Re: I'm A Materialist, Change My Mind

Post by Jim Cross »

lorenzop wrote: Mon Mar 08, 2021 7:11 pm To a Materialist I could ask please pretty please show me this 'matter' of which you speak . . . needless to say this matter/material would have to exist outside of experience, outside of being aware of it. Of course this is not possible - no one has ever produced or found this matter, so matter remains an abstraction.
But Materialism doesn't stop there, it says this abstraction (matter) is the real stuff, and experience is an emergent property, or an abstraction of matter.
How do you explain object permanence? A rock I see in the garden is still there after I go away and then come back.

For a materialist, the most parsimonious explanation is that the rock is made of something outside my experience.
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Martin_
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Re: I'm A Materialist, Change My Mind

Post by Martin_ »

Jim Cross wrote: Mon Mar 08, 2021 8:04 pm
lorenzop wrote: Mon Mar 08, 2021 7:11 pm To a Materialist I could ask please pretty please show me this 'matter' of which you speak . . . needless to say this matter/material would have to exist outside of experience, outside of being aware of it. Of course this is not possible - no one has ever produced or found this matter, so matter remains an abstraction.
But Materialism doesn't stop there, it says this abstraction (matter) is the real stuff, and experience is an emergent property, or an abstraction of matter.
How do you explain object permanence? A rock I see in the garden is still there after I go away and then come back.

For a materialist, the most parsimonious explanation is that the rock is made of something outside my experience.
Doesn't mean it's made of matter.
"I don't understand." /Unknown
Jim Cross
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Re: I'm A Materialist, Change My Mind

Post by Jim Cross »

Doesn't mean it's made of matter.
More than one conscious person can look at the same rock and talk about it. We can agree it exists and what's its characteristics are. The rock will look the same even after we leave the garden and come back. It will look the same if somebody moves it while we are away. It won't change color or shape or texture. So our consciousness may be adding something but there also seems to be something else there that is outside experience and constant.

It's outside experience. That would be almost definitionally "matter".

I know the usual mind at large explanation but that really requires a lot more assumptions about how the world is and has an many problems as materialism.
lorenzop
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Re: I'm A Materialist, Change My Mind

Post by lorenzop »

As a starting point, both idealism and materialism are beliefs. The existence of the rock as something external to experience is an inference. We can see and touch the rock, but we never find 'the rock', there is only the seeing and touching. We could also infer the shared nature of experience - we both see and touch the rock - is because of shared consciousness. Which inference makes more sense? A shared external inert world, or a shared field of consciousness? If we believe in a shared physical world, then we also have to believe that experience is an emergent property of matter, and that my every experience, all seeing, touching, feeling, all thoughts, emotions and ideas - everything about me as a human, is a computation occuring inside my skull.
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Soul_of_Shu
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Re: I'm A Materialist, Change My Mind

Post by Soul_of_Shu »

Just reposting this Bernardo quote from another thread, in case it was overlooked, as it seems pertinent here as well ..

"By postulating a material world outside mind and obeying laws of physics, physicalism can explain the patterns and regularities of perceptual experience. But it fails to explain experience itself. This is called the ‘hard problem of consciousness’ and there is now vast literature on it (e.g. Levine 1983, Rosenberg 2004, pp. 13-30, and Strawson et al. 2006, pp. 2-30). In a nutshell, the qualities of experience are irreducible to the parameters of material arrangements—whatever the arrangement is—in the sense that it is impossible even in principle to deduce those qualities from these parameters (Chalmers 2003).
As I shall elaborate upon in Section 4, the ‘hard problem’ isn’t merely hard, but fundamentally insoluble, arising as it does from the very failure to distinguish abstraction from reality discussed in this paper. As such, it implies that we cannot, even in principle, explain mind in terms of matter. But because the contemporary cultural ethos entails the notion that mind and matter constitute a true dichotomy, one is liable to conclude that there must also be a symmetric ‘hard problem of matter’—that is, that we cannot even in principle explain matter in terms of mind (as shown in Kastrup 2015, pp. 10-36, this is a false conclusion). The natural next step in this flawed line of reasoning is to look for more fundamental ontological ground preceding both mind and matter; a third substrate to which matter and mind could both be reduced.
It is for this equivocated reason that the adherents of ontic pancomputationalism posit that pure information processing is what makes up the universe at its most fundamental level (Fredkin 2003). As such, their position entails that computation precedes matter ontologically. But “if computations are not configurations of physical entities, the most obvious alternative is that computations are abstract, mathematical entities, like numbers and sets” (Piccinini 2015). According to ontic pancomputationalism, even mind itself—psyche, soul—is a derivative phenomenon of purely abstract information processing (Fredkin forthcoming).
To gain a sense of the epistemic cost of this kind of abstraction, consider the position of physicist Max Tegmark (2014, pp. 254-270): according to him, “protons, atoms, molecules, cells and stars” are all redundant “baggage” (p. 255). Only the mathematical parameters used to describe the behavior of matter are real. In other words, Tegmark posits that reality consists purely of numbers—unanchored information—but nothing to attach these numbers to. The universe supposedly is a “set of abstract entities with relations between them,” which “can be described in a baggage-independent way” (Ibid, p. 267). He attributes all reality to a description while—paradoxically—denying the existence of the very thing that is described in the first place.
Clearly, ontic pancomputationalism represents total commitment to abstract concepts as the foundation of reality, despite the innate human tendency to attribute reality only to what is concrete. According to it, there are only numbers and sets. But what are numbers and sets without the mind or matter where they could reside? It is one thing to state in language that numbers and sets can exist without mind and matter, but it is an entirely other thing to explicitly and coherently conceive of what—if anything—this may mean. By way of analogy, it is possible to write—as Lewis Carrol did—that the Cheshire cat’s grin remains after the cat disappears, but it is an entirely other thing to conceive explicitly and coherently of what this means.
Information is defined as the number of different states discernible in a system (Shannon 1948). As such, it is a property of a system—associated with the system’s possible configurations—not an entity or ontological class unto itself. Under physicalism, the system whose configurations constitute information is a material arrangement, such as a computer. Under idealism, it is mind, for experience encompasses different qualitative states that can be subjectively discerned from one another. Hence, information requires a mental or material substrate in order to be even conceived of explicitly and coherently. To say that information exists in and of itself is akin to speaking of spin without the top, of ripples without water, of a dance without the dancer, or of the Cheshire cat’s grin without the cat. It is a grammatically valid statement devoid of any semantic value; a language game less meaningful than fantasy, for internally consistent fantasy can at least be explicitly and coherently conceived of and, thereby, known as such. But in what way can we know information uncouched in mind or matter?
Although ontic pancomputationalism is an admittedly extreme example, the same attempt to replace concrete reality with mere abstractions lies behind both physicalism and the alleged mind-matter dichotomy, as I shall argue next. So if you consider ontic pancomputationalism absurd, the ontological intuitions underlying contemporary culture should give you pause for thought. At the root of this concerning state of affairs is a generalized failure to recognize that every step of abstraction away from the concreteness of direct experience—the primary datum of reality—implies a reduction in epistemic confidence. As such, they can only be justified if the facts cannot be explained without them, lest we conflate science and philosophy with meaningless language games."
Here out of instinct or grace we seek
soulmates in these galleries of hieroglyph and glass,
where mutual longings and sufferings of love
are laid bare in transfigured exhibition of our hearts,
we who crave deep secrets and mysteries,
as elusive as the avatars of our dreams.
Jim Cross
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Re: I'm A Materialist, Change My Mind

Post by Jim Cross »

lorenzop wrote: Tue Mar 09, 2021 5:55 pm As a starting point, both idealism and materialism are beliefs. The existence of the rock as something external to experience is an inference. We can see and touch the rock, but we never find 'the rock', there is only the seeing and touching. We could also infer the shared nature of experience - we both see and touch the rock - is because of shared consciousness. Which inference makes more sense? A shared external inert world, or a shared field of consciousness? If we believe in a shared physical world, then we also have to believe that experience is an emergent property of matter, and that my every experience, all seeing, touching, feeling, all thoughts, emotions and ideas - everything about me as a human, is a computation occuring inside my skull.
If I have to choose (and I don't think one has to choose between two options), a shared external world seems like a simpler explanation since it doesn't require any inference about a mind at large which I know nothing about. I can infer a rock but I don't have any means of inferring a mind at large. I don't know anything about sharing minds with others or the world at large except for the usual verbal and non-verbal communication channels with other living organisms.
Jim Cross
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Re: I'm A Materialist, Change My Mind

Post by Jim Cross »

Dana, can you explain what this means?
At the root of this concerning state of affairs is a generalized failure to recognize that every step of abstraction away from the concreteness of direct experience—the primary datum of reality—implies a reduction in epistemic confidence.
To my mind, I know of no "direct experience" that we can have with the world. What we think of as "direct experience" is already an abstraction. Sensory experience is already extensively manipulated and interpreted by the time it reaches consciousness. Is Bernardo asserting that sensory experience is directly an experience of reality itself? Or is this some other level of experience?
lorenzop
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Re: I'm A Materialist, Change My Mind

Post by lorenzop »

Jim Cross wrote: Tue Mar 09, 2021 8:23 pm If I have to choose (and I don't think one has to choose between two options), a shared external world seems like a simpler explanation since it doesn't require any inference about a mind at large which I know nothing about. I can infer a rock but I don't have any means of inferring a mind at large. I don't know anything about sharing minds with others or the world at large except for the usual verbal and non-verbal communication channels with other living organisms.
Correct, you don't have to choose. What you can do is nurture one or the other. Perhaps a shared field of awareness seems a stretch, but there are means available to culture a grasp/appreciation of awareness.
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Soul_of_Shu
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Re: I'm A Materialist, Change My Mind

Post by Soul_of_Shu »

Jim ... as I understand BK, he is saying that all we can know is the experience of the phenomenal representation of the noumenal thing in itself (as per Kant) ~ notwithstanding that under idealism this noumenal realm is not some 'thing' of physical substance, and mystics would claim that there can be some transcendental gnosis of it by virtue of it being that undifferentiated Consciousness which everyone is in essence. However, leaving the mystics aside, beyond this phenomenal representation we can only infer some corresponding primal state, aka the ontological primitive. Materialism infers that this primal state is a non-conscious substrate that somehow gives rise to conscious experience, which entails its 'hard' problem. Whereas idealism infers that this state is itself a realm of transpersonal mentation beyond the realm of any given locus of mentation, having been dissociated, or individuated, from the whole. This avoids the problem of deriving consciousness from non-consciousness, albeit having explanatory gaps as well. Clearly, as he indicates in the above quote, BK feels that not all explanatory gaps are equal. This of course is debatable, and you're welcome to take him to task on that point.
Here out of instinct or grace we seek
soulmates in these galleries of hieroglyph and glass,
where mutual longings and sufferings of love
are laid bare in transfigured exhibition of our hearts,
we who crave deep secrets and mysteries,
as elusive as the avatars of our dreams.
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