Animal minds Intelligent Design Mind Naturalism Panpsychism

At Mind Matters News: Why panpsychism is starting to push out naturalism

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A key goal of naturalism/materialism has been to explain human consciousness away as “nothing but a pack of neurons.” That can’t work:

Last Monday, writing about a classical atheist naturalist who was attacking panpsychism, I reflected on the difficulties with which panpsychism presents him. Briefly, naturalism, often called “materialism,” posits that nature is all there is. Panpsychismdoesn’t dispute that. But the panpsychist also thinks that consciousness is real — present in all nature (or all living nature) but especially developed in humans.

The naturalist is hostile to the panpsychist because one of his underlying bedrock assumptions is that human consciousness will, in due course, be explained away. If it is not disposed of as an illusion, then it will be explained away as an aid to survival among early humans or perhaps as a spandrel (in evolution theory, a useless accompaniment of useful traits). So what we thought was our means of understanding the world is just another part of the world. It’s not a place we can stand that gives us some insight.

Despite the weight of a science establishment behind it, over many decades, that approach has just not caught on. It can’t. Because, for one thing, it ends the pursuit of science as a road to understanding.

On that view, there is nothing that understands. It’s just what happened on the African savannah hundreds of thousands of years ago when the human species learned to hunt better.

Or maybe not.

A friend has asked me to account for why I think panpsychism is a growing trend in science. Here are some observations…

➤ Panpsychism eliminates the crudities of Darwinism. For example, if consciousness is assumed to be a natural development in the most complex life forms, human consciousness would have happened, whether it improved survival or not. Darwinian controversies on the topic become pointless or anyway, much less significant. Perhaps that’s why a classical Darwinian, who needs to see human consciousness as a simple but controversial accident, views panpsychism with hostility.

Denyse O’Leary, “Why panpsychism is starting to push out naturalism” at Mind Matters News (November 29, 2021)

Takehome: Panpsychism is not dualism. By including consciousness — including human consciousness — as a bedrock fact of nature, it avoids naturalism’s dead end.

You may also wish to read: A Darwinian biologist resists learning to live with panpsychism. Jerry Coyne makes two things quite clear: He scorns panpsychism and he doesn’t understand why some scientists accept it. The differences between panpsychism and naturalism are subtle but critical. As panpsychism’s popularity grows, insight will be better than rage and ridicule.

16 Replies to “At Mind Matters News: Why panpsychism is starting to push out naturalism

  1. 1
    polistra says:

    My pet hypothesis is that consciousness was needed to enable dreaming. There’s NO POINT in dreaming unless the dream is happening within consciousness. A dream is an internal play on an internal stage. If nobody is watching the show, there’s no purpose in running the immensely complex mechanism of scripting and narrating the show.

    Why would God give us this strange ability? Because dreams are where God talks to us. In dreams, our awareness is sharply notch-filtered to the universe, with all sensory interference tuned out. Pre-modern cultures recognize this tuning explicitly.

  2. 2
    Bob O'H says:

    Polistra – are you aware that cats dream too? So apparently do rats.

  3. 3
    ET says:

    Bob O’H- are you aware that materialism cannot account for consciousness? Materialism can’t even account for the existence of life.

    And yes, cats, dogs and rats, have consciousness.

  4. 4
    Seversky says:

    I remember a BBC documentary from way back around 1970 called The Mind Of Man by Nigel Calder in which there was a reference to experiments on cats where the part of the brainstem which suppresses movement during REM sleep was disabled. The cats were observed running around, even though asleep, apparently chasing imaginary mice.

  5. 5
    bornagain77 says:

    As to: “If it (consciousness) is not disposed of as an illusion, then it will be explained away as an aid to survival among early humans or perhaps as a spandrel (in evolution theory, a useless accompaniment of useful traits).”

    I was aware of the Atheistic materialist being forced, via their materialistic presuppositions, into the self-refuting belief that consciousness is merely a ‘neuronal illusion’, but the claim from Atheistic materialists that consciousness is a spandrel, ‘a useless accompaniment of useful traits’, was a new one on me.

    As the title of the following article that I recently stumbled across asked, “Is Consciousness a Spandrel?. They go on to argue that “even if (evolutionary) adaptationist accounts (for consciousness) fail, there is no need to abandon standard evolutionary theory, let alone materialism. Instead of an adaptation, consciousness might be a spandrel (in the sense of Gould and Lewontin 1979)—a by-product of some other trait that has adaptive value although consciousness itself has no adaptive value of its own (or may even be dysfunctional). Another possibility is that consciousness is a functionless accident, possibly even a dysfunctional accident.2 We call the view that consciousness is either a spandrel or a functionless accident the By-product or Accident View (BAV).”

    Is Consciousness a Spandrel? – Sept. 2015
    Abstract:
    Determining the biological function of phenomenal consciousness appears necessary to explain its origin: evolution by natural selection operates on organisms’ traits based on the biological functions they fulfill. But identifying the function of phenomenal consciousness has proven difficult. Some have proposed that the function of phenomenal consciousness is to facilitate mental processes such as reasoning or learning. But mental processes such as reasoning and learning seem to be possible in the absence of phenomenal consciousness. It is difficult to pinpoint in what way phenomenal consciousness enhances these processes or others like them. In this paper, we explore a possibility that has been neglected to date. Perhaps phenomenal consciousness has no function of its own because it is either a by-product of other traits or a (functionless) accident. If so, then phenomenal consciousness has an evolutionary explanation even though it fulfills no biological function.,,,
    Introduction Excerpt: as several authors have pointed out, establishing that evolutionary processes produced consciousness to fulfill some biological function is a tall order (cf. Flanagan and Polger 1995; Polger and Flanagan 2002; Rosenthal 2008; Nagel 2012).The difficulties with adaptationist accounts appear so serious that some reject standard evolutionary theory—and even materialism along the way (Nagel 2012).
    This is an overreaction. We will argue that, even if (evolutionary) adaptationist accounts (for consciousness) fail, there is no need to abandon standard evolutionary theory, let alone materialism. Instead of an adaptation, consciousness might be a spandrel (in the sense of Gould and Lewontin 1979)—a by-product of some other trait that has adaptive value although consciousness itself has no adaptive value of its own (or may even be dysfunctional). Another possibility is that consciousness is a functionless accident, possibly even a dysfunctional accident.2 We call the view that consciousness is either a spandrel or a functionless accident the By-product or Accident View (BAV).
    https://www.researchgate.net/publication/282619766_Is_Consciousness_a_Spandrel
    Published online by Cambridge University Press

    Again, even though they basically admit, per Thomas Nagel,

    Mind and Cosmos – Why the Materialist Neo-Darwinian Conception of Nature is Almost Certainly False – Thomas Nagel
    Excerpt: If materialism cannot accommodate consciousness and other mind-related aspects of reality, then we must abandon a purely materialist understanding of nature in general, extending to biology, evolutionary theory, and cosmology. Since minds are features of biological systems that have developed through evolution, the standard materialist version of evolutionary biology is fundamentally incomplete. And the cosmological history that led to the origin of life and the coming into existence of the conditions for evolution cannot be a merely materialist history.
    http://ukcatalogue.oup.com/pro.....9919758.do?

    Again, even though they basically admit, per Thomas Nagel, that “(evolutionary) adaptationist accounts (for consciousness) fail”, they, none-the-less, say that there is no need to worry for Darwinian theory since consciousness, in their atheistic Darwinian worldview, may be “a spandrel”, “a functionless accident”, “possibly even a dysfunctional accident”.

    Again to repeat, they claimed consciousness itself could be “a spandrel”, “a functionless accident”, “possibly even a dysfunctional accident”.

    You simply can’t make this stuff up. One is forced to wonder if their entire article was merely “a dysfunctional accident”? 🙂

    Calling consciousness “possibly even a dysfunctional accident” is, in reality, admitting that you have no earthly clue how consciousness could have possibly originated.

    That Darwinists would be reduced to such absurd claims for consciousness should not be surprising. Darwinists have no earthly clue where even a single neuron came from,

    “Complexity Brake” Defies Evolution – August 8, 2012
    Excerpt: Consider a neuronal synapse — the presynaptic terminal has an estimated 1000 distinct proteins. Fully analyzing their possible interactions would take about 2000 years. Or consider the task of fully characterizing the visual cortex of the mouse — about 2 million neurons. Under the extreme assumption that the neurons in these systems can all interact with each other, analyzing the various combinations will take about 10 million years…, even though it is assumed that the underlying technology speeds up by an order of magnitude each year.
    http://www.evolutionnews.org/2.....62961.html

    Much less do Darwinists have any earthly clue where our ‘beyond belief’ brain came from:

    The Half-Truths of Materialist Evolution – DONALD DeMARCO – 02/06/2015
    Excerpt: but I would like to direct attention to the unsupportable notion that the human brain, to focus on a single phenomenon, could possibly have evolved by sheer chance. One of the great stumbling blocks for Darwin and other chance evolutionists is explaining how a multitude of factors simultaneously coalesce to form a unified, functioning system. The human brain could not have evolved as a result of the addition of one factor at a time. Its unity and phantasmagorical complexity defies any explanation that relies on pure chance. It would be an underestimation of the first magnitude to say that today’s neurophysiologists know more about the structure and workings of the brain than did Darwin and his associates.
    Scientists in the field of brain research now inform us that a single human brain contains more molecular-scale switches than all the computers, routers and Internet connections on the entire planet! According to Stephen Smith, a professor of molecular and cellular physiology at the Stanford University School of Medicine, the brain’s complexity is staggering, beyond anything his team of researchers had ever imagined, almost to the point of being beyond belief. In the cerebral cortex alone, each neuron has between 1,000 to 10,000 synapses that result, roughly, in a total of 125 trillion synapses, which is about how many stars fill 1,500 Milky Way galaxies!
    A single synapse may contain 1,000 molecular-scale switches. A synapse, simply stated, is the place where a nerve impulse passes from one nerve cell to another.
    Phantasmagorical as this level of unified complexity is, it places us merely at the doorway of the brain’s even deeper mind-boggling organization. Glial cells in the brain assist in neuron speed. These cells outnumber neurons 10 times over, with 860 billion cells. All of this activity is monitored by microglia cells that not only clean up damaged cells but also prune dendrites, forming part of the learning process. The cortex alone contains 100,000 miles of myelin-covered, insulated nerve fibers.
    The process of mapping the brain would indeed be time-consuming. It would entail identifying every synaptic neuron. If it took a mere second to identify each neuron, it would require four billion years to complete the project.
    http://www.ncregister.com/dail.....evolution/

    Thus again, that Darwinists would, basically, throw in the towel and say that consciousness is “possibly even a dysfunctional accident” should not be surprising since Darwinian explanations have completely failed to account for neurons, and brains, in the first place.

    But anyways of related interest,,,

    In their book, “What Darwin Got Wrong”, Fodor and Palmarini state that, “Although living things occupy a three-dimensional space, their internal physiology and anatomy operate as if they were four-dimensional. Quarter-power scaling laws are perhaps as universal and as uniquely biological as the biochemical pathways of metabolism, the structure and function of the genetic code and the process of natural selection.”,,, they then comment, “”The conclusion here is inescapable, that the driving force for these invariant scaling laws cannot have been natural selection. It’s inconceivable that so many different organisms, spanning different kingdoms and phyla, may have blindly ‘tried’ all sorts of power laws and that only those that have by chance ‘discovered’ the one-quarter power law reproduced and thrived.”

    Post-Darwinist – Denyse O’Leary – Dec. 2010
    Excerpt: They quote West et al. (1999),
    What Darwin Got Wrong – pg 79
    “Although living things occupy a three-dimensional space, their internal physiology and anatomy operate as if they were four-dimensional. Quarter-power scaling laws are perhaps as universal and as uniquely biological as the biochemical pathways of metabolism, the structure and function of the genetic code and the process of natural selection.”
    They comment,
    “In the words of these authors, natural selection has exploited variations on this fractal theme to produce the incredible variety of biological form and function’, but there were severe geometric and physical constraints on metabolic processes.”
    “The conclusion here is inescapable, that the driving force for these invariant scaling laws cannot have been natural selection. It’s inconceivable that so many different organisms, spanning different kingdoms and phyla, may have blindly ‘tried’ all sorts of power laws and that only those that have by chance ‘discovered’ the one-quarter power law reproduced and thrived.”
    Quotations from Jerry Fodor and Massimo Piatelli-Palmarini, What Darwin Got Wrong (London: Profile Books, 2010), p. 78-79.
    http://post-darwinist.blogspot.....html#links

    What Darwin Got Wrong – Book – page 79
    https://books.google.com/books?id=ZxwO01AAFYMC&pg=PA79

    Of Life’s Laws And Unity – May 11, 2016
    Excerpt: Life obeys certain allometric scaling laws that seem to reveal a sort of overarching design principle at work. We don’t know what this principle is, although it’s probably related to optimization: What’s the best shape for the least amount of energy consumption? A famous allometric law is known as Kleiber’s Law, where the metabolic rate of an animal grows as its mass to the 3/4 power. (The metabolic rate can be measured in terms of the rate at which an animal consumes oxygen, for example.) Although there are small variations (due to motion, disease, aging), the relation holds over a wide range of masses. (There are disputes for very small animals without a circulatory system.)
    Geoffrey West, Brian Enquist and James Brown proposed a model based on blood flow to explain this and a few other general allometric scaling laws with body weight observed in animals (for a review paper see this): Apart from Kleiber’s Law mentioned above, life span scales as 1/4 power (so take two square roots of the mass), and heart rate as -1/4 power. Put together, these two laws explain why all species have a similar amount of heartbeats, 1.5 billion, over their life spans.
    Pause for amazement.
    The laws are not absolutely precise but do indicate a common trend across an enormous variety of living creatures. On Monday night, I was on a panel on Complexity with Geoffrey West at the New York Academy of Sciences. At some point, I asked West whether alien life, if it exists, would follow the same sort of unifying allometric laws. With a twinkle in his eye, West replied, a big smile on his face: “Well, I can only speculate here, but it seems plausible that this sort of design principle for life does have universal characteristics.”
    It would be amazing if life as we don’t know it is, after all, life as we do know it.
    http://www.npr.org/sections/13.....-and-unity

  6. 6
    bornagain77 says:

    The reason why these universal and as uniquely biological ’4-Dimensional’ quarter power scaling laws are impossible for Darwinian evolution to explain is that, as Fodor and Palmarini explained, Natural Selection operates at the 3-Dimensional level of the organism and the ’4-Dimensional’ quarter power scaling law are simply ‘invisible’ to natural selection.

    And the reason why 4-Dimensional things are, for all practical purposes, completely invisible to the 3-Dimensional realm is best demonstrated by the ‘thought experiment’ of ‘flatland’:

    Dr Quantum – Flatland – video
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sEVEKL1Fbx0

    And the reason why life is found to be based on 4-Dimensional principles rather than on 3-Dimensional principles, (as would be expected if natural selection were true), is because, in life, “it is the non-material information (transcendent to the matter and energy) that is actually itself constraining the local thermodynamics to be in ordered disequilibrium and with specified raised free energy levels necessary for the molecular and cellular machinery to operate.”

    Information and entropy – top-down or bottom-up development in living systems? A.C. McINTOSH –
    Excerpt: This paper highlights the distinctive and non-material nature of information and its relationship with matter, energy and natural forces. It is proposed in conclusion that it is the non-material information (transcendent to the matter and energy) that is actually itself constraining the local thermodynamics to be in ordered disequilibrium and with specified raised free energy levels necessary for the molecular and cellular machinery to operate.
    http://journals.witpress.com/paperinfo.asp?pid=420
    Dr Andy C. McIntosh is the Professor of Thermodynamics at the University of Leeds, UK

    “a one-celled bacterium, e. coli, is estimated to contain the equivalent of 100 million pages of Encyclopedia Britannica. Expressed in information in science jargon, this would be the same as 10^12 bits of information. In comparison, the total writings from classical Greek Civilization is only 10^9 bits, and the largest libraries in the world – The British Museum, Oxford Bodleian Library, New York Public Library, Harvard Widenier Library, and the Moscow Lenin Library – have about 10 million volumes or 10^12 bits.”
    – R. C. Wysong – The Creation-evolution Controversy

    It is also very interesting to note exactly where there is found to be an ‘anomalous exception’ to this ‘universal’ 4-dimensional, quarter power scaling law.

    As the following article states, “Brain is one of the most energy demanding organs in mammals, and its total metabolic rate scales with brain volume raised to a power of around 5/6. This value is significantly higher than the more common exponent 3/4 (4- dimensional Quarter Power Scaling) relating whole body resting metabolism with body mass and several other physiological variables in animals and plants.,,,”

    Scaling of Brain Metabolism and Blood Flow in Relation to Capillary and Neural Scaling – 2011
    Excerpt: Brain is one of the most energy demanding organs in mammals, and its total metabolic rate scales with brain volume raised to a power of around 5/6. This value is significantly higher than the more common exponent 3/4 (4- dimensional Quarter Power Scaling) relating whole body resting metabolism with body mass and several other physiological variables in animals and plants.,,,
    Moreover, cerebral metabolic, hemodynamic, and microvascular variables scale with allometric exponents that are simple multiples of 1/6, rather than 1/4, which suggests that brain metabolism is more similar to the metabolism of aerobic than resting body. Relation of these findings to brain functional imaging studies involving the link between cerebral metabolism and blood flow is also discussed.,,
    General Discussion Excerpt:
    ,,It should be underlined that both CBF and CMR scale with brain volume with the exponent about 1/6 which is significantly different from the exponent 1/4 relating whole body resting specific metabolism with body volume [1], [2], [3]. Instead, the cerebral exponent 1/6 is closer to an exponent,, characterizing maximal body specific metabolic rate and specific cardiac output in strenuous exercise [43], [44]. In this sense, the brain metabolism and its hemodynamics resemble more the metabolism and circulation of exercised muscles than other resting organs, which is in line with the empirical evidence that brain is an energy expensive organ [10], [17], [18]. This may also suggest that there exists a common plan for the design of microcirculatory system in different parts of the mammalian body that uses the same optimization principles [45].,,
    https://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0026709

    In fact, the “high rate of metabolism (in the brain) is remarkably constant despite widely varying mental and motoric activity. The metabolic activity of the brain is remarkably constant over time.”

    Appraising the brain’s energy budget:
    Excerpt: In the average adult human, the brain represents about 2% of the body weight. Remarkably, despite its relatively small size, the brain accounts for about 20% of the oxygen and, hence, calories consumed by the body. This high rate of metabolism is remarkably constant despite widely varying mental and motoric activity. The metabolic activity of the brain is remarkably constant over time.
    http://www.pnas.org/content/99/16/10237.full

    Darwinists simply have no earthly clue why neurons exist, why brains exist, nor why life would be constrained to 4-Dimensional constraints in the first place, much less do they have any earthly clue why the brain, uniquely, would be an anomaly to the ‘universal quarter power law’ for life, and instead be based on 6-Dimensional considerations instead of being based on 4-Dimensional considerations like the rest of life is based upon.

    Whereas, on the other hand, this 6-Dimensional ‘anomaly’ for the brain is to be ‘expected’ under Christian presuppositions.

    In short, in Christianity it is held that we have a ‘higher dimensional’ immaterial mind that is distinct from the body, (as well as being distinct from the soul), that has control over the material body.

    In other words, the most parsimonious explanation for the ‘anomalous’ 6 Dimensional constraint on the brain’s metabolic activity in particular is that the material brain was designed, first and foremost, to house the “higher dimensional” immaterial mind and to give this ‘higher dimensional” immaterial mind the most favorable, and constant, metabolic environments at all times.

    Verse:

    Matthew 22:37
    Jesus replied: “’Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’

  7. 7
    Origenes says:

    Panpsychism is materialism in a cheap tuxedo. By means of the baseless assumption that everything, electrons included, is conscious, an attempt is made to explain consciousness while staying as close as possible to materialism. So, just like materialism, panpsychism offers a bottom-up explanation for human consciousness. Under both materialism & panpsychism, the “I” consists of, is determined by, countless elementary constituents. Therefore both world views suffer from an insurmountable inability to account for self-control, free will & rationality.

    Since, if the “I” does not control itself, but is instead controlled by something other than itself, such as countless elementary (conscious) constituents, then acts such as ‘I understand’, and ‘I choose’ become utterly meaningless.

  8. 8
    Seversky says:

    Origenes/7

    Panpsychism is materialism in a cheap tuxedo.

    That “cheap tuxedo” crack really stung, didn’t it?

    Therefore both world views suffer from an insurmountable inability to account for self-control, free will & rationality.

    Just like Intelligent Design Creationism, we’re all in the same boat.

    Since, if the “I” does not control itself, but is instead controlled by something other than itself, such as countless elementary (conscious) constituents, then acts such as ‘I understand’, and ‘I choose’ become utterly meaningless

    So the “I” is not contingent on anything else for its existence? Then what happens to the “I” on the death of the body since there’s no sign that it survives – or can survive – without the physical substrate of a living brain.

    We agree there is a hard problem of explaining how consciousness emerges from the activity of the brain but I don’t understand how being physically embodied prevents the conscious self from understanding or making choices.

  9. 9
    kairosfocus says:

    Seversky, the cheap tuxedo stunt showed a fundamental dishonesty on the part of those who used it. They hold negative credibility. KF

  10. 10
    Origenes says:

    Seversky @8

    O: Panpsychism is materialism in a cheap tuxedo. (…) Therefore both world views suffer from an insurmountable inability to account for self-control, free will & rationality.

    Seversky: Just like Intelligent Design Creationism, we’re all in the same boat.

    Don’t tell anyone, but I actually agree with the larger point you are making.

    O: Since, if the “I” does not control itself, but is instead controlled by something other than itself, such as countless elementary (conscious) constituents, then acts such as ‘I understand’, and ‘I choose’ become utterly meaningless

    Seversky: So the “I” is not contingent on anything else for its existence?

    It must be the case in order to have self-control & rationality. If the act “I understand X” is not caused by me—if my understanding of the world is not mine, but is instead forced upon me by something else (beyond my control)—, then I understand nothing, then I am not rational.

    Seversky: We agree there is a hard problem of explaining how consciousness emerges from the activity of the brain …

    Here, for the sake of argument I am willing to grant materialism/panpsychism that consciousness emerges from countless elementary constituents. However my argument is that such a consciousness cannot have self-control, free will & rationality.

    Seversky: … but I don’t understand how being physically embodied prevents the conscious self from understanding or making choices.

    Do you accept my argument that understanding and making choices presupposes self-control?

  11. 11
    ET says:

    seversky:

    We agree there is a hard problem of explaining how consciousness emerges from the activity of the brain but I don’t understand how being physically embodied prevents the conscious self from understanding or making choices.

    That’s backwards. The activity of the brain occurs due to consciousness.

    Just like Intelligent Design Creationism, we’re all in the same boat.

    Intelligent Design Creationism only exists in the minds of the willfully ignorant.

  12. 12
    Joe Schooner says:

    They hold negative credibility. KF

    How is it possible to have negative credibility?

  13. 13
    kairosfocus says:

    JS, high credibility is associated with tested reliable sources such as good dictionaries and similar reference resources. Negligible credibility comes from innocent ignorance, being a newbie, most such know to learn not to try to impose ignorance; they are 101 level learners and know it. Negative credibility, by way of contrast, is associated with studiously unreliable sources with a track record suggesting willful habitual wrong in defiance of first duties of reason . . . to truth, to right reason, to warrant and wider prudence, etc [the same self-evident first principles you have ill-advisedly tried to dismiss]; especially, tied to destructive selective hyperskepticism, ill founded incoherent ideologies such as radical secularist evolutionary materialism and scientism, etc. In the worst cases, it is a feature of media sources, thought leaders and educators that have gone to the dark side and are purveyors of twisted agit prop, betraying the past of honest work that built the credibility they now exploit to deceive those who mistakenly imagine they are still getting the straight dope not spin, gaslighting and big lies (too big and audacious to disbelieve). Wikipedia on anything of interest to the radicals who rule the roost readily comes to mind. KF

  14. 14
    kairosfocus says:

    ET, excellent catch on a case in point of agit prop smear by label. The design inference is independent of any particular worldview and rests on the inductive logic of inference to the best current explanation at the heart of science. Ever since Plato in the Laws Bk X we have trichotomised causal factors for aspects of phenomena, chance and/or mechanical necessity and/or intelligently directed configuration. So, we can see natural (here, blind chance and/or mechanical necessity) vs ART-ificial causal factors, and can identify signatures: necessity — low contingency highly predictable results from similar initial conditions often expressing mathematical laws, chance — high contingency with functional specificity dominated by the statistical weight of noise or gibberish, design — complex functionally specific organisation. Hence the per aspect design inference filter and high reliability once we go beyond 500 – 1,000 bits of FSCO/I. Of course all of this has been thoroughly discussed here for many years and those here and elsewhere who insist on smears like that have no excuse. Negative credibility. KF

  15. 15
    kairosfocus says:

    PS: Plato:

    Ath [in The Laws, Bk X 2,360 ya]. . . .[The avant garde philosophers and poets, c. 360 BC] say that fire and water, and earth and air [i.e the classical “material” elements of the cosmos — the natural order], all exist by nature and chance, and none of them by art . . . [such that] all that is in the heaven, as well as animals and all plants, and all the seasons come from these elements, not by the action of mind, as they say, or of any God, or from art, but as I was saying, by nature and chance only [ –> that is, evolutionary materialism is ancient and would trace all things to blind chance and mechanical necessity; observe, too, the trichotomy: “nature” (here, mechanical, blind necessity), “chance” (similar to a tossed fair die), ART (the action of a mind, i.e. intelligently directed configuration)] . . . .

    [Thus, they hold] that the principles of justice have no existence at all in nature, but that mankind are always disputing about them and altering them; and that the alterations which are made by art and by law have no basis in nature, but are of authority for the moment and at the time at which they are made.-

    [ –> Relativism, too, is not new; complete with its radical amorality rooted in a worldview that has no foundational IS that can ground OUGHT, leading to an effectively arbitrary foundation only for morality, ethics, law and government: accident of personal preference, the ebbs and flows of power politics, accidents of history and and the shifting sands of manipulated community opinion driven by “winds and waves of doctrine and the cunning craftiness of men in their deceitful scheming . . . ” cf a video on Plato’s parable of the cave; from the perspective of pondering who set up the manipulative shadow-shows, why.]

    These, my friends, are the sayings of wise men, poets and prose writers, which find a way into the minds of youth. They are told by them that the highest right is might,

    [ –> Evolutionary materialism — having no IS that can properly ground OUGHT — leads to the promotion of amorality on which the only basis for “OUGHT” is seen to be might (and manipulation: might in “spin”), opening the door to cynicism, hyperskepticism and nihilism . . . ]

    and in this way the young fall into impieties, under the idea that the Gods are not such as the law bids them imagine; and hence arise factions [ –> Evolutionary materialism-motivated amorality “naturally” leads to continual contentions and power struggles influenced by that amorality at the hands of ruthless power hungry nihilistic agendas], these philosophers inviting them to lead a true life according to nature, that is,to live in real dominion over others [ –> such amoral and/or nihilistic factions, if they gain power, “naturally” tend towards ruthless abuse and arbitrariness . . . they have not learned the habits nor accepted the principles of mutual respect, justice, fairness and keeping the civil peace of justice, so they will want to deceive, manipulate and crush — as the consistent history of radical revolutions over the past 250 years so plainly shows again and again], and not in legal subjection to them [–> nihilistic will to power not the spirit of justice and lawfulness].

    He goes on to a cosmological design inference.

  16. 16
    kairosfocus says:

    PPS: Plato’s cosmological design inference:

    Ath [in The Laws, Bk X 2,360 ya]. . . .[The avant garde philosophers and poets, c. 360 BC] say that fire and water, and earth and air [i.e the classical “material” elements of the cosmos — the natural order], all exist by nature and chance, and none of them by art . . . [such that] all that is in the heaven, as well as animals and all plants, and all the seasons come from these elements, not by the action of mind, as they say, or of any God, or from art, but as I was saying, by nature and chance only [ –> that is, evolutionary materialism is ancient and would trace all things to blind chance and mechanical necessity, contrasted to “the action of mind” i.e. intelligently directed configuration] . . . .

    [[T]hese people would say that the Gods exist not by nature, but by art, and by the laws of states, which are different in different places, according to the agreement of those who make them . . . .

    Then, by Heaven, we have discovered the source of this vain opinion of all those physical investigators . . . . they affirm that which is the first cause of the generation and destruction of all things, to be not first, but last, and that which is last to be first, and hence they have fallen into error about the true nature of the Gods.

    Cle. Still I do not understand you.

    Ath. Nearly all of them, my friends, seem to be ignorant of the nature and power of the soul [[ = psuche], especially in what relates to her origin: they do not know that she is among the first of things, and before all bodies, and is the chief author of their changes and transpositions. And if this is true, and if the soul is older than the body, must not the things which are of the soul’s kindred be of necessity prior to those which appertain to the body?

    Cle. Certainly.

    Ath. Then thought and attention and mind and art and law will be prior to that which is hard and soft and heavy and light; and the great and primitive works and actions will be works of art; they will be the first, and after them will come nature and works of nature, which however is a wrong term for men to apply to them; these will follow, and will be under the government of art and mind.

    Cle. But why is the word “nature” wrong?

    Ath. Because those who use the term mean to say that nature is the first creative power; but if the soul turn out to be the primeval element, and not fire or air, then in the truest sense and beyond other things the soul may be said to exist by nature; and this would be true if you proved that the soul is older than the body, but not otherwise.

    [[ . . . .]

    Ath. . . . when one thing changes another, and that another, of such will there be any primary changing element? How can a thing which is moved by another ever be the beginning of change? Impossible. But when the self-moved changes other, and that again other, and thus thousands upon tens of thousands of bodies are set in motion, must not the beginning of all this motion be the change of the self-moving principle? . . . . self-motion being the origin of all motions, and the first which arises among things at rest as well as among things in motion, is the eldest and mightiest principle of change, and that which is changed by another and yet moves other is second. [–> notice, the self-moved, initiating, reflexively acting causal agent, which defines freedom as essential to our nature, and this is root of discussion on agents as first causes.]

    [[ . . . .]

    Ath. If we were to see this power existing in any earthy, watery, or fiery substance, simple or compound-how should we describe it?

    Cle. You mean to ask whether we should call such a self-moving power life?

    Ath. I do.

    Cle. Certainly we should.

    Ath. And when we see soul in anything, must we not do the same-must we not admit that this is life?

    [[ . . . . ]

    Cle. You mean to say that the essence which is defined as the self-moved is the same with that which has the name soul?

    Ath. Yes; and if this is true, do we still maintain that there is anything wanting in the proof that the soul is the first origin and moving power of all that is, or has become, or will be, and their contraries, when she has been clearly shown to be the source of change and motion in all things?

    Cle. Certainly not; the soul as being the source of motion, has been most satisfactorily shown to be the oldest of all things.

    Ath. And is not that motion which is produced in another, by reason of another, but never has any self-moving power at all, being in truth the change of an inanimate body, to be reckoned second, or by any lower number which you may prefer?

    Cle. Exactly.

    Ath. Then we are right, and speak the most perfect and absolute truth, when we say that the soul is prior to the body, and that the body is second and comes afterwards, and is born to obey the soul, which is the ruler?

    [[ . . . . ]

    Ath. If, my friend, we say that the whole path and movement of heaven, and of all that is therein, is by nature akin to the movement and revolution and calculation of mind, and proceeds by kindred laws, then, as is plain, we must say that the best soul takes care of the world and guides it along the good path. [[Plato here explicitly sets up an inference to design (by a good soul) from the intelligible order of the cosmos.

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