I had an epiphany today. I think, after all this time, I finally get it. I had the epiphany when I read this comment by eigenstate to my prior post:
Materialists are quite clear about the illusory nature of, say, folk psychology, . . . materialism is the vehicle for making the case that these intuitions *are* illusory. Just so it’s clear, I encourage any and all to accept the illusory nature of what a scientifically-informed materialism would identify as illusions.
Let us be clear about that phrase “folk psychology.” Here eigenstate is using a buzzword of eliminative materialism that refers to the following four general concepts:
1. ‘Belief,’ ‘desire’ and other familiar intentional state expressions are among the theoretical terms of a commonsense theory of the mind. This theory is often called ‘folk psychology’.
2. Folk psychology is a seriously mistaken theory. Many of the claims it makes about the states and processes that give rise to behavior, and many of the presuppositions of those claims, are false.
3. A mature science that explains how the mind / brain works and how it produces the behavior we observe will not refer to the commonsense intentional states and processes invoked by folk psychology. Beliefs, desires and the rest will not be part of the ontology of a mature scientific psychology.
4. The intentional states of commonsense psychology do not exist.
What is Folk Psychology? Stephen Stich, Ian Ravenscroft
Eigenstate intends for us to believe that intentional states do not exist.
Eigenstate desires for us to believe that desires do not exist.
Eigenstate believes (and asks us to believe) that beliefs do not exist.
Eigenstate wants us to know that the word “I” in the sentence he just wrote (i.e. “I encourage any and all . . .”) maps to an illusion – i.e., his illusory perception that he has subjective self-awareness.
All of this is, of course, monstrously idiotic and logically incoherent. If it were true it would undermine rationality itself, and no sane person believes any of it is true, including eigenstate himself. Yet he says it anyway.
Here is where I had my epiphany. Eigenstate says it not because he believes it (it is not possible for a sane person to believe it). He says it because he must say it, because he is dedicated to eliminative materialism despite the patent absurdity of its entailments.
Before my epiphany I had always labored under a false assumption about human nature. I assumed that if anyone asserted a proposition they later learned was logically incoherent, they would choose logic and abandon the proposition. I was wrong. With true believers like eigenstate – fundamentalist materialist if you like – the materialism comes first. Reason and logic be damned. They are willing – even eager it seems – to drive a stake through the heart of rationality itself in order to cling to their religious beliefs (i.e., eliminative materialism). I won’t make that mistake anymore.
Here’s the irony of it all. I am all but certain that eigenstate has mocked what he calls “irrational religious fundies.”