Intelligent Design

WJM Throws Down the Gauntlet

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All that follows is WJM’s:

Modern physics has long ago disproved the idea that “matter” exists at all. Timothy’s position might as well be that because we all perceive the sun moving through the sky from east to west, it is a fact that it is the sun that is doing the moving.

Just because we perceive a world of what we call “matter” doesn’t change the fact that we know no such world actually exists regardless of what our perception tells us. What we call “matter” is a perceptual interpretation of something that is not, in any meaningful sense, “matter”. We know now (current science) that matter is, at its root, entirely “immaterial”, despite what our macro sensory perceptions have told us for millennia (like the sun moving through the sky).

Materialists are clinging to a pre-Victorian perspective of what it is we are perceiving, long since discarded after over a hundred years of experimental results.

Now we get to the so-called “material-immaterial interaction problem”. First, there is no “material world,” so it’s problematic to begin with a term that draws from an archaic, unscientific understanding of what it is we are perceiving.

Second, has the “material-material” interaction problem even been addressed, much less “solved”? We have absolutely no idea **how** “matter” interacts with other “matter”. We can describe the behavior of that interaction, then use a term to refer to that model as if that term was an actual “thing”, but describing the behavior is not explaining the **how** of the interaction.

When so-called dualism objectors can first explain matter/matter interaction, and when they can tell us what they mean by “material” and “immaterial”, they will then have a meaningful foundation to form a cogent objection to the idea of material/immaterial interaction.

Any materialist here up to that very basic task?

111 Replies to “WJM Throws Down the Gauntlet

  1. 1
    aarceng says:

    If matter is an illusion I find it a very convincing one.

  2. 2
    Nonlin.org says:

    http://nonlin.org/im-materialism/

    4. People that knew a thing or two about matter said… Max Planck: “As a man who has devoted his whole life to the most clear headed science, to the study of matter, I can tell you as a result of my research about atoms this much: There is no matter as such. All matter originates and exists only by virtue of a force which brings the particle of an atom to vibration and holds this most minute solar system of the atom together. We must assume behind this force the existence of a conscious and intelligent Mind. This Mind is the matrix of all matter”, Das Wesen der Materie, 1944. Werner Heisenberg: “The ontology of materialism rested upon the illusion that the kind of existence, the direct ‘actuality’ of the world around us, can be extrapolated into the atomic range. This extrapolation, however, is impossible… atoms are not things.”

  3. 3
    polistra says:

    Matter isn’t convincing to all cultures. Many older cultures start with the idea that ‘spirit’ is everywhere. Sometimes spirit produces compact illusions that we can grab and move and bump against. Sometimes it produces non-bumpable non-grabbable illusions like dreams and visions. This concept is much closer to de Broglie’s concept that everything is waves and resonances.

  4. 4

    If matter is an illusion I find it a very convincing one.

    I imagine that when you dream, you find the “material world” you interact with in that dream very convincing at the time. I don’t know that I’d use the term “illusion” to describe our experience of what we call matter; perhaps “misunderstanding” would be a better word. Materialism is based on a deep misunderstanding of what it is we are actually experiencing and how we are experiencing it.

    Philosophical materialism, at its core, denies what modern science has repeatedly shown for over a hundred years. We do not live in a material universe, even though that is largely what we experience it as.

    So, the entire “material/immaterial interaction problem” is based on a misunderstanding; the erroneous belief that “matter” actually exists outside of our perception of it. It does not. We know this now. The problem is that the matter luddites refuse to move into the modern era of science because it threatens their religious dogma.

  5. 5
    Silver Asiatic says:

    Classic, traditional dualism is a distinction between spirit and matter. Soul and body.

    That life, mind and soul is immaterial, spiritual.

    Body and physical nature is different.

    The difference between a live body and a dead one – the presence of spirit.

    The term matter is used in that context to make a distinction. In the human being, the body and spirit are joined but are distinct and different.

  6. 6
    PaV says:

    WJM:

    On what basis are you saying that “matter” does not exist? Is there a post you’ve made somewhere that explains your position?

    Thanks.

  7. 7
  8. 8

    PaV asks:

    On what basis are you saying that “matter” does not exist?

    On the basis of over a hundred years of quantum theory experimental evidence.

  9. 9
    Heartlander says:

    The size of an atom is governed by the average location of its electrons. Nuclei are around 100,000 times smaller than the atoms they’re housed in. If the nucleus were the size of a peanut, the atom would be about the size of a baseball stadium. If we lost all the dead space inside our atoms, we would each be able to fit into a particle of lead dust, and the entire human race would fit into the volume of a sugar cube.

    As you might guess, these spaced-out particles make up only a tiny portion of your mass. The protons and neutrons inside of an atom’s nucleus are each made up of three quarks. The mass of the quarks, which comes from their interaction with the Higgs field, accounts for just a few percent of the mass of a proton or neutron. Gluons, carriers of the strong nuclear force that holds these quarks together, are completely massless.

    If your mass doesn’t come from the masses of these particles, where does it come from? Energy. Scientists believe that almost all of your body’s mass comes from the kinetic energy of the quarks and the binding energy of the gluons.

  10. 10
    Silver Asiatic says:

    That article states that matter does exist.

  11. 11
    harry says:

    All matter originates and exists only by virtue of a force… We must assume behind this force the existence of a conscious and intelligent Mind. This Mind is the matrix of all matter.
    — Max Planck, originator of quantum theory

    [God] is not far from each one of us, for ‘In him we live and move and have our being’
    — Acts 17:27-28

    Both St. Paul and Max Planck saw that the primary reality is not material. One might, from this perspective, consider matter to be merely an epiphenomenon of that fundamental, non-material reality, but one that is willed, as the primary reality is essentially a “Who,” not a “What.” Is this the way WJM sees it?

  12. 12
    Axel says:

    ‘The problem is that the matter luddites refuse to move into the modern era of science because it threatens their religious dogma.’

    In a nutshell, WJM. And it is something that needs to be continually hammered home. The sheer audacity of A/Mat scientists and philosophers of science making their living from QM while denying it’s primordial significance – quite apart from its uniquely successful, indeed, mathematically proven to be the ultimate paradigm, not able to be improved upon) ; publicly dismissing it as ‘crazy stuff’ (not necessarily verbatim, but effectively so).

    Bohr had some interesting things to say on the subject, too:

    https://en.wikiquote.org/wiki/Niels_Bohr

    It is interesting that Dawkins – and I don’t believe he is alone in this – without the least hesitancy, mistakes his own oxymoronic conjectures, e.g. the blind watchmaker, for paradoxes !

  13. 13
    Axel says:

    And as for his classic line, to the effect that the natural world only appears to be designed, what a pity someone didn’t say to him something along the lines of : ‘You mean, it is only empirically observable to be such, Richard ? I see….’

  14. 14
    Gordon Davisson says:

    Modern physics has long ago disproved the idea that “matter” exists at all.

    This is just plain wrong. QM certainly has weird implications about the nature of reality, but the nonexistence of matter certainly isn’t one of them. There are many possible interpretations of QM — that is, possibilities for how the abstract math used in QM might correspond to reality. Some interpretations involve matter existing in something very like the classical sense; some say matter exists, but in weird states that don’t correspond to our intuitions about how states work; some say matter and nonmaterial-but-physical things like fields exist. The most you can really say is that some interpretations of QM allow that material things might not exist.

    Before I go further, do you consider nonmaterial-but-physical things like the gravitational and electromagnetic fields to be exceptions to materialism? If not, you should really be talking about physicalism, not materialism. On the other hand, if you do think they’re exceptions, most of the people you’re calling “a/mats” don’t actually subscribe to the view you’re attributing to them. Either way, nonmaterial-but-physical things don’t refute the actual views of the people you call “a/mats”.

    Probably the most blatantly materialistic (/physicalistic) interpretation of QM is the de Broglie-Bohm pilot wave interpretation (aka Bohmian mechanics). This interpretation posits that particles directly exist and have definite positions, but are accompanied by “pilot waves” that interact with them and guide their motion. If this view is correct, the wave-particle duality of QM (and all the other weird QM effects) are a result of the interaction between the particle and its guide wave. There are actually macroscopic phenomena that work very similarly; here is a video showing how oil droplets on an oil bath mimic pilot wave behavior.

    And that’s far from the only physicalist interpretation of QM. Next consider objective collapse interpretations. These interpretations say that physical things (particles and fields) exist, but don’t always have definite states; for example, an electron might be in a superposition of many different locations. Groups of particles and/or fields can also be in entangled superpositions, meaning that that the superposition correlates their individual states (note: this is a difficult concept to grasp, and I’m not going to try to give a full explanation here). The “objective collapse” part is that according to these interpretations, these superpositions sometimes collapse into definite states. For example, the Ghirardi–Rimini–Weber (GRW) interpretation proposes that individual particles randomly (and very rarely) collapse themselves (and as a side effect, all the other particles/fields they’re entangled with). It turns out that as long as the collapses are rare enough, this winds up making the same predictions as all the other viable interpretations of QM (and matching all the experimental evidence).

    Then there’s the many-worlds interpretation. It’s actually a lot like the objective collapse interpretations, except that it says that collapse objectively never happens; superpositions are effectively permanent, and grow more and more entangled over time, with different parts of the superpositions becoming effectively different “worlds”. But as with the objective collapse interpretation, the entangled superpositions — and the particles and fields in those states — are physically real.

    How about the Copenhagen interpretation? In this view, particles and fields generally don’t have definite states until they’re measured. It’s a bit ambiguous what’s going on between measurements — for example, it doesn’t really say that particles exist between measurements, but it doesn’t deny it either. It’s also rather ambiguous about what exactly constitutes a “measurement”. Some people think that “measurement” must correspond to observation by an intelligent agent (i.e. a human), but it’s more usually assumed that interaction with a macroscopic measurement apparatus (which clearly exists) qualifies. In a sense, it doesn’t really matter; there are a wide range of definitions of “measurement” you could use that would all make the same predictions (and, as with GRW, match all the experimental evidence).

    Now, I should confess that there’s something I’ve been ducking a bit by talking about particles and/or fields: in both there’s a bit of ambiguity about whether a given type of “particle” is a real thing, or just something that arises from quantization of an underlying field. (And similarly, whether the corresponding fields are real, or just something that arises from superpositions of the corresponding particle’s states). At least, this ambiguity exists in the many-worlds and Copenhagen interpretations; in de Broglie-Bohm both exist, and in GRW the particles that trigger collapse must be truly real. But even considering this ambiguity, you can’t say that particles don’t exist, just that they might not exist and you can’t really tell.

    Now, there are also some non-realistic interpretations of QM, which say that QM doesn’t directly describe reality at all, but rather something like the state of our knowledge. But (at least as far as I understand them) they don’t so much say that physical reality doesn’t exist, but that QM doesn’t directly describe it. So even there QM doesn’t really support the claim you’re making.

  15. 15
    PaoloV says:

    harry @11:

    I like the comment. Good point.

    Both St. Paul and Max Planck saw that the primary reality is not material. One might, from this perspective, consider matter to be merely an epiphenomenon of that fundamental, non-material reality, but one that is willed, as the primary reality is essentially a “Who,” not a “What.”

  16. 16
    PaoloV says:

    Gordon Davisson @14:
    “…do you consider nonmaterial-but-physical things like the gravitational and electromagnetic fields to be exceptions to materialism?”

    Aren’t “nonmaterial-but-physical things like the gravitational and electromagnetic fields” also referred to as manifestations of energy?

    Doesn’t philosophical materialism consider both matter and energy as the fundamental reality? Isn’t philosophical materialism about the belief that matter and energy is all there is?

    Aren’t there two extremely opposite worldview positions:
    on one side matter and energy as the ultimate reality versus
    on the opposite side the ultimate reality described in the first statement of the book of Genesis, which is a foundational part of the ancient scriptures associated with the three major monotheistic beliefs in the world: Judaism, Christianity, Islam, which historically appeared in that chronological order, separated by several hundred years?

    The true ultimate reality is unambiguously described by this absolutely exclusive proclamation:
    “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through Him, and without Him nothing was made that was made.” [John 1:1-3]

    All modern science does and can do is studying the material component of the ultimate reality (i.e. matter and energy).

  17. 17
    kairosfocus says:

    Folks,

    Maybe I should clip and transfer my observations in the original discussion thread:

    KF, 11: >>WJM, you are always thought-provoking. Maybe the key point is, matter is not so solid as it seems, indeed the sense of solidity is a matter of close in repulsion of interacting electron clouds per the inter-atomic force curve. That is, modern physics has transformed how we understand solidity. Interacting fields of influence and exchanged virtual particles etc are quite different from the naive hard massy balls of yore. In that context, bring to bear multidimensional fine tuning that sets up a cosmos for C-chem, aqueous medium, cell based life on terrestrial planets in galactic and planetary system habitable zones, and design of cosmos becomes a relevant issue pointing beyond the material cosmos. Blend in the gigo-limited computational substrate view of brains at work (how did the hardware & software come about, per observed factors, on blind watchmaker forces?) and we find blind mechanical and/or stochastic causal chains which undermines confidence in inference, reasoning, logic, warrant, knowledge. So, it turns out that we have here the side-stepping on a serious issue of self-referential incoherence. We cannot but act as responsibly, reasonably significantly free knowing, conscious, contemplative creatures, so why not start from that first undeniable empirical fact? Is it not so that we perceive matter through the lens of rational consciousness? Not to mention, the very important immaterial entities, information and numbers, without which science would be a non-starter. So, why use the perception to try to undermine the perceiver? Is that not self-referentially incoherent? Why not start out, we do not understand how mindedness interacts with matter, but we are more sure of it than we are of the result of that interaction, that we are credibly embodied beings in a physical world? Then, we can ask how say a Smith type model could work, and how quantum influences could shape neural network behaviour, etc? KF>>

    KF, 12: >>PS: Where, particles are wavicles and many particles are composite. What is “waving”? What is energy? What is mass? What is matter? What is space-time? What is number? What is information? What is reality? Why do many think it must be confined to just these entities, which we perceive through our conscious mindedness?>>

    KF

    PS, Mung’s remark, too, at 13:

    > So, why use the perception to try to undermine the perceiver?

    Indeed.

    > What is energy?

    That too. Matter, Energy, Gravity …

  18. 18
    bornagain77 says:

    Dr. Vlatko Vedral, who is a Professor of Physics at the University of Oxford, and who is a recognized leader in the field of quantum mechanics, states, “The most fundamental definition of reality is not matter or energy, but information–and it is the processing of information that lies at the root of all physical, biological, economic, and social phenomena.”

    “The most fundamental definition of reality is not matter or energy, but information–and it is the processing of information that lies at the root of all physical, biological, economic, and social phenomena.”
    Vlatko Vedral – Professor of Physics at the University of Oxford, and CQT (Centre for Quantum Technologies) at the National University of Singapore, and a Fellow of Wolfson College – a recognized leader in the field of quantum mechanics.

    Years before Vedral stated that, renowned physicist John Wheeler stated “in short all matter and all things physical are information-theoretic in origin and this is a participatory universe”.

    “it from bit” Every “it”— every particle, every field of force, even the space-time continuum itself derives its function, its meaning, its very existence entirely—even if in some contexts indirectly—from the apparatus-elicited answers to yes-or-no questions, binary choices, bits. “It from bit” symbolizes the idea that every item of the physical world has a bottom—a very deep bottom, in most instances, an immaterial source and explanation, that which we call reality arises in the last analysis from the posing of yes-no questions and the registering of equipment—evoked responses, in short all matter and all things physical are information-theoretic in origin and this is a participatory universe.”
    – Princeton University physicist John Wheeler (1911–2008) (Wheeler, John A. (1990), “Information, physics, quantum: The search for links”, in W. Zurek, Complexity, Entropy, and the Physics of Information (Redwood City, California: Addison-Wesley)

    In the following article, Anton Zeilinger, who is also a leading expert in quantum mechanics, stated that ‘it may very well be said that information is the irreducible kernel from which everything else flows.’

    Why the Quantum? It from Bit? A Participatory Universe?
    Excerpt: In conclusion, it may very well be said that information is the irreducible kernel from which everything else flows. Thence the question why nature appears quantized is simply a consequence of the fact that information itself is quantized by necessity. It might even be fair to observe that the concept that information is fundamental is very old knowledge of humanity, witness for example the beginning of gospel according to John: “In the beginning was the Word.”
    Anton Zeilinger – a leading expert in quantum mechanics:
    http://www.metanexus.net/archi.....linger.pdf

    And in the following video at the 48:24 mark, Anton Zeilinger goes on to state that “It is operationally impossible to separate Reality and Information” and he then goes on to note, at the 49:45 mark, the Theological significance of John 1:1 “In the Beginning was the Word”

    48:24 mark: “It is operationally impossible to separate Reality and Information”
    49:45 mark: “In the Beginning was the Word” John 1:1
    Prof Anton Zeilinger speaks on quantum physics. at UCT – video
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=s3ZPWW5NOrw

    The easiest way to demonstrate this ‘non-material’, information theoretic, foundation of reality is with the double slit experiment.
    Richard Feynman stated this about the double slit experiment with electrons

    “We choose to examine a phenomenon, (the double slit experiment), which is impossible, absolutely impossible, to explain in any classical way, and which has in it the heart of quantum mechanics. In reality, it contains the only mystery.”
    – Richard Feynman –
    The Feynman Lectures on Physics, Volume I – Feynman • Leighton • Sands – Copyright © 1963, 2006, 2013 by California Institute of Technology, Chapter 37
    http://www.feynmanlectures.caltech.edu/I_37.html

    The double slit has now been performed with ‘objects’ much larger than electrons.

    Double-slit superposition for objects as large as protein molecules:
    Matter-wave physics with nanoparticles and biomolecules – March 2017
    Excerpt page 1: Double- and multi-slit diffraction experiments with massive matter have been realized with electrons [3], neutrons [4], atoms [5, 6] and their clusters [7], as well as small [8] and large molecules [9]. The combination of several diffraction elements into full matter-wave interferometers allowed accessing states of increasing macroscopicity: Nowadays, it is possible to delocalize individual atoms on the half-meter scale [10] and to demonstrate spatial superposition states from single electrons [11] up to organic molecules exceeding 10^4 amu [12]. All studies together already span a factor of 10^7 in mass and are still fully consistent with Schrodinger’s quantum mechanics, as developed 90 years ago [13].
    In our present lecture we report on explorations of quantum physics with strongly bound, warm objects of high internal complexity. We study matter-wave interference of organic nanomatter that may bind dozens or beyond a thousand atoms into one single quantum object [14, 15].,,,
    Excerpt page 13: Figure 7. The functionalized porphyrin TPPF20 (left) is the largest object for which matter-wave interference has been observed so far. It compares in complexity and mass with insulin (middle) or cytochrome C (right). The extension of TPPF20 can reach up to 50 A.
    https://arxiv.org/pdf/1703.02129.pdf

    The following Dr Quantum video is very good for highlighting some of the ‘weirdness’ seen in the double slit experiment.

    Dr Quantum – Double Slit Experiment
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DfPeprQ7oGc

    In this following video, Anton Zeilinger states that

    “The path taken by the photon is not an element of reality. We are not allowed to talk about the photon passing through this or this slit. Neither are we allowed to say the photon passes through both slits. All this kind of language is not applicable.”
    – Anton Zeilinger
    Quantum Mechanics – Double Slit Experiment. Is anything real? (Prof. Anton Zeilinger) – video
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ayvbKafw2g0

    And in this following video, Anton Zeilinger goes on to state that

    “We know what the particle is doing at the source when it is created. We know what it is doing at the detector when it is registered. But we do not know what it is doing in-between.”
    – Anton Zeilinger
    Prof Anton Zeilinger Shows the Double-slit Experiment – video
    http://www.dailymotion.com/vid.....iment_tech

    Yet contrary to Zeilinger’s claim that “We know what the particle is doing at the source when it is created. We know what it is doing at the detector when it is registered. But we do not know what it is doing in-between.”, the fact of the matter is that not only do we not know what the photon is doing in between in the double slit experiment as it is traveling we really don’t even know how photons are emitted and absorbed in the first place.
    This following wikipedia article on quantum electrodynamics states that ‘It is important not to over-interpret these diagrams. Nothing is implied about how a particle gets from one point to another. The diagrams do not imply that the particles are moving in straight or curved lines. They do not imply that the particles are moving with fixed speeds. The fact that the photon is often represented, by convention, by a wavy line and not a straight one does not imply that it is thought that it is more wavelike than is an electron. The images are just symbols to represent the actions above: photons and electrons do, somehow, move from point to point and electrons, somehow, emit and absorb photons. We do not know how these things happen, but the theory tells us about the probabilities of these things happening.’

    Quantum Electrodynamics
    The key components of Feynman’s presentation of QED are three basic actions.[1]:85
    *A photon goes from one place and time to another place and time.
    *An electron goes from one place and time to another place and time.
    *An electron emits or absorbs a photon at a certain place and time.
    These actions are represented in a form of visual shorthand by the three basic elements of Feynman diagrams: a wavy line for the photon, a straight line for the electron and a junction of two straight lines and a wavy one for a vertex representing emission or absorption of a photon by an electron. These can all be seen in the adjacent diagram.
    It is important not to over-interpret these diagrams. Nothing is implied about how a particle gets from one point to another. The diagrams do not imply that the particles are moving in straight or curved lines. They do not imply that the particles are moving with fixed speeds. The fact that the photon is often represented, by convention, by a wavy line and not a straight one does not imply that it is thought that it is more wavelike than is an electron. The images are just symbols to represent the actions above: photons and electrons do, somehow, move from point to point and electrons, somehow, emit and absorb photons. We do not know how these things happen, but the theory tells us about the probabilities of these things happening.
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Quantum_electrodynamics#Introduction

    And although, according to Anton Zeilinger, we cannot know exactly what the photon is doing in the double slit experiment between emission and absorption, we do know that while a photon is doing whatever it is doing in the double slit, that it takes an infinite amount of information to describe it properly.

    Explaining Information Transfer in Quantum Teleportation: Armond Duwell †‡ University of Pittsburgh
    Excerpt: In contrast to a classical bit, the description of a (quantum) qubit requires an infinite amount of information. The amount of information is infinite because two real numbers are required in the expansion of the state vector of a two state quantum system (Jozsa 1997, 1)
    http://www.cas.umt.edu/phil/fa.....lPSA2K.pdf

  19. 19
    bornagain77 says:

    Quantum Computing – Stanford Encyclopedia
    Excerpt: Theoretically, a single qubit can store an infinite amount of information, yet when measured (and thus collapsing the superposition of the Quantum Wave state) it yields only the classical result (0 or 1),,,
    http://plato.stanford.edu/entr.....tcomp/#2.1

    WHAT SCIENTIFIC IDEA IS READY FOR RETIREMENT? Infinity – Max Tegmark
    Excerpt: real numbers with their infinitely many decimals have infested almost every nook and cranny of physics, from the strengths of electromagnetic fields to the wave functions of quantum mechanics: we describe even a single bit of quantum information (a qubit) using two real numbers involving infinitely many decimals.
    https://www.edge.org/response-detail/25344

    Besides taking an infinite amount of information to describe properly, the ‘particle’ is also mathematically defined as being in an infinite dimensional state between emmision and absorption in the double slit,,,

    The Unreasonable Effectiveness of Mathematics in the Natural Sciences – Eugene Wigner – 1960
    Excerpt: We now have, in physics, two theories of great power and interest: the theory of quantum phenomena and the theory of relativity.,,, The two theories operate with different mathematical concepts: the four dimensional Riemann space and the infinite dimensional Hilbert space,
    http://www.dartmouth.edu/~matc.....igner.html

    Wave function
    Excerpt “wave functions form an abstract vector space”,,, This vector space is infinite-dimensional, because there is no finite set of functions which can be added together in various combinations to create every possible function.
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/W.....ctor_space

    Why do we need infinite-dimensional Hilbert spaces in physics?
    You need an infinite dimensional Hilbert space to represent a wavefunction of any continuous observable (like position for example).
    https://physics.stackexchange.com/questions/149786/why-do-we-need-infinite-dimensional-hilbert-spaces-in-physics

    Some people may say, ‘but hey, whatever the photon is doing in the double slit while it is traveling in its infinite dimensional/infinite information state, we at least know that it traveling at the speed of light. Yet, special relativity is just about as mysterious as a photon existing in an infinite dimensional/infinite information state.

    “The laws of relativity have changed timeless existence from a theological claim to a physical reality. Light, you see, is outside of time, a fact of nature proven in thousands of experiments at hundreds of universities. I don’t pretend to know how tomorrow can exist simultaneously with today and yesterday. But at the speed of light they actually and rigorously do. Time does not pass.”
    Dr. Richard Swenson – More Than Meets The Eye, Chpt. 11

    Quantum Mechanics, Special Relativity, General Relativity and Christianity – video
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=h4QDy1Soolo

    Moreover, Richard Feynman, in his role in developing Quantum-Electrodynamics, which is a mathematical theory in which special relativity and quantum mechanics are unified,

    Theories of the Universe: Quantum Mechanics vs. General Relativity
    Excerpt: The first attempt at unifying relativity and quantum mechanics took place when special relativity was merged with electromagnetism. This created the theory of quantum electrodynamics, or QED. It is an example of what has come to be known as relativistic quantum field theory, or just quantum field theory. QED is considered by most physicists to be the most precise theory of natural phenomena ever developed.
    http://www.infoplease.com/cig/.....ivity.html

    ,, Richard Feynman was only able to unify special relativity and quantum mechanics in quantum electrodynamics by quote unquote “brushing infinity under the rug” by a technique called Renormalization

    THE INFINITY PUZZLE: Quantum Field Theory and the Hunt for an Orderly Universe
    Excerpt: In quantum electrodynamics, which applies quantum mechanics to the electromagnetic field and its interactions with matter, the equations led to infinite results for the self-energy or mass of the electron. After nearly two decades of effort, this problem was solved after World War II by a procedure called renormalization, in which the infinities are rolled up into the electron’s observed mass and charge, and are thereafter conveniently ignored. Richard Feynman, who shared the 1965 Nobel Prize with Julian Schwinger and Sin-Itiro Tomonaga for this breakthrough, referred to this sleight of hand as “brushing infinity under the rug.”
    http://www.americanscientist.o.....g-infinity

    In the following video, Richard Feynman rightly expresses his unease with “brushing infinity under the rug” in Quantum-Electrodynamics:

    “It always bothers me that in spite of all this local business, what goes on in a tiny, no matter how tiny, region of space, and no matter how tiny a region of time, according to laws as we understand them today, it takes a computing machine an infinite number of logical operations to figure out. Now how can all that be going on in that tiny space? Why should it take an infinite amount of logic to figure out what one stinky tiny bit of space-time is going to do?”
    – Richard Feynman – one of the founding fathers of QED (Quantum Electrodynamics)
    Quote taken from the 6:45 minute mark of the following video:
    Feynman: Mathematicians versus Physicists – video
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=obCjODeoLVw

  20. 20
    bornagain77 says:

    I don’t know about Richard Feynman, but as for myself, being a Christian Theist, I find it rather comforting to know that it takes an ‘infinite amount of logic to figure out what one stinky tiny bit of space-time is going to do’. The reason why I find it rather comforting is because of John 1:1, which says “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.” ‘The Word’ in John 1:1 is translated from ‘Logos’ in Greek. Logos also happens to be the root word from which we derive our modern word logic.

    “Why should it take an infinite amount of logic to figure out what one stinky tiny bit of space-time is going to do?”
    – Richard Feynman

    John1:1
    “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.”

    of note: ‘the Word’ in John 1:1 is translated from ‘Logos’ in Greek. Logos is also the root word from which we derive our modern word logic
    http://etymonline.com/?term=logic

    So that it would take an infinite amount of logic to know what tiny bit of spacetime is going to do is pretty much exactly what one should expect to see under Christian presuppositions.
    In fact, as a Christian Theist, I find both the double slit and quantum electrodynamics to be extremely comforting for Christian concerns. In the double slit experiment we found that while a photon and/or electron is traveling in the double slit experiment it is mathematically required to be defined as being in an infinite dimensional space. And we also found that the photon and/or electron is also mathematically required to be described by an infinite amount of information.

    Now, saying something is in an infinite dimensional state to me, as a Christian Theist, sounds very much like the theistic attribute of omnipresence.

    Jeremiah 23:23-24
    “Am I only a God nearby,” declares the LORD, “and not a God far away?” “Can a man hide in secret places where I cannot see him?” declares the LORD. “Do I not fill the heavens and earth?” declares the LORD.…

    And then saying something takes an infinite amount of information to describe it sounds very much like the Theistic attribute of Omniscience to me.

    Psalm 139:4-6
    Even before a word is on my tongue,
    behold, O Lord, you know it altogether.
    You hem me in, behind and before,
    and lay your hand upon me.
    Such knowledge is too wonderful for me;
    it is high; I cannot attain it.

    Psalm 147:5
    Great is our Lord, and mighty in power; his understanding is infinite

    And then we also saw that when Quantum Mechanics and Special Relativity were unified in quantum-electrodynamics that it still took an infinite amount of logic to figure out what one stinky tiny bit of space-time is going to do.

    Now all this is pretty much exactly what we would expect to see under Christian presuppositions. But, on the other hand, under Atheistic materialism and/or naturalism, and the presuppositions therein, there simply is no rational explanation for why we should find these things to be as they are.

    Moreover, the basics of quantum wave collapse dovetail perfectly into some of the oldest philosophical arguments that were made by Aristotle and Aquinas for the existence of God, and even offers empirical confirmation for those ancient philosophical arguments. Michael Egnor states that ‘Aristotle 2,300 years ago described the basics of collapse of the quantum waveform (reduction of potency to act),,,’

    Stephen Hawking: “Philosophy Is Dead” – Michael Egnor – August 3, 2015
    Excerpt: The metaphysics of Aristotle and Aquinas is far and away the most successful framework on which to understand modern science, especially quantum mechanics. Heisenberg knew this (Link on site). Aristotle 2,300 years ago described the basics of collapse of the quantum waveform (reduction of potency to act),,,
    http://www.evolutionnews.org/2.....98261.html

    What Is Matter? The Aristotelian Perspective – Michael Egnor – July 21, 2017
    Excerpt: Heisenberg, almost alone among the great physicists of the quantum revolution, understood that the Aristotelian concept of potency and act was beautifully confirmed by quantum theory and evidence.,,,
    Heisenberg wrote:
    ,,,The probability wave of Bohr, Kramers, Slater… was a quantitative version of the old concept of “potentia” in Aristotelian philosophy. It introduced something standing in the middle between the idea of an event and the actual event, a strange kind of physical reality just in the middle between possibility and reality…The probability function combines objective and subjective elements,,,
    Thus, the existence of potential quantum states described by Schrodinger’s equation (which is a probability function) are the potency (the “matter”) of the system, and the collapse of the quantum waveform is the reduction of potency to act. To an Aristotelian (like Heisenberg), quantum mechanics isn’t strange at all.
    https://evolutionnews.org/2017/07/what-is-matter-the-aristotelian-perspective/

    Here is a technical explanation and video of Aquinas’ First way argument for God where you can, at your leisure, see just how well the argument from motion dovetails into what we are seeing in quantum mechanics

    Aquinas’ First Way
    1) Change in nature is elevation of potency to act.
    2) Potency cannot actualize itself, because it does not exist actually.
    3) Potency must be actualized by another, which is itself in act.
    4) Essentially ordered series of causes (elevations of potency to act) exist in nature.
    5) An essentially ordered series of elevations from potency to act cannot be in infinite regress, because the series must be actualized by something that is itself in act without the need for elevation from potency.
    6) The ground of an essentially ordered series of elevations from potency to act must be pure act with respect to the casual series.
    7) This Pure Act– Prime Mover– is what we call God.
    http://egnorance.blogspot.com/.....t-way.html

    Aquinas’ First Way – (The First Mover – Unmoved Mover) – video
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Qmpw0_w27As

    Or to put Aquinas’ argument much more simply “The ‘First Mover’ is necessary for change occurring at each moment.”:

    “The ‘First Mover’ is necessary for change occurring at each moment.”
    Michael Egnor – Aquinas’ First Way
    http://www.evolutionnews.org/2.....first.html

    Thus quantum mechanics, as ‘weird’ as it has turned out to be, was actually anticipated by some of the greatest philosophers of ancient times

    Verse:

    Acts 17:28
    for “‘In him we live and move and have our being’; as even some of your own poets have said, “‘For we are indeed his offspring.’

  21. 21

    Gordon Davisson said:

    This is just plain wrong. QM certainly has weird implications about the nature of reality, but the nonexistence of matter certainly isn’t one of them.

    “[T]he atoms or elementary particles themselves are not real; they form a world of potentialities or possibilities rather than one of things or facts.” – Werner Heisenberg

    Before I go further, do you consider nonmaterial-but-physical things like the gravitational and electromagnetic fields to be exceptions to materialism?

    Not sure what you mean here, since I don’t believe a material world exists, per se, outside of my perception of it.

    So even there QM doesn’t really support the claim you’re making.

    I’m aware of the many attempts by materialists to attempt to construct models that explain away the quantum evidence in some fashion that comports with their religion. Their desperation to salvage what QM theorists refer to as “local reality” have met with a bitter end (such as the de Broglie-Bohm pilot wave interpretation).

    Local realsim, which is the fundamental, necessary lynchpin of materialism and the root concept of “matter” (first idealized as the “atom” as the smallest, indivisible thing, I believe), has been incontrovertibly disproved.

    That subatomic states can only be described in terms of probability distributions (an not because we don’t know where they; but rather, because the do not actually exist at any particular location until we measure them) tells us unequivocally that there is no material world independent of our perception of it.

    It’s hardly a shock that materialists are attempting to find some way to explain the evidence to comport with their religion.

    I see you have not attempted to meet my challenge, presented in the OP. Can you tell me what matter is and how it interacts with other matter, without referring to the behavioral patterns as if that description explains those patterns?

  22. 22

    BA77 everywhere: Love the knowledge. Thanks for sharing!

  23. 23
    Barry Arrington says:

    KF @ 16.

    Just so.

    I do not deny the existence of particles. I do not deny that they have an existence independent of my perception of them. I affirm both of those things.

    The point is that “matter” is an extremely vague and ambiguous word. And far from demonstrating the unreality of the “immaterial,” even science teaches us that “immaterial” is a valid ontological category.

  24. 24
    Axel says:

    WJM @ your #21 :

    ‘It’s hardly a shock that materialists are attempting to find some way to explain the evidence to comport with their religion.’

    It’s a curious thought, isn’t it, that though many materialists presumably would be making their living lecturing on QM, we would still be living in the age of classical mechanistic and reductionist physics, if we had had to rely on them to discover it… since their theoretical physicists would have instinctively rejected the very notion of paradoxes standing in the way of their reductionist, mechanistic pursuit of total knowledge of everything. Copy-cats and parasites, forever doomed to playing ‘catch-up’.

    The sovereign irony is that they would have dismissed the paradoxes of QM as oxymorons ; while today we have the likes of Dawkins positing particularly crass oxymorons of their own fevered magination, as inherently imponderable paradoxes, and ‘established science’ (unintelligent, serendipitous design of the universe and its ‘fine tuning’, selfish genes, and a blind and evidently omniscient and omnipotent watchmaking analogue – which must not be called God, or personalised in any way).

  25. 25
    jdk says:

    I am late to the party here (been on vacation), but I find this OP a little odd. Rather than “throwing down the gauntlet”, it seems to me that WJM has just erected a great big straw man.

    He writes,

    Materialists are clinging to a pre-Victorian perspective of what it is we are perceiving, long since discarded after over a hundred years of experimental results.

    Anyone who knows anything about modern physics during the last 100 years knows that at the most fundamental level, the world is not made of anything that could be considered “matter” in the sense of solid particles of some kind subject to forces in the old Newtonian sense.

    I don’t think any real philosophical materialist, or anyone else, is naively “clinging to” this pre-Victorian perspective. I’m sure a modern materialist position takes the quantum nature of reality into account.

    However, I think WJM mischaracterizes the nature of what we call matter in ordinary conversation. When I throw a rock through a glass window, the glass shatters: even though the underlying reality behind all this is quantum, our experience, and the experience of the rock and the window, is that quantum particles cohere and act as a unit in ways that react with macro-consequences with other conglomerations of quantum particles.

    To say that matter, in the sense of the rock and the window, are just “perceptual interpretations” is, I think, a case of extreme reductionism: reducing the phenomena to its most basic quantum constituents, which is a valid way of looking at the situation, doesn’t invalidate the existence of higher levels of understanding about the existence and behavior of entities formed from those constituent parts.

    So, yes, it is true that at the most basic level, matter is immaterial in respect to old conceptions of matter. However, that doesn’t invalidate materialism in the modern sense, which holds that the physical world as understood all the way down to the quantum level is all there is: that it is unitary, not dualistically accompanied by something other than quantum reality.

    To be clear, I am not defending materialism in this sense, and I’m agnostic about materialist. But I think if WJM, or anyone else, wants to argue against materialism, pointing to a 100 year old, out-dated model of matter is not an effective argument at all.

  26. 26
    kairosfocus says:

    JDK, cf. 17 above and BA in 23 above, also WJM at 21 above. You may also find something in BA77 at 18 ff. KF

  27. 27
    kairosfocus says:

    PS: Let me clip BA77’s lede in 18: Dr. Vlatko Vedral, who is a Professor of Physics at the University of Oxford, and who is a recognized leader in the field of quantum mechanics, states, “The most fundamental definition of reality is not matter or energy, but information–and it is the processing of information that lies at the root of all physical, biological, economic, and social phenomena.

  28. 28
    jdk says:

    We all agree that the 100 year old model of “matter” as somehow “solid” is outdated, and that we accept the quantum model of reality. Bu, still there is much that is unsettled about what exactly that model means about the nature of reality. Also, there is no question that to human beings, objects that we experience as solid matter exist.

    But none of this leads to the necessary and settled conclusion that that quantum world is not all there is, and that some dualistic world that includes something other than quantum reality exists. The modern materialist accepts quantum reality, but claims that that quantum reality is exhaustive in terms of accounting for all that is.

    I’m not arguing that this is true or not. I am saying that WJM’s “gauntlet” in the OP misses the point in tying the notion of materialism to an outdated physics that no one believes is true any more.

  29. 29
    jdk says:

    Good summary post by Gordon Davisson at 14: corresponds well with the book “Reality” that I read recently (and learned about here at UD.)

  30. 30
    Silver Asiatic says:

    jdk

    the physical world as understood all the way down to the quantum level is all there is: that it is unitary, not dualistically accompanied by something other than quantum reality.

    Agreed. I do not see that materialists are attached to a certain concept of ‘matter’ but rather of empiricism. All that exists is whatever we can observe, measure, perceive through senses.

    To say that ‘matter does not exist’ provides no problem for materialism. It’s just another terminology for monism.

    If there is no matter, there can be nothing that is immaterial (‘non-material/non-matter’). That’s basically the same thing. The rock and the glass are the same thing as thoughts, design, dreams, intelligence, consciousness, mystical experience, imagination, the soul.

    Materialism does not rise or fall on whether matter exists or not. The only point that materialism is trying to make is that there is no God or gods, no angels, no soul, no afterlife, no miracles.

    However to then say ‘matter does not exist, therefore whatever you imagine is just as real, just as physical as the rock smashing the window …’ That is the foundation for insanity. It would put an end to science. If there is no matter, then a hallucination (a perception) is just as real, valid and relevant as any other perception.

  31. 31
    jdk says:

    SA: I agree with your first two paragraphs.

    However, you write,

    The only point that materialism is trying to make is that there is no God or gods, no angels, no soul, no afterlife, no miracles.

    No, those conclusions (no God, etc.) are consequences of a belief in materialism, but they are not the only, or even the central, point that materialism is making. Materialism is making an affirmative statement about the nature of reality which carries the corallary that there isn’t a second kind of component of reality.

    Also, it is certainly not the case that materialism implies that “a hallucination (a perception) is just as real, valid and relevant as any other perception”. Our experience of matter at the human level is about reality, even if quantum phenomena underlie that experience.

  32. 32
    kairosfocus says:

    That nearly invisible thread back to physicalism, again — ending in self-referential incoherence undermining the mind being used.

  33. 33
    jdk says:

    Not the topic of the thread: see the last paragraph of 28.

  34. 34
    Silver Asiatic says:

    jdk

    No, those conclusions (no God, etc.) are consequences of a belief in materialism, but they are not the only, or even the central, point that materialism is making. Materialism is making an affirmative statement about the nature of reality which carries the corallary that there isn’t a second kind of component of reality.

    My comment was an attempt to redefine materialism in a new reality that could affirm that “matter does not exist”. I’m not sure where you stand on that. If you also affirm, that matter does not exist – then you’d need to redefine what materialism actually is. In my view, materialism is adaptable to a belief that “there is no matter”, even though technically materialism should be refuted on that point.

    So, that’s the challenge for you – what is materialism if matter does not exist?

    I believe that when we say “matter does not exist”, it means that there is no “physical reality reducible to particles”.

    In my understanding, the new materialism would simply believe that reality is “only what we can observe”. But why is “whatever we observe” the measure of reality? This is especially a problem because we can observe our own thoughts – why are these not reality?

    Also, it is certainly not the case that materialism implies that “a hallucination (a perception) is just as real, valid and relevant as any other perception”. Our experience of matter at the human level is about reality, even if quantum phenomena underlie that experience.

    You mention “our experience of matter” – but I’m assuming that you accept that “matter does not exist” (correct me if you believe otherwise). If matter does not exist, then “our experience of matter” is illusory. We experience something that we call “reality”, but whatever reality is, it is not reducible to a physical substance, something tangible, or material.

    Why would it be reasonable to conclude that there are no immaterial essences?

  35. 35
    jdk says:

    Thanks for the thoughtful and civil replies, here and in the Chromatin thread, SA

    You write,

    My comment was an attempt to redefine materialism in a new reality that could affirm that “matter does not exist”. I’m not sure where you stand on that. If you also affirm, that matter does not exist – then you’d need to redefine what materialism actually is. … So, that’s the challenge for you – what is materialism if matter does not exist?

    I think I addressed these questions in 25, but I’ll revisit my thoughts:

    1. I accept the modern quantum description of reality, where the most basic constituents of physical reality (quarks, photons, electromagnetic fields) are certainly not solid particles at all, although exactly what they are is open to interpretation. But whatever they are, they exist in some ways and at some times in indeterminate and probabilistic states. They are immaterial, in the sense of not being solid “matter” in the old sense, but they are also what the physical world is built up out of.

    2. However it is unacceptable reductionism, in my opinion, to say that explaining things in terms of those basic quantum phenomena is the only acceptable level of description. At the level at which we experience things (and not just as perceptions) solid entities exist in a determinate state that interact in a classical sense with similar entities. In this sense, at a higher level of description, matter exists: the rock breaks the window. Matter is made of constituent parts that aren’t matter, but that is not reason to say that matter is merely a perception.

    In other words, matter exists, in the classical sense of solid bodies which interact with other solid bodies according to classical physics and according to the nature of our experience, but we have learned that matter in this sense does not extend to the fundamental basic level of our physical world, as we now understand it . At the fundamental level reality is a different type of phenomena.

    As I said in 25 above,

    Reducing the phenomena to its most basic quantum constituents, which is a valid way of looking at the situation, doesn’t invalidate the existence of higher levels of understanding about the existence and behavior of entities formed from those constituent parts.

    So, yes, it is true that at the most basic level, matter is immaterial in respect to old conceptions of matter. However, that doesn’t invalidate materialism in the modern sense, which holds that the physical world as understood all the way down to the quantum level is all there is: that it is unitary, not dualistically accompanied by something other than quantum reality.

    You write,

    I believe that when we say “matter does not exist”, it means that there is no “physical reality reducible to particles”.

    I agree with that, and have said something similar above

    You write,

    In my understanding, the new materialism would simply believe that reality is “only what we can observe”.

    I don’t think that is a very accurate description of modern materialism. I offered above the statement that modern materialism

    holds that the physical world as understood all the way down to the quantum level is all there is: that it is unitary, not dualistically accompanied by something other than quantum reality.

    The whole question of whether we can actually observe this quantum reality, and in what sense, is one of the philosophical puzzles of quantum theory. The materialist believes that our knowledge of the physical world must be based on empirical evidence, but that is different than saying that reality is only what we can directly observe.

    You write,

    But why is “whatever we observe” the measure of reality? This is especially a problem because we can observe our own thoughts – why are these not reality?

    The issue of consciousness is one of the reasons why I am not a materialist. Consciousness may be a phenomena that arises from quantum reality, as the materialist would claim, but it may not be, and there is certainly no solid ideas about how that could be.

    You write,

    You mention “our experience of matter” – but I’m assuming that you accept that “matter does not exist” (correct me if you believe otherwise). If matter does not exist, then “our experience of matter” is illusory. We experience something that we call “reality”, but whatever reality is, it is not reducible to a physical substance, something tangible, or material.

    I have explained that I believe that matter exists, but it arises from a quantum reality that is not made of matter, in the classical sense. But the rock, and the window are not illusions.

    However, I agree with the last sentence in the quote above.

    You write,

    Why would it be reasonable to conclude that there are no immaterial essences?

    I’m not sure who has concluded that. In the sense that we have been discussing, quantum reality is immaterial: it is not matter. However, that is not to say that it is somehow not part of the unified fabric of physical reality.

    The question is, as I said in my comment on the Chromatin thread, one of monism vs dualism. For instance, consciousness may be an “immaterial essence” which is not reducible to quantum reality, but that exists as a separate type of thing that interacts and commingles with the quantum reality of the physical world. That would be a dualistic belief: both photons and consciousness could accurately be called immaterial, but be very different types of things.

    For this reason, I think that the material/immaterial distinction is not the best one for differentiating the modern materialist, the monist, from the dualist who believes that something other than quantum reality is also part of the world as we know and experience it.

  36. 36

    SA said:

    To say that ‘matter does not exist’ provides no problem for materialism.

    The problem for materialism with the idea of “monism” in the post-matter world is its relationship to the term “substance”. If, as it appears, we exist in a state where primary consciousness is interpreting (collapsing) informational states (information potential is not a “substance”) into experiences, then there is no fundamental difference between a dream, a hallucination, and what one experiences as “consensual reality.” At the root level, they would all be the mind (primary consciousness) interpreting information.

    Unfortunately for both materialists and most non-materialists, this makes an imagined unicorn as real as a brick wall. Saying that one is a consensual experience that others can touch and see doesn’t make the brick wall any more real than the imagined unicorn; it only makes it a different kind of real experience.

    If actual reality = primary mind interpreting information into experience, then all experiences are actually real in precisely the same fundamental way. Because one is experienced as more consensual and consistent than the other has no more existential value than saying one is brown and the other red.

    The “substance” (matter) lynchpin for most concepts of what experience is rooted in was destroyed with the incontrovertible disproving of local reality and 100 years of quantum theory experimentation, which is why the cutting edge of physics is now about information, hologram and simulation theory.

    Now, do most of us live our lives as if our consensual experience is more important than non-consensual experience? I’m not making a case for how one should prioritize the kinds of experiences they have; I’m pointing out that calling one kind of experience “real” and another “not real” existentially is rooted in a disproved ideology – materialism, even if one is not a materialist. There are no non-real experiences, because experience = reality.

    How one prioritizes their experiences is up to them. Also, I think it’s pretty difficult to even understand what that means for most people, because they are so used to framing everything from a materialist perspective – even non-materialists.

  37. 37
    Silver Asiatic says:

    jdk @ 35
    Thanks for a detailed reply. Yes, you did state your views previously and I appreciate the repetition and elaboration on them.

    The issue of consciousness is one of the reasons why I am not a materialist.

    I think I understood your views, but at the same time I don’t think anybody can easily fit ideas from quantum reality into categories. You are not a materialist as that term is defined in one way, and perhaps you would be considered a materialist in another way (“modern materialist” as you say).

    For this reason, I think that the material/immaterial distinction is not the best one for differentiating the modern materialist, the monist, from the dualist who believes that something other than quantum reality is also part of the world as we know and experience it.

    In this way, “quantum reality” becomes the new term for “matter and energy” – it’s “all there is” for the neo-materialist. I think it will become increasingly more difficult to categorize people, as a result.

    ID, traditionally, has been focused on “materialism” in the now-antiquated sense of that term. But it’s a word used as shorthand, the way we use “Darwinism”. But I think it will be a challenge for ID to seek to prove the existence of immaterial entities when it can be said that quantum realities are immaterial.

    My gut feeling is that the shift from Newtonian matter to quantum realities merely gives neo-materialism a way to escape into an ill-defined world which is governed and ‘created’ by the same blind, unintelligent forces that created the Newtonian world.

    With that, the old materialism is not refuted – it is just seen as irrelevant.

    Perhaps eventually it all turns inward – quantum realities are something we experience and we see consistency and predictability. As you said, a rock still breaks a window. But the focus turns to the individual’s perception of reality and not what is ‘out there’ as much. This becomes the challenge of affirming that our perceptions are real-enough to draw truthful conclusions about what we observe. The ID project remains the same nonetheless. We observe what appears to have been Designed and intelligence is the only known source of such things.

  38. 38
    Silver Asiatic says:

    WJM

    Unfortunately for both materialists and most non-materialists, this makes an imagined unicorn as real as a brick wall.

    Yes, that is the consequence of the idea that matter does not exist.

    I’m pointing out that calling one kind of experience “real” and another “not real” existentially is rooted in a disproved ideology – materialism, even if one is not a materialist. There are no non-real experiences, because experience = reality.

    You mentioned how we prioritize experiences and whether a consensus experience has some additional value over, for example, a dream or hallucination. But that does not seem significant. We can try to arrive at consensus about what one can perceive or not, but in the end there is no argument to defeat a subjective view of reality.

    “I see a unicorn over there.” The unicorn exists – it is reality. There is no way to refute that. “I dreamed that a chimp became a human”. Well, then evolution is correct after all – because the evolutionary claim occured “in reality” in that person’s dream.

    This is basically insanity and puts the end to rational discourse, as I see it.

  39. 39

    SA said:

    We can try to arrive at consensus about what one can perceive or not, but in the end there is no argument to defeat a subjective view of reality.

    Without some form of independent matter (substance), “subjective” and “objective” as qualities of experience become absurd characterizations.

    This is basically insanity and puts the end to rational discourse, as I see it.

    From a materialist perspective, I can see your point, but the problem with that view is that “rationality” is not a material quality to begin with. It is a quality of consciousness. It doesn’t require commitment to materialist perspectives for validity (even when they wear the cloth of spirituality or religion).

    Let’s remember, it is matter that has been shown not to exist – not consciousness, experience or information. Even if you and I have very different experiences, and prioritize them differently, that doesn’t mean there aren’t principles that apply to consciousness and information, and how they are interpreted and experienced, that cannot serve as the foundation for rational discourse.

    The nature of the discourse simply moves away from being a competition of “which experiences are real”, to something more along the lines of what those experiences mean to that individual, how they are prioritizing and using them and for whatever purpose, etc.

    Not every rational discourse has to be a competition for, or a defense of, one’s personal concept of what is real and what is not. They can also begin with accepting someone’s perspective arguendo, then exploring that perspective rationally.

  40. 40
    john_a_designer says:

    jdk @ 31 wrote,

    it is certainly not the case that materialism implies that “a hallucination (a perception) is just as real, valid and relevant as any other perception”. Our experience of matter at the human level is about reality, even if quantum phenomena underlie that experience.

    Some well-educated atheists believe mind and consciousness are an illusion. That apparently is what Daniel Dennett thinks. In his book review of Dennett’s book, From Bacteria to Bach and Back: The Evolution of Minds, Thomas Nagel describes Dennett’s view as follows:

    Dennett holds a distinctive and openly paradoxical position. Our manifest image of the world and ourselves includes as a prominent part not only the physical body and central nervous system but our own consciousness with its elaborate features—sensory, emotional, and cognitive—as well as the consciousness of other humans and many nonhuman species. In keeping with his general view of the manifest image, Dennett holds that consciousness is not part of reality in the way the brain is. Rather, it is a particularly salient and convincing user-illusion, an illusion that is indispensable in our dealings with one another and in monitoring and managing ourselves, but an illusion nonetheless.

    You may well ask how consciousness can be an illusion, since every illusion is itself a conscious experience—an appearance that doesn’t correspond to reality. So it cannot appear to me that I am conscious though I am not: as Descartes famously observed, the reality of my own consciousness is the one thing I cannot be deluded about. The way Dennett avoids this apparent contradiction takes us to the heart of his position, which is to deny the authority of the first-person perspective with regard to consciousness and the mind generally.

    http://www.nybooks.com/article.....evolution/

    In other words, if Daniel Dennett’s self-conscious experience (I assume he includes himself) is just an illusion, how does he know that? Without proof I find such a view is not only irrational but totally absurd. To paraphrase Descartes, I am conscious, therefore, I exist. That is self-evident and therefore indubitable. Only a fool would believe otherwise.

  41. 41
    jdk says:

    Hi JAD. Just for the record, nothing I have written in this thread is in support of Dennett’s position. The remark you quoted of mine was in response to a point by SA, which was

    However to then say ‘matter does not exist, therefore whatever you imagine is just as real, just as physical as the rock smashing the window …’ That is the foundation for insanity. It would put an end to science. If there is no matter, then a hallucination (a perception) is just as real, valid and relevant as any other perception./

    I don’t know whether you read the rest of the thread, especially 35 on my part, but I don’t think Dennett is very relevant to it.

  42. 42
    jdk says:

    Oops: 41 is formatted wrong. The last sentence is just my last comment, not a quote.

  43. 43
    Silver Asiatic says:

    WJM @ 39

    From a materialist perspective, I can see your point, but the problem with that view is that “rationality” is not a material quality to begin with. It is a quality of consciousness. It doesn’t require commitment to materialist perspectives for validity (even when they wear the cloth of spirituality or religion).

    Yes, there is no requirement for a materialist perspective (in the older meaning of that word “material reality is all that exists”), but I think rationality requires that there is an independent, objectively-accessible reality for human beings to reference. If all experiences are equally “real” simply because they are experienced, then rational discourse (argumentation, disagreements, etc) is not possible. No statement about “reality” could be refuted. In order to refute anything, one would need to have access to the inner state of the person making the statement.

    Rationality is based on the foundation that Truth is different from Falsehood and that we can know that objectively.

    Even if you and I have very different experiences, and prioritize them differently, that doesn’t mean there aren’t principles that apply to consciousness and information, and how they are interpreted and experienced, that cannot serve as the foundation for rational discourse.

    What principles would apply that would serve as a foundation? Normally, we say that a contradiction of statements is irrational, or that there is a difference between an imagination and a “real entity”. But this would no longer apply. If I imagine myself being the President of the United States, then “in reality” that is what I am while imagining this. To then say “I experienced the role of President” would be a “true” statement. Nobody could refute it.

    The nature of the discourse simply moves away from being a competition of “which experiences are real”, to something more along the lines of what those experiences mean to that individual, how they are prioritizing and using them and for whatever purpose, etc.

    I fully agree that this is what would need to change. There would be no external references to ground any statements. Discussion would merely be expressions of inaccessible, internal states or experiences. These may be similar to what another person thinks, or radically different (or contradictory).

    Not every rational discourse has to be a competition for, or a defense of, one’s personal concept of what is real and what is not. They can also begin with accepting someone’s perspective arguendo, then exploring that perspective rationally.

    I think every rational discourse has to be grounded in the idea that a proposition is true because it conforms to an external reality. This is the classic understanding of rationality, where we obtain true knowledge of things and the world through information that we obtain through our senses. I hear someone say a word – it “really” happened. I imagined a word – and this has a different truth-value.

    Again, I don’t think it’s possible to understand what another person is saying if internal-thoughts and imaginations have the same reality as what we traditionally call “material reality”.

    How would it work, for example, in a court trial, when witnesses give testimony to what actually occurred? Could an imaginary scenario be entered as testimonial evidence?

  44. 44
    jdk says:

    Good post at 43, SA. I really don’t understand WJM’s point.

  45. 45

    SA said:

    If all experiences are equally “real” simply because they are experienced, then rational discourse (argumentation, disagreements, etc) is not possible.

    I have to disagree because I’ve had many rational discussions with many people predicated on the assumption that all experiences are equally real.

    No statement about “reality” could be refuted. In order to refute anything, one would need to have access to the inner state of the person making the statement.

    You seem to be under the impression that all rational discourse requires argumentation and refutation. That is not the case.

    Rationality is based on the foundation that Truth is different from Falsehood and that we can know that objectively.

    I don’t see how this statement has anything to do with the conversation we are having. We can discern the difference between logically valid and non-valid conclusions regardless of the axiomatic assumptions, whether or not the assumptions involve any consensual external experience. Such discernment can be discerned using imagined, hypothetical scenarios.  Rational discourse about such things is certainly possible.

    What principles would apply that would serve as a foundation? Normally, we say that a contradiction of statements is irrational, or that there is a difference between an imagination and a “real entity”. But this would no longer apply.

    The same principles that guide any rational discourse – the principles of logic. Math works just fine regardless of whether one uses consensually-experienced apples or personally imagined apples. Not really sure why you are demanding that such principles require an agreement about an external reality when some of the greatest breakthroughs were made as thought experiments years before consensual experimentation could occur.

    There would be no external references to ground any statements. Discussion would merely be expressions of inaccessible, internal states or experiences. These may be similar to what another person thinks, or radically different (or contradictory).

    Consensual experiences could certainly serve as one basis for rational discussion. One needn’t insist that a consensual experiences represent something “more real” than imagined experiences in order to rationally discuss them. You seem to be assuming that “because all experiences are existentially real” means we should treat all experiences as if they apply in every other experiential context.  You are also, I think, confusing “behaves like what we call a material object” with “real”.  You also seem to be assuming that people who accept the reality of all experience cannot (or should not) discern non-consensual experience modes from consensual experience modes.  Intuition and insight are non-consensual modes of experience that are often brought into consensual-mode processes and work with great success.  Have you ever heard about how Tesla came up with a lot of his inventions and ideas?

    I think every rational discourse has to be grounded in the idea that a proposition is true because it conforms to an external reality. This is the classic understanding of rationality,

    Care to try and support that view? Do you have any kind of reference that this is the classic understanding of rationality?

    …where we obtain true knowledge of things and the world through information that we obtain through our senses.

    The problem with this view of “rationality” is that literally none of the meaningful aspects of it occur anywhere except in our conscious mental experience. “The external world” is an idea of our existential framework in the mind.  All supposed “sensory information” is utterly useless until it is processed, interpreted and organized into an experience, which is then evaluated according to abstract rules and models in the mind.  To say that rational discourse has anything at all to do with any objective, exterior world is itself a product of the mind and experience and has absolutely nothing to do with any supposed qualities innate to the theoretical exterior world. So, to say that rationality depends on a connection to an exterior, objective reality is entirely unwarranted.

    It’s one thing to say that many or most successful cooperative experiences depend upon a large, consensual sets of experience; it is entirely and patently absurd to discount non-consensual experiential modes as not having anything to contribute to successful, rational discourse and cooperation.

  46. 46
    Silver Asiatic says:

    WJM

    I have to disagree because I’ve had many rational discussions with many people predicated on the assumption that all experiences are equally real.

    I just imagined you being mistaken about all of this. Therefore, using a subjective experiential basis – you were, in reality, mistaken. Thus, what you just said is false. You cannot logically disagree with this and must accept that you were, indeed, mistaken and your point has been refuted.

    Here’s the logic.

    1. All conscious experiences and therefore thoughts are equally real.
    2. I have a conscious experiential thought that you are mistaken.
    3. Following from #1, my thought is equally real as any.
    4. Therefore, you are, in reality, mistaken and proven false.

    You seem to be under the impression that all rational discourse requires argumentation and refutation. That is not the case.

    You are seeking to argue with me in this discussion. In my view, all rational discourse is an exercise in understanding the truth about things – and separating truth from falsehood, the reasonable from irrational, the real from the unreal. Argumentation, comparison, contrast, logic – these are all the foundations of rational discourse. You and I are doing it now. When you attempt to demonstrate a truth to anyone – that is argumentation. A response can be to question or deny your statements – thus requiring you to argue more.

    We can discern the difference between logically valid and non-valid conclusions regardless of the axiomatic assumptions, whether or not the assumptions involve any consensual external experience. Such discernment can be discerned using imagined, hypothetical scenarios.

    Again, I disagree. There are several axioms that make it impossible to discover a valid or non-valid conclusion.
    I am suggesting that the axiom:
    “All conscious experiences are equally real” is one such.

    Math works just fine regardless of whether one uses consensually-experienced apples or personally imagined apples.

    I can imagine apples that cannot be reduced to mathematical formulae. It seems that you are assuming that my imaginary apples must be the same as consensually-experienced apples.

    Consensual experiences could certainly serve as one basis for rational discussion.

    I believe that basis would be logically false since you would be assigning a greater truth-value to consensus-experience than to non-consensus or minority views. That contradicts your first premise that all experiences, consensual or not, are equally real.

    One needn’t insist that a consensual experiences represent something “more real” than imagined experiences in order to rationally discuss them.

    Could you give an example?

    You seem to be assuming that “because all experiences are existentially real” means we should treat all experiences as if they apply in every other experiential context. You are also, I think, confusing “behaves like what we call a material object” with “real”.

    No, I didn’t say or assume that. I just drew a distinction with what is imagined from what we typically regard as real. I believe there is a difference between a real, material apple that can be experienced through human senses (and in a shared experience) and an imagined apple.

    You also seem to be assuming that people who accept the reality of all experience cannot (or should not) discern non-consensual experience modes from consensual experience modes.

    Well, I am arguing that the assignment of greater truth value to consensus modes over non-consensus is contradictory in that view. It indicates that we would need to weigh the popularity of an experience in order to discuss it.

    Intuition and insight are non-consensual modes of experience that are often brought into consensual-mode processes and work with great success.

    Yes, but why would this matter? All experiences have equal value so whether consensus or not, all have equal reality and value within a process.

    Care to try and support that view?

    Well, you’re doing exactly what I said – you are seeking an externally accessible reference for my statement. I could, in your view, merely state that I have already supported and proven my point. All that is required is for me to imagine that what I said is supported by a wealth of documented information – and thus I have proven my point. But because you are demanding some other sort of “real” confirmation of my statement, in other words, you won’t accept my imagined experience as enough evidence, I think this shows why a rational statement must be supported by an external reference.

    Do you have any kind of reference that this is the classic understanding of rationality?

    As above, you are looking for a “reference”. I make a truth statement expressed from my conscious experience. But you do not accept it as “real”. Instead, you seek an external reference to validate my thought.

    But to answer your question, when I speak of “the classic understanding” I refer to the philosophical realism of the West that was the foundation of rational thought roughly speaking from the teaching of Aristotle through Decartes.

    “Nihil est in intellectu quod non sit prius in sensu” – you can google or translate adding Aquinas or Aristotle to the search terms.

    To say that rational discourse has anything at all to do with any objective, exterior world is itself a product of the mind and experience and has absolutely nothing to do with any supposed qualities innate to the theoretical exterior world. So, to say that rationality depends on a connection to an exterior, objective reality is entirely unwarranted.

    Well, it is based on a trust that the human mind does perceive truth via information received from the world external to the human. Your view is that of radical skepticism or rationalism. I think I have shown that the idea that all thoughts or imaginations have equal reality actually destroys reason. But I can go further with this if you would like.

    It’s one thing to say that many or most successful cooperative experiences depend upon a large, consensual sets of experience; it is entirely and patently absurd to discount non-consensual experiential modes as not having anything to contribute to successful, rational discourse and cooperation.

    Again your premise is that all thoughts and imaginations have equal value in reality. All are equally real.
    Your concern with consensus or non-consensus is a means of categorizing experiences, and you’re actually adding greater value to consensus experiences. But as stated, each of my imaginations and dreams and thoughts is equally as real as any consensus experiences, then there is no basis to belief that a consensus view has more value or more truth or more reality.

    As I said, the premise here destroys argumentation. Again, I can imagine you being very mistaken. In fact, I can imagine that you have just personally affirmed that I am correct in every point I raised.

    Thus, all of my views I raised here are correct and real. There is no way to refute that. In fact, a failure to accept the reality of my imagined thoughts would contradict your view that my thoughts are equally as real as any.

    I can go much further with this – much farther down the path of how irrational it can get. The assumption, for example, that truth has a higher value than falsehood would have no foundation in this view. I did present some matters of the moral law — I think this is also very important to consider.

    You are presenting a view of radical skepticism about reality — and basically radical subjectivism, where the personal experience and thoughts of each individual are necessarily real and therefore true merely because they thought or experienced them.

    This really cannot work.

  47. 47

    SA,

    1+2=3

    1+2=10

    In your experience,

    1. Are those two written equations equally real?
    2. Are those two written equations equally true?

  48. 48
    kairosfocus says:

    WJM, if the second is in the ternary, base-3 numeral system, it would be true also. KF

  49. 49
    daveS says:

    I guess we could say that both equations are equally real, however under the usual stipulations, one or both could be true [corrected]. In fact, in this context, it would be reasonable to say that equation 1 is true, while equation 2 is false.

  50. 50

    KF,

    Was there a point to that? If so, It’s lost on me.

    My point is that SA’s logic appears to me to draw an equivalence between the concept of “real” and the concept of “true” (he imagines my being wrong, so since imagined views are real, therefore it is true that I am wrong).

    In my experience, “real” doesn’t = “true”, because in my experience, falsehoods and error exists just as much as truths. I mean, just because I imagine that when I see my son again he will be 20 feet tall doesn’t mean that is what is going to occur.

    Do the images in my mind “not exist”? They are only “not real” if one assigns materialist-oriented attributes to the term “real” that science has shown are not warranted to any kind of experience.

    In my experience, being “just as real” doesn’t also mean just as true, just as useful, or just as consensually applicable the being “equally real” means “just as brown” or “Just as tall.” Different real things, in my experience, have entirely different values and characteristics.

  51. 51

    SA said:

    Again your premise is that all thoughts and imaginations have equal value in reality.

    I suggest you re-read my posts. All experiences are equally real. That doesn't mean they have equal value in all context and situations in one's experience.

    I think every rational discourse has to be grounded in the idea that a proposition is true because it conforms to an external reality.

    Perhaps in your experience, you can actually experience external reality. In my experience, I cannot. As far as I know, all that exists = what I experience. Even ideas about things existing “outside of my experience” are inside my experience. I think this is referred to as Plato’s Cave.

  52. 52

    SA said:

    I believe that basis would be logically false since you would be assigning a greater truth-value to consensus-experience than to non-consensus or minority views. That contradicts your first premise that all experiences, consensual or not, are equally real.

    I can understand your confusion about my perspective because it seems that in your experience (as you’ve outlined), the words “real” and “true” are virtually interchangeable. In my experience, they are two entirely different things. Also, you seem to think that I believe all “real” things have “equal value” in all contexts and in all applications. You seem to think this is a necessary result of their equal “realness”.

    From a material-world perspective, all material things (hammers, cotton, cars, doodles, lint) are equally real, but do not have equal value in all contexts and applications.

    Here’s an interesting question: in your experience, is an imagined unicorn a real thing? I’m not asking you if an imagined unicorn is “the same as” a unicorn you could ride around in what we commonly call the physical world. I’m just asking if the imagined unicorn is real in terms of what **it** is.

  53. 53
    mike1962 says:

    WJM @39: Let’s remember, it is matter that has been shown not to exist – not consciousness, experience or information. Even if you and I have very different experiences, and prioritize them differently, that doesn’t mean there aren’t principles that apply to consciousness and information, and how they are interpreted and experienced, that cannot serve as the foundation for rational discourse.

    ^^^ That

  54. 54
    Silver Asiatic says:

    WJM

    In your experience,

    1. Are those two written equations equally real?
    2. Are those two written equations equally true?

    My experience is informed and interpreted through realism & empiricism. So, you’re using my worldview to validate your own, which is radically different from mine. What you should do is use your own principles, not mine.

    You asked about two equations. Those equations have meaning because they are reducible to objects that exist external to my subjective view.

    Are both equations “equally real”? They are symbolic notations – yes, equally real.

    Are they equally true?

    Well, again, from a realist, empirical view – those mathematical symbols are reducible to realities that exist outside of me. Those realities are accessible to both of us – they are not consensus, but universal.

    So, I can prove that 1+2=3. I can define the symbols and then show through sensory knowledge that adding 2 objects to 1, gives a count of 3.

    That’s the way my worldview works.

    In your view, however, 1+2 does not need to be reducible to real objects. I can imagine that 1+10 is true. Therefore, in your worldview (and that is what is questioned here) then 1+10 = 3.

    The principle that you are defending is that every human thought, imagination, dream, hallucination is equally real.

    Here’s an interesting question: in your experience, is an imagined unicorn a real thing? I’m not asking you if an imagined unicorn is “the same as” a unicorn you could ride around in what we commonly call the physical world. I’m just asking if the imagined unicorn is real in terms of what **it** is

    You are saying that an imagined unicorn is as a unicorn that I could see, touch or ride on.

    No, it is not. The imagined unicorn is not real. Its existence cannot be validated.

    The imagined unicorn is not a thing – it does not have an identity. To say that the imagined unicorn is “real” is to say that it exists.

    <blockquote.Also, you seem to think that I believe all “real” things have “equal value” in all contexts and in all applications. You seem to think this is a necessary result of their equal “realness”.

    Yes. If an imaginary rabbit that gives me things is “real” then this has the same truth-value as a real rabbit.
    Where did I get this money?
    I imagine that a rabbit gave it to me.
    Is that event true?
    Well, the event is “real” – it “really happened”.

    To take that experience and match it against “consensus” to then add greater or lesser truth to the “reality” of my imaginary rabbit is to admit that the imagination is not equally real. Also, it is using some sort of popular vote to give weight.

    But the “consensus” view is formed by realist philosophy that has been part of the human experience since the dawn of history.

    Why refer to a consensus view that contradicts your own idea that all thoughts and imaginations are equally real? Clearly, the consensus is wrong since it believes that there is an external reality with higher truth value.

    To discover the truth about things we seek an existence in reality – by which we can observe via sensory data that a thing is true.

    To claim that your imaginations and fantasies are equally as real as events that have been witnessed by people is to make a truth-claim about your imaginations.

    Did the things you imagine “really happen”? According to you, Yes – they did. They are “real events” – just as real as any other human experience.

    Appealing to realist-empiricist views to support a different weight of value on various experiences is illogical and contradictory to your view.

    I admire your willingness to defend your idea. You have not backed away, although you seem to be equivocating now and using traditional realism to support your view.

    Your position is that fantasies and imaginations have equal reality as any human experience.

    I think I’ve shown many logical consequences of that belief.

  55. 55
    Silver Asiatic says:

    WJM

    1+2=3

    1+2=10

    In your experience,

    1. Are those two written equations equally real?
    2. Are those two written equations equally true?

    To explain a bit further –
    You cannot prove that 1 imaginary thing added to 2 imaginary things are 3 things.

    This is a violation of the law of identity. Because imaginations are not things. They are not externally accessible. They have no boundaries or distinctions. They do not have an empirical reality. They’re not real.

    To add one thing to another – we have to prove that 1=1. To do this, we have to have real objects, with boundaries.
    Imaginations do not have boundaries. We create imaginary apples because we know of Real apples. We know the difference.
    If our imaginary apple is meant to be like a real one – then mathematics works.
    But that is because we know the difference between a real apple and an imaginary one.
    If we remove this distinction, as your idea does, then there is no externally real apple. Our imaginary apple is just as real. Thus, a “real apple” can be anything we want.
    It can have an infinite dimension and thus be impossible to circumscribe. It can be larger than the universe – thus making mathematics impossible.

  56. 56

    My experience is informed and interpreted through realism & empiricism. So, you’re using my worldview to validate your own, which is radically different from mine. What you should do is use your own principles, not mine.

    Actually, what I’m doing is attempting to understand your worldview and then using that worldview (as best I can) to try and shed light on what I mean when I use certain terms to describe my worldview – like the words “real” and “reality”. Hence, the questions that were meant to show how there are false or untrue real things in my experience (and hopefully also in yours) – that just because a thing is real does not mean it is true.

    The principle that you are defending is that every human thought, imagination, dream, hallucination is equally real.

    Yes, but not equally true or useful in every situation. However, it appears to me that you are set on making everything about whether or not it corresponds to what we call the material world. In order to understand experientialism and thus rationally discuss it, IMO one must be willing to suspend their material or spiritual realism arguendo and understand how concepts and terminology are used under experientialism.

    That’s what I’m trying to do here, but you keep insisting (apparently) on explaining why nothing I say applies to your worldview, and you apparently keep trying to tell me what I should mean when I use the terms I use. I don’t really see much of a way forward when, from my perspective, you keep rejecting what I’m saying because (1)it doesn’t agree with your current worldview, and (2) it doesn’t fit what you think I **should** be saying, and what I should **mean** by what I say, from the perspective of your current worldview. You seem to be making no effort whatsoever to suspend your worldview arguendo to make a good faith attempt to even begin to understand experientialism on its own terms.

    I think I’ve shown many logical consequences of that belief.

    I don’t think you even understand experientialist terminology because you keep insisting “real” means what it means under your worldview. You can’t examine the internal logic of a worldview unless you understand the terms used at the root of the worldview, which I pointed out earlier – and we’ve only just begun that process with a single important world – “real”. We can’t even get beyond that single word.

    Under experientialism, real does not mean true. Until you can understand that perspective arguendo and stop examining and criticizing experientialism from the perspective that real must, in all cases, = true, all I think will happen here is you continuing to explain to me why experientialism doesn’t comport with realism (shocker!) and continuing to tell me how I **should** be conducting my end of the discussion.

  57. 57
    Silver Asiatic says:

    WJM

    I don’t really see much of a way forward …

    I don’t either. I believe I made my points as clearly and logically as I could. I presented my arguments.

    It seems that your primary concern is with the definition of your terms. I am not using idiosyncratic definitions of common terms or understandings of terms like truth, real, imagination.

    …you keep insisting “real” means what it means under your worldview…

    Again, I don’t believe my worldview is unique or unusual. It is quite ordinary to draw a distinction between an imagination and an empirically real thing.

    But I think we can agree that in order for me to understand your worldview, entirely new and different definitions of common terms and concepts are required.

    In my view, that creates problems. I would suggest and prefer that if your meaning of the terms “real” and “true” are different than the commonly understood meanings – then instead of using those same words, you should use different terms.

    In any case, I can’t see any reason to continue at this point. But thank you for this exchange which I did find useful and informative, even though I disagree.

  58. 58

    SA said:

    Imaginations do not have boundaries.

    Of course they do. Can you imagine a 4-sided triangle? Can you imagine nothing?

    To explain a bit further –

    The fundamental problem with realism is that it is utterly impossible to prove that anything exists external to experience. Plato’s cave. Your insistence that the realness of a thing lies in how it comports with an external, independent world cannot be anything more than pure faith, because we have no means by which to get outside of our own experience.

    Everything you experience is your experience – whether it is in the subset of experience you call “the physical world” or it is in the subset called “dreams” or the subset called “memory” or the subset called “imagination”. For all you know, you are a brain in a vat having experiences. I believe even realists admit that the existence of an actual external world must be taken on faith because there is simply no way to prove it, no way to gather evidence that does not entirely rely upon our experience mental experience.

    For all you can prove, you are a brain in a vat having a delusional dream about a physical world and a difference between that physical world and things you imagine as an avatar in the dream.

    That’s the problem with realism; it’s a completely unprovable extrapolation of experience and an article of faith. Experientialism begins with something we know to be absolutely true: “I am having an experience.” and places that known, absolute truth at the foundation of its perspective. Why claim “reality” is something other than and independent of what we experience? What does that buy anyone?

    Do you realize that by saying that reality = that which exists independent of our experience, you are admitting that you cannot ever experience reality? Hence, you argument about what real “means” is based on an admission that you do not experience reality.

    Unless you agree reality = experience, you have no fundamental basis to make any statements whatsoever about what the term “real” means, or which things are real and which are not. Because reality, if it exists independent of experience, is beyond the reach of your experience. All you can tell anyone is what your **experience** tells you about reality. Whether you say experience = reality or experience informs you **about** a reality beyond your experience of it, everything you say about “reality” is ultimately drawn from experience.

    It’s perfectly within your right to dismiss large swathes of your experience as “not real”; it just seems absurd to me to insist that part of your experience is “not real” and yet everything you believe to be real is essentially cut from the same cloth – your experience.

  59. 59

    SA:

    I have a question for you:

    Is logic real?

  60. 60
    Silver Asiatic says:

    WJM

    Do you realize that by saying that reality = that which exists independent of our experience, you are admitting that you cannot ever experience reality?

    Through information we gain from our senses, we experience something that we call “real”, in distinction with thoughts that we have generated in fantasy.

    Is logic real?

    We abstract universal meanings from particular empirical data.

    My answer regarding your question on the math on 1+2=3 applies. In fact, mathematics requires logic beginning with the Law of Identity. That law requires that distinct objects actually exist external to the person. If we cannot draw a distinction between objects (which would be the case in a monist view – I believe it is your view), then there is no law of identity. There is no “1”. Assigning a value to “1” would be arbitrary and easily falsifiable.
    Instead, in the realist view, “1” refers to a distinct, definable thing, unlike what is known in an imagination or dream.

    Just as with math (1+2=3), logic is a symbolic language that is reducible, ultimately, to universally accessible empirical reality.
    As a language or system of rules for structuring thought – yes, Logic is real, just as math is real.

  61. 61
    Silver Asiatic says:

    WJM

    I want to offer some clarifications. I’ve been responding to your idea that all human thoughts are equally real.

    However, I think some distinctions are necessary also.
    I agree that all thoughts possess some aspect of reality. A thought is something that actually occurs. In my view, a thought does not have a material reality, but it is real nonetheless.
    Thoughts can be abstractions from what we know as objects we accessed through sensory data.
    The thought of a unicorn is real – the thought is. But the content of the thought is an abstraction of what we know from externally sensed data (of horses plus an animal with a horn like a rhino).

    So, in my view, we validate the truth or value of thoughts from empirical data (via what we sense). They do not have equal reality – although thoughts are real.

    If your belief was stated that “all human thoughts and experiences have some degree of reality”, I would agree.

  62. 62

    SA,

    It might be that our disagreement is more semantic than perspective-oriented than anything fundamental. You say:

    However, I think some distinctions are necessary also.
    I agree that all thoughts possess some aspect of reality. A thought is something that actually occurs. In my view, a thought does not have a material reality, but it is real nonetheless.

    So, it seems we agree that non-material things are real, but we disagree on “how real”. I would say that the experience of the thought of a rhino and the experience of a consensually-physical rhino are two different **kinds** of real experience. IOW, they are both 100 percent real, but one resides in the sub-category (of real things) called “consensual-physical experience” and the other in the sub-category of “non-consensual, non-physical experience).

    In my view, there is no such thing as a “non-real” experience. I think we can find some common ground between our views here.

    The categorization of characteristics and use of these experiences can be highly divergent, but I think it undermines the value, usefulness and potential positive impact of the one category to classify it as “not real” or “not as real”, while insisting that the other category of experience is “more real”.

  63. 63
    Silver Asiatic says:

    WJM

    In my view, there is no such thing as a “non-real” experience. I think we can find some common ground between our views here.

    I agree with that. But I’m making a distinction between the experience and the reference for that experience. In other words, the thought has reality as a thought. But the thought can refer to something that is not real. Just because we have a thought of something, does not mean that what we thought of actually exists. The thought exists as a thought. The experience is an experience. But it can refer to something real or something that is an illusion.

    That is how we determine if an experience is based on an illusion. Every thought is real – it happens. But what the thought is about may not be real.

    The experience of having the thought is a real experience. The thought actually happened. But it is a thought about a unicorn. The unicorn is not real. The thought is about an illusion.

    That’s the way I see it anyway.

  64. 64
    jdk says:

    SA, that’s a very clear distinction.

  65. 65
    juwilker says:

    SA @ 54

    You object to WJM saying “The principle that you are defending is that every human thought, imagination, dream, hallucination is equally real.”

    Genesis 28:12-16:

    “He (Jacob) had a dream in which he saw a stairway resting on the earth, with its top reaching to heaven, and the angels of God were ascending and descending on it. 13 There above it stood the Lord, and he said: “I am the Lord, the God of your father Abraham and the God of Isaac. I will give you and your descendants the land on which you are lying. 14 Your descendants will be like the dust of the earth, and you will spread out to the west and to the east, to the north and to the south. All peoples on earth will be blessed through you and your offspring. 15 I am with you and will watch over you wherever you go, and I will bring you back to this land. I will not leave you until I have done what I have promised you.”

    16 When Jacob awoke from his sleep, he thought, “Surely the Lord is in this place, and I was not aware of it.”

    SA, do you think Jacob actually heard “real” words from God and saw a “real” stairway angels etc in his dream?

  66. 66

    SA – I feel like we’re making some progress here! I appreciate your participation.

    SA said:

    I agree with that. But I’m making a distinction between the experience and the reference for that experience. In other words, the thought has reality as a thought. But the thought can refer to something that is not real.”

    The way I would express this is that whether or not the thought refers to things in the consensual-physical category of experience, the thought itself is a real thing in the category of personal mental experiences.

    This is where I think things start to get really interesting: the relationships between these two broad categories of experiences. Primarily of interest to me right now is: how should we characterize “experience” and “reality”?

    Since you seem to agree that all experiences are real, even if they are not all the same **kind** of experience as the physical-consensual, and do not all have the same kind of applications, the same kind of value (not degree of value, but kind), etc, it seems to me that we we could have grounds at least to conditionally agree that all experiences are, as I said, real.

    While you might be hesitant to agree with my view that they are “equally” real, I think in the above framework you can at least understand what I mean by that; “equally real” is not the same thing as having equal application, or being equally physical-consensual, or having the same kind (if not degree) of value as other experiences.

    Non-consensual experiences, I’m sure you will agree, can have tremendous impact only our physical lives. They can also have tremendous impact on the physical lives of other people. My reason for changing my perspective on non-consensual experiences is because I realized that my dismissive view of them as “not real” or “not as real” delegitimized and devalued those experiences and reduced their capacity to provide a positive impact in my life.

    IMO, the internal experiential world is every bit as important (if not more so) than what we call the consensual-experiential, for several reasons.

  67. 67
    Silver Asiatic says:

    WJM

    Yes, I think we have agreement on most parts. I’ll just disagree in two areas.

    First, the statement “all thoughts are equally real”.

    I disagree here.
    As previously, thoughts have those two components:
    1. The experience of a thought (that I had a thought of any kind).
    2. The content or reference for the thought.

    To say “all experiences of having a thought are equally real” is true. We had a thought – it is the same as any thought.

    However, the concept of what a thought is, is not reduced to just “the experience of a thought”. To talk about a thought in its totality, it must include “what the thought is about”.

    So, it’s not true that all thoughts are equally real since the nature of a thought is to refer to something. A thought that refers to a unicorn is a real experience of a thought. But thought is about something that is not real. The thought of a unicorn is not as real as the thought of what you did yesterday. You remember a reality versus thinking of an imaginary animal.

    Now, you may disagree that what happened yesterday itself is no more real than a unicorn. I believe you refer to the memory of yesterday as a consensus-thought.

    But I disagree on that. I believe yesterday is a universal concept. All human beings have always known what it is. If there is a failure to know it, we believe there is something wrong with the brain. It’s not just a matter of a person having a non-consensus understanding of yesterday.

    So, there is an externally accessible, universally understood concept, outside of human beings – that we use to measure the reality of the content (not of the experience) of our thought.

    Otherwise, there is no good reason to prioritize consensus thoughts over non-consensus, and no way to judge the difference between illusion and reality.

  68. 68
    Silver Asiatic says:

    ju

    SA, do you think Jacob actually heard “real” words from God and saw a “real” stairway angels etc in his dream?

    I am a Christian believer and I believe nothing is more real than God. I believe angels are real and heaven is real. God is the ultimate reality – God gave life, being and reality to the universe, the world and human beings and angels – because God possesses all Being and Existence which He can give to creation.

    But at the same time, I know that people “hear voices in their head”. I know people can hallucinate.

    Are these voices (just today a guy, Danuel Drayton admitted in the interview that he killed New York nurse because voices in his head told him), real?

    In Christianity, this is what is known as “discernment of spirits”. Some voices and images that we get in our head are illusions – they are not real. These can come from evil sources or our own imagination.

    So, how did Jacob know that the ladder and angels was “real” (as I believe they were)?

    Well, Jacob had actual proof of this. Just a few chapters later (32:25) Jacob wrestled with someone who “touched the socket of Jacob’s hip so that his hip was wrenched as he wrestled”.

    So, there was physical, external proof. His hip was dislocated. When Jacob asked who it was, God identified Himself. So, now when writing the whole story of Jacob, the dream of the ladder has context. The same God who wrestled with him was the one who showed the angels. The ladder and angels and words of God were validated by actual wrestling and a broken hip joint.

    So, if a person does not know if the voice came from God – often God will prove it. And this is the point – God proves it by using some external reference, something only God can do. In this case, a mysterious presence comes and wrestles.

    So, if a person has a thought and does not know if it is God talking to Him or not, one way to validate if the thought is “real” is to seek some confirmation outside of himself. When God wants to show the reality of His words, it will be in some miraculous way, so the person will know that there’s no way it could have been any other source except God.

  69. 69
    juwilker says:

    SA,

    Thank you for that answer. I appreciate your thoughtful responses. The point of my question is that the dreamscape CAN (not normally) be as real as reality itself. I think WJM is trying to say the same thing.

    Most of the time the dream is not “real” and just an imaginary/thought world that all humans experience. But, thoughts/dreams/visions can periodically give us insight into another reality that we are not aware of. I’m sure this happens to people from time to time.

    jw

  70. 70

    juwilker said:

    I think WJM is trying to say the same thing.

    No, that’s not what I’m trying to say. I think I’ve said pretty clearly my position – that all experiences are 100% real, and that branding only the experiences which fall into the consensual-physical as “real” is a categorization error. I think the discussion with SA helped clarify that point when SA agreed that mental experiences are real **as** mental experiences.

    Because two things are both 100% real doesn’t mean they have equal value or usefulness in any situation or context. It’s my view that delegitimizing mental experience as “not real” or “less real” cannot help but pave the road towards materialism and, ultimately, nihilism.

    I think thought is extremely important. Our view of our self, our identity, and what our experience “is” (including the consensual-physical experience) is ALL hammered out and arranged into rational order via mental experience. IMO, this makes mental experience a higher order of reality (whether we like it or not) than what we call the “consensual-physical”, because it is the thing that is in charge of the entire model.

    Even in SA position, it is ultimately his mind that has decided where the consensual-physical category of experience resides on the reality scale.

  71. 71
    Silver Asiatic says:

    WJM

    SA agreed that mental experiences are real **as** mental experiences.

    Yes, they’re real to that extent. There can be degrees of reality. Reality mixed with illusion. Thoughts are more than experiences. We measure the reality of the thought matching against a reference.

  72. 72

    SA, I ask you to consider the possibility that you are making a categorical error by using the term “real” as a synonym for “consensual-physical”, when clearly they cannot be synonyms. I’m sure you consider illusions real **as illusions** – perceptual experiences that do not match up with what you experience as the consensual-physical. Illusions are not less real (superset of experiences); they just do not fall in the “consensual-reality” subset of experiences.

    Surely you agree that all experiences – mental or consensual-physical – are 100% real **as experiences**?

  73. 73
    mike1962 says:

    When I dream, unless I am having a “lucid dream”, the dream world, including the other actors, seems to be equivalent to consensual-reality. Something is happening “out there” that I am not creating, but “merely experiencing.” Yet if there really is a consensual-reality world, then my feeling that the dream world during the dream is consensual-reality is an illusion. (Assuming brains generate our dream world.) When I wake, I realize this. This goes to show that our assessment of what consensual-reality is, is subject to being deceived. How can we ever be confident that our “normal waking state” is not likewise fooled as well? The old brain-in-the-vat idea. The answer is: we can’t. There is no way around this.

    SA accepts without proof that the “consensual-reality” he believes is “out there” is something external to himself. He believes “stuff happens out there” that he seems to not be creating and is not in control of. Those he takes as “real” in a way that SA’s own internal thoughts and imaginations are not. I contend that the only meaning that “real” actually has here is that “real” means “things that I perceive that I do not seem to be creating, and that seem to be ‘out there'”. But this is the very same experience we have when we dream- the experience that most of us accept as delusional.

  74. 74
    Silver Asiatic says:

    WJM

    Surely you agree that all experiences – mental or consensual-physical – are 100% real **as experiences**?

    Yes, as experiences. But not 100% real “as reality itself”.

    In my view, “reality” is “Being” or “Existence”. A thing that is 100% real is 100% reality, with no illusion, no contingency, nothing of temporary, fading, partial reality.

    In my view there is only one being 100% real – and that is God who gave being to creatures. God lacks no reality. All other things are “partially real”.

    A thought has partial reality. But even as thoughts, a thought is not merely an experience. A thought has content that makes the experience “more or less real”.

    “I thought I saw a tiger”. The thought is real “as experience”. Is the thought “real as a thought”? Fully as what a thought is?

    Well, the thought is either 100% “real” or an “illusion”. We call it “real” no merely because it is an experience, but because it refers to an external source that we understand from sensation as real.

    I think another challenge for you, WJM – is there anything that is “not real”?

    If all things are “100% real” then the term “real” is useless and meaningless.

    But we use the term “real” to make distinctions. Otherwise, we would just eliminate the term.

    I believe that things possess various degrees of reality based on their qualities. These are understood universally in human observations and not merely as a consensus view.

    It has been the same through all of human history and is the same now. We understand certain universals and we refer to them. Things that exist outside of us are different than subjective imaginations and dreams.

    That difference alone is universally understood – no merely a consensus view.

  75. 75
    Silver Asiatic says:

    mike1962

    SA accepts without proof that the “consensual-reality” he believes is “out there” is something external to himself.

    I believe that if I can prove anything, I can prove that.

    If I can’t prove that, then I not only cannot prove anything but there’s no reason to prove anything.

    When I prove something, I refer to universally accepted concepts in the human experience, and not merely to a consensus view.

    Otherwise, every proof I offer can be refuted by a non-consensus view. Just referring to a majority or popular view of something is not a proof of anything (except that is is popular).

    Popularity changes, obviously. A minority view can be “as correct” as a consensus view.

    For logic to work, we have to accept certain premises as universal truths.

  76. 76
    jdk says:

    We assume that is true. Solipsism is sort of a useless metaphysical position.

  77. 77
    mike1962 says:

    jdk @ 76,

    Meh, one man’s uselessness is another man’s usefulness.

    But seriously, your assertion is a bald assertion.

    Back it up.

  78. 78
    mike1962 says:

    SA @75,

    I believe that if I can prove anything, I can prove that.

    Proofs rely on axioms. This is one thing that is not subject to proof but necessarily must be an axiom.

    If I can’t prove that, then I not only cannot prove anything but there’s no reason to prove anything.

    Reasons? Too subjective and differ from person to person. And useless when it comes to axioms.

    When I prove something, I refer to universally accepted concepts in the human experience, and not merely to a consensus view.

    But your “universals” are based on interpretation of sensory imput, which is the very question under review. You can’t prove senses are reliable by appealing to senses.

  79. 79
    mike1962 says:

    If I can’t prove that, then I not only cannot prove anything but there’s no reason to prove anything.

    Reasons? Too subjective and differ from person to person assuming other persons besides yourself exist. And useless when it comes to axioms.

    Hey, admins, can you please fix the editor timeout? Thanks.

  80. 80
    jdk says:

    re 77: I think just asserting that solipsism is a useless metaphysical position is sufficient: no one is really a solipsist. We all think that things like trees are “out there”. I can’t imagine how one would “back that up”, logically, as logically solipsism is impregnable: there is no way to prove it is not true.

    But I, and virtually everyone in the world, wastes no time on seriously pondering whether the trees are really out there, or not.

    I’m finding it a little hard to think you’re being serious in 77, Mike.

  81. 81
    mike1962 says:

    jdk, I’m finding it a little hard to think you’re being serious in 77, Mike.

    That’s because you’re operating in “common sense” mode. Which is the same mode that tells people the earth is flat.

    Do you really wanna get down and dirty with philosophy? If so, you’re going to have to strip away the “common sense” philosopy (there is a “real world out there”) or nobody who sees this for the B.S. that it is is going to take you seriously. You’re choice. P.S I am an illusion. Your head is in a vat.

  82. 82
    jdk says:

    We have ways to prove that the earth is not flat. We have no way to prove that “out there” is not really out there, but just in my head.

    The two are not analogous.

  83. 83
    mike1962 says:

    You can’t prove your senses are reliable, from your senses. That should be a non-brainer, philosophically speaking. Lay back and think about it. 😀

  84. 84
    jdk says:

    I agree, you can’t. I am saying that also.

  85. 85
    Silver Asiatic says:

    mike1962

    You can’t prove your senses are reliable, from your senses.

    Just interested, how would you prove that statement?

  86. 86
    mike1962 says:

    SA, Reliability of the senses is not something that is self-evidently true. Do you claim it is for yourself?

  87. 87
    jdk says:

    So Mike, what position do you take? Are we justified in concluding, not as a solid proof, but as a reasonable conclusion upon which to base our knowledge, that there is really a world out there, and that our direct sensory experience of it, at the macro level at which it exists, is a reliable starting point for investigating the nature of the world?

    Or, looking at this from a different direction, what conclusion do you draw that you we can’t prove that the senses are reliable?

  88. 88
    Silver Asiatic says:

    mike1962

    I’ll just echo jdk’s questions and perhaps take it a bit farther.

    You’re using the word “prove”.
    My position is that you cannot prove anything without relying on information gained from the senses. So, your interest in proving things affirms that you believe the senses are reliable means of understanding.
    Otherwise, to seek to prove something is illogical.
    This is what I mean by how subjectivism destroys rational thought.

    You’ve asked me if something is “true” and as I explained to WJM, the concept of “true” only has meaning when it can refer to some external reality that is accessible on a universal level.

    We assert that the first principles of logic are true because we cannot have any rational thought without them.
    To use logic to attempt to defeat the first principles of logic is self-refuting.

    Experientialist monism violates the law of identity and thus invalidates logic.

  89. 89

    jdk said:

    We assume that is true. Solipsism is sort of a useless metaphysical position.

    There’s a difference between operating under the assumption that there is an external reality, and insisting that the consensual-physical category of experience defines and is the sole standard of “what is real.”

    We have ways to prove that the earth is not flat. We have no way to prove that “out there” is not really out there, but just in my head.

    Actually, we do. They’re the set of experiments (if they exist in your experiential framework) including the two-slit experiment, the delayed choice and other such research, that have conclusively (at least in my consensus-physical experience) proved (as much as anything gets “proved” in science) that without our conscious observation, nothing physically discrete would exist. The entire physical universe would only exist as quantum potential without discrete characteristics or locations.

    (Please note that I am now framing my discussion here to denote that I am not assuming that we share 100% that which we refer to as the consensual-physical.)

    re we justified in concluding, not as a solid proof, but as a reasonable conclusion upon which to base our knowledge, that there is really a world out there, and that our direct sensory experience of it, at the macro level at which it exists, is a reliable starting point for investigating the nature of the world?

    This same logic can be applied to the geocentrisim or flat-earth beliefs. What are you going to believe – your so-called “direct sensory perception”, or the evidence collected by scientific research? It seems you are only accepting what scientific evidence “can prove” if it agrees with your narrative. (That is, if we share similar consensual-physical histories on the matter.)

    Or, looking at this from a different direction, what conclusion do you draw that you we can’t prove that the senses are reliable?

    Without logic, the senses tell us absolutely nothing “reliable”. It is not the senses that gives us any form of “reliability”, but rather reason when applied to experiential information. It is the mental that finds meaning and value in any experience – consensual-physical or otherwise (same shared-conensual physical disclaimers as above).

    Putting the physical world ahead of the mind/consciousness as arbiter of reality is a case of putting the cart before the horse. Mind is primary because it is the one that not only sorts the whole thing out, but it is apparently what is generating the appearance of the physical world in the first place.

    SA said:

    You’ve asked me if something is “true” and as I explained to WJM, the concept of “true” only has meaning when it can refer to some external reality that is accessible on a universal level.

    That may be true of your concept of “the concept of true”, but it is not true of my concept.

  90. 90
    jdk says:

    Hi WJM. First, I’m not sure what part of your comments are actually in response to your discussion with SA, which I have only partially paid attention to. But I’ll reply anyway.

    1. When I said, “Solipsism is sort of a useless metaphysical position.”, you wrote

    There’s a difference between operating under the assumption that there is an external reality, and insisting that the consensual-physical category of experience defines and is the sole standard of “what is real.”

    I agree, My thoughts are real, and no one else can even experience them.

    2. When I wrote, “We have ways to prove that the earth is not flat. We have no way to prove that “out there” is not really out there, but just in my head.”, you wrote,

    Actually, we do. They’re the set of experiments (if they exist in your experiential framework) including the two-slit experiment, the delayed choice and other such research, that have conclusively (at least in my consensus-physical experience) proved (as much as anything gets “proved” in science) that without our conscious observation, nothing physically discrete would exist. The entire physical universe would only exist as quantum potential without discrete characteristics or locations.

    I am not sure this matter of the meaning on QM in respect to what is real is settled. As I have mentioned before, I just read “What Is Real?: The Unfinished Quest for the Meaning of Quantum Physics”, by Becker, which discusses the various alternative interpretations of QM. I wrote a bit about this in another thread: one somewhat relevant comment was here: https://uncommondescent.com/intelligent-design/physicist-eugene-wigner-on-the-principal-argument-against-materialism/#comment-659836

    3. When I wrote, “Are we justified in concluding, not as a solid proof, but as a reasonable conclusion upon which to base our knowledge, that there is really a world out there, and that our direct sensory experience of it, at the macro level at which it exists, is a reliable starting point for investigating the nature of the world?, you wrote

    This same logic can be applied to the geocentrisim or flat-earth beliefs. What are you going to believe – your so-called “direct sensory perception”, or the evidence collected by scientific research?

    Hmmmm. You seem to have ignored all my disclaimers. Of course I accept that my immediate sensory experience of the world is not the final arbitrator of what is true, and that multiple people, using instruments which extend our senses, contribute to our understanding of what is true about the world.

    4. When I wrote, “Or, looking at this from a different direction, what conclusion do you draw that you we can’t prove that the senses are reliable?”, you wrote,

    Without logic, the senses tell us absolutely nothing “reliable”. It is not the senses that gives us any form of “reliability”, but rather reason when applied to experiential information. It is the mental that finds meaning and value in any experience – consensual-physical or otherwise (same shared-conensual physical disclaimers as above).

    Putting the physical world ahead of the mind/consciousness as arbiter of reality is a case of putting the cart before the horse. Mind is primary because it is the one that not only sorts the whole thing out, but it is apparently what is generating the appearance of the physical world in the first place.

    Of course our mind is critical to knowing: we have sensory experiences of the external world, but that experience is both limited by the capabilities of our senses (we can’t see radio waves, for instance) and is presented to us in our conscious experience. No matter how much sensory input is received by our physical body, our conscious experience is an integrated presentation of that sensory experiences which brings us our understanding of the external world which we are experiencing.

  91. 91
    Silver Asiatic says:

    WJM

    That may be true of your concept of “the concept of true”, but it is not true of my concept.

    How do you prove that 1+1=2 and that 2 > 1 ?

  92. 92

    jdk @90,

    Thanks for your response. It looks to me that we are in agreement about much of this.

    SA asks:

    How do you prove that 1+1=2 and that 2 > 1 ?

    How would I attempt to prove it to whom? Myself? Someone else?

  93. 93
    Silver Asiatic says:

    WJM

    Someone else.

  94. 94

    SA,

    I supposed I’d attempt to use the consensual-physical mode of experience to demonstrate, using objects and words.

  95. 95
    jdk says:

    That’s right. Start with solid, distinct objects such as rocks to represent unity, assign words to help abstract the idea of quantity from the particular instances of rocks. Then assign words to further groups (two things, etc.), then show that combining a group of one thing with another group of one thing gives the same quantity as the group we have already defined as having a quantity of two.

  96. 96
    Silver Asiatic says:

    WJM

    I think that’s the only way. We reference an object and then demonstrate that the addition of another gives a larger group (bigger in count by one additional object).

    So the proof requires this external reference. I am saying this is universal and that another person can understand and accept the proof because they also can access the same external reality.

    What do you think is the origin of the consensus of subjective/personal experience?

  97. 97
    Silver Asiatic says:

    the edit feature doesn’t seem to be working …

    WJM – in my question I mean, why do we agree (have consensus) that there are 2 objects that we can identify, when the idea remains personal & subjective?
    If we received no sensory input, where did our concept of the objects come from?
    Do we manufacture reality ourselves out of nothing in our mind? Or perhaps it is a matrix-like world that we are living in – all an illusion?
    Just wondering.

  98. 98
    Silver Asiatic says:

    mike1962 made the statement:

    “Your head is in a vat.”

    But what do you mean by that specifically?

  99. 99
    Silver Asiatic says:

    jdk @ 95

    That was good, yes.

    Start with solid, distinct objects such as rocks to represent unity

    Ok yes the “unity” we would point to “the nature of rocks” – these objects are of the same sort of thing. But they are also each unique. We see one rock and a similar but different one.

    This is what is impossible in an abstract world alone because thoughts do not have material characteristics that we can refer to this way.

  100. 100

    SA said:

    So the proof requires this external reference.

    Or, we could say it requires reference to consensual-physical experience, whether or not what we are experiencing is **actually** something that exists independently of our observation.

    I am saying this is universal and that another person can understand and accept the proof because they also can access the same external reality.

    I understand what you’re saying; my point is that you are adding an unnecessary condition to consensual experience – that it is primarily an “external reality”. Whether or not an external reality exists, we require some degree of experiential commonality in order to communicate at all, much less “prove” anything.

    Do we manufacture reality ourselves out of nothing in our mind? Or perhaps it is a matrix-like world that we are living in – all an illusion?

    Those questions are perfectly valid from a perspective that presupposes external material reality that is independent of mind, that it is material reality that precedes mind. I’m not sure how to even reconcile that with you being a theist; did God create the world ‘out of nothing” in His mind? I mean, where did God get the idea for photons and quarks?

    If your point is that the material world must be the basis for all thought, the fallacy lies in the assumption that a material world actually exists. What is actually the basis for all thought is experience, whether an external physical world exists or not. If we have different kinds of experience, we have (generally speaking) different kinds of thoughts. Do you not agree?

  101. 101
    Silver Asiatic says:

    WJM

    Or, we could say it requires reference to consensual-physical experience, whether or not what we are experiencing is **actually** something that exists independently of our observation.

    I think we’d need to explain how we arrived at this consensual experience, how it was created (where it came from), and why we have it. Am I correct in thinking that “consensual” is another term for “universal”? In other words, every human being has these same experiences and always had had them? If so, the question of origins is relevant, I think. Either way – how is it that everyone has the same subjective experience? What is causing it?

    I understand what you’re saying; my point is that you are adding an unnecessary condition to consensual experience – that it is primarily an “external reality”. Whether or not an external reality exists, we require some degree of experiential commonality in order to communicate at all, much less “prove” anything.

    The external reality explains the experiential commonality. So, as above, what is the alternative explanation for the commonality of experience?

    Those questions are perfectly valid from a perspective that presupposes external material reality that is independent of mind, that it is material reality that precedes mind.

    I think we’re speaking different languages here so I can’t follow.

    I’m not sure how to even reconcile that with you being a theist; did God create the world ‘out of nothing” in His mind?

    Yes. He created a world with material and spiritual elements, by love out of his intelligence and will (describing the indescribable oneness of God using human terms).

    I mean, where did God get the idea for photons and quarks?

    God possesses all being and lacks nothing. The idea for photons and quarks came from His mind – in other words, by Design.

    If your point is that the material world must be the basis for all thought, the fallacy lies in the assumption that a material world actually exists.

    I think I prove it exists through universal experience and that the material world is used as the basis of proofs.

    What is actually the basis for all thought is experience, whether an external physical world exists or not.

    Experience is caused by something. What do you think causes it?

    If we have different kinds of experience, we have (generally speaking) different kinds of thoughts. Do you not agree?

    I agree. We have different kinds of experiences and different kinds of thoughts.

  102. 102

    SA said:

    I think we’d need to explain how we arrived at this consensual experience, how it was created (where it came from), and why we have it.

    Why is that? Is rational communication between people not possible unless we know where the supposed external physical world came from, and why it exists? I don’t think you need to be able to explain how and why a thing exists, or even how it works, in order to be able to use it. The history of the world is full of being able to use things successfully without understanding how they came to exist or why. Did we need a full understanding of modern physics before we were able to walk, build things, innovat? No.

    Am I correct in thinking that “consensual” is another term for “universal”? In other words, every human being has these same experiences and always had had them?

    No. Consensual can mean as few as two people.

    If so, the question of origins is relevant, I think. Either way – how is it that everyone has the same subjective experience? What is causing it?

    I don’t know what you experience, SA, but not everyone in my experience is having “the same subjective experience”. In fact, people in my experience report having many very different kinds of experiences, some that conflict with my own experience, which can make rational discussion on those topics very difficult.

    The external reality explains the experiential commonality. So, as above, what is the alternative explanation for the commonality of experience?

    I disagree that we have universal commonality of experience in the first place. What most people operate under is that assumption, and that anyone who has experiences that contradict the presumed commonality is labeled as crazy, lying, or deceitful. Often, witnesses to the same scene report entirely different things; it is presumed that when one shows a recording of the incident, that means the recording is what “actually” happened. That may or may not be true; it is presumed to be true because of the ideological commitment to the “external physical reality” perspective.

    Yes. He created a world with material and spiritual elements, by love out of his intelligence and will (describing the indescribable oneness of God using human terms).

    So, you are admitting that physical reality does not necessarily precede the idea of a thing. In fact, in your belief, the idea of a thing precedes all physical reality. Correct? Because you follow that up with:

    God possesses all being and lacks nothing. The idea for photons and quarks came from His mind – in other words, by Design.

    Thus, mind and thought, under your paradigm, precede and do not rely on the physical. I would also assume that you believe God was rational and logical and knew math, even without any physical world objects to tie such concepts to?

    I think I prove it exists through universal experience and that the material world is used as the basis of proofs.

    Well, there’s a lot to unpack here. First, I don’t think you have the right to claim anything about “universal expereince.” Second, you use what you NAME “an external material world” as the “basis” for your proof – but, that’s what the discussion is about – the nature of what you have NAMED “the external physical world.” Third, I’m not sure it is the “basis” of any proof, because without logic and math, which are entirely mental constructs, “proving” doesn’t exist.

    Experience is caused by something. What do you think causes it?

    Mind.

    I agree. We have different kinds of experiences and different kinds of thoughts.

    I wonder, do you believe that intelligent, rational beings with thoughts and experiences existed before the supposed external, physical world existed?

  103. 103
    Silver Asiatic says:

    WJM

    Your worldview is radically different than my own so I apologize in advance for writing a lot in order to try to understand and also to explain my thoughts.

    I think we’d need to explain how we arrived at this consensual experience, how it was created (where it came from), and why we have it.

    WJM: Why is that?

    Well, we’re using consensual experience to validate our arguments and conclusions. Proving that 1+1=2 you pointed to a consensual experience as the means we would use to prove that argument. So, the consensus experience has a high value – it’s a standard. Why does 1+1=2? Because consensual experience can demonstrate it. So, that consensus is a validator – a reason.

    I am saying therefore, if consensual experience is that which validates our proof, we need to know why consensus has that value. Why is it the standard?

    In my view, I believe there is an external reality that is universally accessible. I do not appeal to a consensus. A universal reality does not come from human minds, but is a given. A consensus view of things is changeable. A changeable standard provides an uncertain foundation. If the consensus experience on what “1” is, changes – then 1+1 will no longer =2.

    What is the likelihood of the consensus view of that experience to change? It is essential to know this. If it is something that could change on a daily basis (like what is the most popular investment in stock today), then it has little long term value. If the consensus is something that never will change – how would we know that? What kind of trust can we put in the consensus experience? That is why we should know where the consensus comes from. Did we create it? Do many people have this experience because they are ignorant or deceived?

    Additionally, to use the consensus as a validator, we need to know what (how much) the consensus actually is. It is a vast majority, borderline? What is the consensus opinion on the morality of abortion? That is changeable but even today, what is the popularity or not of that act?

    So, the consensus standard has very high meaning for moral norms. The consensus experience is that murder of an innocent person is immoral. But you’re saying that is not universal. There is a minority, non-consensus view. This leaves all moral questions on an uncertain foundation. That may be fine but why should one accept the consensus view of anything? How do we even know it is a consensual experience? Would we have to take votes and surveys of people to find out what to base our reasoning on?

    Is rational communication between people not possible unless we know where the supposed external physical world came from, and why it exists?

    Rational communication is not possible if there is no external reality. We know that the origin of the external world is not from our own mind – otherwise, if it was – then rational communication would not be possible.

    When replacing the external world, which we know exists outside of ourselves and therefore we use an an objective, universally accessible standard for logic and reason – when replacing that with a consensus experience world, we need to know at least to an equal extent, what the origin of that world is, how we can access it, and why it exists.

    I do have an explanation for the external world and why it exists. I am a Christian theist so I have that explanation. So, to replace the external world, for which I have an explanation, for a different world for which you have no explanation – is not reasonable. Therefore, I am asking why I should base my conclusions on a consensus experience? Why should I believe a consensus experience exists?

    In economic terms – let’s say someone gives me money that is based on the gold standard. This is comparable to my belief in external reality. When I have this paper money, I can exchange it for gold, which I can physically receive in nuggets or bars. The value of the paper is supported by something tangible.

    Now, you say that I should exchange that money, for example, for a different currency that is supported by an unknown standard. You do not know what the standard is, where it came from, or why it has value. You may say that the value of this currency is better than the gold. But with the gold-oriented money, I know what the standard and value is. Like it or not, I accept what it is. For the new currency (consensual experience), I’m just asking what that standard actually is. How much value does it actually have? It is used it to prove 1+1=2 (ignoring for now that I could choose a minority-view experience to refute that same equation) so it must have high value – but where does this value come from?

    There are several options for where the consensus experience came from:

    1. We manufacture everything that we experience (the only thing that exists is our individual mind)
    2. Someone or something else created the illusion of the consensus experience and implanted it in us (mind in vat idea, I suppose)
    3. In ancient times the human race all experienced the same things somehow
    4. The chemical properties of our brain produce this consensus experience in all who have it (and does not produce it in those who don’t)
    I’m sure there are many others

    I don’t think you need to be able to explain how and why a thing exists, or even how it works, in order to be able to use it. The history of the world is full of being able to use things successfully without understanding how they came to exist or why. Did we need a full understanding of modern physics before we were able to walk, build things, innovat? No.

    I didn’t request a “full understanding”. It seems you are saying that you can offer nothing at all about what you believe the origin of the consensus experience is.
    So, I would say, even in primitive history, humans offered some conjecture on where everything came from. Again, I think it’s unreasonable to propose consensual experience as a standard which we should use for making judgements without offering some idea about where that standard comes from.

    No. Consensual can mean as few as two people.

    I would appreciate more of a definition on what consensual is.

    I don’t know what you experience, SA, but not everyone in my experience is having “the same subjective experience”. In fact, people in my experience report having many very different kinds of experiences, some that conflict with my own experience, which can make rational discussion on those topics very difficult.

    I can offer many ideas on concepts where everyone has the same understanding, and has done so since the beginning of human history. (Truth has a fundamentally different value than falsehood, for example). The term ‘everyone’ means that causes for exceptions are understood. We already mentioned 1+1=2. If that formula is based on a consensus view alone, then it is easy to falsify the formula. This is what destroys reason. If it is not universal that 1 distinct unique entity exists, then it is easy to falsify any mathematical formula. That is the basis of logic also. Something must exist as itself, as distinct from other things.

    I disagree that we have universal commonality of experience in the first place. What most people operate under is that assumption, and that anyone who has experiences that contradict the presumed commonality is labeled as crazy, lying, or deceitful.

    It seems that you’re saying that nobody can be crazy, lying or deceitful.

    Often, witnesses to the same scene report entirely different things; it is presumed that when one shows a recording of the incident, that means the recording is what “actually” happened. That may or may not be true;

    If it is true, then I believe that contradicts your viewpoint. I think in your view, nothing “actually” happened. There is no external reality. Every witness has a subjective experience. What causes that experience? You’re saying that you don’t know, I believe. If the experience is caused by something that happened, then that’s an external reality. If all witnesses created the experience, then all testimonies are true.

  104. 104
    Silver Asiatic says:

    WJM

    it is presumed to be true because of the ideological commitment to the “external physical reality” perspective.

    It is presumed true because all parties had access to what the camera showed and all accept that they did not create the experience in their own thoughts. They trust their senses to correctly detect what they see (and that they actually saw something). All the witnesses have that universal experience – they saw something that was not themselves. It’s universal, not consensual.

    So, you are admitting that physical reality does not necessarily precede the idea of a thing. In fact, in your belief, the idea of a thing precedes all physical reality. Correct?

    Theologically, yes – God is the First Cause of all things. God is not physical or material – God created material things as well as spiritual entities. So, God precedes all things, yes. I accept that. God cannot follow from something else – because God cannot be dependent on another cause.

    Thus, mind and thought, under your paradigm, precede and do not rely on the physical. I would also assume that you believe God was rational and logical and knew math, even without any physical world objects to tie such concepts to?

    The physical is what is temporal – created for a physical universe that has an existence in time. When we speak of God “having a mind”, that is not correct. God is pure being without parts. Additionally, when we talk of logic, rationality and math – these are artifacts of human reasoning. These are also created realities. They are not “parts” of God. Human reason has some similarity to God’s thought – but no – God is not “rational” or “logical” or “mathematical” in how we understand those terms. Those terms are oriented to human reason. Logic for example, is sequential. It moves through steps from premise to conclusion. It is linear. You speak of “preceding” that also is a time-bound concept. Something coming before or after. God is outside of time. There is no sequential process of logic in God’s mind. God does not need logic – all conclusions are known instantaneously. The “process of reason” or “rationality” is also a human process. It is the process of comparing and contrasting different entities. It is sorting truth from falsehood. None of this applies to God. There is no comparison of concepts in God’s mind where He will then choose a conclusion or solution. We do this however, and God created an external reality for us in order that we would know if our conclusions are true or false. We generate our thoughts from information gained from the senses, then we abstract concepts from them and sequentially compare them and seek the truth

    Well, there’s a lot to unpack here. First, I don’t think you have the right to claim anything about “universal expereince.”

    I would think that in your view I have the right to claim anything and everything. That’s a key problem, as I see it. In my experience, I have the right. I would think you would necessarily have to support that. To say that I don’t have the right would contradict my own experience – which has as much value as any.

    Second, you use what you NAME “an external material world” as the “basis” for your proof – but, that’s what the discussion is about – the nature of what you have NAMED “the external physical world.”

    I can refer to it without naming it. In other words, the exterior world does not exist because I named it. I believe it exists because I can prove that it does.

    Third, I’m not sure it is the “basis” of any proof, because without logic and math, which are entirely mental constructs, “proving” doesn’t exist.

    Well, we showed that math does not prove itself. We used a reference to prove that 1+1=2. It’s not just a mental concept.

    “Triangles have three sides”. That’s defining something. Now, when I see something called a triangle I can validate or falsify that by counting the actual sides.
    Logic is the same. We have to start with premises that are true and we validate by the external reality.
    All pine trees are plants
    This is a pine tree
    Therefore this is a plant.
    But this argument would be false if the first premise is false. But we accept the first premise because of our universal experience of plants and pine trees.
    The first principles of logic are proven in external reality. Otherwise, if they can be questioned as only conditionally correct – correct only because of consensus – then logic falls apart.

    Experience is caused by something. What do you think causes it?

    Mind.

    Do you believe that your mind is distinct from other minds?

    I wonder, do you believe that intelligent, rational beings with thoughts and experiences existed before the supposed external, physical world existed?

    Similar to my response on God’s mind – human reason (rationality) did not exist before humans. I believe angels were created by God as pure spirit. But there could be no rationality or logic where there is no sequence of time (moving from premise to conclusion). Where there is no time, there is no real process – things occur instantaneously. We call angels “intelligent” because they possess the spiritual power that God gave them. But they do not need to use logical arguments to arrive at conclusions. They go immediately to the truth of matters- they are in the presence of God so they apprehend the truth about being in one instance, without the need for arguments and proofs.
    As such, there is no need for an external material reality for them.
    For humans, there is such a need because we exist in the sequential development of time and our awareness grows towards the truth of things via reason and logic.

  105. 105
    juwilker says:

    SA @ 104

    I also am a Christian theist. I agree with many things you say, but sometimes I think you make too strong of statements that you cannot support. You speak as if you understand the mind of God.

    “God is outside of time. There is no sequential process of logic in God’s mind. God does not need logic – all conclusions are known instantaneously”

    I know that you think you understand these things, but I’m fairly certain you don’t. You are likely using the same revealed Scripture that I use. And these Scripture do not so strongly lead to the conclusions you state.

    We really have no idea what we mean when we say “God is outside of time” We can only describe it, not understand it or use for prediction, self enlightenment, or solidifying other truths (in my humble opinion). I think we need to be careful claiming that we know how God’s mind works.

  106. 106
    kairosfocus says:

    WJM, been busy, If we use base 3, 2 + 1 is one three and no units, 10_base 3. KF

  107. 107
    kairosfocus says:

    SA, once we have distinct things, even objects of rational imagination, || + | –> ||| will still obtain. The conscious experience of rational imagination is real, and first principles of reason and thence the logic of being apply. Abstracta such as numbers are real, though we may debate in what way. This extends to issues of ought, logical entailment and more. Further, our experience of an external world is is in key part mediated through conscious reflection and schemes of thought that turn that into confusion may freely be rejected as absurd. KF

  108. 108

    SA,

    I can refer to it without naming it. In other words, the exterior world does not exist because I named it. I believe it exists because I can prove that it does.

    I assume you mean, you can provide evidence and argument in favor of the theory that an independent, external physical world exists. There is also substantial quantum experimental evidence that the “independent, physical, external world” theory is incorrect.

    I don’t disagree that we have consensual experiences that make it appear as if we live in an external, independent physical reality; I’m just saying that the theory that an actual external physical reality exists is an unnecessary and limiting ideological perspective akin to materialism.

    I’m not saying it is not a useful theory. It is. But there is a difference between a theory being useful in a context, and being held as an ideological truth. With the latter, when evidence arrives on the scene that contra-indicates the theory or demonstrates problems with it, the evidence is dismissed, ignored or downplayed.

    I think the proper point here would be to ask if anyone has a theory that better explains the evidence and is more useful, or at least provides some practical benefit or means of testing.

    I think that the theory that the so-called “physical world” is some sort of mental/experiential construct is the place to start, and there has been (IMO) a lot of experimental and testimonial evidence to support this perspective.

  109. 109
    jdk says:

    wjm invokes quantum mechanics, as he has done in the past, in stating:

    There is also substantial quantum experimental evidence that the “independent, physical, external world” theory is incorrect. …

    I think that the theory that the so-called “physical world” is some sort of mental/experiential construct is the place to start, and there has been (IMO) a lot of experimental and testimonial evidence to support this perspective.

    I have pointed out several times that this is not a settled matter, and that prominent QM theorists have objected to this idea on the grounds that it leads to solipsism.

    Excerpt From: Adam Becker. “What Is Real?.” iBooks.

    “If wave functions are information rather than objects in themselves, they must be information of a rather peculiar sort. “Whose information?” demanded John Bell.
    “Information about what?”

    To resolve the measurement problem, information-theoretic interpretations had to answer these questions. The most immediate and Copenhagen-friendly answers were “my information” and “information about my observations”—but to Bell, such answers were profoundly inadequate.

    Placing observation at the center of physics smacked of positivism, a philosophy that Bell had entertained and rejected during his college days, concluding that it led inevitably to solipsism. Solipsism—the idea that you are the only person, and everyone and everything else is merely a hallucination of some kind in your own mind—was a problem that had haunted positivism from the start. Information-based interpretations of quantum physics ran the risk of collapsing into solipsism as well. If the information that the wave function represented was your information, what makes you so special? And how could different observers agree on the same information? How could your information appear to be an objective fact in the world, something capable of creating interference patterns plain for all to see?

    These same issues pertain to wjm’s thesis: if five people all report seeing that the rock broke the window, even though each person’s experience of that perception is available only to themself, the consensual agreement about what they saw is strong evidence that there is in fact a rock and a window external to themself.

    Yes, what we experience is mediated by the nature and capabilities of our senses (for instance, we could in theory see more of the electromagnetic spectrum to that the color of the rock would be different), so we can’t know the “thing-in-itself”: we can only know that thing as it appears to us (as Kant explained). But that doesn’t mean that the thing-in-itself doesn’t have an independent reality.

  110. 110

    jdk said:

    I have pointed out several times that this is not a settled matter,

    That local reality has been disproved is as settled as “disproved” and as “settled” as things get in the provisional nature of science. That photons and electrons are affected by conscious observation and not mere interaction with supposed physical surroundings is as settled as it gets in science.

    Just because materialism-committed physicists don’t like what the evidence implies doesn’t change any of that, as you allude to as you contniue:

    and that prominent QM theorists have objected to this idea on the grounds that it leads to solipsism.

    They object to this rational implication of the evidence on the grounds that they dislike where they think the implication leads.

    These same issues pertain to wjm’s thesis: if five people all report seeing that the rock broke the window, even though each person’s experience of that perception is available only to themself, the consensual agreement about what they saw is strong evidence that there is in fact a rock and a window external to themself.

    Yes, it is. I’ve never said otherwise. Just because the theory of an external reality is good at explaining a lot of evidence/experience doesn’t mean it is true. Insisting that evidence repeatedly gathered and proved via further experimentation doesn’t mean what it rationally indicates – that the external reality model is wrong – is displaying ideological commitment to the external reality model. It’s like clinging to the geocentric model when evidence clearly demonstrates that view is wrong.

    Yes, what we experience is mediated by the nature and capabilities of our senses (for instance, we could in theory see more of the electromagnetic spectrum to that the color of the rock would be different), so we can’t know the “thing-in-itself”: we can only know that thing as it appears to us (as Kant explained).But that doesn’t mean that the thing-in-itself doesn’t have an independent reality.

    No, but the quantum evidence that has disproved local reality has demonstrated exactly that very thing. It doesn’t render the “exterior reality” model unusable; it just means that what we experience is not what that model describes and that there are phenomena that do not fit that model. Unfortunately for external realists, that non-fitting phenomena is the deep foundation of all of what we experience as an “external physical reality”.

  111. 111
    juwilker says:

    WJM @ 110

    Have you considered that you might be trapped in the Cartesian Theater? Micheal Egnor has a fascinating article on the theory of perception. Does perception happen at the object or at the sensory organs?

    https://evolutionnews.org/2015/12/perception_and/

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