From Inspiring Philosophy:
There is no greater problem for materialists and physicalists that trying to explain how the brain could create consciousness. This video argues the hard problem implies the mind cannot reduce to matter.
Hat tip: Philip Cunningham
See also: Post-modern science: The illusion of consciousness sees through itself
37 Replies to “New vid on the Hard Problem of Consciousness”
No brain, no consciousness. It’s a no-brainer.
None so blind as those who refuse to see.
And seversky would know about not having a brain. Who, in their right mind, would believe that blind and mindless processes produced minds from the mindless? Seriously, how desperate do you have to be to believe such nonsense?
Wow! Sev solves the hard problem of consciousness with seven words!!!
All along the answer had something to do with brains. Who knew?
Idiot. It is no wonder that you post behind a pseudonym. Doubtless we would get far less idiotic drivel of this sort if we made people stand up and put their names beside their words.
Apparently, it works like this.
Matter by itself is not conscious (unless you’re a cosmic humanist). BUT, if you get a really big machine with electrical stuff in it . . . lots of electrical wires and components and stuff, then something happens. It lights up and becomes conscious! You just have to make it big enough or complicated enough and then it will light up.
A brain is like that too. It’s a big hunk of meat with electricity running through it and there are YouTube videos that show lights moving around it it so at some point it becomes conscious and lights up because it’s complicated.
That’s what I my science teacher told me and we all believe in science.
Barry Arrington: Doubtless we would get far less idiotic drivel of this sort if we made people stand up and put their names beside their words.
Mentioning this brought up a question in my mind: have you Barry personally had to deal with any blowback from your public support for intelligent design? Aside from here of course or other online forums which tend to be pretty nasty. I know that Kairosfocus has stated that he uses a pseudonym because he has received abusive messages and even threats.
I think we can all agree that any kind of overly abusive or threatening behaviour is wrong and that, probably, keeping those who wish to be so anonymous is a fairly good line of protection.
the baseline issue is, the undeniable point that absent true freedom of choice, we cannot freely follow a line of argument or make a judgement. Instead, any computational substrate is in the end a programmed, dynamic-stochastic system (typically involving feedback loops and memory). That is, such a substrate is inherently non-rational, a programmed calculator governed by GIGO.
Either we are rational, responsible, significantly free morally governed creatures, or in the end the perception of rationality and responsibility is a grand delusion. But, on that, if we are rational enough to genuinely argue against freedom, the argument is self-referentially incoherent.
If we are not free enough to so argue, it’s just your GIGO vs mine and all of this is grand delusion.
We are reduced to accepting morally governed rationality as the antecedent to rationality, just to argue about it.
And that’s whether or no we can come up with a model like the Eng Smith two-tier controller cybernetic loop model, on which brain-CNS neural networks are in the loop computational substrate controllers and such are supervised, with others suggesting quantum level influences and interfaces.
And BTW, as animals have neural network based brains as built-in computational substrates, that would readily explain Sev’s correlation while showing failure of the correlation to identify cause. Sev has a hidden, a priori evolutionary materialist premise that begs the question and is actually self referentially incoherent given the dynamic-stochastic system issue. Of course, a common onward move as we have seen for many years at UD is the compatibilist redefinition of rationality, responsibility and freedom. That also fails for much the same reason.
At least, the Smith model allows us to discuss the matter on a plausible basis. That’s why I have pointed to it ever so many times over the years.
PS: Obviously, I am not strictly anonymous (and that is not just because various trolls over the years have done online and even on the ground stalking). What I found, was that the use of my name led to spamming surges. As one consequence, I had to resort to crazy length passwords to stop regular breaking into email.
Seversky has made this following claim numerous times here on UD,
And numerous times Seversky has been shown, via Near Death Experiences, that we do have plenty of evidence for consciousness existing apart from the material brain,
In fact, Seversky has also been shown numerous times that the evidence for the validity of Near Death Experiences is far more robust than the evidence for Darwinian evolution is. As Dr. Michael Egnor explains, “Tens of millions of people have had such experiences. That is tens of millions of more times than we have observed the origin of species , (or the origin of life, or the origin of a protein/gene, or of a molecular machine), which is never.,,,”
Thus, although Seversky has been repeatedly corrected on his claim, “No brain, no consciousness”, he keeps repeating it anyway as if he had not been corrected numerous times.
I guess he is forced to keep repeating his false claim since he, as a dogmatic atheist, simply has nothing else that he can do.
Why Seversky would even try to deny the reality of life after death in the first place I have no idea. Who in their right mind would prefer an absolute end to their and their loved ones existence, i.e. eternal death, over eternal life with your loved ones in a indescribably beautiful heavenly paradise?
If you bothered to watch the video, which of course is very doubtful on the part of any of our regular interlocutors, you’d learn that stones are not ripples. That is, even though stones are correlated with ripples and even are the cause of the ripples a stone is not a ripple. So in other words, even if the brain is correlated with consciousness that doesn’t explain what consciousness is or how the brain or any other systematic array of matter causes it. I want to make my computer conscious. Tell me how to do it. Of course to do that you first have to tell me what consciousness is.
This video perfectly illustrates why the theory of mental reality is far superior to the theory that an external physical world exists. 1st, all experience occurs in mind, so there can never be direct evidence that anything external of mind exists, conversely, we live in virtually continuous, direct experience of mind and mental phenomena. Our experience of mind and mental states is entirely empirical.
Secondly, as the video demonstrates, physical properties of the brain do not, and cannot, translate into qualities of experience. Therefore, if I touch something, the supposed physical sensory stimuli that causes neuron patterns cannot be said to “produce” the mental qualia of touching that thing. There is no bridging the gap between the physical and the mental.
If you cannot get mind from matter, you cannot get mental qualia from matter because matter cannot transfer qualia it does not have to give.
IMO, belief in an external, material, physical reality is a form of materialism. Here’s the weird irony: non-materialists believe that mental phenomena does not rely on matter such as the brain. They would argue that experience continues even after the death of the physical body in a “spiritual” world, or would point to NDE evidence where people saw and heard things independent of their physical eyes, ears, and even with brain function reduced to zero.
In theory of mental reality, there is no “hard problem” of consciousness or interaction (between mind and the physical) because there is no external physical world that would generate this problem in the first place.
The evidence and the logic, indeed the very empirical nature of our existence, all point to the same conclusion: there is no external physical world. The only reason that theory persists is habit and ideology.
Until one can explain how the gap between physical state and mental qualia is bridged, I wouldn’t even say the idea that an external, physical reality exists even rises to the level of “theory.” Until then, it is nothing but a hypothesis not only lacking direct evidence, but logically precluded from ever finding such evidence and without even so much as a working model on how physical states transfer to or cause mental experience.
IOW, the idea of an external, physical universe is just as unsupportable, perhaps even more so, as the theory of evolution. There is LITERALLY no evidence that even implies an external, physical world exists, once one understands that all experience actually occurs in mind.
I think Seversky’s post is rather clever. In fact it is the only lucid comment on this whole muddled topic…
Earth to Chuck- neither you nor seversky knows of a blind and mindless process capable of producing brains from the brainless. So either way, you lose.
Not so clever now, are you?
Chuck, perhaps you could tell us how the chemicals and electricity in the brain give rise to mental states such as subject-object awareness, intentionality, and qualia. Stating, as Sev did, “its all just a product of the brain” explains absolutely nothing. That you would think that silly statement is clever speaks volumes.
BTW Chuck don’t bore us with “emergence,” that confession of ignorance masquerading as an explanation.
I concede (A) that it’s possible there is some unknown natural cause x that could account for the origin of consciousness and mind.
However, (B) it’s also logically possible that there is some unknown intelligent cause y that could account for the origin of consciousness and mind.
Logically there is no difference between A and B (both are logically possible) since we do not know how consciousness and mind originated (but if you do know please go ahead and tell us.) However, if we scratch beneath the surface we discover that B some unknown intelligent cause has more explanatory scope and power than A— that is, nothing that we know about unknown natural causes alone are sufficient explain the things we find to be unique about mind and consciousness. It comes down to the question that I and others have asked our interlocutors many times:
How does an undirected, mindless natural process create mind and consciousness?
Hey Sev since you know so much why don’t you put down how the brain creates consciousness also explain to me why creatures without brains have consciousness
So you’re just flat wrong “no brain no consciousness it’s a no brainer”
Pretty sure jellyfish, bacteria, and plants all experience something and none of which have brains
So please explain because I’m really tired of your one-liners that really don’t make sense they seem really cool until you actually work at reality and realize how absolutely asinine they are
Saying something snarky or kind of clever does it make your point right and it never will but you can keep entertaining people with those
In my past, two close friends went unconscious. One suddenly woke up after six months, the other sadly never did. When I was in school, a biology prof once told us that our expected state would be unconsciousness and that he didn’t know why we were conscious.
Speaking of one-liners . . .
A psych professor, droning on in his brutally boring freshman class included this statement in one of his lectures:
While everyone else in the class was dutifully copying down this pronouncement, I decided to break the monotony:
Confusion played over his face for a second and then he repeated:
That was that. End of inquiry.
But . . . in his excitement at receiving an actual question, he accidentally lifted his finger from the notes he was reading to us! Apparently, this left him no choice but to start back at the top of the page to the groans of my classmates.
So there we have it. According to a tenured psych professor many years ago, your consciousness is simply an overt act! I guess the science was settled back then. Case closed.
After class, I asked him about the source of our overt acts and asked me whether I believed that there was “a man within the man.” I don’t remember my reply, but I guess he was angling for an infinite regression argument.
I think to understand “mind” or consciousness we have to begin with a few fundamental questions:
Do you exist? How do you know you exist? Is your existence real?
I would argue you know you exist (like I know I exist) because you are conscious of your own existence. However, if the conscious experience of your existence is real then what is consciousness? Does it have a chemical formula? A circuit diagram? If consciousness is created by the brain, how does the brain create it? And, what exactly does it create? Is it something we can measure and analyze like electrons, protons or photons? We can “objectively” analyze the brain. Can we analyze and study consciousness in the same way?
David Chalmers puts it this way:
David J. Chalmers, The Conscious Mind: In Search of a Fundamental Theory
I would argue that if consciousness and mind can’t be studied in the same way then ontologically it is different and distinct from the physical things we study in science. If it’s different and distinct from physical world then that’s dualism.
However, anyone who make a truth claim has the burden of proof. Therefore, a materialist just cannot claim that dualism is false without explaining what consciousness is and how it came into existence from mindless matter. If he can’t answer questions like those he is not justified in making the argument that any form of dualism is false.
Other than accepting arguendo that natural causes can somehow generate consciousness, there’s really no reason to think it is even possible.
Also, I’m not sure it makes sense to say that it is possible for ID to account for the “origin” of consciousness. ID requires consciousness, so it cannot account for it’s “origin.” An “origin” of consciousness would imply a state of non-consciousness preceding it. I’m not sure that is rational, which leads to what is a very interesting line of reasoning – at least, interesting to me.
If consciousness cannot be created from non-consciousness, that implies that consciousness is eternal. I’m not even sure that consciousness, in the full meaning of that word, can come to an end or be turned off, so to speak. We experience various states of consciousness, but is one ever fully “non-conscious?” Doesn’t the statement, “Joe is fully non-conscious now” contradict itself? It can’t be Joe that would be fully non-conscious, because Joe is the consciousness being discussed. We’d be talking about something, but it would not be Joe. Joe could not be “non-conscious.” Being what we call “unconscious” is not the same thing as not being in any state of consciousness at all; “unconscious” is how we describe a certain state of consciousness.
It seems to me that there is a line of reasoning somewhere in this that would lead to the conclusion that consciousness cannot be created or ended; it is necessarily fundamental and eternal in nature. That’s more intuitive right now, I’m going to have to give that some thought.
It is impossible for blind and mindless processes to produce a living organism, let alone one with a brain.
As for the argument that we cannot know for certain that an external physical world exists, I would agree that we cannot know that for “certain”, as in “proven absolutely”, as for a mathematical proven theorem. However, few things in the “real world” are proven to that level of certainty, and in the personal mental world, I submit that even fewer things can be “proven”, aside from the fact of one’s own existence – whatever that means.
Nevertheless, there does exist evidence, accessible to anyone, that the external physical world is very probably real. I will cite a few possible examples:
1. I know by experience that my memory is poor and selective, yet whenever I look at my computer screen, or any other supposed physical item, it appears to be the “same” to me as the last time I looked. Indeed, if it is not the same, I detect something amiss, even if I cannot put my (mental) finger on it. This is to say that the reality of physical objects seems to be more fixed, even in my mind, than mental objects, which often shift and drift around.
2. When a person writes something and saves it or prints it, and then returns to it later, that person is often surprised to find a typo or error. If the writing is entirely in one’s mind, how can the mind be “surprised” by an apparent change (or error) in it? Similarly, when I go over what I wrote long ago, I am surprised at how simple my idea was, or how I have changed my views, or alternately, I can occasionally be surprised at how clever or wise I was back then. How is that possible if all writing is just a mental construct?
3. Finally (for now), there are “other people”. Unless you are a solipsist, you believe that other people are real and not merely your own mental constructions. Given the existence of other minds, when two converse together, there is some transfer of symbolic meaning from one to the other, via the physical and physiological and mental channels of communication, and following the conversation shows that some portion of that meaning is shared. If two people agree on a description of a physical object neither has “seen” before, then surely that object has some reality apart from either person’s mental state? Similarly, if we can have an intelligible conversation about something a third party wrote, then surely the writing is “real” somehow apart from the two people conversing?
Of course there may be some philosophical arguments to discount the above evidence, but I imagine that most people who think enough about it will agree that the external physical world exists in some form, even if we cannot “know” it directly. In any case, we all certainly operate as if the external physical world was real.
ET: It is impossible for blind and mindless processes to produce a living organism, let alone one with a brain.
How do you know it’s impossible? Extremely unlikely maybe, but impossible?
Impossible. How do I know? The same way I know it is impossible for a 200 watt space heater to heat the entire planet.
We have a new acronym: The Argument Rebutting Design- TARD
Hey what happened to Ed George and the other guy that feverishly argued with Barry over Covid
Accepting the mind does exist is no different than accepting morality exists. Neither can exist on any level according to Darwinists. Yet Darwinists use morality to support their argument, just as they use the mind. Animals do not have deep thoughts, but humans do. There can be no philosophy without God.
BR, nailed it. KF
As Inspiring Philosophy stated at the start of his video, if you google ‘the hard problem’, you will be presented with, not with any mathematical equation, or anything like that, but your search will prominently feature ‘the hard problem of consciousness.
As Professor of Psychology David Barash states in the following article, an article which happens to be entitled “the hardest problem in science?”, “But the hard problem of consciousness is so hard that I can’t even imagine what kind of empirical findings would satisfactorily solve it. In fact, I don’t even know what kind of discovery would get us to first base, not to mention a home run.”
Materialists simply do not have any realistic clue how anything material could ever generate the inner subjective consciousness experience of qualia, i.e. ‘the hard problem’. Here are a few quotes that make this point clear.
And whereas the inner subjective experience of qualia absolutely refuses to lend itself to physical examination, there are other aspects of the immaterial mind that do lend themselves to physical examination.
Specifically, ‘Persistence of Self-Identity through time’ (which may also be termed ‘the experience of ‘the Now”), and ‘free will’ both lend themselves to physical examination in our present day experiments in quantum mechanics.
As to defining the specific mental attribute of the ‘Persistence of Self-Identity through time’ (and/or ‘the experience of ‘the Now”), it is first important to note that we each have a unique perspective of being outside of time. In fact we each seemingly watch from some mysterious outside perspective of time as time seemingly passes us by. Simply put, we seem to be standing on an island of ‘now’ as the river of time continually flows past us.
As Stanley Jaki states “There can be no active mind without its sensing its existence in the moment called now.,,, ,,,There is no physical parallel to the mind’s ability to extend from its position in the momentary present to its past moments, or in its ability to imagine its future. The mind remains identical with itself while it lives through its momentary nows.”
And as Stanley Jaki also alluded to in the preceding article, ‘the experience of ‘the now” also happens to be exactly where Albert Einstein got into trouble with leading philosophers of his day and also happens to be exactly where Einstein eventually got into trouble with quantum mechanics itself. As Jaki related, around 1935 Einstein was asked by Rudolf Carnap (who was a philosopher):
Einstein’s answer was categorical, he said:
Prior to that encounter with Carnap, Einstein also had another disagreement with another famous philosopher, Henri Bergson, over what the proper definition of time should be (Bergson was also very well versed in the specific mental attribute of the ‘experience of the now’). In fact, that disagreement with Henri Bergson over what the proper definition of time should actually be was one of the primary reasons that Einstein failed to ever receive a Nobel prize for his work on relativity:
The specific statement that Einstein made to Carnap on the train, “The experience of ‘the now’ cannot be turned into an object of physical measurement, it can never be a part of physics.” was a very interesting statement for Einstein to make to the philosopher since “The experience of ‘the now’ has, from many recent experiments in quantum mechanics, established itself as very much being a defining part of our physical measurements in quantum mechanics.
For instance, the following delayed choice experiment with atoms demonstrated that, “It proves that measurement is everything. At the quantum level, reality does not exist if you are not looking at it,”
Likewise, the following violation of Leggett’s inequality stressed the quantum-mechanical assertion that reality does not exist when we’re not observing it.
The Mind First and/or Theistic implications of quantum experiments such as the preceding are fairly obvious. As Professor Scott Aaronson of MIT once quipped, “Look, we all have fun ridiculing the creationists,,, But if we accept the usual picture of quantum mechanics, then in a certain sense the situation is far worse: the world (as you experience it) might as well not have existed 10^-43 seconds ago!”
Thus the specific mental attribute of ‘the experience of the now’ does indeed lend itself to physical examination in that ‘the now’ takes precedence in quantum mechanics. Many more lines of evidence along this line are presented in this following video.
Thus these recent experiments in quantum mechanics, (contrary to what Einstein himself thought was possible for experimental physics), have now shown, in overwhelming fashion, that ‘the experience of the now’ is very much a part of experimental physics. In fact, due to these advances in quantum mechanics, it would now be much more appropriate to rephrase Einstein’s answer to the philosopher Rudolph Carnap in this way:
Likewise, and as mentioned previously, the mental attribute of ‘free will’ also lends itself to physical examination and also makes its presence known to us in recent experiments with quantum mechanics.
Steven Weinberg, who is an atheist, states, ‘In the instrumentalist approach (in quantum mechanics) humans are brought into the laws of nature at the most fundamental level.,,, the instrumentalist approach turns its back on a vision that became possible after Darwin, of a world governed by impersonal physical laws that control human behavior along with everything else.,,, In quantum mechanics these probabilities do not exist until people choose what to measure,,, Unlike the case of classical physics, a choice must be made,,,’
In fact Weinberg, again an atheist, rejected the instrumentalist approach precisely because “humans are brought into the laws of nature at the most fundamental level” and because it undermined the Darwinian worldview from within. Yet, regardless of how he and other atheists may prefer the world to behave, quantum mechanics itself could care less how atheists prefer the world to behave.
For instance, this recent 2019 experimental confirmation of the “Wigner’s Friend” thought experiment established that “measurement results,, must be understood relative to the observer who performed the measurement”.
Likewise, as leading experimentalist Anton Zeilinger states in the following video, “what we perceive as reality now depends on our earlier decision what to measure. Which is a very, very, deep message about the nature of reality and our part in the whole universe. We are not just passive observers.”
As well, with contextuality we find that, “In the quantum world, the property that you discover through measurement is not the property that the system actually had prior to the measurement process. What you observe necessarily depends on how you carried out the observation”
Moreover, although there have been several major loopholes in quantum mechanics over the past several decades that atheists have tried to appeal to in order to try to avoid the ‘spooky’ Theistic implications of quantum mechanics, over the past several years each of those major loopholes have each been closed one by one. The last major loophole that was left to be closed was the “setting independence” and/or the ‘free-will’ loophole:
And now Anton Zeilinger and company have recently, as of 2018, pushed the ‘free will loophole’ back to 7.8 billion years ago, thereby firmly establishing the ‘common sense’ fact that the free will choices of the experimenter in the quantum experiments are truly free and are not determined by any possible causal influences from the past for at least the last 7.8 billion years, and that the experimenters themselves are therefore shown to be truly free to choose whatever measurement settings in the experiments that he or she may so desire to choose so as to ‘logically’ probe whatever aspect of reality that he or she may be interested in probing.
Thus regardless of how Steven Weinberg and other atheists may prefer the universe to behave, with the closing of the last remaining free will loophole in quantum mechanics, “humans are indeed brought into the laws of nature at the most fundamental level”, and thus these recent findings from quantum mechanics directly undermine, as Weinberg himself stated, the “vision that became possible after Darwin, of a world governed by impersonal physical laws that control human behavior along with everything else.”
Moreover allowing free will and/or Agent causality into the laws of physics at their most fundamental level has some fairly profound implications for us personally.
First and foremost, allowing the Agent causality of God ‘back’ into physics, as the Christian founders of modern science originally envisioned,,,, (Isaac Newton, Michael Faraday, James Clerk Maxwell, and Max Planck, to name a few of the Christian founders),,, and as quantum mechanics itself now empirically demands (with the closing of the free will loophole by Anton Zeilinger and company), rightly allowing the Agent causality of God ‘back’ into physics provides us with a very plausible resolution for the much sought after ‘theory of everything’ in that Christ’s resurrection from the dead provides an empirically backed reconciliation, via the Shroud of Turin, between quantum mechanics and general relativity into the much sought after ‘Theory of Everything”. Here are a few posts where I lay out and defend some of the evidence for that claim:
To give us a small glimpse of the power that was involved in Christ’s resurrection from the dead, the following recent article found that, ”it would take 34 Thousand Billion Watts of VUV radiations to make the image on the shroud. This output of electromagnetic energy remains beyond human technology.”
Thanks for at least interacting with the subject of my comment!
Regarding examples 1 & 2 you cite as evidence that an external world exists, your argument is that some mental-world qualities differ significantly from some non-mental world qualities. There are two problems with this; first, it assumes your conclusion, that there is a non-mental world that can have qualities in the first place. The second problem is that the “qualities” of the supposed “non-mental” external world must be qualities available for representation in your mental world if you are experiencing them. Otherwise, you could not experience them even if the external world offered them. We would only be capable of experiencing qualities of any presumed external world that which we have the mental capacity to experience. Thus, if we have the mental capacity to experience something caused by any supposed external world, that experience can occur without the external world because all experience ultimately occurs entirely in mind.
Look at it this way: a presumed external world might be offering us all kinds of experiences, but unless our mind is already capable of generating that experience internally to properly represent what is occurring externally, we cannot experience it. Thus, the capacity to experience anything any external world offers must already exist within mind in order to experience it.
As far as your challenge in #3, the idea of solipsism is rooted in the assumption of external reality theory. Much like “the hard problem of consciousness,” it’s a non-issue under mental reality theory. It doesn’t even exist within mental reality theory as a meaningful concept.
It might be useful to use the analogy of a hologram when thinking about mental reality theory in that the information for the entire hologram exists within every part of the hologram. Yes, other parts of the hologram exist, and they also contain all the information of the hologram, including that of the perspective of the first part, within it. IOW, when it comes to other people, we are all internal of each other, not external of each other. The “externalness” of each other is a caused representation of the internal information, so to speak.
As far as the rest of #3, I think I’ve already addressed that: in order to experience any quality of any supposed external physical world, the capacity for the experience of that quality must already exist in the mind, so this whole category of objection against mental reality requires the very capacity you are arguing that mind doesn’t have on its own, AND it assumes the conclusion – that what we experience as an external, consistent world is not entirely mental in nature.
Ultimately, you are attempting to argue that because two mental experiences apparently have different systemic qualities, that means one of them is necessarily OF something external to mind. Yet, several kinds mental phenomena have different systemic qualities. Dreams. Imagination. Memory. Emotions. Desires. Reason.
Just because a category of mental phenomena has different systemic qualities doesn’t indicate it is not entirely a mental phenomena.
I will respond to your conclusion separtely.
Fasteddious, you said:
Whether or not “most people” would agree with you or I if they “think enough about it” isn’t really relevant because the vast majority of people believe an external physical world exists regardless of how much they think about it. I think we can agree that most people don’t think about this question at all; from their perspective, it is so obviously a fact to them it doesn’t even rise to the level of even a smidgen of doubt.
However, once one realizes the nature of all personal experience, we recognize as self-evidently true that all experience occurs within mind, regardless of what that experience is about or caused by. This means that we all live entirely within our own mind, even if that mind exists within a greater, external-world framework.
Here’s the irony: the external-world perspective necessarily makes each individual a functional solipsist. IOW, as a result of external-world theory, I cannot even hope to see who you are, communicate with you, understand you (or for that matter, any quality of the external world); all I can hope to do is interact with whatever my mind generates as a representation of those things, and there is no way to test the accuracy of that representation, even in theory.
Again, this is the result of (1) understanding all experience is mental in nature, and (2) assuming that part of our mental experience is caused by a presumed external world. The result of these two things (the first a self-evident truth, the second a theory that must accommodate the first) is functional solipsism, meaning that as a consequence, I would be living entirely in my own isolated mental bubble with no way to test the fidelity of my mental representation of the external world. This problem becomes even more glaring once we understand this necessary truth: there is no way anyone can verify there even is an actual, external world in the first place, much less test the fidelity of our experiences against it. We must assume entirely on faith that (1) it exists, and (2), the means by which we test fidelity is even relevant to what actually exists outside of our mental representations.
What if what actually exists external to our mind (under the external-world premise) is a vast ocean of quantum-field potential? What would “fidelity” even mean if that is the case? Fidelity to what, an infinite number of possibilities? Superpositions of possible states?
With mental reality theory, there is no issue of fidelity. You don’t have to take the existence of an entire category of reality on faith, and there is no “interaction” problem.
What most people think, regardless of how much they think about this, is irrelevant. The idea that we all act as if there is an external, physical world is a categorical thinking error because we have no way of knowing what that external world is. We have no way of knowing what any external world is like, so we cannot possibly be acting as if there is one.
We are all acting as if part of our experience, that with certain systemic qualities, are shared experiences with other people. The only way that is remotely possible is if we exist in shared mental space. If we exist as bubbles of mental experience floating around independently in some external, non-mental world, there is literally no hope of sharing mental experience, no hope of meaningful communication. This is functional solipsism.
Blatant examples of shared mental space can be found by looking at math, logic, morality and self-evident truths. There are universal qualities of mind that cannot be reconciled with the idea that that we are independently individual mental bubbles in an external world. That we find purely mental qualities fundamentally built into and driving the category of experience we refer to as “the external, physical world” is clear, overwhelming evidence that what we call “the external, physical world” is actually mental in nature.
We have examined this aspect of our experience – what we call the external, physical world – to the point of knowing it is not inherently physical at all; it is informational. Information can only exist in the mind. The inviolable principles of logic – a purely mental quality – are necessarily observed in this category of experience. Fundamental mathematics are invariably observed.
As KF has observed multiple times, in no possible world does 1+1=3, or A not equal A. Why would all potential physical worlds external of mind have purely mental, necessary, fundamental qualities?
The most efficient answer: what we call the external, physical world actually exists entirely within, and is comprised entirely of, mind. Thus, it operates according to mental principles and rules. It is a category of mental experience.
From what I know and have studied there are ontologically speaking three basic world views: (1) naturalism/ materialism– matter is the fundamental stuff that explains everything else. Mind and consciousness are derivative. (2) Theism– capital-M Mind is fundamental. Everything else the world we perceive and interact with, including other small-m minds is derived or created by an eternally existing transcendent Mind (God.) And finally (3) pantheism, the monistic “view that God is identical with the cosmos,” which therefore rejects the idea of God or Mind being transcendent or ontologically distinct from the universe.
In addition to these three basic world views there is the epistemological issue of idealism vs. realism. That is, how closely do the things I perceive out there in the world correspond with the way things really are? Kant for instance took the agnostic view that we do not know, indeed we cannot know, anything about things in themselves (das ding an sich.) Realists contend that our cognitive apprehension of the things out there can be quite accurate– though obviously this varies from person to person.
However, like anything else idealism and realism can be taken to the extreme. For example, there are materialists who completely deny the existence of conscious experience– “consciousness is just an illusion.” They are not just making an epistemological claim they are making an ontological claim about the nature of consciousness. At the other extreme there are idealists that reject that the world out there really exists. That is we are living in some kind of virtual reality or VR.
This actually gets spun off as another world view VR idealism or in a more extreme form as solipsism. WJM appears to be advocating VR idealism. However, the debate on this thread and this site is fundamentally a debate between naturalism/ materialism and ID which from what I have seen takes a scientific realistic view of the world that there are things in the world that can really be studies and understood empirically. The evidence of this? The advance of science over the last 300 years. While ID takes a view that is agnostic about the identity of the designer it argues that the way things really exist in world there is evidence of intelligent design which natural causes, at least as we presently understand those causes, is insufficient to explain.
It is a mistake for the anti-dualist to argue that Cartesian substance dualism is the only kind of dualism. For example, neurosurgeon Michael Egnor embraces a Thomist-Aristotelian view known as hylemorphism which basically sees mind and body, consciousness and matter as two sides of the same coin.
In fact Egnor sees Descarte’s substance dualism as problematic and misleading (as I do, though I’m no expert.)
Does Egnor’s hylemorphic view explain everything? No, not really.
However, anyone who make a truth claim has the burden of proof. Therefore, a materialist just cannot claim that dualism is false without explaining what consciousness is and how it came into existence from mindless matter. If he can’t answer questions like those he is not justified in making the argument that any form of dualism is false.
In another article Egnor argues…
In the case of Wilder Penfield he arrived at his belief in dualism as a result of his pioneering work in neuro-surgery. Similarly, Jeffery Schwartz’s work with OCD patients led him to reject materialistic presuppositions formed the the basis of neuroscience. He found the therapies based on behavioral (materialistic) psychology to be dehumanizing to those afflicted with obsessive-compulsive disorders. He pioneered his therapy which emphasized the patients will power. He came to the conclusion that human mind and volition are not the same as brain function. In other words, I am not my brain. Human personality, mind and volition stand over and above the brain. That sounds like a form of dualism to me.
I think some of y’all failed to see Seversky was making a pun.
Well, it really wasn’t that profound or funny.
Or maybe we should continue along that line with . . .
– No spine, no courage. Just leaves you spineless.
– No heart, no compassion. Obviously heartless.
– No guts, no glory. Simply gutless.