Uncommon Descent Serving The Intelligent Design Community

The Hate-Monger of the Gaps


[From a colleague:]

The problem is that methodological naturalism prevents us from detecting a “hate” crime, since “hate” is an immaterial property had by agents that can only be inferred from behavior, speech, etc. Other minds cannot be observed, just inferred by analogy, like the traditional argument from design.

Because it is always possible that what appears to be “hate” may very well be the result of non-agent causes that merely manifest themselves in a way that appear to be agent caused, attributing “hate” to a cluster of cells we call a “human being” is just “hate-monger of the gaps.” It is an argument from ignorance because we have not yet discovered the non-agent causes that made the hate come into being.

DaveScot, I think this thread is played out and you're long gone, but here is a report on anomolous transient weight-gain-at-death in sheep. There doesn't seem to be a lot of agreement on whether current weighs anything. Quantum-like, it depends on how you define it. I know one thing. I weigh less after the 120 blows the cordless drill out of my hand. pmob1
taciturnus, Yes, I’ll do that, and feel free likewise. I checked and I have a Kant here, a Cambridge softcover entitled Religion within the Limits of Mere Reason. I think I got it from Amazon. I opened it some months ago and the print was so small that I knew it would have to wait until temperatures were well below zero. However, that is coming right up hereabouts. I have no experience with Aquinas. I did read Chesterton’s Dumb Ox last winter, which I liked a lot. Could you recommend an edition of Aquinas? Did he ever do a formal refutation of gnosticism? I think you're right about scientism discounting the old arguments out of hand. I think materialism is a sham but I'm too ignorant of the arguments to respond in a direct and effective way. pmob1
Pmob1, I'm enjoying this conversation and if you want to continue it, drop me a line at the email listed in my profile. We are going to fall off a cliff here thread-wise. It turns out that I am currently in the middle of reading Kant's "Critique of Pure Reason". I haven't found it as difficult as I thought I would, maybe because I came in with some pretty fearful expectations given its reputation. But I have read a lot of Aquinas, and maybe that was good prep. My contribution to this thread began when the subject of the materiality of the mind came up... this is a subject that holds a continuing fascination for me. I join in when it comes up because I want to find out if scientific materialists actually have an answer to Aristotle, Aquinas and Kant regarding the immateriality of the mind, or do they just dismiss the classical arguments without ever understanding them. In my experience, the latter is always the case. It's as though merely shouting the word "science" somehow makes Aquinas and Kant disappear and eliminates the need to answer them. Cheers, Dave T. taciturnus
Taciturnus, I see now that I originally made a claim about "raw matter," an incorrect choice of words. Should have been "raw sensation." Thanks for the objection. Caused me to try to think through these things. pmob1
Taciturnus, Sorry for delay. I’m not well-versed in this stuff. I’m not arguing for raw sensation except in rare instances, which I’ll return to in a bit. I’m not sure which philosophical category I fit into. Maybe you can suggest one. I think we sense actual external objects. They are unique to our subjectivity if only because we observe them from a unique position, viz. we might each see the same completion near the goal line but from slightly different angles. Perceptions are also usually in context of understanding. I believe the philosophers say “intelligible.” (I am one of those people who think sense and intellect are separate but that intellect must be informed by sense.) I think almost all perceptions are intelligible, i.e. sense and intellect in cooperation. But sometimes we experience “raw sensation,” which is perception without intelligibility. The episodes are rare and fleeting because intellect butts in quickly and starts “placing” things. You write: “Can we know things as they are in themselves (Aristotle’s view) or only our subjective perception of them (Kant’s view)?” I think the concept of “as they are in themselves” is erroneous because it predicates an object with no subject. But object implies subject, and vice versa. The terms have no meaning by themselves. A similar error occurs when people say that our “ideas” are the only objects or our perceptions, i.e., as representations of (inscrutable) “raw matter.” This is erroneous in two ways. First, how can a thing (idea) be said to represent that which is unrepresentable? Second, how can a thing (idea) be both subject and object? That usage invalidates its own terms. I think Kant participates in these errors with his transcendental categories but I’d have to read him again to be sure. I don’t think I could possibly bring myself to do this unless, perhaps, I built and liberally used a certain contraption made known to me by DaveScot. So I don’t think there is anything like “pure subjectivity” or “raw matter.” We know things imperfectly, by using our intellect and senses. I would not completely divide subject and object any more than I would completely divide intellect and sense. To do so is a logical error. What I was talking about was not “raw matter” but just (momentarily) unintelligible matter. I think you could call it “raw sensation” in (and only in) that sense. A radio comes on. You hear, in progress, what is apparently the lead-in to a tune. You can’t place it at all. You can’t even find the beat. It sounds totally bizarre and without form, a kind of backward-moebius noise. All you can’t say is: “What the hell… ?” Very quickly, your intellect starts sorting it out and the “raw” thing is over. In fact, it’s the bridge to Jingle Bell Rock. You can’t believe you didn’t recognize it and you have great difficulty recalling any quality of the perception except its strangeness. You wish you could bring it back because it was some kinda gnarly, like really interesting in a way. But you can’t get at it. Nevertheless, you experienced it. However, this is not an apprehension of “raw matter” or anything like that. It’s a much more modest thing, an example of unintelligible perception. Episodes like that highlight for us the extent to which our perceptions are pre-organized and, failing that, quickly re-organized. We get a glimpse of the intellect scrambling to get back in the picture. I think people get there when they drop acid, which allows quite long sustains of this phenomenon. However, it’s a closed system and a waste of time in the sense that all you’re doing putting your intellect out of whack. Much better to just try new stuff, bust moves, stretch envelopes… pmob1
DaveScot, I recently started a collection of short but interesting "found" sentences that, due to their singular strangeness (or CSI, if you will), have probably never been uttered before in the history of the language. Your sentence is the newest on my list: "Pleiodesic subspaces remind me of muffler bearings." -- Dave Scott, December 2005 keiths
Some are confusing impulses within the brain to subjective thoughts. Sit down right now and try to decide what your state of mind or mood is. Are you overjoyed? Are you depressed? Are you 10% happy but 90% depressed? Could a brain scan show either way? Hardly...which is why there is such trouble finding meds that will help with depression, anxiety, and other mood disorders (if they are, in fact, disorders- is a "depressive" mood actually abnormal?) The SSRIs for instance- there's new evidence that the levels of serontonin in the brain have little if anything to do with the feeling of depression...dopamine and other brain chemicals are thought to possibly contribute to certain moods, but no one knows. I know, firsthand, all about the complete failure of medicine to deal in any concrete, significant way with issues of mood. Fact is- moods are mysterious, pinpointing the causes and results (as well as labelling) of each mood and combinations of moods is even more of a challenge- especially when the patient himself cannot even fully express their own moods and feelings. We cannot pinpoint the reason for various moods or even map them...implulses and moods and feelings and thoughts are different things. Impulses are mechanistic in the sense that your brain demands a part of your body do something, or your 5 senses bring in information and the brain fires in a certain pattern to recognize these bits of data to process them into mental images, soundscapes, etc. No brain scans have (yet) shown various moods or actual thoughts. There have been brain scans that can with some accuracy guess which image of 2 you're looking at based on the way the brain cells fire off (the pattern.) But, that's a sensation from outside being processed...it's not an actual thought. My eyes see the screen now, and my brain fires in a certain way to process the screen, the shapes, the colors, the depth, etc. The typed text is processed into sensible language and ideas that I can realize and understand and act on. These are sensory issues...I'm sitting here thinking 'tonight I want to order a pizza...and thoughts of stringy cheese, sauce, and pepperoni'- that's a thought. Thoughts are different than "screen=white background, english language text, text box, etc". Moods are even harder. As I said before- try to sit there and think of how you feel, what mood you're in. Do you even know for sure how you feel? Is it as simple as "I'm happy"? Or is it much more complicated- such as "I'm feeling okay right now...but in the back of my mind, I'm nearly panic stricken over a project due at work that I have yet to really start on...BUT, that emotion isn't too strong because I'm actively suppressing it. At the same time tho, it's a strong feeling and I'm not able to fully suppress it because it's too imporant to put out of my mind totally. Then again, my dog died last week, and that's causing me some pain, but he was an old dog and I feel relieved because he was in pain and is out of pain now." We could sit down and go on for a half hour of the various competing and agreeing thoughts in our minds, the moods that exist in harmony and some in competition. We might not fully be able to even describe how we feel- or a thought might suddenly pop into our heads that totally changes our mood...or maybe it only changes a tiny fraction of our overall mood. Or maybe it does change our mood, but we decide to actively suppress the emotion and mood for the time being for whatever reason. Now, as I mentioned, in regards to internal thoughts and moods...a person cannot even always fully describe their own moods or thought processes at any given time (sometimes they can't even do so internally for their own purposes). Nor can a person always truly make sense of all the things they feel...this event makes me happy, but then again does it really? The time I have typed this out, I have probably thought of a dozen other background thoughts at the same time (some of them were flashes of memories and thoughts and feelings, some of them were actually longer thoughts I sort of dwelled on- even tho the process was buried in the back of my mind while this comment was in the front.) We're left with the fact that brain scans have shown 2 things- stimulus from our senses (vision, hearing)...and impulses from our brain to our body parts to do certain things. No brain scan has ever shown thoughts themselves. Stimuli from a red line is not a thought, nor is a direction from your brain for your arm to move left. Medicine and science can hardly even figure out why we feel certain ways we feel and what causes the changes in mood...does a depressed person truly have a chemical imbalance? Is there such a thing as a chemical imbalance- or are all chemical compositions different to each brain, none better or worse than the next? Moods and thoughts are not the same as the things brain scans have been shown to expose. An individual thought- is there any such thing? Or is every thought a series of thoughts compounded to make a single theme in your mind? Many problems. few answers...one thing we know for sure- the optic nerve reading a straight line or a zigzag is nowhere near the same thing as "I think this is beautiful" or "I cannot stand men" (pretend we're talking about a radical feminist :)) Josh Bozeman
keiths, The fine passage from Julia Kristeva put me in mind of other great literature that might be relevant to our current topic, the problem of detecting “hate” crime (or “hate” speech) and implications about some immaterial “hating” agency. In my state, the detection of “hate” in commission of a crime, ups the criminal penalty by one notch, viz. from petty misdemeanor to misdemeanor, misdemeanor to felony. “Hate” crimes include “harassment” (as per Minn. Stat. § 609.749) and that harassment can be directed at “sexual orientation.” Under Minnesota law, “sexual orientation” includes not only (actual or perceived) heterosexual, gay, lesbian, and bisexual individuals, but also those having or being perceived as having a self-image or identity not traditionally associated with one’s biological maleness or femaleness.” (Minn. Stat. § 363.01, subd. 41a. There can be no doubt that this is great literature and that it was the result of “miracle thinking,” a not uncommon phenomenon at the statehouse. But I think there can be considerable doubt as to what, if any, material things it might signify. Apparently you may not harass such a one who has a self-image or who is perceived as having a self-image. In other words, the law assumes that the perp can detect (or mistakenly assign) a self-image, apparently some sort of reflexive psychological state. Such a state must obviously be externalized (barring immaterial telepathic powers) but the law does not tell us anything more about the “identity.” In my opinion, the law strongly implies that the “identity” does have some existence prior to its display to hostile parties. Hate-eligible identities include all those deemed “not traditionally associated” with the victim’s gender, where gender is defined (somewhat archaically) in terms of maleness and femaleness. Gender is not at issue. Rather the law addresses associations surrounding the gender, presumably social constructs. “Traditional” is not defined either, although it seems key to the statutory specification. Traditions change, obviously, else the statute had never been so finely crafted in the first place. The law presumes that, at the time of any given “harassment,” it will have been possible for the perpetrator to know which gender associations were currently held “traditional,” and that these associations will, in fact, have been commonly understood. This seems unlikely if you are living in certain sections of any of our large cities today, but, nonetheless, the law assumes “traditional standards” still exist. Do these “traditional associations” have mass or are they immaterial? Are they nothing more than molecules of ink on particles of paper posted somewhere for all to perceive and react to? Or perhaps they are “in the water” or distributed as additives in popular breakfast cereals. And how do these associations interact with the mysterious “self-images?” Of course, all this is only the beginning. The perpetrator must, in commission of a crime, also “hate” such a self-imagining victim, whose sexual identity is distinct from currently held “traditional associations,” or at least the perpetrator must “hate” what is supposed to have been such a self-imagination. More accurately, given our rules of evidence, the perp must have “hated” a Claimed self-imagining, or a self-imagining that can reasonably be held to have existed at the time, according to testimony; or a self-imagining whose mistaken attribution was evident to compelling witnesses. Are the witnesses’ (claimed) perceptions of mistakenly attributed self-images strictly material and, if so, may we detect and weigh and quantify them? Or are they just sounds shaped by larynxes in response to inquisitive sounds emanating from counsel? The alleged perception of a mistakenly attributed self-image may be enough to increase a material penalty, although it is difficult to imagine how either the perception or percept might be explained in strictly material terms. Personally, I think D’s colleague has made a very nifty observation about atheist / materialist lawmakers. pmob1
DaveScot, To put it in context of D's thread-header, your position appears to be that if we were truly moral agents, we would richly deserve to be prosecuted for hate crimes (among others). However, it appears that we are not really moral agents after all? pmob1
keiths, "Kristeva became regarded as one of the most prolific theorists in France and the importance of her writing has been felt across the human sciences.” Felt across the human sciences: Hey, I wondered what that was! pmob1
Pleiodesic subspaces remind me of muffler bearings. DaveScot
pmob asks "does the brain use more or less bodily resources in sleep than, say, in arduous mental exercise" Typically far less but it depends on where you're looking and what phase of sleep. Here's a bit of light reading on that subject. http://www.nature.com/jcbfm/journal/v25/n8/abs/9600100a.html Radioactively tagged glucose is widely used to map brain activity. Overall your brain uses about 25% of all the oxygen your body takes in. It's a real energy hog. Glucose is the fuel that is being oxidized. Individual neurons use burn more or less glucose as their activity level waxes and wanes. The technology to produce real-time 3D maps of glucose consumption in exquisite detail continues to improve and from it emerges patterns that correlate to specific thoughts. Unlike the ignorant, uninformed claims made by some here, thoughts can indeed be observed taking place in the brain and this is being done with increasing resolution. Can we read minds? Yes, to some extent, and the extent is growing by leaps and bounds as scientific inquiry continues. DaveScot
pmob Energy has mass so yes, when you turn on your computer, it does get heavier. The relationship of mass to energy is e=mc^2. I thought that was common knowledge. Silly me. DaveScot
pmpb "The brain weighs the same when you’re dead or in non-REM sleep." I bet I can find a rock that weighs the same as Mentok's brain. Is having the same mass supposed to mean something? DaveScot
pmob1 writes: "I don’t recall that anyone has ever normalized a pleiodesic subspace. Possibly Bush at a major press conference." Or perhaps Julia Kristeva, the prominent psychoanalyst and literary theorist. Check out this howler from her book "Semeiotike: Researches for a Semioanalysis": "For us poetic language is not a code encompassing the others, but a class A that has the same power as the function psi(x[1]...x[n]) of the infinity of the linguistic code (see the existence theorem, cf. p. 189), and all the 'other languages' (the 'usual' language, the 'meta-languages', etc.) are quotients of A over more restricted extents (limited by the rules of the subject-predicate construction, for example, as being at the basis of formal logic), and disguising, because of this limitation, the morphology of the function psi(x[1]..x[n]). "Poetic language (which we shall henceforth denote by the initials 'pl') contains the code of linear logic. Moreover, we can find in it all the combinatoric figures that algebra has formalized in a system of artificial signs and that are not externalized at the level of the manifestation of the usual language... "The pl cannot, therefore, be a sub-code. It is the infinite ordered code, a complementary system of codes from which one may isolate (by operatory abstraction and by way of proof of a theorem) a usual language, a scientific metalanguage and all the artificial systems of signs -- which are all only subsets of this infinite, externalizing the rules of its order over a restricted space (their power is lesser relative to that of the pl that is surjected onto them)." (Quote taken from Sokal and Bricmont's book "Fashionable Nonsense"). Amazingly, this is regarded as serious scholarship by many literary theorists in France and the US. Old Dominion University awarded her an honorary doctorate, saying of Kristeva's book: "After the publication of [the book], Kristeva became regarded as one of the most prolific theorists in France and the importance of her writing has been felt across the human sciences." She remains a celebrity in France. The 11/17 edition of Le Monde quotes her: "Je vis avec ce désir de sortir de moi." ("I live with this desire to flee myself.") One can hardly blame her. keiths
Keiths asks: "What is it about rationality which makes you think there must be something transcendent involved in its implementation?" We could make the question more general and ask why anybody would appeal to something immaterial for anything, not just mind, but God or gods or whatever. There are at least two ways in which this seems to happen: 1. there is a cognitive aspect of intelligence that sees the phenomenal world in terms of signs. You could call it an analogical intuition. Basically, if sensible reality has the structure of a sign, than the reality signified would seem to be non-sensible, or immaterial. 2. the scope of our experiences goes beyond empirical experience. Sitting down to write down a description of a tree outside is based on empirical experience. But what was Aristotle looking at (or smelling or hearing) when he sat down and wrote the Posterior Analytics (his treatise on logic)? So it's quite natural and reasonable, I think, to infer that reality goes beyond the material. "So again I would ask, what is it about rationality that you think cannot possibly be explained by the interactions of matter and energy in the physical realm, and would therefore justify the invocation of a more complex model including a spiritual component?" It's because my rationality isn't "like" the interactions you are talking about in the physical realm. If "materiality" corresponds to the physical, and I have experiences that are trans-physical, why shouldn't I infer that those experiences are based on an "immaterial" aspect of reality? BK
Josh "but you can’t think of something and watch the brain light up" Actually you can now. "and then have a machine read the thought" Some thoughts can be crudely read by the shape and location of the patterns that light up. DaveScot
Josh, re: In the end, you’re still left with qualia and other properties that can’t yet be understood as merely the work of chemicals and energy. Granted, but lots of reductionism has been accomplished. Surely more to come. On the other hand, if our current abilities to sense and monitor don't shake our faith in some immateriality, neither should technologies that might one day sense and indentify individual thoughts and feelings. pmob1
DaveScot, Regarding the Soul phase-limiter and associated equipment: So if you’re stripped of sensation, there is still something in there that knows it is stripped, but if you lose the part that knows—what Bush 41 might call “the consciousness thing”—then it starts to get real personal. However, mentok holds that we can’t weigh it or anything, so it doesn’t seem to have mass. The brain weighs the same when you’re dead or in non-REM sleep. Even then, if we go with mind-as-computer, computers don’t weigh any more when we turn them on (correct me on that: electron numbers = static? Does current weigh anything? I can’t find a spec in the NEC.) Material or not, Soul Receivers appear to need a recharge cycle. However, this may be an effect of gross metabolism and respiration rather than a consciousness issue. The body might get so gunked up that it has to shut down consciousness—turn that maniac off—so it can do clean and repair. Another question: does the brain use more or less bodily resources in sleep than, say, in arduous mental exercise. The issue might be clouded by nocturnal repair and maintenance. If it is actually the Soul Receiver itself that requires recharge and reset, one may ask whether this is done on the material plane, where we might measure it in energy units consumed, or on the plane that includes the Soul phase-limiter and other equipment. pmob1
Pmob1, I think I understand what you are saying but, again, I think you are arguing about our perception of things rather things as they are in themselves. A basic philosophical choice must be made up front. Can we know things as they are in themselves (Aristotle's view) or only our subjective perception of them (Kant's view)? You seem to be arguing the Kantian view that the only data we get from outside us is raw sensation, which we organize according to principles that arise from pure subjective reason. For Kant, "matter" is raw sensation prior to its organization by the subject, which also seems to be your notion of matter. Now if we adopt Kant's view, then the argument about the material/non-material mind can stop right here. Since we only know our own subjective perceptions, the only judgements we can make are about how things appear to us, not how they actually are in themselves. Kant himself makes the point in the Critique of Pure Reason that the material/non-material mind debate is a waste of time since it is concerns a "thing in itself" that it is impossible to know. But I don't think the folks who argue for the purely material mind mean "matter" in the Kantan way. They are not arguing that the mind merely appears material to us. (And were they arguing this way, then they could be dismissed in the same manner Kant dismissed them.) They seem to be arguing that the mind in itself is composed of something called "matter" that is more than just reality as it is immediately perceived by us. What they mean by "matter" is electrons, protons, atoms, neurons and brain chemistry, which are a lot more than the immediate, pre-cognitive experience of sensation that you are talking about. They think that all thought can be explained in terms of neurons and brain chemistry. And I have made two points about this: 1) The positive case that rational thought can be understood on a purely material basis has not even been attempted, yet alone made. All examples from science involve pathological cases that only make the negative case that brain injuries interefere with thought. That doesn't move the case a single inch along the road to proving that rational thought can be accounted for on a purely material basis. The key word here is "rational". Emotions and feelings may have a purely material explanation. I doubt very much that "2+2=4" does. 2) The material elements that form the foundation of the materialist account of the mind (electrons, neurons, and brain chemistry) are already shot through with "intellectual stuff." Now I hold the Aristotelian view that the "intellectual stuff" is really part of things and not merely subjectively imposed on them by us, the way Kant held. When we cognize objects, we abstract their intellectual form from them (suck it out, so to speak) rather than impose on them an intellectual form we alread possess. But either way, on Kant's view or Aristotle's, it isn't "mere matter" that that is the foundation of the materialist account of the mind. It's the highly reified concepts of "neurons" and "brain chemistry" that form the foundation, in other words, concepts that are intellectually loaded and therefore themselves products of the mind. My point is that the materialist case is a non-starter because it attempts to argue the foundation of the mind in terms of products of the mind itself. It's like a filmmaker arguing against his own existence because he doesn't appear in any of his movies. Cheers, Dave T. taciturnus
pmob1 writes: "Man that hurts. It got “up” to about 25 here today." I was raised in Indiana, so I empathize. If it makes you feel any better, it got down to 55 degrees on my way home. I had to put a sweater on under my jacket. It just occurred to me: Since I moved here, I don't even own a windshield scraper anymore. "VTX?" No, ST1300. Do you ride? keiths
1. Thoughts are, themselves immaterial. The brain, being a physical object is finite, thoughts and the ability for thoughts is, from the evidence, infinite. Infinite cannot fit into a finite object. Thoughts themselves, no evidence exists to suggest that we could ever possibly locate them, see them, or that they're in any manner material objects with any physical properties. You can cram your brain full of knowledge and it will look just the guy who sat and stared at the wall all day with no new information being pumped into the brain. The cells will look the same, act the same way, etc. So, thoughts must be immaterial objects. We've no evidence otherwise that merely chemicals can rise to any sort of conscious thought, let alone the kinds humans experience- each one of us having a unique experience unlike no other person on earth. Clearly, a reductionist view cannot, at this time, incorporate all the evidence and facts, so use of the principle doesn't really work here. Neuroscientists will tell you that they really know nothing of consciousness- what is it, how does it create a continuous stream of senses and data, how it could possibly arise from nothing, how you can explain morality by a reductionist view, etc. So, it might seem like one of the simplest theories, but it doesn't incorporate all the facts (since we have large gaps in our knowledge of how a reductionist view could explain qualia, emotions, morality, etc.) To look at it in an evolutionary view- why would human emotions ever come about? There's no reason for laughter in regards to survival, nor is there any need for compassion- compassion will often times put you in harm's way, which is the opposite of what we should expect from survival of the fittest. There are many human endeavors that do nothing to bring about either survival or procreation or anything even remotely related to these two activities. So, you have to explain why on earth and how on earth consciousness itself came about, when the costs of human emotion is very high indeed. Human emotion in 2005 could mean the end of ALL life with a few nukes, doesn't sound like a good idea if the sole goal is to procreate and continue the species. AS I mentioned in the other thread- human social orders, relationships, etc. go against survival of the fittest...so we have to answer the question- why? Why would NS select for mutations that would eventually lead to a vast range of pointless emotions that actually hinder evolutionary progress? There are many problems and gaps in explaining all of this by reductionist means. I don't see any problem explaining all of it with the existence of an immaterial soul that acts on the human physical body. A spirit or soul working on the brain could take into consideration all the facts and easily incorporate them into the theory. The reductionist model, with the evidence we have today, cannot pull all the facts together. Josh Bozeman
BK writes: "Neuroscience only establishes a sort of dependency of rationality on the brain, but it does not warrant the reduction of rationality to the brain." The question is not whether neuroscience warrants the reduction of rationality to the brain. Occam's Razor tells us that the right question is to ask what warrants the addition of a spiritual realm to a naturalistic model which has been so staggeringly successful without it. Look at the multitude of natural phenomena which have been successfully explained without invoking anything beyond the physical. What is it about rationality which makes you think there must be something transcendent involved in its implementation? Furthermore, if you think it is legitimate to assume the existence of a soul (or whatever you want to call it) in a hypothetical spiritual realm until neuroscience proves it unnecessary, I would ask, why stop there? Why not assume the existence of 17 realms beyond the physical, each of which contains a distinct soul which coordinates with all the other realms, including the physical, to generate rationality? The answer, of course, is Occam's Razor again. When we have multiple models which are equal in their ability to explain the observations we have made so far, we choose the simplest. If new observations falsify the simplest model, we look at those models which incorporate all of the observations, old and new, and again choose the simplest one. In this way our models become "truer", although I doubt that we will ever reach a final model which explains every observation we throw at it. So again I would ask, what is it about rationality that you think cannot possibly be explained by the interactions of matter and energy in the physical realm, and would therefore justify the invocation of a more complex model including a spiritual component? BK continues: "On the other hand, even if mind can be reduced to matter, why should this bother us? Could not matter itself be reducable to a spiritual principle?" I'm not sure what you mean by the phrase "reducible to a spiritual principle." "Shouldn’t we move past cartesian dualism where it is thought that the spiritual can only be preserved by not contaminating it with matter, and on the other side matter is thought of as some spiritual-free, god-free, autonomous substance?" Most neuroscientists have already moved past cartesian dualism, seeing no need for the spiritual realm. It sounds like you're proposing that matter may have some spiritual qualities, or that matter may be somehow inseparably intertwined with spirit (which probably amounts to the same thing). If so, what characteristics would this spirit/matter have that bare matter would not have? What does it mean for a free-floating hydrogen molecule in deep space to have "spiritual qualities?" What would the soul be under this view? The aggregate of all of the spiritual parts of the atoms within the brain? What would happen to such a soul as matter cycles in and out of the brain? What would happen to such a soul when the brain dies and disintegrates? keiths
DaveScot, re: 30 I think in an infinite universe, everything happens not only in subtly different ways but in exactly the same way as well. Things of infintesimally small probability happen the same infinity of times as things of large probability. I'm not clear as to whether impossible things (of zero probability) happen as well but I seem to recall that D proposed that this was indeed the case. At least with infinite universes, I think he said something to the effect that Shreck is President of the United States in at least some of the universes and therefore in all of them at one time or another. I suppose Shreck holds other offices as well. Personally, I'd vote for him. Or rather, I guess I already have and will. I think this was called the infinite “probability horizon.” Sometimes I think D has too much time on his hands… pmob1
mentok, re: #27 That was kind of fun. So how does all that figure into hunches and premonitions? Or speaking in tongues? Or completely turning yourself around? pmob1
keiths, you said: It’s a beautiful day here in northern California and my motorcycle beckons, so I’m going to postpone the replies I owe to several of you. Man that hurts. It got "up" to about 25 here today. VTX? pmob1
Keiths, I don't recall that anyone has ever normalized a pleiodesic subspace. Possibly Bush at a major press conference. pmob1
Taciturnus, Actually, re-reading your message, perhaps you misunderstood me. I was not referring to incidents (such as the tribesmen) where one has a different view of the ideal aspect. Your example was a good one. Here’s another. As Cortes approached Tenochtitlan in 1519, some of the natives believed that each conquistador and his steed were one fused being; a centaur. We would call this a mistaken idealization, I believe. This is not what I’m referring to. I am referring to a brief “pre-ideal” state during which one apprehends an object but does not place it at all. The overwhelming sensation is one of strangeness. Of course, one’s mind quickly gets to shuffling through “ideal” possibilities, i.e., “placing” the phenomenon (correctly or not). Usually, one emerges from the confusion within a few seconds: whether you place it rightly or wrongly, your mind does, in fact, settle on an ideal, an explanation, and quickly. What I am referring to is the interlude previous to the shuffling. You apprehend something. You have no idea what it is. Your mind has not pigeon-holed it yet. It is a very peculiar sensation. Later, you have great difficulty “imaging” the thing as you first experienced it since, in fact, you had not “imaged” it yet; you had not idealized it yet. Perhaps all you really recall is the strangeness of it. However, there is no doubt that you did, in fact apprehend it in some way; else it would not have seemed so strange. To me, this is “mere” matter, perhaps what you would call the material aspect. pmob1
Taciturnus, Perhaps I misunderstood. I was responding to your dualism in Post #17 where you said: What exists are beings, which have both a material and ideal aspect. Obviously I was interested in the former. What then is the difference (if any) between what you called mere “matter” and what you called the material aspect of things? pmob1
A lie detector that could read thoughts would be useful, but of course it doesn't exist. No one is privy to my own personal thoughts but me...if you look at my brain under a microscope of some sort while I think (a person is ALWAYS thinking), you could see various parts of my brain firing and chemicals sending signals to various neurons, but you couldn't see the thoughts themselves. My brain will look identical to the next person's brain when it's full of thoughts that are clearly totally different than the thoughts anyone else has or ever will have. I don't think many would deny that the mind works thru the brain and the body- this is a physical world we live in, so we'd need a physical apparatus to experience it and express the mind...but the thoughts themselves can hardly be reduced to material. I can sit in a room for the rest of my life and do mathematical calculations, and in theory if I could live forever physically I would have no limit to how many calculations I could do...but the brain is clearly finite and wouldn't be able to hold all these thoughts. Eventually your brain, if thoughts were material, would read "full", but there's no evidence to suggest any limits to how many thoughts the brain can hold. The brain of someone who has 10 graduate degrees doesn't weigh more than someone with no high school education, and you'd assume a much smaller number of information data sets and thoughts. Brain cells themselves aren't thinking entities, nor are the chemicals within your brain- these materials merely act on your brain to process thoughts and information. Information isn't physical, yet you can call up an almost neverending amounts of information you have stored over many many years. I can recall memories (which are, themselves pieces of information, and information isn't physical, so memories musn't be physical either) from 20 years ago, yet how would a brain cell and some chemicals make sense of the memory? The shapes, the smells, the visions, the sounds that are all stored in a bundle the memory is tied up in? No evidence exists to suggest that chemicals and or cells can interpret let alone create such things (memories, thoughts, desires, etc) themselves. Josh Bozeman
1 2

Leave a Reply