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Featured Against Scientific Materialism

Discussion in 'Science and Religion' started by sayak83, Jan 8, 2019.

  1. blü 2

    blü 2 Well-Known Member
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    I'm using those terms because either it's what it looks like, science contrasting with nonscience, or else someone has a clear, woo-free description of how the brain works independently of science but not magically.

    Since magic is the altering of reality independently of the rules of physics, that's a big ask.

    But I look forward to your explanation.
     
  2. blü 2

    blü 2 Well-Known Member
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    It would indeed be odd of me to say that observation is observer-independent. But yet again I remind you of my three assumptions, and the fact you show by posting here that you subscribe to them as well.
    But not just any experiences: the approach is skeptical and the method of scrutiny includes multiple confirmations, repeatable experiments, peer review of conclusions, you know the shtick.
    What I said above, both as to the assumptions and as to the methods.
    A thing or process is real if it exists in the world external to the self ─ reality, nature, the realm of the physical sciences, the set of all things with objective existence &c.
    'Dream experiences' are aspects of mentation, and thus their content does not have objective existence / is not real.
    I don't know about you, but reality is where I get my air, drink, food, shelter, common colds, society, family, reading material, computer and more. It's all out there, we make more and more of it examinable, we hypothesize, test, conclude, receive criticism, review, revisit, find things out, make medicines, Mars rovers, Rembrandts, music. I'm rather fond of reality.
    I'd say that a thing or process has objective existence if it is known to exist independently of the concept of it in any brain. (After all, the Higgs boson wasn't real until its reality was satisfactorily demonstrated.)


    But you still haven't patted the elephant. What, exactly, are you proposing instead of science to answer the question, What's true in reality?
     
    #62 blü 2, Jan 11, 2019
    Last edited: Jan 11, 2019
  3. sayak83

    sayak83 Well-Known Member
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    I also enjoy reality...but I ascribe to it no further unjustified metaphysical baggage other than saying that they are a set of consistent experiences I am having.
    Truth is utilitarian. That set of concepts that provide the best utility in terms of enhancing the quality of experiences...is labelled as true. No more, no less.
     
  4. viole

    viole Metaphysical Naturalist
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    Well, that is a huge amount of interconnections.

    So, what is the mechanism that induces qualia, in your opinion?

    Ciao

    - viole
     
  5. atanu

    atanu Member
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    I said: Which means that our knowledge of the phenomenal objects/world is never not tentative.

    How what you said differs from what I said? I said 'never not tentative'.

    This seems to be an assertion in direct contrast to your 'always tentative' stand.:(

    ...

    Do you agree or do not agree with the definition of scientific materialism as stated in the OP? I am reproducing it below. I have doubt because of your 'time to time' clause. How do you know anything about consciousness?

    However, the authors very clearly refute the 'time to time' paradigm also, as reproduced below.

    Please pay attention to the blue highlighted part.
    ...

    I wish to make a further point. Scientific materialists are fooling themselves and no one else. We do not say that scientific materialism is not useful in this phenomenal existence. But the plain fact is that amidst the ever-changing cognition of phenomena, the self-cognition is the only constant and the TRUTH.

    Materialists wilfully ignore that fact and thereby lose the chance to attain peace and happiness that comes through introversion of cognition upon self.
     
  6. Koldo

    Koldo Incredible Member

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    I have read this post up to this point thinking: A reasonable post so far.

    And then I find this one gem:

    And I am like: Wait... Dude, what ? Is this for real ?
     
  7. Milton Platt

    Milton Platt Well-Known Member
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  8. Milton Platt

    Milton Platt Well-Known Member
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    I thought science says we experience things through our senses.
     
  9. blü 2

    blü 2 Well-Known Member
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    So you think reality is to be experienced but there's not much to gain by exploring it or using its powers of explanation?

    And you think instead that consciousness is inexplicable, and not part of reality, and therefore whatever its nature is, it's not physical ─ in other words, it works somewhere somehow by magic?

    And if you don't think those things, what do you think instead? Especially in terms of description, analysis, explanation?
    It can be, but that's not essential, only one of many possibilities.
    So, you say, 'truth' is entirely subjective, and may be defined as whatever one cares to think to be true?
     
  10. sayak83

    sayak83 Well-Known Member
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    I have said none of the things you ascribed to me. My stance is roughly that of James and Dewey...i.e. Pragmatism. See here,
    Pragmatism (Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy)

    Further note some sections of the article.

    In the 1878 paper, his pragmatic clarification is quite tersely expressed:

    The opinion which is fated to be ultimately agreed to by all who investigate, is what we mean by the truth, and the object represented in this opinion is the real. That is the way I would explain reality. (EP1: 139)

    Peirce's pragmatist clarification of truth offers an alternative conceptualization of ‘being constrained by reality’. It is explained in terms of this fated agreement of convergence through the process of inquiry rather than in terms of an independent cause of our sensations.

    Peirce's motivations are evident when he says that ‘the ideas of truth and falsehood, in their full development, appertain exclusively to the scientific (in a later revision he altered this to ‘experiential’) method of settling opinion’.


    See also what James said about truth,
    The true is the name of whatever proves itself to be good in the way of belief, and good, too, for definite assignable reasons. (1907: 42)

    The true’, to put it very briefly, is only the expedient in the way of our thinking, just as ‘the right’ is only the expedient in the way of our behaving. Expedient in almost any fashion; and expedient in the long run and on the whole, of course. (1907: 106)

    Other formulations fill this out by giving a central role to experience:

    Ideas … become true just in so far as they help us to get into satisfactory relations with other parts of our experience. (1907: 34)
    Any idea upon which we can ride …; any idea that will carry us prosperously from any one part of our experience to any other part, linking things satisfactorily, working securely, saving labor; is true for just so much, true in so far forth, true instrumentally. (1907: 34)

    It is important to note that this concept of truth is the dominant conception today in physics, after the famous Bohr-Einstein debate where Bohr's pragmatic, instrumentalist position on fundamental physics was supported by the scientific evidence.
     
  11. blü 2

    blü 2 Well-Known Member
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    Let me clarify: statements about reality are true to the extent that they correspond to / conform with / accurately reflect reality according to our best opinion for the time being. That is, there's such a thing as truth, and the test for it is as objective as we can make it. However, there are no absolute truths outside this sentence.
    Not precisely. My definition, taken from two noted metaphysicians, Jack Smart and David Armstrong, says materialism is the view that the only entities and processes that exist in reality are those recognized by the physical sciences from time to time. As you can see, that's a metaphysical statement.
    In two ways: by knowing it's the name of an experiential quality of my self, and by considering, hearing, talking and reading about how it might be defined and how it might arise as a phenomenon in brain function.
    I'll be able to make sense of that statement when you explain to me how exactly I fool myself.
    I think of my self-awareness as a datum, but since applied to myself / my self it's not a statement about objective reality, it doesn't fit my definition of truth. What is true, however, is that self-awareness is a recognizable quality in others, and so may be studied by scientific method. Accurate statements about self-awareness in that context are, in my terms, true.
    The 'quest for peace and happiness' is a different thing altogether from the quest for truth. The exploration of techniques to affect or alter states of mind becomes significant when the purpose is to find out not only what they are but how they work.
     
  12. blü 2

    blü 2 Well-Known Member
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    You have NOT said (a) what fills the gap between materialism and your view and (b) is not magic.

    A statement is true to the extent that it corresponds to / conforms with / accurately reflects, reality.

    Reality is the world external to the self, the realm of the physical sciences, nature, the sum of things with objective existence.

    Whether James or Peirce agree with that is unclear to me.


    Now please explain to me how you fill that gap without magic.
     
  13. sayak83

    sayak83 Well-Known Member
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    No they do not agree. Since they (and me) posit no such reality and no such concept of objective existence, there is no need to explain it either.

    You are confused. Since we do not subscribe to materialism but rather to Pragmatism, there is no gap to explain. We don't say "things exist" but rather "experiences exist". We don't say "things require explanation" but rather "explanations are mental concepts that help us navigate through our experiences in an useful way." For us things do not exist somewhere out there, rather they are invented concepts to help connect our experiences in an useful way. That is it.
    The idea that there exists an external world itself is also nothing but a very useful mental model . An useful and pragmatic idea, that is it.

    It's an entirely different philosophical worldview, fully consistent with science etc. You need to understand it, because your questions show that you are still have not understood that it's rejecting the very ideas behind usual materialism.
     
  14. blü 2

    blü 2 Well-Known Member
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    I find your post particularly interesting. Thanks for that.
    So what is it that generates these experiences of yours?

    What is it that our senses detect?

    What is it that you breath in and out, and does it exist and where does it come from?
    The gap to explain is how consciousness works, since, you say, it does not work as the result of physical phenomena and rules, and it does not work by magic.
    Humans and complex creatures seek explanations. And explanations are indeed sets of concepts, and concepts exist only in brains. Even in science, the explanations are tentative, always a work in progress. We appear to be in substantial agreement.
    This will make the answers you give to the three questions I asked above particularly relevant. For instance, I have a concept of air, but air is not a concept, rather very largely a mixture of gases; and that is a true statement about reality. I have a concept of the gases involved, but none of the gases is a concept, rather particular elements and molecules. That too is a true statement about reality.
    How then can that external world cause you to come into being, and cause you to die?

    Are your parents not real, merely convenient concepts? Your children?
     
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  15. atanu

    atanu Member
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    Well. This itself is an absolute statement.

    Noted. But we know that the competence for cognition exists. Now, that is where the problem starts, when you you use the phrase 'from time to time'. The OP says the following:



    The blue highlight is a presumption only. This, IMO, is lying to oneself. 'I grant that my knowledge of cognised phenomena is 'tentative' but I am sure that the cognition itself arises as a phenomenon in brain function'.

    Ha. ha.

    I just tried to explain it above.

    But it is not about you or any person. I meant that the paradigm of materialism that there is an objective world outside of our cognition and that objective world can be known independent of the cognition process is a wrong notion. This is not difficult to surmise since no cognition is ever independent of the GIVEN consciousness.

    We see objects because we are conscious subjects. How can we attribute the subjective consciousness to the objects that the subject cognises? Our life -- our bliss, cannot be in objects external to our cognition. That is the only point I wish to make. That is the practical implication of what I write here.

    I have pointed out many times that a third party account of a dream and its correlative brain states do not equal the actual subjective first party experience.

    In my understanding, the truth and peace are the one and the same. Well, that is another subject.
     
    #75 atanu, Jan 12, 2019
    Last edited: Jan 12, 2019
  16. sayak83

    sayak83 Well-Known Member
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    In this worldview, parents, children, even my I-self are very convenient and useful concepts to organize experiences.
    Note:- pragmatism does not say that they (and everything else) do or do not exist in some way out of which the experiences are generated. But how they "actually" exist is basically unknowable (and may be meaningless question). We could be Boltzmann brains (Boltzmann brain - Wikipedia ), and hence any ontological speculation of things out there is basically that...speculation.
     
  17. Jumi

    Jumi Well-Known Member

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    It remains unknown and given that not all qualia are equal, they might have different mechanisms.
     
  18. Jumi

    Jumi Well-Known Member

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    Indeed it is a matter of your own perspective and choosing to be a modern day witch-hunter looking for hints of magic around the villages of the internet.

    It is a new definition of magic, I see.

    My explanation for what question, exactly?
     
  19. blü 2

    blü 2 Well-Known Member
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    That's why it's phrased as it is.
    But physical reality is what we know it to be for the time being. Otherwise physical reality would have to be described in absolute statements, and the only one of those is not about physics.

    Truth is not absolute. It changes across time, as our best understanding changes. Therefore from our PoV, the only one we have, objective reality changes. It was once true, for example, that the earth was flat. That became untrue only retrospectively.
    I grant that my knowledge of external reality rests on physical propositions which though successfully tested by repeated demonstration are derived by empiricism and induction and therefore can't be shown to be absolute, hence are always tentative.

    The system that produced them, the branch of reasoned enquiry called 'scientific method', is however by far the most successful means we know of exploring, describing, and seeking to explain the world external to the self ─ reality ─ and its workings. Its findings, while tentative, nonetheless are good enough to produce modern medicines, map and describe the human brain, put rovers of Mars, make cleaner engines, and so on. Anyone who flies in a plane, gets a flu shot, operates a computer (and a huge list of et ceteras) demonstrates faith in scientific method and the technologies that flow from it.

    In other words, for all that its findings are tentative, it works extremely well ─ so well that it has no credible rival.

    Even when the question is, What is consciousness, and how does it work?
    I assume a world exists external to the self, that our senses are capable of informing us of it, and that reason is a valid tool. I note that everyone I meet implicitly shares at least the first two of these assumptions.

    Those of us who seek to understand the external world by reasoned enquiry would never suggest that we can know it independently of our thought processes ─ it would be a contradiction in terms.
    We are alive because of the interdependent systems of biochemical processes provided by our bodies. We cease to be alive, we cease to exist, when those systems irreversibly fail.

    Our consciousness is the product of our working brain. This is easy to demonstrate ─ no brain, no consciousness. No life, no working brain.
    Some true statements are neutral, some are conducive to peace, and some are not eg the world is warming to perilous levels. What is left to discuss?
     
    #79 blü 2, Jan 12, 2019
    Last edited: Jan 12, 2019
  20. blü 2

    blü 2 Well-Known Member
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    So where I phrase my assumption 'A world exists external to the self', you phrase yours as 'A world might exist external to the self'?

    But like me, acting on the assumption that it does exist, you get all the benefits of a modern, scientifically informed life. That simply looks like a shaded form of my own view.

    When we want to discuss the nature of self-awareness, which is part of medical science's brain research as well as AI in computery, is it your view that self-awareness, the adventures of the experiencer, has special status? Or are the events of one's own mentation inexplicable in principle too?
     
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