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Epistemic value of qualia versus immaterial "mind"

Discussion in 'General Religious Debates' started by A Vestigial Mote, Jun 15, 2018.

  1. A Vestigial Mote

    A Vestigial Mote Well-Known Member

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    With this thread topic, I'm looking for any feedback that suggests that there are logical reasons to make certain assumptions about a god's existence given a rather particular aspect that cannot be known about such an entity within the information we do supposedly have, and given contemporary circumstances in which we do not seem to be presented with further information for most (if not all) of these entities. Note that this thread only applies to concepts of "god(s)" that are purported to be immaterial beings who still possess agency within the material realm.

    I would first like to posit that knowledge or thought about the vast majority of things would not be possible without qualia - that is, without the ability to interpret stimulus via the material sense organs that we possess (eyes, ears, nose, sensory nerves, balance mechanism, spatial orientation). To display this, I propose a simple thought-exercise. I would ask that you imagine a brain/mind that has only existed separate from a body in a jar, able to think from incarnation, but whose areas of the brain responsible for sensory interpretation have never been stimulated by any outside agent.

    What types of thoughts could this brain/mind have? It would have no concept of objects outside itself - nor would it have need of one. It would have no spatial orientation information, no appendages to keep track of, no experience with movement or balance, no idea its size - it wouldn't even know what "size" was, having nothing to compare against anything else. It couldn't, nor would it need to think in numeric terms - there's nothing to count or measure. As for the things it could, possibly think? Perhaps a rudimentary form of "what am I?" or "why am I?", perhaps a form of some emotions like "frustration" or "anger", but I honestly struggle to come up with much else. It wouldn't even have a concept of "where," nor would it have any experience with cause and effect to ask "how" about anything. Stripped of its ability to perceive the universe, what does the mind really have to offer?

    I feel that we take our senses for granted. And that we rarely consider our senses' intrinsic support of almost any epistemic endeavors we undertake. To the point that we simply think it "obvious" that any "mind" would have thoughts and experiences like ours. To the point that we seem to think it "obvious" that some immaterial part of ourselves (a "soul" if you will) can also have the sorts of knowledge that we acquire only due to our ability to perceive the material universe. There are even many who seem to believe that a "soul" can still perceive that universe even once the material part of us has been lost... thereby leaving the "soul" without the very things making that made any perception possible.

    Finally, given that such a mind, "unhindered" by a body and presented with no qualia could attain only an extremely minute (almost nonexistent) body of knowledge, and given that the only implements for interpreting qualia that we have any evidence for are material/physical in nature, the question becomes: by what means does an immaterial god perceive the material world? Isn't this just another thing we might have only guesses at? Isn't this something implausible that we would have to attribute to a god, even though it flies in the face of logic and our knowledge as corporeal beings? There certainly isn't any information about this topic in any religious text that I am aware of. Is it not a rather huge leap to consider a god as immaterial and yet possessing some vast array of knowledge, or even ANY knowledge that we believe is worth having?
     
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