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Featured The bait & switch on discussions of materialism

Discussion in 'Religious Debates' started by 9-10ths_Penguin, Jun 12, 2022.

  1. 9-10ths_Penguin

    9-10ths_Penguin 1/10 Subway Stalinist
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    I've noticed that during discussions of materialism & physicalism, people who aren't materialists or physicalists tend to muddle a number of issues together.

    Consider two questions:

    1. What should we believe exists?
    2. How many categories should we group the things we believe exist into?


    The question of materialism vs. immaterialism - if we go by dictionary and encyclopedia definitions - only focuses on question #2: materialists group all the things they believe in into one category, while immaterialists group things into two or more categories.

    Theoretically, any given "immaterial" thing that an immaterialist believes in could also be believed in by a materialist; the materialist would just say that the thing is material.

    ... so why does every discussion about materialism vs. immaterialism end up focusing on what things each side believes in or not?

    Why do discussions about question 2 virtually always end up about question 1? Is there something inherent in saying "I'll divide all the things I believe in into two categories" that implies "I'm going to have lower standards of evidence than people who put all the things they believe in into a single category"? If not, what's going on?
     
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  2. mikkel_the_dane

    mikkel_the_dane Shadow Wolf's Aspie sibling

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    Well, I don't know if you have me on ignore or not. The problem is that existence has not property of its own. And that a thing as a thing is an cognitive abstract itself use to categories some experiences and not others.
    So you use an immaterial sets of abstracts to declare only some experiences as existing things.

    The problem can be solved if you stop doing existence and metaphysics.
     
  3. Rival

    Rival Divine Adoratrice of Amun
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    It's the nature of the thing.

    For example, if a materialist believes in a soul, I would argue that this is not the same concept of soul that I, as a non-materialist, believe in. So to me that would be talking about two different concepts that happen to be operating under the same name. Dr Shook once said there could be something beyond nature and it might be more nature - but this just puts it in the exact same category, so it's not really 'beyond' nature at all, so there's no need for a separate term (supernature). If someone is trying to argue that a soul or spirit is material, my answer would be we believe in different concepts of the soul/spirit to the point we are not discussing the same thing.

    From there you get 'what should we believe exists' as a result, as I pointed out, of Western nominal materialism asking this in response to belief in the non-material and how can it be so.
     
    #3 Rival, Jun 12, 2022
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  4. Aštra’el

    Aštra’el Aštara, Blade of Aštoreth

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    There is no “should”, and there is no “we”. You do you and I’ll do me.

    We needn’t think identically.
     
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  5. vulcanlogician

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    I would say the categories are "dualism and monism" ... with monists tending toward materialism... and dualists usually saying, yes there are material things (natural objects and such) but there are also "immaterial things" (souls, maybe ghosts and spirits in some cases). Not sure anyone identifies as an "immaterialist" aside from Berkeley.

    Probably multiple things going on. One being prior religious assumptions... they start with the idea that the soul exists and then try to see what parts of reality line up with that notion.

    But (more charitably) the notion that a soul, being an immaterial thing, is incapable of being detected by the senses. On this second point, we really need a clearer definition of what a soul is. Because if there IS a clear interaction with material reality, then a soul is ultimately a material thing... in which case, there ought to be some physical evidence of it. If it does NOT interact with physical reality, then we will never find evidence of it... but nor do we have any reason to think it exists.
     
  6. mikkel_the_dane

    mikkel_the_dane Shadow Wolf's Aspie sibling

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    In practice we are playing naive realism and reductionism. Only that which can be reduced to observation is real. The problem is that the bold is not an observation and thus not real. But you can't get them to understand that, because it is a dogma, that can't be doubted.
    So they start with something immaterial and then declared based on that, that only the material is real. :D
     
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  7. F1fan

    F1fan Well-Known Member

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    Some years ago there was a claim of data of a slight decrease in weight from a person alive to after they died, and the belief was this is evidence of a soul leaving the body. My question was that if the soul has measurable weight then it is material, not spirit. Or that spirit is actually a material after all, thus natural, not supernatural, and thus not implying what theists believe.
     
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  8. Rival

    Rival Divine Adoratrice of Amun
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    Yes, I've heard about that study. Personally I don't lend such studies much weight unless they can be replicated or another reason can be found. Even as a theist, I'm of the belief we should first seek non-supernatural explanations and that could well be the case for this. As a Kemetic it becomes complicated for me as there can be up to 9 parts to the soul :D
     
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  9. Heyo

    Heyo Veteran Member

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    I get what you mean and I agree with that. But I wouldn't formulate it the same way.
    There is a "we" and we need to agree about what we mean when we communicate - but there is no need to agree on opinion.
     
  10. Heyo

    Heyo Veteran Member

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    Then I must be an immaterialist because I recognize 1 category of "real" and 4 of immaterial. But as I have no category for "spiritual", I always get called a materialist.
    5 Planes of Existence
     
  11. George-ananda

    George-ananda Advaita Vedanta, Theosophy, Spiritualism
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    1. What should we believe exists?
    2. How many categories should we group the things we believe exist into?


    I guess that is because question 1 is the fundamental question. The answer to question 2 is pretty well determined by question 1.
     
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  12. 9-10ths_Penguin

    9-10ths_Penguin 1/10 Subway Stalinist
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    Why would that be?

    Edit: or are you just saying that a person lowering their personal bar for evidence means they accept evidence that suggests 2 (or more than 2) categories of existing things, and raising the bar means excluding that evidence?
     
    #12 9-10ths_Penguin, Jun 12, 2022
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  13. 9-10ths_Penguin

    9-10ths_Penguin 1/10 Subway Stalinist
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    That sounds like it might lead to us having different terminology for the same thing, but it shouldn't mean we believe in different things.

    For instance, as far as the soul goes: the suggestion is that there's something about us that persists in a real way after the death of our bodies.

    The debate between materialists and non-materialists isn't about whether something we all agree persists after death should rightly be called a "soul" or viewed as something "other" beyond nature. The debate is around whether there's anything of "us" that persists after death in a real way at all.
     
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  14. 9-10ths_Penguin

    9-10ths_Penguin 1/10 Subway Stalinist
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    Why would a soul having measurable weight (or at least its presence or absence having an effect on the weight of a body) imply that it isn't immaterial?

    I mean, the whole idea of a soul is that it interacts with material things: if it didn't interact with your physical body, it wouldn't be your soul, would it?

    Stuff like this - i.e. just taking it a priori that "measurable" means "not immaterial" - creates the impression that the "immaterial" is defined more by unfalsifiability than about some actual theory of how an "immaterial" realm might work.

    Edit: that is to say, I think this is exactly how it works in practice, but it's kinda saying the quiet part out loud to actually admit it.
     
  15. Suave

    Suave Simulated character
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    Virtual reality worlds may seem very real to you and I , but metaverses are programmed simulations reflective of the one base reality we likely are not in. Why does hardly anybody realize this!
     
    #15 Suave, Jun 12, 2022
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  16. Wildswanderer

    Wildswanderer Well-Known Member

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    Why can't it be both? And why assume the spiritual has no weight in the physical? I have been told by people that they felt the weight of a spiritual being on them.
     
  17. ADigitalArtist

    ADigitalArtist Veteran Member
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    Just as an interesting aside, Jehovah's Wintesses are obviously not materialists but don't believe anything persists after death. The soul being the literal physical body and processes ('the breath.') To JW the only way humans persist after death is if their physical bodies are reincarnated.
     
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  18. viole

    viole Ontological Naturalist
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    I say that too when my balance shows one kilogram more than expected.

    Ciao

    - viole
     
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  19. TagliatelliMonster

    TagliatelliMonster Veteran Member

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    It seems to me that such a notion would be self-contradicting for how the "spiritual" is usually defined.
    And it can't be both for the same reason that you can't be both a bachelor and married.

    If the "spiritual" has mass, then it is a physical / material thing, made out of matter.


    Maybe, just maybe, they were talking metaphorically and meant more like a mental weight rather then something measured in kilograms. :rolleyes:
     
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  20. Wildswanderer

    Wildswanderer Well-Known Member

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    Nope. I've felt it myself more than once. Spiritual battles are common for literally millions of people and it's weird that you just ignore all the first person testimony, but believe the 4 percent who deny God.
     
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