Why I Am Not a Materialist

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Re: Why I Am Not a Materialist

Postby anon » Mon Dec 24, 2012 12:42 am

Are you suggesting that we could create good citizens out of, say, hardened criminals through tinkering with their brains - were we unethical enough to try this? It seems important that you have been describing change of the degraded sort - towards death, in a way. Which makes sense given the injury.
"Distraction is the only thing that consoles us for our miseries, and yet it is itself the greatest of our miseries." - Blaise Pascal

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Re: Why I Am Not a Materialist

Postby captaincrunk » Mon Dec 24, 2012 12:49 am

anon wrote:Are you suggesting that we could create good citizens out of, say, hardened criminals through tinkering with their brains - were we unethical enough to try this? It seems important that you have been describing change of the degraded sort - towards death, in a way. Which makes sense given the injury.

Yeah, I'm suggesting that it could be possible. I wouldn't do it for ethical (moral) reasons but for the sake of argument here, I'll bet it's not out of the realm of possibility.
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Re: Why I Am Not a Materialist

Postby anon » Mon Dec 24, 2012 4:29 am

captaincrunk wrote:
anon wrote:Are you suggesting that we could create good citizens out of, say, hardened criminals through tinkering with their brains - were we unethical enough to try this? It seems important that you have been describing change of the degraded sort - towards death, in a way. Which makes sense given the injury.

Yeah, I'm suggesting that it could be possible. I wouldn't do it for ethical (moral) reasons but for the sake of argument here, I'll bet it's not out of the realm of possibility.

I guess that makes one of us. I don't think it's possible even in theory. I could try to convince you, but that would require a much longer response. I do hope, anyway, that even if a person does think such a thing is possible in theory, they are sensible enough to understand which kinds of options work best for which kinds of things. That also becomes an involved conversation though...
"Distraction is the only thing that consoles us for our miseries, and yet it is itself the greatest of our miseries." - Blaise Pascal

"The bombs we plant in each other are ticking away." - Edward Yang

"To a fly that likes the smell of putrid / Meat the fragrance of sandalwood is foul. / Beings who discard Nirvana / Covet coarse Samsara's realm." - Saraha
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Re: Why I Am Not a Materialist

Postby lizbethrose » Mon Dec 24, 2012 5:05 am

captaincrunk wrote:
anon wrote:Are you suggesting that we could create good citizens out of, say, hardened criminals through tinkering with their brains - were we unethical enough to try this? It seems important that you have been describing change of the degraded sort - towards death, in a way. Which makes sense given the injury.

Yeah, I'm suggesting that it could be possible. I wouldn't do it for ethical (moral) reasons but for the sake of argument here, I'll bet it's not out of the realm of possibility.


Would it be necessarily unethical to alter the brain of a hardened criminal if it led to her/his social adaptive skill 'rehabilitation?' Forgetting Phineas Gage for a minute (and there's been a lot written that questions his so-called 'behavior changes' after his accident that put them in question), there are stroke victims who need a recovery period in order to find neural routes that differ from what they used before stroke. We do have redundancies in our brains.

We just don't know enough about the brain, yet, or social science, to be able to pin point the areas that would need to be altered and we'd have to know just how much to laser away. Then the patient would have to go through a lot of repetitive re-training So, yeah, it could be possible, but perhaps not for a while--a long while.

Is all this possible to contemplate if you're not a materialist--at least to a certain extent? There has to be some sort of dualism, such as you can't have thought without a brain and the two are separate, mustn't there?
"Be what you would seem to be - or, if you'd like it put more simply - never imagine yourself not to be otherwise than what it might appear to others that what you were or might have been was not otherwise than what you had been would have appeared to them to be otherwise."
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Re: Why I Am Not a Materialist

Postby anon » Mon Dec 24, 2012 4:52 pm

lizbethrose wrote:
captaincrunk wrote:
anon wrote:Are you suggesting that we could create good citizens out of, say, hardened criminals through tinkering with their brains - were we unethical enough to try this? It seems important that you have been describing change of the degraded sort - towards death, in a way. Which makes sense given the injury.

Yeah, I'm suggesting that it could be possible. I wouldn't do it for ethical (moral) reasons but for the sake of argument here, I'll bet it's not out of the realm of possibility.


Would it be necessarily unethical to alter the brain of a hardened criminal if it led to her/his social adaptive skill 'rehabilitation?' Forgetting Phineas Gage for a minute (and there's been a lot written that questions his so-called 'behavior changes' after his accident that put them in question), there are stroke victims who need a recovery period in order to find neural routes that differ from what they used before stroke. We do have redundancies in our brains.

We just don't know enough about the brain, yet, or social science, to be able to pin point the areas that would need to be altered and we'd have to know just how much to laser away. Then the patient would have to go through a lot of repetitive re-training So, yeah, it could be possible, but perhaps not for a while--a long while.

Is all this possible to contemplate if you're not a materialist--at least to a certain extent? There has to be some sort of dualism, such as you can't have thought without a brain and the two are separate, mustn't there?

Liz, I think you make a good and interesting point regarding how to effect a desired outcome through what I'd call external means (drugs are included under "external") given plasticity. "Training", as you've pointed out, would be a mandatory part of this process, if it were to work. And training is what I would call "internal".
"Distraction is the only thing that consoles us for our miseries, and yet it is itself the greatest of our miseries." - Blaise Pascal

"The bombs we plant in each other are ticking away." - Edward Yang

"To a fly that likes the smell of putrid / Meat the fragrance of sandalwood is foul. / Beings who discard Nirvana / Covet coarse Samsara's realm." - Saraha
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Re: Why I Am Not a Materialist

Postby Ben JS » Tue Dec 25, 2012 11:50 am

captaincrunk wrote:On the last point, thinking can change physical states.

Well, it's the physical processes which are taking place as we think, that are changing the brain, not the mental experience.

anon wrote:If a brain state “gives rise to” a mental state, is there a lapse in time between the two states? If so, how can this gap be accounted for? But if there is no lapse in time, then how can we make the claim that the brain state is ontologically more fundamental than the mental state?

If we said hypothetically that the brain gives rise to the mental state, then it seems to me like saying, the mental experience is just like a movie which we watch, but have no influence on.

A relevant question is, if there's a lapse between the two, then why is it the body appears to be able to react to our thoughts as quickly as it can react to being hit by a bat.

If there's a gap, then all actions which constantly adjust to feedback, ie Hand/Eye coordination, would be ridiculous unless the time between was very short.

And yes, if there's no lapse in time, then it wouldn't seem as though one could cause the other.

--------------

It's easy to see how the physical environment affects the mental environment. For example, physical damage to one's ears or eyes, results in a distinct change of one's experience of these senses. We can also see how based on the structure of the brain, the propensities an individual has.

It's harder to see how the mental experience changes the physical environment beyond our perception of it.
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Re: Why I Am Not a Materialist

Postby Flannel Jesus » Tue Dec 25, 2012 9:28 pm

anon wrote:Firstly, I’m pretty skeptical of the value of philosophical realism. What determines the reality of something is the context within which we’re talking about it. In the words of Les McCann and Eddie Harris, “real compared to what?” There is no meaning to the description “real” without a given context. A Tofurky® is a fake turkey, but is real food. A wax figure is likewise real or not relative to some initial criteria. The determination “real” cannot precede an understanding of the specified arena within which we are making a useful distinction.

A whole bunch of dominoes fall over, once the reality domino tumbles.

I haven't read any responses, so I don't know if anybody has pointed this out to you, but this is equivocation. The two uses of the word 'real' are not synonymous. In the top paragraph, 'real' is meant as 'genuine' -- not as in 'reality'. To any realist, all of those things exist in reality without question, so the 'reality' domino hasn't been affected at all. Only the question of genuine-ness has 'tumbled' -- genuine compared to what? is the question you were asking.

Thought that was worth pointing out, in case no one else had.
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Re: Why I Am Not a Materialist

Postby anon » Wed Dec 26, 2012 5:36 am

Joe Schmoe wrote:
captaincrunk wrote:On the last point, thinking can change physical states.

Well, it's the physical processes which are taking place as we think, that are changing the brain, not the mental experience.

You seem to be suggesting that there is a fundamental separation between mind and matter. Are you claiming that mental processes are illusory? Are you removing them from your account of how sentient life functions, i.e. they are like vestigial organs, except that there was never any function to mental processes in the first place?

anon wrote:If a brain state “gives rise to” a mental state, is there a lapse in time between the two states? If so, how can this gap be accounted for? But if there is no lapse in time, then how can we make the claim that the brain state is ontologically more fundamental than the mental state?

If we said hypothetically that the brain gives rise to the mental state, then it seems to me like saying, the mental experience is just like a movie which we watch, but have no influence on.

A relevant question is, if there's a lapse between the two, then why is it the body appears to be able to react to our thoughts as quickly as it can react to being hit by a bat.

If there's a gap, then all actions which constantly adjust to feedback, ie Hand/Eye coordination, would be ridiculous unless the time between was very short.

And yes, if there's no lapse in time, then it wouldn't seem as though one could cause the other.

To be clear, this last possibility is what I believe.
--------------

It's easy to see how the physical environment affects the mental environment. For example, physical damage to one's ears or eyes, results in a distinct change of one's experience of these senses. We can also see how based on the structure of the brain, the propensities an individual has.

It's harder to see how the mental experience changes the physical environment beyond our perception of it.

It's harder logically? Or in a common sense way?
"Distraction is the only thing that consoles us for our miseries, and yet it is itself the greatest of our miseries." - Blaise Pascal

"The bombs we plant in each other are ticking away." - Edward Yang

"To a fly that likes the smell of putrid / Meat the fragrance of sandalwood is foul. / Beings who discard Nirvana / Covet coarse Samsara's realm." - Saraha
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Re: Why I Am Not a Materialist

Postby anon » Wed Dec 26, 2012 5:42 am

Flannel Jesus wrote:
anon wrote:Firstly, I’m pretty skeptical of the value of philosophical realism. What determines the reality of something is the context within which we’re talking about it. In the words of Les McCann and Eddie Harris, “real compared to what?” There is no meaning to the description “real” without a given context. A Tofurky® is a fake turkey, but is real food. A wax figure is likewise real or not relative to some initial criteria. The determination “real” cannot precede an understanding of the specified arena within which we are making a useful distinction.

A whole bunch of dominoes fall over, once the reality domino tumbles.

I haven't read any responses, so I don't know if anybody has pointed this out to you, but this is equivocation. The two uses of the word 'real' are not synonymous. In the top paragraph, 'real' is meant as 'genuine' -- not as in 'reality'. To any realist, all of those things exist in reality without question, so the 'reality' domino hasn't been affected at all. Only the question of genuine-ness has 'tumbled' -- genuine compared to what? is the question you were asking.

Thought that was worth pointing out, in case no one else had.

Hi FJ. It's unclear to me where the equivocation is. My argument is exactly this - that there can be no meaningful concept 'reality' that isn't based on first assuming or producing criteria that isn't, in itself, necessary. Other paradigms are always possible. This can be argued, certainly. I argue with myself about it. But I don't see how I've equivocated.
"Distraction is the only thing that consoles us for our miseries, and yet it is itself the greatest of our miseries." - Blaise Pascal

"The bombs we plant in each other are ticking away." - Edward Yang

"To a fly that likes the smell of putrid / Meat the fragrance of sandalwood is foul. / Beings who discard Nirvana / Covet coarse Samsara's realm." - Saraha
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Re: Why I Am Not a Materialist

Postby Flannel Jesus » Wed Dec 26, 2012 8:30 am

I explained it pretty clearly, but I'll try again.
"Tofurkey is not real turkey" is not a statement about whether or not tofurkey exists in reality. It's a statement about tofurkey's genuineness. Real = genuine in that situation.
There is a DIFFERENT meaning of 'real' which means 'exists in reality.'
Saying 'tofurkey isn't genuine turkey' is obviously a competely different thing from saying 'tofurkey doesn't exist in reality'
In other words, there are two different meanings of the statement 'tofurkey isn't real'
but you're treating the two meanings of real as the same in your OP.
That's a mistake.
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Re: Why I Am Not a Materialist

Postby anon » Wed Dec 26, 2012 12:09 pm

Flannel Jesus wrote:I explained it pretty clearly, but I'll try again.
"Tofurkey is not real turkey" is not a statement about whether or not tofurkey exists in reality. It's a statement about tofurkey's genuineness. Real = genuine in that situation.
There is a DIFFERENT meaning of 'real' which means 'exists in reality.'
Saying 'tofurkey isn't genuine turkey' is obviously a competely different thing from saying 'tofurkey doesn't exist in reality'
In other words, there are two different meanings of the statement 'tofurkey isn't real'
but you're treating the two meanings of real as the same in your OP.
That's a mistake.

I understand your point. I did all along. MY point Is that there is no 'in reality' to be described that isn't exactly as problematic - because it is the same in that sense - relative to criteria.

You could argue my point, instead of just alluding to some mysterious second definition that you presume I must believe in.

My point is like the one I made in the relative truth thread, where i said that truth is a form of belief, it's not something completely different.
"Distraction is the only thing that consoles us for our miseries, and yet it is itself the greatest of our miseries." - Blaise Pascal

"The bombs we plant in each other are ticking away." - Edward Yang

"To a fly that likes the smell of putrid / Meat the fragrance of sandalwood is foul. / Beings who discard Nirvana / Covet coarse Samsara's realm." - Saraha
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Re: Why I Am Not a Materialist

Postby Flannel Jesus » Wed Dec 26, 2012 1:02 pm

I'm not saying you 'believe' in some definition. I'm saying you wrote a paragraph using one definition, and then began the next paragraph acting as if you were talking about another definition.

There are 2 definitions of 'real' at play:
definition 1: genuine (as in 'is tofurkey real turkey?')
definition 2: exists in reality

You wrote a full paragraph completely and solely using definition 1, and then you started talking about 'reality' as if you thought you were using definition 2. You can't make conclusions about definition 1 and then just off-handedly apply them to definition 2. That's the epitome of equivocation. That's what equivocation means. So when you write a full paragraph about real-as-in-genuine, and then act as if you were talking about real-as-in-reality, you're equivocating. It's fallacious.
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Re: Why I Am Not a Materialist

Postby anon » Wed Dec 26, 2012 1:07 pm

You don't seem to understand my point. My first paragraph contained simple examples of what I'm trying to get at. The conclusions can be applied to any conception of 'reality' that you subscribe to. Feel free to argue against that. But I'm not equivocating.
"Distraction is the only thing that consoles us for our miseries, and yet it is itself the greatest of our miseries." - Blaise Pascal

"The bombs we plant in each other are ticking away." - Edward Yang

"To a fly that likes the smell of putrid / Meat the fragrance of sandalwood is foul. / Beings who discard Nirvana / Covet coarse Samsara's realm." - Saraha
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Re: Why I Am Not a Materialist

Postby anon » Wed Dec 26, 2012 1:15 pm

Or, Mr. Jesus, you could just look up realism and understand that that is what I'm arguing against. For example:

"Contemporary philosophical realism is the belief that our reality, or some aspect of it, is ontologically independent of our conceptual schemes, linguistic practices, beliefs, etc."

Now it's obviously not as cut and dried as that - it's not either-or. But I did talk a little about why I'm taking this approach here. Again, not as some kind of full argument. But it would be nice if you actually knew what I was saying.
"Distraction is the only thing that consoles us for our miseries, and yet it is itself the greatest of our miseries." - Blaise Pascal

"The bombs we plant in each other are ticking away." - Edward Yang

"To a fly that likes the smell of putrid / Meat the fragrance of sandalwood is foul. / Beings who discard Nirvana / Covet coarse Samsara's realm." - Saraha
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Re: Why I Am Not a Materialist

Postby Flannel Jesus » Wed Dec 26, 2012 1:30 pm

anon wrote:The conclusions can be applied to any conception of 'reality' that you subscribe to.

That's...never true. That statement is essentially the same as saying 'equivocating is ok'.
If my definition of 'reality' is 'the monkey on the roof', then obviously different conclusions apply to a monkey on my roof than to the genuineness of tofurkey. You don't understand what words are if this is what you think.

Speaking of which, I'm going to make a post clearly explaining my philosophy on words.

And I know that you're arguing against realism. I'm arguing against equivocating. I'm not even defending realism, just fighting fallacies.
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Re: Why I Am Not a Materialist

Postby anon » Wed Dec 26, 2012 1:55 pm

I think you should reread what I've written. But whatever, knock yourself out.
"Distraction is the only thing that consoles us for our miseries, and yet it is itself the greatest of our miseries." - Blaise Pascal

"The bombs we plant in each other are ticking away." - Edward Yang

"To a fly that likes the smell of putrid / Meat the fragrance of sandalwood is foul. / Beings who discard Nirvana / Covet coarse Samsara's realm." - Saraha
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Re: Why I Am Not a Materialist

Postby anon » Sun Dec 30, 2012 2:41 pm

"For example: What is reality? Philosophers have treated it as a noun denoting something that has certain properties. For thousands of years, they have debated those properties. Ordinary language philosophy instead looks at how we use the word "reality" in everyday language. In some instances, people will say, "It may seem that X is the case, but in reality, Y is the case". This expression is not used to mean that there is some special dimension of being where Y is true although X is true in our dimension. What it really means is, "X seemed right, but appearances were misleading in some way. Now I'm about to tell you the truth: Y". That is, the meaning of "in reality" is a bit like "however". And the phrase, "The reality of the matter is ..." serves a similar function — to set the listener's expectations. Further, when we talk about a "real gun", we aren't making a metaphysical statement about the nature of reality; we are merely opposing this gun to a toy gun, pretend gun, imaginary gun, etc."

Source: http://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ordinary ... philosophy

Just in case this is more clear than my own explanation...
"Distraction is the only thing that consoles us for our miseries, and yet it is itself the greatest of our miseries." - Blaise Pascal

"The bombs we plant in each other are ticking away." - Edward Yang

"To a fly that likes the smell of putrid / Meat the fragrance of sandalwood is foul. / Beings who discard Nirvana / Covet coarse Samsara's realm." - Saraha
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Re: Why I Am Not a Materialist

Postby anon » Sun Dec 30, 2012 2:58 pm

Or, from J.L. Austin (thanks Abstract):

"Like 'real', 'free' is only used to rule out the suggestion of some or all of its recognized antitheses. As 'truth' is not a name for a characteristic of assertions, so 'freedom' is not a name for a chracteristic of actions, but the name of a dimension in which actions are assessed."
"Distraction is the only thing that consoles us for our miseries, and yet it is itself the greatest of our miseries." - Blaise Pascal

"The bombs we plant in each other are ticking away." - Edward Yang

"To a fly that likes the smell of putrid / Meat the fragrance of sandalwood is foul. / Beings who discard Nirvana / Covet coarse Samsara's realm." - Saraha
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Re: Why I Am Not a Materialist

Postby anon » Sun Dec 30, 2012 4:54 pm

One more thing I just found.

I just looked up "do particulars exist" on google and found this thread on another site: http://onlinephilosophyclub.com/forums/ ... f=1&t=6789

My anti-realist claim is that the final post there...

We don't have to know what exist means to exist.

I'll Leave you with the definition of exist: "1. to have actual being; be: The world exists, whether you like it or not.".


...does nothing to resolve the issue.
"Distraction is the only thing that consoles us for our miseries, and yet it is itself the greatest of our miseries." - Blaise Pascal

"The bombs we plant in each other are ticking away." - Edward Yang

"To a fly that likes the smell of putrid / Meat the fragrance of sandalwood is foul. / Beings who discard Nirvana / Covet coarse Samsara's realm." - Saraha
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