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The Crisis in Physics—and Its Cause

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I'm merely insisting on the point that it is necessary to mark one's speculations as being mere speculations, and not as statements of fact.

For example, Rand's assertion that "no supernatural dimension exists", is a mere belief presented as if it were a fact.

The same goes for believers in transcendence who claim the existence of a prime mover.

But since neither theists nor atheists can know, imo the only position not in conflict with science is religious agnosticism.

Is the assertion "Santa Claus does not exist" also "a mere belief presented as if it were a fact?" Are you also a Santa agnostic? If not, if you positively deny the existence of Santa, then how did you come by this knowledge? How can be certain of your claim?

Ghs

I recall also having been asked here whether I'm a Tooth Fairy agnostic. :D

Well, the answer to the two questions is short and easy: I'm certainly not an agnostic here, but a 'gnostic', so to speak. That is, I know that both the Tooth fairy and Santa don't exist because the claim of existence can clearly be exposed as lies told by the parents to their children. Since it is quite obviously the parents who put the dollar on the kids' pillows and who fill their socks with presents, it can't have been any Tooth Fairy or Santa. Case closed.

If five-year-old Johnny tells his kindergarten teacher that "a stranger" gave him the matchbox car he has in his pocket, but it turns out it was Johnny himself who pinched the car from his classmate, it exposes the "stranger" as a mental invention serving to hide the truth. Which is the definition of "lie". Same case with the Santa/Tooth fairy issue.

As for poster AA, he challenges the atheistic position by using atheists' own arguments against them, thus attempting to weaken their position.

Excerpt from the exchange between you and AA. (see post # 47)

Ghs: "Materialists" -- a label that you toss around with reckless abandon -- don't claim that the existence matter and energy (broadly conceived) require a causal explanation to begin with.

AA: So for "materialists" -- broadly conceived -- matter and energy (also broadly conceived) simply "always were, and always will be."

Sounds as if they've found a First Cause (i.e., matter and energy, broadly conceived). Logically, there is no difference between this and the standard theistic First Cause: "God always was and always will be."

Ghs: This is why it is legitimate to ask, "Then what caused the existence of your Intelligent Designer?"

AA: See above. You're OK with "Nothing caused matter and energy to arise"? I'm OK with "Nothing caused the first intelligent designer to arise." Logically, they are the same argument, just different terms.

How could an atheist counter that? Imo one of the best arguments atheists can apply is "Entia non sunt multiplicanda sine necessitate" aka 'Occam's Razor'.

So why introduce an additional element (the god idea) if it is not needed to explain scientific facts?

Your materialist simply swapped "matter and energy" for "God."

In a manner of speaking, yes. By identifying the presuppositions of causation, materialists offered a reasonable theory instead of magic.

I believe it was the rhetorician Kenneth Burke who referred to this sort of use of terms as "God terms."

And I believe it was the atheist David Brooks who said: "To explain the unknown by the known is a logical procedure; to explain the known by the unknown is a form of theological lunacy."

Another interesting exchange between you and AA.

Imo every position claiming knowledge of what cannot be known is a form of lunacy.

Imo the best argument believers in transcendence can bring up is what I use to call the 'fish fallacy' (aka known as "absence of evidence is not evidence of absence"):

Imagine a debate between fish A and fish B (endowed, for demonstration purposes, with the ability of reasoning).

They live deep down in the ocean discussing the possible existence of something else "out there". While A is open-minded to speculate about it, B firmly rejects A's position by asserting: "I know there exists nothing but water because I can see no evidence of it."

But absence of evidence is not necessarily evidence of absence.

As an atheist, I would use the "entia non sunt multiplicanda sine necessitate" argument.

As a theist, I would use the "absence of evidence is not evidence of absence" argument.

Imo both arguments are convincing, and in case theists or atheists here don't agree, I'm interested in hearing their objections.

As for axioms presented by either side, be it "matter is eternal", or "god is eternal", be it "matter originated from nothing", or "god originated from nothing" imo they all are beyond the grasp of the human mind.

So while it is easy to say "the cosmos always existed", isn't to grasp what this means beyond man's psychological equipment?

(By "grasp" I mean more than simply accepting it as given like a child takes as a given that his parents and environment are just there).

As finite creatures, how can we grasp something like "infinity"? As finite creatures whose survival depends on assessing cause and effect all the time, how can we deal with the idea of matter just being there, without a cause?

To me, the idea of matter always having been there is every bit as mysterious (if not more) as the idea of a god. What about you?`

Can we be humans really be content with axioms like "matter always was" and leave it at that? To me, this is like standing before a closed door, having no interest in what might be in there.

Here is an interesting article about science and religion by the famous physicist Lawrence Krauss:

Quote from the article: http://genesis1.asu.edu/060708_N_Comment.pdf

"Questions and assertions about design and purpose lie outside the realm of science so long as these things cannot be empirically tested. Thus, science may never make it impossible to believe in God, even if we ultimately develop a scientific understanding of all phenomena right back to the beginning of time. back to the beginning of time.

This point was well made by the Belgian priest and physicist Georges Lemaître, who was the first to demonstrate that Einstein’s theory of general relativity predicted a big bang.

When Pope Pius XII interpreted his result as a validation of Genesis, Lemaître countered that this was inappropriate. The big bang, he said, was a scientific theory that could be tested. Anyone choosing to use it to validate their belief in God, or as evidence that God is irrelevant, is doing so from their own religious convictions, and not from science."

(L. Krauss)

Edited by Xray

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Not if something can come from nothing.

Bob

Yup. That is the logical alternative. Either something came from nothing, which is to say everything ultimately came from nothing, or something is eternal.

I don't understand this reasoning.

What is the basis, other than pure speculation and nothing more, for claiming a metaphysical dichotomy as if these were the only alternatives?

Is there any reason, other than a wish for tidiness, that it has to be all one or all the other?

For example, why not both?

Micha

Quite so. I left out an alternative: there is an infinite regress.

Inclusive or. Perhaps some things trace back to a causeless beginning, perhaps some things trace back to thing that had an infinite past (that would be something eternal) and the rest go back in an in infinite regress (turtles all the way down). All three are possible an at least one must be the case since the alternatives: eternal, sprang from nothing and infinite regress exhaust all the possibilities.

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But what we call "mind" IS tied to some material substrate.

"Tied"? I doubt it. They complement each other and are always found together, but "mind" is not an emergent property of matter.

Imo claiming that there exists mind without a material substrate is as fallacious as claiming that values can exist "out there" without a valuer.

And as absurd as speaking of "one who values" without also positing the existence of "values"; or of a "lover" without a "beloved."

It's also fallacious to claim that "material substrates" exist apart from "perceiving and cognizing minds."

The mind is the physical effect of physical causes. All that exists is matter/energy in space/time.

Ba'al Chatzaf

The mind is the physical effect of physical causes. All that exists is matter/energy in space/time.

That conclusion of your mind is merely the physical effect of your brain's physical causes.

My brain's physical causes are different and cause my mind to arrive at a different conclusion.

Isn't naive materialism sweet? You can say "bye-bye" to any notion of objective truth.

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Why can't there just be an "always was/is/will be"?

Are you willing to apply that to the universe as a whole?

Besides, the idea of a First Cause separates it from the rest of reality as a distinct form of existence--a different reality, so to speak

Surely it's the exact opposite! The reality I live in has a chain of causes and effects, each cause preceding its effect. It's simply common sense to arrive at a First Cause, a starting point. It's the "always was, always will be" that exists in a different reality.

And it's so easy to ask where the First Cause came from that it's almost painful to ask.

But you've already granted the idea of "always was". If you apply it to a First Cause, you won't need to inquire "where" it came from. It's the First Cause that "always was."

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Why can't there just be an "always was/is/will be"?

Are you willing to apply that to the universe as a whole?

AA,

That's a speculation, not a statement of fact. But to answer:

Am I willing to ask this question about the universe as a whole? Yup.

Am I willing to claim this as a fact about the universe as a whole? No. Not at this stage of human knowledge.

Am I open to this being true or false? Yup.

It's simply common sense to arrive at a First Cause, a starting point.

I'm curious. Is "common sense" your fundamental epistemological method? Or do you have another method for for ascertaining the truth of your claims?

But you've already granted the idea of "always was". If you apply it to a First Cause, you won't need to inquire "where" it came from. It's the First Cause that "always was."

Actually, you did not read very carefully. I basically said, "I don't know." I explained this above, but since you quoted one of my posts and got the implication wrong, for further clarification, here another one (again). See if you understand my view better this time.

. . .

Either something came from nothing, which is to say everything ultimately came from nothing, or something is eternal.

I don't understand this reasoning.

What is the basis, other than pure speculation and nothing more, for claiming a metaphysical dichotomy as if these were the only alternatives?

Is there any reason, other than a wish for tidiness, that it has to be all one or all the other?

For example, why not both?

I get the impression you are out to slay a dragon. And if you come across something that you feel you need to slay, but does not look like your dragon, you will try to paint it and talk it up as if it were your dragon, at least enough to make it look that way to yourself.

This is characteristic of a true-believer mentality.

I don't mind being disagreed with, but at least disagree with my ideas when you disagree with me. It's odd to be attributed with stuff I don't think.

I'm actually more sympathetic to some of your views than others around here, but when I see your form of arguing, I shudder. I don't think like you do, so I am loathe to discuss where we agree. I feel you will try to spin it all out of shape, just like you did above with my statements.

Michael

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but "mind" is not an emergent property of matter.

Since you asserted the truth of a statement ("Mind is not an emergent property of matter"), the burden of proof falls on you. Would you please present your evidence here.

So what IS mind then in your opinion?

Matter can exist without mind, as in a stone. So while mind is not a necessary property of matter, what can be observed is that mind cannot exist without a material substance providing the basis for mental processes to occur.

In case you claim mind can exist independently of matter, please conduct your proof here.

Should you fail to meet the burden of proof, this will reduce your statement about mind to a mere statement of what you happen to believe. Imo the best part in George H. Smith's Why Atheism is the section on the burden of proof (p. 31 - 35).

AA, I'm asking you this for the third time now: Are you a believer in transcendence, in a god?

In case you again evade answering this question, I'll ask myself what your motive for not showing your colors could be.

Or are you a religious agnostic? If yes, why no say so directly?

Please adduce evidence for a "first cause."

--Brant

I too am interested in that evidence.

Edited by Xray

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Am I willing to ask this question about the universe as a whole? Yup.

Then you are willing ask if the universe has been around for an infinite amount of time, despite the fact that it was been definitely established to be no more than about 12 billion years old, and having had a definite beginning? Do you have any reasons for asking this question at all? Is it a matter of "keeping an open mind"? Healthy skepticism?

Regarding common sense:

It's a necessary though not sufficient cognitive tool and guide to action, especially in philosophy, and far more reliable than rereading "Introduction Objectivist Epistemology." Rand herself was a great admirer of common sense. So was Aristotle. You are not?

Actually, you did not read very carefully. I basically said, "I don't know."

You have a short memory. This is what you said:

Why can't there just be an "always was/is/will be"?

Doesn't sound like an "I don't know" to me.

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(quoting MSK):Am I willing to ask this question about the universe as a whole? Yup. (end quote MSK)

Then you are willing ask if the universe has been around for an infinite amount of time, despite the fact that it was been definitely established to be no more than about 12 billion years old, and having had a definite beginning? Do you have any reasons for asking this question at all? Is it a matter of "keeping an open mind"? Healthy skepticism?

Imo MSK meant to say: Maybe 'matter' "always was", which would mean that the universe was not created ex nihilo. Thinking of matter as eternal does not automatically imply that one has to assume a "steady state" universe.

(Quoting MSK) Actually, you did not read very carefully. I basically said, "I don't know." (end quote MSK)

You have a short memory. This is what you said:

Why can't there just be an "always was/is/will be"? [MSK]

Doesn't sound like an "I don't know" to me.

There is no contradicton. For when I speculate about something: "Can't it be that X is the case?", it implies that I don't know. For if I knew, there would be no need to speculate about this anymore.

Still waiting for you btw to make your case in proving that mind can exist without matter (see my post # 83, in which I again asked you a question - for the third time actually - you have not answered yet).

Edited by Xray

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Since you asserted the truth of a statement ("Mind is not an emergent property of matter"), the burden of proof falls on you.

No it doesn't. I merely denied what others have asserted as true without evidence.

If you assert "John F. Kennedy was assassinated by agents of the Federal Reserve because of his desire to reintroduce hard money into the economy" and I reply "Not so", I am not the one tasked with the burden of proof; you are. If you claim "Matter has an independent existence prior to mind, and mind emerges from matter as one its properties" and I reply, "Not so," again the burden of proof is not my responsibility but yours.

Matter can exist without mind, as in a stone.

Is that a fact? First ask: in what sense is the stone said to exist in the presence of mind; then ask, what remains of the stone when you remove mind completely from consideration. You'll find there's no stone.

what can be observed is that mind cannot exist without a material substance

How does one observe the non-existence of something? The fact is this: we observe that minds associate with brains. That's our common experience. There is no way to move from that fact of experience to the conclusion, "Ergo, minds cannot exist without brains." It's simply an invalid conclusion.

So what IS mind then in your opinion?

What IS matter?

We don't know.

We can say, of course, that one cannot be reduced to the other, and that if we try to do so, we run into philosophical difficulty. For example, to claim that mind is a product of matter is to deny the complete detachment from material forces of mind and its products -- e.g., statements and theories. If statements and theories are therefore, indirectly, "emergent properties" of matter, then that rather knocks our beloved notion of Objective Truth into the proverbial cocked hat. "My material substrate" causes my mind to accept something as true; "your material substrate" causes your mind to accept as true the contradiction of what I believe.

If mind simply emerges from matter, then two contradictory statements can both be "true": one truth emerged from the material substrate of your brain; the other truth emerged from mine. Obviously, there's no way to establish which truth is "really true."

The concept of the "really true" requires that the thing arriving at the truth, or grasping the truth -- the mind -- be independent from any causal influence of material nature. If it's independent from ANY causal influence of material nature, it follows that it cannot be an "emergent property" of matter. "Properties" flow from a thing's identity, which includes the sorts of effects the thing can have on other things.

Products of mind -- statements, hypotheses, theories, imaginings, etc. -- are not effects of the physical properties of brain tissue.

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Products of mind -- statements, hypotheses, theories, imaginings, etc. -- are not effects of the physical properties of brain tissue.

All of the above are kinds of neural activities. This can be verified with MRI scans and PET scans. (I have had both done to me and I have "seen" my self think).

Let us know the next time an idea, notion, perception, assumption occurs in the absence of living matter.

Ba'al Chatzaf

Edited by BaalChatzaf

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Imo MSK meant to say: Maybe 'matter' "always was", which would mean that the universe was not created ex nihilo. Thinking of matter as eternal does not automatically imply that one has to assume a "steady state" universe.

The accepted Standard Model of the Big Bang theory is that the original "singularity" that birthed all matter -- the sum total of all matter in the universe, compressed to a mathematical point -- itself arose ex nihilo.

To claim that "matter always was" is to accept something other than the Standard Model -- perhaps an "oscillating universe" model. This, however, is simply one particular version of Steady State.

This doesn't answer my original question. Is MSK asking this out of ennui? Or is he simply maintaining a kind of healthy intellectual skepticism over certain claims by scientists? My question has to do with the motive of his question, and not with any particular nuance in its meaning.

There is no contradicton. For when I speculate about something: "Can it be that possibility X exists?" it implies that I don't know.

It also implies skepticism toward those who do claim to know.

For if I knew, there would be no need to speculate anymore.

Outside of mathematics, we rarely, if ever, conclude things and act on the basis of 100% certainty. If the best science today is quite certain -- not 100% certain, but so what? --- that the entire mass of the universe was, at some time in the past, compressed into a point, and that this point itself arose ex nihilo -- what would be the motive for doubting this?

1. A desire to "keep an open mind" about things for the sake of keeping an open mind? or 2. A "healthy skepticism" toward confident claims by scientists?

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Do you have any reasons for asking this question at all? Is it a matter of "keeping an open mind"? Healthy skepticism?

AA,

What on earth is the purpose of your questions here?

I thought you used common sense.

Try it. It works in cases like this. For example, try reading the words I wrote and start by thinking maybe I wrote them because that's exactly what I mean.

Only in spin-land are all questions leading rhetorical questions to promote an agenda. (I have observed that you do this frequently.)

Do you really need to fabricate a villain that badly? Do you lack true villains in AA-world or do you just troll on friendly sites and make them up because you are too cowardly to go after the real deal? (There. There's a couple of leading rhetorical questions for you.)

Regarding common sense:

It's a necessary though not sufficient cognitive tool and guide to action, especially in philosophy, and far more reliable than rereading "Introduction Objectivist Epistemology." Rand herself was a great admirer of common sense. So was Aristotle. You are not?

There you go spinning again.

I did not say I was not an admirer of common sense. I asked you if common sense was your fundamental epistemological method for ascertaining truth. The reason I asked is because you gave common sense as your reason for claiming the universe had a First Cause. Here are your own words in case you forgot them: "It's simply common sense to arrive at a First Cause, a starting point."

I'll try again. Do you use any epistemological method other than common sense for arriving at that conclusion?

I hope this is not difficult to understand this time.

Actually, you did not read very carefully. I basically said, "I don't know."

You have a short memory. This is what you said:

Why can't there just be an "always was/is/will be"?

Doesn't sound like an "I don't know" to me.

I can't tell if you are just spinning here or if you really are intellectually challenged.

In the context of that question, the meaning most definitely was, "I don't know." If I wanted to make an exclusionary statement, I would not have asked a question presenting another alternative, implicitly criticizing a false dichotomy.

But that's what I did.

Just in case your blank-out mechanism on reading was in overdrive, here are my words in context (the ones you left out). I will bold the part that means "I don't know" for you.

Is there any reason there has to be a First Cause?

Why can't there just be an "always was/is/will be"?

Until human beings develop better sensing, mental processing and other awareness mechanisms, all this stuff was, is and will be nothing but speculation.

Now I will really make it easy for you. Please keep with me and I will go real slow. My statement means:

A First Cause is nothing but speculation.

"Always was/is/will be" is nothing but speculation.

Any other idea dealing with the origin of the universe is nothing but speculation.

The reason is we humans do not have the mental equipment to observe it for verification, and we have not yet designed instruments where we can observe it through them. All we can do is take what we do know at the present and speculate based on that.

This does not mean (your words again): "But you've already granted the idea of 'always was.'"

It means, "I don't know."

For the sake of further simplicity, it also means, "Humans can speculate."

Please make a minimum effort at correctly understanding what you wish to criticize. I'm not going to do the baby-steps thing again.

Michael

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Regarding common sense:

It's a necessary though not sufficient cognitive tool and guide to action, especially in philosophy, and far more reliable than rereading "Introduction Objectivist Epistemology." Rand herself was a great admirer of common sense. So was Aristotle. You are not?

You might say that it's common sense that tells me not to bother asking you for a citation from Rand or Aristotle, but I'm actually working from Einstein's definition of insanity: Doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.

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All of the above are kinds of neural activities. This can be verified with MRI scans and PET scans. (I have had both done to me and I have "seen" my self think).

Not quite. Neural activity correlates with thoughts. "Correlation" is not "identity."

A whale swimming beneath the water causes the top of the water surface to form certain shapes: waves, vortices, etc. The waves and vortices correlate with the activity of the whale.

But they are not the whale.

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What on earth is the purpose of your questions here?

Isn't that funny!!! I've been asking you the same question for the last few posts!

I'll try a different a question:

If you're OK with questioning the age of the universe as a whole -- merely as a hypothetical -- is it acceptable for you, or someone else, to question the age of something within the universe -- also as a hypothetical?

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I'll try a different a question:

If you're OK with questioning the age of the universe as a whole -- merely as a hypothetical -- is it acceptable for you, or someone else, to question the age of something within the universe -- also as a hypothetical?

Oh man, another question!

Asking for my intellectual approval of the obvious, at that.

If there's anything this discussion doesn't need is more unanswered or useless questions.

For the readers, though, this is not a total loss.

This is actually an interesting example of a persuasion technique. There are many names for it, ("yes" chain, baby-steps, etc.), but the basic idea is consistency and commitment.

Human beings like to keep on doing the same thing once they start and commit. I think this has something to do with the way neural pathways are formed in the brain.

Once you are aware of this, you can use it to your benefit. You ask someone to do something trivial and, if he agrees, you ask him to do something else (and so on), but gradually increase the nature of the requests so that they lean in the direction you wish your target person to go. Here is a pretty good Cialdini-based explanation (with some self-help advice thrown in for good measure): The psychology of persuasion - consistency.

The way the question in the above quote by AA works is to get me to agree to something banal or obvious. Once I have given my agreement, another question (or leading statement--but questions work better) will be presented, a tiny bit less obvious, but still obvious enough to elicit my agreement. And more and more, going off in the direction AA wishes to take it. Essentially, this is a "yes" chain.

(Do you agree with xxx? Yes... Do you agree with yyy? Yes... Do you agree with zzz? Yes... etc., etc., etc. Do you now see the validity of my claim? Yes... :) )

The problem with convincing someone using this method is that it doesn't work in the long term to change a person's mind. A person doesn't change his fundamental views with a simple "yes" chain. (You can get his money, though, if you do it right.)

At best, you will implant doubt in his mind. Usually, you will irritate the person because he will not remember his reasoning during the "yes" chain, but will remember it later. He will feel duped.

This technique is better suited to quick stings than long-term thinking.

Michael

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The accepted Standard Model of the Big Bang theory is that the original "singularity" that birthed all matter -- the sum total of all matter in the universe, compressed to a mathematical point -- itself arose ex nihilo. To claim that "matter always was" is to accept something other than the Standard Model -- perhaps an "oscillating universe" model. This, however, is simply one particular version of Steady State.

I would not call an oscillating universe one particular version of the Steady State, since the Steady State model does not contain the idea of contraction and collapse.

As for "singularity", a mathematical point of "infinite density" is physically impossible.

(quoting Xray): Since you asserted the truth of a statement ("Mind is not an emergent property of matter"), the burden of proof falls on you.

No it doesn't. I merely denied what others have asserted as true without evidence.

(quoting Xray): "Evidence was provided. For what can be observed does qualify as evidence in this case. And what we can observe is that mind needs a material basis in order to manifest itself. Simple as that."

Now if you attack this position by asserting the contrary, the burden of proof falls on you. I'm all ears.

So if you would please provide your evidence."

If you assert "John F. Kennedy was assassinated by agents of the Federal Reserve because of his desire to reintroduce hard money into the economy" and I reply "Not so", I am not the one tasked with the burden of proof; you are.

You are correct in that the burden of proof would fall on me, and any "Not so" on your part would be irrelevant at this stage. All you can ask me is "Where is your proof that this was the case?"

In case you don't accept the offered proof and still insist this was not the case, you will be asked back to provide your evidence.

If you claim "Matter has an independent existence prior to mind, and mind emerges from matter as one its properties" and I reply, "Not so," again the burden of proof is not my responsibility but yours.

What we can observe is that mind needs a material substance in order to manifest itself. It is also scientifically established that the earth we live on contained matter way before the human mind developed.

If you don't think this is the case, go ahead and provide your evidence. A simple "Not so" on your part won't do.

(Quoting Xray): Matter can exist without mind, as in a stone.

Is that a fact? First ask: in what sense is the stone said to exist in the presence of mind; then ask, what remains of the stone when you remove mind completely from consideration. You'll find there's no stone.

You are confusing things. If you don't think of the stone it does not mean that it physically vanishes. Or do you think the universe did not exist before humans became aware of it?

(Quoting Xray): what can be observed is that mind cannot exist without a material substance

How does one observe the non-existence of something?

If you are bothered by the negative form used in the sentence, there is no problem in rephrasing it to: "What we can observe is that mind needs a material basis in order to manifest itself."

The fact is this: we observe that minds associate with brains. That's our common experience. There is no way to move from that fact of experience to the conclusion, "Ergo, minds cannot exist without brains." It's simply an invalid conclusion.

"From what we can observe, minds can't exist without brains" is a valid conclusion.

(quoting Xray): So what IS mind then in your opinion?

What IS matter?

We don't know.

We can say, of course, that one cannot be reduced to the other, and that if we try to do so, we run into philosophical difficulty. For example, to claim that mind is a product of matter is to deny the complete detachment from material forces of mind and its products -- e.g., statements and theories.

There is no philosophical problem. Without the material substance "brain", no statements and theories would come into existence at all.

If statements and theories are therefore, indirectly, "emergent properties" of matter, then that rather knocks our beloved notion of Objective Truth into the proverbial cocked hat. "My material substrate" causes my mind to accept something as true; "your material substrate" causes your mind to accept as true the contradiction of what I believe.

If mind simply emerges from matter, then two contradictory statements can both be "true": one truth emerged from the material substrate of your brain; the other truth emerged from mine. Obviously, there's no way to establish which truth is "really true."

You need to think through more what you write, AA. For if you don't, you won't get a foot on the ground here. The statements quoted above show that you have already landed in epistemological quicksand by making the thinking error of equating what one believes to be true with the 'truth'.

The concept of the "really true" requires that the thing arriving at the truth, or grasping the truth -- the mind -- be independent from any causal influence of material nature.

This is like arguing that if you want to cook with fire, the cooking process be independent from the fire being lighted.

Products of mind -- statements, hypotheses, theories, imaginings, etc. -- are not effects of the physical properties of brain tissue.

Products of mind --- statements, hypotheses, theories, imaginings, etc. -- are results of a process which cannot occur without brain tissue.

Edited by Xray

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Yes it is. The only relevant answer to "How did Hamlet come to exist"? is "A guy named William Shakespeare thought it up and wrote it down." The Big Bang and how it putatively led to the appearance after billions of years to a Mr. and Mrs. Shakespeare is irrelevant, because it fails to explain what we requested: how did Hamlet come to be written? Answer: William Shakespeare created it. That's the First Cause and the only relevant answer.

Same for computer programmers who wrote Windows 7. The occurrence of a Big Bang 12 million years ago, and the supposed evolution -- guided or unguided -- since then, has zero to do with answering the question.

Bob:

Shakespeare was not an entity unto himself - he was a mind in time that was influenced by other minds, and some historians of Shakespeare lore claim that not only did he hire ghost writers, but some of the stories were "floating around" and he collated, embellshed and published. Shakespeare was also, if not primarily then equally a businessman who supported himself by staging plays. There is so much more to consider about the how and why of Shakespeare than that a man named Shakespeare was once alive and wrote plays. To inquire further we can get a sense of the times - what themes were popular - and from that we can make conjectures, supported by other facts about the times, as to why the themes were popular.

To arbitrarily declare Shakespeare an entity that needs no further investigation is to arbitrarily throw down a peg for arbitrary reasons, which we can guess at, but which only you know for sure, if you know why you do it, and it is not likely you will tell us as we all know that when someone arbitrarily throws down a peg they are not usually going to tell us why.

You are playing a game, as is everyone else. Some of us like to play by a different set of rules, one of which is that pegs can't be arbitrarily thrown down, but instead every curiousity and lead is pursued to discover "why" such and such happened, though we don't know if we will discover the "why" of it or how long it will take.

The scientific spirit which has given us the modern world is the result of continually asking "why" and pursuing the quest like some crazed hound dog. So we have not accepted the atom as a pegged entity, but taken it apart to some extent, and then attempted to take apart whatever was found in the atom, and so on. At the same time, stars were not taken as pegged entities, but studied and studied until we know that they are fiery suns, and have all sorts of unexpected qualities and behaviors, none of which are pegged but still under investigation.

That the mind (some minds, anyway) want to keep asking "why" is the case, but why that is, who knows? Then we have undertaken the study of the brain, but still it is a mystery as to why we ask "why". But we do. And some don't, that is also known, but can we be sure that there is anything wrong or bad about brains or minds that are not all that curious?

we can also ask "why" would someone want to throw down a peg, instead of saying "I'm not curious about that". I think the average Bollywood star would quite honestly say they are not curious about this or that. But I don't think too many of them would throw down a peg.

Do you throw down pegs in your private life, like for instance if your spouse or a friend is doing something you find unpleasant, do you accept that as a peg, and not inquire into the matter or wonder about it? Would not inquiry lead, possibly, to a solution?

I don't understand pegging. I was asking "why" since I could talk, and it drove my parents a bit mad. Since I began asking why so much at so early an age I am not opposed to thinking it a genetic trait, and thus thoroughly beyond my control. I not only ask why with regards the physical realm, but also with regards people - why did so and so do that? Why does such and such a group hold that political perspective? Of course I am not alone in this trait. I have found that the writings of Buddhists reveal a lot about human nature - in their explanations, pegging would be a "clinging" to something that gives comfort because it brings the feeling of psychological closure, and then the mind can rest from constantly turning in circles - a kind of rumination.

If I understand the scientific spirit as it is most often described, and as I feel it in myself, there can be no pegging allowed, but at the same time no discomfort felt by not pegging, because instead one just lets it go.

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If the Objectivists at Objective Living represent Objectivists generally, then I have to conclude that diplomacy is not an important part of the program.

Infantile egoism - that seems to be the mark of an Objectivist. I can't stand to be here - the smell of urine is offensive. I think I will go now and read the newspapers of India - far more interesting and real.

Yeah, we may be pissy on occasions, but you came prepared for that, didn't you rhs? with your own brand of pissiness from the off. A self-fulfilling prophet.

Look to yourself if you value diplomacy; otherwise, as I often remind myself, "If you can't stand the meat, get out the chicken."

Tony

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Tony,

I threw that post in the Garbage Pile where it belongs.

I'm beginning to think OL is not a good fit for this poster.

He's a control freak and maybe he should move on.

If he doesn't--or if he doesn't stop the dumping on OL and Objectivist crap--I will limit him.

Michael

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I really don't understand your attacks on RHS. He makes valid arguments. I didn't see any arguments against the content of his post. All I see are petty threats and ad hominems.

Tony - was the post you quoted from this thread? I know MSK said he threw a post in the garbage pile....

Edited by Aristocrates

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