Monday, June 15, 2015

I Don't See How Materialism Could Survive Either of These Being True

Or, Opening The Windows And Letting The Air In

You never know which of the ideas you've had that seem important are going to take and which aren't.  I once wrote a piece about the role the media pushing Republican irresponsibility on taxes and public works played in the Big Dig debacle in Boston,  which I thought was brilliant but which got no reaction. Oh, well.

I did, though, think the idea I had in April was quite important,  that the materialist "brain only" model of the mind would have had to include precognition or the brain would not have had the information to use to construct the correct physical structure to be the thing that is their real, physical, "idea", the thing that was the material which comprised the idea that we merely experience as an emergent or epiphenomenal manifestation of it.  "We" in that sentence, our entire consciousness being the product of all of those physical entities producing the continual series of epiphenomena that is our sense of us, the universe and everything.  

In short,  to make the physical structure for it to BE the right idea, our brains would have had to already know what it was making before it could make the right structure. 

If materialists' model of the material brain is true, I would like to know how the biochemistry of the brain could possibly construct just the right new idea in the brain without already having that idea present so it would make that idea and not some other idea, in real time, assuming a form that would be both biologically active and integrated to and with the appropriate ideas so that it could work with previous such entities to produce the coherent experience of thought in real time.   

The brain would have to not only know the idea BEFORE it constructed its physical form, the "real" form that was the idea in the brain or it would not know what to make.  It would be like telling someone to make the right thing without even telling them what kind of thing they were supposed to make.  There would not be enough time in a life time for our brains to get it right without that prescient knowledge, never mind in the split second such things happen in our experience.   

But, as it is,  materialists simply hate the ideas of extrasensory perception that would be necessary for their materialist model of the brain to be a reality.  I can't see how it isn't a Hobson's choice for them, either they accept that ideas are not the physical structures which they must be for their materialism to be a complete and, therefore, a valid system*, or they accept precognition or telepathy or clairvoyance which the brain would need to accomplish the feat which they claim it does, which would also challenge their materialist system and which they would fear would open the door to all kinds of other challenges to it.  

The idea I had the other day, that if the dream of the Ray Kurtzweils, turning our entire consciousness into binary code were possible, that it would, as well be a fatal blow to the materialist "brain only" model of the mind due to the mind being able to transcend the physical entity which such materialists demand it is in reality.  I don't for a second believe that the most enormous and fast computer that could be constructed could ever "download" a mind, a personality, or create one - I'm not a materialist or a cybernutcase - but the proposal, itself, is an even more basic challenge to that materialist dogma from within its own battle lines.  

If minds could survive such a transfer it would mean that it is impossible that the mind is dependent on the physical forms of the brain, it would have to be a transcendent entity that was not and possibly never had been dependent on any, specific, physical substrate.  The substance of the mind couldn't possibly be a product of a very specific physical form if that same mind could exist in another, radically different, physical form. 

If that were the case, I would think it throws the door on the possibility of the opposite of the materialist dogma to be the case, that it was the mind that caused the brain to construct forms in which ideas would reside in the physical world and that those physical forms are the epiphenomena, not the other way round and that it could reside in different forms and so was not the product of either physical substrate.   Since those physical forms are what science can grasp, since science can only deal with physical entities, the faith in science to reveal more about them than the nature of the physical part of it would have to be unfounded and the materialists' claims about minds, superstitious.  

Materialists, it seems to me, can't answer those two points, none has answered the first one in the past two months.   But I think they have to, eventually answer the first one and would have to be in the position of debunking the Ray Kurtzweil style claims about computers containing minds.  If computers could become intelligent, if they could become conscious, that, as well, would be an enormous problem for explaining human consciousness because it would have to mean that consciousness, as well, was a transcendent entity that was not dependent on a specific, biological, physical substrate or explainable by the evolution of the brain.  Computers don't evolve through natural selection, they don't evolve, the technology changes in response to the intelligent choices of people who make them.  If computers could make them, it would have to be through their own "intelligent choices" which, as well, were the choices of people.   Which wouldn't bode well for materialism, either. 

*  Materialism, "physicalism" "naturalism", all names for the same thing, has to be a complete system in itself or it fails.   They are a system which, a priori, declares the total and inviolable nature of reality and everything that can be known or experienced has to be held to be explainable within that system.  If even one thing can be found which is not part of their system, the entire thing is invalidated.   The old, 19th century materialism which is what even the "physicalists" and "naturalist" materialists really hold, has been dealt a body blow through both quite well established mathematics and physics, which hasn't kept many mathematicians and physicists from being materialists.  They should consider that their system is a humanly invented system and is likely to be as prone to containing contradictions as all other human systems.   They should spend more of their time dealing with that than attacking the reality of the consciousness with which they are thinking of schemes to invalidate the reality of their own minds.  It's a form of intellectual suicide that has led "the West" into a period of severe decadence since the late 19th century as the materialism of the intellectual class was already rotting things out.   Whatever light I can see in the past century and a quarter, has not come from materialism, it has come from the remnant of traditional morality in its ever expanding form, redeeming more of human experience through egalitarian applications of justice and moral obligations.

Update:  You're so vain you probably think this blog is about you.

I don't care what people who choose to be stupid think they think about what I say, anymore.  They aren't who I write for. 


  1. Materialists, in other words, can't get around Plato's epistemological problem: how do you know anything before you know anything? We accept that children acquire language in a way we cannot explain. Language is complex, it is not a set of simple systems that build to a complex one (there are not "primitive" languages; linguists have never found one), it is a complex system. Yet children acquire it with ease, be it Mandarin or English or Tagalog or French, etc.

    But how?

    What we know of knowledge is that we must build from fundamentals: so life started out "simple" and became "complex." So children are taught words and sentences before paragraphs and chapters, and numbers and arithmetical functions before calculus and trigonometry.

    But how do we know anything before we know anything? Locke said "experience" writes on the "tabula rasa," but with what hand, in what language, using what medium? Every answer, including Plato's, is basically that it's turtles all the way down. But materialists and empiricists cannot pretend to any sounder knowledge or greater access to the "truth" about this subject, that Neo-Plutonists could.

    Aye, there's the rub.

  2. And Kurzweil's idea is a joke, taken seriously only by people who are not serious about the subject. "Mind" is a concept, and about as scientific as "race." It isn't a thing which can be weighed, observed, measured, or quantified.

    To say we will "transfer it" to a computer, akin to downloading an operating system to a hard drive, is simply silly.

    1. I got Kurtzweil pulled on me last week. Thinking about it more than I had, since the idea is so absurd, I thought it presented this problem for the "brain only" ideologues.

      I anticipate someone is going to bring up ideas being represented in written language, which isn't a recreation of ideas, it is a very partial and incomplete record of ideas that only become ideas, active in minds, as those words are read. That an idea can be transferred in that way is merely another form of the problem, since every part of the process depends on the introduction of ideas into the brain that weren't there before.

      I think the "brain only" people want the same thing that all materialists do, just as Larry Krauss can't explain where his quantum vaccum - his creator god - came from, eventually they all get to a place where they need a miracle to start the thing going.

      I prefer the first sentence of Genesis. It makes more sense.

  3. There are so many problems with the materialist mind you pointed out in your posting two months ago. If people so stridently hold to a purely physicalist model of the mind, they really have to ignore commonsense. I urge you to listen to this talk given by David Bentley Hart. At about the 15 minute mark he starts to discuss consciousness and the mind. Hart's position seems to be that we can only have access to the physical world through the supernatural, which I believe he implies IS consciousness. Anyway, if you listen to him give an overview of the materialist explanation of the mind, you see how ridiculous the argument is. At one point, Hart discusses the shortcoming of the physicalist model and how it can hardly explain for the ability of persons to reason themselves through an argument. After all, if everything is causal, logic should not be assumed. Hart points out - I think quite reasonably - that ideas, not physical law, seemingly drive the mind. Anyway, the link is below. You may have watched it. As I've written to you before, you do a real service to critical thinking about materialist claims that simply don't seem to hold water.