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Evolution theory is incompatible with materialism
Posted: 13 November 2011 01:42 AM   [ Ignore ]  
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Evolution theory is incompatible with materialism

 

Heres why:
(btw, with materialism i mean the idea that consciousness (C) is limited to brains)


1. The first reason is of course that evolution is about already existing ingredients changing configuration over time. The physical ingredients that make up your heart (or any other organ) have been around since the big bang. Evolution just shaped them into a different configuration, it did not create them. An electric eel, by means of a specialised organ, can generate electric shocks to stun prey and defend itself. Neither the eel nor its evolutionary ancestors ever created electric charge, they simple made use of that which was already there and extends throughout the universe. Evolution only acts on that which exists, it doesnt create new physical ingredients. Why would it be different for C? Why throw evolution theory out the window when it concerns C?

 


2. The second reason is that evolution theory implies that C has causal power. Here’s why: Natural Selection is about the survival of organisms, and they survive because of their behavior in their environment (procreating, looking for food, fighting, hiding, etc.). Now imagine that C has no causal power, and it does not influence the behavior of the organism. We might aswell experience 24/7 of being in disneyland, while our physical surroundings are full of tigers and steep cliffs. Our bodies would avoid the tigers and cliffs anyway, whether we are conscious of them or not. Natural selection would not force our mental world to correspond with the physical world, since we do not die more often when there is a mismatch. This is clearly false. So C has causal power. Now what causal power would that be? The laws of physics are universal. C either has causal power over one of them, or is one of them. Either option is a deathblow to materialism.

 

Try to crack this one you materialists out there :)

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Posted: 13 November 2011 04:10 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 1 ]  
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Just one name to refute all your silly nonsense and hidden assumptions: Alan Turing.

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Posted: 13 November 2011 04:20 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 2 ]  
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Daniel OMalley - 13 November 2011 09:10 AM

Just one name to refute all your silly nonsense and hidden assumptions: Alan Turing.

You forgot your counterarguments.

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Posted: 18 November 2011 12:11 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 3 ]  
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I think materialists think too much in terms of black/white, or brain/non-brain.


Evolution shows that even our brains have microbial ancestors.


We human beings really arent as special as we like to think.

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Posted: 02 December 2011 12:22 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 4 ]  
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srrr - 18 November 2011 05:11 PM


We human beings really arent as special as we like to think.

Well, at least those who say “Evolution theory is incompatible with materialism” anyway wink .

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Posted: 17 February 2013 09:22 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 5 ]  
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srrr - 13 November 2011 01:42 AM

Evolution theory is incompatible with materialism
.
Heres why:
(btw, with materialism i mean the idea that consciousness (C) is limited to brains)

.
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With materialism you mean what, now? Isn’t materialism a metaphysical thesis, that everything is, not, for example, mental, but ‘material’, even if the world might contain items that don’t seem material, at first glance?  So, items, of a specifically psychological nature, for example, are in fact material. At the end of the day. It might not be the only kind of materialism, a rather primitive kind, to say that everything is ‘matter’. This is rather primitive because it doesn’t even harmonize well with physics. I take it that contemporary materialists are interested in a scientifically relevant thesis. In fact, they’re generally yielding to nobody in their interest in physics and the physical sciences, right? And if I’m a materialist, I’m that kind of materialist. I have a commitment to the sciences, and to physics. But we can call it materialism.
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In which case, what is your materialism, the idea that consciousness is ‘limited to brains’? Well, yes, you’re talking about philosophy of mind, I suppose, but which issues are we debating? There’s a debate whether there *are* mental states at all, in addition to the debate about what sort of thing they are. You seem to take materialism to be specifically the idea, that mental states or properties are neurological states or properties. This would be a restricted use of the term, but that’s find with me. Or it would be, if it was truly clear how you interpret the relation between the psychological and the physical. At the least, I will suppose that indeed, your materialism is a metaphysical thesis—and on this point, I think your two arguments will founder..
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srrr - 13 November 2011 01:42 AM

1. The first reason is of course that evolution is about already existing ingredients changing configuration over time. The physical ingredients that make up your heart (or any other organ) have been around since the big bang. Evolution just shaped them into a different configuration, it did not create them. An electric eel, by means of a specialised organ, can generate electric shocks to stun prey and defend itself. Neither the eel nor its evolutionary ancestors ever created electric charge, they simple made use of that which was already there and extends throughout the universe. Evolution only acts on that which exists, it doesn’t create new physical ingredients. Why would it be different for C? Why throw evolution theory out the window when it concerns C?

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Okay, evolution is about ingredients changing configuration since the big bang, your heart, an electric eel. And, you ask, why would evolution be different for C? Well, who says that it is? Why would evolution be different for C? You’re supposing that consciousness is a new physical ingredient. However, you may dissect a brain and examine its physical ingredients, there are no special novel physical ingredients here, far from it, nothing even particularly unusual. What is your position, do you disagree? That is, I’m a bit unclear, what is your own position, you have one? Do you believe in evolution? In which case, so do I. And it is compatible with materialism. Why wouldn’t it be? Apparently, you feel that nothing that cannot be fully described by Newton’s laws of motion should exist in the purely material world of materialists, but the laws of motion don’t even explain snowflakes—is yours a straw-man materialism? Items of a biological nature exist for materialists, and so do items of a social nature, even items of a moral nature, perhaps, so why not items of a psychological nature? These items don’t seem to be material, *at first glance*. But cut into your brain with a scalpel, or take a drink of Tequila, and the effect on your psychological state will be observable, and it is you who need an explanation for this, I’m the materialist.
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srrr - 13 November 2011 01:42 AM

2. The second reason is that evolution theory implies that C has causal power. Here’s why: Natural Selection is about the survival of organisms, and they survive because of their behavior in their environment (procreating, looking for food, fighting, hiding, etc.). Now imagine that C has no causal power, and it does not influence the behavior of the organism. We might as well experience 24/7 of being in disneyland, while our physical surroundings are full of tigers and steep cliffs. Our bodies would avoid the tigers and cliffs anyway, whether we are conscious of them or not. Natural selection would not force our mental world to correspond with the physical world, since we do not die more often when there is a mismatch. This is clearly false. So C has causal power. Now what causal power would that be? The laws of physics are universal. C either has causal power over one of them, or is one of them. Either option is a deathblow to materialism.

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Here’s the argument: ‘..imagine that C has no causal power..Natural selection would not force our mental world to correspond with the physical world, since we do not die more often when there is a mismatch. This is clearly false.’
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This is a thought experiment. I am to imagine that I’m out of touch with reality, I don’t notice tigers and such, in which case, of course I would walk right into the street and get run over. Thus, consciousness is useful, or ‘has causal power’. I guess an evolutionist has to allow that eyes are useful, that animals prick up their ears for a reason, when they hear something—because of predators, etc. But do animals have ‘consciousness’? Not to quibble, they have a mental world, apparently.
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Apparently, you have now gathered (although your two arguments contradict each other on this point) that some materialists assert that there is no consciousness, (no longer is it that ‘consciousness (C) is limited to brains’). This is true, of some materialists. And, this is radical stuff, the claim that there is no dimension of psychology, no existence of mental states. I had taken the general idea here, to be, though, that there is no soul. There is no free will. So, you see steep cliffs and tigers, as you know perfectly well that you do, and who could argue otherwise? Materialists are perhaps also denying the existence of *eyes*? No. They believe in the existence of eyes and brains as much as in tigers and steep cliffs.  But the idea, here, is that mental states can be explicated as physiological states, or brain states. Viewing them that way, however, does not rob them of ‘causal power’. In fact, it is believing in free will that robs brains states of causal power. And so, again, it is you who need an explanation for this, I’m the materialist.

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Posted: 18 February 2013 05:20 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 6 ]  
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C can be seen as a process rather than a physical thing.

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Posted: 20 February 2013 02:23 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 7 ]  
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DannyBoyPoker - 17 February 2013 09:22 PM

Okay, evolution is about ingredients changing configuration since the big bang, your heart, an electric eel. And, you ask, why would evolution be different for C? Well, who says that it is? Why would evolution be different for C? You’re supposing that consciousness is a new physical ingredient. However, you may dissect a brain and examine its physical ingredients, there are no special novel physical ingredients here, far from it, nothing even particularly unusual. What is your position, do you disagree?

I agree.
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A common materialist position is that consciousness depends on brains, originates in brains, and ceases to exist when brainfunction is impaired too much. With this i disagree, because it implies that consciousness is a new physical ingredient that exists only in brains, and that conflicts with evolution theory. Physics tells us the brain doesnt contain any such novel ingredients or properties (its all reducible to elementary particles and forces).
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That is, I’m a bit unclear, what is your own position, you have one? Do you believe in evolution? In which case, so do I. And it is compatible with materialism. Why wouldn’t it be? Apparently, you feel that nothing that cannot be fully described by Newton’s laws of motion should exist in the purely material world of materialists, but the laws of motion don’t even explain snowflakes—is yours a straw-man materialism? Items of a biological nature exist for materialists, and so do items of a social nature, even items of a moral nature, perhaps, so why not items of a psychological nature? These items don’t seem to be material, *at first glance*. But cut into your brain with a scalpel, or take a drink of Tequila, and the effect on your psychological state will be observable, and it is you who need an explanation for this, I’m the materialist.

Yes I believe in evolution. The problem is not the idea that consciousness is physical, the problem is that “the physical” extends far beyond brains (the entire universe is physical) and so there is no justification for the claim that consciousness only exists in brains. Its the equivalent of saying electrons only exist in brains.

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This is a thought experiment. I am to imagine that I’m out of touch with reality, I don’t notice tigers and such, in which case, of course I would walk right into the street and get run over. Thus, consciousness is useful, or ‘has causal power’. I guess an evolutionist has to allow that eyes are useful, that animals prick up their ears for a reason, when they hear something—because of predators, etc. But do animals have ‘consciousness’? Not to quibble, they have a mental world, apparently.
.
Apparently, you have now gathered (although your two arguments contradict each other on this point) that some materialists assert that there is no consciousness, (no longer is it that ‘consciousness (C) is limited to brains’). This is true, of some materialists. And, this is radical stuff, the claim that there is no dimension of psychology, no existence of mental states. I had taken the general idea here, to be, though, that there is no soul. There is no free will. So, you see steep cliffs and tigers, as you know perfectly well that you do, and who could argue otherwise? Materialists are perhaps also denying the existence of *eyes*? No. They believe in the existence of eyes and brains as much as in tigers and steep cliffs.  But the idea, here, is that mental states can be explicated as physiological states, or brain states. Viewing them that way, however, does not rob them of ‘causal power’. In fact, it is believing in free will that robs brains states of causal power. And so, again, it is you who need an explanation for this, I’m the materialist.

I didnt mention free will. My post is only about C having causal power. This is enough to show incompatibility between materialism and evolution theory. Physics tells us that the known physical causal forces are universal (also known as the fundamental interactions). So, if they are universal, then what remains of the claim that C is a causal power (which is implied by evolution theory) that exists only inside brains? Its the equivalent of saying gravity only exists in brains.

[ Edited: 20 February 2013 02:26 PM by srrr]
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Posted: 20 February 2013 02:32 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 8 ]  
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nv - 18 February 2013 05:20 AM

C can be seen as a process rather than a physical thing.

It makes no difference to my argument. Whether C is a physical thing or process (a distinction which i believe to be ultimately nonexistent), the universal nature of both in physics is what conflicts with the materialist position that C is somehow limited to brains.

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Posted: 20 February 2013 03:20 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 9 ]  
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‘there is no justification for the claim that consciousness only exists in brains. Its the equivalent of saying electrons only exist in brains.’

The concept of something only existing in a particular place gives you difficulty? I think I can remind you of some pedestrial uses for this idea.
A certain species of plant only exists in a particular place, or life only exists on earth.

What is your alternative, you apparently to not believe in ‘matter’, which is lifeless, without consciousness. What would be the point,
of not believing in lifeless matter? Sounds rather mystical, how would this belief affect a scientist’s work? A stone has
consciousness? What difference would it make, you can’t observe it. I suppose that consciousness wouldn’t only exist
in matter, though, as that concept would give you difficulty. So consciousness exists in empty space, as well?
YOu believe in what you cannot see, well, I believe in a civilization of riderless motorcycles, living on the head of a pin. They’re
there, though you can’t see them (and they’re conscious).

‘My post is only about C having causal power. This is enough to show incompatibility between materialism and evolution theory.’

You must be frustrated that nobody else in the history of the world sees this incompatibility. I have to humour the notion that
you are arguing for a position that you actually believe, yourself.

‘Physics tells us that the known physical causal forces are universal (also known as the fundamental interactions).’

Forces do not have causal power, only objects. You can’t observe a force. F=MA, Newton’s second law. The force is mass times acceleration.
What do you observe, when you observe a force. Objects are what has causal power, because they are what you can observe, causation
is something that you observe.

‘So, if they are universal, then what remains of the claim that C is a causal power (which is implied by evolution theory) that
exists only inside brains? Its the equivalent of saying gravity only exists in brains.’

Gravity does not exist, according to Einstein. I mean, sure, you lift an object in the air, let it drop, it falls. What should it do?

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Posted: 21 February 2013 01:47 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 10 ]  
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DannyBoyPoker - 20 February 2013 03:20 PM

The concept of something only existing in a particular place gives you difficulty? I think I can remind you of some pedestrial uses for this idea.
A certain species of plant only exists in a particular place, or life only exists on earth.

The species of plant and life are reducible (consist of) basic physical ingredients (elementary particles and fundamental forces in spacetime). When something is reducible to physical ingredients, it means there literally is nothing more to it than those physical ingredients. So which specific part of the plant or life do you think does not exist in some quantity elsewhere in the universe?
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As you said yourself:
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You’re supposing that consciousness is a new physical ingredient. However, you may dissect a brain and examine its physical ingredients, there are no special novel physical ingredients here, far from it, nothing even particularly unusual. What is your position, do you disagree?

You agree with me that consciousness isnt something novel to brains… yet somehow you do not recognise the implication of this(that consciousness isnt limited to brains).
.

What is your alternative, you apparently to not believe in ‘matter’, which is lifeless, without consciousness. What would be the point,
of not believing in lifeless matter? Sounds rather mystical, how would this belief affect a scientist’s work? A stone has
consciousness? What difference would it make, you can’t observe it. I suppose that consciousness wouldn’t only exist
in matter, though, as that concept would give you difficulty. So consciousness exists in empty space, as well?
YOu believe in what you cannot see, well, I believe in a civilization of riderless motorcycles, living on the head of a pin. They’re
there, though you can’t see them (and they’re conscious).

I think you have been confusing me with someone else. I never said i do not believe in matter. Similarly, i never even mentioned newtons laws, which you claim i made statements about.
.

Gravity does not exist, according to Einstein. I mean, sure, you lift an object in the air, let it drop, it falls. What should it do?

It is listed as one of the four fundamental interactions…

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Posted: 21 February 2013 04:21 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 11 ]  
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‘So which specific part of the plant or life do you think does not exist in some quantity elsewhere in the universe?’

You’re asking me to define life, but how do you define life? I find it possible, at least, to distinguish living/dead. Then, how to define death, life can transition to death. And, at least, for me, I take life to be a physical phenomenon, in that I don’t believe in spirits, such as might live on after death, for example. We might focus on an individual dog’s death. Dog gets hit by car, we pronounce it dead. Which specific part of the dog do I think does not exist in some quantity anymore? How can we determine that death has occurred? In brief, would it be something like an observable cessation of organismic functioning, maybe. So, ultimately a matter of biology. Which is physical. If not, on what basis should it be defined?

‘You agree with me that consciousness isnt something novel to brains… yet somehow you do not recognize the implication of this(that consciousness isn’t limited to brains).… yet somehow you do not recognize the implication of this.’

I’m putting more work into my posts to you, then you’re putting into reading them, perhaps. No I don’t, did I say that ‘consciousness isn’t limited to brains’? Perhaps you are referring to this: ’ I believe in a civiliz a civilization of riderless motorcycles, living on the head of a pin. They’re there, though you can’t see them (and they’re conscious).’

To clarify, this was meant as a joke, to illustrate that I not only think consciousness is limited to brains, but have no idea what is any alternative way of looking at it.

‘I never said i do not believe in matter.’

I’ve asked you to say what you believe. Say that you believe in lifeless matter. Can lifeless matter move itself, the way that you can? I said ‘You apparently to not believe in ‘matter’, which is lifeless, without consciousness.’ And, you still apparently do not. 

‘Similarly, i never even mentioned newtons laws, which you claim i made statements about.’

I mentioned Newton’s laws. You made this statement: ‘‘Physics tells us that the known physical causal forces are universal (also known as the fundamental interactions).’ My point about this, and why I mentioned Newton’s second law was to illustrate this, was that ‘Forces do not have causal power, only objects. You can’t observe a force.’ Do you agree?


I said: ‘Gravity does not exist, according to Einstein.’
Your reply: ‘It is listed as one of the four fundamental interactions…’

You take it rather lightly, disagreeing with Einstein, maybe he is wrong, but I’d like to clarify whether you think Einstein is wrong, or do you reject my exegesis. Acually, I put a question to you here (which never works, does it): ‘..you lift an object in the air, let it drop, it falls. What should it do?’

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Posted: 21 February 2013 05:00 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 12 ]  
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I said ‘I’m putting more work into my posts to you, then you’re putting into reading them, perhaps.’ But perhaps you might make the same claim, have I understood your point that brains can’t just be made of matter, or they’d be lifeless and devoid of consciousness. The question, then, is how can brains that are made of matter, not be lifeless and devoid of consciousness. You take this to be a contradiction. To you, it seems clear that brains are made of more than just lifeless matter. Thus, you are not a materialist.

We might tackle this question, why did lifeless matter start breathing, I mean if it was lifeless, what was added, some new material? I suppose that life started as chemicals (lifeless matter). Certain chemicals interacted in such a way that they started catalyzing other reactions. Eventually these simple chemical reactions became more and more complicated until life was produced as a cell. Cells are able to carry out many functions.  Plant cells for example use carbon dioxide. In order for these cells to carry out the functions they need energy. A very common type of energy for cells is ATP. In order to make ATP to do its tasks a cell must use oxygen. I note, that oxygen, is matter. Now, I try to imagine your reaction to this, perhaps it is that ‘Life is life, chemicals are not life and never were, chemical reactions are not life.’ I’m saying that “What happened was..there was some lifeless matter that was somehow made alive and then…”

I might quote Frankenstein: ‘Pursuing these reflections, I thought, that if I could bestow animation upon lifeless matter, I might in process of time (although I now found it impossible) renew life where death had apparently devoted the body to corruption.’

In brief, I don’t think that getting an introduction to general biology, makes you ‘not a materialist’. There is such a thing, for me, as ‘living matter’. I’m thinking of a granular, viscid, living substance. Here’s what I take to be an interesting question, that taxes my understanding of general biology. Is wood, an example of living matter. I take the answer to be no, but I’m guessing. But what about, say, the muscles of the small intestine. What about blood. Bone. I take it, that there are so-called ‘living cells’. There is even, perhaps, lifeless matter within living cells. Drops of water. Of fat. Grains of starch. I suppose that beaks, feathers have lifeless parts. Hair, is this like skin. I suppose that the cells at the root of a hair are alive, but I’m not trying to be dogmatic, I trust that a biologist can draw the distinction between ‘living matter’ and lifeless matter.

If we consider the bodies of higher animals, and plants, to be subdivided into various organs, having different structure, and functions, then these may be resolved into, what, tissues, I suppose. There’s an anatomical standpoint here, an analytic standpoint, subdivisions into organs, tissues, cells. What if I make the remark that these parts are mutually interdependent. How can the organism as a whole be, as it were, greater than the sum of its parts? It’s not just an aggregate, it is, shall we say, superior in the solidarity of its parts. But I think there is a peculiar substance that is the physical basis of life. It occurs in definite masses. Suppose that cells, here, are the ultimate visible structural unit.

Maybe the cell deserves more careful consideration, than I have given it. No doubt, there are technical difficulties involved in its study. Plants have protoplasm, as I recall (not just animals). Taking this to be the seat of life, I hesitate, what is the meaning of the word, but I believe in ‘living matter’, though it may differ greatly in appearance between animals and plants.  In any case, at the end of the day, I take it that there is living matter, and this is physical, material, and the elements of which living matter is composed are nothing special, and I’m a ‘materialist’.

 

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Posted: 23 February 2013 01:11 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 13 ]  
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DannyBoyPoker - 21 February 2013 04:21 PM

You’re asking me to define life, but how do you define life? I find it possible, at least, to distinguish living/dead. Then, how to define death, life can transition to death. And, at least, for me, I take life to be a physical phenomenon, in that I don’t believe in spirits, such as might live on after death, for example. We might focus on an individual dog’s death. Dog gets hit by car, we pronounce it dead. Which specific part of the dog do I think does not exist in some quantity anymore? How can we determine that death has occurred? In brief, would it be something like an observable cessation of organismic functioning, maybe. So, ultimately a matter of biology. Which is physical. If not, on what basis should it be defined?

We define things because they appear different to us. For example the different colors. Yet, even though we may give them completely different names (red/blue/etc), the colors are just electromagnetic radiation with a different wavelength. The point being: we can invent an infinity of different names for physical things, yet physically speaking (that is in the language of physics), it all just consists of elementary particles and fundamental forces in spacetime. The same is true for life and non-life, death and alive, etc. Our language and arbitrary definitions make it seem like such things are completely distinct from eachother, yet physically the world isnt so black and white.
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Look at a functioning computer. You smash it with a hammer and it stops functioning. Or you just press the power button and it goes “off”. In our language it seems like a switched on computer contains something which is completely absent in the switched off computer. In our language. But physically? No. Nothing completely vanishes when a computer is switched off. Just try to find which physical thing is actually completely absent. Is it the electricity? No, even a switched off computer contains electrons and electric charge. Ultimately, the difference between the on- off computer is merely in the quantity of electricity that is present and how it travels around the computer.
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To clarify, this was meant as a joke, to illustrate that I not only think consciousness is limited to brains, but have no idea what is any alternative way of looking at it.

I didnt say you think consciousness isnt limited to brains. I said that you said that consciousness wasnt novel to brains (in your exact words: “there are no special novel physical ingredients here, far from it, nothing even particularly unusual”), but that somehow you do not realise what this means. Ill ask you directly: if consciousness isnt novel to brains, then why think it only exists in brains?
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Btw, an alternative to consciousness-only-in brains, is obviously consciousness-outside-brains. There really is nothing special about brains that justifies the claim that it is the only thing in the universe that can be conscious. This view is merely an artifact comparable with the idea that the sun revolves around the earth and that humans arent evolved animals. Our planet isnt special, we humans arent special, and our minds arent either.

I mentioned Newton’s laws. You made this statement: ‘‘Physics tells us that the known physical causal forces are universal (also known as the fundamental interactions).’ My point about this, and why I mentioned Newton’s second law was to illustrate this, was that ‘Forces do not have causal power, only objects. You can’t observe a force.’ Do you agree?

You would have to define what constitutes an object. And ultimately we would get down to the concept of energy (which if i remember correctly is something like “the capacity to do work”). Anyway, the forces i talked about are known as the fundamental interactions. Ill agree with whatever physics has to say about them.

You take it rather lightly, disagreeing with Einstein, maybe he is wrong, but I’d like to clarify whether you think Einstein is wrong, or do you reject my exegesis. Acually, I put a question to you here (which never works, does it): ‘..you lift an object in the air, let it drop, it falls. What should it do?’

Ah, i see. Well, lets first start with you giving a quote from Einstein in which he denies the existence of gravity. Last i checked, he had some theory about it actually being the result of curvature of spacetime.
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Heres a link to the fundamental interactions: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fundamental_interaction
In it you can find gravity and click and read it.

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Posted: 23 February 2013 01:37 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 14 ]  
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DannyBoyPoker - 21 February 2013 05:00 PM

I said ‘I’m putting more work into my posts to you, then you’re putting into reading them, perhaps.’ But perhaps you might make the same claim, have I understood your point that brains can’t just be made of matter, or they’d be lifeless and devoid of consciousness. The question, then, is how can brains that are made of matter, not be lifeless and devoid of consciousness. You take this to be a contradiction. To you, it seems clear that brains are made of more than just lifeless matter. Thus, you are not a materialist.

Physics is agnostic on whether the ingredients it identifies (particles and forces) are devoid of consciousness. The assumption that matter is inherely devoid of consciousness, is a metaphysical one. Physics simply doesnt concern itself with that. It deals with the measurable. The mind-body problem arises when you hold that:
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A: the basic physical ingredients are nonconscious
B: the brain is conscious
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Of course when you hold the physical ingredients to be nonconscious, you will find yourself puzzled with a physical conscious object (like the brain). I recognise that A is an assumption, and B is a fact. So i see no choice but to doubt assumption A. A is commonly assumed to be true, not for rational reasons (after all physics certainly doesnt tell us so), but because the alternative (conscious particles) is intuitively absurd. I say screw intuition and follow rationality.

We might tackle this question, why did lifeless matter start breathing, I mean if it was lifeless, what was added, some new material? I suppose that life started as chemicals (lifeless matter). Certain chemicals interacted in such a way that they started catalyzing other reactions. Eventually these simple chemical reactions became more and more complicated until life was produced as a cell. Cells are able to carry out many functions.  Plant cells for example use carbon dioxide. In order for these cells to carry out the functions they need energy. A very common type of energy for cells is ATP. In order to make ATP to do its tasks a cell must use oxygen. I note, that oxygen, is matter. Now, I try to imagine your reaction to this, perhaps it is that ‘Life is life, chemicals are not life and never were, chemical reactions are not life.’ I’m saying that “What happened was..there was some lifeless matter that was somehow made alive and then…”

I say life is just chemistry, which in turn is just physics. Ultimately, you will not find any special life property or ingredient that exists in living beings and not in inanimate matter. So there are two choices: call everything alive or call everything inanimate matter. It doesnt matter which (its merely a semantic difference), as long as you are consistent.

In brief, I don’t think that getting an introduction to general biology, makes you ‘not a materialist’. There is such a thing, for me, as ‘living matter’. I’m thinking of a granular, viscid, living substance. Here’s what I take to be an interesting question, that taxes my understanding of general biology. Is wood, an example of living matter. I take the answer to be no, but I’m guessing. But what about, say, the muscles of the small intestine. What about blood. Bone. I take it, that there are so-called ‘living cells’. There is even, perhaps, lifeless matter within living cells. Drops of water. Of fat. Grains of starch. I suppose that beaks, feathers have lifeless parts. Hair, is this like skin. I suppose that the cells at the root of a hair are alive, but I’m not trying to be dogmatic, I trust that a biologist can draw the distinction between ‘living matter’ and lifeless matter.

If we consider the bodies of higher animals, and plants, to be subdivided into various organs, having different structure, and functions, then these may be resolved into, what, tissues, I suppose. There’s an anatomical standpoint here, an analytic standpoint, subdivisions into organs, tissues, cells. What if I make the remark that these parts are mutually interdependent. How can the organism as a whole be, as it were, greater than the sum of its parts? It’s not just an aggregate, it is, shall we say, superior in the solidarity of its parts. But I think there is a peculiar substance that is the physical basis of life. It occurs in definite masses. Suppose that cells, here, are the ultimate visible structural unit.

Maybe the cell deserves more careful consideration, than I have given it. No doubt, there are technical difficulties involved in its study. Plants have protoplasm, as I recall (not just animals). Taking this to be the seat of life, I hesitate, what is the meaning of the word, but I believe in ‘living matter’, though it may differ greatly in appearance between animals and plants.  In any case, at the end of the day, I take it that there is living matter, and this is physical, material, and the elements of which living matter is composed are nothing special, and I’m a ‘materialist’.

There is a thing called “sorites paradox”:
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There is a heap of sand. One grain is removed from it. Then another one. When does it stop being a heap?
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This paradox is very relevant to this issue here, because it proves that whether we call something a heap or not is entirely arbitrary. Some people will say it stops being a heap with 10 grains of sand, others with 3, and some may be so bold as to say 1. It entirely depends on how someone defines “heap”.
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Now take that conscious person out of the situation. You will have noone that is defining the heap, and physically all that remains are grains of sand (however many there are). “heap” never existed, except as a label in someones mind. Physically what exists are grains of sand. What is true for the heap, is also true for rocks, lakes, trees, life, humans, etc. They are all labels that are given according to arbitrary definitions thought up by human minds, yet physically all they are are collections of particles and forces.

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Posted: 24 February 2013 12:53 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 15 ]  
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‘We define things because they appear different to us. For example the different colors. Yet,
even though we may give them completely different names (red/blue/etc),
the colors are just electromagnetic radiation with a different wavelength.’

Not quite, not for me. I take color to be a construct of our eyes and brains—you cannot separate the concept of color
from the biology of how our eyes and minds perceive color.

I suppose, that we might just sit back, relax, and enjoy the freakin’ double rainbow without it starting an argument,
I perhaps am quibbling on this one. But I note that one measures waves as a quantity, whereas a color is a quality.
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‘The point being: we can invent an infinity of different names for physical things, yet physically
speaking (that is in the language of physics), it all just consists of elementary particles and fundamental forces in spacetime.
The same is true for life and non-life, death and alive, etc. Our language and arbitrary definitions make it seem
like such things are completely distinct from each other, yet physically the world isn’t so black and white.’

This needs to turn into an argument that evolution theory is incompatible with materialism.
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‘Look at a functioning computer. You smash it with a hammer and it stops functioning.
Or you just press the power button and it goes “off”. In our language it seems like a switched
on computer contains something which is completely absent in
the switched off computer.’

Does it? I can’t agree. Maybe this isn’t the best example to use with me, I have an M.S. in
computer science, I don’t think I’m confused about this one.

‘Is it the electricity? No, even a switched off computer contains electrons and electric charge.
Ultimately, the difference between the on- off computer is merely in the quantity of electricity
that is present and how it travels around the computer.’
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I’m trying to pick up on how this is an argument that
evolution theory is incompatible with materialism. You might be arguing that it is, have we switched
sides?
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‘I said that you said that consciousness wasnt novel to brains (in your exact words: “there are no
special novel physical ingredients here, far from it, nothing even particularly unusual”),..’
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Correct.
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..‘but that somehow you do not realise what this means. I’ll ask you directly: if consciousness
isnt novel to brains, then why think it only exists in brains?’
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The inductive reason is easy. I’ve only observed consciousness in brains. I’m willing to keep an
open mind about where consciousness can exist, are you thinkinf of artifical intelligence?
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‘Btw, an alternative to consciousness-only-in brains, is obviously consciousness-outside-brains.’

The only alternative, actually. Obviously.

‘There really is nothing special about brains that justifies the claim that it is the only thing in the universe
that can be conscious.’

There is the observable correlation between consciousness and brains. I suppose, epistemelogically,
we might choose to be cowardly about it, and reserve judgment about, for example, whether the moon might
be conscious, or what? I don’t suppose that it’s a *logical* impossibility. But how his this an argument that
evolution theory is incompatible with materialism.
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‘This view is merely an artifact comparable with the idea that the sun
revolves around the earth and that humans aren’t evolved animals. Our planet isnt special, we
humans arent special, and our minds arent either.’
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I especially don’t see how ‘Our planet isn’t special, we humans aren’t special, and our minds aren’t
either’, is an argument that evolution theory is incompatible with materialism. Humans are, btw, special,
they debate philosphy on the internet, and that’s pretty special. I can think of something special about
our brains, there is intricate internal organization, here. Evolution accounts for this fact.
I don’t believe that brains are the only thing in the universe that can be conscious, but I’d demand
intricate internal organization. This is compatible with the view, that consciousness is physical.
That’s necessary, for evolution theory to be compatible with materialism.

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