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Hamilton
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May 17th, 2002, 1:19 am

Thus a strict materialism refutes itself by for the reason given long ago by ProfessorHaldane:"If my mental processes are determined wholly by the motions of atoms in my brain, I have no reason for supposing my brain to be composed of atoms" (Possible Worlds, p. 209)"As quoted in CS Lewis, MiraclesDiscuss amongst yourselves.
 
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Aaron
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May 17th, 2002, 1:28 am

So if your mental processes are determined by a soul, or non-material mind, or divine miracle; what do you have any reason to suppose about anything?I see no reason why a model of the physical or metaphysical struture that forms my mental states should have any relation to the degree of reality I attach to my observations and conclusions. I could have a materialistic brain dreaming, or a Cartesian mind observing true reality or any variant or combination.
 
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Onuk

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May 17th, 2002, 6:51 am

How can such a vague statement be interpreted as a refutation? Indeed to me it smacks of the worst (but not atypical) kind of sloppy philosophy; make an assumption, hide it carefully in a lot of verbiage and tout it as an argument.
 
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Hamilton
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May 18th, 2002, 1:02 am

>How can such a vague statement be interpreted as a refutation? Please explain where the vagueness is in this statement.
 
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Hamilton
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May 18th, 2002, 1:10 am

>I see no reason why a model of the physical or metaphysical struture that forms my mental >states should have any relation to the degree of reality I attach to my observations and >conclusions. Then by how do we believe that any of our observations or conclusions are true?
 
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Onuk

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May 18th, 2002, 1:05 pm

Hamilton >> Please explain where the vagueness is in this statement. As a statement I agree it is not vague, neither is "All elephants wear aftershave." . Both make a firm assertion in clear English. Nevertheless neither are arguments or refutations.As an argument I can agree that the statement is not in itself vague (syntactically) but if we try to interpret it as other than a string of words it is vague. As far as I can see it boils down to:if A then I have no reason to suppose Awhere presumably A is fully defined in the reference. While I can agree that the looseness of definition of A prevents this from being a contradiction it certainly is not well formed enough to be termed a refutation.Otherwise clearly I have failed to follow the logic, but to me that suggests (not definitely) that the logic is not clear enough to deserve to be called a refutation, rather a suggestion.
 
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Hamilton
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May 18th, 2002, 2:18 pm

>As an argument I can agree that the statement is not in itself vague (syntactically) but if we try to >interpret it as other than a string of words it is vague. Here we go again....where do you stand on existential import?ie -- do you only believe in the validity of symbolic logic? As a related point, what do you believe is required for this to be a refutation?ps - if symbolic logic is the only valid form of argumentation, of what value isverbal or written discussion between human beings?
Last edited by Hamilton on May 17th, 2002, 10:00 pm, edited 1 time in total.
 
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Aaron
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May 19th, 2002, 4:43 pm

Then by how do we believe that any of our observations or conclusions are true? >>I agree that this is an important, and possibly insoluble, problem. I don’t think materialism makes it more difficult, and I certainly don’t believe that hypothesizing unobservable metaphysical entities makes it easier. Whether the brain is made of atoms or fairy dust its perceptions have equal weight.I am enough of a positivist to say the problem is not meaningful in general. I don’t care if I’m dreaming everything if there’s no possibility I’ll ever wake up. I don’t care if everyone else is an unconscious robot mimicking outwardly the type of feelings I have, unless I can observe that under some conditions. If my reality is self-consistent and inescapable, then it’s the universe as far as I’m concerned.But I think it is possible that I will change my fundamental ideas of reality on the basis of some physical evidence or event.
 
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Hamilton
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May 20th, 2002, 12:59 am

>I agree that this is an important, and possibly insoluble, problem. Whether anything can be known to be true by human beings is certainly an important question.Are you saying that truth can never be known with certainty by human beings? It wouldseem that we have made little philosophical progress on this forum over the past several months.We are still stuck in the mud with Bertrand Russell's conundrum with Frederick Coplestonin their BBC radio debate.
 
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Hamilton
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May 20th, 2002, 1:06 am

>I don’t think materialism makes it more difficult, and I certainly don’t believe that hypothesizing >unobservable metaphysical entities makes it easier. This is a provocative statement. If materialism reduces our brains to mere neurons, how do we definehuman consciousness?
 
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Onuk

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May 20th, 2002, 8:55 am

Hamilton >> Here we go again....where do you stand on existential import? ie -- do you only believe in the validity of symbolic logic?To be honest Hamilton I'm not quite sure where I stand on existential import. That is to say I'm happy to reason axiomatically about situations/entities which may not exist and believe this may be pointfull, but I do not believe that symbolic logic is the ultimate embodiment of reason (or at least intelligent enquiry).Anyhow I do not think my difficulties here are so deep. I think I haven't explained myself properly. It is probably better to restate my original comment/query as "This is an interesting statement. However I fail to comprehend it fully and therefore do not feel its force as a refutation. Can you please elucidate further?" Can you please? The problem is, as I wrote above, I see the raw statement as an IF ... THEN ..., and cannot make the logical connection.Hamilton >> PS if symbolic logic is the only valid form of argumentation, of what value is verbal or written discussion between human beings? PS Although I don't think symbolic logic is the only valid form of argumentation, I still suspect that much communication between human beings is of that form. That is when we argue we tend to argue in a symbolic logic type framework; much of our communication is of course not argument and is therefore oblivious to what is the only valid form of argument.PPS Hamilton, after reading several recent postings on the fora, I have felt a renewed interest in philosophy. However after my previous forays I have often had the feeling that much of philosophy was either (a) beyond my capacity or (b) the speculations of smart but non-rigorous people of leisure; no doubt this is largely due to a bad choice of texts and inappropriate order of reading (+ small capacity .). Have you elsewhere, or can you here, suggest some good starting texts for a philosophy newbie??
 
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Hamilton
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May 20th, 2002, 1:43 pm

Onuk,I'm back into a crunch at work, so posts will be light for the next couple of weeks. However, I apologize if I seem a little "crusty" in my latest post. Philosophy is defined as "the love of wisdom" rather than "the love of knowledge".While not substituting for a thorough grounding, one line of demarcation to understand is the line between "Classical Realists" and Modern Philosophers --- www.radicalacademy.com is a good place to start. While I don't agree with everything there, you will find it a treasure trove of information.Copleston's 9 volumes on the History of Philosophy are fabulous, but a heady set of tomes to tackle for an intro.What's most important for someone starting in the 21st century, is to obtain a thorough grounding in Ancient and Medieval philosophy before reading Modern's [16th century onward roughly]. Many if not all of the Moderns [Descartes onward] started with the questionable assumption that those who went before them weren't worth reading, so they built their own machinery.
 
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David
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May 20th, 2002, 7:05 pm

<< If materialism reduces our brains to mere neurons, how do we define human consciousness? >> The current state of modern philosophy is often confused with vagueness. Actually, the scientific discoveries that have changed our lives over the last century have explicitly deviated from the frame of modern philosophy since the birth of the neo-positivism, though. The neo-positivism wave in philosophy has nothing in parallel with "practical science", rather than delving into the meaning of "experience" and "logic", all along. Modern philosophy surely had not influenced on the significant discoveries in science. Einstein's relatively theory (private), quantum theory, unified field theory, the theory of Weak Electro magnetic fields, the discovery of the DNA structure and the new synthesis in biology, for exampl. In addition, the argument between the EPR interpretation versus the Copenhagen interpretation of the quantum theory, at the same time has nothing in correlation with the materialism and the neo-positivism wave in philosophy. There are certain phenomenons I have witnessed, such as, when people are able to forecast exactly if it will be raining in the next few hours or even a day before. Also, rare people with high sensorial energy that able to feel or sense others from long distance, as the same time. To my humble knowledge, these phenomenons are neither metaphysics nor objective. However, there are similarities that exist between the Aspect's experience in quantum theory of a separated pair of photons which appears to instantaneously cause effect on the other from long distance, faster than light mechanism, to the above description. Perhaps it must be the neurons, indeed!?
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Onuk

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May 21st, 2002, 6:44 am

Hamilton, no crustyness detected! Thanks a lot for the link, I found already some good stuff there. In fact it made me such an instant philosophile-ophile that I went and browsed the book shop and bought a couple of books. (I agree Coppleston is a bit more than I can currently chew.) Did anyone read Wittgenstein's Poker? I did last night and I found it quite njoyable; quite lightweight but interesting.