• Terrapin Station
    5.2k
    Remember that I also pointed out that idealists are really just direct realists.Harry Hindu

    Sigh. but they're not, because you've already said that ideas and external-to-me physical stuff are different.

    For an answer how idealists think of ideas, etc., it's best to ask an idealist. I wouldn't want to try to speak for them, because the notion of nonphysical existents makes no sense to me. That doesn't lead to me believing that they're just direct realists, because they're not. I'm a direct realist. They don't agree with me.
  • Harry Hindu
    1.4k
    No. That is what you have said. I continually reiterate that I have said that both concepts are incoherent and therefore there are no differences or similarities, except in maybe location. We already have terms to refer to different locations. "Space" and "time" are two of those terms. Why use "physical" and "non-physical"?

    You keep side-stepping the issue. Define "physical" and "non-physical".
  • Terrapin Station
    5.2k


    There are people who think that some things are nonphysical. Hence the utility of the distinction.
  • Harry Hindu
    1.4k
    That isn't a useful distinction. Define the words.
  • Terrapin Station
    5.2k

    See my post above (from 17-18 minutes ago) to Jamesk (re definitions)

    It's a useful distinction once there are people who believe that some things aren't physical. We want to be able to have ontology discussions with them.
  • Jamesk
    173
    I'm a direct realist.Terrapin Station

    That's great but can we leave your personal position aside and focus on the argument between Berkeley and Locke?
  • Terrapin Station
    5.2k
    That's great but can we leave your personal position asideJamesk

    Nope. A fortiori because it's not even possible to have a discussion where we're not giving personal positions. You'd be giving your personal perspective on Berkeley and Locke for example if you were to saying anything whatsoever about Berkeley and Locke. The only way you could avoid that is by simply quoting them (although you still might imply something personal by what you're choosing to quote in context).

    Aside from that, I'm not about to start commenting where I feel I need to self-police certain things and not express them just because someone might not be interested, just because they might not want to pursue some particular tangent, etc. That's completely against my disposition, completely contrary to how I want people to communicate with and interact with each other.

    If you're not interested in the people you're interacting with on the site for their own sake, I see that as your problem.
  • Jamesk
    173
    Exactly. What is "matter"? What are "ideas"? How do they differ if not just by location (Ideas are in a mind. Matter is everywhere else)?Harry Hindu

    According to Berkeley matter is an incoherent idea that we arrive at by an abuse of language. Ideas are by definition non material unless you follow Descartes dualist approach that there are two types of substance. Locke denies Descartes spiritual substance and Berkeley denies Descartes material substance.

    Idealism states that there is no matter at all, only ideas and minds. Descartes employs a two prong retreat (mind and matter) from solipsism but is left with the mind-body problem as well as a few others. Berkeley makes an even stronger commitment to God and uses him solely in his retreat from solipsism but is left with the problem of seeming ridiculous..
  • Jamesk
    173
    That is fine and I respect that but the point of this thread was to discuss the arguments presented by Locke and Berkeley both for and against matter and compare them.
    I am very interested in your opinion of that, less as to your opinion about the subject in general.

    I am trying to examine both arguments from a neutral position which is not easy as I am just as much a product of Locke-Mills-Ramsey scientific view of the world as you are. I assure you that immaterialism seems as dumb to me as it does to you however I have a strong desire to understand the theory fully before writing off as incoherent as you have.
  • Terrapin Station
    5.2k
    That is fine and I respect that but the point of this thread was to discuss the arguments presented by Locke and Berkeley both for and against matter and compare them.
    I am very interested in your opinion of that
    Jamesk

    Okay, but I wouldn't have much of an opinion about that without rereading both. It's been two or three decades since I last read much of either. Maybe some folks' memories are that good, but mine has never been. Heck, I'd already need to reread some of the beginning of Wittgenstein's Philosophical Investigations that I just reread and commented on a couple weeks ago in the reading group thread about that book.

    I think it's worthwhile being familiar with Berkeley and Locke because they were major historical figures in the field, and philosophy values its historical figures in a way that science doesn't (science students aren't normally required to read even Newton's works, much less someone like Gassendi), but really, the majority of what both said (and many others throughout the history of philosophy) is wrong, misconceived, etc. So unless we're just interested in historical figures for their own sake, or maybe we want to be amused by how wrong they were, or unless we're required to do so for class or something, I don't see what the merit is to focusing on them for something like this. I'd rather focus on getting things right. And with respect to reading, I'd much rather read current or very recent stuff.
  • Jamesk
    173
    I need to write an essay on the subject for university and will have to face a question in the exams on it for my degree. That is why it interests me, I want to get a good grade.
  • Terrapin Station
    5.2k


    Ah--we're helping you do your homework. :razz:

    I can understand that, but I'd need to reread them to be able to help. As I said it's been at least a couple decades since I read much of either. My first year at university was 1980. :nerd: I didn't get my final degree until a bit over 20 years ago (I did multiple degrees in a couple different fields), but still, that was over 20 years ago, and a lot of my philosophy work at university was 25-30 years ago.
  • Jamesk
    173
    Just arguing with you from Berkeley's position has been a great help.One needs to talk philosophy in order to really get it. I am 50 and retired, I left school in 1983 and went straight to work so the last time I studied anything was like you some 30 years ago!

    Your instinctive objections were all anticipated by Berkeley and he also anticipated Hume on causation which is what makes him so fascinating to me. If you can accept his Christianity then his arguments are really very solid. The same objection he has of Locke basing theories on incomplete knowledge is still highly relevant today.
  • Terrapin Station
    5.2k


    The vast majority of what Berkeley said--and Locke, too--was wrong. I could go sentence by sentence through Three Dialogues or whatever and explain what he's getting wrong, the argumentative mistakes he's making, etc., although we're already doing that with a couple other books at the moment.

    It's not that the "last time I studied anything" was decades ago. The last time I read much Berkeley or Locke was decades ago. I've never been of the opinion that they were worth much of my time, aside from knowing something about their place historically, including in the history of ideas, of course.

    I've been talking/doing and publishing philosophy for decades.
  • Jamesk
    173
    You are analytic I presume?
  • Terrapin Station
    5.2k


    Stylistically, at least, I'm analytic, yes.
  • Terrapin Station
    5.2k


    Are you taking classes at a continental-oriented university? Just curious which university if so (if you don't mind saying).
  • Jamesk
    173
    University of London
  • Harry Hindu
    1.4k
    According to Berkeley matter is an incoherent idea that we arrive at by an abuse of language. Ideas are by definition non material unless you follow Descartes dualist approach that there are two types of substanceJamesk
    So, the difference between matter and ideas is that matter is incoherent and ideas are not, unless you follow Descartes dualist approach where the difference between the two is that they are different "substances".

    What are ideas and how are they coherent where matter is not? What is a "substance"?

    Locke denies Descartes spiritual substance and Berkeley denies Descartes material substance.Jamesk
    I deny them both.

    Idealism states that there is no matter at all, only ideas and minds.Jamesk
    How is that more coherent than saying there's no ideas at all, only matter and processes of matter?
  • Jamesk
    173
    Ideas are mental states caused by something outside of us. That something must have causal power which material objects do not have. What ever it is outside of us we can only know through the impression made on our minds through our senses. We only ever have an idea of objects.
    You cannot really deny that ideas exist, in fact the existence of ideas is the only thing you can know without doubt. Matter on the other hand is something that you can only have an idea of.
  • Harry Hindu
    1.4k
    Ideas are mental states caused by something outside of us.Jamesk
    And materialists say that ideas are material states caused by something outside of us.

    Why wouldn't material objects have causal power where ideas do?

    Whatever it is outside of you you can't say, so why say that it's ideas outside of us and not matter?

    If matter and ideas are substances, then why not just say that the tree is composed of substance instead of ideas or matter?

    All we are doing is disagreeing on the term we use to refer to the substance, not on the nature of the substance. Both ideas and matter have causal powers because they are the same substance.
  • Harry Hindu
    1.4k
    There are people who think that some things are nonphysical. Hence the utility of the distinction.Terrapin Station
    So the distinction is in what certain people think, and not a distinction between the nature of "physical" or "non-physical" things.

    I'm asking about the nature of "physical" and "non-physical", not about what other people think.

    I pity someone who has put so much time and effort into philosophy yet can't answer as straight up question that you should have probably asked yourself decades ago.
  • Heiko
    189
    Heidegger indirectly recognized death as the quintessence of reality, since in it the self-referentiality of existing being finds its negation: "When facing imminent death Dasein is entirely directed to its very ability to be." - "Reality is resistance". It can not be captured by the conceptual world: as such, it is pure, absolute negativity. The positive conceptual side of real things can, due to their relation to the subjects be summarized spot on: "In their transformation the essence of things is revealed as always the same, a substrate of domination." (Horkheimer, Adorno)

    The completeness of the forms of unreal consciousness will be brought about precisely through the necessity of the advance and the necessity of their connection with one another. To make this comprehensible we may remark, by way of preliminary, that the exposition of untrue consciousness in its untruth is not a merely negative process. Such a one-sided view of it is what the natural consciousness generally adopts; and a knowledge, which makes this one-sidedness its essence, is one of those shapes assumed by incomplete consciousness which falls into the course of the inquiry itself and will come before us there. For this view is scepticism, which always sees in the result only pure nothingness, and abstracts from the fact that this nothing is determinate, is the nothing of that out of which it comes as a result. Nothing, however, is only, in fact, the true result, when taken as the nothing of what it comes from; it is thus itself a determinate nothing, and has a content. The scepticism which ends with the abstraction “nothing” or “emptiness” can advance from this not a step farther, but must wait and see whether there is possibly anything new offered, and what that is — in order to cast it into the same abysmal void. When once, on the other hand, the result is apprehended, as it truly is, as determinate negation, a new form has thereby immediately arisen; and in the negation the transition is made by which the progress through the complete succession of forms comes about of itself.
    Hegel, The Phenomenology of Mind


    When dealing with non-physical entities the mind knows itself in it's for-itself.

    The spirit of this world is spiritual essence permeated by a self-consciousness which knows itself to be directly present as a self-existent particular, and knows that essence as an objective actuality over against itself. But the existence of this world, as also the actuality of self-consciousness, depends on the process that self-consciousness divests itself of its personality, by so doing creates its world, and treats it as something alien and external, of which it must now take possession. But the renunciation of its self-existence is itself the production of the actuality, and in doing so, therefore, self-consciousness ipso facto makes itself master of this world.

    To put the matter otherwise, self-consciousness is only something definite, it only has real existence, so far as it alienates itself from itself.
    ibid
  • Terrapin Station
    5.2k
    So the distinction is in what certain people think, and not a distinction between the nature of "physical" or "non-physical" things.Harry Hindu

    In my view, yes, since I don't believe there are any nonphysical things.

    We can't say something about the "objective nature of nonphysical things" if there are no nonphysical things.
  • Harry Hindu
    1.4k
    In my view, there isn't even a difference in what people think. Idealists and materialists think that they have different notions of what the primary substance would be, but they haven't been able to make any coherent distinction between the two. The only reason you declare yourself a physicalist is because you've simply decided to label the primary substance, "physical".

    Both materialists and idealists claim that "matter" and "ideas" are substances, but can't explain the nature of the substance, much less any distinction between them, so there really isn't any difference between what they are claiming or thinking.
  • Heiko
    189
    Hegel can help again:
    Reason is the conscious certainty of being all reality. This is how Idealism expresses the principle of Reason.

    One of the more critical points:
    The individual exists in himself and for himself. He is for himself, or is a free activity; he is, however, also in himself, or has himself an original determinate being of his own — a character which is in principle the same as what psychology sought to find outside him. Opposition thus breaks out in his own self; it has this twofold nature, it is a process or movement of consciousness, and it is the fixed being of a reality with a phenomenal character, a reality which in it is directly its own. This being, the “body” of the determinate individuality, is its original source, that in the making of which it has had nothing to do. But since the individual at the same time merely is what he has done, his body is also an “expression” of himself which he has brought about; a sign and indication as well, which has not remained a bare immediate fact, but through which the individual only makes known what is actually implied by his setting his original nature to work.
    A good example of "Consciousness determines Being" vs "Being determines consciousness"
  • Jamesk
    173
    In my view, yes, since I don't believe there are any nonphysical things.Terrapin Station

    So how do you explain ideas, thoughts and mental processes? Is an idea physical?
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