• frank
    2.5k
    Are you a panpsychist?
  • prothero
    215
    One could level that accusation but I am not saying rocks are conscious, if that is what you mean? I am saying that events have relationships and interactions with other events which are more than just physical in nature (panexperiential) would be more accurate.
  • frank
    2.5k
    I was just looking to understand how your view is different from Chalmer's naturalistic dualism, if it is.

    I think we all agree that there are events and that events are somehow related. If there is a psychic aspect to an event, how does that work?
  • csalisbury
    1.7k
    if idealism and materialism both need to 'exclude' something to define themselves by, idealism 'excludes' parts of the world in favour of others (undermining/overmining), and materialism excludes attempts at exclusion,StreetlightX

    Doesn't materialism, by definition, exclude that which isn't material?

    But even if you stretch it, so it doesn't mean that, and means something like 'the material is fundamental', or 'determinant in the last instance', or something - well, can't you very easily find parallel (tho of course inverted) forms of idealism? (and even you couldn't, wouldn't it be a cinch to construct them?)

    Trying to get a better grasp on what work 'materialism' is supposed to be doing, when it doesn't mean what 'materialism' usually means. I feel like I'd want to focus on this:

    the whole point of idealism (in my understanding of it), is that it by definition aims to idealize one part or parts of reality over others (or, using a different topology, aims to idealize an extra-reality over reality — StreetlightX

    & ask:

    1)What do you mean by 'idealizing one part of reality over others?'
    2)What makes something 'extra-real'?
  • prothero
    215
    I was just looking to understand how your view is different from Chalmer's naturalistic dualism, if it is.

    I think we all agree that there are events and that events are somehow related. If there is a psychic aspect to an event, how does that work?
    frank

    I have not read much Chalmers but a brief scan indicates there are some similarities. I am more familiar with Strawson arguments about physicalism and panpsychism. My basic position is reality is more (much more) than external observation and empirical measurement can reveal, exactly how that works is available only on the basis of rational speculation and analogy to our own internal experience.

    In truth I am more a fan of A.N. Whitehead process philosophy and David Ray Griffith panexperientialism. There is some subjective (mental, experiential, choose your term) aspect to all events (miniscule for say quantum events) but very significant for complex integrated, unified systems such as ourselves. We should start with what we cannot deny (experience) and work down from there. The assumption that creatures such as ourselves are built from particles of matter which are themselves entirely devoid of any experiential, mental of psychic quality seems much less likely than the reverse assumption.
  • StreetlightX
    3.6k
    1)What do you mean by 'idealizing one part of reality over others?'
    2)What makes something 'extra-real'?
    csalisbury

    I wanna say that exactly how these are cashed out depends on the idealism in question. A certain reading of Plato, for example, reserves what I called 'ontological heft' exclusively for the Intelligible Forms, with the sensory world just being kind of like a derivitive run-off (idealization of forms - 'overmining', forms as 'extra-real'); or, on the flip side, you get certain 'materialisms' that reserve such heft only for 'atoms' or some kind of fundamental stuff, with everything above that scale similarly being just so much ephemera (idealization of simples - 'undermining', atoms as 'more real' than everything else).

    This can also be cashed out at other, less explicitly philosophical levels at well (Politics: there is only the individual; Biology: the gene is the only thing that matters). All of these are just so many variations on an (idealist) theme. So the point is that there's no 'one way' in which something is idealized or designated as 'extra-real'. Perhaps you can call the above 'schemas' for idealisms.

    --

    As an aside, I have no interest in letting questions of 'consciousness' - a cosmic party trick of disproportionate interest - overdetermine this conversation.
  • frank
    2.5k
    The assumption that creatures such as ourselves are built from particles of matter which are themselves entirely devoid of any experiential, mental of psychic quality seems much less likely than the reverse assumption.prothero

    That makes sense, but if we back up and look at the concepts utilized in that scenario: isn't there a strict opposition of material/immaterial built into it? What are you saying if not that the two mingle? Is it an old picture, just un-deified? If so, that's ok, but why does it count as monism?
  • prothero
    215
    I think using our usual conceptions of locality and causality it is difficult to explain phenomena like "quantum entanglement". I think using our usual conception of the nature of atoms and atomic particles it is difficult to explain why special arrangements of them have "experience" or are "conscious". It is not that the experiential and the physical are separate things which "mingle", it is that they are the same thing "events" viewed from different aspects or points of view.
    "what it is to be like".
  • frank
    2.5k
    So our concepts bring us to the realization of oneness, but fail to take us onwards into it?
  • prothero
    215
    So our concepts bring us to the realization of oneness, but fail to take us onwards into it?frank

    Well this a speculative philosophy discussion about ontology (being) and so you will not get definitive truth or proof. It is about developing concepts and language which you help you explain or approach all of your experience of the world which encompasses both the physical and the mental or experiential.
    This is no finality of statement to be achieved.

    For me the world is not composed of the static or the inert but is process, change and flux it is a continuous creative becoming, not a being.. There are no independent objects with inherent properties but societies or organisms with interactions and relations to the rest of the world. The entire world is an integrated, interactive system of relations. The choice between monistic materialism or physicalism and monistic idealism, is a false choice, the world is both (not as separate substances but as one substance with both properties). As to what the nature of fundamental units or substance of nature are, they are events (quantum events) not enduring particles (which are only repetitive events).
  • csalisbury
    1.7k


    (I)

    If idealism is taken to refer to any metaphysics reliant on either overmining or undermining - if eliminative materialism, physicalism etc can be considered forms of idealism - and, if 'materalism' simply means 'not idealistic in this sense', then you don't even have to ask 'why not materialism?' or whether theres's room in the materialist 'house' to accomodate reality as it is.

    (a) The materialist house has plenty of vacancy, since all of its long-time tenants have been evicted.

    (b) 'Is there no room in this house for the class of guests defined as those for whom there is room in this house? '

    If I understand our last few exchanges, it seems like you were accepting, at least for the sake of discussion, that the Zizekian approach - the identification of 'materialism' and the logic of the 'not-all' - doesn't provide an intrinsic justification of this identification (or, at the very least, would require too involved an exegesis- which I think is fair. There's a lot of moving parts when it comes to Zizek).

    And so you'd shifted the terrain of the discussion. Instead of asking why the non-all should be considered materialism simply by virtue of being non-all, you asked what about materialism bars it from incorporating this logic. But in explaining why it isn't barred, it seems to me that you've just repeated the Zizekian approach.


    (II)

    In response to the whiff of 'third-way' politicking - a rhetorical move that draws much of its power from its anticapitalist resonance - I'd counter that this cuts both ways. There's also the gentrification of concepts. A bar with a long history in a once-vibrant neighborhood - say Greenwich village or Haight-Ashbury etc - is bought out, but the new owners do their best to uphold the facade of fidelity to the original spirit.

    If its true that the old is often presented, deceptively, as new, its also true that the new is often presented, deceptively, as continuous with the old. You can furnish examples of either of these, which are pro or anti-capitalism( pro or anti-anything for that matter)

    (III)


    You may not want to talk about consciousness, because such discussion always stalls out in the same place, and I sympathize with this sentiment.* But you could also imagine the new owner of a bar who's not interested in discussing whether their incarnation of [bar x] is faithful to its history, because such discussions always tend toward the same bitter, irresolvable dispute.

    Consider: a materialism that only excludes two things:

    (1) exclusion itself
    &
    (2) the very mention of the thing its usually taken to exclude.

    This is a kind of schema in its own right.

    One variation:

    Here, we don't try to exert power over anyone, except

    (1) those who want to exert power over others
    &
    (2) those who want to talk about the people we're usually accused of exerting power over.

    Supplement this last part with a barbed and contemptuous dismissal, indicating that bringing up the unspeakable reflects poorly on the character of those who bring it up.

    (IV)

    If you define 'idealism' through a linguistic maneuver by focusing on a particular meaning of 'idealize,' certainly it would be fair for someone to make the not- controversial point that materialism suggests something like 'everything is matter'?


    ------
    * There's a way of dealing with this without barring discussion. You can treat it as something that inherently stalls discussion, for a reason, and then incorporate it as that kind of thing, without either

    (a) orbiting endlessly around it

    or

    (b) ignoring it
  • csalisbury
    1.7k
    @StreetlightX

    All that said, I feel like I mostly agree with you, content-wise. It's the name, or label that throws me.I just don't like the 'materialist' thing.

    Prima facie a small quibble. Still, I think it touches on something I feel is less-small - & that's the thing of insisting that this or that course of thought is tied to this or that political stance*. I think they should be separated. Not because we should ignore politics. But because we shouldn't pretend doing theory is in any way political. You can make any theory fit any politics, easily, with a little rhetorical facility.


    ----
    *'materialism' as its used by Zizek et al, seems like a political, more than a theoretical, distinction.
  • frank
    2.5k
    Well this a speculative philosophy discussion about ontology (being) and so you will not get definitive truth or proof. It is about developing concepts and language which you help you explain or approach all of your experience of the world which encompasses both the physical and the mental or experiential.
    This is no finality of statement to be achieved.

    For me the world is not composed of the static or the inert but is process, change and flux it is a continuous creative becoming, not a being.. There are no independent objects with inherent properties but societies or organisms with interactions and relations to the rest of the world. The entire world is an integrated, interactive system of relations. The choice between monistic materialism or physicalism and monistic idealism, is a false choice, the world is both (not as separate substances but as one substance with both properties). As to what the nature of fundamental units or substance of nature are, they are events (quantum events) not enduring particles (which are only repetitive events).
    prothero

    Such a great post. I'm also anti-realist but carry along a working scenario. I stress things you don't.

    Speaking of events, I happen to be walking today looking up at the bare tree tops. They're these huge old oaks. While walking, the whole scene moved and I noticed that the repetition of branches, crossing one another, was like music. When I stopped and stared it was visual art. So in-time vs eternal, another opposition?
  • prothero
    215
    I'm also anti-realist but carry along a working scenario. I stress things you don't.frank

    I am not sure I would classify as an anti-realist but I am interested what you mean by the term, what things you stress and your working scenario for dealing with "reality".

    As for time (a complex subject), I strongly reject the block universe (eternalism) interpretation of general relativity. Time is change nothing more, and change is the most consistent feature of reality, not fixed or static being.
  • frank
    2.5k
    The first paragraph of your post was anti-realist. Realism is about confidence that some final statement can be made. Anti-realism rejects that confidence. It comes in soft and hard versions.

    what things you stress and your working scenario for dealing with "reality".prothero

    That oppositions seem to be essential to conception. Implied is a unity beyond our grasp. Or if we can grasp it, it would require a different way of thinking.

    Time is change nothing more, and change is the most consistent feature of reality, not fixed or static being.prothero

    Recognition of change requires a fixed reference point. Either you must be stationary or some other point must be (if you're the one who is changing.) Not to derail the thread.
  • Galuchat
    565
    Actualities are space-time extensions. Space is related to objects, and time is related to events. This is a part-whole hierarchy. Also, causality requires both contiguity and antecedence. (Born, Max. 1949. Natural Philosophy of Cause and Chance. Oxford University Press. London, p.9.)

    A system is a dynamic composite object, and a process consists of sequential and/or simultaneous events. In ordinary language, nouns denote objects, and verbs denote events.

    Whether or not there are physical and/or mental actualities (having part-whole hierarchies) is an empirical question. As is whether or not all actualities have physical and mental properties, as opposed to physical and/or mental properties.

    From observation, some actualities (e.g., certain organisms) have both physical and mental properties. This fact suggests a neutral (neither only physical, nor only mental; so call it: organism) substance which entails property dualism.

    What, if anything, these properties have in common beyond comprising organism essence is a philosophical question. As is what set of mental properties comprise mind.

    Also from observation, some actualities (e.g., rocks) have physical, but not living, or mental, properties. This fact suggests a particular type of inorganic (call it: rock) substance which entails property monism.

    Obviously, objects (e.g., organisms and rocks) change over time, and substance (essence, nature, or code+matter) explains object persistence through change.
  • aporiap
    152

    I agree with this. The 'fact of the matter' is surely independent of conceptualization. But to determine whether our metaphysical ideas correspond with reality (if such a thing is possible), we have to figure out what we're saying. What does 'reality is composed of one substance' mean?

    What I'm suggesting is that, if you break down the concept, you see that its not about the world at all. It's a conceptual operation that has overstepped its bounds. My interest in this topic corresponds exactly to my feeling 'the fact of the matter' shouldn't depend on conceptualization.

    (We could also say the fact of the matter about whether reality is large shouldn't depend on conceptualization. That's true, I think. But it's not really clear what it would mean. It seems to be mixing something up. )
    I am unsure how it's just a conceptual operation. To say reality is composed of one substance means something. You assert that all objects are decomposable or analyzable into fundamental units which, at a certain level, are indistinguishable and interchangeable with one another. Take a carbon atom from joe and a carbon atom from the tree outside your window, and, if you look at them, you will find no fundamental difference, no individual footprint. Take the electron from carbon 1 and you can replace it with the electron from carbon atom 2.

    In a multi-substance ontology, the parts are not interchangeable, you loose something by taking out one 'non-matter' part [e.g. a 'spirit'] and replacing it with a matter part.

    What does 'fundamental' mean?
    Is face-value difference fundamental?
    Why or why not?
    Fundamental means not decomposable. A quark or boson, more fundamentally -- the properties which define 'quark' or 'boson'. These properties -charge, mass, etc.], would be fundamental.

    Face-value difference is not fundamental. On face value, a tree and banana look completely different - different sizes, shapes, colors-. But the components of these objects are fundamentally the same -physical particles.
  • csalisbury
    1.7k


    fundamental means not decomposable.

    Face-value difference is not fundamental...the components of these objects are fundamentally the same -physical particles.

    Here's the philosophical 'gotcha'. But I think it's legitimate. The challenge then is to decompose the face-value difference itself. Trees and bananas are, obviously, composed of physical particles, differently. No 'face-value' differentiation required. So how do you decompose the difference between the face-value difference of trees and bananas - and trees and bananas with no face-value difference.

    You seem savvy, so I'm sure you anticipate this kind of thing. Nevertheless - how?
  • aporiap
    152

    Here's the philosophical 'gotcha'. But I think it's legitimate.

    Trees and bananas are, obviously, composed of physical particles, differently. No 'face-value' differentiation required. So how do you decompose the difference between the face-value difference of trees and bananas - and trees and bananas with no face-value difference.

    You seem savvy, so I'm sure you anticipate this kind of thing. Nevertheless - how?
    I don't think their different arrangement should matter that much. Spatial and bonding relations, which serve as the basis for difference between objects, are not fundamental or substantial, they just are ephermal states. e.g. You have a bunch of lego blocks and build a bridge and man out of it. Sure, they look different -on face value- and that's because of how you've arranged the blocks, but I don't think anyone would say the man or the bridge are their own separate substances, no the substance is the thing which is invariant and composes them.

    What I’m trying to say is that the difference between saying there’s a difference and saying there is no difference is that, in one case, you’re giving ontological status or significance to relations between parts and in the other you are not- and only give ontological status to the parts themselves

    If you say that is a conceptual operation - applying ontological status to a feature of the world- then your critique would apply to any metaphysical claim
  • csalisbury
    1.7k
    I don't think their different arrangement should matter that much. Spatial and bonding relations, which serve as the basis for difference between objects, are not fundamental or substantial, they just are ephermal states. e.g. You have a bunch of lego blocks and build a bridge and man out of it. Sure, they look different -on face value- and that's because of how you've arranged the blocks, but I don't think anyone would say the man or the bridge are their own separate substances, no the substance is the thing which is invariant and composes them.aporiap

    I think you're right - and that anyone would agree that both were composed of legos. Both the bridge and the man are decomposable, in the sense you mentioned. But what is the face-value distinction - the 'looking different' - composed of? And is it decomposable? What is the 'ephemeral'?

    What I’m trying to say is that the difference between saying there’s a difference and saying there is no difference is that, in one case, you’re giving ontological status or significance to relations between parts and in the other you are not- and only give ontological status to the parts themselvesaporiap

    What I'm saying is that the 'relations between the parts' is doing a lot of metaphysical work. And that's worth digging into - because are relations fundamental?
  • csalisbury
    1.7k
    If you say that is a conceptual operation - applying ontological status to a feature of the world- then your critique would apply to any metaphysical claimaporiap

    My critique - but it's too shoddy to be dignified by that title - is a 'critique' of any philosophical operation that tries to find some way of characterizing 'everything.' I think that any feature of the world is capable of having an ontological status applied to it.
  • Janus
    7.3k
    I think that any feature of the world is capable of having an ontological status applied to it.csalisbury

    Yes, but only some things possess the ontological character of being (or at least of being thought of as) compositional elements.
  • aporiap
    152
    I think you're right - and that anyone would agree that both were composed of legos. Both the bridge and the man are decomposable, in the sense you mentioned. But what is the face-value distinction - the 'looking different' - composed of? And is it decomposable? What is the 'ephemeral'?


    They look different because their atoms are arranged differently and are bonded in different ways. I don't think relations [e.g. spatial and bonding relations] are reducible, but I do think they are entirely dependent on and caused by the relata, which must share properties in order to interact. If you don't have two atoms with the property of charge, you cannot have an electrostatic interaction. If you don't have two atoms with spatial locations, you cannot locate them relative to each other or some external reference. Secondly, relations don't outlive the interactors - it's the interactors [as bundles of properties] which can form relations with other entities. I believe it's fundamental properties, which cause relations. This makes relations not fundamental

    Regarding 'ephermalness' - One thing I am implicitly assuming in my understanding of substance is the importance of invariance and generality. Aside from being non-decomposable, a substance should presumably be present whenever and where-ever there are objects -- it should be time and location invariant . Specific relations are neither time or location invariant and so they cannot be fundamental substances. That isn't to say they don't exist or don't play an important role [they differentiate things for crying out loud].
  • aporiap
    152
    My critique - but it's too shoddy to be dignified by that title - is a 'critique' of any philosophical operation that tries to find some way of characterizing 'everything.' I think that any feature of the world is capable of having an ontological status applied to it.
    I read through the OP again to just clarify why this is an issue [finding some way of characterizing everything] and it seems like the reason you focus in on monism here is essentially because of the plainly clear plurality we experience. But I also think it's plainly clear that commonalities underpin pluralities; and these form the basis for the search for unifying principles and substances.

    Also I don't think it's an arbitrary process - the feature must be constrained by what it means for something to be an ontological substance and that is something which I think people generally agree [or at least there's a convergence of thought] that fundamentality and invariance are the defining features of an ontological substance. It could be that two things have those properties or maybe 3 or 4 or just 1. I think it's then a matter of empirical study to limit the possibilities.
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