• csalisbury
    1.5k
    [Nothing novel, this is probably deconstruction-lite or dialectics 101, but I'm bored and thought-looping and want to get it out]

    If you say that everything is matter

    Someone can ask: As opposed to what?

    You have to answer this question, because if you don't, then the only thing you're saying is: 'everything is what everything is'

    But once you do answer - 'Matter as opposed to [the other thing]'

    Then the question is: how do we understand what [the other thing] is?

    Now you have to explain how matter produces an understanding of something other than matter.


    *****
    If you say that everything is Mind

    Someone can ask: As opposed to what?

    You have to answer this question, because if you don't, then the only thing you're saying is: 'everything is what everything is'

    But once you do answer - 'Mind as opposed to [the other thing]'

    Then the question is: how do we understand what [the other thing] is?

    Now you have to explain how mind produces an understanding of something other than mind.

    *****

    In both cases, the monistic idea can only be precipitated out of a non-monistic stew. The intent of the monist is always to correct an error, to show how everything is actually one. But that intent can only arise from a situation in which there is, at minimum, a duality. The monist is always required to have some kind of 'fall' story. There was oneness, then there was duality.

    Even if you try to fold the duality back into oneness, the monist can't account for the event of the fall itself. The 'illusion' of a duality would constitute its own ontological realm.

    All of which is to say: Monism is always a moralistic or aesthetic corrective to a dualism or pluralism it finds itself in. It can't reflect reality. It always has to be a cognitive project driven by some sort of need.
  • Πετροκότσυφας
    995
    Monism is always a moralistic or aesthetic corrective to a dualism or pluralism it finds itself in. It can't reflect reality. It always has to be a cognitive project driven by some sort of need.csalisbury

    As apposed to what?
  • csalisbury
    1.5k


    Hah!

    As opposed to being a final, settled reflection of reality as it is.

    But I don't think this repeats the same confusion I was trying to highlight.
  • Πετροκότσυφας
    995
    As opposed to being a final, settled reflection of reality as it is.csalisbury

    Like dualism or pluralism?
  • csalisbury
    1.5k


    Yes, because once you accept the irreducibility, you've come to a place where any rational fixed-point has to be jettisoned. You don't leave monism for a monistic-y anti-monism. You leave the very idea of a rational fixed-point.
  • Tzeentch
    173
    You have to answer this question, because if you don't, then the only thing you're saying is: 'everything is what everything is'csalisbury

    There is no problem here. If such is the nature of reality, then such a statement would be perfectly valid. Of course, a more interesting matter would be describing what the nature of that everything is. Any attempt at describing a oneness would inevitably imply a division, however the conclusion that therefore everything cannot be one is a hasty conclusion.

    Even though Plato's views cannot be termed definitively monist or dualist, he does account for the aforementioned problem with his assertion that a person cannot directly attain knowledge about the One itself, but only through the imperfect lens of the human experience, resulting in 'the experience of the One', which can be viewed as a form of enlightenment.
  • Πετροκότσυφας
    995


    I'm not sure I understand. You don't have to leave a monistic view for there to be a parallelism. Dualism as apposed to what? Pluralism. It's not many, it's just two. I can see a correction here. Pluralism as opposed to what? As opposed to "everything is as everything is". I can see a correction here too. In fact, I can see a correction in every ontological position. So, I don't see monism's peculiarity. It seems like every position, except for silence or "everything is as everything is", is a correction and a "a cognitive project driven by some sort of need".
  • frank
    2k
    Every thing shows up against a contrasting background.

    Phaedo.
  • csalisbury
    1.5k

    Of course there's differentiation everywhere. And monism is peculiar w/r/t differentiation - a baked-in peculiarity.
  • Inis
    170
    Then the question is: how do we understand what [the other thing] is?csalisbury

    The same way we understand what anything is. We encounter a phenomenon of some kind, perhaps a feature or a regularity, and we conjecture an explanation for it. etc.

    Now you have to explain how matter produces an understanding of something other than matter.csalisbury

    We still need to figure out how matter understands matter though. And since "understanding" is not matter, that seems quite a tricky problem in itself.
  • StreetlightX
    3.3k
    One way to make sense of 'everything' claims is to treat those claims not as substantive, but as formal. That is, to say something like 'everything is X' is to say that whatever 'there is', 'it' abides by such and such rules, or exhibits such and such properties, and not others. I say this is 'formal' and not 'substantive' because 'everything' here does not designate some kind of positive substance (res cogitans vs. res extensa), but a set of constraints or limits that are operative regardless of the 'stuff' in question.

    One interesting implication of thinking this way is that that the order of intelligibility must outrun the order of actuality: we can think more things than there are in the world, and an 'everything' claim is a claim about how we think about the world, placing limits not on the world, but on our thought about it. I suspect the apparent 'paradoxes' of the OP are what happens when claims are made to be about the world itself. Larger point here about how all claims are claims about intelligibility, but that's maybe beyond the scope of this.
  • Harry Hindu
    1.6k
    If you say that everything is matter

    Someone can ask: As opposed to what?

    You have to answer this question, because if you don't, then the only thing you're saying is: 'everything is what everything is'

    But once you do answer - 'Matter as opposed to [the other thing]'

    Then the question is: how do we understand what [the other thing] is?
    csalisbury
    You've already assumed dualism is the case in the response to the claim that "everything is matter, or mind". By asking, "as opposed to what?" you've already taken the position that dualism is the case.

    As a monist, the correct response to the claim that "everything is mind, or matter" is "So what?" Why do we have to name the "everything" anything at all? What difference would it make unless we knew how "matter" behaved as opposed to something else (which would be imaginary)? There is the way that things are, and there are (a plurality of) ideas about how the way things are. There is only one way to get it right and an uncountable number of ways to get it wrong. Even when you get it right it's still just an idea, but an idea that is in sync with the way things are.

    I don't like to use the terms "matter" or "mind", as they seem to imply dualism. I think "information", "relationships" or "process" are good terms to use.


    We still need to figure out how matter understands matter though. And since "understanding" is not matter, that seems quite a tricky problem in itself.Inis

    Now you have to explain how matter produces an understanding of something other than matter.csalisbury

    No they don't. The claim was "everything is "matter/mind" ". That means that understanding is "matter/mind".
  • Terrapin Station
    6k
    But once you do answer - 'Matter as opposed to [the other thing]'

    Then the question is: how do we understand what [the other thing] is?
    csalisbury

    My answer to that is, "I don't, and I'm not at all convinced that anyone does, but nevertheless, people keep forwarding it."

    At any rate, I say that everything is dynamic relations of matter, or you could say there are three things in my view--matter, relations, processes--although I wouldn't say they're really separable.

    In both cases, the monistic idea can only be precipitated out of a non-monistic stew. The intent of the monist is always to correct an error, to show how everything is actually one. But that intent can only arise from a situation in which there is, at minimum, a duality.csalisbury

    It arises from a situation where people claim something else. That's different than there being something else.

    Think of it this way. You hand someone a deck of cards. They say, "Ah, you've given me a deck of cards interspersed with spludgemuffikins!" The mere fact that they've said this doesn't imply that it's not just a deck of cards, and especially if you can get no coherent account of what spludgemuffikins are and how you also handed them to the person, you'd probably say, "No, it's just a deck of cards."

    It's important to remember that people can be confused, delusional, etc.
  • fdrake
    1.7k
    I think of substance through a perversion of Spinoza.

    III. By substance, I mean that which is in itself, and is conceived through itself: in other words, that of which a conception can be formed independently of any other conception.

    IV. By attribute, I mean that which the intellect perceives as constituting the essence of substance.

    V. By mode, I mean the modifications[1] of substance, or that which exists in, and is conceived through, something other than itself.
    — Spinoza, Ethics

    Replace the reliance on conception with one of interaction. So substance in III becomes the logical space of all interactions of indeterminate types, attributes in IV become isolated domains of interaction of determinate types (like thought/extension), and modes in V become interactions within a given domain (like chains of reason in thought or chains of cause in extension).

    The 'isolation' of the domains is present in Spinoza, eg it's used in:

    PROP. III. Things which have nothing in common cannot be one the cause of the other.

    in the logic of its proof:

    Proof.—If they have nothing in common, it follows that one cannot be apprehended by means of the other (Ax. v.), and, therefore, one cannot be the cause of the other (Ax. iv.). Q.E.D.

    so thought and extension in Spinoza are independent domains of interaction set up a-priori through the apprehension of substance. I rather want to invert this to get a conception of substance out of the modes. We have that chains of influence/interaction, like billiard balls pushing each other or inferential relations, must have something in common; some shared interaction; just when they are not in an isolated domains with respect to eachother.

    So if we start from the billiard balls and chains of thought, and posit that two things are of the same order/attribute just when a relation obtains between one and the other, substance then becomes stratified as the relational closure of each domain. However, thoughts and actions, matter and mind do relate, eg through desires and technology, so are of the same domain because relations obtain of the entities within them. Projecting this 'blending of attributes' back to substance offers the conception that substance is that which is characterised by relational closure tout court. This is close to a traditional monism, having one domain of interaction, when there is but one closed set of interacting entities; when there is one domain of interaction. It behaves like a pluralism when there are multiple closed sets.

    Observing relations between entities then allows their categorisation within the same domain, and substance's conception is made to be dependent upon its unfolding rather than its independence from all other domains ('that which is conceived only through itself'). So we switch the logical priority of substance>attribute>mode to mode>attribute>substance, and the method of analysis from (synthetic) contemplation alone to (synthetic) contemplation of observed or conceptual interaction.
  • schopenhauer1
    2.4k
    Even if you try to fold the duality back into oneness, the monist can't account for the event of the fall itself. The 'illusion' of a duality would constitute its own ontological realm.

    All of which is to say: Monism is always a moralistic or aesthetic corrective to a dualism or pluralism it finds itself in. It can't reflect reality. It always has to be a cognitive project driven by some sort of need.
    csalisbury

    This is exactly what I've been trying to say regarding my complaint with Schopenhauer's monistic metaphysics between Will and representation or any monism. However, this argument can be used against anyone who claims, for example, that mental events are subsumed in the material.

    They may say, "The mental is an illusion".
    Then you will say, "What then is this illusion you speak of"?

    And then ensues their inability to tidily account for the illusion in anything other than a duality.
  • schopenhauer1
    2.4k
    However, thoughts and actions, matter and mind do relate, eg through desires and technology, so are of the same domain because relations obtain of the entities within them. Projecting this 'blending of attributes' back to substance offers the conception that substance is that which is characterised by relational closure tout court. This is close to a traditional monism, having one domain of interaction, when there is but one closed set of interacting entities; when there is one domain of interaction.fdrake

    But most people are discussing how mind and matter are the same or different, not just how mind projects itself into the world. The hard questions of consciousness would not accept this, but perhaps a theory of cognition in the easier questions realm would.
  • fdrake
    1.7k


    I don't think it makes sense to consider how mind and matter are different without looking at how mind and body project themselves into the world, or indeed how matter projects itself into the mind and body. The confusion arises when considering the domain of conception as different from what it concerns, positing a 'here' and a 'there'; isolated domains; which nevertheless, and now problematically, interact.
  • schopenhauer1
    2.4k
    The confusion arises when considering the domain of conception as different from what it concerns, positing a 'here' and a 'there'; isolated domains; which nevertheless, and now problematically, interact.fdrake

    How does, let's say, "my desire for food" (desire interaction?), or "the ability to use a computer" (technology interaction), answer the question of how matter and mind are connected other that indeed the mind can think of technological thoughts and have desires.
  • Wallows
    6.8k
    Sort of harping on what @StreetlightX, has said... If we don't address the issue exclusively through the first person perspective, then the issue doesn't arise. In theory, we could all talk to one another in the third person, and eliminate the need for dualism in language through the first person, and get along well without the need to invoke the "cogito".
  • fdrake
    1.7k


    How they interact is a different question from whether they interact. Noticing such an interaction evinces that they indeed do. Approaching this with the framing that an exegesis of how they interact is required to establish that they interact is an artificial imposition; similar to the idea that two objects could not collide and transfer momentum without the calculus in Newtonian mechanics.
  • schopenhauer1
    2.4k
    How they interact is a different question from whether they interact. Noticing such an interaction evinces that they indeed do.fdrake

    Granted. I think these are two different questions. Yours might help in answering the solipsism question, "Can mind and matter interact?". But I think the main question here is, "How can everything be considered the same thing, when one cannot neatly be subsumed by the other?"
  • fdrake
    1.7k


    I would answer the question with a question; does it make sense to consider two things as being entirely distinct and non-related when they interact? I have a craving for ice cream. This expresses a relation between me and ice cream; my desire isn't extended or capable of temperature except in a metaphorical sense, it isn't the motion of a body nor is it at rest, nevertheless if I were to indulge and satisfy my desire, I'd eat the ice cream and satisfy my desire. It makes as much sense to separate desire and its objects through some prior stratification of being as it does to separate my mouth, the ice cream, and its taste.

    Why should we grant logical priority to an intuition of separation when we can establish they are not separate through our acts?
  • schopenhauer1
    2.4k
    I would answer the question with a question; does it make sense to consider two things as being entirely distinct and non-related when they interact? I have a craving for ice cream. This expresses a relation between me and ice cream; my desire isn't extended or capable of temperature except in a metaphorical sense, it isn't the motion of a body nor is it at rest, nevertheless if I were to indulge and satisfy my desire, I'd eat the ice cream and satisfy my desire. It makes as much sense to separate desire and its objects through some prior stratification of being as it does to separate my mouth, the ice cream, and its taste.

    Why should we grant logical priority to an intuition of separation when we can establish they are not separate through our acts?
    fdrake

    The ice cream has a molecular structure- explained through chemistry. Desires have perhaps a molecular counterpart (interactions of the brain), but it would be odd to say, "my desires are molecular" (other than trivially/metaphorically). Rather, your desires have a psychological aspect, that is to say, it is explained through psychology rather than chemistry. It is these type of distinctions that the interactions of the psychology on the material that you are describing, do not answer simply because of its interaction.
  • Number2018
    200

    If you say that everything is matter

    Someone can ask: As opposed to what?

    You have to answer this question, because if you don't, then the only thing you're saying is: 'everything is what everything is'

    But once you do answer - 'Matter as opposed to [the other thing]'

    Then the question is: how do we understand what [the other thing] is?

    Now you have to explain how matter produces an understanding of something other than matter.


    *****
    If you say that everything is Mind

    Someone can ask: As opposed to what?

    You have to answer this question, because if you don't, then the only thing you're saying is: 'everything is what everything is'

    But once you do answer - 'Mind as opposed to [the other thing]'

    Then the question is: how do we understand what [the other thing] is?

    Now you have to explain how mind produces an understanding of something other than mind.
    csalisbury

    In both cases, there have been some presuppositions applied: the monism of the statement is based on the monism of the speaking subject (and vice versa); so it is possible to differentiate between the two kinds of the monisms. Another difference can be found in the relation between the two ones. Further, the unity of the speaking (thinking) subject can also be questioned: the process of thinking has not been a simple indecomposable thing - it implies time. The most fundamental difference undermining monism is time.
  • fdrake
    1.7k
    The ice cream has a molecular structure- explained through chemistry. Desires have perhaps a molecular counterpart (interactions of the brain), but it would be odd to say, "my desires are molecular" (other than trivially/metaphorically). Rather, your desires have a psychological aspect, that is to say, it is explained through psychology rather than chemistry. It is these type of distinctions that the interactions of the psychology on the material that you are describing, do not answer simply because of its interaction.schopenhauer1

    Being the subject of a different set of investigation techniques doesn't say anything about the constitution of what's considered. Calculus doesn't have to overlap with anatomy, and on this basis we should not conclude that the entities of mathematics aren't related to those anatomy studies. How surprising it is that the impact of a fall has effects on the body, and that falling often leads to pain. Surely pain, falling and bodies are made of different substances, then. Philosophy should really deal with the interaction problem of falling down and the pain of grazing knees.
  • Karl
    9
    One way to narrow down what matter is, is that is has the property of existing independent of any individual's consciousness, which allows us to make a distinction between the external and introspective world. My conscious experience of an emotion doesn't exist independently from my consciousness, but the physical processes in the brain that are related to this emotion, do.

    More simply put, stating that everything is matter isn't the same as stating that everything relates to matter one way or another.
  • schopenhauer1
    2.4k
    Being the subject of a different set of investigation techniques doesn't say anything about the constitution of what's considered. Calculus doesn't have to overlap with anatomy, and on this basis we should not conclude that the entities of mathematics aren't related to those anatomy studies. How surprising it is that the impact of a fall has effects on the body, and that falling often leads to pain. Surely pain, falling and bodies are made of different substances, then. Philosophy should really deal with the interaction problem of falling down and the pain of grazing knees.fdrake

    It was just an example, but how it is that all material is mental or all mental is material is the hard question. The OP mentioned that often one or the other will call the other side of the duality an "illusion", but the illusion itself must be explained as "something" which makes it a de facto duality again. Physical objects seem to be of a different fundamental constituent than mental phenomena. Thoughts, experiences, qualia, cognition, etc. seem wholly different than chemicals, matter, physical objects, etc. It gets even stickier when we realize that in order to understand one, you need the other, otherwise understanding itself isn't even possible. But just the fact that the two interact, does not say much about the fundamental nature of each.
  • fdrake
    1.7k
    It was just an example, but how it is that all material is mental or all mental is material is the hard question.schopenhauer1

    I'm trying to undermine the distinction. All is matter? Then what are thoughts, social structures, history made of? All is mind - then what are tables, rocks, vortices made of? So I tried to situate both in an indeterminate substrate in which interactions of both interact, so that we need not draw the distinction and be confused by its consequences.

    Really though, I think stratifications of being don't neatly track stratifications of substance, precisely because we end up with things like emergence and multilayer dependence of things which are supposed to have an independent nature. Nature is more aligned with interdependence and transformation acting over all and intermingling all ontological registers, than a stratification into separable mediums of variation.
  • schopenhauer1
    2.4k
    Really though, I think stratifications of being don't neatly track stratifications of substance, precisely because we end up with things like emergence and multilayer dependence of things which are supposed to have an independent nature.fdrake

    These are problems that arise from the hard problem of consciousness. These are the (practically) intractable, ever-debatable problems and hence the more interesting question, in my opinion.

    Nature is more aligned with interdependence and transformation acting over all and intermingling all ontological registers, than a stratification into separable mediums of variation.fdrake

    Of course this itself is a claim that needs its own justification. The fact that you mention ontological registers, means there is a substantive difference. What are these differences is the question I am posing.
  • fdrake
    1.7k
    These are problems that arise from the hard problem of consciousness. These are the (practically) intractable, ever-debatable problems and hence the more interesting question, in my opinion.schopenhauer1

    My taste differs a lot. I see intractable problems, most of the time, as resulting from confused questions. With appropriate framing, what's intractable usually becomes irrelevant.

    Of course this itself is a claim that needs its own justification. The fact that you mention ontological registers, means there is a substantive difference. What are these differences is the question I am posing.schopenhauer1

    I don't see it that these differences apply over ontological registers - as this posits a priori distinctions between different mediums of variation. Rather, I see it that differences should be worked out immanently and in relation to some topic of study (or relationships between study topics); the distinctions which obtain of ontological registers depends upon which perspective you view them from. EG, a spider cares little for Brownian motion or the theory of pressure waves, but it absolutely cares about whether movements in its web are localised and relatively extreme or dispersed and relatively minor. This would transform questions like: 'how do organisms relate to pressure waves?' or 'how is it possible to get information from pressure waves?' provisionally into localised versions, which can then have commonalities synthesised from them. There's no guarantee, though, that the synthesis reveals a global truth about being.

    So, a deflationary answer; ontological registers can have distinctions from each other, but these distinctions depend upon topicality and relevance. It is rare that such broad ideas can subsume all of their details, rather they serve as orientations for thought in a scoping circumscription of relevance that unfolds along with the questions we ask.
  • John Doe
    242
    One of the top five best posts I've read on this site. Illuminating and thought provoking. :clap:
bold
italic
underline
strike
code
quote
ulist
image
url
mention
reveal
youtube
tweet
Add a Comment

Welcome to The Philosophy Forum!

Get involved in philosophical discussions about knowledge, truth, language, consciousness, science, politics, religion, logic and mathematics, art, history, and lots more. No ads, no clutter, and very little agreement — just fascinating conversations.