• prothero
    215
    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.csalisbury
    “W. T. Stace nicely summarizes the matter :Neutral monism appears to be inspired by two main motives. The first is to get rid of the psycho-physical dualism which has troubled philosophy since the time of Descartes. The second motive is empiricism. The “stuff” of the neutral monists is never any kind of hidden unperceivable “substance” or Ding-an-sich. It is never something which lies behind the phenomenal world, out of sight. It always, in every version of it, consists in some sort of directly perceivable entities – for instance, sensations, sense-data, colours, smells, sounds. […]” From Wittgensteins Metaphysics, Chapter Two John Cook

    “In the philosophy of mind, neutral monism is the view that the mental and the physical are two ways of organizing or describing the same elements, which are themselves "neutral", that is, neither physical nor mental.[1] This view denies that the mental and the physical are two fundamentally different things. Rather, neutral monism claims the universe consists of only one kind of stuff, in the form of neutral elements that are in themselves neither mental nor physical” Wikipedia Neutral Monism

    I am familiar with the classical monisms, especially materialism or physicalism and idealism. The more interesting form of monism for me is neutral monism. A philosophical notion entertained or adopted by a number of famous philosophers including James, Russell, Wittgenstein and Whitehead.

    I have perused most of the preceding discussion in the thread and frankly, I can’t make sense of the majority of it. I feel I do understand the above quotes on neutral monism.

    I am drawn to the notion of neutral monism, because I am drawn to the notion of the universe as One, as Unity. In some ways I suppose that is a religious notion and in other ways a unified explanation seems more intellectually and scientifically satisfying than pluralisms. I find both idealism and physicalism as monisms to be inadequate to the realm of experience.

    My current view is aligned with the type of monism that arises out of process philosophy. The fundamental units of nature are events which take place in the medium of spacetime. Events have both physical and experiential aspects, attributes or poles. In its basic conception I have yet to find a superior formulation of neutral monism and for me the process approach is superior to physicalism or idealism as a conceptual framework to explain all of our experience of the world. That is the goal of speculative metaphysics, conceptions to explain or help us try to understand our experience of the world.
  • csalisbury
    1.6k

    I don't know all that much about neutral monism, I'll admit. But, from what I do know - and based on the quotes you've provided - it certainly strikes me as a step beyond either material or idealist monisms.

    My stumbling block, here, is the difficulty I have understanding what it means for everything to be 'one' or 'unified.' I have difficulty understanding this concept except through visual metaphors (such as an all-encompassing sphere.)
  • prothero
    215
    My stumbling block, here, is the difficulty I have understanding what it means for everything to be 'one' or 'unified.' I have difficulty understanding this concept except through visual metaphors (such as an all-encompassing sphere.)csalisbury

    There is a conception in classical philosophy of "independent objects" with "inherent properties".
    In truth no "object" exists independently of the world in which it arises and on which it depends. Properties are always relations and not independent or inherent. So the world is already much more unifed, interactive, and interdependent than our typical language and operational conceptions suggest.
  • csalisbury
    1.6k
    That makes sense. It's the leap from universal 'dependence ' (and I agree with you there) to all-encompassing oneness that throws me. I can't quite get a grip on what 'oneness' means. It feels to me like an extrapolation of our mental capacity to take synoptic views of local situations - to apply that synopticizing to everything. But I can't figure ou how that would work.
  • frank
    2.1k
    Consciousness is unified. For that reason Schopenhauer said it is the One. The picture I got from reading Schopenhauer was like a diamond with many facets. Each facet is the whole diamond. The whole is in each of the parts.
  • csalisbury
    1.6k
    I've never quite understood Schopenhauer on the One either though! Individual consciousnesses are unified (to some extent, I'd question that too) but all consciousnesses everywhere, unified in one? I don't really understand that.
  • frank
    2.1k
    Are you a determinist?
  • csalisbury
    1.6k
    Not on most days.
  • frank
    2.1k
    Schopenhauer was. Check him out sometime. Especially the last part of WW&R.
  • csalisbury
    1.6k
    I've read WWR, but its been a long time, 5 years maybe?
  • TheMadFool
    3k
    Well, one could say that duality is an illusion; one sufficient to create the impression of two-ness but actually there's only one. Similar to double vision when the eye muscles aren't synchronized, like when you're intoxicated. There's only one object (monism) but you see two images (dualism).
  • csalisbury
    1.6k
    Is the illusion part of the one?
  • TheMadFool
    3k
    Is the illusion part of the one?csalisbury

    What do you mean?
  • csalisbury
    1.6k
    There's the 'one', which includes everything. And then there's an illusion which makes it seem as if there's a duality. Is the illusion part of the one?
  • prothero
    215
    Consciousness is unified. For that reason Schopenhauer said it is the One. The picture I got from reading Schopenhauer was like a diamond with many facets. Each facet is the whole diamond. The whole is in each of the parts.frank

    Ever read about Indra's net? Schopenhauer liked some Eastern religious conceptions.
  • TheMadFool
    3k
    There's the 'one', which includes everything. And then there's an illusion which makes it seem as if there's a duality. Is the illusion part of the one?csalisbury

    Since monism is the claim, then yes, duality is part of the one.
  • Galuchat
    508
    The fundamental units of nature are events which take place in the medium of spacetime. Events have both physical and experiential aspects, attributes or poles.prothero

    I like neutral monism because it is consistent with Aristotle's notion of substance (hylomorphism), which I find useful to retain for other reasons. For example, human substance is a unity of organic mass-energy and mind, arranged according to the Laws of Nature and Intentionality, respectively; consisting of objects and events (constituting systems) which may be abstracted as "physical" and/or "mental".
  • frank
    2.1k
    Ever read about Indra's net? Schopenhauer liked some Eastern religious conceptions.prothero

    What is Indras net?
  • prothero
    215
    What is Indras net?frank

    Often it is just easier to look things up, google or wiki, than to request someone write them out. In any event the conception is similar (more developed) I would say than your description of Schopenhauer's notion.
  • schopenhauer1
    2.5k
    Since monism is the claim, then yes, duality is part of the one.TheMadFool
    @csalisbury

    Why would there not just be a strict dualism then? This might be the way we are using language but if there is the One and there is illusion, then there is no longer one, as the illusion still "exists" in some fashion (even if just as an illusion). Thus, the illusion has to be accounted for itself. Wherever/whatever the illusion "is"- call it mental space, mentality, experience, this is what is to explained.
  • prothero
    215
    That makes sense. It's the leap from universal 'dependence ' (and I agree with you there) to all-encompassing oneness that throws me. I can't quite get a grip on what 'oneness' means. It feels to me like an extrapolation of our mental capacity to take synoptic views of local situations - to apply that synopticizing to everything. But I can't figure ou how that would work.csalisbury

    Well, there are a couple of approaches. One is to think of the body, you have fingers, toes, ears, organs, they are all talked about separately, functions described separately but we know they are all part of a unified, integrated, system or process. The other example would be concepts like Gaia or the earth as an integrated, interdependent system. The scale is just larger but the principle is the same. Oneness does not mean uniformity, it means relations, interdependence, interaction.
  • csalisbury
    1.6k
    Why would there not just be a strict dualism then? This might be the way we are using language but if there is the One and there is illusion, then there is no longer one, as the illusion still "exists" in some fashion (even if just as an illusion). Thus, the illusion has to be accounted for itself. Wherever/whatever the illusion "is"- call it mental space, mentality, experience, this is what is to explained.schopenhauer1

    The 'illusion' is only parsed as an illusion from a monistic, material perspective. "Dualism", here, is a response to materialism, a rejection of that standpoint. But it seems like reality is so much richer!

    An example makes this clearer. Take a 'scene' in some city or region or era. Beat culture or grunge or fin-de-siecle modernist literature or vaporwave or cyberpunk. It's extremely difficult to reduce these to either material 'stuff' or consciousness or both.
  • csalisbury
    1.6k
    But with the analogy of senses, appendages etc - all these things combine together in order to allow some being to navigate a larger world within which that being is embedded. Everything can't be embedded in anything else.
  • StreetlightX
    3.4k
    why is this 'materialist'?csalisbury

    (sorry for late reply)

    I suppose I could give you Zizek's answer or I could give you mine. Zizek's is a whole thing about the subject, and how it the not-all bears witness to the inclusion of the subject into any picture of reality etc etc. I could go into exegesis but that's less fun. So, my take-away: I think the not-all enables us to think in terms of a 'non-reductive' materialism. To explain: what I'm always looking for is something that avoids two poles, a kind of scylla and charybdis thing: (1) No privileged ontological stratum (atoms, simples, 'stuff', out of which everything else is made, and is 'epiphenomena' in relation to that stuff); (2) No 'higher reality' over and above 'this' one: no Ideas waltzing in from heaven to in-form all the passive stuff lying around in wait for it.

    To borrow the vocabulary of Graham Harman, I neither want the world to be undermined (from below), nor overmined (from above): it want it 'such as it is', and no more (or less). The not-all gives me this, or rather, helps fulfil both conditions. That’s ‘my’ understanding of materialism at any rate: the effort to give ontological heft to each and every thing, such as it is, without ideal-izing any part of reality or ‘beyond-reality’ over and against another.
  • csalisbury
    1.6k
    I agree with all of this! And I don't necessarily want to press the point. But I just don't see how any of that is 'materialist.' Not that that's bad, one way or another. It seems 'beyond idealism and materialism' - and that the 'materialist' thing is a provocation. Or, if not a provocation, then a kind of safe-haven one retreats to after advancing ideas that go beyond 'vulgar' materialism, while also anticipating misguided attempts to pigeonhole one as an 'idealist'. Which is understandable, because that happens, the idealist-pigeonholing. But, among friends, is 'materialist' really anything other than a rhetorical device here?

    It seems like a hangover from a soviet thing where you have to appeal to the big Other, while actually saying something different. Yes, yes, I'm a materialist of course, but...
  • StreetlightX
    3.4k
    But why not materialism? This seems evasive, but to build off your mention of a vulgar materialism - why must materialism always be vulgar? Is there no room in the house of materialism to accommodate the world such as it is?** And why not? What is it about materialism that would not allow this kind of in-corp-oration?

    Which is not to say that it isn't a rhetorical device or even a provocation - only that it's not only those things. And then there's that part of me which is suspicious of any 'beyond X and Y', which smells a bit too much of 'third way' politics, which always ends up being one of the previous offerings in disguise.

    **It might be fruitful to ask this question of idealism in order to triangulate positions here - and I think, if asked of it, the answer has to be 'no': 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). Which leads a bit back to the question of monism - 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, which is why the logic of the not-all, the double negative ('there is nothing is that not...') fits nicely I think with a materialism (part of what I'm trying to do is set up an 'asymmetry' of exclusion - both exclude, but in different ways).

    Does that work for you?
  • schopenhauer1
    2.5k
    s there no room in the house of materialism to accommodate the world such as it is?StreetlightX

    This doesn't seem to answer the hard question of consciousness. We are always stuck with a thing leftover. Does a baby have raw experiences of qualia like green? Some posters here have suggested babies have no experience at all. They have taken a hard stance to ensure that experience is built from interaction with the world only. Anyway, the question is, "WHAT/WHERE is experience?" Materialists tend to explain it away, by making it a synonym- "You see, experience is just internal modelling". Then we must ask, what is internal modelling that makes it experiential? It will always beg the question. That doesn't mean, de facto, idealism is thus true, I am just giving why accounts from materialism are unsatisfactory, other than the easy problems that can be solved by observations in neuropsychology and behavioral/mental correlates of such phenomena.
  • frank
    2.1k
    materialism excludes attempts at exclusion,StreetlightX

    Eliminative materialism excludes in exactly the same way monistic idealism does. Materialism and idealism are mirror images of one another.

    Whatever fits one fits the other.
  • Galuchat
    508
    Take a 'scene' in some city or region or era. Beat culture or grunge or fin-de-siecle modernist literature or vaporwave or cyberpunk. It's extremely difficult to reduce these to either material 'stuff' or consciousness or both.csalisbury

    Not at all difficult.
    These are products of culture, which is the collective mindset of a social group; products which may be physical (e.g., spoken or written language, music, books, cuisine, fashion, etc.) and/or mental (e.g., social relationships, norms, roles, statuses, institutions, etc.). No verbal gymnastics required; just observation.
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