• NKBJ
    894
    No, that does not logically follow. If something IS just our idea, then it can by definition not be more than our thinking.Janus

    So you agree with me.
  • Janus
    6.9k
    No, I was disagreeing with you. You said "if something is just an idea"; I corrected it to read "if something is just our idea".
  • NKBJ
    894
    You said "if something is just an idea"; I corrected it to read "if something is just our idea"Janus

    All ideas are our ideas. They cannot exist apart from cogent beings.
  • Janus
    6.9k
    So, in assuming your conclusion, you assert.
  • Daniel
    22
    I dont see how. You are saying that you must first know what something is to establish its existence. I do not see how that makes any sense. If you are trying to say that in order to prove the physical existence or reality of one's ideas, or something that we know only as ideas, one must first find a physical object that represents the idea or at least a concrete proof of its physical existence, that's obvious I think. But in my understanding of existence, things that are not real are also included in it. Something exists even if it is just an idea.
  • Josh Alfred
    104
    See: LIGHT BODY
  • NKBJ
    894
    So, in assuming your conclusion, you assert.Janus

    You're going to have to elaborate more clearly than that.
  • Janus
    6.9k
    Obviously you are assuming a definition of ideas such that they have no existence other than their occurring to us and then going on to tautologously conclude that ideas cannot be anything beyond our having them or knowing about them.
  • S
    9.7k
    What is a unicorn?Daniel

    Only in philosophy.
  • Pattern-chaser
    950
    Do unicorns exist? Cuz I know what those are. Please spare me any “unicorns exist in our minds” silliness, unless you are a fool you know very well thats not what we mean.DingoJones

    Does mathematics exist? It seems to have the same existential justification: it's a human invention, which exists only in our minds.... :chin:
  • Galuchat
    562
    Even as a post to this thread is criterial evidence of mind, the ethical quality of that post is criterial evidence of spirit.
  • 0 thru 9
    772
    I often consider spirit to be the counterpart to body. [Or maybe to body and mind?] The mental, immaterial, part of us. The really confusing and difficult-to-know-about part of us. There is mind, which we divide (why? :chin:) into conscious and unconscious, and the latter is, by definition, observation and actuality, inaccessible to our introspection. There are feelings and emotions. And there are beliefs, often arrived at by means we know not of. All of these things are difficult, all of them exist (confirmed by the observations of billions of humans), and it is this context/arena that spirit exists. So of course it's difficult to discuss.

    Simple discussions, whose terms can be clearly, completely, and accurately defined, are easy. Discussions like this one are a bit more challenging. Farther away from the lifelines of definition, logic, binary thinking, certainty, and so forth, discussion requires more of us. It's easy to dismiss such things as meaningless frippery, and if you do, I can't prove you wrong. But so what?

    For myself, I think I split my mental self into spirit and mind, where spirit has to do with such things as souls, spirits (to use another shade of meaning :wink:), and things that go bump in the night. So spirit follows into spiritual, which I see as a more general version of religion, but without some of the entrapping requirements and conventions. These days, few describe themselves as religious, but many describe themselves as spiritual. So spirit definitely has an aspect that resembles religion.
    Pattern-chaser
    Interesting post, thanks! That is exactly what the OP was requesting. Like you, the (possible) relationship between mind and spirit is worthy of some examination, I think. I don’t think anyone disagrees with the existence of mind? And the concept of mind is large enough to encompass a myriad of sub-components, such as memory, critical thinking, subconscious, emotions, etc. Proposing spirit as one of those components does not seem to be especially radical. Sure this is mainly a matter of semantics. But such naming and distinguishing can have a purpose. Let us not be anti-semantic! (sorry :wink: )

    So now to venture some very rough, first draft descriptions. (I like that word better than “definition” in matters like this. Seems less legalistic.) Some word associations or synonyms with the word “spirit”: essence, essential, morals, energy, center, personal, trans-personal, character, will, etheric, enduring, growth, being. So from that word jumble of free-association one could cobble a number of different descriptions of spirit:

    Spirit is (or can be thought of as, or functions as)...

    a central aspect of one’s self , being and exhibiting one’s character while also shaping and changing that character.

    the essence of a person. Person : spirit :: plant : essential oil.

    the deepest, the highest, and most true nature of an individual.

    both the innermost aspect of one’s mind, and the outermost effect of one’s character.

    the shape and contents of one’s mind, and the purpose to which it is put.

    the direction of the mind.

    the central intersection of will, thought, feeling, sensation, and consciousness.

    the created self, drawn from the material and energy of the earth, radiating outward.


    To be perfectly clear to all reading this... These descriptions are of course partial and incomplete. They are theoretical and speculative, and therefore not necessarily scientific. But hopefully respectful of science. (Science being the study and knowledge of the physical. Metaphysics the study and knowledge of the non-physical). I attempted to use individual words whose meaning is relatively clear. And avoided words with religious implications, such as sacred, soul, divine, eternal, infinite, God, etc. which would probably only make the descriptions more vague and confusing. I wanted to make it amenable to both theists and atheists, and anyone in between, if possible.

    Thoughts?
  • 0 thru 9
    772
    Even as a post to this thread is criterial evidence of mind; the ethical quality of that post is criterial evidence of spirit.Galuchat
    Nice! Pithy yet profound. Thanks.
  • Galuchat
    562

    Sure.
    Thanks for providing the opportunity to refine some ideas.
  • NKBJ
    894
    Obviously you are assuming a definition of ideas such that they have no existence other than their occurring to us and then going on to tautologously conclude that ideas cannot be anything beyond our having them or knowing about them.Janus

    Yes, I am assuming the very much established definition of a common word.

    I realize I'm pointing out the obvious. You're the one trying to redefine the word. Proving that definition is your job, not mine.
  • leo
    206
    Delusions, errors, assumptions, assertions, etc. All part of some experiencing and learning process maybe. But I would propose (as you might agree) that simply because one can have delusions about the spiritual aspect doesn’t necessarily mean that spirit itself is a delusion. Thoughts?0 thru 9

    I think the problem is I wouldn't know how to make the difference between reality and imagination, between what exists and what does not. Sure I can believe that something is real and that some other thing is imaginary, I can believe that something exists and some other thing doesn't, but how can I know if I'm not mistaken? How can I know if I'm wrong, how can I know if there isn't something I haven't noticed yet that makes me wrong?

    I'm saying this, because it seems what we classify as real or not, what we classify as existing or not, is based a lot on conventions. Usually we say something is real when most people agree they're experiencing it. And the things that are experienced by only one person, or by a small minority, we say they are imagination, that they do not exist, but all we're saying really is they do not exist for the majority. But they do exist for the minority experiencing it, they are real for them.

    Then this leads me to think, what we call the material world is the subset of experiences that the majority somewhat agrees on. But what makes experiences that the majority agrees on any more real than those experienced by a minority? It's always real to the subject experiencing it. It's only after the fact that the subject might say, ok this experience wasn't real, it was just my imagination, but in saying that how are we saying anything more than we can't fit well this experience into the range of experiences that we deem to be real?

    I just can't clearly make a difference between reality and imagination that is devoid of convention. Experiences that the majority deems to be imagination do have the power to have a 'real' impact on the person experiencing it, on how they behave on how they feel, so we can't say that what's 'real' is what has an observable effect. To materialists any experience we have corresponds to electrons firing in the brain, different patterns of electron motion correspond to different experiences, there is a one-to-one equivalence, but if we start from that premise then how can there ever be a distinction between reality and imagination? From that premise every experience is on the same level of reality, there is nothing to differentiate between a world that is real and a world that is not.

    So I feel like I can't hang on to any stable conception of reality. What people call the material world seems to me to be a range of experiences that they somewhat agree on. What people call the spiritual world seems to me to be another range of experiences that they somewhat agree on. Different people have different ideas about what experiences they classify as real and what experiences they classify as imaginary. And it seems that all we can ever do is relate experiences to one another, find relationships within our experiences, commonalities, similarities, and that it is meaningless to talk about what exists or what is real in some absolute sense, it is always subjective, what we experience is real to us, what is part of our experiences exists to us.

    If there is something I sometimes see with my eyes closed but never when my eyes are open, do I have to call it imaginary, not part of the 'real' world, or can't I simply say that it is real to me? That sometimes I do see it, that when I do see it it exists, and when I don't see it it exists as a memory, just like there are things I sometimes see with my eyes open but never when my eyes are closed, what makes these things any more real? They're more real just because there are more people who say they see these things than the others? How does this make reality anything more than a social convention?
  • 0 thru 9
    772
    Even as a post to this thread is criterial evidence of mind, the ethical quality of that post is criterial evidence of spirit.Galuchat


    Your concise maxim expresses something that has gone through my mind, and probably that of many others. That what we are doing here on this forum, and elsewhere, is hopefully MORE than a mere clash of ideas, looking for the winning school of thought to emerge like some intellectual gladiator proudly covered with the blood of the illogical, ignorant, and misguided. Talking and writing and communicating not only ABOUT ethics but WITH ethics and sense of fairness. Competition without aggression, let alone warfare. Otherwise, philosophy devolves into polemic and propaganda, mere pushing and pulling. One could define philosophy as the spirit of wisdom.

    (But I may be misinterpreting your words by a mile. :lol: )
  • Galuchat
    562

    I agree (you have not misinterpreted me).
  • Louco
    42
    I find it difficult to define a single concept meaningfully. So I take the liberty of defining a few concepts which I think establish a framework within which the concept of spirit has a meaning.

    - Existence is to be in the flow of consciousness. Examples: when you are reading this post, you exist. When you are in a dreamless sleep, you do not exist. To die is to cease to exist forever.

    - Science is knowledge from evidence and from deduction that is reproducible and rigorous.

    - Matter can impress the senses and can be coerced into repetition under rigorous conditions.

    - Spirit is non-material existence.

    I think the underlying question of this thread is "can we have scientific knowledge about spirit?"

    By this, I mean, can we investigate rigorously and reproducibly matters of the spirit?

    One could say there is no science of the spirit because the investigation of the spirit has to deal with beliefs, and not evidence. (It is funny that such a materialistic point of view could be said to be accusing spiritualists of having bitten off of the forbidden fruit).

    It could be said that there is a science of the spirit if we suppose (for arguments' sake) as few beliefs as possible, and deduct scientifically from this basis. In other words, the investigation of the spirit would proceed deductively.

    Having evidence only for "that which is not spirit" we are left only with the capacity of deducing how spirit works. I think that when we rigorously abide by deduction and clearly identify when a belief is necessary to advance an argument, we have a science of the spirit.
  • Pattern-chaser
    950
    can we investigate rigorously and reproducibly matters of the spirit?Louco

    I think we can all agree (?) that the answer is "no".
  • Galuchat
    562
    I think the underlying question of this thread is "can we have scientific knowledge about spirit?"

    By this, I mean, can we investigate rigorously and reproducibly matters of the spirit?
    Louco

    If Science of Mind (Psychology), then why not Science of Spirit (Pneumology)?

    Of course, many will object that Psychology is a soft science which is experiencing a replication crisis, and that a Science of Spirit would be no different.

    Paul Bloom has an interesting reply to the replication charge here.

    If the OP determines that this question is off-topic, it would at least be interesting to discuss in a new thread.
  • 0 thru 9
    772
    If Science of Mind (Psychology), then why not Science of Spirit (Pneumology)?

    Of course, many will object that Psychology is a soft science which is experiencing a replication crisis, and that a Science of Spirit would be no different.
    Galuchat
    Or if a general Science of Spirit could even possibly build itself from the ashes, it might face an even steeper challenge. I dare say very few doubt whether Mind exists (despite the important issue of the hard question whether it exists in some way apart from the brain. But that’s a whole ‘nother thread.) But how many would say that a “Spirit” aspect / nature of humans exist which is roughly parallel to “Mind”. And yes, the particular definition used for Spirit is CRITICAL. The “definitionistas” admittedly have a point there, lol. I will come out and say my mind is still open on the matter. I’m re-reading some of Ken Wilber’s stuff in hopes of seeing some kind of framework, where spirit is not completely dismissed or relegated to the “for entertainment purposes only” section. His AQAL diagram and theories are quite interesting. And a bit more nuanced than the usual subjective vs objective perspective.

    If the OP determines that this question is off-topic, it would at least be interesting to discuss in a new thread.Galuchat
    Oh good Lord golly, by all means continue! Definitely part of the topic, probably an interesting and important one at that, IMHO. We can proceed here if you’d like, and if the topic seems ready to fork into a burgeoning new thread, then by all means to so. Whatever you think best! :up:
  • 0 thru 9
    772

    Very interesting and honest reply you have written. Most appreciated. (If I can, later I’ll go into more detail).
  • 0 thru 9
    772
    To poll or not to poll... For what it is worth, I am mildly considering the possibility of running a poll asking whether forum members believe spirit exists (in some form or another) or not. If I did, it’d probably be in a new thread. But not at the moment, because the word “spirit” would understandably need to be defined in some way. First things first. (That’s mostly what this thread is about, of course.) There could be several variations of the definition of spirit to choose from in this poll perhaps, to capture more than just one shade of meaning. Binary, black or white, yes or no choices seem a tad absolutist or stingy to me, at least if there is some other option.

    So... Would a poll like this have any use? What input / suggestions do you have concerning questions such a poll might have? What definition(s) of “spirit” could be used? Just wondering if this approach might give a tangible goal to an admittedly intangible subject. And perhaps yield some results not yet seen in this thread, or others similar to it... Thanks!
  • Devans99
    1.5k
    To poll or not to poll... For what it is worth, I am mildly considering the possibility of running a poll asking whether forum members believe spirit exists (in some form or another) or not.0 thru 9

    Maybe ask first whether the non-material can exist. I'm of the opinion that it can (https://thephilosophyforum.com/discussion/5606/could-god-be-non-material). Maybe ask if the spirit world can interact with the real world. Maybe ask if they (or anyone they know) has ever seen a ghost (or aliens might be interesting too).
  • 0 thru 9
    772

    Reveal
    I think the problem is I wouldn't know how to make the difference between reality and imagination, between what exists and what does not. Sure I can believe that something is real and that some other thing is imaginary, I can believe that something exists and some other thing doesn't, but how can I know if I'm not mistaken? How can I know if I'm wrong, how can I know if there isn't something I haven't noticed yet that makes me wrong?

    I'm saying this, because it seems what we classify as real or not, what we classify as existing or not, is based a lot on conventions. Usually we say something is real when most people agree they're experiencing it. And the things that are experienced by only one person, or by a small minority, we say they are imagination, that they do not exist, but all we're saying really is they do not exist for the majority. But they do exist for the minority experiencing it, they are real for them.

    Then this leads me to think, what we call the material world is the subset of experiences that the majority somewhat agrees on. But what makes experiences that the majority agrees on any more real than those experienced by a minority? It's always real to the subject experiencing it. It's only after the fact that the subject might say, ok this experience wasn't real, it was just my imagination, but in saying that how are we saying anything more than we can't fit well this experience into the range of experiences that we deem to be real?

    I just can't clearly make a difference between reality and imagination that is devoid of convention. Experiences that the majority deems to be imagination do have the power to have a 'real' impact on the person experiencing it, on how they behave on how they feel, so we can't say that what's 'real' is what has an observable effect. To materialists any experience we have corresponds to electrons firing in the brain, different patterns of electron motion correspond to different experiences, there is a one-to-one equivalence, but if we start from that premise then how can there ever be a distinction between reality and imagination? From that premise every experience is on the same level of reality, there is nothing to differentiate between a world that is real and a world that is not.

    So I feel like I can't hang on to any stable conception of reality. What people call the material world seems to me to be a range of experiences that they somewhat agree on. What people call the spiritual world seems to me to be another range of experiences that they somewhat agree on. Different people have different ideas about what experiences they classify as real and what experiences they classify as imaginary. And it seems that all we can ever do is relate experiences to one another, find relationships within our experiences, commonalities, similarities, and that it is meaningless to talk about what exists or what is real in some absolute sense, it is always subjective, what we experience is real to us, what is part of our experiences exists to us.

    If there is something I sometimes see with my eyes closed but never when my eyes are open, do I have to call it imaginary, not part of the 'real' world, or can't I simply say that it is real to me? That sometimes I do see it, that when I do see it it exists, and when I don't see it it exists as a memory, just like there are things I sometimes see with my eyes open but never when my eyes are closed, what makes these things any more real? They're more real just because there are more people who say they see these things than the others? How does this make reality anything more than a social convention?
    leo


    Thanks again for taking the time to respond. Since you wrote the post in an honestly subjective way and neatly avoided any sweeping statements or assertions (usually easier said than done), I can’t disagree with any of it. Even if a phrase or two of it hasn’t been in my particular experience or my current opinion, which is to be expected. (I appreciate good questions as much good answers, if not more so. A good question is like the beginning of a favorite movie, where a new world and characters unfold before one. The answer is like the finale or resolution of the movie, and while necessary and perhaps climatic, signifies a closing up of the story and it particular created world.)

    Anyway, in reply to your post... I would agree that it is a tightrope we walk between reality and fantasy, between the subject and the objective. Not saying that the subjective tends to be unreal fantasy, and the objective is always factual and real. Or maybe it is like being in a hall of mirrors... subjects looking at objects reflecting subjects... Anyway one puts it, if a every type of spade could simply be called a spade, the need for further speculation and clarification would have ended millennia ago. Or maybe it is like Alice in Wonderland...

    So we are in a world that is arguably so multi-dimensional that we cannot even reach a consensus on how many dimensions there are. Add to the mix that everything is constantly changing, though sometimes imperceptibly. So usually the best I can do is have some “yardsticks” to hopefully gain some perspective. As mentioned above, I find Ken Wilber’s quadrants and levels to be helpful concerning organizing phenomena into both the “interior and exterior”, and the “individual and collective”. (And all within a handy sliding scale that fits neatly into your pocket, lol.) It seems to give validity to the areas of matter, mind, and spirt simultaneously as fairly and distinctly as one could hope for. But no diagram or model of the universe is without its compromises, of course.

    There are some other models and metrics I have found useful. The Buddhist concept of the Two Truths, the Absolute and the Relative, is simple yet elegant. Pithy yet profound. As is the concept of Yin and Yang. Like is said of chess, it takes an hour to learn, but a lifetime to master (and explore, and explore some more... )
  • 0 thru 9
    772

    Interesting. Thank you for the feedback on the idea of a poll. Wil be considering your suggestions and ideas. :victory:
  • christian2017
    177


    "Thanks again for taking the time to respond. Since you wrote the post in an honestly subject way and neatly avoided any sweeping statements or assertions (usually easier said than done), I can’t disagree with any of it. Even if a phrase or two of it hasn’t been in my particular experience or my current opinion, which is to be expected. (I appreciate good questions as much good answers, if not more so. A good question is like the beginning of a favorite movie, where a new world and characters unfold before one. The answer is like the finale or resolution of the movie, and while necessary and perhaps climatic, signifies a closing up of the story and it particular created world.)

    Anyway, in reply to your post... I would agree that it is a tightrope we walk between reality and fantasy, between the subject and the objective. Not saying that the subjective tends to be unreal fantasy, and the objective is always factual and real. Or maybe it is like being in a hall of mirrors... subjects looking at objects reflecting subjects... Anyway one puts it, if a every type of spade could simply be called a spade, the need for further speculation and clarification would have ended millennia ago. Or maybe it is like Alice in Wonderland...

    So we are in a world that is arguably so multi-dimensional that we cannot even reach a consensus on how many dimensions there are. Add to the mix that everything is constantly changing, though sometimes imperceptibly. So usually the best I can do is have some “yardsticks” to hopefully gain some perspective. As mentioned above, I find Ken Wilber’s quadrants and levels to be helpful concerning organizing phenomena into both the “interior and exterior”, and the “individual and collective”. (And all within a handy sliding scale that fits neatly into your pocket, lol.) It seems to give validity to the areas of matter, mind, and spirt simultaneously as fairly and distinctly as one could hope for. But no diagram or model of the universe is without its compromises, of course.

    There are some other models and metrics I have found useful. The Buddhist concept of the Two Truths, the Absolute and the Relative, is simple yet elegant. Pithy yet profound. As is the concept of Yin and Yang. Like is said of chess, it takes an hour to learn, but a lifetime to master (and explore, and explore some more... ) "

    that was well said.
  • 0 thru 9
    772

    Muchos gracias! :smile:
  • Pattern-chaser
    950
    Maybe ask first whether the non-material can exist. I'm of the opinion that it canDevans99

    Me too. :up: My concept of (say) justice is non-material, but it exists. It doesn't exist physically, of course, but you didn't mean that, did you?
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