## The simplest things

• 1.9k
I think it is demonstrably true that the ultimate constituents of reality are simple, immaterial objects. Furthermore, we ourselves are objects of such a kind.

Here is the first argument:

Argument A:

A1. If all actual events are caused by other events, then there is an actual infinity of events
A2. There is not an actual infinity of events
A3. Therefore not all actual events are caused by other events
A4. Any actual event is either caused by another event (event-causation), or it is caused by an object that has not itself been caused to do the causing ('substance-causation').
A5. Therefore, some actual events are caused by objects that have not themselves been caused to do the causing

Here is the second argument:

Argument B

B1. If all existent objects are complex, then there will be an actual infinity of objects
B2. There is no actual infinity of objects
B3. Therefore some existent objects are not complex (that is, some existent objects are simple)

Here is the third argument:

Argument C

C1. If an existent object is simple, then it has not been caused to exist (for there is nothing more basic from which it could be constructed)
C2. There are some existent simple objects (see argument B above)
C3. Therefore, the simple objects that exist have not been caused to exist
C4. All existent objects have either been caused to exist, or exist by their own nature
C5. Therefore, the simple objects that exist, have not been caused to exist

Here is the fourth argument:

Argument D

D1. If an object is material (extended in space), then it is divisible
D2. Simple objects are indivisible
D3. Therefore, the simple objects that exist are not material objects

Clearly the objects that are ultimately responsible for all the events that occur - the objects described in A5 - will be objects that have not been caused to exist, for otherwise the causes of their existence will themselves have been caused to exist (which will once more create an actual infinity of objects or causes). So, the objects described in A5 will be among the objects described in B3 (which are also the objects described in C5 and D3). That is, the objects that are ultimately responsible for all the events that occur are simple, uncreated, immaterial objects.

We ourselves appear to be objects of precisely this kind, as this argument (and many others) shows:

Argument E.

E1. If an object is indivisible, then it is simple, immaterial and has not been caused to exist
E2. My mind is indivisible.
E3. Therefore, my mind is a simple, immaterial object that has not been caused to exist

It does not follow from this that 'we' are the ultimate causes of every event that occurs, or even that the ultimate causes of all events are minds (for though all minds appear to be simple things, it does not follow that all simple things are minds). But it does mean that we have, in ourselves, an example of the kind of things that are, in fact, responsible for every event that occurs.

Anyway, at the moment each of those arguments appears to be both valid and sound, for in each case the premises seem better supported by reason than their opposites.
• 3.6k
Sure. Care to define some terms? What's an "event"? What is "actually"? Or, if "actually" means what it usually means, then what does it mean in your usage? Infinity v. "actual" infinity? Are "events" and "actual events" the same thing?

What does it mean to say there is an object "not caused to do the causing"?

Same business with "existent." Are objects and "existent objects" the same thing?

This just to start; there's so much more....
• 1.6k
My mind is indivisible.

That's one point I'd contest if I were a psychiatrist-philosopher.
• 1.6k
E1. If an object is indivisible, then it is simple, immaterial and has not been caused to exist
E2. My mind is indivisible.

Simple objects are not capable to function. They are simple; they don't have component parts, as per being a simple, indivisible thing. Only those things can function (I.e. respond with different responses to different causation) that are not simple. My mind (please, don't accuse me of speaking for you, Bartricks) is capable to function in different ways in different circumstances of impressions. Therefore my mind is not simple, and therefore it is not indivisible.
• 1.6k
B2. There is no actual infinity of objects

This is a point of contention; we have no data of an observed infinity of objects, but it is not inconceivable that there is an actual infinity of objects.
• 1.9k
I think it is inconceivable - how can you conceive of an actual infinity? But even if an actual infinity of something is conceivable, that does not mean it actually exists.

To challenge my argument you need to claim that there is an actual infinity of something - and provide evidence in support of it.

If a theory generates an infinite regress, presumably you accept that this is a problem - that is, it provides a reasonable ground for thinking the theory is false.

Why? Surely it is because an infinite regress is no more or less than an actual infinity - which our reason tells us is something that does not exist in reality. Thus a theory that commits itself to the existence of an actual infinity is not a theory about reality.
• 1.9k
Care to define some terms?

No. If you think a premise is false, why not just say and explain why - given your definition of the term - it is false. Otherwise I think you're just being tedious, as I think you know full well what the terms mean.

I have no definition of an event. An event is an event. A happening. What's the definition of a happening? Why, a happening is an event. An occurrence. What's the definition of an occurrence? It's an event. And on and on.

This is why dictionaries don't solve philosophical problems.

Anyway, whatever an event is, is there an actual infinity of them? No. There's no actual infinity of anything, is there? So, there's no actual infinity of events.

What does 'actual' mean, you ask. Well, have you actually had an extra-marital affair? If you know what I've just asked you, then you know what 'actually' means.

So, stop being tedious or I'll ask you to define every. single. word. you. use. Including, of course, any and all you use in any definition you give.
• 1.9k
That's one point I'd contest if I were a psychiatrist-philosopher.

Er, why?
• 1.9k
Simple objects are not capable to function.

I don't know what you mean - do you mean they're not capable of causing anything?

That's question begging. They must be, beause otherwise nothing happens - and something is clearly happening.

Another way to illustrate the falsity of what you've said: clearly you think this does not apply to complex objects (unless, that is, you think nothing at all ever happens). That is, complex objections can cause things. But how can a complex object cause anything if the simple objects from which it is composed are unable to cause anything? I mean, how could the simple objects composing any complex objects causally interact if they're causally impotent?
• 3.6k
No. If you think a premise is false, why not just say and explain why - given your definition of the term - it is false. Otherwise I think you're just being tedious, as I think you know full well what the terms mean.
I have no definition of an event. An event is an event. A happening. What's the definition of a happening? Why, a happening is an event. An occurrence. What's the definition of an occurrence? It's an event. And on and on.
You apparently think you know what an "event" is, and what "cause"means. It's clear you do not. Your non-interest means you're not interested in your own argument, and you don't really care what the words do or do not mean. Very well. I refute your arguments, premises and conclusions, thus: bleh-bleh-bleh-bleh-bleh. QED.
• 4.7k

Argument A
1a. If all objects are caused then infinity exists
2a. Infinity doesn't exist
Ergo
3a. Some objects are not caused

Argument B
1b. If all objects are complex then infinity exists
2b. Infinity doesn't exist
So
3b. Some objects are simple

Argument C
1c. If a simple thing is material then simple things must be divisible
2c. Simple things aren't divisible
So,
3c. Simple things are immaterial

Argument D
1d. If a simple thing is caused then there must something simpler to cause it
2d. There is nothing simpler than a simple thing
So,
3d. A simple thing is uncaused

Argument E
1e. If the mind is indivisible then it is simple, uncaused & immaterial
2e. The mind is indivisible
So,
3e. The mind is simple, uncaused & immaterial

Well, you haven't proved any of the premises in your final argument, E. A survey of your preceding arguments have the following conclusions:
3a. Some objects are uncaused
3b. Some objects are simple
3c. Simple things are immaterial
3d. A simple thing is uncaused

Where's 1e and 2e in them???

You should've tried to prove that the mind is a simple thing, from which would follow that it's immaterial and uncaused.

Also, you rely heavily on infinity, specifically that it doesn't exist. I guess you're referring to an actual physical infinity here and if you are no one really knows whether actual infinities exist or not.
• 1.9k
You apparently think you know what an "event" is, and what "cause"means. It's clear you do not.

What do you mean by "You"? And "Apparently"? And "Think"? And then you say "you" again, without defining it.

Dictionaries - why oh why have philosophers been arguing over things for millennia, when the answers were all in dictionaries? Where have you been all this time, Tim?
• 1.9k
You haven't challenged a premise. Challenge one. Make a case against one.

Note, pointing out that my arguments have undefended premises is a point you can make about any. argument. whatever.
• 4.7k
I did. The final argument is logically disconnected from the rest of the arguments you made.
• 1.9k
I don't follow. Each argument was deductively valid, yes? And you've yet to raise any reasonable doubt about any premise of any of them. You've just told me that if I demonstrated the mind to be simple, it would follow that it is immaterial and uncause.d

er, that's precisely - precisely - what I did!!
• 4.7k
I don't follow. Each argument was deductively valid, yes? And you've yet to raise any reasonable doubt about any premise of any of them. You've just told me that if I demonstrated the mind to be simple, it would follow that it is immaterial and uncause.d

er, that's precisely - precisely - what I did!!

Well, what's your proof that the mind is indivisible?
• 1.9k
My reason - and yours too - represents it to be indivisible.

For example, you attribute a mind to me - yes? You can't attribute 'half' a mind to me though, can you? I mean, that makes no sense (apart from the colloquial use of 'half a mind' - when it means 'half a desire-to').
• 4.7k
My reason - and yours too - represents it to be indivisible.

For example, you attribute a mind to me - yes? You can't attribute 'half' a mind to me though, can you? I mean, that makes no sense (apart from the colloquial use of 'half a mind' - when it means 'half a desire-to').

For that to work you'll have to prove that the mind is immaterial. I don't think you've done that.
• 1.9k
no, if it is indivisible - which it is - then it is immaterial, for anything material is divisible.

You're just ignoring the arguments I gave. If an object is indivisible, then it is simple. If it is simple it is immaterial. So, evidence that my mind is indivisible is, eo ipso, evidence that it is immaterial.
• 4.7k
no, if it is indivisible - which it is - then it is immaterial, for anything material is divisible.

Not really. Begging the question. The proposition that needs to be proved is that the mind is indivisible for your argument to work. To do that you need to prove that the mind is immaterial. You can't use indivisibility as evidence of immaterialness because that would be circular.
• 1.9k
Oh, this is tedious.

Evidence that the mind is indivisible: it appears to be.

Evidence that the mind is immaterial: it is indivisible.

Now, perhaps you think that for something to be evidence, there needs to be evidence that it is evidence.

In that case your view generates an infinite regress and thus amounts to the belief that nothing is evidence for anything. Which is stupid.
• 4.7k
Oh, this is tedious.

Evidence that the mind is indivisible: it appears to be.

Evidence that the mind is immaterial: it is indivisible.

Now, perhaps you think that for something to be evidence, there needs to be evidence that it is evidence.

In that case your view generates an infinite regress and thus amounts to the belief that nothing is evidence for anything. Which is stupid.

Argument E.

E1. If an object is indivisible, then it is simple, immaterial and has not been caused to exist
E2. My mind is indivisible.
E3. Therefore, my mind is a simple, immaterial object that has not been caused to exist

What I'm trying to say is that you should first prove the mind is simple because being immaterial and being uncaused follows from being simple, not from indivisibility. Instead you straightaway claim that the mind is indivisible and none of your preceding arguments have a proposition that allows you to take the necessary step to the proposition that the mind is simple, immaterial object that has not been caused to exist.
• 1.9k
Why would I listen to your advice about how to argue, when you don't seem to know how to argue?

If something is simple it is indivisible. And if something is indivisible, it is simple.

So, if my mind is indivisible - and the evidence is that it is - then it is simple.

Simple.
• 1.9k
Instead you straightaway claim that the mind is indivisible and none of your preceding arguments have a proposition that allows you to take the necessary step to the proposition that the mind is simple, immaterial object that has not been caused to exist.

Again, just obviously false.

First, every argument has premises. So, if every premise in an argument has to have an argument in its favour, then proofs would require infinite premises, infinite arguments. That's stupid.

One of my premises is that my mind is indivisible.

What's my evidence that my mind is indivisible?

My evidence is that my reason represents it to be.

Now, if something is indivisible, it is simple. Why? Because if it was complex then we could divide it into its parts.

So, if something is indivisible, it has no parts, and thus is simple.

If something is material, it is divisible. Why? Because something material occupies some space, and if something occupies some space it can be divided (for any region of space can be divided)

Thus if something is indivisible it is not material. And if something is simple - which it will be if it is indivisible - then it is not material.

Thus, my mind is simple and immaterial. And as something simple is not caused to exist, my mind - being simple - has not been caused to exist.
• 8
One possibility is that "mind" is a word we use to describe the sum output of all human brain processes.

An (admittedly imperfect, but sufficiently illustrative) analogy is the way you're looking at this webpage right now. It appears to be some boxes, with some text, icons, a few buttons. Relatively simple. You can even think of it as one thing in your mind: "a webpage."

But in reality it is the product of many lines of html, css, and javascript code, which are themselves a summary of many, many lines of lower-level machine code. Not only that, this whole thing results from a dynamic process of information transfer via the internet (with its own complexities of how that all works), as well as physical hardware processing by your individual computer (binary switches on circuitboards, etc. etc.).

None of that do you perceive. Your perception of the webpage is "simple" because it is the simplified outcome, the result, of a vastly complex process. Just as it would be a mistake to confidently make assertions about the nature of webpages based on your perception of the webpage, I contend that it is a mistake to make assertions about the nature of "mind" based on your own experience of "the mind."

"That's all well and good," you may respond, "but what reason do we have to think that minds are, in fact, simplified outputs resulting from complex processes?" And there I would point you toward neuroscience and psychology. I could expand on this further, but I'll leave it there for now.
• 1.9k
One possibility is that "mind" is a word we use to describe the sum output of all human brain processes.

That's not how the word is traditionally used and it is not how I am using it. It means 'that which bears our conscious experiences".

So, it refers to an 'object' not a 'process'.

If there are percepts, there is a thing that is doing the perceiving. If there are thoughts, there is a thinker. If there are desires, there is a desirer.

It is that thing - whatever it may be - the thinker, the desirer, the perceiver - that I am using the word 'mind' to refer to.

Thinking is a process. But the thinker is not. The thinker is the one who is engaging in the process known as thinking.

And it is that thing that my reason represents to be indivisible, and thus simple and immaterial and uncaused.
• 4.7k
Why would I listen to your advice about how to argue, when you don't seem to know how to argue?

If something is simple it is indivisible. And if something is indivisible, it is simple.

So, if my mind is indivisible - and the evidence is that it is - then it is simple.

Simple.

I'm not advicing you. Sorry if it seemed that way. Your argument was complex.

Nothing too is simple, indivisible, immaterial and uncaused according to you.

Therefore, since the mind hasn't been identified in a unique sense (it's exactly the same as nothing), we can't decide whether you're talking about nothing or the mind.
• 934
@Bartricks

You claim that an actual infinity does not exist. Does an actual mind exist?
• 1.9k
Yes, lots of them do. Mine does. Yours does too - I mean, you're thinking right now, and those thoughts have a mind that is having them, namely 'your' mind. So your mind exists, mine does, lots of them do.
• 934

Thinking is a brain process. No brain => no thinking. Fact.
• 1.9k
Nothing is not a thing. So saying it is indivisible is a category error.

But even if nothing were a thing - and it isn't - and an indivisible thing, what would follow from that is that 'nothing' (the thing that is nothing) is simple and immaterial.

This would do nothing to challenge my case, however, as I have not argued that all simple, immaterial, uncaused things are minds (so my case is consistent with 'nothing' - if nothing is a thing, which it isn't - also being indivisible and thus simple). I have argued that simple, immaterial uncaused things are causally responsible for everything else that exists, and I have argued that our minds are simple, immaterial uncaused things. But I have not concluded that therefore simple, immaterial uncaused things are minds, or that our minds are responsible for all else that exists. I said explicitly that this did not follow, only that they are candidates for that role.
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