20Nov / 2014
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“When some one says the world is made of matter or is physical, it seems to be a huge claim as to the nature of reality or existence which seems to be rather arrogant like the claim that the world has been created for humans or that the whole universe revolves around the Earth ( Do not forget that these claims seemed very reasonable at one time) . I make no claim of knowing as to the nature of all that exists whether it is physical or mental or some thing else.
I am inclined to think that all physical objects are at least partly subject (cognizer) dependent.”
What you are inclined to think is surely correct. The world that we talk about is made of experience, not matter. Matter is the name we give to certain kinds of experiences we can have. Physics, chemistry, and biology study certain domains of experience, not some world of material objects that exists independently of experience. To attempt the latter is impossible.
Materialists take one aspect of experience and absolutize it, thereby committing a reductionism that has never enjoyed a consensus of philosophical and scientific opinion. Experience involves 3 fundamental components: (1) a person (I, first person perspective) that is aware of or conscious of something, (2) the something that the person is aware of, and (3) the process by which the awareness is happening. Consider item (2). If the object is external to the person – a material thing – it can be studied by the physical sciences from an objective or third-person perspective. If the object is interior to the person – say a belief or a pain, it cannot be studied from a third-person but only from a first-person or subjective perspective. Turning to item (3), the process of an experience normally has an exterior (physical) aspect, e.g. brain activity. That is correlated simultaneously with the interior aspect, e.g. my seeing, hearing, or thinking, etc.
Materialists, especially neuromaniacs, like to ignore the first component – the self, the first-person perspective – or, even worse, claim it doesn’t exist (P. Churchland), thereby committing a performative contradiction. I have for a long time imagined asking a neuromaniac to look me in the eye and say, “I am not aware of anything right now.” Denying the first person perspective entails denying the interior aspect of experience or reducing it to the physical. The first option makes the philosopher into a zombie (“I am not now and never have been aware of anything,” to which the only appropriate response is laughter). The second option entails the claim that the interior or mental aspects of experience – beliefs, perceptions, etc., do exist, but they are illusions (D. Dennett). Why I should pay attention to a philosopher whose interior life is illusory is not explained. The illusion theory also unfortunately implies that the very neurosciences these philosophers admire so much are illusory, since all sciences consist of perceptions and thoughts.
The absurdity of materialism renders it deserving of the title of B. Kastrup’s book, “Materialism is Baloney,” in which the author not only demolishes materialism but makes a strong case for idealism, the metaphysical position that says mind is the ground of being; the universe is basically mental in nature, not physical. In my version, mind and experience are synonyms. The universe we talk and think about is made of experiences. Any other universe is just an abstraction.
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Welcome again, Thank you very much for this comment. Your comments help my spiritual growth and I look forward to putting my uncertainties and questions for your critical thought .
At present my main interest is in understanding Kant’s so called Copernican revolution in thought and it’s implications. I think Kant did for human thought what Copernicus did for astronomy.
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