The Self-Contradictory Definition of Physicalism and the Indeterminate Nature of the Physical

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The Self-Contradictory Definition of Physicalism and the Indeterminate Nature of the Physical

(To a large extent, this thread will serve as a critique of "physicalism" as defined in Wikipedia.)

Wikipedia defines physicalism (a.k.a. materialism) as follows:

Quote:

Physicalism is a philosophical position holding that everything which exists is no more extensive than its physical properties; that is, that there are no kinds of things other than physical things.

(source: Wikipedia: Physicalism)

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Physicalism

Please note, according to this defintion, that physicalism holds that the only things that exist are PHYSICAL THINGS and that everything "is no more extensive than its PHYSICAL PROPERTIES (emphasis mine)".

Also, Wikipedia states the physicalism is whatever that which is defined by the science of physics:

Quote:

The ontology of physicalism ultimately includes whatever is described by physicsnot just matter but energy, space, time, physical forces, structure, physical processes, information, state, etc.

(source: Wikipedia: Physicalism)

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Physicalism

But "space" and "time" are clearly abstractions, not physical things at all. Also, what about information? Is information a physical thing?

Wikipedia gives the following rationale for why the term "physicalism" is preferred to the term "materialism:"

Quote:

Physicalism is also called "materialism", but the term "physicalism" is preferable because it has evolved with the physical sciences to incorporate far more sophisticated notions of physicality than matter, for example wave/particle relationships and non-material forces produced by particles.

(source: Wikipedia: Physicalism)

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Physicalism

Non-material (i.e. nonphysical) forces? Doesn't that blatantly contadict the definition of physicalism which holds that only the physical exists?  Why call it "physicalism" if you believe in the reality of nonphysical forces?

And what about "matter?" Based on the theory of quantum mechanics, matter has a dualistic nature - namely, it reduces to either waves or particles. Probability waves are clearly mathematical abstractions and are therefore not physical. But what about particles? Well, physics represents particles as geometric points (i.e. abstractions) that have location in space (i.e. a nonphysical aspect) and time (i.e. a nonphysical aspect) but lack dimension (i.e. an immaterial aspect).

But doesn't a particle have "mass?" Yes, but what is mass? Well, mass is matter. But Newton's second law defines mass as follows: m = F/a...where "m" equals mass, "F" equals force, and "a" equals acceleration...Therefore we can conclude that matter (i.e. mass) is actually immaterial  because we have already determined that force is immaterial.

But doesn't Einstein's special theory of relativity hold that matter is convertible with energy? Yes, but what is energy? It would appear that physics doesn't know?

"We have no knowledge of what energy is" - Richard Feynman (Nobel laureate in physics)

It seems to me that physics has reduced the physical world to an abstract process consisting soley of mathematical abstractions.

Merriam-Webster's third defintion of "matter" (listed below) is the one that seems to be most germane to what physics is actually describing.

Quote:

3 a : the indeterminate subject of reality; especially : the element in the universe that undergoes formation and alteration b : the formless substratum of all things which exists only potentially and upon which form acts to produce realities

(source: Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary)

http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/matter

But what is this "form" which acts on this formless substratum to produce all things? Mathematical abstractions?

To speak of mathematical abstractions as having causal-efficacy is sheer nonsense. Moreover, to speak of mathematical abstractions existing independently of a mind that abstracts is unintelligible. However, this is precisely what physicalism (which is based on the language of physics) reduces the physical world to - an abstract process comprised soley of mathematical abstractions.

Lenin (the Marxist revolutionary and Russian communist), realizing that the new advances in physics (i.e. the "theory of relativity" and "quantum mechanics" which I briefly discussed above) were undermining materialism (the metaphysical system upon which Marxism is based), argued that the defining property of the material world is that it is "an objective reality" existing outside the mind.

Quote:

"For the sole 'property' of matter with whose recognition philosophical materialism is bound up is the property of being an objective reality, of existing outside of the mind." - Vladimir Lenin

(source: Wikipedia: Dialectical materialism)

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dialectical_materialism

Okay. For the sake of argument, let's accept this definition of the physical or the material world - that it is "objective."

Wikipedia also defines physicalism as a position in the philosophy of mind which holds that consciousness is physical.

Quote:

In contemporary philosoophy physicalism is most frequently associated with philosophy of mind, in particular the mind/body problem, in which it holds that the mind is a physical thing in all senses. In other words, all that has been ascribed to "mind" is more correctly ascribed to "brain".

(source: Wikipedia: Physicalism)

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Physicalism

However, this position does not hold water. It clearly violates the definition of physicalism - namely, "that everything which exists is no more extensive than its physical properties." Consciousness has no physical properties. Moreover, it violates Lenin's redefinition of materialism because it does not have the property of being objective. Consciousness is not objective; it is subjective.

Now, I have encountered more than a few atheists on this forum who will attempt to salvage materialism by arguing that consciousness is an "emergent property." This is tantamount to invoking "magic." But more than that, emergentism in regards to philosophy of mind is actually a DUALISTIC position because it holds that the mind is IRREDUCIBLE to the physical (i.e. supervenient physicalism) or that it is simply a nonphysical byproduct of the physical (i.e. epiphenomenalism).

Quote:

Emergentism is a theory which came to popularity in the early twentieth century. It is a form of non-reductive supervenience, but one where reality is considered to supervene in a manner more akin to layers, rather than patterns within a single layer, as per later physicalism. These layers are said to be genuinely novel from each other (i.e., the psychological vs. the physical), and is thus a type of dualism.

(source: Wikipedia: Physicalism)

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Physicalism

Quote:

epiphenomenalism, also known as 'Type-E Dualism', is a view according to which some or all mental states are mere epiphenomena (side-effects or by-products) of physical states of the world.

(source: Wikipedia: Epiphenomenalism)

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Epiphenomenalism

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http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/

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Cpt_pineapple

 

Just laughed out loud, thank you for that. 


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Quote:But "space" and "time"

Quote:

But "space" and "time" are clearly abstractions, not physical things at all. Also, what about information? Is information a physical thing?

 

As the article said, those are physical.  Yes, information is physical.  You seem hung up on equating materialism and physicalism; they are not synonymous.  Things that are physical do not need to have 'substance' of some sort.


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But what if the physical properties of

Paisley wrote:

(To a large extent, this thread will serve as a critique of "physicalism" as defined in Wikipedia.)

Wikipedia defines physicalism (a.k.a. materialism) as follows:

Quote:

Physicalism is a philosophical position holding that everything which exists is no more extensive than its physical properties; that is, that there are no kinds of things other than physical things.

(source: Wikipedia: Physicalism)

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Physicalism

Please note, according to this defintion, that physicalism holds that the only things that exist are PHYSICAL THINGS and that everything "is no more extensive than its PHYSICAL PROPERTIES (emphasis mine)".

Also, Wikipedia states the physicalism is whatever that which is defined by the science of physics:

 

a thing are misunderstood or not yet understood at all, Pais? Do you admit there are properties of physical things that are presently beyond our abilities to comprehend and/or to measure? How does this additional complexity impact on your position? Must we not unravel all the unknowns before we reach for supernatural alternatives?

 

(Cap tip to the Marquis, who posed elements of this question elsewhere on the boards).

 

 

 

"Experiments are the only means of knowledge at our disposal. The rest is poetry, imagination." Max Planck


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Atheistextremist

Atheistextremist wrote:

Paisley wrote:

(To a large extent, this thread will serve as a critique of "physicalism" as defined in Wikipedia.)

Wikipedia defines physicalism (a.k.a. materialism) as follows:

Quote:

Physicalism is a philosophical position holding that everything which exists is no more extensive than its physical properties; that is, that there are no kinds of things other than physical things.

(source: Wikipedia: Physicalism)

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Physicalism

Please note, according to this defintion, that physicalism holds that the only things that exist are PHYSICAL THINGS and that everything "is no more extensive than its PHYSICAL PROPERTIES (emphasis mine)".

Also, Wikipedia states the physicalism is whatever that which is defined by the science of physics:

 

a thing are misunderstood or not yet understood at all, Pais? Do you admit there are properties of physical things that are presently beyond our abilities to comprehend and/or to measure? How does this additional complexity impact on your position? Must we not unravel all the unknowns before we reach for supernatural alternatives?

Do you admit that subjective awareness does not qualify as a physical property by virtue of the fact that it is subjective, not objective?

 

 

"Scientists animated by the purpose of proving they are purposeless constitute an interesting subject for study." - Alfred North Whitehead


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Paisley

Paisley wrote:

Atheistextremist wrote:

Paisley wrote:

(To a large extent, this thread will serve as a critique of "physicalism" as defined in Wikipedia.)

Wikipedia defines physicalism (a.k.a. materialism) as follows:

Quote:

Physicalism is a philosophical position holding that everything which exists is no more extensive than its physical properties; that is, that there are no kinds of things other than physical things.

(source: Wikipedia: Physicalism)

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Physicalism

Please note, according to this defintion, that physicalism holds that the only things that exist are PHYSICAL THINGS and that everything "is no more extensive than its PHYSICAL PROPERTIES (emphasis mine)".

Also, Wikipedia states the physicalism is whatever that which is defined by the science of physics:

 

a thing are misunderstood or not yet understood at all, Pais? Do you admit there are properties of physical things that are presently beyond our abilities to comprehend and/or to measure? How does this additional complexity impact on your position? Must we not unravel all the unknowns before we reach for supernatural alternatives?

Do you admit that subjective awareness does not qualify as a physical property by virtue of the fact that it is subjective, not objective?

 

 

Do you admit that it need not have a supernatural origin? (that is your cue to start another thread)

"I do this real moron thing, and it's called thinking. And apparently I'm not a very good American because I like to form my own opinions."
— George Carlin


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jcgadfly wrote:Paisley

jcgadfly wrote:

Paisley wrote:

Do you admit that subjective awareness does not qualify as a physical property by virtue of the fact that it is subjective, not objective?

Do you admit that it need not have a supernatural origin? (that is your cue to start another thread)

Is that a tacit admission that you really do believe consciousness is nonphysical?

"Scientists animated by the purpose of proving they are purposeless constitute an interesting subject for study." - Alfred North Whitehead


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Paisley wrote:jcgadfly

Paisley wrote:

jcgadfly wrote:

Paisley wrote:

Do you admit that subjective awareness does not qualify as a physical property by virtue of the fact that it is subjective, not objective?

Do you admit that it need not have a supernatural origin? (that is your cue to start another thread)

Is that a tacit admission that you really do believe consciousness is nonphysical?

I never said it was physical. It has a physical origin but it is itself not physical.

Now, are you going to show your occasionalism and claim that if something is not physical whatever you call God must have done it? When you flip a light switch, did god move it for you or did your finger perform a non-material action?

"I do this real moron thing, and it's called thinking. And apparently I'm not a very good American because I like to form my own opinions."
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Is subjective awareness physical?

Paisley wrote:

Atheistextremist wrote:


Do you admit there are properties of physical things that are presently beyond our abilities to comprehend and/or to measure? How does this additional complexity impact on your position? Must we not unravel all the unknowns before we reach for supernatural alternatives?

Do you admit that subjective awareness does not qualify as a physical property by virtue of the fact that it is subjective, not objective?

 

Lol. I maintain we don't know the exact answer yet but that the clear connection between consciousness and the physical brain, born out by research, is an indication that the simplest explanation is likely to be true. Our brain's executive centre that allows us to manage our feelings, experiences, thoughts and memories in real time is most likely to have a physical explanation that we do not yet understand.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

"Experiments are the only means of knowledge at our disposal. The rest is poetry, imagination." Max Planck


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That was perfect. I lol'd so hard the neighbour's dog started barking!

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The best defense of

The best defense of physicalism is pragmatism, or, as the saying goes: "Science. It works, bitches!" As such, physicalism is not circular. Show us something that works better, and we'll adopt it. Unfortunately, you can't.

Also, the alleged 'indeterminate nature' of the physical is actually its strength, not a weakness. We know what is physical by testing what is necessary, and we know what is necessary by the pragmatic principle of Occam's Razor. The incredible accuracy and reliability of physics is the result of *adapting* our understanding to the evidence of reality. If our conception of what was physical was set in stone before we even began investigating the universe, then we would never have got as far as we have. Matter would still be 'matter' rather than the more accurate 'matter/energy', etc. While on the surface, it appears to allow for the physical to be a 'shifting sand', in actuality, the evidence consistently mounts to point to a single, stable reality, namely the physical universe. As the data pour in from countless physical studies, the picture of 'the physical' becomes clearer and clearer, more and more stable.

For those interested, I present a very basic encapsulation of how to use physicalism in debates here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_ZLJwauVj0E

Paisley wrote:
Do you admit that subjective awareness does not qualify as a physical property by virtue of the fact that it is subjective, not objective?

Subjectivity objectively exists. This is not difficult to understand for someone not entrenched in dogma.

Subjective awareness is physical. Ask any anaesthesiologist. Physical drugs interact with our subjective experiences. QED.

(This is too easy.)

NEXT!

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 Paisley wrote:The ontology

 

Paisley wrote:
The ontology of physicalism ultimately includes whatever is described by physicsnot just matter but energy, space, time, physical forces, structure, physical processes, information, state, etc.

(source: Wikipedia: Physicalism)

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Physicalism

Believe it or not, that quote actually answers most of your questions.
Anything that is described by physics is "physical".
I know it can often be synonymous for "material" in layman usage, but when used in the philosophical sense (i.e. how it's being used in these debates) it means anything described by physics.
 

Paisley wrote:
But "space" and "time" are clearly abstractions, not physical things at all.

Space and time are described mathematically by physics, are part of a physical description of the world and therefore part of "physicalism".
That said, I wouldn't call them "existing things" either, I'd more consider them the structure within which there is existence.
i.e. when we talk of "things" "existing", we're talking about them having a place within space and time.


Paisley wrote:
Also, what about information? Is information a physical thing?

Information is described by physics.
Again, it's more a part of the description rather than a "thing" itself.


Paisley wrote:
Non-material (i.e. nonphysical) forces?

Um... last I heard, forces were described by physics and are therefore physical...


Paisley wrote:
"We have no knowledge of what energy is" - Richard Feynman (Nobel laureate in physics)

Maybe so, but it is still described by physics, so it's therefore physical.

Paisley wrote:
It seems to me that physics has reduced the physical world to an abstract process consisting soley of mathematical abstractions.

Physics describes the world in a mathematical language.
You seem to go from "x is described using mathematics" to "x itself is mathematics".
Non sequiter mon ami!!

To be honest, your criticisms of Physicalism have so far amounted to word play.
Even after posting that snippet on why people are "physicalists" rather than "materialists", you still kept trying to identifying them as the same thing and making the inference "non-material => non-physical".
Anyhow, moving on to philosophy of mind:

Paisley wrote:
However, [physicalism] does not hold water. It clearly violates the definition of physicalism - namely, "that everything which exists is no more extensive than its physical properties." Consciousness has no physical properties. Moreover, it violates Lenin's redefinition of materialism because it does not have the property of being objective. Consciousness is not objective; it is subjective.

Now, I have encountered more than a few atheists on this forum who will attempt to salvage materialism by arguing that consciousness is an "emergent property." This is tantamount to invoking "magic." But more than that, emergentism in regards to philosophy of mind is actually a DUALISTIC position because it holds that the mind is IRREDUCIBLE to the physical (i.e. supervenient physicalism) or that it is simply a nonphysical byproduct of the physical (i.e. epiphenomenalism).

As it happens, I'm kind of an emergentist myself.
I agree that mental concepts like "consciousness" and "thought" don't refer to physical entities.
You're right that emergentists often say "consciousness emerges from the physical" without really explaining the link, thereby making it seem magical.

If you're interest I could give you my own take on the connection.


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jcgadfly wrote:Paisley

jcgadfly wrote:

Paisley wrote:

jcgadfly wrote:

Paisley wrote:

Do you admit that subjective awareness does not qualify as a physical property by virtue of the fact that it is subjective, not objective?

Do you admit that it need not have a supernatural origin? (that is your cue to start another thread)

Is that a tacit admission that you really do believe consciousness is nonphysical?

I never said it was physical. It has a physical origin but it is itself not physical.

Then you are a dualist who subscribes to strong emergence and therefore to "magic."

jcgadfly wrote:

Now, are you going to show your occasionalism and claim that if something is not physical whatever you call God must have done it? When you flip a light switch, did god move it for you or did your finger perform a non-material action?

I understand occasionalism to mean a complete denial of "efficient causation."  Where have I stated a  disbelief in efficient causation?

"Scientists animated by the purpose of proving they are purposeless constitute an interesting subject for study." - Alfred North Whitehead


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Atheistextremist

Atheistextremist wrote:

Paisley wrote:

Do you admit that subjective awareness does not qualify as a physical property by virtue of the fact that it is subjective, not objective?

Lol. I maintain we don't know the exact answer yet

How is it that you don't know whether or not subjective awareness qualifies as an objective (that's how we define the physical) property?

 

 

"Scientists animated by the purpose of proving they are purposeless constitute an interesting subject for study." - Alfred North Whitehead


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Ok - fine.

 

Ok - fine. I know I have subjective awareness within myself - in my subjective awareness. And I also know if you hit me on the head with a hammer, my subjective awareness would stop. Researchers could stick electrode pads to my skull and see the change in brain patterns indicative of my non awareness. They could objectively test for the electrical signals of my no longer present subjective awareness and measure the lack of them.

 

 

 

"Experiments are the only means of knowledge at our disposal. The rest is poetry, imagination." Max Planck


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Everything that exist can be

Everything that exist can be described in both subjective and objective terms.  For instance a tree.  I can talk about the beauty of a tree, or I can describe it's cellular structure.  Either way I am still talking about the tree, and the tree is still physical. 


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natural wrote:The best

natural wrote:

The best defense of physicalism is pragmatism, or, as the saying goes: "Science. It works, bitches!" As such, physicalism is not circular. Show us something that works better, and we'll adopt it. Unfortunately, you can't.

William James (the American psychologist and proponent of philosophical pragmatism) argued for the pragmatism of religious faith. Therefore, I trust that you will agree that religious faith has pragmatic value.

natural wrote:

Also, the alleged 'indeterminate nature' of the physical is actually its strength, not a weakness. We know what is physical by testing what is necessary, and we know what is necessary by the pragmatic principle of Occam's Razor.

Then I trust you will consider the belief in the  "indeterminate" nature of God to be a strength of the believer, not a weakness. And when we ask the question: "Why is there something rather than nothing?" The most parsimonious explanation is God. Certainly, William of Ockham would have agreed because he was, after all, a Christian monk.

natural wrote:

The incredible accuracy and reliability of physics is the result of *adapting* our understanding to the evidence of reality. If our conception of what was physical was set in stone before we even began investigating the universe, then we would never have got as far as we have. Matter would still be 'matter' rather than the more accurate 'matter/energy', etc. While on the surface, it appears to allow for the physical to be a 'shifting sand', in actuality, the evidence consistently mounts to point to a single, stable reality, namely the physical universe. As the data pour in from countless physical studies, the picture of 'the physical' becomes clearer and clearer, more and more stable.

When you redefine the physical so that it is compatible with the nonphyiscal, then you render both terms meaningless.

natural wrote:

Paisley wrote:
Do you admit that subjective awareness does not qualify as a physical property by virtue of the fact that it is subjective, not objective?

Subjectivity objectively exists. This is not difficult to understand for someone not entrenched in dogma.

Subjectivity exists (as made evident by our first-person experience). But is does not objectively exist. If it does, then you have failed to provide evidence for this or even an explanation of how this may occur.

Eliminative materialists (e.g. Daniel Dennett and Georges Rey) deny the existence of subjective experience because the subjective is not objective and the dogma of scientific materialism demands that only the objective is real.

natural wrote:

Subjective awareness is physical. Ask any anaesthesiologist. Physical drugs interact with our subjective experiences. QED.

(This is too easy.)

NEXT!

It only appears too easy for you because you are held spellbound by an illusion of knowledge - conflating an assumption with an established fact.

There is no scientific means to objectively test for the presence of consciousness. And many would argue that this would be impossible in theory. Why? Because subjective awareness is not objective. Such is the nature of the problem.

Quote:

As there is no clear definition of consciousness and no empirical measure exists to test for its presence, it has been argued that due to the nature of the problem of consciousness, empirical tests are intrinsically impossible.

(source: Wikipedia: Consciousness)

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Consciousness

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RatDog wrote:Everything that

RatDog wrote:

Everything that exist can be described in both subjective and objective terms.  For instance a tree.  I can talk about the beauty of a tree, or I can describe it's cellular structure.  Either way I am still talking about the tree, and the tree is still physical. 

Subjectivity (i.e. subjective awareness) itself cannot be explained or even described in objective terms.

"Scientists animated by the purpose of proving they are purposeless constitute an interesting subject for study." - Alfred North Whitehead


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Paisley wrote:RatDog

Paisley wrote:

RatDog wrote:

Everything that exist can be described in both subjective and objective terms.  For instance a tree.  I can talk about the beauty of a tree, or I can describe it's cellular structure.  Either way I am still talking about the tree, and the tree is still physical. 

Subjectivity (i.e. subjective awareness) itself cannot be explained or even described in objective terms.

Yes it can.  Any explanation for the existence of subjective awareness describes subjective awareness in objective terms.  This includes supernatural explanations such as god.  Unless you are saying god is a purely subjective experience. 


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Paisley wrote:William James

Paisley wrote:

William James (the American psychologist and proponent of philosophical pragmatism) argued for the pragmatism of religious faith. Therefore, I trust that you will agree that religious faith has pragmatic value.

Despite your preconceived notions, pragmatists can disagree with each other. The pragmatism I speak of is based on prediction. James is old school. Times change.

Quote:
natural wrote:

Also, the alleged 'indeterminate nature' of the physical is actually its strength, not a weakness. We know what is physical by testing what is necessary, and we know what is necessary by the pragmatic principle of Occam's Razor.

Then I trust you will consider the belief in the  "indeterminate" nature of God to be a strength of the believer, not a weakness.

No, and the difference is very clear: While the evidence mounting for physics becomes stronger and stronger pointing towards a single physical reality, the 'evidence' (imagined as it is, via faith) for gods point toward ever more diverse and incompatible gods. Simply put, actual evidence leads to growing agreement, whereas the 'evidence' of faith leads to growing disagreement.

Quote:
And when we ask the question: "Why is there something rather than nothing?" The most parsimonious explanation is God.

The most parsimonious explanation is "We don't know." God is a superfluous entity. It predicts nothing true.

Quote:
Certainly, William of Ockham would have agreed because he was, after all, a Christian monk.

Who would not have survived a day if he ever came out as an atheist in the time that he lived. Besides, just because it's named after him, doesn't mean he was the most consistent at applying it. I'm not defending William of Ockham's theism, I'm simply using a principle that he happened to articulate. I don't consider people infallible. Newton believed in God, too, but that doesn't mean I have to reject calculus or his laws of motion.

Quote:
When you redefine the physical so that it is compatible with the nonphyiscal, then you render both terms meaningless.

When you are incapable of understanding the difference between physical and material, you render yourself irrelevant to the conversation.

Quote:
natural wrote:

Subjectivity objectively exists. This is not difficult to understand for someone not entrenched in dogma.

Subjectivity exists (as made evident by our first-person experience). But is does not objectively exist. If it does, then you have failed to provide evidence for this or even an explanation of how this may occur.

The neuroscience of perception begs to differ.

Quote:
Eliminative materialists (e.g. Daniel Dennett and Georges Rey) deny the existence of subjective experience because the subjective is not objective and the dogma of scientific materialism demands that only the objective is real.

Not this canard again. Dennett denies the existence of *supernatural* subjectivity, not subjectivity altogether.

Quote:
It only appears too easy for you because you are held spellbound by an illusion of knowledge - conflating an assumption with an established fact.

Oh, the irony of projection!

Quote:
There is no scientific means to objectively test for the presence of consciousness.

It's called an EEG. Doctors use them all the time.

Quote:
And many would argue that this would be impossible in theory.

Many people are idiots. Even philosophers.

Quote:
Why? Because subjective awareness is not objective. Such is the nature of the problem.

Such is the nature of a circular argument.

Subjectivity objectively exists, and it is physical. Ask any anaesthesiologist. Go ahead, ask one. I dare you.

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Paisley wrote:jcgadfly

Paisley wrote:

jcgadfly wrote:

Paisley wrote:

jcgadfly wrote:

Paisley wrote:

Do you admit that subjective awareness does not qualify as a physical property by virtue of the fact that it is subjective, not objective?

Do you admit that it need not have a supernatural origin? (that is your cue to start another thread)

Is that a tacit admission that you really do believe consciousness is nonphysical?

I never said it was physical. It has a physical origin but it is itself not physical.

Then you are a dualist who subscribes to strong emergence and therefore to "magic."

jcgadfly wrote:

Now, are you going to show your occasionalism and claim that if something is not physical whatever you call God must have done it? When you flip a light switch, did god move it for you or did your finger perform a non-material action?

I understand occasionalism to mean a complete denial of "efficient causation."  Where have I stated a  disbelief in efficient causation?

I subscribe to magic? Well that might be true except that I can point to the origin and say "it starts here" I can also say that I don't know how it works yet without having to claim a god and stop there. You can't.

When you said that anything non-physical has to be supernatural ("God did it&quotEye-wink - you admitted that "created things cannot be efficient causes". Looks like a denial of efficient causation to me. Or were you saying that only whatever you call god can be an efficient cause?

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Atheistextremist wrote:(Cap

Atheistextremist wrote:

(Cap tip to the Marquis, who posed elements of this question elsewhere on the boards).

 

I once read a text written by what I suppose you could call a Muslim creationist. It began thus: 'This world was created as a work of art for the purpose of teaching man how to gve praise.' I suppose that, overall, you could say the essay in questioning had a panentheistic angle. But more than that, it had a sense of intellectual humility to it; in the sense that it almost immediately acknowledged the fact that man's capacity for understanding the actual universe, as it is, with no fantasy and make-believe attached to it, is very slim indeed. As it happens, this is a view which is shared by all serious physicists.

Ask yourself 'what is the circumference of a Koch snowflake'?

The answer is that this isn't a question, although it looks like one. It is, simply, something which cannot be known. All we can say is that 'it is an infinite length which encompasses a finite area which is exactly 8/5 of the original triangle'. But that is in the abstract world of mathematics. Were we to actually draw up a Koch snowflake, using an (imaginary) magical pen, paper and ruler; we would quite soon approach the atomic scale, which would pose a practical problem. We cannot actually create any physically accurate representation of the Koch snowflake, because the size of the atom limits our possible construction of ever more diminuitive triangles down to a length which equals the diameter of three singular atoms. If we go "inside" the atom - that is to say inside of the area where the electron can be found - we will discover that it is mostly empty space. In fact, if we were to reduce the entire human race (apporoximately 7 billion people) down to their actual "mass", this would occupy a volume no larger than an average sugarcube.

But the seemingly solid atomic nucleus is also a fuzzy thing. At its simplest form, Hydrogen 1, it consists of one proton, which is constructed from two "up quarks" and one "down quark" which in turn are hypothesized to be collapsed wave forms of "superstrings" that are so minute that one of them relates to a millimeter as one millimiter relates to 20 trillion light years. So far, nobody seems to have any desire for anything smaller than that in order to describe the properties of "energy" and "mass". And yet, all this is part of 'physicalism'. It's all a part of reality, which is where we all live and die; housing little but some more or less intelligent questions about the constituents of that which we can observe and experience.

Any person who has - really - looked into the abyss of the very small, or towards the endlessness of the very large, is left with a sense of awe and wonder. We may return to my opening lines and say that they learn how to give praise to the actual reality of existence rather than create monstrous ideas that defies the pattern of structure, constants and vectors of the systems we are able to observe; leaving us with unknowables. And yet there are black holes. We don't know what that is about. We might of course say that it is a region of space where gravity has collapsed into a function which approaches a set of infinities, and be none the wiser. How can a billion suns worth of "mass" be compressed into a sphere which has no surface area? (Which is the closest description I could think of for "a multidimensional point". If there is any mathematician who has a better word, go for it.) Yet, the supermassive black holes that seem to be the "engines" of every galaxy in the universe is definitely a part of 'physicalism'. They are for real.

Personally, I think the idea of "God" is an ugly idea. It provides us with an answer that we have done nothing to deserve. We haven't even formulated the proper question. It is a sociopathic concept that can be used as a free-for-all mechanism for all and any petty tyrant who wishes to assert authority over other people. But een so, God is a part of 'physicalism', insofar that this is a metaphysical concept that exists much like an imaginary value for the circumference of a Koch snowflake exists (it really must exist, right? - for how can a finite area have an infinite circumference?). I.e. as an idea which has the power to inluence your thinking, and, by proxy, how and why people make their decisions in life. I call it an ugly idea because it has obsessive qualities. There is no answer that makes sense - and yet a great number of people can - and will - spend their entire lifetime obsessing over the problem of 'proving' that "God" exists, when in fact it is an unknowable entity. But "God" is no more mysterious than a black hole or a Koch snowflake. As mentioned, I can sympathise with the sentiment which says 'God created the world as a work of art so that man can learn how to give praise'. I have no problem with that, even though I myself think of the property of "belief" as useless in a context of infinites and unknowables. At the end of the day, either way, it boils down to what we actually do in life. Believing in God is unnecessary; unless you need that idea in order to wield power over people. It is possible to give praise to the wonder and beauty of existence without blowing the fuses of your brain with megalomaniac ambitions.

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Marquis wrote:Ask yourself

Marquis wrote:
Ask yourself 'what is the circumference of a Koch snowflake'?

The answer is that this isn't a question, although it looks like one. It is, simply, something which cannot be known. All we can say is that 'it is an infinite length which encompasses a finite area which is exactly 8/5 of the original triangle'. But that is in the abstract world of mathematics. Were we to actually draw up a Koch snowflake, using an (imaginary) magical pen, paper and ruler; we would quite soon approach the atomic scale, which would pose a practical problem. We cannot actually create any physically accurate representation of the Koch snowflake, because the size of the atom limits our possible construction of ever more diminuitive triangles down to a length which equals the diameter of three singular atoms. If we go "inside" the atom - that is to say inside of the area where the electron can be found - we will discover that it is mostly empty space. In fact, if we were to reduce the entire human race (apporoximately 7 billion people) down to their actual "mass", this would occupy a volume no larger than an average sugarcube.[/url]

Interesting stuff.
I'd say that rather than not be known, the perimiter of the Koch Snowflake is Mathematically proven to have an infinite length.
I find it also quite interesting that the existence of an actual Koch Snowflake is a physical impossibility; unless that after atoms break down into quarks, the quarks break down into smaller particles, which break down into smaller particles, and so on ad infinitum.

 

Marquis wrote:
Any person who has - really - looked into the abyss of the very small, or towards the endlessness of the very large, is left with a sense of awe and wonder. We may return to my opening lines and say that they learn how to give praise to the actual reality of existence

clapping


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Paisley wrote:(To a large

Paisley wrote:

(To a large extent, this thread will serve as a critique of "physicalism" as defined in Wikipedia.)


It's an odd definition Wikipedia has there, I think. It seems to be an attempt to absorb neutral monism into materialist philosophy. I mean, there is definitely a material bias in the concept of 'physical', at least as far as I understand it.

 

Quote:

But "space" and "time" are clearly abstractions, not physical things at all. Also, what about information? Is information a physical thing?

absolutely. Information may, indeed, be the only physical thing.

Quote:

Wikipedia gives the following rationale for why the term "physicalism" is preferred to the term "materialism:"

Quote:

Physicalism is also called "materialism", but the term "physicalism" is preferable because it has evolved with the physical sciences to incorporate far more sophisticated notions of physicality than matter, for example wave/particle relationships and non-material forces produced by particles.

(source: Wikipedia: Physicalism)

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Physicalism

Non-material (i.e. nonphysical) forces? Doesn't that blatantly contadict the definition of physicalism which holds that only the physical exists?  Why call it "physicalism" if you believe in the reality of nonphysical forces?

I'm not sure about the name "physicalism" either, to be honest, but I can tell you the so called "non-material" forces are most definitely physical. They are quite literally the essence of any and every thing that you could say you experience physically.

Quote:

And what about "matter?" Based on the theory of quantum mechanics, matter has a dualistic nature - namely, it reduces to either waves or particles. Probability waves are clearly mathematical abstractions and are therefore not physical.

You've not quite got this right yet have you Paisley. And this is not the first time I have called you on his point, either. The dualism of matter is not abstract, it's physical in the most literal sense. The probability cloud is the electron. Don't mistake this for the notion that the wavefunction is just, and only, the places a 'point particle' electron might be at any given moment, that is simply not the case.

Your dismissal of the electron wave as an 'abstraction' is fundamentally incorrect. It is not an abstraction, uncertainty is the real state of physical matter, that is what the science tells us.

Quote:

But what about particles? Well, physics represents particles as geometric points (i.e. abstractions) that have location in space (i.e. a nonphysical aspect) and time (i.e. a nonphysical aspect) but lack dimension (i.e. an immaterial aspect).

You're right that there is really no such thing as a point particle. This is just a model we use and it is based upon certain logical postulates that have a long, and fruitful, history in science (ie Euclid's elements etc) but are neither absolute nor infallible in representing the physical reality which they are used to study.

It's well understood in science that the point particle relates only to a certain kind of space which in turn relates well to only certain domains of the physical universe. Space and time are most decidedly physical aspects, the bottom line is they are the physical domain itself. Space and time are no more or less than the extent/extensions of physical events.

Physics no longer takes those old, dualism-informed (and dare I say ever so slightly primitive), notions of independent fields of time and space providing a static backdrop for the universe seriously, Paisley. It's simply not true -- so no, time and space are not contradictory (read: immaterial) aspects of a scientifically informed monism, they are characteristic states of the fundamental substance, namely, those in which the character of the substance is one of extension.

Quote:

But doesn't a particle have "mass?" Yes, but what is mass? Well, mass is matter. But Newton's second law defines mass as follows: m = F/a...where "m" equals mass, "F" equals force, and "a" equals acceleration...Therefore we can conclude that matter (i.e. mass) is actually immaterial  because we have already determined that force is immaterial.

This is inaccurate, beside the fact that those are the laws of motion not matter therefore they aren't descriptive of matter itself and matter is postulated in order to conceive of them...

F = ma -- suggests that mass itself is a force, and this is validated by the mass energy equivalence thus we have determined that matter and force are of the same substance.

**Further validation by Quantum Electrodynamics and Information theory (to name the important ones) consequently establishes the view of a neutral monist (perhaps a physicalist, also, in that respect) that matter and it's forms are characteristics states of a fundamental dynamic exemplified by the fundamental physical forces.

 

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Eloise wrote:uncertainty is

Eloise wrote:
uncertainty is the real state of physical matter

 

I found it amusing that, in this context, he quoted Richard Feynman.

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Physics is not the only

Physics is not the only science.

 

As such, something that is "not phyiscal" is not necessarily "supernatural."

If there was a process described by chemistry that did not, in principle, reduce to processes described by physics, then we would have a non-physical (not governed by physics) yet entirely natural (governed by the science of chemistry) process.

 

Also, you cited a definition of physical, and then proceeded to not use that definition.  You even underlined the parts of the cited definition that you blatently contradicted in your strawman.  Way to kill your own argument there.

 

 

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Zaq wrote:Physics is not the

Zaq wrote:

Physics is not the only science.

 

As such, something that is "not phyiscal" is not necessarily "supernatural."

If there was a process described by chemistry that did not, in principle, reduce to processes described by physics, then we would have a non-physical (not governed by physics) yet entirely natural (governed by the science of chemistry) process.

 

Also, you cited a definition of physical, and then proceeded to not use that definition.  You even underlined the parts of the cited definition that you blatently contradicted in your strawman.  Way to kill your own argument there.

 

 

 

From my understanding physicalism doesn't necessarily stem directly from what physics is, i.e. it is essentially the view that any 'thing' that can interact with other 'things' is physical.  In other words, everything is physical because everything interacts, if it didn't interact, it would be undetectable.  I would say that the connection with physics stems from physics describing the micro (quantum/particle level), the macro (astrophysics), and our level (kinematics, dynamics, motion, etc).  Of the sciences it tends to be the most encompassing, and is the field set on finding the ToE.  (Technically everything can reduce to physics... so that might be it too lol)


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Zaq wrote:If there was a

Zaq wrote:

If there was a process described by chemistry that did not, in principle, reduce to processes described by physics, then we would have a non-physical (not governed by physics) yet entirely natural (governed by the science of chemistry) process.

 

Do you even have any fucking clue just how stupid that sentence is?


 

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Marquis wrote:Zaq wrote:If

Marquis wrote:

Zaq wrote:

If there was a process described by chemistry that did not, in principle, reduce to processes described by physics, then we would have a non-physical (not governed by physics) yet entirely natural (governed by the science of chemistry) process.

 

Do you even have any fucking clue just how stupid that sentence is?

 

 

 

Haha, I tried to be subtle by hiding the point in parentheses... You get bluntness points.


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v4ultingbassist

v4ultingbassist wrote:

Marquis wrote:

Zaq wrote:

If there was a process described by chemistry that did not, in principle, reduce to processes described by physics, then we would have a non-physical (not governed by physics) yet entirely natural (governed by the science of chemistry) process.

 

Do you even have any fucking clue just how stupid that sentence is? 

 

Haha, I tried to be subtle by hiding the point in parentheses... You get bluntness points.

Sorry guys, I don't see Marquis' objection. I think Zaq is right. One of the assumptions of physicalism is that there is some way to 'reduce' or 'explain' all natural processes as physical processes. If such is not possible, then physicalism is false. For example, many philosophers argue that consciousness is not reducible to physics. But even Zaq's argument about chemistry is correct. If there were some entity that was somehow fundamentally 'chemical', but fundamentally 'not physical', then physicalism would be false.

I just don't see that such is the case. However, logically, it isn't inherently 'stupid'. Though we haven't found any fundamental barrier between physics and the other sciences, and don't have any good reason to suspect that there is one, it doesn't mean that such a barrier is absurd on the face of it.

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Help me understand

natural wrote:

If there were some entity that was somehow fundamentally 'chemical', but fundamentally 'not physical', then physicalism would be false.

 

how is it possible for something to be chemical and yet not physical?

 

 

 

 

"Experiments are the only means of knowledge at our disposal. The rest is poetry, imagination." Max Planck


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natural wrote:Sorry guys, I

natural wrote:

Sorry guys, I don't see Marquis' objection. I think Zaq is right. One of the assumptions of physicalism is that there is some way to 'reduce' or 'explain' all natural processes as physical processes. If such is not possible, then physicalism is false. For example, many philosophers argue that consciousness is not reducible to physics. But even Zaq's argument about chemistry is correct. If there were some entity that was somehow fundamentally 'chemical', but fundamentally 'not physical', then physicalism would be false.

I just don't see that such is the case. However, logically, it isn't inherently 'stupid'. Though we haven't found any fundamental barrier between physics and the other sciences, and don't have any good reason to suspect that there is one, it doesn't mean that such a barrier is absurd on the face of it.

 

Well, technically sciences like biology, chemistry, sociology, psychology etc build on each other, and fundamentally on physics (i.e. what is chemical HAS to be physical, since chemistry is an application of physics).  That is the point, that physics is the application of mathematics to the universe.  It wouldn't make sense for a chemist to focus on quarks when looking at molecule chains, but those chains themselves are still describable by physics.  I don't see how any scientific study could not be reducable to physics.  There is an xkcd comic that shows what I am talking about.  Since physicalism is monist in nature, it follows that the scientific field it is named after is the one that seeks to explain the fundamental 'thing' of all reality.  Since physics deals with the smallest (or most fundamental), it gets the name for a monist philosophy of science.  At least that's the way I see it.


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Two-in-one

Two-in-one reply.

Atheistextremist wrote:
how is it possible for something to be chemical and yet not physical?

The skeptic of physicalism would argue, rightly, that the burden of proof is on the physicalist to show that chemistry is entirely reducible to physics.

Now, it just so happens that modern chemistry *is* reducible to physics. But this is not logically necessarily so. Marquis' comment implied that the idea that chemistry and physics could be distinct was fundamentally absurd and 'stupid'.

For a simple example, it could have been the case that some entity, perhaps something along the lines of 'phlogiston', was fundamentally important to chemistry, but incommensurable with our best understanding of physics. Logically, this is not an absurd idea. It so happens that it's not the case, and perhaps we are so familiar with the close link between physics and chemistry that it just seems 'obvious' to us, but it was not always so obvious. Prior to the developments of thermodynamics and the model of the atom, physics was about objects moving around, and chemistry was about reactions of various mixtures of substances. There is no intuitively obvious connection between motion and reaction transformations. It took some very clever science to figure it out.

Imagine if it turned out that physics could not explain chemical reactions, and nor could chemistry explain motion. Math can't (yet?) explain poetry, and poetry is not sufficiently precise to explain math. Is it fundamentally absurd to say, to paraphrase Zaq, that math and poetry are two different areas of human endeavour?

The interesting thing (in my view) about physicalism is that it claims that, yes, indeed, physics *can* explain chemistry, biology, behaviour, psychology, sociology, culture, religion, consciousness, etc. Or at least that all of these are in some meaningful way 'reducible' to physics, even if perhaps we don't have all the details of how, and even if we might never be able to. This is a positive claim, and physicalists have the burden of proof (or at least need to provide a convincing positive argument) that this is the case.

v4ultingbassist wrote:

Well, technically sciences like biology, chemistry, sociology, psychology etc build on each other, and fundamentally on physics (i.e. what is chemical HAS to be physical, since chemistry is an application of physics).

That chemistry is an application of physics is known *now*, but was not always known. It is not absurd to imagine that it might not have been the case. My reply was directed to Marquis' comment that it was terribly 'stupid' to point this out as Zaq did.

Quote:
  That is the point, that physics is the application of mathematics to the universe.  It wouldn't make sense for a chemist to focus on quarks when looking at molecule chains, but those chains themselves are still describable by physics.  I don't see how any scientific study could not be reducable to physics.

Many philosophers and even scientists disagree with you. They do not, for example, see how something like consciousness could be reduced to physics. One day, we'll figure it out. But right now, it is not absurd to say that it might turn out to be the case that consciousness is non-physical, yet still natural.

Hey, I'm a hard-core physicalist, and I have arguments to defend it. But I must *present* those arguments. I can't just call my opponent -- or even a skeptic of my position, for that matter -- stupid. That's not an argument.

Go back and re-read Marquis' comment and then show me if I'm mistaken to call him on it.

Quote:
  There is an xkcd comic that shows what I am talking about.  Since physicalism is monist in nature, it follows that the scientific field it is named after is the one that seeks to explain the fundamental 'thing' of all reality.  Since physics deals with the smallest (or most fundamental), it gets the name for a monist philosophy of science.  At least that's the way I see it.

Going back to your statement that "physics is the application of mathematics to the universe", imagine for a moment that physics used math in a certain way that was incompatible with the way math was used to describe chemisty. Perhaps physics required a Euclidean system, and Chemistry required a non-Euclidean system. Perhaps physics required a certain set of assumptions, and chemistry required a different set, and the two sets contained some contradictory assumptions. Perhaps physics required continuous functions, and chemistry required discrete functions. Who knows? Put on your 'whacky sci fi shit' hat for a minute and just imagine that there was some fundamental incompatibility between physics and chemistry. Is this logically impossible? No.

Chemistry has a long history, and its link with physics is strongly established. But there are *real* biologists today who argue for a non-physicalist account of biological emergence and/or complexity. There are lots of psychologists and sociologists who do not accept physicalism. There are still some (though many fewer than before) neuroscientists who argue for non-physical consciousness. The idea is not absurd. Pointing out, as Zaq did, that it's not absurd is not 'stupid'.

Technically, we can't even say that physics itself is necessarily consistent with its various branches. Quantum theory and relativity are *assumed* to be eventually discovered to be compatible, but that assumption could be wrong.

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Natural,   I figured it

Natural,

 

 

I figured it could get a little out of context, I wasn't trying to say that physicalism was right, but was rather saying what I said in the context of physicalism (i.e. as in a discussion between two physicalists.)  The way I see it, if chemistry could even find something that physics couldn't explain, physics would then adapt its model to incorporate that, consequently making it reducible again.  The way I see it science itself is based on coherency, so I don't see how it would be okay with something be fundamental at the chemical scale and not reducible to the micro.

 

I had meant to address my points purely within a physicalist context.  I know I have the burden of proof, but that wasn't really my point.  Like I said, we DO know that it is reducible, so I don't understand how it could become irreducible without physics adapting to make it reducible again. 

 

Question, is science necessarily monist?  Or is that just my take on it?


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natural wrote:Math can't

natural wrote:
Math can't (yet?) explain poetry, and poetry is not sufficiently precise to explain math.

 

You are mistaken in this statement, as well mistaken in "calling me" for stating bullshit to be bullshit.

You may enjoy long and windy sophistry but I don't. Life is too short to be gentle towards ontological terrorists who seek to, in whatever sneaky ways they can, undermine the validity of science - which, like it or not, is all we've got as a roadmap for understanding the reality we have to face every day. The result, if they succeed, is a given: Authoritarian fantasy and its army of sycophantic zombies will move in and take over.

FYI, physics is the bedrock of all other sciences. Why? Because it sets out to describe the constituents of reality.

(I suppose we may, however, some times discard reality alltogether and move into a "what if" universe of discourse where other rules apply. But if this is what we are doing then this needs to be explicitly stated. Because if so, I can pull quite a lot of monsters out of my bag of tricks.)

As for the interchangeability of mathematics and poetry, I will sum it up in just one word: Music.

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v4ultingbassist wrote:The

v4ultingbassist wrote:
The way I see it, if chemistry could even find something that physics couldn't explain, physics would then adapt its model to incorporate that, consequently making it reducible again. 

Again, this is an assumption. I know you want to hold it in the context of physicalists, but my point is regarding Marquis' response to Zaq, and subsequently your 'agreement' with Marquis.

Let's take a look at Zaq's point:

Zaq wrote:
Physics is not the only science.

Correct.

Zaq wrote:
As such, something that is "not phyiscal" is not necessarily "supernatural."

Correct.

Zaq wrote:
If there was a process described by chemistry that did not, in principle, reduce to processes described by physics, then we would have a non-physical (not governed by physics) yet entirely natural (governed by the science of chemistry) process.

Correct.

Marquis called that stupid. You appear to agree, at least in principle. So, what's stupid about it?

v4ultingbassist wrote:
The way I see it science itself is based on coherency, so I don't see how it would be okay with something be fundamental at the chemical scale and not reducible to the micro.

Again, there are many possible ways this could happen, in the context of Zaq's argument. They could use fundamentally different math, they could be incommensurable, they could require different and contradictory assumptions, etc.

Quote:
I had meant to address my points purely within a physicalist context.

My point to you, and to Marquis, was about the 'stupid' comment in regard to Zaq's point. It wasn't stupid. It's a correct and accurate point. Zaq's argument was not 'purely within a physicalist context'; it was pointing out an inherent limitation of physicalism, and a difference between physicalism and naturalism. (In fact, Zaq was correcting Paisley's misrepresentation of physicalism.)

Quote:
Like I said, we DO know that it is reducible, so I don't understand how it could become irreducible without physics adapting to make it reducible again.

First, Zaq was not arguing that it isn't reducible, he was arguing that it's "not necessarily" reducible. There's no logical necessity that chemistry is a sub-set of physics. It so happens that it *is*, but it's not logically necessary that it should have been.

Second, there are lots of possible ways that it could have been the case that chemistry and physics would be incompatible and neither reducible to the other. I've listed some already.

Your point that physics would simply 'adapt' assumes that it *could* adapt. What if it couldn't? What if it had turned out that they were simply incompatible?

This is not a ridiculous idea, as Marquis is implying. There was a time, not too long ago, where it was completely unclear that physics and chemistry could be united. Even today, some biologists hold to the idea that there's something 'non-physical' about biology. Lots of scientists are not physicalists. Physicalism is not necessarily identical with naturalism. That is Zaq's argument. Marquis called it stupid. It's not.

Quote:
Question, is science necessarily monist?  Or is that just my take on it?

Science assumes naturalism (at least, methodologically), so I would say yes. Physicalism is a stronger form of naturalism; i.e. that physics is at the basis.

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Marquis wrote:natural

Marquis wrote:

natural wrote:
Math can't (yet?) explain poetry, and poetry is not sufficiently precise to explain math.

You are mistaken in this statement, as well mistaken in "calling me" for stating bullshit to be bullshit.

Then explain my mistake.

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You may enjoy long and windy sophistry but I don't.

You may enjoy short, dismissive statements, but I don't think they are good counter-arguments.

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Life is too short to be gentle towards ontological terrorists who seek to, in whatever sneaky ways they can, undermine the validity of science

Is this your accusation against Zaq? You'll be hard pressed to justify that attack. Neither the argument he gave in this thread, nor anywhere else I've seen, has he attempted to undermine science.

Do you really think his point was to undermine science? I think you may have misread his argument.

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FYI, physics is the bedrock of all other sciences. Why? Because it sets out to describe the constituents of reality.

I happen to agree, but this is not a view universally or uncontroversially held by all scientists. It is not fundamentally absurd or 'stupid' to point out that this is the case.

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(I suppose we may, however, some times discard reality alltogether and move into a "what if" universe of discourse where other rules apply. But if this is what we are doing then this needs to be explicitly stated. )

Zaq's argument was quite explicitly stated as a logical argument about the nature of physicalism and its basic difference with naturalism. He quite explicitly posed a difference between chemistry and physics as a hypothetical, to prove a point. Can you show an actual (rather than imagined) flaw in his argument?

Quote:
As for the interchangeability of mathematics and poetry, I will sum it up in just one word: Music.

What are the axioms of music? Can you prove Goedel's Incompleteness Theorem in G minor?

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natural wrote:Marquis

natural wrote:

Marquis wrote:

physics [....] sets out to describe the constituents of reality.

I happen to agree, but this is not a view universally or uncontroversially held by all scientists.

 

Science is not based upon whatever any individual "scientist" believes. It is patently absurd to claim that views that are held by "scientists", controversially or otherwise, has any bearing on science as a body of knowledge in and of itself. Your claim is at a creationist level. Stupid, stupid, stupid. Do you not realise that the entire framework for "science" crumbles and falls without the pillar of as well methodology as ontological structure that is represented by hard physics?

Playing with words doesn't change a fucking thing. The difference between 'naturalism' and 'physicalism'?!? Give me a fucking break. The concept of physicalism is invented to substitute the now obsolete word 'materialism'. Nature is firmly placed within the framework of physics. In fact, physics is born out of a desire to understand how nature works (hence the label "natural philosopher" for people such as Isaac Newton, back in the day) at its fundamental level. Fundamental, in this context, means that which everything else rests upon, emanates from, or whatever the *bleep* you want to call it.

Insofar something interacts with reality, it is physical. If it is physical, it is subject to the laws of physics. Now, the current mode and level of understanding and interpretation of these laws of physics may not be ultimately correct, since there's obviously a lot we don't understand (and also a lot we can probably never know), but it is the model that we've got at the moment. It has been rigorously tested and shown to work. It is nothing but gobbeldygook to say that there are 'non-physical' processes at work in any scientific discipline. If so, it isn't science.

I am willing to go as far as to say that yes, some scientists are religious. Then too, some are socially and sexually inept beyond belief. Others are 'idiots savants' who are unable to relate to anything outside of their own narrow field. But that doesn't stop them from trying - which is why you will find for instance professors of economy cited as "scientists" by the kind of people who are out to prove that science in and of itself is a conspiracy (the recent AGW controversy). Lastly, you need to take into consideration that a lot of scientists are really rather politically naive and as such easy to play for the more machiavellian spin doctors. All in all, it matters not what they believe.

Don't fuck with physics. Physics is king.

 

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Marquis wrote:natural

Marquis wrote:

natural wrote:

Marquis wrote:

physics [....] sets out to describe the constituents of reality.

I happen to agree, but this is not a view universally or uncontroversially held by all scientists.

Science is not based upon whatever any individual "scientist" believes.

See what you did there? You switched out 'physics' with 'science'.

You *believe* physics is the bedrock of science. I believe that too. Many scientists believe that. But many don't. There is, as yet, no Grand Unified Theory. It is not an established fact that physics is the *only* foundation of science.

Quote:
It is patently absurd to claim that views that are held by "scientists", controversially or otherwise, has any bearing on science as a body of knowledge in and of itself.

I didn't claim that. Sorry, that's your straw man. You've switched out 'physics' for 'science'. I'm talking about physicalism. The only universally agreed upon basis for science is naturalism, not physicalism.

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Your claim is at a creationist level. Stupid, stupid, stupid.

Repeating yourself doesn't make it true. Provide an argument.

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Do you not realise that the entire framework for "science" crumbles and falls without the pillar of as well methodology as ontological structure that is represented by hard physics?

What is the physical theory underlying psychology, sociology, and consciousness, then? How does entropy relate to evolution? These are unresolved questions. There is no such theory yet. It is an *assumption* that there will be such a theory discovered, but that assumption could be wrong.

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Playing with words doesn't change a fucking thing. The difference between 'naturalism' and 'physicalism'?!? Give me a fucking break.

If you don't understand the difference, that's not my problem. Google it if you're confused.

Quote:
Insofar something interacts with reality, it is physical. If it is physical, it is subject to the laws of physics. Now, the current mode and level of understanding and interpretation of these laws of physics may not be ultimately correct, since there's obviously a lot we don't understand (and also a lot we can probably never know), but it is the model that we've got at the moment. It has been rigorously tested and shown to work. It is nothing but gobbeldygook to say that there are 'non-physical' processes at work in any scientific discipline. If so, it isn't science.

Sorry, you're conflating physicalism with naturalism and science. They are not necessarily identical. All you're doing is re-asserting your position. You need to provide an actual argument. You can't just assume physicalism is true and call anyone who disagrees 'stupid'. That's... stupid.

Quote:
I am willing to go as far as to say that yes, some scientists are religious.

There are non-religious scientists who are not physicalists, but even that is beside the point. The point is that you're claiming physicalism == science and physicalism == naturalism. This is not necessarily the case, and it's not absurd or stupid to point this out.

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Don't fuck with physics. Physics is king. 

You've provided zero argument and haven't responded to obvious flaws in your position.

I'm a physicalist. I advocate physicalism. But I know it's limitations. I know what it does, and what it doesn't do. I know how it can be defended, and ways it cannot be defended. Zaq was correct to point out that physicalism is not identical with naturalism, and you were wrong to say that his point was stupid.

Shouting, repeating yourself, calling names, etc. are fine, but if they are not backed by *actual* argument, then they are worthless. You've got nothing but taunts.

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natural wrote:Marquis

natural wrote:

Marquis wrote:

natural wrote:

Marquis wrote:

physics [....] sets out to describe the constituents of reality.

I happen to agree, but this is not a view universally or uncontroversially held by all scientists.

Science is not based upon whatever any individual "scientist" believes.

See what you did there? You switched out 'physics' with 'science'.

Er... no, not really. I quoted my own statement, then I quoted your reply; which consisted of two parts: The first part where you agree that physics is the bedrock of science, then the second part where you claim that this is a position which is not universally held by all scientists. The second part is something I quite frankly fail to understand, so this was the part I referred to by juxtaposing "science" and "scientists".

Who, exactly, is not viewing physics as the foundation for everything else in science?!? Epistemological fundamentalists? I can see how there are individuals who do not want to discard their cherished beliefs, so they simply do that old three monkeys trick and go into denial when confronted with, say, the counterintuitive principles of quantum entanglement or the mind boggling consequences of M-theory (which, however, I'll readily admit is at least half metaphysics at the moment), but even they will admit that there is a physical world that we are interacting with and that this is a necessary prerequisite for experiencing a subjective "material" existence.

Or are you talking about something completely different?

Because I am not going to apologise for calling someone who questions the hierarchic relation between physics and chemistry a moron any more than I am going to apologise for calling someone who believes in the literal truth of the Bible a moron. (Both of whom, of course, are free to feel the same way about me.) There are some gaps that not even bloody Evel Knievel with his magical motorcycle can jump across.

natural wrote:

You *believe* physics is the bedrock of science. I believe that too. Many scientists believe that. But many don't. There is, as yet, no Grand Unified Theory. It is not an established fact that physics is the *only* foundation of science.

Then please name another possible foundation! Because I swear that this is a position I am unable to comprehend.

Grand Unified Theory? Que? As in a simple equation which includes all states of spacetime, matter and forces; at all levels?

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Lol, poor Paisley started

Lol, poor Paisley started yet another thread.

Oh, but a much more interesting discussion has popped up.

I consider physics to be a more 'basic' science than chemistry as well i.e. studying the fundamental causes of the behaviors and properties of matter via chemistry simply reduces to physics. However, this did not necessarily, logically, have to be true. It is merely what we have observed and determined to be the case. Don't we all agree on this (except Paisley)?  

Our revels now are ended. These our actors, | As I foretold you, were all spirits, and | Are melted into air, into thin air; | And, like the baseless fabric of this vision, | The cloud-capped towers, the gorgeous palaces, | The solemn temples, the great globe itself, - Yea, all which it inherit, shall dissolve, | And, like this insubstantial pageant faded, | Leave not a rack behind. We are such stuff | As dreams are made on, and our little life | Is rounded with a sleep. - Shakespeare


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Marquis wrote:Grand Unified

Marquis wrote:
Grand Unified Theory? Que? As in a simple equation which includes all states of spacetime, matter and forces; at all levels?

It's actually not as ridiculous as it sounds. It would be a theory that describes the four fundamental forces, strong nuclear, weak nuclear, electromagnetism, and gravitation as manifestations of a single type of interaction.

Edit: Actually, I believe I've heard that two of the above have already been related, but I don't remember which two it was. Perhaps someone can elaborate on this.  

 

Our revels now are ended. These our actors, | As I foretold you, were all spirits, and | Are melted into air, into thin air; | And, like the baseless fabric of this vision, | The cloud-capped towers, the gorgeous palaces, | The solemn temples, the great globe itself, - Yea, all which it inherit, shall dissolve, | And, like this insubstantial pageant faded, | Leave not a rack behind. We are such stuff | As dreams are made on, and our little life | Is rounded with a sleep. - Shakespeare


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butterbattle wrote:two of

butterbattle wrote:
two of the above have already been related

The new kid in town is called the electro-weak force.

Actually, all matter and force-carrying particles are accounted for in the standard model.

Gravity keeps on being a bitch, though. So they built the LHC.

 

Anyway, my confusion about the GUT is why it would make any difference in this context.

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Quote:You appear to agree,

Quote:

You appear to agree, at least in principle. So, what's stupid about it?

Science assumes naturalism (at least, methodologically), so I would say yes. Physicalism is a stronger form of naturalism; i.e. that physics is at the basis.

 

I think it is stupid* because I can't understand how chemistry can NOT reduce to physics without violating a monist reference frame.  If science is monist, and naturalism is monist, they both agree there is only one type of interaction in the universe.  If science finds something that violates its own monism, then neither of the two philosophical views would be true.  As such, isn't it necessary that the basis of science match up with the basis of naturalism?  I.e.  If science is monist, and physics is its basis, for science to be monist what is physical must correlate to what is natural in a naturalistic perspective, right?  (sorry for asking the same thing in two different questions, just trying to convey my point as best as possible)

 

 

 

*in principle... lol


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v4ultingbassist

v4ultingbassist wrote:

Quote:

You appear to agree, at least in principle. So, what's stupid about it?

Science assumes naturalism (at least, methodologically), so I would say yes. Physicalism is a stronger form of naturalism; i.e. that physics is at the basis.

 

I think it is stupid* because I can't understand how chemistry can NOT reduce to physics without violating a monist reference frame.  If science is monist, and naturalism is monist, they both agree there is only one type of interaction in the universe.  If science finds something that violates its own monism, then neither of the two philosophical views would be true.  As such, isn't it necessary that the basis of science match up with the basis of naturalism?  I.e.  If science is monist, and physics is its basis,

You keep slipping in that extra assumption as if it's just a given. It is not. The idea that physics is the only basis of science is physicalism. You're assuming what you're trying to prove.

Okay, let me try to lay this out: Science is the study of natural phenomena. Science assumes methodological naturalism. Physics is one branch of science. Physicalism is a subset of naturalism. There are other branches of science, such as psychology, where a connection to physics has not been fully established. These are still science, and still naturalist, but *not necessarily* physicalist. Physicalists *assume* that we will eventually be able to explain psychology with physics. But this assumption could be wrong, and in any case has not been proven or established as fact. There are, in fact, scientists who hold the view that their branch of science, e.g. psychology, is naturalistic, but not physicalistic.

And even if all scientists agreed on physicalism, it *still* would not be logically necessary, it would just be a consensus based on the given evidence. Zaq's argument that *if* it had been the case that chemistry was natural but not entirely physical, then physicalism would not be identical with naturalism, is a correct and valid argument.

Physicalism is not logically identical to naturalism. Science is based on naturalism, not physicalism. You can't just assume that physicalism is true, you have to make an argument for it.

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natural

natural wrote:

v4ultingbassist wrote:

Quote:

You appear to agree, at least in principle. So, what's stupid about it?

Science assumes naturalism (at least, methodologically), so I would say yes. Physicalism is a stronger form of naturalism; i.e. that physics is at the basis.

 

I think it is stupid* because I can't understand how chemistry can NOT reduce to physics without violating a monist reference frame.  If science is monist, and naturalism is monist, they both agree there is only one type of interaction in the universe.  If science finds something that violates its own monism, then neither of the two philosophical views would be true.  As such, isn't it necessary that the basis of science match up with the basis of naturalism?  I.e.  If science is monist, and physics is its basis,

You keep slipping in that extra assumption as if it's just a given. It is not. The idea that physics is the only basis of science is physicalism. You're assuming what you're trying to prove.

Okay, let me try to lay this out: Science is the study of natural phenomena. Science assumes methodological naturalism. Physics is one branch of science. Physicalism is a subset of naturalism. There are other branches of science, such as psychology, where a connection to physics has not been fully established. These are still science, and still naturalist, but *not necessarily* physicalist. Physicalists *assume* that we will eventually be able to explain psychology with physics. But this assumption could be wrong, and in any case has not been proven or established as fact. There are, in fact, scientists who hold the view that their branch of science, e.g. psychology, is naturalistic, but not physicalistic.

And even if all scientists agreed on physicalism, it *still* would not be logically necessary, it would just be a consensus based on the given evidence. Zaq's argument that *if* it had been the case that chemistry was natural but not entirely physical, then physicalism would not be identical with naturalism, is a correct and valid argument.

Physicalism is not logically identical to naturalism. Science is based on naturalism, not physicalism. You can't just assume that physicalism is true, you have to make an argument for it.

 

Wouldn't the inability to connect the various sciences violate monism?


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Eloise wrote:**Further

Eloise wrote:

**Further validation by Quantum Electrodynamics and Information theory (to name the important ones) consequently establishes the view of a neutral monist (perhaps a physicalist, also, in that respect) that matter and it's forms are characteristics states of a fundamental dynamic exemplified by the fundamental physical forces.

Please explain to me what you mean by "neutral monism." I understand  the term to mean that the fundamental constituents of reality are neither physical nor mental. Therefore, to argue that quantum physics and information theory establish the view of neutral monism is to argue that quantum physics and information theory establish the view that the fundamental constituents of reality are neither physical nor mental. This is not compatible with physicalism.

Quote:

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.

(source: Wikipedia: Neutral monism)

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Neutral_monism

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natural wrote:Science is

natural wrote:
Science is based on naturalism, not physicalism.

 

That doesn't even make any sense. In fact, I call it archaic-mystical bullshit.


You call yourself "natural" so I suppose that's the root of this strange exchange. But your absurd claims to own the language is gobbeldygook on line with claiming gods and pixies as valid arguments, so please get your head out of your 18th century ass, will you? And stop bringing up nonsense such as how psychology might have a supernatural (i.e. non-physical) cause. It really ought to go without saying that the so-called "social sciences" (which I suppose is based in socialism the same way "natural sciences" is based in naturalism) have to bootstrap their departing points into existence with some pretty wild leaps of conjecture in order to establish an axiomatic foundation. But, if anything, this invalidates them as scientific disciplines way before it says anything about science - i.e. knowledge, physical facts - itself.

 

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natural wrote:You appear to

natural wrote:

You appear to agree, at least in principle. So, what's stupid about it?

Science assumes naturalism (at least, methodologically), so I would say yes. Physicalism is a stronger form of naturalism; i.e. that physics is at the basis.

 

v4ultingbassist wrote:
I think it is stupid* because I can't understand how chemistry can NOT reduce to physics without violating a monist reference frame.  If science is monist, and naturalism is monist, they both agree there is only one type of interaction in the universe.  If science finds something that violates its own monism, then neither of the two philosophical views would be true.  As such, isn't it necessary that the basis of science match up with the basis of naturalism?  I.e.  If science is monist, and physics is its basis,

natural wrote:
You keep slipping in that extra assumption as if it's just a given. It is not. The idea that physics is the only basis of science is physicalism. You're assuming what you're trying to prove.

No assumption required.
Last I heard, all the elements in Chemistry had been shown to be constructed from physical ones.
And more recently, all the elements in Biology had been shown to be constructed from chemical ones.
DeludedGod could confirm this for us if he was here.
As there any other scientific authorities who could back this up?