The problem of self under materialism

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Terrapin Station
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Re: The problem of self under materialism

Post by Terrapin Station » Sun Oct 02, 2016 4:52 pm

You certainly don't have to be serious all the time, but it seems to me that if one's philosophical views aren't consistent with one's everyday life, going about one's daily tasks, etc., one should reexamine one's philosophical views.

OuterLimits
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Re: The problem of self under materialism

Post by OuterLimits » Sun Oct 02, 2016 4:55 pm

Immanuel Can wrote:
OuterLimits wrote:I don't think of it as something you would attempt to "live as" a determinist or a reductionist. It's just a question of what you believe when you're examining something very seriously. One can't "live as" a "very serious" person all the time.
Who said "serious?" I just said that one can't actually "live" it at all.
What kind of curiosity or thinking is "living" an idea? The serious kind, I guess. Otherwise you are just saying you don't care about curiosity or thinking.

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Immanuel Can
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Re: The problem of self under materialism

Post by Immanuel Can » Sun Oct 02, 2016 5:17 pm

OuterLimits wrote:What kind of curiosity or thinking is "living" an idea? The serious kind, I guess. Otherwise you are just saying you don't care about curiosity or thinking.
"Living" is not the opposite or curiosity or thinking. Far from it.

"Living out" an idea is what we do when the thing actually works in reality, and we practice it with consistency, in real life. That's all. It can be a "serious-minded" endeavour, but there's no reason it has to be. One could be consistently funny, if one's worldview includes that sort of thing.

The Greeks had a word for people who preached a philosophy they didn't live out -- they were called "hypocrites," meaning "two-faced." Whatever else philosophy might be, one things it does is call us to extend the logical implications of our own worldview. We might all fall short of our ideals; but doing philosophy consistently is intended to narrow the domain of hypocrisy and increase rational consistency.

Now, when a worldview simply cannot be lived unhypocritically, that is, it contains implications so odious or foolish that no person alive can even potentially "live" that view, one has a good reason not to embrace it. That's just common sense, really.

Determinism fits that bill nicely.

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Immanuel Can
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Re: The problem of self under materialism

Post by Immanuel Can » Sun Oct 02, 2016 5:18 pm

Terrapin Station wrote:You certainly don't have to be serious all the time, but it seems to me that if one's philosophical views aren't consistent with one's everyday life, going about one's daily tasks, etc., one should reexamine one's philosophical views.
Sorry, Terps...I didn't see that you had already put the situation pithily above.


Thanks for the observation.

OuterLimits
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Re: The problem of self under materialism

Post by OuterLimits » Sun Oct 02, 2016 6:30 pm

Immanuel Can wrote:
OuterLimits wrote:What kind of curiosity or thinking is "living" an idea? The serious kind, I guess. Otherwise you are just saying you don't care about curiosity or thinking.
"Living" is not the opposite or curiosity or thinking. Far from it.

"Living out" an idea is what we do when the thing actually works in reality, and we practice it with consistency, in real life. That's all. It can be a "serious-minded" endeavour, but there's no reason it has to be. One could be consistently funny, if one's worldview includes that sort of thing.

The Greeks had a word for people who preached a philosophy they didn't live out -- they were called "hypocrites," meaning "two-faced." Whatever else philosophy might be, one things it does is call us to extend the logical implications of our own worldview. We might all fall short of our ideals; but doing philosophy consistently is intended to narrow the domain of hypocrisy and increase rational consistency.

Now, when a worldview simply cannot be lived unhypocritically, that is, it contains implications so odious or foolish that no person alive can even potentially "live" that view, one has a good reason not to embrace it. That's just common sense, really.

Determinism fits that bill nicely.
Determinism is understood by most - myself included - as a question of "is" - and understood as something that could never become mixed up in the world of "ought". I would have thought that eould be obvious. A "personal philosophy" - one's ethos and mores - is a completely different thing from asking a completely intellectual philosophical question. I would have thought that would be obvious. It is a non-sequitur to apply the possibility of "hypocrisy" to a completely intellectual question.

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Immanuel Can
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Re: The problem of self under materialism

Post by Immanuel Can » Sun Oct 02, 2016 8:33 pm

OuterLimits wrote:Determinism is understood by most - myself included - as a question of "is"
That's a category mistake. "Determinism" is an interpretation of reality, and a highly contestable one. The "is-ought" issue has to do with morality, and would be an issue whether or not Determinism was true. As a matter of fact, I entirely accept Hume's critique...but not Determinism. The two are not at all a package.

Maybe I was just predetermined by the mechanics of the universe to find it preposterous. :wink:
A "personal philosophy" - one's ethos and mores - is a completely different thing from asking a completely intellectual philosophical question.

Not necessarily.

You are right: some people take to philosophy like they take to butterfly collecting...as a merely aesthetic activity. But I find that they make uninteresting conversationalists, because they don't actually bother to believe or implement anything they say. They can dream endlessly, but without ever being brought to task for being just plain wrong about how the dynamics of the real world work. They can make mistakes that would instantly become obvious to anyone who actually tried to apply what they say. That's always the danger of high-level speculation without practicality. They're like people who enjoy watching high-stakes poker, but would never dream of paying for a chip themselves. And the way to "ante-up" in philosophy is to try to live what you believe. :D

I would say, for example, Marxism resoundingly fails the "life test." In theory, it sounded really good, and to a very great number of people -- but what misery, cruelty, oppression and death it occasioned in the last century! For Marx had premised his political theory on unrealistic economics and an unrealistic anthropology...and that mistake cost millions their freedom and their lives. So I could easily understand if someone were to say that that history means that we should reconsider the problems inherent in Marxism...in fact, I'd think them exceedingly rash if they thought anything else. :shock:

In any case, whether one likes the poker analogy or not, or whether one likes Marx or not, one thing remains true: one very useful test of philosophical theory is to attempt to implement it in real life. If it fails, then it alerts the philosopher to something he's overlooked -- some way in which he thought, perhaps, his thinking was tight but overlooked a key element. So it's a very good thing to do.

Interestingly, Determinists find they can't do that. I think that that should warn them that there's something deeply faulty in their assumptions.

OuterLimits
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Re: The problem of self under materialism

Post by OuterLimits » Sun Oct 02, 2016 11:02 pm

Immanuel Can wrote: ...one thing remains true: one very useful test of philosophical theory is to attempt to implement it in real life.
Complete non-sequitur - this notion that determinism could ever be "implemented". I have never heard determinism spoken of in these terms before, and happily don't expect to ever hear of it again. The way I "implement determinism" is that when I ask myself if some event has causes, I mentally answer "yes, in fact, it would appear to be the result of all of its constituent causes."

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Immanuel Can
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Re: The problem of self under materialism

Post by Immanuel Can » Mon Oct 03, 2016 5:12 am

OuterLimits wrote:Complete non-sequitur - this notion that determinism could ever be "implemented".
One can very easily put Determinism into practice. Just stop making decisions, plans, ambitions, achievements and so forth. Cease to argue with anyone...you can't change their mind anyway, since it's all predetermined. Give up on education...whatever you would or would not have learned has been predetermined since the Big Bang, as a corollary to natural laws. Que sera sera.

Then start to live as if everything really is fated, and nothing you do matters. Open the jails and let out all the criminals too, because they really had no choice in what they did and can't be blamed. Then take back all the awards, medals and accolades ever handed out, because those people weren't "heroes": they just happened to be bestowed with those deeds by the inexorable laws of history...And drop all talk of "good" and "bad," either in people or events -- they're all predetermined to be what they are, so what's the use of labelling them with such meaningless terms? They're "fated," that's all.

Stop trying to save the environment. You really can't. After all, the length of time the planet would endure is not flexible. And don't try to prevent wars or atrocities...after all, these things were doomed to happen anyway, so your efforts will be futile. And come to think of it, your efforts to do right or improve people's lot or save the planet were all just predestined for you too...so why should you bother? You will change nothing... :shock:

It gets sillier and sillier the longer one thinks about it. That's Determinism in application. Nobody ever lives it.
The way I "implement determinism" is that when I ask myself if some event has causes, I mentally answer "yes, in fact, it would appear to be the result of all of its constituent causes."
Wait a minute...a line ago, you said that couldn't be done. :wink:

See? Even you can't stay consistent with it.

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Re: The problem of self under materialism

Post by Justintruth » Mon Oct 03, 2016 5:27 am

Immanuel Can wrote: So what is it? If we are merely materials, what makes some materials capable of sentience, and other materials not at all? :shock:

There must be some additional factor not present in materials qua materials, but what is it?
David Chalmers has an answer for this. Our notion of matter needs to be modified. Some think and additional material is needed - some soul stuff or other - but that is not necessarily true for the additional factor that causes seeing and other experiencing is probably just a particular class or classes of arrangements of the material.

Assemble ordinary matter in such or such a way and you get experiencing of such and such a type.

Philosophies like Dan Dennets will go the way of Lamark's not the way of Darwin's.

Once material science is updated this problem will go away. Anthropomorphism will also wither and the "normal" mystery of the presence of being and its ways will remain.

"Just" a "mystery"...and if you catch the humor in that you get my meaning

OuterLimits
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Re: The problem of self under materialism

Post by OuterLimits » Mon Oct 03, 2016 5:39 am

Immanuel Can wrote:Wait a minute...a line ago, you said that couldn't be done. :wink:

See? Even you can't stay consistent with it.
I'm glad you see my point.

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Immanuel Can
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Re: The problem of self under materialism

Post by Immanuel Can » Mon Oct 03, 2016 12:53 pm

Justintruth wrote:
Immanuel Can wrote: So what is it? If we are merely materials, what makes some materials capable of sentience, and other materials not at all? :shock:

There must be some additional factor not present in materials qua materials, but what is it?
David Chalmers has an answer for this. Our notion of matter needs to be modified. Some think and additional material is needed - some soul stuff or other - but that is not necessarily true for the additional factor that causes seeing and other experiencing is probably just a particular class or classes of arrangements of the material.

Assemble ordinary matter in such or such a way and you get experiencing of such and such a type.
That's a non-answer, though. To say, essentially, "The materials have life, because when you get that bunch of materials, suddenly they have life," surely explains nothing at all. It doesn't even try to say HOW that happens...it just declares it by fiat. Are we supposed to believe him if he does not specify a mechanism? Or are we supposed to take it for granted that because life now exists that whatever explanation he gives must rightly account for it? Or does he say more than you've reported at the minute, and we need the rest of it to understand his point? And if so, what else does he say to fill in the obvious gap?

In short, how? How does it happen? How does the lifeless become the living, and the living transform into the sentient?

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Immanuel Can
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Re: The problem of self under materialism

Post by Immanuel Can » Mon Oct 03, 2016 12:54 pm

OuterLimits wrote:
Immanuel Can wrote:Wait a minute...a line ago, you said that couldn't be done. :wink:

See? Even you can't stay consistent with it.
I'm glad you see my point.
Funny. I thought that had been MY point. :wink:

osgart
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Re: The problem of self under materialism

Post by osgart » Sat Oct 15, 2016 6:02 am

the idea that thought and reason arose from nothingness always struck me as none possible. Thus a spiritual reality. Physics itself is mindless and totally indifferent and violently hostile to life. :twisted:

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Greta
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Re: The problem of self under materialism

Post by Greta » Sat Oct 15, 2016 8:09 am

osgart wrote:the idea that thought and reason arose from nothingness always struck me as none possible. Thus a spiritual reality. Physics itself is mindless and totally indifferent and violently hostile to life. :twisted:
I think it was the people who burnt witches and tortured heretics who were most indifferent and violently hostile to life.

Physics is beautiful. It doesn't explain everything, which is why biologists, doctors and materials chemists exist.

Many unlikely things are possible given enough time. Once the Earth had no life, then microbial life, then multicellular, chordates, humans, then human civilisations (a vastly different entity to nomadic humans). All you need is one fluctuation, then another in near nothingness (true nothingness appears to have never existed, only subjective nothingness) and then there can be chain reactions bringing to life more complex and ordered processes over "deep time" (billions of years).

This all appears counter intuitive if we are thinking about how events transpire on human time scales.

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Re: The problem of self under materialism

Post by osgart » Sat Oct 15, 2016 9:14 pm

yes physics can be beautiful and i may come from a single cell. Yet if existence is purely physical in nature what in existence says become alive and reason, grow an intelligent body, eat natures food which is good for you coincidentally as if is arbitrarily there. Is life arbitrarily there? I think not.

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