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Philosophy: The case for/against materialism
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The Gooz Boos Offline
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Post: #1
Philosophy: The case for/against materialism
In this thread, let's make and critique arguments for and against materialism.

For clarity, materialism is the belief that there exists nothing beyond the physical. All that exists are fundamental particles interacting with one another. According to materialism, all other things are built upon and derived from these fundamental materials.

I am a non-materialist, so I'll start by making the case against materialism with the problem of causality:

1) All material things are contingent.
2) All contingent things at one point did not exist or did not exist in their current state.
3) For a contingent thing to change or begin existing, it must be caused by something else.
4) Either all contingent things are caused by other contingent things or all contingent things are ultimately caused by a non-contingent thing.
5) If all contingent things are caused by other contingent things, the universe is an infinite regress of finite resources.
6) An infinite regress of finite resources is a logical absurdity.
7) If the universe is an infinite regress, this contradicts all the compelling evidence that the universe had a beginning (the big bang)
8) Due to premises 4-7, we can conclude that all contingent things are not caused by other contingent things.
9) Due to the fourth and eighth premises, we can conclude that all contingent things are ultimately caused by a non-contingent thing.
10) In order for all things to be ultimately caused by a non-contingent thing, a non-contingent thing must exist.
11) Due to the ninth and tenth premises, we can conclude that a non-contingent thing exists.
12) Due to the first premise, we can conclude that all non-contingent things are immaterial.
13) Due to the eleventh and twelfth premises, we can conclude that an immaterial thing exists.
14) If an immaterial thing exists, materialism is incorrect.
15) Due to the 13th and 14th premises, we can conclude that materialism is incorrect.
---
⁂) Materialism is incorrect
(This post was last modified: 04-12-2017 03:17 PM by The Gooz Boos.)
04-12-2017 03:03 PM
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RatInTheWoods Offline
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Post: #2
RE: Philosophy: The case for/against materialism
Let me stop you at number 2

We just don't know or can comprehend where matter/energy "comes from" or how it was "created" initially.

This is the biggest mystery to our curiosity. We can never know the answer to this question.

Supplying a supernatural explanation for creation still leaves you with the problem of explaining the creation of the supernatural entity.
04-12-2017 05:14 PM
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The Gooz Boos Offline
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RE: Philosophy: The case for/against materialism
That's why I included this part:

Quote:did not exist or did not exist in their current state

Premise two necessarily follows from the definition of contingency.


And in this argument, I'm not arguing for a supernatural being, simply that materialism is incorrect.
(This post was last modified: 04-12-2017 05:48 PM by The Gooz Boos.)
04-12-2017 05:47 PM
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RatInTheWoods Offline
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RE: Philosophy: The case for/against materialism
I get that, but that's why 3 is false.

It doesn't follow that it was caused "by something else" since that gives you a "caused by something else" loop all the way to where?
04-12-2017 06:01 PM
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The Gooz Boos Offline
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RE: Philosophy: The case for/against materialism
Read further into the argument, dude. All that's addressed. The conflict you're perceiving is actually the basis for the argument.
(This post was last modified: 04-12-2017 06:07 PM by The Gooz Boos.)
04-12-2017 06:03 PM
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The Gooz Boos Offline
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RE: Philosophy: The case for/against materialism
Another thing. I think you misunderstand the meaning of contingency. This argument demonstrates that all contingent things must have ultimately been caused by non-contingent things. A non-contingent thing can be either one of two things: Impossible or Necessary. Things with the property of modal necessity are by definition an un-created, un-caused thing. Numbers are an example of a modal necessity. Numbers aren't created or caused by anything. For numbers to have ever not existed or existed differently is incoherent. So no, this doesn't leave us with "the problem of explaining the creation of the supernatural entity"
(This post was last modified: 04-12-2017 06:10 PM by The Gooz Boos.)
04-12-2017 06:04 PM
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kavi Offline
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Post: #7
RE: Philosophy: The case for/against materialism
I am just interested why you wish to believe in this idea so much? Is it a religious or are you quite young (early 20s)?

It seems to me you feel that somehow the physical is not enough and that you want there to be more. I always think of this desire as emanating from a lack of understanding of the universe and of existence.
04-12-2017 06:25 PM
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The Gooz Boos Offline
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RE: Philosophy: The case for/against materialism
Kavi, get it together. You've done nothing but respond emotionally to my arguments in this thread or the other. I should be the one asking you why you so wish to deny this notion. Accusing me of character flaws isn't an argument. If you have an argument, great! Yeah, I'm young, you're right. And I'll be the first to admit there's much about the universe that I don't know. Is that, to you, an excuse not to discuss these things? That would scream of incuriosity.

Posting this thread is willingly subjecting myself to any sound logic which refutes my beliefs. So give me that, instead of character flaws.

Quote:It seems to me you feel that somehow the physical is not enough
That's the argument, essentially, but it's reason, not feeling.
(This post was last modified: 04-12-2017 07:15 PM by The Gooz Boos.)
04-12-2017 06:40 PM
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Paracelsus Offline
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RE: Philosophy: The case for/against materialism
I admire the effort, but my view would be that an argument from a created being attempting to logically prove the existence of its creator is going to be difficult at best. It's sort of like the goldfish in its bowl trying to prove absolutely that the bowl must have been created by something beyond its ken. The totality of the goldfish's existence is the bowl and the water in it. Leave either and the goldfish ceases to exist. The goldfish trying to reason what's outside the bowl is at best an arbitrary exercise. I think it's Hume who sort of illustrates the pointlessness of the argument: we have no experience of universe-making and by definition never will, so it's impossible to analogise the existence of God. Logic ultimately is a feature of the physical universe, it's not a Platonic constant.

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04-12-2017 08:49 PM
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The Gooz Boos Offline
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RE: Philosophy: The case for/against materialism
Even the goldfish can peer through the glass and catch glimpse of its owner's hand. Besides, in this argument I'm not asserting anything about the nature of any particular necessary thing. The argument is demonstrating that it is impossible for exclusively contingent things to exist. In this argument, I am only exploring the necessary properties of contingent things. Even if your objection were true (and I don't think it is-- really seems like a cop out) it doesn't affect this argument.

Quote:so it's impossible to analogise the existence of God
Again, I'm not proving the existence of God here. This thread is about materialism. I'm arguing that materialism is false. Hell, if someone wants to post a syllogism arguing that materialism is true, I'd love to see that. That's what I made the thread for.
(This post was last modified: 04-12-2017 09:51 PM by The Gooz Boos.)
04-12-2017 09:06 PM
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Thomas the Rhymer Offline
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RE: Philosophy: The case for/against materialism
What do you mean by 'contingent'?

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04-13-2017 03:17 AM
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The Gooz Boos Offline
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RE: Philosophy: The case for/against materialism
In modal logic, there are three categories of existence: impossibility, contingency, and necessity. Those mean roughly the following:

Impossibility: Things which are absurd and logically cannot exist. For example: a square circle or a four-sided triangle.

Contingency: Things which can exist, but needn't exist. Things that are contingent are dependent on other things. For example, an iron sledgehammer is contingent because it would not exist unless somebody ran a wooden shaft through a block of iron to make it. An ice cube is contingent because it would not exist without the refrigerator or other mechanism by which it was created. A bottle is contingent because it can exist in varying states (half full of water, full of water, empty, full of grape juice, cracked along the side, missing its cap, ...) all of which depend on external causes.

Necessary: Things that exist in and of themselves. Things that are necessary cannot change or cease to exist at any time, past or present. It is a logical absurdity for a necessity to ever have failed to exist or to have existed differently. For example, the number 2 is a necessity. It cannot have ever not existed, nor can it have ever been something different than it is now.

These categories can also apply to propositions; they are not restricted to objects. A proposition can be necessary if it must be true in all possible worlds, for example "All men are human beings", granted that "men" means "male human being". A proposition is contingent if it is conditionally true or false, for example "My car is not broken"-- this statement would become false if my car breaks. A proposition is impossible if it can't be true, for example "3+3=9".

There are more apt definitions out there, but I hope this is satisfactory.
(This post was last modified: 04-13-2017 09:23 AM by The Gooz Boos.)
04-13-2017 09:08 AM
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RE: Philosophy: The case for/against materialism
s/past or present/past, present, or future/
04-13-2017 11:03 AM
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The Gooz Boos Offline
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Post: #14
RE: Philosophy: The case for/against materialism
"past or present" → should be → "past, present, or future"
04-13-2017 11:04 AM
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RE: Philosophy: The case for/against materialism
Every time I see people try to disprove the existence of the soul I take solace in the fact that no civilization was created by materialists, and that women who choose atheism are almost all whores.
04-13-2017 12:38 PM
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RE: Philosophy: The case for/against materialism
(04-12-2017 06:40 PM)The Gooz Boos Wrote:  Kavi, get it together. You've done nothing but respond emotionally to my arguments in this thread or the other. I should be the one asking you why you so wish to deny this notion. Accusing me of character flaws isn't an argument. If you have an argument, great! Yeah, I'm young, you're right. And I'll be the first to admit there's much about the universe that I don't know. Is that, to you, an excuse not to discuss these things? That would scream of incuriosity.

Posting this thread is willingly subjecting myself to any sound logic which refutes my beliefs. So give me that, instead of character flaws.

Quote:It seems to me you feel that somehow the physical is not enough
That's the argument, essentially, but it's reason, not feeling.

Oh right, I didnt mean to destroy you arguments but from my position it is this over-reaching thinking (like yours in this thread) that has helped the decline of real religious values and 'spirituality' in the world.

You want an argument against it. Ok I'll give you one.

Let's say before we invented language we already knew what a rock is, what water is and all 'physical' things like that. And then we created language and gave these physical things names. Then language developed and we gave names to more abstract things like numbers, emotions etc. And now we have two extra names that we dont actually need and they are 'soul' and 'non-physical'.

These are two words exist due to religious literature that took existing poetic ideas and turned them into new ideas to suit their needs. But it needs to emphasised that they are purely literary and have no actual meaning to anyone.

You cannot even define soul or point to something that is non-physical (not dependent on the physical world).

Now, without the word soul, or God, or afterlife (all related things your argument could be used for) we simply could not be having this discussion. But those are man-made words created to suit a purpose other than referring to real things i.e. to propagate religious ideas to the benefit of those doing so. These are non-words or fake words. We simply need to purge our dictionaries of these evil imposters and get back to a purer, more meaningful language.

I have had religious public debates before and all of them use the same methodology as you do
1. Use things we dont really know about to try and prove their viewpoints (Big Bang, Quantum Mechanics etc)
2. Use complex words and ideas where they are not necessary (contingent)

Yes, I have studied Mathematical Logic to a decent standard. Yes, at one point I too thought Godel's Incompleteness Theorem suggests there is something else. No, we do not need Mathematical Logic in this discussion. Modal logic terminology does not apply to the physical world but only to it's own limited domain.

The Physical world is necessary, because there is nothing else we know and otherwise I would not be typing this. It is not, as you say 'contingent'

Lastly, I will add. All things must exist within some system of rules or laws. If not, there will be anarchy and chaos only. Those Laws in our case are the Laws of Physics, whether we know them all or not. They are existence and they are the physical world.

You, and religious nuts (pardon this word but that is what they are) wish to elevate existence to some plane where there are no laws i.e the paranormal space. You feel that life lived by some laws (laws that mean death, laws that limit capacity) is too constrained and you want for an easy escape from this hardship.

But it is important to understand that existence=physical world=natural laws. They are not 3 separate things but they are just one thing and cannot be separated out as you suggest. You and the religious nuts wish to have existence without law and constraint. But that is not existence, that is chaos and non-existence.
04-13-2017 04:33 PM
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RE: Philosophy: The case for/against materialism
Kavi, I have to admit, that's a pretty good post and it took me aback. It's a clever line of reasoning, but I'm sure I can poke some holes in it. Let's get started…

(04-13-2017 04:33 PM)kavi Wrote:  Let's say before we invented language we already knew what a rock is, what water is and all 'physical' things like that. And then we created language and gave these physical things names. Then language developed and we gave names to more abstract things like numbers, emotions etc. And now we have two extra names that we dont actually need and they are 'soul' and 'non-physical'.
This is the meat and potatoes of your argument, and you're making a big mistake right off the bat. You begin by talking about the origins of language, suggesting that human beings invented words to describe abstract concepts. I haven't said anything about language so far, and frankly, I agree with you on the linguistics. It doesn't even begin to address the subject matter, though. It's just a tangent.

Your examples serve my purposes. You say that we already knew what a rock was, and that we then invented language to describe it. So then it reasonably follows that we knew what abstract, immaterial concepts were before inventing language to describe them. If you posit that abstract concepts and modal necessities, like the numbers and laws of logic, existed independently of language, that is circumstancial evidence that these immaterial things actually exist.

Another bit of evidence is the fact that the universe abides by these immaterial numbers and laws of logic. Let's take the law of non-contradiction, for example. For any proposition P, P cannot both be true and untrue at the same time and in the same sense. This reigns true throughout not only physical things, but also abstract things. A water bottle cannot both contain water and not contain water at the same time. 2+2 cannot equal 4 and not equal 4 at the same time. Since the universe and all of existence follows this law, it is absurd to suggest that it exists solely as a linguistic construct of human imagination. Abstract concepts are real things—modal necessities—that exist in and of themselves, independently of us. The only way to escape this conclusion is to reject logic itself, which is by definition illogical and absurd.

If abstract concepts exist, as I've already established, then they are immaterial (non-physical) things, so the term "non-physical" is not unnecessary as you allege. As for "soul", I won't address, since that is completely outside the scope of this topic.

(04-13-2017 04:33 PM)kavi Wrote:  Now, without the word soul, or God, or afterlife (all related things your argument could be used for) we simply could not be having this discussion. But those are man-made words created to suit a purpose other than referring to real things i.e. to propagate religious ideas to the benefit of those doing so. These are non-words or fake words. We simply need to purge our dictionaries of these evil imposters and get back to a purer, more meaningful language.
Again, topics of soul, God, and afterlife are all outside of the scope of this topic (materialism). Reserve your objections to religion, maybe we'll talk about that later. To avoid these tangents, we can say that X is a necessary substance, the essence of which we don't know anything about. Try to stay on topic.

(04-13-2017 04:33 PM)kavi Wrote:  I have had religious public debates before and all of them use the same methodology as you do
1. Use things we dont really know about to try and prove their viewpoints (Big Bang, Quantum Mechanics etc)
2. Use complex words and ideas where they are not necessary (contingent)
Again, this isn't a religious debate. As far as the word "contingent", this word is not unnecessary as you say. In an argument involving modal logic, "contingent" is an essential term. We do know some things about quantum mechanics and quite a lot about the big bang. Besides, I didn't invoke quantum mechanics in this thread.

(04-13-2017 04:33 PM)kavi Wrote:  Yes, I have studied Mathematical Logic to a decent standard. Yes, at one point I too thought Godel's Incompleteness Theorem suggests there is something else. No, we do not need Mathematical Logic in this discussion. Modal logic terminology does not apply to the physical world but only to it's own limited domain.
I haven't invoked the work of Gödel at any point. What are the confines of the modal logic's domain? Explain your reasoning.

(04-13-2017 04:33 PM)kavi Wrote:  The Physical world is necessary, because there is nothing else we know and otherwise I would not be typing this. It is not, as you say 'contingent'
But it IS contingent. This is evident in both the fact that the physical world constantly changes and in the fact that it had a beginning.

(04-13-2017 04:33 PM)kavi Wrote:  Lastly, I will add. All things must exist within some system of rules or laws. If not, there will be anarchy and chaos only. Those Laws in our case are the Laws of Physics, whether we know them all or not. They are existence and they are the physical world.
The laws themselves are not material. Unless you've found them and want to show me pictures? Tongue

(04-13-2017 04:33 PM)kavi Wrote:  You, and religious nuts (pardon this word but that is what they are) wish to elevate existence to some plane where there are no laws i.e the paranormal space. You feel that life lived by some laws (laws that mean death, laws that limit capacity) is too constrained and you want for an easy escape from this hardship.
Well I can't say I enjoy being lumped into a category with nutters, but whatever. I don't think I'm suggesting anything paranormal, nor the existence of "some plane where there are no laws". This has nothing to do with death or limits of capacity. I will die at some time and I am not an infinite consciousness nor do I have infinite capability. The really nutty thing is that you accuse people of this. Even the most dogmatic of religious people don't tend to believe in "some plane where there are no laws", nor do they tend to deny death or limits to their capacity.

(04-13-2017 04:33 PM)kavi Wrote:  But it is important to understand that existence=physical world=natural laws.
Another thing that is important to understand is that the equation presented is nothing more than dogma.
04-13-2017 06:52 PM
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Thomas the Rhymer Offline
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RE: Philosophy: The case for/against materialism
On what basis can one say 'All material things are contingent'?

Bearing in mind that the sum total of knowledge of the human race is limited to our experiences on planet Earth as well as what little we have observed using telescopes and space technology, it seems that the sum total of human knowledge is probably very tiny compared to the vast quantities of new stuff waiting to be discovered out in the universe.

So I'm assuming that currently, the human race does not have enough data to say 'all' material things are contingent.

Certainly, based on the pathetic limited experiences of the human race (being a mere 100 000 years in a billions-year-old universe, being on one tiny planet in a massive universe), we can say 'some' material things are contingent, or that 'all material things are contingent within the current scope of human experience', but I can't bring myself to accept that 'all' material things are contingent with our current data.

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04-14-2017 02:06 AM
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RE: Philosophy: The case for/against materialism
OP is a paraphrasing of Leibniz's argument from contingency, a famous version of the cosmological argument. It has been discussed endlessly in academia.

A couple of things.

The currently prevailing metaphysics in Analytic philosophy is called naturalism. This label is preferred to materialism for a couple of reasons. It sounds nicer. And it's less troublesome to explain when someone rushes in and says "But gravity is not matter therefore materialism is incorrect". Well, something doesn't need to be a blob of matter to be physical, or natural. Energy is not a blob of matter, but it's physical - physical energy - as it's a property of matter.

Of course you cannot photograph the laws of physics, but that doesn't make it something supernatural. It still belongs to the realm of the natural.

As for abstract objects like numbers, some naturalists acknowledge that they have objective existence independent of matter and human thought, but also hold that they do not exist in the same way that material things do. Rather, they 'subsist'. Or, it can be said that, while physical things are actual, numbers are meta-actual. Their existence is a-spatio-temporal (outside of space-time) and not just pan-temporal (i.e, existing at all points in time). Their trademark is that they are causally inept (i.e, they have no causal power). They can be perceived by the human intellect (intellectual perception, as opposed to sensory perception), but they cannot exert causal influence or partake in the causal chain. This view is both opposed to the nominalists, who hold that numbers and abstract concepts/universals are just noise in the wind; and the platonic realists, who hold that they exert causal power and are realer than material things.

So, on this view, numbers are necessary, but not really actual. You cannot simply disprove materialism/naturalism by pointing out that numbers exist, which would make the OP argument superfluous anyway. The conclusion of the OP argument is that there must be a necessarily actual being that's causally potent.

In sum, naturalism holds that:

a. all that is spatiotemporal is 'physical' or derived from the 'physical' (consciousness can be an emergent property of material process/entities, for example)
b. all that is actual and causally potent is spatiotemporal. Thus, there are no supernatural entities.
To those who takes issue with the term physical, note that for many naturalists, 'natural' just means whatever is spatiotemporal. So of course, on this view, seemingly abstract things like relations and processes, natural laws, informations and functions, etc. also belong to the natural realm. They're not supernatural, but embedded into the natural world, not as material objects, but as real and concrete aspects of the world of space and time - spatiotemporally finite and causally potent.


Another distinction we need to make is that of existential change and alterational change. Existential change mean that something 'comes into being' from pure non-existence. Alterational change means that something is created by the alteration of pre-existing things (eg: a car is created by the assemblage of its parts, a wax figure is created from a blob of wax - the car parts, the blob of wax already existed before).

Some branches of naturalism deny that there are existential changes, and hold that there are only ever alterational changes. In this view the whole world is one substantial field, space and time are aspects of it (just like how shape and size are distinct but inseparable aspects of a figure), every concrete entities are just particular configurations of the field. The field is spatiotemporally infinite (extending infinitely in space and time), eternally self-operating in accordance with the laws of conservation (eg, conservation of energy, conservation of linear momentum, conservation of angular momentum, conservation of electric charge, etc.) The Big Bang is not the beginning of time but simply a stage in an endless cycle of Big Bangs and Big Crunches.

This substantial field - the world - is both spatiotemporally infinite (eternal and boundless) and contingent. There are disagreements about the contingent part (Ludwig Wittgenstein used to comment that it's astonishing that anything existed at all - and yet the world exists, its existence is a brute fact, brute contingency: it's just that way, stretching infinitely into the past). Here I'm not trying to prove that this view is the correct one. However, I fail to see how this alternative is logically absurd. For your premises to hold, you ought to prove that it's logically absurd.

p/s: this may be related or not but my religious view can be found here: https://www.rooshvforum.com/thread-53245...pid1342026
(This post was last modified: 04-14-2017 05:30 AM by Liberty Sea.)
04-14-2017 04:33 AM
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RE: Philosophy: The case for/against materialism
(04-12-2017 06:03 PM)The Gooz Boos Wrote:  Read further into the argument, dude. All that's addressed. The conflict you're perceiving is actually the basis for the argument.

Just seeing if you understand what you are typing, not just cutting and pasting a philosophy 101 text book.

Reread my question and answer its challenge:

"For a contingent thing to change or begin existing, it must be caused by something else."

How is this a logical statement?
04-14-2017 09:07 PM
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RE: Philosophy: The case for/against materialism
(04-13-2017 04:33 PM)kavi Wrote:  All things must exist within some system of rules or laws. If not, there will be anarchy and chaos only. Those Laws in our case are the Laws of Physics, whether we know them all or not. They are existence and they are the physical world.

You said in the previous line that the physical world is all that we know. The line of reasoning you seem to be taking is that if something is unknown to us, it therefore does not exist. Is that correct?

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04-15-2017 12:17 AM
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RE: Philosophy: The case for/against materialism
(04-14-2017 09:07 PM)RatInTheWoods Wrote:  
(04-12-2017 06:03 PM)The Gooz Boos Wrote:  Read further into the argument, dude. All that's addressed. The conflict you're perceiving is actually the basis for the argument.

Just seeing if you understand what you are typing, not just cutting and pasting a philosophy 101 text book.

Reread my question and answer its challenge:

"For a contingent thing to change or begin existing, it must be caused by something else."

How is this a logical statement?

Compare Newton's First Law: the ordinary state of an object is inertia or constant momentum unless acted on by an external force. Ergo, nothing changes itself; change is caused by something acting on that object.

Remissas, discite, vivet.
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04-15-2017 12:19 AM
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RatInTheWoods Offline
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Post: #23
RE: Philosophy: The case for/against materialism
(04-15-2017 12:19 AM)Paracelsus Wrote:  Compare Newton's First Law: the ordinary state of an object is inertia or constant momentum unless acted on by an external force. Ergo, nothing changes itself; change is caused by something acting on that object.

Quantum fluctuations have proven Newton's first law to be outdated.

But in any case I was more referring to "the creation of matter/energy" must have been "created by something else"

This is logically false, since you get a "created by something else" loop back to where?

If you then create a supernatural explanation then you still are left with the problem of explaining the creation of the supernatural entity.... ie it doesn't solve the problem.

That leaves you with "it existed since the beginning of time" reason - which applies to matter and energy just as easily as supernatural entities. Occam's razor would leave you with matter and energy as having always existed.
Not very intuitive to our evolved ape thinking...

Or... something we haven't worked out yet.. which is more likely, since I suspect the sum of human knowledge is a very small subset of universal knowledge...

Nothing in this "disproves" materialism.
(This post was last modified: 04-15-2017 02:14 AM by RatInTheWoods.)
04-15-2017 02:11 AM
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The Gooz Boos Offline
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Post: #24
RE: Philosophy: The case for/against materialism
Alrighty, Thomas and Liberty, your posts are excellent questions/objections. I had to take quite some time to think about them. In order to respond, I'll have to form new syllogisms.

(04-14-2017 02:06 AM)Thomas the Rhymer Wrote:  On what basis can one say 'All material things are contingent'?
I have a couple arguments to answer this. They are independent of each other, so to show it to be false, you'll need to show both of the following arguments to be unsound.

Firstly, I believe that we know all material things are contingent on an a priori basis, so it needn't be proven or argued, but heck I've gone and done it anyway...

Argument from containment
1) All things that either can change, depend on external things to determine its current state, or had a beginning are contingent by definition.
2) The material world changes and had a beginning.
3) The material world is contingent. -(1 and 2)
4) All material things are fully contained in the material world.
5) Things that are fully contained within other things must possess the same modality as that which contains them.
6) All material things must possess the same modality as the material world. -(4 and 5)
7) All material things are contingent. -(3 and 6)
---
∴) All material things are contingent.


Argument from motion
1) All things that either can change, depend on external things to determine its current state, or had a beginning are contingent by definition.
2) To cease to exist in one location and begin to exist in another location (to move) is to change.
3) All material things move.
4) All material things change. -(2 and 3)
5) All material things are contingent. -(1 and 4)
---
∴) All material things are contingent.


RatInTheWoods Wrote:"For a contingent thing to change or begin existing, it must be caused by something else."

How is this a logical statement?
Simple. Water cannot cause itself to freeze. It needs other things, like a refrigerator or a cold vaccum, in order to freeze. This is true for all contingent things. For any contingent substance C, C can only undergo change if intervened by another substance or culmination of substances, physical or non-physical. A comet cannot spontaneously change course. A ball cannot spontaneously begin to roll. An iron block cannot spontaneously rust. All of these processes rely on external factors. The comet must either collide with something or be affected by something's gravitational pull or etc. A ball must be pushed by something or affected by another thing's gravity. An iron block needs water to rust.

As for the creation of contingent things, the only alternative than to say they are caused is to say that there is a property of existence which creates contingent things without cause. So let's pretend, for the sake of argument, that this is true. There is a matter-spawning property that creates matter without reason and without cause. The matter-spawning property is itself a cause. Not only that, but the matter-spawning property demonstrably does not spew forth matter indiscriminantly into all corners of space and time. Therefore, the matter spawning property could be other than it is. Consequently, the matter-spawning property is contingent and is subject to external causes. This reduces the matter-spawning-property to a mere symbolic middle-man between its own external causes and the creation of matter. It is without function and its locality has defeated its purpose. Why posit it exists at all? We don't have evidence for it. So with occam's razor, we can discard it.

The necessity that contingent things be caused is a priori knowledge, so much so that any objection to this fact will contain, hidden within it, its own negation.

------------------
The post got too long for the site to handle, so I have to separate it into two posts.
04-15-2017 02:38 AM
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The Gooz Boos Offline
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Post: #25
RE: Philosophy: The case for/against materialism
(04-14-2017 04:33 AM)Liberty Sea Wrote:  OP is a paraphrasing of Leibniz's argument from contingency, a famous version of the cosmological argument. It has been discussed endlessly in academia.

A couple of things.

The currently prevailing metaphysics in Analytic philosophy is called naturalism. This label is preferred to materialism for a couple of reasons. It sounds nicer. And it's less troublesome to explain when someone rushes in and says "But gravity is not matter therefore materialism is incorrect". Well, something doesn't need to be a blob of matter to be physical, or natural. Energy is not a blob of matter, but it's physical - physical energy - as it's a property of matter.

Of course you cannot photograph the laws of physics, but that doesn't make it something supernatural. It still belongs to the realm of the natural.

As for abstract objects like numbers, some naturalists acknowledge that they have objective existence independent of matter and human thought, but also hold that they do not exist in the same way that material things do. Rather, they 'subsist'. Or, it can be said that, while physical things are actual, numbers are meta-actual. Their existence is a-spatio-temporal (outside of space-time) and not just pan-temporal (i.e, existing at all points in time). Their trademark is that they are causally inept (i.e, they have no causal power). They can be perceived by the human intellect (intellectual perception, as opposed to sensory perception), but they cannot exert causal influence or partake in the causal chain. This view is both opposed to the nominalists, who hold that numbers and abstract concepts/universals are just noise in the wind; and the platonic realists, who hold that they exert causal power and are realer than material things.

So, on this view, numbers are necessary, but not really actual. You cannot simply disprove materialism/naturalism by pointing out that numbers exist, which would make the OP argument superfluous anyway. The conclusion of the OP argument is that there must be a necessarily actual being that's causally potent.

In sum, naturalism holds that:

a. all that is spatiotemporal is 'physical' or derived from the 'physical' (consciousness can be an emergent property of material process/entities, for example)
b. all that is actual and causally potent is spatiotemporal. Thus, there are no supernatural entities.
To those who takes issue with the term physical, note that for many naturalists, 'natural' just means whatever is spatiotemporal. So of course, on this view, seemingly abstract things like relations and processes, natural laws, informations and functions, etc. also belong to the natural realm. They're not supernatural, but embedded into the natural world, not as material objects, but as real and concrete aspects of the world of space and time - spatiotemporally finite and causally potent.


Another distinction we need to make is that of existential change and alterational change. Existential change mean that something 'comes into being' from pure non-existence. Alterational change means that something is created by the alteration of pre-existing things (eg: a car is created by the assemblage of its parts, a wax figure is created from a blob of wax - the car parts, the blob of wax already existed before).

Some branches of naturalism deny that there are existential changes, and hold that there are only ever alterational changes. In this view the whole world is one substantial field, space and time are aspects of it (just like how shape and size are distinct but inseparable aspects of a figure), every concrete entities are just particular configurations of the field. The field is spatiotemporally infinite (extending infinitely in space and time), eternally self-operating in accordance with the laws of conservation (eg, conservation of energy, conservation of linear momentum, conservation of angular momentum, conservation of electric charge, etc.) The Big Bang is not the beginning of time but simply a stage in an endless cycle of Big Bangs and Big Crunches.

This substantial field - the world - is both spatiotemporally infinite (eternal and boundless) and contingent. There are disagreements about the contingent part (Ludwig Wittgenstein used to comment that it's astonishing that anything existed at all - and yet the world exists, its existence is a brute fact, brute contingency: it's just that way, stretching infinitely into the past). Here I'm not trying to prove that this view is the correct one. However, I fail to see how this alternative is logically absurd. For your premises to hold, you ought to prove that it's logically absurd.

p/s: this may be related or not but my religious view can be found here: https://www.rooshvforum.com/thread-53245...pid1342026
I wasn't paraphrasing Leibniz. Leibniz's first premise is his Principle of Sufficient Reason, which I don't agree with. When I asked for a photograph, I was being facetious.

I want to make note to the difference between materialism and naturalism. Materialism denies the existence of immaterial things. Naturalism denies the existence of non-spatio-temporal things. Spatio-temporal is a subset of contingent, so naturalism denies the existence of non-contingent things. The distinction is important because there are contingent things which are immaterial, like the laws of physics. But again, if there are no non-contingent things, then the universe is an infinite regress—a logical absurdity.

You seem comfortable with the notion that our universe is an infinite regress. So much so that you suggest the universe's history is an infinitely repeating cycle of big bang and big crunch. So what I'll do is argue that a universe with an infinitely-regressing past is a logical absurdity.

1) The universe's history extends infinitely into the past
2) If you progressively iterate through time for any amount of time, you will approach but never reach infinity seconds.
3) There was a moment in time infinitely many seconds prior to the current moment. (logically follows from 1)
4) From the perspective of that moment, you progressively iterate through time.
5) You will never arrive at the present moment, so the present moment is impossible.
---
∴) The present moment is impossible.

So, as you can see, if the universe was an infinite regress of events you would not be here right now. All moments would suffer from the same incoherence. The universe would be a complete self-contradiction if it were infinite.
04-15-2017 02:38 AM
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