Sunday, September 22, 2013

Reasons, causes and ontological commitments.

A redated post. 

Explanations, causal or non-causal, involve ontological commitments. That which plays an explanatory role is supposed to exist. Therefore, if we explain the existence of the presents under the Christmas tree in terms of Santa Claus I take it that means that Santa Claus exists in more than just a non-realist “Yes, Virginia,” sense. What this means is that even if reasons-explanations do not exclude physical explanations, even if reasons-explanations are somehow not causal explanations, the naturalist is not out of the woods. The naturalist maintains that the universe, at its base, is governed by blind matter rather than reasons. So if reasons-explanations are true, we still need to know why they are true and why reasons exist in a world that is fundamentally non-rational.

46 comments:

Anonymous said...

I'm not really sure I'd classify myself as a naturalist. I certainly don't believe in any kind of supernatural being(s) operating in this world. Does that make me a naturalist?

I'd say there is only one kind of substance in the universe and that we usually call that 'matter'. But I certainly don't think everything that exists has to be a substance or material object. Laws and legal systems, games, poems and plays exist. They are not material objects.

I again have to ask you: are you a reductionist who believes that it is only at the most reduced level of existence that real explanations are to be found?

Anonymous said...

Different Anonymous

Victor,

I recently read your book and enjoyed it very much. I have a question. Does reasoning require violation? In other words, if the whole of existence is one physical cause after another, it seems to me that violation is impossible. When Lewis says that, "If this certainty merely represents the way our minds happen to work... then we can have no knowledge." Is he talking about the need for there to be a violation of nature in order for our insights to be real?

Thanks

John W. Loftus said...

Vic said...So if reasons-explanations are true, we still need to know why they are true and why reasons exist in a world that is fundamentally non-rational.

Let me ask a few questions to seek a better understanding here.

As Pilate asked Jesus, "what is truth?" Don't you need to defend a theory of truth for this to work? Correspondence theories are very difficult to defend. Coherence theories might operate within ontological commitments, but if incommensurable then what's the problem? Pragmatist theories wouldn't need ontological commitments at all. So don't you presuppose what truth is as the basis for your argument? Don't you need to present reasons why anyone should accept your definition of truth, otherwise aren't you begging the question?

Cheers.

B. Prokop said...

"Were we merely isolated individuals, were our starting point simply our own individual ego seeking in itself the basis of absolutely sure knowledge, certainty would be impossible. ... But this is not the only way we attain knowledge. Persons always live in relationship. We come from others, we belong to others, and our lives are enlarged by our encounter with others. Even our own knowledge and self-awareness are relational; they are linked to others who have gone before us: in the first place, our parents, who gave us our life and our name. Language itself, the words by which we make sense of our lives and the world around us, comes to us from others, preserved in the living memory of others. Self-knowledge is only possible when we share in a greater memory."

A prize to the reader who identifies the source of this quote. I think it is rather apropos.

Victor Reppert said...

Lumen Fidei, by Pope Francis.

http://www.ignitumtoday.com/2013/08/12/considering-atheism-try-catholicism/

B. Prokop said...

You win!

I think the ideas in that quote (which I will admit to slightly altering so it would make sense out of context) stand in huge contrast to the individualistic "What is Truth?" attitude expressed in Loftus's comment. I was really impressed by the way it expressed the concept that we can know nothing by ourselves. And once you get that fixed in your thinking, then the whole notion of "Well, that may be true for you, but not for me" just flies out the window.

Steven Carr said...

All materialists explain the Carlsen-Caruana game by examining the plastic that the pieces are made out of.

Isn't that true, Victor?

Because that is what materialists believe.

Just ask Victor.

im-skeptical said...

Materialists think for themselves. Theists need a ghost to do their thinking for them.

B. Prokop said...

Skep,

So you disagree with the premise of the quote in my first posting? Do you honestly believe that you "think for yourself"?

Dan Gillson said...

Technically, Steven, a materialist would deny that the Carlsen-Caruana game itself had any intrinsic qualities, i.e., a materialist would deny that the game involved sensations, feelings, colors. A materialist would say that the game can be reduced to the moves the players made, and that we can do away with any remainder, the remainder being all stuff that doesn't really exist anyways.

(Not that you were looking to talk about materialism in good faith. You and I both know better than that.)

im-skeptical said...

"a materialist would deny that the game involved sensations, feelings, colors."

This betrays a fundamental misunderstanding of cognition from a materialist perspective, and plays directly into the hands of the theists, who insist feelings, emotions, and even understanding are not human qualities apart from their supernatural sources, but solely the province of those non-existent things.

Technically, materialists deny that our human qualities and rationality are the product of gods and ghosts, but certainly not that they exist.

Dan Gillson said...

Skep:

1. Do materialists affirm that thoughts have intrinsic qualities?

2. Considering the chess game, are sensations, feelings, and colors part of the intrinsic qualities of the game?

3. Would a materialist say that mental phenomena are reducible to their extrinsic qualities, e.g. brain states and so forth? What would a materialist do with any remainder?

4. Considering the chess game, are the moves the players make the games extrinsic qualities?

5. Is an argument against materialism an argument for theism?

B. Prokop said...

"Is an argument against materialism an argument for theism?"

Actually (despite what Ing and a few others here insist), it is very much so. Just as you cannot (rationally) argue for the existence of a single object (say, a ping pong ball) without eventually admitting to the existence of the entire physical universe, you cannot (again, rationally) admit to the slightest immaterial reality without ultimately going for the whole shebang.

It's a slippery slope all the way up!

But I'll also take the opportunity while I'm writing here to repeat my question to Skep: Do you honestly believe that you "think for yourself"?

im-skeptical said...

Dan,

1. I'm not sure how to answer because I don't know how you define 'intrinsic qualities'.

2. Chess is really more a game of strategy than of feelings and sensations. It pits one mind against another.

3. I believe a materialist would say that mental phenomena are reducible to physical states and activities of the brain. There is no left-over.

4. The moves of a chess player are the result of a calculation that takes into account both a goal and an anticipation of what the opponent is likely to do. I don't know what you mean by 'extrinsic qualities'.

5. An argument against materialism is an argument for the existence of things that are not part of our physical world and not detectable, so it is supernaturalism, which is typically (but not always) manifested as theism.

Dan Gillson said...

Your committing the fallacy of the excluded middle, Bob. The philosophical choices aren't limited to materialism or theism, nor are our other prima facie options reducible to them.

B. Prokop said...

"You're committing the fallacy of the excluded middle, Bob."

So be it. Call it a fallacy if you wish, but a halfway position on immaterialism is ultimately incoherent. I'll stick to my guns on this one.

ingx24 said...

So be it. Call it a fallacy if you wish, but a halfway position on immaterialism is ultimately incoherent. I'll stick to my guns on this one.

Do you have an *argument* for this? Ilion tried making an argument for the same conclusion, and what he threw together was a mess of logical fallacies and begged questions. Since you're obviously more mentally stable than Ilion, I hope you would be able to do better.

Dan Gillson said...

Skep,

1. You didn't answer three of the four questions (1, 2, and 4). I'd reconsider which one of us betrays a fundamental misunderstanding of cognition from a materialist perspective.

2. Re: #5, you're committing the same fallacy as Bob. E.g., If one endorses the existence of mathematics, one is not necessarily committed to supernaturalism in anyway.

B. Prokop said...

Ing,

Quick response here:

Allowing for some restricted set of immaterial realities without acknowledging a framework within which they may exist is no different than attempting to claim that this table I'm sitting in front of can somehow exist without a much larger set of physical realities upon which its being depends.

In the case of said table: forests for the trees from which its wood was taken, a planet for the forests to grow on, a sun to supply energy, a galaxy in which such a sun can form, and ultimately... the Macrocosmic All, as Mentor of Arisia would have said. See how you cannot stop at any halfway point along the way? It's all or nothing. This table is impossible without, say, galaxy cluster Abell 383 also existing. (Call that an "excluded middle" if you so please - it's still the way things are.)

It's no different with immaterial realities (replacing "universe" with "God").

And actually, the burden is on you to show how the situation could possibly be different. That's the real reason why you've made zero headway against Ilion. It's not up to him to prove you're wrong - it's up to you to prove you're right.

ingx24 said...

And actually, the burden is on you to show how the situation could possibly be different. That's the real reason why you've made zero headway against Ilion. It's not up to him to prove you're wrong - it's up to you to prove you're right.

I disagree. Ilion is the one making the claim that x entails y. If he has no good arguments for such an entailment (which he has proven he does not), then he cannot dogmatically assert that x entails y and call anyone who disagrees "intellectually dishonest".

And actually, I *have* provided a situation where things could have been different: immaterial entities could have existed since the beginning of time along with matter and energy, needing no more of an explanation in terms of God than material entities do (at this point, we are left with the basic cosmological argument, which has nothing to do with the existence of immaterial entities). Neither Ilion nor anyone else has provided a *single reason* to think that such a situation is not logically possible: in fact, Ilion's whole argument consists in him begging the question against this view (among other views such as panpsychism or strong emergence).

im-skeptical said...

Dan,

Before I can answer those questions, I need a definition of "intrinsic qualities' and 'extrinsic qualities' as they relate to mental phenomena.

On #5, I guess there is the 'realist' view of conceptual things (universals) as having some kind of existence apart from the minds that conceive of them. I reject that view, and I think it is incoherent. Oderberg's idea that you can cause something to have its own existence simply by thinking of it seems absurd. I can think of a striped elephant with wings. Oderberg would say that the object of my thought has its own existence.) There's something in your mind, but it's nothing more than a mental state. The fact that different people can conceive of the same conceptual thing, such as a number, only creates an illusion that it has an independent existence.

Dan Gillson said...

Bob,

1. We do acknowledge the framework in which immaterial entities exist. Immaterial entities exist within the framework of abstracta. We place immaterial items within the framework of abstracta because they possess (or lack) certain qualities. They aren't more or less special than material entities, and their existence certainly doesn't require God.

2. That bit about the your table is one big Just So Story, a mythical aetiology about how your table came to be. It may not be false, but it isn't true either. It's … trivial.

im-skeptical said...

Dan,

It could be that I misinterpreted your original statement: "the remainder being all stuff that doesn't really exist anyways." If by that you meant feelings and emotions, I'd say that I think materialists don't deny that those things exist. Just as cognition is physical, so are feelings and emotions. I understand that you could ascribe an immaterial essence to those things and still not be a theist, but I don't see how you could say those things have an immaterial existence and call yourself a materialist.

B. Prokop said...

Dan,

So what is wrong with my analogy? My point is you can't just posit some random set of realities without context, and that context requires context, etc., until it takes in the Entirety (the "Macrocosmic All").

And just as (at least, according to the most current cosmological models) the universe is infinite, any non-material reality will ultimately require an infinite framework in which to exist.

grodrigues said...

@im-skeptical:

"Oderberg's idea that you can cause something to have its own existence simply by thinking of it seems absurd."

It may be absurd, but since Oderberg does not hold to such a thing, not even close, the real moniker is "im-skeptical's absurd views of Oderberg's views".

Dan Gillson said...

Bob,

1. What's wrong is with your analogy is what you think it purports to do, viz., trace all the necessary connections between your table and the Macrocosmic All. That's an impossible feat because when it comes to history there is only contingency, and as Lessing reminds us: "The contingent truths of history can never become the proof of necessary truths of reason." You can't deduce what's necessary for the existence of your table by appealing to all the contingencies which brought it before you.

2. The universe may be infinite, but our minds certainly aren't. Our knowledge of non-material reality is mediated epistemically just like material reality is. The framework of abstracta and the framework of physical objects are limited by what we can know about each.

Dan Gillson said...

Let's try this again:

2. The universe may be infinite, but our minds certainly aren't. Our experience of non-material reality is mediated epistemically just like our experience material reality is. What we can know about non-material and material reality is limited by framework of each.

im-skeptical said...

"Oderberg's idea that you can cause something to have its own existence simply by thinking of it seems absurd."

Not quite stated correctly. I'm not saying he believes you can instantiate a striped elephant with wings by simply thinking of it, but you create an abstract object.

B. Prokop said...

But what we can know about either material or immaterial reality is irrelevant to what that reality is. My mind cannot possibly encompass all there is to know about the universe, but I can deduce its necessity from a very small number of known facts. (And by the way, I wasn't referring at all to "history" or to contingent truths, but rather to physical dependencies.)

I was quoting the great master of science fiction earlier, E.E. Smith, when I referred to his character Mentor. It was Smith who posited that one could deduce the entire universe from a single object - say, this table in front of me. Admittedly farfetched, but the principle is nevertheless valid. Things don't exist in isolation, and their broader context also implies a still broader context, until you arrive at the Whole.

If the mind is an immaterial reality, then it is likewise nonsensical to say that it is not relational to other minds. And once you've taken that necessary step, there is no resting place at which you can stop and deny any further environment. At least not without doing violence to the very concept of reason itself.

So a great, big, unapologetic "no" here. There is no logical fallacy involved in this line of reasoning - there is rather the insistence that one does not arbitrarily short circuit one's reasoning half way through the process. The "middle" is excluded by its being untenable. It's like trying to stop one's self half way through a dive - you can't.

Dan Gillson said...

Bob,

1. I beg to differ. What we can know about realities material or immaterial is entirely relevant to what such realities are. Our minds might not be capable of exhausting what's real, but that doesn't make them irrelevant to the question of what there is.

2. The existence of the universe is a given, taken on an induction. It is not a conclusion deduced from the facts, but a premise of actions and beliefs. (From how it sounds, Smith's argument basically recapitulates G.E. Moore's argument in Proof of an External World.) The existence of the universe isn't inferred, it's accepted. (This is perhaps where we part ways.)

3. I'm not sure what to make of your third para. I don't think the mind belongs within the framework of abstracta, so I also wouldn't say that the mind is an immaterial entity. My philosophy of mind begins with Wittgenstein's insight, "The human body is the best picture of the human soul." In other words, your mind is bound up with your body. You can't tell where one ends and another begins.

4. If you choose to remain entrenched in the idea that the only two options are theism and materialism, and that an argument against one is an argument for another, then yes, you are committing a logical fallacy. You've constructed a false dilemma and you're imposing it upon this conversation.

B. Prokop said...

Hey, I'm not "imposing" anything - I'm just stating my position.

ingx24 said...

Tell me, please, what is logically incoherent about the following:

(1) God does not exist.
(2) There are both physical and non-physical states and/or entities.
(3) All physical and non-physical entities have existed since the beginning of time.

What is so special about non-physical minds that they require a theistic explanation, while something physical like an electron does not? Why could they not have both come from the same source at the same time, without the need for a theistic explanation? I am sympathetic to the idea that God is ultimately the explanation of everything contingent (although I do not outright accept it), but that's just the cosmological argument from contingency and has nothing to do with the physical/non-physical divide.

Dan Gillson said...

Imposing was too strong of a word. My bad.

B. Prokop said...

Ing,

It's not a matter of origins or of "explanations", but one of context. What I am saying is you cannot have entities existing in isolation from an environment. Nothing exists in and of itself. And once you acknowledge that, you'll find it "incoherent" to arbitrarily stop at some point along the way, and refuse to recognize still bigger pictures. That would be like (to go back to my table analogy) agreeing to the existence of everything up to the Earth, but stopping short of the Solar System.

And no matter where you stop, if that is what you insist on doing, your construct will eventually not stand up to further scrutiny. (You will at some point find it untenable to believe in a solar system without the galaxy, or a galaxy without the entire physical universe.)

When speaking of immaterial realities, once you agree that they exist, you'll find yourself acknowledging that they exist in relation to other immaterial realities, which implies a context. From there on, it's the same as my physical analogy. Eventually you'll either have to take things to their ultimate conclusion, or just dig in your heels without any justification and deny the larger picture.

As for your last point, I agree perfectly (with the caveat/exception that our individual and immaterial selves did not exist prior to our births). However, be careful. For "the beginning of time" (a logical necessity) means no eternal past, means a creation, means a Creator. (see: The Argument from there being a "Now")

B. Prokop said...

No prob, Dan. No harm, no foul.

B. Prokop said...

And now I'm off to observe Gliese 710, the "Doomsday Star". I'll be back on DI sometime tomorrow.

ingx24 said...

When speaking of immaterial realities, once you agree that they exist, you'll find yourself acknowledging that they exist in relation to other immaterial realities, which implies a context. From there on, it's the same as my physical analogy. Eventually you'll either have to take things to their ultimate conclusion, or just dig in your heels without any justification and deny the larger picture.

First: The existence of these other immaterial entities needs independent support. You can't just say, "Well, one type exists, so all the other conceivable types must exist too!" That's a non-sequitur: you have to independently establish that these further entities actually do exist, not just that they might. The existence of the solar system, on its own, does not logically imply the existence of the rest of the universe: independent evidence was needed to establish that our solar system was actually a part of a larger galaxy. The reason your table analogy fails is because we actually can trace the chain of necessity from the table to the rest of the universe: given that the table exists, the rest of the physical universe *must* exist given the laws that govern our universe. But in the case of immaterial entities, we can't trace that chain of necessity: you have not given any reason to think that the existence of immaterial minds implies the existence of every other conceivable kind of immaterial object.

Second: You seem to be assuming that, since all objects are in relation to each other, immaterial entities must be in relation to other immaterial entities. But this is a non-sequitur: there does not seem to be any reason to think that every entity must be in relation to other entities of the same kind. Surely, immaterial minds must exist in relation to something, but this something need not also be immaterial. Insisting otherwise is like claiming that green objects can only exist in relation to other green objects: it is logically possible that there could have only been one green object in existence. Why couldn't it just be that immaterial entities exist in relation to material entities? Why do they need to be in relation to other kinds of immaterial entities? You have given no good reason to believe that they do.

As for your last point, I agree perfectly (with the caveat/exception that our individual and immaterial selves did not exist prior to our births). However, be careful. For "the beginning of time" (a logical necessity) means no eternal past, means a creation, means a Creator. (see: The Argument from there being a "Now")

I'm not really sure about this argument: it doesn't seem to do the work for me that some people think it does. It seems to extrapolate the idea of causation from its proper context in the temporal order to a context in which the idea of time (and thus, plausibly, causation as well) cannot be applied. I think the cosmological argument from contingency is by far the most convincing argument for God's existence, although I still have some slight doubts about it - mainly because it seems too good to be true (as in, the argument seems flawless, but the fact that it isn't universally accepted makes me feel like I must be overlooking something).

grodrigues said...

@im-skeptical:

"Not quite stated correctly."

"Not quite stated correctly." What a blast.

"I'm not saying he believes you can instantiate a striped elephant with wings by simply thinking of it, but you create an abstract object."

Wrong. Again. As in not even close. As in, you do not have the *faintest* clue of what he defends.

B. Prokop said...

Those are very good points, Ing. I do not agree, but I'd like to respond in a manner better than just saying "You're wrong and I'm right". I must give this some thought. Perhaps we'll end up somewhere in the middle. Or at the least we may each end up with a better idea of what we believe by bouncing our ideas off each other.

Signing off now for the next several hours.

B. Prokop said...

Ing,

Well, I’ve given your comments a bit of thought (while babysitting my 8 month old granddaughter, who unbelievably took her first steps today, albeit while holding on to the edge of a sofa - 8 months!).

You wrote, The existence of these other immaterial entities needs independent support. You can't just say, "Well, one type exists, so all the other conceivable types must exist too!" But I’m not the only one saying this – in fact, you have as well. There are all sorts of non-material entities besides the mind recognized by anyone not a diehard materialist. Examples include “conceptual” things such as love, beauty, mathematics, etc. Then there are specific entities, such as The Brothers Karamazov (which I’ve brought up before on this site as an example of an immaterial “object”). Plus there are realities such as Good, Evil, Purpose, Meaning, Intention, etc. So there’s no need to “independently establish that these further entities actually do exist, not just that they might.” Admittedly, such a concession to non-materialism does not automatically lead one to acknowledging the existence of angels, demons, and God Himself. But the door to their being so has definitely been opened. So to answer the final sentence of your first comment, the existence of immaterial minds does indeed imply “the existence of every other conceivable kind of immaterial object” – it just doesn’t definitively demonstrate it.

Next, you wrote, Surely, immaterial minds must exist in relation to something, but this something need not also be immaterial. ... Why couldn't it just be that immaterial entities exist in relation to material entities? Why do they need to be in relation to other kinds of immaterial entities? There’s a HUGE problem with this line of thought – namely, if immaterial entities existed in relation only to material objects, what is preventing us from simply defining such entities as extensions or attributes of those objects? This is precisely what people like Skep have been arguing for on this site. I see no meaningful difference between such a state of affairs and pure materialism.

im-skeptical said...

"So there’s no need to “independently establish that these further entities actually do exist, not just that they might.”"

What a materialist might want to establish is how you define 'exist'. I wouldn't deny that there are conceptual things like numbers. But what kind of existence do they have? Are they objects? Are they independent of mind? What kind of dependencies do they have? Is there any physical aspect to them?

If a thought is an object that exists apart from the physical brain, how (and when) does it come to exist? Does it persist as an object after you stop thinking about it, or does it just go away? What about things like love?

B. Prokop said...

Again, all good points! I like the way this conversation is going.

Give me 12-24 hours to think them over.

B. Prokop said...

"What a materialist might want to establish is how you define 'exist'. I wouldn't deny that there are conceptual things like numbers. But what kind of existence do they have? Are they objects?"

You're going to get into serious category error trouble here if you start asking immaterial entities to either exist or be objects in the same manner as material entities. If there is no fundamental difference in their mode of being, then there is no reason to call one material and the other immaterial. There is more than one way for something to exist. Please correct me if I'm wrong, Skep, but I get the impression that you're waiting for some way to define immaterial entities in the same manner as material ones.

"Are they independent of mind?"

I would say yes. That was part of my previous argument to Ing that he needs to consider the immaterial mind as a relational member of a greater set of immaterial entities. If this were not so, then I would not see how one could avoid concluding (as I believe you yourself have) that the mind is merely an aspect of the physical brain.

One reason I cannot believe that is that the other entities we've mentioned already, such as mathematics, good, evil, or love, are independent of the mind. It would still be evil for me to murder my neighbor, even if I were the only person alive - or even if nobody at all were alive. 2 plus 2 would still equal 4, even in the absence of anyone to add them together.

But the fact is that the mind cannot exist in isolation from what you labeled "conceptual things" - and that is a powerful (in fact, I believe fatal) argument against materialism. There demonstrably exists an independent interrelationship of entities that have no physical being, necessitating a "supernatural" ecology in addition to the natural one.

Ing wanted mind to exist in relationship to only a physical object (presumably, the brain). But that flies in the face of the mind being impossible in isolation from other "conceptual things". It is not possible for thought to be only about physical things - at least not for a human being. Perhaps this is what C.S. Lewis was getting at in his chapter on animal consciousness in The Problem of Pain. Could it be that animal consciousness is limited to the purely material?

im-skeptical said...

"you're waiting for some way to define immaterial entities in the same manner as material ones"

No, I only want to know what you mean when you say these things exist, but I appreciate your reply. As far as I'm concerned, a conceptual thing is nothing more than a mental artifact. It would not exist at all if there were no mind to conceive of it.

There is no object called 'seven'. There is only a concept of it in our minds. There is no object that can be called a thought. That is merely a perception we have of our own mental activity. Why do we think these things have any kind of existence apart from the mind? The only reason that occurs to me is that we have shared or common conceptions of certain things like numbers. That creates an illusion that they are independent of mind.

But I think of it like the proverbial sound of a tree falling in a forest. If there's someone there to hear it, that person perceives the sound in his own brain, and if there are more people there, they all perceive the same sound. Without a listener, there is only the physical motion of air molecules. So sound is not something that has existence apart from a brain that perceives it. You can't go into some gallery of immaterial objects and find object #3682946: "the sound of the tree falling". It doesn't exist. And neither does object #4729348: "the number 7".

B. Prokop said...

I'm very glad you brought up the classic question about whether a tree falling in the forest makes a sound when there is no one to hear it. The question is "classic" because it has no answer. Or at least none that be demonstrated to be either true or false.

You say there is no sound, but all you have done is defined the answer to be so ("sound is not something that has existence apart from a brain that perceives it"). I happen to think the falling tree does make a sound. I believe the sun still shines, even if no one is looking at it.

I go out observing on most clear nights. I hope to do so tonight. One of the things I hope to see tonight is a star called Gliese 710. (I failed to find it on my last attempt, but I have better star charts for tonight's attempt.) If I do manage to catch a glimpse of it this evening, in all likelihood I will be the only person on Earth looking at it. But if I don't manage to identify it, does that mean the star does not exist because no one sees it? Of course not?

Or perhaps you'll counter that it still exists, but that it's just not shining because no one can see the light?

But all this really indicates is that the materialist and the non-materialist (Is that the term I want to use here? Someone please give me a better one!) are looking at the same phenomena, but interpreting them quite differently. You see only the physical, and deny the objective, independent reality of the mental. But we both agree that the tree is doing something. The interesting thing, as I see it, is that you seem to regard the activities of a conscious mind as "creating" a reality that otherwise wouldn't exist. Can you not see how perilously close you are to admitting to the immaterial by doing so?

im-skeptical said...

"you seem to regard the activities of a conscious mind as "creating" a reality that otherwise wouldn't exist. Can you not see how perilously close you are to admitting to the immaterial by doing so?"

Of course, we see and interpret things differently. The only reality that I create in my mind is my own interpretation of the world. I don't 'create' immaterial, things, I have concepts. Sounds are perceptions, not objects. Without my brain perceiving them, there are no sounds. And so are thoughts - just the perception of what my brain is doing. You create a reality that doesn't exist when you assign 'existence' to things that are nothing more than concepts or fleeting perceptions in your own minf.