Saturday, March 16, 2013

Jerry Coyne on reductionism

Leiter and Weisberg: Nagel opposes two main components of the “materialist” view inspired by Darwin’s theory of evolution by natural selection. The first is what we will call theoretical reductionism, the view that there is an order of priority among the sciences, with all theories ultimately derivable from physics and all phenomena ultimately explicable in physical terms. We believe, along with most philosophers, that Nagel is right to reject theoretical reductionism, because the sciences have not progressed in a way consistent with it. We have not witnessed the reduction of psychology to biology, biology to chemistry, and chemistry to physics, but rather the proliferation of fields like neuroscience and evolutionary biology that explain psychological and biological phenomena in terms unrecognizable by physics. As the philosopher of biology Philip Kitcher pointed out some thirty years ago, even classical genetics has not been fully reduced to molecular genetics, and that reduction would have been wholly within one field. We simply do not see any serious attempts to reduce all the “higher” sciences to the laws of physics.


Coyne: Here all three academics (Weisberg is a philosopher; Leiter a professor of law) make a mistake: the view that all sciences are in principle reducible to the laws of physics, which is materialism, is not identical to an attempt to reduce all sciences to physics. The former must be true unless you’re religious, while the latter is a tactical problem that will be solved to some degree as we understand more about physics and biology, but is unlikely in our lifetime to give a complete explanation for higher-level phenomena. Remember, though, that “emergent phenomena” must be consistent with the laws of physics, even those laws may not be useful for explaining things like natural selection.


VR: Thanks, Jerry, for attacking nonreductive materialism, which is the strongest form of materialism.




41 comments:

ingx24 said...

[Reduction in principle of everything to physics] must be true unless you’re religious

That's weird, I'm not religious and I don't think everything is reducible to physics. I have these weird experiences called "thoughts" and "emotions" that have never been observed; maybe I'm just crazy, IDK.

ingx24 said...

So much for "freethinking", then. Non-religious people are allowed to think for themselves, but they damn well better not question "science" (or rather, scientism). You damn well better not wonder whether there may actually be some kind of afterlife or whether you might actually have thoughts and feelings that aren't actually just chemical reactions in your brain, or damnit, you're just succumbing to religious dogma and aren't really a "freethinker" at all. Science has ultimate authority on what exists, and if it ain't scientifically observable, then it just ain't real, no matter how much personal experience says otherwise.

Maybe we do still need religion then, in order to keep people from falling into this scientistic dogma that denies what makes us valuable as humans (i.e. our inner mental life).

Martin said...

It's amazing that Coyne, a biologist, has been able to figure out the mistake those idiot philosophers made and were unable to notice themselves.

I swear, the plague of Dunning-Kruger Syndrome is reaching epidemic proportions!

This would of course apply equally to Leiter and Nagel when they make pronouncements on biology...

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Ilíon said...

"VR: Thanks, Jerry, for attacking nonreductive materialism, which is the strongest form of materialism."

So, the "strongest form of materialism" is that form of materialism which denies its own logical entailments?

Is the strongest form of "theism" also that which denies its own logical entailments?

Ilíon said...

As I keep pointing out, too great focus on the '-ists' can be a distraction from comprehending the '-ism'.

BenYachov said...

>So, the "strongest form of materialism" is that form of materialism which denies its own logical entailments?

It would seem it is stronger only because some of the arguments employed again reductive materialism logically do not apply to it.

Thus making non-reductive materialism more plausible when compared to it's reductive sibling.

Not saying that the non-reductive version might not still have it's problems.

Geez I figured that out & I'm the Son-of-Confusion who in turn is son-of-displacement who was begotten by Son-of-Paradox who was the son-of-misinterpret who was the son-of-discouragement who traces his lineage back to a guy named Archie.

Stay frosty Son-of-touches-the bridge-of-his-nose.

Ilíon said...

Ilíon: "So, the "strongest form of materialism" is that form of materialism which denies its own logical entailments?"

Oddly Restrained: "It would seem it is stronger only because some of the arguments employed again reductive materialism logically do not apply to it."

Can you name even one of these arguments ... and explain how it is that it does not logically apply to "non-reductive materialism"?

"Thus making non-reductive materialism more plausible when compared to it's [sic] reductive sibling."

Ah! So "non-reductive materialism" is stronger than actual materialism because it provides the -ists a fig-leaf between themselves and the inherent incoherency of the -ism ... so long as they don't examine the fig-leaf too intently?

Didn't I just make a comment about that? It doesn't matter for damn what any -ist says (no matter the -ism under examination) -- what matters is what the -ism says: what matters is what its axioms are and what those axioms logically entail.

"Not saying that the non-reductive version might not still have it's [sic] problems."

There is no such thing as "non-reductive materialism" -- the very first axiom of materialism/naturalism (*) reduces everything, before one has even asked any other questions.

(*) "In principle, there exists nothing (nor can exist anything) which is not fully explicable, in all regards, in terms of matter, and the physical relationships of-and-between matter, across time-and-space."

"Geez I figured that out ..."

I think not. What you did is -- much as those who claim to be "non-reductive materialists" -- decline to think about the matter.

"... & I'm the Son-of-Confusion who in turn is son-of-displacement who was begotten by Son-of-Paradox who was the son-of-misinterpret who was the son-of-discouragement who traces his lineage back to a guy named Archie."

I think you neglected to trace this lineage all the way back to its founders: Son-of-Misrepresent, and his father, Misrepresent, the beginning of it all.

"Stay frosty Son-of-touches-the bridge-of-his-nose."

It has nothing to do with touching my nose; it has to do with providing a picture of myself without actually providing a picture of myself. One might even go so far as to say it's an expression of frostiness, in that I have no intention of pretending to be warm-and-cuddly -- nor of inadvertantly having my appearance influence someone else's opinion of or reaction to my expressed opinions.

BenYachov said...

>Can you name even one of these arguments ... and explain how it is that it does not logically apply to "non-reductive materialism"?

No I can't go ask Victor.

I can only conclude that non-reductive materialism is a form of materialism that doesn't postulate reductionism and as such any standard criticisms that are content dependent on reductionism are non-starter objections when applied to it.

>There is no such thing as "non-reductive materialism" -- the very first axiom of materialism/naturalism (*) reduces everything, before one has even asked any other questions.

If you say so then you should have simply opened with that son-of-partially-conceals-his-appearance-and-is-sensitive-about-it.

In principle I don't know that you are wrong. Slightly off topic I don't believe for example there is any real difference between SOLA SCIPTURA vs what some Evangelicals call SOLO SCRIPTURA.

>Ah! So "non-reductive materialism" is stronger than actual materialism because it provides the -ists a fig-leaf between themselves and the inherent incoherency of the -ism ... so long as they don't examine the fig-leaf too intently?

Stronger doesn't mean actually correct. I believe Anselm's ontological argument is stronger then Descartes but I still think fundamentally the ontological argument is wrong. But I still believe in God.

Chillout Son-of-putting-weird-dashes-between-words.

William said...

Ben and Ilíon :

Non-reductive materialism is permissible at the price of realism. Since you, Ilíon, assume realism, of course to you it is impossible.

But if we avoid thinking that material explanation must be about anything that has to be entirely real, more is possible.

BenYachov said...

Thanks William.

That is informative.

William said...

What physicalists likely mean, I would add, by mental properties being realized by physical properties is that they are not real except as the physical realizes (makes real) the mental.

I personally think in doing so they are stretching things into metaphysical nonsense.

Ilíon said...

Ilíon: "There is no such thing as "non-reductive materialism" ..."

William: "Non-reductive materialism is permissible at the price of realism. Since you, Ilíon, assume realism, of course to you it is impossible."

'Realism' is the position that there really is a world external to, and independent of, any of our conceptions of the world. Realism includes the entailment that when we claim to "know truth" or to "have real knowledge", that we are claiming that our beliefs and assertions about the world correspond to what is actually the case in/of the world, irrespective of and independent of our having believed or asserted those things.

One might coherently be a realist with respect to, or relative to, human minds, and indeed relative to any embodied minds, relative to any minds "within" the physical world of matter/energy moving-and-changing in time-and-space, while being a non-realist with respect to, or relative to, the Divine Mind, who is logically prior to, and the cause of, the physical world of matter/energy moving-and-changing in time-and-space. Oddly enough, such a relative realism would be not only self-consistentt, but also consistent with Judaism/Christianity.

'Materialism' is the position that the physical world of matter/energy moving-and-changing in time-and-space is temporally, and logically, prior to any and all minds. Thus, materialism entails absolute realism about the world.

So, any so-called "non-reductive materialism" that attempts to escape or deflect away the reductionism (and indeed, the eliminative reductionism) inherent in materialism is a materialism that denies/disputes actual materialism. Such a "non-reductive materialism" is a self-contradiction.

So, just as I said, there is no such thing as "non-reductive materialism".

What there are are persons who willingly, and frequently knowingly, assert self-contradictory propositions about the nature of reality ... generally as the means by which they imagine they can rationally avoid acknowledging the reality of the Divine Mind.

William: "But if we avoid thinking that material explanation must be about anything that has to be entirely real, more is possible."

I care about whether a proposition/claim is 1) self-consistent and 2) logically consistent and 3) true (if that can be determined). I don't care to waste my time on a proposition/claim that is "possible" so long as "we avoid thinking that [] explanation must be" self-consistent, much less logically consistent, much less have any bearing on or relationship to reality.

Along with all else it is, materialism is the claim to be asserting true propositions about the nature of reality.

Apparently, "non-reductive materialism" is the claim *not* to be asserting true propositions about the nature of reality ... but to be, somehow nonetheless, avoiding/side-stepping the logical arguments that show actual materialism to be false.

But then, do I not constantly say that when pushed, 'atheists' will *always* retreat into illogic and anti-reason, so as to spare their God-denial from rational critical evaluation?

Ilíon said...

Ilíon: "So, the "strongest form of materialism" is that form of materialism which denies its own logical entailments?"

Son-of-Confusion: "It would seem it is stronger only because some of the arguments employed again reductive materialism logically do not apply to it. Thus making non-reductive materialism more plausible when compared to it's [sic] reductive sibling."

Ilíon: "Can you name even one of these arguments ... and explain how it is that it does not logically apply to "non-reductive materialism"?"

Son-of-Confusion: "No I can't go ask Victor."

So, as is so often the case when you set yourself to dispute what I've said, you don't actually have anything to say and you don't have the faintest damned idea what in the hell you're talking about? What? Are you just jumping up and down to get my attention?

Son-of-Confusion: "I can only conclude that non-reductive materialism is a form of materialism that doesn't postulate reductionism and as such any standard criticisms that are content dependent on reductionism are non-starter objections when applied to it."

Conclude? You don't know what in the hell you're talking about: on what basis are you going to "conclude" anything?

Reductionism isn't some sepatate postulate which just happens to be commonly postulated in conjuction with materialism, such that it can be un-postulated, leaving materialism standing there on its lonesome, all naked and alone before God and all the angels. Rather, reductionism is a logical enteilment of materialism itself -- so that to deny reductionism is to deny materialism itself.

Son-of-Confusion: "If you say so then you should have simply opened with that ..."

So, even rhetorical questions containing their own answer in the form of a reductio ad absurdum confuse you?

Son-of-Confusion: "In principle I don't know that you are wrong."

That was obvious, as it was that you have no idea what you're talking about. Yet, apparently, you still had some odd psychic need to *dispute* what I said.

My time is valuable (and limited). Why should I spend *any* of it on you, considering that it *always* looks like a waste of limited resources.

Son-of-Confusion: "Slightly off topic I don't believe for example there is any real difference between SOLA SCIPTURA vs what some Evangelicals call SOLO SCRIPTURA."

You've already made it aboundantly clear that on that topic -- as on so many others -- you have no desire, nor intention, of approaching the matter in an intellectually honest manner. And I won't have my time wasted by those who will not reason and argue honestly.

BenYachov said...

@Ilion

You are in desperate need of the love of a good woman.

>So, as is so often the case when you set yourself to dispute what I've said, you don't actually have anything to say and you don't have the faintest damned idea what in the hell you're talking about? What? Are you just jumping up and down to get my attention?

No I am merely honest about the limits of my knowledge & also I don’t care. You’re the one who is claiming there is no such thing as “non-reductive” materialism. You believe all materialism is reductive then make the case. I’m not stopping ya nor standing in your way.

>Conclude? You don't know what in the hell you're talking about: on what basis are you going to "conclude" anything?

By deductive reasoning, duh! Logically in language the prefix “non” is a negation of an adjective’s description. For example “non-Darwinian” Evolution would refer to some type of Evolution that is not Darwin. Logically I could conclude arguments one might postulate against Darwin might be non-starters if applied to a form of evolution that is “Non-Darwinian”.

It’s not hard.

>Reductionism isn't some sepatate postulate which just happens to be commonly postulated in conjuction with materialism, such that it can be un-postulated, leaving materialism standing there on its lonesome, all naked and alone before God and all the angels. Rather, reductionism is a logical enteilment of materialism itself -- so that to deny reductionism is to deny materialism itself.

If you say so but then you should have lead with that argument instead of kvetching over wither or not it was a “stronger” form of materialism or not. Logically if there is such a thing as “non-reductive” materialism then the problems inherent in reductive materialism might not apply and might be non-starter objections.

Again not it’s hard.

>That was obvious, as it was that you have no idea what you're talking about. Yet, apparently, you still had some odd psychic need to *dispute* what I said.

That is comical coming from a weirdo who has out of the blue done the same to me yet with weird creepy designations such as “son-of-whatever”. What? Where you a follower of Bahá'u'lláh at some point in your life? Because he uses that type phrasings in his writings ex: Son-Of-This, Son-Of-That etc….I am not complaining mind you but merely curious.

>My time is valuable (and limited). Why should I spend *any* of it on you, considering that it *always* looks like a waste of limited resources.

Then walk away since my dispute is minor unless you are some emotionally weird person who can’t bare it that there are those who disagree with you even slightly? Oh wait…you are!(Prove me wrong walk away)

>You've already made it aboundantly clear that on that topic -- as on so many others -- you have no desire, nor intention, of approaching the matter in an intellectually honest manner. And I won't have my time wasted by those who will not reason and argue honestly.

Who is arguing? I merely logically concluded based on language why Victor would have called the argument for non-reductive materialism “stronger”. You being an emotional basket case saw the adjective “stronger” and acted like it was synonymous with “true” or “plausible” or there is no God. I didn’t make that leap.

William said...

See Schneider (an agnostic afaik) in the inconsistency here:

http://www.sas.upenn.edu/~sls/Schneider_site/Research_files/Schneider%20-%20Nous.pdf

BenYachov said...

Thank you again William.

I note many of the arguments one might venture against Cartesian dualism can be adapted to attack property dualism but within modern philosophy the "mind-body problem" remains.

Of course for those of us in the Hylomorphism there is really no such thing as an "interaction problem".

Ilíon said...

Daughter-of-Confusion: "You are in desperate need of the love of a good woman."

Spoken like a real girl; well played!

here's how this works --

Man: "A"

Girl: "Ha!Ha!Ha! You're wrong; ~A"

Man: "Really? How so?"

Girl: "X, Y or Z"

Man: "But, W; therefore ~X, ~Y, and ~Z"

Girl: "You need to get laid!"

BenYachov said...

That is a whole new level of creepy. You are imagining me as a girl?

Right......creepy.

That & interpreting "love of a good woman" kneejerk exclusively in sexual terms.

Yeh chicks aren't into that it makes them feel like they are mere objects. They want a man who is concerned with their feelings, listen to them & if you haven't learned how to fake that by now I don't know what to do with you guy. ;-)

BenYachov said...

Anyway enough of this nonsense. Someone explain the difference between reductive vs non-reductive materialism.

Is non-reductive materialism simply the belief that matter is the basis of reality but that non-material things may exist like 'emergent properties" but they are ultimately dependent on matter for their existence?

Ilíon said...

"That is a whole new level of creepy. You are imagining me as a girl?"

You're really not very bright, are you?

You *think* and "argue" like a junior-high school girl ... so, of course, you're none too happy about having it pointed out.

Martin said...

BenYachov,

Non-reductive physicalist says that the language used to refer to mental events (or whatever) can never be replaced by the language of physical science. With functionalism of the mind, mental events are described by their role, rather than their physical makeup. "Pain" is when a creature receives tissue damage, screams, and runs away. But this "algorithm" could be run on many different physical brains. Perhaps C fibers in humans, gamma neurons in aliens, silicon in robots.

So the sentence "Bob is in pain" can never be swapped out with physical language like "Bob's C fibers are firing" because if Bob is a robot then it would be silicon circuits firing rather than C fibers.

Reductive physicalism of course says the opposite. Identity theory is the main version of reductive physicalism, which says that pain IS the firing of C fibers. So whoever lacks C fibers ( aliens? robots?) cannot feel pain.

BenYachov said...

@Martin

So is a non-reductivist trying to have his cake and eat it too?

That is treat metal events as one thing and physical events as another separate thing as some sort of useful fiction?

Martin said...

In this context, non-reduction simply enables one to say that the mind can be realized by many different physical structures.

It would be very helpful to pick up a copy of Jaworski's Philosphy of Mind: A Comprehensive Introduction. It's a big topic that is difficult to describe in a comment box like this.

Ilíon said...

Martin: "Non-reductive physicalist says that the language used to refer to mental events (or whatever) can never be replaced by the language of physical science. With functionalism of the mind, mental events are described by their role, rather than their physical makeup."

Whether one calls one's set of metaphysical assertions 'physicalism' or 'naturalism', it remains the case that one's core assertions, the kernel around which the metaphysic grows, is 'materialism'.

When we speak of the sun rising or setting, we are speaking descriptively -- but we are not making a statement/assertion of what the world is really like; and we'd likely be both amused and agast were someone to understand (or claim) us to be making an assertion of what the world is really like.

In contrast, whether 'materialism' or 'physicalism' or 'naturalism', each is making a set of truth-claims about the nature of reality, about what the world is really like: Each is claiming, not something like "This is what the world looks like", or "This is how the world can be described"; but rather, each is asserting "This is what the world is really like!" -- and those truth-claims all start with, and depend upon, materialism: "There exists nothing apart from 'matter in motion'."

So, this "non-reductive physicalism" appears to acknowledge that "mental events" cannot be fit into the box of 'materialism' or 'naturalism'; that is, that "mental events" cannot, in principle, be explained in terms of 'matter/energy moving/changing in space/time'.

Yet, apparently, rather that drawing the correct conclusion, namely that materialism is a false metaphysic, that materialism's claims about what the world is really like are false, it seems that the "non-reductive physicalist" thinks, "Ah-ha! But if I duct-tape onto materialism the axiom that "mental states exist and are not reducible to material/physical states", then I can rescue materialism from its contradiction with observed reality!"

So, it seems that this "non-reductive physicalism" makes two core assertions about the nature of reality:
1) "There exists nothing apart from 'matter in motion'";
1a) except for "mental events", which cannot be described in the language of "matter in motion".

But, there *are* no such things as "mental events" until-and-unless there are such things as minds. This is true locally, of the individual rational being; globally, of a species of rational beings; and cosmically, of any and all rational beings, whether or not embodied. And, as it will not (and cannot) repudiate materialism, this "non-reductive physicalism" continues to deny that there is a Mind who exists logically prior to the physical world of "matter in motion", and thus is non-embodied, and who is the cause of the physical world.

One may recall 'im-skeptical' making the amusing assertion a couple of weeks ago that "[t]he mind itself is just another mental activity, but it is fooled into believing that it is calling the shots, when in reality, it is only following what the brain does." Is not the "non-reductive physicalist" likewise doing the same bait-and-switch of "explaining" minds as being "just another mental activity"?

So, we see, this "non-reductive physicalism" is reductive, after all. There is no such thing as a non-reductive materialism, for the reductionism is inherent in the materialism.

BenYachov said...

Wow that was an intelligent thoughtful and very informative post. One question who are you & what did you do with.......NO!...KIDDING!.....I am going to be good and just say very good job Ilion.

But I will conclude that non-reductive materialism is "stronger" in the sense that it is not specifically vulnerable to arguments that point out the problems with trying to explain "mental events" in physical term since it concedes to the critic of materialism that is incoherent. It tries to preserve it's status as "materialism" by postulating that "mental events" thought different from matter depend on matter for their emergent existence.

In my humble opinion then it is only "stronger" in the sense it concedes ground by admitting the existence of dependent "mental events" that can't be identified with matter.

Thoughts people? Corrections?

BenYachov said...

>So, it seems that this "non-reductive physicalism" makes two core assertions about the nature of reality:
1) "There exists nothing apart from 'matter in motion'";
1a) except for "mental events", which cannot be described in the language of "matter in motion".


OTOH I have seen definitions of materialism that define it as "there exists nothing else but matter and or the by products of matter".

With this definition you could have a non-reductive materialism.

You would have matter and it's by products "mental events" which are dependent on matter to exist.

Of course you are left in the land of Thomas Nagel with the ontological nature of "mental events" being mysterious and unexplainable by current science and evolution.

William said...

Martin: This is an example of one man's modus pollens is another's modus tollens:


COYNE:
1. Materialism implies mental states are not real.
2. Materialism is true.
3. Mental states are not real.

MARTIN/VICTOR:
1. Materialism implies mental states are not real.
2. Mental states are real.
2. Materialism is not true.

Silly how we just wind up with our priors, eh?

Martin said...

William,

I don't think I ever said anything about what I believe. I was merely explaining what non-reductive physicalism is.

However, that does raise the whole plausibility comparison issue:

So we are down to comparing two premises:

1. There is no mind

vs

2. Materialism is true

What is the evidence for each? I can produce evidence for 1 at will, by merely thinking. In fact, the very act of trying to CHOOSE, or DECIDE which premise is more likely to be true presupposes 1.

However, what is the evidence for 2? I always ask, and the few times I receive an answer, it is weak or absent. Usually "everything else has been explained materialistically, so materialism is true." Which is a non sequitur.

So the evidence for 1 seems to be impeccable, and the evidence for 2 seems to be fallacious to non-existent.

Martin said...

Oops. I switched up the negations, but you get the idea:

Materialism is true

vs

Minds are real

Evidence strongly favors, and in fact may presuppose, the latter. Evidence is lacking or fallacious for the former.

Victor Reppert said...

If mental states are not real, then science does not exist. If Coyne draws that kind of inference, then his own position becomes self-refuting. What in the world can "evidence" possibly mean in a world with no mind?????

Ilíon said...

VR: "If mental states are not real, then science does not exist. If Coyne draws that kind of inference, then his own position becomes self-refuting. What in the world can "evidence" possibly mean in a world with no mind?????"

Are you finally starting to catch on that the AfR isn't "suggestive" or "probabilistic" of the truth that God is, but rather that it leaves the God-denier no ground upon which to stand?

ingx24 said...

Ilion,

Why do you think atheism entails materialism?

Ilíon said...

I've explained, time and again, why it is that atheism entails materialism.

Tell you what, why don't you try to explain how one can:
1) assert that there is no Creator-God;
2) acknowledge that the physical world really does exist;
3) arrive at any place other than materialism?

ingx24 said...

There are plenty of ways. William Hasker's emergent dualism is one possible way you could avoid materialism without embracing theism, as is the neutral monism/panpsychism of Russell, Chalmers, and Strawson. There's also a kind of non-materialistic emergence theory that I think Chalmers has flirted with - the theory that information processing gives rise to conscious experience by its very nature, resulting in a kind of property dualism (I think William Hasker's emergent dualism is kind of a riff on this, though I could be wrong about that as I have not read The Emergent Self).

ingx24 said...

Keep in mind though, that this emergence theory requires that information be a real, objective, mind-independent, and fundamental aspect of the universe, not reducible to matter in motion.

Ilíon said...

Missy Yachov: "Wow that was an intelligent thoughtful and very informative post. One question who are you & what did you do with.......NO!...KIDDING!.....I am going to be good and just say very good job Ilion."

Until you're willing to consistently reason correctly, please spare me, spare us all, your effusions.

Ilíon: "So, it seems that this "non-reductive physicalism" makes two core assertions about the nature of reality:
1) "There exists nothing apart from 'matter in motion'";
1a) except for "mental events", which cannot be described in the language of "matter in motion".
"

BenYachov: "OTOH I have seen definitions of materialism that define it as "there exists nothing else but matter and or the by products of matter".

With this definition you could have a non-reductive materialism.

You would have matter and it's [sic] by products "mental events" which are dependent on matter to exist.
"

The phrase "matter in motion" is a short-cut reference to my prior statement that "'Materialism' is the position that the physical world of matter/energy moving-and-changing in time-and-space is temporally, and logically, prior to any and all minds.", which, in turn, refers back to what I'd earlier said is the central axiom of materialism -- "In principle, there exists nothing (nor can exist anything) which is not fully explicable, in all regards, in terms of matter, and the physical relationships of-and-between matter, across time-and-space".

The phrase "matter in motion" is a common way to denote the *only* explanatory resources available to materialism -- matter/energy moving/chaning in space-time. Understand that 'matter' means 'matter/energy', given that they are the same thing, and that 'motion' means both 'motion' (motion in space) and 'change' (motion in time), given that time and space both are "generated" by matter/energy.

The point being that "there exists nothing else but matter and or the by products of matter" is just another way of saying "In principle, there exists nothing (nor can exist anything) which is not fully explicable, in all regards, in terms of matter, and the physical relationships of-and-between matter, across time-and-space". That is, I already have the definition you've offered covered ... it's already *contained* in what I said above.

Ilíon said...

BenYachov: "With this definition you could have a non-reductive materialism."

There is nothing non-reductive about this definition of materialism (*).

Such a definition is playing with equivocation -- it is noting the difference between 'physical' and 'material' and then trying to implicitly assert that the philosophical position we call 'materialism' is only about the one side of that difference; as though 'physicalism' doesn't reduce to 'materialism' in the end.

The gravitation between two bodies can be said to be a "by product of matter" and "dependent on matter to exist". Is gravitation therefore non-physical? Is gravitation therefore something that exists apart from matter? Does gravitation being non-material, in one manner of speaking, offer any means by which to get minds-as-they-really-are out of matter?

Leaving aside the Magickal assertion of the 'emergence' of "mental events" out of that which is neither a mind nor a "mental event", this definition simply restates the core materialist assertion that everything which exists or can exist is fully explicable, without remainder, in terms of matter moving and changing in space-time.

Once one has asserted that matter/energy is the ultimate basis of all reality, then one has asserted that *everything* -- every event and every entity -- is just the outworking of "matter in motion". And, as there are no "mental events", and no minds, anywhere in "matter in motion", one has denied that one's own self does, and can, exist. But, one does exist, and one knows that one exists ... therefore, one knows that the prior assertion about the nature of reality is false.

(*) and, as I keep pointing out, it's logically impossible, in any event, to define materialism non-reductively.

BenYachov said...

>I've explained, time and again, why it is that atheism entails materialism.

>Tell you what, why don't you try to explain how one can:
1) assert that there is no Creator-God;
2) acknowledge that the physical world really does exist;
3) arrive at any place other than materialism?

What if you accept 1 but deny 2 then you are what a "Theist"?

I believe in God and this makes no sense to me.