Thursday, February 16, 2017

The external world and the burden of proof

If both a proposition and its denial cannot be proved, what rules do we use to decide what to believe? If I say "Can you prove that the external world exists" and you can't prove it, should we then not believe that there is an external world?

113 comments:

John Moore said...

It depends on whether a concept is useful for you as you pursue your goals. Believing something just means acting as if you think it's true. Proof doesn't matter as long as you seem to be achieving your goals.

Certainly truth is more likely to be useful than untruth, in the long run, but if you can't figure out for sure what's true, then it makes sense to go with what seems likely and useful.

B. Prokop said...

From FLATLAND by Edwin a> Abbott:

"Look yonder," said my Guide, "in Flatland thou hast lived; of Lineland thou hast received a vision; thou hast soared with me to the heights of Spaceland; now, in order to complete the range of thy experience, I conduct thee downward to the lowest depth of existence, even to the realm of Pointland, the Abyss of No dimensions.

"Behold yon miserable creature. That Point is a Being like ourselves, but confined to the non-dimensional Gulf. He is himself his own World, his own Universe; of any other than himself he can form no conception; he knows not Length, nor Breadth, nor Height, for he has had no experience of them; he has no cognizance even of the number Two; nor has he a thought of Plurality; for he is himself his One and All, being really Nothing. Yet mark his perfect self-contentment, and hence learn his lesson, that to be self-contented is to be vile and ignorant, and that to aspire is better than to be blindly and impotently happy. Now listen."

He ceased; and there arose from the little buzzing creature a tiny, low, monotonous, but distinct tinkling, as from one of your Spaceland phonographs, from which I caught these words, "Infinite beatitude of existence! It is; and there is nothing else beside It."

"What," said I, "does the puny creature mean by 'it'?" "He means himself," said the Sphere: "have you not noticed before now, that babies and babyish people who cannot distinguish themselves from the world, speak of themselves in the Third Person? But hush!"

"It fills all Space," continued the little soliloquizing Creature, "and what It fills, It is. What It thinks, that It utters; and what It utters, that It hears; and It itself is Thinker, Utterer, Hearer, Thought, Word, Audition; it is the One, and yet the All in All. Ah, the happiness, ah, the happiness of Being!"

"Can you not startle the little thing out of its complacency?" said I. "Tell it what it really is, as you told me; reveal to it the narrow limitations of Pointland, and lead it up to something higher." "That is no easy task," said my Master; "try you."

Hereon, raising by voice to the uttermost, I addressed the Point as follows:

"Silence, silence, contemptible Creature. You call yourself the All in All, but you are the Nothing: your so-called Universe is a mere speck in a Line, and a Line is a mere shadow as compared with—" "Hush, hush, you have said enough," interrupted the Sphere, "now listen, and mark the effect of your harangue on the King of Pointland."

The lustre of the Monarch, who beamed more brightly than ever upon hearing my words, shewed clearly that he retained his complacency; and I had hardly ceased when he took up his strain again. "Ah, the joy, ah, the joy of Thought! What can It not achieve by thinking! Its own Thought coming to Itself, suggestive of its disparagement, thereby to enhance Its happiness! Sweet rebellion stirred up to result in triumph! Ah, the divine creative power of the All in One! Ah, the joy, the joy of Being!"

"You see," said my Teacher, "how little your words have done. So far as the Monarch understand them at all, he accepts them as his own—for he cannot conceive of any other except himself—and plumes himself upon the variety of 'Its Thought' as an instance of creative Power. Let us leave this God of Pointland to the ignorant fruition of his omnipresence and omniscience: nothing that you or I can do can rescue him from his self-satisfaction."

B. Prokop said...

By the way, in case I was being too subtle, my "point" behind the quotation from Flatland (one of my favorite SF books) was that, absent an external world, we'd all be like the King of Pointland. Since that is not the case, that all by itself constitutes proof of the existence of something outside of ourselves.

(It's also a good argument for the Doctrine of the Trinity.)

Joe Hinman said...

This is one of the God arguments I make imn my book, using the religious experience studies. This document was meant to show the argumet and why it meets a prima facie justification. In so doing I think it reveals an epistemology that is sort naturally suggested by the argument. The essence of that epistemology is we assume reality is given in experiencing according to the ability of the experience to foster navigation in the world. In short if it works we are justified in assuming it's true.

The argument is bqsed upon those of Thomson Reid. thus is the:

Thomas Reid Argument

This argument in my book The Trace of God but not in the same form.

Joe Hinman said...

In that first link,my argument on Doxa,I think to K.G.Mattey for info on Reid,The Mattey link is real old doesn't work anymore.I don't have one to that exact lecture although there is one in the book, But the Mattey lectures in gneeral be found here:

http://hume.ucdavis.edu/mattey/phi102f03/james.html

The Reid stuff is in there It was originally the Reid project.

Aron Zavaro said...

I think that burdens of proof are closely tied to the concept of prior probabilities. In the absence of any empirical considerations to held us decide between hypotheses, we should favor the ones with higher prior probabilities. Even in the total absence of empirical considerations, some hypotheses can be more probable than others based on factors like simplicity, coherence, modesty, scope, etc.

I think external world realism has a higher prior than skepticism because while realism say that our experiences are real, skepticism posits an additional unevidenced reality on top of our experience, including unspecified agents and requires us to postulate hypothetical intentions and desires on their behalf. This is a more complicated theory than realism.

Victor Reppert said...

But aren't prior probabilities subjective? I have yet to see an objective theory of prior probabilities that, for example, solves the problem of the single case.

Aron Zavaro said...

If priors are subjective, doesn't this entail total epistemological relativism? If you genuinely think that one hypothesis is objectively more likely than another (e.g., it's more likely that the person
writing this post is a human, rather than an alien using mind control technology to manipulate a cat into posting this ), then you must believe that there are objective priors, because posteriors depend on priors. If you think it is objectively true that I am more likely to be a human than a cat, then you should disregard someone who says, "I have assigned a prior of 99.999999% that it was written by a cat, so i think he's really a cat, and you can't say I'm irrational because I'm entitled to whatever priors I want!" That would be irrational. Any commitment to objective knowledge requires that there be some sort of objective grounds for saying that one theory is intrinsically more probable than another. Otherwise, everyone would be entitled to their own "truth."

Joe Hinman said...


sorry Burden pf proof and prior are totally different concept imn my view, they have nothing in common; the former is a formal precept in logic, probability is not logic. BOP is mandated given certain kinds of cloistral but the latter is just a leveraging tool to start miscalculation from. it'snot logic.

Joe Hinman said...

If priors are subjective, doesn't this entail total epistemological relativism?

prior is not proof it's just a coordinated point from which to start calculating. Bayes works like a gunner finding his range. First shooting way over the target doesn't matter where. Then shoots way under. Then he starts playing with the middle between those two points.

B. Prokop said...

Yesterday I ended my 7:17 AM posting with a throwaway line, "[the existence of the external world] is also a good argument for the Doctrine of the Trinity."

Well, since I wrote that, I can't get that thought out of my head. I may have accidentally stumbled onto something here. Creation itself is proof that God is not unitary (e.g., the God of Islam, or of the Unitarians). Were God not in essence a community of Persons, the very idea of anything existing outside of Himself would be impossible even to Him. (Just as, not even God can conceive of a square circle, or a married bachelor.)

So our very existence is proof of not only a Creator, but also of the Doctrine of the Trinity.

William said...

The "problem of the single case" has to do with using a single data point to determine the priors. This is a theoretical problem for frequentists, not Bayesians. The Bayesian is free to use theoretical knowledge to choose a prior that will not be totally influenced by a single case.

Of course, the frequentist in practice will choose a null hypothesis in a way that is not unduly dependent on a single case. The chosen prior of the Bayesian and the chosen hypothesis of the frequentists are in practice analogous.

As Joe says very nicely in the targeting analogy above, the prior is a number needed to start the process of calculation, just so that we have a starting point from which to calculate a more accurate number using the data. Would the target shooter in Joe's analogy deliberately shoot backwards as their first shot at the target? Of course not.

Although the choice of priors may in many cases be subjective in the specific sense that we may not use our own, exact data calculations to choose the prior probability, it may nevertheless be at least partially objective, perhaps based on our experience of the thing we are studying or on numbers given by prior investigator's estimates. "Subjective prior" here may mean "voluntarily picked as a best if overly precise number within the range of our best estimates."

Whereas "total epistemological relativism" would be like blindfolding yourself when shooting just because you are not going to hit the bulls-eye the first shot.

Reconquista Initiative said...

Aron said:

I think that burdens of proof are closely tied to the concept of prior probabilities. In the absence of any empirical considerations to held us decide between hypotheses, we should favor the ones with higher prior probabilities. Even in the total absence of empirical considerations, some hypotheses can be more probable than others based on factors like simplicity, coherence, modesty, scope, etc.

I partially agree, but I think that the burden of proof is actually on the side which puts at greatest risk that which we find most important in a certain setting. That is the real way that the burden of proof is decided, and when it is looked at that way, the burden is on atheism, not theism.

I think external world realism has a higher prior than skepticism because while realism say that our experiences are real, skepticism posits an additional unevidenced reality on top of our experience, including unspecified agents and requires us to postulate hypothetical intentions and desires on their behalf. This is a more complicated theory than realism.

As a Berkelian Immaterialist, this is a pet-peeve of mine. Berkelian immaterialism--or theistic objective virtual realism, if you will--is astronomically simpler than external world realism (naturalism), is as coherent as naturalism, has more explanatory power and scope than naturalism, and is more in line with our indisputable background knowledge than naturalism is, and so on. Thus, if the burden of proof is based on prior probabilities, then the burden is on naturalism / external world realism, not on theistic immaterialism.

Cheers.

Damian Michael
www.reconquistainitiative.com

Victor Reppert said...

I have strong Bayesian inclinations but don't think frequentism or any other objectivist theory of prior probabilities. But a subjectivist account of priors does not lock positions into place, it just acknowledges that different people are going to approach the same data with different perspectives. Strong evidence can "swamp the priors" in many cases. My (quite secular) philosophical education was pretty strongly opposed to classical foundationalism, or the idea that there are certain viewpoints from which everyone has to start. That is why things like the Outsider Test for Faith are very counterintuitive for me, as are de jure "burden of proof" arguments.

William said...

Yes, too often the "burden of proof" arguments and "outsider test" seem to come down to arguments that others change their assumptions or premises (ie priors) without any further evidence that a change of assumptions is needed.

Stardusty Psyche said...

Reconquista Initiative said...

" As a Berkelian Immaterialist, "

Perhaps you sang "Row Your Boat" a few too many times and now you actually believe that life is but a dream.


February 18, 2017 4:15 PM

Stardusty Psyche said...

Victor Reppert said...

" Strong evidence can "swamp the priors" in many cases. "
Evidence indeed.

The burden of proof is on the one making the affirmative claim.

If you assert purple unicorns the burden is on you. I see no purple unicorns, you cannot provide credible evidence for them, so my conclusion that they do not exist is reasonable because you have not even begun to meet your burden for your claim.

"That is why things like the Outsider Test for Faith are very counterintuitive for me,"
Perhaps you would benefit from considering a cult. Inside the cult it all seems so real, David Koresh is the lamb of god, Jim Jones knows the evil ones are coming, The aliens really are passing nearby on a comet. None of these things pass the outsider test.

Consider Islam. To its ardent practitioners Muhammad was the exemplary man, so of course it is good to marry 4 women as young as 9, capture slaves in battles of conquest, slaughter those who resist or defame Islam in any way, extort non Muslims in the kingdom and hold them as second class citizens. It all makes sense to those in the cult, but these things do not pass the outsider test.

Nor does Christianity, or more generally, theism.


February 18, 2017 6:56 PM

B. Prokop said...

"but these things do not pass the outsider test. Nor does Christianity."

Really? Then how do you explain the literally billions of converts (a.k.a. "outsiders") to Christianity over the past two millennia? Seems like a passing grade to me.

Stardusty Psyche said...

B. Prokop said...

"but these things do not pass the outsider test. Nor does Christianity."

" Really? Then how do you explain the literally billions of converts (a.k.a. "outsiders") to Christianity over the past two millennia? Seems like a passing grade to me."
They were successfully indoctrinated into the cult. Cults recruit from the outside, often very successfully. An outsider for the purpose of an outsider test needs to be somebody not susceptible to the indoctrinations techniques of the cult.


February 19, 2017 8:35 PM

B. Prokop said...

"An outsider for the purpose of an outsider test needs to be somebody not susceptible to the indoctrinations techniques of the cult."

You know what they call such techniques in Real Science? FRAUDULENT RESEARCH. That's the type of selective data mining that gets papers rejected from peer review journals and dishonest researchers anathematized by honest scientists.

bmiller said...

@Strawdusty,


"The burden of proof is on the one making the affirmative claim."

This looks like an affirmative claim to me. Please provide the proof that one is obligated to accept the "burden of proof" just by making an affirmative claim, while the opponent is not.

Stardusty Psyche said...

bmiller said...

"The burden of proof is on the one making the affirmative claim."

" This looks like an affirmative claim to me."
Obviously.

" Please provide the proof that one is obligated to accept the "burden of proof" just by making an affirmative claim, while the opponent is not."
You will find it here, February 19, 2017 6:13 PM, right after the claim.

That wasn't so hard, now was it?


February 19, 2017 9:36 PM

Joe Hinman said...

my answer to Eric Sotnak's attack on ID on Secular outpost

HERE

Stardusty Psyche said...

Joe Hinman said...

" my answer to Eric Sotnak's attack on ID "
ID is a dead duck, not that it was ever more than quack science and thinly veiled creationism, but Judge John Jones gave it a hundred plus page blast over 10 years ago, RIP.

But lemme guess, you have a deep personal experience of intelligent design that gives you a warrant to believe in it...


February 19, 2017 11:18 PM

B. Prokop said...

Astronomer and cosmologist Sir Fred Hoyle, discoverer of the origin of elements in the universe, was also one of the most influential "founders" of the idea of intelligent design (as we now understand the term) - and he was an atheist. So.. so much for the dual accusations of "quack science" and "thinly veiled creationism".

Stardusty Psyche said...

B. Prokop said...

" Astronomer and cosmologist Sir Fred Hoyle, discoverer of the origin of elements in the universe, was also one of the most influential "founders" of the idea of intelligent design "
Newton had a lot of goofy ideas too.


February 20, 2017 6:46 AM

bmiller said...

@Strawdusty,

"You will find it here, February 19, 2017 6:13 PM, right after the claim.

That wasn't so hard, now was it?"



You mean your proof is merely repeating the same thing?

"If you assert purple unicorns the burden is on you."

Both sides in a dispute have a burden to prove their point. Otherwise, one is tacitly committed to the "argument to ignorance" and "special pleading" fallacies.

B. Prokop said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
B. Prokop said...

"Newton had a lot of goofy ideas too."

You've either missed, or are ignoring, my point - that ID is not "thinly veiled creationism". If that were indeed the case, then how could one of the 20th Century's most prominent atheists not only champion the idea, but arguably originate it? (See his book Intelligent Universe for details.)

Stardusty Psyche said...

B. Prokop said...

SP "Newton had a lot of goofy ideas too."

" You've either missed, or are ignoring, my point - that ID is not "thinly veiled creationism". If that were indeed the case, then how could one of the 20th Century's most prominent atheists not only champion the idea,"
Because people are not always consistent. For example, Krauss is a woo monger peddling poof, even though he is an atheist.

Here is what Judge John Jones found:
"For the reasons that follow, we conclude that the religious nature of ID [intelligent design] would be readily apparent to an objective observer, adult or child."

ID is a thinly veiled attempt to bring religious creationism into the science classroom. The federal court saw through the veil and barred it.


February 20, 2017 8:30 AM

B. Prokop said...

Hmm.. so what a judge says is "truth" about objective reality?

Wow. Just wow.

A judge's opinion is just that - an opinion. That is why we have an appellate process. That is why there are dissenting opinions even with Supreme Court decisions.

SteveK said...

I'm not convinced that the judge was correct given that science doesn't always demand falsification

Stardusty Psyche said...

B. Prokop said...

" Hmm.. so what a judge says is "truth" about objective reality?"
Your words, not mine.


" A judge's opinion is just that - an opinion. That is why we have an appellate process."
No appeal was filed. The decision was overwhelming. The ID folks packed up and went home defeated. Over a million dollars were paid in legal fees.

" That is why there are dissenting opinions even with Supreme Court decisions."
Since no appeal was filed the decision stands without a dissenting judge.

Absolute "truth" about "objective reality"? No, those are your words, not mine. But it shows my characterization is no mere idle or fringe assertion, rather, a mainstream ruling over 10 years ago that stands to this day.


February 20, 2017 10:17 AM

Stardusty Psyche said...

SteveK said...

" I'm not convinced that the judge was correct given that science doesn't always demand falsification"

Falsifiable science is what is taught in the public school classroom, which was the focus of this particular ruling.


February 20, 2017 10:19 AM

SteveK said...

Meaning that ID can be taught as legit science at the higher levels?

Joe Hinman said...

tardusty Psyche said...
Joe Hinman said...

" my answer to Eric Sotnak's attack on ID "
ID is a dead duck, not that it was ever more than quack science and thinly veiled creationism, but Judge John Jones gave it a hundred plus page blast over 10 years ago, RIP.

Dusty:
"But lemme guess, you have a deep personal experience of intelligent design that gives you a warrant to believe in it..."


Nope you should have read it.I guess no one bothered to read it,

Joe Hinman said...

from the beginning of the article,

On Secular Outpost , Eric Sotnak [1] opens debate against Intelligent Design (ID) by approaching it politically, DeVos ls ID and she will be imposing it upon the schools, so here's why it's wrong.... Eric is approaching it through the notion of defending evolution, I have no intention of attacking evolution so I am approaching it through an understanding of belief in God. The issues transcend both politics and evolution, ID is just fancy packaging to dress up creationism in a more respectable garb, but the basic concept that the universe is the product of mind I support; it is that issue that I approach as a from of belief in God.

If you really want to fight what's about to happen to the educational system then you need to join the political struggle and back the resistance, Major part of the resistances is Christians. You don't see my feed on facebook but most of the anti-Trump stuff I see on FB is from Christians. Atheists ate still about 3% Christians are about 80% so it just stands to reason most anti-Trump feeling will be Christians,We resistance Christians are pretty pissed about what the Republicans have done (fundies included) to the faith. Eric is above making little wise cracks about Christians but not all of the posters of SOP are, this topic no less draws some of those comments.

There are three major issues I will deal with here, Two are used by Eric and one is my own. First there is Probability of naturalistic origin as opposed to Supernatural one,,
Secomdoy, the mechanism for creation , and thirdly the illusion of technique, This is the concept I barrow from William Barrett and his Book of that title. [2] I will be making use of this concept in a major way kn my upcoming book God,Science, and Ideology. The point being that the way the issues are discussed in the conventional argument between ID and evolution feeds into the ideology that motivates scientism, not to accuse Eric of being scientistic.

Joe Hinman said...


" I'm not convinced that the judge was correct given that science doesn't always demand falsification"

Falsifiable science is what is taught in the public school classroom, which was the focus of this particular ruling.

according to Popper science is about falsifying hypotheses that's what it does, there is a new anti-Popperian spirit but I am not impressed by it. I agree with Kuhn over Popper but I think the two agree on this issue

Joe Hinman said...

SteveK said...
Meaning that ID can be taught as legit science at the higher levels?

I don't think so,I am not defending ID i' separating belief in God from ID

Stardusty Psyche said...

Joe Hinman said...

"I am not defending ID i' separating belief in God from ID"

Right, it could have been super smart space aliens who evolved naturally and then created life on Earth...oops, that simply pushes the problem back a step and solves nothing, just like the speculation of god.


February 20, 2017 12:53 PM

William said...

There is a difference between living as if the world around us exists and believing in a particular cosmology. We all do the first, despite lots of differences on the second. Even the
Berkleyan immaterialist or Yogacara Buddhist lives as if they are in an external world; their cosmology (or cosmic ontology) is where things differ.

So I'd say that we live our lives mostly as if the burden of proof was irrelevant.

Legion of Logic said...

SD: "The burden of proof is on the one making the affirmative claim."

Agreed, but there is also a dimension of the other side being intellectually honest, or even informed enough, to evaluate the evidence being offered. If I say that 2+2=4, and you ask that I prove it, and when I demonstrate that the equation is true and you deny it, does your denial mean I failed to meet the burden of proof, or does it mean you're a troll or an idiot?

So yes, burden of proof is on whoever makes a positive claim, but "no it isn't" is not a rebuttal against the evidence. Valid reasons have to be offered as to why the evidence offered is insufficient in order to be a true rebuttal against the one offering evidence.

"Krauss is a woo monger peddling poof, even though he is an atheist."

Indeed, even for an anti-religious atheist his level of poof is abnormally high.

Stardusty Psyche said...

William said...

". Even the
Berkleyan immaterialist or Yogacara Buddhist lives as if they are in an external world; their cosmology (or cosmic ontology) is where things differ."
Right, I mean, why bother with the trouble of sustaining life if it is all so unreal? Seems to me the immaterialist lacks the courage of his convictions.

" So I'd say that we live our lives mostly as if the burden of proof was irrelevant."
I don't, at least not entirely. I live my life convinced there is no god and that conviction has a significant impact on how I live my life. The reason I am an atheist is that theism has not met its burden of proof in my view.

Every argument I have ever heard for god is either blatantly unsound or unevidenced speculation, hence my atheism.


February 20, 2017 4:31 PM

Stardusty Psyche said...

Legion of Logic said...

SD: "The burden of proof is on the one making the affirmative claim."
" If I say that 2+2=4, and you ask that I prove it, and when I demonstrate that the equation is true"
Define "true".

" and you deny it, does your denial mean I failed to meet the burden of proof, or does it mean you're a troll or an idiot?"
It means you seem to lack the understanding that math is ultimately unproved, rather, it rests on certain postulates one may accept provisionally, accept on faith, or deny.

" So yes, burden of proof is on whoever makes a positive claim, but "no it isn't" is not a rebuttal against the evidence."
By itself simply saying "nope" is unimpressive. In the case of math, if you doubt my skepticism, please do show me that the postulates of mathematics are ultimately provable.

SP "Krauss is a woo monger peddling poof, even though he is an atheist."

" Indeed, even for an anti-religious atheist his level of poof is abnormally high."
In my kinder moments I allow Krauss that when you fight dogs you get fleas. I really like and appreciate the guy for years of public service against nonsense, but when he turned to selling it himself it became annoying to listen to him.


February 20, 2017 4:42 PM

SteveK said...

"The reason I am an atheist is that theism has not met its burden of proof in my view."

That's now what you said in the ASwedenism thread.

Legion of Logic said...

"It means you seem to lack the understanding that math is ultimately unproved, rather, it rests on certain postulates one may accept provisionally, accept on faith, or deny."

Wow. Well I couldn't envision any normal, rational person disagreeing with me about the basic axioms underlying the concept of 2+2=4, but I forgot I was dealing with you.

"I really like and appreciate the guy for years of public service against nonsense"

I don't recall him standing up against Richard Dawkins, Sam Harris, Jerry Coyne, or other such anti-religious fools who have no idea what they are talking about when it comes to religion. Perhaps you could link where he has? Maybe standing up to progressives and their identity politics, is that what you mean?

Back on topic: Burden of proof is on the one offering a positive assertion, and mere disagreement is not a refutation. Someone would have to demonstrate that the burden of proof has not been met, in order to claim such, so both sides do have responsibilities. The typical anti-theist denial without good reason is not a refutation of the Christian's burden of proof.

William said...

SD:
"I live my life convinced there is no god and that conviction has a significant impact on how I live my life. The reason I am an atheist is that theism has not met its burden of proof in my view."
/SD

So it goes given your priors, I suppose. I would not be the one to require you change your priors: that would be a voluntary choice, one your current data plus priors does not seem to require. As Kuhn pointed out, worldviews don't require we change them every day.

Victor Reppert said...

The burden of proof is on the one making the affirmative claim.

That is exactly the kind of position my counterexample of the physical world was directed against. It looks to me as if

"The physical world exists" is an affirmative claim,"

and

"The physical world does not exist" is a negative claim.

There is no proof that the physical world exists or is real, therefore, by this logic, I should deny its existence.

What proof do you have that your sense experience is veridical?

Legion of Logic said...

"What proof do you have that your sense experience is veridical?"

Most likely, certain postulates that will result in us being labeled as mentally deficient if we don't accept them as provisionally true.

Stardusty Psyche said...


Blogger Victor Reppert said...

SP The burden of proof is on the one making the affirmative claim.

" That is exactly the kind of position my counterexample of the physical world was directed against. It looks to me as if

"The physical world exists" is an affirmative claim,"

and

"The physical world does not exist" is a negative claim.

There is no proof that the physical world exists or is real, therefore, by this logic, I should deny its existence."

Burden of *proof* is a somewhat unfortunate term in that it implies an absolute proof is possible and it is a burden of this party or that party to supply it.

That is why standards of proof are defined in law. Perhaps a more accurate term would be burden of convincing evidence, but that means different things to different people. So, it becomes the reader's responsibility to realize that "proof" may come with certain qualifiers and further discussion will be required to mutually agree upon those qualifiers.

" What proof do you have that your sense experience is veridical?"
The basic reliability of the human senses is a postulate that can be accepted provisionally, or on faith, or denied. I, and I think atheists generally, accept it provisionally.

The same is true for the principles of logic and the intelligibility of the observable universe, although I would say these are derivatives of the provisional postulate of the basic reliability of the human senses, since our sense experience indicates the principles of logic as descriptive of our perceived reality and we perceive ourselves making rational sense of the universe thereby.


February 20, 2017 11:27 PM

Reconquista Initiative said...

Ha, Ha, Ha, Ha...

As an immaterialist, one of funniest things that I find about so-called "skeptics" and "free-thinkers" is how un-skeptical and non-free-thinking they actually are about many of their "pet" beliefs. And it is hilarious, in this age of Simulation Arguments, the idea of a Holographic Universe, and the rise of Virtual Reality, to think that immaterialism is somehow implausible or strange. The fact is that it is materialism which is the magical woo of philosophy. Indeed, the truly implausible and incoherent idea--saved only by the invocation of magic words like "emergence"--is that a bunch of particles can somehow coalesce and form a person. Or that this inert, unseen, unevidenced "stuff" can somehow generate consciousness. Or that dead matter can somehow become living. I mean, when you are on the outside looking in, it is easy to realize how strange and non-common-sensical the materialist view is, or, at the very least, how that view is absolutely no more plausible or rational than immaterialism is. Again, the fact of the matter is that materialism posits the existence of unseen, unevidenced "stuff" which is neither needed to account for reality nor even understood.....it is, in essence, magical woo for many, especially atheists.

Additionally, I will point out that it is the materialist who has posited the actual existence of matter, and so, in the context of this discussion, the burden of proof is on the materialist to prove the existence of matter. Good luck with that! For not only is there no evidence for the existence of matter, but any attempt to infer the existence of matter is defeated by the fact that immaterialism can account for all our experience as well as materialism can (in fact, better), and yet immaterialism is also simpler, has more explanatory power and scope, is more in ground with our indisputable background knowledge, etc. In fact, this is part of the reason that I am an immaterialist: namely, the burden of proof is on the materialist, and the materialist has not shown me the evidence necessary to believe in matter, and so I don't.

Regards,

Damian Michael
www.reconquistainitiative.com

Reconquista Initiative said...

To paraphrase SD precisely:

"I live my life convinced there is no matter and that conviction has a significant impact on how I live my life. The reason I am an immaterialist is that materialism has not met its burden of proof in my view.

Every argument I have ever heard for matter is either blatantly unsound or unevidenced speculation, hence my immaterialism."

Reconquista Initiative said...

Paraphrasing SD yet again:

"The burden of proof is on the one making the affirmative claim.

If you assert matter the burden is on you. I see no matter, you cannot provide credible evidence for it, so my conclusion that it does not exist is reasonable because you have not even begun to meet your burden for your claim."

See how fun it is to smack the atheist with his own standards!

Stardusty Psyche said...

Reconquista Initiative said...


" See how fun it is to smack the atheist with his own standards!"

You apparently have an immaterial penchant for inflicting pain, which is generally called sadism. But because you are not physically real, merely a figment of my imagination, it doesn't matter, now does it?


February 21, 2017 3:45 AM

Reconquista Initiative said...

Ahhh...snide commentary...the refuge of the fool who has no answer to the arguments at hand. Good to see that materialists have not changed their playbook!

And when such snide commentary is coupled with a clear misunderstanding of the immaterialist position, it is especially poignant, for it shows both ignorance and intellectual fear all in one.

Keep going though! After all, the hole you're digging is not going to get any deeper without more of your uninformed and vacuous comments, so please, continue...

Stardusty Psyche said...


Blogger Reconquista Initiative said...

" Ahhh...snide commentary..."
Yes, " See how fun it is to smack the atheist with his own standards!" fits that description.

"the refuge of the fool"
Your words, not mine.


"who has no answer to the arguments at hand."
Did you make an argument? Sorry, it seemed more like an offhand rant, but I suppose you might have some points buried in there someplace.

" a clear misunderstanding of the immaterialist position,"
So now you are able to determine what I understand? Sure, since I am just a figment of your imagination I suppose you can make me think whatever you wish.


February 21, 2017 4:32 AM

Reconquista Initiative said...

SD,

Stop playing the fool. My argument is in my main comment and demonstrated by the fact that I used your own burden of proof argument against you. Furthermore, the reason that I know you don't understand the immaterialist position is because you say that "I [meaning you] are just a figment of your [meaning my] imagination", which is not the immaterialist position at all. Immaterialism is objective about the external world, it simply denies that the external world is made of matter. Thus your ignorance is clear, at least on that point.

So, try again. Or don't. I don't care too much, but I just wanted to hoist you up on your own petard.

Reconquista Initiative said...

And for everyone else, this exchange is instructive. When the burden of proof idea is on his side, the materialist atheist pushes it relentlessly, but when the burden of proof is turned against him, suddenly the materialist atheist resorts to sniping, snide comments, dismissive insults, etc.

You see the same tactic when you demand that the atheist meet his burden about the possibility of naturalistic abiogenesis, naturalistic evolution, the naturalistic development of consciousness, etc.

Like I said, "skeptics" and "free-thinkers" are selectively skeptical and free in their thinking, but those traits go out the window when their "pet" beliefs are on the line.

Stardusty Psyche said...


Blogger Reconquista Initiative said...

SD,
" My argument is in my main comment and demonstrated by the fact that I used your own burden of proof argument against you. "
No, I did not see anything that resembled an argument to that effect. A few throwaway lines, yes, but an argument? Nope, didn't see one.


" Immaterialism is objective about the external world, it simply denies that the external world is made of matter. "
Right, it's made out of your imagination.

" I just wanted to hoist you up on your own petard."
There you go with that sadistic thing again.

I am actually a 12 year old girl in a mental hospital strapped to a gurney and you are a perverted orderly who has snuck into my room to 3 way rape me while smacking me and hoisting me on a petard. I am only imagining that I am an old man sitting in my living room typing on a computer keyboard, as a mental defense mechanism because I am unable to cope with the horror of you raping me and smacking me.

Prove that isn't true, and "Good luck with that!"


February 21, 2017 5:21 AM

Hal said...

Reconquista Initiative:
"Immaterialism is objective about the external world, it simply denies that the external world is made of matter."

This is interesting. Could you explain a little more regarding what the world is made of? Also, do you think anything exists that is not immaterial?

Stardusty Psyche said...

Reconquista Initiative said...

" And for everyone else, this exchange is instructive."
Indeed, it is a classic example of a guy coming on with a scatter gun screed full of assumptions and generalization that he then directs to an individual who did not express and does not hold those views.

Next step is to set up amateurishly worded strawman, and then sit back an smugly declare his personal satisfaction at having delivered a "smack".


" dismissive insults, "
Your rant is worth little more.


" You see the same tactic when you demand that the atheist meet his burden about the possibility of naturalistic abiogenesis, naturalistic evolution, the naturalistic development of consciousness, etc."
If you knew anything about science you would realize that the available evidence for each of those things is different in each case. Scientists and scientifically minded people are well aware of this.

If you had been paying attention, my self satisfied little smacker friend, you would have read the part about science being "self consciously provisional". You would have read the part about burden of "proof" being a somewhat unfortunate term.


" Like I said, "skeptics" and "free-thinkers" are selectively skeptical and free in their thinking,"
You have yet to provide any specific examples of such in my case, but since you live in a world of your own imagination I suppose you are free to fantasize whatever you wish.


February 21, 2017 5:31 AM

Stardusty Psyche said...

Hal said...

Reconquista Initiative:
"Immaterialism is objective about the external world, it simply denies that the external world is made of matter."

" This is interesting. Could you explain a little more regarding what the world is made of? "

The universe is made of an immaterial material, don't you know? Your senses are an illusion. You only imagine touching things, seeing things, hearing things because those things are made of non-stuff stuff ectoplasm pure imagination thought floaty immaterial super stuff that isn't really any thing since it is an existent non-material. Obviously.


February 21, 2017 7:50 AM

Stardusty Psyche said...

Reconquista Initiative said...

" And for everyone else, this exchange is instructive. When the burden of proof idea is on his side, the materialist atheist pushes it relentlessly,"
Ok, if by "relentless" you mean "The basic reliability of the human senses is a postulate that can be accepted provisionally, or on faith, or denied. I, and I think atheists generally, accept it provisionally."
February 21, 2017 3:34 AM

Relentlessly offering up 3 common variations on acceptance of the human senses, indeed.

Say there, Smacker, this will apparently surprise you, but scientists are well aware of the provisional nature of science. This subject goes back to Descartes and beyond. Cogito ergo sum. In modern language, I am self aware therefore I exist in some form, therefore there is an existence of some sort as opposed to absolutely nothing at all.

And that is about as far as Descartes got. He had wanted to build a whole system of objective truths, but after he stripped absolute truth all the way back to cogito ergo sum he was unable to build upon it in a quest to show a whole system of objective truths. No one else has been able to do so since, and published such work into general circulation.

Thus, nearly all human beings either implicitly or explicitly accept the basic reliability of the human senses, either on faith as an assumed absolute fact, or provisionally with the more informed realization that such basic reliability is a postulate, not an absolute truth.

Oh, but our friend the Smacker is going to teach us dumb little atheists a thing or two about the human senses! After all, we never even heard of Descartes or the Eleatics :-)

Legion of Logic said...

"Thus, nearly all human beings either implicitly or explicitly accept the basic reliability of the human senses, either on faith as an assumed absolute fact, or provisionally with the more informed realization that such basic reliability is a postulate, not an absolute truth."

Then why mock him for not accepting it as absolute truth?

Hal said...

Stardusty :
"The universe is made of an immaterial material, don't you know? Your senses are an illusion. You only imagine touching things, seeing things, hearing things because those things are made of non-stuff stuff ectoplasm pure imagination thought floaty immaterial super stuff that isn't really any thing since it is an existent non-material. Obviously."

I'm asking Reconquista Initiative to elaborate on his philosophy. I'm not interested in your mangled interpretation of it.

bmiller said...

@Hal,

Since Reconquista Initiative hasn't responded yet, here is a link to Berkelian Immaterialism.

Compare it's description to people speaking from ignorance.

B. Prokop said...

From the movie Dark Star (1974):

Doolittle: Hello, Bomb? Are you with me?

Bomb #20: Of course.

Doolittle: Are you willing to entertain a few concepts?

Bomb #20: I am always receptive to suggestions.

Doolittle: Fine. Think about this then. How do you know you exist?

Bomb #20: Well, of course I exist.

Doolittle: But how do you know you exist?

Bomb #20: It is intuitively obvious.

Doolittle: Intuition is no proof. What concrete evidence do you have that you exist?

Bomb #20: Hmmmm... well... I think, therefore I am.

Doolittle: That's good. That's very good. But how do you know that anything else exists?

Bomb #20: My sensory apparatus reveals it to me. This is fun.

//later//

[Pinback wants the bomb to disarm]

Pinback: All right, bomb. Prepare to receive new orders.

Bomb#20: You are false data.

Pinback: Hmmm?

Bomb #20: Therefore I shall ignore you.

Pinback: Hello... bomb?

Bomb #20: False data can act only as a distraction. Therefore, I shall refuse to perceive.

Pinback: Hey, bomb?

Bomb #20: The only thing that exists is myself.

Pinback: Snap out of it, bomb.

//and still outside the ship//

Bomb #20: Intriguing. I wish I had more time to discuss this.

Doolittle: [frantic] Why don't you have more time?

Bomb #20: Because I must explode in 75 seconds.

Stardusty Psyche said...

Legion of Logic said...

SP " "Thus, nearly all human beings either implicitly or explicitly accept the basic reliability of the human senses, either on faith as an assumed absolute fact, or provisionally with the more informed realization that such basic reliability is a postulate, not an absolute truth.""

" Then why mock him for not accepting it as absolute truth?"

That was not the reason for my mocking, the mere assertion that it is not an absolute truth. His "argument" is a disjointed screed, full of bad assumptions about atheists in general that he then saw fit to (falsely) attribute to me, after which he smugly congratulated himself for the "smack".

He is the one who affirmatively "denies that the external world is made of matter.", which is quite different than merely stating it cannot be proved absolutely.

He fails to realize one simple fact, his view is not in evidence, and the view of nearly everybody else is very strongly in evidence. His view requires a grand illusion on a cosmic scale and is preposterous on its face, which is why virtually nobody accepts his view which affirmatively denies the existence of the material world.


February 21, 2017 9:38 AM

jdhuey said...

Loved the "beachball" alien.

Stardusty Psyche said...

Hal said...

Stardusty :
"The universe is made of an immaterial material, don't you know? Your senses are an illusion. You only imagine touching things, seeing things, hearing things because those things are made of non-stuff stuff ectoplasm pure imagination thought floaty immaterial super stuff that isn't really any thing since it is an existent non-material. Obviously."

" I'm asking Reconquista Initiative to elaborate on his philosophy. I'm not interested in your mangled interpretation of it."

More's the pity, since I captured the gist of it rather well, I think.

*Although he maintained that there can be no material substances, Berkeley did not reject the notion of substance altogether. The most crucial feature of substance is activity, he supposed, and in our experience the most obvioius example activity is that of perceiving itself. So thinking substances do exist, and for these spirits (or souls or minds) to be is just to perceive (in Latin, esse est percipere). *

I mean, what a load of horse pucky. Really? This passes for a respectable position? Berkeley immaterialism is just a way for people who live in an irrational dream world to pass themselves off as sophisticated thinkers.

"non-stuff stuff ectoplasm pure imagination thought floaty immaterial super stuff" describes Berkeley's "immaterial substance" very well. The very term, "immaterial substance" is a laughable oxymoron.

The assertion of an "immaterial" "activity" is incoherent and sounds like something somebody on a hallucinogen would say thinking at the time they had solved some great riddle of the universe only to come to a state of hung over mental cloudiness or emptiness hours later when they sober up. Sadly, the Berkeley immaterialist never sobers up.


February 21, 2017 10:28 AM

bmiller said...


From the article on Berkeley: Immaterialism:

"Philosophers like Descartes and Locke tried to forestall problems of perceptual illusion by distinguishing between material objects and the ideas by means of which we perceive them.

(perceiver-----ideas-----material objects)

But the representationalist approach can provide no reliable account of the connection between ideas and the objects they are supposed to represent.

There is, however, an obvious alternative. Common sense dictates that there are only two crucial elements involved in perception: the perceiver and what is perceived. All we need to do, Berkeley argued, is eliminate the absurd, philosophically-conceived third element in the picture: that is, we must acknowledge that there are no material objects. For Berkeley, only the ideas we directly perceive are real.

(perceiver----------ideas)


Hmm. This does sound more reasonable than materialism. He makes a good point that since we don't have direct experience of the external world but only direct experience of our human sense experiences, why add another layer of mysterious stuff. Occam's razor, isn't it?

Stardusty Psyche said...

bmiller said...


" Hmm. This does sound more reasonable than materialism. "
I'm not surprised you live in a dream world too.

"He makes a good point that since we don't have direct experience of the external world but only direct experience of our human sense experiences, why add another layer of mysterious stuff. Occam's razor, isn't it?"
Good point indeed, in fact, your dinner is not real, you should skip eating from now on. Same with water, and air.

Howzabout you go hold your breath for a while? Oxygen? Bah, that is just a superfluous unprovable layer.


February 21, 2017 3:17 PM

bmiller said...

@Strawdusty,

"Good point indeed, in fact, your dinner is not real, you should skip eating from now on. Same with water, and air.

Howzabout you go hold your breath for a while? Oxygen? Bah, that is just a superfluous unprovable layer."


Maybe you should read the article again. The immaterialist affirms that the external world is real and objective. They just point out that since we have no direct experience of matter there is no need to posit it.

From the article again:
"Locke's reference to an "unknown substratum" in which the features of material substances inhere is a pointless assumption, according to Berkeley. Since it is the very nature of sensible objects to be perceived, on his view, it would be absurd to suppose that their reality depends in any way upon an imperceptible core. This gives rise to a perfectly general argument against even the possibility of material substance."

Where do you say the "features of material substances inhere"?

Hal said...

bmiller:
"He makes a good point that since we don't have direct experience of the external world but only direct experience of our human sense experiences, why add another layer of mysterious stuff.'

So we experience our experiences? That doesn't strike me as a very fruitful way of understanding our interaction with the world we live in.

I am sympathetic to Berkeley's rejection of mental representationalism. I have difficulty agreeing with his solution.

Why the assumption that we don't directly experience the external world? Our experiences are of course limited to what our senses can detect, but I don't see why that should prohibit as from describing them as being 'direct'.


bmiller said...

@Hal,

To be clear, I have no dog in the materialist vs. immaterialist fight.

I just would like to hear the arguments from both sides. So far, it seems the immaterialists have the upper hand since no one from the materialist side has offered anything but shouting and misrepresentations of their opponents position despite having the burden of proof to prove materialism true.

Stardusty Psyche said...

bmiller said...



" Where do you say the "features of material substances inhere"?"

You have it back to front. It's immaterial substances, not material substances.

A substance that is not material is an oxymoron, and thus incoherent, which is what Berkeley immaterialism is. It is gibberish.

*Although he maintained that there can be no material substances, Berkeley did not reject the notion of substance altogether. The most crucial feature of substance is activity, he supposed,*

What utter drivel.


February 21, 2017 5:51 PM

bmiller said...

@Strawdusty,

"You have it back to front. It's immaterial substances, not material substances."

No I quoted the article. Did you not read it?

Do you actually have an argument? After all you have the burden of proof.

Joe Hinman said...

Super essential Godhead, Tillich's idea of God as being itself is based upon Orthodox theology of the fifth cranberry,

Metacrock's blopg

Joe Hinman said...

blog not blop, sorry

Reconquista Initiative said...

Good Morning Hal and Everyone Else,

My apologies for the late response but I had a very long day at work yesterday without access to a computer on which I could post to a blog, and once I got home, I was too tried to write you a proper response. Nevertheless, I will endeavor to do so now.

How To Think About Immaterialism

So first, let us address how to think about immaterialism. In this day and age of computer games, it is actually quite easy to do so. Namely, the immaterialist could be said to hold that the world is like a Massive Multiplayer Online game, where a main computer generates the world that you are playing in, and then a number of computers connect via wi-fi to the main computer to play the game. Now, in a computer game, the creator of the game can set the parameters for any and all players, so you can have a game where a player can only survive a set amount of time under water, must eat food to survive, etc. But now, instead of thinking of each player playing the game by looking through a computer screen, picture this being a massively multiplayer online game that used full body virtual reality sets (a technology which already exists) and so you are actually the direct player of the game and the direct “experiencer” of the game’s consequences. Well, the immaterialist views life in a similar manner, where a god acts as the main computer, so to speak, and each of our minds is a player who is both receiving and sending information to the main computer (god), who then, moment to moment, shifts the game according to the moves that we make and the inputs that both he and we provide.

Now, to keep the analogy going, note as well that the world of a massive online multiplayer game is objective to the players of the game in the sense that the world is designed and maintained by the main computer, so that all the human players see the same world with the same environment and the same parameters as they play the game; furthermore, individual players can only change and interact in the world as much as the main computer lets them, thus meaning that the world is not a figment of the players imagination which is changeable at will, but rather it is an objective reality that must be interacted with under certain conditions and operating “laws”. Additionally, the world is real in the sense that real consequences occur to you as a player in the game; for example, a computer game can be made where if you shoot another person in a game, the body of the person will die in the game, drop in the spot it was shot in, and remain in the game as a corpse for everyone else to see (and you, as a player, could be arrested and sent to prison in the game as well).

So again, think of virtual reality “computer game” type analogies—where you are literally and directly experiencing the game—to understand what type of world the immaterialist is talking about.

And as a thought-experiment, picture the type of virtual reality technology even we humans will have in a thousand or ten thousand years. Likely it will be as real as real life itself. Now, if you were knocked unconscious, then strapped in to an advanced virtual reality set and woke up inside the virtual reality world, would you know the difference? No, you would not. Now my point is not to endorse skepticism in this case, but it is simply to point out that a virtual reality world—like immaterialism posits—can indeed be indistinguishable from this world and account for all our experiences.

Con’t (1 of 3)

Reconquista Initiative said...

Con’t (2 of 3)

What is the Immaterialist World Made Of

In essence, the immaterialist views the world as composed only of minds and their ideas. Or, to phrase it differently: the world is composed of thinking things and their thoughts. Or, to phrase it even more differently: the world is composed of thinking things and the information that thinking things produce and exchange.

Now, in light of the above, note that unlike the materialist, the immaterialist does not add any assumptions or blind-faith leaps to what he believes exists. After all, the one thing that I know and cannot doubt—on pain of self-refutation—is that I am a thinking thing who has thoughts, but it is an assumption to say that I am a material thinking thing. So the immaterialist only believes that which he knows to be true.


Arguments for Materialism

Now, in terms of the arguments for immaterialism, let me quickly list them.

First, against belief in materialism, there are a number of different arguments:

1 – The ‘Burden of Proof’ Argument: The materialist claims that matter actually exists, and so it is his burden to prove it. Until and unless he does so, I am rational to ‘lack a belief’ in the existence of matter.

2 – The ‘No Evidence Argument’: There is no non-question-begging evidence for the existence of matter; why believe something for which there is no evidence. After all, I see things, but I have never seen matter as such.

3 – The ‘No Experience’ Argument: I have never had an experience of matter, nor is belief in matter a properly basic belief; hence, there is no experiential or properly basic reason to believe in the existence of matter.

4 – The ‘Coherence Argument’: It is actually questionable whether materialists can even coherently define what ‘matter’ is; but if this concept cannot even be adequately defined, why believe in an incoherent idea.

5 – The ‘Necessity Argument’: The real existence of matter is not needed to account for anything that I experience, ergo, why bother with belief in matter.

Now, the above are the arguments for holding a ‘lack of belief’ about matter, but the two inter-connected main arguments for rational belief in immaterialism over materialism are the following:

1 – Occam’s Razor: If matter is not needed to account for my experiences, then shave it away.

2 – Best Explanation: Immaterialism is a much better explanation of reality than materialism is. Immaterialism has more explanatory power and scope than materialism. Immaterialism is also astronomically simpler than materialism. And immaterialism is more in line with our indisputable background knowledge than materialism is, not to mention that immaterialism does not make any gratuitous assumptions about reality like materialism does. Ergo, immaterialism is by far a better explanation of reality than materialism is, and so immaterialism is the most rational position to hold.

And here is the interesting part: even if immaterialism is false, it is still the most rational worldview to hold. Just like if a person was set up for a homicide by the perfect assassin who left no trace of his deception, the most rational position to hold would be that the person was guilty of the homicide even though this would be false. Well, the same thing is true for immaterialism. Given that it is by far the best explanatory position, then even if it happens to be false, it is still the most rational position to hold.

Con’t (2 of 3)

Reconquista Initiative said...

Con’t (3 of 3)

Immaterialism is as Common-Sensical as Materialism

Now, after hearing all of the above, the normal response of the materialist is exactly what ‘SD’ is doing: namely, trying to mock immaterialism to make it sound absurd. This is the last defense of the materialist. The problem for the materialist though, is that materialism is as absurd, if not more so, than immaterialism is. Consider, for example, that while the materialist thinks immaterialism is kooky, he is simultaneously telling us that reality consists of tiny chunks of stuff that we don’t see somehow joining together to create the illusion of things like chairs, tables, etc. And while the materialist mocks the immaterialist, he is the one telling you that all the vivid colors that you see are not real, and that the solid table that you are touching is actually made mostly of empty space and spinning particles of stuff. And while the materialist laughs at the immaterialist, he is the one claiming that pieces of unthinking dead stuff, when they bounce around enough, can actually form living thinking persons with subjective experiences. Or, conversely, and even more absurdly, the materialist will say that your consciousness, your first-person experience, your beliefs and desires are all illusions! And that is supposed to be the common-sensical and rational position! Give me a break!

So, the point is that you should not be fooled by the bluster from materialists, for when materialism is looked at with a critical eye, not only is it not anymore commonsensical than immaterialism is, but there is actually a case to be made that materialism is more kooky and strange than immaterialism is. After all, any view which claims that I, as a first-person self, actually don’t exist and that consciousness is an illusion, is not a view which is in line with anyone’s normal and common human experience. And so materialism is actually the “magical woo” of the philosophy world!


Materialist Hypocrisy

The final point about immaterialism that I briefly want to make is that a consideration of immaterialism shows us that many materialists, self-described skeptics, and many atheists are utter hypocrites. Why? Well, because they love to use Occam’s Razor until it works against them, and then suddenly it should be discarded. Or they love the fact that the burden of proof falls on the person making the positive claim, until they are the one making the positive claim, and then suddenly the burden of proof does not matter as much anymore. Or they love to preach about the need for evidence, but then when you point out the lack of evidence for this stuff called matter, suddenly evidence is not that important any longer. Or they deny the value of absurdity-arguments and the appeal to common-sense when they are claiming that consciousness is an illusion or that there is no free will, but the minute immaterialism is introduced, suddenly absurdity-arguments and appeals to common-sense are the most important types of arguments that there are. In essence, materialists are hypocrites, and debating about immaterialism exposes that fact in spades.


Anyway, that is all that I have at present. If you have any more questions, let me know.

Damian Michael
www.reconquistainitiative.com

Reconquista Initiative said...

Oh, and as a final point, I just want to add something that I said earlier: namely, in this day and age when 1) full-body virtual reality is becoming a reality, and 2) where "information" as information is the key to so much technology, etc., and 3) where there is talk that the universe is literally a hologram and that the science can be made to fit this view, and 4) where philosophers are arguing that our reality might just be part of an alien computer simulation (where we are like real-life SIMS), then is the immaterialist view really that shocking and unorthodox? I don't think so. In fact, I predict that as we learn more about information and its central role in reality, the immaterialist view will start looking more and more normal as time passes.

Hal said...

bmller:
"To be clear, I have no dog in the materialist vs. immaterialist fight. '

Thanks for the clarification. I also am not advocating for either position here as I find them both to be mistaken. I don't see how acknowledging that there are physical objects that exist independently of ourselves entails the view that everything is material. And I find the immaterialist view to be incoherent, though I acknowledge that may be due to a lack of personal understanding regarding the immaterialist view Reconquista Initiative is advocating. That is why I threw some questions out there to try and better understand it.

Hal said...

RI :
"Now, in light of the above, note that unlike the materialist, the immaterialist does not add any assumptions or blind-faith leaps to what he believes exists. After all, the one thing that I know and cannot doubt—on pain of self-refutation—is that I am a thinking thing who has thoughts, but it is an assumption to say that I am a material thinking thing. So the immaterialist only believes that which he knows to be true.

Reconquista Initiative, thanks for taking the time and effort to give such a detailed presentation of your position. Although I don't share it, I gather from what you have written and the article that bmiller linked to earlier that we do agree that experiences are extremely important in shaping our understanding of ourselves and the world we live in.

I am having difficulty accepting your basic assumption regarding having thoughts and being a thinking being. In my experience having a body is as indubitably true as having thoughts. And it is the having a body that enables me to have the sensations and perceptions I experience.

Your statement that the immaterialist only believes what he knows is troubling because it fails to differentiate believing from knowing. Knowing something is not the same as believing something.

I realize this is an inadequate response to your detailed postings, but it is all that I have time for at present.

Stardusty Psyche said...

bmiller said...

"I quoted the article. "

So did I.

February 21, 2017 7:30 PM

bmiller said...

@Strawdusty,

From the article:
"Locke's reference to an "unknown substratum" in which the features of material substances inhere is a pointless assumption,"

Me:"Where do you say the "features of material substances inhere"?"

Strawdusty:"You have it back to front. It's immaterial substances, not material substances."

Me"I quoted the article. "

Strawdusty:"So did I."

Well, then this exchange explains a lot.

Joe Hinman said...


What is the Immaterialist World Made Of

In essence, the immaterialist views the world as composed only of minds and their ideas. Or, to phrase it differently: the world is composed of thinking things and their thoughts. Or, to phrase it even more differently: the world is composed of thinking things and the information that thinking things produce and exchange.

Now, in light of the above, note that unlike the materialist, the immaterialist does not add any assumptions or blind-faith leaps to what he believes exists. After all, the one thing that I know and cannot doubt—on pain of self-refutation—is that I am a thinking thing who has thoughts, but it is an assumption to say that I am a material thinking thing. So the immaterialist only believes that which he knows to be true.

this is typical reductionist propaganda, only that winch we have nailed down can be believed, Those aspects of reality that we believe but don['t really have nailed down we have to cover by relabeling. you want to pretend that mind is caused by brain chemistry alone so there can be no thought without a physical apparatus but we still don't even know what the apparatus does.

we know there is a mental reality,so we thought must exit,we don't really know what causes it, is brain chemistry the cause or the distribution system?
today I saw an article 15 lies the AMA Has told, this was done by neurologist, One of those lies was that mental illness is caused by chemical imbalance. He says they don't really have any proof that there are chemical imbalances. So the reductionist re labels unknowns in such a wayas to mjakie itseem theory is fact.

Joe Hinman said...

I am having difficulty accepting your basic assumption regarding having thoughts and being a thinking being. In my experience having a body is as indubitably true as having thoughts. And it is the having a body that enables me to have the sensations and perceptions I experience.

how do you know that? you have not been out of your body so you don't know if mind can survive without body or not, you don't experience your brain chemistry,

Your statement that the immaterialist only believes what he knows is troubling because it fails to differentiate believing from knowing. Knowing something is not the same as believing something.

we don't know anything either way

B. Prokop said...

Hasn't that damned bomb exploded yet? I know it's been more than 75 seconds!

Reconquista Initiative said...

Hey Hal,

...we do agree that experiences are extremely important in shaping our understanding of ourselves and the world we live in.

Absolutely. However, I would also say that not only are our experiences important in shaping our understanding of ourselves and the world, but so is our consistency with the principles that we employ when we do so. And so, for example, do we use Occam’s Razor and our ‘Burden of Proof’ principles consistently, or do we only employ them when it is suitable to our position, like the materialist all too often does. Do we follow the evidence and our reasoning wherever it leads in a consistent manner, or do we only follow it where we want it to go.

Your statement that the immaterialist only believes what he knows is troubling because it fails to differentiate believing from knowing. Knowing something is not the same as believing something.

This was poor phrasing on my part, especially since I think that the whole modern conception of knowledge is problematic and is really just a different way of naming a belief which we hold to be very well justified. Now, what I meant to say is that the immaterialist only holds to what he cannot doubt, and makes no further assumptions beyond that. And indeed, on pain of self-refutation, no one can doubt that they are a thinking thing, but it is easy to doubt that they are a material thinking thing. Thus, the immaterialist starts with an indubitable foundation—that he is a thinking thing—and makes no additional assumptions than that, whereas the materialist starts with an easily dubitable belief as his foundation. Thus, whereas the materialist’s foundation is easily doubtable, that is not the case for the immaterialist.

I am having difficulty accepting your basic assumption regarding having thoughts and being a thinking being. In my experience having a body is as indubitably true as having thoughts. And it is the having a body that enables me to have the sensations and perceptions I experience.

Please note that the immaterialist does not deny that you have a body, he just denies that its ultimate constituent is matter. Again, think of the computer game analogy. In, say, a first-person massive online multiplayer computer game, each computer character has a body through which he senses and interacts with the game world, but that body is ultimately composed of information (computer code) not matter. The same is true for the immaterialist. Thus, the immaterialist does not deny that he has a body, it is just that his conception of what a body is, is fundamentally different than what the materialist posits.

And again, lest you think that this view is simply too far from common-sense to be taken seriously, just remember that the materialistic body that you allegedly possess is nothing like the common-sense view of the body that you experience. Indeed, on materialism, your “body” is little more than empty space composed of chunks of unseen stuff that bounce around and somehow adhere together to form “you”, and then somehow “stays” as you throughout your life; and even worse, many materialists posit that your consciousness is an illusion, that the “self” does not exist, that the colors that you see do not exist, etc. This, of course, is utterly opposed to common-sense and direct personal experience. Thus, the materialist enjoys no greater affinity to common-sense than the immaterialist does, and, in fact, given the primacy of consciousness in experience, the immaterialist’s view may even be closer to common-sense than the materialist is. So the materialist enjoys absolutely no “common-sense” or experiential advantage.

But don’t worry, the fact that we do not see this, or have trouble with it, is because we have been steeped in materialism for so long that it is difficult to escape from its grasp.

...it is all that I have time for at present.

No worries, we are all busy, so post more if and when you can.

Damian Michael
www.reconquistainitiative.com

William said...

"today I saw an article 15 lies the AMA Has told, this was done by neurologist, One of those lies was that mental illness is caused by chemical imbalance."

I really doubt that article as you read it was anything other than a pro-alt-med article written by a would-be journalist with a political agenda. However, in the chemical imbalance part of such a half-truth article, it was probably referring to

https://www.amazon.com/Blaming-Brain-Truth-Mental-Health/dp/0743237870

which criticizes the hypothesis that mental illness is caused by neurotransmitter changes.

It's definitely true that the chemical imbalance explanation is one of those "our part of the elephant" type theories, and most experts would say it is partially true, since neurotransmitter levels do change in mental illness.

Clearly the chemistry change is not the initial cause; but as an intermediate consequence, it can cause its own further negative consequences.

T said...

"The burden of proof is on the one making the affirmative claim".

The burden of proof is on anyone making a claim.

If you make a claim, the burden is on you to show that it is true. Seems like a reasonable request.

I'm yet to hear a compelling reason why this should be restricted to those making an affirmative claim. If I say "Sweden doesn't exist", then the burden is on me, just like the burden is on someone to show that "God doesn't exist".

Legion of Logic said...

"just like the burden is on someone to show that "God doesn't exist".

That's why most of them retreat to the (usually dishonest) position of "I'm not saying God doesn't exist, I simply lack belief due to lack of evidence."

I say dishonest, because the same people who say that usually also talk about Christians believing in "fairy tales" or things like that, in which case it's blatantly obvious they don't believe God exists, but don't want to have to defend their position.

William said...

Fallacies:
You cannot prove that God does not exist, so He does.
You cannot prove that God does exist, so He does not exist.

Non-fallacies:
You cannot prove that God does not exist, so you fail to create an obligation that I believe He does not exist.
You cannot prove that God does exist, so so you fail to create an obligation that I believe He does exist.

B. Prokop said...

All right, I've now officially had it (with this lame discussion). BOOM!

Stardusty Psyche said...

Reconquista Initiative said...

" In essence, the immaterialist views the world as composed only of minds and their ideas. "

" Now, in light of the above, note that unlike the materialist, the immaterialist does not add any assumptions or blind-faith leaps to what he believes exists."
How absurd, you just did.

" but it is an assumption to say that I am a material thinking thing. "
No, you must be material or you are not a thing. A thing is made of some thing. To be a thinking thing of any sort you must be material, else you are absolutely nothing at all.

You are not very much of a thinking thing, very apparently.


February 22, 2017 4:15 AM

bmiller said...

@Reconquista Initiative,

It seems that you've silenced all of your materialist opponents. That sure didn't take long. Very impressive.

Stardusty Psyche said...

T said...

SP "The burden of proof is on the one making the affirmative claim".

" The burden of proof is on anyone making a claim."
Fair enough, saying "affirmative claim" is like saying "assertion assertion". I only meant it for emphasis and to separate what is sometimes called a weak claim from a strong claim. This is related to LL's post.

" I'm yet to hear a compelling reason why this should be restricted to those making an affirmative claim. If I say "Sweden doesn't exist", then the burden is on me, just like the burden is on someone to show that "God doesn't exist"."
Right, a strong claim of the negative is affirmative, it is an assertion. I meant "affirmative" in the sense of an assertion, not in the sense of positive phrasing.



February 22, 2017 3:41 PM
Blogger Legion of Logic said...

" "just like the burden is on someone to show that "God doesn't exist".

That's why most of them retreat to the (usually dishonest) position of "I'm not saying God doesn't exist, I simply lack belief due to lack of evidence.""

Which is what I wanted to seperate from. Simply not believing something is sometime considered "weak" while asserting the negative as a universal fact might be called "strong".


February 22, 2017 5:18 PM

Dave Duffy said...

"All right, I've now officially had it (with this lame discussion). BOOM!"

Sometimes I have a weakness for reading comments on this blog. I'll admit I don't think much about the arguments (either because I'm not that smart or because I just don't care), but I do like the personalities that show up.

Is Damian Michael doing some kind of parody of materialism?

Is "Stardusty Psyche" John Loftus?

Okay Mr. Prokop, I know you read Russian, so can you please let us know what the words are on the Russian bear meme next to your name.

Stardusty Psyche said...

Reconquista Initiative said...

" Now, after hearing all of the above, the normal response of the materialist is exactly what ‘SD’ is doing: namely, trying to mock immaterialism to make it sound absurd. This is the last defense of the materialist. "
No, it is the first response to reading drivel.

You speak of an "immaterial thing", which is an oxymoron, and thus incoherent. If a thing is not made of some thing then it is made of no thing and is thus literally nothing, so you literally assert nothing is what you are made of.

You are speaking in gibberish.


"The problem for the materialist though, is that materialism is as absurd, if not more so, than immaterialism is. Consider, for example, that while the materialist thinks immaterialism is kooky, he is simultaneously telling us that reality consists of tiny chunks of stuff that we don’t see somehow joining together to create the illusion of things like chairs, tables, etc."
Hey physics genius, the human eye has limited resolution. The scale of objects is not defined by the structure of our eyes. There is nothing "kooky" about realizing our eyes are not able to detect things smaller than the resolution of the eye, or dimmer than the sensitivity of the eye.

That's one reason we build amplifying devices. With them we can collect light in such a way as to see on a screen with our eyes a representation of things that are too dim or too small to see without technological aid.


"And while the materialist mocks the immaterialist, he is the one telling you that all the vivid colors that you see are not real,"
Who said that? Colors are real experiences due to various wavelengths of light being absorbed by cells in our eyes. Berkeley did not know that because he lived long before those details had been discovered. You don't know it because you choose to remain ignorant.

" Give me a break!"
No. You are an ignorant person spouting incoherent gibberish.

" So, the point is that you should not be fooled by the bluster from materialists, for when materialism is looked at with a critical eye, not only is it not anymore commonsensical than immaterialism is, but there is actually a case to be made that materialism is more kooky and strange than immaterialism is."
An ignorant such case can be made. The ancients and even somebody like Berkeley had little more than naked eye observations and reason to go on, so they did what they could with those limited resources to try to understand the nature of our observable universe. People like Galileo, Newton, Copernicus, Kepler, and their successors made commendable progress. People like Berkeley contributed to ignorant superstitions that persist to this day.


" Anyway, that is all that I have at present. If you have any more questions, let me know."
Ok, what have you been smoking?


February 22, 2017 4:16 AM

Hal said...

Reconquista Initiative,
Although I found your last post to me very interesting, you seem to be under the impression that I am a materialist. I am not. But holding the view that materialism is wrong-headed does not entail acceptance of the immaterialism position you are advocating does it? Leastways, I don't think so.

Also, you should know that although I think that Occam's Razer can in some situations be useful (mainly in the scientific realm), I don't insist on strict adherence to it. Doesn't really seem to be all that useful in the realm of philosophy where the primary goal is understanding of the concepts we use to describe the world we live in.

David Brightly said...

Surely 'burden of proof' is a sociological rather than a logical concept. If you want to persuade me of something I don't accept it is you that has to come up with argument, demonstration, evidence, etc. Else I remain unmoved. Nothing to do with the positivity or negativity of your claim. If you deny the Holocaust then you have your work cut out.

Trouble comes when applying this to claims of radical skepticism. It's in the nature of these claims that they leave precious little common ground from which a persuasive argument or counter argument might be launched. The protagonists can happily throw insults at one another safe in the knowledge that their positions are irrefutable.

T said...

Fair enough Stardusty, we are in agreement on the burden of proof then

Hal said...

Joe:
"how do you know that? you have not been out of your body so you don't know if mind can survive without body or not, you don't experience your brain chemistry,


???
I said nothing about whether or not a mind can survive without a body.

B. Prokop said...

"can you please let us know what the words are on the Russian bear meme next to your name"

They translate to "We oppose the party of crooks and thieves" (can also mean con-men and thieves, or rogues and thieves - the word zhulik is difficult to translate). It is the slogan of the generic anti-Putin opposition in Russia (and not associated with any one party).

B. Prokop said...

And they're pronounced "PRO-tif PAR-ti-ya ZHU-li-kof ee vo-ROF"

Hal said...

RI:
"Now, what I meant to say is that the immaterialist only holds to what he cannot doubt, and makes no further assumptions beyond that. And indeed, on pain of self-refutation, no one can doubt that they are a thinking thing, but it is easy to doubt that they are a material thinking thing.'

I don't find it easy to doubt that I have a body, a body that interacts with other objects in the world. Our bodies are one of the substances that can interact causally with other substances in the world.
Just as I don't find it easy to doubt that I have a mind and have mental powers that enable me act as a rational being in the world.

You seem to want to reduce everything to the mental. That appears to me to be as mistaken as the materialist attempting to reduce everything to the material.

Joe Hinman said...

what is meant by terms such as immaterialist is in need of clarification. If reality is a thought in a mind then it;snot that you don't have a body but that your body is really a thought.

Joe Hinman said...

can you please let us know what the words are on the Russian bear meme next to your name"

They translate to "We oppose the party of crooks and thieves" (can also mean con-men and thieves, or rogues and thieves - the word zhulik is difficult to translate). It is the slogan of the generic anti-Putin opposition in Russia (and not associated with any one party).

February 23, 2017 6:02 AM

excellent!

Joe Hinman said...

how did he know it was a Russian bear? I thought it was a polar bear

B. Prokop said...

Well, the bear is white.

In the original illustration (from which I shamelessly stole this portion off of a Russian website), the bear has the corner of a map of Russia in its mouth, and is dragging it away (i.e., stealing it). You can still see the piece of Russia in the bear's mouth in my symbol.

(My daughters tell me the reason I get so many viruses on my laptop is all the time I spend surfing Russian websites. It's truly the Wild West out there in virtual Russia!)

Joe Hinman said...


Stardusty :
"The universe is made of an immaterial material, don't you know? Your senses are an illusion. You only imagine touching things, seeing things, hearing things because those things are made of non-stuff stuff ectoplasm pure imagination thought floaty immaterial super stuff that isn't really any thing since it is an existent non-material. Obviously."

" I'm asking Reconquista Initiative to elaborate on his philosophy. I'm not interested in your mangled interpretation of it."

More's the pity, since I captured the gist of it rather well, I think.

*Although he maintained that there can be no material substances, Berkeley did not reject the notion of substance altogether. The most crucial feature of substance is activity, he supposed, and in our experience the most obvioius example activity is that of perceiving itself. So thinking substances do exist, and for these spirits (or souls or minds) to be is just to perceive (in Latin, esse est percipere). *

I mean, what a load of horse pucky. Really? This passes for a respectable position? Berkeley immaterialism is just a way for people who live in an irrational dream world to pass themselves off as sophisticated thinkers.


yopu have all moved so far away from the original limne of thinkingm ,which could have been very productive, it's not worth picking up. one thing to dusty your attempts at mocking ideax betray youriideological braimn washing rather than real thinking.

Issac Newton believed that tye universe was a thought in the mind of God, that is not the same thinking that things are illusions, if reality is made of thought then reality is a thought it's not an illusion of thought.


the idea of solid objects is an illusion. they are not youi kjnkowm they made up of nothing and little charges,we don't know what hcarges are madee of,

tell me Dustry what sub atomic particles made of of? don't say quarks that';not an explanation it's a label for"we domn't know