virus: socially retarded materialists
Wed, 17 Feb 1999 10:36:16 EST

In a message dated 2/17/99 3:39:51 AM Central Standard Time, writes:

<< Seems to me like most if not all "one worldview" people are materialists. To be a materialist, however, and to operate as a social animal, involve different worldviews. >>

They do? Are you a materialist? I don't see that they necessarily do.

>>In one there is nothing but matter, or objects.<<

There is? Is there not organization to matter? Are not mechanisms and schemes of control as material as the the things they are composed of? Is an abstraction based on material phenomenon, not just as real and material as the matter that it is based upon?

>>In the other, there are also subjects, entities that are aware of objects.
The subject is not material -- if you disagree, tell me where in the brain (or elsewhere) it is found. Of course, it's not supernatural, or immaterial, either.<<

The entity "I" or "Jake" is an abstraction - a very material scheme of control that is organized primarily within the framework of cultural narrative. The primary supporting mechanism for this is my brain, but is not exclusively supported by this alone, incorporating objects in my environment, such as calendars, computers, and other organizing, representational, and information storing technologies. Though there are several layers of abstraction involved here, they are all based on very material and real things, and therefore is every bit as real and material itself. There is no one single locus, or packet of energy or matter that is the sine qua non of "Jake". That doesn't make "Jake" any less of a material phenomenon.

>>But it does show up the inadequacy of materialism. As does information,
which is neither matter, nor supernatural, either.<<

I don't think you are giving this view a fair shake. Information involves organization, control, and representation. If these activities involve material subjects, then the information is every bit as material itself.

>>There is no need to enumerate basic kinds of stuff. To say
that there is only one, which is matter, is just to react against dualism (two kinds) or idealism (one kind, but it's not matter). Stop reacting, and start thinking: does "basic kinds of stuff" actually mean anything? If so, I'd be interested to learn what.


Indeed, I think your own dualistic prejudices are preventing you from fully
exploring these things.  Matter and energy are the foundation upon which more
sophisticated forms and abstractions evolve.  The forms and abstractions are
not any less material than the matter and energy from which they evolve.
Subtract all matter and energy, and there is nothing left, it all ceases to
exist.  There are no supernatural ghostly puppeteers behind the scenes.  This
does not mean that I am any less materialistic to refer to the forms and
abstractions themselves, rather than the quantum components that are the
supporting basis of those forms and abstractions.

Why is it that so many people are tempted to depict materialists as somehow
deficient or impaired as social creatures?  This isn't the first time that I
have heard the suggestion.  It seems to correlate with the notion many of the

religious have 
that atheists just can't be happy well adjusted people with lives full of
meaning.  Something simply must be missing.  Sorry to disapoint you, but I
can't stop you from imagining some deficiency in my life if it makes you feel
better about your own.