RE: virus: materialism and other worldviews

Sodom (
Fri, 19 Feb 1999 10:40:22 -0500

> Robin Faichney wrote:
>> If your materialism is not mere reaction, then you should be
>> able to tackle the proposition that abstractions are best
>> considered non-material, because of the fundamental difference
>> between them and concrete objects that I already explained in
>> this thread: their numerical identity.
> Aspects of material things or the results of the action of time and
> material things ARE the abstracts we are discussing. It is a
> product of physical action and time. They are not seperable except
> in abstract.

But abstraction is what we're talking about! If you agree that abstractions are separable, then what's the problem? Sure, it's a conceptual separation, not a physical one, but so what? As I keep saying, I'm not a dualist, or a supernaturalist. I just believe that it pays to acknowledge the difference between concrete objects and abstractions. The former are physical things and the latter ain't.

I'll try a different metaphor - how about this.

You have a cube that is painted blue. When you deal with this physical object, The color is an aspect of the object. The word "blue" cannot be accuratly used to describe the cube if you do not mention the other aspects of the cube (size, volume, number etc...) But can be used with these descriptions to accuratly describe the cube. You can talk about the "blue" aspect of the cube all day, or perhaps only see a single side of the cube (Which would look like a square). In this case "blue" appears abstract because of the lack of information to describe the entire object - not because it IS abstract. I would say these intangibles are parts of the material that due to a lack of info - are best dealt with in abstract.

Or maybe

Physical concrete objects have qualities like you mention (number, size, weight) - I say that what we make abstract is a combination of the physical entity that is the source of information and the physical entity which is the electro-chemical drug factory that is the brain. I just don't think it is yet possible to count and calculate the actions of billions of neurons firing over a short time period. But I think if you could, you would have a completely accurate picture of abstract. Because we cant do this - it is much more convenient to think of abstract as separate and distinguishable from the physical, and I do actually think of and work with them as separate for all things except when necessary not to, like now.

Last try

Abstractions are qualities of physical things that are variable

Or maybe

I have my cranial rectumitis - highly possible

Bill Roh

> I can agree that it is still easier to deal with
> abstractions as a seperate entity - but I think I also stated it
> earlier - I think this is a fault of our limited biolical thinking
> skills.

It's not a fault. Abstract conceptualisation might be the biggest advantage we have over other species.

>> Having said that, there's another element to consciousness
>> that materialism fails to explain, besides its abstract
>> nature: its ineliminable subjectivity. There is no objective
>> evidence for consciousness whatsoever. As I'm not a
>> materialist,
>> that doesn't bother me, but shouldn't it bother you?
> Contradictins to my views only intrigue - But what about buildings,
> pollution, all sorts of "objective" evidence that a conscious
> entity could objectivly say "Something conscious made this".

Isn't that a bit circular? :-)

And doesn't it confuse consciousness with intelligence?

> I
> would also say that there is enough evidence by infrence that
> unless a good case is made for your viewpoint - Ill argue that
> there is enough evidence to use it as a working hypotheses?

But I'm not saying consciousness is unreal. I use it as a working hypothesis all the time myself, and I'll eat a complete PC if anyone can prove that there is a generally superior strategy for humans to use. All I'm saying is that there is no *objective* evidence for consciousness, which should worry anyone who believes in objectivity as the ultimate (or even "an ultimate"?) goal.