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Tags consciousness , materialism , richard dawkins

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Old 28th November 2015, 04:59 PM   #1
Nick227
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Materialism - Devastator of Scientific Method! / Observer Delusion

Does materialism spell the end for scientific method? I've been pondering this question for some time. It looks like this...

* At least 99% of modern scientific research into the brain points directly to it being the sole source of consciousness. Pretty much every aspect of conscious experience has now been tracked to brain activity.

* Consciousness emerges from brain activity. It's what neural processing actually looks like, actually is.

* If the brain is the source, or foundation, for consciousness then there cannot actually be an observing self. Though it's a pervasive and convincing phenomena it can't be real, or we'd be back in dualism. If we tell a materialist that they're going to be painlessly and instantaneously killed, and replaced with an identical copy, in theory they should be OK with it. It seems like something is going to be lost - them - but materialist logic dictates that this cannot be so in reality.

* This seeming presence of an observing self is likely therefore some highly favoured illusion resulting from millions of years of selective pressure. It's useful primarily for evolutionarily favoured tasks - finding food, shelter, sex, and avoiding predators.

* If selfhood is merely a highly favoured illusion then what does this say about some of the cornerstones of scientific method, principles and techniques used to determine the truth about things? Surely perspective is finished. Objectivity must be in quite some trouble if there is in reality no subject. Separation - got to be an illusion. Distance - sounds dubious. These concepts, so much the bare bones of our daily existence, must just be artifacts of our hunter-gatherer past, not reflections of reality. Even empiricism, perhaps not blown away, but surely weakened now.

Materialism - could it spell the end of science?

Nick
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Old 28th November 2015, 05:11 PM   #2
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Originally Posted by Nick227 View Post
Does materialism spell the end for scientific method? I've been pondering this question for some time. It looks like this...

* At least 99% of modern scientific research into the brain points directly to it being the sole source of consciousness. Pretty much every aspect of conscious experience has now been tracked to brain activity.

* Consciousness emerges from brain activity. It's what neural processing actually looks like, actually is.

* If the brain is the source, or foundation, for consciousness then there cannot actually be an observing self. Though it's a pervasive and convincing phenomena it can't be real, or we'd be back in dualism. If we tell a materialist that they're going to be painlessly and instantaneously killed, and replaced with an identical copy, in theory they should be OK with it. It seems like something is going to be lost - them - but materialist logic dictates that this cannot be so in reality.

* This seeming presence of an observing self is likely therefore some highly favoured illusion resulting from millions of years of selective pressure. It's useful primarily for evolutionarily favoured tasks - finding food, shelter, sex, and avoiding predators.

* If selfhood is merely a highly favoured illusion then what does this say about some of the cornerstones of scientific method, principles and techniques used to determine the truth about things? Surely perspective is finished. Objectivity must be in quite some trouble if there is in reality no subject. Separation - got to be an illusion. Distance - sounds dubious. These concepts, so much the bare bones of our daily existence, must just be artifacts of our hunter-gatherer past, not reflections of reality. Even empiricism, perhaps not blown away, but surely weakened now.

Materialism - could it spell the end of science?

Nick
No.
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Old 28th November 2015, 05:17 PM   #3
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Originally Posted by tsig View Post
No.
Just keep repeating NO, tsig. I mean it's always worth a try - No, No, No. But look what happened to Amy Winehouse in the end. She should have gone with a yes.

Nick
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Old 28th November 2015, 05:26 PM   #4
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Doesn't this only make Hume's scientific approximation more likely? You're arguing against scientific realism not materialism, and even if we assume scientific approximation the scientific method itself is left untouched.


ETA: In other words, you're confusing epistemology (realism vs. approximation) for ontology (monism vs. dualism).

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Old 28th November 2015, 05:33 PM   #5
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Originally Posted by Nick227 View Post
Surely perspective is finished.
Why? Can you show your reasoning for this?

Originally Posted by Nick227 View Post
Objectivity must be in quite some trouble if there is in reality no subject.
Objectivity in science need only mean instituting various procedures and methods such that it doesn't matter, in principle, whether it is person A or B who runs an experiment or produces a finding: the same results, within some margin of error, should occur. Nothing in there relies upon the self not being an illusion.

Originally Posted by Nick227 View Post
Separation - got to be an illusion. Distance - sounds dubious. These concepts, so much the bare bones of our daily existence, must just be artifacts of our hunter-gatherer past, not reflections of reality.
Can you define separation and distance? Do you mean these in physical terms, or what?
Originally Posted by Nick227 View Post
Even empiricism, perhaps not blown away, but surely weakened now.
Can you show your reasoning for this one, too?
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Old 28th November 2015, 05:39 PM   #6
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Originally Posted by Nick227 View Post
Does materialism spell the end for scientific method? I've been pondering this question for some time. It looks like this...

* At least 99% of modern scientific research into the brain points directly to it being the sole source of consciousness. Pretty much every aspect of conscious experience has now been tracked to brain activity.

* Consciousness emerges from brain activity. It's what neural processing actually looks like, actually is.

* If the brain is the source, or foundation, for consciousness then there cannot actually be an observing self. Though it's a pervasive and convincing phenomena it can't be real, or we'd be back in dualism. If we tell a materialist that they're going to be painlessly and instantaneously killed, and replaced with an identical copy, in theory they should be OK with it. It seems like something is going to be lost - them - but materialist logic dictates that this cannot be so in reality.

* This seeming presence of an observing self is likely therefore some highly favoured illusion resulting from millions of years of selective pressure. It's useful primarily for evolutionarily favoured tasks - finding food, shelter, sex, and avoiding predators.

* If selfhood is merely a highly favoured illusion then what does this say about some of the cornerstones of scientific method, principles and techniques used to determine the truth about things? Surely perspective is finished. Objectivity must be in quite some trouble if there is in reality no subject. Separation - got to be an illusion. Distance - sounds dubious. These concepts, so much the bare bones of our daily existence, must just be artifacts of our hunter-gatherer past, not reflections of reality. Even empiricism, perhaps not blown away, but surely weakened now.

Materialism - could it spell the end of science?

Nick
Um. No.
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Old 28th November 2015, 05:49 PM   #7
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нет
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Old 28th November 2015, 06:00 PM   #8
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Originally Posted by Paul2 View Post
Why? Can you show your reasoning for this?
You agree that if consciousness is purely a brain phenomenon then this must indicate a selfless reality?

So, everything is just happening, observed by no one. This is as near as we can get to a True statement here, as opposed to a socially useful one. Then it seems reasonable to me that our sense of perspective, of things being near or far, is just an artifact of evolution.

Originally Posted by Paul2 View Post
Objectivity in science need only mean instituting various procedures and methods such that it doesn't matter, in principle, whether it is person A or B who runs an experiment or produces a finding: the same results, within some margin of error, should occur. Nothing in there relies upon the self not being an illusion.
Yes. I'd say to a degree. Mathematical principles shouldn't be under any threat, for example. But the sheer weight of value given by scientists and others to method must be weakened by the reality that there isn't actually a subject, an observer.

How about we start from here? Thanks for your reply BTW

Nick
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Old 28th November 2015, 06:07 PM   #9
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Originally Posted by The Nimble Pianist View Post
ETA: In other words, you're confusing epistemology (realism vs. approximation) for ontology (monism vs. dualism).
I don't think so. The means by which we're deriving knowledge is overly reliant on the subject-object perspective, something which the materialist position must say is illusory.

Nick
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Old 28th November 2015, 06:50 PM   #10
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Bin there. Done that.

Quote:
'He's dreaming now,' said Tweedledee: 'and what do you think he's
dreaming about?'

Alice said 'Nobody can guess that.'

'Why, about YOU!' Tweedledee exclaimed, clapping his hands triumphantly.
'And if he left off dreaming about you, where do you suppose you'd be?'

'Where I am now, of course,' said Alice.

'Not you!' Tweedledee retorted contemptuously. 'You'd be nowhere. Why,
you're only a sort of thing in his dream!'

'If that there King was to wake,' added Tweedledum, 'you'd go
out--bang!--just like a candle!'

'I shouldn't!' Alice exclaimed indignantly. 'Besides, if I'M only a sort
of thing in his dream, what are YOU, I should like to know?'

'Ditto' said Tweedledum.

'Ditto, ditto' cried Tweedledee.

He shouted this so loud that Alice couldn't help saying, 'Hush! You'll
be waking him, I'm afraid, if you make so much noise.'

'Well, it no use YOUR talking about waking him,' said Tweedledum, 'when
you're only one of the things in his dream. You know very well you're
not real.'

'I AM real!' said Alice and began to cry.

'You won't make yourself a bit realler by crying,' Tweedledee remarked:
'there's nothing to cry about.'

'If I wasn't real,' Alice said--half-laughing through her tears, it all
seemed so ridiculous--'I shouldn't be able to cry.'

'I hope you don't suppose those are real tears?' Tweedledum interrupted
in a tone of great contempt.
And yet the World still turns and life goes on.

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Old 28th November 2015, 06:54 PM   #11
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Originally Posted by Gord_in_Toronto View Post
Bin there. Done that.



And yet the World still turns and life goes on.

...I hope you don't suppose that's a real bunny...
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Old 28th November 2015, 07:04 PM   #12
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I always need clarification for some reason.

Are you saying that the universe existing, whether our consciousness is able to properly observe it or not, is somehow evidence against materialism?
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Old 28th November 2015, 07:07 PM   #13
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Originally Posted by Nick227 View Post
I don't think so. The means by which we're deriving knowledge is overly reliant on the subject-object perspective, something which the materialist position must say is illusory.

Nick
Whilst I understand that the basis for this philosophical argument is to create a justification for you believing in woo, a "tu quoque" approach is perhaps not the best way to go about it.

Woo remains woo, even if your convoluted backformation of desired conclusion into a required set of premises reaches its end. And science will remain science and continue to deliver results, even over your objections.
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Old 28th November 2015, 07:23 PM   #14
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I don't understand the argument.
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Old 28th November 2015, 07:29 PM   #15
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Originally Posted by Slowvehicle View Post
...I hope you don't suppose that's a real bunny...
She is in the Wonderful World of GIFs.
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Old 28th November 2015, 07:58 PM   #16
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Originally Posted by Nick227 View Post
Does materialism spell the end for scientific method? I've been pondering this question for some time. It looks like this...

* At least 99% of modern scientific research into the brain points directly to it being the sole source of consciousness. Pretty much every aspect of conscious experience has now been tracked to brain activity.

* Consciousness emerges from brain activity. It's what neural processing actually looks like, actually is.

* If the brain is the source, or foundation, for consciousness then there cannot actually be an observing self. Though it's a pervasive and convincing phenomena it can't be real, or we'd be back in dualism. If we tell a materialist that they're going to be painlessly and instantaneously killed, and replaced with an identical copy, in theory they should be OK with it. It seems like something is going to be lost - them - but materialist logic dictates that this cannot be so in reality.

* This seeming presence of an observing self is likely therefore some highly favoured illusion resulting from millions of years of selective pressure. It's useful primarily for evolutionarily favoured tasks - finding food, shelter, sex, and avoiding predators.

* If selfhood is merely a highly favoured illusion then what does this say about some of the cornerstones of scientific method, principles and techniques used to determine the truth about things? Surely perspective is finished. Objectivity must be in quite some trouble if there is in reality no subject. Separation - got to be an illusion. Distance - sounds dubious. These concepts, so much the bare bones of our daily existence, must just be artifacts of our hunter-gatherer past, not reflections of reality. Even empiricism, perhaps not blown away, but surely weakened now.

Materialism - could it spell the end of science?

Nick
Sorry, but I don't see a connection. I'm not even sure that you know the definitions of the words you are using. I might just be failing to understand you, but my reading comprehension is generally pretty good. This almost reads as word salad to me. I'm failing to see the connections you are trying to make. If you think you can explain it better, please do.

Last edited by Manopolus; 28th November 2015 at 08:02 PM.
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Old 28th November 2015, 08:49 PM   #17
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Originally Posted by Nick227 View Post
* If the brain is the source, or foundation, for consciousness then there cannot actually be an observing self.
Define 'self'.

Quote:
Though it's a pervasive and convincing phenomena it can't be real, or we'd be back in dualism.
No, we wouldn't. Dualism posits that the mind is a metaphysical object which exists separately from the body. But an observing self does not have to be metaphysical.

Quote:
If we tell a materialist that they're going to be painlessly and instantaneously killed, and replaced with an identical copy, in theory they should be OK with it.
No need to do this experiment - all you have to do is wait. 98% of all the atoms in the human body are replaced every year!

Quote:
It seems like something is going to be lost - them
Not 'them', just the medium that holds 'them'. If I told you that I was going to destroy the hard drive in your computer, but only after cloning the data to a new drive, would you be worried about losing the 'real' data? Of course not.

Quote:
* If selfhood is merely a highly favoured illusion then
It's not an illusion - it's just as real as the data on your hard drive. The only 'illusion' is thinking that it could continue to exist without a medium to hold it.

Quote:
Materialism - could it spell the end of science?
No.
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Old 28th November 2015, 09:55 PM   #18
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Bleep blorp.
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Old 28th November 2015, 09:56 PM   #19
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Originally Posted by marplots View Post
I don't understand the argument.
IIUC, If our brains are nothing but materiel then how can we use materiel brains to understand the materiel universe.

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Old 28th November 2015, 10:10 PM   #20
marplots
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Originally Posted by tsig View Post
IIUC, If our brains are nothing but materiel then how can we use materiel brains to understand the materiel universe.

When you put it like that...



I'm probably just caught up in the illusion. Wouldn't be the first time.
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Old 28th November 2015, 11:12 PM   #21
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Originally Posted by ehcks View Post
I always need clarification for some reason.

Are you saying that the universe existing, whether our consciousness is able to properly observe it or not, is somehow evidence against materialism?
No. I'm saying materialism must at least devalue scientific method

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Old 28th November 2015, 11:22 PM   #22
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Originally Posted by Nick227 View Post
Materialism - could it spell the end of science?
Isn't it funny how science has done far more to improve the lives of people than the philosophy of science ever has?

Show me a materialism that can grow more efficient crops, that can better harness energy and generate power, that can forge lighter and stronger materials, that can carry more information at less cost, that can prolong human life while reducing human suffering. Show me that, and I will show you a materialism that spells the end of science.

Show me what you've got in this thread, and I will show you exactly so much inconsequential navel-gazing.

Will materialism spell the end of science? Might as well ask if science will spell the end of people being pseudo-mystical superstitious jackasses.
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Old 28th November 2015, 11:24 PM   #23
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Originally Posted by Kid Eager View Post
And science will remain science and continue to deliver results, even over your objections.
Yes, it will deliver results. But not necessarily accurate ones. You need to take into account evolutionary bias in perception and cognition. Like we ensure machines are properly calibrated before use.

Separation and perspective seem very strong to the human consciousness. Almost unassailable. But this must in part be because the brain evolved a sense of personal subject.

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Old 28th November 2015, 11:29 PM   #24
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Originally Posted by Nick227 View Post
If we tell a materialist that they're going to be painlessly and instantaneously killed, and replaced with an identical copy, in theory they should be OK with it. It seems like something is going to be lost - them - but materialist logic dictates that this cannot be so in reality.
Materialist logic says no such thing, that it doesn't matter whether the materialist's body is destroyed, as long as it is copied in another one. What nonsense. This idea has been discussed before, most recently by me (an unyielding materialist) here.
Originally Posted by Craig B View Post
... There was a long thread about this years ago. He might think he was you, but the original YOU wouldn't think it was HE. If copies of ME are reconstituted from organic sludge on a distant planet, I don't give a hoot in hell WHO they think they are.
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Old 28th November 2015, 11:29 PM   #25
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Originally Posted by Nick227 View Post
Separation and perspective seem very strong to the human consciousness. Almost unassailable. But this must in part be because the brain evolved a sense of personal subject.
Isn't that something that animals in general have? The separation and perspective part? My dogs don't seem to have any difficulty figuring out how to get the treat into their own mouths, even when there's another dog standing right next to them. They seem quite capable of lunging at just the right time to bring their jaws right where they need to be.

How is this a human thing?
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Old 28th November 2015, 11:34 PM   #26
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Originally Posted by Roger Ramjets View Post
Define 'self'.
In this context, an observer.

Quote:
No, we wouldn't. Dualism posits that the mind is a metaphysical object which exists separately from the body. But an observing self does not have to be metaphysical.
How so?

Quote:
It's not an illusion - it's just as real as the data on your hard drive. The only 'illusion' is thinking that it could continue to exist without a medium to hold it. .
Not really a good analogy for the sense of an observer. It's an illusion that developed for specific purposes, and can corrupt data interpretation for others.

Originally Posted by Gord_in_Toronto View Post
She is in the Wonderful World of GIFs.

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Old 28th November 2015, 11:36 PM   #27
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Originally Posted by tsig View Post
IIUC, If our brains are nothing but materiel then how can we use materiel brains to understand the materiel universe.

If our brains developed a sense of an observer existing, through evolutionary bias, then what does scientific method look like without this add-on ?

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Old 28th November 2015, 11:39 PM   #28
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Originally Posted by marplots View Post
Isn't that something that animals in general have? The separation and perspective part? My dogs don't seem to have any difficulty figuring out how to get the treat into their own mouths, even when there's another dog standing right next to them. They seem quite capable of lunging at just the right time to bring their jaws right where they need to be.

How is this a human thing?
Fair point. Though it doesn't weaken my argument.

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Old 28th November 2015, 11:44 PM   #29
Nick227
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Originally Posted by Craig B View Post
Materialist logic says no such thing, that it doesn't matter whether the materialist's body is destroyed, as long as it is copied in another one. What nonsense. This idea has been discussed before, most recently by me (an unyielding materialist) here.
The quote you posted actually demonstrates that neither you nor your copy are materialists.

A persisting self can't exist under materialism. It's created in the moment but selective pressure has made it seem to be constant.



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Last edited by Nick227; 28th November 2015 at 11:53 PM.
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Old 28th November 2015, 11:57 PM   #30
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Science has been defeated. What do you suggest we use instead of it? bear it mind it should have the same and or better track record of making things in general better for humanity.

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Old 28th November 2015, 11:59 PM   #31
Craig B
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Originally Posted by Nick227 View Post
The quote you posted actually demonstrates that neither you not your copy are materialists.

A persisting self can't exist under materialism. It's created in the moment but selective pressure has made it seem
Seem to whom?
Originally Posted by Nick227 View Post
to be constant.
In that case I'll keep the one I've got, if you don't mind. And that one is an expression of the activity of my physical structure. So I'll hold on to that too.

Your theory of reality is a highly restricted one. Some people might believe that only their minds exist. They are "solipsists". For my amusement I have imagined people who believe that only other prople's minds, and not their own, exist. These, if they are indeed to be found, would be "solaltrists". But you don't believe that "self" exists at all, so that whether my material body (and therefore conscious self) exists or not must be a matter of indifference to me. Me? Who's that anyway?

I'll look at the implications of that. But it is in my view very far from being a form of materialism.
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Old 29th November 2015, 12:01 AM   #32
Nick227
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Originally Posted by Nay_Sayer View Post
Science has been defeated. What do you suggest we use instead of it? bear it mind it should have the same and or better track record of making things in general better for humanity.

I'm partial to wizardry
I'm not saying it's defeated. I'm saying it needs to assess and compensate for evolutionary bias

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Old 29th November 2015, 12:01 AM   #33
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Originally Posted by Nick227 View Post

* If the brain is the source, or foundation, for consciousness then there cannot actually be an observing self. Though it's a pervasive and convincing phenomena it can't be real, or we'd be back in dualism. If we tell a materialist that they're going to be painlessly and instantaneously killed, and replaced with an identical copy, in theory they should be OK with it. It seems like something is going to be lost - them - but materialist logic dictates that this cannot be so in reality

This premise is wrong. Even to materialist, copy are all different instances. You are asking if be8ing replaced by another instance and getting killed is fine.

Hu. No. There is absolutely nothing in materialism which state that. You make the same type error of judgement that religious people take toward atheist "yeah then if there is no paradise and hell then there is no need for moral and everything is allowed". Hu. No.

The brain is the SOLE basis of consciousness and from its physico chemic property and networking emerge various physico chemical process in network. The sum of those processes is what gives us our feeling of self, and you can as accident, illness , stroke, destroy part of them changing the self. Those sum is what is called the observing self. There is no indication either that that emerging process needs duality of any kind.

Finally, again, I have to wonder why it is so hard for non materialist to swallow, identical copy are not the same instance ! Killing an instance spells its end ! Why would such instance accept being replaced by a copy ? There is nothing in materialism which state that various identical instance must accept to be replaced by each other. In fact materialism state that all those copy instance are separate entities with separate emerging consciousness. Think of it as perfect twin with the same memory than copy. Why would a twin accept to be killed and replaced by his brother ?

That make no sense. Do not attribute to materialist what they do not say.
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Old 29th November 2015, 12:01 AM   #34
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Originally Posted by Nay_Sayer View Post
Science has been defeated. What do you suggest we use instead of it? bear it mind it should have the same and or better track record of making things in general better for humanity.

I'm partial to wizardry
I would like to suggest more cooking shows. Not the scientific ones, but you know, the regular, non-sciency cooking shows.
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Old 29th November 2015, 12:09 AM   #35
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Originally Posted by Craig B View Post
Seem to whom?
In hard science terms, to no one. Selfhood in this context is just a combination of instinct and learned behaviour, not an actual reality.
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Old 29th November 2015, 12:15 AM   #36
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Originally Posted by Nick227 View Post
In hard science terms, to no one. Selfhood in this context is just a combination of instinct and learned behaviour, not an actual reality.
Show me where so called hard science makes that claim
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Old 29th November 2015, 12:17 AM   #37
Nick227
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Originally Posted by Nay_Sayer View Post
Science has been defeated. What do you suggest we use instead of it? bear it mind it should have the same and or better track record of making things in general better for humanity.

I'm partial to wizardry
or how about a TV show, where all the thinkers in the world have to fight it out until only one remains? Then we all accept what they believe. Or has that already been done?
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Old 29th November 2015, 12:20 AM   #38
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Originally Posted by Kid Eager View Post
Show me where so called hard science makes that claim
It's straight materialism. You can't have an observer. Do you look for an observer within the brain? No. So it has to emerge. Can it have actual reality? No, that would be dualism. End of story.
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Old 29th November 2015, 12:57 AM   #39
Craig B
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Originally Posted by Nick227 View Post
It's straight materialism. You can't have an observer. Do you look for an observer within the brain? No. So it has to emerge. Can it have actual reality? No, that would be dualism. End of story.
That story was brought to you by Hard Science. But where is Hard Science to be found? Do you look for it within the brain? No, it has to emerge. But can it have actual reality? Ah, that is the question.
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Old 29th November 2015, 01:54 AM   #40
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Originally Posted by Nick227 View Post
I don't think so. The means by which we're deriving knowledge is overly reliant on the subject-object perspective, something which the materialist position must say is illusory.

Nick
OK. You're definitely conflating epistemology and ontology. Whether someone believes in Cartesian dualism or a strictly monist materialism says nothing about the validity of scientific realism or antirealism. You can be a monist who accepts, say, Daniel Dennett's "Multiple Drafts Model" and still believe in scientific realism. Such a person would say that while the "Mind's Eye" is indeed an illusion it is nevertheless an emergent property of real material things: namely neurons, and these real entities provide a (for the most part) faithfully recreated depiction of how the universe really is. It is therefore incumbent on us to understand scientific theories to be talking about real things. I myself am example of such a materialist scientific realist, though I'm far more certain of my materialism than my realism.

Now, even if I were to concede the point that monism/materialism is difficult (though not impossible) to reconcile with scientific realism, and so scientific antirealism is more likely true this would still not "devastate" the scientific method as you have outlined in your OP. In such a scenario we'd simply reinterpret the results of said method as being an approximation or construct of reality. The scientific method would still be useful even if we started to understand science as an invention of models rather than the discovery of truth since, you know, it seems to work pretty damn well. Atomic theory works and its predictive power is unmatched no matter if "atoms" are actually real.
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