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March 28, 2013

Comments

The OP is boys' philosophy.

The flow of a river doesn't have color either.

That doesn't make it immaterial.

RonH

After hearing this same 'argument' from Koukl several times I thought I'd look into it. So, since Koukl 'credited' Moreland, I went to the Big Book of Boys' Philosophy.

On page 234, in the BBBP, Morleand (or Craig) suggests that if you

picture a pink elephant in your mind...there will be no pink entity in your brain nor any awareness of [pink]; no neurophysiologst could open your brain and see a [pink] entity or awareness of such an entity while you are having such an experience. But, then, the sensory event has a property - being [pink] or awareness of [pink] - that no brain event has. Therefore, they cannot be identical. The sense image is a mental entity.

Yes, and if I hold up my copy of the BBBP, I will not hear Moreland's words. Therefore, his words are not in the book! And yes, when I dismantle my hard drive, I will see no software documents. Therefore, the documents are not on the drive!

If this is an argument, it is one of the worst arguments ever made.

RonH

I'd say it's one of the worst attempts by you to understand the argument. You botched it pretty good there, RonH. Maybe the Lil Tikes Book of Philosophy is more for you ;)

If by "words" you meant the physical ink strokes - yes they are all in the physical book. If you meant the meaning of words in the book, they are not in the physical book.

The boy's philosophy ad hominem is ineffective Ron. You've used it twice now. Once here and once in the thread on J.P. Moreland.

Calling a view 'boy's philosophy'

  1. Doesn't make it so.
  2. Even if accurate, doesn't make the view itself false...boy's may sometimes utter truth you know.
Now, if your point is that dualism is naive, I'll grant that it may be. Noted dualist Samuel Johnson's famous 'refutation' of Berkeley certainly was. Kicking a rock and shouting "Thus I refute thee" is hardly a sophisticated philosophical move. Especially given that, if anything, it is Berkeley who had a right to that argument, since it is Berkeley who insists that there is no divergence of appearance and reality.

But I can't help but point out that there's very little that's much more naive than materialism. The idea that you're going to explain everything with atoms in the void when there are things to be explained (like consciousness) where it's impossible to even see where to get started with atoms in the void is emblematic of the optimism of youth.

Unless, of course, you have a truncated notion of explanation where explaining A in terms of B is just a matter of using B to predict A. That itself is a very naive notion of explanation.

You are right about boys' philosophy.

It's something I picked up from C.S. Lewis.

My point is not that dualism is naive.

It is that this particular argument is VERY naive.

I am no defending materialism.

I am criticizing an 'argument' for dualism.

On the OP, it seems to me that Amy is right to say that she can't see how to affect physical with the non-physical. This is especially when we consider that the physical is supposed to exist independent of the mind. A thing cannot be both independent of the mind and be affected or affect the mind.

It's difficult to see how mind and matter can interact in any way, because the whole notion is contradictory.

Of course, if, by "physical" you just mean things extended and shaped (as recognized by bounding color perceptions), then you are just talking about complexes of ideas. And it is utterly clear how ideas can be affected by the mind.

When C.S. Lewis called Atheism a boy's philosophy in Mere Christianity, he did more than just call it that. He had reasons for thinking that atheism was naive. He had an argument (which was at least challenging) that can be criticized.

I suppose there are those who would suggest that the human will is merely a set of complex neurological patterns, measurable to some degree. Dr. Moreland's thoughts on dualism are intriguing and helpful, but the question of existentialism that underlies much popular thinking about the relationship between the physical and the non-physical needs to be addressed. Even among Christians there is this notion that if God went away, this world could just stand on its own. In other words, we know God as the Creator but we don't more clearly teach him as Sustainer in the same vein as we ought. In this way, popular philosophy has gained a foothold in modern theology.

BTW, I'm not sure that Amy's argument is all that naive once you grant the idea that there can be causal commerce between mind and matter.

If my mind can affect matter, then God's mind can affect matter. It's only a question of the effective scope of the minds involved. And my mind can affect matter...since it does so whenever I freely act. This is not boy's philosophy, but a logically valid inference.

Now, I don't actually accept the inference because I reject the underlying assumption that there can be any causal commerce between mind and matter or between mind and any other contradiction.

I showed by counter example why the argument, which I found in the book, is very naive. This is why I call it book for boys.

There are other childish arguments for dualism in the book as well. Private access. Intentionality. Secondary qualities.

The book reminds me of a high-school textbook. Vocabulary words are highlighted and listed at the end of every chapter.

Here's Lewis's 'argument'

Consequently atheism turns out to be too simple. If the whole universe has no meaning, we should never have found out that it has no meaning: just as, if there were no light in the universe and therefore no creatures with eyes, we should never know it was dark. Dark would be without meaning.
LOL. He, being the original boys' philosopher, justifies calling atheism a boys' philosophy with an analogy that comes completely out of nowhere.


RonH

@ WL
what's the difference between
"my mind can affect matter", and
"causal commerce between mind and matter" ?

kind regards...

Thoughts and will exist in the brain,something neuroscience is teaching is more about almost daily. This is another argument that will one day be relegated to the god of the gaps pile IMO.

Robert-

I don't think I had anything in mind (no pun) on "causal commerce" vs. "affect". I was just varying my terminology for the sake of varying it.

I suppose "commerce" connotes something two-way, so that's one slight difference. But it's only slight because I don't think matter can affect my mind either.

Ron-

I can tell just by reading your quote of Lewis that you are not presenting his argument, but his conclusion (followed by a brief recap of the argument).

The key word is "Consequently". When you say "consequently X", you are saying that X follows as a logical consequence from something else that you've already said. Since you start with "Consequently", you have, ipso facto, left out those things Lewis has already said to justify his claim.

A much more fundamental question is whether we accept the existence of the non-physical. If there is a spiritual world or spiritual beings, where are they? Is there another dimension, a non-physical realm, a parallel universe, or some place outside all our perception? From ancient times, most people in the world have concieved of such a spiritual reality, but most have thought of it as a physical location. In the Bible, God and the angels dwelt "in the heavens", which was understood as being a physical location above the dome of the sky. Jesus ascended into heaven, which meant going up. And he is expected to return whihc means coming back down. The place of the dead was understood as being below the ground. The Bible is replete with references that reveal this worldview. That is because people in the ancient world understood the spiritual realm as a physical place. This was true even until fairly recently, after the Enlightenment and the increasing acceptance of a modern, scientific understanding of the universe.
Even so, many cultures and societies around the world still don't hold to the modern scientific worldview. But Western Christians, and I also expect that believers of other religions that have appropriated a modern scientific worldview, have had to concede that the spiritual world is not in any physical place, that heaven is not up above the skies, that it has to be in a distinct, non-physical realm. Those of us who are old enough to remember the early space flights may recall how an early cosmonaut famously mocked Christianity by saying that he went into heaven and didn't see God, so God must not exist. Christians turned that around as being ridiculous since everyone knew that God didn't live up in the sky. But that's what the Bible teaches. So... where is this spiritual dimension? What is it? After we deal with that question, we can ask, as per this blog, how does the non-physical affect the non-physical?

You argued thus

Yes, and if I hold up my copy of the BBBP[sic], I will not hear Moreland's words. Therefore, his words are not in the book! And yes, when I dismantle my hard drive, I will see no software documents. Therefore, the documents are not on the drive!
Then you said this
If this is an argument, it is one of the worst arguments ever made.
For once we agree ;-)

Seriously though, an application of Leibniz's Law is a bad argument?

Really?

Your argument is not an application of Leibniz's law. Or, where it is, it does not prove what you would like.

The term "word" is ambiguous. It can mean "a sound uttered by a language-user to convey an idea" (or some such). Taking "word" in that way, it is uncontroversially true that Moreland's words...those sounds...are not in the book.

"Word" can also mean "a figure written by a laanguage user to convey and idea" (or some such). Taking "word" in that way, it is uncontroversially true that Moreland's words...those figures...are in the book, but he's never uttered one of them (and couldn't).

"Word" could also refer to an abstraction meant subsume both types. In that sense, the words are both in the book and the tongue. It is only when "word" is understood in this way that you can say that what Moreland uttered and what he wrote are the same words.

Now, if you want to say that the color pink is identical to a brain state you are going to have a problem, unless you want to imagine that there is an abstract sense of the term "Color" that subsumes the sensory idea and the state of the brain. But that will only underscore the fact that the sensory idea itself is not, and really cannot be, the same as the brain state. Nor, incidentally, are either the same as a wavelength.

And one more thing: that example of how your mind makes your arm raise up falls flat because the point that one's will and thought are not physical is not true: they are part of the biological processes of the mind which are chemically induced. Hormones, nerves, brain cell activity,etc all have a very definite physical, biological foundation.

Steve-

I'd actually be more interested in knowing where this strange physical dimension is. The mental realm I know.

The physical realm (whatever that is)?

Not as much.

@ WL
I guess I was confused because at your 8:38 comment you seemed to agree with the "affect matter" but disagree with "causal commerce".
Did I miss something? I think my mind is distinct from my brain (yet related) and uses my physical body to do its bidding.

Robert

Wisdom Lover: yeah, I know what you mean... it's all in our minds! But really, we do have to go by what our senses perceive. What else do we have to go by?

WL,

If my counter examples were good applications of Leibniz's Law, they would be a good arguments.

But they're not and that was my point: the pink elephant argument is bad too.

Sometimes it is easier to tell there is something wrong with an argument than it is to say exactly what is wrong.

In some of those cases you can locate a counter example.

If the counter example is good you have still made progress.

But you challenge my counter example.

Fine.

I'll tell you what is wrong with the pink elephant thingy.

It commits a category error. Morland/Craig complain that nothing pink is found in the brain when I think about a pink elephant.

But it is the elephant that is pink not the sensation of the elephant.

Sensations might be said to be 'of a color' but the do not have color of their own.

This is true whether the elephant is real or imagined.

And, it is true whether dualism is true or false.

BTW, idealism doesn't rate a single index entry in the BBBP. But Berkeley does and it leads to this dismissal of the claim that 'to exist is to be perceived or be a perceiver'

it is not God's gaze that gives mountains being, but his creative act of speaking them into existence and continually holding them in being


RonH

RonH

"And yes, when I dismantle my hard drive, I will see no software documents. Therefore, the documents are not on the drive!"

I assume that you are presuming synaptic firing==thoughts, when you give above example, similarly to electromagnetic fields==the code that comprises software and data on the hard drive. In fact there is an immaterial component on the hard drive. It is the information that it carries that is represented by the 0s and 1s as substitution markers for that immaterial information. Surely you will not claim that the story contained in a digitized novel...the plot...the characters...the ideas...are the products of a collection of 0s and 1s on the spinning platters of a hard drive. It is like the brain and mind in that there is in fact something not physically represented behind, lurking in the shadows if you will, what we observe through re-purposing of those 1s and 0s into words, sentences, paragraphs and punctuations that all carry on them the information that makes a novel much more than a collection of binary numbers.

So it is your view that the colors are on the objects we perceive. I agree. For that reason I must reject the idea that colors are wavelengths, or brain states or any other materialist nonsense.

Yes, it is the elephant that has color. But it is also color that I am immediately aware of. These things that I am immediately aware of are what I call my sensations. I do not mean anything else by "sensation of pink" than the pink I sense. The elephant is a complex of such sensations.

God is the source of being, because being describes that which is created.
But, God is not a being - non-physical or otherwise - because he is uncreated.

Angels are non-physical beings God created who can affect reality, but they actually exist. But they are not God and are not like functions of the mind. They are, however, the highest form of Non-Physical Being.

But how does the will or a 'non-physical being' move the body? The answer to that is essential because, if God were as you paint him, then it would have to be like a God equivalent of demonic possession; or like when aliens take over someone's body in sci-fi movies; or the hand in a glove-puppet, because what you're saying about the will amounts to that capacity and level of control.

Also, saying, 'Somehow our non-physical thoughts and wills are able to move physical objects—our own bodies.', is totally inadequate.
In fact that sounds more like the stuff of paranormal manifestations and ouija boards.

If the mind can move the body, as you describe, surely it can make things fly across the room or planes fall out of the sky, just by the will willing it, can't it?

Why is physical proximity relevant? What restricts the will from affecting physical reality outside the body? Does the will's power suddenly atrophy outside the body? But how can something non-corporeal like the will or mind be restricted by corporeal matter?

The will/mind-body problem does not go away. How does your Non-Physical Being or the will affect reality? That's the problem, and you don't answer it. 'Somehow' simply will not do.

The soul is the only possible way of connecting them coherently, but then the purpose of the example as an apologetical analogy goes out the window.

If my counter examples were good applications of Leibniz's Law, they would be a good arguments.

But they're not and that was my point

But some of them were. And that was my point.

You drew a conclusion in one of your arguments that you viewed as absurd: that Moreland's words are not in his book. You used what you took (correctly) to be an argument analogous to the argument for distinguishing mind-states from brain-states. And so you set up what you took to be a reductio against that sort of argument.

But the problem is that your conclusion about the absence of Moreland's words in his book is not absurd at all, but obviously true.

If by "word" you mean "a sound uttered by a language-user to convey an idea" (and you do mean something like that, since you said "I will not hear Moreland's words"), then by an uncontroversial application of Leibniz's law, Moreland's words are not in his book.

You only get to make your conclusion look absurd (thus setting up your reductio) by equivocating on the ambiguous term "word". You treat "word" as referring to an utterance in your premises, but for your conclusion to be absurd rather than uncontroversial, you have to treat "word" as referring to a figure.

And arguing that "pink" is likewise ambiguous is no help to you. If it is so ambiguous, then you've already granted the distinction between pink-in-the-mind (the sensation we are immediately aware of) and pink-in-the-brain (the brain state we can only know by means of fancy neurological models and inferences).

Andy-

I agree that "somehow it works" is not very satisfying. And my own answer to the question is by a counter-question like this: How did Tolkein, using just his mind, make Aragorn walk the Paths of the Dead? How did London, using just his mind, make Buck pull a 1000 pound dog sled?

But, going with Amy's dualism, there is no reason to suppose what you did that "If the mind can move the body, as you describe, surely it can make things fly across the room or planes fall out of the sky, just by the will willing it, can't it?".

What Amy has in mind, I think, is that my mind can make some small physical objects (like maybe packets of electricity within my brain) move differently than they would have moved without the interference of my mind. I don't, of course, deliberately set out to move those packets. That just happens when I try to do things like raise my arm or make a face. Once those small events happen in my brain, the gross movement of my body occur by a fully mechanistic process.

While I don't agree with that picture, it certainly does not follow from that that, like Neo, I can bend spoons with my mind, or, like Darth Vader, force-choke someone who makes a mistake or has a disturbing lack of faith.

My mind has limits on what it can do. That's all.

Who or what set those limits?

I don't see any reason not to suppose that it was the same Person who said to the oceans "This is where your proud waves stop."

"But really, we do have to go by what our senses perceive. What else do we have to go by?"

I agree. we've got nothing else to go by (well, OK, I do think there are some truths we can learn from reason. But nowhere near all of what we know or even suspect.)

And because I do agree, I have no idea what this strange mind-independent physical stuff is. What I perceive with my senses are, one and all, mind-dependent.

Considering that the brain itself doesn't have the sensors needed to see, feel, hear, smell or taste -- where does the brain get the ability to detect the presence of a thought?

There must be more than 5 sensor-types in our bodies, with the brain having added abilities to sense real things, like thoughts, without any data from the 5 traditional senses. A true sixth sense!

WL,

I must reject the idea that colors are wavelengths, or brain states or any other materialist nonsense.

How about the pigments in the rods and cones. Do those stand between you and the elephant?

SteveK,

There are lots of sensors besides the 5. Ever get butterflies in your stomach? Have you notices that you know where your limbs are without looking? Whether you are right side up? Hungry? Scared?

RonH

Wisdom Lover: You said "I have no idea what this strange mind-independent physical stuff is. What I perceive with my senses are, one and all, mind-dependent." That sounds like we are living in "The Matrix". I wouldn't suggest this, but if you drop a hammer on your toe, it will hurt. That's your brain telling you that it hurts. But also, the toe will suffer some damage: that's the physical reality, whether you perceive it or not. That's because there is a real, physical reality, and we perceive it with our senses. Perhaps another question is, do we perceive all of reality with our senses? Obviously not, since we can't see infra-red light, or sub-atomic particles. But they are real. And they have been detected.

RonH,
There does seem to be a lot of them - a lot more than 5 - but a "thought sensor" is pretty cool. From a Christian perspective, I can see how this ability enables God to communicate with us directly, mind-to-mind as it were.

This is a perfect example of what happens when apologists 'asset strip' Philosophy - like most Christians do everything else.

In other words they approach it with a utilitarian attitude, and only take ideas they think are useful without studying Philosophy itself, and so make such fundamental errors they wouldn't make if they did 'Descartes 101'

Things are not good in and of themselves to these people, but only in as much as they are 'useful to me'.

But then that's why most Christians I know these days leave a congregation which stops 'meeting my need', as they say, without any feeling for their so called 'friends' they're leaving, as if their current congregation was just a prostitute which was useful while it met a need, but once gratified, or if it fails to deliver, it's discarded like trash.

And if you don't think this is the state of most congregations, you're either blind or in denial.

SteveK,

What do you mean by 'pretty cool'? Do you mean 'fantasy' or 'interesting' or what?


Steve B,

Welcome to idealism.

RonH

"If you drop a hammer on your toe it will hurt"

Yes, it will. The one sensation reliably follows the other.

"But also, the toe will suffer some damage"

So it will look and feel different and I will feel funny and uncomfortable when I walk.

"That's because there is a real, physical reality, and we perceive it with our senses."

Well, surely we perceive reality (and real reality too) with our senses. I have no idea what the word "physical" adds to any of that.

"we can't see infra-red light, or sub-atomic particles. But they are real. And they have been detected."

So scientists have seen readings on their various and sundry apparati that they call detecting infrared radiation. Sensation after sensation after sensation.

Andy-

I really don't understand what you are getting at in your last post.

What is it to asset strip Philosophy? What does that have to do with present-day churchgoing habits? How is that relevant to the mind-body problem?

Steve B,

Welcome to the matrix - except you don't get any choice of pills.

RonH

Pleas explain what the Matrix has to do with idealism.

It is my view that appearance==reality.

As far as I can tell, the fundamental problem Neo and his friends had, before he took the red pill at least, is that appearance diverged radically from reality.

And prior to the time appearance diverged from reality, what would be the view of Neo and his friends?

Anyway, How about the pigments in the rods and cones. Do those stand between you and the elephant?

If the mind can move the body, as you describe, surely it can make things fly across the room or planes fall out of the sky, just by the will willing it, can't it? Why is physical proximity relevant? What restricts the will from affecting physical reality outside the body? Does the will's power suddenly atrophy outside the body?
I am me. I’m an integrated, whole person with both material and immaterial aspects. I am not the table, or the lamp, or anything else in the room.

As a whole, integrated being, I act. I act, I pick things up, I move through space. My actions are initiated by my (non-physical) will, not my physical body. But I am not merely moving my body, I am my body. My body is not a tool I use, my body is part of me.

This is why my mind and body work together. I have no reason to think my mind has access to or power over anything that isn’t me.

On the other hand, I see no reason to think that God who is the Creator and Sustainer of all things would not have access to, and sovereignty over, everything.

Amy,

You won't find anything pink in my head if you crack it open while I imagine a pink elephant.

Do you see why this is not evidence for dualism now?

In other words, do you understand now the difference between the perception of a pink thing and the pink thing perceived?

RonH

Robert-

Sorry I missed this:

I guess I was confused because at your 8:38 comment you seemed to agree with the "affect matter" but disagree with "causal commerce"
I was trying to show that Amy had argued validly...that her premises do logically imply her conclusion (even though I do not agree with one of her premises).

What I did was to argue IF causal commerce exists between our minds and our material bodies, THEN there's no reason it shouldn't also exist for God and the material universe. It's just a question of the degree to which it exists for us vs. God.

I then assumed, on Amy's behalf, that causal commerce does exist between our minds and our bodies (this is what I actually disagree with though) in order to show that Amy at least argued validly for her conclusion that there is causal commerce between God's mind and matter.

Better?

"How about the pigments in the rods and cones. Do those stand between you and the elephant?"

I'm not sure what you are asking her Ron. Were someone to cut open the inside on my eye, they would see the structures you describe.

My sensation of place in the world is probably somewhat inward in my skull relative to those eye bits. I sense the elephant outward from there. In that sense I suppose that those rod-and-cone thingies are between me and the elephant. I don't know whether they could properly be said to be standing.

Thanks WL,

You've got what I meant.

How about the optic nerve? Is that between you and the elephant?

You can see where this is going.

I'm trying to understand what your picture is.

I see a chain of events proceeding from the elephant into me (= my body).

Within me - within my brain, I imagine - the perception of pink occurs along with a slew of other things.

The brain seems to be complicated enough to be responsible for the things that happen.

Also, damage and defects produce surprisingly specific problems. Blind sight. Prosopagnosia.

The dualist must take some functions away from the brain compared to me. I'm not sure what.

And you. You are another kettle of fish. What do you say?

RonH


I'm not sure you do have what I meant. All I meant is that the rods and cones are located spatially between me an the elephant.

In terms of causal chains all I'm willing to say is that neurological language, theories of physics, and so forth represent convenient and reliable logical fictions (or theoretical constructs if you prefer) whereby I can predict one set of sensations from another. Like sensations, logical fictions are products of the mind (though not necessarily or even principally just my mind).

If you like, I can countenance the existence of matter, so long as we understand that what I'm countenancing is nothing more than a mental construction that is useful in predicting how one set of mental contents follow after another.

What I do not even know how to accept is the idea that there's some thing that exists apart from all minds that somehow gives rise to the rich mental life that each of us have.

Try describing your thoughts and your will in physical terms—what color are they?

Try describing the 'bytes' in a 'file' that 'contains a picture' of a sunset in physical terms - what color are the bytes?

Ron, I don't think the bytes in a file do contain a picture, and they don't have colour. What they can do is send the appropriate signal to a monitor, and the monitor produces the picture. The image is on the monitor alone. It doesn't exist in the computer. The computer only has a code from which an image can be produced.

The brain is analogous to the computer, and the mind is analogous to the monitor. But whereas there's an image subject to third person observation on the monitor, there's no image in the brain. The image produced by the brain can only be viewed by the person who owns the brain. If the image were just a property of the brain, then we ought to be able to view it in third person just as plainly as we can view an image on a monitor.

When we see things, there is a clear image in our minds, but there apparently is no such image in the physical world.

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