One thing I am proud of is that I know my videos are a bit of a challenge to atheists. If that were false, then YouTube user KnownNoMore (NKM) would not feel the need to do an almost 2 hour response to two of my videos that are no more than half an hour. The fact that he felt the need to go on for so long is flattering, as it hints that my videos are presenting a bit of a challenge to atheists. But perhaps I am speculating too much.
It should also be noted Derezzed83 did a small video response to one of his objections as well:
However, despite the long response, there is not much of a challenge here, other than the time it takes to respond to all his points. This is because it is based on severe misunderstanding of what specific idealists, like myself, claim. So this response, for the most part, will be pointing out why his objections do not threaten our form of idealism. There are several problems, so it will take a bit of space to unpack this whole thing. His later arguments are built on his initial misunderstandings, which doesn’t help his cause. I will address his main points. At places in his video when he reiterates the same points later, I will not respond, since I did so when he first made his case.
Quickly, before we get started I need to point I reject subjective forms of idealism and hold to scientific realism. My view is not that the mind creates all of reality, just the appearance of physical reality. There is obviously an underlying fundamental reality from which the physical emerges from that we do not create. A good way to look at it is something like Brian Whitworth’s Virtual Reality theory or Quantum Information Theory. Obviously there is fundamental reality underneath which we do not control. The reason I point this out is some people have been assuming we accept subjective forms of idealism, which entail scientific anti-realism. We actually prefer not to pick one of the forms of idealism and argue for that, but let the scientific evidence build us our worldview. It is about following the evidence, not picking a view and trying to make the science fit that. It is like what Henry Stapp says, “once the physics assumptions are rectified the philosophy will take care of itself.1”
Also, I need to make a disclaimer before I go on. I am going to quote the physicist Amit Goswami to help explain idealism and how we answer the problems. Now, since certain several materialist seem to have this crazy idea that when I quote someone, that must mean I agree with them 100% on everything, I need to point out that that is not the case. I suspect some are just looking for any way to discredit my argument, but I digress. The point I want to make here is that just because I agree with Goswami on idealism that doesn’t mean I agree with him on other subjects. If you read some of his books, he goes off into areas I disagree with. We are both idealists however, and he does a good job of articulating his defense of basic idealism in “The Self-Aware Universe.” So he will be a helpful ally in this case.
Before I get to the meat of it:
Ending at 5:31, this is a minor point. I never directly said that naive realism is a reduced form of realism. Although I understand the confusion. I merely brought it up to clarify confusion with the upcoming studies I would cite. The point was that naive realists can’t discount the input of the observer from the studies which were presented afterwards in my video.
Now, if KNM has theory of metaphysical realism that is compatible with the scientific experiments I cite then I am interesting in hearing it. However, I wonder if he will fall into the same problems of Colln McGinn with his mysterian naturalism. What ends up happening is the metaphysical theory becomes so akin to theism or idealism that we actually like it, minus the name. If there is some fundamental material building block of all things from which consciousness emerges, then I want to see some evidence to support, not just a hypothetical possibility.
So at almost 30 minutes into the video, KNM finally starts to get to his objections and claims he can show that consciousness/mind can be reduced and corrupted. This would mean that it is not fundamental and can reduce to smaller parts, which he believes is brain chemistry (in so many words). However, this is a bait and switch. He doesn’t show the mind can be corrupted, but that the information the mind processes can be corrupted. The mind is not perceptions; the mind can perceive and have perceptions. The mind is not thoughts, but has thoughts. The mind is not memories, but processes memories, etc. In idealism, the mind is a fundamental substance with the ability to have these things. The mind should not be confused with the information is acquires.
This is a slight switch he has pulled. Idealists would agree that you can corrupt the information that the mind processes. Mind, however, would be a fundamental substance with the ability to process and have these things. Showing you can corrupt, thoughts, perceptions, etc., doesn’t show the mind is corruptible, just that the information the mind processes can be. The point idealists make is this information is contingent on there being a mind, or minds there to process these things. Information cannot exist objectively. I’ll point this out by going through his points:
Ending at 28:56 – He starts by trying to show that perceptions are corruptible, but if you reduce perceptions, it is really just information feed to the mind. How is that a problem for idealism? Perceptions are really just qualia, and the mind experiences quaila. The mind is not qualia. Information comes in and the mind processes it. The ability the mind has is to process incoming information to one definite experience of it, not that actual perceptions are the ability of the mind.
Yeah, I see where this is going…
Ending at 29:25 – he says memories can be corrupted. But aren’t memories also information? Processing information is what the mind does, and if the information is lost or altered, then the mind will not be able to process it anymore through the brain. That is not a problem for idealism. If the brain is damaged, then the information the mind can process is lost or damaged. Amit Goswami says, speaking of the brain, “The classical system is necessary to form memories, to make records of collapsed events and to create a sense of continuity.2“
I’ve been dealing with these same objections on my channel for some time now, and I always end up repeating myself. Basically, nothing changing for all practical purposes, from realism to this form of idealism. It is only the fundamental nature of what reality is. We can still be scientific realists and metaphysical idealists (more on that later).
Ending at 34:27 – He moves on to personality, but again, same basic idea here. Everyone accepts that no one is born with a personality. This is something we come into over time throughout life. Information we acquire builds up into who we want to be, and with this new information we have, we become someone more than what we were during our infant stage. If the information is damaged or lost, it will change what the mind processes and becomes. I hope you realize what I am getting at: a soul building theodicy. The mind is given a life to obtain experiences where they become an adult through choices, experiences, and living. A personality is information of who someone is, and this is something we become, not an unchangeable, incorruptible thing.
Ending at 35:29 – Ne moves on to thoughts, but same idea still applies. The mind has the ability to think, but it obviously requires information to process in order to think. An ability is useless without information, and thoughts are the information we can process. Amit Goswami says, “Without the immanent world of manifestation, there would be no soul, no self that experiences itself as separate from the object it perceives.3“ So in other words, without any information to process, the mind would have no thoughts, no personality, nothing. We would just be beings without anything to be aware of. To reiterate, the mind needs information to be what we call being human, but the mind itself is not just that information, just the processor, so to speak.
Ending at 37:12 – He goes after free will or as he phrases it “intentionality.” So I have to say: no one argues that free will doesn’t require inputs to decide between. Again, information is essential to do anything, but not in the basic ability, just in using the ability. All he can show is the removal of the availability to use free will. If there is no information to decide between then, all that is lost is the availability for free will, not the potential ability.
I’ll skip his short section on belief and knowledge because the same criticism I have already given applies here as well.
Finally ending at 39:00 he makes it to awareness. Now despite his argument this far, I’ve already identified that we agree that the mind must be aware of something, and that it must be aware of information. So this is not an attack on idealism, but one giant bait and switch from mind, to information, which the mind processes and gathers. But he then just makes a non-sequitur that this means awareness is emergent from brain processes. This is assuming that all the incoming information can become the ability of awareness somehow. I fail to see how he reached this conclusion. How does all this incoming information become an ability and process itself? How does information become aware of itself? Naturalistic experts in the study of philosophy of mind accept this is a difficult, if not impossible problem (quotes below). KNM doesn’t even try to explain how awareness/consciousness can emerge from information or chemical processes. He just assumes emergence. More on this a little further down.
So ending at 39:36, he argues that we can become unconscious, and that this is supposed to be a problem for idealists. But being disconnected from the information we process through sleep or being knocked out is hardly an issue for the idealist. If the mind becomes disconnected from the information one can process, then we are not aware of it. Again, information is obviously required to do anything. No one denies that. The mind can be disconnected from its information by either losing consciousness for momentarily recharging (sleep), to better process information and live in the experience of reality. A good analogy is turning off a computer to prevent it from overheating.
Ending at 40:04, he says we can observe someone asleep, who would be unconscious of the information of reality. Well, yes, we would observe the information of a body, without the mind consciously experiencing reality at that time. But how is that solipsism? I would not argue as he assumes I would, so this is another non-issue for idealists. As I pointed out at the end of my original video, we are not absolutely in control of everything in this collective physical experience. We only participate in it. My mind is not creating the information construct of reality. Ironically he seems to challenge this later by suggesting that idealists cannot be scientific realists, but I address this further down.
Ending at 42:09 – he touches on quantum mind theory. He brings up the fact that I agree with Henry Stapp (that the mind is non-local and collapses states, not that collapsed states are consciousness as Hameroff and Penrose argue). Now the interesting thing he tries to claim is that quantum mind theory would be materialistic. I find this hard to believe because it would not fundamental matter, but quantum information. He also needs to realize that quantum mind theories argue that the quantum information can become detached from the brain, and can continue on in an entangled state. So it would start in the brain but then move on elsewhere, you’d just have a “soul building theodicy.” We live this life to develop into the person we become, and then become detached from this experience for something greater. This is a side note obviously.
Ending 42:30 – Ok, so to wrap up that section, the information the mind processes can be corrupted and KNM has only shown that in particular. He hasn’t shown that the substance of the mind itself is reducible to these things. If thoughts and perceptions exist, there must be something thinking them or perceiving them. So this has been nothing but a bait and switch so far.
Even naturalistic philosophers recognize the difference between awareness/consciousness, and the information we are aware of and process, like Ned Block in “Consciousness”. KNM has equated the substance of mind/consciousness to the information it processes, which makes his argument a non-issue for idealism so far. It is a shame that he wasted so much time up to this point, especially since he hasn’t explained how consciousness can emerge from chemicals in the brain. It is crucial for a materialist to argue that consciousness can be fully explained by the brain, but it was the one area he brushed over and didn’t show.
As I mentioned above, how does information become aware of itself? KNM needs a theory of emergence, not just assume it is there. But there is no theory of reducing consciousness to information processing inside the brain. As Ned Block says, “We have nothing – Zilch – worthy of being called a research program… researchers are stumped.4” John Searle says this is the “leading the problem in the biological sciences.5“ David Papineau says, “to this question physicalists theories of consciousness seem to provide no answer.6“
Now, for idealism, the important thing to remember: is if idealism is true, then monism is true. So meddling with the brain is not a separate substance from the mind. Brain damage and alteration makes sense in idealism. There is mind and the experience of reality, which is information, and an information loss or alteration will affect how the mind processes and functions in the experience of reality. For example, if I see a car coming at me, I’ll move. I won’t say it is just information and will not affect me. The information is real to the mind and affects how we function in our experience. Think of that line from “The Matrix” when Neo is bleeding from his training:
Neo – “I thought it wasn’t real.”
Morpheus – “Your mind makes it real.”
So basically, we agree that the parsimonious answer seems to be that the mind and body are one in some way. You affect one, you affect the other, because they are interconnected. Not because they just appear that way. But KNM’s entire argument so far is that these should be major problems for idealists, which is clearly false. I like the way Amit Goswami explains this:
“Thus in every quantum event the brain-mind state that is collapsed and experienced represents a pure mental state that the classical brain measures (amplifies and records), and there is a clear definition of and justification for the identity. The recognition that most of the brain is a measuring apparatus leads to a new and useful way to think about the brain and conscious evens. Biologists often argue that consciousness must be an epiphenomenon of the brain because changing the brain by natural damage or drugs changes the conscious events. Yes! says the quantum theorist, because changing the measurement apparatus does certainly change what can be measured, and therefore, change the event.7”
Ending 53:20 – Ok, now he is redefining terms, which comes across as dishonest. He has said that the belief in a fundamental entity that is conscious is realism. Well, I don’t know where he is getting this definition from, and it is really a shame since he did a good job of defining terms in the beginning. But now he has broadened the definition of realism to practically include several forms of idealism. Saying realism is the belief that there is a fundamental entity/substance is false. Idealists and Material realist both agree that there is a fundamental entity/substance; we just disagree on what that substance is, whether it is mind or matter.
In idealism, the mind is the fundamental substance that is aware of information. If the belief one has is that there is a fundamental substance, which is the mind – which is self-aware and can process information – then you have idealism. But what KNM has actually done is say that metaphysical realism is the belief that there is an entity that is self-aware. But we both agree that is the case. Where we differ is if that is mind or matter.
Actually, something here can bee seen as an equivocation fallacy. He is switching here from what idealists mean when they say consciousness – the substance of mind – to consciousness meaning the ability of awareness. What KNM is trying to say is that idealists believe that the ability to be aware is fundamental, but this is false and an equivocation fallacy. Amit Goswami says, “Beware of possible semantic confusion: Consciousness is a relatively recent word in the English language. The word mind is often used to denote consciousness, especially in the older literature8“ (Although I disagree with Goswami’s following theological and philosophical beliefs after this quote).
When we say consciousness is fundamental, we mean that the substance mind is fundamental, not the ability to be aware is fundamental. Both material realists and idealists (like myself) agree that one substance is fundamental, but we disagree whether that is mind or matter. All he has done is just define consciousness as an ability to be aware, so it must be a contingent ability. If you are defining terms that way, then we agree, but that is not what I’ve argued. Obviously an ability cannot exist on its own, and since he defines consciousness as just an ability here, of course I agree. But am disappointed in that reasoning.
Ending at 58:58 – he argues something odd. He seems to get upset that idealists describe reality as dream-like. I don’t see why this is a necessity section. When we say reality is dream-like, it is meant to be a practical tool for explaining, for the layman to understand. If he is asking how we can differentiate from a dream and the experience, then I would say the same way a realist does. Unless there is a mental illness, we know the difference between the information the mind acquires from beyond it and the information the mind processes from in itself. To reiterate, nothing for practical purposes changes from idealism to realism, just the truth of what reality is.
Ending at 59:09 – I have to stop here with a question. KNM said, “Now it is true that every image we see is part of an internalized model, as our brain interprets data to form an imperfect simulation, so to say, of what is actually out there.” Well, if all we know is the internal model, then why posit extra external entities or substances to explain reality? It is unnecessary, which is why forms of idealism is able to explain more with much less.
KMN accepts that we acquire data and form an internal model. So we can ask why assume it has to be anything other than data/information we acquire, which then becomes the appearance of a physical reality. It is far simpler to say that all we get is information, which becomes the perceptions and qualia we experience, instead of positing extra entities from which the information would come from. This is one reason why idealists say, “all is mind”, and there is no independent objective reality of physical objects apart from that. All we get is information, which becomes our experience. Why posit extra entities to rescue realism? I’ll come back to this, because the fact that he admits this is important for his later objections.
Ending at 59:52 – I know I have hit this point so many times, but KNM keeps bringing it up, so to reiterate: he has again misunderstand idealism. We don’t deny that we acquire information that is beyond our individual minds, so to speak.
Ending at 1:05:19 – he tries to argue against theistic idealism. He starts by actually suggesting that idealists cannot distinguish between the collective experience of reality (which we say is virtual and not objectively real), and our private mental experience. I honestly can’t believe he is suggesting this. His first objection is that God would be observing our private mental realm jut as much as the shared mental realm. This he calls the “omnipresence objection.”
So my response: And God observing the private realm means what? The fact that we can imagine things somehow means our imagination should be just as real? Why? There is a difference between information the mind becomes aware of (through reality), and the information the mind builds from experience in its imagination. Everyone intuitively knows that. Again, there is nothing changing for all practical purposes from realism to idealism, just the fundamental nature of what reality is. These objections are not a threat to idealism. God knowing our thoughts doesn’t pose any problem, and KMN fails to explain why this is a problem.
Ending around 1:06:33 – I am not trying to be mean but I have to wonder if he thinks that idealists ever think. Does he really think that we have not thought about these things? The reason I say this is because he suggests idealists cannot explain the fact that it appears that external things affect us when we are secluded from others. He calls this “the seclusion objection.” First, we obviously have a private mental realm, which can be our thoughts: information we have reconstructed from the information we have previously acquired beyond ourselves. God just knowing about our thoughts doesn’t make them the identical to the virtual reality (or shared mental realm). Again, the argument between idealists and realists is not over distinctions like this, but what the nature of what we call external reality is.
Secondly, if I get hit with a rock, then the information construct of reality has changed around me to experience that. I don’t need to posit an external entity change, just that new information I do not control is affecting me. Go back to the line from The Matrix above: “Your mind makes it real.” What he is building up to saying is that idealists have to reject scientific realism, which is something else entirely. But I’ll address that a littler further down.
Ending around 1:09:11 – KNM argues that the subconscious works behind the scenes when we are not consciously aware, and that this should be a problem for idealists. He calls this “the subconscious objection.” I fail to see why this is a problem. No one argues we have total control over the information we get or process 100% of the time. Thoughts can arise unintentionally in the mind. So what? No one said that being conscious means total control over all the information we have acquired. Amit Goswami goes into this more in depth from page 206 to page 207 of his book “The Self-Aware Universe.” I’ll quote a short snippet of that, but to get the full context one should read that section of the book, because some people may not be able to follow him from just this:
How does personal unconscious arise according to the quantum theory? It arises as follows: The subject is conditioned to avoid certain mental states; consequently, the probability becomes overwhelming that these states are never collapsed from coherent super positions that include them. Such coherent super positions, however, may dynamically influence without apparent external cause the collapse of subsequent states… Similarity, Jung suggested that many of our transpersonal experiences are influenced by repressed archetypal themes of a collective unconscious–universal states that we usually do not experience.9
The subconscious is part of the mind that we are not aware of at all present moments. Since I have already distinguished between the ability of consciousness and the mind (sometimes called consciousness as a substance) we do not always have to be always aware of information we have in the mind. No one denies subconscious activity. On a side note, Penrose and Hameroff also make use of this in their quantum consciousness model.
Ending at 1:15:01 – KNM has finally made it to where he says that idealists cannot be scientific realists. He tries to explain this with an example of a world with only one scientist. He asks how a scientist can know the difference between the real world and the dream world. Since I have just responded to this above, I will not go over it again. But he suggests that science is based off of the idea that there has to be a physical reality beyond what we observe. But any philosopher can readily point out that being an idealist doesn’t entail anti-realism or the rejection that science works. Some forms, like subjective idealism would, but forms like Hegelian idealism, or similar forms based of quantum theory implications or based Whitworth’s virtual reality theory (which idealists like myself hold to), would be objective idealistic forms.
One can easily argue that the information we acquire is objectively true independent of what we think, and we would be discovering the mind of God – so to speak – while maintaining that it is ontologically not an objective physical reality, but a virtual emergent reality. What KNM is doing is assuming what he said not to do in the beginning of his video. Which is to say that idealists argue that we create the reality and the information we process. The scientist in his example should and would know of the difference between the information acquired beyond himself, and the information reconstructed in his own mind. Again, the debate between idealists and realists is over the fundamental nature of reality. Here are some quotes to back me up:
Brian Whitworth says in speaking of the difference between VR theory (which idealists like myself hold to) and OR theory (realism):
Since both are untestable science favors neither view. To postulate the world is virtual does not contradict science, but rather engages its spirit of questioning. Science is a method of asking questions, not a set of reality assumptions. Scientists are entitled to ask if what could be actually is so. The only constraint is that the question be decided by feedback gathered from the world by an accepted research method. Science does not require an objective world, only information to test theories against, which a VR can easily provide. Not only can science accommodate the virtual world concept, a virtual world could also sustain science.10
Amit Goswami says:
“Both views can be right if we have two heads, with the empirical object inside one but outside the other. An empirical object would be outside what we might call our small head, and thus realism is validated; the object would simultaneously be inside our being Head and thus be a theoretical idea in this big Head, which would satisfy the idealist.11“
Ernan McMullin says:
Does the fact that quantum systems are partially indeterminate in this way affect the realist thesis? Not as far as I can see, unless a confusion is first made between scientific realism and the “realism” that is opposed to idealism, and then the measurement-dependence is somehow read as idealist in its implications.12
Henry Stapp explains all this by saying:
I have stressed just now the idea-like character of the physical state of the universe, within vN/W quantum theory. This suggests that the theory may conform to the tenets of idealism. This is partially true. The quantum state undergoes, when a fact become fixed in a local region, a sudden jump that extends over vast reaches of space. This gives the physical state the character of a representation of knowledge rather than a representation of substantive matter. When not jumping the state represents potentialities or probabilities for actual events to occur. Potentialities and probabilities are normally conceived to be idea-like qualities, not material realities. So as regards the intuitive conception of the intrinsic nature of what is represented within the theory by the physical state it certainly is correct to say that it is idea-like.
On the other hand, the physical state has a mathematical structure, and a behaviour that is governed by the mathematical properies. It evolves much of the time in accordance with local deterministic laws that are direct quantum counterparts of the local deterministic laws of classical mechanics. Thus as regards various structural and causal properties the physical state certainly has aspects that we normally associate with matter.
So this vN/W quantum conception of nature ends up having both idea- like and matter-like qualities. The causal law involves two complementary modes of evolution that, at least at the present level theoretical development, are quite distinct. One of these modes involves a gradual change that is governed by local deterministic laws, and hence is matter-like in character. The other mode is abrupt, and is idea-like in two respects. This hybrid ontology can be called an information-based reality.13
So some forms of idealism are compatible with scientific realism. Idealists, like Johanan Raatz and I do not argue that we control and create the experience of external reality with our minds, just that it is fundamentally mental, depending on a larger mind.
Also, remember that point I said I would come back to ending at 1:05:47? If KNM accepts that we acquire data and form an internal model, then if realism is true, how can his scientist in his example know the difference between his dream and internal model from acquired data? His own criticism applies to realism as well. This is why I said that nothing changes between idealism and realism for all practical purposes.
Ending around 1:20:18 – KNM tries to turn the hard problem of consciousness back on idealism. He suggest that idealists need to explain how consciousness emerges from the mind. But what he fails to realize is what we empirically know verses what we philosophically infer. The problem for materialists is that matter is not consciousness. We know this, because we study it constantly. No one can show how matter can possibly give rise to consciousness. As I ready quoted Ned Block, “We have nothing – Zilch – worthy of being called a research program… researchers are stumped.” So dualists and idealists infer this means it is not emergent from matter but irreducible, since all the evidence shows it cannot emerge from matter through brain processes.
Materialists have a harder burden in saying matter produces consciousness. Since we experience what we call matter and can study it thoroughly. So why can’t we find consciousness in it? Idealists and dualists infer it must come from another entity (mind), because nothing about matter contains any hint or properties of what consciousness is. The dualist JP Moreland notes that this cannot just be a brute fact in a materialist universe. If there are going to be any brute unexplainable facts in a materialist universe it must be that the physical facts themselves, not some odd unexplainable of interlevel emergence. He writes:
Naturalists have the very same kind of problem that they claim as a difficultly for the Cartesian. And given the philosophical constraints that follow from accepting the naturalist epistemology, etiology, and ontology, it is more difficult to see how a naturalist could accept metaphysical supervenience than it is to understand how a Cartesian without those constraints could accept mental/physical interaction.14
Idealism avoids this interaction problem though. In idealism, entities would not be reducible in their abilities. So thoughts arise from information being processed by the mind, which we are aware/conscious of as is. The conscious mind would not be reducible to smaller parts like the theory that consciousness would be emergent from smaller parts in materialism.
In fact, this objection is question begging. This is assuming that the structure of idealism must be like a materialist theory, and we know that it’s fallacious to assume that. One cannot assume reductionist materialism as the structure for a completely different view of reality. So idealism does avoid the problem of emergence, by arguing that it doesn’t reduce past the ability of the mind. Minds are self-aware entities, and would not reduce to non-conscious substances. It is materialism that has to argue for emergence, not idealism.
Ending at 1:28:00 – I actually agree with the points he is making here, except for his claim that it is compatible with materialism. KNM points out that there is something unique about ‘first person experience.” You cannot experience my first person experience, just your first person experience through my eyes. I agree with this, but he tries to claim that materialism is compatible with first person experience. But the problem is: if materialism is true, then all of this emerges from brain processes. Qualia and first person experience should have the same properties as matter, and should be accessible for study the exact same way matter is. They are not however. These things, like first person experience, are inaccessible and beyond material properties and empirical experimentation. But if materialism is true, then why don’t they just reduce to matter and chemical processes? Why are they so unique?
KNM agrees they are, but if that is the case, then it would not be compatible with a reductionist view like materialism. This is what the atheist philosopher Thomas Nagel points out in “Mind and Cosmos” reductionist materialism must be able to reduce these things to material processes. In admitting this KNM has bitten off more than he can chew. This is not compatible with the view that all is reducible to matter. If one cannot reduce “first-person experience” or qualia because they are inherently private and irreducible, then this is a problem for materialism, despite KNM’s claim that it isn’t.
Ending at 1:33:19 – he continues with the assumption that irreducible things like qualia are compatible with materialism. Now he tries to refute the knowledge argument known as “Mary’s room”, one in where Mary is stuck in a black and white room, and cannot go out and study color. However there are better ways to formulate the argument: namely that Mary is a scientist who lives in a world of color, but can only see black and white. This way Mary is surrounding by color and able to study it. So if Mary is able to study everything about color, then if materialism were true, she should be able to know everything about what color is, without the experience. If everything is reducible to material processes, then color should be reducible as well. In other words, someone who could only see black and white should be able to know everything about it, without a mental experience.
If KNM accepts that experience is something different or extra to studying matter then doesn’t that show that these mental experiences are not reducible to material things? Things like qualia cannot be studied like we study chemicals. They have to be mentally experienced. They are completely and fundamentally different because of this. One cannot know about qualia through reductionist studies, only through experience. This poses a problem for materialism since they are not reducible to the material, and thus, evidence strongly favors that they are not material.
Ending at 1:33:52 – KNM admits something interesting. He says that color is not a property of any material object? Then how is that compatible with materialism? If color is not material, or reducible to material processes in the brain then how does materialism explain this emergence of something fundamentally not matter?
KNM tries to suggest that we need eyes and brain to acquire color, but as Goswami has already pointed out, the brain and eyes would constitute as the measuring apparatus for the mind. So how we acquire the information of color is not an argument for materialism, because if you take away the eyes, then you lose the way the mind acquires information in our collective experience of reality. Anyway, I’ve already dealt with this above.
Ending at 1:37:02 – KNM has done something I wouldn’t expect. He seems to have forgotten a very important point I made in my video on the Introspective Argument. He points out just because solipsism is conceivable, that doesn’t make it metaphysically possible. Right, which is why I said in my video, “Thus this argument is not a mere a priori logical possibility or, in other words, an interesting thought but in fact predicts the philosophical implications of quantum mechanics, taking this beyond a mere logic world game.15”
I rely on metaphysical possibility from the argument from quantum theory. So he ignored this important fact, and because of this took me out of context. But it is a long response, so it is possible that he just forgot. He is not a bad guy, so I don’t think he did it on purpose. However, I specifically put that in there to avoid this very objection he is bringing up. So I love it when a preemptive plan comes together.
On a side note: ironically after KNM’s quote of Plantinga, he uses the same argument Alexander Pruss uses to distinguish between logical and metaphysical possibility. It is a good argument that is excellent for defending theistic arguments, and refuting opponents of the PSR. So we should thank KNM for the excellent articulation of this argument.
Ending at 1:46:39 – I want to back up Platinga because I feel KNM has misunderstood the whole picture. The main point is that if all the properties of the mind are identical to the body, then why do the properties of the mind seem to be able to be separate from the body? Why we can place them in different scenarios? The conceivability doesn’t stem from imagination but from the fundamental nature of what we know about them through a posteriori research. The argument from conceivability stems from this difference in the fundamental nature of mind and matter, not that it is just imaginable. Perhaps, Plantinga should have pointed this out, but that is beside the point. My argument from solipsism stems from the first part of the video “The Introspective Argument” and the philosophical implications of quantum physics, not that we can just imagine it.
I agree that imagination doesn’t qualify as metaphysical possibility. I can imagine something coming into existence without a cause, but that doesn’t make it possible or come with a reason to back it. However, Plantinga’s argument does, even without quantum physics.
Ending at 1:47:41 – I know he sad he would save this for another video, but he had to say possible world semantics is useless as a tool for metaphysical arguments. This is false. We need to remember Kripke’s distinction between metaphysical and logical possible worlds. Metaphysical possible words are based on a posteriori evidence. So I agree with him that arguing from imagination is useless for finding out what is metaphysically possible, but that is not what we argue when we use metaphysical possible worlds. We are using possible world semantics in a metaphysical sense, so they are based off of a posteriori arguments for possibility, not a priori. That is an important point to remember, and that Kripke demonstrated that possible worlds semantics is useful in metaphysics. It just needs to be done right and rely on a posteriori reasoning.
Ending at 1:48:36 – KNM says that I cannot confirm the argument that solipsism is conceivable in a metaphysical sense, because I argue that God is metaphysically necessary. Well this is true, but hardly a problem. First off I agree with David Deutsch that solipsism is unsustainable on it’s own. Logically it must just collapse to something else. Deutsch argues this is realism, in that because the solipsist didn’t create his own mind or can control what he experiences. Therefore the solipsist just says the external world is the uncontrolled part of the mind the “I” or conscious agent is exploring. He writes:
The solipsist, who believes that nothing exists other than the contents of one mind, must also believe that that mind is a phenomenon of greater multiplicity than is normally supposed. It contains other-people-like thoughts, planet-like thoughts and laws-of-physics-like thoughts. Those thoughts are real. They develop in a complex way (or pretend to), and they have enough autonomy to surprise, disappoint, enlighten or thwart that other class of thoughts which call themselves ‘I’. Thus the solipsist’s explanation of the world is in terms of interacting thoughts rather than interacting objects. But those thoughts are real, and interact according to the same rules that the realist says govern the interaction of objects. Thus solipsism, far from being a world-view stripped to its essentials, is actually just realism disguised and weighed down by additional unnecessary assumptions — worthless baggage, introduced only to be explained away.16
Now, I agree solipsism collapses to something else, but I disagree it collapses to realism. I argue it collapses to theism. If Solipsism is true then the external world is illusionary, but that doesn’t mean it would qualify as realism. All it agrees with realism is that the thoughts are real and governed by rules the “I” cannot control. But it denies there is something other than mind and thought processes. Therefore the aspects of experience the solipsist cannot control are still mental and non-physical. Therefore in saying, the solipsist “must also believe that that mind is a phenomenon of greater multiplicity than is normally supposed” these uncontrolled other things would come from a larger mind in control of the experience, since all is mind.
So when I say in my video solipsism is conceivable it is same as saying the belief that only my mind exists as well as the larger mind, which is necessary anyway.
Ending at 1:49:08 – he tries to modify the Introspective Argument to support materialism/physicalism. Well this is wrong because his mental experiences (like qualia) could be contingent on information processing, which the mind acquires. He has not established his premise 2, or even shown how they can emerge from matter.
So in conclusion, KNM has not shown how mental things like first-person experience or qualia can reduce to a mental substance. Thus, the Introspective Argument stands.
- P. Stapp (1999) “Attention, intention, and will in quantum physics,” J. Consciousness Studies Page 4 http://arxiv.org/pdf/quant-ph/9905054v1.pdf
- Amit Goswami (1993) The Self-Aware Universe. Page 168.
- ibid. Page 188.
- Ned Block (1994) A Companion to the Philosophy of Mind. Page 211.
- John Searle (1995) The Mystery of Consciousness: part II. Page 61
- David Papineau (1993) Philosophical Naturalism. Page 119.
- Amit Goswami (1993) The Self-Aware Universe. Page 170.
- ibid. Page 51.
- ibid. Page 207.
- Brian Whitworth (2007) “The Physical World as a Virtual Reality,” Page 6 http://arxiv.org/abs/0801.0337
11. Amit Goswami (1993) The Self-Aware Universe. Page 143.
- Ernan McMullin (1984) A Case For Scientific Page 13. http://fitelson.org/290/mcmullin_acfsr.pdf
- P. Stapp (1999) “Attention, intention, and will in quantum physics,” J. Consciousness Studies Page 26-27. http://arxiv.org/pdf/quant-ph/9905054v1.pdf
- JP Moreland (1988) Should a Naturalist Be a Supervenient Physicalist? Page 57
- David Deutsch. (1997) David Deutsch on Solipsism. http://jake.freivald.org/deutschOnSolipsism.html