Is the material world the product of conscious minds?

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Guy Noir
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Is the material world the product of conscious minds?

Post by Guy Noir »

Me: "Since the material world is a product of our conscious minds,"

Ian: "A product of conscious minds?? I have absolutely no idea what this means. Care to enlighten me??"


I have to ask about this one. If the material world is not a product of consciousness, where does it come from?

From dictionary.com. A definition of idealism: Philosophy. The theory that the object of external perception, in itself or as perceived, consists of ideas.


If that which exists is nothing more than ideas, then the source of those ideas is the source of the material world. Last I knew, ideas were something produced by consciousness. If that is true than the material world, like any other idea, is a product of consciousness.

If I am wrong, then ideas exist without consciousness? If ideas are something else, then what are they? Do they exist apart from both consciousness and the material world?
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Cool Hand
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Re: Is the material world the product of conscious minds?

Post by Cool Hand »

Guy Noir wrote:Me: "Since the material world is a product of our conscious minds,"

Ian: "A product of conscious minds?? I have absolutely no idea what this means. Care to enlighten me??"


I have to ask about this one. If the material world is not a product of consciousness, where does it come from?

From dictionary.com. A definition of idealism: Philosophy. The theory that the object of external perception, in itself or as perceived, consists of ideas.


If that which exists is nothing more than ideas, then the source of those ideas is the source of the material world. Last I knew, ideas were something produced by consciousness. If that is true than the material world, like any other idea, is a product of consciousness.

If I am wrong, then ideas exist without consciousness? If ideas are something else, then what are they? Do they exist apart from both consciousness and the material world?
Your questions rest on the assumption that idealism is true. I cannot answer your questions in the context of idealism, as I find it repugnant and not a practical philosophy. To me, it is little more than an academic exploration of far-flung fantasy. Of course, none of us can be sure, as solopsism could be the only truth as far as our brains are concerned.

I am very much a materialist. Materialism assumes that life is wholly the product of natural processes. Naturally, it follows that thought and feelings are byproducts of those natural processes, not the other way around. When a conscious, living being dies, his thoughts and feelings die with him, as the processes in his brain that produce those thoughts and feelings no longer take place. Ideas, of course, can be recorded in writings, on magnetic tape, electronically, or digitally. They can live on, but they have no meaning by themselves and "exist" merely as physical paper, scratches on tape, or bits on metal hard drives.

The existence of stars and stellar debris and gallaxies is not dependent on yours or Ian's thoughts, feelings, or ideas. Do you seriously believe that when you die or lie unconscious in a ditch that Saturn disappears?

As to where the material world came from, no one knows. Alan Guth's Inflationary Model of The Big Bang seems to be among the current darlings of cosmologists. It is a twist on The Big Bang, and takes us a lot closer to where all matter came from, but doesn't really answer the question completely, as far as I know. It presumes the existence of a tiny bit of matter from the beginning. It then uses a repulsive form of gravity (predicted by the general theory of relativity) to posit that the universe expanded very rapidly, and with it, matter did too. It also explains the flatness of the universe, something no prior theory could do. Further, it is consistent with the recent observation in 1998 that the expansion of the universe is actually accelerating, contrary to what most cosmologists and astronomers had assumed prior to that observation. That acceleration happens to be consistent with general relativity as well.

I don't know if my remarks have really addressed any of your questions at all, as I don't subscribe to any version of idealism. I've merely tried to frame my comments in the context of the version of materialism that I accept as fact in order to reconcile what I've learned about the world around me, assuming that there is one. Of course, I believe the axiom that there is an external world outside of my brain is the only practical one to make in order to carry on with everyday activities. Otherwise, I can see no reason ever to get out of bed.

Cool Hand
....life purpose is pay taxes -- pillory 12/05/13

And you run and you run to catch up with the sun but it's sinking
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Interesting Ian
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Re: Is the material world the product of conscious minds?

Post by Interesting Ian »

Guy Noir wrote:
From dictionary.com. A definition of idealism: Philosophy. The theory that the object of external perception, in itself or as perceived, consists of ideas.


If that which exists is nothing more than ideas, then the source of those ideas is the source of the material world. Last I knew, ideas were something produced by consciousness.
They are using an archaic definition of "idea". Our sensory perceptions are not a product of the self although they are moulded by the self.

Subjective idealists do not believe that the external world is a product of ones own mind. Just that the external world cannot exist in abstraction from any minds.
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Interesting Ian
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Re: Is the material world the product of conscious minds?

Post by Interesting Ian »

Cool Hand wrote:
The existence of stars and stellar debris and gallaxies is not dependent on yours or Ian's thoughts, feelings, or ideas. Do you seriously believe that when you die or lie unconscious in a ditch that Saturn disappears?
Dear me! You sound like Einstein with his silly remark that people like Bohr must believe the moon ceases to exist when you don't look at it! :roll:
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Re: Is the material world the product of conscious minds?

Post by Cool Hand »

Interesting Ian wrote:
Cool Hand wrote:
The existence of stars and stellar debris and gallaxies is not dependent on yours or Ian's thoughts, feelings, or ideas. Do you seriously believe that when you die or lie unconscious in a ditch that Saturn disappears?
Dear me! You sound like Einstein with his silly remark that people like Bohr must believe the moon ceases to exist when you don't look at it! :roll:
Hey Ian. Thanks. You placed me in the company of Einstein. I'm very flattered, but I don't deserve to be.

Back to the topic, however, QM does not predict that Saturn disappears without an observer.

Cool Hand
....life purpose is pay taxes -- pillory 12/05/13

And you run and you run to catch up with the sun but it's sinking
Racing around to come up behind you again
The sun is the same in a relative way, but you're older
Shorter of breath and one day closer to death.

"Time" -- Pink Floyd
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Guy Noir
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Re: Is the material world the product of conscious minds?

Post by Guy Noir »

Interesting Ian wrote:
Guy Noir wrote:
From dictionary.com. A definition of idealism: Philosophy. The theory that the object of external perception, in itself or as perceived, consists of ideas.


If that which exists is nothing more than ideas, then the source of those ideas is the source of the material world. Last I knew, ideas were something produced by consciousness.
They are using an archaic definition of "idea". Our sensory perceptions are not a product of the self although they are moulded by the self.

Subjective idealists do not believe that the external world is a product of ones own mind. Just that the external world cannot exist in abstraction from any minds.
http://www.fact-index.com/s/su/subjective_idealism.html
Subjective idealism is a theory in the philosophy of perception. It describes a relationship between human experience of the external world, and that world itself, in which objects are nothing more than collections (or bundles) of sense data in those who perceive them.

A famous proponent of subjective idealism was 18th century Irish philosopher George Berkeley.

This theory has much in common with phenomenalism, the view that physical objects, properties, events, etc. (whatever is physical) are reducible to mental objects, properties, events, etc. Thus reality is ultimately made up of only mental objects, properties, events, etc.
From this definition, it would appear that the existence of the material world is still dependent on consciousness. There is no sense data unless there is a conscious entity to perceive it.

So now we have something like a chicken and egg question. If idealism is true, what is the source of the material world?

a.) The material world is a manifestation of some sort of consciousness. This fits with the notion of objects being nothing more then sense data.
b.) The material world and conscious minds are here because of a common cause. (Dualism anyone?)
c.) Consciousness is a result of the material world. In this case idealism does not work.
d.) Other?
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Guy Noir
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Re: Is the material world the product of conscious minds?

Post by Guy Noir »

Cool Hand wrote: Your questions rest on the assumption that idealism is true. I cannot answer your questions in the context of idealism, as I find it repugnant and not a practical philosophy. To me, it is little more than an academic exploration of far-flung fantasy. Of course, none of us can be sure, as solopsism could be the only truth as far as our brains are concerned.

Cool Hand
I am a materialist. But I am trying to examine idealism from within it’s own framework. This grew out of a dig on Ian’s thought process here:

http://skepticalcommunity.com/phpbb2/vi ... &start=165

Near the bottom is my “how to win an argument” post.
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Re: Is the material world the product of conscious minds?

Post by Cool Hand »

Guy Noir wrote:
Cool Hand wrote: Your questions rest on the assumption that idealism is true. I cannot answer your questions in the context of idealism, as I find it repugnant and not a practical philosophy. To me, it is little more than an academic exploration of far-flung fantasy. Of course, none of us can be sure, as solopsism could be the only truth as far as our brains are concerned.

Cool Hand
I am a materialist. But I am trying to examine idealism from within it’s own framework. This grew out of a dig on Ian’s thought process here:

http://skepticalcommunity.com/phpbb2/vi ... &start=165

Near the bottom is my “how to win an argument” post.
Sorry, Guy, I didn't read that thread and didn't realize you were merely calling out Ian.

I think you and I are in agreement then.

Cool Hand
....life purpose is pay taxes -- pillory 12/05/13

And you run and you run to catch up with the sun but it's sinking
Racing around to come up behind you again
The sun is the same in a relative way, but you're older
Shorter of breath and one day closer to death.

"Time" -- Pink Floyd
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Re: Is the material world the product of conscious minds?

Post by hammegk »

Guy Noir wrote:Me: "Since the material world is a product of our conscious minds,"
I'd say consciousness/sentience/whatever is what idealism proposes as the most basic monism. Adding "minds" adds sufficient extra degrees of freedom that, like the 3 body problem in math/physics becomes un-solveable except heuristically, so does this discussion.

ergo:
Ian: "A product of conscious minds?? I have absolutely no idea what this means. Care to enlighten me??"
I again mention that subjective idealism is too close to interactive dualism for my liking. That's why I consider myself an objective idealist.
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Post by millionframe »

Two words: in theory.
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Re: Is the material world the product of conscious minds?

Post by Mooseboy »

="Interesting Ian
They are using an archaic definition of "idea". Our sensory perceptions are not a product of the self although they are moulded by the self.

Subjective idealists do not believe that the external world is a product of ones own mind. Just that the external world cannot exist in abstraction from any minds.
OHMIGAWD!

I agree with Ian , sort of, and he hasn't even sworn in the thread yet.

Our sensory perceptions come from where Ian?

I would say the body because there is no self, sounds like dualism to me.

The external world does not exist in abstraction, that is just plain silly. Only thoughts exist is abstraction, the external world may or not exist. But it is only percieved through physical bodies.
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Re: Is the material world the product of conscious minds?

Post by Yahweh »

Guy Noir wrote:Me: "Since the material world is a product of our conscious minds,"
Maybe our conscious minds are a product of our material world...
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Re: Is the material world the product of conscious minds?

Post by DanishDynamite »

Cool Hand wrote:Your questions rest on the assumption that idealism is true. I cannot answer your questions in the context of idealism, as I find it repugnant and not a practical philosophy. To me, it is little more than an academic exploration of far-flung fantasy. Of course, none of us can be sure, as solopsism could be the only truth as far as our brains are concerned.

I am very much a materialist. Materialism assumes that life is wholly the product of natural processes. Naturally, it follows that thought and feelings are byproducts of those natural processes, not the other way around. When a conscious, living being dies, his thoughts and feelings die with him, as the processes in his brain that produce those thoughts and feelings no longer take place. Ideas, of course, can be recorded in writings, on magnetic tape, electronically, or digitally. They can live on, but they have no meaning by themselves and "exist" merely as physical paper, scratches on tape, or bits on metal hard drives.

The existence of stars and stellar debris and gallaxies is not dependent on yours or Ian's thoughts, feelings, or ideas. Do you seriously believe that when you die or lie unconscious in a ditch that Saturn disappears?

As to where the material world came from, no one knows. Alan Guth's Inflationary Model of The Big Bang seems to be among the current darlings of cosmologists. It is a twist on The Big Bang, and takes us a lot closer to where all matter came from, but doesn't really answer the question completely, as far as I know. It presumes the existence of a tiny bit of matter from the beginning. It then uses a repulsive form of gravity (predicted by the general theory of relativity) to posit that the universe expanded very rapidly, and with it, matter did too. It also explains the flatness of the universe, something no prior theory could do. Further, it is consistent with the recent observation in 1998 that the expansion of the universe is actually accelerating, contrary to what most cosmologists and astronomers had assumed prior to that observation. That acceleration happens to be consistent with general relativity as well.

I don't know if my remarks have really addressed any of your questions at all, as I don't subscribe to any version of idealism. I've merely tried to frame my comments in the context of the version of materialism that I accept as fact in order to reconcile what I've learned about the world around me, assuming that there is one. Of course, I believe the axiom that there is an external world outside of my brain is the only practical one to make in order to carry on with everyday activities. Otherwise, I can see no reason ever to get out of bed.

Cool Hand
What he said.

Idealism, like solipsism, is a useless philosophy. Luckily, it is not embraced by significant parts of the population, which is one of the reasons we can be having this cyber discussion. Had everyone been a solipsist or even worse, an idealist, we'd all have died out as a species, with everyone contempletating their navel in some cave somewhere.
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Post by hammegk »

As an objective idealist, I agree with Luke's comments; just replace all mentions of "physical" or "material" with ~physical. Science works just fine, thanks, and the fact (by Bell's Inequality) that spacewise separation of separate particles does not exist, seems reasonable. Are you aware the similar inequality postulating that time separation for a specific point is also a fiction has been demonstrated experimentally albeit for very minute time intervals? See Gribben "The Search For Schroedinger's Kittens".
The most important things in life–beauty, grace, redemption, compassion, loyalty, love–are beyond the reach of reason. Which doesn’t make them any less real. Stay far back: I'm allergic to Stupid.

The simple rule, the greatest plan, that he should keep who has the power, and he should take who can.

The only enemies of guns: rust ... and politicians.

Philanthropist (n.) - Someone who spends his own money to advance his version of Utopia. Socialist (n.) - Someone who spends your money to advance his version of Utopia.

“Jesus loves the little cheeses, all the cheeses of the world. Swiss and Cheddar, stinky, too. If He loved them, so should you. Jesus loves the little cheeses of the world.”

I'm right 98% of the time; who cares about the other 3%?
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Post by Mark »

Joining this discussion a bit late but...According to physicist John Von Neumann and his famous "Von Neumann's Chain" (and I have never seen a completely convincing argument against its logic) the physical universe is indeed the product of consciousness.
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