The cat thinks materialism is more bizarre than the paranormal

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I came here after reading a book by Alex T. I went to the Skeptiko forums which seems
to tread in fear to the reality that people have opinions both well articulated and non-articulated.

The fundamental concept of Alex's writing centers around the horrible idea that we may be biological computers and the Christian paradox that we should therefore become serial killers because the universe is somehow "meaningless" because we are not immortal and because there doesn't seem to be a way for us to know why we are here.

So, I'm hear to address the false dichotomies of the meaningless universe which is in fact all we know.

Materialism is seen as a horrible thing but what is the viable alternative?

Many questions arise.
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Interested in this dialogue but will let other, more talented and thoughtful thinkers/writers chime in first!
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Moved to Member Introductions. Might have more to say later.

Oh, and: welcome to the board!
(This post was last modified: 2021-10-19, 11:28 PM by Laird.)
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(2021-10-19, 11:25 PM)Laird Wrote: Moved to Member Introductions. Might have more to say later.

Oh, and: welcome to the board!


Yes, I hope you will, Our views are likely very different.
We probably won't convince each other and yet maybe we
will understand each better.
I spent some time at Skeptiko, but mostly not to listen to Alex. Some of his interviews were interesting, others seem part of his own personal journey, valid for him but not universally applicable. He apparently had strong influences from a Greek Christian upbringing or background, and has spent much time trying to extricate himself from that upbringing. Much of the stuff on Christianity which he expresses seems very much his own personal journey. There are many other ways to approach that material, for example through the Dead Sea scrolls and the Nag Hammadi documents. But those don't lead in a single direction, there is great debate and disagreement over its meaning. Alex seems to have latched onto rather different material as his path.

As for meaninglessness - I mentioned recently the difficulties described by Leo Tolstoy's "A Confession".
https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/26244.A_Confession
Quote:Describing Tolstoy's crisis of depression and estrangement from the world, A Confession (1879) is an autobiographical work of exceptional emotional honesty.

By the time he was fifty, Tolstoy had already written the novels that would assure him of literary immortality; he had a wife, a large estate and numerous children; he was "a happy man" and in good health - yet life had lost its meaning.

There is more I was going to write but it was leading into more serious and weighty areas, not where I intend to go today.
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I'm still not sure I understand what you mean by "materialism"? This Peter Sjöstedt-H article is worth a read:

Why I am not a Physicalist: Four Reasons for Rejecting the Faith
'Historically, we may regard materialism as a system of dogma set up to combat orthodox dogma...Accordingly we find that, as ancient orthodoxies disintegrate, materialism more and more gives way to scepticism.'

- Bertrand Russell


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(2021-10-19, 04:04 PM)entangled_cat Wrote: Materialism is seen as a horrible thing but what is the viable alternative?

Hi my feline friend,

I would say that materialism isn't so much horrible as inconsistent with the fact that we can worry about it - the fact that we feel disturbed by the concept means it is false!

If that isn't obvious, consider the task of designing a machine (biological or otherwise) that would feel the same sense of unease when considering materialism - or indeed a machine that would feel any emotion at all.

I mean sure, you could make a machine that would say some human emotional things, like "I love you!", or "Come and make love" - some dolls probably already exist with that functionality - but would anyone be fooled that they actually felt that emotion - or any other emotion. I mean if they were equipped with a temperature sensor, they could also make comments about the room temperature, but again, would you think they actually felt cold, or whatever?

I don't think that emotions (qualia) can ever emerge from anything based on purely physical laws, and neither does the philosopher David Chalmers. Physical laws give you deterministic results combined with a random component from QM, which may or may not be significant.

I think that in order to make sense of the world, we have to accept that it is an open system - open to some sort of spirits - something that can't just be another physical thing - otherwise the combined system would be still manifest the same contadiction.

Actually, if materialism were true, it wouldn't be horrible - we just wouldn't be conscious at all, so it would just be a physical law - like Ohm's law - which is neither horrible nor nice
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(2021-10-25, 10:31 AM)David001 Wrote: Actually, if materialism were true, it wouldn't be horrible - we just wouldn't be conscious at all, so it would just be a physical law - like Ohm's law - which is neither horrible nor nice

I was just thinking several thoughts which would follow from the hypothesis "materialism is true":

This forum would not be graced by my presence as I would not have had any of the experiences which aroused interest in these topics.

This forum would not exist as the subject matter itself would be of no interest to anyone.

A whole load of other things would not exist too - most discoveries, inventions and creative acts come from some sort of emotional drive. The world thrives because of our emotions. Without them, there might be crystals and random motions. But anything more - why would they occur?
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(2021-10-25, 10:31 AM)David001 Wrote: Hi my feline friend,

I would say that materialism isn't so much horrible as inconsistent with the fact that we can worry about it - the fact that we feel disturbed by the concept means it is false!

If that isn't obvious, consider the task of designing a machine (biological or otherwise) that would feel the same sense of unease when considering materialism - or indeed a machine that would feel any emotion at all.

Certainly we do feel something about it, yes. I mean,
if someone was to murder you after downloading you
to a machine, an observer would likely feel you 2.0. is a dead
shell.

We associate consciousness with life, yes. We don't
have counter examples. If we had a conscious machine,
we would never be able to truly know it was one.

Your inference is a novel one. If we were octopi, , solidary
anti-social intelligent creatures, how would we feel, assuming
anti-social creatures can even create language.
(2021-10-25, 01:49 PM)entangled_cat Wrote: Certainly we do feel something about it, yes. I mean,
if someone was to murder you after downloading you
to a machine, an observer would likely feel you 2.0. is a dead
shell.

We associate consciousness with life, yes. We don't
have counter examples. If we had a conscious machine,
we would never be able to truly know it was one.

Your inference is a novel one. If we were octopi, , solidary
anti-social intelligent creatures, how would we feel, assuming
anti-social creatures can even create language.
Well octopi get close enough to mate but not at other times - a bit like most cats! We always say that our cat is not a cat lover! I don't think variations like that alter my argument - they feel something as opposed to absolutely nothing.

Don't forget that the concept of being downloaded (or should that be uploaded) is a materialistic concept. I suspect that no such thing is possible.

David
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