The top-10 most fallacious arguments of materialists

So, what are they? Here is a list...

  1. Because we cannot change reality by merely wishing it to be different, it’s clear that reality is outside consciousness.
  2. Reality is clearly not inside our heads, therefore idealism is wrong.
  3. There are strong correlations between brain activity and subjective experience. Clearly, thus, the brain generates consciousness.
  4. Because psychoactive drugs change subjective experience, it’s clear that the brain generates consciousness.
  5. Because we are separate beings witnessing the same reality, reality has to be outside consciousness.
  6. The separation between consciousness and unconsciousness is dualist nonsense.
  7. Because reality behaves according to strict, immutable laws, it cannot be generated by consciousness.
  8. To say that a collective unconscious generates reality is equivalent to saying that reality is outside consciousness.
  9. The idea of consciousness generating reality is too metaphysical.
  10. Why would consciousness deceive us by simulating a materialist world?
And the reasons they are all wrong? Check out the video below... have fun!



Copyright © 2014 by Bernardo Kastrup. All rights are reserved.

Comments

  1. This was great. I thoroughly enjoy the way you puncture the materialist balloon with simple logic. I confess that my brand of idealism is somewhat different (for instance, I do think that our mental representations of the "outside" world are highly filtered, subjective, and distorted), so I couldn't quite go along with every point. But you show with great clarity and simplicity how materialism cannot claim the high ground.

    Yet in my experience, that "high ground" claim is the real support for materialism. What I mean is that underneath every argument for materialism is the implicit or explicit statement that materialism occupies the privileged default position, so that it gets the benefit of all doubt. Other positions thus start out in a natural hole, and if any evidence produced in their favor can even remotely be explained by materialism--no matter how tortured and implausible the explanation--then that evidence is automatically moved over to the materialist side of the board. The playing field, then, is not considered level at the start, and it is only this sharply tilted playing field that gives materialism any real strength.

    Have you by chance seen the recent debate on survival of consciousness between between two authorities on near-death experiences and two materialists? You can find it here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=h0YtL5eiBYw. The two proponents, unfortunately, couldn't be weaker. But what really struck me was the sheer arrogance and snide tone of the two materialists, Steven Novella and physicist Sean Carroll (if you can believe it, Novella was actually more respectful). They were desperate to not so much disprove survival as to disallow it as a respectable position, worthy of real examination. Their mantra was that there is no evidence in its favor whatsoever, that the sole reason for even entertaining it was brute desire for it to be true, and that if it was true, then every experiment ever performed by science was false. It was astonishing. But it shows that the real response of materialism is not to defeat alternatives, but to so tilt the playing field that they are disallowed from respectable discourse. Because if they are admitted as honest positions, if they are ever allowed onto a level playing field, then oh God, the game may well be over.

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    1. "...underneath every argument for materialism is the implicit or explicit statement that materialism occupies the privileged default position, so that it gets the benefit of all doubt."

      That's it! Beautifully put! This captures the essence of the situation.

      And no, I still haven't watched that debate, even though I should have. I guess I am waiting for a moment when I will be okay with getting pissed off by the BS I expected to have been spilled... :)

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    2. I know what you mean by your last paragraph. I actually found the debate very upsetting to watch and kept quitting it and then coming back. You might want to have some numbing agent, like alcohol or a big pizza, present.

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    3. "...underneath every argument for materialism is the implicit or explicit statement that materialism occupies the privileged default position, so that it gets the benefit of all doubt."

      This is practically the definition of what it means to be the dominant cultural/metaphysical paradigm.

      "..then every experiment ever performed by science was false."

      I love this one. It should be number 11 on the list. When people start using this as an argument, you know the paradigm has ossified into intellectual concrete. science need to be saved from Science.

      Bob

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  2. Nice summary of your position, Bernardo. Much appreciated. I notice how you kept laterally inverting the image so that your room was seen one way, then as its mirror image. You have a remarkably symmetrical face, I think! :-)

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  3. Just finished your book, Bernardo. I'll be composing a review that I'll post on Amazon US and UK, hopefully soon.

    Incidentally, have you considered having an open thread on your site so that people could post comments (like this one), not directly related to a specific post? Just a thought.

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    1. Thanks for the review Michael, I saw it and appreciate it a lot! Regarding the open thread, there is one about the launch of the book that could be used. But maybe I'll start a dedicated one.

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  4. Well blow me down, Bernardo. I just discovered after all this time that you actually have a forum. How did I miss it? I mean, it's on the main menu. Good grief--what a plonker I am! ;-)

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    1. Well Michael, now you've found it! :-) Moreover, all discussions are on record, so you don't really need to miss anything ;-)

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    2. Thanks, Bernardo. My point was that I don't see so much need for an open thread now that I see you have a forum.

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  5. I've been discussing this video with a staunch Materialist, and suggesting that what is really needed at this point is an open conversation between an Idealist and a Materialist. Bernardo has already got the perfect setup "Inception Dialogues" to do this! Here's the open chat.....https://www.youtube.com/user/KnownNoMore/discussion

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    1. Hi PB,
      As you know, I am very open to debate. Recent experience online, however, taught me to have some criteria about who I am willing to debate:
      -- The person should use his/her real name, not hide behind Internet handles or anonymity;
      -- The person should have a minimum of qualification to engage in a meaningful philosophical or scientific discussion. This is not elitism: my interest is in debating materialism, not someone's misconception about what materialism is. Moreover, I also have to use my limited time wisely, and can't debate everyone.
      Cheers, B.

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    2. Have you had any high-profile debates yet, Bernardo? Like the ones Sheldrake and Meyer have? I'd love to see one, because like them, I think you have the gravitas and intellect. If you haven't had one, maybe it's because you aren't yet on the radar of the militant materialists? Mind you, I suppose that could be a blessing in disguise! :-)

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    3. Michael, no high-profile debates yet. I look forward to one. :)

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  6. Hi Bernardo,

    I really like your work as I am an idealist myself. It's always a nice input.

    Do you know the work of David Malet Armstrong and his "central-state theory" as a defense of materialism? I'm quite curious as there is an ongoing discussion about qualia and Armstrong in this theistic forum/thread: http://www.reasonablefaith.org/forums/choose-your-own-topic/how-make-ontological-emergence-work-6026240.30.html

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    1. Hi Myrida,
      No, I don't know the work of David. I will have a look. Thanks!
      Gr, B.

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  7. Bernardo you might consider turning something like this post into a permanent page on the site where you can accumulate the fallacies, hidden assumptions, circular reasoning, rhetorical tricks, etc.. used by materialists to lie to themselves. I would add for example, the technique of restating a problem and then declaring the restatement the solution to the problem. Another is the one stated above; of declaring the End of Science if xyz (esp, NDEs, idealism, whatever) is true, hence it can not be. I think this would be a useful resource and have a real effect on open minded Materialists.

    Bob

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    1. Interesting suggestion... I will give this some thought.

      Delete
  8. Ridiculous point of view. Without real existing spacetime and matter, what would be there to have experience of?
    Without space:
    - everything would happen to you
    - without time, everything would happen at once
    - without matter, there would be nothing to have experience of.

    Now spacetime does not exist without the material. So out of necessity (for there to be a world in which a mind can have experience of it) it is already required there is a real world out there. Even when we do not have perfect knowledge of it.

    Besides, how can a mind operate, or even information exist, without there being a material layer?

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    1. I am not denying that space and time exist, concretely, as undeniable qualities of experience. Space and time are true insofar as they are experienced. To say that they are also true outside our experience of them is an inference, not a self-evident fact.

      Moreover, I am not denying matter as a modality of experience. To deny that would be silly, for it is empirically obvious. But materialism goes beyond that: it states that those concrete experiences of matter have their causal origin in an abstract realm outside mind. Notice that concreteness is a quality of experience, not of abstractions.

      Regarding your last point: If experience is not caused by a world outside mind, then where does it arise from? It arises from the unfolding of mind itself, in the same way that matter and the laws of physics supposedly arise from the unfolding of nature itself. Matter is supposedly an expression of what nature is; similarly, the experience of matter is the unfolding of what mind is. Subjective experience is simply the expression of mind itself, like sound is the expression of a guitar string when it vibrates. We don't need to infer an instrument outside the guitar string to explain the sound. The sound is simply the behaviour of the guitar string, which embodies the fundamental qualities of the string itself. The idealist position adds no complexity to the question of where experience arises from. It simply avoids the extra assumption that, whatever complexity is involved, it exists in a fundamentally unknowable realm outside mind.

      You are assuming that mind, in and of itself, can only be an empty, blank slate, without properties or potentialities. This a gratuitous assumption. Mind can have intrinsic qualities just like objective space-time supposedly does. Indeed, materialism attributes intrinsic qualities and potentialities to nature, which unfold according to certain patterns and regularities and form the universe we know. Idealism is merely saying that those qualities, patterns and regularities are intrinsic to mind itself, not something outside mind; that mind isn't an empty, blank slate, but has inner dynamics. Again, this implies no more complexity than materialism; on the contrary: it's much more parsimonious.

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    2. Materialism makes of course a distinction (any consciouss mind does) between the inner experience of one's mind, and the outside reality, independend of one's mind. This is in itself a correct statement, but it is not a full version of reality ofcourse. For that to develop into a worldview which is correct one needs dialectical reasoning. Like for instance the acknowledgement that consciousness itself has material aspects, and simultaniously that matter itself has consciouss aspects. For instance: electrons are "aware" of the electric field and are themselves the source of electric fields. Matter (mass particles) "sense" the curvature of space, and space itself is being curved by the presence of mass.

      So reality has fundamentally always two opposing aspects, which form a (dialectical) unity: one supposes the other, and can not be taken apart. We don't know about matter outside of experience.

      We see this also when we progress from the most fundamental aspect of reality, namely Being. When reflecting on that we arrive at the conclusion that pure Being only exists in so far it is the other of non-Being or Nothing. But Being in itself and for itself is still nothing. It is a lack of determinatedness, same as Nothing, and thus nothing more nor less then nothing. And "at the same time" it is true that they are not the same, but each others opposite.
      To resolve this, we need a different category, namely Becoming, in which Being and Nothing exists as their distinctive Moments. Etc.

      (See Hegel, Science of Logic, Doctrine of Being).

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    3. In addition to this previous post, which just extends a bit on the viewpoint of materialism, I add some answers to your own response to my first post.

      >You are assuming that mind, in and of itself, can only be an empty, blank slate, without properties or potentialities.

      Well, all that I say is that mind needs the "other-of-itself" to realy be something. Experience takes place in real space and time, and space and time need matter for their existence, and vice versa.
      So, indeed, mind on itself would be a nothing. It can not exist without there being a material world.
      And on the other hand, we can have no knowledge about the world, without there being consciouss minds. But even outside and apart of mind and consciousness, there still would be a material world. In that sense the position of materialism is still correct: matter is the primary substance, and consciousness is secondary to it.

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    4. Rob,

      You wrote: "Materialism makes of course a distinction (any consciouss mind does) between the inner experience of one's mind, and the outside reality, independend of one's mind. This is in itself a correct statement"

      I dispute this. There is nothing obvious, and certainly not proven, about it. What is self-evident is the division between parts of the flow of experience that fall within the control of conscious volition and which we identify ourselves with, and parts of the flow of experience that do NOT fall under the control of conscious volition and which we do NOT identify ourselves with. This distinction, however, does NOT imply a reality independent (or outside) mind; it only implies a reality independent of conscious volition. A nightmare or a schizophrenic hallucination are obviously independent of conscious volition, yet also obviously in mind.

      You wrote: "...acknowledgement that consciousness itself has material aspects, and simultaniously that matter itself has consciouss aspects. For instance: electrons are "aware" of the electric field and are themselves the source of electric fields. Matter (mass particles) "sense" the curvature of space, and space itself is being curved by the presence of mass."

      I completely reject this as utter nonsense. There is precisely zero evidence that electrons (or my home thermostat, or vacuum cleaner, for that matter) are conscious. To me, panpsychism is an attempt to make nature conform to theory, as opposed to theory conforming to nature. It's a modern version of animism and,a s such, utterly absurd. In fact, it is the ultimate in psychological projection: the fallacious attribution of qualities that are our own to entities supposedly outside us.

      The primary datum of existence is that we, living creatures, are conscious. Matter exists within the flow of our conscious experiences as a particular modality of experience. That modality obeys certain regularities that we call the laws of physics. From those laws, we infer basic elements we call electrons. Electrons, thus, are basic building blocks of the patterns of a certain modality experience. They aren't conscious, they are IN consciousness. The primary datum of existence is that everything is IN consciousness, not that everything is conscious. The latter is gratuitous fantasy.

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    5. You wrote: "Well, all that I say is that mind needs the "other-of-itself" to realy be something."

      I agree that the word "mind" means nothing unless it specifies a discernible subset of reality. If everything is in mind, and mind is behind everything, then the word "mind" is hollow. That is so indeed. HOWEVER, materialists invented a whole universe of things that, supposedly, are not in mind. A such, materialists gave meaning to the word "mind" and it is legitimate that an idealist use this word to deny materialists their abracadabra invention. If there were no materialists (or realists) in the world, I would be content to drop the words "mind" and "consciousness" entirely: mind and consciousness are simply what IS.

      You wrote: "But even outside and apart of mind and consciousness, there still would be a material world."

      You cannot know that. Knowledge exists in consciousness, and in consciousness alone. The existence of a world outside consciousness is an inference that can only be justified in the absence of less inflationary alternatives for explaining empirical observations. My claim is that there is a much more parsimonious alternative to explain everything that materialism does, and then some.

      You wrote: "In that sense the position of materialism is still correct: matter is the primary substance, and consciousness is secondary to it."

      This is a complete non sequitur. It is a naive projection of the qualities of one's own being onto an invented abstraction supposedly outside and independent of the primary datum of existence, the only carrier of reality anyone can ever know: subjective experience itself.

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  9. No. 5: you are saying the collective unconscious is creating a collective dream. What is the difference between the collective unconsious and mind at large? Thank you.

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  10. Robheus,

    your case is extremely weak . none sense to be quite honest .. weak argument , diverted argument ,, waste of time ,,

    ReplyDelete

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