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    This is getting a silly. I realise this is a forum for debate but this is beginning to strike me as a little personal...

    Idealism doesn't say the universe didn't exist before I did. That's solipsism. I'm not talking about that. I think that effectively answers most of the other overly aggressive remarks you made...
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    (Original post by grumballcake)
    Ah, an epiphenomenalist. The problem with the discussion is that you can't tell (yet) whether a brain is having thoughts or not. I believe that NMR studies are starting to show promise though and that certain thoughts can be related to particular areas of the brain.

    What's not clear is how much phenomena like muscle memory play a part. Certain repetitive actions (like playing the piano) require action faster than it can be transmitted by the brain to the nerves, get feedback etc. We know we can do it, so it's been a quest to find out how it happens exactly.

    I don't think that we can dispute that damage to the brain can and does cause personality changes. However, there's increasing evidence that thinking also changes the brain, so there's an interaction between the two.

    As a theist, I believe that mind is tied to body, as is soul. They're simply three different windows on to the same room. We can't discuss one without talking about the others.
    Its not epiphenomenalism as far as I'm aware. For that I'd have to say that mental events are seperate from but dependent on physical events (I've had some sympathy with this view at times) whereas physical events are independent of mental events. I said that what we call 'mental events' is a certain way of describing certain physical events. Where you say 'thinking changes the brain', I'd respond that its true in one sense and false in another - the process of thought does change the brain over time, but thats blindingly obvious (learning, memory, acquisition of skills etc.). I assume that you're saying that something in some way seperate from brian activity, called 'thinking', has an effect on the brain, a form of dualism, in which case all the normal arguments against dualism apply. I highly doubt that 'certain thoughts can be related to certain areas in the brain' on the basis that a) I think its quite hard to define what an individual 'thought' is and b) thinking is more likely to be to do with chains of events throughout the brain than anything that can be isolated. You're right that I can't as yet point to a brian and say 'look, this is happening in the brain which is the same a sthe mind thinking/feeling this' but I can point at a brain and say 'look, this is what is causing these muscles to move and this person to act in this way'.

    As for mind, body and soul, what I've said above pretty much covers what I think about the relationship between mind and body - as for soul, I think its a word that isn't worth using. You can redefine it in vaguely acceptable terms to do with personality etc. but it carries too many connotations of immortality and dualism.
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    Will throw my two cents into the Calvin/grumballcake discussion, but I don't have time right now - I need to go to bed. At the moment you seem to be arguing from completely different standpoints though.
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    (Original post by Calvin)
    This is getting a silly. I realise this is a forum for debate but this is beginning to strike me as a little personal...
    So wasn't it the least bit personal when you wrote...
    (Original post by Calvin)
    the only reason the concepts like physical world and real objects are still around are because of the mental laziness of most lay people.
    It seems that you either didn't think about what you wrote, or felt that it was reasonable to call me (for example) mentally lazy. Earlier you dismissed what I wrote with "Ho Hum" and accused me of sophistry (look back through the messages) so you might have expected a robust response. It's no good trying to take the moral high ground as you've already undermined it.
    Idealism doesn't say the universe didn't exist before I did. That's solipsism. I'm not talking about that.
    Well, to be honest, it's difficult to see what you are saying. You've used terms so loosely and interchangeably that it's hard to see what points you've been making. Not so long ago, you wrote: "Actually despite what both of you say I am quite a sympathiser with solipsism. I had a bit of a eureka moment when I first heard about it" . So you might excuse my confusion. Cantabrian made some useful comments on idealism, but you haven't apparently engaged with those. It seems that if I criticise your position, your defence is to act as if it were personal. It isn't. If you write poorly thought-out logic, you should expect it to be heartily attacked. Your tutor would do no less.

    So, returning to the subject, what model of idealism are you arguing for? Plato's, Kant's, Berkeley's, Hegel's, Schopenhauer's, McTaggart's, Pearson's, or is this perhaps Calvin's? If so, could you clarify what you're proposing, please?
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    (Original post by wanderer)
    I said that what we call 'mental events' is a certain way of describing certain physical events.
    Are you arguing for pure materialism? That mental states are simply a way of describing of physical states and that there is nothing but physical reality?
    I assume that you're saying that something in some way seperate from brian activity, called 'thinking', has an effect on the brain, a form of dualism, in which case all the normal arguments against dualism apply.
    Not quite, there are good studies which show that mental activity preserves mental function in ageing. A strict materialist could argue that this is similar to exercise in muscles and that brain activity will naturally cause brain growth (or at least minimise brain wastage).
    I highly doubt that 'certain thoughts can be related to certain areas in the brain' on the basis that a) I think its quite hard to define what an individual 'thought' is and b) thinking is more likely to be to do with chains of events throughout the brain than anything that can be isolated.
    You may doubt it, but you might be wise to go read some of the literature on the subject before pronouncing judgemnet. fMRI and PET studies are helping to map out how the brain works. We know from lesion studies that damage to particular areas of the brain can cause particular effects upon thinking - there's some evidence that dyslexia is related to the parietal lobe, for example. Neuroscience has been advancing rapidly in a number of centres and mapping thought processes is a big part of it. Have a look at Dr. Peter Fox's work on language areas of the brain, for example. While the techniques are too crude to pick out single thoughts as yet, we cannot rule out that possibility in the future.
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    (Original post by grumballcake)
    Are you arguing for pure materialism? That mental states are simply a way of describing of physical states and that there is nothing but physical reality?
    Yep. On the other hand, I'm also an idealist of a sort. Isn't this fun?

    (Original post by grumballcake)
    Not quite, there are good studies which show that mental activity preserves mental function in ageing. A strict materialist could argue that this is similar to exercise in muscles and that brain activity will naturally cause brain growth (or at least minimise brain wastage).
    Exactly. I'd argue that mental processes are brain processes in the first place, so it makes perfect sense that they affect the brain.

    You may doubt it, but you might be wise to go read some of the literature on the subject before pronouncing judgemnet. fMRI and PET studies are helping to map out how the brain works. We know from lesion studies that damage to particular areas of the brain can cause particular effects upon thinking - there's some evidence that dyslexia is related to the parietal lobe, for example. Neuroscience has been advancing rapidly in a number of centres and mapping thought processes is a big part of it. Have a look at Dr. Peter Fox's work on language areas of the brain, for example. While the techniques are too crude to pick out single thoughts as yet, we cannot rule out that possibility in the future.
    I have read a bit actually, and I'm aware of the fairly conclusive evidence for different bits doing different things. However, thats not the same thing as 'thoughts' having individual locations. From what i've read about neuroscience, I'd claim that thinking is a holistic process and that a direct correspondence between a 'single thought' and a certain event in the brain is unlikely - to a great extent because, as I said before, I'm highly suspicious of the idea of a 'single thought'. The brain is active all the time, lots of neurons going off all over, new sense data coming in all the time and impulses constantly being thrown out to the muscles, glands, etc. Yet how often do we feel that we are having multiple thoughts at once? There isn't a direct translation between this mass of brain activity and our self-perception - its a kind of paradigm shift (that isn't the right phrase, I'm struggling to express myself here). Do you see what I mean?

    EDIT = Now now kids. Play nice. Its only philosophy after all.
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    (Original post by grumballcake)
    So wasn't it the least bit personal when you wrote...

    It seems that you either didn't think about what you wrote, or felt that it was reasonable to call me (for example) mentally lazy. Earlier you dismissed what I wrote with "Ho Hum" and accused me of sophistry (look back through the messages) so you might have expected a robust response. It's no good trying to take the moral high ground as you've already undermined it.
    Of lay people. Are you a lay person or are you a competent philosopher you seem to want to be both! I think dualism survives as a poular idea because people don't think there arguments through properly. I think it survives as a philosophical idea for various other reasons. I'm sorry if you got the wrong impression, I can see why you did. Shall we start over on that front?

    In fact shall we start over in general? I'm getting quite tired of this whoevers fault it is. There's been something of an arms escalation since I joined this thread with each perceiving the others remarks as a little aggresive and offensive- perhaps mistakenly in many instances. I shall attempt to be painstakingly clear about every remark I make in the future, however perhaps you might appreciate the difficult of communicating a theory to another person-harder I think than responding to the theory as you don't have to be so consistent and always have the other person on the defensive. Perhaps you'd consider putting forth a detailed theory for debate?

    Anyway, I hope that can be the end of this aggression though hopefully not useful debate. We seem to have a nasty habit of between the two of us highjacking whatever debate is going on and perhaps taking out of the reach of other interested parties. I'm not sure what or if there is a solution to that, perhaps to both be more clear as far as it can be managed. Arguments do tend to evolve and its not always easy to amend or update an argument clearly or keep on top of the line the discussion is taking. We can but try.
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    (Original post by Calvin)
    I think dualism survives as a poular idea because people don't think there arguments through properly.
    I think I'd say that it also applies to materialism. It's probably not true of idealism, because there are so many versions to choose from (with solipsism as an extreme, but popular, case).

    I'm not a dualist, because I'm a monotheist. Thus, I suppose I embrace a version of monism, since I'd hold that everything is sustained in existence by the will of God. However, in practice I see a difference between physical events and spritual ones. I have no problem with planes of existence, or the possibility of heaven and hell, since they could be merely additional dimensions beyond our everyday reach, but coexisting with us.

    I hope it makes sense - I believe that ultimately there is only one thing - God - but we experience reality as if there were more than one, because of the limitations of material existence.

    Thus I see materialism as false because it denies ultimate reality and idealism as severely flawed because it ignores God as the continual sustainer of our universe and thus of our perceptions.
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    Grumballdude, it appears your philosophy knowledge might help a discussion going on in the Camb forum in the Books thread :eek:
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    (Original post by Calvin)
    Anyway, I hope that can be the end of this aggression though hopefully not useful debate. We seem to have a nasty habit of between the two of us highjacking whatever debate is going on and perhaps taking out of the reach of other interested parties. I'm not sure what or if there is a solution to that, perhaps to both be more clear as far as it can be managed. Arguments do tend to evolve and its not always easy to amend or update an argument clearly or keep on top of the line the discussion is taking. We can but try.
    It is getting a bit difficult to keep track of the pair of you at times (witness my coherence justification/coherence truth confusion earlier). At least on a thread you can look back at whats been said before though - philosophical arguments can get even more confusing out loud!
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    (Original post by wanderer)
    It is getting a bit difficult to keep track of the pair of you at times (witness my coherence justification/coherence truth confusion earlier). At least on a thread you can look back at whats been said before though - philosophical arguments can get even more confusing out loud!
    especially if the philosopher in question has about 5 or 6 languages under his or her belt... then it would become head scratching time
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    (Original post by grumballcake)
    I think I'd say that it also applies to materialism. It's probably not true of idealism, because there are so many versions to choose from (with solipsism as an extreme, but popular, case).

    I'm not a dualist, because I'm a monotheist. Thus, I suppose I embrace a version of monism, since I'd hold that everything is sustained in existence by the will of God. However, in practice I see a difference between physical events and spritual ones. I have no problem with planes of existence, or the possibility of heaven and hell, since they could be merely additional dimensions beyond our everyday reach, but coexisting with us.

    I hope it makes sense - I believe that ultimately there is only one thing - God - but we experience reality as if there were more than one, because of the limitations of material existence.

    Thus I see materialism as false because it denies ultimate reality and idealism as severely flawed because it ignores God as the continual sustainer of our universe and thus of our perceptions.

    Surely not! Bearkelan Idealism was based on the principle that we are all ideas in the mind of God and it is by his continual sustanance the things continue to exist when us mortals are not around to see them. That seems to be exactly what you're expousing, is it not? :confused:
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    (Original post by Calvin)
    Surely not! Bearkelan Idealism was based on the principle that we are all ideas in the mind of God and it is by his continual sustanance the things continue to exist when us mortals are not around to see them. That seems to be exactly what you're expousing, is it not? :confused:
    Berkeley -> Bearkelan? I think not. Quick, change it before he comes back.
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    (Original post by Calvin)
    Bearkelan Idealism
    I think that's fair, but it does illustrate the problem with a broad brush word like "idealism". Berkely's main principle is esse est percipi and that trees don't strictly exist, but are simply ideas or collections of perceptions. That's not the same as I'm arguing for. I'd argue that trees do exist and are real, but they only exist because of God and their reality is rooted in the reality of God. That's not quite the same as subjective idealism, I think.


    * Edited to reduce duplication with next message (stupid TSR server)
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    (Original post by Calvin)
    Surely not! Bearkelan Idealism was based on the principle that we are all ideas in the mind of God and it is by his continual sustanance the things continue to exist when us mortals are not around to see them.
    Not quite. Berkeley argued that esse est percipi or that existence depended on perception. Thus the world needed an observer (God) which was parodied in Ronald Knox's famous poem:
    There was a young man who said "God
    Must think it exceedingly odd
    If he finds that this tree
    Continues to be
    When there's no one about in the Quad."

    "Dear Sir, your astonishment's odd;
    I am always about in the Quad
    And that's why this tree
    Will continue to be
    Since observed by Yours faithfully, God."
    That's not quite what I'm arguing, although I can see the similarities. I believe that the tree is real, not because it's perceived by God, but because God gives it reality. Because God is real, the tree is real too.
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    (Original post by wanderer)
    Quick, change it before he comes back.
    Too late!
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    (Original post by grumballcake)
    That's not quite what I'm arguing, although I can see the similarities. I believe that the tree is real, not because it's perceived by God, but because God gives it reality. Because God is real, the tree is real too.
    Sounds more like the scholastics than anything else I've heard of.
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    "Berkelean" then? or "Berkeley-esque"

    Berkely isn't arguing that trees don't really exist. He's very keen in Three Dialogues to be understood as not arguing existing things are ideas in the sense of just something in Gods imagination, but rather that they are ideas in the sense of being anchored in the mind and not in some independent reality. Perhaps I'm being dense but I'm finding it a little difficult to seperate your two views.
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    (Original post by Calvin)
    I'm finding it a little difficult to seperate your two views.
    I haven't read Berkeley directly, so my view of what he said has all been based on secondary literature. Given that it's believed that Kant misunderstood Berkeley's arguments, it's entirely possible that I'm misunderstanding him too. My personal stance is drawn from Herbert McCabe who takes it back to Augustine and Aquinas. Perhaps he drew on Berkeley as well.

    However, the place of God in this is essential for understanding my rejection of the more common versions of idealism. It's generally argued that we can only apprehend the world through our senses, ergo the world is defined by our sensory perception and only that perception matters.

    Instead, I believe in a real, objective world - something which God can see and comprehend in its totality, just like I can look at a wine gum. I encounter that world through my senses, but also through my thoughts and my encounter with God. However, that world does not depend upon me for anything. Now let's be clear - I cannot perceive the world as an object, because I am in that world. All my experience will be subjective, but that doesn't stop the world's being objectively perceived by God.
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    Ooh we did Zeno's paradoxes today, very interesting. :p:

    An arrow in flight is really at rest. For at every point in its flight, the arrow must occupy a length of space exactly equal to its own length. After all, it cannot occupy a greater length, nor a lesser one. But the arrow cannot move within this length it occupies. It would need extra space in which to move, and it of course has none. So at every point in its flight, the arrow is at rest. And if then it follows that it is at rest during the entire flight.
 
 
 
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