20210412

Paralogists and Immaterialism

PSI Blog 20210412 Paralogists and Immaterialism

  

Here is a question from someone who understandably wishes to remain anonymous due to religious persecution:

 

“Hi, Glenn.  I just purchased your latest book, Religious Roots of Relativity.   I’ve been confused about the concept of Immateriality and religious beliefs for some time.  Every religious person whom I’ve ever spoken with has conveyed that they think the earth will still exist after they are dead.  They think that they have a soul that is going to be hanging-out in an invisible realm somewhere in the Ether (“another dimension”).  However, the concept of Immateriality suggests that everything for a person ceases to exist after they cease to exist, as if reality itself were just a dream that has come to an end.  What am I not understanding?”

 

[GB: Thanks for the question. Unfortunately, you are supposed to be confused. That is the nature of the determinism-indeterminism (science vs. religion) struggle.  The religious side is based on paralogistics, a word that I just came across on the AAAS website. To be paralogical means to have the opposite of a logical train of thought—fallacious reasoning, which generally is based on erroneous assumptions and the misinterpretation of data, should there be any. Thus, a paralogist is one whose thinking is outside of logic. This is how you pronounce that word: per ral' agist. Some would call that type of thinking “illogical,” but what would you call the perpetrator? “Illogist: is not in the dictionary, so I like paralogist. My new motto is: “Always debate a paralogist any chance you get—someone logical might be listening.”

 

So much for the paralogical lecture…

 

Immaterialism may be the preeminent paralogism. The universe obviously consists of material things. As infants, we gradually learn that after we take the proverbial blanket off our heads and inevitably discover object permanence. The solipsistic tendency usually disappears as we age, become educated, and discover we are not the only things in the universe. Immaterialism is the religious opposite of the First Assumption of Science, materialism (The external world exists after the observer does not). Because immaterialism and materialism are fundamental assumptions, I have stated them in their most extreme forms. The most extreme proponent of immaterialism was Bishop Berkeley, who claimed that when he left the room, the chair he was sitting on disappeared merely because he could no longer see it. Gladly, your friends have left that stage of development. Unfortunately, most folks are still religious and retain vestiges of immaterialism in hypothesizing some future immaterial existence in an immaterial realm for which there is no material evidence. This is typical of paralogists, who tend to replace logic with emotion. They might even realize their logic is fallacious, but they still want to believe it. Who doesn’t want to live forever?

 

As I showed in "Religious Roots of Relativity," we all have trouble distinguishing between what is material and what is immaterial. Material things are XYZ portions of the universe, while their motions are not. We can dream of things that cannot possibly exist and of things that do exist. The brain is material, but thinking is motion. Time does not exist—it occurs.

 

Finally, your puzzlement is nicely expressed when you wrote: “…the concept of Immateriality suggests that everything for a person ceases to exist after they cease to exist, as if reality itself were just a dream that has come to an end.” Of course, that is true for materialism as well. Many is the time I have been amazed by the existence of the universe and even more so by its infinite nature.

 

Also of course, while we are alive, reality is not a dream, just as it is not a dream when we are dead. For now, we must make a choice between that reality supported by the scientific assumption of materialism and the dreams and imaginings supported by the religious assumption of immaterialism. If we want to understand the universe, we must choose materialism. That is not merely the scientific way, it is the logical way.

 

Again, logical thinking requires an understanding of our most fundamental assumptions. Because the universe is infinite, we cannot provide a complete proof of any of them. Each has an opposite, which is correct if the first is incorrect. When we hold more than one fundamental assumption, all the others must be consupponible, that is, they must not contradict one another. Regressive physicists, having made their fiduciary compromise with religion, dare not follow their paralogic to its roots therein. That is why "The Ten Assumptions of Science" is a landmark in scientific philosophy.

 

The recent decline of the US has exposed the paralogistics that was there all along. Fundamental defects in our thinking have come to the fore. Once again, we must make life and death choices, not merely choices between some hair-brained “physical” theories. Anon, it is extremely important that we discard immaterialism, assume materialism, and get back to work forthwith.]

 

 

 

 

 

4 comments:

Ian Wardell said...

You say that materialism means:

"The external world exists after the observer does not"

Obviously dualists hold this too, and arguably even immaterialists do as well depending how one defines "external world". It's not as if immaterialists think that reality simply disappears when one dies.

It's also worth noting that modern thinking holds that colours, odours, sounds and all other qualitative features are held to be entirely absent from the external world. This leaves the material consciousness-independent world a bare skeletal denuded abstraction characterised entirely by structure, a far cry from what our perceptions tell us and what common-sense holds. Immaterialism draws no such distinction between these so-called "secondary qualities", and the "primary qualities" i.e the quantifiable/measurable aspects of reality. So, far from the commonsensical position that people might imagine materialism to be, it is nothing of the sort.

Also science certainly doesn't depend on materialism being true. It doesn't even depend on there existing a material world at all. It depends on reality evolving according to regularities (maybe not even exceptionless regularities), and the success of science depends on these regularities being of such a character that they can be mathematically described.

Glenn Borchardt said...

Thanks Ian:

I mostly agree, but have a problem with your statement: "Also science certainly doesn't depend on materialism being true. It doesn't even depend on there existing a material world at all. It depends on reality evolving according to regularities (maybe not even exceptionless regularities), and the success of science depends on these regularities being of such a character that they can be mathematically described."

[GB: I find your first sentence to be quite absurd. I don't know what could be studied if there wasn't a material world. You seem to be ignoring matter and overemphasizing motion. Perhaps that is why you think there would be no science without math. That is not true. For instance, we do earth science all the time without requiring mathematics. We often use math, but it is not always necessary. Many other scientific disciplines are like that. Math is wonderful, but it is not a panacea, with relativity and cosmogony being the best examples of its failures.]

Ian Wardell said...

Thanks for your response. I mostly had in mind physics, which other sciences are supposed to be able to be reduced to.

Science works. Hence, if immaterialism is correct, then science cannot depend on there existing a material world. More generally, science does not depend on our metaphysical presuppositions. I have written a short blog piece on Berkeley's immaterialism (also called subjective idealism)

http://ian-wardell.blogspot.com/2014/03/a-very-brief-introduction-to-subjective.html

Glenn Borchardt said...

Ian:

Sorry, but your statement that "science does not depend on our metaphysical presuppositions" is false. For instance, folks cannot be scientists unless they assume "there are causes for all effects." That is a metaphysical presupposition because it goes "beyond physics." We will never be able to completely prove that assumption, but without it, we could not do science.